Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Menu planning... The grand Finale

OK, here it is, I'm going to try and tie all of this nutrition stuff together.

We started with basic bioenergetics. You have to expend more energy than you consume in order to lose weight. That's it, there's nothing else to it.

We then talked about choosing good carbohydrates that are filling and minimizing (eliminating) simple carbohydrates that contribute to hunger. Foods that are higher in fiber and less processed are generally more filling.

Our next topic was Protein, which is the most satiating macronutrient. Although animal products have long been thought to be the best source of protein, meat consumption is closely linked to obesity and many people are getting their protein from a variety of plant sources like beans, lentils and whole grains.

Finishing off the macronutrients, we talked about Fats. Saturated fats are bad, MUFAs are neutral and PUFAs are good as long as you get the right PUFAs. To improve your fat consumption eating less meat and processed foods and more wild fish and plant sources of fats.

The last post that I had was on food processing and how foods in their natural state are more likely to fill you up in the long run than are processed foods.

I'm going to give some vague guidelines for choosing foods and allow you to make these guidelines work in your life. If you have questions, post a comment and I will respond, but the most important attribute to a successful diet is that you have to be willing to follow it forever.

When you choose foods, choose the foods with the least packaging. That's it. The more processed a food, the more packaging a company puts around it and the more processed (least like you would find it in nature) a food is, the more it contributes to weight gain. I get my cereal out of the bulk section, or sometimes in 50# bags of oats, barley, etc. Most breakfast cereals come in a bag that is contained within a box. You can get long cook and instant oatmeal in similar containers, and the long cook is much better for you, but generally this rule stands.

I will make an exception with vegetables. Buy them fresh when you can (especially from farmer's markets), but frozen vegetables are essentially the same (and during the off season they can be superior). Canned is fine also, except they often add salt or "cream o'". In my opinion canned vegetables just taste bad, so I don't eat them.

Grains, we buy ours whole and then grind them ourselves. They store forever whole, but once you crack the berries they will go rancid (if they still contain the natural oils). They should go rancid if you leave them out, that means they contain everything that they did when they were harvested. Buy foods that go bad, it's a natural process that should occur. (Don't eat food gone bad, but foods that don't go bad have been "modified" so that they won't go bad and that wasn't done for the benefit of your waistline.)

Protein should come primarily from beans, lentils and whole grains. This is important and something I'm struggling with now. You cannot get vitamin B12 from a vegan diet, so I'm not vegan. I eat fish at least a couple times a week (for the B12 and good fats in fish). I also eat eggs on occasion (once a month?) They are a great source of B12 as well as other nutrients. I don't think that you have to be vegan or even a vegetarian to eat a healthy weight loss diet, but making a conscious effort to avoid meat makes you conscious of what you are eating which is critical in weight loss. If you want meat in your diet, watch for meat processing. Of course bacon, sausage and bologna are processed, but what about your average cow, pig or chicken that is pumped full of hormones and fattened up as quickly as possible to aid in the fattening of the farmers wallet. The vast majority of meat available at the store is from poor conditions that make the animal less healthy.

I want to talk more about this, take fish for example. I've said many times that fish are a good source of n-3s which are an extremely healthy fat. Salmon is the best source of n-3s, but only if it is wild caught salmon. They have started farming salmon in little pens where they are fed corn. Farmed salmon are nearly as low as beef in n-3s. Similar can be said for beef, chicken, pork, etc. The fast growth techniques used by farmers are depriving the consumer of nutrients, so try to stick with wild game or at least free range animals. I recognize that wild game will not sustain a population, so decreasing meat consumption is something everyone should be doing.

I've talked a little about the fats in salmon, but manufacturers are going beyond that. The community is demanding that we get rid of trans fats, so manufacturers are engineering new margarines that are trans-fat free. That's wonderful, except the vegetable oil that they use from engineered vegetables is made up of almost entirely n-6 fats which will further increase our problems getting enough n-3s.

So what you end up with for an ideal diet is vegetables composing nearly 50% of at least two meals a day (lunch and dinner). Add fruits to your diet a few times a day. You should have some protein in the form of nuts, beans or lentils with every meal to help with satiation. Whole grains should be the primary component of breakfast, and brown rice, whole grain pasta, potatoes (which aren't a grain and are a fairly simple carbohydrate that should be limited to a certain extent), beans, and a variety of grains that you can learn more about should be a part (25%) of lunch and dinner. Fish should be consumed about twice a week (more you risk mercury issues, less you aren't getting your n-3s). Other meats should be consumed sparingly. Sparingly doesn't mean a little with each meal. Sparingly means once or twice a week is more than enough.

Here it is, the conclusion. I want to preface this with the fact that my diet ideas are based on a master's degree in exercise physiology and nearly a degree in nutrition. I'm also currently working on a PhD in health promotion and that is where I came up with the ideas. Another of my passions is the environment. Notice that the diet I just outlined is one of the most eco-friendly diets possible. Whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lentils all grow readily around the world. Meat consumption uses LOTS more water and causes LOTS more pollution than a plant based diet. This eating plan is not only the best way to conserve your health, it is also the best way to conserve the planet.

I may talk calcium and bone health next time, or I may talk about the exercise component of weight loss. Let me know what you want to know about and I'll accomidate.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Food processing and Hunger

I sort of hit on this with the carbohydrate post last week, but I think it deserves more attention.
I read a study where people were given breakfast where they could eat as much as they liked. Then they were assigned to have either a 100 cal apple, 100 cal worth of applesauce, or a 100 cal glass of apple juice as a snack. There was also a control group that didn't get a snack. They then ate a lunch and the researchers counted the calories.

Those who had an apple as a snack ate, on average, about 100 calories less than did the control group that didn't have a snack (compensating for the apple). Those who had the apple sauce for a snack ate significantly fewer calories at lunch than did the control group, but significantly more than the group that had an apple for lunch (partial compensation). Those who had apple juice for lunch ate about the same number of calories as the group that didn't get a snack (no compensation).

Your body is not good at counting liquid calories (in order to compensate for them). Of course soda is the major culprit here, but milk, tea, coffee, alcohol, and juices have the same effect. To a lesser extent, simply processing a food will decrease your body's ability to recognize those calories as they come in.

Do you know what they do to wheat nowadays? When we grind our own wheat at home we have to freeze it so that it won't go rancid in a few weeks. The oils in fresh ground wheat go rancid relatively quickly. When is the last time you froze your flour? What is in your flour? or should I ask what has been taken out of your flour and why?

Honestly, there aren't any studies with wheat like there are with apples, but the more processed the wheat, the more it is digested like sugar (white bread and sugar are really quite similar). Remember those graphs from the carbohydrate day? Well, the more processed (white bread) will cause blood glucose dips like are seen with sugar. Whole wheat bread, on the other hand, does not have the same effect. I want to bring to your attention that the good breads are "whole wheat". "Wheat bread" is white bread (made from wheat flour) that has been dyed with food coloring (it's a marketing thing).

What do you think a corn-dog will do to your satiation/hunger situation? I don't know, but I have a couple of guesses. Twinkies, with a near infinite shelf-life, do you supposed that those are made with all natural ingredients, designed to make you feel full?

My next post will sort of wrap things up on nutrition. I'm going to try and bring it all together and give suggestions on meal plans that will help keep you feeling full and provide a balanced, healthy diet. You've heard almost everything that I have to say about weight loss, but there's a lot more that I could say about bone health, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, etc. If you want to hear about anything, leave a comment and I'll post something (or let you know that I really don't have the foggiest idea).

Sunday, February 25, 2007


This was a big week for me. I was featured on Fatty's site after I did a VO2 max test on him and he sent many people my way. I may have had more visitors to my blog last week then the rest of the time my blog was up.

My favorite part about having new visitors from Fatty's site is that I got to give nutrition advice. Although I made it sound like I do that just to sabotage Fatty, that's not true. I'm a doctoral student in Health Promotion and I love helping people be healthy. I've studied it for many years and hope to dedicate my life to it. I feel that a few readers have felt the light and that means a lot to me and I hope they'll keep reading and learning.

I was also featured on Minuscar's blog with an essay that I wrote. I was pretty excited about that because it brought together my religious views with the simple living that I try to do.

The only bad thing with last week was that I didn't give a good post for my family. One of the main reasons that I keep my blog is to keep the pictures flowing to parents and grandparents around the country. So if you are here expecting a nutrition post, there's another upcoming, but I can't neglect my family. Feel free to read it and get to know who we are, but nutrition will reappear tomorrow.
First is the picture of the Mugwump. He usually gives us stupid faces for close-ups, but this is pretty much how he looks... except with chapped lips exacerbated by spaghetti sauce.

Then we have a picture of The Mugwump and Six-Pence playing... or fighting... or a little drug deal... I don't know, but there were no tears so we aren't complaining.

First we have Six-Pence dazed with spaghetti sauce all over his face. He looks so innocent...

But watch out for his ROAR!! Please keep your hands and feet out of the cage, this one is ferocious.

We love you all!!!

Friday, February 23, 2007


Wow, I never knew how many people I would have from Fatty's site. Additionally, today I have an essay that was posted at minuscar which is more like the writings that are usually on this blog about doing with less.

Today we will talk about fats and then next time we will move onto food processing and how it contributes to hunger. If you're just joining us, you can check out previous nutrition posts on Bioenergetics, Carbohydrates and Protein.

I think that protein is generally over-rated, but I think fat gets a bad rap. Fats are an essential part of the diet and are extremely important. Of course there are some fats that are no good and should be avoided. Some fats are actually beneficial and have been shown to contribute to weight loss. There are three main types of fat; saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated.

I think that the first thing that I need to say about fats is that gram for gram they contribute more than twice the calories as carbs or protein. They are not all that filling, so they go down easy and they add up quickly. No matter what kind of fat you consume you do have to pay attention to quantity. Vertigo, I have to clarify a little fats are the least satiating in the short term (think 15-30 minutes), but they are more satiating than simple sugars in the long run (because simple sugars will actually make you hungry after 30-45 minutes). Fats still aren't as satiating as complex carbohydrates or protein in the long run, so if you want to feel full, fats aren't a great choice.

Saturated fat is the enemy. It contributes to increased cholesterol levels, atherosclerosis, heart disease and obesity. Trans fats, although not saturated are also in this category. I'll be honest, I don't have anything nice to say about saturated fats and my mom taught me that if I don't have anything nice to say, not to say anything at all. Saturated fats are found in butter, animal products (a big part of the reason I'm sort of anti-meat), and that's really the main source. Trans-fats are not normally found in significant quantities in nature, but are found in margarine and other processed foods. I just needed to point out those things that I don't have anything nice to say about so that you too can avoid them like the plague.

MonoUnsaturated Fatty Acids... Does anyone mind if we call these MUFAs from now on? These guys are found in olive oil , avocados and nuts. MUFAs on their own are neither beneficial or harmful as it pertains to heart disease, and other major health issues. I know that you're thinking that olive oil is supposed to be the good guy and it is, but not because of the MUFA content. Remember that MUFAs aren't bad, but they are found primarily in foods that have phytochemicals and other nutrients that are extremely beneficial to the heart.

PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) are a bit more complex. They come in two primary forms, n-3 and n-6 (the n is said omega... I don't know why, some chemist made it up). n-3s are the good guys. These are the fats found in fish that are actually good for your heart. These fats actually have properties that are quite similar to Vioxx and other COX-2 inhibitors, but without the side effects. For those who care, the fats don't inhibit COX-2 like Vioxx did, but they are the building block for less sticky blood (and therefore less heart issues).

These fats also have been shown to contribute to weight loss by making your body less efficient. Normally efficiency is a good thing, but this makes your body waste energy at rest and therefore burn more calories when you aren't doing anything. (that does not make these a bad choice for athletes). Fatty fish is the best way to get your n-3s, but don't eat too much because of issues with mercury in fish. They say twice a week is how often you should eat fish, less if you are pregnant or breast feeding. You can also get n-3s from flax seed oil (and the seeds themselves to a certain extent), walnuts, almonds and canola oil (a little). n-3s from plant sources are not fully elongated and the body must complete the process before the fats are as beneficial as fats from fish. I should also mention that farmed salmon do not contain nearly the same n-3 content as wild salmon.

This is where the problem begins. n-6s compete with n-3s to be elongated. n-6s are really not a bad fat, except n-3s are MUCH better and if you eat too many n-6s they win the competition to be elongated which results in stickier blood and fewer of the benefits from n-3s. (Keep in mind that n-3s from fish are already elongated so n-6s really don't effect them.) So we need to eat fewer n-6s, where are they found? In almost everything!! n-6s are especially high in processed foods and vegetable oils. n-6s are used to extend shelf-life, so if you see products in the store that have been on the shelf, you can bet that the fat in those are either n-6s or trans fats (or they've been processed with chemicals to slow decay).

There you've got the facts, what do we do with them now? First off I want to prove that I'm at least a little bit objective by saying that wild game (animals that at one time in their lives ran, flew and ate the foods designed for them in nature) are relatively low in saturated fat and are higher in n-3s (the same type you get from fish). Most important in the fat area is getting some fish (especially salmon, tuna and other cold water fatty fishes) or wild game which don't have the same mercury issues. Wild game still has saturated fat and animal proteins which mean that you shouldn't be eating it every day.

Whether you eat your fish or not, you should also be trying to get some additional n-3s from flax seeds, and nuts while minimizing your intake of processed foods and vegetable oils (think fried food and stuff with a really long shelf life). Notice that all of the fat that you get from plant foods (except vegetable oil) is better than what you get from processed foods or animal products. That theme may be recurring in the coming posts.

Although I've gotten in trouble at Fatty's site for not being funny, I did a post on Orlistat a bit ago that I thought was funny, go check it out.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I started this series on Friday with Bioenergetics and then last time I talked about Carbohydrates and Hunger. Today I'm going to talk a little about protein. If you're on the ball you may be able to guess that my next post will be about fat, but we don't need to get ahead of ourselves.

There are a lot of misguided ideas about protein, let me straighten some of those out. Protein is made up of amino acids which are a group of molecules that make proteins. There are twenty-some amino acids which combine in different orders and lengths to make proteins. Some amino acids are made in the body, but many have to be consumed in the diet. If you don't consume an amino acid that can't be made by your body you will not be able to build proteins. That's bad.

Proteins are found in high quantities in every cell of your body. The functional part of muscle is protein and that is a source of much of our misguidance. If you go to a gym and hear people talking about protein, cover your ears, start chanting "nanananana" and get out of there as soon as you can, they don't know what they're talking about.

Lets talk about why we eat protein and how much we need. Protein is the most long-term satiating type of food that you can eat. That means that when you eat protein it is the best at helping you feel full for a long time. Now don't jump to conclusions and say that you need to eat a lot more protein because your problem is that you're always hungry, that won't work for you. Do remember that you should include a little protein in every meal or snack.

How much protein do you need? about .8g per kilo of body weight. That calculates to 56g protein for the average 70 kilo (150 lb) man. Burn victims, pregnant or breast feeding women or those recovering from serious injury may benefit from eating more protein than that, but for the average Joe, or even the average weight lifter trying to get really big, eating more protein really won't do that much for you. Most people get plenty of protein without even trying, but it may be a good idea to look at food labels and estimate how much you get each day.

Up to this point I haven't said anything bad about protein, but there is a dark side to protein. Almost always, high protein foods are also high in fat. Skinless chicken breast, beans and lentils are high protein foods that are low in fat. I can't think of any others. Oh, fat free dairy products (I try to forget about those) can be high protein, low fat, BUT when they take fat out of a food they almost always replace it with simple carbohydrates (those that make you hungry). Oddly enough low sugar foods are generally loaded with fat. There are foods on the market where both the fat and sugar have been removed, but in order to give those foods taste they are loaded with chemicals that otherwise mess with your body.

Oops, I got a little off topic there. Protein generally comes with fat (which is the least satiating type of food) and makes for high calorie, not filling foods. Nuts, yogurt, cheese and meats can have their place in the diet, but generally they are more part of the problem than part of the solution. (I should point out that of the foods I listed, nuts contain good fats while the others don't... more about that next time). That leaves beans, lentils and nuts as the best high protein foods. If you add those to a diet with plenty of vegetables and whole grains you will get all of the required amino acids without consuming much fat.

In summary, you need protein for life, and to help you feel full longer. You may have caught on, I'm not a big fan of animal products, but I'm trying to be objective here. I don't think that meat is a nutritious part of a diet, and I think that it is better to do without from a nutrition standpoint (and there is a lot of evidence to support that). I also recognize that most people aren't ready to be vegetarians so I would counsel them to eat meat sparingly (once a month is plenty, weekly isn't too bad and daily is probably too much). It also makes a huge difference what types of meat you eat. Wild game is far better than cow. OK, anything is better than cow. skinless poultry is good, and fish is probably the best (just beware of mercury). Processed meats aren't any good (right there with cow), so sausage, bacon, lunch meats, etc. are poor choices. Eat lots of beans, lentils and whole grains. Have the occasional nut (including nut-butters) and lean meats (emphasize nuts, de-emphasize meats). If you want good bean recipes give me your email address and I'll send you some.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Carbohydrates and Hunger

One of the comments from the other day was from Cultural Vertigo and he referred me to an article that he had written about nutrition. I usually don't agree with articles on nutrition, but his is well written and useful. So when you're done reading MY nutrition info, go check out his.

I have the feel that the Atkin's kick is over. That is good. Carbohydrates are our friends. They are the body's first choice for fuel and the only nutrient that can effectively get to the brain. I also think that the Atkin's diet brought a lot of attention to carbohydrates which is good, because not all carbs are created equal. For anyone who lives an active lifestyle, a diet without enough carbohydrates will drastically impair your performance and energy levels.

Before we dive right into carbohydrates, I want to talk about hunger. I took an entire class about hunger. I won't bore you with the details, but here's one big thing that I picked up. Your blood sugar drops just a little every so often which is associated with a feeling of hunger. Your blood sugar then returns to baseline and your hunger goes away. This cycle will continue and you will feel hungry every hour or more until the hunger pangs become more more frequent and eventually your blood sugar gets low enough that you are hungry all the time. I drew a picture in paint that shows the general trend of blood sugar over time with arrows where you would feel hunger. (Excuse the artwork, my drawing ability on paint is not much better than my 3 year old's... unfortunately there's more to come).

Why did I put hunger in the same blog as carbohydrates? Well, the type of carbohydrate that you choose to eat can change your feelings of hunger and this knowledge should greatly influence your food choices. Foods that are fibrous and made up of "complex" carbohydrates have a very slow gradual affect on your blood sugar (figure a). Simple sugars that are found in soda, candy and processed foods cause your blood sugar to spike about 15-20 minutes after eating and then subsequently your blood sugar plummets, usually dropping slightly below baseline before regulating itself (figure b). So that was probably a little more nutritional biochemistry than you wanted to know. Here's the point: notice that how that circled area in figure B looks similar to the hunger signal that I drew above. So that bowl of candy that you snack on at work is going to initiate hunger every 30-45 minutes. In order to avoid being hungry all the time, you have to eat good quality meals and snacks that include lots of fiber, and a little protein (I'll be talking more about protein next time).

Generally it is better to look for foods that don't come in packages. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts are great snacks (easy on the nuts, they're also high in fat... but we'll talk about that next time). For meals you should focus on beans, lentils, whole grains and vegetables.

I know that you are thinking that fruits are full of sugar, but they are full of fructose which is a type of sugar that doesn't greatly affect your blood sugar and they are also full of water which help fill your stomach without adding any calories. Fruit is generally a good choice.

Now watch out for marketers, they want you to think that their product is healthy. Generally if it comes in a package telling you how healthy it is, it's not.

Fruit juice and breakfast cereal are the first things that come to mind. Both are terrible as far as sugar goes. Fruit juice does contain fructose, but is also loaded with regular sugar and the processing ruins the fruit. There is a time and place for fruit juice, but it should not be the norm. Dr. Brand-Miller did some research on breakfast cereals and found that adding table sugar to cereals will almost always improve your glucose response (make it lower). That is not an invitation to add sugar, that is a reason to change cereals. Even General Mills who uses "whole grains" make cereals that cause blood glucose to spike. Of course the sugary cereals cause blood glucose spikes, but additionally Grapenuts, Cheerios and almost any other cereal that you can think of is not that great for you. The exception is shredded wheat (not frosted), and hot cereals (not instant). In my house we buy bulk grains (about 7 of them) and cook them every morning for about 30 minutes and they make a great hearty breakfast.

Now would be a good day to take a look at what you are eating and recognizing the sugars that you eat that make you hungry not long after.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Healthy Living, A Family Affair

This is a combination blog. Normally on Sundays I blog about family because that is one of the main reasons that I blog. Last week I talked to Fatty and he said he was going to write about some testing that we did and he could include a link to my blog. For that reason I'm going to write for the next week or more about weight loss. Although Fatty is a really nice guy, I hope to help his competitors lose more weight and give him a quite literal run for his money. My last entry was on Bioenergetics and weight loss. I will continue on that theme tomorrow. Today I'm going to write about my family, what we did this week and how it relates to healthy living. I hope to appease my grandparents with an update on the kids and not embarrass myself if four random people come from Fatty's site and quadruple my readership.

The first thing to know about healthy living is the importance of fruits and vegetables. Although I don't have a lot of pictures of the family eating, we eat a lot of plant based foods. Most plant based foods are highly nutritious and great for dieting. Here is a picture of my youngest son, Six-Pence, eating an apple. He will finish it off, core and all. I hope to someday teach him to spit out the seeds, but for now they will either digest in his stomach or contribute to the fiber in his diet.

On Saturday my wife wanted to take the boys up to a children's fair at my school. So we loaded the boys into our SUB (sports utility bike) and took off for the 12 miles each way. Of course it takes longer to bike than it would to take the car, but the boys love it, my wife and I get a little workout and we don't have to buy gas.

Evidently Six-Pence had a little too much family bonding and he disappeared into his coat.

Of course not everyone has the time to ride their bike everywhere (I used to think that too), but really it makes my study time more effective and it takes care of transportation and exercise simultaneously so I really don't lose a lot of time by biking instead of driving.

I've got to include an experience from church today. There was a cute little girl sitting next to us in the pew, so the Mugwump went over and sat next to her. She flirted and drew on the paper that he loaned her. When we got home after church, we asked the Mugwump (Boy age 3) what he learned in Sunday School. He said that he held hands with the girl that he met at church, but when he tried to give her a kiss, she leaned away. He didn't seem to remember her name, but he was a little disappointed with the kiss. We tell him that you shouldn't kiss girls that don't feel comfortable with that. Hopefully he won't find anyone who is comfortable with him kissing her for many years to come.

Friday, February 16, 2007


I frequent Fatty's blog and he is currently blowing everyone away in a weight loss competition. I'm going to take a week or two and highlight everything that you need to know concerning weight loss. We'll call these editions, "Sabatage Fatty". If you feel that I'm missed a subject that you want addressed, just comment and I'll fill you in.

Weight loss is all about calories in and calories out. I don't care what anyone tells you about eating at night, eating carbs, eating fat or liquid diets. It's really simple, if you eat more calories than you expend you will GAIN weight. If you expend more calories than you eat you will LOSE weight. Anything contrary to this is a violation of basic laws of nature.

Energy In

When most people think of dieting they think of eating lettuce and carrots. That's it. If you eat less you will lose weight. It's not easy though, as most of us have found. There are many strategies for eating less. Go to the bookstore sometime and look through the diet books. Those are all just tricks to eat less. Everyone is different and you have to find the one that works for you. Beware though, many of the diet books on the shelves are NOT healthy!!

The strategy that I gave Fatty for losing weight was intuitive eating. He seemed to already have a good feel for eating right. He ate lots of fruits and vegetables, plenty of whole grains and not a whole lot of high fat sauces. Intuitive eating is really simple, you eat when you're hungry, you don't when you're not. The only problem is that most of us have detrained our satiation signal that tells us when we have eaten enough.

So you sit down at dinner with a small plate for dinner. You eat a small serving and then you take 10 minutes to wait, talk or otherwise waste time. Then you ask yourself, "Am I still hungry?" Notice that this is a much different question than, "Am I full?" We experience full on Thanksgiving, it's the feeling of your stomach saying, "if you send anything else down here, I'm going to send it right back up." So you finish your small serving and you determine that you no longer feel hungry, so you stop eating. You don't finish the leftovers so you don't have to store it or throw it away. You don't eat just a little more to show your wife that you really liked it. You don't eat just a little more because you did really like it. You stop when you are no longer hungry. If you are still hungry, have another small portion. After eating it you wait and ask yourself again if you are still hungry. This is not a starvation diet, this is a way to recognize when you are full. Watch a 2 year old eat sometime, they have no problem stopping eating when they aren't hungry. They ignore all social pressures, when they are no longer hungry they leave. You should try it.

Energy Out

There are two parts to energy expenditures, basal metobolic rate and physical activity. Your basal metobolic rate is the energy it takes just to survive. Those are the calories that your body uses to blink, pump blood, and make all of your organs do whatever they do. This number varies based on body size. A 400 pound man has a far greater metobolic rate than a 105 pound woman. You can also decrease your metobolic rate by starving yourself. Your body can become extremely efficient (in the case of weight loss, efficiency is bad). So if you decide that you want to lose weight so you only eat 1000 calories a day, your body will do all that it can to store that because your body doesn't know when it will next get enough energy to carry out all of its functions. Although you would lose lots of weight if you just stop eating, you can't sustain that forever. After a prolonged fast you will actually gain weight fairly quickly because your body has become very efficient to defend against starvation.

In additon to the basal metobolic rate, you will be active which will burn additional calories. Fatty is big into cycling (as am I). He has his coach Lofgran who gives him intense workouts that will expend lots of calories. That is helping him in his weight loss. The more you do (running, walking, cycling, weight training, etc.), the more calories you will burn during the day. Of course you don't have to have an intense workout to burn calories, but it certainly helps.

To lose weight you need to eat less and exercise more. That's it, there's nothing else to it... Except most people know that, but it doesn't help. For the next couple of weeks I will address different foods and how you can use different foods to curb hunger and increase energy. There are lots of ways to make your body feel full so that you eat less (if you're paying attention to when you are no longer hungry). There are also strategies for expending more calories without adopting a sophisticated workout program. Although for some, the structure and accountability of a workout program from a professional like coach Lofgran is the best way to stick with an exercise routine.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Never suppress a gracious thought

Our campus closes every Tuesday from 11-12 for a speaker. The majority of the talks are religious in nature, but not all. The vast majority are very good and bring new insight into life. Today's talk just finished and it was powerful. The main theme was that we should "never suppress a gracious thought".

What a wonderful idea, it instantly made me think of Hermann Hesse's quote, "I want only to live in accord with the promptings of my true inner-self. Why is that so very difficult?" Of course when we think about doing something nice for someone we should do it, we know we should. But we don't always. Why? Hermann Hesse told us that it was difficult... It shouldn't be, but it is.

You're sitting, waiting for an appointment and you notice a guy carrying a whole lot of stuff out to his car. You think, "it looks like he needs a hand." Do you offer him a hand? Well that certainly isn't the "manly" thing to do. He can certainly do it by himself, but that is the suppression of a gracious thought. Why do we do that. If it were an older lady would you do it then? I think the odds just went way up. That's good, but why wouldn't we help the guy? Now what if it were a pretty lady about your age? This is where it gets tough. If you rush right over there to give her a hand it might appear as if you were hitting on her. I have a wife at home and I would NEVER hit on another woman. Does that mean that I shouldn't help her? I don't think it does, but it provides an easy excuse.

At one point during the talk today, the speaker quoted someone and said that we should, "rise above our ease and abundance to serve others." What a wonderful idea. I love the way that was put. I like how the quote suggests that ease and abundance brings us down. I think that in most cases it does. It doesn't have to, but it does. Coming "down" to the level of those in need is the only way to rise "above" abundance and ease. It is such a simple idea that would make the world a better place, why is it so very difficult?

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Evidently that burst water main wasn't a total waste, the Mugwump loves the mud pit that it has created.

This kids sleeps every night with a book under his pillow. The rule is that he doesn't get out of bed after we put him down for the night and he is obedient to that (mostly). We will sometimes find him "reading" 30-45 minutes after we put him to bed.
Sixpence loves his big brother and imitates him. It's really cute. He insists on having a book with him at night, just like the Mugwump
Did you know that if you put chocolate pudding on a cookie sheet you can paint with it? Did you know that if you smear it on your face it takes several baths before all of the chocolate can be removed from the ears?
Icky wanted me to post a picture for Babe. I think she wanted me to post the one of her hair, but who would want to see the back of her head? I especially like this photo. There was no photoshopping involved, yet notice how she looks like one of those dogs with one green eye and one brown eye. I had never noticed that before. Actually I have no idea how that happened, because really her eyes appear to be the same color in real life. I especially like the way the flash shines off her teeth. So, Babe, if you want different pictures, I may take requests. I wonder if Dad O'Icky could come up with any good childhood pictures that would make her blush.

The week started rough with a sick mom, but by the end of the week it was warm enough to venture outside again and the whole family was feeling better. Getting out really seems to de-stress things. It was a long, cold winter where it was hard to get out due to the bitter cold. Actually the bitter cold was only a few weeks, but when it's tough to get out for several weeks the family gets a little cooped up. Yesterday we were able to go for a long walk and play at the park. It was wonderful and we're all looking forward to spring.
My wife and I also got to go on a date this week. Thanks to a gift card from some great friends we were able to go to the Olive Garden and enjoy a dinner without kids (Thanks to Icky for babysitting). I don't know if these friends know it, but we don't go out much and we REALLY appreciate the opportunity to go on our annual date. After a wonderful dinner together we went to Barnes and Nobles and looked at books. Yes, that is what we do for fun, we go look at books with no intention of buying anything. We stayed out until almost 8:30 before we were both exhausted and needed to get home and go to bed.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Orlistat (Breaking news)

I really have a lot of other things that I should be doing, but I can't miss this breaking news story. Orlistats is going to be available over the counter today. Orlistat is an anti-obesity drug that blocks the absorption of fat in the small intestine. Normally I am against most drugs, especially obesity drugs because it can be done with hard work and dedication. I like Orlistat because it makes the consequences of poor eating immediate. Let me explain.

So you've been taking orlistat for some time with no ill effects. You eat right and exercise and the Orlistat gives you that little boost that helps get the weight off. It's even better than the commercials. One day, you wake up late for work and you don't have time to make the usual bowl of oatmeal, but you're still hungry and know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You decide to stop at McDonalds for a sausage McMuffin with cheese. You've been doing so well on the diet, this one poor choice won't make the big of a difference.

A few hours later you are sitting in a meeting and your stomach is making some terrible noises. You're not hungry, but boy, you don't feel that great either. Then it happens, the "leakage" that they warn may be one of the side affects to Orlistat. You see, when the Orlistat blocks the fat absorption in the gut, the fat doesn't just dissapear, it still has to pass through the system. When it gets to the end of the line it is like warm Crisco and your body wasn't designed to keep that in.

This is the reason that I like this drug. Now, this person just experienced the side affects that were the direct result of a poor food choice. The next time this person drives by a McDonald's what do you think goes through their head? a) "boy, I could sure go for another sausage McMuffin with cheese, maybe I'll get two this time" or b) "Last time I had McDonald's it caused the most embarrassment that I have ever experienced, maybe I should make a better food choice".

That is why I think that Orlistat is wonderful, immediate feedback for poor eating choices. So the solution to the obesity epidemic is to force everyone to drug up on Orlistat and watch them start making better food choices. There would be no more hidding the fact that you gorged yourself on high fat snacks, everyone would know.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Dad bragging about his kids (read at your own discretion)

My wife was sick on Monday and I still had to go to school which left my wife at home with two little boys even though she did not feel well all day and spent much of the day worshiping the porcelain throne. When I got home on Monday our family read a scripture story together and talked about service. I asked the Mugwump what he could do to serve others. Here is what he listed as things that he had done to serve his mother that day:

Pray for her

Draw her pictures

Play with Sixpence to keep him happy

Make his own lunch so Mom didn't have to (pasta with sauce, leftovers that he ate cold since he doesn't know how to use the microwave)

Sing to Mom to help her feel better (usually "Happy Birthday")

Read Mom stories to help her feel better (He can't read, but he can certainly tell a story to pictures)

When we asked Mugwump how service made him feel he said that it made him feel good and that it made him happy. Most days I try not to ramble just to brag about my kids, but I thought that was pretty neat how much he did to help my wife.

And then yesterday the Mugwump was in the kitchen and my wife walked in and saw that he was getting into trouble so she asked, "what are you doing?!" The Mugwump replied, "coloring on the kitchen table." The Mugwump then cleaned the kitchen table. You win some, you lose some, but life is always an adventure with a 3 year old.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Global warming

I keep hearing talk about "global warming". I want to make a clarification. In the field of environmental health they use the term "global climate change", but the media thinks that "global warming" sounds scarier, so that is what we talk about. I think this is an important distinction because people hanging out in Northern Minnesota today where it was -30F are not likely to be convinced on this "global warming" thing. And many may be hoping for global warming so that their eyeballs don't freeze when they leave the house.

Is the term "global warming" accurate? Yes, but it is based on overall averages of the entire globe and is not necessarily reflected locally. In fact, warming of climates near the equator and therefore ocean waters will change normal ocean currents resulting in colder than normal temperatures in some parts of the world. England, for example normally has a current of relatively warm water running by it year around which keeps the climate moderate. If that current changes (which is currently taking place) England will get colder due to "global warming". So just for the sake of understanding, let's call it "global climate change" since that is what it is.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Family time

Grammie, I hope you made it to the new site. Please leave me a comment to show that you've been here so I can stop worrying about you. At the bottom of this post there is a thing that says, "comments" put the cursor over it so that the cursor turns into a finger and left click on comments. Then you get to a new screen and can type a message to me (that everyone else will also be able to read). When you are finished with your message, click the bubble next to anonymous and then click on the word publish and your comment will show up for the whole world to read!

Sixpence knows that you should always wear a helmet! Or maybe someone put it on him and he can't get it off, I'm not sure.

Look at that million dollar smile on Sixpence...
and the metric tonne of mucus smeared across the Mugwump's face.
There's the Mugwump with his picture that he drew. That two body parted creature with hair all around his head is me. You may also notice that my arms and legs are really hairy... which is true, but when they all start sticking straight out like that I usually trim them. To the right of me is my bicycle. You may notice that it is a large square, that is the roof so that I don't get cold or wet while I'm riding. The two wheels are of drastically different sizes so I will have to conclude that this bike is a funny recumbent or something of the sort. The other creatures at the bottom are from The Chronicles of Narnia. I'll have to be honest and say that I don't remember which is which.
This week it finally got above freezing for awhile and we enjoyed some time outside. The boys still have runny noses, but that's OK, it hardly phases them. Sixpence was eating a chunk of apple yesterday and as is typical for 1 year olds, it spent a lot of time half in and half out of his mouth. At that point he decided to blow his nose and discovered the incredible efficiency with which he can transfer snot from his nose to his food without any delay. I wish he didn't know that. Sixpence has also learned how to make himself dizzy. He needs to learn not to do it on the tile floor, but we're still working on that. So you walk into the kitchen and there's this kid spinning around in circles as fast as he can (which isn't very fast since he is still mastering walking). Then you have to stand by to catch before his head hits the tile. Maybe we should keep that helmet on him more often.
Icky has exciting news... Two weeks ago she met this guy who made her all weak in the knees. Then a few days ago she was FORCED to fly back here so that she could put in her two weeks notice and finish up her job and get the rest of her stuff. Her man (we'll call him Babe since that is what Icky calls him, which is a rather silly nickname since he doesn't look like a talking pig) bought her a plane ticket to fly home on Valentine's day (to stay) so that they can be closer together. So Icky and Babe have made big plans for... well the rest of their lives. Oh to be young and in love. It's almost sickening to overhear her phone conversations and all the mushy stuff. What makes it worse is my wife who turns and whispers to me, "isn't that sweet?" No it's not sweet, although I enjoy the memories, I'm glad that I'm not all goofy anymore. You know what, at this stage in my life I'm quite content being old and in love.

Friday, February 2, 2007


Don't worry, I'm still on my environmental kick, but I want to talk about health for a bit. I'm a doctoral student in health promotion and I spend my days studying health, but I don't post much about it. I think that I should though because people generally need to hear it. My family's choice to go without is primarily health driven. With increasing incidence of autism, ADD, cancers, and many other chronic diseases it makes me wonder what the causes are. Most are not really known. Autism, for example, seems to have some links to nutrition and maybe television, but there is little substantial evidence as to a cause. I find that taking a step back from the Jones' (or running wildly in the opposite direction) helps to improve health in numerous ways, especially the stress of trying to keep up with everyone else. I far prefer spending time with my family than at work trying to make an extra buck. I think that is the greatest thing that I can do for the health and well-being of my family.
Fatty asked for some nutritional guidance the other day. You see he has put about $4000 on the line for a little on-line bet with random people. Now he's thinking that he really need to lose the weight and win the bets. First off, I think what he has done on his site is incredible. He has a large group that frequents his blog and many of them are competing to lose weight and increase bicycle performance. From a health promotion perspective, it's nearly impossible to get anyone to make changes in their lifestyle, yet "Fatty" has a large following that are working hard to make serious changes.
So my advice to fatty was to practice intuitive eating. It really makes sense. When you are hungry you eat and when you are no longer hungry you stop eating. Unfortunately most people have detrained their hunger signal and it needs a little help. Most people recognize when that hunger starts, but few recognize when it stops. So what you have to do is take a small helping of food for a meal and eat it. Then you sit and wait 5-10 minutes (this would be a good time to sit and talk to your family). You then ask yourself, "Am I still hungry?" Notice that you didn't ask yourself if you were full, that is a completely different feeling. We get full on Thanksgiving, that is the point when your stomach says to your brain, "if you send anything else down here, we're going to send it right back up." Also notice that you didn't ask yourself if you liked dinner or if you wanted more, or if there is just enough left so that it's not worth saving. The only reason to eat is if you are hungry. Any other food input is simply using your body as a garbage. Consistently using your body as a garbage will also make you feel like garbage.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Sharing (part II)

So I saved the most important part for today... Sharing responsibility. I think that if people would take responsibility for their own actions the world would be a much better place. Now I seem to have contradicted myself. Here's how I see it:

If you are overweight and you go and sue Macdo because you're overweight, that is just wrong. Nobody has ever forced food down your throat, those are choices that you make and you need to take responsibility and deal with the consequences. I also don't want to let McDonald's off the hook because they use some questionable marketing strategies by targeting children and getting the poor kids hooked on the crack called happy meals. We need to share responsibility.

Although I NEVER go to Macdos, I too can take responsibility for some of the overweight people who frequent fast food restaurants. I have never written a letter of complaint and I've never really taken a stand against them, except on this blog that 4 people read. Does that mean that I'm going to write them a letter? No, I have other things on my plate to keep me busy, but that doesn't mean that I'm not a little responsible. I can live with that.

I have a harder time living with the pollution that I add to the earth and the pollution that I allow others to add to the earth. I am furthering my education so that I can take some action and I do speak up more on that position than on others.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. (I think that is a quote, but I don't know who wrote it.)