Week 4 Day 1 Sunday Morning

We’re back, as I said in my cheater day report.  I’m trying to work up enough enthusiasm to get on to the elliptical.  It’s still only nine in the morning.

The conference was very interesting.  We met one of the co-founders of Feel Good (“Ending world hunger one grilled cheese sandwich at a time”) a brilliant concept that gets university students volunteering to make and sell grill cheese sandwiches with 100% of the proceeds going toward sustainable development in third world countries aimed at reducing poverty and eliminating hunger.  I have a copy of their power point presentation.  We also met a woman who is promoting sex education in China, something that is sorely needed.  I practiced a lot of banjo plucking in the hotel room, and Ruth and I had one short rehearsal of some of her songs, but we didn’t get around to performing for anybody.

Breakfast this morning was the whites of three hard boiled eggs with a whole pile of steamed Chinese greens.  I think it was close to program acceptable, though the greens had been cooked with a bit of oil.

I’m definitely losing the belly flab, and Ruth noticed this morning that she is changing shape too.  And this is still only the start of week 4.  I’m looking forward to the photo session at the end of this week,  and REALLY looking forward to the photo session at the end of week eleven or twelve.

Now, is this all just vanity and an old man trying to hold onto his youth?  Of course that’s an aspect of it.  I do want to look good.  I want to look good without the qualifier “for a man of his age.”  But there’s more than that.  This is about quality of life.  I know I feel better, have more energy, less knee pain, and better health if I’m slimmer.  More than this, I want to feel in control of my body, not controlled by my body.  I’m inspired, in a negative way, by the men I saw in Winnipeg last summer.  So many men carrying around a gut the size of a beer barrel.  Not just a beer keg, an whole barrel.  I imagine that could be me if I don’t get a grip on things.  And when faced with something I don’t like, my natural tendency is to do something about it.  I love food.  Love a good glass of scotch.  But I don’t love those things enough to give up my body for them.

I said I was going to post about calorie restricted diets, so here it is:

Calorie Restricted Diets

It isn’t how much you eat so much as what you eat that determines how fat you become.  We need calories.  Without calories we have no energy.  Without calories we feel sick.  But there are sources of calories that give us steady slow burn of fuel, and sources that flood our metabolic carburetor.  When we eat pure calories, empty calories, without doing very rigorous exercise, the body naturally stores those calories as fat.

The rate of burn of calories is called the glycemic index.  Some foods, like oatmeal, have a low glycemic index.  Some, like white rice and corn, have a high glycemic index.  You can’t tell from looking at a food, or tasting it, how fast it’s going to release its sugar.  You need the chart for that.

You can read all about the glycemic index here:  http://www.whatfoodsarelowgi.com/

And here are a couple of charts from the same source.

Here’s what happens if you go on a calorie restricted diet.  Keep in mind that we evolved as a species that was subjected to feast and famine conditions.  So the minute you cut down on calories, your body goes into survival mode.  It does three things:

1.  This could get dangerous.  Maybe I can’t find food for some time.  I’d better conserve energy.  So let’s make this body sluggish and lethargic and sleepy.  You feel downright sick.

2.  I may need my body fat for later.  That’s my emergency food supply, and this could develop into an emergency.  But I don’t seem to be using the muscles very much.  So I’ll burn the muscles to get the energy I need to stay above room temperature, and I’ll hang on to the fat in case things get worse.

3.  This body needs motivation to find some calories because I’m starving.  So let’s manufacture some cravings.

So that’s the story.  If you go on a calorie restricted diet, you feel sluggish, weak, and sick.  You eat your muscles and hang on to your fat.  Even though you seem to lose a lot of weight, much of the weight you lose is muscle, which weighs more than fat, so your fat to muscle ratio goes up.  And finally, after a month or so on the diet, fighting cravings all the way, you get tired or don’t have the willpower to hold out against the urge to eat, so you devour the entire birthday cake that was in the fridge.  Now you feel like a failure and fall right back into the bad habits that made you fat in the first place.

What’s worse, the fat you did manage to lose has simply been emptied out of the cells.  Those cells haven’t gone.  It will take years for your body to actually re-assimilate the cells themselves.  They’ve just been emptied.  Your body doesn’t need to manufacture the whole cell to make you fat again. They can fill up very quickly.  So the end result is that you soon become fatter than ever, with an increase in fat to muscle ratio.  No wonder the diet industry does so well with their fat farm business.  It doesn’t work.  They get a lot of repeat customers.

Disclaimer:  I’m not an expert on any of this.  I’ve just absorbed information through the years.  I’d welcome any comments that verify or refute what I’ve said here.

More soon.  It’s almost time for me to climb on that elliptical again.

Speaking of the elliptical, Ruth and I bought a fitness center quality elliptical trainer over three years ago.  I had a number of worries about doing that.  I worried that I wouldn’t use it, and so would be wasting my money.  I worried that I would use it, and would hate using it.  I worried that it would sit in our living room, a constant rebuke for my lack of dedication to exercise.  But the machine has turned out to be one of the best investments we’ve ever made.  Ruth has used it every day since we bought it.  I was strict for some time, but was getting slack recently.  I would skip exercising on those days when I had classes.  But since I’ve started on this program, I’m using it every day.
Ruth just commented that the exercise feels good to her, and she doesn’t mind using the machine at all.  I’m not quite there, but I can tolerate it, and it does make me feel good when I do it.  A bit like hitting myself on the head with a brick – it feels so good when I stop.  But the health benefits of regular exercise, half an hour a day, are indisputable.

All of this said, if you don’t have the money, or don’t want, to buy an exercise machine, you certainly don’t need to own one to be on this body shaping program.  Just go for a brisk walk each morning before breakfast.  As the video Elaine linked us to explains, you can’t lose weight just by exercising.  It’s impossible.  In my 31 minutes each morning I burn between 500 and 600 calories.  That’s the energy in 5 large apples.  I just looked that up and it’s better than I thought.  But that’s not as much energy as in one big Mac (not that I’d ever eat a big Mac)

Elaine sent us a link to this Horizons program about exercise, and the new scientific discoveries being made about its effectiveness.

Very interesting, and I’m giving some thought to the value of our exercise regime.  But the most impressive part of this program is the fat that can be centrifuged out out from the blood, floating at the top of the test tube.  That is motivational.

Finally got on the elliptical.  I first mentioned it at about nine this morning.  It was ten to two in the afternoon by the time I actually started the workout.  My how the Internet sucks my time up like a temporal vacuum cleaner.

This afternoon:  604 calories in 31 minutes.   Feeling not quite the usual energy after a cheater day, but then I didn’t absorb the usual amount of sugar yesterday.  Time to fix myself some breakfast.  Got brown rice cooked, some veggies, and some skinless chicken breast.  Sounds yummy.

And it was.

We just got back from shopping.  It’s getting a lot simpler.  We bought skinless chicken breasts, bamboo shoots, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, garlic, brown rice, skimmed milk for making cottage cheese, one lean beef for soup stock.  I’m about to make that cottage cheese.  Ruth is marinating chicken breasts.  I have two poached ready for my breakfasts.

Best batch of cottage cheese so far.  Just wonderful.  I’m not sure what it is, a combination of getting the temperature right and not adding any more vinegar than necessary, plus more salt this time.  Anyway, I could just eat it all with a spoon.

That’s it for tonight.

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