One of My Mentors, Part 2

hip-x-ray-normal-hip-arthritis-hip
If you haven’t read Part 1,
do so now and then come back!

How is it that someone who most people
(especially exercise physiologists)
would think is so healthy could end up so broken
both musculoskeletally and chemically?

Most of those same people may look at his output
and think that he’s just mechanically and chemically worn out
the victim of auto-overuse…
but I have an alternative hypothesis.

When you look at the films of his arthritic hips,
you might expect the inflammation to be in the areas of “overuse”
but that isn’t exactly how the body works.

A folksy way of describing one of the adaptive properties of the body is,
“Use it or lose it.”

With this in mind,
it won’t come as a surprise that my mentor’s hips
were healthy…at least through the Ranges of Motion he used.
It was in those ways that he didn’t move where the joint was arthritic.

There are more and more studies are pointing towards health being measured based off of variability, flexibility, or more specifically – adaptability.

There is a danger to doing the same things over and over and over again. The trench, the groove that is dug in the body (including the mind) is so deep it becomes damn near impossible to jump the track, to deviate, to change directions.

For those of us who move a lot, especially in a limited set of directions, my mentor offers us a cautionary tale, move in all directions or ultimately lose all directions.

But what lost him, what cost him all his directions was a very specific part of his body, his mind. His mind moved a lot, too…in a few directions. He was very educated, very academically minded. But he missed it long enough for it to become a serious problem. What he knew got in the way of what he didn’t know.

There is a very simple way to avoid his fate.
Move what’s not moving.
Learn so that you may unlearn.

(Are you ready to learn what you don’t know and move what you’re not moving? Pick up GYM MOVEMENT today!)

Snack for Sleep

sleepless

You cannot sleep. You’re wired but oh so tired, wide awake. It’s probably close to the hours of 2am – 4am. Not only is this a  physiologically classic time to find yourself sleepless, but it’s frustrating and very anxiety producing. You’re quite possibly on the precipice of a total emotional breakdown.

I’m sorry. I know you’re TIRED! I’ve been through it too. But I am here to tell you, that there’s hope!

Why am I awake?
We could discuss neurology, sleep phases and durations of beta, alpha, theta, and delta brain waves, but how’s that going to get you to sleep, NOW! We could look at the suprachiasmatic nucleus, the pineal gland, or the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, but other than making me sound smart, how does that get you to SLEEP? Let’s keep it simple. Generally speaking, You are distressed. Why? I don’t know. I am not you. Maybe something you didn’t finish that day, or something you have pending tomorrow, or maybe you’re just in the middle of some existential crisis. Regardless, you’re distressed. Just not getting sleep is distressful. “OK. So I am ‘distressed.’ How does that knowledge help me, and not add to my worry?”

Is there anything I can do?
Our body’s chemical distress response activates systems in the body that are alerting and adrenaline pumping, not sleep inducing. You need to shut down that chemical alerting and excitation. And there is one easy way to do so…food, specifically carbohydrates: sugar, starch or both, that’s up to you. Salt and fat are great accessories. Let’s be real, when you’re totally distressed or up on a sleepless night, you’re not thinking how you can get your hands on raw celery sticks and mineral water. You want chips, candy, and ice cream…intravenously, NOW! That’s not emotional. That’s physiological. “But, but.. BUT!”

Won’t I get fat?
No, it’s not going to make you fat. In fact, quite the opposite. Sleep is one of the best lean-producing, fat reducing, anti-aging activities our bodies can engage. When you go sleepless, you significantly lower metabolic rate, your appetite activating and suppressing hormones, ghrelin, leptin and insulin are deranged, and that all-day tired is practically chronically activating that chemical distress response, over and over, which exacerbates all of the above (and A LOT MORE), and of course requires even more food to suppress it. In other words, snack yourself to sleep, if you can, or you will rapidly age your depressingly, fattening, sick and over-tired body.

What sounds a lot like, nice. dream? Ice. Cream.
I could go on, but suffice it to say, a carb-y, salty, fatty snack, in the middle of the night, when you need it, will be much more stimulating to weight control, leanness, anti-aging, health, vitality, energy and general bad-assery than starving yourself of both the food and sleep you so desperately need.

So you’re saying there’s a chance?
If you cannot sleep, and you cannot directly link your sleeplessness to something you can immediately handle, ask yourself if you could eat. Specifically, ask yourself if you could go for a personally tasty, carb-y, salty, fatty snack. It just might be exactly what you need to suppress your distress so your body can REST, and be fast off to SLEEP!

Your Diet Can Be A Piece of Cake

Is this you (or at least “weekend you”)?

happywoman

Is this You on a diet?

Girl Dislikes Vegetables

From my experience working with people to better their health through food, fitness, and lifestyle, I am probably pretty close, if not spot on.

Dieting, restricted eating, or what is clinically referred to as “restrained eating”, is inherently unpleasant. In the words of my wife, ex-figure competitor, “dieting SUCKS!” But is the distaste (pun intended) for restrained eating/dieting simply a matter of psychological shortcomings of weak willed individuals?

There has been A LOT of research demonstrating that restrained eaters, when exposed to “palatable”, or more appropriately, diet restricted foods, like pizza, ice cream, or meat, will overeat, especially relative to unrestrained eating, non-dieters. The most interesting research to me has shown that seeing, smelling, or just thinking about “palatable” foods, creates a much higher amount of salivation in restrained eaters vs unrestrained eaters. To appreciate the importance of this finding, let’s discuss digestion.

In simple terms, our digestive system breaks down food to deliver energy (macronutrients)and vitamins and minerals (micronutrients) to all of our cells. The better our digestion, the better we can access, produce, and use energy and micronutrients. Salivation is one of the first products of the digestive process called the cephalic phase.

From Biology for Dummies“The cephalic phase comprises those stimuli that originate from the head: sight, smell, taste, or thoughts of food, as well as emotional state. Stimuli that arouse digestion are relayed to the hypothalamus, which in turn initiates nerve impulses in the parasympathetic vagus nerve. These impulses innervate nerve networks of the gastrointestinal tract (enteric nervous system), which promote contraction of smooth muscle (which causes peristalsis) and secretion of gastric juice. Stimuli that repress digestion (emotions of fear or anxiety, for example) innervate sympathetic fibers that suppress muscle contraction and secretion.”

Looking at digestion, coupled with the unconscious, hyperarousal of salivation, indicates to me that state of arousal may not only influence how you digest your food, but  may reflect what foods are best for you. An increase in salivation is an increase in digestive function. It might just be one of your body’s way of saying, YES!

But what happens if you ignore your body’s communication in favor of your diet plan?

The most common finding is that restrained eaters (someone on a diet) will eventually overeat compared to unrestrained eaters. An example of this research is to observe dieters and non-dieters in grocery stores when they are exposed to food sampling. Dieters eat a lot more samples than non-dieters.

One of my favorite studies looked at the amount of ice cream eaten by dieters (restrained eaters) vs non-dieters (unrestrained eaters). Both factions were split into 3 groups. One group had to drink 1 milkshake, the next had to drink 2 milkshakes, the third received no milkshake. After the milkshake was finished, all 3 groups were given a big tub of ice cream, and were given 10 minutes to eat as desired. When the time was up, the researchers returned to collect the tub of ice cream and measure how much had been eaten.

In the unrestrained (non-dieters) group, the more milkshake you consumed, the less ice cream you later ate. Makes sense. They were full. But in the restrained eating (dieters) group, the trend was the exact opposite. Dieters who did not receive a milkshake didn’t eat the ice cream. The dieters who had 1 milkshake had some ice cream. But the dieters who had 2 milkshakes ate the most ice cream of them all (also the lower the subject’s self esteem, the more they ate).

According to research restrained, restricted eating is statistically the single best predictor of future weight gain. It’s also a surefire way to not only be over tempted and interested in “off limit” foods, but also nearly assures that you will binge on them at some point.

But what happens if all “my body wants” is junk food?

Stress (of any kind) can increase the body’s needs for more food (think energy and nutrients). In particular stress can lead the body to need more carbohydrate and fat. It’s probably no coincidence that’s the primary ingredients of most “junk” food.

Additionally, during distress digestion becomes more inhibited. This drives the body to seek more easily digestible foods. “Processed” foods are, by their nature, quite digestible.

In other words, if your body is really only interested in “junk” food, at that time, you probably need it. If you’ll eat what works with your body, you can use it to address the stress in your life which will lead to better eating and health.

Anecdotally, I have been more restrained in my eating than most you will ever meet. I have experienced incredible distress because of that restraint. So when I first began to eat unrestrained my “junk food” appetite was insatiable. I ate nothing but bread (all things gluten), fast food, ice cream, chocolate, meat, and gallons of gatorade.

I was psychologically challenged. But I was physically very energized (and relieved)! And after just a few days, I became neutral to food for the first time in years! I was finally able to eat (and live) without struggling.

Today, even with an open and stocked cupboard of refined and processed foods, I find myself usually more interested in the foods that people generally consider to be “healthy” (Parents, same is true for my kids). And when I feel in need of the health “restricted” foods, I no longer overeat, binge, stuff, or sicken myself with them (or my thoughts on what I just ate). In fact, when I need them, processed foods have become a very healthy part of my diet. But that’s just me.

Earlier I mentioned my wife, the figure competitor and chronic dieter. Well, she no longer diets. After years of disordered eating she’s abandoned the restricted and regimented ways of restrained eating. She feels better, looks better, and is stronger than most guys I know (me included)! With a monumental increase in “allowed foods” she is really healing her body and relationship with food. Do you know what kind of freedom and health that allows for in life?

My Wife and Kids...  Pretty Healthy Group of Unrestrained Eaters, huh?

(My Wife and Kids…Pretty Healthy Group of Unrestrained Eaters, huh?)

One of the main tenants of The Movement is to go with the body, not against it. What might happen if you go with your digestive action and bodily inspired food interests instead of disciplined restraint and dietary dogma?

You can’t struggle to be healthy. Those concepts are antithetical. Feeling better and functioning better are the essence of health, and I believe that any foods that allow for such positive outcomes are healthy.

It’s simple: pay attention to your body’s cues, and be willing to follow. For better digestion, better health, more energy, more productivity, more satisfaction (in all things), consider eating what satisfies your body, whatever that may be. Healthy eating can be a piece of cake!

DYEC

I love to cook. For me, cooking is that cathartic, me-time, activity. I also love to share food with my family, friends, and children. Cooking is something that I have done for a long time. First, I cooked instinctually and not that well. Then I studied it, and practiced it, very systematically and analytically. Now, after years of more academic cooking, I am once again cooking much more instinctually, and sensitively. Cooking, the way I do now, makes me feel better than ever before, and I have many reasons I believe it does.

#1 – Economy of Money
Food is one of my family’s biggest expenses. But, cooking and preparing most of my food at home allows me, and my family, to eat really well, and save A LOT. Exploring more grocery options, comparing prices, a little bit of planning, and even using coupons (many stores have electronic versions, SO EASY) and I now save THOUSANDS of dollars on food, each year. Please note, that more grocers are doing a better job at offering more variety of food, of all kinds. Great food is no longer limited to over priced whole food stores. Shop around, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.

#2 – Economy of Time
It takes me 12 minutes to make 4, 1/3 lb,  hamburgers with a side of beans and broccoli (and it costs me approx. $7). And with left overs, I now have a whole meal or meals which require zero time before eating. Now, how long does it take you to get in your car, drive to the restaurant of choice, order, receive it, eat and get back home, all for just one, mediocre meal? (and can you get 4 burgers and sides for $7?) The more you cook for yourself, the more time you will learn to save with food. I guarantee!

#3 – Community
As I mentioned above, getting to share it with others, giving a neighbor a bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies, or a pot of warm soup on a tough day can be a great way to care for, and connect with, others. Would you like it if I showed up at your house, on a whim, with fresh baked pie?

Also, cooking with my wife and kids offers multiple opportunities for connectedness and learning. My 5 year old daughter made an entire soup from scratch recently and it was AWESOME! All from hanging out with us in the kitchen, and helping where she can.

#4 – Physiology
Connect You and Your Food. You’ll learn a lot about food and you, working with it. Cooking could be the best way to add variety to your diet. Experimenting with and adding new foods is a lot easier when you can exactly tailor your food and recipes to your preferences; saltier, sweeter, spicier, fattier, you name it.

And, anecdotally, of all the people and families I have worked with over the last decade, the healthier ones always ate more from home, REGARDLESS of exactly what they were eating.

My homemade Cream of Sweet Potato and Potato Soup with bacon

My homemade Cream of Sweet Potato and Potato Soup with bacon

But, there is, above all else, one great reason to cook…

I’ve experimented A LOT with my diet. Hands down, I have most definitely experimented with my diet more than anyone I know, and still do! Part of my experimentation is observation and notation. I’ve meticulously followed how each food I eat makes me feel and function. From organic, local, whole foods to processed, refined, and fast food, I have uncovered that how I feel physically and emotionally, what time of day I’m eating, what I have done with my body recently, and what I have going on in the near future, all affect what food will make me feel and function my best.

It should come as no surprise how much my dietary needs can vary from day to day, and even meal to meal. In just hours my body can switch from organic sweet potato hash with bacon grease to frozen french fries with coconut oil, or a vegetable omelet to an egg white english muffin sandwich, or a rare steak and orange juice, to a double hamburger, on white bread, with lemonade.

As the cook, I know everything that goes into what I eat. Home-cooking allowed me to exactly monitor all the fine details, explore alternative ingredients and processes to enhance the way I feel, and it’s made a big difference.  From organic and pastured to greatly refined and processed, I am finding there is a use for ALL FOODS. I no longer fear or obsess over food because I’ve found the necessary places for all of it in my diet. 

Have you ever had a food, or a dish, that was so good for you one day, and then not all, the next?.. Today’s medicine might just be tomorrow’s poison.

You have very particular biochemical needs, each one of you, and cooking your own food allows you to exactly know and use, qualitatively and quantitatively, precisely what you need to eat.

To all the health bros and bro-ettes,
I guess my question to you is…
Do You Even Cook?

Question Everything

question-everything-800x600It was just after THE SUMMIT. I had presented the seminal information which was to become BioMechanics 1,2, & 3 to THE MOVEMENT “friendlies.” Response was good. We finished and retired to our accommodations.

Adam and I and a former friend / business partner of ours were about to pull the trigger. We were going to send out a invitation to our professional peers. The conversation shifted:
“Is the marketing too strong? Is it going to turn people off?”

I replied,
“The goal is this: We want to attract everyone who is willing to question everything. We want to repel everyone who is not.”

Fast forward from THE SUMMIT a few years.
We’re at another table.
A slightly larger table.
I’m surrounded by students, by friends.

They’re all so different, incredibly different. But a common thread emerges. These are people who have shown, time and time again, how much they will question. Many of those who weren’t willing and weren’t able to question as much are no longer at the table.

I can’t say that THE MOVEMENT has attracted everyone who will question everything
but I’m a little more confident in saying
we have certainly repelled those who would not.

For those who are at the table, thank you for showing up.
You have made my life better.
You have made it a little easier for me to question more.
I hope I do the same for you.
Some day we’ll all find each other at a much larger table
with more kindred spirits.
Those kindred spirits will bring more questions
and hopefully more answers, too.

Perpetual Progress has already been uncovered.
And that was just the beginning…
Physique, Athletics, Pain Relief, Personal Chemistry, Psychology…
the entire interface of being human has been made easier, better.

What’s next? Who knows?
I’m so excited to know the answers we will get
to questions we already have.
But even more than that,
I’m excited the questions to come…
the things we will question,
the things that we aren’t even thinking to question now.

Hacker Mentality

hackerdesktopThe term, “Hacking,” has made it’s way into the zeitgeist. While it was formerly reserved for matters of computer science, “hacking” has now been co-opted and applied in multiple contexts (and sciences). Let’s look at a definition.

“(Life) Hacking refers to any productivity trick, shortcut, skill, or novelty method to increase productivity and efficiency, in all walks of life; in other words, anything that solves an everyday problem of a person in a clever or non-obvious way.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_hacking

Tim Ferris (the other Faires, to me) is likely responsible for the sudden ascension of this term into our everyday life. Through his own personal experimentation, blog, and three books, he has demonstrated short cuts in so many areas including cooking, dancing, language, and fitness.

Fitness?  Oh, yes.  Hacking has definitely made its way into fitness. Perhaps you’ve heard or seen some of these “hacks:”
-hack your deadlift
-hack your workout
-hack your diet
-hack your fascia
-hacking your brain
-hack your nervous system
-hack your life

Why are we hacking so much?
What is so wrong with our exercises, our workouts, our diets, our bodies, and our lives?
We believe we should be able to do more than we’re able to do.
These hacks are positioned to the answer to this dissatisfaction.
But what if these “answers” are in response to the wrong question(s)?
What would the right question(s) be?

To of my favorite questions are,
“For what purpose?”
“At what cost?”
I think we’re pretty good at asking the first question,
the second…not so much.

Perhaps we’re not at good at asking the second question
because we’re not good at answering it.
Answering, “At what cost?” is something we excel at in THE MOVEMENT.

We excel at it because we
not only understand that everything makes us better or worse,
but we know how to measure it.
Those measurements guide us not only in the gym…
but in all aspects of our lives:
We live experimentally.

Before we undertake any endeavor,
we run the experiment:
Would __________ be good for me?

If the results of our experiment are positive,
an improvement in performance of that endeavor is assured.
In short, we get better at it…
and it makes us better.

We’ve trained ourselves to test what we do,
do what tests well,
and search for what to do
that will test well…
and have found no need to “hack” anything.

Perhaps the issue isn’t that anything about us needs to be “hacked,”
perhaps we just need to learn:
our interface better,
our software better,
ourselves better.
Better is hack-free and hack-proof.

“Healthy” Beliefs I Broke That Radically Improved My Health: Sugar

 Belief #3 – Sugar is toxic 

Are you considering a “sugar detox”?
Are you attempting to “go off sugar”?
Are you “addicted” to sugar?
Do you feel that sugar is “toxic”?

I cannot tell you how much of my nutritional education and work has been devoted to all of the above. And I cannot think of a personal health pursuit of mine that has not been rooted in attempting to eliminate “sugar” from my diet and life. Why is it so hard? Why do I ALWAYS fail with sugar?

The majority of my education, lower, higher, and continuing, have been rooted in answers. I was taught to listen, remember, recite, and replicate. I was inexplicably never taught to question. As a science major, I now find that baffling.

Over the last few years, I’ve spent almost the entirety of my educational, professional, and personal time, questioning.  I question EVERYTHING! And that’s precisely what brought me to an incredibly important nutritional question, “What is sugar?”

What is Sugar?
We’ve been conditioned to think of sugar as this…

SugarPoison

When it’s MUCH MORE ACCURATE to think of it like this…

C6h12o6

Paraphrasing the Royal Society of Chemistry, from just 3 elements, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, molecular compounds like monosaccharides (e.g. glucose) and disaccharides (e.g. sucrose) are formed. They are often called sugars.

The term “sugar” is most commonly used to refer to sucrose or table sugar. Technically, however, the term sugar refers to the simple, water-soluble molecules: monosaccharides and disaccharides.

canesugaris just 1 example

Among the monosaccharides, there are glucose, fructose, galactose, xylose, and ribose.

Sucrose, which is glucose + fructose, is a disaccharide.

Carbon (C); Water (H2O) Carbo - Hydrate

(C) Carbon, (H) Hydrogen, (O) Oxygen                         These 3 elements account for 98% of the human body by atomic percent

Where are edible “sugars” formed and found?
Elmhurst College Virtual Textbook clearly notes, “Sugar or more specifically sucrose is a carbohydrate that occurs naturally in every fruit and vegetable. It is the major product of photosynthesis, the process by which plants transform the sun’s energy into food.”

John E Lunn, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology states, “Sucrose (sugar) is one of the main products of photosynthesis and the most common transport sugar in plants.”

Glucose, Fructose, and Sucrose (sugars) are the carbohydrate molecules found in foods like melons, berries, beets, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli, even the beloved kale. Fruits and vegetables = sugar. Oh My!

sugar_content

Another dietary source of sugar is lactose, found in milk, which is a disaccharide of glucose and galactose. Also maltose, malt sugar, which is a disaccharide of two glucose units. The larger digestible carbohydrate molecules, polysaccharides, are found as starch. Starch is a long chain of glucose molecules, found in foods like wheat, rice and potatoes.

Monosaccharides and Disaccharides, the sugars, and polysaccharides, like starch, are carbohydrates.

carbs or sugars

Carbohydrates are one of our 3 macronutrients.

What is a macronutrient? 
According to the University of Illinois  McKinley Health Center, “Macronutrients are nutrients that provide calories or energy. Nutrients are substances needed for growth, metabolism, and for other body functions. Since “macro” means large, macronutrients are nutrients needed in large amounts. There are three macronutrients: Protein, Fat, and Carbohydrate.”

Table sugar is an isolated source of a macronutrient (carbohydrate).

Do I use (or Have I ever used) isolated sources of other macronutrients with positive results? 

coconut-oil-DSC_1718

This isolate (of fat) is considered to be very healthy.

pure-power-protein-choco-single

And this isolate (of protein) is also considered to be very healthy.

multivitamin

And this isolate (of micronutrients) is considered to very healthy as well.

sugars

But this isolate (of carbohydrate) is considered a lethal drug!?!?!?!?!?

What role do sugars play in the human body?
The Royal Chemistry Society strictly states, “(The single sugar) Glucose is the most important carbohydrate fuel in human cells.”

Iowa State Human Sciences says, “The roles of carbohydrate in the body includes providing energy for working muscles, providing fuel for the central nervous system, enabling fat metabolism, and preventing protein from being used as energy. Carbohydrate is the preferred source of energy or fuel for muscle contraction and biologic work.”

New World Encyclopedia cites, “Glucose and its metabolites are also used to assist in the generation of the five-carbon (pentose) sugar ribose for the synthesis of nucleotides, the building blocks of the DNA… The addition of sugar chains may function to assist proteins in folding into their characteristic three-dimensional structure, to enhance the stability of proteins and membrane lipids, or to act as recognition sites for specific chemicals.”

What about Fructose?
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Phosphate derivatives of fructose (e.g., fructose-1-phosphate, fructose-1,6-diphosphate) are important in the metabolism of carbohydrates.”

Fructose-glycogen

Glycogen is the storage form of glucose (glucose is kind of a big deal). An inability to store glycogen is associated with diabetes. Glycogen is stored in either the muscles or liver. Fructose not only can greatly replenish hepatic glycogen (liver stores of glycogen), but can be highly stimulating of the synthesis and storage of glycogen. Glucose and Fructose are botanically found together, they chemically bond together, and work quite well together, biologically and physiologically.

Can I “go off” sugar?

All living cells contain sugar. Sugar provides energy for all cellular processes. Sugars provide building blocks for DNA, as well as, structural and functional support to fats, proteins, and each cell of the body. You aren’t addicted to it. You require it.

Have you ever heard, “dose determines the poison”? Toxic is not an element, it’s an amount. Everybody needs sugar because everyone’s body uses sugar. Some people may generally need less, while others may generally require more. And everyone’s needs will change from day to day, to some degree. But no one’s body functions without it.No entity is inherently poisonous, including sugar. Sugar is not toxic.

Detoxification (and elimination) are organismic, organ system, glandular, and cellular processes. Detoxification is one of the integral and on-going process of life…that requires sugar. You don’t detox from sugar. You detox with sugar.

Sweet Relief…
Table Sugar is simply and sweetly carbohydrate, isolated.  Food oil, protein powder, and multivitamins are all isolated nutrient sources. And along with a wide range of lesser processed and lesser refined macronutrient food sources, I use fat, protein, and multivitamin isolates all the time. In some form or fashion, I use each of them everyday. But each day my requirements are different.

I now guiltlessly and healthfully use sugar, too.  But like fat, protein, vitamins and minerals, I only use so much, because I only need so much. How much might you need? How might your needs change?

Sugar doesn’t have to make you feel bad, and you don’t have to feel bad about sugar.  Be willing to find out how much you need.

How might you know?  Be experimental.  If you’re hungry for sugar, try a bit of the kind you’re craving.

How might you measure your results?  Through your response.  After having a bit of carbohydrates, ask yourself, “do I feel better…or do I feel worse?”

Hopefully now that you understand a bit more about the science of carbohydrates, you can be experimental and not feel as bad as I once did…every time I had a carbohydrate.

 

“Healthy” Beliefs I Broke That Radically Improved My Health: Fasting

Belief #2 – Intermittent Fasting is the easiest solution to dietary distress, stalled fat loss, stubborn lean gains, and modern health woes

midnightsnacks

Have you tried intermittent fasting (IF)? Do you IF? In case you haven’t, or have not heard about it, here is a very brief explanation of the practice, and my personal experience with it (and if you are familiar with Intermittent Fasting you won’t believe my results)…

According to Eat Stop Eat author Brad Pilon:

Long-term fasting: Abstinence from food or calorie intake for a period over 72 hours.
Short-term fasting: Abstinence from food or calorie intake for a period of 72 hours or under…

Intermittent – Occurring occasionally or at regular or irregular intervals… so really “Occasionally”
Fasting – Taking a break from eating (zero calorie intake) for a predetermined period of time without a necessary interval from one fast to the next.

So Pilon says that IF is “occasionally taking a break from eating.” I would add, according to his fasting breakdown above, “occasionally taking a break from eating, for a predetermined period of time.”

ALL diets are predetermined, and practice restriction in some form or fashion. Intermittent Fasting is the hilariously simple and logical conclusion to all diets. What do you restrict? Everything! You literally just eliminate eating. For how long? That depends on the “expert’s” plan you’re following.

I’ve used intermittent fasting periodically for several years. I often would not eat for 19 – 24 hours, sometimes more. Why? Because according to fasting “experts” that’s when the real magic happens.

For a period, I would go 19 hours without eating, everyday. Other times I would simply take 1 or 2 days a week and not eat for 24 hours. And every once in a while I would go as long as I possibly could without eating. (I think my longest is around 44 hours.) What were my results?

When I first began the practice nothing much more happened than getting hungry, abstaining from eating, finally eating, and eating to uncomfortable fullness. The more I did it, the worse it got. I began to get anxious not eating, then panicked, then full blown panic attack. The worse I felt, the more restrictive and intensive my fasting efforts became. That made me feel even worse, again. Predetermined, planned restriction was a total train wreck for my body.

Turns out, as a child, I most likely experienced what is called “accelerated starvation” aka “ketotic hypoglycemia”. Boston Children’s Hospital describes it by saying, “While accelerated starvation has a serious-sounding name, it simply refers to a tendency for children without diabetes or any other known cause of hypoglycemia to experience repeated hypoglycemic episodes.”

Although this was somewhat outgrown, a tendency towards what is experienced as hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, has remained with me through adolescence and  adulthood. And with that physiologic limitation, the more I restricted, the worse I would feel, and the more physically and emotionally dysfunctional I would become.

My body wasn’t, and isn’t wrong. (Neither is yours.) My response to my body was wrong.

Today, I eat whenever I need. I eat whatever I need.  And I eat how much I need. I eat to feel and function better. I often eat first thing in the morning. I may snack every hour. I typically eat just before bed. I’ve even found that eating in the middle of the night can greatly enhance a night’s sleep.

One of the main tenets of The Movement is to work within your limits. Over the past 2 years, I have been FEASTING, eating a lot of food and often. My body has needed food (after years of restriction). And you know what I am able to do more of since I’ve been feasting?.. Fasting.

Since better responding to my body, and working within my limitations, my body is capable of more than ever before. I now fast from time to time, because I can, but not because of a “plan”.

Pay attention to you, to your body, to your sensations. If you’re not hungry, consider not eating for however long you’re not hungry.  But if you are hungry, consider it may not be time to fast, intermittently, or otherwise.  Only you can know specifically what’s best for you at any given time. Learn to better listen to yourself even if it requires you listening to others a little less…even me.

 

Stay tuned for Part 3…

 

“Healthy” Beliefs I Broke That Radically Improved My Health: Water

I inadvertently, personally challenged several “health” practices this year. What will follow is a multi-part series of short articles articulating my experiences, experiments, and results.
You may be as surprised, as me, by what I found.

Presented in no particular order…

Belief #1 – Drink plenty of water

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Excuse me I have to go pee,.. again. Are you a water junkie? I was. I wouldn’t go anywhere without my water bottle, and I also couldn’t go anywhere without a bathroom. Chronic, constant water consumption, like drinking half your body weight in ounces a day, everyday, or even 8 glasses a day, everyday, did a lot more harm, than good, for me.

One day I noticed that I was feeling great, and I was surprised.  I thought to myself, “I haven’t had much water today. I need to drink more”. I believed I had done wrong by drinking very little water, despite my feeling great. I let my beliefs get the better of me, and I drank. I met my quota.

Almost immediately after drinking my “healthy” dose of water, I was bloated, bad bloated. My guts hurt, and my body was uncomfortably tight. My thoughts were fuzzy, and my hands and feet got really cold. I went from super to sorry almost in an instant. “I must be broken. Water is good.” Hmmm?

Then I realized that I felt like that often. Could this never-changing, daily dosage of water be wrong for me? That’s when I decided to listen to my body instead of my brain. Run my own experiment, according to my body, using my own results, for my own, personal health. To paraphrase Frankie, “Me-search not research.”

If I didn’t feel thirsty, I didn’t drink. If I did feel thirsty, I would drink. I didn’t necessarily drink water, often tea, sometimes juice, or even the occasional soda. And whatever I was drinking, I would drink just enough to no longer feel thirsty. Some days I drank A LOT. But most days, I drank VERY LITTLE. I immediately began feeling much better.

Drinking, whatever is most quenching, when I’m thirsty, and just enough, has aided an abundance of things for me. It’s better regulated my blood pressure, nearly eliminated bouts of abdominal distention and bloating, assisted reducing body fat and belly fat, contributed to resolving general anxiety, even panic attacks, restored my sense of hunger, significantly improved my digestion, and bettered my ability to eat personally appropriate amounts of food.

I no longer aim to drink “plenty” of water. I just drink whatever I need, when I’m thirsty, and just enough. If my thirst is not quenched, it’s rarely a matter of not drinking enough fluid, but mostly a matter of not drinking the right fluid. Clear pee is probably only good for drug tests.

In 2014, consider running this experiment:  Drink when you are thirsty and drink what you are thirsty for.  It made my body so much better.  I hope it will make your body better. 

See Part 2 of this Series on Fasting…

Heal(thy) Holidays

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Every year around the holidays I work with people who are convinced that they are fattened food fornicators, binging like anonymously addicted, gluttonous versions of their summer selves. They aggressively berate themselves with the staunch belief that they’re broken. All of this personally inflicted psychological and emotional torment because of some food? What’s up with that?

What characterizes the holidays for a lot of people? Awkward parties, forced “family time”, bad traffic, crowded malls, too-much-to-do-lists, working more, resting less, and spending more…much more. What do all of these have in common? They all reek of distress.

“Don we now our gay apparel.” More like, “Now we drown in holiday peril!”
The holidays can be a wonderful time of year, but they are too often overwhelmingly distressful. And distress isn’t just a feeling. Distress is a very real physiologic episode, with very real physiologic consequences.

Physiologically, there is A LOT that occurs during exposure to distress. To name just a few, heart rate and blood pressure go up. Blood is shunted from our middle section’s organs and out to our extremities’ working muscles. We hyperventilate. We’re antsy, anxious, nearly frantic. Peripheral vision narrows. Our mouth gets dry and our digestion readily slows or nearly suspends. Our immune system is over-activated. Our experience of physical pain is blunted. And in conjunction with other organ system adaptations, we are all set for “fight or flight”. Is this a state you want to spend a lot of time in?

If that’s not enough, even more happens biochemically each time we experience distress. But for brevity’s sake, we’ll concentrate on the biochemical actions that are most associated with our food and feeding. To fight or flee, you must have energy. One the of the best biochemical adaptations of our body is the access of stored energy for immediate action. Enter glucocoritcoids (Gluco- because the goal is glucose, aka sugar, aka carbohydrate, aka energy).

Glucocorticoids have 2 major roles in your experience of fiendish feeding: first, as we have mentioned, they mobilize stored glycogen to be free, accessible, cell energizing glucose. This is the immediate glucocorticoid response to distress.

The second response is even more ingestibly interesting. After the distress is resolved, glucocorticoids are still circulating in the blood stream (the more chronically you are distressed, the longer the circulating time). This post distress circulation is where their influence changes from mobilizing stored energy to acquiring new energy. With the momentary distress behind us, glucocorticoids increase our appetite. And glucocorticoid appetite is more than just a request for food. It’s specifically seeking sugar (remember GLUCOse in glucocorticoid?) Their appetite activating action is turned off by carbohydrate.

Distress literally asks you to eat more, specifically more carbs. Your physiology doesn’t consider carbs to be wrong…wrong is to deny your body what it requests.  Denial will compound the distress. And two distressors don’t make a right.

If there is going to be a place for distress in your life, leave a space for carbs on your plate. Being the Holiday season, its probably no coincidence that you can choose from all kinds of delicious (carbohydrate based) Holiday treats. If you want a healthy holiday, heal thy holiday…with the help of carbs.