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.
The photo below was my “recovery medicines”. 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. Then my last cold was shortly after I met Claudia. 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
- its a poison so it has a lethal limit.
- 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.
- 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 Claudia and 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. I met Claudia in April, 2009 and she was really into yoga and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep up with her. I had an irrational fear she would eventually leave me for someone in better shape than me.
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 (Claudia laughs and says 2 but I’m writing this in India where I just did A LOT so I’m going to say it averages out to 3).
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.