Category Archives: Personal Development

Minimalist Diet

At the beginning of this year I had become an accidental minimalist, renting my home, most of my possessions, to live in a 13 foot RV I named “Conchita la Casita” for about a month, then leaving the “capsule” to travel the world, starting in Chile.

Since then I have contemplated: is it possible to extend minimalism – the idea of only having what you need – to diet? What would that look like?

There are a lot of diets that would fit the bill, and most under the title of “Intermittent fasting.” Some common ones are 5/2, The Warrior Diet, and Lean Gains. The diets are basically versions of eating only during a certain “window” of time, such as only eating for 5 days, fasting for 2 days for 5/2, or only one big meal every day in the evening with The Warrior Diet.

The Warrior Diet, available on Amazon.

The reason I find these to be “minimalists” is that unlike the other diets such as Paleo, or even to “philosophies” of eating, such as vegetarianism, only eating during a certain window makes the diet the simplest – no counting of calories or figuring out the ratio of macros to micro nutrients.

As with everything we humans do, we tend to complicate things. Everyone wants specifics, for example, on the 5/2 diet, which 2 days are the best? What time do you start and officially stop the fasting window?

I wanted something even simpler, something that could even be done while traveling, a diet that would not only help me lose unhealthy fat, but was simple, save me money, save me time, and live a more healthy life.

My answer was: OMAD, or One Meal A Day.

The basic idea is: Eat one meal a day. That’s it. Ideally, it should be a well-rounded meal – not all twinkies, for example, but outside of that that’s all it is.

5:2 Diet, Feast for 5 days, fast for 2, Available on Amazon.

I usually eat my meal around 2pm, and eat until I am full. Then I don’t eat until 2pm the next day.

I started this diet while I was renovating my house and living out of my Casita. It just made things simpler. And I am also the type of person who is encouraged by results, and the results for me were dramatic.

The results of doing OMAD:

  • Lost 25 lbs in 2 months.
  • Went from a size 34 in jeans to size 30.
  • My Blood Glucose used to be pre-diabetic, with my doctor saying “People with this BG reading typically are on drugs to lower it.”
  • Blood Pressure – too high. My doctor said the same thing in regards to my blood pressure – too high, and would have to be treated with drugs.
  • Money saved: I estimate that I saved over $200-400 per month by only eating out once per day (if that), or making my one big meal at home.

Guide to Fasting, Available through Amazon.

Since I have been traveling, I have altered things a bit, just eating 2 meals a day by skipping breakfast, but frankly I feel best when I only eat one meal. My body just seems to respond best – I have the most energy, I feel light and calm, with a clear mind and good focus. So, as I travel I slip from 2 meals a day to 1 meal a day, as my mind-body-emotions dictates.

I occasionally check my blood sugar while I travel, with mornings starting higher (like 100) but dropping to 80 when I approach my 2pm eating time.

There are studies that show that among the benefits of fasting are apophagy, or the body’s ability to get rid of scar tissue, repair tissue, and generally “clean house” occurs during periods where we don’t eat. Also, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is highest 16-23 hours into the fast, with one study participant increasing their HGH by 2,000 percent.

All I know is that once I started seeing my belly fat disappear, my blood sugar stabilize and blood pressure reduce I was hooked! I feel like I have grown “younger.” And an added bonus is the absolute gustatory pleasure I take in the act of eating. When 2pm rolls around I admit I have been fantasizing about food, planning in my head how I will break my fast. And, while I eat a fairly balanced meal, I have started adding dessert – something I would avoid in the past because I knew I’d either gain weight or feel terrible afterwards. Now, it becomes a welcome addition to my meal. And despite whatever I eat I seem to have stabilized at an ideal 150 lbs, with a flat belly, needing a belt to keep my size 30 pants on!

I am no longer overly concerned about food. I understand what real hunger is, rather than just eating on an artificial 3 meals a day schedule. I look better, and more importantly I feel better. I really recommend trying out this diet for awhile. You can always do one of the variations if you like, but OMAD has led me down a path with numerous positive benefits besides just weight loss that I feel like it’s the light, if you know what I mean.

Give it a try, it literally changed my life.

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I am no longer there

The day of departure I felt an enormous pressure, as if I was under the deep ocean. I checked, and double checked my packing, a third of what I have brought are electronics and computerizations of various sorts: a miniature speaker cube 1.5” per side, my Macbook Pro, noise canceling Bose earbuds, my iPad for watching Netflix, iPhone 6s, a charging brick with 2 USB ports. At the last minute I bought a warmer jacket – a waterproof soft-shell a tad warmer than the shell I bought earlier – as soft as the one I loved so much the zippers no longer zipped, and estimate it will make my trip 10% more comfortable.

I weighed the decision on whether or not to bring my white ExOfficio shirt, or the one that had a khaki pattern and was less likely to show stains. There’s a reason English expeditions went with Khaki.

But I liked the white shirt!

I weighed its heft in my hand, and muttered ‘fuckit’ – brought both at the waning hour.

And still I am sliced thin. A forgotten bag, and coat mistakenly left behind would not spell absolute disaster, but ordinary disaster can be failure enough.

My 2 bags – what’s called a “personal item”, my PacSafe 25 liter backpack with security features, and a 2nd larger Pacsafe roller – my “carryons” are misnomers.

They are my oxygen masks.

At least that’s what the melodramatic side of me calls them. But this I know: because of the additional weight, any of the above could be assigned as an asset or a liability.

I am kitted to do some tech work, some web work for farmer’s in Chile, to build an ERP system for them. I know nothing of Chilean localization and formatting, but I am keen to be a quick learn.

A curious thing happened though: once I boarded the plane my anxiety dropped away. All my preparation caught up with me, and sailed me through Ft, Lauderdale to Lima, Peru, and next: to Santiago & Frutillar, Chile. And while I haven’t set foot in a hostel for a couple decades, I knew now, slash proof backpack and combination lock in hand, I was fully prepared to take that fateful step.

The Peruvian server at the Pachakama Restaurant on the Hollywood Beach boardwalk in Ft, Lauderdale very kindly disabused me of the thought that I might be at all fluent in her native tongue. She herself flawlessly shifted from speaking slowly in Espanol to me, catching me in Ingles when I faltered, then shifted to francesa for the French couple at the table next door.

After looking up traditional Peruvian dishes online, I settled on Lomo Saltado – a traditional beef dish of tender chunks of beef marinated in soy sauce and vinegar – like the marinated chicken I ate as a kid. This dish emerged from the Chinese influence in Peru, and melded into something with a Latin American twist. It even had the molded Chinese white rice, but also a slightly spicy green sauce as a side that didn’t appear remotely Chinois to me – but I admit I haven’t tried everything Oriental.

The beef also had sautéed onions, and not-chinese fries as a side. All washed down with a Peruvian lager. I asked which was her mad favorite postre (dessert) , and she said “Lucuma”, which was very sweet, and tasted somewhat of Dulce de leche custard, but she said it actually came from the fruit by the same name. She told me to find it once I got to Peru.

As a passing gift she wrote on a lined yellow piece of paper

  • LUCUMA IS A FRUIT
  • TUMBES IS A CITY TO VISIT – FRONTIER WITH ECUADOR
  • BARRANCO IS A GOOD PLACE TO VISIT IN LIMA
  • (EL PUENTE DE LOS SUSPIROS)

She also told me to be careful in Lima – it’s a big city with big city dangers.

The kindness of absolute strangers staggers me.

I see what I am doing as if outside my body. I question what the hell I am doing, but paradoxically  have no doubt about what I am doing. I hope to limp with my palsied Spanish till I can walk, with possible visions of running. I hope to rock climb, and know that I am destined to do so, even though it is not clear as yet. I figure providence will hold me aloft to push me towards the right place at the right time.

THE LETTER
I carry a letter from a person I have known for 3 decades and refused to talk to in the past 2 years. One page, typed, packed with as much sorrow as a page could hold. I carried it for 2 months, burning like something radioactive in my bag. I responded with a 4”x6” postcard I got from a tourist shop on the Hollywood beach walkway with a happy “Hollywood Beach” sign, and folks strolling along the beach.
The 4”x6” space conveyed less than I would have liked, but all that I could really express. I failed to fill the last inch, so I drew a picture of what was in front of me: a couple on a park bench on the right – palm trees to the left. It was dropped in a cloth shopping bag marked “MAIL,” the cashier taking a longer glance than I would have liked at the contents, stopped when she saw me watching her scan the lines of what I had writ. I paid for a 2nd postcard to write to a happy friendship to wash the sad taste from my mouth.

A line from my fateful 1st postcard sticks with me: ‘I am leaving the states. Do not write to me at my old address because I am no longer there…’

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You are not your fucking khakis

“You are not your job, you’re not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis.” ~Fight Club, by Chuck Palahniuk

For the past year, I have not had a job. After fighting a lawsuit for 5 years I was awarded a legal settlement, and this allowed me to do what I always told myself I would do: take a year long sabbatical. What I was going to do with that sabbatical was unclear to me at the time.

All I knew was that I would come back to myself.

So I climbed at Red Rock, and at various crags in Colorado and New Mexico, all the while tinkering with some of my online ventures, meditating and experimenting with Qigong and climbing, and working on improving Conchita la Casita, my 13′ Casita Patriot fiberglass RV.

And, as my money slowly drained away I contemplated work and life and what I really wanted to become, and while I didn’t quite have a clear picture on who I wanted to become, I knew very clearly what I didn’t want to do.

I didn’t want to work for a corporation, other than my own, for the rest of my life.

“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.” ~ Lloyd Dobler, Say Anything

Working for corporations is unnatural. People go to school to learn skills to help some asshole head honcho get rich. They work 40, or more likely 50-80 hours a week during the best part of their lives with people they may or may not like – and for what? Retire at age 65, if they are lucky, realizing that they will never realize their big dreams of traveling the world, or some other big dream, if they even had the time to have a dream at all.

We make compromises with our lives, we make peace with ourselves, and scale back our big dreams because, well, reality you know? Need to pay the mortgage, or wait until you save enough, or until your pet/relative/friend dies. THEN life will happen!

I’ve learned, over time, that there is no practical difference between a reason and an excuse.

Both will hold you back, if you let them. And the barriers to doing things that could enrich your lives – learning a foreign language, lack of money, and fears: fears of heights, of travel, of foreigners – are barriers we self-create which prevents us from the kind of experiences that would well and truly blow the hinges off the doors of our complacency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For most worthwhile things, in order to get to the exciting adventure – you have to be willing to go through the fear.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.
To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable. ~ Helen Keller

Helen Keller, for those of you who may not know, was born blind and deaf. She couldn’t see, couldn’t hear, and couldn’t speak. This quote, from a person with true barriers saying security is a mostly a myth.

I was going to roam the US in Conchita la Casita, but while the dream was big, it wasn’t my biggest dream.

My biggest dream was to travel the world.

When you ask people what they would do with a million bucks, a common answer is: I would travel the world. But if you dig a little deeper, the barriers come up: I don’t have enough money, I don’t know the language. Don’t they have terrorists there? I’m afraid.

The last is the worst: I’m afraid. When you say that, barring things that are actively dangerous, what you are saying is that you are confusing what you feel with what is real.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All those barriers are really nothing. Less than nothing. All you need is the will. The will to do what is necessary to be able to do the things you want to do.

Everything else is an excuse.

“At the moment of commitment the entire universe conspires to assist you.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” ~Lao Tzi, Tao Te Ching

Someone asked me what motivates me. They were honestly puzzled. And I answered without thought: ‘One of the things that motivates me is the idea that I could die at any moment.’

It seems at first like a very negative thought – the idea of dying as a prime motivator. But it’s real. The thought that you could die at any moment should scare you into life.

Last year, I had a cousin die at the age of 42. She died of a brain aneurism in front of her husband and her children. Dropped dead, was unable to be revived. No one, her included, had any inkling that this could happen to her.

There is a brain aneurysm rupturing every 18 minutes. ~ bafound.org

You or I, or anyone for that matter, will die of an aneurism in the next 18 minutes. And that’s just one thing out of a hundred. Let that thought sink in.

Maggie Fitzgerald: She’s tough, I can’t go inside, I can’t get close enough to hit her.

Frankie Dunn: You know why that is?

Maggie Fitzgerald: Why?

Frankie Dunn: Cause she’s a better fighter than you are, that’s why. She’s younger, she’s stronger, and she’s more experienced. Now, what are you gonna do about it?

~ from Million Dollar Baby

Fears can become monumental in our minds. They can seem like insurmountable foes. Stress can also have real life effects on our bodies, creating illness.

But the fear of dying at any moment should trump all fears.

One Life. Just One.

Of course, we have to give unto Caesar what Caesar wants, and that may be – graduate from college, save enough to travel, take care of my kids/marriage/relative etc.

I get it.

Let’s set those concerns aside for the moment. Let’s also set aside the stories of folks who travel with kids, who travel the world with no money, or even the story of a 90 year old woman with a terminal illness deciding to travel the world in a campervan – let’s set those counter arguments aside as well.

Whatever your dream is: to start a business, find the love of your life, rock climb in the Dolomites, travel the world; what is it, right now, that you are doing  in order to achieve this dream? What are the barriers to entry? and the final important item:

When do you plan on doing this?

“A man, a plan, a canoe, pasta, heros, rajahs, a coloratura, maps, snipe, percale, macaroni, a gag, a banana bag, a tan, a tag, a banana bag again (or a camel), a crepe, pins, Spam, a rut, a Rolo, cash, a jar, sore hats, a peon, a canal–Panama!” ~Long palindrome by (possibly) Guy Steele

Because a plan without a timeline is not a plan at all: it’s a day dream. It’s a fantasy. It’s the child when asked what he wants to be when he grows up, and says s/he wants to become an astronaut. Maybe it will happen, but most likely it won’t.

Figure out your wildest dream, make a plan, tie it to a timeline – and off to the races you go! Don’t let anything, or even anyone stop you.

You are not your fucking khakis. You have dreams and aspirations and hopes and things and experiences you want to do.

This is your one precious life – what are you gonna do about it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bulletproof Tea

I used to drink my version of Bulletproof coffee, with store bought Bustelo Coffee, grassfed butter and MCT oil in powder form, but I noticed that I still got the jitters. I knew that the inventor of Bulletproof coffee originally got the idea from the Yak Butter Tea he drank in Tibet, so I thought: ‘Why not try this with black tea instead?’ I figured that it would still have the caffeine that made coffee effective, yet without the jittery effect or the mycotoxins of coffee. It seemed to work about as effectively as the coffee, so going forward I decided to just make Bulletproof tea.

TRANSCRIPT OF VIDEO:
The inventor of Bulletproof Coffee originally got the idea from drinking Yak Tea in Tibet, which he found to give him sustained energy and alertness. While I do drink my version of Bulletproof coffee, sometimes I still get the jitters from coffee, and lately I’ve switched it up to using black tea. I have not tried the true Bulletproof coffee, which the owner says reduces the micro toxins that cause jitters, but I take his statements with a grain of salt, since, you know, he sells the stuff.

Bulletproof tea is made by brewing Black tea, and then adding a tablespoon or two of grassfed butter and MCT Oil

Grass-fed unsalted butter is used for several reasons
– High in Butyrate, which is anti-inflammatory
– higher in omega-3’s, CLA, betacarotene, Vitamin K, D and E and antioxidants.

I just know it makes the coffee or in this case tea really creamy, and seems to inhibit hunger since I also practice One Meal A Day diet.

I also add a powdered form of MCT Oil, which is a fat that is supposed to metabolize fastest int he brain. It doesn’t need to be processed by the liver, and is used for energy production, or ATP. The powdered form also is known for less gastric distress, or “greasy skid marks”, if you know what I mean. The MCT oil also jumpstarts ketosis, by increasing the amount of ketones.

ketosis is the state where the body burns fat for energy.

All in all, I like the Butter Tea version of Bulletproof, bullet proof yourself with bulletproof tea!

Products Used:

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One Meal a Day

Or: How I lost 20 lbs in 2 months, went from a size 34 waist to a 30 waist, and feel great.

I wish I took a before picture, but frankly, most of the before/after pics are staged in a way that makes the person look skinnier, or bigger, often without the person losing or gaining much weight at all.

Take Tim Ferris in his Geek to Freak post. Just look at how the feet are positioned – feet pointed out in the “after” pic, but then the “after” is resized so the height is the same for both. But pointing the feet to the side necessitates making the photo larger if you want the appearance of being the same height.

I won’t present the pics, for copyright reasons, but you can go check ’em out here.

Again: this way they can enlarge the “after” picture and make it seem as if both pics are the same height (when measured laterally). But this is false, since placing the feet outwards makes the length shorter, which is then resized to be the same height.

I mean, look at how he enlarged the picture of himself on the right! And notice how much bigger his head is on the right! Whatever you do, you can’t really enlarge your head through weight lifting, unless you’re fish for compliments, I guess. 😉

Now, I’m gonna give Tim the benefit of the doubt and say he probably did gain 37 lbs of sheer muscle, but the photo manipulation isn’t even that subtle. You don’t really need to “click to enlarge,” Timmy already did that for you!

Now, I don’t have a classic “before” pic, but what I do have is a screen capture of myself doing the Solar Panel Install for my Casita video around October of 2016:

Me fat face!

 

 

 

 

 

Compare that with this pic I am taking while sitting in my Conchita la Casita, typing away:

Skinny biotch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I lost 20 lbs in 2 months, going from around 180 lbs to 160, and went from a 34″ waist (in pants) to a 30″ waist.

The first place I notice weight loss is in my face. Second, I realized that without a belt, my pants would fall down.

I haven’t been a 30″ waist since High School!

Basically, I just ate one meal a day (OMAD).

I kept it simple, one meal a day, only eating after 2pm. And then I wouldn’t eat till 2pm the next day, fasting for 23 hrs.

The reason I did it was for health reasons. I was feeling lethargic, often needing a nap in the middle of the day. I also have issues with my thyroid, having Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis gives me an underfunctioning thyroid, which is part of my energy problem.I also just felt heavy, seeming like I gained weight, no matter how active I was (rock climbing, hiking, biking), or how little I ate.

I also knew how I function – In order for me to do this for the long-term, I  needed to keep things as simple as possible.

And that’s why I did one meal a day.

The first that I heard of this idea was through a book I had read years ago, called The Warrior Diet, by Ori Hofmekler. It was sort of a proto-Paleo, pre-Intermittent Fasting book, explaining the diet as a way our ancestors ate – active during the day, and only eating meals after tasks were done, in the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the time I first read it, I kind of just thought it was interesting, but didn’t think that I would ever try it. But then I saw my brother Vence after a couple months of not seeing him, and he looked dramatically thinner, dramatically healthier than I had seen him before. Once he hit 50, he seemed to get heavier and heavier. But, seeing him recently, it almost looked like he got rejuvenated. He was not just skinnier, he looked healthier. He mentioned Intermittent Fasting, and eating just one meal a day, and so of course I looked it up on YouTube, and saw several videos about the subject, this one in particular:

I was reminded of The Warrior Diet book I had read years ago, and decided right then to give it a try.

The first couple of days I felt hungry the morning of the fast. I kept staring at the time on my iPhone, trying to will 2pm to come. All I had for “breakfast” was a cup of my version of Bulletproof coffee. I followed this with about 3-4 cups of tea, mostly no caffeine chai, or licorice-mint tea.

After I stopped focusing on the hunger pangs what I noticed was a renewed sense of energy, and the time that would be used for making breakfast, eating and digesting was now – free. Free for me to do – whatever!

Since I was in the midsts of cleaning and fixing my house, in preparation for renters and world travel, this additional hour (or 2) of time was given back to me. And not just time – it was also the energy to DO things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As an experiment, at about a couple weeks in on my fasting, which I had gotten used to by now, with no more, or smaller, feelings of hunger – I decided to lower my medication by a quarter.

I felt the same amount of energy, so I stuck with that amount for awhile.

And then, as an experiment, I decided to only take half of my thyroid medication.

I felt the same as before.

Some results:

  • Weight dropped by 20 lbs.
  • Waist size went from 34″ to 30″.
  • Energy went up – dramatically!
  • Focus increased
  • Thyroid medication use dropped to a half dose.
  • Brain fog disappeared.
  • Blood sugar normalized.
  • Blood pressure lowered

I was pre-diabetic (Type 2), and my doctor said unless I made some lifestyle changes that I would have to go on medication. She also said I had borderline high blood pressure as well.

But after doing the one meal a day diet, while before I was averaging something like 135-145 morning glucose reading, I was now getting sub 100 readings.

Totally normalized!

What do I eat

Having not eaten for 23 hours, you kind of want  a substantial meal. A typical meal for me was a burrito  bowl at Chipotle. I would get the following:

  • Sauteed green peppers and onions, half steak/half chicken, tomato and corn sals, avocado and lettuce.

I avoided rice and beans since I also wanted to keep things low glycmic as well, but would add them back in if I was going to rock climb or workout that day.

Another mainstay was a large Wild Oats salad, that weighed in at $15. A LARGE salad!

A rough calculation of the meals were somewhere around 1,000 calories each. A typical US calorie count for someone in the US is around 2,000 to 2,500 calories. I was eating less than half that.

When I tell folks about my diet, they tend to ask the typical questions and make the typical comments:

“Aren’t you starving?”

“Your metabolism is going to slow down – then you’ll gain weight!”

“It’s not a sustainable diet!”

” That doesn’t sound healthy.”

But, if they haven’t seen me in awhile, I can see how their eyes track me, looking at my face, my now non-existent belly, my healthy skin color and clear eyes – and it dawns on them that whatever I am doing –  it must be working. I had the same reaction once I saw the effect it had on my brother. It’s what convinced me to start.

I just know this: I feel better, more energized than ever. I climb harder for longer at higher grades than I was previously. My blood sugar normalized, and I take less thyroid medication. My skin and eyes, and just general appearance, look better.

The fears that people have about such a different diet is just that – fears. Mostly unfounded. I know, at least for me, that the slowing of metabolism on a restricted diet is just not that big a factor as it is advertised. And that rather than being unhealthy, I look and feel better than before.

I can just express what has worked for me, and one meal a day was what did it for me – quickly, and (mostly) painlessly. While I did and do feel the occasional hunger pangs, it’s a small price to pay for the results that I am receiving. Nowadays, I barely notice that I haven’t ate, often not eating till 3 or 4.  And whileI’ve read that there are variations of the diet, like having up to 3 meals in the 2-8 pm window –  a single large meal per day just simplified things for me. And even on the days I would feel the need to “cheat” with a dessert, or something with high carbs like pasta or dessert – not eating for another 23 hours seemed to make such digressions a moot point.

Autophagy

There’s something called “Autophagy” which I think must be responsible for the results that are beyond just weight loss – the energy, the blood sugar, the skin and eye quality. Autophagy means “eating oneself” and it’s what happens when one fasts. Your body, during a fast, can use the energy it would previously use for eating and digesting, and instead use it for cleaning house – eating dead cells, cancerous cells, and healing injured areas.

Good article here on Autophagy.

It’s the only thing I’ve read that could explain the results I see and feel. Since I now also avoid most carbs, I’m probably somewhat in ketosis as well (using fat as fuel).

In any case, I encourage you to give it a try – all you might lose is any extra weight – and what you gain may be pretty significant!

 

 

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