An open door policy

Aware of this research, my housemates tested their air quality and got levels between 1000 and 3000 ppm, around the level of the worst high-CO2 conditions in the studies. They started leaving their windows open and buying industrial quantities of succulent plants, and the problems mostly disappeared. Since then they’ve spread the word to other people we know afflicted with mysterious fatigue, some of whom have also noticed positive results.

~ Scott Alexander

I thought this was going to be an article about fossil fuels and global warming. No it’s much worse. It’s about how some people have measured levels of CO2 in their bedroom that exceed the OSHA workplace safe-exposure limits.

Now i’m wondering if one of the reasons I sleep better in the winter, is the difference in ventilation. Our A/C is a closed system—it only circulates the air in the house. But the wood stove lowers the air pressure slightly and that draws outside air in from the peripheral areas of the house. Tiny cool drafts come out of all the wall outlets and light switches in the winter providing fresh air ventiliation.


Advice on losing weight

Truth be told, if I really wanted to help people lose weight I would increase the price of Eat Stop Eat to 100 dollars per book. Far less people would buy it, but those who did would be invested heavily in making a change in their lives. They wouldn’t just read about fasting and weight training, they’d actually practice it.

~ Brad Pilon

Call it wisdom– Call it Imposter Syndrome— whatever. The more I learn about health, the more I’m convinced I know nothing.

For me, the solution to my unhealth was to change my life. Not, “more exercise,” but “rediscover moving.” Not, “eat better,” but “listen honestly to my body.” Not, “lose weight.” — there’s no, “but…” on that last one; The weight loss just happens the more I change my life.

What is health?

But as the saying goes, the darkest hour is just before dawn. At some point during this “dark night of the soul,” I realized that the depression and despair I was feeling was the direct result of comparing my actual experience with an idea of what I thought my experience should be. I saw that I was striving for an ideal of health that was—at least at that point—unattainable, and that this was the cause of most of my suffering.

~ Chris Kresser

This idea is right at the heart of my experience of the last few years.

On depression

Unfortunately, the “chemical imbalance” theory continues to be the dominant paradigm for understanding depression nearly 30 years after this profound discovery, despite the weak correlation between serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine and depressive symptoms.

~ Chris Kresser

I’m sure I have nothing useful to add on the topic of Depression– being not a doctor, psychologist, etc.

But I can raise my voice because I believe I understand the personal experience of depression. It sucks. Talk to someone.

Origin story

(Part 2 of 2 in ~ Weight to Waist Ratio)

“I should lose weight. Specifically, I should lose some of this fat. …actually, a lot of this fat.”

Since I began my health tracking grids I had been regularly tracking my weight, building the habit of stepping on the scale every day. I’ve read several opinions that this is a bad idea. Because one’s weight can fluctuate significantly day-to-day, daily weighing can lead to “fear of the scale” and stress. I disagree. After stepping on the scale every day for about 10 years, it is now simply something I do. The scale shows me a number and I write it down.

One day I started reading more about physiology. How your body composition changes. How a strength building session increases muscle mass (duh) and that can make your weight increase in the short term. Suddenly, the scale going up can be a good thing.

…and then I wondered, “how much should I optimally weigh?” At the time I began this “waist/weight ratio project,” I weighed about 230 pounds and the “male, 5 feet 11 inches tall” medical guideline is . . . 175 pounds. What?! I would be ecstatic if I weighted 220. I’m not sure what I would do if I weighed even 215— I’d probably fall down in a stiff breeze.

So how exactly should one “optimize” weight? Why should I select any specific weight target? Why 175 (as medically recommended,) or 220 (college body!). What if my weight isn’t changing as I make healthy improvements– how do I track that? I began to think perhaps I should optimize health markers: Blood sugar regulation, inflammation markers, and triglycerides, and that is far more complicated than “step on the scale.”

Waist-to-weight ratio

One day, I read the following article. It’s deceptively short, but quite complicated and subtle. You should go read this very carefully before continuing.


Type 2 diabetes

The traditional approach—which is clearly not working—is to “manage” this chronic condition with medications and the ever-ubiquitous “eat-less-avoid-fat-exercise-more” lifestyle interventions. At best, this approach only slows down the progression of the disease.

~ Peter Attia

Often the things I’m commenting on are “close to the ground” — things that are immediately actionable, or suggestions of things to go explore or do directly.

This one is different. Peter Attia sits in a certain niche — if you know of him, you are nodding knowingly — but this particular article is a neat attempt to zoom way out to think about wether the more “on the ground” sort of “do this”, “do that” personal direction is inherently scalable out to population-wide solutions to problems.


To test the relationship between exercise and ketosis I decided to examine my blood levels of glucose, B-OHB, and lactate immediately before and after three different types of workouts on three successive days. This interplay is complex and no one knows “everything” about it, including the world’s experts (which I am not pretending to be). I’m going to try to balance a fine line in this post – I want to be rigorous enough to explore the ideas with substance but not too detailed to put you to sleep. I hope I am able to balance these forces adequately.

~ Peter Attia

The more I read about the human body, the more fascinated I become. One of the big dietary changes I started long ago was to just “try to eat fewer refined carbohydrates.” Less cookies, breakfast cereal, that sort of thing. And then I spun off into intermittent fasting and ketosis and on and on.

But this guy, he’s gone way WAY farther down the rabbit hole. This article is a superlative dissection of ketosis, fuels (carbohydrate, protein, fat), wattage, workouts and … well, the best part is after all of it, there’s no strong conclusion. It’s just this wonderful exploration of how one person’s body performed under a bunch of circumstances.

Anyway. File this one under: Human body = amazing.

Root of modern disease?

… the microbes are holding the reigns to a lot of what’s going on. If we were not doing a good job at passaging them around to additional culturing flasks — specifically other humans — they would undoubtedly discover ways to make us better at doing that.

I think a more optimistic, or different way to frame this, is just that we’re composite organisms. I think we traditionally think of ourselves — the human body — as a collection of human cells. And what we really are is an ecosystem. We have microbial and human parts that come together to work in a concerted fashion to make up this
super-organism. And we can’t forget about the microbes because they’re really an important part of our biology.

~ Dr. J Sonnenburg

If you haven’t heard much about how important are all the teeny little microbes living in your digestive track, this is a good podcast to get started.

Do calories matter?

In a word, yes.  But, technically this is the wrong question.  The correct question is probably closer to, “What is the impact of the calories I consume on my body’s ability to store fat versus burn fat?”

Conventional wisdom, perhaps better referred to as Current Dogma, says that you gain weight because you eat more than you expend. This is almost true! To be 100% true, it would read: when you gain weight, it is the case that you have necessarily eaten more than you expended. Do you see the difference? It’s subtle but very important — arguably more important than any other sentence I will write. The first statement says over-eating caused you to get fat. The second one says if you got fat, you overate, but the possibility remains that another factor led to you to overeat.

~ Peter Attia

All of the success in the last (roughly) five years boils down to the following strategy. Notice that “excercise” does NOT appear…

1) realize I would like to improve my health

2) read something (anything) about health, diet, metabolism… anything that piques my interest. But it has to be something I think is TRUE. No crazy “fad” stuff. Something sane like, “yogurt seems to be good for me to eat.”

3) reduce friction to lead to that change. NOT, “force change by making rules.” I want to eat more yogurt? …make sure it’s on the grocery list so it ENDS UP IN THE HOUSE. I want to stop eating Doritos? EAT LUNCH BEFORE GOING TO MARKET, DO NOT BUY DORITOS.

There is no step 4. Everything else happens automatically. There is NO CURE for curiosity. Each thing I read and adjust leads to more, interesting questions. And along the way, more activity just happens automatically as my health improves.

Yes yes yes. I’m personally interested in movement and Art du Déplacement, etc. So I’m also doing this process in that realm. Forget about that. The success with my health, came all from my diet.

Sneak peek

(Part 1 of 2 in ~ Weight to Waist Ratio)

Sneak peek at something I’m writing up from a year-long experiment. This is a graph of weight and waist measurements (plotted on the left in non-obvious units), and the ratio of those numbers (plotted on the right, x1000; so “2000” is a 2:1 ratio in the weird units of course) The measurements jump all over the place, but when I measure every day, a polynomial curve fit shows what’s going on over this three month window. Much much more to write about this…