Deleting this blog

By the first of August, I’m going to be deleting this blog. I just don’t have time to update it anymore and this blog doesn’t have many people interested in it anyway.

The current experiments are going well, and I have determined that something in the pancakes is contributing to our weight loss issues, but I haven’t been able to determine what exactly it is. I stand by an assessment I made months ago, however: The switch from pasture-fed ground beef to grain-fed was detrimental.

Anyways, I’m announcing this ahead of time so that, if you want to save any recipes I’ve posted or download the update info, you can. Please feel free to do so.

For those of you that have been following my weight loss and would like some more information on weight loss for yourselves, Mark’s Daily Apple is a good starting point… and he actually updates his blog.

Monday Musings - The Coming Weeks

Starting this Thursday, my mother and I will be going into our self-experimentationt phase. Essentially, we’ll be making changes to how we eat and see how it affects us.

But before I go into the first few changes, let me explain a concept for the non-programmers/math nerds out there. I’m going to relate it to a simple “higher or lower” concept. Basically, if someone asks you to guess a number from 1 to 100 and they’ll tell you higher or lower every time you guess a number. The maximum number of tries it should take you is 8. If it’s 1 to 1,000, the maximum number should be 10. This is because you can eliminate half the numbers it’s not in every guess.

So, for example, if you guess 50, you’re right 1% of the time, 1-50 is eliminated 49% of the time, and 50-100 is eliminated 50% of the time. Once you’ve eliminated about half the numbers, you can chop it down the middle again and eliminate half of them again.

Similarly, when it comes to testing what’s wrong with our diet, it would be best to eliminate a large number of things that could be detrimental while introducing a large number of things that could be beneficial. If there are results, revert half the changes and see how that affects things.

However! Care must be taken in this regard. If something could be positive or negative, including it in large changes may have deceptive results (including no change). In other words, if something might be helping you lose weight or causing you to gain weight (as an example), then it may be best to test it on its own.

In my mother’s an my case, the sweeping change is to eliminate all pancakes and parts of pancakes aside from the eggs. A few things in the pancakes may be contributing to weight gain or plateauing, but I doubt that there’s any particular part that’s affecting us positively aside from the eggs. Should eliminating pancakes have a positive result, more testing will be in order. We’ll re-introduce parts of the pancakes as we go until we find the cause.

So… next couple of weeks (after Thursday) will be pancake-free. After that, if things are successful, we’ll re-introduce whole milk. If we’re still positive, adding a bit of honey to the milk should turn things negative again. In that case, I am not restricting our glycemic load quite as much as I should (something I’ve been suspecting for a while). After that… well, I’ll discuss what we’ll do after that.

Anyways, let’s hope things go well. See ya!

Week 88 Update

Interestingly enough, the scale shows my mother and I as both having lost weight… about to where we were before last week. Whether this is an issue with the scale (last week or this) or the fact that we’d fallen into some bad habits before last week, I still want to do the self-experimentation.

Even if we’re losing weight now, I want to see if there’s anything we can do to make it go faster. Weight (or even BFP), of course, is not the only measure of health, but it’s the only one we’re currently measuring, and it’s an important one. After having lost almost 80 pounds, I can tell you that it’s so much easier to get around than before I lost the weight, and it’s easier to breathe. Actually, a lot of things are easier, which is why I want to lose even more of the excess fat.

Naturally, health comes first, so I’m not going to take obviously bad routes (that generally don’t work as well long-term anyway), but I will be experimenting to see what foods in our diet or habits in our lives may be affecting weight loss negatively or what foods or habits aren’t plentiful enough that affect weight loss positively.

But I’ll go into that in this week’s Monday Musings, which… will hopefully actually happen this week.

Anyways, here are the measures.

Week 87 Update

25 weeks. That’s how long I’ve been silent. Things have happened, but certainly not death. No, I’m still very much alive.

Unfortunately, my plans to fit into my summer bikini, unfortunately… not so much.

It seems that leptin resistance was not the key after all, as my weight and my mother’s weight has very slowly started to increase since adding that high carb day to our diet.

That leaves us with the question, then, of why we aren’t losing. Unfortunately, that’s… a difficult question. There are at least half a dozen possibilities and each will require some testing. The next couple of weeks will be baseline tests for how things are now (as in, how much we gain or not when nothing changes). After that, we’re going to try a few things.

You can go ahead and skip this paragraph if you’re not interested in a timeline of changes, but if you are: First, we will be cutting out the coconut flour pancakes (going with eggs and low glycemic fruit in place of the pancakes and berry mash). If that’s successful, we’ll try having a cup of milk per day in the morning. If that’s successful, we’ll add some honey to the milk. By then, we should be gaining again. This will help us identify what component in the pancakes is contributing to the weight gain. If nothing changes when cutting out pancakes, then we’ll try eating more nuts. If that fails, we’ll work on eating more salads.

By the time that’s done, I’m hoping that we can afford to get grass-fed ground beef. It’s no secret that our weight loss stalled after we switched back to grain-fed, and that’s really not surprising, given how important CLA and omega-3:omega-6 ratio are when it comes to fat loss and the near-tripling of elaidic acid in factory farmed beef.

There is no doubt that my mother and I are in a very high percentile when it comes to the intervention required for sustainable weight loss. I’m just hoping that we’ll find what intervention works best… and soon.

I suppose you want the results. As we’ve only measured weight and body composition, I’m going to put both charts into one .rar file and upload that.

Measures here.

Wish me luck, I suppose

Edit: Side note: There are a few other possible factors in our stalled weight loss, but I’ll go into them in Monday Musings.

neon-vagina:

bigeisamazing:

ronaldreagay:

laughing cow cheese huh?
image
I BET THAT COW WASNT LAUGHING WHEN YOU SLAUGHTERED IT HUH

you don’t kill a cow

to make cheese

image

this is literally my favorite

So I know I don’t normally reblog this sort of stuff and this blog has been a little dead for far too long (I did start taking measurements again and will probably be posting an update either this or next Saturday), but I just have to say:

Vegetarians are great. Seriously, if not for Tumblr vegetarians, we would never have posts like this.

Recipe Spotlight - Rosemary Porkchops with Cream Gravy

Okay, I was going to wait for a while to post this, but I had a request to post this, and I shall. This is a recipe that everyone loves. It’s simple to make, and absolutely delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless pork chops
  • 1-2 tsp dried rosemary (or two sprigs of fresh rosemary)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking fat (I use butter, but feel free to use bacon grease or tallow)
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 cups (one pint) heavy cream
  • pepper (to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Melt fat in a cast iron skillet over medium high heat and add pork chops
  2. Add half of the salt and rosemary, rubbing rosemary between your palms
  3. Turn the pork chops after ~5 minutes (until they’re medium brown)
  4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 before removing pork chops to a cooling rack (or plate)
  5. Pour off the excess fat and pour cream into the pan, whisking to integrate the bits at the bottom of the pan
  6. Reduce the heat to low and add pepper and salt, if necessary, and reduce until the gravy is somewhat thickened (it will thicken more as it cools, I find that a medium brown works well, but I like mine plenty thick), whisking periodically to ensure that the gravy doesn’t boil over
  7. Add pork chops for just a moment more on each side to coat with gravy, then plate, cover with more gravy, and serve.

Enjoy!

Monday Musings - No More Vitamins

You’ve heard the news reports: Vitamins are a waste of money. Heck, this story even says that vitamins have been dealt a “death blow”! Clearly, this means that I’m going to stop taking my vitamins, right? Of course, if there’s anything we’ve learned from news stories about studies, it’s that the stories are almost always full of crap. Okay, so most news stories about studies are bad, but that doesn’t mean we should just dismiss this out of hand. As with all things, we must look at the studies.

Now, I’m not going to go through every vitamin study ever published and point to issues here or there or where good science happened or whatever. Instead, I’ll be looking at the studies that supposedly deal a “death blow” to vitamins. Thankfully, there are still some news outlets that actually source their information. Unfortunately, the AoIM is hiding two of these studies behind a paywall, so I can’t talk about anything that isn’t discussed in the abstracts. One day, maybe I’ll be able to subscribe to journals for a single Monday Musings entry, but right now, that paywall is just too daunting. Okay, it would only cost $15 for this issue, but that’s still too rich for my blood.

Anyway, let’s get down to business. Let’s deal first and foremost with the study on which I’m sure everyone wants to focus. This particular one studied what happened when they gave multivitamins to patients who had suffered a miocardial infarction. Starting point: Miracles of miracles, but this is actually a clinical trial. I’m shocked, news outlets. Then again, I’m not that shocked, since it’s pretty close to impossible to show negative results for vitamin usage in observational studies (thanks to the effects of health consciousness, an effect shared by vegetarian diets). Now if we could only get the news outlets to report clinical trials in regards to vegetarian, low carb, and low fat diets… Anyways, that’s aside from the point. The point is that the study design is actually good. At least, as far as I can tell from the abstract. There is a problem with the study, however: The drop-out and non-compliance percentages are huge. This, too, was reported by the news outlets. They’ve reported all the facts, haven’t they?

Well… no. See, there’s one very important number that they didn’t report: 79%. What do I mean by that? Well, a (very) inaccurate way of explaining CI is this: When the relative risk’s 95% CI falls to the point where the larger number is less than 1, there’s a 95% chance that what they did actually did something positive. But what happens if, say, the larger number is 1.01? Do we just toss out something that shows a 90% chance of effectiveness? Oh, you say, but this didn’t end at 1.01! In fact, the 95% CI was .75 - 1.07. Clearly, this debunks any chance at all that the vitamins were effective, right?

Oh, you silly boy… or girl. Or intersexed/androgyne/genderqueer/etc.

No.

See, the p value here represents the probability that the null hypothesis (the null hypothesis in this case being that vitamins don’t do anything) is true (see above about 95% CI). Now, I did my own math… with a calculator, and the p value they present seems a little… off. Not being a professional study writer, however, I can only assume that this is the standard way these are written or else the distribution is a little wonky. Either way, though, I’m going to go ahead and use their p value just because .21 works just as well for my point as .10 - .15 (depending on what standard deviation I used to describe that CI). What does that .21 mean? Well, it means that there was a 21% chance that the multivitamins either did nothing or were harmful… in comparison to a 79% chance that they were helpful. In the world of Texas Hold ‘Em, this is like holding a pair of kings against a pair of aces pre-flop.

And that 21% chance, to those editorialists and journalists, trumps the 79% chance that the opposite is true. I’m sorry, but I think I’m justified in calling bias here. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that this study proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that multivitamins help all-cause mortality or hospitalization due to the listed effects in the study in individuals that have previously experienced a myocardial infarction. Nonono. But to come to the opposite conclusion from these results is absurd at best. You want to know what these results should say? Take multivitamins for now, but we’ll keep doing research on them to find an answer for sure. Unfortunately, medicine doesn’t work like that because screw probability, we have bias.

This, by the way, is why I’m a firm proponent of the default null hypothesis. The default null hypothesis is this: Instead of the null hypothesis being that X doesn’t do anything, have it be that we don’t know if X does anything until it’s studied, at which point the null hypothesis favors probability, with a strength depending on how strongly the probably favors that side.

I don’t know about you, but I’ll play my aces against their kings any day of the week.

Okay, but that’s not the only study. In fact, the next one isn’t actually a study, but a systematic review. That’s one where they take a bunch of studies and re-figure the statistics, which means that, say, 5 studies that found no statistically significant results could end up in a systematic review where, all together, they do produce results. These are a heck of a lot better than individual studies. We may actually have something that provides conclusive results. Right?

…In some ways yes, but in some ways… no. First of all, the majority of studies reviewed dealt with specific vitamins, not multivitamins, and at least one in particular (vitamin E) is already known to be harmful when supplemented at high doses (note that that article was published two and a half years ago).

There were some studies they reviewed that studied multivitamin usage, however, and, in spite of most of the multivitamins actually only having a few vitamins or minerals involved… we find the same thing there as with the previous study: The probability is just shy of 95% that multivitamins had a positive effect on all-cause mortality. On cancer, it was actually within that 95% CI for male patients and the reviewers noted this. And yet, it spite of this, the advice the editorialists and journalists give is still to not take vitamins.

As for the last study that’s mentioned in these articles, I’m not going to try to debunk it or show probability issues. Truth is… I don’t think I can. Even if I knew what SU is (full disclosure: I don’t), the results look pretty reasonable to me in the claim that mulitvitamins don’t do anything to aid in cognitive function… in those studied. See, here’s a major issue with vitamin studies: Most vitamins are taken in the morning, which is also when most people have breakfast… breakfasts that often consist of fortified cereal (note that, as someone eating a whole food diet, that doesn’t apply to me). What’s the significance of this? Well, B12 is the vitamin in most multivitamins that arguably has the largest effect on cognitive function, and thanks to intrinsic factor (seriously, WTF is with that name?), your body can only effectively absorb 17-33% of your RDA of vitamin B12 in one sitting (of course, I imagine that the RDA is about twice what your body needs in a day to reflect the poor absorption even with intrinsic factor). This means that, if you’re eating fortified cereal with 100% of your RDA of vitamin B12 per serving and have perfect absorption, measuring abilities, and a completely homogenous cereal (yay physics!), you’re actually getting around 1.18 mcg of B12. Add another 100% on top? You’re now getting 1.26 mcg. Whoopdie friggin’ doo. If, on the other hand, you’re only getting a small amount of B12 in the morning, that extra B12 might help. We can’t say because studies of this nature are severely limited in this way. This, by the way, doesn’t take into account the absorbability of the supplements or the fortified cereal.

Now, that’s not to say that any old multivitamin will do. I take a multivitamin that I chose because of its price and composition. As many of you may know, my mother and I share our meals, and thus also food. On her latest trip to the store, I asked her to pick up another bottle of my multivitamins, which her store apparently does not sell. She instead got a 60 capsule bottle of two-a-day vitamins (one month’s supply) for $8. I immediately looked at the label and saw the bad news. These vitamins had 50 mcg of B12 (833% RDA). Remember that talk we had above? Perfect absorption would mean 1.6 mcg over a multivitamin with 100%, which would be 1.18. Vitamin C, which is water soluble and thus large amounts become expensive urine, is in these at a rate of 300 mg (500% RDA). But it gets worse. Remember that talk we had about excess vitamin E? Yeah. These have rather high amounts, as well as other vitamins that shouldn’t be taken in high amounts. And all this so they can charge people that think that more is better $8/month. Yeah, I went ahead and got my own brand when I went to the store.

My own brand, by the way, costs $6.49, is one/day, contains a reasonable amount of vitamins and minerals (you won’t find, nor would I want, 100% of every vitamin and mineral in a supplement), and comes with 250 capsules. That’s 2.6¢/day. Look at all that money that I’m wasting.

You might not want to take multivitamins for one reason or another. That’s fine. But for 2.6¢/day, I’m going to play my aces against their kings. Every single day.

Week 62 Update

Well, we’re late again, aren’t we? It’s understandable, though. My mother was gone for most of the weekend, so she couldn’t weigh in on Saturday.

What’s surprising, however, is that she lost weight in spite of the extra cheat days. I had thought that we wouldn’t see improvement for the first week of carb refeeding, since we did it on Wednesday this week and are going to do it Thursday this week (the week after has Christmas, where we’ll be carb loading anyway, so I figure that Christmas might as well be our carb refeed day). I had thought for sure that we’d see initial weight gain and then weight loss, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Obviously, it’s a little too early to call success on this experiment, but it looks promising. It seems that leptin leapt in to save the day.

Huh? Huh?

…Sorry. I’ll go now.

Oh, before I do: We’ll be running mental measures this Monday if at all possible and Sunday of next week if not, so there might be some mental measures (probably the Sudoku one, the one that only I do) this Saturday if we can swing it. If not, it’ll be next week. As for the blood pressure, I’ve been unable to gain access to the machine for the past few weeks. I apologize, but it is beyond my control.

I think that’s it for the report, so here’s the raw data:

Recipe Spotlight - Pumpkin Pie Soup

And I didn’t like it.

Honestly, I just had trouble getting it down. And then I watched the Good Eats episode on pumpkin pie, and Alton Brown mentioned how good butternut squashes are as a replacement for pumpkins in pumpkin pie. Sure enough, the recipe I was using for soup even called for cinnamon.

And I knew that I had to take it to the next level.

So, after some experimentation, I’ve come up with this recipe for pumpkin pie soup. Keep in mind that all measurements are approximations and, aside from that, you should customize it based on your own preferences.:

Ingredients

  • 1 medium sugar pie pumpkin or butternut squash (if sugar pie pumpkins are unavailable)
  • butter for brushing
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups vanilla cream
  • 1 Tbsp unfiltered honey (or more or less, to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (again, more or less, to taste), I prefer pink Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp each cloves and allspice

Directions:

  1. Bake the pumpkin/butternut squash (skip everything except the squash and the butter here) and let cool
  2. Scoup out the flesh of the squash into a food processor and begin processing. Use the feed chute to add the remainder of the ingredients until the puree is uniform
  3. Add to a 2-4 quart slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or until a light brown crust forms
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Pretty simple and very good. I tend to avoid making it simply because of the fact that it’s somewhat higher on the glycemic load than I tend to prefer, but in reality, it isn’t too bad.

Oh, and just a suggestion? If you buy cream by the pint, use the leftover vanilla cream to make whipped cream (sans the mascarpone) to serve with the soup. If not, then just whip up some vanilla cream. No need for perfect completion, I suppose.

Monday Musings - Self-Experimentation

So, in case you missed my latest update, my mother and I will be partaking in a bit of self-experimentation in the coming weeks. We’re going to start out with a carb refeed, as Thanksgiving weekend seems to have helped with our weight loss somewhat. Well, it set us back first, but we ate a lot of pretty terrible things in those five days and it was five days.

If that doesn’t work, I do have a list of a number of things to try.

But I want to talk about self-experimentation in general for a bit. See, I can research guidelines about what I should eat, but when it comes right down to it, nobody can really tell me the exact specifics of what’s healthy for me. Everyone is different. Maybe you can absorb and convert beta-carotene better than I can. Maybe I can’t absorb quite as much B12 per meal as you. Maybe a billion other different variables. Certainly, we can take a “safety net,” such as ensuring that we get enough pre-formed retinol, B12, and EPA in our diets that we don’t have to worry about those common problems, but when you get right down to it, to achieve great health (and I’m Taoist, so it would be remiss of me not to try to achieve this), you need to figure out some of your body’s particulars. Some people manage to be healthier when they add some benign starch into an otherwise low glycemic diet. Others won’t be able to handle that starch at all. Some can’t tolerate dairy, whereas for others, it provides fantastic nutrients and no problems whatsoever.

As I said before, however, you can use studies and reliable sources as guidelines. Maybe the exact way I eat wouldn’t work for you. It certainly won’t if you’re lactose intolerant. But the way I started this diet was from guidelines I set forth. Whatever I do, it won’t be too far off from those guidelines, and you can rest assured that the food I eat and the diet I maintain will be within the “positive results” range for just about anybody. In order to get better than just positive results, however, you may not be able to eat exactly the same way I do.

I feel like I’ve started to repeat myself, so basically… if you’re using this blog as a guideline to how you eat (or primal or paleo or whatever), make sure that it’s just that: A guideline. If you’re fine with the results you see, then don’t worry about it. If you’re like me, however, and you want to achieve great health, you’re going to need to make adjustments for your own personal requirements. Ideally, you’d run actual blood tests and the like, but who among us is really going to shell out for two NMR LipoProfile tests (one before, one after, not to mention any number of other tests) just to confirm if dairy is okay? The point is this: Do some research, real research, and find some guidelines. Be honest with how you feel and why you feel the way you do. Then, do some self-experimentation and continue to be honest with how you feel. If you find a reason to update your guidelines, do so and experiement that way. As long as you’re honest with yourself, you do the research, and you try things for yourself, you, too, can achieve great health.