(Note: This season physical health journey will focus on balancing my endocrine system through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. Other Journeys this season include True-Up/Sharp Ax and the Eve & AM Journey. )
I’m excited to start this journey. A little history: I’ve always been pudgy but I wasn’t really unhealthy until I got a high-stress job about ten years ago. About the time I needed to start focusing on my health because of age I let it go almost entirely. It’s been an uphill climb since.
The reality is, even if you don’t struggle with your weight, our western diet and lifestyle don’t lend to health. We fight a two-front battle with our own bad habits/lack of knowledge and our culture’s lack of nutrition and physical activity. In truth, I’m not the only reason I’m fat, but if I don’t take on responsibility then I’m not empowered to change it.
I’m not a fan of traditional goal setting. I don’t find it innately motivating the way some people do. That may come as a shock given that I’m in the self-improvement arena with this blog and the books that are coming. I just know that goals can take my focus off what I really want (abundant life) and make it about one thin aspect of that (dropping x lbs. in x amount of time).
I do find goals helpful as benchmarks to make sure I’m not doing something unhealthy and that I’m still on track.
I’ve lost 70lbs in that last 5 years, then hit a plateau. Last year I broke through and lost another 15 lbs, hurrah! Which I gained back over winter, boo! So my first goal this season is to drop 5lbs a month for June, July, & August.
I can tell you what has worked:
Thrive by Level helped a lot, but was pricey, so I’m searching a for good replacement for it (probiotic/prebiotic/metabolism boost). I focused heavily on the gut when I lost pounds last time and will again.
Sitting less. I was able to add more activity throughout the day, which I will again. I love to “ponder walk” now, and whenever I hit a roadblock at the laptop I get up and walk around the block. I come back with answers and better health.
I worked out in the gym 3 times a week. Again that got expensive and after my initial boost, it leveled off effectiveness. I shifted to home workouts and that’s the direction I’m going to stick with this time. I read somewhere that 7 out of 10 people who lost weight and kept it off worked out at home or within a block of home.
I got sick…by that I mean I literally came down with the flu, pneumonia, then bronchitis during the winter of 2017. It shrank my stomach and I didn’t stretch it out again until the holidays. I’ve been really healthy this year even though my wife and daughter got sick this last winter. I’m going to use portion control & intermittent fasting techniques, described below, to reproduce a smaller appetite.
My Conclusions from Last Years Experiment
It may seem like a disappointing list but I learned two valuable things. First that some of the most significant things we do for our health can be quite simple and obvious. The other thing I learned is that there are saboteurs in the mix that cause failure no matter how hard you try. I think I identified that saboteur.
Although recently you’d think that fad diets were equal to men and women, for decades mainly they were aimed at women. I don’t think we get quite the right balance of nutrition while trying to eliminate everything that could or does cause problems. That combined with our current load of chemicals, stress, and sedentary lifestyle creates a hidden logjam guaranteed to derail our health efforts by running us out of willpower.
My Plan at this Time:
I’ve been pouring over research and testing ideas on myself for the last couple years and we need a two-pronged approach. First, self-control is actually part of God’s nature. It’s listed among the fruits of the Spirit… (Gal 5:22 & 23)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
So we can’t divorce our Spiritual walk from our efforts to become healthy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need a plan. My friend Chriss Skaggs once said, “God supplies everything you need, like salvation, but if you want something in this world you’ll need to fight for it.
So step two is an effective plan. That means we need a flow of actions that address a wide variety of physical, emotional, and lifestyle needs.
In the past I’ve looked at the areas I need to cover as Sub-Categories:
- Diet – What to eat/not eat
- Exercise – strength training, aerobic
- Lifestyle – Sleep, active habits, etc
It can be helpful to list my research that way since it’s the widely accepted way to do it. I’ll include both my own experience/research and also what I’m learning from Ben Levi’s course on building testosterone without supplements.
- Diet – What to eat/not eat
- Basically paleo (+ legumes & relume grains)
- Eat Brazil nuts before bed
- Supplements: Creatine & Magnesium (Probiotics, Prebiotics & Digestive Enzymes)
- Exercise – strength training, aerobic
- Basically CrossFit (eventually)
- Starting with Home workouts, resistance, and isometrics
- Lifestyle – healthy habits
- Active habits, (Don’t sit so much)
- Stretching, balanced (tai chi)
- Stress reduction
I have a new take on the categories this time based on a balanced approach. Since I’m amazed by the mileage I’ve gotten from simple changes, I believe we need to conquer this incrementally. So I’m going to break things up into stages as you’ll see below.
The List So Far:
Lifestyle – Start here if you want to have success
Sleep – when your body repairs and builds hormones
Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room. (Red light okay, Blue light is bad). Eliminate electronics an hour before bed. Get at least four 90-minute increments (6 hrs) 7.5 hours is best. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning (even weekends). Train your body.
Ponder walking – (Stop being sedentary)
Get up and move, look into standing desks, park farther from the door, find a fun activity like hiking, swimming, or bike riding that you can do with friends and family. Get one of those watches that reminds you to get up and move.
Stretching – Not what you’re thinking
We need a full range of motion. Static stretching is good too, and I will start doing it every night before bed. But the big need here is activities that require us to work the support muscles. I’m eager to find a good tai chi (or hsing ha), teacher. This way I can de-stress at the same time.
Stress Reduction – Live inside out, and loved
We need to a balanced approach to handling both the urgent needs of the day and making progress toward our life goals. I’m writing a book later this summer on ways to be more organized.
Frankly, there are seasons in life when we need to just survive, or work our way out of a corner. This doesn’t mean we aren’t loved by God. I’m writing a book to address this concept right now.
For the purposes of this journey plan, we need daily devotionals before bed and first thing in the morning. I recommend Graham Cooke’s audio teaching on rest and the Daily Battle section of my book, “Primacy of God.”
Drinking – (Reduce liquid calories, add water)
Increase water intake by having some on hand at all times. I’m allowing bullet coffee every morning (occasional red wine in the evening).
I’m supplementing my food with a morning smoothie of almond milk, protein powder cinnamon & turmeric. I’ll add more on this later.
Things in moderation: Alcohol (Mainly red wine) & caffeine (coffee once a day, never pop).
Eating – (Basic diet is my take on Paleo which I call the caveman diet)
Portion Control – The toughest thing I’m going to do by far. I’m going to eat from a smaller plate, take home half of any restaurant meal, reduce protein size and add veggies to lunch & dinner.
What I don’t eat: No processed sugar or artificial sweetener, pre-prepared foods with more than five ingredients, gluten, MSG, or things I’ve learned I’m sensitive to (milk). For now, I’m giving up mint (anti-testosterone).
I can’t worry about everything all the time, so I’m not stressing about sodium or fats.
What I do now eat: I’m not strictly low carb; to paleo, I add, dried fruits until lunch, rye bread or ancient grains or steel cut oats during breakfast okay.
I specifically try to eat fish & avocado! Salads or veggies with lunch & dinner. Eat more garlic, onions & basil. Brazil Nuts before bed snack! (Contains selenium, vital, but only eat 3 or 4 nuts)
I take supplemental vitamin D3/K2, Creatine, Magnesium,
Things in moderation: Dark chocolate.
Core – Balanced Health begins in the gut
I’m supplementing my food with probiotics (kombucha/kevita/pills/fermented foods). Digestive enzymes capsules.
Work out –
Squats (Ti Lo Han), Sit-ups, Push-ups, front & mule kicks (while balancing)
Intensity – (to be added in phase three)
Diet – supplement with EGCG (green tea extract) sometimes.
The big add here is intermittent fasting. There are several ways to accomplish this, but the method I favor is skipping breakfast a few times part of the week. There’s good research to support the benefits of fasting on insulin sensitivity, but the big goal here is to shrink my stomach and keep my body in it’s place.
I’m going to skip breakfast on Tuesday/Thursday.
Work out- Break a sweat and lose your breath
In addition to the other maintenance workouts I’m doing, I need to break a sweat at least three times a week. Rip a little muscle and raise your heart rate. This triggers my metabolism to burn and my endocrine system to balance. It’s also true that having more muscle results in burning more fat. Men need to labor, it’s in our DNA.
I’m going to try to find productive ways to get this workout Monday/Wednesday/Friday, like yard work, but I’m willing to hit a gym sometimes with a focus on my arms and shoulders.
Cheat Days –
Might sound crazy to include this here instead of the lifestyle section, but really it’s just dealers choice. The idea here is to increase willpower by giving yourself a break once in a while.
I’m going to combine this with a weekly date night. Want to reduce the feeling of being deprived by knowing there is a day when I can enjoy what I’m craving. It’s not gone forever, it just has to wait until I decide to do it.
An added bonus here is that if I screw up early in the week, I simply need to count that as my cheat day. The other big advantage here is we often discover that eating that thing you thought you wanted wasn’t worth it compared to how your body feels later.
Any resources I’m leaning on God to help with
All of it! I wish I had someone to tackle this with me, but I’ll manage.
Specific places I predict challenge (prayer requests)
I’m concerned because when I take on something big like this it often derails something else I’m working on…and I can’t let the other journey’s I’m on fall off my plate. I’m trusting that if I go moment by moment God is faithful to take care of things.
Estimated Start Date: June 10th (the day after my birthday)