science love

I love that Tierney quotes Gary Taubes extensively.  He clearly loves the hard science the man doles out.

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January 27, 2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

numbers game

Where do scientists get the numbers they use to try to scare us into doing what they believe is the best for us? Especially when it comes to nutrition?  When I read this article in the NYTimes, I was immediately suspicious about some of the information:

If everyone consumed half a teaspoon less salt per day, there would be between 54,000 and 99,000 fewer heart attacks each year and between 44,000 and 92,000 fewer deaths, according to the study, …

The study involved a computerized model that analyzed previous studies to estimate the benefits of salt reduction on lowering blood pressure and the lowered blood pressure’s effect on decreasing heart disease, stroke and heart attacks.

The researchers found that everyone would benefit from less salt, but people at higher risk for heart problems — blacks, people with hypertension and people over 65 — would benefit most.

(emphasis mine)

So, here’s the logic: if hypertension can be reduced by decreasing salt intake, then eating too much salt must cause the hypertension, so if everyone reduces their salt intake, there will be no hypertension and all these lives will be saved.

But there’s a huge problem with this logic. Salt intake is not the only cause of hypertension. What about stress? I would argue that a lot more of the population has high blood pressure because of stress than salt. Do these scientists seriously think that stress alone won’t cause hypertension and therefore heart disease and stroke?  Why would you focus solely on limiting a necessary dietary mineral instead of dealing with stress?

I can tell you right now, with all certainty, that black people don’t have hypertension because we eat “too much” salt. Black people have high blood pressure because being black in American is stressful.   Reducing salt does nothing about the root cause of the hypertension, which is stress.  It would be far more effective to prescribe meditation and yoga. But the nutrition industry in American is all about creating “bogeyfoods” that are going to kill you. Right now!

All of these nutritional bogeyfoods are about the intense desire to want to control your health, it’s all about the foods you choose and nothing else. “If you make all the right choices,” they imply “You’ll live forever.”

No you won’t. You will die. You will age and die and there’s nothing you can do about it.  Salt your food.

Couple this article in the Times with this post in the Huffington Post and you can’t blame a person for being suspicious. The semantics of death means Dr. Gayatri Devi can’t put down that her patient died of Alzheimer’s disease, that her patient forgot how to breath.  She has to put some made-up heart disease, because we as the general public, members of the departments of health included, don’t believe you can have a “natural” death from anything other than heart attacks, cancer and strokes. How skewed are these numbers?

January 22, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

The Weight Watchers Experiment

I joined Weight Watchers last night. In my last post, which I just put up, I said that I was tired of dieting, and that I was just going to cut back on sugar and bread, carbs essentially. In the meantime I started trying to write writing a novel and one of the main characters is a life long dieter. I was trying to write dialogue for her weight watchers meeting and I realized I couldn’t. I didn’t remember what the meetings were like or what people talked about, the kinds of words and phrases they used, basically the atmosphere. I also couldn’t remember what it really felt like to be on this diet.

I hadn’t been to a Weight Watchers meeting in maybe 7 years. (I signed up online a few years ago, but that lasted for a month at the most. Well I paid for a month. The dieting part lasted days.) I’d decided not to diet (which to me was Weight Watchers; I hadn’t read Good Calories Bad Calories yet) because I always gained the weight back after a few years. I decided that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result was indeed insanity, and I needed to not be insane, at least on some level.

However. I need to write dialogue. I need to describe how this woman feels on this diet. How she’s been doing this for 20 years and she’s just in her early 30s. She doesn’t even know how not to think about it. What it’s like for her to go through her day doing this. The best way to do that is to go on the diet, go to the meetings, participate in the world actively as this constantly dieting woman (I probably shouldn’t write about a murderer). So last night I joined.

At first I felt a little dishonest. I felt like I was using them. And I am. I’m essentially easedropping on people who very earnestly lead and attend these meetings. They have remarkable stories about weight loss and weight gain, but more remarkable they have stories about themselves that are revealed in their struggles with weight.

I thought I would be able to maintain an objective distance, but I couldn’t. If you’ve been to a Weight Watchers meeting you know there’s a lot of applause. Maybe you know. I didn’t. I’d completely forgotten about that.  The meeting started with a little applause, the leader waking us up. I thought “oh dear”. I wanted to be jaded. I wanted to see these people as deluded about weight loss (“you do know that most of you aren’t going to ever get to goal and only 2% of you who do will keep the weight off”).  But by the end, when a woman reported that she’d lost 74 pounds and was about to finish up a running series that would total 88 miles over the past few months, my applause was spontaneous and genuine. The phrase “I never thought I would ever be able to ___”  fill in the blank is just inspiring no matter what your own goals are.

I also noticed that I’m really competitive. While I was sitting there, listening, watching, observing, I kept thinking “I have to do this. When I get on the scale I want to see results! I can lose more than anyone else! This totally makes sense, it will totally work,” I kept thinking. It’s like something clicked and I really really believed this was the way and I had to do it better than anyone else. I had to be successful at this.

The leaders parting words were “Dance as if nobody is watching. Eat as if everyone is.”  I almost gasped when I heard those words. Really? Eat as if everyone is watching me, judging me?  So I’m doing this so I don’t look bad to other people? I take other people’s judgments of me seriously and I let that influence choices in my life?  When I eat, I’m supposed to feel shame if I’m not eating so-called “healthy” food or if I’m eating “too much”? There are so many sad things about statement. The spell was broken.

January 21, 2010. Tags: . Uncategorized, Weight Watchers Experiment. Leave a comment.

start and stop

I wrote this last week. Last week sucked so I got back to it to actually post it. Here it is. A lot has happened since then.

This week I decided not to eat any sugar and much less bread, to lower the amount of sugar and starches that I’ve been eating from the high of the holidays.  My skin has been looking awful and I ‘m feeling bloated and I just wanted a clean slate.

I was not crazy with it. If a little slice of bread came with the soup I ate it (if it was good).  I ate dark chocolate. I do feel better, even though I ate dessert at a True Blood watching last night and I got high on sugar and caffeine this morning because I didn’t get to bed until 1am and I still woke up at 5:30.  I’ll eat dessert and bread tomorrow as well (have friends coming over for dinner) and maybe even Sunday.

My goal is to not eat sugar and bread every single day. This is doable. I’m not sure how I didn’t eat any sugar or bread for two whole months when I first tried a low carb diet.  I was so entranced with how much I was losing that I just didn’t, I guess. But I have to admit, the second I stopped losing I stopped the diet. We’re so trained to think of diets for weight loss that if we go on a diet and we don’t lose weight, we stop it even though we feel much better, and in my case, my skin was so flawless. (I didn’t realize how much I wanted flawless skin until I had it for a couple of months.)

But dieting to lose weight is just no longer an option.  Now I’m at a place where I think, life is too short not to enjoy the lovely bread I make or dessert or anything else (non-food) for that matter.  If I’m fat, I’m fat. For those who say, I’m shortening my life by eating this way… you’re morons.  I could get hit by a bus tomorrow.

I will exercise moderately (well actually I love vigorous workouts) 3-4 times a week but that’s all I can promise. And when I say promise I mean promise myself. I’m tired of lying to myself so I can make someone else feel better about me.

Would I like to drop 50lbs? Sure. Is that likely to happen? No. Am I going to beat myself up when it doesn’t? Probably. That’s being honest.

January 21, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

fat yogi

I’m coming late to this article, but as a fat yogini I feel I have to comment. It’s a post by Sadie Nardini referring to another post by a 300 lbs yogini who doesn’t feel like she fits in but keeps trying anyway.

I am always the fattest person in the yoga studio. I didn’t say biggest, because some of the men are bigger. Some. But whenever I go to a new yoga studio, I always assume I’ll be the fattest person there, and I always assume any new teacher is thinking either “what is she doing here?” or “oh she’s finally going to get some exercise!”  It’s the latter attitude that pisses me off the most. “Training for triathlons and biking 50 miles a week and doing Cathe videos is a lot more strenuous than your little yoga class,” I want to yell. “I’ve been exercising my ass off for 20 years. And oh yeah.  I’m a yoga teacher!” Of course I never say this. I keep it all in. And maybe that’s why I’m fat. Not.

I’m a big fan of Sadie Nardini’s core yoga, but her post just confirmed what I’d suspected for most:

“And, I have to admit, I do view obesity (I’m not talking about a healthy, curvy woman, mind you, but clinical obesity) as an imbalance that that originates in the ego’s shadow looming too large in front of the spirit’s light, but ultimately reflects in avoidable heart attacks, cancer, and strokes.

To be fair, I also see imbalances in myself and my students that manifest in other ways.”

The whole idea of fat people having issues, but thin people are somehow issue free drives me insane, and to be fair, Sadie explicitly recognizes that. However the idea that you can define what’s “wrong” with a person simply by the way they look is absolutely ridiculous. “The ego’s shadow looming too large in front of the spirit’s light.” Whahhh?  When feel they can say something like that for everyone who some other physical characteristic, then I’ll, maybe, consider it.

So let me be clear: There’s absolutely no issue that fat people has that thin people don’t have. Stop pretending they do.

January 11, 2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Daybreakers, or the vampire in all of us

I saw Daybreakers last night. I’d read it’s supposed to be a metaphor for Big Pharm, Big Agriculture, and/or Big Oil, depending on how you look at it. But the movie is about hunger more than anything else, and not even metaphorically, but actually.

The vampire-ruled world is running out of humans, and therefore the human blood they need to survive (Big Oil, Big Ag). The vampire rulers, headed by an always delicious Sam Neill, are desperately searching for a blood substitute (Big Pharm). When vampires don’t eat, they turn into completely inhuman monsters, bald, winged, super strong, terrifying, disgusting, and deadly, to the general vampire population.

Poor things are just hungry.

While I say that jokingly, the movie really does paint them in a sympathetic light, maybe even more sympathetic than the Fightin’ Humans. When the government rounds up some of these creatures and soldiers are dragging them into the light of day to kill them, the scene is played as a tragedy with soaring music, and one of the characters looking on as if to say “This is not right!” Some of the poor beasts are wearing nice suits and jewelry for crying out loud. These were once decent law abiding vampires! Nearby witnesses look on with fear, showing the first signs of turning, knowing they could be next. It could happen to any vampire, poor or rich, because the supply (Oil, Ag) is running out and no amount of money will get it for you.

Vampires are all about an overpowering hunger. Hunger is physically painful and debilitating for them (and us?). Even if they love torturing humans for fun, they’d never kill a human without feeding (as Bill the Vampire so sexily explained in a season one-episode of True Blood).  Any evil they do is always in pursuit of a good meal.  They’re really my kind of people.

January 9, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

“the choice scenario”

In my previous post I wrote:

“Some could argue that there’s no choice in peeing or shitting, while eating involves myriad choices and it’s up to the individual to make the “right” choices. Don’t get me wrong, I get the idea of being “addicted” to certain foods, like say Cheetos. Not good.”

A commenter responded that “You are correct in the choice scenario of eating. Education and information at the earliest of ages may be a deterrent.”

This is a bad idea. Let me tell you why. In the current environment, education and information at the earliest of ages would create a generation of people who are unable to evaluate how their own bodies feel and make choices for themselves. That was kind of the point of the previous post, which I clearly didn’t present well.

We are already brainwashing people into ignoring their own bodies, thinking that if they’re hungry between meals there’s something wrong with them. I was reading about a doctor who encouraged his adult patients to deny their children food if they wanted to eat between meals, even if the child said she was hungry. He suggested they tell them they’re not really hungry, that they just think they are. This is insane. Again, if your child tells you she has to go potty, would you question her motives?

Another way that education and information at the earliest of ages about the choice scenario is a really bad idea is that the current nutritional advice is just wrong for millions of people, and because Americans are prone to puritanism, any deviation for that “advice” would open up fat people to all kinds of persecution. Yeah. I’m using the word “persecution”.  In my post, I chose Cheetos as an obvious “bad” choice for constant eating, forgetting that the fat nazis assume that all fat people sit around all day not moving a muscle, eating nothing but Cheetos and potato chips and drinking liters of full corn syrup soda. It’s their own fault, blah blah blah. I’m sure some people do eat that way, but millions of fat people do not.

But my real problem with “the choice scenario” in this case is that some of the “healthy” foods we fat people are constantly told to eat, like fruits, lots of whole grains, and low fat, are really unhealthy for a lot of people. If not for the majority of American’s then certainly a significant minority.

The other night I started watching the new Good Eats episode when Alton Brown explains what he did to lose 50 lbs. I’d heard that he’d cut out sweets, even cutting out milk because it goes so well with sweets. However, the first recipe of the show was a fruit smoothie. I pretty much stopped watching after that.

Here’s what fruit smoothies do for me (and just to be clear these are all fruit, no fat, etc): I drink them, feel bloated, then an hour and a half later I’m hungry again, and not a normal hungry, but really like “OMG! I’m starving” hungry. That’s what a lot of fruit does for me, it makes me bloated and/or hungry. I love fruit, love bananas, mango, pears. And sometimes I eat them anyway, but it’s just physically unsatisfying.

However because the diet nazis are so stringent they’re constantly telling fat people what to eat. Fruit is good for you! And because fat people have come to believe that they’re just awful human beings who are insane (why am I hungry if I just ate? how could I have let myself go like this?) and can’t make decisions for themselves, they try to eat whatever they’re told to eat and when they feel hungry they try to ignore it.

But ignoring your hunger is like ignoring the urge to pee or shit. You can only ignore it for so long before things get really messy.

January 7, 2010. Tags: , , . diet. 1 comment.

Conscious Peeing

What is the line between self-acceptance/self-love and change? If I love everything about myself and accept everything, what’s my motivation to change, or put another way, what’s my motivation to do things differently? And since this is a blog about weighting, what’s my motivation to eat and move differently in order to lose weight.

No self help book that teaches self acceptance and self love has explained that adequately. Even Buddhist books just say sit with it and if they go into details, they just seem like any other seemingly compassionate, but really kind of patronizing diet book.  Even Buddhist monks can’t seem to escape the current dogma that weight is a psychological issue and not a physiological one.

In Cheri Huber’s Making a Change For Good: A Guide to Compassionate Self-Discipline, she writes  “…eating, along with every addiction we struggle with, is not about the content, it is about the process, and the process is identity maintenance” (pg 77).

The use of the word “addiction” for so many random things really annoys me. Maybe I’m wrong but I could have sworn that addiction used to mean someone had a physical dependence on something. You were addicted to heroin, just as I am addicted to coffee. Getting unaddicted caused physical pain. (Don’t smirk about the coffee addiction. I once stopped drinking coffee and I had a headache for 72 hours straight.) Now the word addiction is used to refer to behavior like an addiction to gambling.

I find the use of the word addiction to eating just bizarre. Whatever else you’re “addicted” to – cigarettes, crack, sex, bungee jumping – whether it’s physical or psychological, you don’t have to do any of them.  You do have to eat. Even if what you eat is crap you still have to eat. Eating in and of itself is not about “identity maintenance”, it’s about staying alive.

I understand the concept of conscious eating, which Cheri also talks about. Honestly I need to do it more often, because it’s a good idea to do everything with consciousness. But we don’t. And my question is why is eating so vilified?  Does anyone ever have the urge to pee, but then say to themselves “Slow down. Don’t stop to pee. I won’t pee until I can breathe and pee pee consciously.”

All babies do is eat, pee and shit. And they cry bloody murder right away if you don’t recognize. So why would you call eating an addiction? No one ever calls peeing or shitting an “addiction”.  And they’re kind of nasty. What would conscious peeing be anyway?  “Slow the stream, Grasshopper. Know that the pee is a part of you.”

Some could argue that there’s no choice in peeing or shitting, while eating involves myriad choices and it’s up to the individual to make the “right” choices. Don’t get me wrong, I get the idea of being “addicted” to certain foods, like say Cheetos. Not good. But this dogma really goes further than that. Underneath it there’s a sense that if you’re fat, you don’t really need to eat. At all. It’s the idea that eating itself is a choice, not just what or how much you eat. And hunger is an entirely psychological issue with no physiological basis. And if we continue down this road, we’re headed toward a long, long epidemic.

January 5, 2010. Tags: , , . diet. 2 comments.

New Year, Old Me

I’ve spent the last year gaining weight. It started with Holiday Season ’08, when I did my usual overeating of sweets and I stopped going to yoga 4 times a week because I got pissed at one of my teachers. I decided to branch out to other teachers, which has been awesome and enlightening, but I only went to yoga 2-3 times a week.

I haven’t gained tons of weight, just the usual 25-30 pounds, that range between 175 and 200-205 that I’ve been bouncing between for the last 25 years. I just wrote over on my other blog that I’m sick of making the same new year’s resolution to lose weight, but it’s always there whether I make it officially or not.

Dieting sucks, and it just feels like a futile act because I know I’ll be doing the same thing a year or two or three years from now, wondering how I can get even smaller if I haven’t gained back the weight, or how to lose it again if I have. Exercising for hours a day takes up too much time and exercising for 30 minutes does nothing for me. Really. I’ve tried it. I might a well just watch TV.

I made a delicious New Year’s Day dinner yesterday (yeah, I know it was January 2nd): Pork, greens, black eyed peas, rice, and cornbread, with ice cream sandwiches made with molasses cookies for dessert. Yum!! Cooking it made me happy. Eating it with friends I’d invited over made me happy. Am I supposed to ignore this happiness for some unknown, slimmer happiness? Why am I not supposed to be happy with this?

So this is my dilemma. I know I’m supposed to be all fat acceptance-y, but I don’t feel good.  I feel weak and tired a lot, just bloated. My knees will not stop hurting and my hips and lower back are starting to get into the act. My skin is all broken out. And my boobs are just huge. (I realize that some may not consider this a bad thing, but carrying 10 pounds on your chest 24/7 is exhausting).

If I’d lost the use of my legs for example, I wonder if I would understand self acceptance better and know that I would never walk again. That would suck, but I would have to deal with it as it is.  But weight is different. I can lose weight. Can’t I? I have lost weight. But it’s interesting, no matter what the diet, I can never get below about 170. Any diet I’ve ever been on just stalls there, even when I’m still on track. So maybe I should say there’s the illusion that I can lose weight and re-gain the use of my metaphoric limbs.

Where is the line between self acceptance and trying to change myself to feel better?  How do I love myself as I am, fat, yet try to lose weight so that I feel better physically. I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

January 3, 2010. Tags: , , . fat acceptance. 3 comments.