Fear and Loathing in Seattle

It’s been awhile since a post.  There are a few reasons why I don’t hammer out a few paragraphs every other day and slap them up on my page.  Primarily, I hate spewing out a diatribe if it has no “meat”.  If you are going to spend your time reading this it better say something important and/or funny.  Also, I am still a little unsure what the purpose of my blog is.  Initially it was supposed to be all about cycling but it is starting to morph into something closer to a “thoughts on exercise and nutrition” site.  If that change does continue there will probably be an increase in my musings.  Unfortunately I’m not riding my bicycle too much right now…recently my diet and my piss-poor level of exertion has taking up a lion’s share of my thoughts and attention.

So, what’s been going on since my last rant?  Well, the wife and I kept our carbs below 20 grams a day for about six weeks.  The results were very interesting: Initially (over about two weeks) we both lost about seven pounds.  But the next four weeks left us a little frustrated.  Further weight loss seemed allusive.  One week we would drop a pound, only to regain it along with another pound the next week.  In addition to the weight loss and gain variation, I could not achieve true ketosis.  The urine dipsticks rarely obtained any shade of the ketone detecting purple that I desired.  What could be going wrong?  Was there something in my diet that kept insulin in the equation?  Was it the Diet Coke?  Maybe the dairy?  Was I fooling myself…did calories really matter?  As I’ve noted before, “Why We Get Fat” is not a diet book.  It tells us that carbohydrates are bad and our societal distain for consumable fats is misplaced.  I still believe this hypothesis and the science behind it is sound.  A couple more interesting points about my six week personal experience: I was eating pretty close to 3000 calories a day, all fat and protein.  I never gained any real weight.  At the beginning of week seven I was down about eight pounds.  Also, after the first week I felt great!  I had lots of energy, my mood was up, and I felt mentally sharp.  This latter fact, the one about me not feeling like shit, is important…as you will see below.

Back on track… “Why We Get Fat” that it is not a diet book.  It just presents an argument and theory supported by scientific studies.  Maybe what was missing from my life was that diet book.  Someone needed to guide me!  I bought Adkins (both the 2000 publication actually written by Dr. Adkins and the newer one penned by his disciples) but as I read I began to realize something was missing: any commitment or dedication from me.  Why?  Well, the new Adkins diet book seems to push product over strategy.  If I ate their Adkins brand supplements, concoctions, and mixes I would be just fine!  Truthfully, I hate that shit.  I gave you $24.00 for 238 pages.  Thats like…10 cents a page!  Isn’t that enough?  My issue with the older book was a bit more nebulous.  I think the bottom line was this: the diet Adkins recommended near the turn of the century was about the same as what I’d already done: no carbs, lots of meat, heavy on the dairy, calories out the wazoo, etc.  In my gut I knew that I would have to switch it up a little if I wanted to see results.  So pure Adkins was probably out…at least for now.

I did a little research — and when I say “little” I mean it…one or two Google searches, some time on Wikipedia, and a quick scan of Amazon Kindle offerings.  My Amazon.com searches lead me to a new discovery: The Paleo Diet.  I’d bet that most of you have already heard about this one.  The bottom line is that you eat like a caveman.  The theory is this: generally and genetically speaking, we ate a certain way for about a gazillion years and we are wired to eat and digest a certain type of nutrition and guess what, carbs ain’t it!  Our Paleolithic ancestors were hunter-gathers so they ate what they killed (typically lean meats), what they pulled down from the trees (veggies and the occasional fruit), and what they picked up off the forest floor (more veggies, roots, and nuts).  More recently our Neolithic predecessors started doing all sorts of things with wheat, corn, and sugar cane, which our various systems just haven’t adjusted to.  The government along with brainwashed nutritionists, medical providers, and the undereducated masses just makes everything worse by making refined and nutrition deficient grains and starches the foundation of our food pyramid.  The Paleo diet was another variation on the low carb approach.  It dovetailed nicely into my new beliefs.

I ended up buying “The Paleo Solution” by Robb Wolf. It was pretty good — I plan on devoting a whole blog post to it in the next week or so.

I just read my header for this post — I should get back around to that.  So, while all of this was going on  (the reading and the research) I was dealing with other issues.  Real quick, those of you who know me already know this; about four or five months ago my house filled up with toilet water (long story, funny as hell) and trashed about 80% of my living space.  Extensive repairs would be required.  Six weeks ago, about the time I was rethinking my strategy, the repairs and construction started.  I came up with a scheme to maintain my low-carb devotion while dealing with no kitchen and no bathroom — both were damaged in the Floodaclysm of 2011 and would be out-of-commission for three weeks.  I still had two bedrooms, a gas grill, a sporty cooler (circa 1998 – still kept food cold FOR DAYS), and a desire to loose weight.  Best laid plans, people!

After about two days of cooking eggs on the grill I through in the towel.  You ready for some more excuses and rationalization?  I knew that dietary changes were coming and there was a light at the end of the tunnel.  I would be done reading my new diet book in about three weeks, about the same time the workers put on the last coat of paint, so I might as well “live it up” while me and my house got prepared for round two of my carb shunning existence.  Lemons…lemonade…right?

For four weeks I went off the reservation and let me tell you, I felt like an addict who just won the lottery.  Irony: eating pizza while reading a book on how gluten is killing me…and agreeing with it!  It was ugly, it really was.  I didn’t actively seek out caloric garbage but I provided no resistance: chicken wings, pizza, burgers, beer, more chicken wings, Panini sandwiches…it was all very good.  My guilt was palpable.

Also, importantly, I felt BAD.  Sure, I had the mental thing…the remorse…I get that a lot.  But I also felt sick…REAL SICK.  My stomach hurt, my reflux came back, my back ached, I struggled to get up off the sofa.  It is interesting to note that I hadn’t reached “max capacity” yet.  I was still a few pounds under that dubious goal.  But the fact remained, I felt a whole lot better when eating fewer carbs.

Maybe it is an experiment of one — but if it makes me feel better, well…isn’t that what matters?  The kitchen is now functional and the bathroom is back in order.  Things are still slightly askew but nothing is ever perfect.  I have my new strategy in place.  The Low-Carb Reboot: Paleo Edition starts soon.

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