Progress, Not Perfection

How I lost 8 inches in the waist, and my endocrinologist kicked me out of his practice.

 

Since I last posted, I have reached an all-time low of 189 pounds, but I am staying right around 192 for the time. At my minimum recent weight, I went to the lab to have blood drawn. I thought, hey, looks good—not as good as it should be, yet, but no worse than before, and in some cases better. My HDL was up, but so was total cholesterol. I have come to understand this is sort of a temporary phase during ketosis, so I was encouraged. So a week after I get my blood drawn, I phone my endocrinologist for an appointment. At first, the receptionist stonewalls me, so I say I’ll just call back later. I called a second time, and she tells me I should follow up with my cardiologist. Really? And no communication from the doctor to tell me why? This concerns me. So I phone back again and ask him to call me. She says, of course, he’ll call you this afternoon. That was a Wednesday. On Friday, I still had not received a call, so I call back. I inform the receptionist that so far, the doctor’s actions have been tantamount to abandonment, which is a legal issue. A couple hours later, I get a call from the doctor telling me why he’s recommending a cardiologist. I told him that if he’d bothered to see me for another appointment, he would know that I had lost 40 pounds (I think I was 232 last time I had seen him), and that my resting heart rate and blood pressure were both down 20 points. He hung up on me. Nice. Well, I am moving on to a physician who understands these things, so I don’t get locked into entrenched idiotic ideas about how the body needs drugs to operate properly. I would rather not take statins or blood pressure medications. I would also prefer not to develop Type II Diabetes. Thus far I have achieved all three of these goals.

 

I will give the doc one thing—according to further reading, I have found that diets higher in animal fats tend to yield a worse LDL profile—characterized by the small, dense, atherogenic LDL particles. A diet higher in monounsaturated fats tends to yield an LDL fraction with more large, less atherogenic particles. I have begun to shift the diet from mainly red meat to more chicken and fish. In 4-6 weeks I will get my blood drawn again, hopefully to see an improvement there as well. Thus far, this is without the advice of a physician. I am kind of doing the opposite of what they want. I suspect that doctors want sick patients. I don’t see them interested in making people well—there’s no money in it. I know that is an obstructively cynical view, and I am sure they’re not all like that, but I know hospitals and drug corporations are like that. Why advertise a truly healthy diet, if sick people pay you to take your drugs instead? Oh well, one of these days we’ll all be in a perfect world. Until then, I choose to make progress.

Continued Results

I can only characterize my diet as high protein and high in animal fats, at least in relation to carbohydrates. Sugar is entirely gone from my diet. I’d estimate my total carbohydrate intake at less than 20% of my daily calories and at least ¾ of that in fiber. The tale of the tape: 198 pounds this morning. Even moderate quantities of beer tend to stall the process, but it seems that red wine does not. No blood work, yet. I intend on waiting until I have reached 185 pounds, or near that, before I check my numbers.

Diet Results So Far

Well, here we are, nearly 4 months after basing all my dietary choices off of an article in the Wall Street Journal. I have some results, but first, some more info.

In browsing Teicholz’s book on Amazon, I found another name that popped up quite a bit in the reviewsGary Taubes. Taubes is described as a “science journalist.” So, instead of reading Teicholz, I bought and downloaded Good Calories, Bad Calories by Taubes. It’s lengthy, over 13000 “locations” in the Kindle app, which translates to a lot of pages. I only began reading it about a week ago, and I am 64% completed with it. It may not be for the faint of heart, but it is interesting. In summary, so far Taubes has described how a select few experts have guided dietary science in the US for the past 60 odd years, and have fed us information that conflicts with those clinicians and scientists who actually have studied or successfully treated obesity long-term. The realist in me knows that it is difficult for most professionals to accept the death of their favorite hypotheses. The cynic wants to say that the truth of the matter is that doctors make a lot of money off of fat, diabetic, sick people. I don’t want the cynic to be right.

 

Now for the tale of the tape.

Prior to May, I was in a 40″ waist, and just barely. I was about to move up to 42″ because all the buttons on my pants were popping off under the load.

In the week of July 4th, less than 2 months after I read the Teicholz article, I had to get 36″ pants and shorts.

Today, there’s an extra inch or more in the 36″ pants, and I will have to move to a 34″ sometime in the next month or two.

Hunger? Only when I forget to eat. Cravings? Not since the first week. Off the wagon occasionally? Yep, especially the week of July 4—we went to the beach. Counting calories? Nope, because I really can’t count that high.

Blood pressure is down, resting heart rate is down, no fatigue.

I have yet to get the blood work done, but I am planning on doing that this week.

 

Summary, this is definitely the epitome of anecdotal evidence. At best, I represent a single data point. In a controlled study, I don’t even represent that much. However, I have used my body as the test bed for a crazy idea that dietary saturated fat is good, protein is good, and refined carbohydrates are bad.

Build Your Own Computer

Recently, I have had to start replacing outdated machines at my office. Looking for a deal, I checked to see what I could get pre-built versus what I could get from off-the-shelf parts. I have no affiliation with any computer vendor, any manufacturer, or software studio. This is not a comprehensive review, either, just a bit of the experience I have had with one single vendor and building two of the exact same machine.

 

TL;DR –> Building your own computer means that you don’t have to put up with any pre-loaded turdware.

 

Check out Newegg.com. They have supercombo deals, where basically they pick all the pieces for you and even discount the final price. I shopped around, but not a lot. Maybe you can find a deal better than the one I got, but Newegg does make it easy for a n00b, putting compatible components in a single combo.

 

Installing Win 8.1 is not difficult. I can’t get over being required to have an account with Outlook or Hotmail. Maybe I just went through the install too fast to find out if there was an option not to do this.

 

I opted for a combo that included an Asus mobo with an AMD APU, nothing special, but definitely more powerful than what I’ve been using for the last few years. Also, using off the shelf parts, I have the ability to freely upgrade, unlike the Best Buy special I got last year for the same money—it’s all soldered to the mobo.

 

And now, the best possible part of this whole experience, I don’t have ANY manufacturer bloatware pre-installed on my machine. I don’t have a bunch of stuff I have to disable at startup. I don’t have to go through and uninstall stuff I didn’t want in the first place. And I bloody well don’t want to try McAfee free for 30 days or whatever.

 

So, build your own computer. Everything plugs right into its slot, so it’s dead easy. The build (less the OS installation) takes an hour (two, if you’re slow like me), and you can get exactly the machine you want without all that other guff.

Gear for Sale

Over the past few years, I have sunk a bit of money into gear to feed my photography habit. [If you think it’s weird a blog about photography doesn’t have any photos, you’re right. I just haven’t taken the time to do that part, yet.] So, anyway, I finally realized the gear is fun, but it’s the photo that matters. My wife, who is an artist, does better with composition and lighting with the crappy point and shoot than I do with all the gadgets. I am have been the worst about collecting gear instead of developing talent. Well, no more. It’s all on eBay now. I have to keep one camera for clinical photos until I can fund the purchase of the Fuji, then the 400D is on the auction block, too. It would be neat to keep this small but quirky collection, but I better get rid of it while there’s still film being made. If you want to see anything I have still for sale, here’s the link.

Diet

I don’t presume to know much about diet. But, with the new fad diets around, why not try em? Apparently according to this article, the link between animal fats and heart disease does not exist. Of course, the author Nina Teicholz has a book coming out next week. In spite of this apparent journalistic disingenuity, I have tried patterning my diet around three basic things: eliminating all vegetable oils, eating fewer carbs (because eliminating them is painful and stupid), and eating meats without worrying too much about fat content.

 

I am a 43 year old male professional. I am on a dual blood pressure drug, and I am supposed to be on one for cholesterol. I don’t take it, because it makes me feel like I have been beaten with a baseball bat. I am 6′ 0″ and I weigh(ed) 216 last Friday. That;s when I started my new “diet.” Since any diet is by its sheer nature a bit more of a suggestion than a regimen, I have been pretty faithful to the premises of animal fats only, and low carbs. This morning I weighed 210. Shocking? No. I fluctuate a bit. Also, the result could be from a) an actual dietary carbohydrate sensitivity, or b) simple reduction in caloric intake. I haven’t bothered counting calories, because I will never count calories. I don’t care enough to make that part of my routine. Either I keep it simple, or I don’t do it.

 

Now, the plan is to continue on this path for 1 month, and then have my blood drawn and cholesterol and lipids checked. I’ll even get the BP checked. I will even let you know what I’ve been eating, if this works! If not, I don’t want anyone else trying to replicate my experiment.

OCF

I now have OCF capacity. I ordered a few things from MPEX, highly recommended by David Hobby on his strobist blog, and by me. First, MPEX* is top notch. While you are browsing their website, you are very likely to have someone ask if you need help in their chat window. Everyone I chatted with over the course of a few days seemed knowledgeable and helpful. So, if you need anything camera, visit them at www.mpex.com.

 

*Not sponsored by MPEX or anyone else—I just like to tell people about good service.

 

Now, on to the gear.

 

Lumopro LP180

This is a really cool flash unit. Lumopro claims a guide number of 110. I really don’t know enough about it to say whether that’s accurate, but it is quite powerful on 1/1 and is variable all the way down to 1/128 power in 1/3 stop increments. MPEX sold it to me for $20 off their listed price online, because I ordered it as part of a package. I don’t have any idea how long they plan on bundling and discounting stuff, but it seems that’s really common for them. Great folks. The flash has a 2-year warranty.

 

orbis ring flash

Again, bundled with the other stuff, they knocked $35 off the list price, which brought it down in range of the Ray Flash 2, which looks a little cheap.

 

Everything Else

The Starving-Student one-light kit. In my browser, the LP 180 flash is already selected, making the total $334.28. Without the flash, that’s more like $150, for which you get a stand, a universal translator for a really reliable wired sync, a swivel for mounting the flash and the umbrella, a white satin shoot-through umbrella, and a nice soft case for carrying stuff around. This isn’t the most compact of kits, so I really don’t plan on carrying it everywhere, but the case is a nice touch. A bunch of other gewgaws came with it, too, for making your own grid snoot, color correcting your light CTO or CTB, other color gels, and restricting or modifying the light in any way you’d like to MacGyver it. Nice, but I’m just learning the basics of OCF, yet. So I could really have done without the extra 38 bucks worth of stuff, but the discount on just the flash and the orbis was more than that. AND all the other package discounts came to another $17.50. Basically they cut 72 bucks off retail, and then tacked on $38 worth of stuff—so I really can’t complain.

 

Eventually, I will start posting some photos. I will probably get reamed by real photographers, but I don’t care. This is a learning experience. If it helps someone else get a leg up quicker than me, I am all for that.

 

Peace. Go flash somebody.