Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

Taking a moment to think about our men and women over in the Big Sandbox, to honor their courage and pray for their safety, and to pray also that as a species we figure out a better way to do this.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I've spent the week Really Pretty Sick, as opposed to Head Cold Sick-- bronchitis and green icky stuff and no oomph to spare apart from the basics to care for family and self. Today I was playing Rock Lobster on my ipod and found myself dancing, so I am cautiously hopeful things are looking up.

It's my One Year Blogoversary. I'm going to mark the occasion by posting one thing I'm proud of, one thing I'm bullshitting myself about, and one thing I want to reflect back on with relief when I am snuggling in with Mr. Larkspur tonight. I'd love to see you do the same, except for the snuggling part. I am unfortunately territorial regarding Mr. Larkspur. You understand.

1. Proud of... making better friends with my body, gently stripping away some denial, and moving away from diabetes over the past year. (Can I count that as one?)

2. Bullshitting about... thinking I can't lose more weight. If I cleaned some things up consistently, I suspect I could do better.

3. Looking forward to... drinking iced tea (not lab-created diet soda) and eating whole foods instead of sweets, except for a spoonful of my daughter's life-enriching chocolate chip cookie dough if she happens to make any. There is definitely a sharp curve with homemade cookie dough. No cookie dough is lower on the life experience scale than the peak of one spoon, the graph dropping at two spoons, falling sharply at three spoons and then descending into depths we won't get into. Too bad blogger doesn't have a graph function.

Do you have a 1-2-3 to share?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Book Review: The End of Overeating

I have a cold, the third since I started this blog a year ago, which is one of its many virtues: keeping track of my colds. I did NOT get this one from smooching my husband. He's perfectly healthy and I'm trying to remember not to kiss him, which is surprisingly difficult. It does give me an excuse to lie around and prepare book reviews.

I've run into numerous mentions of The End of Overeating by David Kessler, and my finger kind of slipped on the Kindle and now it's mine. It's a good read, providing a fascinating scientific framework for what many of us have intuited. So if you're waiting to take it out of the library versus pushing the wrong button on your Kindle, here's the general idea.

Kessler, a former director of the FDA, notes that obesity rates were rather stable until the 1980s. Then they started to cliiiiimb. He doesn't mention artificial sweeteners or HFCS. He comes right out and blames most of the change on sugar, fat, and salt, "the three points of the compass" for food manufacturers, and how processed food is produced to provide such a tremendous reward that our brains literally become rewired. Junk food is just below cocaine in terms of how motivating it can be-- for rats, anyway. Food manufacture and marketing is calculated to sell as much product as possible, and in our part of the globe they've succeeded all too well.

The first part of the book describes the brain science of why Cheetos are so hard to resist. If you read blogs of recovering compulsive eaters, it resonates with what you read here-- there is something literally in the wiring that reinforces compulsive eating in spite of the fact that it's physically uncomfortable, emotionally disturbing, and socially devastating. I don't think of myself as a compulsive eater, but I've certainly felt the call of certain foods and noticed the way that they can occupy the main part of my thoughts, which is odd, really, when you think of it. That box of Pinwheel cookies can assume the importance of a loaded gun on my counter.

The second portion of the book describes the food industry's tricks to come up with "hyperpalatable" foods-- stuff that makes sense, if you want to sell a lot of Hostess Cupcakes. Successful junkfoods melt in your mouth-- little chewing is required. They are "layered," with interesting extra bits... think the white squiggle on the chocolate frosting of the cream-filled cupcake. They employ fat, sugar, and salt in startling amounts, because that's what makes them so alluring. That's before you get into orchestrating the other aspects like the design and sound of the wrapper, the smell, the advertising that helps you connect the product with warmth, indulgence, fun, belonging. Food manufacturers don't do this to be evil. They do it to sell lots of Bloomin' Onions and keep their jobs.

Part three describes how "conditioned hypereating" emerges. Parts four and five deal with the author's thoughts on how to combat it, among them:

1. Avoid junk food cues when you can, which will not always be possible, so you'll need to

2. Develop strong rules: "I don't eat fries." You can and should make the rules personal, but some guidewires will help you when you're remapping your brain.

3. Engage in competing behaviors-- take an alternate route to avoid the pie stand. Swerve early. Don't let it evolve into a standoff at the Golden Corral.

4. Change how you talk to yourself about food: "Food is fuel to keep my body running right."

5. Find the right kind of support (blog!)

There's a lot here that fits with my own experience. Eating "clean" is (let's face it) partly about calming down those hyperstimulating food cues. When I'm eating nachos or biscuits, it's hard for me to find that perfect stopping place. It's so good, I would eat a little more than I should-- twice a day, for years, which adds up. (Even now, on Cheat Days, my satiety signals are confused and junk food calls my name.) I am not going to overeat on soy nuts or turkey wraps because, though I like them, my interest will wane before I'm overfull.

The "strong rules" piece makes sense for me too. Cheat Days mean I still get cake, if I want it. But the rest of the time I don't have to struggle with myself, or try to define "moderate." Those days give my brain a chance to rewire, balancing my rewards so they aren't just about food, and they also allow my body to run the way it should, without having to cope with toxic doses of sugar and fat. I'm not pushing Cheat Days, by the way, which are an imperfect solution. The author seems to feel that a just-say-no approach is indicated until you get your wiring under better control, at which point you can develop your own cautious rules for reincorporating hyperpalatable foods.

End of Overeating, while it doesn't really promise what's offered in the title, does shine a floodlight on the trap so that you can at least see the serrated jaws before you stick your foot in there. The more I read, the more distressed I'm becoming about junk food, and as the mother of teenagers, whose diet is getting more and more out of my control, it's not making me too happy. The answer is to eat real food at regular intervals and treat junk food with the wary respect you'd offer a poisonous snake. What I need next is a book to convince my kids.

Friday, May 14, 2010

When my 8 year old wants an extra dessert or something else not on the board, I typically say no. I say it with a smile. She doesn't need another fudgesicle and she isn't going to get one and my telling her so only hurts for a minute. She's fine.

I get the best results when I Mommy myself. When I simply say, No, you don't need that-- to another bite of chocolate, or the diet soda I want to quit, or a few of those Tostito chips that are, after all, whole grain, right? (Wrong. At least in the ways that count.)

Saying no when you're undernourished or starving is not really an option, unless you have some powerful agenda at stake. But I'm not undernourished or starving. I work plenty of treats into my life, food and otherwise. I'm far from deprived. So when I say no, I'm giving myself the same thoughtful treatment I take so seriously with my kids.


It only hurts for a minute. I'm just fine.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Review: Omron Body Fat Monitor and Kettlenetics!

My Mother's Day brought a bonanza of fitness-related products, if you don't count the ebelskiver pan my kids got me.* My sweetie got me the Omron body fat monitor and plucked Kettlenetics off my Amazon wish-list.

Body fat monitor: Easy to set up and use. I tried to go conservative with this one, opting for the "normal" setting which gave me 31%. I didn't like that too much. I went to "athlete" mode (really?) for which I actually do fit the criteria based on the rubric they give you, and the response (28%) was more in line with what my calipers say (24%) and what I get on those feed-in-your-measurements sites (26 or 27%). I was somewhat worried about it until I realized, hey, I get to create my own reality, right? If I want to use athlete mode, what are they going to do? Arrest me? Creating your own reality is so much nicer. I recommend it.

Kettlenetics: Greta has me about convinced. I looked at the Body Like a Goddess DVD, but was a bit worried by the instructor's body, which looked more like the Goddess of Isolated Whey Protein than Athena or Aphrodite or anybody I might reasonably be aiming for. Kettlenetic was well-reviewed and looked appealing for a weenus like myself, so I flagged it. And my husband bought it, and I did it today. There's a nice 20 minute section where she goes through the kettlebell moves slowly, and then a 20 minute workout which got my heart moving and made my legs say, "Yes, thanks, I get the point." The instructor explains well and injects a little Zumba-style flair that had me feeling at home. There's a 40 minute workout I'll try when I've made friends with the kettlebell. The DVD comes with a weenus-style 4 pound kettlebell, which believe me was plenty heavy by the time I was done throwing it around. In the interest of full disclosure, the smiling instructor also looked like a Whey Protein Deity, so I'm guessing it's a kettlebell thing.** Also she said "tush muscles" and other unscientific things that I don't imagine the Russians mention in their kettlebell workouts.

So that's my review. That and a wonderful, brisk 50 minute trail hike with my sweetie reset me for the week after extensive restoration of leptin levels this weekend.***

*Review: Fabulous. The cinnamon ones with cream cheese icing especially.

**Not that I'm worried. You have to do things like eat right and avoid sugar to look like that. No fear. I'll just look like one of those ex-football guys who drinks a lot of beer but still has some pretty good delts going on.

***I ate a lot of ebelskivers.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


My teenage son has an important matter to clear up before he graduates high school this spring. We reminded him that he must talk to Mr So and So. He said, "I tried, but he was out." And I gave him the spiel about how the difference between being a kid and an adult is that a kid tries and feels that's good enough, he's done his part. An adult keeps trying, goes back at different times, tracks the person down-- he's at it until the thing is done. Which brings me to an interesting review of my attempts to lose a few more pounds. I've certainly been trying. Hmmm.

I ran into Your Office Chair is Killing You and some equivalent pieces in different sources lately. If you follow health news you've probably heard that sitting workers-- even if they exercise-- are at higher risk for certain unpleasant causes of mortality related to heart health and diabetes, not to mention back problems. I'm 90% stay-at-home mom at this point (more accurately, rarely-at-home mom) so I do a lot of leaping up and down, gardening, and carting laundry. But my husband has to sit a lot. We're looking at stand-up desks for him (some have motors so you can switch back and forth). He's started doing his dictation standing up. And my resolution henceforth is to blog standing up at the kitchen island. Which may help with nice short posts.

Is there a way you can add more stand-up time to your day?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I Have Gorgeous Cholesterol

Be warned: bloodwork post upcoming. Worse than looking at strangers' pictures of their vacation.

My blood sugar numbers were not too bad, and I'm not (at the moment) anemic. My a1c was 5.3 which is on the higher end of normal, fasting glucose was 84 which is quite decent. I would be clicking my heels except that my glucometer is giving me (prediabetic) higher numbers, not sure if it's the machine or the fact that blood sugar changes from the time you test it at home to the time you get to the doctor's office. My doctor thought it was early yet for Metformin. I will go with that for now. At some point I should get my insulin levels checked but I am paying for this stuff out of pocket (high deductible plan) which definitely dampens my medical curiosity.

I don't know if there are other prediabetics out there. It is easy to get sucked into worrying a lot about the whole thing. Worry that gets me moving/eating right is productive-- hence the 23 pounds I've lost since my high point. Worry that leaves me fretting over whether I should be eating fruit or milk or anything but hemp seed and egg whites, not so much.

My total cholesterol was 122-- yes, I can't help it if my lipids are sexy. My triglycerides are 59. Check that out, sailor.

Monday, May 3, 2010


In the major bummer department, Bullies Target Obese Kids

I made sure to remind my kids on how to support the bully-ee. It makes such a difference. In first grade a kid did something mean to my daughter. Another boy's mother impressed on him the importance of not just denouncing the act, but standing with my daughter and supporting her, which he did. (Needless to say he has a place on the okay-to-date list when high school rolls around :)) Fast forward to sixth grade. A boy tore up a girl's election poster in front of her and asked my daughter wasn't the girl's expression funny? And she told him in clear terms that was a mean thing to do and went to comfort the other girl who was crying. The boy stood down and the girl had a good memory to soften the bad one.

It hurts to think of these very young kids suffering like this. Obesity is such a complicated mechanism, kids in particular have so little control over their bodies, and it is upsetting to think of them being victimized for being different (when it's not even that different these days).

I did good things with weights today. The theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer makes for an awesome 1 minute HIIT, or as our beloved Cranky Fitness used to call it, Somewhat High Intensity Interval Training (SHIIT). I looked cautiously for kettlebells but they haven't made it to Planet Fitness yet. (If I was relieved, I'm not going to say so.) I've been eating Very Well, using the The Daily Plate to track my stuff, because I find that by far the easiest and most comprehensive of the tracking sites. Shooting for as close to 30/40/30 as I can get.

My bloodwork's tomorrow, physical is Wednesday. My sugars haven't improved as much as I'd hoped, but this may be a case where I just have to be happy with holding the line. I'll let you all know after I talk to my doc about the Metformin.

Back to Jurassic Park 3 with the Fam. Night, all.