Why I Haven’t Gotten a Cold In Three Years

haven’t gotten a cold

I haven’t gotten a cold in almost three years. This is not bragging. I’m not the healthiest person in the world. It’s just fact.

Every year of my life from the age of one until three years ago I’d get a cold 2-4 times a year. It was horrible.

My nose would run, my throat would get so sore I couldn’t eat.

I’d be coughing all the time.

I’d wipe my snot on every surface available to me: hands, clothes, coat, the ground, the wall, other people.

I’d get headaches, and it would last 3-5 days.

Since early 2009 I haven’t gotten it once. I got a cold in May, 2009 and I got a cold in December, 2008 and those are my last two.

I was taking a bunch of photos to document all the fun I was having with my kids that weekend and this was the final photo. My recovery.

Maybe this article will jinx it and I will get a cold tomorrow. We’ll see. I hope not. I’m really grateful I haven’t had a cold in almost three years.

But I like to think about what works in my life and what doesn’t. So I take a look at pre-2009 and post-2009 and think of the biggest things that might’ve been factors in me getting a cold.

Pre-May 2009.

  1. I didn’t sleep for more than 2 to 3 hours at a stretch. Then I’d wake up anxious about one thing or other. Check the markets, check email, google stuff, read news, even watch a TV show. Then try to go back to sleep and usually fail. I was a daytrader for many years and that didn’t help matters since markets were always open somewhere in the world.
  2. I never exercised. For awhile in 2003 I exercised during my peak period of daytrading but only very little (from 5-6 in the morning until the cafes with donuts would open up).
  3. I ate three big meals a day. Often steak or pasta at dinner. With a nice dessert. And 2-3 croissants for breakfast. In early 2009 I was definitely gaining weight. And then I would eat junk food in between.
  4. I drank alcohol. I have more stories about drinking alcohol and maybe I will put them here. Suffice to say the more I drank, the more colds I would get.
  5. Stress. Not only I was stressed with my own life but everyone else’s as well. Always worried not only about what people thought of me but worried about the news. Would so and so bomb the other so-and-so? Would Intel have bad earnings? Would my trades work? Would my businesses? Would XYZ invest in my fund? Would the IRS take my settlement? Would my book sell. Worry, worry, worry.

I don’t think I did this in the right order. I think 1, 4, 3, 2, 5 is the right order of importance. So now I compare with Post-May, 2009 to see what’s different.


Post-May 2009

1. I started sleeping at least 8 hours a day.

Without looking at the computer in the middle. I once read that its bad to sleep too much. That 7-8 hours a day is good. Some days  now I sleep between 10 and 11 hours. The body rejuvenates during sleep. Think about it. When you actually do get sick, what’s the thing the doctor tells you to do? Hydrate yourself and sleep. That’s the best cure.

The question is: we are busy people. How can we sleep 10 hours a day. That’s answered below.

2. I don’t drink alcohol.

Ever. For one thing. It’s a depressant. I’ve been depressed enough in my life. Why tempt it. Second, inhibitions get loosened. Mine are loosened enough. I don’t need more loosening. When I’ve loosened them, enough material for five blog posts have come out. I don’t need any more blog posts.

Third, it’s a poison. I know there’s a saying – all things in moderation. But I can think of at three basic ways alcohol can kill you:

  1. Its a poison so it has a lethal limit.
  2. It’s physically addictive so I’ve seen instances where someone was so sick if they didn’t wake up in the middle of the night to drink they would have to go to the hospital or die.
  3. You can, of course, drive drunk. Or get in a fight. Or whatever. And then die from that. We all have anecdotes  of one sort or other that wasn’t old wives’ tales but seen with our own two eyes.

Most importantly, it obviously doesn’t boost your immune system. It destroys it and is the cause of countless cancers. Some people say one glass a wine a day is good for the heart. Even if this was true (all the evidence is unclear) it is true that this number is not an average: even two glasses on any ONE day ruins any positive effects and sets you back.

I don’t drink alcohol because I’m some sort of puritan. I’m the opposite. I just simply want to live a long life with high quality in my later years. One can say, ‘well, you can get hit by a car tomorrow so why worry about living to be 80 or 90?’

My response: I’m not going to get hit by a car tomorrow.

3. Eating.

I hate getting sick in my stomach almost as much as I hate getting a cold. I was getting sick in my stomach all the time. And the problem is I love food. And I love all the bad foods. After I saw “The Help” all I could think about for weeks was having fried chicken.

But I was gaining weight too fast starting in my 30s whenever I ate too much.

So now I eat one small breakfast and then a lunch/dinner around 2-3pm that usually (9 out of 10) doesn’t include meat. And that’s it. Well, how do I avoid getting hungry at night? Answer….

4. Sleep, part II.

Around 6 I start to go to sleep. This doesn’t mean I GO to sleep. But I try to shut down computer. I might watch a show on itunes (although thinking of limiting this for various other reasons) and then read and hang out until I fall asleep.

Goal is to be asleep by 8pm and wake up between 4:30 and 6 depending on how tired I am.

I LOVE sleeping. It’s better than eating dinner, or flipping channels on prime time TV. Or going to dinner meetings. Or going to benefits. Or even hanging out with friends. It’s SLEEPING. C’mon. How cool is sleeping?

 5. News.

I love the people around me. Love answering emails, talking to people I like, interacting with people who inspire me. But I don’t have much compassion for the media.

I think the media just tries to make money by scaring people. So I don’t watch or read any news. Nothing. I barely look at the markets, even when I’m about to go on CNBC.

Because here is what all of my segments are like:  TV says: XYZ is going to end the world. I say: No it isn’t because of A, B, and C. And A, B, and C has been the same since around 1900.

The best way I can help people is not being one more seat filled at a late night charity event but to try to be a positive person, stay away from the things that bring me down, and be as healthy as possible.

 6. Exercise.

I don’t know if this helps at all. In May, 2009 I started really exercising for the first time in my life.

So I got a trainer and at first the routine consisted of weightlifting, traditional exercises (pushups, sit-ups, etc) and running. It was an hour 3 days a week. It wore me out.

Then in August 2010 I switched to Yoga which I also probably do an hour 3 days a week.

What’s better: regular workouts or yoga? I have no idea, nor the experience or knowledge to say. (See, Yoga Has Humiliated Me)

Some pros and cons: regular workouts seem to have a lot of breaks (at least the way I do it). I was so tired between different machines or whatever that I’d have to rest a few minutes. Yoga there’s no break at all in the hour. Zero. So an hour of yoga can be argued to be a more vigorous workout (depending on the type of yoga) than a regular workout.

Yoga tends to do all these stretches and twists and breathing that are supposedly good for circulation, get the blood and breath flowing to parts of your body you aren’t used to, etc. Plus, in Ashtanga Yoga or Power Yoga, there are many moves that are strength-oriented.

I don’t know. All I can say is: I sweat equally under both regimens and by the time I’m finished I’m always thinking “this was brutal”.

That said, I think exercise is actually the LEAST important in the above reasons why I don’t think I’ve gotten a cold. I think sleeping, no alcohol, and better eating are the top three reasons. The good thing about exercise is that I know I have more stamina and strength now than I had 20 years ago. But exercise is not even a good way to control weight. Only eating is (in my opinion, which is totally unprofessional and anecdotal).

I’m really cocky about it now. Even if everyone in my house has a cold I know I won’t get one.

And even writing this article, I know I won’t jinx myself. I know I’ll die of something at sometime. I know I’ll age. But please, I want to live to 90 and be even healthier than I am now.

  • BBH

    I’d add another con for drinking alcohol. Whenever I got drunk during these cold times (and they are cold: -19 degrees Fahrenheit up here as we speak), it was a 50/50 chance I had some sort of cold the next day. Why was that? Because whenever I was drinking (didn’t matter if it was a bottle of beer or a bottle of vodka), I never felt cold. So I walked out of the bars without wearing a scarf, gloves, etc. Or I didn’t bother to put on my jacket. And I usually caught something. 

    As I don’t drink now at all either, it never happens. Haven’t been sick for years as well. Yay!

    • You have the right concept but incorrect science. As I understand it, being cold does not cause an illness. It can cause symptoms. Your body adjusts to it. In fact, I am trying to use the cold to make my body feel better.

      It is nasty stuff from other people who you encounter that are the causes of that kind of illness. Being in the cold doesn’t increase the chances of catching anything. In fact, it is probably better to go outdoors during the winter. Even if it’s for very trivial reason. If you go outside, you are not encountering the same ‘bad stuff’ that builds up indoors and in social settings. 

      I think you mean that part of the danger of alcohol is that you drink it in a social environment usually. It lowers you immunity as well. If you do that enough, you can expect that the people around you who are or were sick will pass it to you.

      • BBH

        Interesting. So you’re saying that being in cold doesn’t necessarily get me sick, but it rather weakens my immune system and I end up getting a bug from other people? It makes sense, and I think it’s true in some cases, but I was talking about a simple sore throat or something as simple (yet annoying) as that. And I still think you can get those by simply being outside without proper clothing. 

        28 degrees is not that bad. It’s just below freezing, which we (Northern Europeans) consider a sunbathing weather. But I was talking about a serious winter. The one we have here now. Last night it was over -20 degrees here. Not 20, but MINUS 20. On Sunday some parts of the country will get to experience the -30F days. I’m pretty sure if I would go out with a simple T-shirt and jacket, I would have a sore throat by tomorrow (or the day after). Even if I don’t leave my house (I live alone, haven’t had any guests for weeks, and I work from home). 


        • He said (and was correct) that cold *does not* weaken your immune system and thus cause illness. You very skillfully read what you wanted to be true.

          The cold doesn’t cause illness, in fact it makes it harder for disease to spread. See how sick you get if you live in a region with 30-40C regular temperatures! The reason you get sick when it’s cold is that when it’s cold people congregate indoors more, generating critical mass for things like flu and cold.One day I’ll go on a mass murdering spree because someone has told me I’ll get sick because I’m not wearing socks. GASP.

          • BBH

            Again, I wasn’t exactly talking about flu, but a simple sore throat (i.e. it hurts to swallow or you have no voice to speak). I’m still not sold that it’s only caused by bacteria from other people. 

            I’ve lived in northern Europe for a large portion of my life. I’ve lived in Georgia and Florida too (just FYI). And I know for a fact that you can have a sore throat by staying out in a cold. 

            I’m quite an introvert. I don’t enjoy socializing all that much. I never have. So I live alone, I work from home and there are sometimes weeks I don’t see anybody (nor entertain anybody at my home). Where the hell would I get bacteria (or how would it get to my home)? Ok that was a rhetorical question. 


            I guess all I can say is that forget your theory and come up here. It’s -26 degrees Celsius (-15 Fahrenheit) as we speak. In the upcoming weekend it can get as cold as -36 degrees Celsius (-33 Fahrenheit). I’ll pay for your accommodation. You’ll be staying alone in the woods – in a decent holiday cabin. And you’ll go out for a 30-minute walk twice per day. Wearing nothing but a T-shirt and summer jacket. But I ain’t paying for all the cold medicine you’ll be eating for the next 2 weeks. :-)

            Cheers mate!

  • dee-troit slim…

    i have heard that getting enough sleep is the biggest thing one can do to boost their immune system. seems to be true. i also love my sleep. i often fall asleep thinking how good that feels.
    i never get colds, & haven’t had the flu for 13 years, before i quit smoking camels & drinking coffee cups full of whiskey. 

    • Cerberus

       Sleep 8 hours a night by the time you are 60 you slept for 20 years so you actually lived only 40 years… how cool is that??

  • India… jealous.

    Write a descriptive posts about where you’re at, and what your day is like there, please.


  • Reducing your stress has a lot to do with it. Once you lose control over the stress you get sick.

  • Being love, a stable relationship, must contribute, resulting in the exercise that Claudia inspired you to do. That’s an umbrella thought – being in love and affect on health. My cousin lost her husband a year ago. Her doctor told her, now the single mother of 2 pre-school children, to exercise 1.5hrs a day. The best defense for combating illness. “You can afford a sick day now. Not one.” As for emails, you claim to love answering them, yet your inbox must have 2200 unanswered by now! Mark Cuban’s “old habit” – immediate responses to inbox. Try it! Hope you stay healthy and active and in love up to and through your 90’s!

  • Guest

    Given your history it’s a wonder you’re alive!  It’s enough to kill a horse.  I’ve found myself naturally changing in the same direction as you after having one cold after another last winter – Narry a sniffle this year :-)  Somehow affirming to read your parallel experience.  No going back, is there?

  • Carsten Hucho

    Great – and true, and great read :)
    At first I thought you must have been inspired by my own post about how Justin Bieber falsely correlates with influenca, but nope, your trigger was: you didn’t catch a cold in many years. Neither did I – and I follow almost the exact steps as you do, except for one.
    And yes, you will live to 90 and become healthier on the way ;)

  • For several years we’ve been following the same sleeping / eating pattern that you follow.  Big meal before 3:00 pm.  Then a fast until breakfast then next morning.  In bed by 8:00 pm.  Up before 4:00 am. 

    I get more done from 4 – 6:00 am than I do the rest of the day. 

    The body needs time to rest and remove all the crap.   I believe the long fast, between 3:00 pm and breakfast, is one key to achieving that removal. 

    The New York Times Well Blog had a great story yesterday on why exercise is also key to achieve this cleansing. 


  • Wash your hands and dry with paper towels. 
    Don’t touch your mouth,eyes, nose with your own hands unless they were just washed.
    Teach your children washing their hands is as important as brushing their teeth, start when they are very young.

    People are filthy beasts.  Door knobs, restaurants, public places and items in public are loaded with bateria and germs……you know that section of the shopping cart were little kids sit?……some of those kids have leaky diapers.  The next person puts their cantaloupe or eggs there and has to handle them several more times…..so gross.

    I’d say skip fast food places (all of them are disgusting) before I gave up an nice glass of red wine……

    Happy Thursday!

    • tom

      I dont agree with this number girl.  I believe hands wear out.  I don’t wash my hands and mine are as soft as a teenagers.  My wife washes hers constantly and has the hands of a 90 year old.  I’ve come to prefer my hands in many ways.

      • Your reply makes me laugh in a good way.   Funny.

        re: you wife’s 90 year-old hands – maybe added hydration and organic moisturizers would help. Commercial moisturizer are very bad for skin loaded with chemicals that attack skin cells. 

      • BBH

        Haha.. that’s funny. Does your hair also wear out? How about other parts of the body? 

        I suggest you to use microscope to see how many bacteria you have on your hands. I guarantee you don’t care if they ”wear out” – you want them cut off immediately. 

        I wash my hands probably 5-10+ times per day. Whenever I go outside and return home, I wash them first thing. And you can see the dirt… you can see the soup changing color. And you say we should just get it off by touching our eyes, mouth and what not? Yaiks!

        • BBH

          soap, not soup. My bad! 

          (Not a native English speaker)

  • James, wait until you try Tai Chi! I have done Yoga [Hatha] for 30 years, but I have to say that for noticeable effects on both mind and body, it does not compare to Tai Chi. Plus you get to learn an actual martial art- how cool is that? regards, onebornfree

    • Can you elaborate?

      • Onebornfree

        Sorry but I do not have the  time at this moment. regards, onebornfree.

  • Anonymous

    How much sleep you require depends on the gene DEC2. Some people have a mutated version of this gene and can therefore get by on as little as 5 hours of sleep a day. 
    I agree with your approach of “shutting down” by stepping away from the computer, as this enables natural sleeping rhythms. I find 6 to be a little too early for this though. I believe 8 to be a better time. According to Wikipedia, 9pm is when natural Melatonin (sleep hormone) secretion starts. I also sleep naturally approximately 7 hours though and I don’t really like getting up before 6am, so should you be an exception and require more sleep, it makes sense to shutdown earlier.
    As far as excercise is concerned, I believe that everybody should atleast go for a 20-30 minute walk every day. That should be the minimum. If on top of that you can manage 3 Yoga sessions a week, that should lead to a very healthy life.
    I absolutely agree on weight control through proper eating. Nutrition should always come first when looking for a healthy lifestyle.

  • i recommend a scratching post with sisal rope (attack it at least three times a day). regular naps. and a clean litter box. i suffer from the occasional hairball, but nothing major.

    • Use the untreated sisal rope; the treated stuff can give you infections of your claws.  Careless cat servants (aka “people” or “humans” or “pet owners”) sometimes make that mistake.  You have to keep a close eye on your humans; they aren’t always terribly bright.

  • “But I don’t have much compassion for the media. I think the media just
    tries to make money by scaring people. So I don’t watch or read any
    news.”  SERIOUSLY.  The mister was getting mentally ill recently until I advised him to sharply curtain his consumption of news (for which he was and is a recovering junkie.)  Key word:  “junk.”  Fill your mind with garbage, deal with the consequences.  Constant bad news is not good mind food.  If there’s something pressing that we really need to know, it’ll filter through and we’ll hear about it.  But no one needs a steady diet of learning about every unfortunate happenstance all over the world.

    Alcohol certainly does rob you of quality sleep.  Sleep that takes place while under any influence of alcohol isn’t “real sleep.”  You will wake up robbed of the refreshment you should have gotten.  I used to be a quasi-abstainer but not anymore, since I read and became convinced that those who indulge in a very limited fashion (very, very, light, but regular intake) live longer, and risks of certain maladies are reduced.  Causative relationships are unclear.   Do your own risk/benefit analysis, of course.  Everyone is different.

    If you do get a cold, it’ll be mild.  I just bragged that we were getting through the winter with nothing, and a virus promptly steamrolled through this house.  But those of us taking care of our health got the mildest version of it.  Colds when you’re healthy are like a 2 on the 1-10 intensity scale where 10 is the worst kind of miserable, debilitating cold.

  • James, You really cracked me up  with “I don’t need more loosening.”  
    I’d agree with you overall, but put exercise right up there in importance. Along with what 736Hundred says (wash your hands, don’t touch your mucus membranes, especially after going on the subway or whatever). I also don’t watch the news, which means that when something terrible (9/11) happens, I am doubly susceptible to the fear hype. But I bear that in mind and try only to watch just long enough to get the info.I do read the NYTimes, especially Health/Science–from which I derived my personal mantra: It is almost always better to exercise. So. Lots of advice you didn’t ask for. 

    • I laughed at the “I don’t need more loosening” too! It’s nice to hear from other people that don’t hinge their every waking moment on news. I struggle with wanting to know what’s going on in the world with the fact that staying current takes away from my time to create. I don’t want to be an observer in life, I want to be a DOER but it’s tough to find balance. Maybe I need to learn more about balance.

  • Bjv1979

    I’d love to hear more about your drinking days! 

  • Hungrybrain

    ” I advise all more spiritual natures to abstain absolutely from
    alcohol. Water answers the same purpose. I prefer those places where
    there are numerous opportunities of drinking from running brooks as at
    Nice, Turin, Sils, where water follows me wherever I turn…..” Nietzsche

    …..The Nietzsche diet:
    1. Don’t eat Geman food.

    2. Don’t drink alcohol.

    3. Eat a good sized meal.

    4. Don’t snack.

    5. Don’t drink coffee.

    6. Tea is okay.

    7. So is hot chocolate.

    8. Take walks.

    9. Don’t live in Germany.  ?

    10. Read.

    I googled ‘Nietzsche alcohol’ and found much–Nietzsche wrote much about nutrition

    • There are people I look to for lifestyle advice, but Nietzsche would not be one of them. :)

      • J

        Indeed! :o)  

  • Hungrybrain

    James–“Red Wine And Heart Health Researcher, Accused Of Falsifying Data” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/12/science/fraud-charges-for-dipak-k-das-a-university-of-connecticut-researcher.html?_r=1

  • I would say sleep is the most important thing, followed by water; if you drink alcohol or coffee, you need to take care of yourself by making sure you’re hydrated. After that, I’d say emotional health is also critical (minimizing stress and anger, avoiding the “crappy people”, etc.). Diet and exercise are somewhere after that.

    The point, though, is that all of us are different. Whether it’s diets, levels of alcohol consumption, or exercise regimens, what might be right for you may not be right for some. What you do seems to work for you, but I also rarely get sick, so I’m pretty happy with my regimen: running a few miles almost every day, sleeping 8-9 hours a night, no caffeine after 10am, and a diet centered around lean meats, vegetables, water and beer (also, no processed foods; I do all my own cooking), with everything in moderation. And yes, I watch as little news as possible.

  • PullTheTrigger


    How much caffeine do you drink per day?

  • I’m with you on all of those post-May 2009 points. I’m the same way – have only had a bad chest cough once in the past 3-4 years. Keep up the great work and stay healthy!

  • Great post!! Its the same here.. foodie, love sleeping! need to pics a few things from here. Saraswathis classes are sure helping :)

  • I hope you’re right on target with this post.  Since last April I’ve lost about 35 pounds of the weight I gained all through my 30’s.  My eating habits, although not as spartan as yours, are so much better now than they were last decade.  We created a home workout room which I use 7 days a week, and I go to bed no later than 9 and I’m up by 5 to meditate before my workout.

    Purging news and negativity is the most difficult part of my practice, but I’m working to change how I think about things when I can’t simply avoid them.

    Thanks for sharing your successes and failures with us as honestly as you do.  I hope you’ll write something more in-depth about your trip to India.  Where(ish) did you go, how did you find the person or people you’re studying yoga with, and about how much did your trip cost?  I ask not to be nosy, but because it’s interesting and I might like to make a trip to that part of the world to study Buddhism one day.

  • I love this post. LOVE it. I just started “getting ready for bed” around 8 because I realized that I needed 2 hours to wind down before sleep, and if I wanted to be asleep by 10, that’s when I need to do it. And I love it so much that I might start doing the winding down around 7 so I can get in bed by 9. I feel so good when I get enough rest, and I’m slowly learning how to make this a more regular part of my schedule. Also working on eating healthier. I’ve been following your advice about not eating late and that helps me get to bed and sleep better — thank you! Working on the other parts of the practice. It makes me realize how hard it is to DO. 99% is just showing up, that’s tough! Thank you for inspiration because I honestly am leaning very hard on your blog these days and greatly appreciate the wisdom.

  • me

    Funny — am also back in the dating world and one prospective partner
    stays up all hours of the night and I’m wondering hmmm, do I really want
    to date someone who won’t go to bed early like me? 

  • Silver Shield KILLS viral, bacterial, mold, & fungal, even parasitic infections in 6 minutes. I haven’t had a cold or flu since 2008 when i started to first use it almost daily! http://healthavenues.com for anyone that would like to check out Silver Shield. It is Patented, EPA & FDA approved and is non-toxic.I am a Certified Neuromuscular Therapist and cannot afford to miss work. The only time I lost time from work was when I sprained my finger, in which I used Silver Shield to bring down the inflammation, and keep it manageable while healing. A family member used Silver Shield to SUCCESSFULLY KILL CANCER! without traditional treatment! They just went for testing before and after. After just a few months of using Silver Shield, Karmanos found absolutely NO TRACE OF THE CANCER!

  • I swear by 1000mg of vitamin C twice a day. The exercise and alcohol things are probably good ideas too.

    Ever read “Infinite Jest”? It’s an 800 page slog but as an addictive type person myself it describes the whole package.

  • As far as exercise goes… try Active Isolated Stretching! it is much safer and effective on the muscles than yoga!  Yoga can actually wreck your body! http://neuromuscularretraining.com is my page for Active Isolated Stretching and Strengthening!

    Too many people have hidden ticking time bombs to put them directly into strength training! This is how injuries occur! An effective flexibility program before strengthening is recommended to prepare the muscles with proper circulation. Yoga tends to put the body in static poses instead of creating movement in the body! Muscles are meant to create MOVEMENT!

  • “But exercise is not even a good way to control weight. Only eating is (in my opinion, which is totally unprofessional and anecdotal).”….AMEN!
    I always get a sideways glance when I tell people the same thing. This gal lost 20 pounds in 20 days without a lick of exercise.  Cutting out processed carbs, sugar and caffeine from my diet and eating nothing but meat, cheese and veggies and the weight just came off.  This came from the advice of Julien Smith ( same guy that brought me to your blog) Another AMEN!

    Then I started running. I’ve done 2 half marathons since then and that has been a year ago. I’ve only lost 10 more pounds in that time and know that if I went back on the no carb diet I could peel some more pounds off pretty fast. So if you wanna lose the weight and see quick results diet, diet, diet.

    • Sure it’s the quick way but like all quick ways it’s unsustainable and is worse for you in the long run. Losing weight by cutting out essential food groups (carbohydrate to humans is like the fuel that goes in a car) is reactive short term thinking that’s more in line with giving into stress. This goes against what James is saying about being healthy (or anyone).

      The trick to losing weight is not by cutting out food groups, but by maintaining a balance of all groups and eating small regular portions instead of large spaced out portions. It’s what every credible nutritionist has been saying for decades but it’s not “revoltuionary” enough and is quite boring, so it doesn’t sell books.

      Maybe your car can run on lemon juice in the short term but in the long run it’ll get very sick…

      • Point taken that a restrictive diet is unsustainable in the long run (lifetime).  I’d go mad if I cut out carbs forever. A 30-pounds-lighter Amanda is healthier than a 30-pounds-heaver Amanda no matter how you look at it.  Also, I haven’t put any of the weight back on after reintroducing carbs to my diet.  I did however gain a ton of energy, positive body image and got rid of heart palpitations as a result of the weight loss so I’d say it’s a pretty good “trick” and I personally am healthier.

        • Liz

          Am I missing something here?  Eating lots of vegetables can lead to a significant carb intake (albeit a “good” one).  My guess is that it was/is the lectins and/or gluten in other carb sources (and casein, in milk products) that kept the weight on for you.  

          • Gallery42002

            Many people with gluten problems are skinny – because they cannot absorb their food properly.  

          • Liz

            Interesting–I didn’t realize this can happen too, as the only folks I know who are gluten-intolerant are morbidly obese.  I guess this (obesity) may be another side effect, albeit for a different reason.  I’m no expert but I liked this post:  

          • note my post said I cut out processed carbs

      • Carbohydrates are probably the least essential nutrients as the body can make its own if it has to. The car analogy is pretty crude, the human body is much more sophisticated than a combustion engine. A car certainly won’t run on lemon juice or on an empty tank. 

        Maintaining the balance and eating the commonly recommended 5 small meals is stressful. Most people barely have time for 2 meals a day. If you then have to juggle ingredients to match some food pyramid that nutritionists (most of which have no background in science or research) came up with you are spending half your day thinking about food. 

        It’s better to find something simple that works and that you can stick to without pressuring yourself. Intermittent fasting is such an example. 

        Always trying to be healthy and do healthy things is probably unhealthy ;) 

  • I agree with you about weight control. A friend of mine gives me a lot of shit because I don’t go to the gym or run but I am still thinner than her. She is very insistent that I’m only thin because of genetics (despite having met both of my overweight parents). I do get exercise, I just hate treadmills and stair masters. And I only run if I’m being chased. But I find ways to weave less awful forms of exercise into my day. Still, my weight changes if my eating habits go haywire for a little while and doesn’t vary with my exercise levels.

    That said, my muscle tone was far more impressive when I was dancing four to five days a week.

    If you ever do feel a cold coming on go immediately to the grocery store and buy the following: honey, lemons, cayenne pepper. Heat up some water, pour in some honey, squeeze half a lemon in and add as much cayenne pepper as you can stand. Do this four or five times a day. This is how I’ve been avoiding colds for about four years. There is a bunch of scientific reasons for each of the ingredients but I won’t bore you with all of that. I’ll just say you have to use the cayenne even if you don’t like spicy.

  • James, I tweet & FB LIKE your articles because I like them, they may help others & it’s the least I can do to give you something back.

  • Ha! After my wife and I watched the Help I made fried chicken the next day! It’s not that bad if you make it at home (but its not health food for sure). Love the information about alcohol….great blog….

  • Drewsit

    The simplest most effective way to never get a cold (or lessen it’s severity) is to take sufficient amounts of Vitamin d.  To figure out the level requires a simple blood test, but most people need at least 5000mg a day.  Much more than generally recommended.  

    I’ve been taking 4000 – 8000mg a day for 5 years and haven’t even had as much as the sniffles.  There are many other beneficial benefits also.

  • Penny

    You’re so right about sleeping.  I can sleep 10 hours or more.  And I feel great.  I used to say, “I can handle anything if I get enough sleep”. It’s true.

    As for the perfect exercise, I think I’ll side with running.  Look at the greatest yoga teachers like Jois and Iyengar.  In their 80s both men had big bellies.  Neither one looked like an athlete at that point in their lives.

    Now look up some photos of John Kelly  He won the Boston Marathon twice, and finished in second place 7 times.  His last marathon was at 86.  This is what a really fit person looks like in old age.

    But alas, most people can’t run all their lives.  They wear running shoes and it destroys them.  But I’ve been running in minimal shoes (actually beach slippers) and it’s pure joy again.

  • lilpappy

    I was told by my pediatrician when my 1st child was 1 year old that there were a finite (150-170) known cold viruses and that kids averaged 10 colds a year for their first 10 years.  This leaves 50-70 more to be exposed to through the rest of your life.

    So, all of us should get fewer colds as we age.

    Caveat, I never fact checked the pediatrician.  It is my rationale for putting my kids into daycare so they could be exposed to as many colds as possible before they started school.

  • What are A, B, and C?

    • Mogray

       They are the first three letters of the alphabet.

  • Buzz McCool

    Don’t you think this has something to do with no longer living with school age children full time?

  • very nice!

  • ” Moderate drinkers tend to have better health and live longer than those who are either abstainers or heavy drinkers. In addition to having fewer heart attacks and strokes, moderate consumers of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and distilled spirits or liquor) are generally less likely to suffer strokes, diabetes, arthritis, enlarged prostate, dementia (including Alzheimer’s disease), and several major cancers.”

    Here is a link to the paper with 188 footnotes to corroborating studies: 


    I love your blog – it has changed my life – and for that I am grateful!

  • Smcerbone

    I love ya James; and if you’re healthier at 90 than you are now, you won’t die then, unless the proverbial bus comes along. . .  Maybe at 90 all of the healthy living will have gotten passe and you’ll decide it’s time to party hearty, drink til dawn, consume all carbs, and laugh at the thought of sleep.  As for the stress, you won’t care because, well, you’re 90, and the only stress will be re: when you’ll die.

    But I believe everything you said in this post to be true.

  • James,
    You also found love which could be a big factorin improving your health.Happiness has emotional and physical health benefits.

  • On second thought…since joy is more stable than happiness,
    I would say living a more joyful life has made you healthier.

  • Anonymous

    It’s Thursday, here’s a question: what if the crappy person is your 17 year old kid?

    • Kids are only little adults (like all of us wounded by whatever over time) that express themselves more openly and honestly……try to find the core of the problem and maybe your crappy 17 year-old can live a better life in the future……

      Obviously an opinion, (and maybe not welcomed) but 17 is such a young and raw age I hate to think someone has judged someone so young.

  • Onebornfree

    To follow up on my previous comment, and as others here have noted in the past, Yoga is not a competition, either with yourself or with anyone else.  As you have repeatedly mentioned profuse sweating, post yoga soreness etc. it seems obvious to me that you are trying way to hard, either because of a bad teacher or because of your own competitive nature. You will progress a lot faster if [counter intuitively] you stop trying to progress, and instead accept your bodies limitations and be happy to work within them, whatever they might be on any particular day. Regards, onebornfree.
    P.S. Tai Chi can really help with the whole relaxation/body awareness  thing, believe me.

  • All excellent reasons for why you may have been cold free for the past 3 years.

    Another reason may be related to your CNBC (non)appearances. From a health perspective, you’re far better off using your Skype hook-up than braving the elements and all the sickly people you would encounter working your way to the studio.

    Watching the Fast Money crew, one can only imagine some of the microbes that are floating around there.

  • rleue

    I haven’t been sick (other than allergies) for almost 6 years. No colds, flu or the like. I also get more sleep, no alcohol and quit going/doing things that I didn’t want to do in the first place. Just like you, I don’t even worry if those around me are sick… It just doesn’t happen to me any more. (BTW, I avoid flu shots.)

  • Dwhitesemail

    James, thanks for all your advice. I really enjoy your writing, it’s refreshing and honest.
    May you continue to enjoy good health in 2012!


  • i had a cold problem that was as bad as yours, if not worse. i solved it very simply: cold showers. no matter how cold it is outside. started one summer, and then kept up at it all year round, ever since. i have never been in any place colder than 2-3 degrees C, so not sure what i’d do then, but i have been cold-free for about 10 years now.

  • This article is right on the money!  I would add only my recommendation that everyone read “The Paleo Sollution” by Robb Wolf and/or Google “the paleo solution”.  When we eat as we were designed to eat, we live better, longer lives.  Check it out; it took 30 pounds off my waist in six months and brought my blood pressure down from the High range to the athletic 112/72 range where it has remained ever since.

  • jerome

    I love your advice James!  But I also love drinking alcohol and staying up late… hmmmmm

  • Me

    I haven’t been sick from anything in at least five years (except food poisoning one time from a fast food joint). I drink some alcohol every evening. I do not get depressed, even though I keep up with the dismal news of current events, although I am also an amateur student of history so I can take it in context and not freak out (except for what I perceive to be the very real risk of impending world-wide economic cataclysm). Regardless, I do not suffer from stress. I sleep soundly, eight hours every night. I do not watch my diet. I do not take vitamins. I do not exercise. I used to smoke three packs a day. I am also overweight. I am not spiritual in any way. However, I am a happy person with great morals. So pretty much, I am not a healthy person by anyone’s standards… except I don’t get sick, for some reason…

    I can’t tell you how to be “healthy”, but I am going to share with you how to not be diseased:

    Wash your hands.

    Other humans carry and spread disease. If you touch anything that they have touched, and you subsequently touch your facial area before you wash your hands, you are exposing yourself to the diseases which they are spreading, inadvertently.

  • Robert Michaels

    I haven’t been in a car accident in the last 14 years!  You know why?

    1) I get lots of sleep before driving
    2) I drink lots of water before driving and not alcohol

    3) I don’t eat cheeseburgers and fries while driving
    4) I don’t use my laptop, iPhone, or ham radio while driving
    5) I don’t read the newspaper while driving
    6) I don’t do Yoga while driving

    Is that it?  Yep!
    Well maybe one other thing:

    7) I’ve been really damn lucky

  • Anonymous

    Lilpappy had it right: by now you have caught all (or most of) the cold viruses there are. You now have antibodies for most of them.

    You are doing good stuff for your immune system, though, and that gives you a leg up. More sleep, more exercise, benevolence, spiritual balance, and less stress (for a lot of reasons you listed). Did I miss something?

  • James-Zero Hedge said BAC and MS were going bankrupt –what happened? People love those doomsday sites. ZHIs like some religious cult. The only person I listen to regarding stocks is ME and you—and u don’t even talk about stocks on this site–keep up the good work!

  • Anonymous

    I didnt have a cold/flu for years, and I too was cocky about it because I was eating healthy and following a more raw/alkaline lifestyle.  The truth is, during that time, I was sleeping more, I had more money/freedom than I ever had previously and I was paying attention to my health.  In the last 6 months I have been sick twice.  I lost a ton of money, I have been in some terribly stressful situations and as a result, sleep has been worthless.  Even though I tried to stay on the same diet, other things snuck in, I was drinking more caffeine and alcohol, and I definitely distracted myself with all of the bullshit on TV and the news.

    Who knows what the answer is, but clearly, there is no one size fits all remedy here.  I know, through my own experience, that for me, I am healthier when I am mentally at peace and well rested.  I also know that I am healthier when I watch what I put in my mouth.  When my mind is able to pay attention to those things, I know that it isn’t distracted by all the other crap I get myself into.

    I really want to try yoga – not sure where to start.  I peeked into a yoga class at my health club and there’s no way in hell I would embarrass myself by stepping into a class yet.  Perhaps I will try a dvd or something first – any recommendations?

  • I suspect you just have a healthy immune system.  It makes sense that a healthy lifestyle can improve it – or at the very least keep it functioning.

    Exercise: check! Diet: check! Sleep: check! Stress management: check!

  • Ted Po

    I have had just the opposite effect with alcohol. I would get chronic bronchits and sinusitis from the from the ages 16-23. Since I have been drinking moderately, I have not been sick with anything, even when people around me are dropping like flies with all kinds of ugly stuff. Not exactly a scientific case study, and I agree alcohol has man harmful effects, but lets look at the other side: there is without a doubt SOME good, even if the bad may outweigh it..

    Also, “roughing” a sickness out and not taking an meds, especially antibiotics, I believe has strengthened my immune system more than anything else.

    Medicine in America is no longer medicine because the doctors do not address illness or health. They mask symptoms with drugs.

  • I haven’t been ill for over 2 decades.  I smoke, drink, chase women, enjoy drugs and alcohol/great food, snow ski, lift weights, run sprints…most important, work as little as possible.

  • BillNM

    I’m pushing 78 and have never smoked, drank a beer, or used any drugs including prescription medicines.  No goodee two shoes – just revered my Creator and respected His creation.  I play tennis three or four times a week three hours at a stretch in weather up to 110 degrees F.

    But, if I tried to do what your lady did in that picture, it would kill me!

  • Henkiolento1

    I have not had a cold in 4+ years. I sleep on average 9 hours a day, exercise regularly and eat a mostly whole grain-vegetable diet with about zero red meat. I also retired 3 years ago which means my stress level was cut in half and I control stress as much as possible.

  • Broutos_190

    Stress and eating habits are so crucial with respect to catching cold and health in general.

    One thing you may have missed is sex. It has been shown/suggested that the act of sex (or frequency, can’t remember) boosts the immune system!

  • Glen Rubin

    I only eat lettuce…I don’t feel so good…I don’t understand it!

  • Desertrat

    Close enough, Deutcher.  My boozing has always been sporadic, but I’ve never given a lot of thought to it.I don’t do drugs, and I’ve done more sorta-casual physical work instead of “exercise” and weight-lifting.  The avocation of working on cars works the upper body pretty good, and walking-hunting keeps the legs in shape.

    Somewhere near grammaw’s notions of “balanced diet” works as good as any.  If pants get snug, eat less.  If pants get loose, eat more.  No big deal. Sometimes heavy on veggies; sometimes heavy on meat.  Sometimes a truly decadent dessert serves as a meal.

    News is information for profit.  Going 180º to CNBC has been quite profitable.

    I gave up stress for Lent, long years ago.  Never got it back.

    I’m 77, and I can’t even recall ever having a cold.  Haven’t had perfect health, but I never used health insurance before age 69…

    People believe all sorts of stuff.  If it works for them, fine.  That doesn’t make it good advice for others.

  • Faye

    I was physically exhausted and constantly ill until I got a CPAP.  Now that I really sleep, my health is great, no colds, no nothing.  Owe it all to good sleep.

  • Listentome

    Here’s an easier way to avoid colds, flu and any other bug going around.  Take 25,000 mg. of Vitamin D-3 everyday!  It works! 

    • Liz

      Yes, this definitely works–base on my personal experience.  I’ve been severely ill for the past several winters (for weeks/months at a time with the flu), and this year, having changed little else except for my Vitamin D (and concurrent butterfat vitamin consumption) have not even had a slight cold.

  • Bazzy Bazon

    It seems as you stress a bit and obsess about too much. I haven’t been ill for 28 years and there is one simple secret to staying well. Certainly the exercise and the need for sleep is essential but the only basic thing is to maintain an alkaline body pH chemistry level at above 7.2 – 7.3. This is based on the alkaline diet (acid – alkaline philosophy of Linus Pauling) If your body is alkaline – plain and simple you won’t become ill. The body heals itself well based on the orthomolecular medical protocol of enough nutrients present in you system. I have never taken so much as an aspirin. You’ll probably live longer if you exercise but and as long as you maintain an alkaline level you can cheat and consume a few acid forming foods a little like beer and pizza. Life is too short not to have a beer and a little pizza. 

  • Doug Nusbaum

    well duh!!!.   And if we were all identical do you or close to it, then your regimine might work for all of us.  But we are not.  Each person has to work out what works for them.  I would recommend  the book 4 hour body.   You can also go to my site and click on the health link dnusbaum.com

    In the last 40 years I have been bed-ridden twice for more than one day.  I do get sick, but for me that consists only of being tired for a day and sleeping a lot.  No other symptoms.  No cold medicine.  No mucous(sp?)

  • I used to like your pre-2009, catch cold every two month, but since 2008, I was converted to a runner, I only have cold once every year – pretty good. 

  • Posture, you really need to watch your posture, and different postural distortions! I am talking about more than just SLOUCHING! There is Forward Head Posture, Forward Rotated Shoulders, Anterior (forward) pelvic tilt, posterior pelvic tilt, lateral pelvic tilt, of course there is different variations of scoliosis, functional short leg, pigeon-toed(inversion of feet), duck-foot (pronation/eversion)(also most common foot posture)… This is the short list of posture distortions!

    When your body has posture distortion, this causes constant undue STRESS on not only the muscles, but the tendons, ligaments, fascia (body-wide network of connective tissues), bones, organs and their systems including the heart and digestive systems. it puts pressure on nerves from not only the bones but connective tissues as well place extreme pressures on nerves such as the sciatic nerve, the largest nerve in the body! It literally is the width of your thumb!

    When your body is constantly bombarded with this type of stress, it will affect physiological functions like digestion!

    I perform posture assessments in my office, before I ever work on clients, by taking a picture of them in front of my posture assessment grid chart. A picture says a thousand words when it comes to your posture!

    If you’d like to work on your posture through very specific soft tissue manipulation & corrective exercises, and you are in Michigan, here is my web site: http://neuromusculartherapist.com


  • amy

    You can add meditation to your list because if you’re doing yoga, you’re doing breathing exercises and clearing the mind… which is meditation. 

  • BrianBalk

    Your comment about food being #1 variable matches my anecdotal experience.  Only time I lost weight consistently was when I controlled my diet, ate less overall and fewer carbs especially.  And I wasn’t doing anything else different, i.e., really not exercising beyond everyday activity.

  • BrianBalk

    I think you’ve left out an important factor – your positive mental attitude.  The way you use your mind has changed.  I believe that has a big impact on the body, including your ability to fight disease.

  • Percebois

    it is good to exercise well before lunch. The heart is already functionning well, so no body stress like sport at 6 in the morning. Exercising before lunch makes the lungs bigger, and strengtens the muscles around the stomac. As a result of the pressure on the stomac, you are just less hungry.