Transformed by Tech: How I Shed 100 Pounds and Regained my Health
This is a guest post by my friend, Bernie Schwentick, who has lost 100 pounds and improved his health with the use technology and serious commitment.
Healthy from inner strength and applied technology.
Medical professionals provide invaluable help for health management. But there’s a lot we can do to keep a healthy body and soul. Here are some ideas for what we as patients can do:
Few people have learned how to effectively control their health or even “become the engineer of their own health“. Most people are healthy until they’re not. The process of negative health development is insidious and hardly noticeable.
One day we wake up and realize that something is really wrong. ‘Something has to be done about that weight gain‘. Or that the back pain has gotten worse and worse. Or that the smoker’s cough won’t go away.
We may seek medical help and commit to treatment, but often continue with the same unhealthy habits that caused the problem in the first place. While we may turn to our doctors for help, relying solely on medication can have side effects. Are we really cool with “Dr. Pill” providing the solution? So, what are some alternative ways we can take care of our health?
Time Management is Health Management as it helps reduce Stress
As a young entrepreneur with a start-up company, I quickly realized that my workload was overwhelming and needed a system for managing tasks and prioritizing projects. With over 80 hours of work per week, I couldn’t afford to waste time or overlook important details.
At a congress in 1981, I met the young psychologist Helmut Fuchs, who carried a wine-red leather-bound calendar and various checklists with him, and who was providing training for “time management”. That made me curious and I tried out this ‘Time System‘ and felt a clear boost in terms of productivity. My enthusiasm for time management got to the point that I gave all my department heads a time system and organized company-internal training sessions for planning and teamwork.
This “biological Investment“ quickly paid off.
When we invest in taking care of our bodies and minds, it pays off in the workplace. Instead of a chaotic and stressful work environment with unclear responsibilities, we can cultivate a productive and focused atmosphere.
When everyone knows what they need to do and when they are responsible for the outcome, stress levels decrease, and we can avoid burnout and breakdowns.
Ignorance might feel comfortable in the short term, but it’s not a long-term solution. Prioritizing our well-being is the key to success, both personally and professionally.
Negative stress can have adverse effects on health, including the release of cortisol and glucose from the liver. If the sugars are not utilized to “fight or flight”, i. e. the sugar in the blood is not consumed, the hormone insulin ensures that the sugar migrates into the cells and is stored as fat. That is– in one sentence, the crux of today’s health crisis. 75% of our population is overweight or even obese. A false perspective is that this is the result of a lack of willpower.
Calories in vs out is a fundamental principle of weight management, but it is not the only factor. The macronutrient composition of the diet, as well as other factors such as sleep quality, stress levels, and physical activity, can all influence weight loss or gain.
I can speak from personal experience and education. As a young man, I studied Nutritional Sciences for four semesters. But my most valuable knowledge comes from my own experience with diabetes II for which elevated blood sugar is an indicator.
Technology to Objectify Health Trends
I believe that we are mostly responsible for the problems we face in life. But this also means that we have the power to solve them. It all starts with being introspective and taking responsibility.
Insight is the first road to improvement! In this sense I found Helmut Fuchs’ book, “Healthy from within“ – Prevention and Healing through Self-training– fascinating and an incredibly helpful piece of literature.
So what can be done, for example, to bring diabetes 2 into remission?
Here is how I did it. As an entrepreneur and tech guy, I follow Peter F. Drucker’s philosophy of “you can manage only what you can measure. So, I use an Apple Watch (or any health watch that works with Android or iOS) to track my steps, distance, heart rate, and other health data like blood oxygen saturation. (I started with a Fitbit device.)
Another important part of my healthy routine is keeping track of my weight. I use a digital scale called Arboleaf, which not only measures my weight but also calculates my BMI, body fat percentage, and even my biological age.
When I began my regimen that scale told me I was technically or better said biologically 10 years older than I actually was. And I was obese, at my personal worst: 280 unhealthy pounds. That recognition provided me with a healthy shock and ample motivation to really step it up.
I began a daily exercise regimen with the ‘walk at home’ video series on YouTube. I then added actual walks around the block, sometimes multiple walks and so I gradually raised my physical activity level to next to 10,000 steps a day.
In other words, when it comes to setting goals, it’s important to avoid being too ambitious. When I adjusted the goal to just 5,000 steps a day I accomplished it every single day and thereby was motivated to do a little extra every day like 1 or 2,000 steps above the 5,000. Now 5,000 is simply the minimum. Fun fact: an extra thousand steps represent 60 grams of fat loss per month.
Last but not least, I also measure what I eat. I follow an ultra low carb diet as recommended by Dr Bernstein, the Godfather of Diabetes Care and author of ‘The Diabetes Solution.’ I also took an amazing amount of guidance from Dr. Jason Fung’s books ‘The Obesity Code’ and ‘The Diabetes Code’. To make it easy to remember, I use the acronym “NO GPS” (no grains, potatoes, sugars). I avoid starchy foods such as noodles, rice, grains, potatoes and sugars in all forms.
If you’re thinking that you can’t do this, consider that diabetics tend to die 20 years earlier on average and suffer a range of consequences, from blindness to amputations and kidney failure that may require multiple weekly dialysis treatments. Would you rather have your feet or have potatoes for dinner?
Taking inspiration from the teachings of Dr. Fox, who emphasized the importance of self-reliance, I embarked on a journey to educate myself about diabetes. I delved into the works of renowned authors such as Drs. Lustig, Ludwig, Fung, Eckberg, Berg, and others, and soon realized that many medical doctors lack adequate knowledge about nutrition. This domain is typically left to nutritionists, but there is a gradual shift in the medical community’s mindset as more physicians recognize the crucial role of nutrition in causing or preventing metabolic diseases. Indeed, food can be medicine.
Many chronic diseases are often the result of unhealthy weight and underlying faulty concepts of what and how often to eat. Some doctors recommend three meals and two snacks which creates five insulin spikes a day.
Not long ago patients were told to eat 300g of carbs everyday. I try to eat no more than 50g, whereas on most days I really achieve 20 to 30 g of carbohydrates.
My application to measure what I eat is called “my plate.” I select the items I consumed from a built-in database which then calculates my macronutrient use: how much fat protein and carbohydrates I consumed. It also counts calories.
I record my blood glucose levels using an application named Dario. One could also use a Constant Glucose Monitor such as Freestyle Libre or Dexpro. Instead of a snapshot by finger poke it gives you relative data curves. You can really see what effect a few nuts or a piece of chocolate has on your glucose level. This information enables you to make informed decisions to prevent any harmful effects on your overall health.
In summary, my Arboleaf scale, allows me to monitor various aspects of my health including calorie intake and expenditure, macronutrient consumption, low impact aerobic activity, heart health, weight, BMI, bone density, and biological age. The scale is seamlessly integrated with all the iOS apps I use, such as My Plate and My Health, which help me calculate my caloric intake and output. By tracking my weight loss or gain, the scale objectively measures my progress and identifies any areas where I may be indulging too much, allowing me to take corrective action early on.
Technology Products I Utilize to Manage my Health
Apple Health – An overall tracker that collects health and fitness data from your iPhone,the built-in sensors on your Apple Watch, compatible third-party devices, and apps that use HealthKit.
Arboleaf – Smart scale that works with iPhone APP.
Dario iPhone compatible glucose monitor App & device.
Freestyle Libre – Continuous glucose monitor for managing blood sugar levels.
MyPlate – Smartphone APP to help you eat better, get fit and manage your weight.
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