Why Should You Care About my Diet?

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I’m not a huge fan of selfie-fied blogging or social networking.

I understand that publishing your accomplishments online makes you more likely to stick to a plan, but frankly, I could give two shits how many miles you ran during your lunch hour today.

To top it off I’m not really a big fan of self-help plans or New Year’s resolutions in general. I think that both of these pursuits suffer from the misconception that change comes about from our conscious mind. There’s this American idea that we can will ourselves to become what we wish to be, and in my experience, this has not been the case.
Change happens in ineffable and unpredictable ways. The perfect example for me was becoming focused on early retirement after searching for a better way to travel for less. This connection was not obvious or planned, but it was powerful. Change happened (and continues to happen) in my life.

But more than anything I’m not one to let a little hypocrisy get in the way of a blog post that I want to write, so here goes.

My first bite of food happened when I was pretty young. As the story goes, my mother was walking through golden gate Park eating a ripe pear. I was a breast-feeding 3 1/2-month-old strapped to her back in some kind of a hippie backsling. She was apparently quite surprised when a miniature hand raced by her right ear and grabbed the pear. She was even more surprised when she peeled me off of her back to find me suckling the pear as if it were an engorged breast, juice dribbling down my chin.

Which is to say I’ve always been a bit food-obsessed.

On some level, my day is made up of long stretches between meals.

I won’t think twice to drag my family of five on a 1 hour 30 minute drive for no other reason then to sample piroshki at a Ukrainian market two counties over.

My idea of a day well spent is to wake up at five in the morning and smoke a brisket until five or six that evening, only to slice it and dress a slow fermented sourdough pizza skin which I then insert into my not exactly “legal”oven for a quick two-minute bake.

So you get the picture, I like food.

But let’s face it, I’m 40 now. Just consider me here at a wedding a couple of months ago.

photo (11)

Body by porchetta

To my credit I have an extremely attractive much younger woman on my arm, but just look at me.

If I can be said to have a look, it could only be described as “bourgeois puffy.”

There I am with the makings of a double chin, my IPA fueled navel gently nudging my tie leftward. It is, in short, a sad, sad sight.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my cushy, well fed life.

But if I could choose a look, “starving bike messenger,” would be closer to the mark, then say “milk-fed cardiologist.”

So I’ve definitely got some vanity pushing me towards losing a few pounds.

There’s also my health going forward, and the health of the planet which could both be negatively impacted by my meat heavy standard American diet.

But if I’m honest, it’s mostly just my vanity.

But what of dieting?

I’m very dubious of the whole dieting thing. While it may be easy to shed 20 or 40 pounds with some kind of a fad diet, this weight loss is generally temporary at best.

Which brings me to the New York Times food writer, Mark Bittman’s recent book Vegan Before Six. This came about, as Bittman describes it, after his 50-year-old well patient doctors visit.

He was told he was obese, with hypercholesterolemia, pre diabetes, and sleep apnea.

His doctor’s advice was simple; become a vegan or start taking lots of medicines.

His unwillingness to drastically change his lifestyle, as a food loving writer, gave him the idea to try becoming vegan before dinner time. He also swore off processed food and refined carbohydrates leading up to the dinner hour.

What he did not do was stop eating delicious food, or give up his food centered dinner-hour social life

I just finished the book, and I’m going to give it a shot and here are my reasons why.

1. Bittman has immediate credibility. He is a food writer who I’ve followed for years who clearly loves food. He’s also noticeably lost weight.

2. I can imagine this becoming a lifestyle change, as opposed to a crash diet. If the food is delicious, and the results palpable, I see no reason why I could not stick to this pattern of eating for the rest of my life.

3. This past year I’ve witnessed unexpected and positive changes in my own life, that have come about first from organizing myself to attack the travel hacking game, and then by awakening my mind up to new possibilities in terms of early retirement. These developments have opened me up to the possibility that change though unpredictable, can indeed happen.

4. I see the creative thinking behind the Vegan Before Six philosophy, as somewhat similar to the outside-the-box thinking behind travel hacking, and even early retirement theory.

This eating strategy seems like a big game. And when something is fun, I find myself continuously incentivized to pursue it further.

5. I don’t need to give up pizza, barbecue, or tonkatsu!

Which leaves one obvious question.

How is this diet in any way relevant to this blog?

And here is my answer.

This blog, like me, is a work in progress.

I’m not a fully formed early retiree biking around town, growing my own vegetables(yet).

Instead I’m a working doctor who each day is trying (and often succeeding) to make positive changes in my own life to move my family towards a better financial position.

I’m also no travel maven, jet setting around the world in first class, while maintaining my status on seven different frequent flyer programs.

I’m just a guy using the tools available to fly my family where it needs to go for free.

I’m unfinished. And I have no idea how this all ends up.

In short, it’s about the journey, and I’m making a stop over at Vegan Before Six.

As always, if you, my reader, are inspired, I’d love for you to join me. If not, don’t worry I’ll send you a postcard!

Full disclosure: on day one of this undertaking , I’m a well chiseled 6 feet tall and 204 pounds.

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9 Responses to “Why Should You Care About my Diet?”

  1. Matt Ostrom January 2, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    LOL, as the kids are saying these days. Enjoying your blog dude, very well written, entertaining, and quite informative You have inspired me to save more this year, the miles game and veganism is on the back burner for now, but I am intrigued. Keep up the good work my milk fed friend.

  2. Miles Dividend M.D. January 2, 2014 at 1:33 pm #



    I’m Really glad you like the blog.

    Good job on the saving and don’t forget to harness the power of the backdoor IRA. HSA plans are also money for tax sheltered retirement savings.

    (see http://www.milesdividendmd.com/the-back-door/ if you haven’t already.)

    I wouldn’t expect someone with the metabolism of a cheetah with graves disease to be contemplating veganism, but the miles game is definitely a value added proposition.


  3. Robert January 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    You owe it to yourself to read the work of another West Coast physician, John McDougall. Try “The Starch Solution.” You can be a fat vegan about as easily as you can be a fat carnivore. McDougall’s solution is science-based and works. It is a lifestyle change, not a diet.

  4. Miles Dividend M.D. January 19, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    Thanks for the rec. I may prove your theory on fat vegans!

    For the time being I’m enjoying my experiment with VB 6. I will checking in the month. Stay tuned.


  5. Bob Werner February 17, 2015 at 9:09 am #

    You appear to be a very healthy 6 footer! I’m curious if you have ever considered doing some writing on the health/heart impacts of various diets and nutritional inputs?

    I’m of the belief that paleo style diet is good for the heart. I also tend to discount cholesterol based on a family history of no heart disease for at least 4 generations on both sides.

    So do you have any thoughts? Modern wheat bad? Eggs good? Intermittent feeding good/bad? Paleo?

    You seem like a man who really delves into the real deal and puts common beliefs to the side. So it would be very interesting to hear you opinions on nutrition as it relates to heart issues over several posts.

    Special Thanks, Bob W

    • Miles Dividend M.D. February 17, 2015 at 4:00 pm #

      I am by no means a dietician. So take this as just another dude on the internet spouting his opinions…

      I came to VB6 from the perspective that it would work well with my own attitudes towards food. I would rather be a fat foodie, than a thin “eat to live” type.

      In terms of the health of various diets, I do think that refined carbohydrates are my own personal danger zone. I can eat a lot of them without getting full, and I get very hungry about 1-2 hours after loading up on them.

      The other thing that I would say is that the scientific literature is fairly consistent about what constitutes a healthy diet. It is a vegetable and fruit heavy diet with mostly whole foods (whole grains, legumes, etc) and a minimum of highly processed foods. VB6 definitely moved me in this direction.

      For me VB6 checked all of the boxes. I lost 12 pounds slowly and kept it off. I found it easy to adhere to and I still enjoy eating meals, even before 6:00. I can go out for dinner and order whatever suits my fancy. It’s no longer a diet, it’s just the way I eat and that I plan to eat for the rest of my life.

      But this is not to say that it’s right for you or anyone else. The most important thing is to find the approach that works for you and that you can imagine adhering to forever. If that’s paleo for you, then that’s almost assuredly the way to go.

      • Bob Werner February 18, 2015 at 7:36 am #

        Glad to see you are staying away from the refined grains. I hadn’t run across the VB6 before. Will give it a look over. I suppose I could be a paleovegan before 6.

        I have found that the IF intermittent feeding approach fits nicely at times as I skip breakfast a lot.

        But then I read that skipping breakfast increases my risk of a heart attack by 27%. http://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20130722/skipping-breakfast-a-recipe-for-heart-disease-study-finds

        As an aside, I’ve been reading through all you posts and must say that you are a good writer. Hope to see many more posts!

        • Miles Dividend M.D. February 19, 2015 at 8:46 am #

          Thanks for the compliment Bob.

          Writing is a creative outlet for me that balances out my more analytical day job. I love writing these posts and have about 10 on the launch pad for when Brad and I get through this first month of our course.

          As to that study, after a quick glance it looks like a poster child for the term “correlation is not causation.” Were the breakfast skippers obese dieters? Were they alcoholics who slept through breakfast? I wouldn’t take it as much more than an interesting observation.


          • Bob Werner February 19, 2015 at 12:12 pm #

            Glad to see you have more post on the launch pad!

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