The latest item added to my bucket list this year is one I got from Warren Buffet who, when asked what his number one priority in life was stated, “To become the oldest living person in history.” That thought wouldn’t have resonated with me when I was in my twenties and thirties because in those days, I thought I would live forever. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t live forever.
Sadly, these days my body is telling me in no uncertain terms that simply ain’t gonna happen.
Still… you have to take your best shot, right? A lot of people tell me they would rather be dead than face what they have seen some people go through and I can certainly see why. So with that in mind I told myself that if I was going to take a shot at the title of, “the oldest living person in history,” there would have to be some conditions. Number one of course, being that I would have to be healthy enough to enjoy the accomplishment.
Over the last fifteen years, in my study of the nature of addiction, I have come to understand that the human body has a lot of genetic programming going on that has been developed ever since the DNA string that has now become us, was once a single celled blob that was just trying to crawl out of the water and see if the food was any better on land.
This genetic programming is inside all of us and is getting it’s signals as to what it should do from our behaviour. Drinking, smoking, exercising, working, playing, parenting, watching TV and recreational sex are all signals that send our genetically programmed internal system in different directions, and as we have progressed through the halls and mists of time, developing and adapting to newer current situations. All this is going on without our knowledge unless we are lucky enough to learn about this phenomenon along the way and maybe try to do something about it to alter and enhance the inevitable.
One of the problems we face in our senior years is that we retire and basically send a strong signal to our genetically programmed system, “Okay boys, we’re done here. Let’s start getting ready for the final stage.” Retirement at 65 is a fairly new thing in terms of time. When people stopped working in the past it was usually because they just couldn’t do it anymore. Not because they had a defined benefit pension that kicked in at age 65 or a freedom 55 pension that kicked in even earlier. Now we’re going to retire and do things we have always wanted to do, which basically involves not going to work anymore which our genetically programmed DNA, had assumed was our only purpose in life.
That knowledge brings us to maintain what they now call, “a purpose-driven life.” I take this to mean that if we could fake our DND into thinking that we were still working and needed it to be involved in keeping us going, we could avoid the shut-down signals.
So far… so good. However, I noticed that I had started to gain a little weight during my times ashore and this is starting to bother my doctor who has given me a few warnings about my heart working too hard as a result of my hedonistic diet which had me about forty odd pounds over my fighting weight. To demonstrate this fact, he told me to pick up a forty-pound building block and carry it around with me for an hour to get a sense of how it felt to be carrying around an extra forty pounds. Plus, I could avoid knee replacement surgery by losing the weight and I don’t know whether you’ve picked up on this or not, but our healthcare system does not look kindly—as in place a high priority in the triage-room—on knee surgery for old fat guys in the same way they do not like to provide open heart bypass and lung cancer surgery for old smokers: “You just go to the back of this really long line and we’ll call if we can slot you in.”
“Promise you’ll call me?’
“Yeah… sure we will.”
Many times, I tried comedian Richard Jeni’s, ‘Joey Falco Diet Plan:’ “Stop eating you fat bastard!” but couldn’t go more than twelve hours. I needed to find a new way.
Last December my daughters—who love to chastise me for my gluttonous, hedonistic eating and drinking rituals—told me about a diet called the Fast Metabolism diet (FMD) which is championed by a young lady named Haylie Pomroy. I liked the sound of it because it lets you eat a lot of good food and lose weight—not muscle—in a way that tricks my metabolism in to burning away the fat that I have accumulated. It’s basically a matter of outsmarting my metabolism by making it think I am doing one thing while I am actually doing something else.
According to Haylie’s website the Fast Metabolism Diet has me rotate what I eat during the week according to a simple plan that induces changes in my metabolism that cause it to burn rather than store fat. It does this by breaking the week into three phases. It also puts a lot of things on the no-eat list: dairy, wheat, caffeine, booze, refined sugar, soft drinks, butter tarts, donuts and just about anything else a butter-tart/donut lover would love. Buy a water filter and drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. For me that was 120 ounces. Now I drink 105 ounces… you do the math.
I do Phase One on Monday and Tuesday: lots of carbs and fruits. Breakfast is a smoothie with 1 cup of raw oatmeal, some frozen mangoes, strawberries, blueberries and some water. Morning snack is an apple or an orange. Lunch is a tuna salad with lemon and balsamic vinegar (no oil in phase 1).
Afternoon snack is another apple and dinner is a slow-cooker recipe with quinoa pasta or rice pasta. (no wheat).
There are lots of recipes on the internet. Just google something like FMD (Fast Metabolism Diet) Phase One meals. You may even want to buy the book. I used the audible version and listened to it on walks or in the car. The money you save by not eating and drinking all the booze, coffee, bread, pop and other no-no’s will more than make up for it.
Tuesday and Wednesday are Phase Two and that means lots of proteins and veggies… but no carbs. An egg-white, mushroom, onion and spinach omelette to start, smoked salmon pieces on cucumber slices with lime juice for a snack, the tuna salad with spinach, cucumber, chopped cabbage and lemon with balsamic vinegar for lunch, more of the smoked salmon thing for an afternoon snack and barbecued lean pork chops or lean ground turkey with broccoli and lemon juice for dinner. This dinner is very good and you can eat all you want. No tea or coffee but non-caffeine herbal teas are okay. I am on the hunt for a herbal tea that tastes like coffee.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday are Phase Three and you can now have oil on salads, tomatoes and eggs... even Canadian bacon. I have developed a liking for crisp turkey bacon and roasted almonds. There are lots of great Phase three recipes.
So how did I do? Week one: down 8 pounds. After four weeks: down 28 pounds. I stayed on the diet for six weeks and lost 42 pounds which is in my ideal weight ballpark: my clothes fit better, my knees were no longer demanding that I do something to ease their pain and the sailboat I crew on was a lot easier to do this year.
What did I miss? Vodka, coffee, toast, peanut butter and Coke Zero for starters. I rationalize this by telling myself that I never saw a man in his coffin where people said, “He ate too much broccoli and too many apples and Brussel sprouts. He should have eaten more rib-eye steaks.” I drank some vodka, scotch and wine last year but for six months I was clean. This year I’ll do seven months of the no-no’s and next year eight.
Last year I did the diet for January and February and am doing it again this year to try and get to an even two hundred. I was twenty-one the last time I weighed that much—or that little. My big goal this year is to beat my grandson in a chin-up contest. Right now, I can do one and a half chin ups but it’s a lot easier to do than it was last year because I am minus the best part of one forty-pound cinder block. Even if I lose the chin-up contest, I am still ahead of the game by being able to do something that I couldn’t do ten years ago..
June 1 is D-Day on the chin-ups. That day will also mark 17 years since I quit smoking or as I like to say, “One hundred and twenty-four thousand cigarettes and $55,000 after-tax dollars since I last smoked one.” I don’t think I would even be here to write this if I hadn’t done that.
My liver, my lungs and my knees agree that I am doing a good thing. We’re buddies again. As I watched an old Dick Van Dyke show on TV last week, I wondered, “Will my genetically programmed DNA system think it’s still 1955?”
That would be nice. Fast Metabolism is the best thing I’ve done for myself since I quit smoking. At least that’s my opinion. I may be wrong about that but for now, please don’t tell my DNA system.