All over the internet, there are blogs dedicated to life hacking. Half of my posts are about it – strategies to be more efficient, to get more done in a shorter period of time, to over-achieve. But there is a dark side to all of this. I remember a while ago a friend of mine, who certainly gets a lot done and who has achieved a phenomenal amount in the past decade, saying “I now finally realise why most Ferraris are driven by fat, ill, old guys with no hair”. That comment stuck, and for a few years I’ve had a razer-sharp focus on hacking my health to make sure I never become one of them.
For me, doing this is slightly easier than for others. When I was just a few weeks old I caught the flu and had complications which were treated with antibiotics, and this in turn wreaked havoc with both my immune and digestive system. I am allergic to just about everything I eat, and have neverending histamine responses to everything around me (there is an amazing blog about living with this relatively unknown condition – The Low Histamine Chef). I also have the combined curse and blessing of a mind that doesn’t stop thinking – I wake up most mornings extremely tired, but with a detailed solution to a problem I didn’t even realise needed solving. So if I don’t do something forced about my health I end up not being a fully functioning human being. And deep down, I always wish that I had normal health, and still applied these strategies – because the result would be phenomenal.
There are only two things that you can truly control when it comes to affecting your health and your body. One is what you eat, and the other is the state of your mind. The second, I am going to write about in detail in a later post – but the first is fascinating and has been getting a lot of press recently. From the Paleo diet to the Alkaline diet, people who aren’t just trying to lose weight are following specific eating strategies, and getting great results for their health. Celebrity books about truly healthy eating are coming out every month. And we are finally starting to realise how wrong we have been in our approach to food over the last century.
In December last year, I decided that I would analyse all of the latest books on healthy eating, and aggregate them into a special diet that I would tailor to, and follow, myself. For six months, I followed a combination of Paleo, Alkaline, Low-Histamine, and Zero Sugar. And I mean strict – nothing that converts to sugar, so no fruits, no grains, and no drinks other than water and herbal tea. Breakfast would be an omelette with vegetables, lunch would be a salad, and dinner would be some protein with some vegetables on the side. For the first two weeks, I couldn’t function. I struggled to walk, I struggled to think, and I just couldn’t believe it was going to get better. But it did – my body got used to not having any of the awful stuff that I had been putting into it, and suddenly I was waking up at 5.30am, having had a great night’s sleep. I’d get to the middle of my working day, say 4pm in the afternoon, and wouldn’t have an energy dip. I could quite happily work for a 16 hour stretch, not feel tired, and then fall asleep and be ready to do it again the next day. Throughout the whole winter, I didn’t get ill once – a record in my 29 years of life. My productivity was through the roof. It made going out a bit dull – on New Year’s Eve I had a small salmon sashimi salad, and some sparkling water with a slice of lime. But as a lifehack, it was the best I have ever done.
If you want to achieve something, and have found your path and conquered self-discipline, then hacking your diet is the best thing you can do to help yourself get there – and to stop yourself from becoming that extremely successful fat, ill, old guy along the way.