Author Topic: Moonbeam's Hormesis Life Improvement Plan  (Read 7530 times)

Offline Moonbeam

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Moonbeam's Hormesis Life Improvement Plan
« on: April 23, 2010, 03:10:16 AM »
Hello Todd and everyone.   I got here by way of the SLD forum.  I think I’ve read everything here and then started over again, so I thought I would join in.  Very interesting stuff.   It seems so relevant to me right now; ideas that make a lot of sense and stuff I can use.  So many of the things that I would like to change and things I always seem to be working on but never achieving are due to my own lack of strength and discipline.  I’m not sure if I had more when I was younger and have just let it slip, or if it just takes more effort now to get results.  I feel like I’m coasting when I’d rather still be pedaling.

I knew of the concept of hormesis in the general way of a little bit of poison sometimes being beneficial, “tearing down to build up”, stuff like that; however, the application of the principle as a philosophy of life and bringing these various ideas together is something new and different.   It’s interesting because a lot of stuff here I’m already sort of into or would like to be.  I try to keep up with the CRONies for the updated nutrition info but I can’t really practice calorie restriction because I want to be able to work out and gain muscle.  But on that front I’m stuck in the same lifting work-out I’ve been doing for more than 15 years and plateaued long ago.  I’ve got the “Barefoot Running” book even though I never run and have trouble making myself put any effort into aerobic exercise.  I’m not overweight on the scale but I’d like to change my body composition.  I’m low-carb believer but have trouble sticking with it.  (Actually I’ve done much better lately with the addition of SLD.)  The deconditioning diet ideas here are very interesting, both as applied to food and alcohol.  I’m even near-sighted due to too much close-up work and am going to try the plus-lenses therapy.  (I’m getting far-sighted due to my age too, but hopefully I can help the near-sightedness.)  

So those areas I could obviously benefit from some increased discipline.   I could also use some improvement in my reactions to stress and people at work.   When I look around right now at home and the crap on my desk and beyond there’s a lot of stuff I could work on here too.  

I got “Guide to the Good Life” and am reading that; I got the “Mastery” book too and I’ll read that next.  I also recently ordered several books on neuroplasticity and brain-changing stuff.   (Another habit of mine—ordering millions of books and then spending too much time on the internet to get them all read.  I think the internet has decreased my attention span.)

So—getting stronger:  physically and mentally; who couldn’t benefit from that?  I would really like to; I feel like I’m at a point in my life where I have to put some effort in it or I’m going to decline into mushiness of body and mind.  

I guess that’s enough for this post.  My goals probably seem a little vague (“improve everything”) and I think I should probably define them to myself better.  For the time being, I'm here and following everything with great interest and I'll see what I can do with it.  Thanks for all the great ideas.

Oh yea, I tried the cold shower thing—that was terrible!  I didn’t like it!  But I guess that’s the idea.  I may save that one for later.
« Last Edit: August 29, 2010, 01:13:49 PM by Todd Becker »

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Hello
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2010, 05:08:29 AM »
Welcome, Moonbeam! I enjoyed reading your first post. It sounds like we have many common interests--low carb diet, resistance training, eyesight improvement, etc. And, like you, I saw these as separate, unrelated interests before I saw progressive hormesis as a unifying concept that could tie them together--as well as continue to suggest new applications to me.  Similarly, I was struggling to bring more focus into my life and resist the downward slide of aging. Well, we can't stop aging, but I think that we can get stronger and improve in many ways at any age.

In reading your post, I notice an underlying theme of "lack of focus"--many interests, unread books, internet browsing, things piling up on the desk. My main suggestion at this point would be to choose one problem or idea and work on that for a few weeks until you see progress. Which thing? At some level it doesn't matter, but I would choose something that bothers you the most or where you think you might see the biggest difference. It should not be an area that is too hard, but not should it be too easy. It needs to be an area where you will experience some difficulty and "stress" to a degree that is borderline uncomfortable, and where you can push yourself repeatedly and in a sustained manner for several weeks. If you can do that, I think you'll experience a level of satisfaction and liberation that you may not have felt for some time. The satisfaction, I think, comes both from the freedom in choosing what you are going to work on, and in seeing and feeling the results. Once that first area is well in hand, perhaps in several weeks, you can pick one or two areas to work on, while sustaining your progress in the first area.  But you need to start somewhere, even a very limited area.

If you have difficulty picking an area to work on, here's one more suggestion: pick an area having to do with personal physical or mental capacity. If you start with your health and fitness -- the capacity of your own body and mind -- and work outward to dealing with other people, your house, work, family etc., you will feel the benefits more directly, and move up the curve faster.

That has been my experience over the past few years. I've improved my eyesight, lost 25 pounds, greatly increased my weightlifting ability and general strength, given up caffeine...now working on reducing alcohol intake and preparing for a running relay next weekend. This has left  me in better shape to deal with challenges at work and at home. I have many undone things to tackle (e.g. home finances and a cluttered basement storage room, etc.....). But I've found that taking on one challenge at a time has worked for me.

Good luck and look forward to your contributions here!

Todd
« Last Edit: April 23, 2010, 05:21:59 AM by Todd Becker »

Offline SUGARDUDE

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Re: Hello
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2010, 09:46:32 AM »
Welcome aboard Moonbeam !!

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Hello
« Reply #3 on: April 24, 2010, 05:59:19 AM »
Thanks for the welcomes, and for the advice, which I will take.   Todd, you have put a lot of thought and effort into this blog, and it’s very encouraging to hear your progress.   All this stuff is so intriguing to me, how you’ve put together all these various ideas.   I thought about it again all day yesterday in the back of my mind as I was working.  You’re totally right that we can improve at any age, and like I said I feel like I’m sort of at a critical time in life(mid-40’s) to put some programs into place now so as to continue to be healthy. I’ve been haphazardly eating right and exercising for a long time which is OK when you’re younger, but it catches up to you.   If the principles can be used to bring other areas of life under control as well, that is a bonus.  

I have to travel for the next two of three weeks, so the thing to work on will have to be diet.  Usually I use travelling as an excuse to eat bad, so this is a good opportunity.  I’ve been doing pretty well on the SLD, and I hate to mess it up now.   I can skip some meals, and practice some good deconditioning by going to restaurants and not getting anything really good, like I usually would. 

I thought of something pretty aversive I can do in addition to the deconditioning restaurant experience.  I’m going to take sardines with me and eat them as the first meal of the day.  I’ve had some success lately with delaying breakfast by a few hours to work up to eating fewer hours per day.  The sardines will help with that.  Sardines are just barely edible to me right now; I’m pretty sick of them, and it’s not something I ever want to eat first thing in the morning.  If I end up not eating them during the morning, I’ll put them on a salad for lunch, make that my big meal of the day, and plan on a small supper.

I think I’ll make that a permanent rule.  It sounds pretty torturous, but attainable and healthy.
 
I want to be low-carb paleo, but in addition to having trouble avoiding the things I should, ethically I’d rather not eat meat, so that makes it kind of difficult sometimes.  I’ve been various types of a vegetarian in the past, but now I have access to non-factory farmed meat and Amish eggs, so when I’m home I eat those, and some canned fish like sardines and salmon.  Luckily not wanting to eat meat in restaurants always restricts me quite a bit, but the thing I have to work to avoid is cheese.  I’d like to live on vegetables, some nuts, some fruit, coconut oil, and small amounts of meat and fish and eggs.

I'm not sure if I should go on here or start another specific thread about this.

P.S.  Good luck on your race!
« Last Edit: April 24, 2010, 06:02:55 AM by Moonbeam »

Offline Moonbeam

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Hormesis Life Improvement Plan-- Step 1: Diet
« Reply #4 on: April 24, 2010, 06:19:15 AM »
I shall begin my hormesis life improvement plan as applied to diet by using the principles of:

1)   Intermittent fasting, by encouraging a morning fast and introducing an unpleasant yet healthy element by making the first meal of the day sardines.

2)   Deconditioning, by exposing myself to delicious food, and then eating something as non-tasty yet paleo-compliant as I can.  

I will do these things for three weeks before deciding on the next step.

Offline Todd Becker

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Re: Hello
« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2010, 12:40:21 PM »
I thought of something pretty aversive I can do in addition to the deconditioning restaurant experience.  I’m going to take sardines with me and eat them as the first meal of the day.  I’ve had some success lately with delaying breakfast by a few hours to work up to eating fewer hours per day...I think I’ll make that a permanent rule.  It sounds pretty torturous, but attainable and healthy.

I shall begin my hormesis life improvement plan as applied to diet by using the principles of:

1)   Intermittent fasting, by encouraging a morning fast and introducing an unpleasant yet healthy element by making the first meal of the day sardines.

2)   Deconditioning, by exposing myself to delicious food, and then eating something as non-tasty yet paleo-compliant as I can.  

I will do these things for three weeks before deciding on the next step.


It looks to me like you have an excellent plan, Moonbeam. I especially like how you've reduced this to two simple and clear rules you can follow, and also how you have incorporated "an unpleasant yet healthy element by making the first meal of the day sardines". My prediction is that not only will you be successful, but that over time you'll come to find the sardines less unpleasant, and eventually perhaps even somewhat pleasant. And you'll experience a different kind of pleasure than the immediate hedonic pleasure of food: the higher pleasure of accomplishment and becoming the master of your desires. This is actually quite exciting, when you think about it.

Let us know how it goes!
« Last Edit: April 25, 2010, 12:43:38 PM by Todd Becker »

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Hello
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2010, 04:51:18 PM »
So far so good.  I started yesterday before we left, and made it til noon easily before I ate the sardines, then quit eating about 6:30.  (I wanted to make it six but time got away from me.) 

Today we were traveling, and had to wake up at 4:30, so I only made it to the first connection before I ate the sardines at about 8:30.  (This could get a little weird in public, but oh well.  I brought a plastic bag to put the empty can in.)  Then I ate only 1/2 apple, one raw bar, and some peanuts til dinner when I went out to a nice restaurant and had a small dinner of blackened fish, broccoli, and slaw.  Not great IF, but at least somewhat calorie restricted, for me.

I did have two beers yesterday and two margaritas today.  I'd like to drink more than that, but probably should drink less. 

t looks to me like you have an excellent plan, Moonbeam. I especially like how you've reduced this to two simple and clear rules you can follow, and also how you have incorporated "an unpleasant yet healthy element by making the first meal of the day sardines."   My prediction is that not only will you be successful, but that over time you'll come to find the sardines less unpleasant, and eventually perhaps even somewhat pleasant.

If I start enjoying them, do you think I should stick with the sardines, or switch to something else to maintain the aversive quality?  (Actually they weren't as bad for breakfast as I thought they would be this morning.)

Quote
And you'll experience a different kind of pleasure than the immediate hedonic pleasure of food: the higher pleasure of accomplishment and becoming the master of your desires. This is actually quite exciting, when you think about it.

It was very nice to go out to dinner and not get stuffed and not have my diet be blown and therefore figure I might as well eat whatever I want for the rest of the week. (Must...remember...that feeling...)

Thanks for the encouragement.   :)  This was a perfect time to start this.  May save me from gaining back the couple pounds of blubber I lost on SLD over the last few weeks.  I brought the coconut oil with me too.

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Hello
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2010, 05:55:30 PM »
The sardines-first plan is working out really well.  I've eaten hem either at about 10:00 or saved them to eat with lunch.  It's a little weird to do when not at home, but I've managed.  I'm going home tomorrow and will continue.

I may have to patent this.  ;)

Offline jared33

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Re: Hello
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2010, 07:21:33 PM »
The Sardine Diet!  I think you've got a best seller in the works there, Moonbeam! 

In a more serious vein, are you starting to like the taste of sardines more with time?

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Hello
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2010, 12:11:30 PM »
Hi jared.  I have to say that I have liked sardines most of my life, but for some reason over the last year or so I got so I could barely eat them; they were just kind of repulsive to me.  I thought I was just sick of them, because I ate them a lot due to trying to eat paleo and not being so much into meat.

Anyway, I can't say I am liking the taste of them anymore.  Today they were not very good.  It's good to have something to eat because I'm pretty hungry by the time I eat them, but it's totally just eating because I need to eat, not because I want them.

I do have several varieties; water, oil, marinara sauce, and mustard.  I had the water on my trip because I thought they would be the cleanest and easiest to eat, and least stinky.  They are a little bit dry like that, but they have less flavor, which is good.

I'm going to stick to this no matter how yukky the sardines taste.  The worse they are, the better it will work.  I'd like to only eat about six hours per day, from about noon to 6:00, for my intermittent fasting.  Maybe four hours, 2:00 to 6:00, eventually.  Right now it's averaging about 10:0 to 6:00.

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Hello
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2010, 04:23:16 AM »
OK it's been over a week now; so far so good.  I only missed the sardines one day--yesterday I didn't eat and I worked out in the yard all morning.  It was about noon and I just felt like eating lunch and not adding the sardines, so I did, since it was already so late in the day, and that is partially the point. 

I'm going to continue; I'm back at work this week, so it should be easier to keep a regular meal schedule.  I don't know if I can make it til noon every day, but that would be good for IF if I could.

Offline jared33

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Re: Hello
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2010, 07:13:11 PM »
Moonbeam, do you think it makes a difference whether the sardines are the first meal of the day, or can you eat them later in the day as a second meal?  I'm wondering whether having a slightly aversive or less palatable food like sardines as the first meal of the day is part of why your diet works, because it helps you to delay eating until you really need to.

Are you losing any weight on the diet, or are you doing this for a different reason?

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Hello
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2010, 03:12:33 PM »
Hey jared and all; sorry gone so long.  I had my second trip last week, and was just busy catching up this week. 

Jared, the reason I am eating the sardines first is for a couple different reasons.  I'd like to minimize the number of hours per day that I eat, and if the first meal is sardines, that forces me to really be hungry before I eat (Yes you're right, because it's aversive.  If I have something too yummy, I'll be thinking about it too much--this way, I'm like, ew, not hungry enough yet.)

Right now (starting the beginning of this week, after I got home) I'm only eating 6 hours/day, so the sardines help me delay breakfast.  (I'd like to get down to 4 hours; I think that will be doable.)  So at 10:00, I have my sardines (now that I am back home, I'm mixing them with a little mayo and mustard and either eating it on a green salad or wrapped up in seaweed like sushi.)  Then about noon or so I have my coconut oil (back on the SLD since my trips are over), and then about 3:00 I have a bowl of vegetable soup.  This gives me enough energy to exercise in the evening, without being overly full.  I'm pretty hungry in the AM and sometimes after working out, but it's tolerable.  I think the coconut oil helps.  I sometimes squeeze an extra snack in too during the 6 hours, a little dark chocolate or nuts or something like that.

I try to eat paleo and sardines are a good part of a diet like that, however over the years I've just gotten so sick of them.  (I don't eat factory-farm meat.)  I'm pretty sick of canned oysters too, but they make a good snack protein and are low on the food chain.  Canned clams in soup aren't too bad.  (Huge source of iron too; I was a little bit anemic.)

As far as weight loss--I have to admit that during my second week of traveling I lost it.  I was in Boston and there were so many good restaurants....yada yada yada.  So, the five or so pounds I lost the first couple weeks came back.

I don't really want to lost a lot of weight like scale-wise; if I could turn the fat into muscle and stay the same weight, I would be very happy.  To that end, I have started on the next part of my getting stronger plan, which I'll add below.

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Hormesis Life Improvement Plan-- Step 1: Diet
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2010, 03:31:28 PM »
I shall begin my hormesis life improvement plan as applied to diet by using the principles of:

1)   Intermittent fasting, by encouraging a morning fast and introducing an unpleasant yet healthy element by making the first meal of the day sardines.

2)   Deconditioning, by exposing myself to delicious food, and then eating something as non-tasty yet paleo-compliant as I can.  

I will do these things for three weeks before deciding on the next step.


OK the above is going pretty well, with a lapse last week, but I'm back to it, and determined to stick to it now that my schedule is back to normal.  Actually I guess the deconditioning part didn't take yet, but I haven't forgotten about it and I'll keep trying. 

To continue:

3)  Increase fasting, by eating for six hours/day with an eventual goal of 4 hours/day.  I have done this for a few days and it's not bad at all, helped by the sardines in the AM. 

4)  Interval exercise, by getting out of bed early enough five days/week to get on the treadmill for twenty minutes.  I absolutely hate doing it, so it counts both for psychological and physical benefits.  (I lift weights, but am bad about doing aerobic exercise.) 

Offline Moonbeam

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Re: Hello
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2010, 05:08:35 AM »
This is going extremely well.  I've believed for so long that if I didn't eat before and after exercise and often enough during the day I was going to lose muscle (not that I even have much to lose--I've lifted weights for many years, but I'm ectomorphic and plateaued a long time ago in strength).  Reading various links from here, especially Fitness Black Book, have been very helpful and as soon as I changed how I eat and exercise I noticed a huge difference.

For the last two weeks I've gotten on the treadmill before work (3X/week) and done only twenty minutes of "intervals".  (For me, being so out of shape for running, that means fast walking alternating with jogging--but it's strenuous for me.)  I am continuing with the sardine-first diet, and don't eat until 10:00 to 12:00 (as long as I can last) and I eat til anywhere from 2:00 til 4:00.  Then I lift weights in the evening and have a very small amount of protein powder (whey, nutritional yeast, and Living Fuel mixed together) right before I work out, and some amino acid capsules after.  I also do thirty minutes of rather easy aerobics after the lifting (that was the extent of my aerobics before adding the AM treadmill) which I'd like to increase in intensity.

With these changes, I've lost several pounds of what I think is pure fat.  I have a body-fat percentage scale, which I know is not accurate, but hopefully changes in the numbers mean something.  That number has gone down, and I fit into some jeans which I haven't been able to wear for a long time, and they weren't even very tight.

So--I definitely think these changes, which haven't been nearly as hard to do I as I thought they, are helping.  I had done well with eating and exercise for about five weeks before my trips, lost about 5 pounds, then gained it all back in one week the last trip.  After starting the IF and intervals, in two weeks I've lost all that and more; down about 7 or 8 pounds, plus I think I'm gaining muscle because I am slightly stronger.

P.S.  As far as deconditioning and trying to resist bad foods, I haven't had much trouble.  I do try to make a point of thinking about what I'm avoiding; like, if there is cake or donuts at work, which there so often is, I make a point of looking at it and thinking about it and then not eating it, but really something about the eating schedule and exercise has made the bad foods not a problem at all.
« Last Edit: May 30, 2010, 05:11:03 AM by Moonbeam »