Monday, November 25, 2019

High Testosterone, Low Anxiety, Low Inflammation Lifestyle Plan Results

It's about time that I post some results of the lifestyle plan from August and September 2019. Read more about that plan here:

The good news is that I had the initiative to start such a drastic experiment. The better news is that I had the willpower to complete it. And the best news is that I had the results to prove that it worked.

In mid-September, I went in for my annual blood work and physical. It was the blood work I was most interested in.  After six weeks of eating a high-fat diet, I wanted
to see a jump in testosterone without a jump in lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides).


The testosterone did indeed jump.
  • Total Testosterone: Increased 124 points from the previous September's numbers. That's a 31% increase, and marks my highest level since March 2013.
  • Free Testosterone: Free testosterone (with a much smaller normal range) increased 1.1 points, which amounts to a 15% gain. They say that free testosterone is really what helps a man feel his best, as it's the free testosterone that's the least bound-up and the most available for use in the body. So every bit of increase there is going to contribute to all the benefits of a high-testosterone life, including a greater sense of masculinity, but more importantly, a drop in anxiety and an increase in motivation.


The lipids panel, while not as rosy as the testosterone panel, still wasn't bad:
  • Total Cholesterol: It was relatively stable, but increased slightly, putting me barely over the normal range.
  • HDL: Decreased 3 points from last year.
  • LDL: Increased slightly, and is significantly over the normal range, as it was last year.
  • LDL/HDL Ratio: 3.2, an increase over last year, but within the normal range and not signifying a heart attack risk.
  • Triglycerides: Increased significantly, but still no where near the upper end of the normal range.
I see two lessons here:
  1. You can eat an absolute ton of fat over six weeks without blowing up your blood levels.
  2. There's some fine-tuning that needs to be done to be sure that HDL increases while on this plan. Supposedly, out of the five markers listed above, the most important, from a heart attack risk perspective, is the LDL/HDL ratio. So if my LDL is going to increase, I want my HDL to move in the same direction. I should look at diet and lifestyle changes to increase my HDL levels.

But enough of the numbers. How did I feel on the plan?

After six weeks of following the plan, I felt amazing. Here are the high points:
  • Happiness: I was waking up in the morning without the usual depressive cloud hovering over me. There was a definite lightening in my spirit, as if some weight had been removed. I felt emotionally well. Low testosterone is known to result in depression, so an increase in happiness corresponds with the blood results.
  • Anxiety: On a related note, my anxiety just about disappeared. In 2018, I saw the return of panic attacks and high anxiety levels, something I hadn't suffered from since my last big heath improvement push of 2014. Once I was solidly on this plan, probably about two weeks into it, anxiety really wasn't an issue.
  • Eczema: I had just a couple patches of eczema on my face, which had appeared about six months prior to this experiment. They both disappeared during the six weeks on this plan.
  • Acne: It cleared up while on the plan. No creams, medications, or special soap. The pimples just sort of faded away.

Did I maintain the lifestyle after the doctor's appointment?

Pretty much as soon as my physical was done, I resumed my old dietary habits. I started eating sugar again. I reduced my red meat intake. Eggs dropped out of my daily diet. I stopped my daily exercising, and getting adequate sleep became less of a priority. And wouldn't you know it, I've suffered because of my lack of dedication:
  • Dark Cloud: It's back. Sometimes the sadness is severe for short periods of time. But mostly it's just a "Blah" kind of thing I carry around with me most days.
  • Anxiety: I'm nowhere near my panic disorder of several years ago. I'm not having panic attacks at all now, but the anxiety is greater than it should be, and certainly greater than it was during those six weeks in August and September.
  • Eczema: It's back in a less severe way. Just enough to let me know that it's still present.
  • Acne: It has also returned, though it isn't terrible.

How about now?

Now I'm half on the wagon and half-off. I care, and I'm still doing some good things in a less-militant manner, but I've also gotten lazy in few areas. He's what comes to mind:
  • Fat Intake: I try to eat an avocado everyday and a handful of nuts. My wife is good to make me a salad every couple days, which is loaded up with olives and olive oil. Whenever I get the chance, I'll choose beef instead of chicken. Also, my doctor recommended fish oil, so I've started taking that every day as another source of fat.
  • Spinach and Other Veggies that Lower Estrogen: I do ok with this, though not as well as in the past.
  • Sugar Intake: I'm failing miserably at this. In the heat of the moment, my testosterone and health concerns take a back seat to the joy of donuts and pie, candy bars and cookies. For six weeks, I was motivated enough to set those things aside. These days, I guess I'm less motivated. And it's the holiday season, which doesn't help. Excessive sugar intake is bad for inflammation, which for me translates to eczema and acne. And it also hurts the testosterone levels. I'm sacrificing big-time for the joy of desserts. 
  • Exercise: I've traded the heavy weights for semi-frequent walks. The walks are great for relieving stress, and they're good for overall health, but not as much for testosterone.
  • Sleep: I still get decent sleep, something close to eight hours a night of mostly restful sleep.
  • Natural Products: I still do a pretty good job limiting the chemicals, both in my foods and in my hygiene products.
  • Doing Masculine Things: Studies show that the simple act of doing something masculine has a positive impact on testosterone levels. For a while, I was going out of my way to watch sports and hang out in the woods. Not so much now.

How about the future?

I know what's possible with this lifestyle, and I know what my default state is when I'm not on the plan. The major goal was to see results after six weeks, and I did that, but then I eased up too much. I've seen the benefits, and then I saw the decline, which only serves to further confirm the merit of the plan. Now I need to figure out how to incorporate this lifestyle long-term in the best possible way. I want the benefits of the plan, but I still want to enjoy an ice cream cone every once in a while. I need to be militant in the areas that most affect my well-being and the well-being of my family, and I need to allow myself the freedom to relax when it's time to enjoy a dessert with my daughter. So it's a balancing act, and it going to require some reflection to determine a level of commitment that pushes my testosterone in the right direction while not sucking all the fun out of life. But even in saying that, I know I'm being a little fake, forming a false dichotomy. Because I know that during those six weeks, when I was full-on committed to the plan, and the dark cloud of depression and anxiety had lifted, there was no concern about the fun being sucked out of life. The lack of pie and donuts wasn't a problem when I was at my peak. So I should not act like I have to choose between this healthy lifestyle and a fun lifestyle. During those six weeks, the latter seemed to be a natural result of the former. It seems like that there is only one logical choice here. Follow the plan full-on, with the same goals I had back in August and September, but occasionally, as an exception to the rule, enjoy some really good ice cream and donuts.