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!

Many Diseases, One Cause

This short video is well worth your time, because in it Dr. Eric Berg outlines many diseases that are typically treated with different medications, but which have one significant underlying cause.

In Why We Get Sick, Dr. Ben Bikman also highlights the central role of insulin resistance in many of the diseases and conditions that are afflictions of affluence. To understand it better, read my review of his book and see a video featuring Dr. Bikman.

Here’s another analogy you might find helpful, which I first heard from Dr. Jason Fung:

If you drink alcohol, you eventually develop a tolerance, which means you need to consume more to get the same effect.

The same is essentially true for any drug, whether legal or not. That’s why people sometimes overdose on narcotics (opioid crisis ring a bell?), because as the amount they need to take to get the effect increases, eventually it approaches the toxic threshhold.

Insulin resistance originates in a similar way. By constantly eating throughout the day, especially carbohydrate-laden goodies, we keep our insulin levels high.

Insulin is a hormone that essentially acts like a drug, and just as we build up tolerance to the effects of drugs because of repeated exposure, a similar thing happens with insulin.

It takes more insulin to do the same work. We get resistant to the effects of insulin.

That’s why a low-carb, ketogenic diet is such a powerful tool, especially when combined with intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating.

Just as you can detox from a drug and undo tolerance, by eliminating the stimuli that cause you to overproduce insulin you can restore insulin sensitivity.

If you’d like to get started on reversing insulin resistance, reducing your intake of sugar, processed, refined carbohydrates and starchy foods is probably the most important thing you can do.

I’ll discuss a strategy that’s a close second in my next post.

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.

Five Reasons I Love My WGU MBA

Yesterday was a joyful occasion for Lisa and me, as I received notification that the final paper for my Capstone course had passed muster and that I have completed all program requirements for my Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from Western Governors University (WGU).

That this news came on the 21st anniversary of my first day working at Mayo Clinic made it even sweeter. I celebrated by playing a round of golf with my brother Mark and sons Jacob and Joe, and then we had a family cookout with steaks and brats.

I started the MBA program on Dec. 1, 2019 with no inkling of the upheaval that would be starting just a few months later. It was quite a journey, and in retrospect I can see lots of personal growth from the experience.

As a life-long learner who is interested in trying new things and always looking for ways to improve myself, I had been somewhat skeptical of formal education.

I have taken (probably inordinate) pride in how I’ve been able to advance with my highest degree being a B.S. in Political Science. I’ve also been able to count on a good laugh in my presentations as I note how B.S. and Political Science kind of go together.

I guess I will have to come up with a new joke.

Some of my previous reluctance to go for an MBA had related to costs, but the WGU model is an excellent value. Here are five reasons why I recommend it :

  1. Affordable tuition. For the MBA in Healthcare Management the tuition is $4,180 per six-month term, and a pace of three courses per term is the standard expectation for satisfactory academic progress. At that rate you can get the degree in four terms for a cost of around $17,000.
  2. Flat-rate tuition. If you complete more than three classes in a term, you pay no additional tuition! In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WGU extended our term by a month last year. As a result, I was able to finish seven courses in my first term, which enabled me to get done one term early, and with pro-rated tuition for the last term. It took 16 months altogether, including a two-month term break in July and August.
  3. Competency-based learning. To pass a course, you need a rating of either Competent or Exemplary in each of the learning objectives, as demonstrated by performance on objective exams, papers, presentations or a combination.
  4. Benefit from demonstrating what you already know. At age 57 and with 35 years of career experience, I was familiar with the subject matter for several of the courses. That’s what enabled me to finish some of them quickly, after reviewing the course materials and completing the assessments.
  5. Optional Lectures and Cohorts. For some courses it was helpful to have lecture recordings I could review, and I also participated in some live cohorts, but they’re not required. No one takes attendance. They’re strictly a resource to use if you find them helpful.

While I still strongly believe in lifelong self-motivated learning outside of formal education programs, I found the rigor and accountability of the WGU MBA a helpful stimulus to my growth. It made me do some projects I would never have considered if they weren’t part of the program.

My daughters Rebekah and Ruthie introduced me to WGU a few years ago, as they had found it a great way to get their B.S. in Nursing after having finished a community college R.N. program.

So consider this your WGU introduction. Lots of different programs are available, and if you’re looking to get a college or graduate degree, I highly recommend this option.

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.

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.