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Peak Prosperity

The New Me (Round 2)

Adam's story
Wednesday, April 8, 2015, 8:52 AM

As mentioned a few weeks back, Chris and I are working on a new book focused on resilience. In it, we leverage our own version of the 8 Forms of Capital framework to emphasize the point that Financial capital is just one of a number of equally-important components of true prosperity.

One of those other components is Living capital, which can be loosely defined as the natural systems (plants, animals, soil, water, etc) we depend on. It also includes our own bodies -- our physical health and well-being.

For me, Living capital's importance to true wealth is well summed up by the quote "If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything" (extra credit to those who can name the source for this quote). No matter how much of the other forms of wealth we amass (money, possessions, knowledge, etc), if we're too infirm (or dead) to enjoy them, what's the point?

Our longtime readers likely remember Chris' recount of his health transformation back in 2011, in which he trimmed off over 30 pounds through a process of prudent changes to his lifestyle. I should add that 4 years later, he's successfully maintained his healthier state and kept the weight off.

My Story

I've gone through a similar transformation as Chris and have been meaning to share that story for a while now. Mostly, because the results I've enjoyed are in many ways informed by, as well as validation of, the many health experts we've interviewed on this site over the past few years. And because I hope my example will show and inspire others that real, lasting positive health changes are possible -- regardless of age, fitness level, how 'busy' you are, etc.

The path of my transformation has occurred over a longer time than Chris' did, but the results are similarly large. But don't take my word for it: the "After" photos provided further down in this article will let you judge for yourself.

Mid-Life Morass

I spent most of my 20s and 30s working within the rat race of corporate America. In the morning I left early for work, fought traffic on my commute, arrived home late (too often, after my young children had gone to bed), snarfed down a late-night dinner, usually followed by logging back in to my work VPN to prepare for the next day.

This schedule left little time for investing in myself. I rationalized my situation by viewing it as a sacrifice that would yield returns in the future. But exactly when -- or even if -- those returns would materialize, I had no clue.

I was stressed-out, unhappy, and chronically over-programmed. So, like most desk jockeys, I added a little more padding around the middle each year. And with every birthday, I'd accumulate another new ache or infirmity that the Age Fairy gifted.

By this time, my eyesight was pretty shot from years of reading the footprint type of too many financial statements, and all-nighters with Excel and Powerpoint. I was one of those people who, if they took their glasses off and put them down somewhere, needed their glasses to find them.

And by my late 30s, I was beginning to have dental issues. While a pretty low-key guy during waking hours, the stress of life manifested subconsciously: I ground my teeth constantly while sleeping. By my late 30s, I had worn the enamel completely off the top of several molars.

Here's a picture of that happy guy, taken at some point in my 30s. Let's use this as the "Before" photo:

If my circumstances at this point feel familiar to you, if you perhaps see a little bit of yourself in the guy in this picture, read on to learn how it's possible to reverse many of these effects, and re-discover many of the health benefits you enjoyed as a teen. I'm not exaggerating. 

Reclaiming My Health (And Youth)

I'll provide a quick recap of the steps and resources that were most effective for me. If you're looking to make a similar transformation in your own health, I'm confident you'll see similar results if you follow these (or at least, those that are relevant to your personal condition).

Step One

But first, let me start with the single most important step: Making your health a priority. For many, many years, I simply didn't feel I could do that. I always subjugated it to the needs of my family, work, finances, and all the other demands life placed on me. I imagine most of you reading this can relate.

To break out of this trap, you have to realize that everything you hope to accomplish in life depends on you being present and capable of performing it. Your children, your work, your dreams: they need you alive and well-functioning, now and in the future. If you sacrifice your health in pursuit of them, you actually jeopardize the outcome you're hoping for.

You need to give yourself permission to invest in your health, and to protect that investment. In my case, I started by creating a monthly time and money budget. I set a goal of how many hours per week I'd devote to working on my health (exercise, educating myself, specialist sessions, setting goals, etc), and what I was willing to spend per month in pursuit of that goal. That's not a bad way to start, and you don't have to start big. In fact, I'd recommend starting small so that your goals are achievable and your progress sustainable.

Vision

An early step I took was to address my vision issues. I hated how limited I felt by my glasses. And given that I had recently watched The Crash Course for the first time, I saw my pronounced near-sightedness as a real vulnerability should the future ever contain periods for me where eye care may be hard to come by.

After consulting with a few eye doctors, I decided on laser surgery to correct my vision. This was hands-down one of the top best decisions I've ever made in my life.

I ended up having PRK surgery instead of LASIK due to my thin corneas, but the two procedures are more similar than different. It's the closest to magic I've ever experienced in my adult life. I quickly went from being fully dependent on my glasses to having 20/20 vision; 20/10 vision in my right eye. And nearly a decade later, my vision is still excellent.

The procedure isn't cheap -- on average laser eye surgery costs about $2k per eye these days -- but it is COMPLETELY worth it. What's the value of clear vision and independence from glasses and contacts? A lot higher than the cost of this procedure, in my book. And when amortized over the several decades of benefits you receive, it's a screaming deal.

Based in part on my positive experience, Chris underwent LASIK in 2013. He's similarly pleased. I'll stop raving here, but I welcome readers who have also had the surgery to share their experiences in the Comments section below.

Dental

Emboldened by the success with my eyes, I tackled my teeth next. Similar to vision, dental issues compound the older we get, and get more extensive and expensive to correct the longer they go unaddressed. Reading When There Is No Dentist really re-inforced to me the wisdom of fixing the structural issues in my mouth while the dental system is still working dependably.

While I never needed braces as a child and I had enough room to keep my wisdom teeth, the nightly grinding had created a misalignment with my bite over time. As a result, before they could repair the enamel damage, they needed to fix the alignment. So, at the age of 39, I got my first pair of braces.

Yes, it was a little socially awkward. But not nearly as much as I had feared. And the braces were off in less than two years, allowing for my dentist to repair the enamel damage to my molars with crowns, and provide a bite guard to protect my new perfect teeth from grinding in the future.

From the research I've done since, I figure I saved myself a boatload of future pain and money over the course of the rest of my life. As with eyes, what's the price of decades of trouble-free teeth? Many multiples more than the cost and short-term inconvenience this required. Plus, I also enjoy a relief from worry that has been and will remain with me for years to come.

For these reasons, if like I had, you have a dental condition that may lead to bigger problems down the road, I highly advise making the investment now to take care of it.

Fitness

As you can see from the "Before" photo above, I wasn't morbidly obese or overly sedentary. I just was carrying about 20-25 pounds more than I needed to.

I was running 3 miles most mornings. In fact, I ran two marathons in my late 20s/early 30s, as well as completed a half-Ironman triathlon at 36. So I wasn't a total lump.

But still, each year another pound or two crept on. And increasingly I was plagued by persistent infirmities that started handicapping my ability to exercise. Joint pain (especially in the knees), plantar fasciitis, tennis elbow, shin splints -- age seemed to be creeping up on me. For a long time, I just thought this was the tax we all pay for getting older.

But after learning about the benefits of high intensity, constantly varied training -- explained well here in our excellent podcast with Mark Sisson from 2013 -- I explored the many options in this growing movement and ultimately decided to try CrossFit.

I joined my local CrossFit "box" (that's how CrossFitters refer to their gym) in July last year. The first month absolutely crushed me. Each workout was an exercise in survival. During the second month, I realized that not only was I not going to die, but that my 40-something year-old body was capable of much more than I thought possible. By the third month, I was addicted.

Here's where we get to the "After" photo.

(This is awkward for me to share publicly, as I've always had a little bit of a body-image insecurity throughout my life. But if this helps lead somebody to decide to take control of their physical health, then the potential embarrassment is worth it).

We just took photos after completing a two-month challenge at my CrossFit box (men have to do these photos with shirt off). Here are mine:

So...not the Hulk. But not the Blob, either. And a BIG difference from where I was in my 30s.

Short story: In my 9 months of CrossFit, I've gotten -- by far -- into the best all-around shape of my life, and dropped from ~208 pounds to ~185. I haven't been that weight since college. And I'm able to do things with my body I couldn't come close to doing in high school, despite playing 4 varsity sports back then. Even better -- as the weight dropped, my supporting muscles strengthened, and my body responded to the conditioning -- all those supposedly age-induced joint pains and related aches disappeared.

I believe strongly that anyone can reap huge benefits from such a fitness regime, focused on constantly varied functional movement at relatively high intensity. Especially when coupled with a performance nutrition plan and a solid support community. Why do I believe this so strongly? Because I've seen it work. With myself, and with many people I've witnessed go through their own transformation while following this program. People of all levels of physical ability and all ages.

Good next steps for those interested in learning more about this type of fitness training are reading Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint, visiting your nearest CrossFit box, or searching for gyms in your area that offer 'Boot Camp' style classes.

Nutrition

Despite my raving above about the CrossFit program, the secret weapon to better health and fitness is nutrition -- hands down.

Whether you're looking to lose weight, feel better, or boost your performance, nutrition is going to be easily 80% (at least) of the solution.

So much of what we in the West have been conditioned to eat is terrible for us. And just as with other machines, bad fuel = bad performance. A bad diet not only makes us feel crappy, but it leads to inflammation which accelerates the aging process on our bodies, as well as makes us vulnerable to all sorts of disease.

The good news is, there has been a recent revolution in understanding what type of food is best for our bodies (hint: as close to nature as you can get) and how diet affects health and performance. Putting it into a nutshell, strive to eat whole foods: meats and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruits, little starch and no sugar.

The literature on nutrition these days is vast, and can be a little overwhelming for the uninitiated. Good starting resources are our diet-related podcasts with Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson and David Seaman. Nutritional programs worth investigating are the Paleo, Primal and Zone diets. It sure won't hurt to consult with a professional nutritionist to discuss your personal health situation and goals.

Sleep

As discussed in Chris' recent interview with neuropsychology expert John Arden, sleep quality is one of the greatest -- as well as one of the most over-looked and under-appreciated -- factors for good health.

The benefits of sufficient sleep are many, and the cost of too little can range from chronic fatigue and lack of focus, to weight gain, to greater risk of diabetes and heart attack. Sadly, over 75% of Americans experience some form of chronic sleep disorder. Our frenetic pace of life often cuts into sleep quantity, and the impact of digital devices messes with its quality.

I was definitely one of those who was quick to sacrifice hours of sleep to accommodate other priorities. I figured I'd sleep enough when I'm dead. And I was frequently guilty of bringing my smartphone or laptop into bed to continue working, not appreciating how badly the bright glare was messing with my body's ability to recognize time of day and shut itself down properly for the night.

Over the past year, I've made a concerted effort to avoid entering sleep deficit. I've shifted my average bedtime a few hours earlier and enforced a hard "bed before midnight" limit on any nights that threaten to go late. I do my best to log off from phones/tablets/laptops/etc at least an hour before bedtime. And to help further, I've downloaded software (f.lux, for those curious) that removes the blue light from my digital screens after the sun goes down, so as to minimize my electronics' impact on my ability to sleep soundly.

As a result, despite all of the CrossFitting, I'm more rested these days than I've been in decades. Not only is my sleep quality greatly improved, but I've re-discovered my childhood identity as a "morning person". I awake easily with the sun and have found that my most productive time is in those first few hours when my internal batteries are full, I'm clear-minded, and the rest of the world hasn't begun its bustle yet.

This is an easy win for those looking to boost their health. Give yourself a sleep curfew. Ditch the devices an hour beforehand. You'll notice a big difference in just a few days.

Stress Management

Even without the science telling us the toll stress takes on our health, I think we all pretty much intuitively agree that chronic stress is not good for us. But how to reduce it?

I used to get really irritated by folks who would tell me I shouldn't stress so much. No Duh! I'd think. Thanks for the newsflash. Now...can you tell me exactly how it is I should do that? Because if you haven't already noticed, life is stressful!!

I'll admit to having not exactly mastered the ability to insulate myself from stress yet; but, I have made a ton of progress here that may be instructive for you.

By taking a hard look at what I wanted out of life, and where the gaps existed between my reality and my goals, I was able to make some big life decisions. I made a few really big changes, most notably, I made a big career transition -- deciding to leave the executive track at Yahoo! (where I was a Vice President) and partner up with Chris to found Peak Prosperity. This change, while stressful at times in itself, brought my daily work into much better alignment with my beliefs and values, which ultimately has given me a tremendous amount of inner peace.

Similarly, my wife and I looked at the frenetic, impersonal lifestyle that we and our friends were living in Silicon Valley and decided to leave for a location much better suited to our desired manner of living. So we moved to a much more rural, resilient and community-oriented town. Our only regret is not having made the move sooner.

The message here is to find those areas of greatest misalignment and tension in your life, and then identify the steps you need to take to bring them into harmony. These may be small steps, or ones as big as those I took. You'll need to figure out for yourself what's needed given your specific situation. For those looking for help in this process, the steps provided in Stage One of my book Finding Your Way To Your Authentic Career are focused on guiding you through this process.

Reclaiming Your Health

If you're one of those people who identify with the 'me' described in the "Before" stage of this article, know that I've written this for you.

Our behaviors are shaped by the beliefs we hold, by the stories we tell ourselves. If we tell ourselves we're too busy to act, we won't. If we think we're too old for exercise, we won't try to.

Chris and I place a lot of value on having teachable models of success to show people, because they're one of the most effective means for influencing beliefs. Hopefully both his transformation and mine can serve as compelling models for some of you, and spur you to ask yourselves: If these middle-aged guys can do this, why shouldn't I?

All the steps I've documented here are available and actionable by the vast majority of folks reading this. I promise that if you follow them, and pursue them with discipline and commitment, you will see good results. Great results, even.

You'll feel better. Look better. Be stronger. Faster. Less likely to get sick. Happier. More peaceful. You'll likely live longer, and with better quality of life.

So my question to you is: Regardless of your current state of physical health, what are you willing to commit to start doing, today, to improve it?

Let us know in the Comments section below. We're all here to support each other. 

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37 Comments

westcoastjan's picture
westcoastjan
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 4 2012
Posts: 575
excellent job Adam!

Congratulations on your success! I really enjoyed this article and hope that is further inspires me to make some of the changes I need to make.

I think it is especially valuable how you noted the "investments" in health - eye and dental work. We often talk here on PP about where to invest for the best return, and I think investing in one's health ultimately brings a return far greater than any financial instrument ever could. Like you I had some serious dental work done to avoid future problems. My teeth were so close together the pressure was starting to cause hairline cracks in them. There was also the grinding problem. At the age of 56 I am on the last six months I my four year orthodontic program, which has included braces for two years and jaw surgery (which included a bone graft from my hip). The cost over and above my benefit plan has been approx. $12,000. While it was a lot to commit to, doing nothing had the potential to morph into serious oral health issues as a senior. Fixing this health issue means far more to me than having that money parked somewhere in the markets, so no regrets here. The outcome has been worth it!

Thanks for sharing this positive article - always good to have this stuff to read in the midst of all the doom and gloom news.

Jan

 

Rector's picture
Rector
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Posts: 515
Funny you mentioned it. . .

As I drove my girls (3 & 5) to pre-K this morning they started giggling in the backseat as only little girls can do.  The sound was pure joy (as I was in a good mood) and for some odd reason I realized that their happiness depends largely on my continual presence in their lives - they love their Daddy and I love them.  This flash of the obvious led me to think of my lack of conditioning and fitness and the potential that has to rob them of something irreplaceable - Dad.  I'm 42 and have a long family history of fatal heart disease, cancer, and other maladies of the modern age.  Both grandfathers and my father had multiple bypass surgeries, and one ultimately died from a massive coronary.  All of us are type A and I am the most high strung of the group.  I realized that I needed to do something different - and fast.

Fast forward an hour and I sit down at my desk (my butt actually hurts from sitting so much at this damn computer) and hit Chrome to check the progress of the collapse.  After reading about Iran's naval activity off the coast of Yemen, I ended up on PP.com and your article hit me between the eyes.

I've made numerous half-hearted attempts to start exercising, but they always result in disorganized and low intensity fooling around.  I am disgusted by my own laziness, but exercising solo is just boring and it is too easy to escape accountability.  I have no legitimate excuse, so I'm going to join a local Crossfit box.  Truthfully I would rather be tied to a post and bullwhipped, but I need to get off the couch before it kills me.  Thank you for the motivation and I'll let you know how it goes.

Rector

sugraham75's picture
sugraham75
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Posts: 13
If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything

Best movie ever :)

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
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Posts: 306
Wheat Belly
Quote:

 Nutritional programs worth investigating are the Paleo, Primal and Zone diets

Add Wheat Belly to that list. I've lost 70 pounds by following the precepts of Wheat Belly by William Davis.  It has taken over two years, with more to go, but for me, eliminating wheat was the turning point, the approach that finally worked after decades of weight issues.

In other areas, I've been blessed with good teeth and good vision, so I don't need to make big investments there ... but I'm sure tempted by laser treatment for wrinkles. cheeky
 

 

sjdavis's picture
sjdavis
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 21 2008
Posts: 78
Great motivation and a suggestion for stress

Thanks Adam, both you and Chris have certainly given teachable models.

I need to reboot this transformation myself.  Was eating paleo a year ago with great results, then let a few things slip for convenience, then convenience took over and pounds followed.  Right back to the difficult part of step 1.  So on that note, I'll make a commitment to start and just go for a long walk everyday.  Maybe graduate to high intensity.

One suggestion I can give related to stress is meditation.  Any type should do.  I've been practicing TM so that's all I can speak to.  It's simple.  There are many benefits, but I don't want to appear as proselytizing.  If interested, I can share more or there's loads of information online.

Time2help's picture
Time2help
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 9 2011
Posts: 2892
Just some thoughts
Rector wrote:

I've made numerous half-hearted attempts to start exercising, but they always result in disorganized and low intensity fooling around.  I am disgusted by my own laziness, but exercising solo is just boring and it is too easy to escape accountability.  I have no legitimate excuse, so I'm going to join a local Crossfit box.  Truthfully I would rather be tied to a post and bullwhipped, but I need to get off the couch before it kills me.  Thank you for the motivation and I'll let you know how it goes.

Rector

If you are a bit older and just getting into crossfit, don't feel pressured to go "all out" the first while you are there.  Do what you can, and don't push yourself too hard until you build up some level of fitness/endurance.  Don't be concerned (and do not feel bad) if you need to stop for a minute to catch your breath.  Some of the instructors can get pretty intense, ignore them (silently) if needed.  It took me a while to recover from an injury sustained pretty much solely by pushing myself too hard too soon.

If you find yourself enjoying crossfit, I'd recommend you check out Krav Maga, or something similar.  The warmups are similar, and this will cure the "boring" part of your workouts.  When someone is trying to hit/kick/throw you it's no longer boring.

And to cut down on the weight, eliminate 20-25% of your calories, basically all of the "sugary" ones. 

The local city council is debating an ordinance that would limit crossfit gyms to certain locals within the city.  Seems some are finding the early morning group tire runs disconcerting enough to raise a stink angry.

Thetallestmanonearth's picture
Thetallestmanonearth
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Posts: 324
Adam, Thank you for the kick

Adam, Thank you for the kick in the pants.  I'm only 29, but I'm feeling the lbs start to pile on as a result of sitting at the desk most days and not eating as well as I know I should.  The physical activity I do get is mostly gardening which is better than nothing, but I wouldn't describe it as high intensity and it's not having the desired impact.  My wife asked me if I would go to yoga with her tonight and after reading this I told her yes.  I've been afraid of trying cross fit because of the risk of injury, but I've seen some pretty amazing transformations and the most fit people I know all do it so I will look into it this week. 

Now as to the left over pizza I was planning to eat for lunch.....I hate to waste, so I'll start in on the nutrition part of this journey soon.  Small steps. :)

climber99's picture
climber99
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Joined: Mar 12 2013
Posts: 188
Get Chris to take you out climbing, Adam.

I know that Chris did some climbing in his youth.  Get Chris to take you out climbing,  Adam.  Great fun.  Hiking into the crags helps fitness.  Build upper body strength to increase your metabolic rate.  Stress and other worries get forgotten about.  Amazing locations usually.  Adventure.  You can get started at your local climbing wall after work and the whole family can to do it with you.  Age and gender is not a constraint.  Kids as young as 7 to old folk of 70.  (I'm 53 and still going strong)

Great article.

 

Ed

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
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Posts: 5694
similar path

Adam-

Full points for sharing your body picture, Adam.  But I have to say, even the "before" picture looks good...top 10% of the "over 30" group for sure...I suspect the changes are far more dramatic internally.

I went through a similar path - a slug during my 20s, and then discovered the need for exercise as I got close to 30 and realized I had a very round face and was 25 pounds heavier and 4 inches fatter than when I entered college, and that entropy was unlikely to reverse all on its own.  (Super-burritos every Monday didn't help, either).  A familiar story in the tech world, as I'm sure you know.

I tried a bunch of things, diets and exercise, was able to control myself and got down to 155-160 and all was well, but it was always a constant struggle to maintain.  Then I discovered muay thai and things became a lot easier.  Instead of tedium and an act of will, exercise became fun because the focus was on learning and doing rather than on gutting out the 30-45 minutes on some machine.

These days I don't exercise as often as I used to - now muay thai is only 2-3 times per week and another 2-3 days with weights (still boring, alas) - but I can outperform most of the 20-somethings that come to my gym (minus actual fighters, of course) and nobody thinks I'm as old as I really am.  I had a guy who was in fact younger than me look at me and say, "when you get to my age, you'll understand."  I just nodded my head in response.  I already understood.  Its not easy.

Really, the key for me was finding what form of exercise that I actually enjoyed, but that is strenuous too.  I'm not sure I'll be able to do it 20 years from now, maybe I'll have to start doing Tai Chi in the park.  But until then...

 

AKGrannyWGrit's picture
AKGrannyWGrit
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 6 2011
Posts: 498
Inspiring!

Great article and the timing is perfect to inspire us to get into better shape this spring.  Congratulations on accomplishing a lifestyle tweet that will pay dividends for the rest of your life!

Now for the important question, is that you doing the one armed hand-stand or is that your next goal? Impressive picture never-the-less!

Am going to listen to the referenced podcasts again. Thanks for sharing your story!  Well done.

AK GrannyWGrit

jgritter's picture
jgritter
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Joined: Dec 13 2011
Posts: 273
Thank You

Thank you, Adam for putting your self out there.  I have gotten hammered with health problems in the past couple of years and was also looking at cross fit prior to seeing your article.

Inspirational, 

John G.

 

charleshughsmith's picture
charleshughsmith
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 15 2010
Posts: 727
don't knock tai chi in the park

Hey Dave, don't knock tai chi in the park--it's not for lightweights! OK I'm joking, but I recall looking down from a Shanghai skyscraper in the early morning hours watching the oldsters doing tai chi on the pedestrian overpass below.  Tai chi and other slow forms of wu-shu help maintain balance and can build muscle mass if each movement is made as if pushing against a force. Ditto yoga.

I'd also like to put in a good word for bicycling as a replacement for autos wherever possible. That way, you get fitness during the course of doing chores. This requires living in an urban or suburban zone of course, and having streets that aren't death traps. Bike-friendly cities/towns are worth a lot IMO.

One way to track your progress is the Army Physical Fitness Test which anyone can do on their own. Nothing fancy, but it tests core cardio and strength. Here is my experience doing the test at age 60 a few years ago: http://www.oftwominds.com/blogapr14/APFT4-14.html

Do not attempt the test if you haven't had a physical recently--and you need to be well along a fitness program that makes you comfortable with running 3 - 4 klicks (KM).

Jbarney's picture
Jbarney
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Joined: Nov 25 2010
Posts: 233
Working the Land

Adam,

Thanks for this article.  It is a reminder that as we go through the long emergency, we may not have access to many of the long term health "opportunities" that are available now.  In a few of his writings Chris has suggested people get health issues taken care of now, while everything is working normally.  Who knows what health care will look like in some of the scenarios we all worry about.

Just a few thoughts...I'll be turning 40 in July, which I have heard is intellectually tough for many men. I think about getting older, but 90% of the time I think I'm blind to it.

Part of the reasons for this are some of the life style changes I have made after being awakened to the dangers of collapse/decline a few years ago.  I don't claim to be "in shape", but I'm doing pretty well.  6 foot 2, about 215 lbs.....I could stand to trim a few pounds, but working the land we purchased has made me feel great these last few months.  Usually February and March are months that drive people inside....this year it was too freaking cold for most people to think about being physically active outside.  Well, I wanted to be doing physical work, and I wanted to be improving my land...so I have been pruning apple trees for about two months.  As the sap started running up here in Vermont, I've been lugging 5 gallon buckets back and forth from collection tanks, etc.  The work has been very uplifting and I can feel a difference in my arm strength.

One final point, and I can not stress this enough....sometimes just stretching can have very positive effects on health and attitude.  I need to do more of it.

Peace.

LesPhelps's picture
LesPhelps
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Joined: Apr 30 2009
Posts: 811
Congrats

Congratulations Adam.  

Ditto what Charles said about bikes.  Feet will get you short distances as well.  I'm thinking about weaning myself away from my car this year.  I'll never give one up completely, but I'm thinking about racking up days where I let it sit.

Jenny and I did a lot of hiking and biking in Arizona this winter.  We're on our way back to Wisconsin now.  We are hoping to keep it up at home.  

On a side note, we drove back through West Texas today, through Midland/Odessa, the heart if the Permian basin.  The extent of damage being done there by the fracking industry is simply depressing.  I took a few pictures, but there is no way to see the real extent of the damage without driving through the area.  The traffic is so heavy in West Texas that, at times, you have to queue up and stop on the shoulder of the highway to wait your turn at the exit ramp.  There are queues at gas pumps and restaurants, worse than you would expect in a dense metropolitan area.  This is West Texas.  There is supposed to be almost no one out here!

There are fewer drilling rigs in operation, but just as many temp workers and just as much maintenance traffic as we saw in January.

 

 

 

Dan Miner's picture
Dan Miner
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Joined: Apr 26 2009
Posts: 18
Thanks, Adam!

Hi Adam, thanks for this great and inspirational article about your personal journey. You and Chris are demonstrating for your readers a grounded, healthy physical response to what you've been writing about - and what we've been reading about - for a long time.

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Dan Miner
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Yay Rector!

I'm sure many of us see ourselves in your post.  I have to work out more too.  Go for it, buddy!

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SagerXX
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Awesome transform, Adam

You should be pleased/proud of your results.  Next time, SMILE for your "results" photos!  

And your quote:  "everything you hope to accomplish in life depends on you being present and capable of performing it," is priceless.  I'm giving a speech about just this subject tomorrow to a local Rotary club (from my Pilates POV), and am unashamedly going to use it (prefaced with "A wise man once said...").  <smile>

 

VIVA!
Sager

 

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SagerXX
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Yes, Tai Chi

Just started Tai Chi last month.  It is an excellent way for a burly dude like me to come to understand *softness* and *flow*.  FWIW, I sweat plenty even if it seems like I'm not "working hard"...  

It's also a fine example of Do Things You're Bad At.  I am not a natural at Tai Chi, and consistently flailing at it is good medicine for my ego and soul.  I look forward to being Terrible at Tai Chi for some time.  

Then, I'll go find something else to suck at...

Viva -- Sager

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jennifersam07
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Applaud that new mindset

Yes, that change in thinking is critical -- to view an investment in personal health as something more than vanity. I think those of us who are trying to get beyond the cultural obsession with youth and physical attractiveness have a hard time seeing fitness as a sustainability issue, but it obviously is just that. The ultimate sustainability issue.

I am 63 and recently also had that epiphany, losing 30 pounds, and devoting more attention to strength and endurance fitness. It became obvious that, being self-insured, and not wanting to live out my golden years medicated and in pain, it was time to act. Dogs help -- they find such joy in a daily walk it makes it a lot easier.

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Dogs_In_A_Pile
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Mastery

Sager - looks like you have attained conscious incompetence.  You're halfway to Mastery.  But don't be a dabbler.

1.  Unconscious Incompetence - You suck AND you don't know it.

2.  Conscious Incompetence - You suck, BUT you know what you suck at.

3.  Conscious Competence - You no longer suck.  In fact, you're good.  But you have to think about it.

4.  Unconscious Competence - Mastery.  You're good and you don't even think about it.

Everyone starts at 1.  80% of new endeavors end somewhere in here.  Of the 20% moving on, about 17% get stuck here.  These are the "dabblers".  They yutz around for awhile and then move on to the next shiny object.  The 3% that reach level 3 are quite content.  2.9% stay at level 3.

But that 0.1% that moves on to Unconscious Competence..........think Yo Yo Ma, Rene Fleming, Doc Watson, Maria Callas, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jaco Pastorius, Enrico Caruso, Pele, John Wooden, Christy Mathewson, Michael Jordan, Stephane Grapelli, Django Reinhardt, Itzhak Perlman, Bill Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee.....you get the point.

My guitar playing is about to break from 2 to 3.  After a 6 year layoff following the death of my mandolin instructor, I'm back at it and newly into level 3 (I have no use for B arpeggios....ever).

We should have a beer sometime.

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cgolias
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That we were all so non-Hulkish

Hi Adam, 

Great work! You say following your picture

Adam wrote:

So...not the Hulk. But not the Blob, either. And a BIG difference from where I was in my 30s.

It looks like you have great functional strength and that Crossfit has worked quite well for you. Congrats!! thats' amazing. In a bit of a different story than some of the others posted here, I can speak from experience that one can be quite "in-shape" while lacking the capacity/physique to be resilient. From my late teens to  my mid-20's I was an obsessive gym rat. I would lift individual muscle groups to see gains in their mass while doing cardio and curtailing calories to minimize body fat. One summer changed my approach. During this summer, a workout buddy and I were at a pool party. It was warm, but we both started shivering because we were losing so much heat due to a combination of muscle mass and little insulative fat. That same summer, I found that the lack of fat reserve and type of training made me too tired to be an effective moving helper or keep up on hikes, even compared to friends who supposedly weren't in as good shape. Why put in so much work, only to be weaker and less-functional? The point here is that what our culture seems to think is "in-shape" doesn't cut it when the body really needs to perform. I've since focused upon kettle bells, yoga, high intensity intervals, sports, and backpacking, which has resulted in a much more resilient me. In short, who of us actually even WANTS to be the hulk? It is totally unsustainable and non-resilient.

 

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Adam Taggart
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Great Comments All Around

I'm very pleased this article appears to resonate on the meaningful level it was intended to. It's an honor to hear that so many of you are planning deliberate steps to make your health a higher priority.

Jan:

Good for you for making such an investment in your dental work. You got my point exactly, oftentimes our dollars can generate a much better 'return' for us when exchanged for another form of capital (in this case, better teeth for your senior years) rather than to purchase any Financial investment.

Rector:

I loved the vignette about the epiphany you had while driving your daughters. That's exactly the light bulb I was hoping to turn on for readers. If you sacrifice your health in the pursuit of the happiness of those you love such that you die in the process, you're actually failing them. They need you well enough to remain in the game.

And by the way...being post-tied and bullwhipped is a popular CrossFit workout, so you'll get your wish smiley(kidding)

Sugraham75:

We have a winner!! Inconceivable!

sjdavis:

Yes, thanks for mentioning meditation. Adding that to the list of topics for upcoming podcasts.

Tallest:

Good for you. FYI: the physical habits we develop in our 20s are the ones most likely to carry through the rest of our lives. Sounds like you've still got a year to squeeze some good ones in  :)

climber99:

Great idea. I'll being seeing Chris in a few weeks and think a trip to his local climbing gym is indeed in order.

DaveFT:

You're exactly right. Finding an activity that holds your interest is an important key to remaining committed.

AKGranny:

Yep, that's me. I'll take a clearer picture next time to make it more obvious.

JohnG:

Sorry to hear about the health issues. I've seen a lot of prior conditions folks had prior to CrossFit disappear as their fitness and nutrition improved. Hope the same happens for you.

Charles/Jbarney/Les:

Yes, yes and yes. There are all sorts of ways to integrate functional exercise into daily life. You guys have surfaced great examples.

Dan/Sager:

Many thanks! Sager: glad you liked that line. Steal away!

jennifersam:

The mindset is everything. Congrats on your impressive progress!

coglias:

Great question: "Why put in so much work, only to be weaker and less-functional?" I agree 100%: if we're going to invest time and energy in our bodies, let's make sure it pays off in a way we value. That's an important one of the reasons I'm glad I found CrossFit and the nutrition programs that complement it.

SagerXX's picture
SagerXX
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Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote: But
Dogs_In_A_Pile wrote:

But that 0.1% that moves on to Unconscious Competence..........think Yo Yo Ma, Rene Fleming, Doc Watson, Maria Callas, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jaco Pastorius, Enrico Caruso, Pele, John Wooden, Christy Mathewson, Michael Jordan, Stephane Grapelli, Django Reinhardt, Itzhak Perlman, Bill Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Lee.....you get the point.

*  *  *
We should have a beer sometime.

Second that, bro.  

I always learn to swim quicker when my feet can't touch bottom.  My sifu is half Filipino sage, half airport luggage handler.  A most excellent combination.  Sages get so tiresome if all they ever do is sit on mountaintops drinking tea and writing poems on leaves.  

I'm down for that beer next time I swing thru your nabe.  Great to see you pop up, old timer.  <smile>

VIVA -- Sager

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Cornelius999
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Tai Chi; Chi Kung; Yoga....

The good thing about Tai Chi etc., is that once you've got the chi flowing in your body( the whole idea ) it can quite often keep flowing of it's own accord.  Because of stress etc I've not been practicing for years, and the flow still happens and even deepens!  Problem is getting it going in the first place.  I cheated a little by attending healing centers  where healers transmitted the chi to a group of 7-15 through space, probably a la Mesmer.  Tony Quinn is main healer's name. After aggrivating the scientific thought police, and journalists looking for easy hatchet jobs, the man retreated to the Bahamas for a quiet life and to enjoy his megabucks.  He seems to get chi and the universe to work in ways the guys with Ph Ds learnt was impossible.  I'm only praising his psychic powers not some of his methods of using them.

 

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jennifersam07
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This is somewhat relevant

And poignant. Ah youth.

http://aaronbleyaert.tumblr.com/post/109959086957

 

cmartenson's picture
cmartenson
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Ah, ha ha ha!
jennifersam07 wrote:

And poignant. Ah youth.

http://aaronbleyaert.tumblr.com/post/109959086957

That was great.  #4 caught me and had me rolling.  Great comedic timing.  Well done.

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David Allan
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Posts: 109
Tai chi / fitness / cider - take your pick

Great to see a spirited defense of tai chi after that brutal put-down from DaveF laugh.

As a 10 year+  daily practitioner I can attest to the health benefits - core body strength, balance, co-ordination, flexibility. Unfortunately I'm no longer actively learning  right now due to our shift to the country - but once the general principles are internalized it is a powerful practice for life.

Keep going Sager!

The other side of fitness at the moment is the hard physical slog of working on the land. This is completely different to the subtle energy buzz of tai chi, though equally valuable.  I'm there too, Jbarney. And I make damn good cider!

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InfiniteSelf33
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Great article and congrats to

Great article and congrats to everyone!

I strongly agree with you Adam when you said diet and nutrition is approximately 80% of the solution. It seems that this topic didn't represent a large portion of the comments and seems to be very difficult for many people. The diets you have suggested have a common theme which wasn't mentioned and it's to eliminate grains. Yoxa did mention Wheat Belly which is a good book. For most people this is one of the best things people can do to improve their health. This along with cutting out sugar. Most people know that soda is bad but don't give much thought to all the crackers, breads, and pasta. There is plenty of research on gluten and it's effect and how people can become addicted just like sugar. What we are really talking about here is the health of your gut. There is very interesting research looking into the connection between the gut and the brain. Not only does the brain send signals to the body but the gut sends signals to the brain which effect many things especially your mood and mental clarity. It's tough to be short here and not explain everything but it would take forever. The point is when you eat well you feel well. That in turn will make it much easier to get up and go exercise and so on. You will be less stressed because you won't have the highs and lows and mood swings and will be able to work more efficiently. To get to the point the three best bits of simple advice for nutrition which is to:

1- drink way more clean water

2- eliminate grains and sugar

3- Avoid processed foods especially canola oil and corn syrups which are in everything

As Adam said a whole foods diet is the way to go. Locally raised meats, dairy, and veggies is key. I'll share a few links to my favorite sites and most effect products for taking control of your health.

One last thought...I keep hearing "sitting is the new smoking". So for everyone who said I'll just start with a walk or something along those lines and feel guilty that that isn't doing much, it may be more beneficial than you think.

http://www.mercola.com/

http://www.westonaprice.org/

https://www.bulletproofexec.com/tom-malterre-gluten-gut-microbiome-elimination-diet-202/

http://www.thesynergycompany.com/v/pure_synergy.html & multi vitamins

http://www.ascendedhealth.com/products_Anti_Aging_Superfood.htm#Products

http://www.detoxmetals.com/

http://sonnes.com/store/product-category/7-detoxificant-32-oz-liquid/

http://www.redicecreations.com/radio/2015/04/RIR-150406.php

http://www.lifesilver.com/

Herbal supplements can be very expensive. I suggest which seems appropriate for this crowd to fill your own capsules at a fraction of the cost. Turmeric is a most for everyone.

https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/

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Thetallestmanonearth
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Posts: 324
Great comments

I've enjoyed seeing so many people respond to this and I have been surprised by my level of response as well.  Last night I did my first on-ramp class at the local crossfit box (check me out, I know the lingo now).  One fringe benefit of Cross Fit not discussed in this string yet is community.  My wife and I moved to this area a little over a year ago and have been trying to build relationships with people.  We've invited the neighbors over.  They were nice people, but it didn't really go anywhere.  We've shopped for a church, but have not found one we are comfortable with.  We've taken classes at the conventional gym, but haven't met anyone. I've met a few guys in bee club and at the chain saw shop, but so far there's no depth to those relationships.  True community requires acknowledging that we need other people and offering something in return.  In a world where money buys everything you need there aren't many opportunities to ask for or give real support.

While when I was writhing around on the floor trying to hop up from just one more burpee and tasting blood and the people next to me offering encouragement really meant something.  When we ran we slapped hands with everyone we passed.  It's a very comfortable encouraging atmosphere.  Without doing awkward round robin corporate introductions ("tell everyone your name, your favorite candy, and one thing most people don't know about you" - gag!) we got to know everyones name and a little bit about each of them.  Obviously one night of working out with a group of people does not equal community, but it was the most promising interaction we've had since we moved here.  If I'm able to walk again by Saturday morning I'm planning on going back.

 

cgolias's picture
cgolias
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I second what Thetallestmanonearth said...
Thetallestmanonearth wrote:

One fringe benefit of Cross Fit not discussed in this string yet is community.  [...] While when I was writhing around on the floor trying to hop up from just one more burpee and tasting blood and the people next to me offering encouragement really meant something.  When we ran we slapped hands with everyone we passed.  It's a very comfortable encouraging atmosphere.  Without doing awkward round robin corporate introductions ("tell everyone your name, your favorite candy, and one thing most people don't know about you" - gag!) we got to know everyones name and a little bit about each of them.  

This is a great insight, tallest,  and has also been my experience. Every place I have moved its the same story--rec league teammates become friends or acquantainces become workout buddies and turn out to be great friends. After all, its built in that you see them a few times a week. Non-activity based friendships can rarely generate momentum so quickly. There is also something about shared physical activity that puts down guard more than other kinds of social activity. It is definitely a win-win--you are simultaneously growing two kinds of non-traditional capital.

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cmartenson
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Great stories and comments everyone

I can attest, Adam is a new man.  Much healthier and vibrant than when we first met...and he can say the same about me.

For me the magic was in the 80% - changing what I ate had more impact on my state of health than anything.  I cut out what were (are) for me inflammatory agents as evidenced by the high levels of circulating antibodies (IgG) I had against these foods.  For me those were pretty much all dairy items (very hard to give up!!), eggs, almonds, wheat, scallops, and a smattering of other foods.

Basically, meat and veggies and I am good to go.  

My vice (downfall) continues to be potato chips, which were not on the ban list (technically) and therefore I allow myself that deviation.

As far as exercise I wish I had a "box" right down the street, but the closest one is about 22 minutes away, which exceeds my personal boundary.

So I exercise on mon/wed/fri with some pals at the local volunteer fire department.  Weights and such.  And then during my work day, especially when a Fed official speaks, I will push back aggressively from my desk and go do a few curls, or planks, or dips (off the coffee table).

At any rate, what works for me exercise wise are these two words; 'every day.'

I don't have to do much...5 minutes is a world away from 0 minutes, and I manage to keep the weight off, the muscle tone up (vanity wins!), and I am in much better shape than I was a few years back.

For me, consistency is the key...and if I have to have a 'box' that is 22 min away to rely on...I know myself...that will fail me...because at heart I am an efficiency nut (lazy man rationalization alert) and what works for me is 5 minutes every day instead of an intense hour 3x per week that sometimes transforms in 0x per week.

But that's me.  If I had a box right up the street, I'd do it.  I've seen the results on Adam and I'd hop in to that program in a skinny minute...hope I could survive the first month of on-ramp pain, and then join the cult which calls itself cross fit.  :)

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Jbarney
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Posts: 233
More Work Outside

Just wanted to share the great work day I had outside.  We have a fairly big lawn.  In the fall I was able to rake up most of the front yard, but now that the snow is finally gone....(holy crap) I started the task of doing the rest of it.  I don't know everything about mulch (If anyone one wants to give me tips, feel free) but I am raking up the leaves onto a tarp and dragging them up to the apple and pear trees I planted last fall.  Keep the leaves away from the young trunks, but covering the ground under the trees.  Two apple trees were there when we bought the place, my guess is they are three years old now.  All of the others are smaller, but healthy.  So far they appear to have made it through that ice age of a winter we just went through.  Anyway, collecting bark, cutting small pieces of wood, just trying to build up a good layer of mulch.

And the entire effort is great physical activity.

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CleanEnergyFan
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Posts: 110
Third Tallest and Cgolias

Adam thanks to your inspiration I finally went to do my first Cross Fit class yesterday (Sat AM).  Wow I have worked out with weights in a gym for many years and usually work out for far longer than the cross fit class but was amazed how tired I was when I got home.  I too was looking for the community aspect that Cgolias mentioned as I don't get that at my old gym (especially since I discontinued Basketball yrs ago due to age knees etc).  I am also going to try a yoga class and experiment with some different types of classes to see what works best.  Today I went back to my fruit tree planting which made for a great weekend workout. Really looking forward to reconnecting with my PP community at Rowe this year...it sounds great!

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BettyCO
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Posts: 2
WOW!!!! Congratulations on

WOW!!!! Congratulations on your success!!!

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sand_puppy
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Posts: 2041
Chubbiness

A prominent researcher on the biochemistry of obesity, David Ludwig, MD, PhD, will give a grand rounds lecture at the Cleveland Clinic on June 7.  It will be live streamed for 24 hours only.  You can sign up to access the stream.  (Sign up link)

Which Comes First?  Overeating or Obesity? by David Ludwig

Ludwig is a pediatric endocrinologist who runs a pediatric obesity unit at Boston Children's Hospital.  He has a very extensive bio (here) and has done clinical behavioral research and biochemical research on obesity and its treatment.  His work forms much of the foundational research and synergizes with that of other writers on Paleo Diet Rob Wolf, Mark Sisson, and Loren Cordain, several of which have been interviewed here on PP.

One of the more fascinating things to emerge from his teams research is to document with functional MRI scanning the activation of the reward and craving sections of the brain after meals of differing composition.  4 hours after a sugary meal, craving are high.  This leads to a following meal that averages 200 calories more.  In this way, the eating of sugary foods reinforces more eating of sugary foods and the incessant process of weight gain.

[David Ludwig is different from Robert Lustig, MD, PhD, another Pediatric endocrinologist who heads another childhood obesity unit, this one at UCSF, who gave this viral youtube lecture on sugar metabolism a few years ago.  Conclusions are very similar.]

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Jim H
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Posts: 2391
For me, there was more to it than sugar....

For me, and I believe many others.. it was the wheat;

http://www.wheatbellyblog.com/2012/04/wheat-is-an-opiate/

Modern wheat is an opiate.

And, of course, I don’t mean that wheat is an opiate in the sense that you like it so much that you feel you are addicted. Wheat is truly addictive.

Wheat is addictive in the sense that it comes to dominate thoughts and behaviors. Wheat is addictive in the sense that, if you don’t have any for several hours, you start to get nervous, foggy, tremulous, and start desperately seeking out another “hit” of crackers, bagels, or bread, even if it’s the few stale 3-month old crackers at the bottom of the box. Wheat is addictive in the sense that there is a distinct withdrawal syndrome characterized by overwhelming fatigue, mental “fog,” inability to exercise, even depression that lasts several days, occasionally several weeks. Wheat is addictive in the sense that the withdrawal process can be provoked by administering an opiate-blocking drug such as naloxone or naltrexone.

But the “high” of wheat is not like the high of heroine, morphine, or Oxycontin. This opiate, while it binds to the opiate receptors of the brain, doesn’t make us high. It makes us hungry.

When I got off of wheat three years ago.. I was finally able to control myself.. control my diet.  My cravings for that next fix were almost completely eliminated.  Also, my joints finally felt better after years of inflammatory and/or autoimmune attack.  The biochemistry of this is all very well documented by Dr. Davis in his book, "Wheatbelly" and on his blog. 

Everybody is different.. and I am sure that not everyone is sensitive to wheat.. but I remain convinced that many maladies, and many cases of intractable obesity, are rooted primarily in this one aspect of the modern diet.  Of course, to Sandpuppy's point, my favorite forms of wheat used to be sugar delivery vehicles like donuts and cake  : )

 

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
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Joined: Dec 21 2011
Posts: 306
It was wheat for me too
Quote:

 For me, and I believe many others.. it was the wheat;

Count me in that number.

I've lost ninety pounds over three years since I read Wheat Belly and started following its precepts.

That's one year and twenty pounds more than when I posted earlier in this thread! :)

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