Thursday, May 22, 2014

always hungry? here's why..,

NYTimes | FOR most of the last century, our understanding of the cause of obesity has been based on immutable physical law. Specifically, it’s the first law of thermodynamics, which dictates that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. When it comes to body weight, this means that calorie intake minus calorie expenditure equals calories stored. Surrounded by tempting foods, we overeat, consuming more calories than we can burn off, and the excess is deposited as fat. The simple solution is to exert willpower and eat less.

The problem is that this advice doesn’t work, at least not for most people over the long term. In other words, your New Year’s resolution to lose weight probably won’t last through the spring, let alone affect how you look in a swimsuit in July. More of us than ever are obese, despite an incessant focus on calorie balance by the government, nutrition organizations and the food industry.

But what if we’ve confused cause and effect? What if it’s not overeating that causes us to get fat, but the process of getting fatter that causes us to overeat?

The more calories we lock away in fat tissue, the fewer there are circulating in the bloodstream to satisfy the body’s requirements. If we look at it this way, it’s a distribution problem: We have an abundance of calories, but they’re in the wrong place. As a result, the body needs to increase its intake. We get hungrier because we’re getting fatter.

It’s like edema, a common medical condition in which fluid leaks from blood vessels into surrounding tissues. No matter how much water they drink, people with edema may experience unquenchable thirst because the fluid doesn’t stay in the blood, where it’s needed. Similarly, when fat cells suck up too much fuel, calories from food promote the growth of fat tissue instead of serving the energy needs of the body, provoking overeating in all but the most disciplined individuals.

We discuss this hypothesis in an article just published in JAMA, The Journal of the American Medical Association. According to this alternative view, factors in the environment have triggered fat cells in our bodies to take in and store excessive amounts of glucose and other calorie-rich compounds. Since fewer calories are available to fuel metabolism, the brain tells the body to increase calorie intake (we feel hungry) and save energy (our metabolism slows down). Eating more solves this problem temporarily but also accelerates weight gain. Cutting calories reverses the weight gain for a short while, making us think we have control over our body weight, but predictably increases hunger and slows metabolism even more.

Friday, May 2, 2014

the moving meditation

Several years ago, I would get up before the crack of dawn and run between 2.5 and 5 miles - depending on how early I woke up and thus how much time I had available before needing to shit, shave, and shower for work. Other variables effecting how far I would go included, how many surplus calories I had available from dinner, desert, and cocktails the night before, and whether or not I had recently injured anything in my feet, shins, knees, hips, etc....,

If I didn't get my run in in the morning, I would make a point of doing it that night or afternoon. One way or another, since about the age of 26, I had managed to uphold a daily ritual of running in any kind of weather, no matter where we lived, no matter what I was doing for a living - the cornerstone of my ritual habitual was this daily moving meditation. 

I suppose that if I had been been as self-aware as I've long prided myself on being, it would never have come to pass that my dietary habits would overcome my generalized good health, principally manifesting as painful knees and joints to the point where I could no longer tolerate getting out for the daily run. But the truth of the matter is, I had no idea concerning the source of my failing subsystems. Ideas came and went, and obviously - as Dale has noted to my attention - I'd been told that gluten might be giving me problems - but that idea went straight in one ear and out the other. The only thing that persisted was a collection of bad dietary habits and a stubborn refusal to listen to and take action in response to the admonishments of folk who were telling me that "food is medicine". (Denmark Vesey) 

For 25 years since the age of about 20 I had been able to take my diet largely for granted, eat and drink whatever I pleased (or so I imagined) and my arctic-negroe constitution would deal with it and serve up the finest in health and well-being. Every day, I could take the measure of my panem nostrum supersubstantialem when I went out to pound the pavement.  Long after I gave up the daily moving meditation, I continued to profess that that remained the case, through about an extra 8 inches of waistline and various and sundry other associated declines into undisciplined entropic malaise.

So here I was last year, much bigger for the intervening years of dietary wear and tear without the compensating mechanism of my moving meditation. However, I had not given up weight training or tennis. In fact, I had begun doing wind sprints between games in order to kick up the declining quality of my movement on the court. Last summer, after playing a couple of epic tennis matches in blistering heat with my arch-nemesis from St. Louis, and, after regularly playing my son and doing these wind sprints - my knees rather abruptly began hurting to the point where I was no longer able to move effectively at all. In other words, they had begun to hurt so acutely that I had become afraid to move sharply on the court at all, and had finally devolved down to that most miserable of spectacles, the "old man's" tennis game. 

In fact, not only my knees, but also my left hand (which had never been injured, never done any running or engaged in any other meaningful repetitive motion aside from typing) had became so stiff and sore that I found it difficult to function for fear of bumping or jostling the hand and suffering waves of inexplicable pain.

Well, as I've briefly recounted over yonder, one of my old homeys came through during the holidays and convinced my entire crew to eliminate gluten from our diets. For me, a precipitating factor in accepting the prescription had come in the earlier form of taking the juice of two limes daily as a method of relieving some of the pain in my knees and hand. One of my wife's girlfriends swore that this is how old men stay spry and mobile in the Phillipines and counteract the aches and pains in joints that comes with the years. 

The limes worked well enough that they enabled me to get a good nights sleep, free of unprovoked pain, however, they didn't clear up all discomfort and did little or nothing by way of alleviating motion induced pain. So by the time we're hearing about gluten, I'm contemplating Humira or surgery or other profoundly repulsive options to address the painful symptoms whose cause I could not identify or come to terms with. 

Five months into a gluten-free diet, no bread, cake, cookies, crackers, pasta, or beer, and carefully reading ingredients on anything in a package. I'm completely free of joint pain.  Today was day 6 of my return to the religion of the moving meditation. (some of you would call it jogging - though it didn't quite rise to that level on days 1-4 and by no means has it reached the former level of something that I could respectably call running) Today I made it 1.5 miles and got fully back into the breath, the stroke, the coordinated, correct, and disciplined movement of my entire body - beginning with the deep abdominal breathing. 

Breathing in through the nostrils, pulling with the abdomen all the way down to/through the pelvic floor, I managed to open my lungs all the way back up like they haven't been at any time during this past several years of pain induced slacking. So of course when you do this, you look like the Buddha breathing with your formidable belly poked all the way out. At the rate that that's shrinking thanks to my return to the daily moving meditation, by July I should be able to jog in public with no shame in my belly game. 

I can't even begin to tell you the totality of what you lose when you don't or can't move freely with no pain outside regular muscular fatigue. That a dietary staple was the root cause of what for me has been a catastrophic lowering of my overall quality of life, and that I lived hardheadedly blind to the cause for nearly 6 years - is a wholly unacceptable fact. I'm only and wholly grateful that I finally woke up to what was killing me at an accelerated rate, and, what had grossly undermined my health and well-being for much longer than just when the symptoms became unbearably bad. Fixing the problem didn't involve any pain or expense, it merely involved a conscious and purposeful change of habit.

Now that everything works again, I can resume working again - at the level and the intensity which I formerly took for granted. Everything else is, as they say, merely conversation....,