Getting the Bad News From My Doctor

About 9 months ago I was sitting in my Doctor’s office at the age of 42 listening to how I would likely be a candidate for a statin prescription and back surgery at some point in the near future.  This information didn’t come too much of a shock since many of the men in my family have died before the age of 60 or so but it was still a little depressing to hear at the age of 42.  I have to be honest, I was more affected by the information, not in terms of my own mortality, but more on the side how my declining quality of life and energy would affect my wife, kids and coworkers.

I love my job flying airplanes and pretty much always have but most of the problems I had with my health I have attributed it to the nature of my work and the hours and stress involved.  After all, like most of us, I’d found that there really is no such thing as regular hours.   The only time I am able to ‘reset’ is after about 72 hours at home.   That’s right about the time my body is adjusted and ready for going back into the groove of a ‘normal’ schedule.  But then it’s back on the road for a commutable three or four day of upside down working hours.   When I was based at home and younger working for a regional, it didn’t seem affect me as much to work nights.  In fact there was a time I bid standups so I could work a construction job in the day to payoff school.  I seriously doubted I could do something like that anymore.

I Had Tried to Prevent It

So there I sat listening to my doctor about how a combination of steel in my body and pharmaceuticals would make my life better and bring me better health.  When I asked the question as to why these things were happening my doctor simply stated “it’s all genetics”. Since I had been doing all the conventional efforts expected of one trying to be healthy for several years prior, I left the office feeling quite defeated.  Here’s what I’d tried up to that point: CrossFit, P90X, Insanity, T25, Tabatas & P90X3 and several other halfhearted attempts at diets ranging from Adkins to Paleo to Haley Pomeroy’s diet.  I had done it all.

One thing you should know is that when I say that I tried these things, what I actually mean is that I gave those things all of the energy I could muster and often to the point of injury or illness.  I figured that movement related injury was much better than injury sustained doing something sedentary like coughing, sneezing or moving my flight bag (which I had witnessed several times). I have to admit, when I did the Body For Life program I really enjoyed the free day.  I mean I really enjoyed it!  In that program there are 6 days of disciplined eating at least 5 times a day which included Whey or Soy protein shakes.   But on the 7th day, the program let you eat anything to your heart’s content.

Some of the program’s I tried actually did work for a time, but the inevitable day came where my body adjusted and my weight plateaued.  The other thing I should mention that I did wrong is that I would frequently mess up one of my days of discipline and then just declare a free day.   What I realize now but didn’t realize then is that I was suffering from food craving and that they were all my fault! What was happening to me is that I could never tell the difference between a food craving and actual hunger.  I have since come to find out that is a really common occurrence for people in our line of work.  I discovered that food cravings are just my body’s way letting me know that what I am eating is not sufficient in terms of nutrition.  It was difficult to believe I was experiencing malnutrition all the while gaining weight and losing energy! However it all started make more sense as I began to do some research after that fateful appointment with the doctor.

Next Steps

Since that day last August, I initially had to stop working out (because of my back), dropped 7 inches off my waist and over 50 pounds of weight.  As inflammation in by body began to reduce, eventually I reintroduced exercise but not nearly as much as I had been previously and no more treadmills.  My ability to move and have energy is back and I am not as concerned with my total cholesterol numbers as I am with my Vitamin, LDL to Triglyceride ratio and inflammation markers in my blood.  Also, I have made it my new hobby to learn as much as I can about my body and how it handles food and some sports that I have always wanted to try. I firmly believe all this has been made possible because of one tidbit of information I picked up from Gary Taubes; the author of Good Calories, Bad Calories.

By reading that book, I learned that my body is a chemistry lab and not a calculator.  I have found that my dilemma was as a result of attempting to follow the standard American diet (SAD – an accurate acronym) and my solution has been to do everything possible to reduce inflammation in this body of mine. By following that path my body has rewarded me with more alertness, better quality sleep, more energy and the need for all new uniform pieces. I now know that inflammation and energy are inversely proportional and that inflammation is a key component to the problems I was having.



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