Illustration: Matija Medved

Optimize Me

The Guy Who Ran a Marathon in His Driveway Is on to Something

It might seem ridiculous, but people doing extreme health challenges are probably handling the pandemic better than the rest of us

Published in
5 min readMay 12, 2020


Optimize Me is an Elemental column exploring (and fact-checking) the weirdest self-improvement trends. It comes out every Tuesday.

Geoffrey Woo is practically famous for intermittent fasting. The CEO of H.V.M.N., a biohacking and nootropic company, is an outspoken advocate for the health benefits of the practice and has been quoted about intermittent fasting multiple times. But when Covid-19 hit and all of our normal routines and dietary habits were thrown into disarray during quarantine, even Woo — who also follows a ketogenic diet — had a lapse.

“The first week or two was like, ‘Oh, this is weird. Maybe we’re all dead in three months. Maybe I’ll have a beer,’” he says. “I think we all lost context of what was the mental state we were in. We had no context, and I think when people have no context, they don’t keep their routines.”

Woo quickly got back in the saddle and renewed his normal 16:8 routine, fasting for 16 hours and eating within an eight-hour window every day. He also added a new component to…



Dana G Smith

Health and science writer • PhD in 🧠 • Words in Scientific American, STAT, The Atlantic, The Guardian • Award-winning Covid-19 coverage for Elemental