When I was 16, I took my boyfriend Chris to meet my grandfather, Robert Bourbon Bunyan Maples (aka "Bob") of Ojai, California. Bob came from Texas to California in a covered wagon in 1904, when he was four years old -- and he was a character like something out of a book.
Two decades later, Chris told me the main thing he remembered about the man was his repeated insistence to us (having watched some inspiring documentary just before we arrived) -- while dangerously waving his large cane for emphasis -- that we have sheep in our eyebrows!
I can see how that might stay with someone.
It embarrassed the hell out of me at 16, but seemed hilariously sweet in retrospect, when grandpa was gone.
From the time I was five years old, he'd make me read the newspaper to any fool crazy enough to get near. ("She's smart as a whip!" he used to say to everyone.) And he loved to give advice. When I got older and I was around 17, he loved to opine to me while driving. Especially about driving.
"When pulling out of a turn," he intoned as he took the circular curve of an on-ramp, "You have to feel the car," he says, as the 'pull' from the end of the hard curve took us. "Then accelerate out of the curve." To example this, he promptly accelerated to about Mach 2 just as we reached the 101 Freeway. (Given its daily percentage of PI lawyers, drug lords and movie stars, this went totally unnoticed.)
I felt both terror and trust. We were like my once-favorite Roadrunner cartoon, but in an old American car only slightly smaller and lighter than an Abrams tank.
I later came to consider his advice an aphorism of sorts:
After all the twists and turns one goes through, when you finally see the road is straightening out ahead, that's not the time to relax from the stress, it's the time to get ready. Use the stress at the end as something to push off from, put some power into it and get yourself on the straight and narrow.
Well, it makes sense to me, anyway.
I'm just about there now, with health and nutrition. I won't lie, I am frankly exhausted, emotionally, from the effort it has taken over years to try and figure out what went horribly wrong with my body, my diet, my health, where my energy went (where my damned hair went!) and so on.
But this isn't the time to let go or relax. I think I may actually see the highway up ahead.
My Poster Child License Has Been Revoked
I quit blogging here for a long time. Even for years before that, it was nothing but barely. That's because I began this blog waxing-on about low-carb. VLC helped me lose 170 pounds and feel awesome.
Until it didn't. I "crashed" into fatigue and other health symptoms so severe I'm lucky I've survived.
Of course, you know what it's like: One day I'm the Poster Child for VLC and the next day you must have been doing it wrong.
Well, clearly whatever I was doing was wrong for my body. But I was pretty damn successful with eating the expected foods and getting the expected results... initially.
We could back-seat drive the "what-if's" all day to no useful end.
I am fairly rejecting of the medical system. This is due to my being a little bit 'Type A' personality ("I'm fine!" I once hollered as nicely as I could at a nurse, while ordering an overnight delivery of a new laptop computer to my hospital bed so I could continue work. Seriously). But it's mostly due to my having utterly lost respect for allopathic medicine's expertise on anything beyond rescuing one from the most acute version of poison or injury or something gone amuck to the far extreme. And even in those categories, it's more that they simply hold the legal monopoly of access and power for the equipment and elements needed. They still rate very low on the common sense list of treatment strategies in my view, even then.
My family loves doctors. They believe everything they see on TV or are told by someone in a white coat. They all end up on chronic medication (sometimes multiple), missing minor organs (as if any organ is minor), and gradually getting sicker at a financially-lucrative-for-pharma slow pace, opining to me sometimes -- as if this means anything -- that they are sick "because they're getting old" (even if they're in their 40s) or that their chronic skin cancers have nothing to do with the fact that they've been taking rat poison daily for years and can't have vitamin K, no, the doctor explained it's because they were out in the sun a lot as a kid. (Insert facepalm here.) Don't get me started.
So, I didn't go to the doctor. Anybody else with even half the severity of my post-VLC symptoms would probably have been on their way to a whole list of tests and labels and medications.
But me, I just sat motionless (it was all I could do) and used google to search, and read, and search and read. Every night, every week, every month, every season, for a long time, years really, though I cycled through brief bouts of optimistic ideas (which failed) during that. I was trying to learn more about what my body might be missing and how I could fix it. Along the way I also found a lot of fascinating substances and techs and historical people and nutrients and so forth.
I even discovered that the "unique" elements of my weight (and that of both sides of my family, though I am the far extreme) are in fact predictable and part of a known syndrome/disease (lipedema) with a huge estimate of affected women. Something which diet and exercise won't 'correct' (explaining why I lost 170# and none in those areas!) and for which there is no known cure.
Excuse me while I leap from this ledge.
But moving on: whatever the solution, I knew one thing: VLC worked great for losing weight and feeling great, right up until it didn't. Maybe partly because of my lipedema, but maybe just because.
Then my job went insane and for 10 months I worked so many hours I didn't have time to pee regularly let alone eat regularly. I annihilated what was left of my health, working from bed until I fell asleep on my laptop around 3-4 am, woke up and continued around 7am, seven days a week for six months. A few less hours a week 6 days a week for another four months. My best friend yelled at me more than once that a cocaine habit would have been less destructive to my life and health, my kid all but flunked out of school while I obviously wasn't looking closely enough, my web coding projects fell to pieces, my friends huffed off telling me when I felt like being a friend again to get in touch, since I hadn't answered an email or called in months -- in short, it ruined "the rest" of every area of my life that the health-crash following from my eating plan 'diet success' hadn't already covered.
Once I finally had some hours back in my life -- and a lot less active web projects or friends, alas -- I wanted to blog a little more. My fatigue was even worse by then, by far. But I didn't have much to say about food that wasn't either depressing or confused. And that's not the kind of stuff I want to share.
I would like to have shared some of the stuff I was reading about a given nutrient or DIY-health idea. But with a blog called "The Divine Low-Carb" it seemed ridiculous to be blogging here if I didn't have anything to say about low-carb.
By the time I finally started reading the blogs I had before in the LC/Paleo world (both back "when I had hope" and was blogging sometimes, and before the Google Reader debacle where I lost all my RSS feeds), I realized I was right in line with lots of other formerly VLC people who'd had similar results. All the things I thought were only about me turned out to be embarrassingly predictable.
Still, I suspect it is as much about the accumulated nutritional status and integrity of the body when someone takes VLC on, than the eating approach itself, that leads to whatever end result someone has.
None of us have a clear idea how healthy our organs are, or how nutrient replete we are with everything down to the spectrum of amino acids. It's a black-box situation.
I suspect we are all on a long road to understanding what works vs. doesn't for our bodies, and even what does work or doesn't at one point may change later.
I Missed Congeniality
In the last couple years in particular, I have learned something important from folks in lowcarb forums. I forgot how much I missed them when not visiting those worlds.
Lowcarb is the most awesome community of good people on the internet. I've been on the 'net since 1993, and I've been part of many and owned several forums, and I'm telling you from a solid base of experience that most the people in the low-carb world are just inexplicably really nice people.
Especially compared to the internet at large. Whatever else that eating plan is doing for the world, it is at the least a great contribution to a sense of community.
And guess what? It turns out, they don't care if me or others are still eating lowcarb or not. They actually learn to like people for being people -- imagine that!
A lot of the people in the "low-carb" forums I lurk in or post in are not even LC at all. Some are paleo, some are even Weight Watchers or vegetarians or whatever.
Because once people get to know each other, the detail of whether someone else might be eating honey becomes irrelevant. It doesn't have to be religious dogma by which all others are judged.
Carbism: the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be eating a potato.
Many people I know have "cycled through" nearly every diet book and approach there is. Hell it's their body anyway, not mine, so who cares, sheesh. Right?
That's the way it should be in every food community. It's not, I know. And maybe there are corners of LC where it's not, also. But in the main forums I visit (dominantly Active Lowcarbers [for my journal] and Lowcarb Friends [where I'm mostly a lurker]), that's mostly the way it is.
The people there are just Really. Damn. Nice.
Now that I am "accelerating out of the curve" and onto something a lot more like "an actual life" again, at a very low level yet the best I've had since about 2008, I've decided to take up occasional blogging again.
I had previously (a few years ago) revised this with a big caveat that it was not-a-diet-blog. But now, at some point in the next month or three, I'm going to rename this blog something else, as soon as I think of what. That will change the address too, alas, but with a bunch of fancy footwork I think I can work it out.
Suggestions for a new name welcome. I don't want it to be about food or nutrition solely, I just want it to include that, along with anything interesting to me. Maybe I should just make it my name. That seems dull!
Lions and Tigers and Bears
So just lately, I've been reading so much about the "gut biome" that my eyeballs keep falling out.
I'm excited for the simple reason that this falls into the crack of what I have not yet tried.
So, it's got enormous "potential."
My growing "food intolerances" suggest this may be critically important. I've heard some people say they actually resolved their food intolerances by repairing their gut biome. Literally that the things that used to give them major 'gluten-ing' symptoms now don't. That's stunning! Wow, if that's true, that's amazing.
It turns out our entire body especially gut is filled with teeming hordes of bacteria who are living like whole forests and jungles of creatures, or whole cities and planets of life. An entire sub-cosmic ecosystem.
Wars of hand to hand combat and devious intrigue are going on in our guts all the time, with lives that cover the space of minutes or an hour in our timescale, and we don't even notice.
Our gut environment is affected by food and even stress. I bet it functions like the mysterious will of the Far Being Retzglaran inside: Luck, synchronicity (and the inexplicable Will of the Divine) to the life within.
I find it kind of amazing. We have a whole universe of creatures -- inside our intestines!
And sheep in our eyebrows. Right! :-)
Friday, November 2
Insanity is relative.
Insanity is MY relatives. Let's talk about the teen.
Ry is 16 years old now. She is amazing, awesome, beautiful, and also miserably infuriating, and capable of making me want to rage, weep, despair, and implode with love, within any 15 minute time-span.
My parenting sucks. I need to work on being much more disciplined with her; she is horribly inconsiderate of me in so many ways, that 'entitlement psychology' that drives me mad.
A lot of it really IS 'energy' issues on my part. When you barely have the energy to get up and pee, never mind take a shower or drive to the store, then having the energy to fight with your teenager (and constantly get up and stalk them to make sure they do stuff and nag them for the 1.2 billion things they screw up or half-ass do) is easier said than done. But, I know it is what it is. My not feeling particularly up to it most of the time does not excuse me from being responsible for it.
Sometimes I get so angry and everything about her behavior just seems so wrong. One day, in the middle of ranting at her about something I can't even recall, I remembered the lyrics to a Linkin Park song I like -- archetypal teenage angst. The lyrics, made succinct here:
Tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface
Don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
Can't you see that you're smothering me
Holding too tightly afraid to lose control
Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you
Every step that I take is another mistake to you
And every second I waste is more than I can take
Caught in the undertow just caught in the undertow
And I know I may end up failing too
But I know you were just like me
With someone disappointed in you
I've become so numb I can't feel you there
Become so tired so much more aware
I'm becoming this all I want to do
Is be more like me and be less like you
-- 'Numb' by Linkin Park
And I realized that what I really wanted to do was shake her while yelling, "Be more like ME dammit!"
At that point, I realized the black humor of it all.
Teenage Fat and Self Esteem
She has fought obesity, eventually to morbid obesity. I can't take back the past and my own ignorance and thinking that a lot of stuff was "not a big deal," and thinking that my inability to lose weight in the areas that turn out to define 'Lipoedema' and my inability to handle carbs without weight gain was unique to me. Like I was some alien circus creature and surely "everyone else" wasn't that way. After all, I was surrounded by people who ate 10x worse than I did and they were normal, or at least much smaller. So much for that logic. Some of them are now huge.
I didn't get fat until my early 20s. I had a little chub that hit hard and fast at 13, but it fell off me when I hit 15, 'baby fat' they called it. And she seemed to have more her father's body shape and coloring than mine. So I never expected it of her. By the time it was overwhelmingly obvious that something had gone wildly wrong in her metabolism, she was a pre-teen and the damage was done.
Our house was already mostly low-carb and mostly gluten-free by then. At that point it was more a matter of wanting to support her and let food focus be her own decision. Wanting to NOT be like mothers of my friends, who told me that their own mom's response to their weight when young was far more horrifying than the weight itself. I told her everything I could about low-carb but how too much of that for me had been an issue so maybe it should be moderated; about emphasis on fresh foods, good fats like coconut oil, and lifting weights. Basically, the things I was reading about at any given time.
That doesn't mean that she has been able to do something successfully before now. Or be willing to do something even 'with me', even when I was willing just for the sake of helping her. It has to come from her, I have learned that the hard way.
To say that the effects of fat on her self esteem are radical is an understatement.
It has been hard for me to understand. By comparison, I was a fairly confident, slightly intellectual, barely-starting martial arts enthusiast, a manager in my workplaces from the time I began working, and a performing artist since I was a child. It turns out I am more an introvert than I realized (when I got to know myself, my psych rating changed from ENTJ to INTP/J). But she is none of that.
She really is nothing like me in many ways.
When I was around 24 and suddenly the social world of strangers began treating me like some especially gross gum on the bottom of their shoe, I was at first perplexed (how could anybody not know that I was cool?), and then enraged (how could they have the gall to look down on me?) and then mortified (if I stand behind the column in this shopping mall for another 10 minutes, those women I used to know in high school will leave). That is to say... I dealt with it poorly.
But, once I got over nearly putting a bullet in my head about it, I was ok. I just focused on work. That's what dad said he did when his (now on #5) marriages went to hell. If you work enough, you don't have time to focus on, think about, anything else. And everyone you are around defines you primarily by your work, not by your weight, at least to some degree. So I became a workaholic.
I'm working normal hours now. Probably temporary. But I'm trying to focus on fiction writing which 'feeds my soul' in some fashion, in my personal time. Still, it's true I'm affected by my weight, psychologically and socially, but except in rare moments of angst, it's more in the background for me.
Not for her. It is up front and center for her.
I didn't deal with fat nearly as poorly as she did, in her own way, though. She got it when self-esteem was still developing. Fat has had an emotional and psychological impact on her that it never had on me, because I had long grown past formative years (including response from boys) when it arrived.
She claims shyness, and "a degree of social anxiety." I don't know what to believe, since the latter often seems to overlap with her not wanting to go anywhere or do anything and seems like a lazy-excuse. All I know is that she has been seriously harmed up by the situation, via more than just her figure.
Teenage Self-Imposed Dieting, Exercising, Intermittent Fasting
On her own, since she is in that "never comes out of her room" phase, she has shifted to a 'fairly low-carb' eating plan on her own, lifts weights, and works hard on practicing IF, or Intermittent Fasting.
Of course, she is 16. She is an artist (impressively so), which to my Virgo x4 logical mind appears to translate in our lives as "never does anything properly, won't study anything thoroughly, makes a mess of every environment, and is the laziest human alive." I think work and study are The Answer(tm). Clearly, she doesn't. So, getting her to "do these things right" and "truly understand them" is a lost cause.
She does "something" and she's not particularly consistent and she's not particularly severe about it.
But, I'm one of those people who was consistent and severe and ended up with seemingly new problems thanks to 'overdoing' VLC and 'underdoing' rich-nutrition, I suspect. So, it's possible that her doing it "mostly" and screwing it up "to a degree and sometimes" is actually the far-healthier approach!
- She eats lowish carb. Except when she doesn't. Mostly she tries to keep her carbs to vegetables, legumes, and rarely fruits, and what comes in certain dairy.
- She eats high fat. That is to say she eats to satiation, and is directly responsible for increasing stock prices in the Daisy Dairy company for their cottage cheese and sour cream products.
- She eats meat as the base of any meal.
- She tries to eat once a day, as much as she can, until she is totally full. She may blow it and have a protein shake or something else very LC in the middle of that sometimes. Once a week, she tries to fast for 30 hours instead of 24.
- When she can gather up the gumption, she does the lifts I have insisted are the foundation of fitness: we don't have a bench and she's using only dumbbells, so: deadlifts, squats, arnold press, and then some messing-around things (e.g. side bends, shoulder shrugs, calf raises).
At least, she tells me she is doing this, and that this is why my weights are not in the living room where I want them to be. Since she is holed up in her room like a train robber evading the posse, I will have to take her word on it.
She has lost from around 283# to 240#. (She is 5'6".) She's excited about that, but it's been a bit slow going, probably because she probably has too many calories when lowcarb, and too many carbs when normal on calories, and she is likely seldom if ever truly ketogenic, due to not retaining the <35g carbs daily for long enough to get there more than the tiny dip during sleep or something.
Still, it is a very visible improvement all over her body, and she's so hopeful. The more I read about how weight regain is nearly inevitable and so on, the more when I think of her I feel an incredible rage. I want her to have a life and be proud of herself and feel good. She is young. Surely if there is hope for anybody truly losing it and being able to keep it off, it ought to be her.
Food and Stuff
I had cans of white meat chicken that I store for emergencies, quick protein and kitty treat. Now I can't keep the stuff. She's discovered if she drains it, and fries it with spices, it becomes a diced/flaked chicken she can mix with lots of other things, eat plain, put in salads, whatever. It's surprisingly good.
It's this stuff. At amazon if you buy the 10oz can, 12pk, on subscribe with prime, it's basically the same price as Super Walmart. Except they deliver it to your door.
Initially I thought, I'm not fond of this as her primary food, since I am prejudiced against canned food, and it's expensive as hell for me as a 'primary' food, and surely fresh chicken is better. But she doesn't want to cook quite that much if she doesn't have to. So she's living on canned chicken, ground (organic) turkey burger, and (factory) chuck-burger, along with enough 'soft-dairy' for a Vermont advertising model.
She's fond of the Greek seasoning I get her from Penzey's, and herbed crumbled feta cheese. She likes basic italian seasonings, and Montreal steak seasoning. She still doesn't like eggs, but she doesn't mind them "in" things. She uses canned diced green chilis, and sliced black olives, both in large quantity. And shredded mild cheddar cheese... and she never met anything that cream cheese didn't make better. Sometimes turkey pastrami sliced at the grocer deli. She's getting more courageous experimenting with spices.
She drinks only water, since she says she can guarantee a facial zit for every few drinks of any soda, almost predictably. She eats salads with ranch dressing sometimes. That's about all I can think to say about her eating since I don't actually SEE most of it. I have to work 9-10 hours a day, and sleep, and some computer stuff, which means the only time I might actually be sharing her life in the early evening, she is usually locked away in her room, playing WoW or SIMS or drawing.
But it's working for her...
She's losing weight. She's measurably smaller. She feels optimistic about it.
And if she does every individual thing not so well to begin with, and blows it entirely off and on, well it might be that this actually does her more help than harm in the end.
Because what she's doing is working. She had almost given up hope. She felt desperate and demoralized. She felt like she had nothing left to lose. Now she feels better.
I consider this a great thing.
Thursday, May 24
I remember the shocking and memorable photograph that science writer Gary Taubes showed in his book "Good Calories, Bad Calories," to help make the point of obesity as "a disorder of excess fat accumulation" -- a concept and phrase I had never heard before his book. The picture showed a woman who was nearly emaciated on the top half of her body, and more than just plus-size on the bottom half, a drastic difference that left her looking like some old-style carnival attraction. Which half of that woman "ate too much and moved too little?"
I recall I had to take time out of my ranting to friends about what I was reading, to sit in stunned silence over some of the profound "reversal of paradigms" about health and obesity in that book. They were ideas I had never heard before. I credit him for educating me, but the writing was a tribute to the fact that a lot of things have been known for decades, even over a century -- but are carefully ignored, like that elephant in the living room on AA commercials, where everyone pretends the overwhelmingly obvious problem is not there.
Apparently the Germans were on the right track, 75 years ago, but the world was so yonked about the war, the USA just started much of obesity science all over again, this time in English -- and this time, from the armchair of emotional psychology, rather than from the science lab of biochemistry. Oh sure, that's what the world needs -- more Puritan-guilt about biblical sins such as gluttony and sloth, to displace any objective reasoning -- like how some animals have similar metabolisms and results, even though they can't buy ice cream when upset and they get along very well with their mothers.
Until the Taubes book, my maternal family's experience with being obese, morbidly obese, and severely obese, was as much like the "official government and health agency" story of fat as my seriously dysfunctional, lower-middle-class family was like television's Brady Bunch. I watched that surreal sitcom as a child with the kind of fascinated awe normally reserved for ancient pyramids and alien-looking sea creatures. How bizarre! How does that happen? Is that real?? Tell me more! It was a lot like the official version of dieting, where in inspired frenzy, desperately hopeful people can calculate precisely how many calories they will be not-eating, and allegedly burning-off, for that simple formula and a promised happy ending. Except you never get your money back with that guarantee.
There is only one body-theology in the church of whole-grains and calories amen. The government-ordained priests of health are now the High Interpretive Intercessors between the layman and science. Doctors in white coats shake their heads at how you cannot possibly be telling the truth or the magic would have happened, and when your 4.9 minutes of personal attention are up, you can get a prescription for statins that for most people won't much help (and for many, especially women, do actual harm) -- drugs that are, except in rare cases, ridiculously unnecessary since several nutrients you need anyway and an eating plan called "real food" will fix you. But the world is expected to abide by the mantra of "eat less and move more," and if that doesn't work out any better for you than it does for most of the rest of planet earth, the front desk can provide a new photocopy of a diet that'd make even perky Marcia Brady want to leap from a ledge.
Then, call it gut-instinct, but you know when it's coming: a nurse (often obese) will express astonishment when you say no, you are not planning to have someone slice open your guts and profoundly screw up your ability to digest nutrients in the name of your being less fat. (Not lean. Just less fat.) Not counting the majority of people you may know who tried it and who are now dead, miserable or as fat as they ever were, there's that little thing about months or years of ongoing nightmare 'complications' followed by doom. As the ultimate in black irony, all those eons of horror followed by death are used as 'success' stories by the "gosh we don't collect those statistics" business world... a surgical industry nearly to the point of drive-thru bypass, even for children. And we thought medieval medicine was appalling. I'll take some Eye of Newt over that, any day.
That doesn't even start on the bozos who want to re-define 'obesity' as compulsive eating -- troubled psychology, and wrong assumptions to boot -- not biology.
The official doctrine of nutrition is right there in college textbooks. Science that was out of date decades ago (and things that were never good science, and things that were never even pretending to be science) are in today's college nutrition textbooks, teaching the people who will be doctors and nutritionists (a single-word oxymoron of the times) later. Frustrated at the fight to educate those who should already know better today? Guess what, you'll still be doing it at least a decade from now.
It's said that science advances one funeral at a time; that not until the 'old guard' of science paradigms die off does allowance of new findings truly come about, but we've improved on that model. Now education sits in textbook pedagogical gridlock, and "remains consistent" a few million funerals at a time, giving advice that was ignorant and dangerous in the 1970's and helped shift a whole culture into diabetes overdrive, but is still being taught in 2012.
Don't believe me? Pick three major textbook publishers. Get a university-level nutrition textbook from each. Read 'em and weep. Probably that author was taught that decades ago. Probably their textbook author was taught it before then. The authors in 10-20 years are being taught by the books today. You gotta admit, it's impressive--even those sponsoring holy books have to work hard to maintain so much consistency over time.
Nutrition has become a state-sponsored religion. Authorities tell us what science says. I read the language of science, although with serious limits (and limits on journals I cannot begin to afford), and I read the blogs of scientists, doctors and specialists who know the subject and review such things, and I find it just fascinating how science so often doesn't say anything like what the abstract, or the title, or the press release, or the media, or the government, tells the public it says. Or even what the books say, as Denise Minger so eloquently outlined. (For sure, keep avoiding cholesterol and eating grains: somewhere, a cardiologist needs a new sportscar, and you can help each other out before long.)
The congregation of people who are ill or fat are expected to have "faith," even when the official advice doesn't work. Even when it's so far from working it's not even humor anymore. The experts who represent the divine ideal of science will tell us what we need to know and if they say it works, no amount of obvious results saying otherwise matter. It is sacrilege to question the government-approved, agency-represented, and conflict-of-interest funded experts: those whose advice has so spectactularly failed to treat an epidemic of overweight and obesity, that it's now a pandemic of an entire spectrum of nutritional-deficiency diseases, of which issues like obesity (and now even morbid- and super-obesity) are merely one part.
The public wants to believe, because they want a solution, who wouldn't? Follow the paint-by-number plan, the slogans and logos... follow the money. The magazines make it all seem fun. There are even diet dinners (with heavy carbs on the side) frozen for your convenience. If it works, you'll be thin! Awesome.
- Then strangers shopping won't look at you like you're more vile than an ax-murderer, despite your attempts to wear large loose dark shrouds of clothing that will not offend them with details.
- Then people who sublimate all their racism, sexism, nationalism and other -ism's into the one "allowed and encouraged" ism of fat-ism will target elsewhere, not knowing that once upon a time you were in that very crowd of untouchables.
- You won't be walking through a world where lean people get to sit down and rest, but fat people can't because all the chairs have arms and you don't fit.
- You won't pay for two plane tickets with seats that have hard, curved bottom and back edges, so with high weight pressing against your back and the middle of one buttock, the hours of tense spinal distortion in turbulence costs you a fortune and leaves you crippled.
- All those planes and trains with bathrooms you can't even use because you're too wide will be a thing of the past. (You can "hold it" for three days, right? I once had to. Thanks, Amtrak.)
We're a culture-wide Stockholm Syndrome of fat. Even many of the victims of horrible nutritional advice and barbaric bariatic practices join in condescending identification with the very health agencies instructing us to eat a majority of carbohydrates for carbohydrate-spawned diseases like diabetes (rather like taking more arsenic to cure arsenic poisoning); the very researchers (and peer reviewers) whose approach to science is so bad my 8th grade chemistry teacher would have sent them to the hall; the very medical experts who guide us toward the most brain-opiate drug-addicting and digestive-destroying foods (it's no coincidence that the agency dedicated to supporting the USA grain industry is also the agency insisting on all those grains in the diet...); and let's not forget the official "latest nutrition standards" that fail on more points of real science than they've ever represented.
In war, in terrain combat, it has long been known that killing the enemy is just poor planning. The better goal is to disable an individual sufficiently that at least two or more other soldiers have to change their focus away from fighting, and toward keeping that soldier alive and reaching medical care. The same war-logic works for medicine: the goal is neither to cure nor to kill, both of which remove the consumer's financial usefulness, but to "treat" an ongoing (and ideally slowly degenerating, so it requires more drugs and more procedures for more issues over time) collection of maladies that ensure paying customers forever.
"There is no cure of course, but you'll die if you don't buy this prescription!" -- Best. Marketing. Slogan. Ever.
Here's a few little things I didn't learn from official sources.
The average weight gain of the 'obesity epidemic' hysteria is only about 7-10 pounds. As this is on a population bell curve, of course any increase even fairly small would mean a great increase in numbers. So when they say "the number of obese people has doubled!!" that is technically true, but it sure sounds much more extreme than "on average, the population has gained 7-10 pounds."
The obesity increase is not evenly distributed. It correlates with genetics, although more research is needed on this. Next time you read about someone who could not adopt a child because they were too overweight, or editorials on why fat kids should be removed from family, or teenagers surgically gutted "for their own good," or why insurance should cost more, jobs should be less available, public transportation is fairly unavailable or unaffordable to fat people, consider that this is not evenly applied: some genetic lines are going to be in the cross-hairs of that focus, and others barely so.
"...it turns out actually that these really obese kids are concentrated in particular ethnic groups and the gene pools are different in different ethnic groups," said Dr. Jeffrey Friedman, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller University. "...some of the most powerful evidence that this is a biological problem and not a "behavioral one" (in quotation marks) is genetics. And so there are a number of ways to assess the genetic contributions to a trait. It turns out if you look for obesity it is probably the second most heritable trait, second only to height, with which it is quite close. Based on estimates that can be done by analyzing twins, 80 percent of the variability in weight can be accounted for by genetic factors." Anybody in the real world knows that some people get huge quickly and with little effort while some eat everything in sight and are beanpoles, but it's nice to see someone like this guy recognize this also. "...So when you see a very obese person walking down the street there’s a very, very significant possibility that that individual just has a genetic alteration that makes them so."
If I mention that obesity is also correlated with poverty, I bet you can guess at least some of the races more prone to obesity (and morbid- and super- obesity) than others. Like the world needs institutionalized prejudice wrapped into everything else, right?
"Calorie math" is humor when applied to much of the morbid- and super- obese population. Even after gastric bypass, even after weight loss, even in a metabolic ward, very obese people can survive on less than 'starvation calories' and still not lose any further bodyfat. Really? Are we sure they aren't just lying about their food? Yes, we're sure. Friedman (the modern science rock star whose lab discovered the hormone Leptin), was talking about gastric bypass patients when he said: "...there’s another feature of this surgery that people, I think, ignore, and it’s this: when you do this procedure you limit the intake of a person to about 700 calories a day. Just so you know, none of you could consume 700 calories a day for very long; it is a very small number of calories. Despite that fact, these people still end up being clinically obese at the other end of the procedure. They lose a lot of weight but they would still on average be definable as significantly obese on average after the procedure." "...If they’re consuming 700 calories every day they’re going to be expending more than that. And so what you would find, you would expect to see is as long as they’re that imbalanced they’re going to keep losing and losing and losing and losing. That’s not what happens in these people; they plateau and they stop losing weight at what is definable as a significantly obese level. Now, if I had that procedure you probably wouldn’t see me in profile anymore because I would just get so thin. That’s not what happens to these people and it appears that in the face of reduced intake the body shuts down caloric expenditure and they can’t lose any more weight." "...Now think about it, they’re eating 700 calories a day and they’re still obese. I mean if that doesn’t say that there’s something metabolically different about the obese than the lean, I don’t know what does."
The Taubes book recounted research where fat rats were starved until they died, and the autopsy showed they still had lots of fat: their body literally sacrificed vital organs to spare the fat. Apparently the "eat less and move more" philosophy didn't work for them either.
Here's something fairly new to me: there's an "incurable disease" called Lipoedema--it tends to occur in familes. Although it was named in the USA, it's profoundly under-diagnosed here. You'll never guess how this condition is described officially: "a disorder of excess fat accumulation." Wow, where have I heard that before?! Right: the Taubes book. It turns out this was already known in 1940, when researchers at the Mayo Clinic coined the term -- yet it's nearly unheard of 70 years later. I thought he'd just found a picture of something incredibly rare but telling. It's more than that, as it turns out.
This affects women. Fat accrues between the upper pelvis and ankles (and in ~30% of the cases, arms). The feet are oddly free of it, as if the 'fat suit' only goes to the ankles. The upper body can range from skeletal to morbidly obese, but is not directly involved in the condition, so the top-half of the woman is often vastly smaller than the bottom half. Looks pretty weird. I know because I have a mirror, and other family members who in varying degrees look the same.
It's official with the condition: Diet will not make this fat go away. Even anorexics will merely look exactly like that picture in the Taubes book: skeletal on top, still hugely fat on the bottom. Exercise does not make it go away. Even gastric bypass surgery and the following starvation from that does not make it go away: patients will simply lose weight on the top half of the body, and still be very fat on the bottom. Much like I lost lots of weight on low-carb: pretty much all on the top half of the body. Between loose skin and disproportional fat storage, 'losing weight' just makes one look more like a mutant.
On the bright side, the fat is as far from the vital organs as it can get. On the down side, the fat will keep accruing, especially if the person doesn't get diagnosed (so they are unaware of the situation), and especially if they simply keep dieting, in ever-more try-anything-desperation. Plenty of research backs the ways the body adjusts half a dozen biological parameters to arrange weight regain--which in this case, even if lost off the top half of the body, is likely to return on the bottom, and be trapped there forever.
Fat cells are not inert luggage: they put out hormones and enzymes and affect the entire body. No matter how otherwise seemingly-healthy the person is, guess what happens when they are eventually 100+ pounds overweight "in the hips to ankles?" Their whole body is affected, and additional serious obesity is likely. This condition is hormonal (starts around puberty, although not always apparent then, and kicks in more strongly after a major hormonal event(s)), and it's clearly a disorder of fat accumulation -- the body will not release that energy no matter what.
The human body normally stores energy in fat cells and gives it back to build the body or as motive energy. The weight of a human may naturally vary at least slightly with the seasons. But in this case, both of those things merely add to this fat-bottom-half condition. The fat can form big lumps that interfere with sitting and walking. The fat is often very sensitive, with painful bruising on minor pressure, not helped by growing weight and size from the fat itself as you might imagine. And eventually it can begin to crush the lymphatic system of the legs, leading to an even more dangerous and miserable secondary disease condition called Lymphadema.
I bet you're thinking, "Yeah, but stuff like that is rare." Think again. It's estimated at least 11% of adult women have this. Leaving out women under 15 or over 64 for a moment, we have an estimated 103 million women in the USA. The obesity percentage for adult women is "over 60 percent" so let's say 60% of that is nearly 62 million. (Which reminds me, if public transportation is funded in part by taxes, and the majority of the population is fat, how come fat people can't fit in the bathrooms on public transportation, or have to pay double to be crippled by the only option?) Let's say only 10% have this condition: that's over 10 million people. Odd this is so unknown, given those numbers.
Is anybody diagnosing this and informing women -- before cutting them open in dangerous-to-deadly weight-loss surgeries -- that it won't even affect their primary obesity? Is anybody diagnosing this before various other situations punish them for not being able to get thin? Is it considered before needed surgeries are refused "until they lose some weight?" It's not surprising that the casual world is full of people who will yell "Fat ass!" without concern for the cause of someone's fat, but how come the medical field is doing their equivalent of the same thing?
To put this in perspective by numbers, breast cancer affects just under 12% of women, so it's nearly the same number. 12 million Americans are estimated infected with Hepatitis B. AIDS in the USA has 'more than a million' cases. You hear a lot about those conditions, in part because vaccinations and "treatment drugs" can be sold for them. (Well, and because they are fatal.) There is no known cure for at least 10 million American women with the Lipoedema condition, who may gradually end up with horribly disabling and even fatal secondary results. There is not very much to sell so it's nearly a secret.
If it were better known, it might cause a lot of people to wonder if "dysregulation of fat accumulation" might be an important concept to focus on. They might wonder why that "eat less and move more" plan doesn't work as well as it should for most people. The bigger the person, the more this seems to be so.
Looking for cause and solution for this condition (which would be unusual, given the current focus on 'eternally treating symptoms' instead) might give insight into obesity across the board. Do the funding parties really want to know?
Much of my overly pear-shaped maternal family has Lipoedema. Several key elements of our bottom-half fat that I always thought made my family uniquely weird, turn out to be case-study obvious instead. Reading how "it has no cure" was demoralizing. But then I realized, I had already stumbled on that realization myself anyway. At least, "so far." That's what they say about diabetes as well, and paleo/lowcarb have reversed that in more cases than we can count.
But think about this: pretty much every other pathological 'disease condition' that mankind has ever found a true cause and cure for, has ended up being a severe ongoing (and perhaps multi-generational) deficiency of some nutrient(s). (At the least, disease is certainly not caused by a deficiency of surgery or drugs.) So perhaps yet-more focus on very dense absorbed nutrition will help. Who knows?
What I do know is that the human body is not math, it is biochemistry. I know that the science of stuffing a rodent with soybean trans-fats does not justify saying the rodent's poor health is why humans shouldn't eat steak. I know that modern wheat is a mutant that will make you eat more, mess with your brain in a few ways including addiction, and destroy many peoples' digestive systems, causing anything from joint pain to asthma to reflux to brain fog or depression to syndromes like IBS, and chronic inflammation, which contributes to many diseases, including to being too fat. And I know that medicine is the new religion, where science has become like the old Latin, with 'agency spokespeople' and doctors like priests who 'translate' for us and whom we are not expected to question.
I know that the health agencies are becoming mostly public relations "fronts," with the stalker strong-arm of organized crime available to them via government power, for global mega-corporations. I know that there are many things the public usually doesn't realize, though it's info openly available, such as how in USA and Britain most medium to hard dairy cheese is actually made with GMO soy rennet. I know that there is a spectrum of disease, many conditions, all likely related to improper nutrition and toxins, many of which the medical industry is officially pretending does not exist for years now (such as Morgellon's, chronic Lyme, and many others). I know that any approach or substance which is truly curative and threatens big money is likely to end up squashed and its discoverer curing people with it in prison, if he doesn't die from a conveniently tragic accident instead.
I know that the surreal disconnect between nutrition propaganda and biological reality has created the most intriguing mass psychology experiment since the WWII era. I know that the entire obesity topic is as much a sociological phenomenon as medical: no amount of evidence is sufficient to make most the public question the party line that is so overtly not working... and the identification with the sources of that party line, and the social prejudice against obese people, is endemic in our culture. In previous eras, the reasonings and groupings of propaganda and public acceptance were different, but the governing intent and public psychology seems eerily familiar. We may be doomed to repeat history for lack of understanding it, but we're doing so in creative new ways.
Gary Taubes released his first book on the review of the science for nutrition several years ago. After reading it, I figured it was a good thing it was long and dense, so you had to be a good reader for it: if the general public really absorbed the situation in the medical world, there might be riots at health agency doors. (His simpler book is "Why We Get Fat.") If you think the world banking situation is a racket, even that has little on the Machiavellian inverted-focus of illness-care... which is then used as a back door for ever-more frightening politics.
I thought the concept Taubes wrote about, the dysregulation of adipose tissue, was so novel. It explained so much -- finally, a model that fit the "reality" of experience for so many, including me. But it turns out that's been known to be an issue since 1940! So why was he the first person to really bring that to the public?
The number of people affected even by just this one condition (Lipoedema) is huge, literally over 1 in 10 adult women. Yet I still don't see any sign that the US or UK governments or their regulating agencies are even looking at this neon-obvious question of why, when the body stores energy as fat (which is normal), it then refuses to give back the energy in that fat (which is not normal, and means that energy stays stored as fat, accumulates, and the person has to eat more to get energy to keep functioning). So as Taubes put it, you don't get fat because you are eating more and moving less; you are eating more and moving less because you are getting fat. If the body wasn't refusing to release it from storage, neither of those other things would be happening.
Some things are known and help a lot, such as reducing insulin in the body, primarily by reducing carbohydrates, especially refined foods. Some other things, like how to "fix" the body if that alone doesn't do it, are unknown. Alas my "disease" won't make much money unless it stays uncured -- although the diet industry is doing unusually well.
When you see folks trying 'alternative' approaches they read on the internet (see the fascinating forum-websites earthclinic.com and curezone.com), consider that some people don't want to just sit around and get more miserable until they die. They actually want to feel better, imagine that. When the groups in our culture entrusted with guidance and science fail to serve those goals with any integrity, the public (or those with enough brains to question things, anyway) will look elsewhere.
The situation in illness-care in the USA and UK is nothing that religion hasn't shown us before. The answers are waiting for a little genuine investigation, some science ethics looking for solutions, not eternal drug dependencies. But like the Church and Galileo, current officials might get away with 300 more years of intentional ignorance, hidden by all that pontificating expertise. As long as they don't look through that scope, they will have "seen no evidence" of the reality so many of us live with every day.
P.S.: I have a number of 'experiments' with 'alternative nutrients and approaches' to various things that I'll be detailing here for friends over the next six months.