Friday, November 11

The 10,000 Ways That Don't Work

I've worked 20 hours a day, 7 days a week from last December 9 to May. I worked more like 16/6.5 since then. Starting just at the beginning of November, a bit over a week ago, I have actually been taking time off. I've had 1.5 weekends entirely off now, and 1.5 days (Wednesdays) entirely off now. I've gotten more sleep in the last 10 days than I have gotten in any 30-40 days in about a year.

This has led to the understanding that if you sleep 3 hours a night, you are not going to lose weight, for several good reasons.

I was re-reading my blog, like a 5-year review. I summarized many of the best/worst things I have done since I began this journey:

The things that failed abysmally (cheat days aka the worst version of carb cycling. Fruit+dairy. Lots of legumes. Anything with gluten).

The things that worked best when I was able to actually do them (hyper-nutrient supplementation. Bulk cooking of stews, quiche, and meat in general. Lifting weights, when I had the energy).

The things that were great ideas on paper but I was never actually able to sustain for more than 10 minutes (eating veggies, besides the occasional carrots/peas/potatoes in stews).

The problems that I had related to my eating (reactive hypoglycemia, particularly to things like eggs for breakfast. Addictive reactions to a lot of stuff. Total 'crisis' reaction to VLC).

The solutions that I eventually found for those (Ray Peat's adding-carbs if you eat eggs, like a little fresh squeezed orange juice, as if to 'soak up' the extra insulin that eggs in particular generate. Not eating the stuff I react to but more importantly not eating other things like gluten which makes me react to dairy, which I don't if I'm not eating gluten. Not doing VLC, or adding enough carbs to keep me out of major ketosis, or not doing it so suddenly anyway and not for long-term).

The good advice I couldn't take: like Regina Wilshire's excellent well-balanced nutrition plan which requires a well balanced person with a well balanced schedule, neither of which fit me. Like "everyone's" advice to eat grass-fed meats/dairy because store-bought is so high in Omega 6 which causes hormonal and other problems, but it's not for sale around me, I haven't had a car for a long time (not a big deal unless you need to leave the city), I don't much like the taste of the stuff as it turns out, and I can't afford it anyway.

The bad advice I took, or perhaps, the good advice I implemented so badly: weekends are for carbs, it's the 80/20 plan, it's carb cycling.

The advice I still haven't figured out the value (or not, or depends on the person) for: avoid deli meats (processed food yuck), avoid diet sodas (fake sweet causes body reaction, plus it's toxic chems), eat veggies/don't eat veggies, eat less carbs/eat more carbs, eat on interim fasting/eat lots of small meals per day.

The foods I seem to do best on: for LC, eggs, burger patties, chili verde, chicken, cheese. Everything else is too much trouble. Not-more-than moderate amounts of beans/peas if in a meat stew. Whole milk, fresh squeezed OJ and potatoes and corn tortillas when on the Peat-ish eating approach (which is not lowcarb).

The foods I seem to do worst on: milk as sole protein source (since I couldn't get decent meat, it was a suggestion by Peat--and it was ok, I just didn't feel "strong" at all. This could be partly related to additives in the milk, not the milk itself). Legumes as primary carb source. Gluten of any kind. Veggies which I will starve and let compost before eating. Lovely food that takes time to prepare which I will starve and let go bad before making time/energy to prepare it.

The foods that most often reflect my utter see-food diet downfall: gluten-free homemade cookie dough. Pasta with pesto. Order-in pizza with major gluten-ease pills all through eating it. Thing they have in common: they are really fast, easy, and high in both carbs/sugars and fats.

% of weight gained compared to % of time spent eating at least relatively lowcarb: direct 1:1 correlation, including "degree" based on just how far outside of lowcarb I was, with the exception of the Peat-inspired eating approach, which lost me a few pounds despite that my carbs were actually so high I must have been carrying my full 30-odd# of water weight. If I had only felt 'strong' on it -- and not 'ok but oddly lacking in any motive-power' -- that might have worked. Of course, a lot of things, but for one symptom or reaction or another, whether promptly or eventually, "would have worked."

...which pretty much says what every serious review of weight loss says: the quantity of people who lose significant amounts of weight and keep that weight off--and I don't mean for a month, or even a year, but for many years--is such an incredibly small % of the people who attempt to lose weight (and even radically smaller if you count the people re-losing it repeatedly as separate trials), it's almost ridiculous to even bother.

On this count I am starting to get a lot more sympathy with the Fat Acceptance crowd, although aside from this post I wrote about Fat Acceptance - sort of - I haven't had any real exposure to it. As I mentioned in that post, everything has a limit. Even people who are ok with obesity or obese people have all kinds of limits in a variety of areas that kick in, making it clear that acceptance is usually conditional and hence not really acceptance at all.

Aside from Dr. Sharma's blog linked above, I have some others I have added recently:

Dr. Jack Kruse (intro|blog), a neurosurgeon who in one off the cuff sentence (saying that the super-obese and anorexics share the same leptin profile) won me over since this explains an element of my life that nobody believes (given my weight) but is actually my biggest problem (since sufficient eating/protein/nutrition is necessary and without it I end up 'reacting' and eating badly instead). He has a lot to say about leptin, and adrenals. He essentially suggests what amounts to PaNu or Paleo.

Dr. Ray Peat (website with articles), is a guy who's been involved with research longer than I've even been alive and I'm 46. He has a lot to say about hormones, and thyroid, and a lot of stuff I didn't know. He won me over when I tried an experiment based on his writing. He said that eggs have a big insulin response and eating several of them ought to be accompanied by some fresh-squeezed orange juice (my layman translation is 'to soak up the extra insulin an insulin-resistant body creates in reaction'). This seemed like Worst. Idea. Ever. to a lowcarber until I tried it and found my 'reactive hypoglycemia' was magically cured. This one thing made me realize he might know more than some folks who had never mentioned such a thing in my years of reading their stuff. As it turns out, his articles library (about 80 of them) has so much stuff I didn't know, it's ridiculous. A good educational source even if you don't follow his suggestions.

I had previously mentioned here (I think) Dr. Kurt Harris (get started), a Radiologist, who has an eating plan he initially called PaNu -- 'new paleo' -- and who has what I think is the preferable insight of eating today's foods based on the ideal way of keeping the body healthy as it might have been (we dream) in ancient days, as opposed to eating foods solely based on whether they existed or were known to be used in paleo times. So he ends up being mostly low carb mostly lacto-paleo. I like his stuff in part because he's just a kind of reasonable, in moderation, do what you can till you get there, kind of person in his writings, which is rare and rather nice.


So after reviewing 5 years of history, and considering everything I've tried (which amounts to close to everything), I have some thoughts.

1. Lifestyle is first. If you're working 20/7, probably your carb count is not really your biggest problem. Reducing carbs or anything else won't improve you in that situation, it will merely reduce the degree of your tragedy. Which still might result in actual tragedy. Get enough sleep and solve whatever is making you stressed out. Take up regular meditation /prayer of any kind that helps you relax. The results are body-wide and ongoing.

2. Medium-term planning is needed. When I plan a week in advance I do ok for a week. That's all. My energy is very inconsistent and usually nonexistent. I will starve before I get up and make food if I don't have energy. I will eat crap if the teen is leaning on me to get/make something, because it's easiest and she likes it. Longer-term prep, in my case, is required.

3. Planning to eat things you don't much like is a total FAIL. Experimenting is good, but if you try it and you still think it's vile, give up. Figure out what you like that won't kill you and eat it.

4. Habits take work to form. Longer term prep/plan that gives them a chance is needed. Setting up supplements a week ahead of time for example needs doing if there are chronic problems taking them otherwise. Getting up early enough to make coffee and even food if you have trouble eating in the morning and you want to do so, is simply necessary. #1 affects this, obviously.

5. Actually research what's in the food you eat. If it turns out one of your main problems is being very estrogen-dominant due to a life of crappy food, living on foods that are 'mostly decent' but actually add to the problem is not helpful at all.

6. Outside of points 3 and 5, don't obsess. It's better to eat some beans than end up eating pizza because you knew beans were inferior and kinda carby so you didn't use them to make stew or chili you could have had instead so you didn't have any easy/quick/unfrozen/tasty food or energy when the demand came in.

7. Don't let your teenager determine your diet. Make a decent diet, make enough for her too, and let her starve if she doesn't like it. Otherwise you both eat like crap, she gains yet more weight, and you're mutually miserable. Good judgement and childhood do not go together for the most part.

I think I should spend the rest of the year (what little time I'll have before then) coming up with some kind of short, medium and year-long plan for 2012, and working on the "lifestyle" issues that directly interfere with my "food" issues.


I believe it was Edison credited with saying:
Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.

1 comment:

David Brown said...

To me it makes sense to focus more on food quality then on variety, portion size, timing of intake, or calorie content. I think Ray Peat is right. The omega fatty acids are a health hazard, at least in the quantities being consumed in this modern era. And saturated fats seem to be really good for us if they are consumed in the context of adequate supportive nutrition. To be sure, it's important to consume foods that one's body is metabolically equipped to process. But the overarching consideration is getting enough of all the materials required for immune system function, cell replacement and tissue repair.

But sometimes it happens that the metabolic damage is so severe that extreme measures (medications or mega doses of nutrients ) are required to repair the endocrine system or at least restore some semblance of normalcy. Are you familiar with Diana Schwarzbein's approach?