In late 2016 I had to get a checkup for life insurance and stepped on the scale. I weighed the most I’ve ever weighed — 240 lbs — clinically obese with a BMI of over 36 for my height. At the time I considered myself to be a successful person; I had a successful career and was financially independent and happy stable home life. However, when it came to my health, I was bankrupt (which was also unknowingly holding me back from complete happiness) . Despite eating healthy (vegetarian), not drinking alcohol and working out a few times a week, I frustratingly continued gaining weight with no end in sight…
I had hit my health rock bottom.
Anyone can post about losing weight, but I want to share my process in progressing from someone who was overwhelmed and confused about my health to someone who has taken control of my health, educated myself on what works for me and built a foundation to be as healthy as possible for the rest of my life. I owe a lot of credit to my doctor for guiding me through it, but at the end of the day I took control of my health and you can too.
Recommendations for getting started…
Baseline Approach — The core components in building the foundation for living healthy
- Decide to commit to your health and take your health into your own hands — I would recommend that you decide to try 2–3 things at a time across diet, exercise, sleep/mindfulness (and be patient as you work to determine what works best for you).
- Find a doctor that you can work with — It may require spending months meeting with a few different doctors until you find the one that works for you (I would look at ‘concierge doctors’ or a doctor trained in functional medicine) who is focused on all aspects of your health, not just keeping you from being sick. Make sure you find a doctor who you feel comfortable working closely with)
- Build a support network — it can be just you and your doctor to start. For me, letting my friends and family know that I was committing to my health was important to help me hold myself accountable.
- Focus on Diet — You will often hear that 80% of weight loss is diet and I tend to agree. I continue eating vegetarian (borderline vegan), but the most impactful diet ended up being intermittent fasting, I follow a modified 16/8 method, eating for 6 hours from 4pm-10pm M-F.
Advanced Approach — Use data to understand what is working (or not)
- Establish a baseline — Work with your Doctor to get all of your bloodwork, allergies, and hormone levels checked.
- Buy Hardware / Tracking — Buy a Fitness Tracker that tracks steps, heart rate and sleep. Buy a smart scale or digitally track your weight/BMI daily. (Kit)
- Work on a process that you can use to test new things and measure your results — ideally get a blood test once every 90 days or less. Try to test things (7–14 days) leading up to getting bloodwork done.
Summary of Health OKRs
Today I weigh 180lbs (-60 Lbs) with a goal of getting down to 168lbs by the end of 2019 (¼ lb per week). I am continuously testing new strategies to improve my overall health.
Achieving similar results to me doesn’t require going to the same extent as I have. There is no single formula to optimize health; rather, building a framework for discovering what works for you and enabling you to reach your specific health goals is the key. Once you find what works for you, keep working to continuously make more improvements. After a lot of experimenting, what really worked for me was intermittent fasting/restricted eating window and addressing hormonal imbalances that blunted the benefits of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Building the right framework for reaching your health objectives is about making data-based decisions. Data depends on collecting the right key metrics in order to make decisions. Once you have the objectives and key results (OKRs), it then becomes about setting achievable goals.
My Health Roadmap
The process all started with an initial consultation with my personal doctor, Doctor K. We spent over two hours reviewing my health history including successes/failures in health, diet, exercise, sleep, stress, my family health history, personal health goals, personal motivations, and everything/anything else we could think of regarding my health. He then drew my blood and sent that to the labs; a few days later we reviewed the labs and together we created a set of actionable steps that I could commit to over the next six weeks until our next visit.
It is important to note that it took months for me to try things like fasting and diet changes, etc. For as many things that were successful, there were many others that didn’t work. It isn’t about what works or doesn’t as much as it is about making health a priority, investing in getting healthier and working through a process that allows me to know, based on data, what is working and what is not.
Across my goals, both Health (Body) and Wellness (Mind), we then built in a process by which we would meet every 4–8 weeks to draw my blood, discuss my health objectives and use the key metrics from the scale, blood pressure, heart rate, bloodwork to evaluate my performance towards those objectives.
Today, my current cadence is to meet with my Doctor every 6–12 weeks to draw my blood and discuss the status of all the things that I’m working on. I send him regular updates on weight and my prescription refills over text/email. Anytime I find/hear/read about something that I want to try, we work on a plan to incorporate it into my current health stack and decide how we will track the performance. With any test, it is important that we give it enough time to work and have enough data to evaluate it, using bloodwork as the benchmark to determine if it is working.
Thank you for reading this far, next month I will dive into the raw data on all the actions taken. If you want to be part of what I’m building or talk to DoctorK please see the details below. I hope that this shows that change is possible and this helps you to reach your Health OKRs!
How to get involved
- I recently cofounded a company to help people reach their health goals. If you’re interested in joining please let us know
- Want to be part of our beta? Please sign up here
- Subscribe to my once monthly newsletter. Feb will be a Data / Product deep dive into my health stack — All the products/vitamins/trackers/diets I use/tested and of my raw data from 2 years of bloodwork and Health OKRs — Subscribe on Medium
- Want to speak with Doctor K? Fill out this form
Preview of Feb Newsletter…
Discovery — I listen to a lot of health-related podcasts and read books by trusted MDs to keep up to date on what people are trying and what might be something that works for me. As with anything, there is a lot of information out there but not a lot of great people to trust when it comes to knowing what to do. — Kevin Rose, Peter Attia, Rhonda Patrick, and more…