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On Refining Diet

I eat pretty well and take pretty good care of myself. But it's taken quite a while to get here - before 2006, I had a pretty standard American diet. Lots of pizza, junk food, fast food, liquor, soda, sweets, etc. I smoked cigarettes, cigars, sheesha, and other kinds of tobacco.

Since then I've refined my diet and I eat pretty well. I have more energy, feel better, look better, and God willing, I'll live a lot longer as a result. It's a gradual process though, and I'm still improving. There's a few things I use to do it:

First, I'm all about incremental improvement - I think trying to crash change your diet is unlikely to work unless you have immense amounts of willpower and self-discipline. If you do have these Herculean amounts of will and discipline, you know who you are and don't need my advice. If you're more mortal, then you'll want to pick one or two things to be refining in your diet at a time.

Second, there's two ways I quit food or habits I don't like - "hard quitting" (cold turkey) and "soft quitting" (gradually reduce my consumption and eventually eliminate it). I pick which of these routes to go based on how convenient it is to quit something outright and if there's any detox process. If there's detox (like there was with nicotine), I think it's better to just get it over with once instead of constantly feeling deprived as your body re-adjusts to its new biochemical levels. The most successful method for quitting smoking is cold turkey, isn't it? Something like 80% of successful attempts to quit smoking are cold turkey? I don't have the statistics onhand, but that's the general idea. Quitting something like sugar, bad oils, or excess salt might be easier to do incrementally, since you need to replace the consumption with something else.

Which brings us to third point - I actively introduce new good behaviors before and during the time I quit something. Now, I don't know if the following is a good strategy, but it's what I did - when I started cutting down the sweets I ate, I increased my consumption of the kinds of salty foods I already ate: Chips, french fries, nuts, etc. Later I cut the salt content back. I don't know if that's a good habit, but it's worked okay for me. I also try to actively introduce fruits and vegetables before I quit something - it's hard to go from no fiber food that's highly processed to stimulate you immediately to fruits and vegetables. Fruit tastes bland compared to ice cream. So I introduce fruits and vegetables first, get comfortable with them, then increase my consumption of them as I decrease or eliminate bad consumption.

My Daily Routine

On Tynan

For most of my life I operated without a daily routine. I would have an idea of what needed to be done every day, and how I should be living my life, but there was little consistency between my days. Around a year ago I started working on building a daily routine, and I've been surprised to find that I like it more than running free. I prefer it because I can focus my decision-making on important things, rather than minutiae, and I can optimize my routine as I go, rather than starting from scratch every day.

I generally wake up between nine and eleven in the morning, usually pretty close to ten. I don't set an alarm because I've noticed that being well slept is one of the biggest influences on daily performance. Waking up an hour earlier by alarm can reduce my ability to focus by half. Not worth it.

As soon as I wake up, I set a timer for five minutes and I meditate. I've only been doing this for a month, and haven't noticed any benefits yet, but I expect it to be a long term investment, not a short term one. The five minutes goes by fast.

Immediately after meditating, I weigh in on my withings scale, brush my teeth, and put water on for tea. Usually I drink Samovar's Green Ecstasy, but I've been drinking Breakaway Matcha's 99 and 100 recently, and I'll occasionally drink a Taiwanese Oolong. I drink tea early because the blend of caffeine, theanine, and whatever else is in tea, helps me focus. I can actually feel the difference when I don't have tea. The effect wears off after a couple hours, but it's a nice way to jump start work early.

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