Reflections on Becoming an “Old Fucker”

When Time Runs Out

Yea, 30 is the new 20. 40 is the new 30. ...And 50?

See, that's a harder pill to swallow, at least to my mind. While there are innumerable rites associated with aging...and this has to go back eons, there's a point where in your own mind if nowhere else, you have to concede that the gig is up, and now you're an "elder" member of society.

And while there's a certain discontent, going from "the new 30s" to elder status in a day, there's also a certain embrace of the thing for me that I'm finding comfortable. Perhaps it's time. Can family and society be comprised only of "young people?" Can one still be young at heart while at very least, show some elder maturity; some wisdom; some sense that one has had some experiences, learned a lesson or two and that just perhaps, it's worth listening to?

This goes even to listening to one's self. I wish I'd an inkling 5-10 years ago of what I now understand as the constant cycling of global markets, rises and falls (randomness, in a word). I'd easily be 1/2 million richer. Instead, I find myself scrambling to recapture what I already had in my grasp (and bank account). Then again, the lesson I now take home seems not that far off from what I observed in terms of the behavior of my four grandparents who had survived a massive World War (that renders us all pussies in comparison, by mere circumstance), along with a global depression of huge proportion as icing. Most oft, I saw their behavior as outdated, fear motivated, or even quaint and cutely endearing. Not profoundly wise as I do now. My bust.

I'd have always loved to have been willing and of sufficient gut to be the big risk taker...so long as I came out on top; or alternatively, been quickly devastated so as to recognize clear failure quickly and reverse course. But how often does that former instance work out and, perhaps I watch too many movies. In reality, I did take risks, lots of 'em, and for the most part, managed. But I feel as though I played too much of a middle road, never making it HUGE, never putting so much on the line as to potentially knock the fuckin' shit out of myself, so that I could try something else entirely. But in many ways, it feels beyond that, now. I have responsibilities.

I suppose I still could. That's an ongoing internal debate. But it's not for now, at least in this post. Right now is the time I reflect on what is, how it came to be like this, and what I can do now. And that has a lot to do with taking serious account of experience and paying the fuck attention to it.

Now, "50-years-old" is as arbitrary as anything else. For instance, you're not incompetent to drive a car one day and fully vested in trust the next, when you turn 16. And it's not like you can't handle a few serious beverages at 20 years and 364 days but magically, get a super-liver, metabolic godhood and some fine sense in a day.

We have many arbitrary rites of passage in our world. How was it way back when? Well, I suppose they could have and did count the passing of seasons. Puberty would have been a biggie, for obvious reasons (more hunters, more gatherers...musta been cool for the guys back then). But how about the more nebulous reasons after that? I dunno, but I would surely like to imagine that age was knowledge. That would be a perfectly meritorious means of counting for age. You could easily imagine there being a 10 years or more range in terms of physical age, plus or minus, counting on just knowledge, experience, effectiveness, success and results.

But now we're a collectivized equivalent of an ant hill or bee hive, and you have your place. And some bees & ants are created more "equal" than others, and they have parents, relatives and friends of influence in the hill & hive. And your place changes with age and decrepitude. We have arbitrary ages for everything and they count for nothing real except the arbitrary turning of the Earth around the Sun (at least we finally got that right). It goes hand-in-hand with the neolithic notion that we're subjects who require masters; and far from being able to manage individual prowess, they arbitrarily assign age. It's the given, now.

And so that's of course why I fought it for so long and in fact, did a good job I think in making the last 3-4 years of my 40s pretty remarkable, counting my own progress, the growth of this blog resource, and the many hundreds who have reported their own results -- even for many long ago "Old Fuckers."

So in the end, this post is somewhat of a thinking out loud. In all my reflections over the past weeks the issue of this blog has never been in doubt -- only how to continue to grow it and build influence while keeping the fuck-you spirit alive. I have no idea how to do it other than to simply do what I do. Passing this threshold only makes me more serious about my reality of life (fuck that "gift" shit). In turn, that makes me more serious about those things I pay a lot of attention to and spend a lot of time on.

To sum it all up into something very simple: I'm somewhat in awe that I've reached this age at the physical and mental state I am. I am as lean as I was in college, far stronger than any time in my life, feel great all the time (excepting the current neck & shoulder issue that will pass), and yet have some uncertainties about what I really want to do.

Even simpler: Make the 2nd 50 even better than the first.

Good luck, 20-fucking-sumthings. If you're smart, realize the questions never end: they just become different. And if you're smarter, you know that already. And if you're the rare smartest, you're trying to anticipate and resolve them even now. And good for you if you are.

~~~

I want to take a moment to thank all the commenters in my recents post for one, wishing me a happy birthday...and it was, in spite of pain (but I self medicated). For second, I got all sorts of advice and insight on my shoulder injury and so much of it was useful. As it stands now, I likely have no shoulder injury, but rather something causing a sort of nerve impingement/inflammation around c4-5 in my neck. It was the guys at Janzen & Janzen who figured that out, without imaging. But in poking, prodding and putting pressure on those areas of my neck, they can send me into writhing pain the likes of which is precisely what I have been feeling combined with an excruciating intensity I have never felt. Most likely a herniated disc in the region, since x-ray revealed no bone abnormality.

Next up: an MRI (and a prescription of Vicodin)

Oh, an if there's anything here worth sharing, please do so with the Facebook and Twitter buttons up top.

No Vegetables in the Way

Oh Noes!

Don Matesz has a different take on an aspect of Paleo-ish than I? Well, this means war! First it was the Johnsonian "War on Poverty;" then, the Nixonian "War on Drugs;" and then, we got used to always being at war with someone over something. We're America, goddammit! We'd better be at War! Indeed, love is War. Peace is War. Life...is War.

Suppose I'll have to head out to Phoenix, sos we can have it out -- Don & I --  mano-a-mano, as I think they say it out in those backwards places. I mean...his post...on the heals of mine...

I've been dissed! Don dissed me!

Now, if what I was representing was mainstream media something, and Don, something else, equally mainstream...y'know, something like an abducted, likely raped and dead pretty young bond white  girl -- and certainly not a black one (especially not black black - we prefer our mulattos), hispanic, asian -- or my God forbid, a male....then even this little disagreement could take on national, yea, International proportions (so long as ad bucks flowed, news whore suckers).

Or maybe not. Will human nutrition ever take on a prominent stage, or is food-in-boxes the last real word and it's really, going forward, only about treadmills? ...The jury will now retire to deliberate.

Ok, so after a long prelude to a short post, I think Don wanted to use good science to defend a sweeping dismissal of vegetables, which I would support. I, on the other hand, simply used the article like a cheap whore to bolster my nagging impatience with those who can't seem to say, "yea, my diet? Well, when I'm not consuming animal flesh and devouring livers, hearts, other internal organs and the cornucopia of varietals of animal fat, I'm doing my best to choke down a bit of spinach."

Now assuming that's not hyperbole, which it certainly is, which is better?

And that's my point.

To belabor it, I am not dissing vegetables per se. Rather, I really want to see them on just about every plate, in their place. Here's a fact: the variety of flavor and texture in fruits and vegetables (and herbs & spices as subs) is unmatched by animal products. Conversely, the quantity and quality of essential nutrition in animal products is unmatched by fruits and vegetables.

And so, marriage seems appropriate and that's why we're always setting them up on our plates. And it's a good marriage.

It's just that sometimes, the guy like to be alone.

Rib Tips
Rib Tips

And sometimes, he likes to stray altogether, but in a light, tasty sort of way.

Adultery
Adultery

Inspiration for that later was provided by my main local bud, Robert Chon, with whom I, Bea and his wife Julie just spent the weekend in San Francisco. Robert will walk barefoot for miles on bare glass for just a lick of cucumber.

Just ask him. :)

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Getting off Proton Pump Inhibitor GERD Meds Cold Turkey

Back when I was just transitioning into Paleoish eating, one goal was to get off my prescription medications I'd been on for a long time. One of those was for seasonal allergies that I had come to have to take year round for the previous decade. The other was various Proton Pump Inhibitors prescribed for what I called "nuclear heartburn," officially knows as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD).

What I found in the end is that I just began forgetting to take both, eventually realizing I didn't need them.

That was a few years ago, and after some experience with family members and anecdotes I'd heard over the years, I had a pretty good idea how one might successfully go cold turkey when I got an email from a reader a couple of weeks ago.

I have a question or 2 for you. I remember reading that you used to take anti-gerd medicine (prilosec?). My question is, do you wean yourself off it (going from every other day to every 3 days, to once/week) or did you quit cold turkey? ...

For what it's worth, the Paleo-ish is going well. I've lost a couple of inches around the waist and feel great. I say paleo-ish, because I'm doing the 80-20 thing. I allow myself one pasta meal/week, although I make sure to do it the Italian way and not have pasta be the dominant item on the plate. And as a nod to my Bavarian heritage (born and raised), I drink one wheat beer a day with dinner. I can claim that the beer is medicinal, when I was in the hospital in Munich recovering from kidney stones, my doctor told me that if I drank a wheat beer a day that I'd never get another one. 23 years of following his advice and I haven't had one since.

Basically, I just asked myself what I'd do if I were back at the start to go cold turkey, knowing what I know now. My 1-2-3 reply.

Best to go cold turkey on the GERD meds in my view. Here's a couple of tips to help you if you have problems:

  1. Go pure paleo for a few days to a week, no added fat, i.e., lean meats & veggies with at most a drizzle of olive oil.
  2. No alcohol, coffee, tea, or tobacco during that pure paleo week. Water only.
  3. Supplement with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda), about a level tsp mixed in water after each meal if you get heartburn.

Most people seem to get back to normal within about a week. But you'll definitely want to forego the pasta and the beer for that week.

Congrats on the success.

How could it be any simpler? And for this reader, apparently it was pretty simple, for I received this email just a few days ago.

Worked like a charm. Now working on getting rid of the lipitor. And after I've lost 20 lbs, I'll be able to convince my doctor to drop the blood pressure meds. (as I did doing Ornish/Pritikin).

Glad he could follow the simple advice, advice he'd likely never get from a drug pusher in a white coat.

Any other tips from self-experimentation experience? I know some recommend betaine HCL, probiotics, digestive enzymes and such, but personally I have never noticed any benefit with any of those for myself.

In terms of learning everything you always wanted to know about GERD, what it really is (too little, not too much stomach acid), how devastating PPI GERD meds can be long term and why you want to get off them, Chis Kresser is the go-to guy on this. See his multi-part series at The Healthy Skeptic.

For the newbies just leaning about how to go Paleoish, here's a primer with links to follow.

Know anyone with nuclear heartburn? Then forward this along, share it with Facebook Friends, and Tweet it using the buttons at the top of the post.

I Told You To Go Ahead and Fuck Those Vegetables

Well, not that the Mail Online is any sort of authority -- what main stream media outlet whore is? but every now and then, you get tossed a bone. I'll get to that later. But first, I have one bone to pick with some stupid fucking "paleo" bullshit. And I've said it before.

The next time I see some paleo blogger, tweeter, commenter or whatever the fuck...apologizing for his or her love of meat, fish and fowl by heaping praise on vegetables & fruits, I think I'm going to set my sights on figuring out how to physically transport vomit down the Intertubes.

"So colorful, with wonderful textures, and did I mention that they have ANTIOXIDANTS (bow your stupid fuckin' heads)!!!?"

...It rings in my ear like some freshman college coed who just "lost" her "precious gift" only moments ago and is now wheapily atoning for her "sins of the flesh." ...Which, incidentally and of course, is so fucking ignorant as to be dismissible as abject ignorance (or training from jerk-fuck-ignorant parents).

And...So what's your excuse, oh bright, intelligent, mature ones? Why is it that your knee jerk -- or jerk off -- reaction to the charge of "that sounds like Atkins" is to apologetically proclaim that your diet has LOTS OF VEGETABLES. Fuck. That. My diet: lots of meat, mutherfuckers. Choke the fuck on it, you stupids and who, by the way, can't beat your nutrition out of a wet paper sack. Automatic knee jerk jerks who try to get you off guard with Atkins are nothing in the world more than ignorant fucks who ought to be dismissed out of hand. And embarrassed in public. Then pummeled with lamb chops whilst their children watch in lip-smacking horror.

You fucking love meat. Dontcha?

Then why are you always apologizing for it with these fucking veggie dishes? It's so dammed annoying, yawl...paleo pussies. Vegetables serve two purposes: first and foremost, they feed meat. Second, they enhance flavor in profound ways when used properly and otherwise stay outta the fucking way.

So let's get to the link, which was inspiring on a number of levels: This cynical five-a-day myth: Nutrition expert claims we've all been duped. Y'don't say.

With great fanfare, it was reported last week that the current health advice about eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is outdated, and that scientists now believe that eight portions is more beneficial.

While many people grumbled about how on earth they would manage those extra portions, I allowed myself a wry smile.

For more than two years I’ve known that the ‘five-a-day’ mantra we’re all so familiar with is nothing but a fairytale.

Ha! If five is good, then eight must certainly be better (this is because -- of course -- epidemiology on vegetable consumption demonstrates no benefit; so, because we just know, increase it until we get the epidemiological result we want -- kicking the can forward a coupla more decades where we'll all be retired).

Of course, they are tasty, colourful additions to any meal. But in terms of health and nutrition, fruit and veg have little to offer, and telling us to eat eight portions a day is compounding one of the worst health fallacies in recent history.

Tasty, colorful, and nutritionally vapid. Let's see. Zoe Harcombe, again:

People are convinced that fruit and vegetables are a particularly good source of vitamins and minerals.

For a long time, I too was a believer. I was a vegetarian for 20 years. It is only after nearly two decades of my own research — I am a Cambridge graduate and currently studying for a PhD in nutrition —that I have changed my views.

The message that fruit and veg are pretty useless, nutritionally, gradually dawned on me.

The facts are these. There are 13 vitamins and fruit is good for one of them, vitamin C.

Vegetables offer some vitamins — vitamin C and the vegetable form of the fat-soluble vitamins A and vitamin K1 — but your body will be able to absorb these only if you add some fat, such as butter or olive oil.

The useful forms of A and K — retinol and K2 respectively — are found only in animal foods. As for minerals, there are 16 and fruit is good for one of them, potassium, which is not a substance we are often short of, as it is found in water.

Vegetables can be OK for iron and calcium but the vitamins and minerals in animal foods (meat, fish, eggs and dairy products) beat those in fruit and vegetables hands down. There is far more vitamin A in liver than in an apple, for instance.

But surely, people ask, even if there is no evidence that increasing our intake of fruit and vegetables will help prevent disease, they remain good things to eat?

I don’t think so. If people try to add five portions of fruit and veg — let alone eight — a day to their diet, it can be counterproductive. Fruit contains high levels of fructose, or fruit sugar. [...]

Fructose goes straight to the liver and is stored as fat. Very few people understand or want to believe this biochemical fact.

That last paragraph? How long have I and others been saying that? Well, I'm not perfect, but I far prefer scotch to fruit. Any day.

By the way. You noted that she, Zoe Harcombe, is a nutritionist? But guess what? By her own admission, she fucked up, to put it in my way of words. For the most part and never intending at the outset, nutritionists are (as are most white coats) merely -- and I do mean merely in the most base way -- nothing more than regurgitators of data...which makes them second rate to most autisticsThier only real skill is that they can test competently to dispense their regurgitated data, passed down as Catechism from the nutritional, medicinal pope. Let's continue.

Another argument that is often put forward by dieticians on behalf of fruit and vegetables is that they are ‘a source of antioxidants’.

They believe we need to have more antioxidants in our diet to counteract the oxidants that damage the body’s cells, either as a result of normal metabolic processes or as a reaction to environmental chemicals and pollutants.

But I would rather concentrate on not putting oxidants such as sugar, processed food, cigarette smoke or chemicals into my body.

I'm gonna puke the next time I hear 'antioxidant' from a paleo. To my mind, the idea is less substantiated than the lipid hypothesis. Real Food.

Besides, fruit has a fraction of the antioxidants of coffee, though you rarely hear dieticians singing coffee’s praises.

Incidentally, the body’s natural antioxidant is vitamin E, which is found in seeds — and particularly sunflower seeds.

Another problem is that dieticians tell you to eat less fat. We’re told that fat is bad for us but this has not been proven at all.

Of course, man-made trans-fats such as those found in biscuits and cakes are very unhealthy and should be banned.

But natural fats such as those in eggs, meat and fish should not be demonised alongside trans-fats. They are essential to our wellbeing and they are what we’ve lived on for thousands of years.

According to a recent survey, the British people are deficient in vitamins A, D, E — all of which are fat-soluble. If we added a dollop of butter to our portion of vegetables, they would be better for us — not worse. [...]

If only we had hand-picked the five foodstuffs that are actually most nutritious and spent what the Department of Health has spent on promoting fruit and vegetables over the past 20 years on recommending them, we could have made an enormous difference to the health and weight of our nation.

If you ask me, these foodstuffs are liver (good for all vitamins and packed with minerals), sardines (for vitamin D and calcium), eggs (all-round super-food with vitamins A, B, D, E and K, iron, zinc, calcium and more), sunflower seeds (magnesium, vitamin E and zinc) and dark-green vegetables such as broccoli or spinach (for vitamins C, K and iron).

Well, I gotta run and tend to the shoulder with some imaging. Consider this post a Hegelian synthesis. Thesis: my shoulder hurts. Antithesis: fuck the whole world. Synthesis: do an f-bomb laden post as therapy.

The super synthesis is that I may, just may, be getting my groove back.

Hey, if you liked this crazy & vulgar rant, please Facebook and Tweet it with the buttons up top.

No Soap in the Chicago Tribune

Just a quick note before heading out for the weekend.

I was contacted by Julie Deardorff of the Chicago Tribune for some supplemental info for an article she was doing. And here it is: How to give up soap. I was particularly gratified that she got in a few bits about Paleo, particularly that it's not reenactment.

Proponents of a paleo-type diet generally avoid dairy and grains and try to eat as our ancestors once did. Nikoley said he isn't trying to emulate a caveman, but he lost 60 pounds and his health improved after he eliminated grains, sugar, modern processed cooking oils, and most dairy.

"My high blood pressure normalized, I got off allergy meds I'd been on since college, and GERD meds I'd been on for a decade," he wrote in an email. "In other words I do it because I get excellent results, feel better, have stable energy, and so on."

Giving up soap, he reasoned, was primarily a matter of convenience as long as the results were acceptable. But then he found that washing only with water was actually better than using soap.

Still in a bit too much shoulder pain to blog much, but we'll give 'er a try as soon as possible.

Lost Mojo: an Impinged Rotator Cuff and now, “Pine Mouth” – What Else?

Talk about piling on. I've been having long bouts of aching, stabbing pain in my right shoulder -- since mid December, about a month now -- and the intensity is not really getting any better. The pain shifts, from the trapezius to the rear of the deltoid, suggesting to me, at least, that I might be dealing with nerve issues as much as actual torn ligament or muscle. But well see. Thanks to a couple of commenters, I now have a self-directed course to pursue. Eric Lapine, and then Michael in a couple of comments really gave me some stuff to check out. Here, and here.

Last Thursday I went to the gym and did some light pulls in various ways and that seemed to help. Even if I do air rows and really get into collapsing the scapula, I get relief (I've learned to do this in bed, even).

Ibuprofen reminds me that I actually should love the drug companies. Had I not taken 800mg a bit ago, I would not even be writing this post. But I still hurt and I have to say that I'm just hating all of this.

Anyway, in that second link above, Michael makes reference to Tim Ferriss' The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman. Well, I once shared lunch with Tim & Dr. Mike Eades in San Francisco and while Tim is impressive as hell, I don't know about the super-human stuff. On the other hand, I got where I am with 60 pounds of fat loss largely by self experimentation, so who am I to question? To each his own experiments. And I do like how Tim is promoting very decent dietary guidelines...

...Now this is about 24 hours later. I just couldn't finish the post. Yesterday was one of the worst days in a month. But I did make an appointment with Janzen & Janzen, mentioned by Tim in his book, and was present & accounted for by 8:40 am at their offices, only 10 minutes away. Mike Janzen and one of his physical therapists spent a good 2 hours with me: to both get the medical history, trying diagnose exactly what was going on (which involved quite a bit of manipulation in itself), and then an excruciating ART treatment, first by the assistant and then by Mike. ...A hundred & sixty bucks. I was surprised at how modest the charge was, considering the time spent by two professionals. And since we won't have the workup for subsequent treatments, it'll be a lot less.

The result is that now I have more of a dull, constant pain, and not the sharp, agonizing pain that had me fantasizing about either cutting off my own arm, or having a .40 caliber for dinner. I go in again on Friday. In addition, he gave me a lot of ergonomic tips for such things as typing, mousing, and so on, that were really causing a lot of pain.

~~~

Now here's something I've been waiting two years to blog about because I finally found out what the problem was. Ever heard of "Pine Mouth?"

This began in the spring, almost two years ago. We were attending a wedding. There was lots of food. But, I was also drinking and didn't notice anything immediately. The next morning I went out to a local cafe and ordered a nice ribeye steak & eggs. And then I sent it back because it tasted awful; bitter, metallic. It made me lose my appetite for steak so I asked them to bring bacon instead. Still, I had the awful flavor, but just chalked it up to the "bad meat."

And then I had dinner later that day, and everything tasted the same: awful, bitter, metallic. And so it went; for days and days, perhaps a week or so. It finally cleared, and then happened again some weeks later. I did plenty of Googling but could never zero in because there were no clear set of symptoms matched with any possible cause I could find.

...Until two nights ago, when it happened again; and I immediately guessed the cause: pine nuts. I understand why this never occurred to me as a cause before, because I cooked with Trader Joe's pine nuts quite a bit at the time. Along my Paleo path I have almost completely stopped eating nuts, just naturally. Every now and then, maybe every couple of months. But no pine nuts in a long time. But the other day I was shopping and I grabbed a bag (toasted pine nuts). Then I thought they might go well in a loin of lamb I braised the other night. Wham! Immediately. First bite. And it still persists. Now that I had a likely cause it was simple to immediately find out what was going on: 'Pine Mouth': How Pine Nuts Can Ruin Tastebuds for Weeks. I find this of particular interest:

Another hypothesis -- one that is becoming increasingly accepted -- is that certain non-edible varieties of pine nuts are being passed off in the marketplace as the edible variety, Munk says. Some researchers have implicated China in exporting these non-edible pine nuts.

It's interesting because I grew up eating pine nuts a lot. My grandparents would pick them, and I went along a time or two, on the road between Reno and Virginia City. They would lightly roast them, just enough so the thin shells world become brittle, and they were easy to crack, but the flesh inside was still soft, though firm. I used to like to just break that soft meat and then pull, and see if I could get the inner stem to remain intact.

So, I'm interested in a couple of things. first and foremost is if any of the brainiacs out there have any speculations about all of this. Second, if anyone has a good source for pine nuts, preferably in the shell. I have to delve into this.

[/file/ too weird]

Go ahead and alert your Facebook Friends and Twitter followers to my misery, if you like.

Links, Quick Hits & Odds & Ends

I didn't account for all the mental energy expenditure in following along -- as well as promoting -- the big bonus in the first week of the year and into last week that was a couple of links from BoingBoing and one from Gizmodo.

I set out to do a newbie intro to Paleoish and really, frankly, ended up kinda falling flat on my face -- in the sense that I just could not give it what I felt it deserved, and so the 2nd post, still in draft, and everything else is put on hold. Still trying to get back my Mojo, which will happen, but it's not right now. On the other hand, the blog stands, today, halfway through the month with 130,000 visits and 235,000 page views -- so what have I to be funked about?

In place of that, here's just some random bits.

~ Bea & I had what was in the top five dining experiences of my life, Saturday evening. Manresa, Los Gatos, CA, about five minutes from home and we were at the table from 8:30 pm (we like to eat late like Euros on the weekends) to about midnight. As we were leaving, a reader of the blog who I must objectively state is a young, lean, and attractive female, appproached not me, but my wife Bea: "Excuse me, but I read your husband's blog all the time." And so we had a chat with Rachel. Not only was she super charming in her compliments of our appearance, but Bea so appreciated how Rachel so respected her by approaching her first. It was an awesome, classy gesture, and by the way, this is a few times that readers have spotted me in public. Absolutely come and say 'hi.'  And so Rachel, thanks. That was very nice of you.

~ Apparently, the reality that cows eat grass has been suspended in Iowa.

The danger of the truth is so great that the Chronicle couldn’t even get Wendy Wintersteen, the dean of Iowa State’s agriculture school, to go anywhere near it. When asked whether cows evolved to eat grass, she replied, “I don’t have an opinion on that statement.”

What a dipshit.

~ Looks like Dr. Kurt Harris may be back to blogging a bit more regularly at PaNu. Be sure to stop in regularly and give him the encouragement to keep at it.

~ Yesterday afternoon I was interviewed for about an hour by Hank Garner of My Low Carb Journey for an upcoming podcast. We had fun and I think I was able to get up on a soapbox or two. Forgot to ask when it airs (Update: Feb 3), but I'll be sure to let you know when it does. In the meantime, check out Hank's excellent progress: 62 pounds lost since October. "I have lost an entire Justin Bieber," says Hank. Laf.

~ And speaking of making progress, Social Media Entrepreneur, Angel Investor, CEO, Speaker, Consultant & Adventurist Peter Shankman began following my Twitter feed a couple of weeks ago, and we've gotten to chatting about his goal to over this next year to lose a bunch of weight and get to 10% body fat, and he's doing it in a very open way on a new blog. Way to make yourself accountable. He's taken off over 6 pounds so far in the new year, and while he's getting a lot of good advice in comments on his weight loss blog from myself & others, also some not so good advice, so I'm sure Peter would appreciate any decent advice any of you might wish to extend.

~ Pretty telling chart that J. Stanton of GNOLLS.ORG put together right here: The Lipid Hypothesis Has Officially Failed. Lot's of other great insight on that blog so have a look around. Here's a suggestion: Fat And Glycemic Index: The Myth Of “Complex Carbohydrates”

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Yikes: Look What All That Starch Did to My Triglycerides and Alcohol to My Liver – New Lipid Panel and ALT Test

Alright, I just couldn't resist. While I no longer catch a lot of heat for my potato eating ways, there are still a few of the low carb Paleo zealots around. I have in the past reported on my lipid panels, back in 2008 and then again in early 2009, almost two years ago.

Despite the fact that I don't really see cholesterol as any sort of problem to be managed (manage your diet, i.e., eat Real Food, and let the numbers take care of themselves) it is, at least, some measure of confidence that something's amiss in conventional "wisdom," since I ought to have "awful numbers," given the high amount of fat and saturated fat I ingest, albeit mostly all from Real Food sources.

So here's the latest results:

Lipid Panel 1 11 2011
Lipid Panel 1-11-2011

Of course, calculated LDL is bullshit, and especially so when you have low triglycerides. But, the Iranians of all people came up with a better formula for calculating LDL when trigs are low. And so:

Friedewald (1972) Formula: LDL = TC - HDL - TG/5.0 (mg/dL)

Iranian (2008) Formula: LDL = TC/1.19 + TG/1.9 – HDL/1.1 – 38 (mg/dL)

Plugging the numbers into the Iranian formula calculator yields a calculated LDL of 57 mg/dL vs. 91 mg/dL for the Friedewald equation. Well, let's see how it stacks up, because I requested an LDL Direct, where they actually measure LDL instead of calculate it.

LDL Direct 1 11 2011
LDL Direct 1-11-2011

So actually, in my case, the Friedewald was actually off by only 9 units, so far closer than the one rendered by the alternative. However, what's important to note is that in my experience for those with low trigs, the Friedewald equation almost always overstates LDL, a very convenient situation for the statin pushers.

Let's take a look at the various ratios. Here they were from March, 2009 (percentages are improvements from the July, 2008 tests).

  • Total/HDL = 1.68 (19% improvement; I'm now off the scale)
  • HDL/LDL = 2.02 (98% improvement; again off the scale)
  • TG/HDL = 0.35 (20% improvement; off the scale)

And now:

  • Total/HDL = 1.96 (average is 4-6 and ideal is 2-3; still off the scale)
  • HDL/LDL = 1.24 (average is .3-.4 and ideal is above .4; off the scale)
  • TG/HDL = 0.36 (optimal is <2; off the scale)

And so, I guess those higher carb days, mostly from potatoes are not actually dumping fat into my bloodstream as high triglycerides. 37 mg/dL is pretty dam low. If that's not evidence of an overall low carb diet, I don't know what is.

I have one other issue to discuss and that's alcohol consumption. I'm sure most everyone knows I'm a bit of a boozer. I love my scotch and I tolerate it pretty well. And while I'll go a day or so without, it's pretty much a daily deal for me to ingest a few. And so, I was curious to see what my alanine aminotransferase (ALT) would be.

The alanine aminotransferase (ALT) blood test is typically used to detect liver injury. It is often ordered in conjunction with aspartate aminotransferase (AST) or as part of a liver panel to screen for and/or help diagnose liver disease. AST and ALT are considered to be two of the most important tests to detect liver injury, although ALT is more specific than AST. Sometimes AST is compared directly to ALT and an AST/ALT ratio is calculated. This ratio may be used to distinguish between different causes of liver damage.

The last one I had was in July of 2008, roughly 9 months into pretty clean eating, a year into my working out at the gym, and 6 months into my fasting. I believe my weight was around 210 at the time, down from 235 (I'm now 175ish).

ALT 1 11 2011
ALT 1 11 2011

You can click to enlarge, but what you want is 36 U/L or less. Less is better. My test from 2008 was 28, pretty close to the top of the range. I'm now at 16. Here's the graph.

ALT Comparison
ALT Comparison

Pretty much cut that enzyme in half. But how can that be? I could see it staying the same, given my boozing ways, but to cut in half?

Here's my speculation: the crap that the "experts" and "authorities" tell you to eat, such as grain products, cereals, much with sugar and in particular, high levels of fructose is, in the final analysis, far worse for you than even heavy alcohol consumption, especially if you drink spirits like I do and not beer and sweet drinks.

Pretty counter intuitive, but I guess I expect nothing less from our Puritanical culture that just has to glorify the stuff really making you fat and damaging your liver while demonizing the stuff that's probably a wash in the context of an otherwise good, Real Food diet that eschews the garbage "foods." Perhaps Dr. Robert Lustig ought to rethink his quote that "fructose is alcohol without the buzz," to something along the lines of fructose and other sugary crap is far worse than alcohol (and still without the buzz).

Still on the subject of alcohol, Martin Berkhan has up a very informative post about alcohol in the context of fat loss and muscle growth.

I do find it interesting that over these two and a half years since first tested, that both my LDL and ALT liver enzymes have dropped. It made me think about Chris Masterjohn's recent post about how elevated LDL on a LC paleo or low-carb diet in general is possibly being caused by your liver clearing out its fat deposits over time.

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Man Comes Here to Have a Laugh; Loses 65 Pounds

I hadn't intended to post anything until I get up Part I of my series on the Paleo life way for beginners, likely Sunday night or Monday morning. But this fits right in, given that I'm doing this for whomever are interested of the 80,000 Boing Boing and GIZMODO readers who visited this blog last week.

So let me get right into Marc's story, a reader who came over from the FARK link on New Year's Day, 2010 to have a laugh at a guy who'd given up soap and shampoo for water only.

~~~

This is a little late, I promised you in comments that I would send you my story by the end of the year but life got busy. Maybe it could still be inspirational to some in sticking to their new years resolutions. I know you recently had a post that New Years resolutions are bullshit, and I too made and broke the "lose weight" resolution many times before. I think it is relevant though that my success began with a new years resolution. It often amazes me how life can present you with the exact information you need at the moment you are ready to receive it.

Last January 1st I was pretty hung over and just lounging around and surfing the internet. I made the usual resolution to "lose weight" but this time, I actually quantified it. I resolved to lose 40lbs. I had no particular strategy to do this other than eat better/less and move more. Since my birthday is the 3rd I usually try to never start a resolution until the 4th so it really wasn't on my mind. I was just mindlessly surfing Fark.com reading funny stories when I saw a link about a guy who quit using soap. The fark tag was funny so I followed the link to have a laugh at your expense. The thing is, when I got here and read what you had to say I found rather than laughing at your ideas I found them intriguing. I moved from your soap article to your dietary articles and was immediately struck by how these ideas passed my logical mind's bullshit detector, i.e. common sense when looked at from this new perspective. I spent from about 8:00pm to 4:00am reading your site, and the sites you linked to. I knew right then that this was something I was going to do.

As I said in the comment you blogged about, you changed my life. Let me tell you how. When I found your site I was about to turn 34 and weighed about 270 pounds. I had been probably 40 pounds over weight for many years but had rapidly put on another 40 pounds in the last few years due to a perfect storm of quitting smoking, having a son, and many long hours of sedentary work and then studying for professional certifications in the evenings. I could no longer look in the mirror and pretend like maybe I at least carried it well.

I also had many health issues, not all of which I attributed to diet but now so obviously are. I had acid reflux so bad I would wake up in the night vomiting acid. I tried both over the counter and prescription prilosec/zegerid. These were somewhat effective but woe was me if I missed a pill or two. I live in a high allergy area and suffered accordingly. I daily took Allegra D or Claratin D twice daily. I was having some sort of arthritis/carpal tunnel symptoms in my hands that gave me poor grip strength and pain. For years I had these occasional spells which now I can only presume was some sort of pre-diabetes. They started out rare but had become more frequent. If I skipped a meal and exerted myself I would sometimes have what I would describe as some sort of hypoglycemic episode. I would get tunnel vision and become very lethargic as well as feeling like I was about to faint. Usually I would rapidly sit down and then try to find some type of bread or juice to drink. When I brought this up to my doctor his advice was "try not to let yourself get hungry". This guy had pushed the conventional low-fat chicken breast and salad routine to me for years and was threatening to put me on statin drugs. I no longer see him.

After discovering your site I have rapidly been healing my body and all of these conditions. You can see from the attached before and progress pictures that I have lost about 65 pounds. Going from ~270 to ~205. I am no longer on any medications and I am free of symptoms of all the above conditions. I can't tell you how grateful I am to breathe clear when all my co-workers are calling in sick due to allergies.

I attribute all of this healing to intermittent fasting and my diet. I would describe my diet as lacto-paleo. Probably closest to Dr. Harris's Panu of the "paleo" sub cultures. I also practice Mark Sisson's 80/20 rule and don't penalize myself for imperfection. I try to eat grass-fed but probably only succeed about half the time or less. My big cheats are likely to be tacos or chips and salsa rather than cake or candy. This still amazes my wife since I had a huge sweet tooth. I also switched from beer to wine.The weight loss didn't come all at once. When I first started I rapidly lost 8 or 10 pounds. Then I lost 3-4 pounds a week for several weeks, then 1-2lb/week, etc. I had a few stalls, A couple went on for weeks and then, just about the time I was questioning everything I rapidly lost several pounds.

During all of this weight loss I never once set foot in a gym. I never jogged, biked, or any other kind of cardio. My job is sedentary, but I do get some activity through yard work, light construction projects around the house, and chasing my two year old around. I have definitely gotten more active, even unintentionally. I think Gary Taubes is right, we confuse correlation with causation. I believe I got sedentary because I got fat, rather than the conventional notion that I got fat because I was sedentary/lazy.

Last but definitely not least, and hopefully this doesn't embarrass my wife too bad, but the diet is way better than viagra. That's probably enough said about that.

So this is my story. It doesn't seem like enough to just say thank you to the guy that saved your life, but a heart felt thanks to you Richard. Your influence spirals outward as people see my progress and I point them here and to paleonu (so glad he is posting again). As for me? In the new year I am headed into the gym for the first time in a long time. I am determined to get serious about weight training to further my progress. I am keenly following your Lean Gains articles.

Marc Before After
Marc Before After

~~~

A hearty congratulations to Marc. His reward for listening to what is essentially some common sense is to regain a life he can be most proud of an enjoy. It's the ultimate reward.

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You Animal: A Primer to Freeing Your Inner Beast – The Preface

This is a preface to a multi-part series that I am excited beyond terrestrial measure to deliver. I'll make it a very short preliminary story.

Just over a year ago I reluctantly posted about having gone six months using no soap or shampoo in the shower. Water only. I was reluctant because I thought I might get hammered even though I'm pretty in-your-face as a general rule, as those regular readers well know. But this was personal. I closed my eyes, gritted my teeth, did it anyway and to my welcome surprise, it was picked up by Boing Boing, then Fark, and within days, my blog went from getting 1-2,000 visits per day to more than double that, on average.

But OK, that was a random gift out of nowhere, right? That's how I saw it, initially, and I didn't do much about it. But my average traffic doubled to 3-4,000 visits per day and I've held onto that and have grown it over the last year. This end-of-year, I did an update and Boing Boing published it, and it got picked up by GIZMODO today. Traffic is astounding. Tens of thousand of visitors per day.

So now I'll get into the meat of this. This focusses on the principals that guide the 3-4 posts to follow. ...But I must deliver some bad news at the same time. The no soap or shampoo deal is at best 5% of the total equation and probably much less than that. I won't be addressing it until the final post, as merely one of many self-experiments undertaken. just the way it goes and I'm sorry, but if that's a disapointment, that's what it is.

~~~

What do you think you really know?

I know you know a lot. So much so, you can take a lot for granted...not thinking about it in the least: you don't guard your step out of your abode in the morning for fear of gravity having been repealed by the gods. You recognize water, instinctively -- in the finest sense of a wild animal going back eons -- and you drink without thought to consequence. You move about as you do on foot with natural confidence, and now, in machines...regularly in machines of potential lethal mass destruction; you do it every day, and that's a big deal that you are left alone to contemplate...that important responsibility. Think seriously about that, the potential destruction you could wreak. ...Yet you go about it in a relative quotidian trance.

It could challenge the mind, but it doesn't, and it's but one example; why it doesn't is a simple thought experiment I shall leave totally unanswered because, by the end of this series, the answer ought to be obvious to all.

The very coolest thing about the "paleo" movement is that it is totally and completely awash in every sort of ideological persuasion you can imagine. Just spend a week reading comments on my blog. How in the fuck an atheist and anarchist such as I can have fundamentalist Christians, lefty commies, conservative Republicans, liberal Democrats, hippies, spiritualists, scientists, MDs, PhDs, evolutionists, anthropologists, creationists, and whatever and whoever else you can think of...reading, commenting, and largely being civil to one-another on some sense of common ground is to me, less of a step forward than it its a solemn responsibility to recognize, nurture, and keep alive. I'm impressed. I'm appreciative.

This tells me the same thing many have gotten and are coming to realize. We are onto something. It may be big. There is a natural allure. I think it's complex, and the no soap or shampoo thing I think substantiates the idea that there's some part of paleo that attracts everyone.

But why listen to me? Well, if you don't know me you might ought have no reason in the world. You can read my About page. I've been around, lived around, done a few things. And I got fat. I fixed that to the tune of 60 pounds, got stronger, got off meds, and lots of other things including recently, a 325 pound deadlift at 50 years old. I went through a bunch of self-experiments to lose that weight, documented here.

I blogged about it. Gotta be more than 1,000 posts by now, since 2007. And eventually, it got some notice, with some help from my friends. I was interviewed in Der Spiegel. Shortly later, Macleans of Canada. A paid article for DRW Magazine. Then a radio interview in Canada. Jimmy Moore interviewed me on his podcast. And more recently, an interview with Healthy Mind; Fit Body.

Doesn't mean shit if I'm wrong, and that's all that counts. What it means is that a of of people are listening, and if I may suggest, these are not the people watching Entertainment Tonight. Nope. They're people like you: on the Internet; slowly, but very  surely getting comfortable with the radical notion that...you're on your own, but also that you have more knowledge at your disposal -- at the tips of your fingers -- than did kings and queens of old. But more than that: that you are competent to get it.

But how do you know? I mean: how do you really know? I'm going to submit to you a radical proposition:

  • You can't know unless you've tried it on yourself with success or failure.

It could be inconclusive, in which case you still don't know...with the saving virtue of knowing that you don't know. There's a corollary:

  • All Medical studies are meaningless until you confirm their results personally.

And so here's my scientific method throughout.

From the starting point of some guy; I read about, think about, study about, research about evolutionary biology in the widest sense. From that, I come up with ideas. I test them on myself. I see how it goes. I blog about it. Readers experiment. They report results in comments. Repeat.

There you have it. We're all still waiting for the food and drug manufacturers to come give us big paychecks.

The theme will be my own self experimentation bolstered -- and in a big way -- by my thousands of daily readers who have likewise undergone the same self-experiemnts and have reported their results in thousands of comments.

And I am happy to report that the results have been fantastic, but that's only because we gained the confidence to think for ourselves, experiment on ourselves, and tell our stories. But above all, readers here are generally in agreement that there's something about the Animal, that we are him, and that when we respect our nature as such, good and interesting things result.

I will conclude with a stark example of self experimentation. If you don't know where the tiny South Pacific island Nauru lies, don't sweat it, because it seems to me that these dear folks have no clue where they've even been themselves. So here, let me show you where they've been.

I Love My Pizza
I Love My Pizza

And another.

Just back from McDonalds
Just back from McDonalds

I just wonder: is this not one of the greatest controlled & randomized experiments ever? Consider that this is the smallest island nation in the world at 8 sq. miles. You can drive its perimeter in about 20 minutes, in traffic. Population is around 14,000, and it's about 400 miles from the nearest commercial port from whence products may come.

In the 1980s they got a bit rich, owing to their phosphorous deposits going back to when birds first began to shit (a long time). So it goes full circle. The phosphorous is sold for fertilizer ("Fortified?") that grows crops that are used in packaged & canned products that, now that the Nauruans have the income, can buy buy back, but for a mere portion of their original profit, including shipping two ways, processing, and packaging. As a consequence, relatively cheap canned and processed foods have entirely pushed out anything fresh. There are zero fresh vegetables, fruits, meats sold in the markets. You want it? Gotta grow it yourself.

That is an economic win-win, if I've ever seen one. In pure terms of econimic efficiencly, how can you not possibly marvel?

But there was a huge external cost that they could not have foreseen. So, this is never about rolling back the technological progress we've seen or the resultant economic efficiencies we enjoy as a result (more for less; basically), but about simply understanding our natures as biologically Wild Animals in all of this, in a zoo that for some reason finds it a mystery...how to properly feed us, (while all the while, regular zoos have not a problem in the same regard). Take what's good and works. Leave the rest. And educate.

And with that, let's get to the short video, about 8 minutes. Check those pictures above, again, and see what a 100% diet of canned, packaged, processded food can do to grandmothers, mothers, fathers, children. You see, the island is now known as "The Fattest Place on Earth." 95% obesity. 50% Type II diabetes. Watch now.

And so this will be the touchstone and fiber that runs through the rest of my posts.

Update: Just one more reason to pay attention. Here's the story of a man who linked over here from FARK on New Year's Day, 2010, hungover, and to have a laugh. Then he proceeded to lose 65 ugly pounds.

Update 3/19/2011: This intended series has now been superseded by a "Hacker's Quick-Start Guide" that will be published as a free eBook download by the end of March, 2011.

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