⃪ All Articles

Health Wins and Mysteries in 2018

Published: 1/20/2019

A little over a year ago I signed up with Nourish Balance Thrive (NBT) to troubleshoot my ongoing health problems.

It started when Isaac was born and he didn't sleep for a year. The short version of the story is I did not cope with this and I ended up in a deep, dark pit of mental and physical health problems that I'm still crawling my way out of four years later.

But I can see light now.

The biggest, ongoing challenge I face is sleep. I slept through the night with rare exceptions for my entire life, then we had a kid and it's like my brain forgot how to do it.

Most nights I fall asleep readily but wake up half a dozen times.

I fall back asleep quickly but it's not quality sleep and I'm often tired during the day and have trouble focusing.

I've massively improved my overall health with the help of NBT and my coach Megan.

Thanks to NBT, even though my sleep is still not the way it was it's definitely better and I actually have energy and enjoy getting work done most of the time. So that's good, but there's still work to be done.

I thought it might be a good idea to press pause and take a look at all my health wins with NBT this year.

Here's what happened.

Virtually no migraines or tension headaches

For most of my life I used to have at least one headache a week and one horrible migraine a month.

I think I've had one migraine with an aura all year and it was super mild. I used to have a tension headache almost weekly but those are gone as well. I think I've had one in the last 6 months that I can remember.

This used to be a big part of my life but now I never think about it.

I have no idea what exactly caused this but I don't really care it's just awesome.

Eating 3000 calories per day and staying weight stable (up from 2200)

I don't religiously track calories anymore but when I did I was consistently eating around 2200 calories per day. Sounds fine right?

One thing NBT advocates is seeing how many calories you can eat while staying weight stable. The reason is your body doesn't necessarily start shedding fat when you run a deficit, instead it tends to turn down you metabolism and you just naturally move less and conserve calories.

It turns out that without adjusting my exercise routines at all I was able to add 800 calories a day and not gain a pound! This definitely helps me with my energy levels and I think having a higher metabolic rate will help me lose weight when I decide to make that a goal.

I have some mitochondrial dysfunction

One thing NBT does is run an Organic Acid Test which, amongst other things, gives you insight into how your citric acid cycle is functioning. This is how your body makes energy and it happens in the mitochondria in each cell.

A few steps in this cycle were not working well in my cells. NBT put together a supplement program for me and wow, this made a remarkable difference. Subjectively I started sleeping better and had many days with no brain fog and I just felt so great. I also managed stressors much more easily.

Objectively you can see that it bumped my HRV up into a new range.

The mito program raised my baseline clearly

I missed some data there in the summer. I sometimes get some "measuring shit" fatigue and stop altogether for a while. In this case it makes it hard to tell for sure that the mito support protocol was what boosted me up to new levels. But when I combine this data with my subjective feelings I'm pretty sure it was the protocol, plus now that I'm done with the protocol I'm hovering at a lower level again after fully recovering from strep.

Of the things in the protocol, Coq10, seemed to have the greatest effect, though now I'm wondering about carnitine. And this is why I have a health coach otherwise I'd have no idea where to go from here.

Learned how to handle MTHFR and COMT gene expression with diet

I have a couple SNPs for MTHFR and COMT that mean I under-methylate.

WTH is methylation? It's a key, low level function of your metabolism that happens in every cell almost constantly. If it's not working properly it's causes all kinds of mayhem.

My SNPs are not uncommon but it explains some things about my health across my entire lifetime that I would never have connected the dots without this data. That said it's a simple fix. I'm just making sure I get enough folate, glycine and choline in my diet and supplementing a little. My homocysteine levels should be a lot better on my next blood test and that's an important marker for a lot of disease states.


Consistent low-ish carbs

From red to green. I adjusted my diet to be more consistently low carb and tightened up my eating window. I eat from 10am - 7pm. Tada! Fixed my triglyceride levels.

Lowering saturated fat intake (quit dairy) equals better cholesterol profile for me

After about 2 months of no dairy I checked my cholesterol levels and everything went down except HDL. I'm still in a "high risk" category for particle size but even those numbers moved down, so hopefully it's the start of a trend.

Cleared an H. Pylori infection

NBT protocol

It's a little hard to see here but on the left the number is high on the right it's zero.

I actually started treating this last year but while the first protocol did improve things it took a different protocol to completely clear the H. Pylori. Getting rid of this sucker is a big deal for my long term health, I'm super happy about this.

NBT protocol

Again, hard to see but on the left there are several high markers and on the right ... absolutely nothing.

A nice side effect of the protocol to get rid of the H. Pylori was a whole bunch of other markers of gut health normalized and this had some great benefits for me in my day to day life.

I used to have all kinds of problems with gluten but I can totally handle bread now. It's still not a part of my diet but if a friend throws a pizza party I'm not going to be suffering for days if I eat a slice.

Sometimes I even eat hamburgers with buns ... hooray! It's the little things.

Improved gut health, improved nutrition absorption

Improved absorption

With my improved gut health all kinds of nutritional markers have started to improve. This is just one example of many. I ate plenty of B12 before this, it just wasn't getting where it needed to go because my digestion was so bad.

Learned that eating more vegetables is very, very good for me

I let Megan micro-manage my diet for a month just to see what would happen.

Part of the focus was to try going a little lower carb but I also noticed that with Megan's guidance I was eating MANY MORE vegetables than I normally would.

After a month of this almost every, single marker of health that we track improved. It's visually obvious on all the little charts I have for each marker. And I don't think it was going lower carb. I'm still low carb now but I stopped eating quite so many vegetables and some of those numbers started creeping up in the wrong direction again.

Eating that many veggies is kind of a pain. You have to prepare that much more food and it takes forever to eat them all, but it's obviously worth getting into the habit for me. This is on my list for "2019 habits to form".

I have genes that help me absorb iron, so I easily have too much!

Donating blood FTW

Too much iron generates oxidative stress. I had high levels of iron. NBT sent me to donate blood which instantly fixed the problem while also giving me something nice to do for other people. I donate blood every six months or so now.

Meditation equals no anxiety and a much better life outlook

In April I hit a challenging and stressful life situation and my anxiety, which had mercifully left me for some time, came back.

I spoke with Dr. Simon Marshall, NBTs sports psychologist, and using some sort of extreme charlatan-like powers of persuasion he managed to convince me to meditate for an hour a day. Which I then proceeded to do for 4 months.

During that time (after about 2 months actually) I had no anxiety in spite of the ongoing, stressful situation.

I started letting the practice slip a bit and wasn't as mindful during the day as had become my habit and sure enough over the next three months my anxiety started to slowly find its way back in to my life in spite of the fact that my stressful life situation had completely resolved.

So I'm back to meditating for an hour a day. It's a huge commitment but doing this caused a profound, life altering change for me and I think I will never stop if I can help it.

Mysteries and problems for 2019

That's all the good news, and it's a lot and I'm thankful. But there are still some things that aren't resolved.

I still sleep like crap

This has been a bumpy road. During the mitochondrial protocol my sleep improved as did my energy levels, brain fog and my ability to recover from workouts. Right now that seems like the best path to pursue going forward and I hope to work closely with NBT on this.

My aerobic fitness is crap

I'm getting about 6 hours of MAF (purely aerobic) work weekly plus lifting twice a week.

I'm doing 16 minute mile splits at MAF HR.

If you're familiar with the concept then you'll understand why I'm frustrated by this. In short, it's insanely slow and basically means I have zero aerobic fitness in spite of years of commitment to long bike rides on the weekend and walking around 7,000 steps per day.

I think if I get closer to 10 hours per week of aerobic volume I'll see an improvement. I think this is a factor in my overall energy levels and improving this might even help me sleep better.

In 2019 I want to see a big improvement in my aerobic fitness.

I am not great at recovery

I can now handle two days a week of lifting and I think I could add in a third from time to time. It takes about two to three days for me to feel recovered and up for another lift. My aerobic recovery is a little better.

I think eating more is helping with this, but frankly I think the root problem here is my sleep. Once that improves I think my recovery will improve too.

In September I was feeling waaaaaay better,

I felt almost like my old self in September. It was amazing. That gave me some hope that I can figure this out and feel well again. But it's still a mystery to me why I felt so much better then. I have a few theories, namely I think it was something in the mitochondrial protocol and I think my sleep was better.

I now have an app that records sleep cycles using HRV measured via a chest strap I wear overnight. I've got a baseline for my normal crappy sleep so now when I'm feeling better I can throw that thing on and see if my sleep is looking objectively better and maybe that'll be another clue.

Manganese not moving and low iodine

These are two nutritional markers that are consistently low and are related to energy levels. Specifically related to me, manganese is used in one of the steps in the citric acid cycle that was not working so well for me on my Organic Acid Test. And the low iodine could be related to my cholesterol numbers.

I'm actively working on improving these levels through my diet. More shellfish and seaweed for this guy in 2019.

Well look at that, I actually got some shit done this year

So 2018 was hyper focused on my health. I put most of the rest of my life on the back burner.

I understand how my friends with chronic illness feel. It's irritating I have to do all this work on my own and I feel bad for everyone that has to go on one of these bullshit "journeys" to reclaim their health.

Working with NBT has greatly accelerated the process and I don't feel like I'm all alone trying to figure out why I feel like shit.

All these successes gives me hope for the future. Dragging my tired ass around every day was not exactly a fulfilling way to spend my days and I've definitely made big strides towards fully recovering my health.

Heres to a lot less dragging ass and a lot more walking around at a HR of 180 minus my age in 2019.