Happy Eating
Sneaking Up on the Unicorn
Category: Happy Eating

I can't diet. I can't even think that I might diet, or my brain, which in the past I've subjected to true prolonged literal starvation, will FREAK OUT and trigger rebound eating, much like those guys who went nuts in that Minnesota Starvation Experiment. :-)

I can't start something temporary that I will eventually stop--a "cleanse," challenge, contest, deadline, jumpstart, induction, calorie counting, x-week program, any of that. If I want to be leaner, the trick is to create a new normal. The way I eat now results in my current level of leanness. If I want to be even leaner, then I need to permanently alter my habits and intake so that they support the new body composition. I need to enjoy it and I need to do it gradually. That way it sticks. I was joking that this mythical future leanness is like sneaking up on a unicorn. I can't stop pursuing it because, hey, it's a UNICORN. The key is to tippy-toe up on the mythical leanness. I don't want to lunge at it and scare it or it will run away. 

So, I really consider my current habits and look for places to make changes. Could I have one of those instead of two? Could I indulge in that less often? Could I sub an equally enjoyable but lower calorie (or healthier) alternative? Could I still have _____ but make the portion smaller? I am willing to try new things if they appeal to me. Like I tried intermittent fasting, originally with Eat Stop Eat, but when 24 hour fasts became a drag, I tried just skipping breakfast. That went great for a long time, but when I started missing breakfast, I put it back and just go longer between meals. That ended up being the new normal. Then I discovered that I can happily skip lunch two days per week in addition to going longer between meals, and that is the new, new normal. :-) 

Basically, you bring something in (or take something out), see how it goes, and decide whether to keep that modification or not. Then you keep repeating the process until you have a new normal where you're happy, not freaking out, and easily maintaining the leaner body. This is a slow as mud process for me, but I'm already about as lean as I intend to get. My "normal" is pretty tight. If you're really loosey-goosey right now, changing a few of your most counterproductive habits can result in a satisfying drop without doing anything crazy. Just don't change too many things at once or totally cut out anything dear to you. Remember, the idea is for this to be your new everyday existence. You don't want it to be miserable. 

Sugar & Heart Disease--Finally!
Category: Happy Eating

Every day when I arrive at work at the TV station, Dr Oz is the first show I air, and then four hours later I run a second episode on another station, so I pretty much can't escape him.

Last night he was doing a show about sugar and I was preparing to get all eye-rolly, as I often do when he spews dated conventional wisdom and conflicting information, like coconut oil is bad for you, and then a week later he'll have a segment on the merits of coconut oil. That makes me crazy! But last night he FINALLY comes right out and says too much sugar elevates triglycerides, lowers HDL (good) cholesterol, and raises LDL (bad) cholesterol. Too much sugar also raises blood pressure and can lead to liver disease, hardening of the arteries, insulin resistance, and eventually diabetes.

Direct quote: "I think that's the biggest cause of high cholesterol in this country. It's not the fat we eat, it's the sugar we're eating."

That thud sound you heard was me falling out of my chair. :-D And I think this was a repeat episode. I don't know how I missed it the first time. Anyway, interesting stuff. Here's the link if you want to watch it (3 parts):

http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/1-food-you-need-lose-pt-1

Along those lines, I'd already been trying to prioritize my sugar consumption. You know, like once a week Haagen-Dazs is really important. Daily cookies I can do without. Weekly donuts have lost their charm. I've been easing up on the plastic honey bear that I use to squirt local honey all over my blueberries and Greek yogurt. A small squirt of it is delicious, but I shouldn't have like a whole bear head. I like my tea unsweetened. I'm enjoying summer fruit and not intending to ditch watermelon or anything. I love to get a soda bucket at the movies, but I do that maybe once a month. MEXICAN PEPSI, OMG, love that! Real sugar! One per week is the maximum intake.

Whatever I'm doing seems to work because my health markers are always perfect, but I don't want to get complacent and let my intake creep, and I totally see how it could happen. Sugar does interesting things to your neural pathways where you'll start to crave, justify, sneak, deny, anything to get your fix. :-) I'd been making cookies and packing one per day in my dinner for work. Then I was having one at lunch and one at dinner. Then I was having two at lunch and one at dinner. Then I was having three when they're hot off the pan, one at lunch and one at dinner. Then I wised up and quit baking. LOL But it's funny how far it went before I thought, wait, I have a problem here. How did this happen? Haha! 

How about you? How is your sugar intake? Do you think it affects your blood pressure or cholesterol levels? What about your weight? Is sugar a major issue or meh?

How do I lose weight?
Category: Happy Eating

What would you tell someone who wants to lose weight? People keep asking me and then not liking my answer, which is "eat less." :-) 

That's not what they want. They want the rules, the ratios, the timing, the research, a calorie level, a rundown of good foods and bad foods. They want all the hows and whys and exceptions. I suppose I'm known for being into that. I'm the resident diet geek or whatever. I used to go on and on about those things. Eat every 2-3 hours, protein at every meal, starchy carbs post-workout, 40/40/20, 40/30/30, BMR, zig-zags, net carbs, insulin, blaaaaaaaa....

So, now when someone I know wants to lose weight, they remember all those droning sounds I used to make about carb cycling or fasted morning cardio or whatever, and they're like, no, tell me all the important details. You know what? Those details aren't important. 

Brad Pilon had a clever little post about Cocaine, Fasting and Weight Loss. He says:

We don't help cocaine addicts by teaching them about the metabolism of serotonin-norepinephrine-dopamine re-uptake inhibitors or the hormonal implications of cocaine use, yet we try and help people lose weight by teaching them about hormones, metabolic pathways and glucose chemistry.

His point is that we should be paying attention to habits, lifestyle, emotional, and environmental factors, not pointy-headed broscience. I thought that was awesome!

I also loved this comment by Josh Hillis. He recently cut 10 pounds and someone asked him how he did it. He said:

The magic pill: *Less* total calories, *more* protein, *better* carbs (mostly fruit, vegetables, and brown rice)

That's pretty damn concise and effective! In fact, the next time someone asks me how to lose weight, that might be my canned "cocktail party" answer - fewer calories, more protein, better carbs.

Beyond that, I would tell someone to look at the big picture of weekly food intake. Where are you taking in calories that you could do without? You know, the eating that is pointless, excessive, or not that enjoyable. That's the first to go. Which eating opportunities do you LOVE and really look forward to? Pizza night? Sunday pancakes? Those have to stay. How could you modify them or compensate for the splurge? Once you find the "must haves" and "gotta goes" then you can work on the quality/quantity of your daily meals by maximizing the protein, plants, healthy fats, and whole foods, minimizing (but not eliminating) the goodies, and developing an awareness of portions. I'd explain about using results as a guide. If your results are good, you keep doing what you're doing. If there are no results, you make adjustments until you're seeing positive changes.

Then I'd talk about moving more with activities you enjoy. I actually really like Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint advice to: move frequently at a slow pace, lift heavy things, sprint once in a while, play, and get enough sleep. It's not about sets, reps, and cardio minutes, or finding the perfect training split. It's about creating a generally active lifestyle and then keeping it.

So, that's some really different advice than I would have given 10 years ago! :-D

What about you? Someone walks up to you and says, how do I lose weight? Based on your experience, what would you tell them? What do you wish someone had told you?

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