N = 1 Experimentation

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, like most people, am fairly curious.  I read a lot of books and websites which sometimes leads me to a lot of “fringe” individuals who seem to have interests completely different from my own.  A lot my focus is  around health and fitness, specifically looking at where we (humans) came from physiologically and how I can change the way I live in order to optimize my health.  This sort of reading seems to lead to a lot of self-experimentation with different ways to eat, different ways to exercise and other interesting “tests” based on other people’s findings.  Over the past couple of years, I have tried to following:

Paleo / Primal eating – I have eaten this way for almost 3 years now, removing the majority of processed foods from my diet and eating only meat, fruits and vegetables.  I feel better these compared to the way I previously ate (which was “healthy” and followed a low-fat, whole grain diet) and I have been able to maintain a healthy body weight, while increasing my strength.  After I tried this for a while and enjoyed it, my somewhat skeptical wife tried it out and has lost (and kept off) 40 lbs of weight and also feels much better eating this way.

Ice Baths – I tried this out in the spring for a month or so.  I had read about bathing in ice water (around 10 to 12 degrees Celsius), slowly increasing your time from about 5 minutes up to half an hour.  The thinking (from the reading I did) was twofold…..The first reason came from Tim Ferris’ “Four Hour Body”, and was a “body hack” for fat loss – cooling externally forces your body to burn calories to keep your internal temperature.  Lots of people have found this to be helpful.  There have also been some hypotheses that the cold will boost immune function, improve sleep (especially deep sleep), and increase hormone levels.

I tried this, and found that once you got used to it, the cold really isn’t bad.  It did help my sleep and I really didn’t experience any negative effects.  I just found it a pain to remember to freeze enough ice and didn’t like the waste of water.  I may do this some more in the winter.

Cheap Sleep Aid?–   Although I am a good sleeper, I had done some reading that artificial light messes with your sleep cycle, specifically blue light, which comes from computer screens and televisions.  I bought a pair of sunglasses (for $4) that block blue light in order to test this.  I can’t be sure and because I go to sleep with the sun (or shortly after) in the summer, this experiment will have to wait for a few months to continue.

This is just a sample of the interesting stuff I get into (and what my wife gets to hear me talk about).  I ensure I don’t harm myself, read as much as possible on what I’m going to do and then do it and see what happens.  Financially, this is what my Early Retirement path is leading me to.

I honestly don’t know if I will be able to achieve this goal, but I am willing to carry out this long-term experiment attempting to do so in order to test my goal.  If at age 45 I don’t have the assets or cash flow to afford to leave the work force, in the worst case I’ll have to keep working – either in a full time or part-time roll.  Best case situation, I find out I have enough money to achieve my goal early and can get out a few years before 45.

Do you self-experiment?  Have you tried any of the stuff I’ve described?  Would you describe your early retirement as an experiment?

6 thoughts on “N = 1 Experimentation”

  1. I’ve been moving more and more towards a Paleo/Primal diet for the last few years now. The hardest part about it is that it requires more food preparation time. It has to become a priority for me to make it work, and sometimes other priorities get in the way. But otherwise, I agree that it goes a long way towards a healthy life!

  2. I’ve been doing paleo/primal for about a year. I seem to have an insatiable appetite for blogs and books that are on this subject. I sure hope that the knowledge of this will spread to the general population.

    In addition, I have done the cold baths. Can’t say whether or not they have changed anything, but truth be told, I have only been doing it for about 2 weeks. I do end every shower with a 30 to 60 second blast of the coldest water my faucet can deliver. Takes a little getting used to as it initially really takes your breath away.

    Can you indicate where one can purchase a pair of these blue light blocking sunglasses?

  3. I too eat very close to paleo….I have developed so many food allergies in the past few years and eating this way is super easy and keeps me very healthy…doc was certainly impressed yesterday when my blood pressure was that of a teenager….this for a 55 year old woman who cheated death just 5 years ago….so very happy!!! REally looking forward to the blood test results. I lift weights and do yoga…and cardio…at the gym 6 days a week and i have never, ever felt better.

    Would not go near a bath filled with ice cubes!!!!

    I love to read about health issues…..

    As for early retirement….we aren’t going super early but next year, when we are both 56….full pension for hubby and enough assests to set us up very well, but nothing extravagent.

    Life is very good.

  4. I have heard of all those things and like you I guess like experimenting.
    1. Have the blue glasses, totally work, although I bought mine online for $80. They have really helped regulate my sleep cycle coz as far as my pituitary is concerned it gets dark at same time every night irregardless if I watch TV etc.
    2. Paelo diet is good, check out Calorie Restriction Optimal Nutrition, I’ve been doing that for a couple of years.
    3. Your blog motivates me to be concious of my money. So much is psychological and finding the balance between not feeling deprived yet thinking of the future can be tricky. 🙂

  5. I am working towards my CGA (BC) designation, but unlike Dave, I have two kids. So I guess the big experiment here is to try to retire at 45 too. Good luck to us all in that goal!

  6. @ Lance – Sorry for the delay. The glasses I got were:

    Uvex S1933X Skyper Safety Eyewear, Black Frame, SCT-Orange UV Extreme Anti-Fog Lens

    @ Loraine – I’m glad we can help.

    @ Kevin – Good luck in your studies!

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