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What follows are my honest conclusions after many hours of study and my own health experience. I’m not a doctor and this is not meant to substitute for medical advice. Some resources to do your own research and to get started are listed at the bottom of this post.  I wish you the very best health and success being your most beautiful self, inside and out.

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Calories in, calories out?  You are not an automobile!  You are a wondrous, amazing chemistry lab, in which insulin, ghrelin, leptin and other hormones regulate what your body does with the calories you eat and the calories you store.

In my past, I have done the calorie restriction + exercise method to get my weight under control and I can tell you my experience: it’s very hard, it will leave you in a continual state of hunger, it takes forever, and it can really mess up your metabolism. Honestly, I think it sucks!

There is another way that is so much more natural, easier, healthier, and faster! If you promise you won’t run away screaming, I’ll say it. High fat, low carbohydrate diet.

Most people will admit sugar is not healthy. But did you know that all carbohydrates turn to sugar by the time they reach your bloodstream? Even whole wheat grains, potatoes, and apples — they are all converted to sugar when digested.

“A calorie simply is not a calorie. I’m not saying the laws of thermodynamics don’t apply–they do! But they only apply when the hormones are balanced correctly. If the hormones aren’t balanced, the calorie hypothesis isn’t valid.”— Dr. Adam Nally

The amount of sugar that a human being can tolerate in the bloodstream at any given time is only about one teaspoon.  Just 4 grams of carbohydrate. A large Fuji apple contains the equivalent of about 4 teaspoons of sugar. Since high blood sugar will kill a person, your body makes insulin. Insulin’s job is to store sugar as fat, and keep it there.  It’s a great mechanism for fattening up in late summer for a long hard winter of deprivation, but not so much for the modern human being fitted for a wedding gown.

The three “macronutrients” of diet are fat, protein, and carbohydrates.  In terms of percentages, if you lower your fat intake, the other two must necessarily go up. If protein goes up, you soon hit a limit of useful protein because the body can only use a certain amount at one time and the rest goes into… fat storage (and urine). If carbohydrate goes up, you end up with massive amounts of insulin running around trying to lower your blood sugar levels and locking up your… fat storage. If fat goes up (and the other two go down), your hormones and enzymes do a wonderful little readjust called the adaption period and voila – your chemistry lab now gives you less hunger, more energy, clearer head, clearer skin… and so many other benefits.

People used to know this about sugar. Before the 1970’s everyone knew that to slim down you must avoid sugar, not fat.  But then politics and lobbying got involved and the “amber waves of grain” needed a little marketing help. And ever since the low-fat lie took hold, Americans have become heavier and sicker, just as many scientists predicted we would.

Let’s say it is cold and you have a fireplace. If you fill it with little sticks and paper, it’s going to burn very fast, very hot, and then need more fuel very quickly. That’s the “eat every 3 hours” nonsense that a high carbohydrate diet requires. But if you burn big logs, they just keep going and going. That is what it feels like to live on a high fat diet. Be a fat burner!

Becoming fat adapted is not always a smooth transition. They used to call it “Atkins Flu” or “Keto Flu.” The slump many people experience comes because at first you do not have the right hormone and enzyme balances and your body is crying, “where’s my sugar?” Most experience a transition period of 3-10 days, though it can take longer for some.

Random thoughts and suggestions for going forward:

  • Stop eating cereal, sandwiches, and “easy” food. Sorry. You’ll be glad later though.
  • Saturated fat is not bad for you. In fact, when you lose weight with any method, you are living on a high saturated fat diet. That is, your own body fat.
  • Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. You are not obligated to eat it.
  • Drink high quality salted broth while transitioning to a high fat low carb diet. Many people have reported that salted broth diminishes the transition discomforts.
  • Avoid basing your new high fat diet on seed oils (canola, safflower, corn, etc.) They are highly processed Omega 6 bombs that will cause inflammation and interfere with weight loss. Instead, eat egg yolks, avocados, grass fed meats, butter, macadamia nuts, and olive oil.
  • Old Atkins vs. New Atkins… eat a lot of non-starchy vegetables!! I cannot stress this enough.  You will feel great if you do this and many of the vitamins in your veggies will be better absorbed with a fatty diet.
  • High/full fat dairy only. I don’t tolerate milk, and even whole milk has a lot of sugar in it, but I love cream, whole milk plain yogurt, butter… Note: if I cannot get pastured dairy I usually choose not to eat it at all. Pasture raised meat/dairy/eggs, have more omega 3, more nutrients, and more flavor. Plus, unpastured animal husbandry is generally inhumane in my opinion.
  • Pack your lunch. Pack snacks. Don’t leave home without it!
  • If you drink… Everyone’s different and I don’t presume to be the expert here, but I find it best for weight loss to limit drinking in several ways. 1) No alcohol the first 2 weeks of your weight loss project. 2)  Thereafter, only drink once or twice a week. 3) No sweet drinks, and rarely wine (spirits in club soda is a good option). 4) If you are going to drink, do it early, enjoy every minute, and then switch to water, tea, or other harmless beverages. Drinking later interferes with sleep. 5) Take a B complex vitamin before drinking. 6) Throw away all the rules (except the one about driving) on your birthday.
  • Stop believing that “fruits and vegetables” are a food category.  Fruit doesn’t share a category with kale, it shares a category with Snickers. Get a reliable carb counter book or app and learn how much sugar is in your food.

Although I support your desire to be more slender with all my heart, I feel obligated to say that your long term health is the most important part of this goal. There are ways to get thin that will mess. you. up. The good news is that this isn’t one of them! It’s fast and it’s healthy and you won’t be hungry all the time. The price is our beloved carbohydrates. And you may find social gatherings challenging. If you can pay the price, you will succeed.

In conclusion, I wish you the very best in achieving your weight loss goal. I myself am not “naturally thin.”  I still fight temptation and sometimes fail. It doesn’t matter. Keep moving forward. Work hard to understand why you make certain choices and you will always find a way to do better. Write to me if you have specific questions I might answer.

Please also check out my older blog post on avoiding sugar and grains, here, where you can find even more motivation and details about this way of eating!


RESOURCES (these are just a few – tons out there!)

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WHEN WILL IT END?!? Don’t answer. I know it ends late in September. Regular readers of my blog might recall that I don’t particularly like summer weather.  Of course, I have to write this on the one day (the only day?) this summer which has seen us creep into the 90sF. Wimp.

This morning we awoke to a smokey smell and a warm pool of air, both of which were delivered by overnight express from Eastern Washington. They’ve been on fire over on that side of the Cascade range for the past few weeks, as usual for summer. Now it is nearly my bedtime but we are still in the 80s. (For non-local readers, that is weird. We generally cool off at night.) The thunder clouds are starting to roll in.  Tomorrow is going to be a hot, wet, noisy mess.

Screen shot 2014-08-11 at 8.22.48 PM

Source: Weather.com

 

 

But it is great wedding weather! Well, not tomorrow, but in general the warm sunny days have been a real gift for anyone who wants to play outdoors.

Sunny and I take the stage at the Skagit Highland Games

Sunny and I take the stage at the Skagit Highland Games

What I am doing most outdoors is… cooking!  This is the first summer I have really taken full advantage of our grill, which has a little side burner for whatever needs to be cooked in a pot or pan.  My rule this summer has been: if I cannot cook it outside, I’m not cooking.  IMG_3596

The hardest part has been finding ways to use my CSA vegetables without turning on the stove or oven. Houses get hot enough without steaming broccoli or roasting chickens.

 

Screen shot 2014-07-05 at 5.51.15 PM

Source: City of Snoqualmie

Sorry, that’s not funny.  These poor neighbors of ours had a 4th of July rocket land on their wood shingle roof this summer.  It makes me miss the wet, chilly days even more when I drive by the ruins. It makes me shudder.

Stay cool! Think October! Ok. I’ll think October and you go ahead and enjoy August.

 

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“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”
“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
-Alice in Wonderland.

I have little use for the impossible, being a very practical sort of person. And six is a difficult number when what you are counting might flutter by only every 15 minutes or so, over the course of hours.

So I count Five Beautiful Things sometimes. Mostly, I count them when I am running.  It is a marvelous distraction from ugly things (trash), annoying things (bad drivers, off-leash dogs), and discouraging things (“When will this summer heat ever end?”).

Wow. This really makes me sound like a new-age, lavender scented, dance-in-the-meadows kind of dreamer. Which I am not.  I like to rant and I hold grudges. I get very cranky about all kinds of things. Sometimes I laugh out loud at perverse or dark humor.  (To wit, have you listened to Welcome To Nightvale? It’s Twilight Zone meets Monty Python. So funny. )

But I have a very restless mind, and sometimes it likes the challenge of a counting game.  Moreover, there is a sort possessive urge in me to put things on lists.  For instance, if I list:  mist in a forest, orange tabby cat sitting on a white fence, Mt. Si with new snow, trellis with vines, pink cloud… I feel like I own them in a way.   And dammit, it feels nice. Who couldn’t use a little more Nice in their lives?

Pink Cloud

Number 5, a pink cloud.

UPDATES

Harp at the Black Dog went really well.  Knowing I was playing for a cause energized me and changed the way I was playing.  If you live in the area, I’ll be there every 2nd Sunday, 10:30-noon to raise money for animal rescue and shelter.

Fundraiser at The Black Dog

 

Knitting – Feels like I’m stuck in the mud.  I make progress, but there are too many projects on the needles! (Three cardigans, two pair socks, and a lace shawl.)  Unable (or unwilling) to set some aside and just finish a project, I rotate through them, changing every week.  Never again, Cynthia!  Bad, bad, bad!  Limits and boundaries are your friend! Here it is in writing in case I need to refer back: ONE stockinette project, ONE lace, texture or color-work project, and ONE pair of socks. That’s what I can handle.  Sheesh, what was I thinking?

Running – In spite of the hottest, most humid summer I can remember as a runner, I have stuck to my marathon plan fairly closely. I am not 100% sure that has been a healthy thing to do.  There have been long runs when I really felt ill from the heat but forced myself to finish. I hate that, because I cannot get a good idea of my real fitness when I feel that bad.  My last really long run before Marathon Day is this weekend, then we’ll see in two weeks. I might really be in miserable shape, or I might find it was all an illusion if the weather cools off on race day.

 

 

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As some of you will recall, I have been playing for brunch at The Black Dog cafe in Snoqualmie on second Sundays this summer.  (The last one scheduled is Sept. 8, but I hope to continue on after that. Please Like me on Facebook with the widget on the right to get updates.)   It is a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere in which to play, and I enjoy it very much.

The Black Dog is more than a cafe, and more than a music/theater venue.  There is always a variety of art, antiques and crafts to peruse and to buy, and always a friendly, talk-to-the-folks-at-the-next-table kind of atmosphere.

IMG_2849

Occasionally it gets quiet and slow…

Slow moment

At other times, I wonder if I can be heard above the happy sounds of food and friends.

It is so relaxed and laid back at The Black Dog that I have to force myself to get into proper clothing (not pj’s and tshirts, Cynthia!), and maybe even do my hair.  Which, it turns out, is hopeless. The Black Dog is a hip, hap’nin kind of place, but I seem incapable of looking even remotely hip and always seem to end up looking more like Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.

Mary Ann

Despite groovy earrings and leopard skin dress, just not hip.

Chronically unhip

Despite cool earrings, I arrive at the Black Dog looking typically un-hip.

But I don’t play the Black Dog to feel like I could look good in leather. Nor do I play the Black Dog for the money, which is minimal. I play there because I love the musical freedom and the warm reception.  (And the coffee.)  Last week as I looked over at the little tip jar between tunes,  I thought, “I don’t need that.” And then I thought about my true reasons for playing there and decided to add one more.

Once upon a time there was an innocent creature, a donkey named Pasado, who was hurt, and hurt, and hurt some more until he died.  Do you remember?   I cried when it happened and have cried over it many times since.  Just writing about it, I am crying now.  That unfathomable event summed up the worst of humanity.  The sanctuary that was created in response to it sums up the best of humanity.

Pasado's Safe Haven Sanctuary

When I was a little girl, our father died and our mother went to work while we were in school. Working moms were not as common back then.  During the day, whenever I was not at school, I remember feeling like there was not a soul on earth who would protect me if I needed it.  I remember every danger, every close call, and a few incidents where I did not escape harm. A psychologist might stroke her chin and theorize that my tears for Pasado are tears for my own vulnerable young self.  Surely there is some truth to that.  But I survived and grew strong whereas Pasado did not.

Starting with my next visit on September 8, 100% of the proceeds from my music at The Black Dog will be sent to Pasado’s Safe Haven animal sanctuary.  I really hope you will come to The Black Dog on a second Sunday morning, enjoy the food and some harp music, and leave a few bucks in the jar for animal rescue.   Thank you!

harp at The Black Dog

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I cannot believe it is only the beginning of August.  I think I might wonder at this every year, but it might be like childbirth — you just forget.

With all the lovely grey (no sarcasm – I really like it) that is our Normal Weather, it just seems impossible that a whole month of sunshine was just the beginning of summer, and that we have more to come.  Such weather was also a metaphor for busy times in July…  we have a lot more summer to go!

Here are some photo highlights from the past month….

 

Mt. Rainier from Snoqualmie neighborhood. One clear day after another…. is this my world?

One of many abandoned train tunnels on the Iron Goat Trail. By going both directions on the trail and doubling back, we got 14 miles out of it.

IMG_2776

Mr. K was awesome – though not a runner these days, he jogged-with-walk-breaks the whole 14 miles with me, even after falling and scraping up his elbow and leg. You can see the abrasion in this picture.

 

I enjoyed participating in the “Harper’s Circle” at the Enumclaw Highland Games, the one time/place all month where I actually got cold. (You can see me shivering on the far left in the picture.) It was so much fun that I think I will do more of these next summer (we have several Scottish Highland Games in this area), but I will bring along some good Scottish wool! I had such a cute outfit on too – and had to cover it all with one of my husband’s “emergency sweatshirts” from the back of his car. Sigh.

 

 

In the midst of having family visitors from out of town, we scrambled to get a couple of beds ready for our close friends who live a stone’s throw from the Mt. Si fire that broke out in late July. It was a close call, but they were able to stay in their home after all.

 

 

I brought my smaller harp on a 2 day getaway to The Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort in Leavenworth WA. One of the most peaceful spots on earth.

 

There are two videos up this week on YouTube, and I hope to post more in the next couple of weeks.  Please subscribe to my channel, HarpMyDay, if you would like to see updates.

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I feel like the Grinch in Ron Howard’s movie, wondering if he should go to the Cheermeister festivities: “yes! no! yes! no! yes!no!yes!no!yes!no! –aaarrrgh!”  — as the dog pulls the cord to the chute under Grinch’s feet.   So, at least for now, I’m back in the slippery chute of blogging.  Whether I will survive the Chair of Cheer is yet to be seen.

cheermeister

When last we left our harpist-blogger, she was fed up with the time-sucking vortex of all things Social Media and needed a break.  The thing is, I keep thinking of blog topics, and I miss writing.

Besides the time-sucking thing, there is also a nagging issue in my mind about topics: this is “supposed to be a harp blog.”  I’m afraid it really is destined to be more like a variety show.  So the blog will have to continue to include news about my running, my knitting, the weather, and my endless, strong opinions about food, the economy, children’s rights, and other stuff that very well may piss you off.  Sorry.

Let’s talk about what I’ve been up to.

  • Parenting/homeschooling: It’s awesome, rewarding, worth every minute. I would talk more about this but must respect my daughter’s privacy. (How many of us would have liked our mother to blog every detail of our teenage life? Right.)
  • Running: I am building up my long runs and it is going well. I’m up to 20 miles now, with a goal of 24 before my fall marathon (yes! I’m finally doing another marathon after a 3 year hiatus).
  • Knitting: The sweater drafting experience has been very successful. I’m flying solo now, having completed my lessons and my learning projects.  On the drafting table: yet another plain, British-looking cardigan (can’t have too many). On the needles: 2 pairs of socks, a scarf, a fair isle sweater, and a pullover.  More on these in a future post. 🙂
  • Music: the 2013 Memorization Project is proceeding slowly; I have committed only 3 pieces of my repertoire to memory since January, but they are pretty solid! (Sheep May Safely Graze; Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered; and Ashokan Farewell) There is a Bach Andante that is giving me grief (to memorize), but Dawn (from Pride & Prejudice) is sounding good.  I really hope to make some more YouTube videos this summer. For me filming is a bit like cleaning the garage – so hard, but so rewarding.
  • Also in harp news…

As resurrections go, The Bramble Band does pretty well. This is the now-defunct Scottish Country Dance band in which I met my husband, back in the 80s. Somehow, we manage to pull together enough band members once or twice a year to play for a function.  Last weekend the corpse was revived once again for the Northwest Folklife Festival, in which we played for a dance session.  Someone took this picture of us:

bramble band folklife 2013

To prove that this is an actual resurrection, I would like to point out that you cannot see any clear faces except the ghostly reflection of our pianist on the piano… The stuff of Poe, don’t you think?

With all the music and excitement of the festival, I managed to come home with only one poor photo of… baskets.  I get a bit overwhelmed in big crowds.

baskets

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I guess we all have a secret fantasy career wish. I actually have several: meteorologist, audiobook narrator, Supreme Court justice, Op-Ed writer, and… backup singer.

Oh yes. I would love to be part of a little trio of singers off to stage right, wearing cool outfits, choreographed down to the tiniest twitch, smooth as butter, providing that crucial musical element through our handheld microphones.

My bizarre aspiration probably began very early in life, as my two sisters and I watched music and dance shows together on TV.   And it began in spite of some pretty dreadful productions; a child doesn’t always notice things like “those ladies forgot to put on any pants,” or “why are those orange traffic flags stuck on top of music stand tripods?”  — both of which atrocities can be seen in this little number:

I do remember that we all wanted those boots.  (They were sometimes called go-go boots, but I remember we also called them “carriage boots,” pronounced like garage but with a “k” sound. And we all wanted white ones.)

But I digress.  I recently was encouraged by a friend to sign up for the harp ensemble that will play one piece in the upcoming Seattle concert of Julia Kay Jamieson.  Signing up this late, I don’t know for sure that they can still use me, but I received the score and it is fascinating. There are a number of sound effects and wonderful rhythmic elements.  (Did you know the harp can make sound effects? That’s a topic for another post.)

I don’t know whether Ms. Jamieson will play on the ensemble piece, or conduct it, or just take composer’s bows. I was kind of picturing her on stage with us, and then I saw this:

Well, bee bop a doo wap!  My imagination went into overdrive. Do we get handheld mics?  Do we get matching outfits?  Do we get boots?

Later, when I came back to reality, I was hunting on the internet to see if any recording of the piece has been made public. I did not find anything. But in the course of searching for the title “Between My Balloon and the Moon,” I came across quite a different balloon themed song.  Check out the plastic dress!!

I showed this to my teenage daughter, whose only response was “I am scarred for life.”  So no plastic dresses for my backup singer career I guess.

In concert: Julia Kay Jamieson, Sunday November 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM. St. Dunstan’s Church, 722 N. 145th St., Shoreline WA

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