Happy Crone Day

Sunni's picture

To me!

For anyone not understanding the reference, I wrote about this subject some time ago (although I had to re-create the page just now for the current CMS we use). I’ve finally hit 50. And I stand behind nearly all I wrote in that essay eight years ago.

The things I don’t stand behind? The only one that's really important is the idea that fitness has to be difficult. Since sometime in January or February, I’ve simply changed what I eat and when I eat it, and have joyfully (and astonishedly, I must say) watched at least 20 lb. worth of fat melt away. I say “at least 20” because, having gained some significant muscle mass during that time too, that has likely offset some of my fat loss. I’d wished to have a photo or two to show you seven of me at fifty—wearing a li’l black silk dress I bought at Limited Express circa 20 years ago—but I can’t. Not because I don’t fit into the dress yet—I do, and look better in it than I ever did before—but because I don’t have a photographer handy. The other thing worth mentioning is the bit about dyeing my hair ... just don’t see me doing that still.

I’m still a work in progress. I’d like to lose just a bit more fat ... I certainly have a lot of room for improvement in many other areas, as well (patience still comes to mind, for starters). But I am so happy to be 50 (an age my mother never reached) that I am very content with myself today, just the way I am.

Happy happy!

Long may you revel in your cronihood. Welcome to the wonderful 50's.

Happy Crone Day! and thank

Happy Crone Day!

and thank you
for, I dunno, your wise words and a different perspective


Happy Crone Day to you. May you celebrate many, many more birthdays, and may you always be happy with the work-in-progress.

Will you be sharing the details of what changes you made to your diet? I am very interested.

Diet details

But first off, thank you to everyone for your birthday wishes. I deeply appreciate them.

The very short form of my changes in eating habits is this: I follow a mostly paleo diet, and fast intermittently every day.

As I already keep processed foods to a minimum, my food changes focused mostly on shifting macronutrient ratios, minimizing my carbohydrate intake. I have drastically cut out sugar (especially white sugar) and flour, and have eliminated most grains (that includes corn) from my diet. The exception to that is white rice, as it doesn’t have the protein (or a close relative of it) that is problematic for many people. I eat a lot more vegetables, and get a good amount of protein every day, trying to get the best quality I can (grass-fed beef/bison, for example, and free-range eggs if I can afford them). To vary the proteins I get, I’m trying to ease in to eating organ meats, but so far that hasn’t gone very well. I’ve been using gelatin in yogurt-based smoothies and have found that it helps my aging-joint issues. I limit my fruit to berries, bananas, and occasional other fruits (apples appear to help reduce asthma symptoms, so I’ll eat those fairly regularly).

Other than butter, I consume only fermented or raw dairy, and full fat products. I do not cook with seed oils (so-called “vegetable” oils); I mostly use olive oil, coconut oil, and butter, with sesame oil being an occasional, flavorful indulgence.

I generally have a 16-hour fast every day, eating only during the remaining eight-hour window (for me that’s typically from noon to 8 p.m. every day). I try to eat only twice during that time—no snacking or grazing. This structure helps shift one’s hormonal balance to fat burning (search on leptin to learn more about this). It may sound like a difficult schedule to keep, but I adapted to it pretty easily and generally don’t feel hungry until noonish unless I’ve not eaten enough the night before. Anyone wanting to try this approach who’s eating frequent meals throughout the day should transition gradually, reducing the amount eaten during snacks and eventually eliminating them. Then, if necessary, the timing of meals can be shifted. (Frequent eating keeps insulin active, which promotes conversion of carbohydrates to fats, and fat storage. Sugar substitutes appear to also stimulate insulin in many people, which could be part of why those who consume a lot of calorie-free soft drinks nonetheless put on weight.)

All this said, I do not feel like I’m depriving myself of things I enjoy. If Lobo takes the family out for pizza, I’ll eat some pizza; but I won’t eat as much as I used to, filling myself more on salad. I have dark chocolate (85% cacao) regularly, but in smaller quantities than an entire bar. I enjoyed the desserts everyone requested of me on their birthdays (and, unbeknownst to them, successfully reduced the white sugar in almost all of the recipes), but have gotten out of the habit of making desserts regularly. I’ll eat good bread on occasion, but as I discovered that gluten triggers inflammation in me, it has to be really good bread. If someone makes pasta sauce for dinner, I’ll either eat it plain or sauté thinly sliced cabbage strips to substitute for pasta.

I still mostly do just karate for exercise, but I did add some upper-body exercise as a supplement. Those are hardly aerobic exercises: I do slow, deep pushups, five or six at a time; I hold planks for 60–90 s; and I’ve been working on achieving a pullup. I do these things 2–4 times a day, when I remember to do them. Depending upon how strictly one defines a full pullup, I might not be there yet (I can’t get my chin over the bar from a dead hang), but I’m very close. Oh, and as much as possible, I avoid sitting. I have a standing work station for my computer; that was another adjustment I needed to work to slowly, but I think it’s paid off nicely.


Sunni, as always you are an inspiration.

Although I'm not as disciplined as you, I've been making similar changes: stand-up desk at the office, a diet heavy on vegetables, more regular exercise, lots of stretching, etc. It feels good.

I've also been working on my posture, in part guided by reading a book by Esther Gokhale -- have you heard of her?

By the way, yesterday I finished the last of my Epicurus translations, his Letter to Menoeceus. I hope that your birthday was suitably Epicurean in the true sense of the word. :)


At all the kind words many of you are pointing in my direction.

Congratulations on completing your Epicurean translations! I’ll try to find some time this weekend to peruse them.

I've also been working on my posture, in part guided by reading a book by Esther Gokhale -- have you heard of her?

Yes; but I’ve not done more than read yet. I think my Vibrams have helped with my posture, however (I got a new pair, as the ones I originally showed off are too big).

Sounds good

When I'm good I generally do as you describe above. I occasionally misbehave and try to walk a bunch more that day to even it out.

Happy happy day, Sunni!


This is really good information, thanks. I hit a plateau after losing 17 kg a few years ago and have not been able to lose more weight. Eating paleo for the last year has improved my health (which wasn't bad) but has not helped with weight loss.

My attempt at intermittent fasting did not work out, I was always hungry during the fasting period. I will attempt it again, this time I'll try easing into it.

The idea of a standing desk has been in the back of my head for a while. Now I am going to do it. I have everything I need to raise my computer table, so I am going to do it between today and tomorrow. If necessary I will buy a bar stool to help the transition.

We have found that we can get by with about 20% of the sugar in most recipes. I love the idea of cabbage strips to substitute pasta.

You have inspired me to break out of the rut and try new approaches. Many thanks.

A bit more ...

How are you doing, Jorge?

Eating paleo for the last year has improved my health (which wasn't bad) but has not helped with weight loss.

You might benefit from tracking your intake for 4–7 days to see what your typical macronutrient percentages are, and then tweak them. When I first started eating this way, I went overboard on the fat; when I eased off, my weight loss accelerated. For others, tweaking the carb component is the key. Everybody’s a little different—and depending upon how much weight one has to lose, how one’s body responds to a certain change will vary—so explore, play around with things, and I’m sure you’ll find a sweet spot that works for you now. (I’ve had to increase my carb intake lately ... seems perverse but it’s working, so I’m not gonna argue.)

My attempt at intermittent fasting did not work out, I was always hungry during the fasting period. I will attempt it again, this time I'll try easing into it.

One mistake some make is thinking that the fasting period is absolute. It needn’t be. For example, I still have a morning cup of tea or coffee, and usually include up to 2 T. of coconut milk in it. That small quantity of calories isn’t enough to lose the benefits of the fast, but it can be enough to hold off hunger pangs. (Whipping cream can similarly be consumed with no worries; milk, though, has enough lactose that it probably would cause an insulin increase.) I also take my supplements in the morning, well before eating.

For me, stress is a large component of weight loss. If I’m stressed, even if I’m eating properly, I just don’t lose weight. Part of that may be because of poor sleep; some of it is simply the effect of elevated cortisol. Maybe this is a larger element for you, too. I hope to say more on this in a separate post soon.

(Belated) Happy Birthday, Sunni!

It sounds like you'll turn it into one of the healthiest parts of your life.

Is 50 "crone" age nowadays? I hope not, because it's creeping up on me in a couple of years. I guess for a man it's "old fart day."

The thing about apples for your asthma is a good idea. Apples are supposed to be high in quercetin, an anti-inflammatory phytochemical.

Happy birthday!

Sorry I missed it! I've not been on line much the last week, and had only been checking this page once a week or so for a while. So glad to hear you are doing so well. Hugs!

A Snaky Thought

Hi Sunni, now that I'm close to finishing my Epicurus project (by the end of the year I plan to organize and comment on the translations I've made in the form of a short book entitled "Epicurus on Happiness"), I've started to do preliminary work on a similar project about Nietzsche. While re-reading his book "Daybreak", I came across the following snaky thought (in section 455 if you care to look it up):

The way in which we are educated nowadays means that we acquire a second nature: and we have it when the world calls us mature, of age, employable. A few of us are sufficiently snakes one day to throw off this skin, and to do so when beneath its covering their first nature has grown mature. With most of us, its germ has dried up.

Here's to your serpentine skin-shedding!

Very interesting!

Thank you very much for sharing that here, Saint. I’ve been wondering about how much of this second skin I have been encouraging to grow on the snolfs, and what the consequences may be for them years on. I suppose every thinking parent throughout the ages has had similar concerns, but I feel quite unprepared for and inadequate to help them be ready to live in a future that seems very murky to me. I try not to be negative, but it seems a real possibility that the somewhat-near future could bring a social collapse, driven by population collapse and/or technological disaster.

And despite trying to shed my own skin of “shoulds”, I attempt to pile them with some, under the guise of growing up. Sigh.

Second Skins

O Snaky One, worry not. I'm sure your teaching methods are are far from the kind of enculturation (bordering on indoctrination) that Nietzsche had in mind here, or that Epicurus criticized when he said "embark on your own course: steer clear of all culture" (Fragment 163). As to "shoulds", did I ever point you to my essay Letting Go of Ought? It's one of my favorites, and I do try to live up to it (although I don't always succeed!). I'd imagine that it's even more difficult to let go of ought in the raising of children, but I don't weigh in on such matters since I don't have direct experience...

Excellent essay ...

Thank you, Saint: but I suspect that my daughter in particular may feel that our insistence that she be able to communicate well via the written word is indoctrination. (It really isn’t a good time for pondering such questions.)

You have pointed us to the essay before; and I believe I remarked that I found it thought-provoking and would say more, but haven’t done so yet. I appreciate you mentioning it again.


Well, when I was a teenager I saw indoctrination behind every tree. In fact, I didn't graduate from high school (the first time around) because I refused to take a required course that I thought was full of such guano. On the other hand, I always valued the ability to communicate well. I don't know how to balance the need to learn against the need for freedom, at least not in the practical matter of teaching. Theoretically I consider unschooling the ideal, but probably because that works for me as someone who's self-taught in most respects. It's not my place to tell others what would work for them, either individually or in a parent-child or teacher-student relationship. ("I have no answers, only questions...")