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!

Will July 4 be your Independence Day?

On America’s 245th birthday you will be about 20 weeks older than you are today.

How would you feel if you were 20 pounds lighter?

Wouldn’t you feel an amazing sense of freedom?

Like it’s your Independence Day?

I’m not saying you can have a beach body by Memorial Day. But if you lose just a pound a week, you will be down 20 by the 4th of July.

You can do it, and in the phrasing of our Social Media University, Global (SMUG) motto, Suus Non Ut Difficile, “It’s not that hard.”

I don’t have special meal replacement shakes or supplements or anything else to sell.

What I’m suggesting is totally free. In fact, it will save you money.

Two years ago, in 10 weeks of alternate-day fasting, I lost 14.2 pounds.

Lisa, despite her extra challenges being post-menopausal and with thyroid issues, lost 10.

In alternate-day fasting you still eat dinner every evening.

You just skip breakfast and lunch every other day, and so on alternate days you go from dinner one night until dinner the next without eating.

In that time you’ll burn about half a pound of fat because of your sustained low insulin levels.

Do it two or three times a week and you’ll lose at least a pound a week.

It’s a lot easier if you’re limiting carbohydrates and getting plenty of healthy fats. That prevents cravings that could lead to overeating during your feeding windows.

If you want to add some heavy whipping cream (not half-and-half) to your coffee on the fasting days, that’s OK and you may find it easier. It won’t spike your insulin, and you’ll switch pretty seamlessly between burning your stored fat and the fat in the cream, and then back again.

If you start now and just plug away at it week after week, you won’t believe the progress you’ll see by the time the fireworks fly.

Getting ready to leave on our Wild West Adventure

Lisa and I felt fantastic in August 2018, after our 10-week experiment, when we left for a three-week driving tour that took us to throughout the western U.S.

We feel even better now; another 15-20 pounds lighter and even more in control of our eating patterns.

If you’re not yet ready to dive into alternate-day fasting, start with the #BodyBabySteps.

The important thing is to start at some level today. Begin building your momentum. Small steps, repeated consistently, will get you there.

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.

I post updates frequently you can follow on FacebookTwitter  and LinkedIn, or you can subscribe by email to make sure you get them.

Have you tried alternate-day fasting? If so, what was your experience with it? If not, what questions do you have?

Weight Loss Side Effects of the #3DayCancerPreventionFast

In a comment on LinkedIn this morning, Janet Kennedy asked:

I’m glad she asked, because it highlights an important positive side effect of the #3DayCancerPreventionFast.

You may have noticed that I haven’t said anything about weight loss in my previous posts about this experiment, because that wasn’t the main goal.

The goal of our fast was getting to a high enough level of therapeutic ketosis that it would stimulate autophagy (recycling of damaged or inefficient cell organelles, especially mitochondria) and put any cancer or precancerous cells under enough stress that they would trigger apoptosis, or programmed cell death.

Another major benefit of extended fasting is a recharged and rejuvenated immune system, so if apoptosis doesn’t cause the cancer cells to commit suicide, maybe they’ll be weakened enough for our natural immune defenses to kill them.

And there’s this virus going around, perhaps you’ve heard of it, that seems to generally cause more severe consequences in older people than it does in children and young adults.

A rejuvenated (literally “made young again”) immune system would seem to come in handy for that, too.

Although weight loss wasn’t the main goal of our #3DayCancerPreventionFast, it was a beneficial side effect. A nice bonus.

As Dr. Jason Fung says, the basic logic of fasting is simple: “If you don’t eat, you will lose weight.”

Here’s what we found:

  • Lisa and I each lost six pounds from our Sunday morning weigh-in, before starting the fast, to our low point post-fast on Thursday morning, after we had concluded the fast on Wednesday.
  • My weight went up a little on Monday morning because I had two meals on Sunday, beginning my fast at 4:30 p.m., so the loss from my high point was 8.8 pounds.
  • The high point of our weights early in the month correspond to the visit of my daughter Ruthie and her husband and daughter. They’re missionaries in Bulgaria, and were back in the country around the holidays, staying with us from Jan. 3-8. That was a feasting time, and we could revel in it without fear or guilt because we balance it with fasting.

I call that a balanced diet – balancing feasting and fasting – not seeking some kind of equal partitioning of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

We enjoyed having Trevin, Ruthie and Noa Hoot home with us to start the New Year with a feast.

To answer Janet’s second question, as you can see in the graphs above we’ve reached our weight goals, and had been there before the holidays. Now as we head into February with no major feasts on the schedule, we will settle into a more normal rhythm, gradually eating a little more toward the end of the month, so that after our next fast we’ll be again about at this level.

In future posts I’ll do a deeper exploration of how our fast affected blood sugar and ketone levels, workout capacity and sleep, as well as some overall reflections and our plans for February and March fasts.

And if you, like Janet, have other questions about, please ask them in the comments and I will be happy to answer them.

You can  subscribe by email to make sure you get new posts delivered, or follow along on on FacebookTwitter  or LinkedIn.

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.

Body Baby Steps

My last post in the My Health Journey series was something of a summary of what I’ve learned so far, boiled down into a top-20 list. Even as I hit the “Publish…” button, however, I recognized two things:

  1. I had left off some important items, such as sleep hygiene, and
  2. A list of 20 things to do is overwhelming. With so many “keys” to remember, it’s easy to feel defeated and not make progress.

Dave Ramsey has understood this as he has helped millions through his radio show, his New York Times best-seller, The Total Money Makeover, and his Ramsey+ offering, which includes Financial Peace University.

As he helps people achieve financial fitness, he recommends 7 Baby Steps, which proceed in a logical order:

  1. Save $1,000 for your starter emergency fund.
  2. Pay off all debt (except the house) using the debt snowball.
  3. Save 3-6 months of expenses in a fully funded emergency fund.
  4. Invest 15% of your household income in retirement.
  5. Save for your children’s college fund.
  6. Pay off your home early.
  7. Build wealth and give.

To create the starter emergency fund, you have to begin spending less on a daily basis. Once you’re reached that goal and you’re moving on to Baby Step 2, that emergency fund protects you from having to use a credit card.

If you do need to dip into the emergency fund, you shift back to Baby Step 1 and build it back up to $1,000 before continuing to attack debt.

The idea behind the baby steps is to build momentum and a reality-based sense of accomplishment. You feel better because you are better.

The way you do that is through focus.

If you’re paying a little of your credit card debt each month and putting a few dollars into retirement, regular savings and the kids’ college fund, it’s likely you won’t make noticeable progress on any of them, and then when an emergency arises (like the water heater breaking down) you’ll need to borrow still more to meet that urgent need.

That’s why Ramsey recommends pausing retirement contributions for a time while pursuing the first step with gazelle-like intensity. Then you start paying off your non-mortgage debts, smallest to largest, without regard to interest rates. Go for the first debt you can totally eliminate.

When you pay off that debt, you roll the amount you had been paying on it into the next smallest debt payment, increasing your and repeat the cycle until they’re all gone.

That’s the debt snowball. That’s momentum.

The key is to get a quick win with the starter emergency fund, and then to continue getting positive reinforcement.

I think Ramsey’s Baby Steps metaphor for a personal finance makeover is helpful in thinking about a process for improving health and fitness, too.

The individual tips in my top 20 list are good on their own, but trying to do them all at once could be self-defeating.

I didn’t make all of those changes at the same time; it’s been a four-year journey.

But I did find that having made some changes and finding success gave me confidence to try the next thing.

I just didn’t know at the time what that next thing would be.

Now, looking back on what has worked for Lisa and me, I think I can outline a process that would make sense and help you build momentum toward a healthier 2021…and beyond.

So tomorrow I’m going to start a new series called #BodyBabySteps.

Like Ramsey’s money recommendations, the first few will be foundational, and I’ll spend a week or so looking at each of them from various angles.

Because we’re pursuing behavior change, we need that reinforcement. You don’t change habits in a single day.

I hope you’ll join the journey. You can subscribe by email, and I’ll also post links on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

If you think your friends might find this series helpful, I hope you’ll share by email or on your social networks using the buttons below.