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The Battle for Middle Earth

21 Jan

 I’m fat.

I’m at risk for heart disease, diabetes and cancer. I want to change. But I can’t seem to make it stick.  Here’s a quick summary of my major diets over the past several years:

  • May-Aug 1996 – Lost 35 pounds (from 201 to 166) – Low calorie, low fat, TONS of exercise
  • Jan-June 2004 – Lost 33 pounds (from 204 to 171) – Low carb
  • Jan-May 2007 – Lost 20 pounds (from 198 to 178 ) – Low carb
  • Aug-Sep 2007 – Lost 11 pounds (from 196 to 185) – Low carb
  • May-Oct 2008 – Lost 30 pounds (from 197 to 167) – Low carb

I lost between 6-10 pounds twice in 2009 doing a low carb diet. In 2010, I lost weight 7-10 pounds two times doing the HCG diet. But the weight came back when I went back to “eating as usual.” Unfortunately, I started 2011 at 194.

I am happy to report than since January 1, 2011, I’ve lost nearly 11 pounds and three inches off my middle. I’m down to 183, but my ideal weight is in the 160 range with at least 4-5 more inches off my middle.

So what am I doing wrong? Why can’t I get it off and keep it off? Exercise hasn’t been a problem. I jog six days a week for 30 minutes each day quite consistently, and have been doing that for nearly seven years. I suppose I need to do some strength training and that will help, but I hate gyms and I don’t like pain… 

I’ve decided that one major reason I can’t seem to keep my belly fat off is because I haven’t fundamentally changed the way I approach food.

I need to lose the fat and then monitor my food intake carefully for the rest of my life. I can’t keep going off and on diets. I have to change my lifestyle permanently. Maybe you do too?

Obesity is an epidemic. Diabetes is becoming such a major medical problem that it could easily bankrupt our health care system in the coming years. Forty years ago, obesity rates were 13% of Americans. Ten years ago, obesity rates had jumped to 23%. Today, American obesity rates have climbed to 33%! Why? I think it has a lot to do with our increasingly sedentary lifestyle.

However, I am convinced it has a lot to do with the USDA food pyramid’s focus on grains and other simple carbs. In the decades that the food pyramid has been emphasizing this plan of a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet, obesity rates have skyrocketed. This can certainly be attributed to the availability of processed foods. Corn and associated products (subsidized by the government) are in everything. Our grandparents’ generation knew that breads, pastas and starches (like potatoes) were foods that pack on the pounds. Why do you think cattle at feed lots are fed a corn and grain instead of grass to fatten them up? It’s because simple carbohydrates are quickly converted into glycogen and, in turn, into fat stores. What’s more, they spike our insulin levels and make it that much more difficult to release the fat our body stores.
 
Our current American eating patterns are totally contradictory to thousands of years of human evolution. We’ve evolved eating a high protein diet rich in nutrients and healthy vegetables. Only in the past few decades when the agricultural industrial complex came to power have all these high-carbohydrate foods become staples of our diet. They are so available because they are cheap and subsidized by the government. But they are contrary to our body’s natural way to process food. Thus the dramatic spike in obesity rates in recent years. It’s killing us as a nation.
 
Some suggest that it’s all about “calories in” and “calories out.” I am certain that it’s not that simple. It’s not just a will power issue. Often naturally skinny people say that it’s just a person’s lack of self-control that causes them to be fat. And while I’m sure there’s some truth to that, there are a lot of complexities in the body’s chemistry and the way insulin regulates the body’s fat reserves that makes it extremely difficult for many people to lose weight.

Many studies have shown that people on a low-calorie, low-fat diet experienced less fat loss than those on a low-carb diet that did not have a specific calorie restriction. That’s because dietary protein and fat satiates us much more than carbs, so we naturally reduce calories because we’re not hungry. (Eating eggs for breakfast vs. a bowl of cereal is the perfect example of this — you get hungry more quickly with the bowl of cereal, even though the calorie input is the same.)  
 
So is the credibility of what I’m saying compromised by my confessions above? That low carb living isn’t a viable long-term solution since it’s not a realistic lifestyle? I’ve been on a yo-yo because I’ve allowed myself to get in “diet” mode and then get OUT of diet mode. Long-term health and weight maintenance REQUIRE a lifestyle shift, and that’s where I have failed. I work hard to lose some pounds and then go back to “eating as usual.” This simply doesn’t work. I am a living example of that. I’ve lost the same 30 pounds three times now. I’ve lost the same 10 pounds at least five times now.

This current weight loss I’m engaged in is the last time for me. I’m not going back. That’s because besides being ugly, belly fat is SOOO detrimental to my health. It significantly increases my risk for heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

My brother Aaron is a fitness guru, and he’s helping me design a plan to lose the belly fat and then do what I’ve never been able to do before — find a realistic maintenance plan in which I can slowly add back carbs and find that perfect nutrition balance that allows me to stay trim. I’m not getting any younger, so now’s the time to make the change. Permanently this time.

 
21 Comments

Posted by on January 21, 2011 in Health

 

21 responses to “The Battle for Middle Earth

  1. David

    January 21, 2011 at 8:16 am

    “All grain is ordained for the use of man and beasts, to be the staff of life” and “All grain is good for the food of man” and “wheat for man”. D&C 89:10, 16, 17.

    I’m working on getting healthy myself, but I think part of the problem is over-processed foods. White flour, white or refined sugars, and probably too much salt are part of the problem.

    High Fructose Corn Syrup is a major contributor to diabetes as it elevates your triglyceride counts.

    Just my $.02.

    Cheers.

     
    • Deleyne Wentz

      January 21, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      Couldn’t agree more.

       
  2. Deleyne Wentz

    January 21, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I agree with what you’ve said. I always wonder, though, how the Word of Wisdom enters into the equation. I know people seem to lose more easily on low carb diets, but they almost never stick with that way of eating. We need to talk to those who have been successful and see what’s in their heads. What do they tell themselves about food? What do they tell themselves about eating, about their health, their bodies?

     
  3. Chris Brewer

    January 21, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I love the title of this post.

    I have always been fascinated with health. It is an overwhelming undertaking to try to understand all the factors at play here. These are a few of my thoughts.

    One approach people have is to discover the ideal diet for humans. They recognize that our diet has changed faster than our body’s ability to adjust to it. This discussion always seems to be about what cavemen probably ate (because I’m sure our foraging ancestors had such better lives than us).

    When we think of evolution as a series of mistakes and mutations that are adopted because they serve us better, it is hard to imagine the existence of a perfect ideal. Evolution doesn’t seem to work backward, it is looking forward and adjusting to survive. We are constantly changing. Some humans come from cultures that have been consuming dairy for long enough of a time that their bodies are accustomed while Africans, for instance, still struggle with it. I don’t think all humans can be lumped into one category that has a perfect universal diet.

    Vegetarians will point out all the characteristics that seem to identify humans as purely plant eaters. If you look at us and then look in nature we seem to fit in a mostly plant-based category requiring protein supplement based off of our physiology (omnivores).

    Eating meat now is not the same as eating meat was for our ancestors. Eating too much fish can lead to mercury poisoning and factory farming provides us with cows pumped with hormones and antibiotics. The animals are fed a diet and treated in a way that compromises the health of the animal in exchange for more immediate growth. This disrespect for animals ripples out to us in many ways.

    Buddhists and Yogis have an interesting concept where they believe in something called “prana” which is a philosophical concept about a natural vitality found within living things that is transferred to us when we consume them. Monks will investigate the treatment of the animals they eat. They will even consider how happy the farmers were who picked their vegetables (a little extreme). It can seem un-scientific but you have to admit that they are not dealing with growth hormones, mad-cow disease, or even the effects of processed foods or sugar. A whole food usually comes complete with all of the enzymes necessary for the body to process it. The more natural the food (the less meddling by people), the more likely the body is prepared to deal with it.

    I don’t think our current level of growth would have been achievable without the agricultural revolution. Our species is growing at the rate it is because of the abundance of adequate food. Perhaps grains are not ideal but they do the job. Americans have the luxury of making the decision to eat more or less meat but if there is a respect or sensitivity for some kind of a natural order, it becomes conflicted when we consider our current factory farming methods. The whole world cannot ever have the option to become mostly meat-eaters. Just something to consider if we are looking for a large-scale solution.

    It’s really odd that our ability to treat illnesses has countered the fact that our diets are deficient. We are fat, but we are living longer than we ever have before. Our quality of life has improved dramatically.

    At first I feel an urge to be preachy about the Atkins diet based off of research that I did years ago but since I still feel really ignorant about health (and I know you must be researching as well) I can’t really judge. I am mostly concerned because I have heard so many nutritionists condemn a prolonged exposure to ketosis. Meat is lacking in nutrients and dairy has numerous problems as well. You talked about the USDA food pyramid and how it is actually based on commercial interests. Another huge flaw is the emphasis placed on dairy which provokes lots of problems with our health as well.

    I don’t like the idea of framing the problem in the form of carbohydrates and protein. In this view a fruit or carrot is viewed with caution. No one gets fat from eating fruits, I think it’s mostly the work of refined sugar and processed carbohydrates.

    I think the only principle that can’t be disputed is that we need to try to eat more whole foods (that we don’t meddle with). All the time I have wasted reading articles and that’s where I am. Pretty pathetic huh?

    Do you think perhaps this comment was a little too long?

     
  4. Kira

    January 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    That’s my hubby the fitness guru! 🙂

     
  5. shannon

    January 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    When you and Robin came over the other night armed with protein shakes and an iron will you were so careful to explain that it wasn’t part of a “diet,” it was part of a “lifestyle change.” And then I watched you throughout the night turn down every single refreshment offered including fresh fruit and instead of finding your will power inspiring I found it depressing as hell. I wanted to scream like a crazy women holding you by the lapels, “TELL ME THIS IS A DIET, DAMNIT!! DON’T CALL IT A “LIFESTYLE CHANGE!!” BECAUSE WHO WOULD WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD WHERE YOU CAN’T PARTAKE OF ONE OF LIFE’S GREATEST PLEASURES EVERY NOW AND THEN?!”

    And Andrew, I can appreciate that you are approaching this from a health stand point, but to be honest, I’m not buying it. I think you are trying to look how you looked as a twenty year old BOY. You ARE healthy and you know it. You don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. You exercise often and regularly. Robin provides you with wonderful home cooked meals with fresh,healthy ingredients.You don’t binge eat. You look great. I’m serious. YOU LOOK GREAT!!! Why do you do this to yourself?! You know what is even MORE of a health risk than having 4 extra inches around your waist? STRESS. Only you know how much stress you’re putting yourself through as you’ve yo-yo dieted through the years in an attempt to turn back the clock and achieve the impossible.

    I realize all this would mean a lot more if it weren’t coming from a chubby, size 12 girl, who, according to Dr. OZ, is a food addict. I’m in no ways advocating complacency here. I know that I am currently very unhealthy and have a long way to go, but I also know that I would take my size 12 body and my current lifestyle over a size 2 body and the “lifestyle” of complete deprivation that you were exemplifying the other night. Now, what I would like to do is fine a good balance between the two where I participate in a regular exercise routine and practice eating in moderation while allowing myself a night (weekly or twice a month) where I can splurge a little. If that means I only every get down to a size 8 or 10 I’m truly ok with that.

    11 pounds down since the first of the year is very impressive indeed. But if you gain it back, then what’s the point? What if you lost only 1 pound a month by making small but consistent tweaks to your diet and exercise routine and didn’t gain it back? Sure you might not win any contests with your work buddies, but over a year’s time you’d be down 12 pounds and you’ll have kept it off! In two years you’ll be at your ideal weight. (YOUR ideal weight, personally I think that’s too skinny, but whatever.)

    Sorry to come on so strongly about his. I have just seen so many people in my life (my mother and grandmother especially) that have truly never been at peace with themselves because of their constant struggle to lose weight. Life is too short. Eat a cookie for crying out loud.

     
    • Robin

      January 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm

      Shannon, I understand your point completely. Two things come into my mind, though. The first is that with low carb “lifestyle” that we are adopting, the complete restriction of carbs is only a temporary thing. Its main purpose is to break your addiction to sugar and refined carbs. Without the instant “sugar high” your body is used to getting from those things, it has to turn to your fat stores for energy. For the first few weeks, your body is basically going through withdrawal from a substance which is really a kind of drug. After you overcome that addiction, you can start adding healthy carbs back into your diet a little at a time. Once you get to your maintenance stage, you can even eat all the good stuff like pasta and desserts. The “lifestyle” part of it means that you are constantly watching yourself at that point so that you don’t down two granola bars, a glass of chocolate milk, a big gulp, a box of Mike and Ikes, and a big bowl of ice cream with three different kinds of toppings on it all in one day. (Yes, I have done the equivalent of that before).

      Health is a big concern for us. I mean, look at my mom in particular. I think that at least half of her current health problems could have been avoided if she had a healthier lifestyle. Unlike Andrew, I am not a yo-yo dieter. I just get fat and stay fat. But I think about my weight every single day. I can’t wear the cute clothes I want to, and I miss out on a lot of fun activities because I either don’t have the energy and physical strength to do them, or I am embarrassed about how I would look doing them.

      Andrew and I both are not so concerned about getting down to the size we were when we were 20 (although it would be nice!). I have never had a flat stomach in my life and I’m pretty sure I never will! But there is definitely room for improvement for both of us.

       
    • Aaron Lambert

      January 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm

      Shannon, I am Andrew’s brother Aaron. I am sure we have met at some point.

      I wanted to shed some light on a couple things that might make what Andrew is doing make a lot more sense.

      Basically it boils down to wanting to be there for our kids and spouses. We had to lose our dad and watch our mom become widowed and we brothers are all on track for the same fate unless we take some serious action and intervention.

      You will probably better see what I mean when I tell you that of the top five killers (heart attack, cancer,diabetes,etc)we have four of them in our family on both sides.

      Also, we Lamberts store all our fat on our guts, most people tend to store in multiple places, the gut is the most dangerous spot you can store all your fat–right next to all our organs. We have to be a lot lower body fat than most people because of the dangerous place where we store it all. Simply put, while others may be fine to be “a little plump” we cannot afford that luxury because of where we store our fat. So yes, we Lamberts need to weigh what we did when we were 20 to mitigate our higher risk. That is not unrealistic at Andrew’s age. I know because I just lost 52 lbs and now weigh what I did when I was 20 and am stronger than I was then.

      Because Lamberts have smaller bone structure and tiny behinds, we look a lot skinnier than we actually are and our body fat % is deceivingly high. That is why Andrew can jog 30 minutes a day and look pretty good, but still be in a lot of danger and need to watch it big time. What I am saying is that there is a whole bottom of the iceberg that most people don’t see, so when they ask me why aren’t you eating that treat–you look fine, I have to remind myself that I may look fine, but they don’t know the full story.

      As far as the method of weight loss and “new lifestyle” conversation. You suggested something more moderate that you do over 2 years or so and enjoy the occasional treat. That is a fantastic approach. Only it rarely works because people tend to cheat a little too often and the weight loss is so slow and gradual that people don’t stick with it. Andrew’s and my problem is that we lack something in our brain that tells us how to stop eating and we binge. So that occasional cookie turns into 20 and derails the whole gradual,moderate weight-loss process. I once spent 4 months doing the gradual weight loss process, and then had a weak moment gained all 8 pounds back in two days, so I was back to square one. Your approach is good for maintaining, but not effective for losing 30+ lbs.

      Andrew’s approach is to get to that goal weight in two months by being very strict and then maintain that weight for the long-term.
      Why has he yo-yoed in the past, it is because he has only done the first phase of the Atkins which frankly is a diet, not a lifestyle, but hasn’t done the other 3 phases which are about maintenance and lifestyle, so the transition has not happened, but this time we are both going to do all the phases of Atkins.

      I agree with you that no carbs is not a lifestyle that someone can stick to and it was never meant to be. That is why it is only called phase 1. What Andrew was doing during your party is only phase 1 not something he will try to do for life. Phase 1 creates a chemical process in your body that burns fat super fast and requires being below 20 grams of carbs so one cookie or fruit in this month- long phase derails the process, so during phase 1 there is no cheating whatsoever. After that in phases 2-4 it becomes more liberal as you find out how many carbs you can eat without gaining weight and then just stay below that number.

      People who do all four phases of Atkins rarely ever gain the weight back because they change, they learn how to moderate those carbs not cut them out completely.

      He can’t afford to have a treat at this stage and like me has to get his metabolism under control before adding those sugary things back in. Don’t have a cookie Andrew!!! If you do I’ll kick your butt. I mean it!

      Love your bro and trainer.

       
  6. Robin

    January 21, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Deleyne-
    People who argue about low carb diets being against the Word of Wisdom don’t fully understand how different the modern diet is from what they are talking about there. They say that all grains are for the use of man. Most people today only eat wheat. Not barley. Not quinoa. not spelt. Not wild rice. Not bulgur. Not all these other healthy, high fiber grains that people in the past used to live off of. And the wheat that we consume is so processed that most of the health value is eliminated. Plus, if you are really eating a healthy low-carb diet, you really aren’t eating any more meat than another person, because your body gets satiated with the extra protein and fats, so you fill up quicker, especially if you are eating all the good vegetables that are an important part of the diet. I recommend that everyone who has concerns about this diet check out a great article that was in the Reader’s Digest this month. I can’t seem to access it online, but it is in the January issue. It really lays out what science is now confirming about the diet.

     
  7. Robin

    January 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Sorry, it’s the February 2011 Readers Digest.

     
  8. Chris Brewer

    January 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm

    Well said Robin. It seems there was a lot I didn’t understand about what your new lifestyle choice actually was. I was afraid you were planning a long-term relationship with ketosis. So apparently we don’t really disagree much. I’m sure you’ll do very well. I’m excited to hear you tell me more about it in person.

     
  9. Nate

    January 22, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Hi All,

    I’m going to chime into the conversation. I actually stayed away from the Atkins’s diet for years, precisely because of my concern about the Word of Wisdom. However, I think Robin is right on the money about how people back in those days weren’t eating the same kinds of carbs that we are today. There were no Doritos, soft drinks, and all the other high-sugar foods we consume today. Plus, they didn’t have the kind of obesity rates then as we do now and I agree that a lot of it is because of the high carb consumption. I’d be interested if any of the modern prophets have condemned meat as they have smoking, drinking, etc. I don’t recall this being mention in conference during the past couple decades that I’ve tuned in. Also, I think that the “Spirit of the Law” suggests we should try to be healthy and fit and so I think people overindulging in carbs and chunking up big time are probably violating the spirit of this “Law of Health” much more than those who lower the level of carb intake into their bodies.

    In any case, Shannon mentioned how terrible it would be to eat like this. I’m also in phase 1 and this isn’t a lifestyle for me. However, I actually find it EASIER than any other diet I’ve been on. Previously, my most successful diet ever was Body for Life and I lost 30 lbs., but forgoing both sugar and fat was REALLY difficult (ever tried sugar free syrup–yuk!) The fat that is allowed in the diet and the proteins keep me extremely satisfied and energetic. I don’t even long for carbs anymore (unless they’re shoved in my face). I really do eat much less now than I did before and it’s not even really intentionally so–it’s just easier.

    I think one very healthy thing about this diet, is that it’s changing my perception of fruit, something I have always loved and something I miss more than bread or about anything else while I’m in this very strict phase. Instead of perceiving fruit as just some health food like a vegetable (which probably decreases its appeal). Now I view fruit as a treat as dessert. I think this shift in perception will be a great help to me as I begin adding more carbs into my diet–now I will be satisfied with eating a piece of fruit as dessert rather than wanting/craving that highly processed cookie.

    Shannon, I also probably don’t look that fat to people on the outside, but in assessing my body fat percentage (27%) I found that I am in the “dangerously high” classification–that was a revelation to me as I don’t look to be dangerously high or obese.

    In any case, I’m stoked about the results I’m seeing and was thinking yesterday about how it’s not just the high risk of death, but it’s also having to live with the diseases for much of your later life. For example, I think 3 (maybe 4) of my uncles on both sides have diabetes and I’m sure my dad would’ve gotten if if cancer hadn’t claimed him first. These kinds of things stink, not to mention the knee problems and back problems I was starting to have. Just remember, “nothing tastes as good as thin feels” and I don’t mean just for feeling “pretty,” though I think it is a boost to self-esteem and body image. Thin feels better on the knees and back, thin feels better on energy level, and dealing with stress. The potential added stress of a diet doesn’t compare to enhanced long-term capacity to deal with stress from having a healthier body.

     
  10. Shannon Brewer

    January 22, 2011 at 8:41 am

    You all (Aaron, Nate, Robin) make great and very valid points; points that I didn’t consider before and can’t argue with now. It’s obvious to me and was obvious to me as I was writing my comment that the reason I’m so defensive is because I know I need to change my lifestyle, but I just dread the sacrifices it is going to require. I’m not ready to give up my only vice. I feel like I’d have to replace it with something else. I’m kind of like the recovering alcoholic’s binge drinking friend who’s trying to sabotage their friend’s effort towards recovery and health. Robin and Andrew, I understand if you need to stay away from me for a while until you’re in the maintenance phase. :)Good luck in your efforts. I’ll try and be more supportive, and one day I hope to even join in.

    Mmmmmm. Do you think all this crow I’m eating has carbs in it? 🙂

     
  11. Chris Brewer

    January 22, 2011 at 10:41 am

    I cannot claim to understand all the physiological effects of different foods on the body. All I know is that certain subjects are heavily debated and this issue is all but settled in the scientific world. I know it works but I am skeptical. Perhaps some of the latest research is being kind to a high protein diet but for the past few decades I think most health organizations have made comments like “Low carb diets seem to effectively help people lose body fat but the science is still unclear about other effects on the body.”

    This is a complicated science which is why reducing the argument down to the issue of carbs and protein seems over-simple and deficient. It reminds me of the several decades long trend to eliminate fat from our diet. Everyone started offering foods reduced in fat and increased in sugar. Sugar can actually make people fatter than fat. The view was incomplete. Just the idea that all those chemical reactions going on in the body can be simplified and all problems chalked up to one culprit was problematic.

    There may be studies released that focus in on the weight loss and other benefits but these are often neglecting other research that indicates that there are other concerns such as the wear and tear on the liver and kidneys.

    Processed food is unnatural to the diet but I have also read a lot about how unnecessary dairy is to our diet but the Atkins diet would embrace it based on the simple fact that it is not high carb. It demonstrates that the methodology could be lacking. If you tell me that you plan on eating a variety of nutrient-providing fruits and vegetables and keeping your meat portions modest I think it sounds like an excellent diet.

    In the end we just have to make a choice. The Atkins diet works better than anything out there to get rid of fat and when people are past a certain weight, the fat itself is their enemy. But many of the Atkins solutions seem very unintuitive to me. A fruit is not a dessert. Thousands and thousands of years prior to now you can bet we would just eat any fruit we found because it was one more thing that was not only edible but tasty. But again, if the fruit is processed, heated, or juiced, it no longer has the self-contained balance of nutrients and enzymes to be processed effectively by the body.

    I’m not ready to make natural starches and sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and grains my enemy. We were eating those long before we started getting fatter than fat as a country. The problem is something more recent.

     
    • Nate

      January 22, 2011 at 6:44 pm

      Chris, regarding the uptick in obesity, I think you are right in saying that blaming it on carbs is too oversimplified and likely not correct. I had a good chat with my wife today and came up with a theory that I think may be potentially a better explanation for the huge rates of obesity–women going to the workforce.

      My wife worked for quite a while, so I’m passing no judgment in any way on working moms, but it seems like the obesity rates coincide with the uptick in women entering the workforce. When women are working, a lot of them do not have the time or energy to cook a well-balanced meal, but rather pick up frozen meals (high in fat, sugar, and all kinds of bad stuff) or fast food (even worse). I’m pretty sure that the fast food rates have skyrocketed in the past three decades and I’m pretty sure this is at least partly fueled by the fast paced lifestyle of the dual career family. Any thoughts on this theory or alternative theories? I don’t think we can say that it’s a matter of people becoming more sedentary, because it’s not like that’s a recent phenomenon.

       
      • Chris Brewer

        January 22, 2011 at 8:57 pm

        Nate, that’s an interesting idea. You might be on to something. There might be all sorts of factors playing in and it’s hard to see all of them.

        I think you’ve got the right idea though in that we are (possibly for the reason you stated and perhaps also because of the busyness of life) seeking faster, less thought-out meal solutions and we are being provided with exactly that in the form of crappy food. We are adjusting to eating this quality not just for snacks but for meals as well. They just make it too easy to slack off. Preparing your own meals can seem exhausting and takes planning as well.

        I actually think the way you guys are using the Atkins diet could be a good way to help with the transition into some great habits. I think we are very similar in the conclusions we have come to. I hope I don’t sound contrary in any of my comments. I really respect you guys because I need to find a way to get that same level of motivation.

        I hope to hear updates on your experience.

         
  12. andrewalma

    January 22, 2011 at 11:10 am

    First of all, let me say how much I’ve enjoyed the online dialogue generated by this post. I’ve appreciated the thoughtful and passionate posts that have made me think about this subject in new ways.

    David, I agree that whole foods with excellent nutritive value is an excellent approach. Processed flour, refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup (albeit very tasty) is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle.

    Chris, as always, you shed shared some fascinating insights from your reading and thoughtful consideration of the subject.

    Nate and Aaron, we watched Dad struggle with this issue all his life and while we all vowed we’d never go down that same path, here we are. When you think of fitness in terms over overall health and longevity, it makes it feel more urgent and worth the sacrifice.

    Deleyne, I agree that sustainability is vital. As you can see from the confessions in this post, I’ve proven I can lose the weight, I just have failed repeatedly at maintaining. But I do believe it’s possible and I’m anxious to prove that once I’ve reached my goal.

    Robin, thanks for your support and passion for getting in shape. It will change the quality of our lives forever.

    And Shannon, what can I say? I believe that crow is extremely high in lean protein, so enjoy! 🙂 Seriously though, I appreciate your perspective and can certainly empathize with the desire to retain a vice. In our culture, we’re expected to avoid drinking, smoking, drugs, lust and other addictions. I think that’s why so many Mormons struggle with food addiction; we don’t have much else. 🙂 I don’t intend to never enjoy the delicious treats again. Once I’ve reached my goal and have found the right nutrition plan to maintain, I am certain that I will indulge in unhealthy foods from time to time (a free day every down and then). But it HAS to be the exception, not the rule.

    You called me out and really made me think about my approach. Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. My current “diet” will NOT have a different result (i.e. long-term weight maintenance) unless I fundamentally change the way I approach unhealthy food. And that’s really hard as evidenced by my repeated failure. But I know I can do it.

    After reaching my target weight / size / body fat percentage, I plan to set a threshold weight that I will commit to NEVER going over again. I’ve done that before, but always allowed myself to push it up. I’d weigh in a few pounds above the threshold weight, then I’d lose half of that extra weight and think, “Hey, I’ve lost some of that extra weight, so it’s okay.” And after a while, the weight threshold would get pushed higher and higher until I just started to ignore it. I have to avoid that trap this time. And I have a couple of brothers who will be holding me accountable. 🙂

    Anyway, thanks again for this interesting discussion about fitness. Here’s to all of us and our health and prosperity in 2011 and beyond!

     
  13. Robin

    January 22, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Andrew and I were just laughing about how much commentary this post has generated. He’s loving it! We thought it’s just that this subject hits a nerve with so many people. We all want to be healthy, but there’s so much information out there, much of it conflicting, that it’s just so hard to know who to believe. In the article in the Reader’s Digest I mentioned, the author Dr. Eric Westman, says that one of the problems with the “calories in, calories out” mentality of a low fat diet is that it promotes this idea that people who are overweight are both greedy and slothful. He says that it has been his experience that if you see any overweight or obese person on the street, you can bet that they have dieted and tried various exercises a great number of times. Nobody gains a bunch of weight in this society and is happy about it, you know? That is why we actually feel GUILTY when we overindulge. We feel like we are committing one of the seven deadly sins! People have tried for years to restrict their calorie intake, keeping track of every calorie in and calorie out, and have been unsuccessful in losing weight. Why? Because you can’t live like that! It is IMPOSSIBLE to know exactly to the calorie what you consume and what you expend because of all the variables involved. That is why LOVE the concept of Atkins, that Dr. Westman explains is: “Eat as much as you want of whatever you want, except don’t eat the foods that make you fat.”

    I love how Nate says that he actually appreciates fruit more as a treat now. Part of my motivation with this diet is that I realized I was no longer getting much enjoyment out of my desserts. It was so commonplace to have sweet things, that they were no longer special. They were routine. In China, do you know what they serve for dessert? Oranges. Just plain oranges.

    And Chris, I don’t think any of us are condemning fruit as unhealthy. I don’t think anyone who lived purely off fruit alone would get fat. The problem is that the fructose in fruit is sugar, and is processed by the body the same way, and in order to break your body’s dependence on sugar and make it burn fat stores instead (i.e. GET RID OF THEM), you’ve got to temporarily cut it out of your diet. If you don’t have any extra fat stores to burn off, there’s no problem eating fruit and using the energy it provides. While eating fruit may not MAKE you fat, it will keep you from burning fat. Get it?

    And I also agree, this is a preparation intensive diet. I feel like I have to cook for every single meal. I miss just being able to sit down and eat a bowl of cereal! But I am never hungry (Unless I just can’t find anything in the house that I can eat!).

    Oh, last thing. Chris, you’ve talked a lot about dairy. The interesting thing here is that the problem most people have with dairy is in processing the lactose in milk. Lactose, like everything else ending in “-ose”, is a sugar. You’re not supposed to drink milk on Atkins because of that. However, cream, butter, and certain cheeses are very low on lactose, which is why people who are lactose intolerant can usually tolerate eating ice cream, and why you can eat them during induction. We have a hard time accepting that these high fat foods can be good for us, but it’s really dairy’s high sugar content which is causing the problem, not the butterfat.

    Whew!

     
    • Chris Brewer

      January 22, 2011 at 11:27 pm

      I love your last comment Robin. It is all so true. I have just heard so much stuff and sometimes I am tempted to talk as though I get what’s going on in the body but I don’t, and probably never really will in any depth. I’ve heard many explanations about how the “body works” (like the calories in, calories out example you gave) but then time goes by and someone tells me it is not accurate or it is over-looking some other important factor. I can never get on top of it. Then I feel stupid because I was rattling off what that original “health expert” said for the past few years.

      You are making the right decision in that you are continuing to fight for greater self control. I give up sometimes prematurely because I’m afraid that it’s not going to get easier. The idea of a never-ending battle that is going to end in my certain death either way can seem daunting.

       
  14. Nate

    January 23, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Well, I’ve always been reluctant to start a diet because it really is hard work. Also, most diets are harder the longer that you do them. For me, the opposite is true with this diet. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even really crave carbs even when I see them. There are so many delicious options to eat and I’m always so satisfied. I guess my body is overcoming its carb addiction. It was a bit hard at first, but now that that is over and that I’ve broken myself of all the constant carb snacking (you don’t realize until you do this how many of the kids’ snacks you’re chowing down on all the time), I’m finding that it’s no problem for me at all. I feel like I’ve finally found the diet that doesn’t feel like a diet and something that doesn’t stress me out. Plus, for me it’s just slightly more time intensive because you have to spend an extra 5 minutes cooking an egg instead of pouring a bowl of cereal, but that’s not too much more time. I can’t imagine how even easier it will be when I can add back some additional carbs–this feels like it could become a lifestyle for me! Why didn’t I do this years ago!

     
  15. Grant

    January 25, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Andrew,
    I don’t know you, I came across your site because I searched for ‘I love unishippers’ and your blog came up from a few year ago. I am thinking of buying a franchise and doing some research. I looked to get a recent update so this came up and I felt maybe I would give you some comments and you can tell me if buying a franchise from unishippers is a good idea.
    I am not someone who has struggled much with weight, but when I gain 10 pounds I nip it in the bud with two or three weeks of what I have called a “clean diet”. I came up with it when I had recurring sinus infections and decided I was not going to eat anything that contributed to the thickening of mucus in my body (kind of nasty). I started it, 5′ 8″ weighing 168 pounds, in one month, I was 153 pounds. So with a little research, I cut out ALL white sugar, ALL flour, ALL dairy, and red, fatty meats (I will get to what you DO eat in a minute). I have done it a few times and I am working on making those stretches longer and longer. What 95% of America has is an addiction to those foods that spike your glycemic index, making you only crave them hours later. Trust me, after 2 or three days, you will feel like a drug addict wanting a doughnut. Once this subsides you will begin to lose the cravings and begin to not feel “super” hungry. If you truly, 100% commit to this diet, within 7 days you will feel like you have never felt before. The energy level is astounding and your brain will be firing on all cylinders. The human body was created/evolved as the ultimate instrument and you will begin to believe it.
    OK, what do you eat. This will sound boring, but I eat a lot of raw nuts (almonds, walnuts), raw fruit (you should know these), vegetables, make some bean dips with spices, homemade salsa, corn products (nacho chips, popcorn, etc.) Oh, and lots of water.
    Here is an example of my day;

    Breakfast
    1 handful of almonds (generally about a half cup)
    1 banana

    Snack
    Have some raisins, popcorn, I eat bell peppers raw (you will begin to love these), carrots. The produce section will begin to have more variety and be more delicious every day.

    Lunch
    1 handful of walnuts
    1 apple

    at this point people say “That is all you eat?!?!”. It is about 500-600 calories just in the walnuts.

    Snack
    Same as before, get creative, if you stick within these boundaries there is no limit on how much you can eat….except corn chips…don’t go crazy with those.

    Dinner
    Boneless, skinless chicken
    Vegetables
    Sweet potato

    Here is what I do for a bean recipe;

    1 can of black beans
    1/4 green bell pepper diced small
    2 tspn onion powder
    2 tspn chili powder
    I don’t like a lot of heat, so if you want to add red pepper, go ahead.
    Eat with corn chips.

    Also, a great sweet drink to make is a smoothie. I use a Magic Bullet. Tall glass, break banana in half, fill half way with OJ, cram 10 or so strawberries in. Blend. Great drink, good energy boost.

    This is something I am formulating as I go along, and as silly as it sounds I sometimes determine how good a food is in my body by how it “dries in the pot”. If you leave steamed veggies in a pot overnight, no big deal. If you leave fettucine alfredo in a pot overnight, good luck cleaning it out. I am sure this has no scientific basis, but it is a good way to determine whether to eat a food when in doubt. So, some of the foods I need to do some research on are eggs, oatmeal, and whole wheat. Truthfully, once you get going, you won’t even need or want them.

    Also, you are probably asking yourself, if it is so great why don’t you do it all the time. I am an addict like most everyone else and I celebrate the holidays, too. So, I have to get back on the wagon and commit, knowing that it is how I was intended to eat.

    Andy, I know this is from a total stranger, but take a leap of faith for five days and you will know it was a good decision. If the body is a well-oiled machine, all this gooey mucus is gumming up the works.

    I have been wanting to share this with someone and maybe it was destiny for me to end up on this website. As a note, the last time I did it, I don’t think you need to be real strict on the dairy. Things like butter or milk are pretty simple for the body to digest. You get into cheese, caramel, yogurt, etc. That is when the body freaks out. So, butter or milk in small doses (on popcorn) aren’t going to make everything come crashing down.
    Sorry I have been so long winded, hope this helps, and let me know all the good and bad of being a unishippers franchisee. Primarily, should I expect to make a decent amount of money. Thanks for your patience and good luck whatever you decide.

     

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