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Posts Tagged ‘IF’

In which I resolve nothing

April 30, 2010 4 comments

After visiting some family friends a while ago, my father commented that they are all “porking up” and that their teenage girl looked “like a sausage.”

He must be so disappointed in me.

I know that nature doesn’t care if you’re ripped. I know that thin doesn’t necessarily equate being healthy. I know that my father doesn’t approve of me fasting, intermittently or otherwise, or of my occasional flirtations with self-induced vomiting. But having a low body fat percentage is the holy grail of the body project. It is the only, the all-encompassing project, and it shrinks the world to a pinpoint of obsession. If I really want to be honest here, on an emotional level, I would prefer to be thin than to be strong. This is problematic at best and wrong and damaging at worst. I would love to have some visible abs, but in a pinch I would take a few visible rib bones.

But diet (low carb paleo), exercise (strength, occasional sprinting), sleep (magnesium and l-tryptophan induced), and supplements (fish oil, borage oil, amino acids, vitamin D3, iodine, over-the-internet-counter desiccated porcine thyroid, maca powder) have not helped me reach a low body fat percentage. Apparently, my body would prefer to shut down its reproductive and metabolic functions before it releasing extraneous  fat stores.

I have tried carb cycling with sweet potatoes and cycling hypo- with hyper- caloric days. I have tried all meat, all the time. I have tried meditation, but my thoughts always circle back to my failure to be a thin person. I have tried cognitive therapy, but I think you really have to believe the thoughts you are trying to think. If your actual inner self is convinced that the positive thoughts are absolute lies, cognitive therapy is a wash, and an exhausting one to boot.

Meanwhile, on an intellectual level, I know that thinness, as well as not equating health, does not equate happiness. Any time I ever lost any weight (those were the days!), I would immediately adjust my goal weight down a few pounds. And yet, the things that are positively correlated with (though not necessarily causal of) happiness: marriage, religion, a sense of community, a sense of meaning, gun ownership, etc. seem very hard to come by.

I rarely remember dreams, and I seem devoid of any deep feeling or empathy. I feel like the psychological version of Helen Keller. If I believed in reincarnation, I might think that in a previous life I had been hurt so grievously that I was reborn without the ability to love. How’s that for maudlin?

Now, what am I going to do about it?

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An interlude: My story con’t

January 9, 2010 6 comments

And then there’s me.

In August of 2008, I had been on a low carb diet about a year and a half and on a Paleo-type diet for a little over 6 months. I was recovering from a year of Weight Watchers and chronic cardio which left my body an inflamed mess with high blood pressure and elevated triglycerides.

On Paleo, everything was going swimmingly: I was losing weight, improving my blood pressure and lipid profiles, and had bloodwork results that a lab tech called “textbook.”

Then I discovered intermittent fasting. I started with alternate day fasting, cut down to one or two 24-hour fasts a week, and leveled out at a daily eating window of 8-10 hours. That’s when I really started to lose body fat. But the vanished weight was quickly followed by my ability to menstruate, regulate my body temperature, and generally deal with life.

I tried to fix myself by interpreting the tea leaves of the internet. This led me to stop the intermittent fasting and increase my caloric intake. The result: I gained fat weight but failed to lose my symptoms. I began to think things like “If I have to spend the rest of my life feeling like this, then it isn’t worth it.” I started looking forward to the death of my parents, because then I would be free to end it all for myself without ruining anyone else’s life.

I ate handfuls of supplements. I read all the books you’re supposed to. I stopped exercising altogether. I ate grass fed meat, coconut oil, butter from grassfed cows, salads, berries, and free range eggs. I obsessed. Finally, I paid an out of state naturopath to advise me. He advised iodine supplementation (50 mg daily) and vitamin D (5000 IU daily) for three months. So far, I have completed one month.

Silent evidence?

January 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Paleo is still on the fringe, though it’s getting more and more mainstream media play.

Still, by now Paleo has its own canon, its own version of conventional wisdom. I was thinking about this the other day, when Dr. Eades tweeted a link to this Wired article by Jonah Lehrer. Lehrer points out that experiments often result in unexpected data that scientists can’t explain and subsequently don’t report, because

“Modern science is populated by expert insiders, schooled in narrow disciplines. Researchers have all studied the same thick textbooks, which make the world of fact seem settled. This led Kuhn, the philosopher of science, to argue that the only scientists capable of acknowledging the anomalies — and thus shifting paradigms and starting revolutions — are ‘either very young or very new to the field.’ In other words, they are classic outsiders, naive and untenured. They aren’t inhibited from noticing the failures that point toward new possibilities.”

Dr. Eades’ point was that the phenomenon illustrated in the article is probably behind low-carb’s lack of acceptance in academia. No doubt this is the case. By the same token, we Paleo practitioners also need to remain skeptical and keep our minds open to new or contradictory evidence. Says Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal,

“Here’s the thing, folks: falsification. For any hypothesis, you need but one observation that contradicts it, and you’re done. For hypotheses like ‘saturated fat causes heart disease,’ every single hunter-gatherer and other non-industrial population that has been studied directly contradicts it. Game over.”

I’m not saying there’s been any evidence that refutes the Paleo principles (quite the opposite), but we should be vigilant and keep considering evidence even when it seems contradictory.

For instance, what can we make of this? (Thanks @madMUHHH for the link!) I’m not saying Matt Stone is right or wrong, but if you read through his site, you’ll find a trove of anecdotal evidence from people who claim to have ruined their metabolisms by following low carb, Paleo diets.

These are the people who have for the most part dropped off the Paleo forums, because their experiments of n=1 have “failed.” Yes, I realize that the evidence is all anecdotal, and from unverified sources living lives fraught with uncontrolled variables. But perhaps this is enough to at least suggest further investigation, perhaps a study or experiment to see just what is up with that, as the kids these days say.

In which I am melodramatic, but truthful

January 2, 2010 4 comments

It’s negative 6 degrees Celsius out there. I verified this by the thermometer on the Sopher Real Estate billboard outside. It’s negative 6 degrees Celsius, but I couldn’t have guessed this just by standing outside. My innards felt warm

And I wanted to weep, because I knew then that I would be all right, that 2009 – the lost year – was over.

Understand that the past 12 months have been spent in a haze of cold, infertility, cognitive dissonance, and increasing despair. And this all started out as  – well, we don’t say diet anymore, do we? A healthy lifestyle choice. A   “Paleo”“Evolutionary”“Primal” lifestyle choice, which included a dash of intermittent fasting. I still believe, with a caveat, that these are the evolutionarily correct pathways to health and fitness.

The caveat is this: my daily experience on the regime, the incessant cold and intolerance to cold, the amenorrhea, the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior, the bingeing, the purging, the depression. These are all classic and recognizable symptoms of starvation. What got to me most was the cold. In Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, Marya Hornbacher writes, “I wish I could find words to explain what this kind of cold is like-the cold that has somehow gotten in underneath your skin and is getting colder and colder inside you. It isn’t an outside sort of cold; it’s a cold that gets into your bones and into your blood and it feels like your heart itself is beating out the cold in hard little bursts through your entire body.” And it is, it is. It’s the feeling that your internal organs have turned into ice. People tell you to put on a sweater, but how can that help the cold lives in the very core of your belly?

The thing is that I knew all of this. But I was getting, according to fitday.com and its ilk, plenty of calories and nutrition for my height and weight. My bloodwork was stellar and even called “textbook” by a lab tech. Even still, it seems to me that you can be getting plenty of almost everything, but if you fail to obtain enough of any one essential nutrient, you can in fact be malnourished enough to have a starvation response.

It took a year of trying everything and jumping through bureaucratic hoops. (Did you know that insurance companies can take months to recognize that they cover you if you have a hyphenated name? Did you know that naturopaths can’t order bloodwork for NY state residents? Now you do.) But I think I’ve finally identified the nutrients that I, personally, was deficient in. And I’m finally getting better. I finally have hope. 

What, you thought I stopped reading the internet?

November 15, 2009 Leave a comment

Oh, a nifty new linky tool. This is a test.

In a world in which there are vegan and zero carb diets, I’ve been obsessing a bit about paleo/primal nutrition, intermittent fasting, and evolutionary fitness. Linkfest follows:

This is handier than typing out html. Do kids today still use html?

Off to meditate, or something.

Uh…OCE much?

January 26, 2009 Leave a comment

Worked out – pushups, assisted pullups, leg presses, leg curls, leg extensions, stability ball jackknifes, and brief sprint intervals on the treadmill after a 20 hour fast.

I definitely did feel weaker exercising in a fasted state. I couldn’t do as many assisted pullups this week as last week and had to switch to dumbbell rows. Also I was cold (okay, em-effing freezing) all day. If you are looking for the silent evidence, I am she.

I feel like the increased amount of fruit the past few days (I have an actual purpose in eating more fruit; I’m trying to elevate leptin to make myself fertile again – hey, I’m only 32!) just made me softer and fatter. But my legs look thinner. Either that cup of berries induced an insulin surge that caused me to both store fat and cannibalize lean muscle tissue, or I just depleted some of the glycogen that was stored in my quads.

Had a pretty good dinner: salad with a tablespoon of olive oil, about 5 ounces of lean pot roast (I wanted more, but that’s all I could get!), some pan fried peppers and onions, and a handful of walnuts (12 walnut halves). Later, some unsweetened cocoa powder, two tablespoons of coconut milk (the yogurt experiment FAILED, by the way), and 2 ounces of red wine.

Too much food? Probably. I don’t get really hungry when I IF, but I get so, so cold. At least I’m warm now.

I wonder if eating breakfast tomorrow would be a bad move for weight loss, or if it would actually help.

Maybe a late breakfast or brunch, some almonds and a pear? I need to buy more meat, but I think I have a tin of sardines in olive oil that would do for lunch.

What's in a (blog) name?

November 25, 2008 Leave a comment

Took up Turbulence Training. I paid far too much for the bodyweight workout package — or did I? Hey, I’m on week 2, and it seems to be working (better than jogging, better than 8-days-a-week martial arts), and I was even able to stop weighing myself every single day.

Peace of mind: Priceless.

Now, I’m just going to IF and cook delicious, nutrient-dense food.