Blame it on advertising. Blame it on the industry. It really doesn’t matter who or what you point to. The evidence is everywhere: the vast majority of Americans have a fantasy relationship with food.
What we eat is an extremely intimate, personal relationship with ourselves. It is precisely how we maintain the partnership between the soul that we are, and the body we live in.
It took half a century for me to grasp the fact that the stability of my mind, vitality, and longevity all depend heavily on what I eat.
It’s the same for you. Although our diets vary vastly, that statement still holds true.
However, like most people, I always thought of my diet, only in the narrow terms of “dieting.” Rather than the food we routinely eat, let alone its nutritional value.
Our weight and overall health is, more often than not, a direct reflection of our high expectations and extremely low standards of the food we eat.
Without realizing it, the manufactured food we crave, even desire, is carefully designed to reach our “bliss spot.”
Week 10 of my second 13 week season: low carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own.
On Tuesday the 9th of April, about 2PM, I was at work and feeling very strange. I was sleepy, felt sick and shaky, and couldn’t think clearly. I decided to take off early. But driving home, not more than a mile from my house, well, something happened. I zoned out, I fell asleep, I fainted — whatever it was, I was looking at a green light at the interesection and then I was looking at a red light with traffic starting to cross the intersection. I hit the brakes, I swerved to drive around the front of the CenturyLink truck in front of me, and I almost made it. But not quite. I caught the front bumper of the truck with my left rear fender. I bumped my head against the door frame, and came to a stop crossways in the intersection. After a minute, I pulled off the road.
At first I felt — considering the circumstances — okay. I made sure the other guy was okay (he was) and went to stand by the car and wait for the police.
Then I realized I was feeling really really cold, and even shakier than I had felt when I left the office. I went to sit down in the car and when the police arrived told them I thought I needed the EMTs. Or else it was someone who was calling 911, I don’t remember it very clearly.
Anyway, both an ambulance and a fire truck arrived, and a rather cute female firefighter interviewed me for about 30 seconds before trotting to the EMTs, who came and walked me to the ambulance. I’m somewhat proud of myself for resisting my initial urge, which was to tell the firefighter “Hey, I’m just sick, I’m not on fire.”
Week 8 of my second 13 week season: low carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own.
A few days ago, PJ Lifestyle ran an excerpt from Leonard Mosely’s book Disney’s World, in which Walt Disney, in a letter to his partner Ub Iwerks, expressed his frustration with the his first sound cartoon, the now-iconic Steamboat Willie.
He’s pretty depressed. he doesn’t like Hollywood, he doesn’t like being away from home, and he’s losing confidence in the still-unfinished film. You can see why, when he was having trouble selling the idea, and animation is a frustrating process anyway. This was in the days of the most primitive hand-drawn animation, where every frame of the film had to be hand drawn on clear acetate, with tiny changes from frame to frame. Twenty-four times for each second of film. In this 7 minute 23 second film, that’s something like 10,600 frames. He was tired, and he was bored, and he had trouble seeing any progress.
Why did this strike me, he asked rhetorically? Well, it reminds me of my ongoing glucose/bodyfat/weight project. Here I am, eight weeks into my second season, 147 days since I first started tracking this, and it’s a little frustrating and hard. I’ve been less diligent about the exercise, and I do find myself missing things I used to eat. Like chocolate. And pasta. And bread. And while I have lost some weight, it’s slow and the day to day variations make it hard to see. It’s like Disney must have felt — another 24 frames, another day’s work, and what did he have? Another lousy second of film. That no one wanted to distribute. He was past the initial excitement and into the slog.
Right now, this project feels much the same. I’m actually losing weight, and I can see changes — more muscle coming back to my arms, and to put it bluntly, my boobs are smaller. I’ve lost six inches around my waist, and I can feel that every time I put on a pair of pants that were in the back of the closet because I hadn’t been able to wear them. But at the same time, the progress is a little slow and hard to see, and it’s a little hard to explain why it should matter to anyone — especially me.
But then I got thinking, and a little Excel-fu got me this. Here’s my actual weight, charted over the last sixty days, with a trend line. This is very much like the other charts I’ve been posting.
Trend line is down. This is good. It’s not down very fast, and the added muscle certainly explains that — but also notice that individuual weights vary pretty wildly around that trend line. So here’s another chart.
Week 6 of my second 13 week season; low carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own.
So let’s just end the suspense right away: yes, I am feeling a lot better this week.
At one point or another, the draft of last week’s column started with the line “Okay, ‘despair’ may be a little strong…”. I cut it because as I thought about it, I realized despair was the right word. Look it up and we find “Noun: The complete loss or absence of hope. Verb: Lose or be without hope: ‘to despair of ever knowing’” (via Google.) That’s exactly what I was fighting against — the feeling that there was nothing to be done, that there was no real hope. That’s the real enemy of any attempt to change, or to do anything extended really — that moment of no hope, when you don’t see the end in sight. It’s not just diets, either — it happens to me in writing, when I hit the point at which I think “oh, this is awful, no one will want this.”
That’s why I started this on the basis of a 13 week “season” — it was long enough to see some real changes, short enough to be bearable. Even so, about the fifth and sixth weeks of the first season, I’d reached the point where I was wondering if it was going to really do any good.
So look at the results this week: my 7-day average weight is down 3 pounds, my 7-day average blood sugar is down 16 points. What happened? I don’t know for sure, but I can tell you one thing I did differently, based on a lot of suggestions from others who’ve done the low carb thing. I broke training. I got out of the no carbs jail for a couple days. I had my ice cream, and I had some congee (zhou, Asian rice porridge). I didn’t go real far off the overall diet except for violating the carb rules, and based on calories I was actualy doing fine.
So now I’m back on the low-carb diet. What did I learn?
First, yes, you can break the diet for a day or a few days and get back on. What’s more, for me at least, if you do it with rice and ice cream, you don’t get sick like I did after Thanksgiving.
Second, your body can get used to anything. In weight training, they tell you to change routines fairly often if you want to keep making gains. The trick is to watch what happens. I broke the rules a little bit, up to maybe 100g of carbs one day, and didn’t have my blood sugar go nuts, didn’t gain back lots of weight. (Right now, I’m on a little bit of a bounce, but I’m basically up to where I was complaining about not being able to break in the downward direction.)
And third — there’s a new-ish idea in the nutrition world: orthorexia. It means an unhealthy fixation on a healthy diet. Maybe, just maybe, an occasional 4 oz cup of ice cream (26g carbs) is good for you.
|Date||7 day Weight||7 day Glucose||7 day Bodyfat||Sum Fitocracy Points||Weekly Fitocracy Points|
|Δ since 2-1||-2.64||-14.57||-3.00%||N/A||N/A|
Release date: August 7, 2012
Our great-grandmothers didn’t need nutrition lessons—then again, they weren’t forced to wade through aisle after aisle of packaged foods touting outlandish health claims and confusing marketing jargon. Over the last few decades, we’ve forgotten what “real food” is—and we’re left desperately seeking foods that will truly nourish our bodies. We’re disillusioned with the “conventional wisdom” for good reason—it’s gotten us nowhere.Achieving optimal health without calorie-counting, diet foods, or feelings of deprivation has never been easier. Practical Paleoexplains why avoiding both processed foods and foods marketed as “healthy”—like grains, legumes, and pasteurized dairy—will improve how you look and feel and lead to lasting weight loss. Even better—you may reduce or completely eliminate symptoms associated with common health disorders!
Practical Paleo is jam-packed with over 120 easy recipes, all with special notes about common food allergens including nightshades and FODMAPs. Meal plans are also included, and are designed specifically to support:
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a “squeaky-clean” Paleo approach
Practical Paleo is the resource you’ll reach for again and again, whether you’re looking for information on healthy living, delicious recipes, or easy-to-understand answers to your questions about how a Paleo lifestyle can benefit you, your family, and your friends.
Do you want to lose fat and stay young, all while avoiding cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and a host of other illnesses? The Paleo Solution incorporates the latest, cutting edge research from genetics, biochemistry and anthropology to help you look, feel and perform your best. Written by Robb Wolf, a research biochemist who traded in his lab coat and pocket protector for a whistle and a stopwatch to become one of the most sought after strength and conditioning coaches in the world. With Robb’s unique perspective as both scientist and coach you will learn how simple nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes can radically change your appearance and health for the better.
Homeostasis. This is our vocabulary word for today.
Homeostasis is “[t]he ability of the body or a cell to seek and maintain a condition of equilibrium or stability within its internal environment when dealing with external changes” (via Biology Online.) On any diet or exercise program, homeostatis may not seem to be your friend.
|7-day weight||7-day glucose||7 day bodyfat||Weekly Fitocracy Points|
Certainly, for the last six weeks it hasn’t seemed to be mine. Above is a table of the current results of this second season (I’ll be running similar tables for comparison for the rest of this 13 week season.) I’ve been keeping to the diet pretty religiously, with a very few days in excess of my 30g carbs target. According to LoseIt!, I’ve run a total calorie deficit in the previous six weeks of roughly 42,000 kcals (Calories), or on average about 7000 kcals a week. It only requires the tiniest application of higher math to see that at 3500 kcal/pound, I should have lost 12 pounds, or should have been losing 2 pounds a week. While I’ve hit several new lows, including breaking 270 about ten days ago, I haven’t lost any weight, according to the 7-day running average, since the second season started. In fact, what has really happened in is that I’ve actually gained something like 1.3 pounds.
This could be depressing. Believe me. What this is, is a demonstration of my body trying to preserve homeostasis. Basically, bodies don’t want to change, and they have mechanisms to prevent it.
Luckily, this isn’t a weight-loss experiment, this is a better-health and better-glucose experiment. (Repeat after me….) And I’m doing much better there — my cholesterol is now great, my glucose is near normal (and it’s been ten days or so since I cut my metformin dose in half, with no apparent damage to the glucose level), and — here’s the kicker — my body fat has dropped from around 33 percent to just over 29 percent — which means I’ve changed my body composition fairly radically in these three weeks.
Now, part of this is another demonstration that the naive “calories out minus calories in” model of weight loss is once again breaking down. Of course, since that model is so entrenched in so many people’s minds, the usual doctor’s explanation would be “you must be cheating”, as I talked about in an earlier episode; presenting the food diary and such wouldn’t deter them.
Another possible explanation is that it’s water — just as when they tell you rapid weight loss early in a low-carb diet is “only water”. But just as when I was dropping weight quickly, we’re talking about a lot of water. “A pint’s a pound the world round”, and that means we’re talking about 12 pints, 6 quarts, a gallon and a half of water. Call me crazy, but I’m thinking an additional gallon and a half of water would be pretty obvious in edema and puffiness and heart failure and such.
But the body composition — and one other thing — are hints at what I think is actually happening. That other thing is that after weeks of little change, I’ve begun to have measurements changing. Specifically, I’ve lost 2 inches around my neck and 5 (!!) inches around my waist from when I started the first 13 weeks.
The third favorite explanation of this would be that I’m gaining muscle as well as losing fat, and that one I think is plausible. What’s more, you can do that even when you’re running a big calorie deficit, as I have been, because a pound of fat contains about twice as many calories as a pound of muscle. The explanation that makes sense is that I’ve lost fat at 3500 kcals a pound, and gained muscle at 1800-odd kcals a pound, leaving me slightly heavier, and a good bit skinnier.
I can live with that.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
There is a lot of misinformation circling around in mainstream nutrition.
I have listed the worst examples in this article, but unfortunately this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are the top 11 biggest lies, myths and misconceptions of mainstream nutrition.
1. Eggs Are Unhealthy
There’s one thing that nutrition professionals have had remarkable success with… and that is demonizing incredibly healthy foods.
The worst example of that is eggs, which happen to contain a large amount of cholesterol and were therefore considered to increase the risk of heart disease.
But recently it has been proven that the cholesterol in the diet doesn’t really raise the cholesterol in blood. In fact, eggs primarily raise the “good” cholesterol and are NOT associated with increased risk of heart disease (1, 2).
What we’re left with is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They’re high in all sorts of nutrients along with unique antioxidants that protect our eyes (3).
To top it all of, despite being a “high fat” food, eating eggs for breakfast is proven to cause significant weight loss compared to bagels for breakfast (4, 5).
Bottom Line: Eggs do not cause heart disease and are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Eggs for breakfast can help you lose weight.
2. Saturated Fat is Bad For You
A few decades ago it was decided that the epidemic of heart disease was caused by eating too much fat, in particular saturated fat.
This was based on highly flawed studies and political decisions that have now been proven to be completely wrong.
A massive review article published in 2010 looked at 21 prospective epidemiological studies with a total of 347.747 subjects. Their results: absolutely no association between saturated fat and heart disease (6).
The idea that saturated fat raised the risk of heart disease was an unproven theory that somehow became conventional wisdom (7).
Eating saturated fat raises the amount of HDL (the “good”) cholesterol in the blood and changes the LDL from small, dense LDL (very bad) to Large LDL, which is benign (8, 9).
Meat, coconut oil, cheese, butter… there is absolutely no reason to fear these foods.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
So here it is: week 13 of the 13 Weeks, which officially ends tomorrow. This is also Day One of the next 13 Weeks, which I started today to make everything match with the publishing schedule.
I pretty well explained what I’m doing for the next 13 weeks in my post last week, so I won’t linger on that: same eating plan or similar, but adding a Seinfeld calendar with six days a week of a Tabata protocol workout, plus weightlifting and yoga or Pilates. I have a new spreadsheet which tracks body fat as well as weight and glucose. As of today, this is a new experiment, so I’m starting from an empty spreadsheet. As of today, weight is 272.1, body fat by Withings impedance scale is 33.1 percent, and morning fasting glucose is 109. “After pictures” and a comparison in next week’s column.
So, below the fold, a little change of pace.
See you next week.
On Tuesday I turned 29. Apparently this is one of those “milestone” birthdays meant to suggest that now I’m really growing old and should start worrying or feeling worse about myself in some abstract way. Apparently when you’re 30 it means that the party decade is over and you should scrape the cheeto dust out of your navel, put some pants on, and finally grow up.
So be it. Growing old has never really bothered me. (Though I wish the hair wasn’t going so fast…) I’ve felt like a cranky old man trapped in a young person’s body since at least junior high. So how about this for an old-fashioned way to really put the last 362 days of the third decade of my life to use: actually writing out a plan for the year. Here’s what I’m going to try to do so that when the 30th birthday hits in 2014 I can look back and not feel too much embarrassment at another wasted year.
In December I declared my “7 New Year’s Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal” and then began the process of integrating these general self-improvement goals into both my daily routine and the weekly schedule of my PJ Lifestyle blogging. I left them somewhat vague so over the course of the month more concrete goals could materialize. And here they are, revised from my original list but generalized so perhaps others might still find them useful to consider as potential additions to their own Lifestyle self-programming.
1. Family Life on Monday: Rediscover and Celebrate Your Family’s Origins.
On Monday this week I blogged an open letter to my wife informing her that the time had come to change directions with our Netflix diet. The number of Dexter/Battlestar Galactica-level cable shows on DVD had dried up and new releases offered little hope of consistent entertainment satisfaction. We had to start mining older regions of film and TV history — but could we agree on a path forward?
Turns out we still can. April selected the first option:
1. Watch the entire Criterion Collection. Maybe in order?
You’re always complaining (rightfully) that the past few years I’ve spent too much time on politics and don’t show you weird, artsy movies anymore. Well here’s the mother lode and now we should start exploring it.
April suggested we call it “The Criterion Challenge.” We’re going to attempt to watch as many as we can this year — and yes, as close to in the order of their release as we can. We started last night with my copy of The Seven Samurai (spine #2) and watched the first hour. I’d forgotten how entertaining a film it was — and was delighted when April got into it too.
In charting this new entertainment course for us, we’re really going back to the origins of our relationship. I never realized what a role my oddball movie tastes had for April. When we began dating seriously for a second time in the fall of 2006 (a few months after I’d graduated and she was starting her sophomore undergraduate year), I would drive up to Muncie from Indianapolis on weekends with different art movie DVDs to share with her.
But in the years since our marriage I’ve neglected this original film guide role. My movie obsession fell by the wayside to make way for political warfare and new media trouble-making. Now’s a good time to correct course as I seek to re-balance my life between the legs of culture, religion, and politics. (Instead of the ideological focus that it’s largely been for the last three years…)
And we’re both on the same page in why we’re watching this series of classic films — to further develop our own understanding of the visual arts. What makes a beautiful, powerful image? How does film tell stories and evoke feelings? April and I are going to explore these questions together and I’ll try and blog a few thoughts on each film. Also, keeping with the return to film, for our year off from Disney Land I’m going to make a point to explore the ideas that brought it into existence.
Monday Bookshelf and Blogging Focus: Research the life, work, and ideas of Walt Disney to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Publication Date: January 5, 2011
Hailed a “medical breakthrough” by Dr. Mehmet Oz, EAT TO LIVE offers a highly effective, scientifically proven way to lose weight quickly. The key to Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s revolutionary six-week plan is simple: health = nutrients / calories. When the ratio of nutrients to calories in the food you eat is high, you lose weight. The more nutrient-dense food you eat, the less you crave fat, sweets, and high-caloric foods.EAT TO LIVE has been revised to include inspiring success stories from people who have used the program to lose shockingly large amounts of weight and recover from life-threatening illnesses; Dr. Fuhrman’s nutrient density index; up-to-date scientific research supporting the principles behind Dr. Fuhrman’s plan; new recipes and meal ideas; and much more. This easy-to-follow, nutritionally sound diet can help anyone shed pounds quickly-and keep them off.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Starting on November 4th 2012, I began a 13 week experiment in changing my eating and exercise habits, for the best of all reasons: I didn’t want to die. I was chronically ill with stomach troubles, I was sleeping badly, and my average blood glucose was in the neighborhood of 150 mg/dL — well into the range of type II diabetes mellitus. For the experiment, I’ve cut my daily consumption of carbohydrates to a net of 30 grams a day and cut wheat out entirely, and I’ve added exercise following a Tabata Protocol, along with yoga, kettlebells, and (too rarely) weight lifting. I report my results here at PJ Media Lifestyle, and also on my 13 Weeks Facebook page.
If you’re been reading 13 Weeks since I started, you’ll remember that I had realized on about October 15 that I was 100 lbs or so overweight at 301.5; I was in chronic ill health with both gastric reflux disease and irritable bowel syndrome; and I had moved from pre-diabetic to flat-out diabetic in the span of about a year. At 57, I realized I was only 12 years younger than my father when he died, and only 20 years younger than my mother was when she died on January 11, 2012. Twenty years wasn’t enough, and twelve years was for damn sure not enough; something had to be done.
Now, after Week Nine, the effects of what I’ve done are starting to really show up. Here’s the chart I’ve been keeping to plot my progress. The plus signs are my weight in pounds, the x’s are my blood glucose as measured with a drugstore glucometer, and the lines are the linear best fit line to the data.
As you can see, the lines are headed down — which is the good direction. On Wednesday I went to the doctor, and got weight and my bloods done again. My weight’s down 30 lbs since October 19, 19 lbs since I started this November 4th. But I swore I wasn’t paying attention to the weight (gloat). Even if I lost a lot. (Gloat.) One of the blood tests I did was the glycosylated haemoglobin HbA1c test, which is a diabetes test. I’ll tell you my results below; before I do, however, I want to explain the test and why it’s important.
With diabetes, of course, we’re primarily concerned with the blood glucose level. When I was a kid, my “second mom” Julia Medina took care of us; Mrs. Medina was diabetic and dependent on insulin, but home glucometers weren’t available; the only real test diabetics had was to watch their urine for ketones using test strips, and the only real measure they had for control of diabetes was whether you tended to fall into a coma, either from low blood sugar, or from high. If your blood sugar stayed too high, you risked blindness, advancing neuropathy and pain, and kidney disease, hearth disease, or — worst of all from my point of view — creeping necrosis of the extremities. (Your fingers and toes die and become gangrenous; they’re amputated. The stumps become gangrenous; they’re amputated a little higher. Eventually you run out of pieces and you die. Don’t even google “diabetic necrosis”, you don’t want to look at those pictures.)
Luckily, Mrs. Medina was well-controlled; she lived a long life. A whole lot of diabetics didn’t. Three things, put together, improved the chances of a diabetic living a long life over the last 20-30 years. The first was inexpensive direct tests for blood glucose levels; the second was bio-engineered human insulin (before then, insulin extracted from the pancreases of hogs was used, but it doesn’t exactly match human insulin. It was better than nothing but still had problems.) The third was the wide availability of the glycosylated haemoglobin HbA1c test (which we’re going to just call the A1c from now on.) What the A1c let doctors do is infer what your average glucose had been over about the last three months.
Here’s how it works. Hemoglobin, the chemical component of the blood that carries oxygen and makes the blood red, can bind to glucose, forming glucose-bearing (or glycosylated) hemoglobin. The rate at which it binds is proportional to the concentration of glucose in the blood. It binds fairly slowly, so your hemoglobin doesn’t just suck up all the sugar right away. Instead, over the life of a red blood cell (an erythrocyte), which is about 100 days in the normal human, a fairly small percentage of the hemoglobin will glycosylate. At the end of the average 100-day lifespan of the red blood cell, it’s broken down by the body and it’s components recycled; part of that process separates iron from the hemoglobin, which also liberates the glucose.
Remember, though, that the rate at which the glucose binds is dependent on the concentration – the more glucose, the more it binds to the hemoglobin, and once bound it stays bound until the red blood cell dies. The result is that the percentage of cells with glycolated hemoglobin in the blood is proportional to the average blood glucose level for the last several weeks.
Still with me? We’re getting to the payoff. From my blood glucose readings, I’d known things were improving.
In October, A1c was 7.5 percent. You can compute the equivalent average blood glucose, which comes out to be about 170 mg/dL. An A1c of 6.5 percent or more is diabetes.
Yesterday, my A1c was 6.2 percent, or an average of around 130 mg/dL. An A1c of between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent is considered enough for a diagnosis of pre-diabetes.
Or, in my case, post-diabetes. By blood sugar is controlled now, down to healthy levels — and I’m only about two-thirds of the way through the life span of red blood cells that were new when I started this; I can expect the A1c to go down. If it keeps declining at the rate it has been, it might be as low as 5.5 percent by the end of this 13 weeks.
That would be normal.
One more thing I want to mention. A dear young friend of mine has decided she wants to enter the military, but to do so she needs to lose ten pounds, and wants to get in better shape. As a result, she’s started a blog of her own, 14 Weeks for Freedom, where she’s making her own open commitment to some life changes.
I am extremely proud of her; please drop over to the blog and give her your support.
Yeah, I’m doing a Taubes-inspired low-carb diet and high-intensity training, and this week I’m not particularly happy about it. So there. Follow me here at PJ Lifestyle or at the 13 Weeks Facebook page and see if “bah, humbug” is a weight-loss strategy.
So, it’s week seven, past the half-way mark in my 13 week experiment. Let’s hit the objective data first: my weight loss continues. I hit 275 this week for the first time in quite a while, and I’m settling down to very exactly 1.33 pounds a week. My glucose also continues to improve with a linear best-fit trend of about 1.5 mg/dL per week — which means, practically, that my glucose is often near normal even early in the morning when it seems to be highest. I could wish the weight loss was a little faster, but honestly the eating plan I’m on has really been very benign, very easy to do. In general, but I wasn’t going to whine until the next paragraph.
Okay, it’s the next paragraph. As you may recall, I was set to have a colonoscopy last Monday, and yes, thank you, everything came out all right. I don’t have to do another one for ten years. Starting back on Friday or Saturday, though, my big toe started to hurt. Right in the metatarsophalangeal joint, which is to say, where it meets the foot. It got inflamed and swollen, with a distinct red patch right over the joint. Monday, did the procedure; toe was still hurting, but I was, how you say, impaired. Finally thought about it, looked it up and decided I was having a gout attack, my first. Started taking the official jungle medicine cure for all things orthopedic: 800mg of ibuprofen 4× daily. And called the doc because, after all, I’m not a real doctor.
Went to the doctor, told him my history, said I thought it was gout, and how I was treating it.
He said, “you’re right. Fifty dollars, please.”
If it keeps recurring, there’s more stuff to do, but a lot of times it doesn’t. Gout basically is caused by uric acid precipitating out in a joint, and I’ve been on a high protein — and therefore high uric acid — diet, plus I was dehydrated from the prep. (When I said “everything came out all right”, I meant everything.) Still, it’s Friday night and my foot is basically healed.
Okay, last week was on Thanksgiving survival; this week is the aftermath, and then I’ll talk about high intensity training. But first the aftermath.
Basically, I gained about 6 pounds directly after Thanksgiving. Now, as I said last week, there was no way that was “real” weight gain — that would have implied I’d eaten 21,000 kcals over what I need to keep my weight level in the span of a couple of days, when in fact by my food diary I’d eaten 7,700 kcals under. And as I’ve said all along, this is an experiment to see what happens, especially to my blood sugar, not about weight.
Well, I talk a big game, but the fact is that with 50 years of baggage, I can’t help but pay attention to the weight loss, and I was pretty unhappy about the whole thing. Not unhappy enough that I was tempted off my eating plan, mind you. I was really uncomfortable the weekend after Thanksgiving. If I ever ramp up the carbs, it’ll be very carefully.
The first 4 pounds came back off in a couple of days, and then I plateaued — I hit 281 or thereabouts and bounced along for five days. Five freaking days. Now, 280 has been a hard level for me for several years — I could lose down to there but hard to break through. (To end the suspense, yes I did finally — I’m back to 279.)
Here’s what the weights would have looked like if I only weighed on Sunday, just as I only do measurements on Sunday:
Matching the scale etc, the Thanksgiving weight gain is a very small alteration; the trend line is still down. In fact, since the long plateau isn’t included, the slope of the trend line is rather greater — 0.27 pounds a day versus 0.21. Once again, I think the lesson is that normally, maybe weighing yourself every week is enough, if you can stand it. (I couldn’t: I’d have to throw away my scale or hire someone to bring it over once a week.) Now, let’s get to what I’ve promised for a couple weeks, and talk about the training routines I’ve followed. That will start right below the fold, so follow this on to the next page.
I’m doing a low carb Gary-Taubes-like diet and adding high intensity training for 13 weeks to see how it works. This 13 Weeks series is my diary of the experiment; you can also follow me day to day at my Facebook page.
Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not Sunday, But I noticed something so interesting I decided to do an extra post; I’m still planning to talk about high intensity training this Sunday. I’ve been doing a food diary at LoseIt!, and tracking my weight in a spreadsheet and at Physics Diet. So I’ve got a pretty solid diary of what I’m eating and its nutritional contents. Now, Physics Diet is pretty solidly devoted to the traditional thermodynamic “a calorie is a calorie” model of weight loss. When you enter your weights, it computes some interesting statistics and charts them; it also computes how many calories you have been under (or over) your needs based on the rate of change in your weight. So, without further adieu, here are some charts.
First, a chart from Excel showing my weight and fasting blood sugar, both taken immediately after awakening every day. (Click to enlarge the charts.)
Notice that both trend lines are going down quite nicely.
Now, here are my charts from Physics Diet. First, here’s a chart for the whole time since I started watching carbs on 19 October.
Now comes the arithmetic. Nominally, a pound of weight is 3500 kcal; you have to cut out 3500 kcal to lose a pound, and if you eat 3500 kcal too much, you gain a pound. As of today, I weighed 278.6; I’ve lost roughly 23 lbs since 19 October, when I weighed 301.5. That means by the “calories are calories” model, I had to have cut 80,500 kcal over that month and a day, or about 15,000 kcal a week — 2515 kcal a day — under my metabolic needs in order to get an average weight loss of 4.25 pounds per week. Honestly, that seemed unlikely.
But then if we look at the chart for just the time I’ve been really running the experiment, it gets even more interesting.
Backstory: In October I realized that if I didn’t lose weight and get my blood sugar under control, I was going to die. I didn’t like that. I decided to try a 13 week experiment: cut out carbs and add a small amount of high intensity exercise and see what happened. This is the continuing story of that experiment. Follow it every week here at PJ Lifestyle — including some sort of embarrassing “before” pictures — and follow my 13 Weeks Facebook page. I’ll report more on results next week, but right now, I’ve lost 21 pounds since 19 October and my blood sugar is down from 157 mg/dL to 119.
I started worrying about my weight — and being teased about it — by the time I was six or seven. At twelve or so I was an experienced dieter, and my experience was pretty much uniformly negative: I’d try dieting and maybe lose a little weight. Then the weight loss would stop. This would be doubly traumatic, as on a “balanced healthy diet”. I felt horrible, I was hungry all the time, and my pediatrician would yell at me that I had to be cheating, no one could not lose weight on that diet.
I could lose weight on the Stillman Quick Weight Loss Diet — nothing but lean meats boiled or broiled, cottage cheese, and poached or boiled eggs — but then I got yelled at by my pediatrician, my gym coach, and random people who happened to hear about it because it wasn’t a balanced diet. Also, after five or six weeks, it got a little boring: I remember breaking into tears one night when presented with another skinless, boiled half-chicken.
So my feelings about “going on a diet” have a lot of baggage. Skipping about 40 years, I read Gary Taubes first New York Times article, “What Really Makes Us Fat“, which said some things I knew from personal experience but had been told real science disputed. Like “all calories are not created equal,” and “what you eat is more important than how much you eat.” I bought Taubes’ books, Good Calories Bad Calories, and Why We Get Fat and read the primary literature, which makes a strong case that the underlying culprit is refined carbs. Sure enough, cutting out refined carbs helped me lose weight. This time around, I’ve lost 21 pounds since the 19th of October, and my blood sugar is also down a good bit.
But what about the boredom?
What I’m eating now is, thankfully, far more interesting than boiled chicken and cottage cheese. I thought today I’d tell you about some of them.
Most mornings, I’m up at 6AM and about to write. I feed the cats, and stumble about waiting for the coffee — the worst part about getting your first cup in the morning is needing to make it before you’ve had it — and I’m not up to doing anything complicated, so I zap bacon in the microwave, take cold boiled eggs out of the refrigerator, and have
Charlie’s “Diet” Breakfast
- 3 boiled eggs, sliced with an egg slicer and drizzled with about a tablespoon of mayonnaise
- 4 strips of bacon
Except some mornings I have 4 eggs and 8 strips of bacon. I slice the hard boiled eggs because otherwise they last about two bites, and I add the mayonnaise because it tastes good.
I usually go out for something because someone who can’t cope with cooking eggs in the morning isn’t going to handle making lunch very well either. There are really lots of options — a diner where I can get bacon or ham or pork chops and eggs, a buffet restaurant where I get salad and roast chicken, or MAD Greens, where I make up a salad with lots of protein:
MAD Greens Salad Example
- baby spinach
- feta cheese
- Oil-marinated tuna
- Red wine vinaigrette
Mad Greens actually has a calorie and nutrient calculator on their web site, which scores this out as 41 grams of protein and 6 grams net carbs (9 grams – 3 grams fiber),
Another thing I’ve done is make a big bowl of tuna salad. One variant is my Mediterranean Tuna Salad, based on something I used to get at a sprouthead restaurant in Durham, NC 20 years ago.
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 4-5 stalks celery, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed, diced, and made into a paste with a little salt
- 3 12-oz cans of water-packed tuna (cheap non-albacore is perfectly fine)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (it pays to use extra virgin, but not super-good extra virgin)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp dried dill weed
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
make a rough vinaigrette by whisking together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, and dill in a large bowl (you need a bigger bowl than you think.) You can add a little dry or grey poupon mustard as well, which will help the vinagrette stay together, but I don’t much like mustard with tuna. Add other ingredients, breaking up the tuna to match with the vegetables. Toss until well combined. It’s good now, even better after a day or two in the refrigerator. By the way, oil-packed tuna would be just fine; around here, though, it’s hard to find and significantly more expensive than the water-packed.
So, today, November 4th, is the first day of my 13 Weeks project.
I dunno, I’ve been on the diet all day, and did 6 super-slow squats, and nothing has happened yet.
Of course I’m being silly: actually, lots has happened since last week. I’ve had my doctor visit and I’m approved to do the whole thing. I’ve had some “before” pictures taken, and yes, I am wearing gym shorts, so calm down. So far today, I’ve eaten: 6 eggs, 3 hard boiled and 3 scrambled; 16 oz of Black Forest ham (not a great choice as it’s got some sugar in the cure, but it turns out to have been my sole source of carbs for the day); about 2 oz of sausage and 4 strips of bacon; and some cheddar cheese. That’s around 1600 kcal and 24 g. of carbs from the ham. I may eat some cottage cheese before bed — I can have a cup (200 kcal) and not violate my 30 g carbs target. But then I may not — I’m not actually feeling very hungry.
And I’ve noticed some things already. I started using Lose It! to track eating — it’s easy to use from any of my iPod Touch, my Kindle Fire, or from a browser — and I noticed on several days I was rather below the 2177 kcal Lose It! predicted I needed for a 1-2 lbs per week weight loss. (Note: “kcal” is the same as a Calorie in the US; I just think using “Calorie” for 1000 “calories” is silly and confusing. When you see “kcal” think of the calories you normally use with food.) This didn’t surprise me, but then I flashed back on a time when I was about 12 or so, and once again on a diet, put there by my pediatrician. It was an “exchange” diet — you can have one bread, two proteins, one salad, and so on — and I’d been very diligent. I was eating 1200 kcal per day or less, and I wasn’t losing weight. I was, however, depressed, cranky, and irritable. And depressed. I was in the doctor’s office, and he was berating me for cheating on the diet; I was in tears because I wasn’t, and no one would believe me….
So, next week I will have more on my high intensity training plan. For now, you can follow me at the 13 Weeks Facebook page. If you’re a Facebooker, come “Like” my page — the more people who watch me, the harder it’ll be to give up early.
Here’s the before pictures.
In yesterday’s Daily Briefing about the dreadful media coverage of the attacks in Benghazi, Erick Erickson coined the term “conventional wisdom machine” to describe the mainstream media. The conventional wisdom machine efficiently turns out flimsy facts, sometimes with a flourish.
Vying for a spot on the list of the top 10 most ill-timed political stories, on September 12, 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on The Dr. Oz Show, and when he posited, “The greatest threat to national security that we have is obesity,” she said, “Absolutely.” Yes, on the day after the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, when we awoke to learn of our Libyan ambassador’s murder and embassies burning, both reminding us that we continue to face dire national security threats, the first lady appeared on television declaring body fat our #1 concern.
What threat did the first lady imagine? Obese people aren’t accepted into the military. True, insufficient military personnel threatens national security, but the size of our military force means nothing if we do not send them to the right place. It was just such an egregious error that cost Ambassador Stevens his life the previous day.
In addition, the interview contained some inappropriate elements. While the administration twists itself into knots not to offend Islam, the interview is titled “First Lady Michelle Obama’s Health Crusade.” And for a final flourish of cluelessness, Mrs. Obama taught Dr. Oz how to “Dougie,” which, according to the lyrics of the song, is a dance meant to blow off mean “niggas” and attract hook-ups with “bitches.”
Any single one of those items would be cause enough for raised eyebrows. Taken together, they are dumbfounding. And they all come before the substance of the interview, an obesity epidemic. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, we don’t have one.
I was sitting here this morning reading a book I picked up at the drugstore called the Flat Belly Diet! (what was I thinking??) when I turned on the computer and saw the headline at Drudge about this article: “Obesity could affect 42% of Americans by 2030″:
A new forecast on America’s obesity crisis has health experts fearing a dramatic jump in health care costs if nothing is done to bring the epidemic under control.The new projection, released here Monday, warns that 42% of Americans may end up obese by 2030, and 11% could be severely obese, adding billions of dollars to health care costs.
“If nothing is done (about obesity), it’s going to hinder efforts for health care cost containment,” says Justin Trogdon, a research economist with RTI International, a non-profit research organization in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park.
Have you noticed how everything now is about containing health care costs? I understand that obesity can cost money, though if people are dying early as the article implies, isn’t that a savings? It seems that there always has to be some target with this administration: the bankers, the rich, the 1%, now the overweight.
Pretty soon, there will be a “war on the obese” which will probably insure that more people than ever will gain weight. Excuse me while I go throw my diet book in the trash.
When bloggers dispense advice like this what they’re really saying is “Blog about something that matters! Don’t just use this technology to showcase your narcissism.”
But there’s good reason to share what we had for breakfast: to start the conversation about what we should eat. Anyone have any suggestions for what they consume in the mornings to charge their batteries for the day?
A survey Kraft foods conducted in February telling us what we already know: