Personal health

Health and fitness – my personal journey

By August 16, 2011 22 Comments

Heath and Fitness for a Better LifeIt may be because I am approaching 40, or it could just be because eventually I become obsessive about most everything I do, but whatever the reason, it has become clear to me recently that getting my health and fitness to a high level and keeping it there has become a major hobby for me.  I haven’t really written about it here, except as context for posts on health related startups, but whilst on holiday earlier this month I decided to change that.

What I write will be of a more personal nature than most of my startup and venture related material, but please chip in with comments and Tweets as normal.  I’m taking this step to connect with others who are interested in this topic broaden my participation in the conversation.  My other reason for writing is that I hope to clarify my own thinking on what I’m doing and why.

The journey I’m now on started at the beginning of 2010.  Prior to that I’d always kept myself reasonably fit, and I used to exercise 2-3 time per week, but I didn’t spend too much time thinking about it.  That started to change when I picked up Ray Kurzweil’s Transcend: Nine Steps to Living Well Forever, and the title of the book tells you the primary motivation for my change in behaviour: I want to maximise my youthful years.  There is a second thing too, and it took me a while to admit it to myself, but I’m also enjoying looking and feeling better.

As I’ve written before Kurzweil believes that within the next fifty years advances in technology will allow us to expand our life indefinitely and he wants to still be alive and in good shape mentally when that happens.  In Transcend he lists out the steps he is taking to give him the best chance.

Whether or not you believe that Ray’s predictions about eternal life are crackers it is clear to me that his research into diet, exercise, and vitamins is very thorough and by following his advice people can stay younger for longer.  So at the beginning of 2010 I started following selected pieces of his advice, choosing the elements that I thought would have the most impact, wouldn’t take up much time,  and which wouldn’t interfere with my social life.  Since then I have dropped some of Kurzweil’s ideas and picked up bits and pieces from others, most notably from Tim Feriss and The Four Hour Body.

So what have I changed in the last twenty months?  To many things to mention all of them, but here are the key items:

  • Started counting the calories I eat and reduced the daily amount to 2,000-2,100, on a good day, which is most days
  • Ramped up to five meals per day – I’m grumpy without my mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks these days!
  • Cut out the refined carbs (bread products, rice, potato)
  • Started eating much more protein, particularly in the morning
  • Increased my exercise to 4-6 times per week, 20-30mins per session
  • Made half of the exercise sessions strength based
  • Ramped up the number of vitamins I take – daily intake now 1 strong multi-vitamin, 1000mg vitamin C, 1-2 strong fish-oils (details of all three here), and 5,000 IU vitamin D, and I expect to add to this list.

My two main sources of inspiration and information have been Kurzweil’s Transcend (as mentioned above) and Tim Feriss’s Four Hour Body.

And the results? I’m about 10kg lighter than was when I started all this, I’m stronger and fitter, and I have more energy again.  It feels good.

As many of you will know, the science behind a lot of what I do is still not definitive, but rather than wait ten years for the Phd’s to prove it all out I’m seeking to enjoy some of the benefits now – although I avoid anything too radical.  Taking this approach requires an experimental mindset, a bit of research and a lot of watching and measuring myself, but I think it is well worth it.  Moreover, I think that as society gets older and wealthier and the human body becomes better understood, more and more people will go down this path.

Over the next little while I intend to start supplementing more, testing my levels for various vitamins and minerals, subscribing to 23andMe and no doubt buying health gadgets and tinkering with my exercise regime and diet.  I will blog about some or all of that.