Chuq Von Rospach is a Silicon Valley veteran doing Technical Community Management and amateur photographer with a strong interest in birds, wildlife and landscapes. My goal is to explore the Western states and working to tell you the stories of the special places I've found. You can find out more on the About Page.
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Category Archives: Health and Fitness
As I’d mentioned in the road trip notes, when in Astoria we always stop by Cellar on 10th and basically beg them to put together a case of stuff they like that we don’t know to ask for. By now, some of the case is new vintages of old favorites, but some of it is always new to us and part of the exploring of the Northwest Wine industry. Cellar on 10th really know Northwest wines, and they work with a lot of the smaller wineries, and those wineries give them access to wines that normally aren’t sold except on the winery premises. They’ve turned us onto a lot of really, really nice wines over the years. So I love to stop by when I can get to Astoria, and ask them to box me up a care package of things they think are really nice that I wouldn’t know to buy. And they do, and we bring it home, and we enjoy it thoroughly. It’s a great way to discover interesting wines and to find new styles of wine to build an addiction around. They turned us onto Sineann, for instance, for which I’ll be eternally grateful.
I thought it might be fun to talk about what we picked up and why. Okay, I wanted to gloat a bit, because we’ll be drinking this and you won’t (unless you contact Cellar on 10th. they ship….)
A couple of quick notes on our wine preferences: we don’t cellar any more, so we’re buying things intending to drink in the next 12-24 months or less. We tend to minimize Cabernet and Chardonnay, and we to go more for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Zinfandel. Our “house wine” is Cakebread (we’ve been buying their wines since I was at Sun) but we aren’t afraid of a bottle of two buck chuck. We’ve picked up an appreciation for Sangiovese, Barolo and I have a minor addiction to ice wines and ports. I am not going to talk about the wines, since we haven’t drunk them yet.
Just your normal silicon valley happy hour wine drinkers…
First up, our Sineanne. We picked up the 2011 Pinot Noir Resonance Vineyard. We also picked up a 2 bottles of the Sineann Pinot Gris 2012 Wy’east Vineyard. These should be good, hearty, Williamette Pinots. Sineanne also makes one of my favorite dessert wines, the Sweet Sydney, which they were out of stock on. It is a Zinfandel Ice wine, with some nice sharp notes and a wonderful syrup (fortunately, I still have a bottle hidden away).
Another winery we like is Troon Vineyards, in Applegate Valley in Southern Oregon. They make a wonderful Zinfandel, so we put two of their 2011 Foundation ’72 bottles in the box.
Another old favorite is Owen Roe’s Abbot’s Table. It is a Columbia valley red blend, sort of a hearty table wine for people who don’t believe “table wine” should mean “cheap grapes and compromises”. This is a blend of Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Lemberge, with a bit of Merlot and Malbec in it.
One more old favorite: Zerba Cellars, Walla Walla valley. we grabbed a bottle of their 2008 Grenache.
Then some new to us releases: Adelsheim 2010 Pinot Nois. They’re out of the Willamette Valley, a good place for Pinot. Another Willamette Valley Pinot is the 2011 Mt. Jefferson Cuvee from Cristom. And yet another Willamette Valley Pinot: The 2011 from Les Cousins, produced by Beaux Freres in Newberg.
Finally, the most unusual of the main box: The Barhard Griffin 2012 Sangiovese Rose. It’s got this most fascinating color, and I’m intensely curious about how the rose treatment will manage the Sangiovese grape. And it was one of the least expensive wines in the buy, so even if it’s just “okay”, it was an easy thing to experiment with. I’m hoping this one will surprise me a bit…
In the goodie bag we ended up bringing home three dessert wines, the Sineanne 2008 CJ, which is a Zinfandel Port. The second is the only non-northwest wine, a Jackson-Triggs (Niagara region) Proprietors Reserve Icewine 2007. This is a white blend where the grapes are crushed frozen so they can remove the ice and concentrate the syrup. I’m not insulting this wine by saying I consider it the classic example of a “table wine” for ice wine, the kind of thing you sit down with a nice cheese plate and a friend or two after a good meal… Clean and sweet and syrupy but not cloying, the sort of wine you drink with conversation while you unwind.
And finally, the really obscure and strange wine of the trip, a Ken Wright Cellars 2001 Late Harvest Red Wine. It’s sold as a faux port. It was originally crushed to be a port but the story we were told was that when they sampled the barrels when they were thinking of bottling it, they hated it, so they took the barrels and buried them in the back of the storage building. Four years later they were noticed and were going to be cleared out, and they tasted them just to see what they’d become, and they really liked them — but didn’t know what to do with them. At one point this was going to be bottled just for staff, but it’s available primarily through the cellar directly in limited volume, and the Cellar on 10th people got their hands on a small supply as well. And now I have a bottle, I have no idea what it’s going to be when I open it up, but I’m really looking forward to finding out.
This haul kinda sums up our racks — lots of pinot, lots of zin, and a random selection of weird stuff that happens to be really good. I’m not a huge fan of the formal tasting, but I know what I like and that’s what matters. If any of these really stand out, I’ll talk about them when we open them up. Mostly, though, I think wine’s about figuring out what you like, and then finding someone who can help you get more of that and identify other cellars that you’ll like as well.
And that’s why I like wandering by Cellar on 10th every so often…
I happened to notice today that the oldest data in my fitness file is from March 1, 2003, or a decade old. Like many of you who’ve joined the Fitbit universe, I track key data about myself. Unlike many of you, I started doing it long before tools like Fitbit existed (although I must admit, I joined that universe around the start of the year). Over ten years, I’ve tracked over 1600 data records about myself. This has been useful, but became a habit I needed to keep once I became diabetic, and over time, I’ve gone back through my files and added all of the older data I could find.
Now having successfully buried the lede, it turns out that a decade ago I weighed 367. Today I weighed in at 398.4. That means over the last decade I’ve gained a net 31.4 pounds, which translates do 3.14 pounds a year (Mmmmâ€¦. Pi!), or a mere 1/4 of a pound a month (sorry about that pi joke. No, I honestly did not set up the numbers for that). If you take a simplistic view that a pound of body fat is about 3500 calories, that means my net “excess” is about 900 calories a month, or about one burger and fries at In-n-out. Or to break it down even further, about 30 calories a day. Remember that a standard can of sugared Coke is about 140 calories. That is, depending on how you want to play with the numbers, about ten minutes of walking a day.
A really tiny disconnect between calories in and calories burned ends up making a really big (in this case, literally) difference. Half a can of Coke a day, for a decadeâ€¦.
This brings to mind the old George Carlin joke:
Saliva causes cancer, but only if swallowed in small amounts over a long period of time.
Something to think about as you reach for that next Oreo.
(Now, having said all that, the whole “all calories are equal” and “just eat less” and all of this is way, way too simplistic a view of this. If it really were that easy, we wouldn’t have this obesity epidemic. But it is an interesting exercise (oh, sorry. I didn’t plan this one, either) to see how small things stack up over time).
On the other, other hand I am back under 400 (finally) and moving in the right direction (slowly). But if there’s one thing more boring than listening to someone talk about losing weight, it’s listening to someone talk about thinking abut losing weightâ€¦ So we’ll put this topic back on the shelf until there’s something interesting to talk aboutâ€¦.
A couple of things I’d like to see in IOS 7
I want to see Apple release a simple password wallet and an API for apps to use to pull data from it. Something like 1Password’s baby brother. And with the API, a way for those of us who use more powerful tools (like 1Password) to connect to those via that API instead of the default App. (I would, in fact, like Apple to get in the habit of allowing us to replace their default tools with more powerful versions as a general practice. I’m not holding my breath).
And then I would like to see Apple make “secure your freaking passwords” a focus of the release and their marketing.
Remember ICE? (In Case of Emergency)?. Everyone should do some form of this on your mobile devices. Do you?
But there’s a problem. Everyone should ALSO pin-lock your mobile devices. Do you?
And if you do, how would an emergency responder get access to it? It’s behind a PIN.
So here’s my suggestionâ€¦
With IOS, when a device is pin-locked and you activate it, it brings up the Enter Passcode screen. If the device is a phone, that screen has an Emergency Call button to allow you to dial 911. I suggest Apple add another button for ICE. By default it would bring up your ID information out of the address book based on the card you’ve defined as being you.
But Apple could build a basic ICE app that if you fill out with information, and if you configure the system to use it, hitting that button would fire up that app instead. That would allow you the option of making available other information, such as insurance or drug allergies or information on existing conditions (I, for instance, don’t do well with codeine. The last time I took it, I had an extended conversation in which I solved the Middle East situation — with my wall clock; my medical record now suggests I not be given codeine).
If this interface allows the user to define ANY compatible app as the ICE app, this creates a third party opportunity; while it’d be a nice market, there would be some options here for developers to create some interesting solutions.
It would also create an opening for developers to create apps that use this capabilities for non-ICE capabilities. Some might see that as an problem because we’re circumventing the pin-code. I see it as an opportunity, since use of it is purely optional, and Apple actually set a precedent to allow that with both the emergency call button and the “quick camera” capability they added to the lock screen.
I originally suggested this around the building at Palm for webOS before the first phone shipped, and it went nowhere. I found that the younger you were, the less likely you’d see why someone might want it. Curious, that.
There are some privacy issues to putting ICE information out beyond the pin-lock, obviously, because f someone gets ahold of your device they can access it and find out some things about you. On the other hand, in a medical emergency having that info might mean the difference between getting timely treatment — or not. Or the difference between having your family contacted if you run into trouble — or not. And that ICE info might make it easier for a well-intentioned person to return a lost phone that they found. Every person would have to decide which info to make available, and as long as the ICE program itself is a voluntary choice, why shouldn’t it exist?
It seems like a simple thing to make happen. Hopefully you’d never need to have it used. But if you end up in a situation where an emergency responder is trying to figure out who you are, it seems to me you don’t want your PIN standing in the way. I wonder how many IOS users don’t turn on their pinlock because they don’t want their contact info locked up in case of an emergency?
you might find it surprising that in the debate about processed meat treated with anhydrous ammonia (aka Pink Slime) I come down on the side of pink. This product has been defamed by a hysteria driven media campaign that presupposes this food product (and thatâ€™s what it is, a product) is unsafe in the absence of evidence suggesting safety issues, and fails to address the substantive issues of how society provides a food supply to a large population.
This is a core problem with fashionable foodies and other well-intentioned people who on even days declare we should let science be a defining force while on odd days rejecting science because it canâ€™t prove the negative. The science is overwhelming, pink slime is nutrient providing but critics are demanding the impossible, which is to prove that it is not unsafe.
A good analysis of this entire farce. Suffice it to say, I agree with him (including not being particularly interested in eating the stuff, but then, i don’t eat spam, either. much).
It is another sad example of the “emotions over science” that seems trendy in society today; this made about as much sense, and had as much science behind it, as the “vaccines cause autism” farce. And please, don’t even both commenting on thatâ€¦
At first glance, the title sounds a bit hyperbolic, but don’t let that stop you. Taubes has been writing about this stuff for a long time and has a lot of heavy research behind his opinions. When I was previously talking about some of the things I’ve been chasing in restructuring my lifestyle, a friend of mine suggested I read Taubes’ books on the subject, which I have.
I read Why We Get Fat, and then I went off into a corner to think about it for a while. I knew I wanted to talk about it, but I wasn’t sure how. Many things he says struck home, they sync up well with how I have come to feel given the research I’ve been doing.
But the thing is, I can’t point to this book and say “he’s right”. He’s going against standard medical advice. Frankly, I’m not qualified to look at his data and say “believe him instead”, and the universe is full of people who have the real answers that the “establishment’ wants suppressed, so any time someone bucks the establishment, you need to be careful and understand the issues before buying into it.
So having told you to be skeptical — and that includes being skeptical of me — I do encourage you to read this book and consider what he has to say. His opinions struck home to me, and align well with what my study independent of him was making me think; his opinions are well backed up by studies, and those studies he’s using seem to be well-designed and well-implemented, their results seem consistent, and they come from reliable institutions. And he’s not selling a product (ALWAYS be extra skeptical when there’s a product involved); this isn’t a framework of studies based on 12 teenage girls from Cleveland looked at for four weeks.
His research and data frankly impresses the hell out of me, and he reaches back into the past to unravel how we got here and how the medical establishment ended up recommending the current dietary protocols and why he thinks they’re wrong.
The basic underpinning of Taubes work is that the medical establishment made a leap of faith in deciding that fat was bad for humans and therefore, carbohydrates are good; that this dogma was established through a few key researchers that politically others weren’t willing to challenge, and that unfortunately, there’s basically no medical studies that can be found that prove they’re right, and a growing body of evidence that the current idea of “fat bad” is flawed.
There are a growing number of people who are starting to take up this concept. It was recently written up on the Huffington Post by Kristin Wartman and she quotes a number of folks from Martha Rose Shulman (NY Times food writer) to Dr. Frank Hu (Harvard) with opinions that encourage moving away from the “low fat” movement.
I encourage you to read the Taubes piece and the Wartman piece, and if they seem to make sense to you, grab a copy of Taubes book and read it and consider his arguments for yourself. I am not saying “he’s right, do this”; but I do believe it is in your best interest to consider his arguments and make up your own mind.
Having been chewing on this (sorry!) for a few weeks, here’s my view of this. As a survivor of the 70′s “pasta and bagel” diet mentality, I’ve long felt that the blind view that fat is bad for you so eat carbs instead was flawed. My personal reaction to the 70′s diet was weight gain and a tendency towards blood sugar crashes because the carbs hit harder and fade faster. I’ve always tried to trend towards a more protein heavy diet over a classic “mediterranean” diet, and this whole “one size fits all” mentality for dietary regimes has always seemed over simplistic to me. My genetic background (northern germanic) is one not well attuned to the mediterranean diet, and I’ve never really reacted well to it when I’ve tried, so even without all of the research that’s been coming out the last few years, I’ve had personal reason to believe the dogma around dietary practices had flaws, if only because it doesn’t take into consideration basic things like ethnic and regional genetic differences — but then, it wasn’t that long ago that drug testing was done almost exclusively on white males and the reality that drugs responded differently to blacks or women or other ethnics was kind of ignored. It’s only been in the last couple of years that we’ve seen the first drugs come out specifically for blacks that take into consideration the genetic differences in how drugs are processed, and this is still a new part of the medical field.
If you stop to think about it, this medical dogma has been eroding for decades. In the 70′s, cholesterol was bad and to be avoided. Now, there are HDLs and LDLs and Triglycerides and some of these actually help the heart, and instead of tracking to a low total cholesterol number, you’re encouraged to do things to raise HDL while lowering LDL, and so we’ve figured out reality is a lot more complicated than they told us. Eggs have even been brought back from exile.
Ditto fat. Used to be, fat was bad. Now, the still yell FAT IS BAD, and then whisper “but monounsaturated fats are maybe kinda less bad”; sometimes they even admit that the poster child of the anti-fat establishment, that box of lard, is actually about 50% monounsaturated fats and maybe not as bad for you (in moderation) as they said. Especially if you swap it out for something that uses trans-fats.
And yes, there are really three kinds of fats in our world today — unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and trans-fats. The latter are manufactured by the food industry and increasingly, we seem to be finding out those are the least healthy of them all.
(interlude: interestingly enough,, where a high fat, low carb diet seems to protect and repair kidney damage in diabetics. By shifting to a ketogenic diet, it seems to give the body a chance to repair the kidneys in mice. Whcih is interesting, because one thing the Atkins diet was criticized for was that it puts the kidneys into ketosis and that was considered bad for the kidneys. Except if you read Taube’s book, one thing he talks about is a study of existing aboriginal hunter/gatherer societies like the australian aborigines and the Inuit, and if you study their traditional diets, they are heavy in protein and fat, not carbs, and are generally ketogenic — and that the belief that the classic “historical” diet of our genetic predecessors as being carb-centric is wrong, and part of the evidence against our current dietary programs.. it’s definitely worth reading Taube’s take on this, but this study seems to reinforce this idea)
Carbs are no longer carbs. Carbs are now complex carbs and simple carbs, and simple carbs include sugars, and a subset of sugars are the fructoses, which include high yield corn fructose, another manufactured product that’s been heavily adopted by the food industries. And even the medical establishment is telling people to eat complex carbs more than simple ones.
So the reality is, even though the high level position of the medical industry hasn’t changed, if you listen to the details, you can see how it’s eroded over the years: Cholesterol is bad (well, some kinds of cholersterol); carbs are good (well, some kinds; other kinds aren’t), and fat is bad (well, except for the kinds of fat that aren’t bad for you). And more and more of the medical researchers are starting to question and poke holes in the standard dogma.
Here’s a quick thought on the question “Is it really possible that all of the experts on health and nutrition in medicine are wrong?” — consider this. Look at the sheer numbers involved in the obesity and diabetes epidemics confronting us; they’re estimating as many as Â in 3 americans will be diabetic in 20 years. Ask yourself “is it really possible that this large a percentage of the worldwide population is unable to follow the instructions for eating healthy?” (which is, really, what the medical establishment and the media that echoes their messaging basically tells us; it’s our fault) — or is it possible that the information being given to these folks is wrong? And if it really is societies inability to follow these directions, what changed in the last 40 years, because up until that point, we had hundreds (maybe thousands) of years where we could. Obesity and diabetes are fairly new epidemics, and, coincidentally enough (or not) coincide with the “low fat” healthy diet teachings that led to the “bagel and pasta” diets of the 70′s and up to today. It also coincides nicely with the switch to more refined/industrial foods and the growth of high yield fructose over natural sugar, as well as the massive increase in intake of sugar as a percentage of diet.
Now, to circle back to Taube’s article on sugar for a bit: I think he’s mostly right on, but with a caveat. I disagree with his premise that sugar is toxic in two aspects. First is he lumps in “real” sugar (which is typically about 50% glucose and 50% fructose) as being as bad for you as high-yield corn syrup (which is typically 45% glucose and 55% glucose) is going to be proven wrong. There are studies coming out that show that we don’t process glucose and fructose the same, and that the human body is genetically tuned to process sugars — when that ratio is thrown off and there’s extra fructose in the mix, the body doesn’t adapt and things get out of balance. This is going to be the defining reason why the high yield stuff is going to be shown to be more damaging and more fattening than “real sugar”, that ratio change is significant in how the human body processes and reacts to the food. So they aren’t going to be equally damaging, high yield corn syrup is worse for the body than sugar is — I believe. it’s not proven, but the studies are coming out, and I believe it’s a matter of time.
The second aspect I don’t agree with him on is the emotionally charged word “toxic” — he is right, but only if the substance is abused. Right now, sugar seems to be going through the same demonization phase that alcohol went through. SUGAR IS BAD. Well…
Yes, it is, if you eat too much of it. And just like eggs were demonized over cholesterol and have been returned from exile, and alcohol was demonized and has been sort of returned from exile (much of the medical establishment seems incomfortable admitting that moderate amounts of alcohol seems to be actually helpful, because they seem unwilling to admit that we all won’t end up abusing it and going alcoholic; but small amounts of alcohol and certain types — like red wine — seem to be healthful in many ways), we’re doing the same to sugar.
My view is different; I think these things IN MODERATION are going to be fine. The key is doing things in moderation. In the last 40 years or so, the typical american has gone from eating 40 pounds of sugar a year to over 90 pounds, and a chunk of that 90 pounds is the high yield stuff. There’s a very close correlation on this increase in sugars in our diet and the growth of diabetes and obesity in the culture. The link isn’t proven, but I’m convinced it will be. When we ate moderate amounts of this stuff within our diets, we didn’t get fat, we didn’t get diabetic. Now we eat way more than we should, and we do.
So I’m uncomfortable promoting the “sugar is toxic” concept. I don’t believe it is. I believe that abuse of sugars is bad for your health, and chronic abuse leads to chronic health issues. But eating a healthy diet in a healthy lifestyle (there we go, away from simple answers to complex solutions. sorry!) with this stuff in moderation within it is how to make this all work.
What does that mean for how I’m trying to do this in my own life?
I think the manufactured foods are evil; I try to minimize both trans-fats and high yield fructose corn syrup. That’s difficult to remove 100% from an american diet without extreme changes (please don’t suggest vegetarian, not gonna happen) but I steer away from them, and they play very small parts Â in my diet and I try to remove them where I find them and can.
I try to aim FOR healthy fats and complex carbs and AWAY from saturated fats and simple carbs. Â Which is tougher than it sounds, because white flours are a simple carb and you have to be careful even with “whole wheat” and how that term is used. I am not banning lard, or white sugar, or white flour from my life. But I am also not pulling out the tub of lard and a spoon. I believe if you use margarine instead of butter you’re being foolish (and research is showing I’m probably right), but I try to be rational about how much butter I use.
I try to be moderate about all this stuff. My goal diet is 40% protein, 30% carbs, 30% fat. I try to steer towards healthy stuff; the more processed foods are, the less you should eat them. But I still drink alcohol (once or twice a week), I still eat sugar (I just don’t bathe in it), I still eat breads (but I lean towards whole wheats and lower carb versions where I can); I still eat cheese (a lot, actually). I’m still not where I want the diet to be — I’m more 35% protein, 40-45% carbs and the rest fat, and unfortunately, as a diabetic, I feel that’s too high on carbs. But if I weren’t diabetic, I’d feel comfortable taking my diet to any dietician in the universe. Which says a lot, given that five years ago, I was a burger-and-fries guy five or six times a week. Now? maybe once a month — except I rarely eat more than a few fries, because I find them rather grainy and salty (I’m convinced most fast food fries are eaten by habit, not because they remotely taste good; I’m happy to say I’ve lost my taste for them).
And having said my diet is 95% of where i want it to be, that last 5% is proving to be a terror. but I keep working on it. that’s a discussion for later, though.
So read Taubes’ article, and think about getting and reading his book. See if you agree with his arguments, and what that means for your lifestyle and diet. And then we’ll talk. This is a big, hairy, complex thing; if there’s a real sin the medical establishment has committed,it’s that they simplified this into something unintelligible, and then tried to solve all of the complex wrinkles off in the footnotes. Get yourself out of the footnotes and get informed and start figuring it out for yourself — and Taubes is a good place to start.
It’s interesting, and sad. We’re in a massive obesity epidemic; overall, about 1 in 4 adults in the US are considered obese, and that number is growing. About one in ten are diabetic, and the numbers there are staggering, with an expectation that half of Americans will be diabetic by 2020, and Â there are estimates that in the next couple of decades, that could rise to one in three.
And yet, do you have any idea how often someone suggests to me all I need to do is put less on my plate? eat less? exercise more? Simple concepts, which, in fact, fail miserably and have for years for wide swaths of humanity.
Here’s a hint: if it was that simple, I’d have probably figured it out by now and done it. (yes, I’m back on the “it’s complicated” meme again. sorry. but it IS).
This is just the latest facet of the damned Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” mentality, where simple platitudes make you feel like you’re accomplishing something, when in fact, you aren’t. Just say no doesn’t work for drugs, it doesn’t work for teenage sex, it doesn’t work for alcohol or smoking or eating. Real life isn’t that simple. If it was, you wouldn’t need to keep running around yelling “just say no” to people, they’d figure it out on their own. But I guess it makes people feel better. Too bad they don’t actually see if it works before building it into government policy…
Okay, enough ranting. well, maybe. I wanted to share some stuff I’ve run into that may help you understand just how complicated this is. Right now, we’re spending billions of dollars on research into obesity between government programs and medical/pharma industry (because they know if they can figure this out, there’s a goldmine on the other end that’ll make Viagra look like a generic pill). The fact is, obesity is winning, because there are no simple cures. And researchers are seeing this in their research.
I’ve been doing some research into what they’re learning and what’s going on out there, and I’m finding a lot of this fascinating. Hope you do, too.
For instance, there’s good data that at least some obesity might be happening because of a virus. So you might have caught a bug, and it’s decided it wants its host fat and happy, and it doesn’t care what you think.
One of my pet peeves is High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Don’t get me started. (too late). The food industry keeps telling us it’s okay, there’s nothing to worry about. They so believe in the product they’re trying to change the name (so they can maybe hide from the increasingly bad news about it) for a few more years. But some studies have shown a correlation between the growth in diabetes and insulin dependence tracks on a line that matches the growth in the use of HFCS, and more and more research is calling it into question. For instance, an interesting rat study at Princeton showed that rats gained more weight on Corn Syrup than they did on sugar, even when they were fed the same number of calories (now, you have to be careful translating animal studies to human, they rarely are perfect analogs, and you have to be careful about dosage issues and whether the uses are rational for comparing in humans — if it would take 30 pounds of sugar a day in humans, there are bigger problems…). By the way, these rats showed classic signs of metabolic syndrome (a precursor to diabetes) and increased tryglycerides. Another study out of Florida showed the same issues using fructose instead of sucrose (fruit sugars). And the bottom line? Well, according to the folks at Harvard, here it is: The combined findings demonstrated a 26% higher risk of developing diabetes type 2 and a 20% higher risk of developing metabolic syndrome among people who consumed 1 to 2 sugary drinks per day, compared to individuals whose monthly maximum was just one such drink. Even daily consumption of just one 12-ounce sugary drink raised diabetes type 2 risk by approximately 15%.
Still want that Coke or Pepsi? If so, make it a diet.
Other things impact obesity and weight loss. Feeling depressed? Are you getting enough sleep? Urban living, where you run into pollution, seems to be a factor. And there’s growing evident that, in some cases, your do it to you. So can , although what I believe they’re really seeing here is sleep apnea, for which severe snoring is a key symptom.
Fortunately, progress is being made. One thing that seems to make a difference is to move from refined carbs back to complex ones. So look at your carb sources, and work to shift back to whole grains. There’s also research showing that helps. Remember my note yesterday about shifting more to turkey and a higher percentage of protein? Guess why?
Science is starting to understand that diets don’t work; that it’s about lifestyle change (hmm, didn’t I say that recently?) A hot trend is forcing restaurants to display nutritional information (hey! just say no!) — too bad it doesn’t seem to work. wish they’d studied it before implementing those laws, but heck, they probably feel better because they did something.
There’s good news out there, too. A little bit of alcohol helps fight metabolic diseases. If you get rid of sweetened breakfast cereals and go with unsweetened ones, your kids will likely go for the fruit to sweeten it, not sugar (so no more count chocula!) And, of course, getting up and moving around is a good idea. Diet alone isn’t enough, you need to add in the fitness aspect. grumpy knees or no.
What do I take out of all of this?
Well, here’s my “I am not a lawyer” thing: I’m a layman. I’m studying this so I can better understand how to fix my own situation. I’m sharing this so you don’t need to put the time in to find this stuff on your own. But — I’m a layman. So talk to your doctor about this stuff, and have them help you figure out what it means for your situation, because your situation is different than mine. And — believe it or not — I might be wrong here.
But… having said that…
As many changes as I’ve made in my life in the last few years, I still have a ways to go. and what this research gives me some hints on things that are useful options.
I gave up most corn syrup years ago; it’s empty, wasted calories. If you haven’t — stop. Now. I love unsweetened iced tea, fortunately, and in fact over the last few years I’ve done a good job of retraining myself away from a nasty sweet tooth in general. But HFCS sweetened fluids are the first thing my doctor told me to nuke, and he was right. There’s an amazing amount of calories there, and it adds nothing to your diet BUT calories. I’m not someone who is in the “no tolerance” camp for corn syrup, because in american society it’s practically impossible and I’m not going Vegan any time soon (heck, with my allergies, I don’t think I CAN, honestly, even if I wanted to), but whenever I have a choice, I choose away from fructose in general, and high yield corn syrup as much as possible.
After that, where I can, I’m trying to eat whole grains over refined grains. I’m trying to eat more lean protein and less fat and a managed set of carbs. Where I eat carbs, I’m trying to eat complex ones over simple ones (that’s a whole different discussion for later). I avoid trans-fats and processed fats in favor of natural ones (butter rules). And yes, Laurie and I still enjoy a bottle of wine here and there, and I am still known to drink an occasional single malt. But my alcohol usage is probably averaging about 1/3 glass a day or less over a period of a week. AND I’m trying to build up the exercise program.
So in my grand scheme of “fix one thing at a time, and fix it permanently” school of building up a new set of healthier lifestyle habits, the first one I recomment to you is to learn to like unsweetened beverages. Or at the very least, diet — if you tolerate aspartame okay. (I don’t, but I don’t mind using splenda).
One goal I set for myself, and I’ve found it to be a useful one, is to work to make every calorie be worth it — we tend to eat a lot of crap that frankly doesn’t taste that good, merely because it’s there. And a lot of that crap is bad for you. And yes, the occasional In-N-Out burger is “worth it” and so it the occasional Kit-Kat Bar, at least in my universe. but the key word there is occasional, and if you stop and think through what you eat, you’ll probably find a lot of stuff going into the mouth not because it’s tasty or good, but because it’s there. And that’s a good place to start your thinking (well, after you nuke the sugared sodas). And for that, the food diary is king, because it forces you to be conscious of what you’re eating, and once you get conscious of what you’re eating, you’ll probably start thinking to yourself “why the hell am I eating THIS?”
And that starts you down the path to eating better….
okay, I’ve probably ranted about this enough for you all for now, so time to shift to something else. but we’re not done here, are we?
Nah. didn’t think so…
update: This article on diabetes just came out. 26 Million people in the U.S. are diabetic, and another 79 Million are pre-diabetic. 8% of America is Diabetic, and a third of the U.S. adult population is pre-diabetic now. wow. (for comparison, the population of the state of California is roughly 37 million, so we’re talking about 3X that impacted here).Â
My plan to get the weight off is off to a slow start, thanks to the grumpy knees. It’s hard to get an exercise program going when you can’t walk, and for a couple of weeks around Christmas, I wasn’t doing much more than hobbling and hiding under a heating pad. It’s been about two years since I was diagnosed with arthritis in the knees, and so I was due for a few bad days. I just wish I knew what triggered it — Â I have no idea why the knee got inflamed, and the only thing that seemed to knock the inflammation down was time, rest and heat.
It took a couple of weeks after the holiday for things to settle down, but last week, I felt it was time to get moving and see what happened. Half a mile walk, and that evening, things felt pretty good, so the next day, I did it again. It still felt pretty good, so the day after that, I spent some time doing some cleanup and hauling stuff around in the garage. That left things pretty sore, so I spent a day just sitting and resting — and now it feels pretty good again. Not 100%, but probably 95%.
One of the interesting challenges of arthritis is that one of the best methods to keep it in check is to exercise the affected joint, but if you cause inflammation, you make it worse. So there’s this set of lines you travel through and try to navigate between too little and too much, and when you’re just starting out, “too much” might not be a lot. One of the best ways to impact arthritis is to get off excess weight, but if you can’t exercise, getting the weight off is an interesting challenge. so it all twists into itself and it’s this slow, careful process to get the knotted tangle cleaned up and everything moving forward smoothly.
One of the lessons I’m learning — the hard way, repeatedly — is that this is something you can’t out-stubborn. I have to learn when to back off, when to shut it down and use rest as a therapy. I’m getting better at that, but honestly, my personality is to just bulldog through everything that gets in the way, but some things win, and it’s not always easy to realize you need to go around and try a different strategy…
The answer: just keep trying. Learn to listen to the body, pull back when it tells you to, push forward when you can. It’s a balancing act. And not get frustrated when it’s not right the first time, and not focus too hard on results too quickly in ways that cause serious regressions or major downtime by injury. It took many years to get to this point — it won’t fix itself overnight any more than a baseball player can score five runs with a single swing. Baseball players know this — and yet sometimes they still try. they’re wired that way.
And so part of the trick here is to rewire yourself.
When I started talking to my doctor about these issues, that was one of the things he emphasized. It’s not so much about weight loss, it’s about restructuring your lifestyle, and with it, the health changes will come. If you don’t fix the lifestyle issues — even if you lose weight, changes are, it’ll come back.
That’s something the diet industry doesn’t want to talk about — diets don’t work. Even if you lose weight, most people gain it back. Many people gain back more than they lost — and there’s growing evidence that yo-yo weight loss is more harmful to your health than doing nothing.
The plan my doctor and I talked over years ago was to understand what the root causes of the weight were and deal with the lifestyle and diet issues, to get everything under control and moving forward. Remember that in 2004-05, when this process started, Â I was living on the burger and fry diet five or six times a week (at least), so to say my diet was a disaster is understating it.
All of these things are habits — and habits are tough to change. It takes about six weeks to rewire a habit, and even after that, can take longer before it feels natural. If you break the cycle of rewiring along the way, you tend to fall back on the old habit again and then have to start over. That falling back can be caused by many things, but a prime cause is stress, so stress is one of those things you need to learn to manage and reducing stress in your life is an important aspect of all of this.
I also found what worked best for me was to keep it simple; one of the worst things you can do is change everything at once — because you’re dealing with so many habits that you’re going to lose out on some of them, and once you do, they cascade and you tend to lose everything. What worked for me was picking some pieces I felt I could change and doing them.
Over time, I went from bad fat-laden, calorie heavy breakfasts, fast-food lunches and generally eating way beyond my metabolism, and eating really crap stuff.
Today? Well, before christmas I spent two weeks logging my food.
(digression: the first and best weapon in getting your diet under control is the food diary. I’ve used a number of tools, including pure manual paper logging, but today, I like Livestrong.com as a place to manage that information. Food diaries, if you’ve never done them, mean you take a period of time and you log everything you eat. EVERYTHING. When, how much. what. and then you work out what the nutriional aspects of that food is. I’ll probably talk about food diaries in more detail later, but suffice it to say, it is a great tool for showing you the food you’re eating that you don’t realize you’re eating by forcing you to be aware of it, but it also gives you a baseline for understanding where your diet now, so you, or a nutritionist, can figure out what you can change to improve it, one dietary problem at a time. this presumes you don’t lie to yourself, of course, and that’s sometimes the hardest part of using a food diary, because deep down inside, you know you’re screwing up and hate to force yourself to admit it. And sometimes, doing that alone makes a big difference…)
What I found was pretty much what I expected to find. My diet breakdown was about 35% calories from fat, anywhere from 30-50% calories from from carbohydrate, and the rest from protein. My goal has been a balanced, 30-30-40 diet, so these numbers are things I could take to a nutritionist and feel happy with. It’s a huge change from when I started (when I was probably 50% or more fat in the diet, much of it saturated), and it affirmed to me I was eating pretty much at maintenance (finally) although not losing.
The problem? That’s a gerat diet for a normal person, but for a diabetic, the carbs are too high, and that’s contributed to the weight I’ve gained since I started treatment, since one of the drugs managing the blood sugar does so by reducing insulin dependence and encouraging moving carbs into the fat cells. Which I need to better manage by reducing carbs so they aren’t there to sequester, which… (like I keep saying, it’s complicated….)
So I need to get those rations to around 35% fat, 30% carbohydrate, 35% protein. I don’t want to raise the fat percentage to reduce carbs, that’s for sure. And I’ve already pulled a few hundred calories a day out of the diet, but I need to pull out another 500 or so to make sure the weight loss gets going on on the downward slope, but I’ve found I have to be careful how I do that, or there are side effects. So I know what I need to do, but finding the right combination of changes that work for me has been — a bit of a challenge.
The big problem spot in the diet is mid-day, when I’m running around and at work. At home, I have my stock of stuff and on weekends things tend to work pretty well. But the weekdays are fighting back. See, carbs are portable. I can stuff Clif bars in my backpack and haul them around (and I do, for those times when my body starts doing the “you need carbs” dance or I end up in a meeting that spans a normal mealtime). Protein? You can’t just stuff a turkey breast in a backpack and not expect bad things to happen if you haul it around for a while — this all requires more planning and care. Most proteins need refrigeration, where carbs tend not to; so I’m having to figure out how best to change all of that around, and yes, that means “carry your lunch”, and using blue ice bricks and stuff. and that means changing out some habits, and…
And in my case, this is more complicated than usual, because of some food allergies. One common protein you can use that doesn’t require refrigeration is nuts, and so peanut butter is a common item in all of this. And guess what? I have a nut allergy, so that’s off the list.
Fortunately, I do in fact like turkey and it’s now a staple. The current goal is to move to a much lighter carb load during the day, and swap in some turkey, add in a regular salad and include a couple of pieces of fruit for morning and afternoon snacks to help regulate the blood sugar across the day, and see what happens.
So we’ll see. It’s been working on weekends, so it seems time to shift it to the weekdays. I’ve picked up the lunch sack. I know how I have to change my shopping (and laurie’s a huge help here, also). The grumpy knees have made me, honestly, not really feel like screwing around with other stuff so much, but now they seem to be cooperating again (mostly). So know we see how it goes, I guess.
And if it doesn’t work, we’ll learn from it and try something else…
The weather was wonderful here in the Bay Area today, so I went out for a walk. Not a huge one — a total of half a mile, but just before christmas, one of my knees decided to secede from the Union and I’ve been working to bring it back into the fold since.
I think I need a bit of a digression for that to make sense. Back in late 2007, I was out birding and walking, and while out, took a step back and landed in a gopher hole, twisting my knee and doing the “hop around on one leg cussing like a sailor” thing. So I got myself home and got ice on it and gave it a couple of weeks to recover.
It didn’t get better. So I resigned myself to having it checked and went to my doctor, and told him I’d torn the meniscus. So he sent me off to the orthopede and we took xrays of the knees, and he sat me down and said “see this? you’ve torn your meniscus”.
And so I asked him if we needed to go in and clean it up. His response wasn’t what I was expecting, it was “no, we’re trying to delay your knee replacements as long as possible”. And then he showed me the arthritis. Which today I realize shouldn’t have surprised me, since there’s a family history — and since i tore the meniscus of one knee back in high school (long before arthroscopic surgery was invented), grumpy knees the predict the weather isn’t exactly a new thing.
But I do have to admit hearing that I should expect knee replacements at some point didn’t exactly make my day. But we talked over various options and ways to manage it when it flared up, and thanks in large part to 500mg of Relafin twice a day, the last three years have been almost painless (literally), beyond the usual weather predicting grumpiness and the occasional twinge.
This wasn’t a twinge, however. For reasons I don’t know (I have no idea what caused the flareup), the other knee, not the one I messed up in 2007, but the one that’s been grumping at me for 30 years, decided to have a major argument; swelled up, stiffened up, lots of pain and general “don’t you know it’s the freaking holiday, why now?” kind of thing. So for the last month, I’ve been living mostly on the couch under a heating pad. There were a couple of weeks where I should have used crutches, but I’m too damn stubborn some days…
This is the kind of thing where it just takes time to get the inflammation down, although I was starting to think I might need to get my dosage raised or consider a switch to a different drug (but the Relafin works well, I tolerate it nicely, and honestly, I really don’t want to load up on larger doses of NSAIDs unless I absolutely have to…). Fortunately, while it flared up a second time during the trip to SoCal (the main reason we cut the christmas trip short and cancelled our plans for Salton Sea….), it’s been slowly getting better and the last week or so has finally been getting almost back to normal.
So when I say I went out for a walk, given how things were two weeks ago, that’s awesome. Not pain free, but now it’s time to start the dance down the thin line of getting exercise onto the joint without so much exercise that it flares up again. The nice thing is, 30 minutes under a heating pad after lunch at work and the stiffness and pain was all gone, which is what I was hoping for. Shows that we’re almost back to normal.
But this has complicated some of my plans for the last few weeks; I couldn’t implement the exercise program because I couldn’t exercise, and I’ve been doing a lot of sitting on the couch with the iPad consuming stuff rather than at the laptop creating stuff, but that’s also a nice break; I don’t do that enough, honestly, and it gave me a chance to catch up on some reading, which I’ll try to do reviews on soon — that’s been on the todo list for a while.
Being limited to what birding I can do from the car has been annoying, so it was nice to get out to EEC in Alviso and wander a bit. And the downtime has given me a chance to put some research time in on some issues, and you’ll hopefully see the results soon.
And I get to keep my own knees for a while longer, even if they occasionally behave like spoiled teenagers and pout when the weather’s bad…