I loved the spirit of comradery in the gym. I cherished the endorphin rush from big workouts. And I got the overall general sense of feeling healthy that resistance training provides.
Unfortunately, a day came when I had to stop lifting all but completely. Over the years, I had been developing an increasingly chronic and more and more painful tension in my elbows.
The pain became nearly debilitating at times. Imagine being a traveling road warrior and yet having trouble just grasping a luggage handle at the airport when lifting a bag onto the scale for check in.
My tendons, the underappreciated connective tissue between muscles and bones, weren't healing like they used to. The doctors call it lateral epicondylitis and medial epicondylitis. The layman's terms are "tennis elbow" and "golfer's elbow."
I had both sports' injuries, in both elbows at the same time, despite never playing much golf or tennis. Even when just shaking hands I would wince, as a sharp pain would shoot right up to my elbow.
I didn't want people to know. I didn't want people to think I was getting old. So, I tried to hide it.
Over time, the pain reinforced a sort of vicious cycle of feeling older.
There was no more endorphin rush flowing through my system after every workout. I felt like my days of weightlifting, and that youthfulness that came with it, were gone.
Some folks might have surmised that I had injured myself in the gym, that it was precisely training with large weights, possibly with poor technique, that created the problem.
But that didn't make sense. I had been training for more than two decades, and frankly, I was training smarter and with better technique in my later years of lifting.
What really happened was that I had been overtraining relative to my ability to heal.
I was working out with heavy weights and placing a massive strain on my body, yet I wasn't experiencing the same speed of recovery that I had had when I was younger.
I tried everything to alleviate the pain, from ace bandages to copper-lined sleeves to compression wraps around my forearms. They helped a little bit... But nothing worked to make a measurable difference.
I was visiting an athletic center in Okinawa, Japan, the birthplace of karate. The trainers there introduced me to very light-load resistance training, using a level of "blood flow resistance." It supposedly provided similar benefits to weightlifting, such as growth hormone response... without the weights.
Some time later, a client and great friend in Hong Kong showed me an incarnation of that training from Japan, which he said would dramatically increase my human growth hormone ("HGH") levels. In his words, "you'll feel like a tiger after a workout with this." The Japanese call this "kaatsu." (For the record, this friend is a hedge-fund manager who is a good 15 years or more older than me, and is in fantastic shape.)
Finally, on my return to the U.S., I was telling one of our senior analysts of my new discovery. He said that sounded a lot like what intermittent fasting ("IF") does. In addition to all the benefits of reducing unnecessarily high blood sugar levels, fasting helps you to generate natural HGH spikes.
Without enough HGH, tendons deteriorate.
Well, that triad of random events seemed like kismet enough to push me into a deep investigation of HGH research. It was very practically a search for a cure for my elbows. On a much bigger contextual scale, it was a search for a "Fountain of Youth."
The fact is, bio-hacking your body, completely naturally, into increasing HGH levels is quite literally a path toward being younger. Not just feeling younger, mind you... I mean, actually, physically, being younger.
HGH helps your body heal, not just your tendons. It accompanies lower fat levels. It coincides with longer, better sleep.
So, since that time, I have been chasing anything that can naturally increase HGH levels. That includes going to the sauna regularly, making time for getting seven hours or more of sleep, and meditating regularly. I studied and met Dr. Jason Fung, one of the world experts in IF and its contribution to unlocking and releasing HGH.
All I can say is that what I experienced just four years ago was, to me, nothing short of a modern medical miracle. With no surgery or medication, my elbows began feeling better. Heck, my whole body felt stronger.
Very hesitantly, I started getting back into the gym. I had this fearful feeling that at any moment my elbows would go out again – that I'd return to quickly getting old again.
It hasn't happened yet (knock on wood!). I kept disciplining myself toward IF. I continued blood flow resistance training, kaatsu. I focused on better sleep and daily meditation. The results have been wonderful. And to be blunt... at age 51, I'm lifting weight levels in the gym now that I haven't hit since my 20s.
History has it that the so-called "Fountain of Youth" is some mythical place down in Florida. In reality, it is right here in the body, in each of our bodies, and it's an all-natural hormone cocktail that can make life-changing differences.
This is important. By age 40, our HGH levels are much closer to age 70 than age 20. The cliff – the drop in HGH – is a steep one. It's all of a sudden. You go from being young to being old quite quickly in your 30s, at least hormonally. That is, if you don't do something about it...
This means taking the appropriate steps right now to boost your hormone levels, such as meditating or going to the sauna and always getting a full night's sleep. We have the ability to flip nature on its head and feel like we're 20 years old again.
Oftentimes, so much of the advice we get as we become older is about how to save more money for retirement, answering questions like which asset classes or funds you should be invested in.
While I will continue to happily guide you through these investment decisions, the real focus of today's essay is on ensuring that we can live our lives to the fullest as we stack on the years.
As writer Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Health is the first wealth." Make money, and make sure you make the most of your life to enjoy the money you've made.
September 24, 2021
P.S. If you'd like to learn more about this journey into the Fountain of Youth, please let me know by sending an e-mail to [email protected]. I count myself unbelievably lucky, and I'm happy to share it with you if you're interested.