Photo by Bradyn Shock / Unsplash

After my stroke, I lost 42 pounds in 6 months and got all of my bloodwork to optimal. My doctor said I needed to lose a few pounds because I was technically obese and I had to cut my cholesterol way down. Luckily, it wasn't hard.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the Daily Value of sodium is less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. Because if something is worth doing, it's worth overdoing, my personal sodium limit would be 999 milligrams a day. I discovered that it's incredibly hard to eat enough food to gain weight if you craft a diet that conforms to that limit.

If you eat shitty processed foods, you literally can't get enough food to gain weight. The garbage most people eat is so overloaded with salt you've probably blown through the daily limit before breakfast is over.

On the flip side, I ate whole foods and mostly vegetables. I'm not a vegan by any stretch, so I crafted a diet based on grains, chicken, fish, shrimp, and a ton of veggies. It took about a week of trial and error and maniacal tracking of everything I put in my face hole to create a well-balanced and varied diet that hit all the switches.

I installed MyFitnessPal and paid for the pro version, which let me track the key metrics I need and mix and match ingredients to create great dishes while keeping under 999 milligrams.

That was what worked for me.

It took a lot of discipline for a week.

That's it.

After that, I had my menus and dishes that I could mix and match and lose a few pounds a week without ever thinking about weight loss. I couldn't give up my potato chips completely, so I carved out 110 milligrams a day for a snack-sized Pringles that killed the craving. Oh yeah, and ZERO exercise. I didn't hit the gym until I lost 30 pounds.

What got me through that process was my WHY.

My WHY was simple.


When that's your simple mandate, what you can do is amazing. You'd think that was what drove everyone, but nope. Look around, and you can see that's low on many people's priorities.

Over those first weeks, when I really couldn't do much besides watch reruns of Guys Grocery Games, nap, and think. I really started to think deeply about why we do anything. It sounds simple, but the deeper I thought about it, the more I realized how reactionary I am in almost all facets of my life.

I looked back at my decisions (the ones I could remember) and tried to decipher my whys.

The big and the small, the life changers and the day-to-day.

I realized that I had a basic idea of why I did the things I did, but I only put a little thought into it. I reacted to the ebbs and flows of life instead of plotting any course. And I was more than likely legally drunk at any given time, which didn't help.

Now I attempt to put every decision I'm making through a process of looking for the root cause of why I desire one outcome over another. This is from big decisions about my career to how I spend the last 90 minutes before bed.

When I remember to go deep, my initial reaction is often wrong. After a few minutes of reflection, I often end up doing something completely different. It's really rather satisfying when the new decision bears fruit.

Looking for a deep why for anything can take you down some crazy back-alleys of your thinking.

Here's an example. I was having a lot of trouble sleeping and was thinking about what I wanted to watch on TV before I went to bed to relax and get my mind off the day's chaos. I then took that thought and said wait, why am I watching TV? I told myself it was because my brain was spinning, and I needed to shut it down with something mindless to get to sleep. That led me eventually to look at why my days are always chaotic. That led me to realize that I was going to bed with too many open loops. I decided to take the advice of Productivity 101 teachers throughout the ages and do an end-of-day recap and reflection.

I started cutting out TV at night. I sat with my laptop for an hour and went through everything that happened that day. I checked on what was happening in the next 3-4 days, closing any open loops, and scheduling the things I couldn't close before bed.

After just a few days I found myself sleeping like a baby and waking up with a serenity I've never known as an adult. With the newly found energy from a good night's sleep I get twice or more as much done in a day and have more free time to think, reflect, and do things I want to do. And now, if I have time after my daily shutdown is finished, I can watch a show, if I want. Spoiler alert: I almost never want to watch TV, go on social media, or play video games. I usually watch online courses or read a book. Something proactive for my brain to chew on while I sleep.

Asking questions and looking at myself critically has drastically changed the course of my life in just a few weeks of practice. I'm actually writing this in my free time after my shutdown so see, it's working.

I'm in the process of deconstructing my career, looking at the long-term outlook on my current chosen field and adjacent fields where I can leverage my knowledge and future-proof my skills. There are a lot of whys that need to be asked, so on that note, I'm going to go ask a few.

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