Fast Company has long since been a favorite of mine which is why I was surprised this morning to encounter such a thoughtless bit of writing on it.
I was grabbed by this title: “Your fat is why you’re not as bright as you could be” which was followed by the blurb “Scientists have discovered that a chemical produced by fat goes into your brain and makes it slower. But don’t worry: there’s an easy fix. Just guess what it is.”
Now, let’s say you’re like me and don’t always read the entire article. What would be your take away from this? Fat people are stupid. What else could you take away from it? Oh, and probably lazy, lack willpower, unkempt, and the list goes on.
I may be more sensitive to the subject because I AM obese but the actual findings point more towards the role of exercise and cognitive functioning than they do fat and IQ (not to mention this was a test on mice so the human correlation is tenous). Where was that in the headline?
It’s just another example of someone writing an attention-grabbing headline with no thought or sensitivity to who it might affect. I am sure I have been guilty of a similar injustice but I don’t write for a mainstream publication and get paid for it.
So please, @arielhs, next time you review some scientific finding or other, go lighter on the hyperbole and heavier on the facts.
Here’s the article. Let me know what you think in the comments. Am I totally off-base?
Your Fat Is Why You’re Not As Bright As You Could Be | Co.Exist | ideas + impact.
I’m staring at the most complicated (perhaps convoluted?) guide to transitioning back to food ever (see above).
<begin rant> It’s not just one chart, it’s not even one page! There’s the “Transition overview” which breaks things down into 4 weeks. There’s also the “Transition Servings Grid” which breaks things down to 6 days. Then there’s the guide of what foods I’m allowed to replace a meal replacement with and a separate guide of how much of that food I’m allowed. And finally, there’s a sheet that explains the serving sizes of the different food categories and what types of food fit in that category.
Good Grief! Nevermind! This food thing is way too complicated. </end rant>
OK, now that I got that out of my system… I have to believe these make sense. That there is a method to their madness. Perhaps they make it super complicated so we can obsess about configuring our daily intake? Who knows.
<begin admiration> I do know that I would recommend this program in a heartbeat. My teacher and fellow classmates are great. The teacher has created a space for each person to explore and learn the things they need to learn—no small task when you’re dealing with 18 people who all bring their unique issues to the table. She has allowed us to share our individual struggles, get ideas and feedback from the group, which has ultimately bonded the class as a support network that is so very necessary on any journey. I so appreciate that she hasn’t just been teaching a rigid doctrine. She has been facilitating an investigation. She is empathetic, supportive, helpful, and skilled. So I thank her and my classmates and while I have to start eating again (liver level troubles reared their ugly head again), I’m glad we have a good amount of time left together on this journey. </admiration continues>
And without further ado, things that weigh 40lbs! Woot!
And this jumping girl:
…and onto the vacation train
I did not fall. I jumped! The difference being actually choosing to partake rather than being overwhelmed by temptation or desire. Or so I told myself…
I had looked forward to friday night as a reprieve from this diet. I was going to join in celebrating a friend’s birthday and I was going to eat and drink! Yay!! As the evening drew closer, I actually thought to myself that I could do without the food but would love a drink so planned to have my soup and maybe a meal bar while others ate. What I didn’t plan for was as soon as I had a drink (which was absolutely delicious by the way), I wanted another, and before I knew it, all my “plans” went out the window. I ended up not only drinking more than I should have, I ate without thought and basically lost all control (thank you alcohol…).
I’ve always thought it was better to plan a “vacation” from dieting rather than unexpectedly giving into a craving or desire. The latter comes with a host of feelings like guilt and incompetence which, more times than not, lead to more destructive behavior whereas the former allows me to really enjoy the sabbatical and hop back on the wagon reenergized and recommitted (or so I like to tell myself).
But what I learned this week was that it’s not enough to plan the vacation—I have to plan my behavior as well. I have to actually lay out the rules of the vacation and strategize around how I will stick to them.
The point of taking a vacation shouldn’t be an excuse to abuse myself. It should be a treat, something I thoroughly enjoy and won’t regret the next day—and while I had a wonderful and fun time celebrating my friend’s birthday with a group of awesome women, I woke up the next day feeling like I had neglected, and to a certain degree, betrayed myself. It was far from the kind of caring and nurturing of myself that I would like to instill in this new me.
So yes, I will plan another vacation but next time I hope I can figure out how to take that vacation without leaving myself in the dust.
Illustration by racheal mccosh
Stuff is falling!
Liver levels are falling*. Weight is falling. Even waffles are falling…(?) Luckily, I as a whole, am managing not to.
I found out my hip pain (did I mention I had hip pain?) is bursitis which is related to, if not caused by, abnormal patella tracking (a kneecap that won’t stay in place and makes this horrible grating noise when I go up stairs. Seriously gross). Luckily, the treatment for one will help the other and that is PT.
I’m just glad it’s not permanent damage to my hip from a lifetime of being overweight. I love fixable problems. My body is so clever. So clever I tell you! It had the discerning taste to rebel against this over-processed diet and is restoring itself beautifully with some fresh veg and protein. Frankly, I have abused it for much of its life and it just keeps showing up for me.
When I smoked, cigarettes were the friends that were always there for me. When I overate, food was that friend. Same goes for when I drank. I’m not sure why substances needed/need to fill that hole but it seems it’s about time to start treating myself as that friend and take better care of this great body which has shown up for me time and again.
*For those interested, the normal range for ALT (alanine transaminase enzyme) is between 10—40 iU/L. As of 1/31/2014, my ALT had bust the roof at 259. After just one week of altering my diet, my levels are down to 146. One week people! Let’s here it for my awesome liver.
They say it takes 21 days to form or break a habit give or take depending on who you ask.
I say it’s taken 9 weeks for the cravings to subside—exactly three times as long. I have no idea of the significance but an interesting coincidence nonetheless.
This begs the question, (1) can you break a habit but still have associated impulses? If so, (2) what are those considered and (3) have you truly broken the habit if you still have pangs of want, need, desire?(4) At what point is the old habit sloughed off like an old snake skin and truly left behind? (5) Are cravings considered part of addiction? (6) Do cravings come with habits or are they relegated to the realm of addiction?
I find my habits have changed and my cravings are far fewer and more noticeable–giving me time to react and question them instead of being consumed by them. Now when I find myself craving something, I am able to stop and ask, as if to an infant, (7) “are you hungry?”, (8) “are you tired?”, (9) “does your diaper need changing?”. Well, maybe not that last one but sometimes it certainly feels like it ;-).
More times than not, it will be time for a meal replacement and as soon as I have one, the craving stops. Other times, like when I’m jonesing for a drink, I’ve been able to be in the moment and ask myself what’s behind the craving. It’s usually stress or some emotion that I don’t want to deal with. Or it could just be a gorgeous evening and I want to be sitting outside having a drink with friends. That one will never change.
So this week I’ve wandered into new territory with the re-introduction of food to my diet.
It’s amazing how quickly the brain leaps back to old ways and suddenly thinks “Woh, food! (10) what else can I have? (11) What else can I fill myself with? I’m not even hungry but I’m so high from this feeling, from the seemingly mesmerizing act of putting food in my mouth and only tasting for a brief second before my thoughts leap to the next bite, and then the next, and then the next. My lord! This is nuts.” Thinks I.
Perhaps that is my gift at 9 weeks. I am aware enough to see the craziness. I have had to plan my days so I don’t have food at night (my danger time) but only during the day. Get protein that is good but not so good that I’ll want more. And even be religious about how much vegetables I can have. 1/2 a cup. No more. It’s about staying in touch with what I really need and what my body really needs.
Baby steps. I’m relearning how this works. (and I lied. Only 11 questions but it didn’t make as good a title.)
When people think of the heart, they think of a sweet, symmetrical red shape. Not only is it the only organ with a cute icon (♥), it also conjures up feelings of love, warmth, and kinship.
I’m pretty sure no other organ is as lucky—most certainly not the liver.
When I think of liver, I think of the one food that makes me wretch.
That and bile, which is bitter and gross.
Poor liver. It’s actually quite a magnificent organ. It cleans our blood filtering out all the toxins we put in, helps us absorb protein, and stores our backup fuel in the form of glycogen (it also has a hand in making sure we don’t bleed to death so thanks, liver!).
How do I know so much about the liver you may ask? The interwebs of course.
I also happened to have a hot date with Dr. Darby, a liver specialist/master of time travel, this morning. The folks at Kaiser (where I’m doing this program) wanted to make sure it was safe to continue—and good news!!! Dr. Darby gave me the green light to continue.
He did recommend I work in some real food though so I’m getting a free ride to week 17 of the plan. Who says timetravel isn’t possible?
For those interested, this means I’ll cut back to 5 meal replacements a day and add in 4oz of lean protein and 1/2 cup cooked veg for a total of ~1045 calories/day (up from 960c). I’ll do this until the rest of the class reaches week 17 (another 8 weeks) and then we’ll all be on the same page.
Bottom line: weight loss will be slower but I’ll be healthy and won’t die—and that’s a good thing.
Well hi folks! Thanks for stopping by.
I’ve always thought the universe had a good sense of humor (<<it’s totally winking) so I’m not overly shocked that the very thing I am doing to become healthier is actually making me sick. Eeyup, turns out my liver is not happy with shakes, soups, and bars (frankly, I think it just wants a cocktail).
My bloodwork shows liver levels that won’t stop climbing. It’s common to see at the beginning of the program but they usually level out and come back down. Mine, apparently, have higher aspirations. I’ve had an ultrasound which checked out ok (well, actually, it showed “mild fatty liver”—the name is an insult in itself but to add injury to insult, the cure is to lose weight. You’re really funny universe) and tomorrow I see a GI doctor (whose office, I have to mention, formats their paperwork in comic sans… funny again Uni.) who will give the yay or nay on continuing.
It’s funny. Not only is it ironic that this diet is making me sick, I also feel like I’m just hitting my stride. My inner addict is finally quieting down and seems to have resigned itself to eating shakes, soups, and bars. Cravings are at a minimum, if non-existent, and I even found my new cocktail–Crystal Light with mineral water (it’s amazing how tastebuds adjust)!
If I do need to stop, then I can only think the universe deems it wise. It’s not like I’ll stop modifying my behavior—maybe I just need to start practicing with the real thing sooner. Who knows. I just hope I can continue going to class. I’ve come to depend on my classmates and feel we’re on this journey together figuring out how to navigate our inner world in response to outer stresses and joys without resorting to food. My “change partners” as they’re called in the industry, are solid.
In other matters, I hit the 30lb mark so without further ado, things that weigh 30lbs:
I don’t have much to say this week but what I do have to say is important.
To my friends: please know how much you mean to me.
To my family: please know how much I cherish you.
To my cats: I love you!
Without each and every one of you, nothing would be possible.
That said, I give you this:
It’s been a tough week.
On this scale, I’m at about 5. I’ve been dealing with stronger cravings and although I said this diet is more about behavior change than weight loss, I think last week’s less than gratifying loss made this week harder. Without that “high” of losing weight, it’s hard to remember why I’m not eating and drinking. It’s hard to remember that now isn’t the end all be all. It’s hard to remember that this is my choice and it’s not a punishment—because much of the time it feels like it.
So now I’m heading into the week after… I was expecting to lose enough this week to make up for last week but again, the scales didn’t obey the equation and I can feel it affecting my mood, my motivation, and my commitment. The voices of craving are saying, “What’s the point? It’s too hard. Just give up.” and “You’ll always be fat. Just eat, drink, and forget about it.”
It’s definitely turning out to be harder than I expected. I don’t remember it being this hard last time – though last time I was on the high of doing it for the first time. All I saw were the numbers going down whereas this time the numbers are going down but I’ve seen them before and I can’t get by them fast enough.
The pull of habit is heavy—like concrete boots dragging me down and under.
Ultimately I know it has to be about behavior change but I kidded myself about it not also being about the weight loss. The motivation to continue abstaining from food and alcohol without major weight loss is hard to maintain. The only thing that is stopping me right now is I don’t like to fail. I am not a quitter. And I am angry.
blood pressure = 129/64
first week = 145/73
heart rate = 71
first week = 77
Mood: Hungry. Wanting. Angry.
Don’t worry, I didn’t actually munch but do you ever go through a period where you just want to eat and/or drink incessantly? This past week I have definitely had food on my mind.
I guess this is one of the drawbacks to living alone. My inside voice can be like a spoiled brat getting all the attention… nobody to distract me and plenty of time to obsess over obsessing. Don’t get me wrong. There are many bonuses to living alone (like total control over what’s in my kitchen and not having to cook for anyone) but this is not one of them.
If I weren’t on this diet, I honestly wonder how I would resist. The urge can be so loud and convincing.
Ah yes, I just remembered the muscle metaphor. I need to remember that I am doing this for my health. That I want to be healthier and happier and choosing not to give in to the craving is taking care of myself (where previously, feeding my cravings has felt like taking care of myself). I need to build that muscle up so it becomes my primary response rather than listening and giving power to the cravings.
Add this to the list of things I’d like to figure out before I start eating again…
Main image above from this interesting read which reminded me of David Kessler’s great book, The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite