My 1st 24-Hour Fast

So I recently completed my first 24-hour fast.

Here’s how it went down –

I finished my last meal at 6:45 p.m. on 2/11/15. It was a large dinner, so I decided not to eat anything the rest of the night. I was planning on fasting in the morning until lunch, which is part of an Intermittent Fasting plan that I do every once and a while.

The day before this I listened to a Tim Ferriss podcast at work, where he mentioned doing a 7-Day Distilled Water Fast. I found that to be pretty incredible. So he planted a seed in my mind for me to try something to test my discipline and improve myself.

At about 10 a.m., I realized that I still wasn’t very hungry. I had my daily checklist next to me – which is a new habit I’ve been working on – and I wrote down “Fast until Dinner”. It was settled then.

I got off work at 4:30 pm. and went to the gym on a pretty empty stomach for a light workout and some time in the Sauna.

By 6:30 p.m., I was finally cooking up some Bacon and Eggs, with Sweet Potatoes and a Salad. That’s how you “break a fast”.

Success!

Some notes:
  • I didn’t stick to a total fast. I created my own version. When I do Intermittent Fasting, I usually have a Bulletproof Coffee (Grass Fed Butter and Coconut Oil), which can help put your body in fat-burning mode. On this day I had a coffee with about a tablespoon of Coconut Oil in it. I also ate 1 serving of vegetables (a few carrots and broccoli) with Olive Oil over it. Again, went with good fats. I also allowed myself to have 5 Almonds in the afternoon. I had a Green Tea as well.
  • In the afternoon, I felt amazing. My energy levels never went down. The only time it affected me was my workout, which was obviously much more of a struggle. I had incredible focus throughout the day and my mind was extremely clear. I felt pure…and at times, euphoric. I couldn’t have been happier with those results.
  • I’m not going to say I wasn’t tempted. Going down to my work lobby where everyone was eating may not have been the best move. However, breaking away from my normal routine was probably the most difficult part. But honestly, I had very little food cravings. The afternoon was also not too difficult.
  • I’d attribute the lack of food cravings throughout the day to having no sugar or carbohydrates. This process once again re-affirmed my stance that having sugar or bad carbs in the morning will lead to unhealthy cravings. I try to stick to slow-carbs, protein, or good fats. This process helps differentiate food cravings and the feelings of actual hunger.
  • I lost ~4 lbs during the 24 hours.
  • A note from a week later – I am still down about 3 lbs without adjusting my diet. Also, the sugar cravings – and food cravings in general – are noticeably lacking. I’d guess this is related to the fast cleaning out my gut, which is my best guess to being the culprit of the cravings.

If you’re interested in trying this, I’d check out Mark’s Daily Apple for more info on Fasting. There is a lot of good stuff from him.

I will definitely be doing this again.

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Lessons Learned in 2014

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I wrote about my lessons learned last year around this time, so I figured I would reflect back on this year as well.

  • Knowledge vs. Understanding – Finally recognizing the difference between these two. I used to think I was smart because I’ve learned a lot of things on my own. But it was not until this year that I finally understood this vital difference. Knowledge is something you can acquire and accumulate, but true understanding only comes through experience. Only then can can you connect the dots between knowledge and your environment. Wisdom may soon follow.
  • Exhaustion is real, and while I like to push myself, I have also seen its limitations. Rest and fun are necessary for well-being when working hard towards something, but there must be a balance. Also, it’s okay to take a break to recover and come back stronger.
  • The significance of getting enough quality sleep and designing a personal sleep routine
  • Not-To-Do Lists can be effective. I plan to continue experimenting with these next year. Some things I’ve previously added to mine:
    • No long, hot showers in the winter.
    • No sugar or caffeine before bed.
    • No soda (except for an occasional mixed drink on the weekend)
    • Limiting Distractions (more than 1 hour of TV a day, limiting social media)
  • That I feel more alive when I get out in nature on a daily basis. Not only do we get the benefits of more sun, but we also can learn to connect with nature as humans are intended to do. When’s the last time you ran on the grass barefoot?
  • Which brings me to – The benefits of a daily walk. Every day I attempt to at least take one walk (a little tougher in the winter, so I may substitute with the gym). I prefer to do this for the mental benefits – clarity, brainstorming – even more than the physical benefits. It’s also a great way to connect with friends and take meetings (learned this one from Steve Jobs).
  • Laughter is a powerful healer.
  • The power of constructing your reality and deciding what is played on your Movie Screen. I want to build myself from the inside out – not search my external world for temporary fillers.
  • The importance of energy, environment, and the people you associate yourself with. These are extremely interrelated, such as noticing energy levels when in different settings or around different people. Understanding each of these within the scope of my immediate environment has been eye-opening and self-empowering.

I hope 2015 has more quality lessons in store for me.

Always Tired? Let’s Attack This Naturally

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This couldn’t have been written a year ago.

Growing up, I don’t remember ever having any issues with my energy levels. I was always running around doing different things, having recess at school, sleeping 10 hours a night. But while in college I started noticing I had some issues – well maybe I just consciously realized it.

I was staying active. I was getting enough sleep usually. I began eating a little healthier. But still no significant improvement.

So what was the issue? I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Well it took some time and a lot of trial and error, but I finally made some breakthroughs.

Some were surprising.

Over the past few months, my energy has been at an all-time high. The factors included a few small changes, and others that took some time to develop. I want to break variables down as I currently see them. Some may be common knowledge, but they are still important factors so I don’t want to discount them.

Here we go.

It starts with managing your energy levels. You have to pay attention to your body. Is your body giving you signs of fatigue and that it’s time for a break? Then take one. Don’t keep trying to push forward when you have a bad headache or are physically exhausted. It’s better to let you body repair itself now than try to run at 50% and make the recovery period longer. I was in a vicious cycle of making this mistake.

Along with this, you must also pay attention to your mental energy. Reducing the mental clutter and negative thoughts will bring about more physical energy. At times, I turn into a very compulsive thinker, so it is important that I channel this effectively and quite my mind at times throughout the day. We think way too much throughout the day. Take some time to slow it all down. An exhausted mind often equals and exhausted body.

If you are looking for a quick fix, look no further than the amount and type of fats you are consuming. I’ve covered this before, but I continue to run into people who are misinformed. We’ve been tricked. This ‘fats are bad’ thing has gone on long enough. First, not all fats are treated equal. I often hear people say avocados are healthy, but when they come across anything else high in fat, they are not convinced. Lets learn a little more…Not only do good fats provide some instant energy, but they also provide many long-term health benefits (heart/brain). Did you know our brains are made up of primarily water, fat, and cholesterol? Makes you re-think fat and cholesterol right? Eat some quality fats in the morning and notice the difference. You could start by eating 2 tablespoons of Coconut Oil or MCT Oil. Cook with some grass-fed butter. Even try snacking on some fats – bacon and eggs, peanut butter, nuts, avocados. I would estimate that my diet now consists of around 50-60% fats. This has provided not only more energy, but weight loss. Big factor.

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I also have reduced my carbohydrate intake. I try to limit the carbs I have at breakfast and lunch. I usually stick with sweet potatoes and other slow-carbs. I’ve also been working on reducing my sugar intake. Both carbohydrates and sugar break down into glucose. You don’t want too much of this if you want consistent energy…unless you enjoy that afternoon crash (Insert 5 hour energy here). This also goes for artificial sweeteners such as Aspartame. If you need a sweetener, Stevia appears to be the best option.

Another quick fix is some exercise. I have been in a good flow recently, doing strength/core training about 4-5 days a week. Maybe running/yoga/stretching works for you. You need to get that blood pumping! Any physical activity helps. Need proof? Check this out…

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I also take a few supplements to aid my energy levels among other things. I always try and get these vitamins and minerals through foods first. But these include 500 mg of Magnesium, B Complex, Vitamin C, and 1,000 I.U. of Vitamin D3 among others. Potassium is also important. If you have an indoor job, I recommend these – especially in the winter. Obviously, I’m not a doctor. But I do take advice from an M.D. focused on health – see Peter Attia.

Can’t forget caffeine – I have a few cups of coffee a day, as well as an afternoon green tea. Try to keep the sources natural with little sugar – coffee, tea, dark chocolate.

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Also, try to get 8 hours of sleep. This is simple, but it is one of the most crucial factors. Make it a quality sleep while you’re at it.

The occasional power nap also is beneficial. I’ve even tried caffeine naps (espresso/caffeine pill then set your alarm for 25 min) every once in a while and found them to be effective. Even a 5-10 minute nap can make a world of difference.

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These are all easy things you can incorporate into your life today. Many may show immediate results. However, they are not the only factors.

Let’s look into some other variables that have helped me get to this point. These take work and are far from perfect.

I noticed a significant difference when I decided to change my outlook. By just framing my approach towards my personal life and work differently, everything shifted for the better. I’m taking the little issues in life much less seriously. And I’m having more fun. Less stress is always a good thing

I have really paid attention to my self-talk. Here is a recent TED Talk  I watched that hits on what I’m talking about. If you consciously pay attention to what you are telling yourself, you may not like what you see. I’ve been making an effort stop the escalation of any negative talk. I am often just too hard on myself. A good exercise is to just ask yourself – would you say these things to another person? No? Then why make them part of your story. Instead turn to conscious positive talk. This change has resulted in less physical stress, a less-worried mind, and a better self-image. That’s 2 birds with 1 stone – more positivity, MORE ENERGY.

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This probably won’t happen overnight. But by adopting a few of these techniques, you may see some positive results.

I plan to test to keep testing these out. I hope you do as well.

Let me know how it goes.