How I Thrived With Simple Hacks
Simple lifestyle changes which made substantial impact on my health and overall well-being
This is a personal story on my unsual transformation.
I want to share my personal learning which encouraged me to take bold actions moving me from surviving to thriving mode.
Like any transformation in life, it was simple but not easy. However, once the action is made a habit then it becomes easy. Let me share my old madness replaced by new wisdom.
I was uninformed and misinformed about human conditions in my younger years. Most of what I learnt from traditional science, or misinterpretation of science made me miserable suffering in survival mode.
I didn't know the existence of thriving in life, let alone, it was a natural human condition. When I heard the word thriving, occasionally from my new-age friends in 80s, it sounded like a pie in the sky for me.
What was I doing wrong?
For many years I was on high carb diets, eating lots of bread, rice, and potatoes, and drinking excessive freshly squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. I thought fruit and vegetable juices were the healthiest drinks.
Half of my income was going to fruits and vegetables, ensuring that they were organic and have many colours, at least 7 colour in each meal. Yes, I was that misinformed and adamant about fruit and vegetables juices!
After each meal, especially after drinking fruit juice, I always felt lethargic. It was worse in the afternoons. Drinking abundance of kale, spinach, and celery juice were skyrocketing my inflammation. I was thinking my diet was healthy.
I thought it was a reasonable human condition to be lethargic in the afternoons and have low back and neck pain as IT professionals because most of my colleagues were in the same situation and we were consuming a lot of painkillers and inflammatory medication to suppress our symptoms.
However, every now and then, when I saw energetic people, those with full of beans all times, around me, I was thinking that they were highly caffeinated or taking energizing drugs, or genetically gifted. In hindsight, regrettably, this was misinformation and poor judgement on high performing professionals.
My subconscious mind had a clandestine attraction towards those people and when I grew up I closely studied them and even modeled some of them. But this is another long story. Let me focus on simple blood sugar which is the core message of this article.
Learning about Blood Sugar
When I learnt about the importance of blood sugar fluctuations on our moods, energy levels and overall mental health, I wanted to check my blood sugar levels.
During that time, one enticing fact was that our bloodstream could only get around one teaspoon of sugar at a time, whereas I was getting many spoonfuls of sugar from multiple food sources and fruit juices, including sugared coffee and tea, which were my regular drinks on those days.
How ignorant and misinformed was I!
Ironically, my physicians never pointed out that my blood sugar was the main source of my suffering. They were giving me unnecessary medication to suppress my symptoms. My body was crying due to poisonous sugar but I was shutting its alarms with sedating medications.
With my curiosity, one day, I found an affordable blood glucose monitoring device from eBay and purchased glucose test strips from the pharmacy. The pharmacist was interrogating me whether I was diabetic, as the cost of private purchase was very high.
It took a while to convince her that I might be prediabetic; therefore, I needed to check my blood sugar to ensure it was within acceptable ranges daily. She was insisting I should purchase it through the Medicare system due to its prohibitive cost. When it comes to my health, especially transforming myself safely, the cost is not an issue at all. I see it as an investment.
What did I discover?
It was astonishing to see my blood sugar was going very high after the main meals. Fruit juices were skyrocketing it. I wondered how fruit juice was recommended to kids and adults, especially for breakfast. My elevated blood sugar took four hours to settle into a reasonably healthy range.
This simple test motivated me to reduce my carbs and increase my protein and fat intake. The main change is removing all fruit juice and foods with high glycemic index.
Initially, in a week or so, I felt mild keto flu, but in the second week my energy level boosted high. I suddenly started feeling fantastic.
I welcomed a new version of myself with a simple hack!
It was that simple: just reducing poisoning sugar amounts from my blood.
With this minor yet incredible improvement in my overall health, I started searching further to understand low carb, high-fat diets.
I came across the Ketogenic diet, which was a fantastic transformation for my overall health, both physically and mentally. Even though I heard many negative aspects of the Ketogenic diet, with lots of scary speculations, they did not mean anything to me anymore because it was working for me.
Every negative aspect of the Ketogenic diet faded away in a few weeks, as none of those undesirable conditions happened to me. Ironically, everything was just the opposite of what was on the media.
I provide more information about my dietary background in this article. It is so unusual that according to people around me I was supposed to die by now. My new diet proves me that my body does not need sugar and fiber. Both are unnecessary for me. The natural gluconeogenesis was my magical and optimal thriving mechanism.
With this enthusiasm, I started testing my blood sugar and ketone levels every day, a few times a day, keeping a record of them in a spreadsheet and creating data sets including my weight, belly size, fat percentage, muscle quality, sleep time, calorie intake, blood pressure, amount of salts, and many more daily measures. I practiced my data management skills in monitoring my health in detail.
Seeing optimal blood sugar and elevated ketone levels much motivated me to keep these records religiously for several months. A few months later, I entirely became fat-adapted, and my terrible hunger feelings disappeared. My energy level was similar to when I was a teenager. In fact, at 50+ years old, I was wearing my jeans bought at the age of 18.
My thinking patterns became more explicit. I was thinking clearer. My mood was on the positive and optimistic side. My family members, friends and colleagues were teasing me whether I undertook anti-aging therapies like Botox or other body improvement methods. The world around me looked brighter.
First time in my life, I understood the true meaning of thriving.
With this energy and enthusiasm, I increased my exercise times, both aerobic and anaerobic (cardio and weight training formats).
Exercise helped even further optimise my blood sugar levels and increase my ketone levels. Being in high ketosis at most times made me feel almost euphoric. Despite all warnings, frankly, I did not lose any muscles when I was in deep ketosis.
As keeping lean muscle has been very important to me, I got it checked with Dexa scans which surprisingly showed increase in lean muscles and a decrease in fat percentage. This was one of the most joyful news for me.
Unlearning the cluttered and harmful knowledge was working on my transformation journey.
My problem solving, attention, memory, mental flexibility and agility skills also improved. As long term subscribed user of Lumosity and Elevate, I measured my mental skills such as memory, attention, problem-solving, flexibility, and agility. My daily practices of mind games dramatically showed improvement.
A simple blood monitoring curiosity opened new ways for my diet, physical exercise regimen and mental efforts. I still test my blood glucose and ketone levels but not as frequently as I used to in the first year. My body is so attuned that I even can guess my blood glucose and ketone levels by observing my daily behaviour.
Then I also learnt that there are many other blood tests monitoring for other aspects of our health. Our family doctors conduct only minimal blood tests, and like any average citizen, I thought they were adequate to learn about our health profile. It was another mistake to believe mainstream claims on unnecessary blood tests. They were unsubstantiated. They don't seem to care as long as you survive. With all due respect, thriving does not seem to be the concern of traditional medicine. This self-discovery was invaluable for me.
The next level for me was to take the specialist level tests. I was pleased to know that a specialist - for example, an endocrinologist - could conduct many hormonal tests to create a profile of the hormonal situation. As Medicare in my country did not support hormonal tests, I paid specialist medical professionals to provide me insights through multiple essential blood tests.
In my opinion, this was a good investment for my health. If I left my conditions to the hands of traditional medicine and Medicare, I could have suffered in pain or died by now.
In addition, I learnt that there are many other special blood tests that we can get done through online pathologies with no prescription. Some are sophisticated and expensive tests. They can provide useful insights into our health situation.
Monitoring my blood markers, especially blood sugar, made me informed about my health conditions.
In addition to blood tests, I also got my DNA tested privately.
DNA tests provided insightful findings. My family doctor said it was a waste of money. But it was worth the investment, as a few simple pointers really provided valuable lessons for me and validated a few suspicious situations about my genetic predisposition.
By considering the insights from genetic tests, I adjusted my diet and fitness goals.
By the way, I also learnt improving my sleep by monitoring it via a simple smartwatch. Yes, my beloved Fitbit device because it is always with me. Details are in the attached article.
So what is my core message in this article?
As I monitor systems at work, learning to monitor my health made an invaluable impact on my health and performance.
I learnt that thriving in life is not a luxury.
This joyful state is what nature gave us as a gift.
Each of us is unique. Even though I am a data-driven professional, I learnt that statistics were dangerous to understand health conditions. They can give indications in broad categories but they can also misinform us.
It may be a shock to you but I do not trust the broad statistics for my health any more, especially if they are reported in epidemiological studies.
I still consider them only after full validation from empirical studies. When empirical studies were not possible or available in an area, I attempt the safe self-experimentation using reliable knowledge - well documented in the body of knowledge. As a triangulation, I also compare and validate my findings with well-formed experiences from trusted, brave, and informed people in my circles.
Later I learnt importance of mitochondria and adjusted my lifestyle to increase density and improve health of my mitochondria. You can review my views on importance of mitochondria for our energy levels.
Disclaimer: Full version of this story was published on another platform. Link: https://medium.com/illumination-curated/simple-blood-monitoring-to-thrive-926b7ffbd266
Reference: Simple & Powerful Life-Transforming Bio-Hacks https://books2read.com/u/4j1QWo
About the author
I'm a writer and published author with four decades of content development experience in business, technology, leadership, and health. I work as a postdoctoral researcher and consultant. My background is at https://digitalmehmet.com.