Monday, November 23, 2009
DDOORN on here has an amusing tradition. Each year on his birthday he goes to realage.com to calculate how much YOUNGER he's getting, biologically, due to the improvements he's made in his health and fitness.
This is a fun idea, and I've adopted it this year.
I went there and filled out the information for approximately what I did, ate, and weighed last year (around 330) and got the answer that I was 46.1 (3 years older than my calendar age). I can tell you, I FELT a lot older than that. I was already having trouble with my arthritic knee going up and down the stairs in my house and was starting to wonder how I was going to cope as I aged further.
Things happened (you can see my Spark Page for details) and I started losing weight again in early December. I had lost 40 lbs by the time I was introduced to SparkPeople in March.
Now, 160 lbs lighter than my maximum recorded weight and approximately 150 lbs lighter than last year, my supposed biological age is 38 and a half. It feels like less than that - I haven't felt this healthy or strong since I was in my 20s. Of course, I don't actually KNOW what it feels like to be biologically 38, because I was over 300 lbs for approximately the last 15 years...
Some other thoughts about the changes since my last birthday, some of which may be uncomfortable to read:
While talking with LAFAGG on the phone this morning we discussed how the world is different for me now. One of the things that came up is how it felt to be super morbidly obese and how people treat others who are obese.
I felt kind-of cushioned and "safe" in my "fat suit." My parents were very strict and physical disciplinarians. As a child I never considered myself to be "abused," as there was always a "reason" for hitting me - with the metal end of the belt, with a heavy hairbrush, etc.
One incident that sticks out in my mind is a day in third grade when I went to school in shorts and a classmate asked why there were giant, father-sized handprint-shaped welts on my thighs. I explained that I'd done something I wasn't supposed to the previous evening, and had been spanked. She was horrified and offered to tell her parents for me (her father was on the city council). I declined, and after that wore long pants to school. Looking back on it, this strikes me as the behavior of a child who might be experiencing a degree of physical abuse.
My mom wasn't the most nurturing person in the world, either. She was extremely tightly wound, insecure, and unhappy as a homemaker. Just about the only time I felt loved and accepted was when I was being fed. I came home for lunch in elementary school. She'd make me lunch and we'd watch Split Second and Password on TV, shouting suggestions to the contestants. I remember when I was 8 or so one of my favorite lunches was Kraft macaroni and cheese. I could have as much as I wanted. It was common for me to eat THE ENTIRE POT. I still love boxed macaroni and cheese, and for this reason studiously avoid it.
Don't get me wrong - you could do a lot worse for parents; they pushed me to excel in school, provided more than adequate food, shelter, and clothing, taught me how to read at 4, bought a 1972 World Book encyclopedia and put it in my bedroom, brought me on trips (Boston in 1970, San Diego in 1975, all around the US in 1976, England in 1977), taught me how to garden and fish, encouraged me in music and scouting, brought me camping every summer, etc. They were just from a different generation where kids were brought up strictly and a fat baby was a healthy baby (he was born in 1910; she, in 1921).
Anyhow, the result was that I associated food (quantity rather than quality) with emotional comfort and felt the need to protect myself physically from the world.
Fast forward to a year ago. Although I was physically uncomfortable, the fat suit made me feel safe. There was a physical buffer between myself and the rest of the world. And it also helped keep away people who didn't genuinely like me for my mind and my personality.
What I didn't factor in is that the fat suit also attracted people who saw me (rightfully) as emotionally vulnerable and used that information to get things from me by stroking my ego. I didn't factor in the fact that the fat suit, while acting as a physical buffer, also weighed me down and made me slower and weaker physically.
And here's the part that may be uncomfortable to read. Wearing a fat suit was blatant advertising that something was wrong with me, mentally and/or emotionally. It's not just that it made me physically less able. It broadcast to the world that I had serious problems that were interfering with taking care of myself.
I am not talking about the fat that constitutes "overweight," or even necessarily "obese." These conditions are the new "normal" in the US, and can sometimes be caused by medical problems. But when you get into "morbid obesity" and "super morbid obesity" (which is where I was a year ago), it's like wearing a big sign that says "I'm a mess. I may be high-functioning and in denial about it, but scratch below that veneer, and you'll find a messy unresolved issue."
This is the ugly fact that Lisa pointed out, and I have to say I agree with her. No wonder people often give other Very Large People a wide berth. It isn't necessarily right or fair or kind, but it does make sense.
150 lbs of fat less, and "8" biological years younger, where does that leave me now? I still have a bunch of the issues that I had a year ago. With years of counseling and drugs they haven't disappeared; losing over 100 lbs isn't going to make them go away fast, either. But at least I'm no longer advertising them to the world or letting them get in the way of taking care of myself physically. And that's something.
If I have to be vulnerable (and it seems that I do, since that's basically the human condition) I can at least be in good physical shape to face it.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Normally when I think of technology I think of gadgets and gizmos and things that run on batteries. But there are other forms of technology, such as products that come out of food science labs and eventually make their way to consumers via the local grocery store or the internet.
I've been reflecting lately on all the different kinds of helpful foods I've discovered over the past 6 months or so, and there are so many of them that it seems like maybe they could be grouped together in a blog post for posterity. Most of the time I try to subsist on the organic produce from my CSA, yogurt, lean seafood, etc. but I've found these products to be useful in one way or another in this process.
I've spent some time finding the best prices, and the suppliers listed here are my current favorites.
While many people are familiar with Tofu Shirataki, fewer know about the original kind, Konjac Shirataki. This is a solid substance made entirely of soluble fiber that has no calories whatsover. It can be made into very nice thin noodles suitable for Asian-style cusine, especially brothy soups.
I like to rinse the angel hair variety in a sieve and microwave it in a big bowl of water with mushrooms, tuna or shrimp, greens or kelp, minced onions, and some miso. This makes a nice satisfying bowl of noodle soup.
Don has reminded me (Thanx, Don!) that in the summer I like to make a version of cold spicy sesame noodles with shrimp and konjac shirataki. In fact, here's a link to the recipe:
(I guess I forgot 'cuz I'm in winter soup mode rather than summer salad mode! LOL)
I order my konjac shirataki from here:
2) Sugar Free Meringues.
Sometimes you have to go to parties, especially this time of year. And you don't know what they're going to have there, but you can be sure there will be things to eat. The best defense, at least for me, is a strong offense, in the form of bringing something to share that I know I will be able to eat safely.
Recently I discovered at Wegmans that Miss Meringue makes SUGARLESS mini meringues. And after doing some research online I discovered that they make not only chocolate, but vanilla as well. (Only the chocolate was available at the Ithaca Wegmans, and neither is available at the one in Geneva.)
13 of these is 40 cal. That means you could eat the ENTIRE CONTAINER and it would still be only 120 cal (I don't recommend this since they contain isomalt which has unpleasant digestive effects if too much is eaten at once).
They are kind-of mediocre taste-wise (the chocolate are better stand-alone than the vanilla ones), but they're not terrible. The vanilla ones are actually really good if paired with a strong herbal citrus tea like Tazo Wild Sweet Orange. I imagine the chocolate ones would be, too. You can order them online from Amazon in batches of 6 containers for a decent price:
If you want to get just one container, you can get them for a decent price from netrition.com:
3. Hot Chocolate.
It's getting cold. And while I love my herbal tea, sometimes I want something with a little more "oomph." Both Swiss Miss (25 cal) and Nestle (20 cal) make fat-free sugar-free hot cocoa mixes. I tried both today with a friend and we agreed that the Nestle variety tastes more chocolatey and mixes with fewer lumps. The best price I've found for the Nestle mix is in tubs at Amazon:
I'm picky about my cereal. Not how it tastes, but what kind of nutritional profile it has. If it doesn't have at least as much fiber and protein and as few calories as Kashi Go Lean (original), then I don't want to hear about it. But there's only so much Go Lean a person can eat every single morning, day after day, after day.
Which is why I was pleased to find the varieties available at netrition.com - so far I've tried the Hi-Lo Original Flavor, the Nutlettes and the Smaps. None of them have artificial sweeteners.
Nutritious Living Hi-Lo cereal resembles cornflakes. It tastes a bit like soy cornflakes, and the flakes are a bit thicker than the corn ones. But it tastes good to me (I had it with some Chobani blueberry nonfat Greek yoghurt). 30 grams doesn't look like much in the bowl but it's actually pretty satisfying.
Nutlettes look a lot like Grape Nuts but they are not as rock-hard, and taste more like soy. They actually look and taste a lot like toasted TVP, and given the ingredients, I bet that's pretty close to what they are. I don't mind the taste, but reviewers on Amazon who were expecting Grape Nuts weren't pleased. They're pretty good mixed half and half with the Kashi.
Smaps are more of a texture like puffed rice and have a maple sort of flavor, and I think the taste is pretty good.
Netrition.com also sells a "carbalose" low-carb wheat-based flour that looks really interesting. I may get some next time I order from them.
5. Whey Protein.
OK, so the deal with whey is that if you want a good price you have to buy a LOT. In Bulk. But how do you know if you'd even LIKE the flavor if you can't purchase it in an amount less than a 1-lb tub? Over the past 6 months I've been the beneficiary of three different purchases by friends of protein supplements that they bought and turned out not to like. (It means I'm drinking GNC Banana Creme for months, but hey, the price is right, so I'm not complaining. Much.)
I found a link on a bodybuilding forum to vitalady.com and it turns out that they will sell a 1-serving sample of just about anything for $2. Which is expensive for the actual product you're getting, but a darn good price for figuring out if you want to drop $70 on a 10-lb batch of protein powder.
They also have a handy chart listing the nutritional composition of each supplement and the type of sweetener (if any):
You might not want to purchase the bulk protein from them (I've seen good prices at bodybuilding.com), but you can certainly buy the samples from them.
Here is a table with the kinds of whey I've tried so far and what I think of 'em:
For whey with no sweeteners, I recommend Swanson brand vanilla. (This is one of the tubs of whey I got from a friend who didn't want it anymore.)
It mixes well and tastes great. It has a lot of protein per calories, which is the whole point, if you're taking whey.
Also, I just want to give a shout out to Body Fortress whey that can be purchased from Wal-Mart. It gets good reviews on bodybuilding forums and is a fantastic price because it is a combination of whey isolate (90-98% protein, expensive) and whey concentrate (70-85% protein, cheap). I've tried the vanilla flavor, and it's pretty good, if on the sweet side.
Most of the products listed above are strictly whey isolate. People who are lactose intolerant should stick with pure whey isolate, but otherwise, whey concentrate isn't really a problem unless you want a really high protein content.
See a different blog post about my other sources of protein, and how much I take per day, etc.
Thursday, November 05, 2009
I've copied this from my front page because I thought it might be helpful to have clickable links for some of this material.
I eat a high protein (30-40%), low fat (10-20%), low carb (40-50%) nutrition profile. The most important factor in my nutrition seems to be the protein. I aim for at least 100g per day to maintain/ build lean muscle while removing fat. I am lifting weights regularly.
I got the number from this formula:
[0.6 to 1.5 g of protein per pound of target weight]
Here's where the formula came from:
Getting this much protein into my body early in the day (by 5pm) also helps control my cravings and curbs night eating. My body seems to run really well on protein.
I spread the protein into about 4-5 mini-meals, since the body cannot absorb more than 20-30g per hour.
Here are my top 7 lean protein sources (in no particular order):
1) Nasoya Lite Firm Tofu
2) Poultry breast meat
3) Lean seafood (shrimp, tilapia, cod, tuna, etc)
4) Whey protein powder (and/or egg white powder)
5) Nonfat Greek yoghurt or Skyr
7) Textured Vegetable Protein
For emergencies I stash low carb protein bars in the car, my purse, my backpack, my life vest, etc. I buy them online at bodybuilding.com , vitalady.com and netrition.com and freeze whatever isn't actively stashed. Sometimes for a treat I buy a Zone Perfect protein bar at the store - those are just like candy, so I can't be trusted to have them in the house, LOL.
In general what I look for is the # of calories equal or less than 10x the grams of protein.
So, for example, a Dixie Diner's Crunchy Apple with Flax bar is 90 calories and has 10g of protein. That's an excellent protein/calorie ratio. Compare that with a Promax Bar, which has 290 calories and 20g of protein. Not so good. You could have TWO Crunchy Apple bars and get the same amount of protein in 180 calories. You'd feel fuller and it would keep you going just as long.
My favorite flavors are:
- mint chocolate
- toasted coconut
- chocolate brownie
- lemon meringue
- cookie dough
- blueberry cheesecake
- Protein crunch peanut butter
- Protein crunch chocolate
- Protein crunch chocolate chip
Dixie Diner's Soy Rocks
- Crunchy Apple with Flax
- Crunchy Chocolate with Flax
- lemon meringue
You can also buy Pure Protein brand bars at pharmacies and grocery stores, and they have a really good protein to calorie ratio, too. I like the peanut butter chocolate, chocolate deluxe, and revolution chocolate peanut caramel flavors the most. S'mores is a bit too sweet for my taste. The other flavors are rare to find.
I've been trying different Optimum Nutrition and Syntrax Nectar whey isolate flavors and logging my impressions here:
See another blog post for information about whey samples and sources.
In case you're wondering, here is a ranking based on how closely the amino acid profile of various protein sources compares with human dietary needs (the higher the rank, the more "complete" the protein source)
The theory now is that the body stores amino acids so you don't necessarily have to have ALL the essential amino acids together in the same meal.
Monday, November 02, 2009
I was chatting with my niece Martha on FaceBook late last night and we were talking about how my diet has changed since starting to lose the weight.
I remarked that I eat mostly vegetables and lean protein, and my daily average calories is somewhere between 1000 and 1200. My fat intake is on average around 15-25g per day. I try to get a minimum of 100g of protein per day. She asked what the average American eats. I didn't know.
So I went and looked it up.
According to the FAO, as of 2003 the average American diet contained
(My own diet in 2003 was probably more than that on everything except the protein.)
Contrast this with Burundi, where the average daily diet contained
What's particularly upsetting about a stat like that is that it's an AVERAGE. Which means a lot of people are getting a lot less. And not, like me, because they're trying to lose weight. They probably don't have any weight TO lose, in the first place...
Here are all the countries where people had less than 2000 cal per day on average:
country kcal protein g fat g
Eritrea 1519 45 31
Congo, Democratic Republic of 1605 24 26
Burundi 1647 44 10
Comoros 1760 43 41
Ethiopia 1858 53 19
Tajikistan 1906 50 40
Liberia 1929 30 54
Central African Republic 1932 45 66
Sierra Leone 1943 44 45
Tanzania, United Republic of 1959 47 32
Zambia 1974 49 26
Nowhere in the 2003 world did they have an average diet like mine, so high in protein, so low in fat. In all of the countries where they ate on average more than 100g of protein per day they also ate between 2557 and 3753 kcal and 55-168 g of fat.
Which is a measure of the luxury I have, to be able to design my daily food intake the way that I do.
Here is a handy interactive site that shows the amount of different macronutrients the average American consumes daily, and how it has changed since 1975:
I find the 50% drop in price of protein and sugar to be particularly stunning.
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