The Inspirational Example of Dr. Sarah Hallberg

Thanks to the diet and lifestyle changes Lisa and I have made in the last four years, my life expectancy is now 96.

Dr. Sarah Hallberg is among my Health Sherpas who have guided us in our Health Journey.

That’s why I was looking forward to listening to this week’s episode of Dr. Peter Attia’s podcast, The Drive, when I heard she would be the guest.

Dr. Hallberg has led the Virta Health studies in reversal of Type 2 Diabetes through carbohydrate restriction and active daily counseling.

She’s a true pioneer who has developed the data that make it safe for others to experiment with and advocate for a way of eating that runs counter to prevailing dietary dogma.

In the second half of the podcast, she shifts to telling the story of her lung cancer diagnosis four years ago, and her subsequent journey and learnings. While I had heard of her diagnosis I wasn’t aware just how grim her prognosis was.

Dr. Hallberg gives us a timely reminder that while we can make changes that increase our life expectancy in general, we can’t know what unexpected challenges we will face.

This video is well worth your time, both in its explanation of how carbohydrate restriction fights metabolic disease and in Dr. Hallberg’s inspiring example of continuing to do her important work even while in a cancer battle she knows she won’t win.

She’s hoping to make seven more years, when the youngest of her three children will graduate high school.

You won’t soon forget her jarring story.

While most lung cancers occur in smokers or those who live with smokers, this wasn’t the case for Sarah. She’s done more than most to maintain her metabolic health, and yet she got this inexplicable metastatic lung cancer diagnosis.

This interview increased my already-strong commitment to our monthly #3DayCancerPreventionFast regimen. It’s not a guarantee we won’t get cancer, but it has a plausible prevention mechanism.

And if it has even a slight chance of preventing us from going through what Sarah has experienced, fasting a few consecutive days each month is worth the minor discomfort and inconvenience.

I hope you’ll find Sarah’s metabolic disease teaching as informative, and her personal story as inspiring, as I did.

See also my earlier post that features her TED talk.

Increasing My Life Expectancy

Chip Conley tells the story of taking an online life expectancy assessment and discovering he was only halfway through his projected adult lifetime.

After reflecting on this yesterday, I decide to find one of those calculators to see what I might expect.

The top one on Google (which means it must be the best, right?) was developed by University of Pennsylvania professors and is part of a retirement financial planning website.

Based on a short quiz about my habits, height and weight I got this estimate of life expectancy:

That got me thinking: what if I hadn’t made the changes outlined in My Health Journey over the last four years?

What if I still weighed more than 260 pounds?

Answering the quiz questions based on that scenario provided a strikingly different result:

So four years ago my remaining life expectancy was 35 years.

Today it’s 38 years!

I’ve lived four years while increasing my life expectancy by seven.

And given how much better I feel, and my increased energy, I think it’s highly likely those additional seven years will be productive and enjoyable instead of being characterized by disease and decline.

What result= do you get when you take the quiz?

It’s not too late to change it!

Is 58 Halftime?

Today is my 40th anniversary of being an adult.

What if I have another 40 years left? What if I’m only halfway through my adult life? How would that change my career perspective?

Those are among the questions Chip Conley raised in this TEDx Talk in November 2019.

I had heard Chip earlier that year on Tim Ferris’ Podcast Episode #374, just after I had turned 56, and his message deeply affected me.

It made me think I should be planning to work at least well into my 70s, and that maybe it wasn’t such a crazy idea to go back for an MBA at my age.

With the health changes Lisa and I have made in the last few years, we feel healthier and have more energy than we did 30 years ago.

We’ve been doing what we can to prevent diseases that could shorten our lives or diminish their vitality.

On my 58th birthday I’m especially grateful for Lisa, our six kids with their five spouses and a significant other, and our 14 grandchildren. My brother Mark and I are both eligible for the discounted breakfasts at Denny’s, and yet we’re blessed to have our parents still doing well. Dad turned 90 in January.

Ultimately we can’t know how long we have remaining. Life is a vapor. “If the LORD wills we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:15, ESV)

That’s not denigrating planning. It’s admonishing against presumption.

Whatever your age, as a Modern Elder I encourage you to watch the video above and to think about how you can be both curious and wise.

How might the COVID Chrysalis be preparing you for something beautiful and amazing?

How can you Wield Wisdom Well and become a Wisdom Worker?

What percentage of your adult life is still ahead of you, and how can you make the most of it?

As Chip concludes, “Life is not a one-tank journey.”

How are you planning to refuel?

Renewal Illustrated

Lisa and I were both born in May of 1963, so last week we went to the DMV office together to complete our quadrennial task of renewing our Driver’s Licenses.

Because of COVID-19 the state is not updating the photos, but it was kind of satisfying when the clerk asked if we needed to make any changes to our information.

We both answered: “My weight.”

To which, looking at the previous figures, she responded: “Good job!”

She didn’t know the half of it.

Let’s just say that when we put our weights on the forms in 2017, the figures were…aspirational.

Our expired Driver’s Licenses (top) and the replacements that arrived yesterday.

It was a great feeling opening the mail yesterday and comparing our before-and-after licenses, and knowing that this time the weights are legit.

Even if the photos make us look four years younger.

Milestones like this are great reminders of why we started our health journey nearly four years ago, and why I am blogging about it.

After being frustrated with our inability to maintain a healthy weight in our 40s and early 50s, we found a way that works, thanks to some Health Sherpas who described the science of effective, sustainable weight loss.

We also got a little bit angry, because what we had been told about healthy eating for decades was at odds with what had given us such great results.

And we know that a lot of people are just like we were: unhappy with our health, weight and reduced vitality, but with no idea how to fix it.

Resigned to physical decline, and just hoping it will be gradual.

We’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. If this worked for us it can work for you, and it’s totally worth it.

That’s why I developed the #BodyBabySteps, to condense in one page the top priorities I see for renewing and restoring health. While there are no shortcuts, it at least eliminates dietary detours.

It’s how I would do it if I were starting my journey today.

If you have used the #BodyBabySteps to achieve some health goals, we’d love to hear your story. And I hope you’ll pay it forward by sharing on your social accounts, too.

If you’d like to explore having a coach to guide you in your journey, send me an email and we can discuss how that might work for you.

Can you lose weight and keep it off?

It is something of truism among dietary experts that “most diets eventually fail.”

See what Psychology Today and Scientific American have to say on the subject.

Researchers at UCLA state it flat out: Dieting does not work.

At my peak I weighed 265 pounds. When I started working in earnest and experimenting with different diets in October of 2016, I set a “dream” goal of getting to 210 pounds.

Realistically, I would have been pretty happy to reach 22o even 230.

And when I got to those milestones I did feel a lot better.

So I don’t know whether what Lisa and I have been doing is a “diet” or not, but today I’m celebrating a full year under my dream goal weight.

June 2016 in Beijing, today in Austin, MN and a year’s worth of monthly average scale readings.

I first cracked the 210-lb. barrier on May 1, 2020 and this morning’s reading was 205.5, which is what I weighed 40 years ago in high school.

Lisa and I experimented with a few different approaches over the first couple of years of our journey, but for the last 20 months we’ve been following a low-carb, relatively high fat eating pattern along with intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating windows.

She’s been averaging between 136 and 138 pounds for the last eight months. That’s about 50 pounds below her peak, and is what she weighed when we were married in 1984.

This approach is totally sustainable.

It’s not always easy, but we don’t have the constant willpower battles that characterize many diets.

And if we find ourselves inching up a bit, we know exactly what we need to do to reclaim control.

To see how I’d do things differently (and get results more quickly) if I were starting over again, see my #BodyBabySteps page.

If you’d like to consider coaching to help you on a similar journey, send me an email and we can set up a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation.

You can do this!