Big Changes Start With Your Why

It's important that if you're going to make any change in your life, you have a why. Today, upon completing my 47th lap around the sun, I'll tell you mine.

Today is the 10th anniversary of my father passing away, who coincidentally shared a birthday with me. It is also the 7th anniversary of my mother passing away. My dad only barely made it to 59, my mom made it to 58.

Around 6 years ago, I started having obvious health issues, though it took a business trip that required vaccines to get my ass to a doctor to find out I had Type 2 Diabetes, Edema, Hypertension, and Sleep Apnea. Not to mention 330 pounds (150kg) on my 5'7" (170cm) frame.

Over 3 years ago, I discovered The Obesity Code and Jason Fung. That got me back in touch with the one thing that actually worked to get weight off me: low carb. Then I discovered Keto (a term I'm not fond of for various reasons) and ultimately Vinnie Tortorich and No Sugar No Grains. I got more educated about a lot of things.

Both of my parents had metabolic disease and struggled with drugs and alcohol. Even though I didn't know it at the time, I can surmise my dad had Type 2 Diabetes. My mom died of an enlarged heart, most likely from drinking too much.

Today, I weigh what I did in high school. It's not quite my lowest weight as the ongoing quarantine has been…challenging lately. But all those conditions I had are gone. Trying to come off the blood pressure meds, which I still needed as a precaution due to the aneurysm they found last year when they did a calcium scan (zero score there).


So why do I mention all this? It ties back to something that's always driven me from a young age: do better than my parents. I knew if I didn't make a change, I would end up just like them: dead too young of preventable conditions. Once I saw the way out, there was no stopping me.

And the daily run that I do? (Today: 6.79 miles, or just over 10km, if you're interested) It's part of the plan to keep my heart healthy. I'm adding in some bodyweight exercises as well as I'm basically a weakling otherwise. And yes, I still have a few more pounds to lose. I'm a work in progress, like we all are.

I want to live long enough and be healthy enough to be able to pick up great grandchildren. Obviously there are some variables I can't control here and none of us gets out of here alive, but living longer than my parents with better health is certainly a start.

Yes, I'm Jogging in Sandals

For the last week and a half, I've been doing my daily jog(s) in these:


Specifically, they are Cloud Barefoot Sandals from Xero Shoes. They are fairly thin-soled sandals that are about as close as you want to be to jogging barefoot. Several of you asked me: why?

Honestly, there’s someone I know from a particular Facebook group who lives nearby who occasionally posts pictures of his runs in sandals. It appealed to my inner hippie. Also, the thought of being able to pack something for running that took up less space than a conventional pair of shoes appealed to me. You know, for when I can travel again, whenever that is.

It turned out to have a couple of other important benefits also. First, these sandals (or really any sandals designed for running) are generally a LOT less forgiving of bad form. Land on your feet wrong and it’ll hurt. I got blisters on my heels the first couple days because that’s where I landed. It also explains the wear patterns on my running shoes.

Naturally that led to the next benefit: slowing down. I generally try to keep my heart rate in Zone 2, which is where fat-burning happens. Having to effectively re-learn how to jog meant slowing down.

It also turns out: jogging in sandals is a bit harder on your legs. My calves are getting a much better workout now. And it also led me to something I need to be better about: allowing my body to recover. I was doing two jogs a day there for a few weeks. My jogs usually aren’t short, either.

A few days ago, I was finally getting the hang of it, I was getting into a groove, the music was right, and I broke into a sprint: While it wasn’t the fastest mile I’ve done, it was quite a bit faster than I usually manage:


The day after that, when I completed my jog, I was exhausted in a way I hadn’t been in quite some time. I didn’t do a second jog that day and I haven’t since to give my body some time to get more used to this and recover.

In any case, I’m going to continue running with sandals for the time being. I can always go back to traditional running shoes if I change my mind. Or maybe get some sandals that are more geared for trails, which I occasionally run on.

Two Whole Feet, a Non-Scale Victory

In the journey to better health, there's often a lot of focus on what you weigh. And while it's always great to see the scale move in the right direction, it's not the only thing that changes. Sometimes, it's those other things that will change before the number on the scale does.

I'm quite happy with the progress I've made on my weight, going from 300 pounds (150kg) to 185 pounds (84kg). However, I've been tracking other measures as well.

While I've long gotten rid of most of the clothes I had from when I was at my largest, I kept a belt. This belt was for a 54 inch waist and even the last belt hole was a tight fit. As I started losing weight and the belt became too big, I bought a leather hole punch from Amazon and used the belt as a way to track my progress.


Tonight, I punched two more holes in the belt and realized I passed a milestone. I'm now 24 inches (61 cm) less around the waist. Two whole feet.

When the scale isn't showing progress, check your waist. It can show progress sometimes when the scale does not.


Really Overweight or Barely Obese?

It's been quite a while since I've put virtual pen to paper in longfom about my health journey.

I've heard about the Covid-15, namely the 15 pounds you'll gain as a result of being sheltered in place during Coronavirus. Me? I'm down weight since early February, which is the last time I was out of the area.


That means, from my high of over 330 pounds (150kg), I am now down almost 140 pounds (63.5kg) I presume my A1C is still out of the diabetic range but my new doctor won't see me until June because of the local restrictions in place because of Covid-19.

According to the BMI charts, and depending on when I weigh myself, I am either at the top end of the overweight category or at the low end of the obese category, Considering I've been (morbidly) obese since high school, this is quite an accomplishment!

Part of the recent weight loss I attribute to the fact just about the only way I can get out of the house on a daily basis right now, thanks to the shelter in place orders, is go for a jog. Sometimes twice a day. This resulted in over 280 miles on my shoes in April alone and, as I write this, more than 1100 miles jogged in 2020.


I wouldn't be able to do this if I ate poorly. In fact, on the days I do eat poorly, I can usually feel it in my joints the next time I jog. Inflammation is real, yo!

So what do I eat? No sugars, no grains, no seed/vegetable oils. Meat and occasional veggies. Coffee with heavy cream. Lots of eggs. I cook with butter and/or animal fats. It doesn't work for everyone, but it works well for me!

And really, I didn't start jogging until early last year when we got a treadmill and I had lost 100 pounds. I started out slowly, working my way up to the point where I could jog while keeping my heart in Zone 2 (180 beats per minute - age + 5). When I started getting more serious, I got an Apple Watch.

Today, I'm able to go farther and longer while staying in Zone 2 the majority of the time. I also make sure I get adequate rest (sleep in particular), which is also important.

But really, I don't want Type 2 Diabetes to come back. Or Sleep Apnea. I also want to keep Hypertension at bay as the doctors discovered I had an aneurysm when I went in for a calcium scan a year ago.

I like being able to buy normal clothes in normal stores. I never thought in my life I'd be wearing medium anything, and yet medium shorts fit me pretty good now. For shirts, I still need to lose a little more belly fat, but even larges are starting to fit well. Not bad for someone who needed 4XL or 5XL shirts a few years ago.

I still have some weight to lose. My previous doctor suggested 175 pounds as a target, but I think I'm going to aim for 165 now. I'm not in a hurry to do so, and I know weight loss gets harder as you get closer to a normal weight, but I would love to be able to say "I am literally half the man I used to be" and not be lying.

Mi Band vs Apple Watch: Not Either-Or For Me

I've resisted the whole smartwatch / fitness tracker thing for a while now. At some point a few years ago, my wife bought a fairly simple one that I ended up using until I lost it.

Recently, I decided I needed another one as I've been starting add exercise into my routine. In July of 2018, I ended up getting a Mi Band 2. Had some basic support for notifications from my phone, tracks sleep, and steps, and it was pretty cheap: under $30. Also, it easily lasted over two weeks on a single charge.

In April, I decided I needed to up my game a bit, so I bought a Mi Band 3. It was a little bit bigger, had slightly better sensors in it for sleep and heart rate tracking while working out, still about $30, and still amazing battery life.

A recent software update made the whole process of syncing the band with my iPhone a bit of a pain in the ass. In a couple cases, it completely forgot workouts I did. During workouts, it would stop syncing with my iPhone so I couldn’t track my heart rate. Or, if I initiate a workout from the band itself, I could easily monitor my heart rate, but it wouldn’t track my location or reflect the kind of workout I was doing.

When I was just doing stuff on the treadmill, this wasn’t a huge deal. Since I moved onto walking and running outside, I found that having this stuff "just work" to be of high value.

As I started looking at the other fitness trackers out there, I realized the price for anything else I'd consider getting was basically in the same price range as an Apple Watch. Sure, they might have better battery life and have possibly better fitness features, but let’s face it: anything other than Apple products are second class citizens in the Apple world.

So, I bought an Apple Watch 4. I probably should have done it ages ago, but I finally did it. And I have to say, so far, I'm not regretting the purchase.


One of the things I was afraid of with an Apple Watch is that I’d be seeing notifications on my wrist. I had tuned down my notifications on my iPhone ages ago so I wasn’t getting many to begin with. I tuned it down further with the Apple Watch, both on the phone itself and, in some cases, specific to the Apple Watch.

I do appreciate the gamification the Watch has around keeping moving. “Closing your rings” is definitely a thing for me. I set a "moderate" fitness goal, which has me burning 700 calories, exercising at least 30 minutes, and standing at least one minute every hour for 12 hours of the day. You get gentle nudges to "stand up" and even "breathe" for a moment.

At least for the first week or so, I've had no trouble meeting these goals. We'll see how this works when shiny metal tubes are involved.


The main concern I had with the Apple Watch was battery life. The good news is that getting through an entire day hasn’t been a problem so far. It would be much better if it could go several days between charges, something the Mi Band 2 and 3 both do quite easily.

While there are sleep tracking apps for the Apple Watch, it hardly makes sense to use them given the battery situation. This is where the Mi Band is still proving useful as I can wear it overnight to get an idea of how well I slept (or didn't).

I may pick up a Mi Band 4 for curiousity sake as it appears to have added a lot more to the package while maintaining roughly the same price point. No chance it will replace my Apple Watch, but for those who are looking for an inexpensive fitness tracker with some basic notification support, it may still be just the thing.

Running For My Life

I'm two years into my health journey that began with adopting Intermittent Fasting along with a low carb diet to manage Type 2 Diabetes and Hypertension. Since, I've adopted a more "no sugar no grains no seed oils" approach, trending mostly carnivore (I.e. eating mostly animal-based products).

While I think it's safe to say my Diabetes is in remission with an A1C at or below 5.6% for more than a year now, weight down over 110 pounds/50 kilos, and a coronary artery calcium score of zero, I'm not quite out of the woods yet.

Mild hypertension is still an issue for me. Granted it is much better than it was several years ago, but now I know my aorta is "dilated" (i.e. bigger than it should be), and higher blood pressure is not particularly good for that. I'm sure it will come up when I go in for a physical.

Meanwhile, I've made one other important change: I'm exercising. More specifically, I'm trying to keep my heart rate in Zone 2, known to provide improvements in endurance. I've seen a few methods to calculate this, but I'm going with the Vinnie Tortorich method: 180 minus your age, which means about 134 plus or minus 5 beats.

The exercise I've chosen? Running, or walking when my heart rate goes above the Zone 2 range, which happens pretty quickly still. I have a treadmill at home, most hotels I stay in also have a treadmill, and the weather is improving at home. Basically zero excuses not to do this.


At first, I started out using a Mi Band 3 to track my heart rate during workouts and sleep, which worked ok for a bit. Unfortunately, after a recent software update, it sporadically stops syncing with my phone. This eventually lead me to buy something I've been wanting for a while now: an Apple Watch. It works a whole lot better:


As I started going longer and further than before (from a couple miles over half an hour to over four miles over an hour and change), I saw a significant decrease in my blood glucose. It got to a point where I asked my doctor if I should continue to take Metformin.

My doctor said I no longer needed to take Metformin, but I should continue to monitor. Which, of course I am doing. My blood glucose has gone back up, but it's staying in a fairly normal range (averaging about 90 mg/dL) without taking medication.

The exercise really isn't so much about the physical fitness, though I know that's improving as well. It's the emotional fitness. I'm not quite sure how to describe it, but I just feel better after I've spent some time sweating with just me, my feet, and whatever podcasts I'm listening to. Which, during my workouts, tend to be health-related podcasts.

I do also find myself thinking lately, when stressed, I should go out for a run. I never in my life thought I'd be saying that, but here we are.

The Test You Want a Zero On

A couple weeks ago, I posted I was going in for a CT Angiogram to get a Coronary Artery Calcium (CAC) Score. The CAC score, which is a measure of how much calcium has built up in your heart, can be anything from a zero to over 1000. Generally speaking, the higher your CAC score, the higher the risk that you'll have a heart attack.

When combined with something like the MESA Risk Calculator, which only takes into account things the kinds of things a doctor can assess in their office, the CAC score is significantly associated with the occurrence of major cardiovascular events, which includes all-cause mortality, cardiac mortality, and nonfatal myocardial infraction.

Knowing your score, as Ivor Cummins says, really helps you understand your risk of cardiovascular events. He covers this quite succinctly on a recent episode of his podcast. While he publishes his podcast in audio form, I highly recommend watching Episode 12 which includes all the graphs.

I finally got the results of the test today. The result: a CAC score of zero. Based on that score alone, my risk of a cardiovascular event over the next couple years is less than 2%. I still have elevated blood pressure, and technically a diabetic, so my risk is a little higher according to the MESA Calculator--about 3%. Which is still pretty low in the grand scheme of things.

More importantly, it means I don't need to take a statin, which my doctor has been trying to get me to take again in light of my higher than normal cholesterol. With my risk profile and a CAC score of zero, statin use is not warranted.


Should I Continue Feeding the Medium or Nah?

When trying to import the last couple of blog posts into Medium, I discovered that Medium couldn't parse the posts since 10 Centuries went to version 5. Instead I wrote a new, single post that summarized the last couple, since they are part of the same thought process.

I noticed when I created this post that Medium is now actively encouraging writers to put their stories behind their paywall, which is a $5/mo subscription. Even without a subscription, you can typically read 3 stories for free per month. You can read a lot more than that by using an Incognito browser window, so it's not that strong of a paywall.

Aside from funding the service, the subscription pays writers who "earn money when subscribing members read or applaud your work." Also, Medium "may" promote these "behind the paywall" posts, so you may get more readers.

This is a lot like what's going on with podcasting right now, specifically all the attempts to create "networks" and "exclusivity." For example, Gimlet Media and Anchor were purchased by Spotify, and then just today, something called Luminary is attempting to do the same thing Medium is doing with written content.

As Adam Curry has said numerous times, and experienced when he was running Podshow/Mevio, you can't monetize the network. This lead to him and John C. Dvorak pioneering the value for value model with No Agenda, which has been going strong for 11 years funded solely through listener support.

Personally, I don't write blog posts for the money. I'm not sure I want to feed efforts that are ultimately doomed to failure, either, whether it's content or my eyeballs.

If Anything, My Heart is Too Big

When I posted I was going in for a CT Angiogram, a few people made the snarky comment that I didn't have a heart. Turns out, I do, and while the amount of calcium I have in my heart isn't a concern, the diameter of my aorta is.

Unfortunately, I didn't get to talk to my doctor about this yet, or the vascular surgeon my doctor has referred me to, so I've consulted Doctor Google, which turns up works like aneurysm, when left untreated. I suspect it's part of the overall damage that has occurred due to past lifestyle choices, not my current ones, which allowed be to drop my A1C down to non-diabetic levels and more than 100 pounds.

That said, even with the positive changes, my blood pressure is still a bit elevated. I'm not taking meds for this currently and I fully expect this will come up in the conversation with my doctor again. I'd rather understand the underlying cause of this rather than medicate the symptoms, so I definitely need to do a bit more research on this.

What is a Blog Post Anyway?

With the changes made to the 10Centuries service recently, I scrolled through the "archives" of my posts here and realize: the nature of "blog posts" have changed.

Prior to the invention of microblogging by Twitter in 2006, if you wanted to post anything on the Internet, large or small, you had to post it on your own blog. Now, with Twitter, Facebook, and all the other social media, you have…many choices.

Of course, a blog post can still be whatever you want it to be, but it seems the only thing you see on blogs now are…longer posts. Is that a good thing? Not sure.