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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):

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?

Read My Hips
Category: Happy Eating


I'm a sucker for all food, weight, and fitness memoirs. I like reading the different experiences and points of view. Generally, I'm drawn to the eating disorder, weight loss, or fitness triumph books, but I just bumbled across a thoroughly enjoyable book on size and self-acceptance, Read My Hips, How I Learned to Love My Body, Ditch Dieting, and Live Large by Kim Brittingham. I don't want to ruin the ending, but she doesn't lose a hundred pounds and share her diet and exercise tips.

Kim says: "I've also vowed never to consciously try losing weight ever again. And make no mistake, there's no unhealthy complacency in this approach. I will continue making efforts to eat more healthfully. I'll continue to explore foods of good nutritional quality. I'll continue to address with curiosity the reasons I eat in absence of physical hunger. I'll try to respect my body while strengthening it."

I think most of us can relate to that. Except the never consciously trying to lose weight part. However, calm, flexible, evolved, and patient I become about this whole health and fitness thing, I'm still hyper-conscious of size/weight. It's not a disordered nightmare anymore. I'm at peace with it, but I believe that I'm at peace because doing what I love keeps me in my "ideal" size and condition. What if doing what I loved kept me 50 pounds heavier and many inches bigger? Would I be just as happy? Or would I have a psychotic episode? Sometimes I wonder.

She also says: "I believe we're meant to say yes to food, so that we'll become convinced of its abundance, and thus be able to think about something else."

And: "Sometimes change can only happen when the pressure is off."

Yesssss! Martha Beck and I are right with her on those! Restriction makes people obsessive and crazy. High-pressure tends to create temporary success followed by mega-backlash.

The book itself reads like a series of great essays. As someone who grew up in the 70's and 80's, I could so relate to her childhood and teen experiences. I loved the "Can't Stand the Farm Stand" chapter where she learned to love vegetables. "We Were the Weight Loss Counselors" was a scary look at her experience working as a counselor at a major weight loss franchise. Blind leading the blind much? "Bacon-Cheddar Melt" recounted the miracle of ketosis. In "Fat Is Contagious" she rode New York City public transportation carrying a book with the fake jacket "Fat is Contagious: How Sitting Next to a Fat Person Can Make YOU Fat." That landed her on the Today show.

I was amazed and repelled by the chapter called "Belly." I still have MASSIVE issues, apparently. LOL The idea of having rolls of fat, or a belly big enough to feel its weight sitting in my lap, wigged me straight out. I had to keep putting the book down because I was kind of freaking out at my reactions. I'm happy that she loves and accepts these things about herself. I'm not knocking it, in fact I'm a bit in awe. I'm just not sure I could do it. I love and accept my ribs and hip bones, being able to see the muscles moving under my skin. Does that mean one of us is crazy? Or wrong? This chapter really, really made me think. I'm still thinking. 

Another chapter that got me going was "Gym Dandies" which is basically one big swipe at the fitness industry and fit people. However, considering the level of suffering she endured in the name of fitness and at the hands of fit people, I can't say I blame her.

Anyway, it's beautifully written, thought-provoking, heart-breaking, and laugh-out-loud funny at times. If anyone else reads it, I would love to discuss!

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