Jan 02 2013

On New Year diets

Published by under fatblogging

It is the New Year and time for resolutions, chief among them the annual promise to lose weight and get in shape. Having invested my share of brain cells to the topic of diet, and finding myself a bit of an amateur evangelist for reforming one's health following my physical breakdown in 2006 following my bike vs. automobile incident, I thought I'd succinctly offer some unsolicited advice to those of you thinking about turning over a new leaf. My credentials? I went from a whopping, life-threatening 280 pounds in August 2010 to 228 in February 2012 by going on a disciplined regimen of paleo diet on Zone block calculated portions with vigorous Crossfit training. This is not a "diet" but a life style change.

1. Log:  You can't manage what you don't measure  so start a food log. Be religious about logging everything that enters your stomach. I use Livestrong's "MyPlate" -- it has a great database for calculating the caloric content of nearly every food imaginable.

2. Weigh:  Treat food like medicine -- a drug you administer to yourself five times a day. You need to know your "dosage" so weigh your portions. After a while you'll learn to eyeball it. Get a decent digital food scale.

3. Study:  nutritional theory is being turned on its head. The old FDA "Food Pyramid" is under attack and it is very likely that your doctor doesn't know what he or she is talking about any more. Ignore the diet books -- you need to stop thinking in terms of "diets" as in plans or gimmicks.  Get off the yoyo cycle of South Beach, Atkins, etc. and instead aim for a sustainable approach to eating for the rest of your life.

  • Why We Get Fat, Gary Taubes. This is the most important book to come along in years.
  • It Starts With Food, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. These authors of the Whole30 challenge offer a good intro to kicking off a "paleo" regimen.
  • Enter the Zone, Barry Sears. The Zone was one of the big "low-carb" diets of the last decade. It's formula of apportioning food into "blocks" of protein, carbs and fats calculated againt your lean body mass is the best method for determining how much you should eat. Combine it with the paleo principles of whole foods omitting dairy, sugar, grains, and legumes and you wind up with what the Crossfit community considers the A-1 best diet model for the rest of your life.
  • Robb Wolf: one of the "deans" of the paleo movement.
  • YouTube series of Crossfit and the Zone/Paleo Combination. This is very useful.YouTube Preview Image

4. Understand: To do that you need to understand the science behind nutrition and accept certain new emerging truths:

  • Eating fat doesn't make you fat
  • Grains are not good for you
  • Hormonal response to food dictates where that food's energy is stored.  Timing of meals is important.
  • Eating clean doesn't mean eating organic, it means eating "whole" unprocessed food whenever possible
  • Finally -- this is all quantifiable and comes down to the simple truth of all diets -- to lose weight you need to expend more calories than you consume.

5.  Exercise:  figure out something that will burn a few hundred calories and keep you interested. If you're really off track, just get into a routine of walking and work up to something more aerobic. Just get moving. Crossfit is not the answer for most people. It's expensive, it's a commitment, but it is effective for former athletes and type-A personalities. Just make daily movement and creating a calorie deficit as much a plan as the menus you build.

6. Commit:  Dive into the Whole30 January challenge. Purge your refrigerator, buy a scale, find a farmer's market and load up on the essentials. Detox yourself for a week, then settle into a routine that can stay with you forever. There's no weirdness -- no cleansing, no grapefruits, bacon and steak -- just a logical routine that once learned will help shape your most important contribution you can make to your health: your diet.

One response so far

Jan 12 2012

An unexpected experiment in disabled computing

Published by under Personal

A 45-minute MRI inside of what felt like a 110 degree microwave oven, and an examination by the guy who does Tommy John surgery on Red Sox pitchers, and it has been confirmed that I ruptured my bicep tendon on Dec. 30; the muscle was ripped off of the bone in my forearm by my messing up a move in the gym called "toes-to-bar" and now needs to be surgically reattached as soon as possible before the tendon retracts too far up inside of my upper arm.

This is what happens when 53-year old men try to do things meant for 23-year old men. It happens to 3 out of 100,000 people, mostly men who lift weights in their 50s or 60s, and has an elevated risk for smokers (which I am not) or anabolic steroid abusers (which I am also not). There is some suspicion that anti-cholesterol statins may also play a role in weakening the tendon, but I have ceased taking those in a three month experiment to see if I can hold my HDL/LDL levels where they are today with a strict paleo diet.

Yes, I am depressed that this happened right on the eve of the annual indoor rowing season. No Cape Cod Cranberry Crunch at the end of January, no CRASH-B sprints in February. I'm looking at four months of rehab and another five months of work before I can return to 100%. The good news is I will return to 100%. Eventually.

Fortunately for me, there is a great online forum of distal bicep tendon rupture survivors with a lot of amassed wisdom on how to cope with the procedure and ensuing rehab.  And I am also lucky not to make my living through manual labor, but I won't be able to drive while in a splint/sling and I am going to have to adapt to life with one arm, my non-dominant one at that.

I anticipation of being out of commission, I've installed Dragon Naturally Speaking on my ThinkPad to allow me to use the PC and continue "writing" with my voice. I've never had much luck with voice recognition software in the past, mostly because I haven't been willing to put in the time to adequately train the system, and because I am such a fast typist. Blogging will either be drastically reduced for a month, move to Vlogging (I don't like cameras), or be voice driven. We'll see next week following Tuesday's surgery.

Thanks to YouTube I can watch some orthopedic surgeons narrate examples of the procedure. I'm not squeamish, but it looks like pretty delicate and major surgery involving two incisions on my forearm and the back of the elbow.  The severed tendon is cleaned up and then anchored into some pins drilled into the forearm. The bone grows back, the tendon is re-anchored, and I'll be doing heavy deadlifts by summertime.

With five days remaining I need to figure out how to clothe myself, put away enough meals in tupperware to sustain me until the splint is removed seven-days post-op, and clear my decks for the nasty, pain killer filled fog  that always follows surgery. My iPad and Kindle will be key to fighting off insanity. I'm already putting together a training plan to keep me in semi-shape during the recovery -- lots of air squats, box jumps, sit-ups, and one-armed work for my good arm -- but was advised by the surgeon that I would not be running or lifting much of anything for a while.

 

 

9 responses so far

Jan 18 2009

Broken rib

Published by under General

Thursday afternoon, snow storm on Cape Cod, nice fluffy pretty snow flakes. The birds are standing around the grape arbor looking dismal and hungry, so out I go to fill the feeders from the barrels of seed in the garage. As I walked across the driveway I spaced out on the fact that most of the yard is covered by four inches of solid shiny ice deposited there by a big rain storm on Tuesday night. Fluffy snow + black ice = slapstick fun.

One second I am shuffling along in the crisp New England air, three birdfeeders in my hands. The next I am on my back, staring at the sky, my mouth filled with black thistle seeds.

I look to my right and the thistle tube is shattered. I realize, in order:
a) my head really hurts and I do indeed see stars.
b) my left elbow won't bend
c) my left knee hurts
d) I feel something very wrong on the right side of my back.

So I slowly stand up. Look around, think, "That must be what it's like to get run over by a car."

And I hobbled inside, covered with snow, to tweet: "just absolutely nuked myself - slipped on icy driveway, flipped in air, landed on head .... chugging advil"

Friday morning I woke up feeling very beaten and bruised, but it wasn't until I sneezed that I realized there was something significantly wrong with my rib-cage somewhere low on my back. The pain was cosmic. So I called the doctor, went to see him, and yep, broken rib.

How broken? When I move I can feel the broken ends grind against each other.

Impact on life? No CRASH-B sprints in February. No serious exercise. Too many pain killers. And I'm pissed off.

But the birds got their bird seed.

10 responses so far

Jul 22 2008

The State of my Alimentary Canal

Published by under Personal

Yeah, so I got scoped today -- but not through the netherlands -- but an endoscopy to check out my upper G/I tract. Nice doctor put me to sleep, waving a menacing hose with decimeter marks on it before I nodded off, I woke up an hour later feeling most soporific. I went in with symptoms of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) , came out diagnosed with NERD. (something like Non-Erosive reflux disorder) When I got home I fell asleep for five hours.

The big ugly is this fall for those of you faithful who have inquired.

4 responses so far