Saturday, August 1, 2015

Monthly status report


Time for a quick update. And, before I get started, thank you, Carole. You were my inspiration this week, my friend.

I have decided to check four things on a monthly basis: blood glucose, blood ketones, waist measurement, and weight. I put weight last, because it is the least significant of the four. 

Insulin's only job is to store fat, so my goal is to keep it as low as possible. In its absence, glucagon levels rise, allowing fat cells to release fatty acids for energy. Once insulin hits the streets, however, glucagon takes its toys and goes home.

A waist measurement tells me my level of visceral (gut) fat, which is one dangerous sucker. Not only does it give us the pot-belly and the apple-shape, but it is an evil, conniving, and sneaking fat mass. Instead of just wrapping itself around our organs, it releases chemicals into the blood stream that inflame our arteries, which contributes to plaque buildup. It's nasty stuff. Any woman with a waist measurement of 35 and over is in the danger zone.

Blood ketones tell me if I am burning sugar, or glucose, for fuel, or if I am burning fat. A by-product of fat-burning is ketones. The chart above will show you the range. To the far right, the red area, is not a danger to anyone who is not a type 1 diabetic. If your body is making insulin, you will not end up on the right. Doctors who should know better still warn patients about the evils of ketones. Yep. The same docs who want to put everyone on statins. *sigh*

Okay, I said "quick," so here we go:

July 1st

Morning fasting blood glucose: 106
Ketone level: .2
Waist measurement: 37
Weight: 189.9

August 1st:

Morning fasting blood glucose: 91
Ketone level: 1.2
Waist measurement: 36
Weight: 186.1

Observations:

1. Blood ketone levels are lowest in the morning, so I need to check during the day to see what that level is. Ketone testing strips are too expensive to do it every day.
2. Losing just shy of 4 pounds in a month isn't earth-shattering, but, based on my waist measurement, I must be burning gut fat, which is hunky-dory by me.
3. Sugar cravings are gone. Totally. Zip. Nada. 
4. Pizza rolls smell bad. (Sorry, I had to throw that one in. But it's true.)

I am eating a very, VERY high-fat diet, and a very, VERY low-carb diet, and I am not exercising. Once life calms down a bit, Best Half and I want to start lifting again. But, for now, pencil-neck it is.

If you are interested, Prof. Tim Noakes has a marvelous program with 5 weeks of video lessons, short "couch-time" lectures, recipes, and other awesome materials to get one started.  You get one week free, and there is a fee for the whole program. Try the free part, and see what you think. I find it useful.

The Bionic Broad out.
 




Saturday, July 11, 2015

Laying it all out there

Photo courtesy of the Noakes Foundation.
I believe that it's true confessions time. Since Christmas, I have gained 20 pounds and added 3 inches to my waistline. In the past six months, I have gone from a size 12 to a 16. Rings don't fit, shoes are tighter, ankles are swelling, sleep quality is terrible, my morning face looks 78 instead of 58, and my fasting blood sugar level is creeping up. I am shamed by what I have done to myself, even though my wonderful friends and family have said nothing, though it's all been quite obvious. I could try to justify it by claiming a hostile work environment (sad but true), or deepening depression (sad but true), or a myriad of other excuses that have no bearing on the real culprit. I blame it all on my sheer arrogance.

Yes, arrogance.

Lap band (aaargh) came out, woke up with a gastric sleeve, got down to 165 pounds, wore a size 12, thought that I was all that and a bag of kale chips, and then something happened. In my arrogance, thinking that I had beaten my problem, I decided that I could eat "normally." I was cured, right? I was wearing a size that I hadn't worn since junior high, right? I wasn't afraid to have my picture taken, people looked me in the eye, doors were held open for me, and for the first time in years, people SAW me. Society doesn't SEE the obese, except to laugh or sneer.

So, there I was, spouting the low-carb lifestyle, while others around me were looking at a round me, if you get my drift. Miserable. Everything in my closet too tight. Back to being a frumpasaurus, trying to hide the pudge. 

Shameful.

Before I am attacked by fativists, the shame is because I know better.  I was born insulin resistant, and no matter how thin I am, I will always be insulin resistant. To use an overused-to-the-point-of-triteness phrase, I was born this way. I have never been able to process carbohydrate in a normal fashion, and I never will be able to. My insulin levels spike when I eat carbohydrate, even "good" carbohydrate, and they always will. I am addicted to sweet tastes, and I always will be. 

I managed to quit smoking anything, after a doctor told me that I'd be on oxygen by age 30. I managed to quit drinking, after suffering a functional black-out. Why is sweet so different?

Because I can't see any dangers at the present time. I don't have high blood pressure (yet). I am not a diabetic (yet). All I see in the mirror is my burgeoning butt. Yet, knowing what I know, that should be enough.

For my mental health (to prevent dementia, Alzheimer's), emotional health (depression, obesity), and physical health (to ward off diabetes, high BP, cancer, inflammation, heart disease, auto-immune disorders, leaky gut, accelerated aging, yeast/fungal infections, kidney disease, fatty liver, and more), I must live by what I know and get off the endless low-carb high-carb loop. I must.

Beginning today, no artificial sweeteners. Even calorie-free sweet is still sweet, and triggers cravings, fat-storing insulin, and appetite. This one scares the piddle out of me, but it's a change that I must make.

Beginning today, a true low-carb, medium protein, high fat diet. I know what to do. I just have to do it. I HAVE TO.

Beginning today, no more snacking. I don't need it. If I have to eat every three hours, it's an addiction, not an appetite. If, for some reason, my blood sugar gets too low in-between meals, then I will have an ounce of cheese, or 2 - 3 mac nuts. No more. It's time to say goodbye to endless munching at my desk or in my recliner. 

Coffee with cream and no sucralose? Yes. Starbucks shaken iced tea with no sweetener? Yes. No low-carb desserts? (whine snivel pout) Yes. 

I beat nicotine, mumble mumble mumble, alcohol, childhood abuse and neglect, loss, trauma, and I birthed two babies. I should be able to beat the sweet. Right? 

Right.

The Bionic Broad out.






Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Those demned Danish waffles

One of my on-line acquaintances once wrote that she didn't know why people wrote blogs. "Today, I ate X, and I did Y. Who cares about what people do every day? I don't have time to read the stupid minute-to-minute details of their lives."

I'm hoping that this blog plays more of an assistance role. So, in keeping with that idea, today's topic will address the question, "WHY AM I BEING TRUE TO A LOW-CARB LIFESTYLE AND STILL GAINING WEIGHT?"

The simple and disheartening fact is that I am 15 pounds heavier than I was a year ago. I know it. My church friends know it. My colleagues know it. No one has said a word, but my closet, and the scale, know it. Gone are the size 12 pants. Almost gone were the size 14s. I felt frumpy and slow, depressed and despairing. Must have spent a year cheating like a big dog, right?

No. And I mean no.

Well, okay. The stop in Solvang, CA, did include 3 1/2 Danish waffles. Ahem. If you've ever had one of them, you would understand why that, for me, they are the crack of the pastry world. But I digress.

All the carbage that the office people brought in and chewed on all day? Nope.

Halloween candy? Not one piece.

Thanksgiving carbage? No. All sweets were low-carb.

Christmas? Nope. Even the cranberry sauce was sugar-free.

Well, if it wasn't the food, then it was sitting around on my dead butt all the time, right?

Nope. I trained for and competed in a half marathon on November 9th. I even finished in 3:42, which put me 11th from the bottom. But, by golly, I wasn't last.

Now can you see my dilemma?

Well, God is good. Thanks to "Butter" Bob Briggs, I found Dr. Jason Fung, a nephrologist from Ottawa, Canada. He uses dietary intervention to cure type 2 diabetes. If you are a type 2, or know someone who is a type 2, please make the time to watch Dr. Fung's lecture. He breaks everything down, makes it comprehensible, and might change your life.

After I watched that video, I noticed that he had six one-hour videos on why we are so fat and getting fatter. I spent six hours of my time watching those lectures, and if you want to know how to get your weight under control, I challenge you to watch all six. Yes, I know that you are busy. Yes, I know that six hours is a lot of watching. Make. The. Time. Split them up. Watch one a day. But, for crying out loud, please watch them.

I did, and it was as if a nuke went off in my brain.

Was I eating too much? No. Was I eating the wrong stuff? No. The earth-shattering, basic, and embarrassingly simple truth is that I was eating too often.

Every time we eat, our blood glucose level rises. To normalize that, insulin is released. Insulin's job is to pack that glucose into the muscles to burn for energy later. Well, I am chubby. I am insulin resistant. My muscles tell insulin, "No, and heck, no." So even more insulin needs to be released to get my blood glucose back to normal. What ends up being stuffed with that glucose? My fat cells, especially those around my middle.

Since I get up early, my breakfast is usually coffee with cream, coconut oil, MCT oil, and Splenda. I also bring an extra thermos of coffee. I sip on that all morning. Lunch is usually cheese, since I need something that I can nibble on at my desk. I chew on cheese for a few hours, a bit at a time. I eat dinner, but I snack in the evening. Do you see where this is heading? Yes, I was eating low-carb. Yes, I was eating high-fat. But I was eating all the time.

We are designed to go into a fasting state between meals and at night when we sleep. I never did that, because I was constantly grazing on something. We aren't meant to have insulin circulating in our blood stream all the time. When it is, we are storing fat, not burning it.

Oy vey. No wonder I've gained weight.

Needless to say, I've made some changes. And I have lost five pounds since we got back from our trip to the Central Coast. I am amazed. And I feel like a doofus.

But I am doofus who is losing weight again. At least as long as I stay away from Solvang.

The Bionic Broad out.














Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Beef jerky and guacamole

I just got back from a counselors' conference at the University of California, Riverside (UCR), known for many things, including the filming location for the blockbuster, Cannibal Women of the Avocado Jungle of Death. Thankfully, there was no guacamole or beef jerky on the menu (film reference), but what was on the menu, I found pathetic.

Breakfast was orange juice, bananas, apples, and pastries. Lunch was a box lunch from Subway: A 6" sub, a bag of chips, and a cookie. I walked through the "No-Man's Land" of carbage and carnage, tightly clutching my bag of Rosemary and Sea Salt Pork Clouds. At least I could eat the meat and cheese out of the middle of the sammich, but for crying out loud. It's not as if everyone at the conference was a paragon of health.

Before I go any farther, let me say that I am porky. I'm a size bigger than I should be, and I know it. But I'm doing something about it, and that something doesn't include high-sugar fruits, more-sugar-than-soda orange juice, carbage with no nutritional value, and over three hundred grams of carb in only two meals. To put that into perspective, breakfast and lunch at the conference, gram-wise, was the equivalent of fifteen days of eating for me. And, to make it worse, someone I recognized at the conference, who is very much a diabetic, was wolfing it all down with great abandon. So sad.

Also wolfing was the woman in front of me, who was so obese that she had to sit on the front third of the stadium-style seat in the lecture hall. She was too big to fit between the arm rests. Again, sad. Do you know why she got so fat? Because she got fat.

A sketchy and non-technical explanation: 

1. We eat. Our blood sugar level rises.
2. The pancreas releases insulin, whose job is to get the blood glucose level back to normal. It does this by packing it into our fat cells.
3. When we need fuel, our body taps our fat stores for energy.

But wait! There's more!

If we eat crap, our blood sugar r-e-a-l-l-y rises. The pancreas freaks, and makes even more insulin. Insulin does its job, and packs the cells with glucose. 

But:

If we keep eating crap, the insulin level in our bloodstream stays high. Insulin's job is to pack sugar IN, not let it OUT. So, the body, unable to tap its own fuel stores (fat), sets up yet another round of cravings and hunger. 

And the whole process starts all over again.

We get fat because we get fat. We are fat, yet starving to death at a cellular level. 

That's how that poor young woman in front of me got so obese. 

You know the joke about eating Chinese food and being hungry an hour later? You know why? Chinese food is very high in carbs and sugar. That meal just got packed into your belly-fat cells, and your body needs fuel to burn. Hello, sugar cravings!

If you would like to break the cycle, ditch the carbage. When you get hungry, eat a couple of cubes of a full-fat cheese, like Brie, Cream, or sharp Cheddar.  Your liver will take that and turn it into just enough glucose to meet your energy needs. No blood sugar spike, no freaky pancreas, no deluge of insulin, and no belly-fat bulge.

Dirty secret: When I am overly hungry and am too ravenous to make a rational decision about what to put into my mouth, I pop a slice of butter or a glug of heavy cream. My blood sugar will stabilize every time, enough to allow me to sanely decide what else to eat.

And by the way: When our freaky pancreas wears out, unable to produce enough insulin, and our blood sugar level stays high, that, my friends, is called diabetes. And if you are like my diabetic acquaintance who was gorging on orange juice and bananas, you're going to eventually be in deep doo-doo.

Just sayin'.

The Bionic Broad out.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

We who are about to die

Yes, Best Half and I survived the Odelay's Circus Thrill Seeker 5k, and I still have bruises in some interesting places. We started the themed runs back in March as a way of getting us more active. In fact, one of my favorite teachers at school talked me into registering for a half-marathon in November. "We who are about to die...", etc., etc.

Speaking of die, the Evil Medical Establishment (EME) is after Best Half to go on statins, even though, 1. He hasn't already had a heart attack, 2. They increase the likelihood of developing diabetes, and 3. They damage muscle, including cardiac muscle. (If the EME is after you or yours to do the same, here is a great site.) Needless to say, we are trying to effect improvements through diet and exercise. And if you think that Best Half has switched to a low-fat diet, you are out of your gourd.

Way too many people are still fatphobic, eschewing saturated fat as something that will slay them where they stand. The truth is that, to make the kind of changes that the EME wants to see in my Best Half, the object is to raise the percentage of saturated fat in his diet to at least 80%. (Several readers just fainted.)

A high-fat, adequate-protein, low-carb diet will do several things:

1. It will raise your HDL, the "good" cholesterol, through the roof. Anything over 40 is considered good. Mine is 85. HDL is like our "scrubbing bubbles," healing, cleaning, and taking out the trash.

2. It will drastically decrease our triglycerides, or blood fats. When we eat carbage, the liver packs the grossness into little packages, and sends them into the blood stream. Our triglycerides, NOT our cholesterol, are the best indicators of potential to develop heart disease.

3. It will raise our LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. BUT: If our triglycerides are low, the LDL particles are fat, fluffy guys, hitching a ride around our blood stream, and are benign. If our triglycerides are high, said particles are small and dense, like BBs, getting stuck on inflamed arterial walls and wreaking havoc.

4. It will lower your blood pressure. It will help a fatty liver. It will normalize your blood sugar. It will take the pressure off your pancreas. It will reduce your chances of developing dementia and Alzheimer's. It will slow cancer growth. It will inhibit Candida and fungi. It can reduce childhood epileptic seizures. It will help with GERD. It will reduce arterial inflammation. And, wonder of wonders, it reduces the belly!

Some of you just asked why I didn't include weight loss. Well, this type of diet can, but not always. 

After my sleeve gastrectomy, I was weighing about 165, wearing a size 12, and everything was right with the world. Of course, I had no muscle, but, hey, I was in a size 12. Now, I weigh 175, wear a 14, and I'm stronger than I've been since my mid-20s. I can run. Well, jog. Am I ever going to get back down to 165, or the 157 that my HMO says that I should weigh? I don't know. Maybe. But being healthy is more important than wearing a size 12.

My suggestion is to get into ketosis, and let the chips of weight loss fall where they may. For those of you new to all this, ketosis, for the non-type 1 diabetic, is a healthy and optimal state of burning fat for energy instead of carbohydrate. 

I bought a Ketonix, from Sweden (I felt like a member of the Jet Set, getting a package from Scandinavia), and I test my breath several times a day for the presence of ketones, or the by-products of burning fat. Blue is bad (little or trace), yellow is okay, orange is better, and red makes me dance. 

What yellow and above mean is that my body, deprived of carbohydrate (a NON-essential item), is pulling fatty acids out of my cells and sending them to the liver, which makes glucose on demand. Not too little, and not too much. On demand, as needed. Proof of that is in the Ketonix light show. As a result, my insulin stays low, my blood sugar remains normal, and my liver stays lean and mean. In other words, healthy.

One caution: For those of you who decide to take your health into your own hands and give this a go, be warned: The first week or two is tough. The body, having to make the switch from sugar-burning to fat-burning, will let you know that it doesn't appreciate your efforts. You might get a headache, or feel fatigued. To switch over to fat burning involves some amazing chemical and hormonal changes in the body. But if you persevere, you will be amazed at how much energy you have. You will drop the extra water weight that you are slogging around, and you will lose fat. 

I will be doing the half-marathon in a keto-adapted state. This is a grand experiment for me, to see if I can rely on my fat stores (about 40,000 calories) instead of my muscular sugar stores (about 2,600 calories). 

Either way, I'm nuts.

The Bionic Broad out.




Friday, June 6, 2014

We will be what we eat

Note to self: Do not, repeat not, go to Costco before noon on a weekday. This seems to be the time that every elder decides to hit the store. Now, as a future elder, please don't accuse me of being an Ageist. I'm a realist. 

In the parking lot, I got in my cardio for the day by dodging senior drivers who forgot which thingy was the brake, and which thingy was the accelerator. Eldest and Youngest Sons, you have my permission to take away the car keys when I get to that point.

After surviving the Parking Lot of Death, I noticed some disturbing connections inside the store. The health of the elder seemed to be directly related to what was in their cart. I would imagine that it's no coincidence that the more carbage in the cart, the heavier the elder. The worst example of this was the couple directly behind me in line.

One caveat here: The stereotype of the pushy and aggressive fat woman, though a stereotype, still rings true. Fat cells soak up estrogen, leaving too much testosterone circulating in the bloodstream. Hence, the aggression, facial hair, and sometimes, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). Okay...

The woman was morbidly obese, and kept inching closer and closer to me, and I thought that it was another case of an overly-aggressive fat woman. Then, I realized: the woman was having trouble standing, and was trying to get closer to the check-writing level so that she could lean against it. She was out of breath. Standing. In. Line. Out of breath. I looked at her husband, who had to have weighed at least 375 - 400 pounds, and he was also out of breath. He was flopped over onto the cart. He was too heavy and out of shape to help unload the carts. The wife was having to do it all herself, and was struggling. I looked at her. I looked at him. Then, I looked in their carts. Yes, carts. Multiple.

Cookies. Bread. Candy. Chips. Potatoes. Rice. Crackers. Sweet rolls. Pancake mix. Syrup. Canned corn. Canned peas. Bananas. Pastries.

I almost cried.

These people were my age.

This scenario is not what I want for myself in the future.

There was no way that those two were not diabetic, with the high blood pressure and calcified arteries that diabetes brings. I can't imagine what the morbid obesity is doing to their heart and kidneys, much less their hips, knees, and ankles. 

The sad thing is that those two people are starving. Literally. Because of their high carb and sugar, diabetes-producing diet, their circulating blood insulin level is always too high to allow them to tap their fat cells for energy. Their blood sugar gets too low, the body reacts by triggering cravings and hunger, they eat even more carb and sugar, and the cycle starts all over again. Ad infinitum. They might have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 - 50, but they are starving. To death.

I want to be the 91-year old woman who ran the marathon in San Diego in 7 hours and change. I want to be an elder who can drive well in a parking lot, because I am still clear-headed and not confused. I want to be in line, unloading my own cart of meat, whipping cream, cheese, and veggies, and be able to stand on my own two feet.

That's worth much more to me than a cart full of crap.

The Bionic Broad out. 








Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Good morning!

Articles have been popping up all over the place that showcase research done in the Netherlands. Scientists have determined that, if you want to lower the amount of saturated fat in your blood, reduce the amount of carbohydrates in your diet. Period. Simply avoiding saturated fat is useless, if you are still eating high-glycemic carbage.

These are my test results from last January. Many doctors would see this and freak out. I eat a diet VERY heavy in saturated fat, and some of the few vegetable oils I eat are coconut and peanut. And, as my friends can tell you, I am a bacon freak. Triglycerides (blood fats) are low. This is on a 65% - 85% fat diet.

Cholesterol - Should be less than 200. Mine is 228.

Triglycerides - S/B less than 150. Mine, 97.

HDL - S/B greater than 40. Mine, 86.

LDL, calculated - S/B less than 100. Mine, 123.

Cholesterol/HDL ratio - S/B less than 4. Mine, 2.7.


Here's another (Click on it to expand the chart):


ALT is an enzyme released into the blood by a damaged liver. In 2009, I had a fatty liver, and that poor sucker was screaming for help. So, my low-carb/medium protein/high-fat diet came to the rescue: bacon, egg yolks, butter, full-fat cheeses, pemmican, cream cheese, sour cream, coconut oil, heavy cream, etc., etc., etc. 

With these great stats, and the current Dutch research, one would think that I would kick back with my Fat-bomb coffee (half-caff, Splenda, MCT oil, coconut oil, butter, and heavy cream), and  snork smugly that Dr. Atkins had finally been vindicated. Well, not so much. Why? Because I'm afraid that people are going to up their sat fat intake without lowering their intake of carbage. Disaster on the hoof, I say.

Yes, butter is a health food. But not on toast. A bacon cheeseburger is a slice of heaven, but not with the bun. Or the fries. Heavy cream is glorious in coffee, but not when paired with sugar. Sour cream is wonderful, but not on a baked potato.

Americans got fat by accepting the low-fat hooey without demanding valid research, and then by adding insult to injury by switching to a low-fat, high-carb diet. Adding saturated fat to that way of eating (WOE) is only going to make things worse. 

Sugars make blood fats skyrocket. The liver, trying to detox a toxic soup, becomes riddled with fat deposits. Fatty livers lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. High blood sugar leads to diabetes, which leads to pancreatic cancer. Big guts lead to cardiovascular disease, dementia, neuropathy, kidney failure, and a host of other things that take years and quality of life away from us. 

We don't have to be victims of crap science. Quit bitching about "Big Pharma" and "Big Oil" and look to "Big Food," including the AHA and their bogus "Heart Check" money-making scam. 

(Zen...breathe...relax)

Okay, I'm back.

I didn't start this blog to toot my own horn. Lord knows that I've had my multitudinous times of dietary insanity, ruled by what tasted good, not by what was good for me.

I started this blog to help those of you who are hurtling towards diabetes and dementia, heart disease and high blood pressure, cancers and kidney disease.

We can open our eyes, close our wallets, and get back to a way of eating for health. Fry those eggs in butter, plop 'em beside a healthy rasher of bacon, and greet the morning with a mug of creamy coffee. It's time to take better care of ourselves.

The Bionic Broad out.