Friday, May 11, 2012

Keep It Moving

The more I learn about health, the more fascinating it becomes.  Recently the New York Times had a wonderful article entitled Don't Just Sit There.   Basically the message is that to be healthy, we need to move - a lot.  Sitting does not serve us.  In fact, inactivity actually contributes to disease and a shorter life span.   The writer says that lack of movement disrupts DNA repair mechanisms, drops insulin response, increases oxidative stress, and slows metabolic activity within individual muscle cells after as little as 48 hours of inactivity.  She also said that watching an hour of television can snip 22 minutes from someone’s life.  People who watch (sit), on average, 7 hours for TV have shorter life spans and worse health.  Even standing up is healthier, and she recommends rearranging your work station, computer desk, or TV viewing habits so that you can do more standing.  One suggestion I loved, and have taken up, is to brush your teeth while standing on one leg (alternating legs).  This is harder than it sounds, but great for strengthening core muscles.  I'm practicing!

Also, I've gotten into a great routine of going to the gym 6 mornings a week.  On Monday it is Body Pump (weight lifting class), Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday Water Aerobics, Wednesday is Zumba, and Friday is called Muscle Blast, also using weights and other strength training.  I have come to enjoy all of these, especially the variety.  And I enjoy the feeling of having new muscle mass in my arms and legs, the ability to put my socks on while standing up in the middle of the room (versus sitting or leaning on something), not getting winded when walking up hills and multiple staircases, and other little pleasures of getting more fit.

So lots of progress!  I've lost 17 pounds.  I'm on half the blood pressure meds now, and everything is going well.  I have no food cravings, and am quite happy continuing to eat the Dr. Hyman way.  Onward and upward!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Why It's Different This Time

Over all the years of my life, I've followed various weight loss diets, too numerous to remember.  And always, of course, I've gained the weight back after the diet was "done".  This morning I was remembering that each time I've dieted I've had a little mantra to comfort myself:  "There will always be enough chocolate in the world for me."  I snorted with laughter at myself when I remembered that.  Each time I've dieted, my intention has always been to hurry up and get the weight off so that I can get back to living "normal" life, i.e. eating whatever I want to, particularly sweet things!  And there was always a fair dose of feeling sorry for myself for having to deal with weight issues.  Poor me!

This time, I haven't used that old mantra at all during these weeks of changing my life around.  The reason is that this time I'm not thinking of this as a weight loss program so much as a health gain program.  It is completely different.  And my conceptual framework has shifted so much as I learn more and more about how the body works and doesn't work, and how what we put into the body impacts all of that.

Yesterday a dear friend sent me a fantastic article called "Heart Surgeon Speaks Out on What Really Causes Heart Disease."  This was written by a long-term heart surgeon, and his thesis is that the theory that doctors have espoused for so long - that high cholesterol causes heart disease - is simply false.   The standard cure, taking statins and eating a low fat diet, is also incorrect he says.  In fact, he says, these recommendations are no longer scientifically or morally defensible.  Instead, it is inflammation in the body and particularly in the blood vessels, that does not allow cholesterol to move freely.  This inflammation is caused by chronic exposure to toxins and to foods that the body is not designed to process.    When we follow the recommended mainstream diet that is low in fat and high in polyunsaturated fats and carbohydrates we cause repeated injury to our blood vessels. This repeated injury creates chronic inflammation leading to heart disease, stroke, diabetes and obesity. 

He goes on to talk about eating sugar and highly processed carbohydrates, and the impact on blood sugar levels and insulin.  He says What does all this have to do with inflammation? Blood sugar is controlled in a very narrow range. Extra sugar molecules attach to a variety of proteins that in turn injure the blood vessel wall. This repeated injury to the blood vessel wall sets off inflammation. When you spike your blood sugar level several times a day, every day, it is exactly like taking sandpaper to the inside of your delicate blood vessels.  He describes how the extra weight we carry also adds inflammation to the cells, until soon the body is heading towards certain illness.   The answer, according to this doctor, and to other nutritionists and holistic practitioners, is to return to a diet of foods close to their natural state, not highly processed.  What you can do is choose whole foods your grandmother served and not those your mom turned to as grocery store aisles filled with manufactured foods. By eliminating inflammatory foods and adding essential nutrients from fresh unprocessed food, you will reverse years of damage in your arteries and throughout your body from consuming the typical American diet. 

Along theses lines, I'm now in the 8th week of following the Ultra Simple Diet that I spoke about the first time I blogged about this cleanse I'm on.  I've lost 16 pounds as of today, and better yet, I'm now taking only 1/2 of the blood pressure medication I've been on for 4 years.  My BP is just dandy, and I fully anticipate that I will be off the meds entirely in the weeks ahead.  I continue to feel terrific!