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Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

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!)

Podcasts

Reading

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We interrupt our regular Harpist’s Output of Sweetness & Light to bring you:

  • explicit language
  • unpleasant truths about what you probably ate for breakfast
  • an unpopular point of view on exercise
  • stuff I like about one guy who is saying what I already knew but with more blushing (me, not him)
  • lots of bullet point lists, exclamation points and italics! Sound fun? Let’s go!

The Background:  I’m not sure I have ever mentioned this, but I have strong opinions about what I eat.  I switched to the Paleo Diet in 2006 and added low-carb to it a couple of years after that.  The benefits I have experienced from this switch could take up an entire post. “Eat this way!” is at the top of the list of things I would tell my 18 year old self if I could go back in time.

I will admit that I have not been completely faithful, because you do not walk away from decades of consuming something more addictive than cocaine overnight.  I struggle. I fall and get up again. But I have no doubts.  Like Gary Taubes says, “Just because it took me 19 years to give up smoking doesn’t mean the body ‘needs’ cigarettes.”

The Discovery: So there I was, Low-Carb Paleo True Believer, running down the street while listening to podcasts, and I hear this guy, Vinnie Tortorich being interviewed.  To be honest, my first reaction was not positive. His macho-Italian voice made me think unkind thoughts.  But everything he said was brilliant and I soon shed the prejudice.

Another day, another run, another interview on a different podcast I like – there he is again!  This time I’m listening well right from the start… more good advice and sound reasoning.  Now, I spend a lot of hours running (yes, without sugar), and I am always interested in new books or podcasts to occupy my mind.  That afternoon I subscribed to Vinnie’s podcast and downloaded a number of the older episodes as well.

Before I continue, if you are sensitive to bad language, crude and vulgar jokes or you’re just easily offended in general, this is not a show you will enjoy. Or a blog post for that matter.  Don’t apologize; I respect your sensibilities and often feel that way myself.  Stick with Jimmy Moore or Robb Wolf  and you will get a lot of the same information without the hot sauce.

I often want to swear and tell people off myself.  But I was raised to be a lady.  By the way, it is said that one of the foulest mouths belonged to one of the world’s finest harpists ever, Alice Chalifoux.  I sat across from her during lunch at a conference once and heard her refer to a group of people as “those bastards.” Mild, for her I’m told. She was in her 80s at the time.

Getting mad: Vinnie (may I call you Vinnie, Mr. Tortorich?) is  “American’s Angriest Trainer.”  He calls himself that because “your good intentions have been stolen from you.” So true.  Ask me about an entire year spent being hungry every day on Weight Watchers, long ago.  Or the fat I gained trying to eat like Ornish.  Or the “cheat foods” I tried to work off by running.  I had good intentions too.

Vinnie rants a lot.  Honestly, I love the rants…  Biggest Loser starvation nonsense, clueless “trainers” at gyms, the tip jars at Starbucks, and whatever pisses him off — I love it.  The INTJ in me craves truth and justice, and I sometimes wish I could say “go fuck yourself!” like Vinnie does, but for the aforementioned lady-like upbringing.   Vicarious venting, that’s what it is.

Anna: Anna Vocino, Vinnie’s cohost,  gets me laughing so hard with her vocal impressions (she does a great Paula Deen).  She contributes in so many ways, keeps Vinnie on track (or tries to), and looks up information on the fly during their discussions.  And how cool is it that her name is “Vocino?” Doesn’t that mean “shout” in Italian? Go, Anna!

Content: Vinnie knows his stuff — except for the moments when Anna has to look it up.  Just kidding – he is a well-educated man and has decades of experience coaching people.  But unlike 99.9% of the coaches you meet, he questioned the low-fat, low-calorie paradigm, that monster born of the McGovern commission’s decision to put wheat profits above human health in the early 70s.  Vinnie was taught that dogma, but he eventually questioned it, and he embraced an unpopular truth – with bared teeth.  There is a great value in the polite, scientific voices you will see in my bibliography, but Vinnie is the first bulldog, in-your-face, you-wanna-piece-of-me? warrior for the cause.  Bravo.

By the way, if you are scratching your head over that reference to McGovern, take a moment to watch this:

Here are some of the things you will learn about on Vinnie’s show.  If you just want read about these things without the vitriol, see the bibliography at the end of this post.

  • Successful weight loss will come from 95% diet, 5% exercise.
  • Avoid sugar and avoid grains. (Personally I also avoid potatoes, legumes and other high-carb foods, but most people will experience a dramatic change in their health if they only do these 2 things.)
  • “Put life into living.”  Occasion treats will not harm you if they are really occasional.  Total deprivation doesn’t work well for most people.
  • You cannot undo the damage of whack-load of sugar with an hour or two at the gym. Hormones (insulin, leptin, ghrelin) rule.
  • Cutting carbs is important, but what people really have a hard time accepting is increasing the fat in their diets.  Not seed oils.  Olive oil and saturated fat (especially from pastured animals) are good for you.  The cholesterol theory of heart disease is founded on politics and economics, not science.
  • There are no fitness shortcuts.  No gadgets, no 20-min-a-week programs, no pills that will make a lasting difference to your fitness.
  • Sometimes people aren’t right about fitness. They just seem right because they are young, or “naturally thin.” Ask yourself whom they have helped and how long the help lasted.
  • There are right and wrong reasons to exercise.  Which reason you choose is going to determine your success.
  • Juice is worse than soda. Don’t make it, don’t buy it, don’t drink it.
  • Skinny does not equal healthy.
  • Getting older is no excuse for poor fitness.
  • A “cheat day” is a bad idea, if you haven’t already figured that out.
  • Olive oil, yes. Energy gels, no.
  • A very small percentage of the population can sustain an extremely-low-calorie diet for life. Very small.

Connections:  Vinnie, on the off chance you ever read this, I want to explain the real reason I love your show (besides the ranting) and eventually came to feel like you were a close personal friend: connections.  (Yes, more bullet points!)

  • Los Angeles – I love hearing you mention places in LA, around where I grew up. Not that I ever want to live there again!
  • You are an endurance athlete. I’m not sure if you know this, but among the Paleo-diet crowd there is sometimes a bit of an anti-cardio attitude.  They call it “chronic cardio” and blame various health issues on running, while completely ignoring the fact that the running culture is a sugar culture.  Although you are not advocating the Paleo diet, what you say is pretty close, and I am always so happy to see those two worlds “collide.”
  • You are over 50! I am over 50!  [Insert secret handshake here.]   How many role models can I look to for inspiration, when it comes to staying fit and feeling younger than my years? Damn few.
  • Ok, this one is just jaw dropping to me.  You talked about Dr. Sarno’s book on your show.  Nobody talks about Dr. Sarno!  I even stopped mentioning him to people because I got tired of being unjustly pitied as some kind of quack-follower.  Someday I’m going to write a blog post about my experience with TMS (Tension Myositis Syndrome), but for now let me just say that this information saved my running and changed my life.  It is real and true.  I am living proof.
  • You are friends with Genie Francis!   No, I am not also friends with Genie Francis.  But long ago, for a short time in my life, I was her double.  I lived in West Hollywood, and I could not go anywhere without someone asking me for an autograph.  In spite of repeated correction, the two elderly Russian women next door ambushed me almost every time I came out of my apartment. They would take my hands and pat them and gaze at me, smiling, muttering to each other in Russian.  “I’m not Genie Francis.”  “Yah, yah…”

Here are some pictures. You be the judge. And tell Genie “Hi” from me.

A younger me, looking like Genie Francis

A younger me, looking like Genie Francis

Young Genie Francis, looking like me

Young Genie Francis, looking like me

You can find Vinnie’s podcast on iTunes under “Vinnie Tortorich”, or at his website: www.vinnietortorich.com

Almost forgot the promised bibliography!  I have decided to borrow one, which you will find here, because 1) it has a lot of the books I would have listed, and 2) he has a really cool site you ought to see.     Update, December 2016… I see my link no longer works. I have written a new bibliography in this 2016 blog post which you will find at the very bottom of the post.

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