Thursday, October 15, 2009


I've decided to move to a new domain. When I started this blog, I was thinking lo-carb; I now do paleo. And I was running to get in shape for snowboarding; since snowboarding is really my goal, I decided to go with that name as well.

Edit: I let the new domain expire, so now that content is gone. :( Perhaps I'll start posting here again? Dunno.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ten Week Plan : Week 0

There are eleven weeks til the end of the year; December 31st is a Thursday, which will be eleven weeks and two days from now. I want to be snowboarding by then, so this is my plan to get there.

My goals are two-fold: to get into shape for intensive all-day physical activity, and to be in a steady financial position so that I can move out into the mountains and leave my day job behind. To be clear, my goal isn't just to take a weekend vacation and go snowboarding; it's to live in a mountain town and go snowboarding nearly every day for most of the season.

"Official" plan weeks run Sunday through Saturday, so the 10-week plan starts next Sunday. This week is preparation. Each week will have two goals: a fitness goal and a financial goal. Fitness includes diet, strength training, and cardio work. My financial goals are a combination of reduced spending, financial planning, and entrepreneurial activity.

My biggest problem, diet-wise, is cheating. I know what I should be eating and what I should be avoiding, but I find myself grabbing a coke now and then, or having a bite of the snacks that coworkers bring in to the office, or (horrors!) eating a sandwhich or enchilada! I expect this will be one of the major items in the ten-week plan: removing leaks.

My biggest problem, entrepreneurially, is not working hard enough. I've got plans, I've got projects that I've started, but I don't work on them as much as I wish I did. Each week, this plan will include specific milestones that I want to reach, some analysis of what I wanted to get done and whether I got there, and some planning on future work.

For this week (Week 0), I'll keep things simple. I'll continue to run/walk as I have been, about five times a day. I'll continue to do strength training twice a week. I'll try to eat paleo, but specifically I'll be avoiding tea after noon and cokes after breakfast. Still a leak, but I personally find it difficult to quit cold turkey. (If I drink tea late with dinner, it dehydrates me and makes a good night's sleep more difficult.)

For my financial goals, I'll be working four hours a night when I'm free, and eight hours on Saturday.

I'll keep y'all posted.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I've been cheating a lot.

It's something that crept up on me. It started by eating potatoes instead of wheat or corn or rice or oats. Potatoes were paleo, right? At least, more paleo than grains. So I'd have some potatoes with breakfast. Then it was fries with lunch, and then a baked potato with a dinner steak. Then, every once in a while, I'd have a coke (full HFCS). And since I had a coke yesterday, I might as well have one today, too, right? And then carb cravings would kick in.

I lost twenty pounds -- and probably much more than that in fat, since I've also doubled the amount of weight that I'm lifting -- before cheating took hold. In the last two months, I haven't lost any weight at all. My belt tightened up a little bit, but that's it.


A friend of mine recently started down the low-carb path. He's not eating paleo (yet) but he is eating very low carbs. The most carbs he gets is residual sugar in eggs or cheese. No potatoes, grains, or sugar. And he's been losing weight -- fast. He didn't have a lot of weight to lose, like I do, but it's still coming off. It's very inspiring to hear his stories.

And it makes me feel guilty for my own indulgences. I used to lose that kind of weight!


So I hereby rededicate myself to eating not just paleo, but low-carb paleo. Down with the potatoes!

I know carbs feed on themselves; I feel it. It's obvious. Start the day with some sugar and it goes downhill from there. No more cokes, fries, potatoes, or corn chips. I can do without. And I want to do without.

The proof is in the doing. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Running Out of Breath

update: running out of breath followup post on my new blog

The reason I started this blog was because I wanted to get into shape to do demanding outdoor exercises -- snowboarding in particular. Running was, to me, a way to get there. I like being outdoors; I like going out for walks on trails. I've walked a lot outdoors, often on miles-long excursions. I figured, I can work up to running a 10k or a marathon, run to keep in shape, and enjoy running more.

Most of the dietary information I found on running exclaimed the importance of carbs, but I was already committed to eating low-carb -- hence the blog. I wanted to explore eating low carbs but also running (and doing other aerobic sports) at the same time.

But I'm not yet a runner.

I try to run every day and am happy to get out on the road five times a week. I'll do sprints one day, jog the next, go for a long walk the next, jog again, then repeat.

I do Tabata sprints: twenty seconds of giving it my all, then ten seconds of rest, then go again. I can do five sets of sprints and usually that last sprint is barely a jog. At the end of it, I want to find someone with a sprinkler on their lawn and go pass out under it. It's tough -- but that's the point. Tabata sprints are part of a high-intensity workout; not something to do every day, but a way to maximize results while minimizing time spent. It doesn't minimize effort: Tabata intervals are notoriously hard.

But most days I don't sprint; I just run. My "runs" are really jogs. When I first started last December, it wasn't even that -- I was only walking. After a week or so I started jogging briefly, about 20 seconds or so, and it was tough, but I was glad for the improvement. Eventually I gave up because of ankle pain, but back in May I started working out in earnest again. I'm now up to jogging continuously for a quarter mile, walk a bit, then jog again. I can do four such quarter-mile sections and I'm pretty beat at the end of it.

Running Out of Breath

But I'm not really out of energy. After I take a shower, I feel like going for another run. In fact, after I finish the walk back to my apartment, I go through the gate and feel like running again... It actually feels great. I love running! It's exhilarating. Having the energy that I didn't have for years is incredible, and slightly intoxicating.

I stop running because I run out of breath! I've thought about it while running, and that's really why I stop at the end of a quarter mile: I'm breathing heavy and continuing to run seems impossible. But I can walk just fine, and after I catch my breath, I'm ready to give it another go.

I did some surfing on the topic and the consensus seems to be: I'm out of shape. Well, duh. It's nice to have the confirmation though. This is what's supposed to happen. As I get into better shape, my ability to use and consume oxygen should improve. I found some suggestions on breathing (including a useful post on side stitches at and, putting it all together, my breathing will get better as I get into shape. That it is exactly what getting into shape means.

Generally I don't trust much of what I see at It's great for getting a consensus view -- what the mainstream thinks about a topic -- but it sucks for research, for alternate viewpoints, or even for seeing both sides to a debate. I don't just eat low carb (and Atkins itself has enough detractors), I eat paleo; such a website won't be a good source for information about that. But who else talks about breathing? And so I'm fine with their answers.


It's simple enough. If you're out of breath, it's because you're not fit. (It could be asthma; an important consideration but one that I can't speak to myself, so I'm leaving that possibility aside.) The way to not be out of breath is to get fitter. The way to do that is to continue to run.

My results match what I'd expect: eating low-carb means I'm always burning fat, and my fat-burning capability is fairly healthy. That's why I have plenty of energy to keep running. However, my cardiovascular fitness level is low, and that's why I run out of breath.

I will continue running, of course. A few more months til it starts snowing in the mountains, and I look forward to being up there on the slopes!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Hypertension Update

When I went to the doc in May, my BP at the office was crazy high -- like 170/110. They only took one reading, took it while I was standing, and generally had me talking throughout -- all of which are things that I've since learned can send the numbers up as well as provide inconsistent results.

As a result, I bought a home BP monitor and I've been taking my blood pressure daily for over two months now. It's interesting to watch the patterns and try to figure out what's what.

Normally, when doing a scientific test, you only want to change one variable at a time. For example, if you change a half-dozen things about your diet and your weight plateaus, what caused your weight to stabilize? It's much easier to find what works by doing one thing at a time; cut out this food, eat more of that, etc.

Except the problem in diet studies is that food isn't simple. Eating more bananas (say) means not just getting the potassium and other nutrients from the fruit, but also getting more fructose and more calories. Replacing one food with another is better, but still a non-trivial change. Was the old food good or is the new food bad? Is it calories? Sugars? Micronutrients? Or even something you're not paying attention to -- like the fact that you're eating breakfast now?

And if you're working out at the same time, a change in workout or diet might produce a change in body composition -- more fat & less muscle, or more muscle & less fat, or maybe you're gaining water weight, or all that fiber is just sitting in your gut.

Blood pressure is a bit easier. It's just a number. And my goal is really to get that number to go down.

A few things I've learned:

* Taking several measurements throughout the day has shown me how crazily volatile BP is. If I take a BP measurement then wait a few minutes and take it again, that second number can be much lower. I don't usually take two readings, and I think I'll start to -- and use that to see how the minute-to-minute volatility changes with time of day.

* Taking a measurement first thing in the morning is great for consistency. My morning routine is the most consistent time of my day and I think that reading (even though I'm normally in a rush out the door and don't have time for a second reading) has been the most consistent.

* I don't think I'm salt-sensitive, but I might be. Cutting out the salt didn't have a big effect on my BP, but adding it back in seemed to send it up. So I'm I'm going to go very-low-salt again for a couple weeks to check.

* Walking on a consistent basis (five or six times a week) has helped my heartrate a lot, and my BP some.

* Alcohol and working out will both push my BP and heartrate up; alcohol for maybe a day, while sometimes just an hour after working out those numbers will normalize.

* Being sick does crazy things to the numbers.

My numbers now, at least at home when I can sit down and rest for the few minutes it takes to get a couple readings, are back into prehypertension range: around 135/80, plus or minus 10 points for both numbers. My heartrate has also come down, from the high eighties to 70, sometimes in the 60s.

I'm going to continue what I've been doing: no sugar, no grain, no fructose, work out once every 4-7 days, and walk/run five or six times a week. Also, for the month of August, I'll be cutting down on caffeine and potatoes -- no more fries with those lo-carb burgers!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unintentional Fasting

I managed to give myself food poisoning on Friday night. 12 hours of vomiting, 24 hours of tossing & turning, then 48 hours of dehydrated stumbling around. It hasn't been pleasant. I've "lost" 6 pounds, but that's all digestive mass.

Effectively, it's been a near-total fast for 96 hours. Everything I ate on Friday came back up, I had nothing at all on Saturday, and all I had on Sunday and Monday was a pint of ice cream, a candy bar, three slices of bacon, a couple eggs -- and a ton of sugar water (mostly sports drinks).

I've felt somewhat dehydrated, but I think that's been helped by burning off whatever glycogen stores I had -- and burning up those stores frees the associated water. This 'free' water is much of the weight lost when you first go low-carb; burning off glycogen stores doesn't also burn fat or break down muscle tissue.

Burning glycogen stores should make your lean tissues look more lean, too, by getting rid of the padding that comes from the water. The other major way to do that is to continue burning off fat -- just like high-grade cuts of meat, humans have fat tissue streaking through their muscles. Burn off that fat, and your arms and legs will look tighter, less 'puffy.'

I've felt some clarity of thought in the last few days, too. I haven't been low-carb however; those sports drinks have been high in sugar. Yet I think I've mostly burned that sugar off; at least, it's prevented me from burning off fat stores. But I've stayed away from grain and veggie oils the whole time, and I think that's helped.

Overall it's provided me an incentive to clean up my diet still further: (1) give up those corn chips, which primarily come with queso, which (when I can't explicitly check) is most likely some kind of veggie oil omega-6 goop instead of real cheese. (2) Stop with the potatoes. It's one of my major weaknesses now, and probably will continue to be, but I can start by not getting fries when I do get a burger (wrapped in iceburg lettuce instead of a bun, of course).

Down 26 pounds from my max... heh. My apartment complex is doing its own "Biggest Loser"-type thing starting tonight, and I'll be starting that off after five days of unintentional fasting. Wish me luck!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Workout Update

My workout plan has finally settled down into something approaching a routine. I try to work out every day but I don't always make it out -- but that's fine. I achieve the goal -- to work out five or six times a week.

The center-piece of my workout plan is one day of intense exercise in the gym, following the workout plan mentioned by Timothy Ferriss and described by a few others. The essence of this strength-training workout is One Set to Failure: prefer compound movements (not muscle-isolation exercises), take a long time (five seconds or more) to perform each rep, and pick a weight where you can do 6-8 reps. The last rep should be to failure. Not just "I want to stop" but "I can't go on!"

Another key is to not over-train -- this intense workout should only be done once every four days, or possibly once every week or 10 days. Definitely don't work out every day; even every other day is too much. The idea is to avoid stress hormones. After such an intense workout, your body will respond, but constantly stressing it cuts off some of that response. You don't need to work out every day to build muscle. My days are busy; I don't really want to spend an hour in the gym every day. The only reason I would is if there's substantial gains there, and the research that these guys have dug up suggests that training more than once every four days produces a decrease in results.

A few people in the paleo community suggest fasting on this day, to pump up growth hormone levels. That might work, but I still haven't settled into a good fasting schedule.

I typically ran sprints after this intense workout, but over the last couple weeks I've shifted it. It might be a bit counter-productive to try to run hard after this workout since I've already stressed by legs pretty hard and they tend to be rubbery. Either way, my running schedule is one day of Tabeta sprints, a mile jog, a long walk (3-5 miles), a mile jog, and then repeat.

Tabeta sprints are sprinting hard for 20 seconds, resting for 10 seconds (true rest, not just walking), then repeating. What I've read on the procedure suggests doing eight such sets. So far, I'm up to five sets -- I'm just not that fit yet. :) My mile 'jogs' aren't really jogs, either -- I tend to run about half the distance and walk the other half.

I've noticed considerable improvement in both strength and fitness over the past couple months. My weight hasn't budged in that time, but I don't have solid records on body fat. My pants are definitely looser; I've dropped two inches there. So I'm burning fat, but I'm making up for it in muscle gain. Running has also gotten easier. The first time I went for sprints, that third set was painful. I'm now doing five sets. (The Texas heat isn't helping!) Likewise, my jogging days started out as walks, and I'm up to jogging a half mile each time. (Walk a bit, jog a quarter mile, walk a bit, jog a quarter mile, walk home.)

Improvement is fun, and I'm seeing it. My roommate really wants to work out more often, but I'm not biting. I'm getting results with this program, and I'd be tempted to tweak it, but I'll wait til I hit a plateau.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Running and Ankle Pain

I'm having trouble running more than about a kilometer. My ankle starts hurting and then running gets very painful. I can walk for miles, but moving faster (even a slow jog) brings up ankle pain. I've been averse to running on it, because it seems to me that it's just a good way to cause further injury.

The last time I went running a changed up my gate a bit and tried to place where exactly the pain was coming from. I think the pain I'm having is because my ankles are weak. That is, that they're not strong enough to handle the stress of running. I think the solution for weak ankles is to run more -- that is, I should be running through the pain.

Do I keep running or not? The safest thing to do would be to consult a sports physician. I don't want to pay for that right now, so I'm stuck trying to self-diagnose.

I'm still losing weight. If my ankle problems are related to the stress of propelling all that excess mass, then this is a problem that will resolve itself as I burn off fat. Eventually. Yet I still want to get out on the trails....

Aggravating, but at least I can walk pain-free, and I'm happy for that. Over the next couple weeks, I'm going to continue trying to run through the pain, and see what happens. Plus, I'm going to try to find some way to work out my feet, ankles, and lower legs in the gym, so that I can build up some strength other than being on the road.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Getting Started on a Low Carb Diet

Just starting a paleo and/or low-carb diet? Having trouble getting started? I've seen many complaints that the first couple weeks are the hardest. I've gone back and forth from high-carb to low-carb a few times, and talked to friends that have made the journey as well. Here's what I suggest to get yourself started.

First let me say that my diet goal isn't just to eat few carbs; my goal is to eat nutrient-dense food, repair my digestive system, and restore myself to health. I've got symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome, and that's why I'm eating low-carb. A paleo diet isn't strictly low-carb but is compatible with it -- most paleo food is low-carb.

Plan to make small changes. You are changing the way you eat for the rest of your life. Some people can handle big, dramatic changes -- quitting cold turkey. I had trouble with that; I cheated on my diet. Daily. I know what that's like, so if you have the same trouble with going cold turkey, here are some small steps.

Step 1 - More Fat

Eat fatty foods, like cream, bacon, steaks, and cheese. You're going to need to eat more fat in your diet, especially once you start limiting carbs, so get used to eating those foods. Don't eat a ton of fat yet; if you're still eating a good bit of carbs, eating a lot of fat, too, is a great way to gain weight. You just want to start adding these things to your diet. Don't shy away from the fatty steak, for example.

Keep these foods around the house. Bacon and eggs on Sunday morning, a big fatty steak for Friday dinner, berries and cream for a treat now and then. This stuff is yummy, and once you're eating some of them, buying them will be a habit. (More on berries in a bit.)

Step 2 - Cut Sugar

Switch from sugary drinks to their low-calorie versions; whether it's soda, coffee, or tea, either add no sweetener or use the artificial stuff. Eventually you'll want to limit caffeine, but don't worry about that now. Be glad to make progress! Cutting out this sugar is one easy step.

Stay away from sugary treats, too, such as candy bars, sports drinks, deserts (including ice cream), and fruit juice. Yes, fruit juice. That stuff isn't healthy for you. Fruits are seasonal; man isn't built to consume pounds of fruit every day, year round. Modern fruits are "nature's candy bar." Natural, by itself, isn't a good reason to eat food -- there are many toxic plants, for example. Just cuz an orange won't kill you today doesn't mean it's healthy.

Berries are generally better tolerated by our digestive systems than fruits. Fruit juice, especially those big glasses of orange juice that breakfast joints like to serve, is a huge dose of fructose, which has to be processed by the liver, just like alcohol. And causes the same liver disease that alcoholics get, for the same reason -- the liver gets inundated with calories, stores its as oil, and eventually those oily deposits get so big that it ruptures liver cells, causing scars. (I talked about this subject a bit in my Big Meanies post.)

Step 3 - Cut Flour

You'll want to cut corn and wild rice, too, but start with flour. I cut out flour and found myself eating a lot of corn chips (especially with queso when I go out for fajitas). But once I was eating mostly low-carb, removing the corn chips was fairly easy. So just start with the flour. Don't touch pasta (if you're at an italian restaurant, get a sirloin or salad or fish instead), bread, or tortillas. If you go out with friends or coworkers to a sandwich shop, remove the bread. Many burger joints will serve a bunless burger wrapped in lettuce.

Be glad to make progress

Cutting out sugar is a great first step. Maybe you replace it with high-carb foods like bagels, bread, or rice -- but you've removed one bad ingredient from your diet. Focus on where you're going and don't obsess about where you are now. Once you get adjusted to low carb, you'll love it!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cheating on Your Low Carb Diet

I cheated on Monday.

I have blogged about cheating before, but I had an insight after this episode that I hope will help anyone that's trying to switch to low carb and is having trouble with carb cravings.

I had a burger, fries, and a coke for lunch. Normally I drink tea when I eat out, but for some reason I grabbed a coke. I think I was jonesing for sugar somehow and just gave in.

And then my blood sugar crashed a couple hours later. The afternoon was horrid; I felt those cravings all afternoon. I felt weak and jittery, my concentration was wandering, and I felt hungry. I needed I had to consume something. When I drove home, I grabbed another energy drink -- this time just to settle my blood sugar. I knew what was going on, and figured that was probably the easiest way out of it.

After a great dinner and then a night sleeping, I felt much better by Tuesday. It was easy to get back on track for Tuesday lunch (soup, some bbq pork), Tuesday dinner (leftover bbq), and through Wednesday (burrito bowl minus the rice and beans, ie meat, cheese, and avocado; steak for dinner) without any of those carb cravings.

An overnight fast is the best time to break out of a carb cycle. I think the blood-sugar low a couple hours after a high-carb meal is the hardest, most challenging part of switching to low-carb. Once you make it past that, it's easier to stay low-carb. I suffered for a few hours on Monday afternoon, but the energy drink five hours after lunch settled me, dinner was relatively low-carb, and then the long fast after that was mostly while I was sleeping. So I went from carbs on Monday back to low-carb by leveraging that overnight fast. My blood sugar was more stable on Tuesday morning; I still felt like my blood sugar was a bit low, but it wasn't as distracting as it was the previous afternoon.

Some people do great quitting cold turkey but that wasn't me. Taking advantage of an overnight fast (ie what you normally do!) might be the start of a pattern for the easiest way to go from the high-carb Standard American Diet to a low-carb diet. Slowly add low-carb meals. Start with breakfast (either skip it or eat low carb) and don't cheat in the mornings. Then add in lunch, keep your afternoons on-diet, then dinner, and then you're set. If you give this a try, let me know in the comments how it goes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Low Carb and Cravings

A friend of mine here at work is on the South Beach Diet again, this time doing the induction phase to lose a few pounds. When he's not on this Diet, he eats the Standard American Diet of high carbs, processed vegetable oils, and frankenfoods. I talked to him a bit about eating low carb, carb cravings, and the diet.

He first started the diet a few months ago, when his wife wanted to try the diet and he decided to go on it as well to show his support. The first time he went low carb, he says that he had bad carb cravings for a couple weeks; this time, it took about a week for the cravings to subside.

I remember we were going to a party a few months ago (when he wasn't on the diet) and I stopped by his house before we headed out. We were just getting home from work, having not eaten anything since lunch, and he was famished. He downed a couple tortillas and immediately felt better. This is a strange snack, but it makes sense -- he had carb cravings. He knew what his body wanted. I talked to him about this a bit, and his experience matched mine (before I started low carb): you get to know what your body wants. You have a specific feeling when your blood-sugar is low, it's easy to recognize, and you know that eating bread or pasta will make that bad feeling go away.

His cravings never got too severe; mine didn't either. I never felt grossly sick or insane, but then, I always had fairly easy access to carbs. I had a big problem with 'cheating' when I tried going low-carb a couple years ago. My meals were solid, but then I'd drink a soda or eat chips as a snack, when I was feeling the brunt of carb cravings. He never had that snack habit.

I think anyone on a high-carb diet has constant carb cravings. You're used to it; you feel it constantly. You interpret it as a signal to eat, and it's just a part of life. Only when you decide to stop feeding the carb-hungry beast inside do you really separate out those cravings as something abnormal.

We were both addicted to World of Wacraft for a while, and one of the nice things about an addiction like that is, if you're hungry, it's easy enough to just sit and continue playing instead of getting up to eat. One addiction can help suppress another. (So the lesson is, if you're trying to go low carb and having trouble with carb cravings, pick up another addictive habit, like WoW or gambling or meth.)

He's said the pounds of come off quickly, although he's only barely overweight. He's an ectomorph; he doesn't carry body fat on his face and arms etc, just a bit of extra belly fat. A wheat belly, but not the big beer belly that normally comes to mind. (One incentive to try the diet again, he said, was to fit into his pants and not have to buy new clothes.) The general theory in the low carb community is that you drop weight quickly at first when you start eating low carb, and this is mostly water weight, and then the weight loss slows down. This lost water weight comes from burning off glycogen stores; glycogen being a phosphorylated glucose starch that binds water.

We're both programmers, and that's also something that helps deal with carb cravings a bit. At work, I often get caught up in a problem that occupies my mind for hours. I don't have time to sit and be bored, and think about how hungry I am. This lesson is like the addiction lesson above, but less tongue-in-cheek: if you're doing something that keeps your mind occupied, then you'll be able to burn through time. Once you get past the first one or two weeks of eating low carb, the cravings go away. So the trick is just to survive, and if "time flies when you're having fun" (or mentally occupied, whether it's fun or not) then do something that keeps your mind busy and occupied; something without small breaks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Carbohydrate Basics I

Carbohydrates are a natural part of the human diet, and have been for as long as we've been human, but the easy and cheap access to carbs is the number one cause of disease in Western civilization. Sound extreme? It is. Any consistent position is extreme; a compromise always means subverting a principle in favor of making nice with your enemies. And if the principle you want to follow is good health, then stay away from cheap carbs.

Before I get into the dangers of 'cheap carbs', such as sugar and wheat flour, I want to cover some carb basics -- the types of carbs and carbohydrate digestion.

There are three basic types of carbs: simple sugars, starches, and fiber. You can add alcohols to the list, but they're processed differently by the body and a bit more complicated so I'll leave them out of the discussion today.

The simplest carb is a single sugar molecule, such as glucose or fructose. A molecule containing just one sugar is called a monosaccharide. Some carbs are chains of sugar molecules, one after another bound together. Sucrose (common table sugar) is one molecule of glucose bound to one molecule of fructose. This combination of two sugars (saccharides) is called a disaccharide. Long chains of sugar molecules create starches, of which fiber is one subset. Fiber is differentiated by the fact that it is indigestible, and so does not contribute calories to diet.


Sugars are rapidly pulled into the bloodstream from the small intestine. Glucose directly becomes "blood sugar," whereas fructose and galactose are first transported to the liver for conversion. Since these sugars must be converted by the liver, high doses of these sugars tends to produce the same steatic effects as alcohol -- the liver stores excess converted sugars in vacuoles inside liver cells, and eventually these vacuoles grow so large that they rupture their containing cells causing cell death, which leads to tissue scarring (cirrhosis).

Disaccharides can't be absorbed into the bloodstream, so they first have to divided into their two constituent sugars. Disaccharides are broken down into monosaccharides in both the stomach and small intestine. Sucrose (table sugar) is broken down into glucose and fructose; Lactose (milk sugar) breaks down into glucose and galactose; and Maltose (malt sugar) breaks down into two units of glucose. Enzymes speed these reactions, although all will occur in the presence of acid (such as the hydrochloric acid in the stomach).


Starches, as chains of sugar molecules way longer than just the two sugars in disaccharides, must be broken down even further. Enzymes that promote this breakdown are called amylases. Amylase is found in saliva (which gives starchy foods some of their sweet taste) and is also produced by the pancreas. One genetic mutation in humans is the presence of multiple copies of the amylase gene, which means extra amylase in their saliva. If your ancestors came from the Baltic Sea, then chances are you'll have an easier time digesting starch (especially if you chew your food well).


Not all sugar chains can be broken down by our enzymes, though. That depends on how the sugar molecules are joined; there's actually many different ways to do it. Cellulose, which makes up 33% of most plant matter and 50% of wood, is indigestible to humans. Even though it's just chains of glucose molecules, they're joined by beta(1,4) bonds -- whatever that means, the consequence is that we don't have the chemical machinery to break that bond.

There are different types of long sugar chains; some are branched, some are linear, some contain different sugars, some have beta bonds others have alpha bonds, etc etc. Hence, the calorie contribution of long sugar polymers will vary, depending on how much of the sugar molecules are enzymes can break off. Generally, a food is called a "fiber" if it is primarily indigestible, and a "starch" if the amylase our bodies produce can break it down.

Cows can digest cellulose with symbiotic bacteria in their gut -- which is partly why cows have four stomachs. (Other ruminants, such goats, sheep, deer, and llamas have similar systems. They're all ruminants.) To us humans, though, such fibrous plants aren't food. You'll see "fiber" included on the labels in some foods, and the calories there included in the calorie count of the food, but you won't actually get those calories. That's like expecting to survive while eating wood chips. Your body can't do it. (Feel free to blame politicians and bureaucrats for the misleading labeling.)

Next Up

In following posts in this series I want to cover the effect of carbs on metabolism, sugar's effects in disease through glycation, carb-loading before running, high-carb foods, and healthy carb consumption.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hypertension, Hypothyroidism, and Paleolithic Diets

I went in to the doctor a few weeks ago and my blood pressure was pretty damn high, about 170/100. I was surprised.

Part of the reason I went into the doctor was that I felt 'weird', and wanted to get a new prescription for my thyroid medication. Hypertension is one common effect of untreated hypothyroidism ("patients with hypothyroidism have triple the risk of developing hypertension" from one source, or this paper listed in PubMed, or a study that looked specifically at the two), so I knew that not being on meds could be a problem. My first goal was to get back on thyroid meds, continue workout out, and continue losing weight. Not being on the medication was itself a gross mistake, one that I really only made because of the hassle of dealing with medical insurance. Moving on -- I'm back on thyroid medication.

Strength training has sometimes been associated with higher blood pressure, but most of what I've seen in that regard says that it is while lifting weights that one's blood pressure goes up. Nearly every source I've checked says that athletes (and children) have low blood pressure, so I'm not sure that building muscle tissue should cause hypertension. That seems weird. So I'm not going to stop strength training yet, especially since I'm working on other avenues. Normally when one says "athletes" I think what comes to mind is runners, sports players, cyclists, and the like -- people engaged in long-term cardiovascular exercise, who can exert themselves for hours at a sport or exercise. So running should help lower my blood pressure, although I expect that benefit to be slow and gradual as I step up my running.

Blood pressure is also correlated with weight loss. But I'm losing weight (on the paleo diet), so that should also be a continuing benefit, again slow and gradual as the weight comes off.

Of course, the doctor wants to give me pills for the hypertension and then pretend the problem is solved. She didn't know of any pill that I could take once that would cure the problem, so the "only option" is lifetime medication. Blech! I didn't want that solution. I want to be healthy, not just have "healthy numbers."

Thyroid function is harder to restore, I know, as Hashimoto's is an autoimmune disease. I expect to continue to be on thyroid medication for a long time. Some people have been able to reverse autoimmune diseases after fixing their gut (by removing lectins such as WGA and other stessors from their diet) and eating nutrient-dense food, but all the anecdotes I've read about it says that it takes a year or more for your body to restore itself to health. Some relief can be found immediately depending on the disease, but hypothyroidism doesn't cause pain or other severe effects like some of the other autoimmune diseases. I would like to restore my thryoid to normal functioning; I don't want to be on that medication for life. But that depends on how damaged my thyroid is, and if removing antagonists will eventually convince my immune system to leave my thyroid alone.

My blood pressure numbers have been coming down; I'm back into pre-hypertension range. I've got a BP cuff at home now, and I'm using that to track my BP a few times a day. My diet hasn't changed (still paleo), although the high BP reading was enough to convince me to be more consistent in my workouts (running every other day, strength training every four). It's also convinced me to keep to the diet.

I've been consistently paleo for three months and have lost 20 pounds. I figure strength training has helped me put on some lean mass, but I haven't been tracking body fat % so I can't really judge that. At some point I'll post my weight and BP readings, probably in one big chunk, for those that would like to see hard numbers.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Weighing Yourself for Motivation

I weigh myself every morning. I've read a bunch of posts, by many different authors, recommending against this practice. The main argument against it is that your weight fluctuates so much day-to-day that a daily measurement isn't accurate; that if you try to figure out why your weight goes up or down you'll just frustrate yourself.

The thing is, you have to accept that argument. Acknowledge it. I weight myself every morning and don't pretend to know why my weight goes up or down. Instead, I use it to reinforce habits.

Did my weight go up? There's a lot of reasons that could happen, but if I ate some potatoes the day before I'll blame it on the potatoes. Or not workout out enough, or not running farther. Did my weight go down? I use that to cheer myself on, to remind myself to stick to eating good foods and exercising.

The key is to make an emotional association between what you see on the scale and a behavior. Losing a pound is a great feeling, that's what I want -- and I try to transfer some of that feel-good to habits that I want to reinforce. It's important to not pretend that I know something, that "obviously I gained weight because I ate some berries with dinner", or whatever. I keep records so that I know where my weight is going, but I could do that just by weighing myself once a week.

There's another benefit to frequent measurements, and that's to get an idea of where my weight really is. If I just weigh once a week, then I have a very rough picture of where my weight is. Each weekly reading would be within a pound or two of my 'true' weight, but with weight loss going on as it is, I wouldn't know whether that week's reading was high or low. By measuring myself every day, I have a bunch more data points and so a clearer picture of what my weight is actually doing.

I will continue to weigh myself every day. Daily measurements are a great tool for motivating myself, to reinforce good habits and to break bad habits.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Workout Schedule

My current workout schedule is to hit the gym once every four days to do a high-intensity, one-set-to-failure routine. I've been pushing up the weights that I've been using so I guess it's been effective. :) Every other day I do a short set of sprints. One minute of pushing it as fast as I can, then walk for four minutes, then sprint again. I'll sprint after weight training, then again two days later.

This every-other-day routine is easy to follow; no complex schedules and not a lot of time spent working out. I'm not worried about missing a day, either. Life happens. I don't want to miss more than a week, which I did when I was moving. Moving was a lot of work -- heavy boxes down two flights then up one, outside in the Texas heat.

I've been following the Conditioning Research blog for ideas on my workouts, although I've been reading a bunch of stuff from a bunch of people for a long time. I'll try to pull that together at some point.

I still feel like my sprints are being held back by biomechanical problems more than fitness. In other words, I'm not running in good form. I might have that looked at. My goal in the sprints is to reach maximum effort, so I think that translates to trying to wind myself and keep pushing through the run despite feeling out of breath and energy. My third sprint, last night, was tough -- I was definitely lagging in speed and effort at the end of it. And so I think that's success. We'll see how I do on Friday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Salt and the Paleo Diet

The essence of the paleo diet is to eat foods that the human diet is evolved to thrive on. Humans have only lived with agriculture for around 10,000 years and are not well-adapted to eating grains; hence the focus on animal foods in the paleo diet. Fruit, nuts, and berries also play a part, but are generally seasonal -- we're adapted to eat them, but generally don't get them year-round.

Salt is something else we're not adapted to consuming a lot of. I bet you've seen plentiful mentions of how high-salt the Standard American Diet is; whether it's potato chips, microwave burritos, breakfast cereals, processed meats, french fries, whatever -- it's got a lot of salt. And yet our bodies need salt. What's going on?

Salt and Potassium

Salt and Potassium work together in the body to assist in moving nutrients into and waste out of cells, as part of the sodium-potassium pump. We need both in our diets, as some of these electrolytes are routinely lost in the urine.

High sodium levels cause thirst; drinking water will dilute the blood and restore normal sodium levels. Very high levels can cause confusion and then lead to paralysis, seizures, or a coma. You're unlikely to every experience very high sodium levels unless you're gorging on salt, so I'll move on.

Low sodium levels (hyponatremia) is a more common ailment. Drinking too much water, without replacing lost sodium, thins out sodium levels in the blood. There've been a few highly-publicized cases of teens or young adults dying from taking recreational drugs like ecstasy -- these are actually cases of hyponatremia. They feel very thirsty, essentially overdose on water (dihydrogen monoxide is a killer!) and drop their sodium levels, which leads to confusion, drowsiness, muscle weakness, and seizures. Sports drinks contain sodium to replace the salt that you lose through sweating to help prevent this. Water is great, but if your exercise leads you to sweat alot, you need to maintain your sodium levels, too.

High and low potassium levels are much less common. Unless you're on a diuretic or other drug that dramatically alters potassium levels, chances are you won't run into very high or low potassium levels.

A Taste for Salt

Most paleo foods are high in potassium and low in sodium. Beef, chicken, and pork all contain solid levels of potassium, and many fruits, such as bananas and especially avocados, have very high levels. Paleo man got all the potassium he needed from his diet, but didn't get much salt.

Salt was rare in the ancient world, and I'd guess in the paleo world, too. Our word "salary" reflects this history -- it comes from the Roman practice of paying soldiers their wage as salt. It's easy to see that humans might have evolved a "salt tooth" to encourage them to seek out salty foods since they'd otherwise get so little of it. (Similar speculation suggests that we have sweet tooths for the same reason -- that high-energy fruits were rare to paleo humans, and if we run across some, we should grab as much of it as possible.)

Salt and the Paleo Diet

The Standard American Diet, in addition to high levels of sodium, comes with heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and stroke. High levels of sodium contribute to high blood pressure and stress the kidneys. Is it causal for the rest of that stuff? I don't know.

But I want healthy cells. I want my cells to perform as best they can in exercise, during training, and during competition. And that means watching my sodium intake.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hypothyroidism Symptoms

The common symptoms of hypothyroidism are weight gain, constipation, low body temperature, fatigue & exhaustion, lethargy, dry hair, dry skin, puffiness, joint pain, depression, and irritability. And similar stuff.

The worst symptoms I had, and which I tended to correlate with poor Synthroid levels, were dry skin and irritability. Those were easy to notice. I don't test my temperature (but since it's a good way to measure thyroid function I plan to start, just need to go buy a thermometer), but I tend to be warm. Very warm. People-make-fun-of-me warm, running around the house in shorts and a short-sleeve shirt when everyone else is wearing sweaters, visiting in Winter climates with a think (or no) jacket. I don't think I was like that as a kid, so that might be something that started when I got on Thyroid meds. In other words, possibly my body temperature is running a bit high and I'm over-medicated.

I've never been constipated. I think diet can easily swing one from constipation to diarrhea, though, so I don't consider that conclusive.

Also, my hair has generally been very soft. Women often comment on my soft hair. With the significant changes to my diet over the last month, my skin has also gotten a lot softer.

Probably the biggest thing that I've noticed is the irritability is gone. It's great! I feel like I did in high school, when I remember being in a constant, I-love-life sort of good mood. I remember being happy-go-lucky, up through college, until ... I got on thyroid medication? It's seems strange to me to stop taking my medication and suddenly have the symptoms of the disease that I had come to recognize go away.

So what's up? Why is my TSH so high? There's definitely a suggestion here that I have a thyroid problem, but it's obviously a much more complicated disease than "low thyroid function, therefore you get all these symptoms." I also think my diet, in general, helps many of these specific symptoms: I've always gotten a good number of animal fats and have never been vegeterian or vegan. Now that I'm avoiding grains and other lectin sources, maybe I'm getting much more nutrients out of my food, too, and just have overall better digestive health (which is the point of avoiding lectins and other antinutrients).

I finally scheduled a Dr's appointment for next week, so we'll see. I'll ask for a more complete blood work up. I missed the HbA1c test at the local grocery store last weekend, but I plan to start checking that monthly, and get my 25(OH)D checked often, too.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Dehydration on a Low Carb Diet

I'm sometimes dehydrated, but I haven't yet worked out the causes. If I go out for a night and have several drinks, I'm usually dehydrated for the next day or two. Caffeine will do it, too. But I'm not yet a teetotaler, and I do drink tea fairly often, so I've got several recurring sources that might be drying me out.

Is there anything else in a low-carb diet that can contribute to dehydration?

Glycogen Loss

From a comment by Peter on his blog: "there is a marked release of water from the liver as glycogen is lost, but this drops straight in to the circulation. It seems to be the excretion of this excess water through the kidneys, to maintain fluid balance, which takes potassium out with it."

Glycogen is a storage form of glucose; it is how glucose is stored in the liver and in muscle cells. The glycogen stored in muscles can't be extracted to be used by the body in general; it's pretty much locked in there for the muscle alone. If you want to burn off that glycogen, you need to do exercise, and ensure you're not stuffing any more glucose in there -- which means keeping your blood sugar and insulin levels low. Liver glycogen is the result of some carb digestion; both alcohol and excess carbs will be stored as glycogen in the liver. But... this glucose storage isn't really a big deal. As long as you're not overloading the liver with either alcohol or carbs, the glycogen stores aren't a health hazard.

And when you burn off that glycogen, the water that glycogen binds to is released into the blood stream, as mentioned in the comment linked above.

This isn't dehydration; this is the loss of excess water when one first switches to a low-carb diet. If you take a cheat day (I recommend one every two weeks), you'll build up some glycogen stores that you'll need to burn off, too. Dehydration is when there is a low volume of water in the blood; the loss of this glycogen-related water is just restoration of your normal plasma levels. Dehydration is having too little water in the blood, and that's generally caused by something stripping water out.

Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)

From a page on Chris Masterjohn's cholesterol-and-health site: "Arachidonic acid is necessary for growth, proper hydration, healthy skin and hair, gut health, and fertility." Chris points out (in another page) that he's concluded that only Arachidonic Acid (AA) and DHA are the only true essential fatty acids.

Other than the importance of these EFAs in several "cascades", I wasn't able to dig up specific references to how AA and DHA affect hydration or skin and hair. They're important in cell growth, and hence important to growing children, pregnant women, bodybuilders, and people recovering from injury, and needed in lesser amounts for general repair.

EFA concentration is highest in liver and giblets, especially of grass-fed beef and organically-raised pigs and fowl. This is one important reason to cook your own foods using organic, grass-fed meats; protein is protein, but the important vitamins contained in animal fat will vary significantly based upon the diet of the animal. I aim for grass-fed and organic meats not because I care about the lifestyle of the cow, but because I care about the quality of my food.

Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acids

From that same page on Chris Masterjohn's site: "When total PUFA intake or EPA intake is very high, however, the EPA may interfere with arachidonic acid metabolism and contribute to deficiency symtoms such as growth retardation, dehydration, flaky and scaly skin, hair loss, gastrointestinal syndromes, or infertility."

The importance of the omega-3:omega-6 ratio is something that has reached the mainstream media. However, a number of researchers in the paleo community have argued that if you're not consuming a lot of omega-6 fatty acids, then you don't need so much omega-3. If you avoid PUFAs from vegetable oils, you don't need to obsess about getting omega-3 eggs or eating the right other vegetable oils. Just stop eating fried food, fake queso from fast-food Mexican restaurants, and soybean oil-based salad dressings; and don't cook with industrial vegetable oils. Butter and coconut oil are fine for pan-frying and sauteeing, and olive oil & vinegar are good choices for topping your salad (if you don't create your own salad dressings).

Excess PUFAs have the effects listed above -- including dehydration and flaky skin. Instead of worrying about getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, avoid the omega-6 acids. (Arachidonic Acid is an omega-6, by the way, but if you're eating liver once a week, it won't be a major component of your diet, as it is for people who eat a lot of fast food or use heavy amounts of industrial vegetable oils.)


Lectins might induce diarrhea, by pulling water into the intestines; hence dehydration. Food poisoning can also lead to diarrhea and dehydration, so ... yeah, avoid that, too. It's the same basic mechanism, and why you're encouraged to drink a lot of water if you have diarrhea -- obviously you're losing a lot of water, and you need to replace it.

I wish I had some good sources for the lectin-diarrhea link; I'm hunting up some links so that I can make a post specifically about lectins.

This is one concern that recommends a paleo diet instead of just a low-carb diet: beans, often eaten in great quantities by people trying to go low-carb, have a lot of lectins. Many cases of "food poisoning" are actually cases of eating under-cooked beans. Avoid beans, and definitely skip the grains, as both contain lectins and can lead to diarrhea.

And one last quote, which I need to move some place better:
"roughage -- which includes beans -- help people stay 'regular' by causing more cell tears, which enables more mucus to escape from cells, essentially greasing the GI tract" -- PloS Biology in 2006


Saying "dehydration isn't caused by not drinking enough water" misses the point. Dehydration is caused by losing too much water and not replacing it. Dehydration is an imbalance in the blood, and is caused by digestive problems, the lack of vitamins, or overactive kidneys (such as from caffeine!). If you're losing water from one of these sources, then you need to drink more water. Don't drink water just because some dood on TV said so; drink when you're thirsty, or if you think you're losing excess water from one of the ailments listed above, drink some extra -- but if you're not thirsty, don't bother.

Why would our body require us to drink water when we're not thirsty? Sometimes I do get very thirsty, and I obey that signal and drink as much water as I can. If I'm not thirsty, I don't worry about it. When I switch from high-carb to low-carb, I'll try to drink water whenever I get cravings for food; drinking something helps distract me from the hunger. Otherwise... just when I'm thirsty.

My skin is much softer when I'm taking levothyroxine (the generic form of Synthroid, due to my hypothyroidism) and also Vitamin K2, and I usually use skin dryness as a measure of dehydration. My skin has been much softer this year, and the major differences are going paleo and taking K2, A, and D. Tea and alcohol are drying me out, so I'm trying to cut out the tea and cut down on drinking -- which, mostly, is about one night week. So I think I'm doing pretty good. I'm glad for the changes!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Insulin Sensitivity

A quick post. I'm researching for a post on growth hormone & strength training, but I thought I'd post a quick thought:

"The number one priority for losing weight then is improving insulin sensitivity." This is from Robert McLeod's Entropy Production blog, specifically a post about Feasting and Fasting, from back in March.

In other words, for me to lose weight, my goal should be insulin control. And I do that by controlling my sugar & starch intake, which is why I'm eating low-carb. Healthy eating (by paleolithic standards) doesn't necessarily mean low-carb, but it does if you have insulin sensitivity issues, eg from being overweight.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Running for Fat People

I'm obese. I don't have a problem saying that, because it's true. I'm fat. I'm a fat ass.

If you don't accept who you are now, then change is difficult. Why is it important to accept who you are? I don't want to be fat. I don't like being fat. Yet I am. Refusing to acknowledge that is goofy. It's like protesting against rain or sun. You are what you are, right now. So first, accept that you are now fat.

I think there's two closely-related concepts, and I want to make sure I communicate what I mean, that you know the point that I'm trying to make. One concept is thinking that being at that weight as acceptable or not (saying it's not is good for building motivation to change). Saying "being fat is unacceptable, I want to lose weight!" is good. Do that. The second concept is thinking "I am not really that fat." When you say "my current weight is unacceptable", use that to motivate yourself to lose weight -- not to hide that fact from yourself or from others (eg by wearing clothes to disguise your weight).

It's important not to conflate the two concepts. This might sound like a word game, but I think the point is important: accept who you are now; that's what the reality is. Acknowledge that you got here somehow. Acknowledge that your old habits, your habits up to now, are what got you here. All of that is past, and although it was under your control, what's done is done and you can't change the past. Your current weight is a fact.

What is under your control is who you will be. Who do you want to be? Are you getting there, or just dreaming about it?

I hit 12 pounds off of peak. For a month ... hmm, I need to figure when I started this, let's call it March 1st, which puts me at two months. For two months, that's decent weight but not a whole lot. Six pounds a month puts me at 72 pounds in a year, and that's real. I need to lose about 70 pounds of fat, so doing that in a year is, I think, great. Some people have lost more; I've lost 15 pounds in a month; etc etc. I think the important thing is measurable progress, and I've definitely had that.

Despite the number of successful, overweight runners out there, I don't really want to be one. I want to be a successful, average-weight runner. As I pointed out in my post about running for weight loss, running is a crappy way to lose weight. It's not very efficient, the exercise will boost your appetite, and running with excess weight will put a lot of stress on your joints and feet.

My first goal is weight loss. My most important goal is weight loss. I want this because: (1) most of my fat is abdominal, which is correlated with disease more so than interstitial fat; (2) I want to look better; (3) exercise of any sort, especially for fun, is much more fun if I weigh less.

So my plan is to lose weight first. Other goals include improving general health, improving cardiovascular fitness, and going snowboarding a bunch next winter. Oh, and getting rich, that'd be nice to. And I want a pony?

The first few are realistic goals. By eating better, I'm burning off more weight and improving my health. Improving fitness makes running easier, but it requires something more than just eating right.

That's my running goal: improving fitness. I want to be able to run further and faster. Running a lot, running long distance, is I think a poor choice for us fatties. So that means short-distance, high-intensity runs. What I've read about training protocols (eg a recent post on intense workouts by Richard Nikoley) suggests that intervals and wind sprints are the way to go. As a bonus, they mean less overall foot and leg stress; less time impacting my joints and feet with all my excess body mass. I improve my running ability in a way that doesn't risk injury the way long-distance running would at this point.

I worked out tonight, including my legs, and I know from past experience that running the next day leads to soreness. Not sure if that's good, body-stress-induce-adaptation soreness or ow-I-hurt-dont-break-me soreness. Bodies are complicated. So I'm not gonna run tomorrow.

Ultimately my running goal is long-distance, but not right now. Sprints and walk/run intervals are my goal. Sprints on Friday!

Monday, April 27, 2009


A weekend post on Dr. Davis' Heart Scan Blog got me thinking about inflammation.

Inflammation is part of the body's response to injury or attack. It's not damage, per se. It's like bleeding. Bleeding isn't good, but bleeding indicates that you got cut, or suffered blunt trauma that induced internal bleeding. Say you stick your hand in a threshing machine and you start bleeding from the bloody remains of your hand. One "solution" is to pump up your blood-clotting factors until the bleeding stops, or even to pump up those factors so high that the next time you stick limbs into a threshing machine, the bleeding isn't so bad. Or, you could completely desanguinate yourself. (One good way to do that is to die and be embalmed.)

Another solution is to stop sticking your hands into threshing machines.

So if you've got inflammation going on, the "cure" isn't to cut down the inflammation, it's to find out what's causing the inflammation and go after that. Just like avoiding threshing machines is a far better solution than kicking up your blood-clotting factors, avoiding the things that cause "inflammation" is much better than reducing the inflammation itself through therapies such as ice or drugs.

If you've got gluten-induced intestinal inflammation, the cure is to stop eating gluten. And probably other grains, such as rice and corn, or other lectin-containing plant matter such as beans and nightshades (e.g. potatoes & tomatoes).

So Vitamin D reduces inflammation. (Specifically, supplementation with Vit D is correlated with reduced markers of inflammation.) This would be a good thing if it increases the body's ability to resist infection and damage, but probably a bad thing if it reduces inflammation by suppressing the body's response to infection and damage. Atherosclerosis is an inflammation process; does Vitamin D reduce the damage that instigates plaque formation, or does it reduce the amount of inflammation in response?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Laziness, Lethargy, and Atkins

and by 'Atkins' I mean a paleolithic, low-carb, high-fat, no-grain diet. Atkins isn't really the term here, but let's move on.

I used to have problems with cleaning up around the house. I'd eat dinner, then I wouldn't want to clean the dishes. I'd take off my clothes but not want to make the trek to the closet to throw them in the hamper. I'd open up my mail but not want to bother throwing away the trash envelopes and junk mail, or file the bills, or pay the bills, ....

Maybe I'm still bad with bills :) but I find the rest easier to do. I think a big part of that is having the energy to do it.

One of the things that Taubes mentions in Good Calories, Bad Calories is that fat people aren't fat because they're lazy, they're lazy because they're fat. That is, it isn't laziness and a lack of moral fiber that causes laziness which then causes obesity. And, really, it's not that obesity causes lethargy. More appropriately, there's a third factor here that causes both: a high-carb diet.

The theory goes, if you eat a high-carb diet, your blood sugar is constantly spiking from those carb-heavy meals, which causes insulin to yoyo, which causes blood sugar to crater, leading to the next snack, high-carb meal, or cheating episode (in my case, an energy drink). Along with this comes a decrease in metabolism, spurred in part by low thyroid function from an iodine-poor diet ("salt is bad!" says the TV) and anti-nutrients that lead to autoimmune thyroiditis. Your metabolism slows down, which means you don't have energy to burn. You feel lethargic. Getting up to take that dish to the sink becomes an expense of energy that is beyond your means.

I just finished cooking dinner, slaving over a hot stove. I happen to like cooking; I find it relaxing. But then, I'm not cooking the Standard American Diet for Four, I just sautéed some onions and garlic, grilled a ribeye, degreased with red wine, simmered with bay and thyme and peppercorns, finished with butter, and served. See? Simple!

Anyway, my point is, I just finished eating dinner, cleaned up my bowl (with all that sauce & butter, I ate with a spoon), rinsed the utensils, left the pan to soak, cleaned the stove, and sat back down to watch the rest of last week's Lost (still catching up). That's the sort of industry that I've always wanted to have, but couldn't bring myself to do because it took so much energy.

I feel it. I feel more alive, more energetic. I feel happier; less cranky. I'm still fat. Heck, I'm still obese. I'm even off my thyroid medication.

I've convinced that obesity is not a product of laziness, but that laziness and obesity are both products of diet.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weighing Yourself

I don't think it's healthy to obsess about one's weight. There's enough fluctuation day-to-day, especially with consumer-grade bathroom scales, that checking every day can be the cause for more trouble than it's worth.

That said, I weigh myself every day. I know it's inaccurate. The key is that I don't obsess over single pounds, nor do I think that a gain or a loss of a pound is due to something I did the day before. I do weigh myself at the same time every day; in the morning, after a shower. Hopefully that helps to minimize the amount of daily fluctuation that's due to stuff other than the reasons I want my weight to change.

There are four main factors influencing what the scale tells me:
1) Body fat. I want to burn this off.
2) Lean mass. I want to add this.
3) Water weight. Drops the most the first few weeks doing low-carb.
4) Digestive mass.
5) Temperature and maybe humidity.

Digestive mass decreases on days that I'm fasting, since I continue to evacuate, without replacing it with any new digestive mass. On days that I break fast, I add mass; so one can see a sizeable jump up in weight after coming off a 36-hour fast. On normal, non-fasting days, this bit is probably fairly consistent, tho I know large meals will skew my weight.

The goal of weight loss is really item #1 up there -- burning body fat. I don't want to lose lean mass. I'm continuing to walk (about twice a week at this point, 6 miles total) and do intensive strength training (I'm shooting for every four days but hitting every 5-6), which will build lean mass. The other major component would be making sure my body isn't catabolizing lean mass, by making sure I've got energy stores available. That means staying away from the carbs, giving my circulatory system a chance to pull fat out of adipose tissue.

So why weigh myself every day? I do it to enforce good habits. If I lose a pound, I know it's not because I ate good yesterday; it could be because of fasting, or water weight, or temperature fluctuations. Howevery, I tell myself that it's because I ate good. I tell myself that it's because of good habits. My point isn't to lie to myself about my weight, but to help reinforce those good habits. I want a positive association with staying on-diet, avoiding carbs, exercising, etc.

I think there's a definite line between believing something that you know isn't true, and building an emotional connection. I've given my brain enough evidence to believe that I shouldn't be touching wheat, but my heart (um... my emotional center) remembers that I love pasta. What I need to do is change my heart. In this way, I'm using my brain to drive my emotions to where I want them, rather than letting emotions win over my eating habits.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Cheating and Carb Cravings

I had a full-sugar (aka non-Diet) energy drink on Tuesday morning, and by lunch my blood sugar had crashed. I was starving. It was much easier to see the effect that carbs have on me once I had them mostly removed from my diet. 52g of sugar is now more than I eat all day, so having it in one big shot in the morning was noticeable.

But after lunch (two burger patties, cheese, pickles, grilled onions), those cravings were gone. I haven't had another one since.

I think that I have been chugging energy drinks two years now. I thought of them as an afternoon pick-me-up, something to consume when I felt really drowsy in the afternoon. Now, tho, I look back and see it also as carb cravings. I needed carbs two hours after lunch, and caffeine was an excuse to get those carbs. I felt better after drinking them; heck, while drinking them. They worked. I thought it was the caffeine but now I see that it was the carbs.

But on Tuesday... it didn't taste good. I didn't really want to drink it; it felt more like habit than craving.

It was hard for me to get off carbs when I was cheating. Pasta here, an energy drink there, maybe a sandwhich for lunch. I threw away the bun with today's burger lunch and it wasn't even an issue. I didn't want it, I didn't feel like having it.

Cheating produces cheating. I've seen a good number of people report that they started into paleo foodways by doing Atkins, and the Atkins induction is a good way to do it: it's one of those harsh 2-week diets where you hate life the whole time because you're body is adapting. I think it's the best way to get over that hump.

I had a hard time stopping my cheating because every time I cheated produced incentive to cheat again. Then a couple days would pass, I'd read a new blog post, and think, "omg, this stuff is evil. I shouldn't be consuming fructose. I don't want liver disease!" And then I'd be good for a couple days -- til I had pasta with lunch, and then I wanted my energy drink again...

I'm not completely over the hump. I guess it's like any addiction; you don't really get cured. You just put the symptoms into remission, the cravings into slumber, and go one day at a time.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Placeholder post for information and summary of lectin thoughts.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Big Meanies - Summary

The 'Big Meanies' are dietary evils. They are the foods that I try to avoid. The four main ones are Flour, Beans, Fructose, and PUFAs.


I avoid flour because of Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA), gliadin, phytates, and wheat lectins. Phytates (present in all sorts of food plants) reduce the bioavailability of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. Gliadin is one of the two major types of Gluten proteins; it is incompletely digested, and its absorption into the lining of the small intestine leads to an immune response, which causes inflammation of the lining and can cause auto-immune disorders through molecular mimicry. This is a basic idea in the problems with many of these foods: they disrupt the digestive system, possibly allowing foreign proteins to get into the blood stream, where the immune system decides to get rid of them, which then causes a cross-reaction to normal tissue somewhere else in the body. Lectins are sugar-binding proteins; many of them (such as ricin) are horribly toxic.


Beans contain a wide range of lectins (see above). They also contain a lot of carbs, although those carbs are not generally digestible. That means the carbs make it to the colon, where various bacteria ferment it, producing gas, bloating, general unpleasantness, and possibly dysfunction. The primary 'advantage' to beans is that they're a source of protein that isn't animal based. Since I have no trouble eating animal foods, I don't need another source. Given the risks, I see no reason to eat them. I avoid all beans.


Unlike glucose, which can be used for energy by every cell in the body, fructose has to be processed by the liver. In this way it's like alchohol, and your liver reacts the same way to a high dose of fructose as it does to a high dose of alcohol: by producing fatty accumulation (steatosis) in the liver. As fat accumulates within liver cells, it can cause those cells to burst and die. The scar tissue that eventually forms is the characteristic sign of cirrhosis.

Morphologically, there is no distinction between alchoholic steatosis and non-alchoholic (eg fructose-induced) steatosis. Drinking fruit juice isn't healthy; you're just over-dosing on fructose, possibly leading to liver dysfunction.

Due to years of eating the Standard American Diet, I'm starting to develop Metabolic Syndrome. I avoid carbs for that reason, and fructose specifically because it's a carb and because it stresses the liver.

I don't think that low doses are fructose are problematic (as with many things, the dose makes the poison). However, since I'm trying to lose weight, I'm avoiding carbs to induce my body to burn off all this stored fat I'm carrying around. So no low doses of fructose!


PUFA = Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid. Because unsaturated acids have double-bonds that can be split to adopt nearby radicals (that means that one of the 'missing' hydrogens in the long fat chain gets replaced by oxygen). Fire is oxidation. I'm sure you've heard that 'free radicals' are bad. 'Free radicals' really means free (unbound) oxygen. One of the things that oxygen likes binding to, that makes it bad, is unsaturated fatty acids. Just say no to oxidized fatty acids. (Rancid food is oxidized food; rancid butter is when the unsaturated fat in butter gets oxidized. No animal fat is 100% saturated; in fact, generally not so. Beef fat tends to have the most saturated fat, but it's still not 100%.)

I've read a bunch that suggests that the oxidation of PUFAs leads to arterial damage that leads to plaque build-up that leads to a big plaque chunk dislodging that leads to artery blockage that leads to a heart attack.


IGNORE THE REST -- I'm going to copy and paste this elsewhere

Sugars are basically carbon rings with a few methyls or hydroxyls hanging off here and there. If there's only one ring in a sugar, it's a monosaccharide. Two rings connected to each other make disaccharides. Many make for polysaccharides, also called starches. Humans aren't well adapted to digesting starches; we can digest some, but not others.

Anyway, fructose is one of the major monosaccharides in the human diet, along with glucose and galactose. Sucrose (table sugar) is one molecule of fructose combined with a molecule of glucose. Our bodies will split sucrose into fructose and glucose. Fructose is sweeter than glucose, which is one reason why high-fructose corn syrup is used as a sweetener.


PUFA is Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid. A fatty acid is a long-chain carboxylic acid, which means it's got a couple oxygen atoms at one end (the head) then a long chain of carbon atoms. Carbs like to bond in groups of four, so that means each carbon in the chain is bound to the carbon ahead of it, the carbon behind it, then two other atoms -- generally hydrogen. A fatty acid is considered saturated if all of the carbons in this chain are bound to two hydrogens. Sometimes ...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Carb Cravings and Paleo

Up until a few years ago, I was eating the Standard American Diet, but probably a bit more red meat and much less soy. Lots of bread, pasta, and soda. I used to get cravings for pizza, or for a Chipotle burrito stuffed with rice, or for a coke, or pasta. I felt like I was really in tune with my body for noticing this stuff.

A few years ago (2005) I started eating low carb and dropped 80 pounds, but I always felt hungry. I felt like I was missing something, but it wasn't carb cravings like I felt when I was yoyoing on the S.A.D., and it was fairly easy to ignore. I had a lot more energy, my mood was better, and losing weight was great.

I then fell off the wagon, for whatever reason. Doesn't really matter now. I thought I was eating decent, but really I was cheating a lot. That's something that I mentioned in my previous blog postings. I started this blog in December when I decided to do LC. When I hurt my ankle in January, I kinda just ... drifted ... back into my old eating habits.

I got serious about not cheating a couple weeks ago. I also stopped eating wheat and fructose. I consider what I eat now to be paleo, not LC.

I haven't had carb cravings in the past two weeks.

I didn't go into carb withdrawal because I think I was gradually reducing carbs. I used to get carb cravings, and then I'd go satisfy them, usually with a HFCS beverage. In my old, pre-paleo, Low Carb lifestyle, I'd often eat bacon and drink a coke for breakfast. I'd justify the coke cuz I knew my glycogen stores were low it the morning; it was a crutch for holding on to my old habits.

Except for Monday. I was just getting back from the gym when I really really felt like running over to the coke machine and buying a bottle. I've never bought a coke from that machine before, and I don't keep sugary beverages in the house, so that's things that keep me from cheating when I'm at home. It was interesting to me because I noticed that I was craving carbs. But I just reminded myself that, although I'm an animal, and my physiology is telling me to eat, that I also have a rational brain, and that in this case I'd have to ignore what my body was saying!

I was thinking of eating Low Carb (hence the blog name), but now I'm going paleo. I expect that I will be eating low carb, but that alone doesn't capture my diet choices. Reading about the Kitavans suggests that carbs aren't evil -- but at least, right now, I should stay away from them. My clearest path to health is low-carb, but I'm going to have to make a lot of other changes, too. No gluten, no lectins, cook my veggies, eat grass-fed meat, avoid pasteurized dairy, etc.

My recent weight peak was 259.4 pounds. I've got a few photos, at some point I'll post them to mark my progress. I'm down 8 pounds since that peak. Here's to health!

Monday, March 30, 2009

K2, Skin Dryness, and Hypothyroidism

Historically one of the ways that I saw how well my Synthroid meds were doing was the dryness on the back of my hands. It was correlated with a lack of energy... but I didn't really notice other hypothyroid symptoms. I've never been cold, really. My friends and family have noticed and poked fun of me for it. I can stand around in the cold in shorts and a short-sleeve shirt and not feel the cold. Well, I felt it, it just didn't feel that cold.

I've started taking K2 (Carlson's 5mg twice daily) and I've noticed my skin has lost its dryness. My hands are fine. Not baby-smooth, but not dry like it's been in the past. I've also been eating better for the past couple weeks so there's no guarantee there of a correlation.

I'm also off Synthroid, because I need to see a doctor. My doc won't refill the prescription til I make an appointment, and he's in a different town, so that's for crap.

And, being off Synthroid, I've noticed the cold. I don't know if I noticed it when I was a kid, or what the deal was. I've been in Texas for so long that there's not enough cold weather to really notice it. But now my AC works. Used to be that I'd have to set my car AC to LOW (which means max AC with the fan at full blast) before I felt cold, and even at 64 (the next setting above that) it didn't feel chill.

I'm changing a lot of things. I don't know what's doing what. My plan is to try to improve my diet and habits and much as possible, and then later start re-introducing things to see what happens. I'll be seeing the doc next week to test for thyroid function. I'm not really too set on 'proving' what helps me right now since I'd rather be healthy first. Being gluten- and fructose-free is my first goal.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

One step at a time

I hurt my ankle about six weeks ago and fell off the wagon (no, I didn't hurt my ankle falling off). I haven't run since then, and my walks have decreased in distance and pace. I think trying to run in my current state is a bad idea. The biomechanics of a fat guy running can't be that good. So my first goal is to lose weight.

It's easy to say "no carbs" but harder to do. My plan is to find a way to eat that I'll be eating for the rest of my life, and to be comfortable with it. I've been making changes steadily.

I've already switched to eating healthy dinners. I don't drink soda after noon any more (I only occassionally drink a coke with breakfast but sometimes with lunch). That was easy for me to do, since I eat dinner at home, or on the way home. If I eat out, I drink tea instead of soda, and I find myself at restaurants where I can avoid carbs. Likewise, I eat healthy on the weekends -- bacon, eggs, beef and pork and a bit of chicken, green leafies, butter, cream, and cheese. I make sauces for any meat that I cook and that definitely ups the flavor, although I don't really have a problem with the flavor of meat anyway. But sauteed onions are the win. :)

I've been cheating too much, so enough of that! My plan is to eat a healthy lunch. I've stopped drinking cokes with lunch, and I mostly eat carb-free, but not always. That's my next goal: to eat healthy lunches. This will mean, in part, bringing my lunch to work, instead of always eating out.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lectins and Hypothyroidism

"Lectins stimulate class II HLA antigens on cells that do not normally display them, such as pancreatic islet and thyroid cells."
* What triggers auto-immunity? Lancet 1985;ii:78-9.

From Wikipedia: Lectins are sugar-binding proteins which are highly specific for their sugar moieties.

High levels of lectins are present in grains, legumes (beans and peanuts), dairy, and nightshades (which includes tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplants). And maybe also dairy. I'm interested in chasing down the dairy angle, since it's one of the foods that I consume a lot of.

I recently decided to 'get serious' about going low-carb. I've been cheating too much. The weight has easily come off, although that is now being complicated by a lack of thyroid medication. I'm on Synthroid, cuz, you know, the drug rep convinced my doctor that it's the Right Thing To Do. But my prescription has run out and my doctor's in another town and I haven't found a low-carb doc here yet.

So now I have a reason to avoid legumes. Knowing why should make it much easier. I don't consider this one paper proof, but it's a start. I'm giving up beans!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Exercise in Ketosis Requires Less Oxygen

From, "Ketogenic diets and physical performance" by Stephen D Phinney in Nutrition & Metabolism 2004, 1:2.

"However the interpretation of this endurance test is confounded by the fact that the oxygen cost (ie, energy cost) of the treadmill exercise had significantly decreased following the weight loss, and this occurred despite the subjects being made to carry a backpack loaded to bring them back to their initial exercise test weight."

The fact that it occured desipite the backpacks means that it wasn't mass itself, which suggests that it was either (1) lower body mass, meaning that uninvolved tissues required significantly less oxygen, or (2) improved metabolic efficiency, or possibly (3) a combination and/or some other cause.

The fact that the oxygen cost was significantly reduced suggests that it wasn't #1, but more likely #2 -- that the energy cost, in ketosis, of endurance exercise, is lower than the energy cost of the same exercise while on a high-carb diet. This tends to disagree with conventional wisdom and specific research into the oxygen cost of the two. Which is why they then followed up with trained cyclists, and used a constant-weight (eucaloric) diet instead of a weight-loss diet. This test showed no drop in performance.

The trivial way to interpret the two tests is that it was either the lost weight itself that reduced oxygen cost, or improved efficiency in non-athletes asked to perform an endurance test once a week. The latter is the easiest to believe.

Yet I wonder.... Time for me to chase down more research.

BTW, I'm moving to a different blogging platform, hence the lack of updates here. That process isn't going too speedily. :]

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Day 8

Cheated today: had chocolate milk for breakfast, and pasta with lunch. Went for a short walk this evening.

My right elbow still hurts. Only when I move it or stress it. I guess I need to work on my form. My plan to do strength training three times this week is out the window. My current plan is to go to the gym tomorrow but only do 1 or 2 reps of each exercise.


I was planning on talking about calories-are-calories today, but there's much better articles out there already. I can summarize what they say, but I think the reader (you) is better off going to the source. If you haven't read Good Calories, Bad Calories, then go do so. Page through Sandy Szwarc's blog (the posts on the Obesity Paradox, especially).

Calories are, of course, calories. A is A. When I say "calories are calories" I'm referring to the argument that usually includes the word "thermodynamics" and the claim that the only way to lose weight is to consume fewer calories or to burn more calories, and that it doesn't matter where you get your calories -- switching from carbs to fat supposedly won't help anyone lose weight if they maintain the same caloric intake.

We (the "calories aren't calories" people) don't dispute the first half. The claim is that eating different calories changes one's metabolism. Eating carbs makes one lethargic; carbs turn into blood sugar, which spikes insulin, when then stores that blood sugar in adipose tissue. Eating fat doesn't produce insulin, so one maintains a higher metabolic state. I find myself with more energy; I fidget more. My body sees these extra triglycerides in the bloodstream and tells me that it wants to burn them, and so I burn them.

What I'm doing is burning more calories -- but not through conscious effort. The "are" argument assumes that the main way to burn more calories is to exercise more; that's the point that I addressed yesterday. Exercising burns a tiny amount of energy. Really the only way to weight loss in the mainstream ("are") point of view is to restrict calories. But starvation diets just produce starvation. The subjects in Keys' starvation study looked like they were starving; emaciated.

I remember reading a good article about Keys' starvation study and I went looking for it but couldn't find it. :\ So here's a good article on Junkfood Science about "calories in = calories out". That matches what Taubes says in his book: that exercise is fundamentally useless for weight loss. One can gain or lose up to 20 pounds by consistent, constant effort, but any more than that becomes nearly impossible as the body tries to regulate to a set point.

My "set point" used to be 280 pounds. For a while, I got my weight down under 210 pounds. I'm not sure to what extent my changes in set point match changes in my Synthroid dose, since the two periods in my life when I lost the most weight match the two times my dosage was significantly increased. Both also matches times that I changed my diet and exercised more. Did my exercise match a changed metabolism that the Synthroid brought on? To what extent did a changed diet affect my weight?

The experiment that this blog covers is just changing diet. Obviously, I doubt that walking will change my weight much. At 4 hours of walking per week, I'm burning an extra 1200 calories. That'll be 18 pounds by the end of the year, assuming my diet doesn't change any. Eating an extra 170 calories a day will completely negate that walking.

I guess, ultimately, what matters is where I am a year from now. Doesn't matter if I think it will work or not, or how much I discuss it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Running for Weight Loss

At some point, I wrote that I was going to update in the evenings, Sunday thru Thursday, so there'd be a new entry each morning during the week.

I had planned to do some strength training today, but my arms are still sore. Plus, I took my car in cuz the engine light was on (boo hiss), and had a friend pick me up from there and drop me off at the grocery store. So I walked home from the grocery store, and mein gott my feet hurt. I'm taking a couple days off so that my feets have time to heal.

I only cheated a little bit today! I had two crackers with lunch. Breakfast was a carb-fest (halloween candy, a donut, and a can of pepsi), but lunch and dinner were 'sensible.'

And now to running for weight loss:

It's lame.

For a fatass like me, running burns 138 calories per mile, mostly regardless of speed. Walking burns 96 calories per mile, again mostly regardless of speed. Sitting on my ass typing this burns around 105 calories an hour. So a slow walk (2mph) burns an extra 87 calories an hour. There's 3500 calories in a pound of fat, so, assuming that calories are calories are calories, I'd have to spend 40 hours walking to burn off a pound of fat. Say I do my 80-minute walk three times a week -- or maybe a shorter, 40-minute walk six times a week. It'd take me 10 weeks to burn off one pound of fat. If I keep up this six-day-a-week walk cycle, I could lose five whole pounds in a year.

Feh. My "ideal weight" is around 153 pounds. I'd have to spend twenty years at that pace to get to my ideal weight. That's just silly. Alternately, instead of walking, I could cut my caloric intake by the same amount.

Calories aren't calories. In the "calories aren't calories" point of view (PoV), I'd have to starve myself for twenty years in order to be "healthy." Sounds kinda lame to me, given the research that shows that being obese is protective against heart attacks and strokes. More properly, that evidence shows that "ideal weight" isn't healthy.

There's an exercise researcher at UT-Austin whose name I don't recall, but I remember him saying that a half pound a day is about the limit of healthy weight loss. That's 1750 calories a day. On a pure calories-are-calories accounting, that means that one would have to eat nothing to lose that much. Or eat normally but walk for 20 hours a day, or running (12-minute pace) for 3 hours a day. Can you imagine running over 100 miles a week for a month, just to lose 15 pounds? Does that sound realistic to you?

Some people have lost 30 pounds in 30 days. Let's say they fast for the entire month, giving them a 1750 calorie daily deficit, and then run 15 miles. Every day. For an entire month. Crazy! Can you imagine running 15 miles while fasting? The medical establishment says that one has to do that -- or it's caloric equivalent -- in order to lose 30 pounds in a month.


There has to be a better way to lose weight than the math that mainstream media would have us believe.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Day 6

I've decided to do strength training in my off days. My schedule now looks like runs ('walks') on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and strength on Mon-Wed-Fri. Except, after this week, just Monday and Friday. Or maybe once every 4-5 days.

I'm doing one-set-to-failure. Yesterday was my first day doing that, and it was great. I'm only a little sore today. I think I've started working out a dozen times already in my life. I sign up for a gym membership, go for a few months, and then something happens and I stop going. The next year, the same thing. So I now know to start any exercise program off slowly.

Except one-set-to-failure (1S2F? OStF? OSF? 1SF?) kinda goes for that you-worked-out-too-hard vibe. The general idea is to do 8-10 reps at a weight so high that, at that last rep, one just can't do another rep. Failure. There's a few key points I remember, but I wrote them down on a notebook I left at work, so I'll talk about that tomorrow.

My run today was going to include five 1-minute runs, ie one minute of running, wait until I'm recuperated, then run again. Except my ankles and feet hurt so bad after the third one that I just walked back. The whole outing was about 3km, about an hour on the road. Instead of walking over to Terry Hershey, I just wandered through the nearby neighborhood streets. There are no hills, and the street isn't any more cambered than the trails through Terry Hershey, so for what I wanted to do I think it's a good course.

The diet is... ok. I'm still cheating. I had a couple kolaches plus a can of coke yesterday morning, and some chips and a couple tortillas with lunch today. Dinner was 0-carb. My goal for right now is to reduce my after-breakfast carbs. I'm not doing Atkins, so I'm looking for a lifetime eating plan. Ketosis shmetosis. Hence, no induction period, no letup for maintenance. So I want habits that I can maintain 24-7. I know that if I tried quitting carbs cold-turkey, I'd be off that plan in a month or two, or cheating more, or something. I don't want to do the cheat-one-day-a-week thing that's somewhat popular (Bill Phillips, Jorge Cruise, Timothy Ferriss). I'm not shooting for starvation.

I'd say the three main influences on my diet decisions are Gary Taubes' Good Calories, Bad Calories; research from the Weston A Price Foundation; and random tidbits from sites such as the Junkfood Science blog.

My next run is on Thursday. I'll grab my notes from work and talk about one-set-to-failure then.