Archive for June, 2012

The experts are wrong?

June 28, 2012

HBO launched a series The Weight of The Nation on May 14, 2012. It has all the usual experts in disease control and anti-obesity plugging the same advice that I have heard over and over and over, and tried over and over and over which has not (yet) worked for me.

Who am I to say these experts are wrong? I’m nobody. I don’t have the credentials, the research or the practice. I am not a statistically significant group. What I can say is that I have faithfully tried the eat less, exercise more route for close to 10 years and in that time I have mostly gained weight rather than lost weight.

This is why articles like this: Why the Campaign to Stop American’s Obesity Crisis Keeps Failing by Gary Taubs keep attracting me. I highly recommend reading the article. But in case you are not up to a three page read here are the notes.

He starts out by introducing the history of obesity as a field of public health study way back in the midst of the Great Depression. Turns our a German scientist noticed that there were a large amount of fat children in the midst of extreme poverty. This ties in nicely to the idea that cheap carbohydrates make us fat.

Next he introduces the science behind how cheap sugars found in junk foods and also breads, pastas, grains etc… actually alter our insulin and fat storage systems.

Then he brings in that while the health and diet crowd was targeting fat and meats as the cause of obesity that meat intake peaked in the 1970s – before the obesity epidemic. That it was after meat became demonized that grains, breads and pastas took up a cornerstone in our food pyramid that the obesity epidemic really took off.

Then he addresses the exercise myth. That there is little supporting evidence that exercise will help to reduce or maintain weight citing several examples of active people who are obese.

For someone like me this all makes complete sense. I gained the most weight after I had an accident, moved to college, started eating mostly breads, grains and pasta – because they were cheap and easy to make. I exercised like a fiend. Often going to the gym seven times a week. I found myself completely unable to maintain a low-calorie diet on 1,200-1,500 cal/day for more than six months at a time. I found myself constantly hungry. I occasionally succeed at losing 20 lbs but it would almost always come back and then a few more. Then I would start the cycle again. Wash rinse repeat.

This is a quote from Taubs article I would like to pin up somewhere:

“as Hilde Bruch pointed out more than half a century ago, that exhorting obese people to eat less and exercise more doesn’t work, and that this shouldn’t be an indictment of their character but of the value of the advice.”

The advice that Taubs gives is to simply stop eating sugars. Eat more green leafy vegetables, lean proteins and good fats. This sounds to me a lot like the Paleo Diet. I don’t know if I’m just being led down another garden path that will lead to a cycle of failure. But, at least it is trying something different.


Bad Food Choices

June 21, 2012

I noticed in my last entry that I mentioned my weight was consistently going up when I made bad food choices.

That choice of words has given me pause. What do I mean by bad food choices?

First of I find it interesting that I still use the word “bad”. I could have chosen: poor, negative, unhealthy, junk or others. But I chose bad which demonstrates that I’m still using a lot of value judgement with my food.

It also runs counter to what I said in and earlier post about listening to The Fat Nutritionist and giving myself permission to eat.

So, my vocabulary is showing some cracks in the philosophy I am trying to adopt, but I do think I am learning.

What “bad” food choices mean for me right now are:

  1. Mindless eating
  2. Allergy eating
  3. Uncontrolled eating

Mindless eating is see-food, eat-food. For example I was playing a game in the university cafeteria (some friends and I meet there sometimes for gaming). That night when the Tim Hortons staff came out and dumped tonnes of bins of donuts, muffins, cookies, timbits, croissants, cinnamon buns and more. All the students in the cafeteria descended and started grabbing food. When all this started I wasn’t hungry, I don’t really like donuts that much, I really don’t like Tim Horton’s donuts, especially day old going stale donuts… then one member of our group put three bags of chips in the middle of the table. As the evening went on, I don’t remember when I decided to have chips, timbits or more chips, but I did. They didn’t taste good or satisfy a craving. I just ate them because they were in front of me and other people were eating.

Allergy eating is when I ignore that certain foods make me feel awful but I eat them anyways. This often goes with either mindless eating. Sometimes it happens with social eating. It goes with mindless when I don’t really think about what all the ingredients are of what I am putting into my body. With social eating I hate feeling like the high-maintenance picky eater and I feel like I’m being a nuisance to others when I ask too many questions about food. Because food is so social I don’t want to upset the social balance so I eat things even when I suspect they are bad for me just to keep the social balance.

Uncontrolled eating is mostly alcohol. I have a very high tolerance for alcohol, I’m still usually in happy-drunk mode around drink 12-15. What I have figured out is that anything over usually drink 3 is going to tip the scales. But, since most of my friends know I can drink and I don’t want to feel like a priest at a pageant I often let my guard down and allow myself to drink more alcohol than I intended. This goes back to the mindless see-food, eat-food problem.

In other words I’m okay to give myself permission to eat chips, pop or ice cream if that is what my body is truly craving. But, when I eat it simply because it is there, despite it being bad for me or because I didn’t manage my alcohol consumption I see these as “bad” food choices.

Mini-goal: 15 lbs

June 14, 2012

Crystal Renn

My weight has been boucing around but only within a 2-3 lb range and that seems to be in direct response to bad food choices. It is always shocking to me that one day of poor eating choices can pile on 2-3 lbs by the next morning, but that same weight will take a week or two to lose. I don’t understand how weight goes on that easy but is so difficult to take off. I figure that must be my body’s response to a set point.

The last couple of weeks have been surprisingly easy. Perhaps my body has let go of the 240 lb set point and is now accepting its old set point of near 220 lbs. I  hit 222.8 lbs a couple of days ago and was really happy to celebrate my 15 lb mark.

Reward is to go out and buy a new top. I now have two rewards to fulfill: the pedicure and a new top!

Paleo Recipe Review: Budget Friendly Balsamic Mustard Chicken and Roasted Veggies

June 7, 2012

Image From

I don’t hate cooking, but it’s also not something that I consider lots of fun. This means that I don’t spend hours, or even minutes, trying to come up with recipes. I depend heavily on the lovely people on the internet who have blogs with recipes for free.

The good news is that there are tonnes of paleo recipes out there. The bad news, I found, is that many of the paleo internet chefs really want to be amazing gourmet chefs. These people LOVE their food. I usually look for three things in a good recipe:

  • Simple ingredients
  • Can be made with minimal kitchen equipment
  • Limited advance prep work (I may make a recipe that requires marinating on the weekend)
  • Minimal steps in cooking. (e.g. if it’s a french cooking technique beyond sautee, I probably don’t know it)

It took me awhile to find a source of recipes I liked, but once I did I find myself sticking with it.

My recommendation for best paleo food blog is: Every Day Paleo

One of the first recipes I tried was Budget Friendly Balsamic Mustard Chicken with Roast Veggies.

It’s insanely simple to make. The sauce is really easy. I tried her baggie technique the first time I made it and used tupperware the next few times.

The prep work is minimal, I chopped up the bacon, brussel sprouts and zucchini in about 5 minutes.

Cooking is very simple: 2 pans, one in the oven (veggies) one on the stove.

And, it’s delicious. I’m not a fan of brussel sprouts but bacon grease makes a lot of things tasty. The chicken is really moist and delicious.

I did have to make a small adjustment to this recipe because of my pork allergy. I switch pork bacon for a variety of other ‘bacon’ you can get from your local butcher and sometimes the grocery. I used beef-bacon in this case since I thought it would get more fat than chicken or turkey bacon.