Hacking Health: A Journey to Living Longer

Part 1: Everyone Has A Different Journey

Everyone’s body is different and things that work for one may not work for others however everyone has the same makeup on what makes a difference and that's calories. Calories are the fundamental most important tracker for you and your body. Without an understanding of what you are putting in your body, you cannot baseline how much your body needs and what you need to drop weight, sustain weight, or gain weight. For me, my journey is very different — in 2013, I had tried everything. I was morbidly obese, I had heart surgery for A-Fib due to my weight, I was pre-hypertension, and I knew that if I didn’t make a change and soon,

Part 2: The Most Important Part. Nutrition.

Our body uses things in different ways. Let’s take the Keto diet as an example. What Keto is doing is severely limiting carbohydrates so that our body turns into a fat-burning machine. The way that Keto works is through a method called Ketosis which when your body goes into a deficit of carbohydrates, it uses fat as a primary source of burning for energy. Protein also is used as an energy source once the fat methods are exhausted. That’s what most people want right? To lose weight and get to the desired goal that you have in mind. When you eat high fat and high proteins you also are full faster versus pounding carbohydrates which if aren’t used for energy burn turn directly into fat.

My BMR and TDEE are automatically calculated based on my height, weight, age, and activity levels.
Note that this will change for you based on your activity levels and measurements.
Image Source: https://baltimorefishbowl.com/stories/weekly-wellness-tip-by-fit-for-you-a-pound-of-muscle-vs-a-pound-of-fat/

Part 3: Macros, Muscles, and Counting Calories

This section here was always something that I never understood. I mean not at all. I wish in school or the Marines, or personal trainers focused solely on the previous section and this next section here because it’s literally the foundation of how to live your life. This is where we throw out all diets completely, and we now focus on how to eat for the rest of your life. This program here will completely give a structure to you on how you can get to a point that you are happy with and understand what’s actually happening to give you a template to build off of. In the previous section, we learned how to understand what our body needs, and in order for us to lose weight what type of calories we need in order to shed a pound or two per week. Now let’s talk about how you actually do this.

Here we can calculate our current age, weight, and height and use this to calculate our goals and objectives for weight loss including our macro breakdown of foods.
Water intake amount specifically for me, yours will vary based on activity and weight.

Part 4: Sleep

Your body needs sleep in order to repair itself. This was one of the most challenging things for me when I started this process. I get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night now, but on average I am getting 8 hours or more. Sleep is one of the biggest things you can do lifestyle change wise to help your body repair. Without it, our mind and body do not function at a normal rate and will start to decline short, mid, and long-term.

Part 6: Counting Calories Primer

MyFitnessPal (MFP) is probably one of the easiest things to do. You can set your goal percentages in the app as well as track everything you do. What I do, is right before I eat something, I enter it into the app first, then eat. I also try to plan my day if I can on what I’m going to eat, but that isn’t always necessary. Here’s a breakdown of how to track calories in MFP. I would recommend getting the Premium version as it allows you to set goals and set calorie intake per day. Makes all of the math a lot easier.

Here we can see my meal breakdown as well as calories for the day and remaining count.
Options to add food, exercise, water, and more.
Keeping track of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks is important to understand your eating habits.
Here we can see the things I normally eat, or I can search for others.
Here we have a few options, create our own, scan barcode, quick add, and more.
In this example, my goal is 40% protein, 30% carbs, 30% fat.

Part 7: Walking and Steps

It’s important to incorporate things like steps into your daily routine. Every single day you should get in steps and track your steps. Moving around helps your body repair as well as shave additional calories. Walking is fantastic for you and easy to do! I recommend at least 10,000 steps a day as a goal and tracking that. There is a free app on iPhone Pedometer which you can use to incorporate into your Apple Watch that will track steps for you as well as other fitness trackers like FitBit. Steps are an important part of you being active, and just as an example, an hour-long walk can burn more than 300 calories putting you further into your caloric deficit.

Part 8: Wearable Technology

I’m personally a huge fan of Whoop. I like fitness wearables because they provide a substantial amount of information about your body as well as how well of a recovery you have had. Whoop tracks things into strain and recovery. The strain is how much strain you put your body through a day, and the recovery is how well your body is rested in order to introduce additional strain (workouts) for your body. It helps prioritize how hard you should be pushing yourself and bases it on a number of factors including heart rate, resting heart rate, heart rate variability, hours of, and sleep.

My total sleep time and sleep disturbances.
Recovery plays a big role in how well our body is ready for exercise and our intensity.
HRV and RHR are great indications of how our body is doing.
Strain shows us how hard we’ve worked out for the day.

Part 9: Pre-Workout vs. Post-Workout

Working out has a number of different purposes. Do you want to be skinny and fit? Do you want to look like Arnold? Each of these body types requires different workout routines and ways to shape and morph your body into what you want it to be. If your goal is weight loss and to be “fit”, your main goal is going to simply be caloric deficits. You can add cardio into the mix which means you are burning more calories and puts you in an even more caloric deficit to lose weight while improving your overall health.

Part 10: Workout Routine and Personal Trainers

Here is an area that I would highly recommend seeking an online (or in-person) personal trainer or coach if you can. Someone that can develop programs for you and keep you accountable. I personally use an individual named Ben Canning at https://www.bc.training/. This has worked for me and has a structured program to keep me on track including tracking my calorie intake, macros, and a system designed to help show your progress over time. In addition, Ben does a great job of keeping everyone motivated and is reachable at any time. The perks of an online trainer are they help develop programs custom to you and your progress. This is an area that I was fairly weak in and having an online trainer has really helped me grow and progress over time.

Part 11: Trigger Foods

Trigger foods are the foods that we are weak towards that cause us to overeat or break our caloric intake. These could be ice cream, donuts, pizza, or other truly amazing and delicious foods. I would recommend that you cut out trigger foods completely out of your lifestyle. They are the main reason you are here. If you think you can manage trigger foods and only eat a certain amount that is still within your caloric deficit breakdown of macros, then by all means continue to do so. For me, my trigger food is pizza. I have largely cut pizza out of my diet and if I do eat pizza, I do it without the bread and just eat the cheese and meats on top. Seldomly and counting the calories.

Part 12: Testosterone Replacement Therapy

One thing to get tested for, especially as you get into your 30s and beyond is how much testosterone your body is producing (men). Many people are at a severe testosterone deficit and absolutely could be the reason for how hard it is for you to lose weight, gain muscle mass, and most importantly your energy levels. There are online tests that you can do to check (blood tests) where your testosterone levels are. TRT is not steroids. Testosterone is a naturally occurring hormone in your body and as we get older, these levels drop significantly. By boosting them up, you can maximize your body’s ability for muscle growth, weight loss, and maximum energy levels.

Part 13: Starting the Journey

For me, my journey was 315 pounds. Now I’m at 200. I’m trying now to build more muscle and mass and strength to fine-tune my body into areas that I’ve never seen before. I’m now in the best shape of my life including when I was in the military. It’s been an amazing transformation and something that can be done by anyone out there with enough motivation to be healthier for the rest of their life.

Dave in 2012 watching TV with some spiffy 3D glasses. 300lbs.
At a conference with some great friends, 290lbs.
Doing everything I could to lose weight. The start of my journey, 2013.
Week 0 — can see very little muscle definition and a lot of clear fat.
7 weeks later you can see muscle definition, especially in the abs and obliques.
Week 10. I still have a long road to go, but clear muscle definition in a lot of parts of my body.

Part 14: How To Start

Instructional steps on how to get started on this plan:

  • Start by determining what weight you want to be (this can change over time).
  • Calculate your caloric intake that is needed for weight loss here: https://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html
  • From the calculator input, use the macro calculator to get a good breakdown of your macronutrients needed for sustained weight loss. Focus on high protein: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/nutrition-calculator#calculator
  • Download MyFitnessPal and potentially Whoop if you want a wearable tracker.
  • Get familiar with the apps, how to use them, and interact with them in your daily lives. Start by tracking your food and the calories you intake. Do not cheat yourself. Log everything.
  • Consider an online personal trainer to help you structure this and to keep you motivated.
  • Take pictures of yourself in underwear to show your legs and upper body, both front and back, and do this every single week.
  • Track your weight daily as well as other relevant data such as body measurements — upper arm, shoulders, chest, waist, quads, hips, etc (measurements once a week).
  • Start on your calorie plan and build a workout routine. Remember that cardio will put you in a greater caloric deficit at first, but less on muscle building whereas lifting will gain more muscle, but less of a caloric deficit. Combining both as well as walking is a great recipe.
  • Focus on your mindset! You will get there, be patient, and be strong.

Part 15: Wrapping Things Up

Remember, if you take away just a few things here that are the most important out of all of this, remember these key concepts. Below is a breakdown of a lot of things we already talked about as well as expanding on how to get started above.


https://www.amazon.com/Own-Day-Your-Life-Optimized/dp/0062684078 — fantastic book on health, nutrients, macros, and getting into your mindset for changing your life.



This is the personal account of HackingDave, mostly sharing fitness stories and progress and maybe other things in the future. Not related anything security.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


This is the personal account of HackingDave, mostly sharing fitness stories and progress and maybe other things in the future. Not related anything security.