Making Up My Own Mind

This is a guest post by Dave, who is also looking to retire no later than 45, but unlike Tim has no kids and doesn’t want any. Dave is from Ontario and is working towards his CGA certification.

I recently read a very interesting article regarding heart disease – written by the past chief of staff and chief of surgery at a hospital in Arizona.  Essentially what the article says is that much of what we have accepted about the cause and treatment of heart disease (a significant cause of death in North America) is wrong. What is generally deemed the cause of heart disease (elevated blood cholesterol) is not really killing people, meaning that having 25% of the population on statin drugs has not resulted in a significant decrease in heart problems.

What the doctor says is the mainstream diet (low in fat, high in carbohydrates)  is causing repeated injury to our blood vessels, causing chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity.  This is the diet that we are being told to eat by people that are supposed to have our health in mind.  For evidence, check out the Canada food guide or the American food pyramid and compare it to what this doctor as well as numerous other studies have found – our diet may be killing us.

Anecdotally, I think we can all say that this study is true – I know tons of people eating a low fat “healthy diet” and are unable to maintain a healthy body weight.  Additionally, I know a lot of people (generally older) who are on statin drugs to fight high cholesterol – and now have low cholesterol but are in poor health otherwise.

I think that most people who read “Extreme” early retirement blogs have an outside the box mentality, which generally allows “us” to accept information which may not align with what the general population feels is correct.  Reading articles like this, and questioning the status quo is not something new, but generally is where it seems that most people who would like to retire early start from.

I started my journey (which admittedly still has a ways to go) by asking if there wasn’t another option besides working until my late 50’s or 60’s.  From there, I started reading and kept at it until I figured out a plan that would fit my lifestyle and lead to the maximum amount of happiness throughout the pre and post retirement time.

It seems that people outside of this community either haven’t thought about their retirement plans all that much, or just don’t push against the “normal” way of life in North America at all.  In Tim’s last post for Moneyville some of the comments I read were almost laughable.  The terms “unrealistic”, “cardboard box”, and “yeah right” were quite common.  I’m not sure if the people posting were overly pessimistic, or just generally closed-minded but they definitely do not see the merits in early retirement.

Maybe I just generally like to feel like a rebel, whether it’s not following the general rule with food that defies the Canada Food Guide (my 4 day a week bacon habit does not seem to have any impact on my weight or overall health), or my retirement plans, which are significantly different from the norm.

Outside of your goal of Early Retirement, do you find yourself living a contrary lifestyle to most people you know?

16 thoughts on “Making Up My Own Mind”

  1. I recently watched ‘Fathead’ on Netflix which suggested the same idea about cholesterol and such. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. My husband didn’t like the tone at the beginning of the documentary but we kept watching and were fascinated by the end. I highly recommend watching it. My husband has always had weight issues and one of the diets that he did where he actually lost a good chunk of weight was one where he ate pretty well only meat. Having seen that happen we knew they were on to something as they presented their findings in the documentary.

  2. I am fascinated by human health…In the past 5 years I have been haunted by new food allergies that have had me covered in hives and a constant “crawly skin” feeling. Having given up on doctors I researched and educated myself and discovered a gluten allergy (not celiac, but a true allergy) and an egg allergy. Those super healthy egg white omelettes were killing me! Honestly, I have a super new doctor who is thrilled with my approach to things and she has even emailed me for advice. The gym and yoga have really made a change in mental attitude too.
    As far as early retirement, although not as early as many of you we will retire at 56, we have strayed from the pack, so to speak. Our clothes last forever, we don’t drink ( I cannot due to a previous and near deadly bout of pancreatitis), and we hike and explore for our entertainment. WE have friends who have beautiful manicures, clothes, hair…..and even though they make far more money that we ever did they cannot retire yet.
    As far as I am concerned if you put your mind to things you can solve any issue…even miserable allergies (and I REALLY miss bread…:(). My main concern now is health…excellent diet (Zonish…Clean eating), daily gym habit, hiking, outdoors….all done to make this retirement the very best it can be.
    PS…doctor said I had the best blood chemistry she has ever seen!!

  3. The mentioning heart disease article as a segway about retirement I would like to address.

    Here is a chart ( of calorie consumption 1961-2002, along with a chart of macronutrient (protein, fat, carbs) consumption from 1971-2000.

    While it’s true carbohydrates have risen and fat has fallen, it’s only a few percentage points. And in fact carb consumption has leveled off since 1986.

    What has increased though is total calorie consumption.

  4. I would definitely say that I’m living a contrary lifestyle that includes bacon for breakfast 5 days a week. A keto diet (high in fats, low in carbs) has passed my muster of research and I get a lot of that standard flack about my ‘unhealthy’ habits.

    Just the whole premise of early retirement means that you take fundamental ideas, (save MUCH more than you spend for many years,) that would never fly in most people’s lives and apply them. That ability to look at the bigger picture and make decisions that fly against the norm because they make logical sense to you seems to be what really does it. Once you cross over into that land of weird living-You can do pretty much what you want and just smile and shrug off the criticisms or Yeah Rights!

  5. @ Marianne – I agree that some of Fathead is grating, the guys voice drives me nuts. The one clip from the movie that I really like and illustrates why I eat the way I eat is here :

    @ lorain – sorry to hear about your allergies…I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t eat eggs for breakfast (I usually have 3 or 4 every day) – I guess I would have to have a big steak or something….

    @ Mike Crosby – It looks to be about 10% or so in carbohydrate intake. The other thing is that we seem to have a lot more “franken-foods” now then we did in the 70’s…the food we’re eating now, especially the processed variety, of which the majority of carbohydrates turn into is not really food – more of a slurry of chemicals with some grains added….I’m not sure if this is aiding in the human obesity rate.

    @ Emily – I also include 2 24 hour periods of fasting in my week (eat breakfast in the morning and don’t eat until breakfast the next morning).

  6. @ Executioner – A lot of what the China Study says has been debunked by various sources – I would suggest expanding your reading to the other side of the argument. One response to the China Study I might suggest is:

    I don’t know if I would agree that the empirical evidence is overwhelming. I have read the China Study, weighed it against the holes found and now eat meat at pretty much every meal (pasture raised pork and beef as well as free-range eggs if I can find them).

  7. @ John – That movie comes from the same data as discussed in the China Study, which I commented on to the Executioner.

    @ Beardie – I think some people would think you were different for not watching TV.

  8. Dave says “Executioner – A lot of what the China Study says has been debunked by various sources”

    By “various” does that mean several?

    And would you name one that’s backed up with scientific evidence? Thank you.

    Not trying to be a stick in the mud, but Dr Campbell’s research is impeccable.

  9. The one point I am sure is that everyone reacts to different things (food, chemicals etc) differently. Some people smoke from a young age of 9 and live to 90 healthily! My take is to experiment with your own body and look for a feel-good healthy life style, and don’t cheat, e.g., if you are overweight then there must be something wrong with your life style. Also, be an educated consumer, if something is widely accepted to be really bad for you, avoid or consume moderately if you can’t resist.

  10. This comment isn’t about food, but I interpret your post as if early retirement is exceptional. But I have heard of a group, which research the mega trends to come, who say that early retirement will be one of the big five trends in the years to come. The company I work for is aware of this trend and begins to think how they can keep their older workforce working. I hope they don’t try to do this by cutting wages :D. So this is getting mainstream :). Disclaimer: I am 40 and plan to retire before I am 55.

  11. I’ve a novel idea, don’t worry too much about your health, everything in moderation. Retire early and die whenever the Keeper gets you. But enjoy the ride……

    As for the comments made for Tim’s article in Moneyville. I wrote a nasty little note to the other comment-ors, don’t know it will get approved or not, but it felt good anyway.

    I will say that my life is a little contrary. I no longer have the stomach to sit around and listen to ignorant people whine about how they are mistreated by the world, when they have no will or vision to fend for themselves.

    Sorry, got riled up by the twits on Moneyville.

  12. Meh, I stopped looking at studies years ago (too much conflicting information) and started looking at longevity in my own family. If my dad is still going strong at 92 eating a semi-paleo, abnormally high organic beef content diet his whole life, chances are what worked for him will work for me. Well, except he smoked for 50 years. And I eat more veggies. And drink more wine. 😉

  13. My contrary lifestyle is making the choice to be a stay at home mom. It definately is not the norm these days.

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