Spencer Johnson and “Who Moved My Cheese?”

Spencer Johnson, author of “Who Moved My Cheese?” died on Monday, 3rd July 2017 in San Diego. He was 78.

“Who Moved My Cheese?,” which was published in 1998, was the story ( in just 94 pages of large type and one can read it cover to cover in 20 minutes!) of two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two tiny people, Hem and Haw, looking for cheese in a maze. This book recorded a sales of 25 million copies and became a business and self-help phenomenon!

The four characters of “Who Moved My Cheese?” live in a maze, a representation of one’s environment, and look for cheese, representative of happiness and success.

One day both groups happen upon a cheese-filled corridor at “Cheese Station C.” Content with their find, the humans establish routines around their daily intake of cheese, slowly becoming arrogant in the process.  When the cheese supply runs out at Cheese Station C, the mice leave without angst to find more. But Hem and Haw resist, refusing to accept change. Finally, Haw overcomes his anxiety and ventures out of his comfort zone to find better Cheese at Cheese Station N!

This story helps to challenge one’s perceptions with thoughts such as “If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct”, and “What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid?” and then “When you move beyond your fear, you feel free.”

Johnson’s main message is, instead of seeing change as the end of something, we must learn to see it as a beginning. To be successful in life, one has to keep moving.

The main take away from this book are (a) Change Happens, (b) Anticipate Change, (c) Monitor Change, (d) Adapt To Change Quickly, (e) Change, (f) Enjoy Change! and (g) Be Ready To Change Quickly and Enjoy It Again

Intermittent Fasting and I

Fasting, i.e., abstaining from all or some kinds of food or drink, always fascinated me. Most of the religions have prescribed fasting in some form or other for spiritual gains. Mahatma Gandhi is famous for his fasting. Prime Minister Modi also observes fasting and I was awestruck when he visited US during one of his 9 day fasting period and attended many state banquets sipping only warm water!

Many articles available on the internet introduced me to the concept of ‘intermittent fasting’. While there are quite a few types of intermittent fasting, the one I liked most was 5:2 intermittent fasting. The 5:2 type of intermittent fasting involves eating normally for five days a week, then abstaining from food for the remaining two days. However, one should have enough water on the days of fasting.

The main benefits, as I understand, from intermittent fasting are:

1. Intermittent Fasting Induces Various Cellular Repair Processes: When we fast, the cells in the body initiate a cellular “waste removal” process called autophagy. This involves the cells breaking down and metabolizing broken and dysfunctional proteins that build up inside cells over time. Increased autophagy may provide protection against several diseases, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

2. Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Insulin Resistance, Lowering Your Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Intermittent fasting has been shown to have major benefits for insulin resistance and lead to an impressive reduction in blood sugar levels.

3. Intermittent Fasting Can Reduce Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in The Body: Oxidative stress is one of the catalysts of aging and many chronic diseases. It involves unstable molecules called free radicals, which react with other important molecules (like protein and DNA) and damage them. Several studies show that intermittent fasting may enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress. Additionally, studies show that intermittent fasting can help fight inflammation, another key driver of all sorts of common diseases.

Besides these, I also understand that intermittent fasting also helps in reducing belly fat and has positive impact on self-discipline and clarity of thought.

I was impressed with the list of benefits and started my personal 5:2 intermittent fasting. My chosen days of fasting were Sunday and Wednesday. As I am residing at Doha, Qatar, our week starts on Sunday and Friday and Saturday are our week-end. After I have my dinner on Saturday/Tuesday, I refrain from food till morning of Monday/Thursday. This generally results in fasting time of 33 or 34 hours. However, I do drink plenty of water during this fasting period.

I am in my first month of 5:2 intermittent fasting. Initially I did feel some pangs of hunger on these fasting days. But over a period of two weeks, these pangs of hunger disappeared. Interestingly, there was no impact on my regular work and I was able to attend to all regular work and meetings without any problem. My weight used to decrease by almost 1 kg immediately after each fasting day but used to gradually gain a bit when I am on regular food. But I feel that my weight is on a declining trajectory after I started my intermittent fasting. It is still early stages and I am yet to experience the benefits mentioned earlier in this blog.

But what really makes it worth is the sense of physical well-being and energetic feeling brought about by this intermittent fasting!