I have to thank David @Raptitude for giving me this excellent idea for a blog post of my own. You will find his own experiments and results here.
Ever since I discovered alternative ways of caring for myself instead of leaving everything to the fate of modern medicine and pharmaceuticals, I have treated myself as an experiment. If you’ve followed this blog all along, you’ve read some of them, but here are 8 experiments I’ve conducted and their results.
Since the primary purpose of this blog has been about the “Undiet,” let’s first talk about some of my previous diets and their effects.
- The Low-Fat Diet and writing down every I ate for 4 months (1993). Immediate result was that I lost 30 lbs. I followed a strict regimen and detailed every last crumb. How long did it last? Thinking I had it down and no longer had to detail every fat gram, knowing how I had been eating, I quit the log. Result? I gained every pound back in about 6 weeks. Why? Because I was HUNGRY! No fat means no lasting satiety.
- Atkins Diet (2003). I stayed on it religiously for six months. I lost 30 pounds. I kept it off about three years, then started gaining it back slowly. Why? Atkins stopped making their powdered shakes (which were the only ones I ever liked (and I tried a lot of them), and I got so I couldn’t look another piece of meat in the face. Seriously, I got nauseous every time I looked at anything coming from an animal with legs–even chicken. I still have never gone back to beef except what little grassfed, locally processed I can afford, once in a while.
- Walking 1.5 hours a day for six weeks and didn’t eat a lot (2009). I trimmed down, lost probably 15 pounds, but looked even learner because of all the exercise. I found the key for me is to walk uphill. I can walk all day on the flat and it doesn’t do a thing. Found out in 2011 that a brisk walk up and down a good hill regulates both my sugar and my blood-pressure. It’s resistance exercise.
- Intermittent Fasting (2013). See my previous post on the experiment here. This was the most important breakthrough in my “Undiet,” and in my health. I completely broke my insulin resistance using IF. Two and a half years later, my A1C remains normal, and I have been removed from the pre-diabetes roster at my primary care clinic. For a concentrated amount of time during the summer of 2013, I fasted, eating everything in a 6 hour period, usually between noon a 6 pm. Today, I confine everything to between 8 and 9 hours, usually not eating before noon, and finishing up with popcorn by 8 p.m. From the time I get up (around 7 a.m., depending on the season), until lunch, I drink a couple of cups of black coffee. If I want anything else to drink (which I usually do), then it will be water or tea. We drink lots of tea, primarily green or herbal. My weight is pretty much at a stasis, meaning I can eat whatever I want without gaining. And I do eat whatever I want. I never feel deprived.
4b. Is it really true that I can eat whatever I want? Yes, because I’ve learned what things I really want and what I don’t. After cleaning up my diet about 8 years ago, due to long-standing hypoglycemic episodes (over 20 years of them), I know what goodies I actually want and what make me feel like crap. You’re not likely to indulge in nasty stuff when it literally makes you feel like crap for several hours afterwards. I’ll create a separate post on this.
- Being active. For a million reasons (or a million excuses, you pick), I have rarely been very active. I’ve tried various things through the years to find something that I could make a habit of–bicycling, aerobics classes, taekwondo, walking, jogging–you get the picture. Once I started writing for a living, it got even worse because I was working for myself and, faced with constant deadlines, would park myself in front of the computer 15 hours a day. All the while I was reading that probably worse than anything you could do or not do, eat or not eat, was to be idle. I finally decided a year ago that I was going to die if I didn’t do something about it. So we took a caretaking job where I worked with horses several hours a day, seven days a week.
I couldn’t believe the immediate results. Within a week, a skin condition I had suffered with for three years (dry, peeling skin on my face) cleared up. I figure it must have been all the Vitamin D I was absorbing every day. I kept my forearms bare while I worked in order to absorb the rays. I believe my theory is still bearing out because now that winter has returned and the horses are gone, I’m not out very often, and the condition is beginning to return. I have no excuse. Because it’s Arizona, there is at least a part of every afternoon where it is up between 55 and 65 degrees, where I could get outside and catch some rays.
The activity I miss the most (this may sound strange to non-horse people, but horse people understand), is mucking out stalls. This was the perfect form of resistance exercise for me since I have to drive to find hills to walk. Is that an excuse now that the horses are gone? Heck no. I realize I could take the same manure bucket, fill it with dirt and drag it around a big horse pen and achieve the same thing. Will I? I had better.
The last three are not health-related experiments, but you might find them interesting anyway.
- The Location Independent living experiment. I’ll be brief on this one because you can read all about that on one of my other blogs: here. Suffice it to say that 6 years ago when I lost the teaching job I thought I would keep till retirement, we said, “There’s got to be a better way.” We kept downsizing, until by 2014, our moves consisted of a single carload. We’ve lived all over Arizona and even had a stint in Oregon and Northern California, looking for that place where we want to retire. Now that we write for a living, we can live pretty much anywhere we want as long as there is Internet, or at least a library in the vicinity. Our real coups this year was taking a ranch caretaking position where we exchange a few hours work a week for a sweet little apartment and utilities. We didn’t even pay for Internet for a while, but now that our duties are reduced, we have resumed paying for our own Internet. Our bills come to exactly $197 a month + groceries and gas. We use less than a tank of gas a month, rarely more than $20 worth, and the last time I visited my grandkids, I took Amtrak which cost me $50 + the gas for the roundtrip to and from the station. We’re in the mildest climate in Arizona, at an elevation where we get all four seasons a year. We live in a grassy valley between two mountain ranges. We’re content to be here for as long as we want, but we’re also considering some travel.
- My blogging. My blogs are in disarray, and I rarely post. I started yesterday posting on one blog, today by posting on two more, and a fourth one, I’ve put up a “retooling” sign until I decide exactly what I want to do with it. I was re-inspired to take up my fifth one again when I saw it was in much better shape than I anticipated when I checked it out. In February, I plan to take a couple of classes from WordPress’s Blogging University that should further inspire me and show me how to better manage my blogs. Daily posts for five blogs might be a bit much if I want to get anything else done, and since my other goal is to…
- Take up the Bradbury Challenge, I think I’ll give myself a decent, but not so intense blogging schedule. I announced I would start the Bradbury Challenge a year ago; however, the writing for hire got in the way. Now that our financial circumstances are more under control, I’m finishing up my last write-for-hire contract in the month of January and will begin instead to write for myself. Ray Bradbury advised writers to write a story a week for a year or more, insisting that you simply can’t write 52 bad stories in a row. That’s exactly what I intend to do (write 52 stories, not 52 bad ones), and it’s the only goal to which I’m committing myself for 2016.
I’ve had more peace this year than I ever recall in my life. I feel a real sense of accomplishment in several things, especially thanks to David’s inspiration to take a look at how my experiments are going.
Have an outstanding 2016 yourself, and don’t hesitate to comment and tell me some of the things that are happening in your own life experiments.