Stress management, diet.

I ignore the US food guidelines. If a food has a heart tick, I avoid it.

Numbers? My glucose is within normal limits, my HBA1c is so low that the GP and I have cut medications, and my cholesterol is lower than when I was 20, and running 100 -120 miles a week. When I slide out of ketosis — and i have, due to stress, in the last two weeks — I feel awful, get sick, or both.

And in one cycle of moderate ketosis we averaged a 10 kg (20 plus pound) weight loss — in ten weeks.

But the activists for the  current system are there. They don’t want high fat food. They want high carb. Mark Sisson is correct: it has made us the size of elephants.

The USDA dietary guidelines are designed for professionals who administer and recommend diets to their patients.They’re used to develop federal food programs and health policies. State and local governments, schools, businesses, charities, and dozens of other organizations with the power to shape the food and food-related information we consume all use USDA dietary guidelines as, well, guidelines.

You may have a good grasp on the science of food and the diet that works for you—but millions of people do not. Millions rely on the experts and the medical professionals and bureaucrats to make their decisions for them. If those authorities are operating with bad information, what do you think happens?

The obesity epidemic happens. The type 2 diabetes epidemic happens. Low-fat chocolate milk in the lunch line happens. Statins for toddlers happens. Fat acceptance (not the same as self-acceptance) happens. An exploding mobility scooter market happens.

This isn’t a magic fix. This information—the right stuff, the helpful stuff I and other folks in the community have been doling out for years—is readily available, and not everyone wants to listen or buy in. That isn’t going to transform just because the USDA changes their tune. And the tune isn’t going to change dramatically no matter what happens. You won’t see the USDA recommending bone marrow and keto anytime soon. But it will start shifting things in the right direction. And it’ll expose a large number of people who’d never heard anything but the official line about low-carb diets and saturated fat to a radically new position that could really improve their health and make eating both more enjoyable and more effective.

And there’s an even bigger reason to get involved and submit a comment: Vegetarian activists and passionate defenders of the status quo (yes, they exist) are out in full force submitting comments arguing against low-carb diets and the relaxation of limits on saturated fat consumption. They already wield a home court advantage—everyone “knows” vegetarians are healthier and holier—so we need to push back.

If you are American, you can submit a comment to the USDA here. If you are not an American: ignore them. Look at the people in that nation. Everything Mark says applies to NZ and Canada and Australia — and we have the same recommendations. It is clearly not working.

It is better to get a good keto based programme to lose the weight.

In short, don’t do what the others are doing. Live in balance. I’m a few years older than the author of this post, but I can confirm that when you are doing a job you despise, your training and diet will not compensate. You need to account for the job as a tool to do things you need or want, or change.

And looking, as the author suggests, at people 20 to 30 years older — it is the ones hurrying up the hill to take photos at sunrise that I want to emulate.

When I first started writing this article, I thought I’d end up promoting high-intensity exercise and revealing how I structure my training. I do believe that high intensity is particularly important as we age, as there’s plenty of data to show that it’s our ability to perform explosively that wanes earliest and quickest. Many people struggle to sustain high-intensity training, yet I seem to thrive on it even at high frequency and volume. Why? Am I doing something differently from them?

Yes I am, but it’s not because of reps, sets, and weight. I believe I’m better able to cope with intensity and volume because I’ve greatly reduced the stress in my life. Our bodies can’t tell the difference between psychological stress and physical stress; it’s all the same. If you’re burning through your monthly stress capacity outside of the gym, you’ll have less to throw at your workouts.

The key to my stress management was to reduce the negative influences in my life by radically changing my lifestyle. Fifteen years ago I lived in the city in a house with a tiny garden and neighbors far too close for comfort. I spent 2-3 hours a day sitting in rush hour traffic and working in a well-paid job that I hated, and spent the money I earned trying to make it more tolerable. I trained extremely hard in karate for a couple of hours most evenings but spent the rest of my time stuck behind a desk or behind the wheel of a car.

Fast forward to today, and my life is far less stressful, and my work, training, and downtime are gradually moving closer and closer together. I’ve switched from the high earning job to running my own business from home; I don’t earn anything like what I did before, but being your own boss brings its own rewards. My box-like house in the city has been swapped for a home in a country village, and I count horses and cows among my neighbors. I’m a very regular gym goer, interested in calisthenics, bodybuilding, and strength training, but when the weather is good I can get my exercise outdoors. Never underestimate the training value of hammering up a mountain in the dark with a heavy pack on your back while racing to view the sunrise from the summit.

And do what you can. Since I managed to bork my left shoulder (just starting to heal with a lot of physio and exercises) I have to concentrate on cardio. I miss the weights. But I also miss long distance running. And the only way to do these things… again… is to scale like crazy, and not go extreme.

And that has to start with stress management and diet.

Macros Pete Evan’s seed and nut loaf.

We made this loaf as per the recipe I have screenshot the recipe in case Pete Changes it and I have a photo of the result.

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The taste test was that it was nutty, like the old vogel’s loaf (which is a good thing) and worked well with butter and coconut greek yoghurt. It looks versitile as an everyday substitute for bread,

But you have to eat it by the slice. This loaf is a fat bomb: I am assuming you eat thin slices (I am assuming 50 slices)

I had two slices. I was full.

Full loaf Per Slice.
Calories 3200 64
Protein 119.5 4
Fat (g) 268.9 5.2
Carbohydates (g) 92.6 1.8
Free sugar (g) 16.56 0.2

Keto or Paleo or Primal — who cares [Links that help]

This started when we were looking at a bone marrow recipe that Pete Evans had made, and it had as a side seed and nut bread. For there are a few things that I miss, and one of them is toast. Preferably slathered with butter. We are using a fair amount of recipes from Paleo people like Pete, plus primal and keto people such as Mark Sisson.

And we have been collecting practical links.

Firstly, get a spiralizer

Pete Evan’s Seed and Nut bread. Original Recipe.

Pete Evan’s seed and nut bread.

This is a modification, that is still too full of carbs, but may also work, from Pete Evans.

Nic’s Paleo loaf

100g (1 Cup) Almond Flour or Meal, pushed through the sieve
50g (1/2 Cup) Coconut Flour, then sift
4 tablespoons Psyllium seed powder (optional and not recommended if you have IBS or similar)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
8 free range pasture fed eggs, beaten until fluffy
4 tablespoons cold pressed virgin olive oil
A few good pinches of Sea or Himalayan salt

Set oven to 120 °C. Grease a 20 cm x 10 cm loaf tin and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Combine all of the dry ingredients then add the beaten egg, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, and stir well to combine. Scoop mixture into the bread tin and spread out evenly to all four corners. Bake for 80 minutes, remove, allow to cool a little, slice, then eat it with whatever tickles your fancy.

This is an adapted version which seems to be half way in between.

Note that we will be trying these slowly. One of us can’t tolerate grains or milk: there is also a very good site with a bunch of recipes worth trying. In particular, the lunch ideas will help.

Some of the recipies we have tried did not aid in us staying keto and happy. But this worked. You will need a spiralizer. We like the Vegetti one.

Salmon on a spiral raw salad.

400 g Salmon, fresh.

Four to six small zucchini (courgettes)
One to two carrots.
Baby spinach.

Coconut greek yoghurt. 100 ml

Half lemon
Olive oil vinagrette.

Serves four.

Spiralize courgettes and carrots until you have 400 g total. Put aside.

Divide salmon into four pieces
Take about 1 m (3 feet of aluminium foil) Put foil over an oven proof fish (or cookie plate) Place fish in middle of foil Squeeze juice of half lemon over fish, and add cracked peer and salt. fold foil so the fish is sealed. Bake at 200 celsius for 20 minutes.

On serving dishes, put a handful of baby spinach or mixed salad, then 100g of the spiralized vegetables, then a small amount of vinagrette. Place cooked fish on top. Smear about 25 ml of coconut greek yoghurt on top.

This can be refrigerated and eaten the next day, but it is far better fresh.

This requires raw fish. You could make it with any firm fish: check what is in season. Fresh Salmon is expensive here. But it is a good meal for guests or special occaisions.

Walking

The foundation of any fitness program is walking. This should be every day.

A lot of my walking — and I’m on an ultra low carbohydrate diet at present, and limiting intense exercise — is to park a little further away. But I like to walk: preferably in silence, and preferably with Robyn

As Mark Sisson notes:

Not so with hikes. When I’m browsing Yelp or some other hiking review site for a hike to try, I avoid the ones with the most reviews. I expect and prepare for crowds at a good restaurant. Crowds can even enhance a restaurant’s atmosphere. I hike to escape the crowds.On short hikes, don’t take food. Don’t wear a backpack. If it’s a short enough hike, don’t even take water.

I love to hike totally unencumbered. Save for whatever fits in my pockets, I prefer to leave it behind. If it’s a cool day or a short hike (1-4 miles), I’ll even leave the water behind.

This gives me more freedom to roam and explore. I can run if I want to. I can lift a rock or log or climb a tree. Mostly, I just like having my hands free as I walk. There’s nothing like gliding down a trail, light as a bird

There are a few hikes that are goals: one is in Central. These are the ones I want to know I can do. There are other walks I use as a measure of my fitness: the photo I took (Like Mark, I took a ceelphone) was on one such walk. The real issue is not what my max effort is, but how long a comfortable walk will take to do this.

And then there are the walks we should do daily.

Running? I love it. Like I love crossfit. But it needs to be scheduled, and managed. High mileage leads to chronic injuries.

Walking does not.

Finally, official RCTs on Ketogenic diets.

The standard Kiwi or American diet is bad for you. I suggest you read the entire article, and take note of the risks. In particular, if you are on medications, monitor them. Pull out your blood sugar strips and prick your finger. Be prepared to go off medications. Discuss your diet with your doctor.

Byt stable weight in the healthy range, particularly for northern people, probably requires something like this.

From the Journal of the American Medical Association.

This summer, 25 overweight and obese adults participating in a tightly controlled feeding study will take up full-time residence for 3 months at a wooded lakefront center in Ashland, Massachusetts. However, before checking in at Framingham State University’s Warren Conference Center and Inn, they will have to lose 15% of their body weight on a calorie-restricted diet with home-delivered meals.

Those who pass this hurdle will be invited to the inn, where they’ll be randomly assigned to 1 of 3 equal-calorie diets: a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet that’s either high or low in added sugar or a very low-carbohydrate, high-fat ketogenic diet that causes the body to switch from burning carbohydrates to burning fat.

The group will be the first of 5 that will participate in the trial over 3 years. Changes in body fat mass and energy expenditure will be assessed to determine if any of the diets have a unique effect on metabolism, while controlling calorie intake, in people who have already lost weight.

“It’s hard to lose weight, but it’s much harder to maintain that weight loss because of well-described physiological adaptations,” said coprincipal investigator David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, a professor of pediatrics and nutrition at Harvard Medical School and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. After most diet-induced weight loss, “hunger goes up and metabolic rate goes down, and tendency to restore fat increases.”

But there are hints that the ketogenic diet may be different. A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials suggested that people on ketogenic diets tend to lose more weight and keep more of it off than people on low-fat diets. People placed on these diets often report decreased hunger, according to Amy Miskimon Goss, PhD, RD, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Nutrition Obesity Research Center. The appetite-suppressing powers of the diet aren’t fully understood but could have to do with the satiating properties of fat and protein, changes in appetite-regulating hormones on a low-carb diet, a direct hunger-reducing role of ketone bodies—the body’s main fuel source on the diet—or other factors.

Additionally, the ketogenic diet may not affect metabolism the same way other diets do. In a previous study, Ludwig found that metabolism slowed by more than 400 kcal/d on a low-fat diet while there was no significant decline in metabolic rate on a very low-carb diet.

In a Ketogenic diet, your carbohydrates are under 50 g a day (1 oz). In a strit keto diet, they are below 30g. There are tools to help you do this, and books that can help. But you really need to self monitor, and have some pretty frank discussions about your medications. And be prepared to cut things down slowly while monitoring.

And a lot of current diets suggested in the press and books are quite keto: for one reason. It works. It is how we both lost weight (paleo diets are functionally keto).

Life Hacks.

We are about to start an adventure with the diet: Robyn has found a ketosis diet that she can understand because it uses NZ ingredients. So she’s going to try it, and I will support her.

But in the meantime, some hacks that are helping. They are counter intuitive, and your mileage will vary.

  • Don’t use a smartwatch. I am a fan of the Pebble, but… it talks too much. I spent too much time watching it, and counting steps not working on fitness. It woke me at night. So I took it off while travelling (changing time zones is a hassle) and found I slept better. Put it back on, same experience. So I’ve taken it off. I’m using an old automatic watch, that just keeps the time
  • Slow down, way down. Over Christmas we were in Central where we have a 8 km walking track (according to Endomondo — put your phone in your pocket when you go out). We started walking it comfortably. After two weeks we were walking it fast. We did not notice the difference in perceived effort. But the fast walk left us sore for a day. Moral of the story — you need an accurate heart monitor (most wristwatches are not accurate enough, yet) or you need to go slower than you think to remain aerobic.
  • Go to bed early Our weakness is that we are both night owls… but I work in with nurses, who consider my usual start between eight and nine am banker’s hours. Ideally I’d do the Tim Ferris full set of hacks. But… go to bed early, do music practice before bed (so I’m not watching screens) and keep the room cool all help. Aim for eight or nine hours, particularly if a man
  • Lift heavy. For guys, it pushes testosterone up. It makes you stronger. If you cannot get to the gym, do weighted squats, pushups, situps, weighted situps, lunges. Two to three times a week, short and intense.
  • Avoid sugar. I have to do this, I’ve got metabolic problems. I’m not talking about those. But if I eat the standard Kiwi junk food (A slightly less sweet version of the standard American diet) my injuries start to ache, and I get irritable. It is mucch better to be calmer. If you need calories, eat something fatty. That cake or sweet selection will make you worse, as I rediscovered working at a clinical job when everyone was bringing in Christmas cookies.

One final thing. At our age, we are looking towards function. Losing weight and being fit helps one’s cognitive skills. Playing music helps one remain psychologically flexible. Praying about your concerns means you can sleep when the stress level is high (which I was forced into over Christmas, one of the worst times of the year on my side of the family).

Prioritise these things. Work can wait.

The daily apple score card and how we did.

Let’s start this with a fairly long list of things that Mark Sisson has noted this year. I am going to then comment on them, as Mark uses odd blogging code. Mark is generally an honest dealer, and this is his list.

1. Vegetable oils are still really, really bad.

2. Keto works.

3. Everything has a circadian rhythm, and the circadian rhythm affects everything.

4. What the Healththis year’s token vegan screed, came out to rapturous applause. In one of my favorite pieces of the year, Robb Wolf took it apart piece by piece and, in doing so, definitively commented on anti-meat hysteria and bad science in general.

5. We learned that the sugar industry has been stifling anti-sugar research results for decades, surprising no one while enraging almost everyone (with an honest bone in their body).

6. We learned more and more about ancient human evolution and migration. It turns out that our history is even crazier and more impressive than we thought.

7. Human gene editing drew ever nearer to the mainstream.

8. Awareness of digital media’s effect on our health and happiness grew.

9. There was serious debate over whether we’re educating and parenting our kids the right way.

10. Even as health and food-related tech has largely come up short, there were some promising developments.

‘That is Mark’s list, complete with the links. A fairly good summary. But Mark has not had a stressful year, and this one has been a doozy. The plans we have had changed because family. But looking at this framework, how have we done?

    1. We still use vegetable oils. Two types: Coconut oil and olive oil. We have stopped buying margarines, canola oil, peanut oil and other high smoke oils. Instead we have turned the heat down on pans so we don’t smoke the pan out. Or if we are going to, we use a gas barbeque
    2. Keto is freaking hard when you are diabetic. I am, and when I go low carbs (under 50 g a day), which I can do, I have to cut my medications way back or I fall over. And scare Robyn: a couple of times this year I’ve gone hypo, the most scary was during a one hour hike. I now have carbs in the car for emergencies.
    3. Our circadian rythyms ended up where we did not expect them. Both of us were evening people, and would work cheerfully until 2 am, but did not really want to get up until nine. But this year I have had too many early starts. But travelling knocks us around, particularly 4:30 am starts to get on the first flight elsewhere
    4. We tried going vegan. We like meatless meals, but we gained weight and felt awful. It lasted two weeks.
    5. Sugar is not good for you. We have tried (and not completely succeeded) in getting sugar substitutes out of our diet: unfortunately it is needed for some baking, and when we feed the kids once a week we tend to give them food they like. We do keep some sweets for hypos and high cocoa chocolate: these have less functional carbohydrates than most energy bars.
    6. I don’t care about human evolution. What the migration findings show is that our data is partial, and our ideas of what paleolithic life are speculative. Empirically, a high carbohydrate diet is bad for you.
    7. It is better to live a lifestyle that limits the damage from your genetic heritage than look for a miracle cure. When it comes to babies, young women, have them. We do not want to live in Gattaca.
    8. The trick to coping with electronic media is to stick to one task. I’m not that concerned about my cellphone affecting my neurones than being distracted by them. You need face time with people, and to talk to them. Even if you are introverted, as I am. If stressed, go for a walk, three times a day if needed. If you can’t concentrate, go for a walk. And keep on reading new things. I suggest it is not reading books and thinking that makes more of a difference, and TV, facebook and twitter are not reading. There is a reason I post poems on the main blog.
    9. I continue to subvert the next generation’s education. Whenever possible. The diet advice they get is wrong, the exercise advice is wrong, and their lifestyle means that many of them are broken and injured far too young, or give up too soon. The alternative and scary places, like crossfit and paleo, are far safer than the accepted teaching.
    10. Unless you are on insulin, ignore your blood sugar. The monitors we have are life saving for those on insulin pumps and the new wearable tech will eventually be good, but the current versions are no better than my Pebble. It is good to have goals on the amount of exercise you do, because low intensity volume counts, but it is more important to have structured high intensity workouts.
    11. Finally, I did not stretch enough this year. That needs to be corrected. But then, I also need to have lower stress. The signs I am improving are that I’m playing music and developing film. I aim to do more of these things next year.

For the rest of the year, we are based at the family crib, which is simple, and will eat at home, walk, and be with one another. Next year we hope our box is resurrected.

Have a good Christmas.

Christmas and time off.

One of the odd things about the antipodes is that Christmas is the start of the holidays for many people. It is just starting to get warm: we have had some good weather. But we have spent a fair amount of time in hospital, because one of the parents is sick. And one of us has been travelling. And a lot of work needs to get done.

So…

  • We have not done anything intense. Walks and slow jogs. It is not time to lift heavy or sprint. You will hurt yourself.
  • We have tried to eat well. Though this has been a challenge; one night we had haggis, four kinds of meat, vegetables… and then pudding, with dancing in between to settle the newly acquired fat nicely. After days like that, we generally don’t eat until lunch, or later.
  • We have gone to bed fairly early, and got enough sleep. At least some nights
  • And finally, now that the relative is out of hospital and recovering with us, we are caring for her.
  • We have maintained our own health. That has meant visits to the dentist, the optician (for both of us), and ensuring the house is clean, well ventilated and peaceful
  • We are eating our own vegetables. After failing with broccoli, silverbeet (swiss chard) and kale over the winter, the spring crop of lettuces have almost kept up with our salad consumption

This may not sound a lot like training, but the consequence is less stress, and that means less stress hormones to modify, and a paradoxical weight loss.

This reminds me of what I did when I was a kid. I would stop training around exams. Then I would build up mileage, with low intensity, then add in threshold runs, then hill work, then intervals over a six month schedule. At the end of that I would compete… or be injured. This is called periodization. It involves building a base level of aerobic fitness and then adding to it.

Now I am older, that base level of fitness has to include some strength work, or I will not be able to build the aerobic base.

But Christmas is coming, and that means time off, a base to build, and I hope home for our crossfit team in the new year.

Stairs and consistency.

Tonight we are tired. We have walked about two hours around the shore, including some wading in the sea and scrambling over rocks. Two years I could not have done this. And yesterday I ran up stairs.

This is significant. When I moved to Dunedin I found that most hills have stairs that lead to the higher streets. I went up them and down them… slowly. I was not used to such, I was unfit, and I was slow. Yesterday I ran up them, with minimal tightness, and at a good pace. I found myself using techniques to get going…

  • Taking a skip step to load my dominant leg (right) before taking off.
  • Leaving room so I could chase the person in front
  • Hunch forward, chop stride, high knees and use arm for pace (this is faster than two at time.
  • Slow recovery down

I used to do these things when I was competitive three decades ago.

So what happened? It has not been an easy week. We have been fighting off the flu, the diet has been somewhat clear but not perfect, and our weights are plateaued far higher than we want them.

We have done something physical every day we were not sick. Either intense and hard, or very slow (read walking) and quite long. It is moving into summer, and we are using the evenings.

My inspiration here has been Scott. I could not do his workouts — though I used to things about that crazy when I was quite young. But he is disciplined, he is consistent. His diet is based on a quasi zone approach, and worth considering.

Consistency matters, diet included. My old coach, Daz linked to this via facebook.

Those we trusted with health advice told us to eat vegetable oils, focus on the fat and calorie content of foods and exercise more. They also had scant concern for sugar. The food industry paid attention and pushed the ‘healthy eating’ barrow as hard and fast as it could.
Our food was filled with vegetable oil and sugar and that was ok as long as it was ‘low in saturated fat’. The dietetics industry merrily accepted the sponsorship of the food producers and sung uncritically from the same hymn sheet.
But now we see the grisly consequences of that gormless obsession with saturated fat unfolding before our eyes (provided they haven’t been destroyed by vegetable oil induced macular degeneration).
The evidence that sugar and vegetable oil is crippling us is now abundant, but those in charge of health advice refuse to act. These same experts who have presided over three decades of culpably negligent public health advice, now refuse to either acknowledge their error or change their foolhardy ways.
That advice must change immediately. We cannot afford to throw millions more of us under the bus driven by the egos of academics and fueled by the blood money of the processed food industry.

You need quite a lot of volume at low intensity. Vary it. Beach walk. Run, Swim, move the wood, weed the garden, go dancing. I get quite a bit of this at work.
But you need to make your diet things without nutritionist labels or heart ticks: vegetables and meat. We try to stick to the outsider of the supermarket: if it is a box, avoid it.
And you need to, two to four times a week, do something really intense. Such as sprinting up stairs, lifting weights, or gymnastic movements. You will need to scale (main reason to have a coach is so you scale correctly) because the training effect comes with intensity.

And regardless of age, if you are sensible (the main reason I don’t use supplements is that pain is a good limiter), you will improve.

Franette.

This week I found myself ravenously hungry. We have been away from crosscut for about four weeks… and we need to be there, at least two, ideally three sessions a week. Our main rule is to scale everything. To make things worse, our box team are transitioning to new ownership and quarters.

The diet is cleanser now we are home and this has improved Robyn significantly. I’m the one struggling.

So on the last day at the old gym the workout was

12 — 9 — 6 bar muscle up/thrusters.

Instant scale to ring rows, but my upper body strength is markedly down, scaled that to wall balls. Then the coach said — some of the guys are doing Fran, why don’t you do 21 –15 — 9 reps of ring rows and wall balls.

I did. In 4:38.

I’ve dubbed it “Franette”. The scaled Fran that will leave you gasping for air. You scale the ring rows: Rx is horizonotal (ie pulling vertically). I did not do that.

Robyn did thrusters and ring rows a minute faster at 15 kg.

At our age, scaling is an art. The balance is between injury and fitness, and this year, with this bunch, I have had no serious injuries. We just have to accept that it will take longer.