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.

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!

Weekend Watching: Explaining the Obesity Epidemic

The following video presentation by one of my Health Sherpas, Dr. Jason Fung, provides one of the most succinct explanations for why we have an epidemic of obesity in the United States, Canada and other western countries.

We knew the causes of obesity, and how to treat it, 150 years ago. For the next 100 years after that it wasn’t very common.

Fifty years ago hardly anyone went to the gym to work out, and only maniacs went running.

And yet obesity, at least by today’s standards, was non-existent.

Since then obesity has more than tripled, as has the prevalence of type 2 diabetes.

This video explains how it happened.

We didn’t get fat because we were lazy or lacked willpower.

We didn’t get fat because we failed to follow the experts’ dietary advice.

We got fat because we did follow their advice.

If you’re like me, learning this will probably make you at least a little bit angry.

We’ve been part of a giant dietary experiment for the last 50 years, with little evidence to support the official government recommendations.

Since then, the evidence against the dietary guidelines has been piling up.

Dr. Fung cites the studies and brings the evidence.

You need to watch this:

By doing essentially the opposite of the U.S. dietary guidelines, my wife Lisa and I have reclaimed our health. I’m 60 lbs. lighter than I was at my peak, and Lisa’s down at least 50 lbs.

On May 19, 2020 I weighed in at 208.8 lbs, my first time below my goal weight of 210, and the least I had weighed since President Reagan’s first term.

I’ve been below my goal weight for more than 10 months, and this morning I was at 204.6.

And yet the “experts” tell us that sustained weight loss isn’t achievable.

That all diets eventually fail.

That’s as wrong as the dietary advice that got us into this problem in the first place.

Lisa and I are living proof that a low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet can lead to sustained weight loss, and Rebecca Williams has had a similar experience. John Bishop has made most of his progress with intermittent fasting, and he’s experimenting with low-carb now, too.

Through sharing our stories online, we’ve helped others get started on their journeys too.

My point (and Dr. Fung’s): If you’re struggling with overweight or obesity, it isn’t because you’re lazy or lack willpower.

We didn’t overcome our weight issues because of our superior virtue or willpower.

We learned some basic lessons about metabolism that made losing weight a lot easier. You can read all about it through the posts on My Health Journey.

If you’re at least a little interested in how you might be able to do this, too, check out my #BodyBabySteps page, where I’ve mapped out the shortcuts I would take if I were starting this over again.

Or if I were you.

If you scrolled past it without hitting play, I hope you’ll at least take time now to watch the video of Dr. Fung.

From a health perspective, it would be among the best investments of your time I can imagine.

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Start the #3DayCancerPreventionFast in Ketosis

Yesterday I shared the results of my #3DayCancerPreventionFast that allowed coffee with a bit of cream, as compared with a previous water-only version of the same fast.

Despite having two tablespoons of heavy whipping cream in my morning coffee, twice each day, I achieved 27 hours of Glucose Ketone Index (GKI) <1, and at least 85 hours of GKI<3.

Results were close to what I did with water-only, and my different exercise pattern explained some of the lag in getting to my GKI targets.

My wife Lisa did the same fast, and her results were even better:

She had GKI<1, the highest therapeutic level, for 60 hours, and has had GKI<3 for about 100 hours as I write this.

As my daughter-in-law would say, Lisa smashed my face!

Note also the significant difference between her results on the coffee and cream version of the fast as compared with the water only.

Some key observations:

  • Her GKI was much higher at the start of the water-only fast. This was because her last meal before that fast was taco salad with chips, along with two cinnamon rolls with frosting.
  • In the coffee and cream fast, by contrast, she was in nutritional ketosis from the start, and was below 3 on the GKI at just 16 hours, a full 10 yours earlier than on the water fast. She reached GKI<1 at 25 hours, almost a full day ahead of what she had done in January on the water-only fast.
  • The big lesson here is that coming into a fast already in ketosis dramatically improves the results, to the point that even with up to four tablespoons of cream per day her readings were far better than those when she started a water-only fast from a high-carb state.

Importantly, we supplemented magnesium and sea salt daily throughout the fast to keep electrolytes in balance, and broke the fast with a small meal of scrambled eggs, bacon, cream cheese and guacamole to prevent refeeding syndrome.

Lisa and I both found this fast immeasurably easier than a water-only fast, both because of the taste of cream and also because we didn’t get the caffeine-withdrawal headaches.

We may try a black-coffee version of the fast sometime, but with results like this that are relatively easy I think including a little cream will be our standard practice for the preventive fasting.

Check out My Health Journey for the full story of our health improvements, and my #BodyBabySteps for an approach to how I would do it if I were starting today, based on what I’ve learned.

To get these updates on a regular basis you can subscribe by email, or follow me on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, where I’ll also be posting links.

If you find this information helpful I hope you’ll share it on your social channels using the buttons below.