Addition by Subtraction

I haven’t been shook by many books like I was when reading the Plant Paradox. Dr. Steven Gundry’s insight into the body, having shifted his career from world class cardiologist to nutritionist, makes it difficult to look at food the same way. One of the main themes is the importance of maintaining a strong, healthy microbiome in the stomach. Connected with that is the stomach’s role as our “second brain”. Strong nerve connections to the brain mean food can influence our thoughts and desires in ways most wouldn’t expect. Without the microbiome the body can’t get the most from the good and is overly affected by the bad. Gundry focuses on improving it above all, encouraging an initially strict diet to get it back into a healthy state before proceeding to a more sustainable diet. The greatest message from the book is a very simple one: it’s not what you eat, it’s what you don’t eat. Our bodies are evolutionary miracles. The symbiotic relationship with bacteria in our stomachs is as extraordinary as anything in this world. Avoid ruining it and we’ll be healthy.

I’ve been thinking about the book a lot lately, mostly because I’ve been eating poorly and don’t feel as well as I could. I’m not so bad, mostly avoiding white carbs aside from a couple bagels while in NY. But the message about keeping things simple and removing the bad to promote the good is prescient. There’s a lot of crap in my life. First is probably alcohol. I don’t have an issue with myself having a beer on Friday nights with colleagues, it’s the glass or two of wine during the week that crowds me out from what I want to achieve. I’m not looking for too much at 9pm on a weeknight, but reading would be a good start. These days, I get almost all of my reading done in the morning and on the weekends. Even a single glass of wine pushes me toward TV or mindlessly moving around the internet. At times I’m jealous of the state of things before TV, the internet, and all the other things I look at as distractions. I appreciate a few shows, and movies are the best, but two hours every night is gluttonous.

Beyond wine, there’s the overwhelming amount of choice in the world. I can barely decide what show to watch when the time comes, Netflix or Youtube or Amazon. Goodreads is invaluable for tracking books. I’ve managed to read a lot this year, but I’ve added far more to the list of books I want to read. Outside specific shows, movies and books, I have a growing list of topics I want learn ”and projects I want to work on. We have so many possibilities and opportunities for building things and communicating those ideas, it feels like a waste to say no.

This is where the Plant Paradox comes in. Not mentioned within the two paragraphs above is the wasted time spent reading the news, checking Facebook or ESPN, and nursing a hangover after having more than just a glass of wine. I do enjoy a good TV show and certainly a good book. There are a lot of projects I want to accomplish, but I’ve never felt that my life has been too busy to work on them. I managed to get this blog off the ground, and I had plenty on my plate at that time. The real issue is the junk.

I was looking into a Tony Robbins event in London recently and there was a quote of his that has impacted me before.

“It is in your moments of decision that your destiny is shaped”

Deciding that another beer or checking the golf scores is more important than a few pages in a book creates a life where beer and sports outweighs learning. This isn’t to say beer and sports are always bad choices, but how frequently do they need to be on my schedule? If I could look at a true schedule of mine, where I’m actually spending my time, I’m not sure I’d be very happy.

The decision making process goes deeper than books over beer, it’s about building up the faculties to make the right choices. That comes down to understanding myself. Looking back on my own most satisfying experiences, I can see the choices which led me there. These decisions then become the priority going forward. Few things have made me happier than a run though Golden Gate Park on a weekend morning. I got to sleep early just to make this happen. It was the motivation to avoid another drink. And it was during this habit, in London and elsewhere, that I would think about the blog and what to write about. Saturday mornings is where my mind is clearest and I’m in the best space to write. A bit of reflection has been crucial for isolating my best self. A few wise moments of decision has changed a lot.

Trying to get myself in better position to make those good choices appears to involve one very crucial tenant, removal over insertion. There’s plenty of noise that gets in the way of the music. If I really believe the decisions I make are where my life is built, it’s what I decide not to do that may matter most.