Aladdin

Aladdin

Johnny watched Aladdin for the first time this weekend. There were some scary parts that he didn’t understand “Why is that man so mean!?” “Why does everyone have swords?” but he laughed and laughed and laughed at the genie and couldn’t stop talking about the Cave of Wonders. I thought it might be fun to ask him about what he’d wish for if he had access to a genie:

Me: Johnny, what would you wish for if you got three wishes? You can wish for anything at all!

His answer was immediate and confident.

Johnny: A house just like this one, a train table, and a microwave

A Visit with the Nutritionist

A Visit with the Nutritionist

I was pleased as punch to learn that my specific insurance package deems meetings with a nutritionist as ‘preventative’ so they are fully covered.

SIGN ME UP.

I had my first meeting a few weeks back. I went in with a list of the following topics in mind

  1. New healthy foods to try
  2. How to enter and come off an autophagy fast
  3. Fructose Alternatives
  4. How much does skim milk matter vs higher fat content milks
  5. Other good non-meat sources of protein

The meeting was a resounding success. I was impressed with the knowledge of the nutritionist and the immediate set of recommendations provided.

It started as you’d expect: Lots of questions:

What are my current eating and exercise habits? Do I have any dietary restrictions? Recent blood work? Water consumption? Fitness goals? Fasting goals? What’s a typical day of eating look like? What’s my weight history look like? Have I had any medical issues recently? – All standard stuff.

The big goals I wanted to discuss were the 72 hour water only fasts I wanted to try, nutrition for weight training, and reducing my animal protein intake. For these, the nutritionist seemed to be very well educated. Though when I first brought up the 72 hour fast she had a look of concern that matched those of my Mom. That “Ugh, what sort of crazy thing are you doing now” sort of look. I described that I wanted to start doing 72 hour fasts once a month – Suddenly relief from the nutritionist.

“Oh, good. Once a month. I thought you wanted to do this weekly. Yes, a once a month 72 hour water only fast is doable. Trying to do it weekly would be very hard to sustain from a caloric intake standpoint for the other four days of the week.”

The nutritionists recommended a method for entering and coming off the fast which I’ll talk about a bit in my upcoming fast post. She also gave me some great snack recommendations specifically to help me increase fiber, protein, and non-meat sources:

Bada Bean Bada Boom – Fava beans. High in fiber and protein. AND DELICIOUS. Their sweet saracha is amazing.

Hippeas – Fun cheese puff-esque chickpea snacks perfect for some mid-afternoon crunch

Edamame pasta – EXPENSIVE. But so good, and a great alternative to pasta.

As a sugar substitute in baking, she recommended Truvia. We tried some in a banana bread and I enjoyed it.

I set up a follow up visit in August. I strongly encourage those of you with health insurance check to see if a nutritionist is covered for you!

The Year of Health

The Year of Health

Fittingly, for New Years I decided to make 2020 a year of health initiatives and health goals. Of course with the pandemic, health has been front and center in everyone’s mind, but either way it was a good goal.

As we approach halfway through the year, I have to say I’m pleased with my progress.

Successes

  1. I have maintained a weight training exercise habit
  2. I haven’t missed a single day of flossing and morning teeth care is now part of the routine
  3. I have given up discretionary sugar (no dessert or brown sugar on my oatmeal, but I’ll still eat a slice of banana bread)
  4. I am following a prescribed sleep program
  5. I have maintained a meditation practice

Not Yet Successes

  1. I built a solid cardio routine at the company gym, but this dropped with Covid. I have to bring cardio back
  2. I have tried a preliminary autophagy fast (24hrs), but I want to make higher level fasting (72 hrs) part of a monthly program
  3. I’d like to get a more scientific grasp of my eating. Starting a food log and seeing a nutritionist are on the list
  4. My exercise routine is self-developed. Perhaps enlisting the help of a physical therapist or personal trainer would be wise, especially as it relates to the annoyance that is my Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  5. Water consumption has been good, but I’d like to be more deliberate. Right now I drink 2-3 liters a day, more definition is needed

Has anyone out there executed some unique healthy habits that they care to share? I’m eager to optimize!

Sleep Consultation

Sleep Consultation

Two weeks ago I had my initial sleep consult, with a follow up happening the following Monday. My hope was to be recommended for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) and I’m pleased to report that this turned out to be the prescribed path.

CBT-I is sleep training for adults. If you have enjoyed life as a new parent, you likely spent money on books explaining how to train your kid to sleep better by employing tricks like: maintain a strict sleeping schedule for the baby, don’t feed immediately before setting to bed, wake them up with lights and excitement to encourage them into the day, etc. There are so many books because the tricks tend to help. It’s pretty logical that the same would work for adults. Aside: I find it amusing that we are generally poor at enforcing good sleep practices for ourselves.

My first meeting with the sleep clinic went as expected. The doctor asked basic questions like:

  1. What time do you go to bed at night and wake up in the morning?
  2. Do you drink caffeine, and if so when?
  3. What does your insomnia look like?
  4. Did the origins of your sleeping problems coincide with any sort of life event like a physical trauma or an illness?

The general purpose of these questions was to get a basic understanding of my lifestyle and to see if there might be a medical reason I was having problems. After 15 minutes of questions, the doctor pointed me towards a Psychologist for CBT-I. Woo!

Scene II: The second doctor televisit

My second visit was a more lengthy one. I met with the doctor and went into a far more detailed series of questions that related to my day to day sleep schedule and how I dealt with sleep related issues. Questions like:

  1. When you wake up at night, what do you do?
  2. Do you ever snack in the middle of the night?
  3. What time do you eat dinner?
  4. Do you ever nap to recover your sleep?
  5. Have you ever fallen asleep or found yourself nodding off at the wheel?

It was an exciting line of questions. They said I was doing a lot of things right, but the biggest area that I could improve on was my wake up time.

I used to set two alarms: one for 5 am and another for 6:20. If it was a good night sleep, I’d get up early and exercise etc. But, if I was awake suffering from insomnia from, say, 1am til 4am, I’d turn off that early alarm and skip the exercise that day. Same thing with weekends: no need to get up at 5, if I don’t have work.

“Stick to a standard wake up time,” they implored. They made the point like this: imagine sleep is a pendulum. One night might be bad, but then the next night swings into the good and then it goes bad and back and forth and back and forth. If you can’t make a bad night better, the best way to stabilize the pendulum might be (sadly) to kill the upswing. Suffer in the short term to improve in the long term.

So that’s what I’ve done. I have been a rock with getting up at 5:00am even if I’m up during the night. I’ve also removed all electronics from my middle of the night waking episodes. CBT-I has a 70-80% success rate and tends to work within a six week time frame. I’m just about two weeks into the practice, so hopefully we shall see results soon.

The doctor also advised I keep track of my sleep with an app: CBT-i coach. It’s free, so if you’re curious about your own sleep – give it a shot.

I’ve got another appointment next Monday. I think the goal of this next session will be to review the data I’ve collected and then prescribe a more detailed sleep program for me. Exciting!