Thursday, May 31, 2012

increase heat loss -- but how?

Reflecting on recent conversations about mood and season, and about vitamin D, and about cold therapy, i began to speculate on ways to improve health, well-being and -- you guessed it -- weight-loss.

The stream of consciousness goes something like this:  i can only benefit from being in the sun when it's not very hot because i don't metabolize heat well; i'm therefore obliged to get my vitamin D in supplement form; it would be nice to be able to dissipate heat more efficiently than i do; the cold-therapy enthusiasts have their way, but it won't do for me; maybe taking my icewater internally would do the job; if most hypothyroids have trouble being warm enough, why do i seem the opposite -- i'd better google it....

According to one source, hypothyroids can "run hot" because they're not converting enough fuel to energy (boy, does that sound familiar), so they're forced to get rid of it via the heat-production route.  The energy-production is scanty because of a dearth of specific nutrients, including coenzyme q10 -- which is acquired largely through biosynthesis.  AHA, think i!  Does this not look like YET ONE MORE thing my body needs help with (i.e., more supplementation)?

THEN i google "CoQ10 and hypothyroidism" and find ... a lot of unhelpful twaddle, but a hint that it might nevertheless be beneficial.  Of course it's not recommended, but screw that!  If i waited until the medical powers-that-be RECOMMENDED something, i'd be taking Synthroid, eat lots of carbs, weigh 300 pounds, and be positively miserable!

Voila -- two new ideas to feel more energetic and burn fat!  Next time i go out, i'll get some CoQ10, and in the meantime i'll try to drink lots of really cold stuff!  (I always did like popsicles....)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the power of good news and positive attitude

I was "bad" yesterday.  It didn't start out that way, but i worked my way down from black coffee for breakfast, to sushi for lunch ... to cocktails and red-beans-and-rice with my oysters and "alligator eggs" (bacon-wrapped scallops) for dinner at the Swamp Shack.  This morning i'm hungry.  :-(

So, of course, i felt emotionally as well as physically uncomfortable ... but i'm better now.  In my emailbox there were a few cheerful items, and ditto on facebook.  I've had several cordial communications there as well.

I'm a big fan of pronoia -- Rob Brezsny's work has been inspirational to me.  It has encouraged me to do things like ... avoid reading blogs that are full of unpleasant, misleading and ill-natured raving*.  ;-)

As Brezsny points out, the news media can be "addictive" as well as depressing; they seem to think that people WANT to hear the worst.  Is it because people with difficulties like to know that others can have more troubles, misery loving company?  Intentionally stirring up bad feeling, in my humble opinion, is despicable.  Not that the "ignorance is bliss" attitude is WISE, but one needs to sort of keep the world at arm's-length so as not to be overwhelmed by it....

A relative i will not mention (now departed) used to become easily irritated -- tell me, how could that help him, or anyone else for that matter?  What good can one possibly get from becoming annoyed by little things?  Is it not a lot more intelligent to shrug off the dumb little things that happen around one, and maintain aplomb under the influence of things one cannot help (like traffic)?

Aggravations will happen.  I think we can expect them to be as inevitable as death and taxes.  Does it make us feel better to let them bother us, though, or does it make us feel worse?
*  a little rant can be relieving to one's frustrated feelings, but i believe in limits....  ;-)

Monday, May 28, 2012

the stars at night ARE big and bright

...deep in the heart of Texas.  ;-)

It's been a busy four days.  I'm happy to say that Spenser didn't bite anybody this time, too.  He's fascinated by the horses -- he seems to be thinking, "those are the biggest dogs i've ever seen, and they don't smell quite right...."

But it's been HOT.  When i'm at a living-history event where i talk with spectators, i explain that mid-to-late Victorian attire isn't as oppressive as it LOOKS; however, it's significant to note that during the last half of the nineteenth century, there was a "mini ice age" going on.  Not only is it warmer than it was 150 years ago here, there's more paving and less green, and therefore it seems even warmer than it really is.

When portraying a "decent" woman of the era, i wear a chemise and drawers, stockings and shoes/boots, a corset (made of heavy cotton), petticoat, dress, and often an apron, too.  Whenever one goes out in public one is supposed to be wearing a hat or bonnet.  When the daytime temperature is in the 90s (as it was during this weekend), the humidity high, and the sun shining brightly, ANY activity will make one miserably hot.  The men in their long-sleeved shirts, vests and hats weren't too much better off.

That's why it's very convenient to have a disreputable character to play in hot weather: while sitting on our own porch, we wore nothing but our chemises (over modern underthings, so that we wouldn't look x-rated), and went barefoot, with our hair up off our necks.  Our porch is of the "dogtrot" variety -- a sort of tunnel between the two halves of our cabin -- and if there's ANY air moving, it'll funnel through, so it's a very comfortable place to sit.  When visiting other parts of town, we put on a loose cotton skirt and footwear (there are fire-ants...).

A disreputable character is also essential in the evenings, at any time of year.  Bearing in mind that we "bend the social rules" so that everybody can have a good time, there's no way a LADY can be respectable and still hang around in the saloon at night!  :-)  Most of the women in town play roles which make it reasonable for them to have a drink, gamble, entertain and/or socialize as they like; if one doesn't want to portray a soiled dove, one can work (tending bar, cleaning or doing errands, entertaining musically), run games like faro or roulette, invent a character who reads palms or cards ... whatever ingenuity can suggest!

But after days of driving, working at maintenance, "playing the game," staying up late talking with friends i see too seldom, cooking and doing laundry, setting up and preparing things for storage again, ... i'm beat!  I hope i'll have something intelligent to say when i'm rested up again!  ;-)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

doctors i have despised ... and respected

I humbly admit to being a raging bigot ... when it comes to the medical profession!  :-)  As well as the bad taste one gets in one's mouth from what we read of them online (both BY them and ABOUT them), i have plenty of first-hand experience of their arrogance, ineptitude and stupidity.

I'm sure the first quality will be debated by nobody outside the profession.  If you don't belong to their immaculate priesthood, you couldn't POSSIBLY be worthy to discuss the emerging evidence that all we've "known" about nutrition for most of our lives is incorrect -- or any other subject for that matter..  Tell me, is there a class in medical school called Attitude 101?  Or maybe it's just a groupthink thing -- to maintain their position in society they HAVE to be right about everything, all the time.  They couldn't possibly be misled themselves.  What's in the medical books is FACT, scientifically unassailable, and any other doctor who disagrees is a heretic, after whom the AMA and FDA will be coming any day now.  Patients MUST believe in their omniscience.  ...Sounds like the placebo effect to me, that anyone ever benefits from consulting one.

As far as ineptitude and stupidity are concerned, you have to wonder -- these people have GOOD BRAINS!  They couldn't have gotten through all that schooling without them.  Why are they so susceptible to the blandishments of drug reps, then -- where's the skepticism?  When they read about the chicanery practiced by Ancel Keys and the nonsense presented during the McGovern-led hearings, how can they brush it aside without THINKING, the way most of them do?

How can a fat, unhealthy doctor confront his patients and proclaim, "do what i say, because i know what i'm talking about"?  First, trying to take care of HIMSELF and finding his own advice doesn't work, HOW on god's earth can he not doubt the validity of his beliefs?  A certain doctor, whom i know only socially, is the poster-child for the point of view i'm describing -- his diet is appalling.  I honestly like the man but ... DAMN.

There are plenty of "professionally revolting" doctors out there, too.  From the GP i'd seen only once, who tried to make a house-call uninvited after i had returned from a hospital stay, to my "favorite," the ritzy Houston endocrinologist who declared that it didn't matter how bad i felt, because my blood-test numbers were good....  I don't know how these dickweeds can live with themselves.

On the other hand, there are some who deserve all the blessings the gods can give them -- some have MY blessings already!  The men who "fixed" my mother's knees and eyes were paragons of their art.  The two doctors i had, who themselves suffered from thyroid problems, who taught me a great deal i had never heard before (and i was no spring chicken when i consulted them) -- one of whom, additionally, educated me on allergens -- these were worth their weight in gold.  The female doctor, actually was worth her weight in something more like platinum (the skinny thing)....  It was a dark day for me when she left her Texas practice.

One or two friends, being aware of my predilection, voice surprise that there are blogs that i read and endorse which are written by [gasp] DOCTORS!  :-)  Doctors, of course, are like plumbers and hair-stylists, in that there are great ones as well as the piss-poor.  It's just that there's a limit to how much damage a crummy plumber can do.

There are those who will say we have to cut doctors some slack, because after all, they're only human.  My reply is, they can't have it both ways.  They can't insist on maintaining their monopoly when their track record in so godawful.  The excellence of trauma-care cannot cancel out their abyssmal record in the advancement of wellness.  Until the physician learns to heal him/herself, my trust and confidence will be firmly withheld.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

cold water and hypothyroidism

To me at least, hot water is much more attractive than cold.  I've said before that i INSTINCTIVELY shun cold showers and similar shocks, but as i was reading Mark's comments about CT, a much more "science-based" reason for avoiding it occurred to me.

Take as a starting-point, Dr. Lustig's view that quality of life parallels the amount of energy we burn.  That concept has always resonated with me.  Some of us have to struggle to burn anywhere near a "normal" amount, let alone enough to experience that vitality-to-spare feeling of younger people..  An awful lot of us don't seem to have a reasonable number of properly-functioning mitochondria, for one thing.  I'm increasingly finding it darned difficult to do the kind of exercise that builds one up, when one's knee tends to rebel unpredictably, and today's wrong movement turns into pain that lasts through next week.  What I have to do is find ways to burn energy by manipulating my metabolism.

Next, add the chronic low body temperature of hypothyroid people, and the fact that a lot of enzymatic processes don't go forward as they should at sub-optimal temperatures.  What we end up is with a recipe for an overweight, fatigued, numb-brained, joyless middle-aged person.  That's what i do all this internet reading to learn to avoid.

I can always tell when i've pushed my limits too far -- the first symptom is an inability to warm up.  It can be the result of too little sleep or food, or too much physical work or stress; no amount of clothing or blankets is enough, because my generator simply isn't producing sufficient heat.  I put the ceramic footwarmer full of hot water at the end of the bed, drink some ginger tea with "real" sweetener, pop some melatonin and try to get as much rest as i can.

For years i've said that i do my best thinking in the bathtub; i've learned that there is a very good reason for that.  Being in a hot tub raises my body temperature and EVERYTHING works better.

Monday, May 21, 2012

preparation and anticipation

The good mood continues today, despite lack of progress in the fat-loss department.  I only have myself to blame, as i haven't been doing the Strong Medicine program AS WRITTEN.  But according to Wooo, there's no way i CAN'T be burning fat, as my actual calorie intake is way low, and my carb intake almost nonexistent.  But if i think about stalling, it'll get me down -- so i'll change the subject!  ;-)

On Thursday, i take off for Texas, where i'm part of a club which holds members-only living-history weekends -- it's like grownups playing cowboys-and-indians!  Completely self-indulgent and rather narcissistic play-acting with a crowd of intelligent, personable and talented individuals, it's one of my favorite get-away-from-it-all activities!  My best friend of over 40 years will be there, too.  Good times!

Some living history is also known as reenactment, but the two are not synonymous:  a reenactor MAY just be put in appropriate clothing and told what to do, like a film-extra, but the best living-historians are so familiar with the physical and social conditions of the time and place they bring to life, that they might just blend in if taken there with a time machine.  Our goal is to "fool the camera" ... with wimp-outs when it comes to air-conditioning in the big saloon and in some private residences, as well as full amenities where we cook, eat, and clean up.  Meg and i have a little cabin of our own, though, with none of these "cheats"!   We use nothing but oil lamps, a wood-burning stove, hand-held fans, chamberpots, etc, and we LOVE it.  It's simple, quiet, charming and gracious.  I could go on and on....

...But i don't have time!  :-)  Now that i've had a bite of breakfast, it's back to the sewing room to finish my new work dress, because Minerva Jane Frazier (whom i'll be portraying this weekend for the first time) needs something unique to wear; we don't want her to be confused with Louise or Birdie or (heaven forbid) Rosa -- other characters i occasionally play.

Yep, PLAY.  I think this qualifies as one of those activities Mark Sisson advocates so ardently.  It does require a good deal of work (we also have to carry our water supply from the "well" to our cabin, which is "out of town"), but it's an unalloyed pleasure.  Wish we could do it more often!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

good-busy day

Last night, i began to compose a post explaining how i came to be so anti-modern-medicine, but i've decided to put it on the back burner.  At that time, i was feeling a bit cranky; yesterday had turned off uncomfortably warm, somebody across the street (a newcomer) was having a party with loud music, a neighborhood dog wouldn't quit yapping, and there was an almost constant series of sirens within earshot.  I slammed the windows closed and turned on the AC, but the booming of the neighbors' bass was still perceptible.  I blew the StM part of my diet by finishing the (low-carb) coconut ice cream, to help get cooler fast.  GRRRRR....

I almost slept the clock around.  I usually only do that when i'm shaking off a cold virus.

Stress is an ugly thing, even if you don't really notice it AS stress.  Obviously, i was more stressed yesterday than i was aware of (please pardon my grammar -- this is turning into quite a bad habit for me).  First the heat (it got into the 90s here), then a lot of interruptions, then the noise ... and i HATE noise.

All that sleep helped.  My energy today has been above average, and the project i started yesterday (making a new dress for the living-history event coming up next weekend) has been progressing well.  Had a great bacon-and-egg scramble for breakfast and am cooking another ground-chuck patty for dinner as i write.  Good-busy.

Because "busy" comes in different flavors:  stressful-busy, can't-catch-up-to-myself busy, no-way-on-god's-earth-i-can-finish-in-time busy, having-so-much-fun-i-haven't-stopped-to-eat busy, and so on.  Today's busy-ness has been enjoyable, like eustress is.  The seemingly-effortless sense of accomplishment when all goes well just feels good!

"Thank you, sir, may i have another?"  :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

sick people need more than drugs

Today, my writings are inspired by a rant.  :-)  Sidereal's post about modern psychiatry comes from the point of view of one whose education, experience and intelligent observation make her uniquely qualified to comment on the subject.  I'm an outsider whose introductory-level learning has only made me an interested witness ... but that doesn't keep ME from having an opinion on the subject.  Anyone who knows me would expect nothing less!

The "mental-health business" has always been a misogynist.  He's a self-centered, uppity jerk who (because he knows he's a quack and not a scientist), builds his sense of self-worth through acts of power over anyone he can dominate:  children, the sick, the weak, and -- even in the 21st century -- women.  (The history of "civilization" is full of men treating women as badly as they can get away with, pardon the grammar.  Look up the background of the word "hysteria" for more....)

The medical business, too, thinks meanly of us and our problems.  Built into its philosophy is a very materialistic point of view -- something VERY tangible is behind an imperfectly-operating human machine -- and if they can't get a handle on what that is (bacteria, poisons, viruses, excessive or non-existant hormones, a piece of metal imbedded in a tissue), they're completely lost.  Subtlety is out of the question for most doctors, and a woman's malaise is frequently of subtle origin.

Since the fall of Rome, the slow rise in importance of drugs in health-care, from the herbs of the wise woman to the monopoly of Big Pharma's influence on what is studied, and what information is dispersed, and what teachings medical-students (and graduates) are given, parallels the rise in knowledge of physics.  Unfortunately, the two are confounded in their degree of "scientific-ness" even though they're very different in practice.  The human body is NOT a machine, and you can't tinker with THIS mechanism without screwing up THAT one.  Too bad that medicine doesn't acknowledge ONE point the fields have in common -- if something seems to help at first but throws the system out of balance and causes more problems later, that practice is a non-starter.*

Certain drugs are amazing adjuncts to actual CARE.  Historical instances are told us of beautiful surgeries ... whose patients died of shock rather than sepsis or other causes, simply because anaesthetics were unavailable at the time.  Shock is much less of an problem now.  The Black Death, which decimated the population of Europe over and over again, is now a non-issue due to antibiotics.  Pain relievers, both for physical and mental causes, are a godsend -- can't be lauded enough!  But if the SOURCE of the pain isn't hunted down and eradicated, their value and usefulness is of a limited nature.  One needs to use these things as crutches till the actual healing is accomplished, then put them aside.

I once found written (and it drives me crazy that i can't find it again) a pithy statement about 20th-century western society seeking for "temporary relief" indefinitely:  this is EXACTLY what happens when one tries to use these patent medicines as they are too frequently used today.  Making an abused spouse emotionally numb does not solve the problem of abuse, providing insulin to a diabetic doesn't make cake-eating okay, and giving antidepressants to a woman who is malnourished and in a bad work environment isn't going to get her very far.  And don't get me started about hyping up a child with sugar and not letting him go out for recess....

The point is, unless something is done to fix what's REALLY wrong, which in some cases will actually take some TIME and EFFORT on the part of a doctor, drug use is a contemptible wimp-out.  The profession is spoiled and lazy.  They think they can order a blood test and write a prescription, and that's all there is -- well, it's NOT.  They're going to have to listen and think and research and reason, inspire and enable.  If they don't want to do what will actually HELP, they're in the wrong fucking field.
*  "Stuart Chase tells the story of the plumber who wrote to the Bureau of Standards saying he had found hydrochloric acid good for cleaning out clogged drains. The Bureau wrote back 'The efficacy of hydrochloric acid is indisputable, but the chlorine residue is incompatible with metallic permanence.' The plumber replied that he was glad the Bureau agreed. The Bureau tried again, writing 'We cannot assume responsibility for the production of toxic and noxious residues with hydrochloric acid, and suggest that you use an alternate procedure.' The plumber again said that he was glad the Bureau agreed with him. Finally, the Bureau wrote to the plumber 'Don't use hydrochloric acid; it eats hell out of the pipes.'"  ;-)

Friday, May 18, 2012

the power of "no appetite"

Since my LAST guest left, i put in about 24 hours -- 4 meals'-worth -- of the Strong Medicine protocol, which is to say that i ate 8 ounces of fatty meat and a cup of coffee for each meal, and nothing else but 3 cups of water between breakfast and lunch, 3 more between lunch and dinner, and NOTHING else except for the water and supplements i took first thing in the morning and before bed.  My appetite left me.

This morning's weigh-in shows that i've re-lost the pounds i put on during this last trip.  Now i can work on actually making some progress!  It's annoying that i spend so much time "recovering" from the damaging effects of "normal" (albeit low-carb) food!  Sometimes you can dig in your heels and say NO to the inappropriate things available to eat, but there are moments when it's rude or just plain unkind to resist.  [sigh]

On those rare and golden occasions when i lose my appetite, i've learned that it's best to RIDE that pony as far as it'll take me!  The first time i tried the StM technique, i was actually alarmed at how fast the weight came off, and i added in some vegetable matter at dinnertime to slow it a bit.  Donaldson said that it's "safe" to take off three pounds a week, but that you want your skin to "follow" the fat reduction....  After two abdominal surgeries, my belly is unattractive enough without screwing it up more, so i got concerned -- or is that too much information?  :-)

If i back off any plan while the going is GREAT, i lose a lot of impetus, AND re-entering the program is less effective than it was before.  While it's working ya gotta HANG ONTO IT!!!  Let the goodies pass you by, and explain to the disappointed face in front of you that you've developed digestive difficulties with whatever it is they're offering ... but that it looks SO GOOD that only the fear of later pain keeps you from digging in.  ;-)    In theory, anyone who cares about you will want to spare you PAIN, so it'll be a lot more acceptable than "you want me to screw up my diet for boxed cake mix and cool-whip frosting???"

So, one would think that having to detour from the StM for a couple of days would be a downer -- well, not THIS time, because the reason is different!  Yesterday i was not hungry until late afternoon (i DID have some coffee during the morning...) so around 5:00 i had a tin of sardines, a little of my hazelnut-chia bread, butter, and some white wine.  (It filled me to the "80%" level, so i really didn't feel the need to eat more, and i didn't wake this morning ravenous.)  Success!  I'm on a roll again, and i give full credit to the diet plan that CAUSES a lack of appetite.

Incidentally, i'm back to feeling good about skipping breakfast -- Dr. Donaldson frowned on this because it "put out the fat-burning fire."  Kindke recently posted about the morning cortisol surge that's normal for us, and how it encourages glucose intolerance, insulin resistance, and fat storage if one eats during it.  Now, this may be fine and dandy for gymrats who want to use it to put on muscle, but frankly i'm FAR more interested in how i can work around it to LOSE FAT.  I simply am not hungry in the morning unless i've been eating too many carbs, so why fight nature? ... As a matter of fact, fighting nature at ANY time is just plain stoopid.

So, fighting natural appetite is HISTORY from my point of view!  The thing that i've found workable is to manipulate it through food choice; i eat StM-fashion till my appetite is pretty much gone, and then i ride it with prudent low-carb variations like a surfer rides a wave.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

addition to my supplement list

As a result of some discussions of inositol on Wooo's blog, i've decided to add it to my collection of daily supplements.  DAMN, that collection is getting extensive!  :-)  I don't take every single one of them every single day, but ... damn.

Inositol is not classified as a "vitamin" because we CAN make it for ourselves.  Danger signal for me:  i so obviously DON'T manufacture and absorb things like "normal" people, whenever i find out something like this -- especially if the word "thyroid" is in the description or pathway -- i have to learn more, and possibly try it for myself.

Information on the 'net about how to use it and what it interacts with, is a lot sketchier than with some of my other supplements -- the latter are carefully grouped so as to give me the most nutritional bang for my buck.  Tyrosine allies with copper (on the days i take it) early in the morning, and magnesium is scrupulously placed in the bedtime group.  But inositol?  Save for some psychiatric drugs (which are not in my repertory -- i take no prescribed pharmaceuticals), i can't find much about it competing or abetting....

On one site, i DID find a suggestion about it being lacking in hypothyroids, and on another was a hint that it might be excessively excreted in those whose carbohydrate tolerance is iffy.  The latter conclusion with me has been one of comparatively-recent realization; i've known for years that low-carb is best for me, but just how poor my tolerance is, is an ongoing revelation.  However, i've grown quite proud of how my health has improved as a result of my diet and supplement choices, because of the care i take to bolster the specific nutritional needs of my struggling thyroid gland AND conversion-of-T4-to-T3 (with my liver especially in mind).  Only my energy levels need improvement at this point.

So i encourage my readers with experience of inositol use to chime in and tell me what WebMD and the others don't (won't?)!  I tell ya, i learn more from you all and the other bloggers listed here, than i ever have from "official" health sources....

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

state of the weightion

We now interrupt our regular series of philosophizing and rants to bring you a progress report....  ;-)

The past month has been a little disorganized for me and my dietary explorations.  With one thing after another after another, i haven't been able to stay in a dull little groove of eating what i know is optimal and systematically testing other things.  The bad news is that i gained about three or four pounds, though half of it has gone already, and was probably mostly water anyway.  The good news is ... i've lost my appetite.

During each phase of this experience, i tried to keep my carbs and omega-6s from getting outrageously high, while acknowledging that they WOULD be notably higher than usual.  The problem with eating out is largely, to become satisfied one has to eat the potatoes, too.  ONLY at Billie's is the omelette big enough and full enough to be a complete meal -- bless their little hearts!  Most places, they're hopelessly wimpy.  And it's shocking how few places have REAL saturated fats on hand.  :-(

Feeling rather poorly one day in Virginia, when my husband planned a steak dinner i had him buy me a big fatty ribeye and cook it VERY rare -- that perked me right up.  Lesson -- restaurant food is usually lacking in the "vital force" which rawtarians praise but can't definitively describe; i think it's a combination of enzymes and ... what vampires crave.

When we were back home, all my guests were gone, and i looked forward to eating "normally" again (for me -- "really weird" for everybody else), i plunged back into the Strong Medicine regimen.  Only problem was, my stomach wasn't ready for it.  Three meals of that and i felt overloaded.  When i used StM before, i had a similar reaction which i attributed to lack of salt, but that wasn't to blame THIS time.  And like before, i'm reminded of Stefansson's men and their early loss of appetite.  I guess this reaction is to be expected EVERY TIME one transfers from a "balanced" diet to a VLC one.  The full digestive process needs time to get on board.

So yesterday i finished the kefir for breakfast and had coffee-with-cream for lunch, before eating my last patty of ground chuck with the leftover roasted okra.  (I put the leftover mashed yams in the freezer.)  Later this morning, WHEN i actually start to feel hungry, i'll cook the tenderloin filet that i thawed the day before yesterday, and eat it rare with a big dollop of GF butter.  I have another chuck roast thawing, to turn into more lovely juicy burgers, which i'll make a little smaller than the last ones:  see if that doesn't reduce the load on my digestive equipment!

I have ANOTHER out-of-town adventure coming up -- a living-history event the weekend of Memorial Day, and a visit to my daughter.  This time i'll do some preparation that will -- with any kind of luck -- keep me from confusing my body quite as much as the last trip did.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"American" diet

Catching up on superficial "news" of my friends and family on Facebook, i noticed the Weston Price posting about rice consumption in Asia.  I began idly reading some of the comments....

Most instructive, probably, were ones by people who moved to various oriental countries from foreign lands; the pattern seemed to go, "foreigners always think X, but Y is closer to the truth."  I think this observation is pretty universal.

Until you live in a place for a significant time, and are cooked-for by natives of that place in their everyday fashion, it's not easy to tell what those people really eat.  I'll use my own home country as an example.

I grew up in the middle of the U S of A, in the middle of the twentieth century.  We weren't well-off; my mother worked as a secretary since my early childhood; she did a good part of the cooking, though my sisters and grandmother (who lived with us for awhile) also did kitchen work.  We ate "balanced" meals, with animal protein, vegetables and starches for dinner every night (rarely dessert), and various things in moderation for other meals -- eggs, cereal, sandwiches, canned soup, etc.  We had minimal snacks and "drinks" (those are expensive).  My grandmother was obese, my mother "plump" and my sisters lean -- i, a hypothyroid, was chubby till my teen years.

My best friends in childhood and high-school had different situations, one richer and the other as poor as we (but less organized -- less home-cooking in both); their foods were different but "recognizable," and these friends and their families were also lean.  So what was American food in those days, cereal, cold cheese sandwich with margarine on white bread, kool-aid, fried chicken, canned vegetables, hotdogs, lots of potatoes...?  Today, i would refuse to eat it.

While i had guests in my house over the past month, i tried to cook meals (when we DID eat "in") that would be a compromise between what i wanted to eat and what they would enjoy; i cooked a liver casserole with onions and bacon (because i knew my mother, sister and niece like liver), fresh vegetables, mashed white sweet-potatoes, oven-braised brisket, grilled steaks, salads, that sort of thing.  When we ate out, my guests continued to order what i would call "real food."  Is this what "foreigners" consider American food, these days?   Or do they think what ALL people eat on vacation is typical of everyday fare?

In hotels, a "free" breakfast is frequently offered which is comprised of the worst possible "food" imaginable -- might as well guzzle straight sugar!  The kinds of restaurants which cluster around tourist-attractions and places of entertainment are far from representative of the kind of food which family members (who are less carb-conscious than i) typically cook, eat, or even order in REAL restaurants.  McDonald's, Pizza Hut, KFC, IHOP, Pasta House, Taco Bell, Dairy Queen, etc are NOT REAL RESTAURANTS.  Allow me to coin a new term -- these are Junkfood Parlors.  They do not serve American FOOD.  Americans may eat there, but it's far from typical, just like the statistics on how much sugar is consumed is not typical of me, my family, or of anyone i hang around with.

So it is for a lot of countries, i'm sure.  When it comes to white rice in Asia or sweet-potatoes in Kitava, the mere fact that these foods are eaten as a PROPORTION OF DIET means less than what measured quantity of them are eaten at once, and in what context.

Monday, May 14, 2012

lessons that we could learn from my dog

Spenser seemed to feel less-than-perfect after we got home from our trip.  He's getting "up there" in years (i think he's 12), and he met quite a few challenges, including four days of riding in his "box" in the car, and suffering a flea invasion.

This morning, though, he's showing signs of getting back to normal -- thank heavens!  It's darned hard to treat him for anything unpleasant or uncomfortable because he has a "sharp end."  Obviously he had an unhappy puppyhood and when my daughter adopted him from a pet-rescue organization, he exhibited a number of strong self-defense reflexes.  I can fool him into getting a bath (because he doesn't really mind the process, just the anticipation), but to clean his ears or cut off a mat or trim toenails, my husband has to hold him firmly in his arms while i do the operation.  However, he LOVES brushies.

On our regular visits to the vet, Spense used to have to get his anal gland expressed every time.  If you're not familiar with it, it's a rather unpleasant thought:  this is a scent-gland inside the dog's rectum, which leaves behind an olfactory record so other animals know who's been around.  If living in a natural fashion, the gland works without a hitch, oozing a little material in every poop and never clogging.  Pet dogs, though, do NOT live in a natural fashion, nor do they eat a natural canine diet.  Even the higher-priced "scientifically" formulated dogfoods usually contain large amounts of grains -- cheap fillers -- as the bulk ingredient.  This stuff does horrible things to a dog's insides.

Dogs, though omnivorous, are not designed to eat grains.  The only animals actually DESIGNED to eat grains are birds and rodents:  not humans, and certainly not dogs.  Conventional dogfood, even the kind they sell through veterinarians, might as well be formulated to mess up his digestive tract, wreck his teeth, make him fat and diabetic, and yes -- clog his anal gland.  I won't describe the process of unclogging it; some of my readers may like to look at my blog on their lunch-hours....

A few years ago when i discovered the more appropriate ancestral diet for humans, i also heard about a similar diet for dogs.  (I think it might have been on Mark's Daily Apple -- give the man credit for intelligently dealing with all conceivable subjects within his intellectual purlieu, despite the inanity of some of his commenters.)  I first considered providing Spenser with a raw diet, but decided that if anyone else would be feeding him (and that was inevitable) it would be more problematic, and therefore went on a hunt for an acceptable kibble.  Finally deciding on Taste of the Wild, i never looked back.  He loves the stuff, every flavor they make.  He lost his chubbiness, is less itchy, stays cleaner, maintains whiter teeth ... and no longer has anal-gland issues!

All the stupid pointless diet studies that are currently carried out with rodents would more appropriately (and applicably) be done with dogs.  Mice, it has been pointed out, are not small furry humans -- the wild ones do not choose a diet similar to that of primitive people, among other things.  And humans (with some notable exceptions) are not large rats, either.  Canines, however, are omnivores who thrive on raw meat -- just like we do.  NOT that i would advocate treating dogs as badly as laboratory rodents are -- i'm outraged that experimenters feel all right about stressing the little things to death!  But it's less a stretch of the fitness of things that what applies to a dog is comparable in a human.

So, what Spense teaches me in his indirect fashion includes this:  the foods we eat have repercussions WAY beyond merely satisfying our tastebuds and bellies, beyond weight issues, beyond intestinal comfort issues, beyond skin and dental condition.  Of course he also teaches me things about personal boundaries, and that there's no such thing as too many walkies.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

thinking for oneself

It's a sad irony that some of the reasons for people being sick and miserable rest squarely with the specialists trying to "help" us.  We're malnourished due to the efforts of food purveyors, we're in debt to the eyebrows as a result of banking practices, and we're obese, diabetic, heart-diseased and mentally out-of-kilter thanks to the doctors and researchers who perseveringly prescribe the wrong diet and exercise advice.

We're dissatisfied with our lifestyles and love-lives as a result of the entertainment industry -- what is designed to be a distraction effectively brainwashes those who watch it, to make them think this is "normal" and that in whatever way the watcher's experience varies, that way is ABNORMAL, an undeserved deprivation of what should be a RIGHT.  ...Interspersed, of course, with commercials showing thin and beautiful people downing whole pizzas, beer, and quarts of ice cream.

People need to become far more critical of the messages they accept as "truth."  If a visibly sick and overweight doctor tells you that all you need to do is eat less, cut the fat and exercise more, why would you believe him?  Because he's "too busy" to follow his own advice?  He knows what his own obesity is doing to him, who could have more incentive to do things right?  If you HAVE followed his advice, and you're still overweight, why would you assume that it's YOUR FAULT, rather than suspect that the whole paradigm is incorrect?

The whole "n=1" concept floating around the blogosphere is a healthy development, i believe.  Sure, the physicians on my blog list look at it with healthy skepticism -- that's good.  Just because Supplement X has been very beneficial for me, doesn't mean that it'll do good for EVERYONE.  However, if i'm getting good results from it, the evidence is THERE, and the blanket recommendation that "nobody should take it" is arrant BS.

I'm honored that i have readers in demographics different from mine (young, and male) -- i STARTED OUT to principally address others like myself, middle-aged, female and difficult-to-reduce.  I think THIS message, though, is pretty much universal:  no matter how many people believe in an idea, if it doesn't work for YOU, then it isn't "truth" as defined by a logician.  If it DOES work for you, not just in the short term but also down-the-road, THAT is an idea to hold onto.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

back in the saddle

Okay:  i'm fired up to start being perfect again!  :-)

It's SO easy to eat and sleep the way i should when i'm by myself ... it makes me feel guilty!  Selfish.  When others are around, even my husband who is supportive of my choices, i frequently sabotage my ideal diet.  THAT is my weakness, MY failure of willpower.

Every failure, though, is a learning experience.  What i learned on this last trip is that even though i know where to go and what to order in restaurants to get a low-carb meal, i have to be careful to get a large enough serving of protein, and i need to ask for butter to augment the usually-low fat content of commercially-available meat.  I would have thought that i'd learned that before, but it took the Strong Medicine regimen to teach me what satiation properly feels like.  Red-meat protein and saturated fat.  Period.

The fact that i can SENSE additive ingredients in certain meat products is a clue to how i should order meals.  I have to ASSUME that even a hamburger in a respectable restaurant is going to contain more carbs than one i make at home, and reduce vegetables in my diet accordingly.  ASSUME that bacon will be sugar-cured (ditto for ham), and that "cheese" won't be like the stuff i choose at the grocery.  ASSUME that the seasoning on a steak will contain suspicious ingredients, and the steak itself will be "select" grade*, rather than "choice."  ASSUME that the olive oil EVEN IN SUPERIOR RESTAURANTS will actually be a blend.  Disgusting but true.  :-(

On the road, i'm going to have to assume that they're sneaking carbs into me, so the only way to be truly LCHF is to order like a ZC.

*  it's an interesting thing that, when i was in college taking animal-science classes, the grade which is now "select" used to be called just "good."  the low-fat propaganda caused the industry to redefine its terms.  "good" just doesn't sound good ENOUGH.  :-P

Thursday, May 10, 2012

conspiracy theory

Restaurants, food manufacturers, producers and grocers want us to eat more.  Grains and other starches make us do this, via a number of pathways, including opioids/addiction, ghrelin stimulation, insulin-induced hypoglycemia, glp-1 and FIAF suppression, ... and more that i'm not feeling anal enough to enumerate right now!  :-)

Saturated fat, accompanying protein, fills us up fast.  The entities listed above don't like that.  (I noticed, on my trip, that restaurant meals are skimpy with good fats; best thing you can do is ask for real butter, and add it to EVERYTHING.)

Advertisers for those entities, furthermore, know that people dread illness, especially the kind that comes from aging and overweight.  They're not above playing on those fears to try to get us to consume massive quantities of their CIAB, as they've convinced the modern world that a LFHC diet is "healthy."

(Have you ever noticed that "sick" people in commercials look like ... people, the sorts of people you see every day on the street?  When they're hawking their cereals or snacks or pharmaceuticals or whatever, the "patients" are now thin, active, happy and attractive specimens of their age-groups?  Real people with COPD or erectile disfunction don't actually look like that -- at least, not in my experience....)

So yeah -- i'm inclined to believe that a lot of businesses KNOW DAMNED WELL that their products are ruinous to health, in individuals and societies, economic and physical.  Some dare not back down for fear of humiliation and litigation, and others are too contemptibly selfish to care about anything but their own bottom-line.  It's nice to subscribe to a belief-system which tells me they won't get away with this kind of behavior forever.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

home again, home again!

Ah, what a relief!  It's ALWAYS nice to return home!

I was pleased to see that the tomato and pepper plants, which i put in the ground before i left, are not only alive but doing well.  The iris are finished for the season, but the impatiens look good, there are lots of buds on the day lilies, and the brugmansia has sprouted.  The herbs are thriving, too.

But BOY is there a lot of work to do around here....

Monday, May 7, 2012

when is a fast not a fast?

Hint -- this is like when Peter asked "when is a high-fat diet not a high-fat diet."

When Dr. Atkins prescribed a "fat fast" for people who are extremely resistant to losing weight, it was incredibly low in calories, and he only recommended doing it for a few days at a time.  It had enough fat to suppress the appetite, and it forced the burning of body-fat for fuel, because it certainly didn't supply enough protein to convert to a LOT of glucose.  I feel sorry for those on it who didn't have the metabolic flexibility or gut-bugs to get ENERGY from fat, and yet had to go about their daily business....

I assumed that the fat-fast was all about getting into ketosis ... until recently.  There are a few blogs where isolated posts give hints on why eating like this may promote weight loss by other pathways, too. 

In one of Peter's posts, he speaks of intestinal biota which prompt the brain to eat "fiber" and store fat, or to release stored fat for energy (so the host can go out hunting) ... and fat ingestion signals the latter.  The use of fatty foods during an intermittent fast (like drinking coffee with cream) is suggested by the Drs. Jaminet as "not counting" as food....

Here, too, is an explanation for the benefit of oil-swilling in the Shangri-La regimen!

Now we have this discovery that eating fat-with-no-carb spurs glp-1 production, which in turn turns off appetite and turns on spontaneous movement.  I find this very exciting.  In the average human, excessive energy "wasting" -- i.e., going to the gym -- is discouraged by our very beings (see Naturally Engineered); as a result, forcing yourself to exercise when you don't want to is more stressful and less effective.  But by this pathway, the urge to move is instinctive rather than a choice.  One gets the benefits of movement on the tissues and the mood-enhancing aspect of exercise in the brain -- all with no hunger or nasty cascades of BG and insulin.

So, yeah -- i now see the fat-fast as being a LOT more powerful than i believed possible, just reading Atkins.  ...I'll be sure to eat MORE CALORIES of it than he recommended, though!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

BIG discovery

Kindke finds the missing link.  I am in awe -- quite literally; i sit and stare into space while contemplating the simple elegance of it. 

It's very fashionable in some circles to sneer at what Dr. Atkins called the "metabolic advantage."  However, for those of us who not only lose weight better on low-carb diets but FEEL significantly better on them, we know it's real.  Dr. Lustig (who also works with REAL LIVE PATIENTS, not mice and rats) made a point in his talk at last year's Ancestral Health Symposium that quality of life is directly associated with the amount of energy one manages to burn.  As a hypothyroid who has always had vitality limitations, i believe this wholeheartedly.

Finally, Kindke points out what the mechanism is.  What makes it easy to "eat less and move more"?  Eating the right things -- duh.  For many of us, eating those lauded starches, those healthywholegrains, those FRUITSandvegetables, makes it HARD to do both.  His discovery fits in tidily with Dr. Donaldson's observation that, round about the fifth day of his "Strong Medicine" regimen, his patients found their morning walks a lot more do-able.

You gotta go read it in Kindke's words....

Oh -- and by the way, you should read Fred's article, too.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

another new experience

We went to the poultry auction today.  It was VERY educational and interesting! 

I've been attracted to the idea of backyard chickens for the last year or two;  to my surprise, these birds are not only allowed in our neighborhood, but there have been some living there for quite awhile, and i was completely unaware of their presence.  A friend i knew in Utah (now in Texas) has a flock and is delighted with them; she's been very encouraging to me.

A pair of Mexican bobwhite quail were an inspiration.  Quails are TINY.  I could build a movable pen only a few square feet in size, and it would be adequate for their needs for quite awhile to come.  The males would become meat, and the eggs a delicacy -- as a base for cocktail-size scotch eggs, they're perfect.  The bidding went too high today, but i'm still interested.

When i get back home, i'll check out the local equivalent of this venue.  If nothing else, the price of eating-eggs is incomparable.  Probably also a place to find more local pastured food....

Friday, May 4, 2012


Baby quail moving day!  Little guys are being transferred to the brooder....

day off!


Spenser is apparently allergic to something here!  He kept me awake most of the night with his scratching, squirming, panting (denotes stress in this dog), and otherwise DRIVING ME CRAZY!  ...I know, short trip.  :-)  I just gave him an antihistamine, so i hope he'll be more comfortable today.

Because of lack of sleep, i decided to be a complete vegetable today.  The guys have already taken a load of trash to the dump this morning, and have been mowing the "alley" on the edge of the pasture, and now are on another trip to the store.  DIL is catching up on HER internet chores, and MIL is writing a letter.... 

The incubating quail eggs started hatching yesterday!  Cute little things -- but then again, almost every baby creature is cute, even the human ones.  ;-)  The goats in the front pasture were brought into the yard nearer the house last evening, so when i looked out of the window this morning, there they were.  A kid was standing on one of the doghouses until she got in the mood for breakfast; another mama-goat was standing on one of the lawn chairs -- sturdy wood, thank heavens. 

Thanks to FreeCycle, there are quite a few toddler-sized yard toys around for the goats to climb on:  they LOVE that sort of thing.  ...I wonder if they use the slides, as well as jumping onto and off of the forts, picnic tables and doghouses?  The guinea hogs, dogs and poultry enjoy the wading pools, but it really hasn't been warm enough for them to do a lot of that during this visit.  Last time we were here, the dogs got annoyed because one of the hogs kept fouling their drinking-water -- they came a-running to drive him away from it just as he was climbing in; he was grunting and they were barking and we were laughing at the show.  Who needs television when you have animals to watch?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

being tourists

Today we visited a nearby town with some fun places to "play."  We went back to an antique store where i found some really kewl toys a couple of years ago; they had a few things i'd really like to add to the collection, but which would really be overindulgent to buy for myself.  :-)  I don't REALLY need that cruet set, even though it would look GREAT on my sideboard....  *sigh* ...I'll be sensible, and forgo it, as well as the beautiful cellarette that cost fifty percent more.

We also checked out a "kitchen toy store" run by a friend of my DIL -- such places are dangerous to me!  There's a wine and cheese shop in the back, too, and we felt quite noble about leaving the place with only one bottle in tow.  The shop next door had fun stuff as well. 

But the best place was a shop, the likes of which i'd never seen before:  it featured vessel after vessel of olive oils and vinegars which one could sample before buying.  It would be SO easy to end up with half a dozen of each, for various different culinary purposes!  I was restrained, though, and only bought one oil (which was so delicately flavored that i predict it will make a wonderful mayonnaise), and one balsamic vinegar delicious enough to enjoy on a simple salad with no other additive necessary.  I'm really looking forward to playing with them!

We're starting to feel a bit tired, though -- THAT part of aging is rather annoying.  No matter where one is, nothing is ever as comfortable as HOME.  I fear it won't be long till i start tapping the heels of my red shoes together....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

tongue 'n' cheek

First day of the season for the Wednesday farmers' market in the city hospital parking lot....

There were very few vendors who set up in the drizzly morning today; one featured lots of baked goods, and none of us even went over to look.  There was one stall with goat-milk soaps and lotions, and a few felted-wool items.  Another had potted vegetable plants, herbs and flowers.  One more had various early vegetables and berries, where i bought some pickle-cucumbers to take home and ferment (or maybe i'll use the recipe in "Paleo Comfort Foods"...).

I saved the best vendor for last.  Although they don't 100%-grass-finish their meat, this farm claims to be a humane producer of beef and tallow-based soaps on their website.  They very intelligently lure the buyer with a crockpot full of delicious meatballs wafting their aroma around the site.  Tempting to the intellect as well as to the senses, there's also a file of recipes for some of the more unusual cuts of meat offered in their freezers.

I succumbed to temptation....  (I love it when that happens.)

I picked up a beef tongue, and will cook it as the appetizer course for some meal over the weekend; i snagged their recipe for braised tongue as well, but i'm not yet sure if i'll use it or another.  My husband has been curious to try this cut -- funny, until a very few years ago he wasn't even willing to eat heart!  Nowadays, he's an enthusiast of sweetbreads, and anxious to try other abstruce meats.  I have to say, i'm proud.

Today, though, i cooked another piece of meat we brought with us from the midwest -- a beef cheek that he was anxious to try, and that he'd talked up to his mother to the point that she was disappointed we didn't have it before leaving home.  Under circumstances like THAT, i HAD to bring it along to eat here.  I seared it in oil, removed it from the pan and replaced it with chopped onion, carrot and celery, sauteed them briefly then added a teaspoonful of cocoa powder and some wine, reduced it a bit, then put the meat back in with some diced tomatoes, and cooked it three or four hours in the oven.  It smells heavenly and is as tender as butter!  We'll let it mellow for a couple of days before reheating and chowing down -- i'll report if it's as good as it promises to be!

Looks like there may be a fricassee on the menu in a few days, too; the kids need to remove a few roosters from the flock, and they're giving only one of them away.  I procured a reprieve for another of them, as it was too pretty to kill, but it kinda looks like three birds will be going to "freezer camp" this spring!

down on the farm

We started doing farm chores today -- well, my husband worked his butt off, and i did a very few things while talking a lot.  :-) 

His jobs today included building a firewood bin out of fence-stakes and pallets, and filling it up with fallen-tree parts.  Rescued a goat who got her horns hung up in the fence.  He also got to play with the tractor.  My big moment was feeding eggs and vegetable trimmings to the piggies -- they so enjoyed their snacks, i got quite a charge out of them! 

It was a beautiful day:  didn't get too hot, but the sun shone brightly.  We knocked off "work" in the early afternoon and sat in the shade sipping tonics and watching the chickens -- little characters!  Hit the grocery for essentials (wine), and picked up some lovely steaks.  DIL cooked us pork chops with onions, apples and sauerkraut; i roasted the asparagus.  Yum.

The guys wrestled with the mowing attachment for the tractor while i met the horses next door.  Then we all just sat around exercising our voices and getting sleepy....  Our bed is low enough for Spense to be able to jump up onto it, and when he snapped at J for moving his foot wrong, it woke me ... and here i am writing blog posts at 3 in the morning! 

:-)  It was a good day.