Nutrition & Fitness Coaching
1980-2002: Childhood through College
I grew up as an avid athlete, competing in practically any sport that could distract me from doing homework, especially reading. Even though I strongly disliked the piano, I would play it from time to time to avoid picking up a book. At the age of 11, I was convinced that I would be a professional baseball player. And astronaut. And garbage man. Anything active, anything physical, that’s all that really mattered.
At a very young age, I realized that physical activity was my absolute favorite part of being human.
2002: Diagnosis With Type 1 Diabetes
I remained very active throughout high school and college, yet despite my penchant for frequent exercise, I unexpectedly developed type 1 diabetes during my senior year of college. Unlike most type 1 diabetics who get diagnosed in adolescence, I was 22. Strange.
I was the first to admit that I didn’t know anything about diabetes, only that it had something to do with chocolate cake and syringes. For the first time in my life, I was faced with a series of challenging questions for which I had no answers.
- How do I inject insulin?
- How much insulin?
- How often should I inject insulin?
- What is an appropriate amount of insulin?
- What are the dangers of too much insulin?
- What are the dangers of too little insulin?
- What should I eat to control my blood glucose?
- What should I NOT eat?
- When should I eat?
- Can I still exercise?
- How much should I exercise?
- Should I eat while I exercise?
- How do I recover from exercise?
- What happens if I don't eat?
- What's going to happen to me in 5 years?
- Am I destined for a heart attack?
- Am I going to gain weight on a low carbohydrate diet?
Being a senior at Stanford University studying Mechanical Engineering, my life was consumed with math, physics, the machine shop, and lots of beer. I didn’t understand what I had done wrong. More importantly, I just wanted to be normal. I wanted to finish college and not have to worry about a complicated health condition that I didn’t fully understand.
2003: Making the Decision to Change
I was working as a Mechanical Engineer at the NASA Ames Research Center, consumed with tough engineering problems and deteriorating health. I thought I knew how to control my health, but my body surely didn’t agree.
One night, I was sitting on the couch watching TV, recovering from a soccer game that I had played 3 nights earlier. My hamstrings were tight, my back was uncomfortable, and I was extremely tired. I checked my blood sugar, and it was 290 mg/dL, three times higher than it should have been. I felt out of shape, constantly dehydrated, overly lethargic, ,and downright confused.
I asked myself the following questions:
- Why is my blood glucose high?
- Am I not eating properly? I'm listening to my doctor for heaven's sake!
- Why is my athletic recovery so slow?
- Why do I feel like an 80 year old man?
- WHY DO I FEEL LOW ENERGY ALL THE TIME?
At that moment, I listened to the voice in my head that had been telling me the same thing since I was a five year old child. In a slow, confident tone, similar to the words a wise grandfather would tell his grandchildren, the voice said,
For the first time, I listened to that voice. And that’s all it took for my life to completely change for the better.
2003-2007: The Era of Personal Experimentation
The next day, I went to the bookstore, and started reading cookbooks on diabetic nutrition. In a nutshell, I was uninspired. What I read was the same old argument that clearly had not worked for my body over the past year.
The strategy went like this:
- Carbohydrates are the enemy
- Restrict carbohydrate intake, and instead eat foods that are high in protein and fat
- Count the grams of carbohydrate you eat, then use math to calculate your insulin amount
- Check your blood glucose 3 hours later
- Pray for a good outcome
It was only years later, after hundreds of hours of reading, personal experimentation, and research that I came to realize the flaws of the logic above from a nutritional standpoint.
I changed my eating habits completely. For the first time I was open to the idea of becoming a vegetarian, even though I grew up laughing at them. Then the concept of veganism took me by storm, and revolutionized my understanding of plant vs. animal food. Soon, I had met a community of raw vegans, who opened my eyes to the world of uncooked food.
In a short period of time, positive change was apparent. Instead of feeling lethargic, mentally groggy, dehydrated and physically fatigued, eating a truly healthy diet made me feel alert, fully rested, full of energy, and eager to exercise hard. I felt limber, energetic, and excited to be alive.
Fascinated with quick and profound difference that eating healthy had made to my personal health, I decided to return to school to study towards a doctorate in Nutritional Biochemistry at UC Berkeley.
2007-2012: Time to Hit the Books!
In 2012, I received a PhD in Nutritional Biochemistry from UC Berkeley, and taught many classes ranging from exercise physiology to nutrient metabolism to disease prevention. In the process, I became a published author in peer reviewed scientific journals, and wrote a dissertation on the effect of calorie restriction (CR) on overall health, and lifestyle factors that influence type 2 diabetes.
If you’re a nerd and want to read the actual science, please be my guest.
My Objectives as a Nutrition and Fitness Coach
My goal as an educator is simple.
I aim to provide you with the tools to understand nutritional science as a whole, without needing to be a scientist. I aspire to force you to rethink nutrition from the ground up, to question everything you have learned and everything you have read.
I hope to teach the principles of a truly healthy lifestyle, inspire you to make intelligent and informed decisions for your aging body, teach that disease prevention starts at the plate, and allow your diet to provide you with more energy than you had as a rambunctious teenager.