Too Many Conflicting Health Goals

Seems I’m in a bad place where my current health goals are conflicting with each other.

  1. Reduce headaches
  2. Reduce neck and shoulder pain
  3. Lose 10 pounds
  4. Bring sugar cravings down to summer 2012 levels
  5. Increase body temperature “Turn Up The Heat” Experiment

To reduce headaches, I have decided to gradually cut back on caffeine. I even recently sold my espresso machine.

However, lower caffeine always has an appetite-stimulating effect, especially sugar. It was last October when I cut out coffee that my sugar cravings spiked.

I also feel that losing 10 pounds will reduce pain more. That might not be true, but I suspect it will help.

Less neck stiffness will help me resume doing a few sprints a week, which should help with the 10-pound weight loss. Catch 22.

The most effective ways to lose weight in the short term I have found are reducing carbs, more caffeine, and intermittent fasting.

However, to increase body temperature higher carbs, fewer stimulants and less fasting are recommended.

And increasing body temperature could be – in the long run – decrease my headaches and increase metabolism.

A short term side effect of attempting to increase body temperature is increased headaches and brain fog.

I have never found aspirin, Aleve, Tylenol or Advil to work for headaches. The only thing that helps even a little is caffeine.

I also believe that the neck tightness is playing a role with the headaches.

Photo by Don

A Mexican Standoff

The good news is my average intake of coffee has dropped from 3 in March to 2 in April. I’ve also reduced my sugar intake as I transition from ice cream to kefir. My neck and shoulder pain is actually showing a little progress. I think it was the increased MSM dose (thanks Glenn). The bad news is I’ve gained 3 more pounds with no reduction in my headache numbers.

It looks like my short term goals and long term goals are in conflict. This has been stressful. Until I put this post together I didn’t realize just how conflicting they were. Unless someone has a better idea, I think I’m going to use this plan:

  1. Drop coffee levels slowly to 1.0 – 1.5 a day.
  2. Increase morning fasting hours.
  3. Keep taking the MSM at high levels. I’m also experimenting with other ideas.
  4. Continue reducing sugar levels. Keep other carb sources the same (rice, potatoes).
  5. Increase protein (for satiety)
  6. More low-intensity exercise (walking). Weather is improving in Seattle.
  7. Stay focused on avoiding over-hydration and PUFA (see Turn Up the Heat post for explanation).


Add yours

  1. Kevin @ Rebooted Body

    Apr 17, 2013 — 9:15 am

    I haven’t been following your blog long enough to know the answer to this, but have you tried doing some of the MWODs at for your neck and back?

  2. @Kevin – A few. Nothing helpful so far. I actually have good mobility.

  3. I take flameout fish oil available on Amazon after workouts or when my allergies act up. Reduces swelling. I think it may help for several of your goals.

  4. Glenn Whitney

    Apr 17, 2013 — 1:39 pm

    I forgot to mention that MSM has a tendency to increase water retention, which might explain some of the weight gain…

  5. Not trying to be a smart Alec, but for your neck pain, have you tried doing…nothing?

    Id suggest reading up on John sarno

  6. @Glenn – Did not know that. Plus I have been adding a lot more salt to my diet via the Turn Up the Heat Experiment.

    @Adrian – Covered the Sarno angle in an earlier post. It could be, but it doesn’t have any of the characteristics that I experienced with back pain. No pain, just annoying low level stiffness. The pain Sarno refers to is a diversion tactic. This stiffness doesn’t really fit that bill. It never grabs the attention that back pain did.

  7. MAS,
    1. I still suggest taking a week (or at least 3 full days) off from ANY computer usage. Maybe over Memorial Day weekend? It helped with my stiffness, which means that I now can regulate my computer time to control the stiffness.
    2. I think I would prioritize the headaches over all else. Minimizing the headaches would probably have the most effect of quality of life.

  8. Hi, if you suspect coffee for causing yours headaches, did you try bulletproof upgrade coffee ? Or a very good quality coffee ? May be it can help.


  9. It’s a good, comprehensive plan. My only advice would be that, now that you’ve decided what to do, you should relax, be consistent, and be patient.

    The walks will help a lot, btw, the only activity that truly gets me into a deep meditative state. I don’t remember what safety is like in Seattle (I lived there in the mid 90’s anyway) but, when sleep fails, I take to the streets/hills. Night hiking, odd as it might sound to some, has been one of my most wonderful “secrets” for decades now. Just be prudent if you go for it, ok?

  10. I identify with your confusion/conflicts, I think we all do. The power of knowing so much is that often part of what you know conflicts with other parts. I once wrote a list of what I thought I was intolerant/allergic too, another list what I thought was causing weight gain, another list of what I thought was affecting mood/hormones, and another list of a few foods I felt addicted to, well a few things were on all those lists, that’s when I did an elimination diet with things that overlapped. But that is often not sustainable. My body doesn’t handle gluten that well and most starches if eaten too regularly. Caffeine and chocolate also easily the things I most addicted too, if I cut out the one the other usually increases. I love the odd glass of beer but my body suffers for a few days afterwards. I guess its a cost/benefit story. You make it up as you go along and find what you can live with, without feeling too miserable in the process.

  11. You might want to take a page from Dan John here instead. Figure out which one of the goals is most important to you now then try just one new thing per week and see what difference it makes. You’ve done a lot of self-experimentation so you should get a good sense quickly of whether something is helping you in your pursuit of your chosen goal The approach you outline here still seems a little scattershot.

  12. > However, to increase body temperature higher carbs, less stimulants and less fasting are recommended.

    Didn’t find this to be true in my case: with usual hi-fat diet and nearly no carbs, my temperature didn’t noticeably change during intermittend fasting.

  13. @Jim – I will be on a trip for 9 days around that time. So I’ll get a taste of a 9 day break. More than 9 days would be very hard.

    @Chris – I roast my own coffee and have tried BP Coffee. I cover my thoughts here:

    @Txomin – Seattle is super safe. Yesterday I did a slow walk for a few hours. Nice break from screen time.

    @Pauline – I miss a good beer as well. Used to love going to microbreweries and getting the sample tray. 2 weeks ago, I took one sip of an IPA. That is the extent I can handle.

    @Geoff – I just heard Dan John on a podcast. Really likable guy. Although I disagree with his training advice, his approach to goals appealed to me. He was actually an inspiration for this post.

    @Christian – When I did the 70 straight days of Leangains, I got cold. In a comment on the LG site, Martin says that strict 16 hour daily compliance for ectomorphs may be too much.

  14. Was it the Bulletproof Exec podcast? That was some classic Dan John there. Even when i disagree with what he’s saying, I find I come away better having heard his thoughts. His book “Never Let Go” was a transformative read for me.

  15. @Geoff – Yes it was.

  16. Hi MAS, have you looked into the Perfect Health Diet by Paul Jaminet? It is a low to medium carb diet which uses starches such as potatoes and rice for carbs, which helps eliminate sugar cravings as it gives you glucose energy to function. I’m currently giving it a shot after failing at a Ray Peat style diet, and so far I feel really good on it. I don’t feel cold at all. Ive also found vitamin C to help with my own sugar cravings (and I’m coming off a high sugar Ray Peat diet haha!).

  17. Forgot to mention, Glutamine is also supposed to help with sugar cravings, although I haven’t tried it myself.

  18. @PC – Yes, I recently read the 2nd edition of PHD. I also read the 1st edition twice. I would say I follow a slightly higher carb version of PHD.

    Thanks for the tips on Vit C and Glutamine. I ran out of both a few months ago, so perfect timing.

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