Why I Run

It took some effort to pull my front door open, it always sticks on cold mornings. That’s just one of the quirks of this weird old house. As I stepped out into the morning air my dog looked up at me from the couch with a look of confusion and disgust. “What the hell are you doing human? If you are going out there at least close the door, I don’t have thick fur.” he seemed to say.

What the hell was I doing? It was bitter cold out, autumn has overtaken summer with a vengeance and the air burns my lungs in the morning hours. My hands immediately start to curl up in search of warmth, reminding me again that I need to buy some gloves. Oh well, I can buy gloves later. Right now I’m going to run in a big circle around a park a few times with the soccer moms and retired folks.

The reasons I run are varied, and I need all of them to keep me moving. Getting out the door usually requires me to focus on the short-term benefits. Running wakes me up and suppresses my appetite to prevent snacking. It also gets the blood flowing through my body and clears my head. Running in the morning has consistently improved my  job performance and my writing, and it keeps me motivated to take care of my body and life. When I don’t run I’m more likely to spend the day on the couch with Oreos and Netflix being a sloth, but when I run in the morning I tend to get my errands done, eat fairly healthy, and get a lot of work done. This first positive action in the morning sets the tone for the day.

But those reasons really only get my out the door and to my first mental wall (usually around mile 2). I need more than that if I’m going to push past the walls and keep running. For that type of motivation, I need to focus on the long term and philosophical reasons I run.

The first reason, as cliche as it sounds, is my partner. My body is kind of a gift to her and I want to take care of it. I want to be healthy enough that our lives can be long and fun together and that means investing a little bit of time now for a big payoff later. An investment in me is an investment in us. I also really like it when my partner tells me she finds me attractive, particularly when she is specific. There is just nothing that boosts my self-esteem like when she wraps her hands around me and says “wow, I can feel your abs”. Is it superficial? Sure. Do I care? Not really. I like feeling sexy to her and myself. It is kind of cool to step out of the shower and see myself in the mirror and be happy with what I see.

The second reason is related to my partner. Well, it is at least related to our relationship. Since we have a “not completely monogamous” relationship I have opportunities to be intimate with others with my partner’s consent. I can’t really fall into the “now that we’re married she’s stuck with me so I can let my body go” trap if I want to keep having the sexual variety and experiences that I’m interested in. I realize that attracting a intimate partner (or to get people to keep sending me sexy snaps @pneiger) is more difficult if you don’t appear healthy, particularly when I can’t offer any type of romantic relationship. When I lack the ability to provide love for a future partner I need to make up for that in other ways, being fit and providing friendship is a way I can do that.

Another reason I run is kind of quasi-spiritual. I see my body as the most amazing gift I’ve ever received. I don’t think there is a god out there that gave me a body, but if there is one then it seems like I should show respect for that gift. I wouldn’t take something my mom gave me and treat it like shit, why would I do that with my body if it is a gift from a loving god? It seems pretty disrespectful to eat junk and neglect your health if your body comes from god. Anyway, I don’t really believe that, but I do think this life and body is a gift of sorts from the universe. As such, I want to treat it well and see just I can do with it. I love self-experimentation and my body is an opportunity to see what my potential really is. I want to try and run 100 miles or be physically fit enough to explore space someday. I want to try and live until the point when death becomes optional.

Running is also tied to my life philosophy of libertarianism and minimalism. I believe in personal responsibility, including self-defense. But self-defense isn’t just owning a well-maintained firearm and practicing your marksmanship because other humans are not the only danger we face. It is very unlikely that I will need to use my gun to save my life, but it is very likely that I will need a healthy heart and immune system to save my life. I exercise because I love my life and I want to increase the quality and quantity of it. Eating junk food and neglecting your health is to commit slow suicide, it is anti-life.  Life starts with the body. As for minimalism, if I want to live a life with few possessions and lots of leisure time, I need to stay healthy. Health expenses add up quickly and I need to take as much responsibility for minimizing those costs as my genetics will allow.

Like all philosophical views, this is just my ideal, one that I fail at regularly. I’m not trying to get on my pulpit and put others down (just last night I ate way too much ice cream and cookies and seriously slacked on my exercise), this is just meant to illustrate what I think about to keep my body moving when I hit walls while running.

Another source of inspiration is my nieces and nephews. I want to be alive and healthy throughout as much of their lives as I can. I want to celebrate victories with them and be there to comfort them when they are hurting. I want to provide guidance, support, and my perspective on life (if my siblings are foolish enough to let them). I’ve seen first hand with family and friends how being unhealthy can shorten the quality and quantity of your life. there are plenty of people my age (35) who can’t walk up stairs, play with their children, or travel because of their health. I want to postpone that as long as I can. I imagine this drive to be healthy and see their children grow up is even stronger in parents. I know how much I care for my nieces and nephews, but I’m sure that pales in comparison for the love parents feel. Maintaining a healthy body and being a good example seems like it would come hand-in-hand with parenting.

I don’t love running, but I don’t loathe it anymore either. It takes effort every day to get out and pound the pavement, but it is slowly getting easier and I keep finding more reasons to run. Hopefully, that continues and I’ll be in my 70’s running 8-minute miles around the park still.

 

Post-Script: I forgot one thing, I’m kind of a hedonist. I enjoy pleasurable experiences such as recreational drug use and ice cream. In order to balance the damage those experiences do to my body I need to exercise. A long life is boring if it doesn’t include pleasure.

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Meditation on My Mind

I’m really geeking out about meditation and the effects emotions have on our physical and social well-being. Between just finishing “Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama” and taking a Positive Psychology class on Coursera, my life is being bombarded with research on how the mind and body are connected, and how meditation and our emotional state can affect our health. So, here are some random things on my mind…

  • Being stressed out fucks with your immune system which increases the likelihood that you will get sick, and can even prevent vaccines from being as effective
  • There is the positive feedback loop between practicing meditation and cardiovascular health. When people practice lovingkindess meditation they improve their interactions with others, which improves their cardiac vagal tone, which increases their ability to connect with other people, which improves their cardiac vagal tone… and vice versa. Meditation helps improve relationships, which improves health.
  • Improving the cardiac vagal tone is linked to better regulation of your heart rhythm, glucose, and inflammation, as well as improved attention, emotions, and recognizing social cues
  • The mind is part of the body and requires just as much care as our muscles and bones.

But, how does meditation compare to other practices that encourage love and connection? Can we study how secular meditation benefits the body and social relations, and compare that to highly religious people who don’t practice meditation? Or maybe people who volunteer a lot or play team sports?
If practicing lovingkindness benefits cardiovascular health, do negative emotions damage cardiovascular health? Do we see the same benefits in other types of meditation? What would happen if we started implementing mindfulness and lovingkindness meditation as part of our educational system? Or our workplace? Or covered meditation mentorship with health insurance? Could we see a decrease in health issues and social issues?

I don’t think meditation is a panacea to social and individual problems, but it certainly can’t hurt to encourage people to take a few minutes each day to focus on love and live in the moment.

 

Glutton Days

After two months of pretty hardcore focus on my nutrition, I took a little break for the last week or so. There were a lot of reasons for this. We just moved into our new house and have been trying to get furniture and adjusted, we have a friend staying with us right now which disrupts the routine a little bit, and my fall last weekend gave me a little scare. So, I spent the last 10 days just kind of eating whatever I wanted, not paying attention to calories, and drinking more often. It wasn’t really great for my bank account or my waist line, I gained about five pounds (though, I’m sure a little of that is water weight).

I think I needed a time of feast and celebration to put things back in perspective and get motivated.I am definitely motivated again to eat healthily and exercise. As much fun as it was to eat fatty, salty, sugary, processed food, it actually had a negative effect on my overall well-being. I didn’t sleep as well, I felt really sluggish, and my mood was noticeably more depressed. It was incredibly difficult to get myself to do any of the things that I needed to do or wanted to do, instead, I just wanted to lounge around, eat more, and watch Netflix. I slacked on my Khan Academy, Courseara classes, and my meditation practice. I also found myself spending more money on books and such than I normally did. Basically, I’m really excited to get my habits back to a healthier place, particularly my food consumption.

I think it is important to celebrate accomplishments and enjoy life. That balance is important for me, at least while I am still creating a new habit. Maybe a year or so down the road I won’t need extended periods of gluttony, maybe just a cupcake every Sunday will be enough (or, ideally, I won’t need anything). I don’t know, it will be interesting to see what the future holds as I keep pushing towards a healthier me.

Genetic Determinism

Many times in my life I have used genetics as a sort of determinism to limit my own potential. Certainly, there are things that I am genetically incapable of doing, but that list is much smaller than I usually realize. In a sense, saying I can’t do something because of biology (or society) can be an excuse for not trying, an easy way out of a hard situation. There is also a tendency to compare my abilities and potential to others and assume roles… for example, my brother is the artistic one, which means I’m not artistic.In a family of six kids we all kind of had unofficial roles and passions to help us stand out as individuals.

The areas of my life where I have used genetics as an excuse is varied.

  • I’ll never be comfortable with an open relationship because I’m naturally jealous or monogamous (I certainly overcame this one)
  • I’m naturally “stocky” and I will never have six-pack abs (Working on this now, I wanna get sexy for all the ladies and gents)
  • I’m just not a good artist
  • I’m not creative a person and creativity is something you’re born with (I actually don’t think that is true, I’m beginning to see creativity as a muscle to be exercised instead of a genetic trait like eye color)
  • I’m terrible with foreign languages and will never be fluent in one
  • I’m not musically talented and can’t sing or play an instrument
  • I’m not a good dancer
  • I’m not good at helping people who are mourning
  • I’m not a funny person

I am certainly never going to be the most talented person in any of those areas, but that doesn’t mean I should neglect them outright if they are areas that I truly want to grow in. Instead of using genetics as an excuse I need to be more honest with myself, and that means my weakness in those (and many other) areas generally falls into two categories: improving in them is very difficult or I’m not really interested in improving in those areas.

Roles, identities, and the things I love and hate (or are good or bad at) can provide me with direction and purpose in life, but I shouldn’t mistake them for who I actually am. I am someone who does economic analysis, but I am more than just an economist. I am someone who isn’t good at art, but I am more than just a bad artist. I am a person who enjoys being outside, but I am more than just an outdoorsman.

When I accept something as beyond my control and wrap my identity up in it, I abandon opportunities for improvement. Instead of seeing something as an area in which I can improve with hard work, I just surrender or; instead of seeing something as a subject that I genuinely don’t enjoy or have an interest in or see value in improving I act like a victim, “I would love to draw but I just don’t have the talent.”

How I Lost 20 lbs in 8 Weeks

Since stopping the bike ride I’ve been refocusing my energy on my own health. My goal was not to lose weight, but as I focused on my health and fitness the pounds kind of slowly melted off. I know that 20 lbs is not a huge amount of weight and 8 weeks is not an incredibly quick time (my results certainly won’t be on the cover of a magazine in some grocery store check-out lane), but everything I’ve done is something that I think I can maintain long term. The habits are sustainable for me, which I think is going to really help me maintain my health in the long term. There is, of course, the normal disclaimer… this is what worked for me but there is not guaranteed results. I also am not a medical professional, I do like to experiment on my own body and I think the internet provides a wealth of knowledge that allows us to live very unique lives. All I hope from this blog post is that maybe one person will find part of it interesting and be able to improve their own life because of it.
Prologue
On July 8th I started a new chapter in my life. My partner and I decided to stop our multi-year bicycle tour indefinitely. Instead of travelling, we decided to settle down for a bit in Wilmington, North Carolina. I knew that if I did not take very conscious control of my health as soon as we stopped I would become unhealthy very quickly. One perk of the bike tour is I could pretty much eat anything I wanted because I was constantly active. During the ride my weight stayed around 180lbs, a little heavy for my 5’7” frame but I felt good and wasn’t really concerned about it. I had it in my head that I would lose weight on the bike ride because of all the exercise, but that never really happened. It turns out, for me the key to losing weight is mostly my diet.

Luckily, I’ve always had a reasonably healthy relationship with food. Growing up, food was not a major part of my life. My family very rarely ate meals together and the food that was prepared for us was mostly bland tasting. I didn’t dislike food, but there was nothing about it that was particularly appealing (except pizza). My parents were raising six kids and both of them worked full time so we mostly ate canned veggies, pasta, and processed stuff you can throw in microwaves. Not exactly healthy, but that diet did prevent me from having any kind of psychological connection to food that could lead to an unhealthy relationship. I don’t have any type of sweet tooth and am never tempted by donuts, cakes, candy, etc., at this point sodas are actually unappealing to me because the sugar and such is so overwhelmingly sweet that it makes me sick to my stomach. Of course, there are times when my health fluctuated because of my diet, but that was mostly because I was ignorant to nutrition and how to actually cook good meals. A little education corrected that problem.

Admittedly, by the time I stopped the bike ride I had some things working to my advantage. First, my partner is a dietitian and I can ask her random health and nutrition questions when they come to mind. Those questions rarely change my behavior, but they keep my brain focused on health and keep my curiosity going. A curious mind can be a great source of motivation to improve your life. Second, I’m vegan, which means my diet is already pretty heavy in healthy foods. Yes, you can be a really fat and unhealthy vegan (potato chips, French fries, and some ice creams are vegan after all) but if you stay away from the processed foods your diet becomes really low in calories and rich in nutrients quickly.

Phase 1 – CRON and New Habits
When the bike ride ended I sat down and wanted to re-evaluate my relationship with food. What is the purpose of food for humans? For some people, there is a deep cultural bond with food that relates to their family and upbringing. For others, food provides a mental stability and comfort during stressful times. Neither of those is true for me to any strong degree. For me, food is about two things… calories for energy and nutrients for the body. With those two goals in mind, I started playing around with recipes to see what kind of nutrients I can get from what kind of foods. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains are pretty damn nutrient rich, so I put myself on a vegan CRON (Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition) diet. I actually didn’t know the CRON diet was an official thing until weeks after doing it myself.

The foundation of my daily diet is breakfast. For breakfast, I eat around 900 calories. I have a veggie scramble, a piece of avocado toast, a protein shake, and a piece of fruit. The veggie scramble varies from recipe to recipe but is usually made up of black beans, brown rice, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms, spinach, and broccoli, with nutritional yeast and chia seeds added in. The protein shake is Orgain chocolate protein powder (vegan), powdered peanut butter, and coffee. Below this paragraph is a screenshot of Cronometer.com after I have put in my breakfast.
Breakfast
As you can see, after one meal I have already consumed my daily requirements for many vitamins and minerals. It is very, very important for every person, regardless of their diet, to be aware of any nutritional deficiencies they may have. I think many people (myself included) are often ignorant to what their body needs and may lack important nutrients like fiber, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E (http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/missing-nutrients-in-your-food).

The rest of my meals are usually much lighter. Lunch is usually just some beans and rice, and for snacks, I stick with a handful of nuts or fruit. Dinner is a meal that I cook out of one of our cookbooks. I don’t aim for calorie reduced meals specifically, but I have changed my habits so that my meals serve the purpose of providing my body with what it needs. That means I’ve started recording my meals into Cronometer.com before I eat them, which is particularly important when I’m out drinking with friends. If I jump onto my phone and record one more beer before I order it at the bar it can deter me from drinking excessively (which is good for my wallet, my waistline, and my mood the next morning). I also drink lots of water, coffee, and tea to keep my body hydrated and stomach full, I eat a little when I start to get hungry to prevent myself from gorging, and when I eat I treat it like a meditation by eating slowly and focusing on the task at hand instead of allowing myself to watch tv while eating. Also, I have adjusted my sleep habits. No computers or phones after 9pm and in bed by 10pm, and up by 7am. Upon waking I would pee and then weigh myself (see below), the act of weighing myself daily seemed to put me into a healthy mindset at the start of the day.

Weight

At the end of Phase 1 (about five weeks) I was very happy with the results, but I wanted to continue with the experimentation. At this point, I’d lost 12 lbs and my body fat % was down 4%.

Side Note: On Exercise
I’ve been focusing on diet as the source of my weight loss, but I have been exercising too. I don’t think exercise has been a major factor, though. Exercise is certainly important to overall health, but weight (at least for me) seems to be controlled more by diet. When I was cycling 6-10 hours a day I wasn’t losing any weight, and sometimes I gained weight, but now I am only exercising 2-4 times a week and I’m shedding pounds.
To lose one pound of fat you need a calorie deficit of about 3,500 calories. Exercise just isn’t an efficient way to burn that much weight. You would need to run about 35 miles to burn that much weight, but only if that added exercise didn’t change your behavior through eating more food or moving around less during non-exercise time. In total, I ended up with a 70,000 calorie deficit and I’ve run 76.5 miles in the last eight weeks (there have been some other exercises like cycling and running but those weren’t cardio and were at a pretty slow pace). So, from running I’ve lost about 2 lbs or 10% of my weight loss is due to that exercise. Even if I double that to account for other extra activity that is still only 20% of my weight loss due to exercise, the rest is dietary changes.

Phase 2: Fasting
As happy as I was with the results, my interest in fasting started to come back. I don’t see fasting as a weight loss tool but as a tool for general health and longevity. If I want to live to the singularity and become immortal I need to take care of this meat suit. There is not a lot of tested evidence that shows fasting extends the lives of humans, but the hypothesis behind it seems pretty solid. At the very least, there isn’t a high chance of harm coming from fasting, and there might be some mental benefits. The Stoics believed in fasting from time to time to help you realize how little you really need in life and I think making yourself uncomfortable from time to time is good. Comfort creates stagnation.

I decided to hybrid two different types of fasting into my life. I started with the “16:8” fast. This fast is a daily fast and basically means you have 8 hours per day in which you eat and 16 hours in which you don’t. For me, that means breakfast around 10am and dinner around 6pm, with some snacks or small meals in between if I’m hungry. The rest of the time is a “fast”. The basic idea behind this (and the second fast I use) is that these times without food are good for the body for a couple of reasons. First, when you fast beyond 8-10 hours your body runs out of glycogen and you start to burn fat reserves. Second, when your body goes into fast mode you start repairing cells instead of producing new ones. If your body doesn’t think it needs to conserve resources it will just reproduce cells in large numbers, which increases the chances of poorly copied cells that can become cancerous, but during fasting mode, your body tries to conserve resources by repairing the cells you already have instead of making new ones.

I actively implemented the “16:8 fast” for about two weeks before starting the “5:2 fast”, which is a little more extreme. In the “5:2 fast” you have five days with normal calorie consumption and two days with a limited calorie consumption of about 600 calories. I actually only did this one day a week for the first couple weeks and just started doing two days a week last week. This is still a bit tough for me and I find myself hungry at around 6pm every fast day (about six hours after my meal) but that hunger goes away after a bit. It is tough right now, but I’m surprised at how fast the hunger goes away after some tea or water. It seems to be getting easier with each iteration as well.

Side note: Social Life
So, does this mean I don’t have a social life? Nah, not really. Sure, it is easier for me because I’m an introvert and really don’t want to leave the house more than 2 nights per week, but I still go out and have fun with friends. I don’t take this nutrition plan too seriously, it is just an outline to help my life out and get more healthy, it is a way to see exactly what my body is capable of. When I go out I just do my best to eat meals at home (or pick healthy choices when out) and keep my alcohol consumption to something reasonable. You can be social and healthy, for me, it is just a matter of self-control.

Next Step
Now that eight weeks have passed I feel like my diet is under my control. I am enjoying the meals that I eat daily and I like how much healthier I feel. I have more energy, am sleeping better at night, and I’m more productive at work and play. My mood and sex drive have both improved as well (I track all these things daily because I’m a nerd). For me, the next step is to keep this dietary plan while implementing an exercise plan. I want to be stronger. So, hopefully in eight weeks or so I can update you on that and have some measurements that show progress in strength as well as weight loss. (And hopefully I remember to put up some new photos soon… it has been a while)

Week 7 Update

Overall, this week went pretty well. I wasn’t perfect in my routine, but who is? I have found myself really bored with my body weight workout. All I’ve been doing is a day of push-ups and a day of planks (the house I’m currently in doesn’t have a place for my pull-up bar), I’ve seen some nice improvements but I find myself dreading the workouts because of boredom. To help remedy this I’m going to start using this workout 2-3 times a week and use push-ups and planks as a progress measurement tool. On a related note, I’ve seen almost no growth in my chest or arms since starting this routine. Part of this is probably because of human error and inconsistent measuring, but most of it is that my routine hasn’t really made muscle-building a priority. The only exception to this is my thighs where I am seeing pretty consistent shrinkage, I think I store a lot of fat in my thighs as well as my waist. As my weight approaches a level that I’m more comfortable with, and once I move into my own house this week, I will start focusing more on muscle production. My performance and health will improve if I have strength underneath the fat I burn away.

I have also started taking two Coursera classes (one on writing and one on data visualization), and I’m also using Khan Academy to improve my math skills. I’ve hit a rough patch with my book writing and am having trouble getting myself over it. It is a struggle but I am still working towards it.

My nutrition work has been going really well and I think I’m going to start to stray a little bit from it. I think a cheat meal (or day or evening or something) each week will help keep me motivated. Ideally, I’d get to the point where having things around the house daily wouldn’t be a huge temptation or become a slippery slope, but I’m not there yet. Maybe in a couple of months I can enjoy just one alcoholic drink or small treat daily, but right now I’m going to just allow myself one night a week to not worry about calories.

The measurements (What is being measured: This weeks measurement (Change from last week, change from day one)

  • Weight: 164 lbs (-1, -14)
  • Waist: 33.5 inches (-.5, -3)
  • Neck: 16 inches (+.5, +.5)
  • Chest: 39.75 inches (-.25, -.25)
  • Left Bicep: 13.5 inches (+0,-.5)
  • Right Bicep: 13.25 inches (-.5, -.75)
  • Left Thigh: 23 inches (-.5, -1.25)
  • Right Thigh: 23 inches (-.5, -2.25)
  • Left Calf: 14.5 inches (-.25, +0)
  • Right Calf: 14.5 inches (-.25, +0)
  • BMI: 24.93 (-.17, -2.13)
  • Body Fat %: 19.00 (-1.10 -6.02)
  • Average Daily Calories: 1802.14 (-56.14)
  • Average Waking Mood: 6.29 out of 10 (+.14, +3)
  • Average Midday Mood: 7.29 out of 10 (-.43, -.14)
  • Average Evening Mood: 7.86 out of 10 (+.29, +.57)
  • Average Morning Sex Drive: 5.71 out of 10 (+.14, +.29)
  • Average Midday Sex Drive: 6.57 out of 10 (+.57, -.29)
  • Average Evening Sex Drive: 6.14 out of 10 (+.43, +.43)
  • Walked: 7.25 Miles (-3)
  • Total Walked: 90.5 Miles
  • Ran: 11 Miles (+-5.25,
  • Total Ran: 70.25 Miles
  • Biked: 52.5 Miles (+28.50
  • Total Biked: 103.75
  • Pull Ups: 0
  • Total Pull Ups: 196
  • Max Pull Ups Set: N/A
  • Push Ups: 196
  • Total Push Ups: 1,778
  • Max 2-Minute Push Ups: 68
  • Plank: 900 seconds
  • Total Plank: 3,210 seconds
  • Max Single Plank: 300 seconds
  • Meditated: 75 minutes (+5
  • Total Time Meditating: 325 minutes
  • Average Nightly Sleep: 7.93 hours (+.61)
  • Daily Orgasm: 5 out of 7 (-1)
  • Blog Posts: 6 out of 7 (-1)
  • Foreign Language: 7 out of 7 (+3)
  • Work on Book: 1 out of 7 (-5)
  • Khan Academy: 5 out of 7 (+5)
  • Coursera: 5 out of 7 (+5)
  • Resting Heart Rate: 54bpm (-8, -5)

Currently Reading:

  • “Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama” by Daniel Goleman (Psychology and Science – Career Development
  • “The Gift” by Hafiz (Poetry)
  • “The Great Hunt” by Robert Jordan (Fiction, Audiobook)
  • “The Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday (Personal Development)

Fasting

Yesterday, I completed my first fast based off the 5:2 diet (I hate the term diet, but whatever). The basic concept is to reduce your calories to 1/4 your need two days a week and consume normal calories five days a week. The rough estimate for this is 600 calories for a man, so I went with that. After some research it turns out my daily caloric needs are closer to 1500 than 2400 (remember, the calorie recommendations are based on an average and none of us are truly average). So, next time I’ll probably try to do the fast with about 400 calories instead.

Anyway, it went pretty well. I had my only meal at 11am and it was a huge bowl of veggie tofu scramble and a half-portion protein shake. I’m trying to get as many nutrients as I can for the amount of calories that I take in, and that means lots of veggies and a little nutritional yeast to pull things together. Next time I’m going to cut out the tofu and replace it with black beans, that’ll give me more bulk by replacing the fat with protein.

I really didn’t feel too hungry until around 6pm, but that eventually passed. Drinking water, green tea, and a little bit of coffee was also a big help at keeping my stomach full. I’m sure going to bed around 10pm also helps because that means I’m asleep for a lot of the fast. Unfortunately, sleep didn’t come easily last night. I didn’t really feel hungry but my mind kept drifting towards what I would eat the next day. It was kind of weird. My sleep was kind of shit, I kept waking up and tossing and turning all night… I don’t know if that was because of the fast or because of other factors (Higgins moving around, the temperature being a little hot, etc).

I think I’m going to make a weekly fast part of my routine. It went well and if I do it on my running rest day I don’t feel like I’m hurting myself. In addition, I’ve realized that I am accidentally doing another type of “fast” diet, the 16:8 diet. In the 16:8 diet you try to consume all your food in an 8 hour window and “fast” for 16 hours a day. I already kind of do that, I usually don’t have my first meal until around 10pm and my last meal is around 6pm. I think I’ll just formalize that now.

Overall, this was a successful experiment for me (I love experimenting on myself). I realize that trying to find these kind of “hacks” can be a bit silly, but I think they have potential when you are already on solid footing with the basics. My health/fitness routine already has the essentials… nutrient-rich plant-based whole foods diet, regular exercise, lots of water consumption, a scheduled and adequate sleep schedule, minimal alcohol consumption, etc… so I think these hacks can keep me moving in the direction I want. Even if it doesn’t work out that way, at least I tried something new for myself. There is always value in that.