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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Where Have I Been (yet again)

If you're a regular reader, you've noticed I haven't been writing nearly as much the past few months.  It's partly due to the fact that so many things I've written come across a little angry or sarcastic and I really think the world has enough anger in it.  I also was gone for a few days at a wellness seminar.

So about this wellness thing-- throughout the past few years I've tried to lose weight. I've done Weight Watchers, the Whole 30, CrossFit- nothing crazy.  Aside from the Whole 30 nothing else made a dent.  I rarely eat fast food.  I don't drink soda.  I drink my coffee and tea black.  If I cut back fat too much, I get horribly dry skin.  As in crack & bleed skin.  Most of those "easy ways to lose weight" by cutting out simple things, didn't work very well.  I tracked my points, my calories-- everything.  The interesting part of the Whole 30 was that I lost weight by actually eating more- not less calories.

The entire time I was told my bloodwork was fine.  I needed to lower my cholesterol.  I needed to lose weight.  Obviously nothing was wrong that I couldn't control.

Except I felt horrible.  Physically tired. Everything that I did that was traditional didn't work.

Since the Whole 30 worked the best, I thought that maybe I had a food allergy.

Fortunately, I also know one of the top allergists in my town.  When I went in to see him, he came in and was shocked.  He asked me what was up.  Then he cut me off.  He's known me for years.  He's watched me struggle.  He said "It's metabolic syndrome."  Basically, my entire system was slowing down. It would eventually lead to diabetes and heart disease.

He went through every step I had taken- asked if I had increased my exercise initially.  Yes.  Then I cut calories.  Yes.  Then I had my thyroid test.  Then this... then I did that... and then he said "You probably went to Weight Watchers, watched everyone else around you lose weight and thought 'Fuck this.'"

That part made me laugh.  Because that was EXACTLY what happened.  I almost punched the guy who talked about how he cut his 7-8 daily  Mountain Dews and the weight magically fell off.

He gave me some links to studies at Stanford.  It went through what I had experienced.  A lot of doctors think it's BS to begin with.  They don't.  I read through a lot of information and came up with the following conclusion:

My cortisol levels were higher due to stress.  In fact, some of the weight lifting I had done actually made this worse.  The cortisol, when out of balance, causes belly fat.  Which creates more ghrelin and more cortisol.... a vicious cycle. 

At this point, I would like to state that I am not a physician and I am not scientist.  I am also still fat.  These are just some ideas from a bunch of studies I've read. I'm a fairly sharp cookie and I actually read the studies that were footnoted in articles-- not just the blurbs- but please, this is not advice.  It's where I'm at now.

On a business trip on the plane , as a I read through one that I had downloaded, I happened to see what the man next to me was reading-- he was giving a presentation on diabetes.  He was an endocrinologist from UCLA.  We chatted for about two hours on the topic.  Once he realized I wasn't a lunatic, he started to give me ideas and he was very excited to have met me.  Genuinely.  He also reiterated what nearly every single one of my friends who is a physician has said - what I was considering was lifestyle and patients don't want to hear from their doctors that they need to change their lifestyle.  They want a quick fix.

In my research, I kept coming up on Dr. Weil- the hippie looking doctor that's always on PBS-- and Dr. Deepak Chopra.  They have slightly different approaches, but they are both very much into holistic medicine.  Dr. Weil focuses more on the nutritional components.  Dr. Chopra's research focused on the mind-body connection.

And wow- look at that, they were doing a joint conference in March in San Diego.

So I went.  About a third of the attendees were physicians and nurses.  There were a number of cardiologists and oncologists from some pretty impressive institutions.  Probably a third were from outside of the US.  In fact, aside from the very wonderful women I met from Fresno, I was the person that lived the closest.

I had thought it would be more middle aged fat women.  Nope.  We were there, but we were, by far, the minority.

In the seminar, the single most important thing that they emphasized was meditation.

Single most.

Sitting still for 30 minutes, twice a day had the greatest impact on one's health.

Over diet.

Over exercise.


And I would like to point out that this referenced health, not weight.  Hold on to that for a moment.

Then, they discussed yoga.  Real yoga.  Not yoga fit.  Not Super Yoga.  Real, breath focused yoga.  I blogged on how happy I was to have found a real yoga studio-- so I got what they were saying.

Stretching, breathing, focusing, balance.

That was the second most important thing for health.

Then they encouraged Aryuvedic diet and nutrition.  They promoted a vegetarian diet, but did not go crazy with it.  They said if you eat natural, unprocessed foods, you will feel better and be healthier.

Not shocking.

They also talked about incorporating all the senses in your food- color, texture, taste.  Being more connected to where your food comes from.

I garden.  I get it.  If you've ever had one of my salads, I take the whole balance thing seriously.  My salads always have salty, sweet, crunchy, creamy, spicy, astringent flavors.  I hadn't really taken it to all my cooking though-- every meal should have that.  It makes sense.  It's why I like salads.

They also discussed eating 70% of what you think you want.

For exercise, you should go for a walk every night for 30 minutes.

Sports and other exercise are for the sake of sport.  But for health and wellness, walking is adequate.

Meditate, yoga, eat a plant based diet, and light, consistent exercise.

To lose weight if that's your goal, eat less, move more.  That didn't change.  But first, relax.  When you are relaxed, you probably won't overeat.  And you'll want to move.


For the past 2 weeks, I've been trying.  It's harder than you think, but it's also easier than I would have thought.  I've missed one day- and I could tell.  I go into my closet (it's big), sit on a pillow and use their techniques.  Some days I just can't.  Too many things are flying through my head- it will never be silent in my mind, but I'm too focused on everything I need to do.  But I'm working on it.

Once it's habit- hopefully in a month, I'll add more yoga.  The yoga classes almost stress me out- one more thing to add to the to do list.  I'll probably start doing it at home with broadcasts on my Kindle or YouTube.  But every day. 

I'm trying very hard to incorporate more mindful eating.  I'm doing a green smoothie for breakfast with some nuts.  Homemade soup or a salad for lunch.  I'm trying to make it my biggest meal as tey suggest.  Dinner I'm trying to balance more and make it less.  That parts hard- I'm used to a bigger dinner.

I have not done the walking thing.  First steps, first.

So in lieu of blogging or other things, I've been sitting in the dark in my closet.

And the verdict- I feel so much better.  I'm calmer. 

When I'm calmer, things go better.

When things go better, I don't want to shove food in my piehole.

We'll see.

But for now, I think I'm on the right track.

No pressure.  No goals.

Just feeling better.

And I am.

And yes, there were the patchouli smelling folks, too.

It wasn't what I thought I was going to, but it was exactly what I needed.

Because my life absolutely, positively always works like that. 

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