Eating is somthing we all do everyday. For some, it’s a joy bordering on idolization. For others, it’s a burden full of pitfalls and frustration. Until recently I didn’t think very much about this act of putting things in our mouths, chewing it, and injesting it.

Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash
Photo by George Pagan III on Unsplash

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine wrote, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” In my case, I’ve show this to be true. I’m going to reflect on the journey over the past 4 months or so of changing my relationship with this thing called eating and how it’s had rippling effects in other areas of my life.

In January of this year I decided to take my health back and reverse my Type 2 Diabetes. I started at 270 lbs. Today, just over 4 months later, I’ve lost 53 lbs. and weigh 217 lbs. My pants size has dropped from 40-42 to a 36 with room to spare.

Weight Loss from Jan 2 - May 5, 2019
Weight Loss from Jan 2 - May 5, 2019

I’ve also completely reversed my Type 2 Diabetes. The A1C test reflects your average blood sugar level for the past two to three months. It is the primary measurement and diagnotic tool for diabetes.

A1C Chart

Since 2013, which is the earliest access I have to my blood work electronically, my A1C has been between 7.3 and, at the highest 8.9. One time in 2016, it dropped to 6.3 when I did The Whole 30 for a couple months. My lab work last week showed a 5.4.

In addition to weight loss and better blood work, I’ve also titrated myself off of both my medications for high blood pressure and for cholesterol. *While I don’t recommend doing this, I needed to as I was getting very low blood pressure and couldn’t get in to see my doctor in the meantime. *Both my blood pressure and cholesterol numbers are equivlent to when I was on the medication previously. Today, I’m officially medication free.

When I started this journey, I had been doing crossfit 2-3 days a week for the past 3 years. Because I wan’t going enough, I was constantly sore and kept hurting myself (straining my back or knees). Going to the gym also created some problems with my weight loss trajectory. I would lose some but then gain some muscle. It was really hard to tell if I was losing fat or gaining muscle. In February, I decided to quit the gym so I could get healthy. Let that sink in. In an effort to create fewer joint problems and see true fat loss, I decide to continue eating keto, do intermittant fasting, and just walk. I walk at lunch if I’m fasting. I hike trails when I can. I walk with my wife around the neighborhood. It’s been really good. The plan is to continue until I get to my “goal weight” and then start adding weightlifting back in to build strength. More on “goal weight” later.

From a physical perspective, I’m starting to take my life back. I feel better, look better, and am reducing my risk factors. Keep in mind, this is all from changing what I put in my mouth and when I do it. That’s pretty amazing.

The New Normal

It feels good to reflect on my progress. This is not, however, the reality that I live in each day. The reality is that each day progress slows and you see results in terms of weeks rather than days. Sometimes I wonder if I’m making progress at all. I just returned from a week of travel for work and there were some challenging times having to eat differently or occasionally go outside the guardrails that I’ve built for myself. That is where I live now. Normal days, where my routine is consistent, are pretty easy but traveling is challenging. Celebrations are challenging.

Thankfully, I don’t crave sugar or very many other things to eat. I find eating keto to be very satisfying. The thing I miss is the fellowship and joy around eating and/or drinking. It’s not that I don’t enjoy the people I’m eating with or that I always avoid drinking. (I had some wine and bourbon this past week.) It’s that every meal is a calculated choice. I have to be deliberate before I eat to decide what I will and won’t eat ahead of time. That is a constant effort that will most likely never change. It is much easier at home, in a controlled environment, but I am working on making this WOE (way of eating) sustainable by not becoming a hermit, by going out to eat with family and friends, by enjoying travel.

I am a software developer. I co-founded MoonClerk in 2012 and DeerLab in 2013. In the software startup space Paul Graham used the term “Trough of Sorrow” to refer to the time after the initial excitement of launch but before the company achieves product-market fit and the path forward.

Source: Paul Graham via andrewchen.co
Source: Paul Graham via andrewchen.co

I feel in many ways that I’m currently in the trough when it comes to this WOE. The first reason I entered into this was to reverse Type 2 Diabetes. It looks like I’ve done that as long as I don’t go back to eating the way I did previously. That’s a win for sure but it’s not tangible on a daily basis. The less noble but still very important goals are to lose my belly overhang, to lose my man-boobs, and to fit in reasonably stylish clothing. A couple things I’ve learned (which may seem obvious):

  • You can’t choose where you lose fat.
  • The first place you want to lose fat is generally the last place you do.
  • You probably have fat in many places you don’t know because you primarily notice the highest concentrations.

In spite of my progress, I still wonder if I’ll get to the point where I won’t have a belly. It’s been with me for 30+ years. It’s hard to imagine. As progress slows and time passes, there is less encouragement, fewer wins, and just more daily grind.

I have to remind myself that the most important metric is that everything is still moving in the right direction. I need patience and perspective.