Saturday, February 26, 2011

Bits & Pieces II

I have so many things I want to post about (including some new recipes!) but, with my birthday coming up on Monday, and the school play kicking into rehearsal mode, I'm finding myself spending fewer and fewer hours in front of my computer.

However, the latest gargantuan post by the even-handed and intellectual Denise Minger from Raw Food SOS (the writer and location of the exceptional take-down of The China Study), is an elegant dissection of the sat-fat-phobia that remains all-pervasive in the USDA, influencing their 2010 Food Guidelines. As Denise says:

Bottom line: These guidelines will guide you alright—straight to your spot in the pharmacy line. Look elsewhere for advice if you’re serious about your health.

 In a recent discussion with an old friend of mine, I listened to a description of frustration: my friend was spending 8 hours a week in the gym, mostly doing cardio, "not dieting" but somehow restricting herself to 1600kcal a day and not consuming ANY saturated fat. This friend is trying to slim down for a special event, and yet is finding herself gaining belly fat. I tried to explain to her the causes of her gain (over-training, cortisol imbalance, insufficient food, no dietary fat so minimal vitamin absorption, etc) but the likelihood of her taking my word over the dominant messages coming from 'health' magazines, websites and most medical professional is, for want of a better word, slim.

Weight Watchers is happening at my school again for interested staff, so I have to try to block out the rants coming from the other part of the staffroom explaining how good these 5-point buns are, the perfect morning tea, keeps you full til lunch! ... *facepalm*

Even though I'm still relaxing my approach to food, at least I know what I'm doing and why, and I'm following the advice that my body gives me and that my reading has developed. My anger over the lies the diet industry and lipophobes have spread since before my lifetime was strong enough - I almost hope the Weight Watchers folks never see the day when the media finally reports the current metabolic and dietetic science; what a way to then regret the wasted years.

Let's hope that, in any case, the information comes out soon so that this generation's bevy of genetically-cursed children of metabolically damaged mothers and fathers have a hope of out-living those parents.

Think of the babies! Won't someone think of the babies?!!
Now I will leave you and return to my song-writing for my little vocal group, play with my kettlebells, help my kitten burn off some energy, and get excited about seeing Lily Tomlin tonight! Last night: Tim Minchin! This birthday girl is truly spoiled!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Pursuit of Health - No more PCO (for now?)!

Apart from a bout of pneumonia when I was very young, and picking up the annual cold or spatter of gastro, I have always had a rock-solid constitution and have never suffered chronic or acute health woes.

It''s a shame that I've almost always been a bit chunky - having a bit of a gut when you're young promotes rude or judgemental comments from adults (who usually think they're being funny and that the jokes will go over your head), and over-reactions from parents. Having a muffin-top in your teenage years soon develops into self-consciousness and ridicule. Kids can be very cruel.

Society, and the medical industry, say it loud and proud - being overweight is unhealthy.


I was a champion in the 'throwing' events at school, and was a competitive swimmer - until one of my teachers made a comment about the fact that I wore a towel around my waist to 'cover up' (I just thought my towel was pretty and wanted to show it off). I walked up to 3km from the bus stop to my farm almost every day, with a couple of musical instruments and a heavy bag of books in tow.

(Men who don't like to read about women's issues might want to skip this next bit)

The first real health battle of my adult life is/was my PCO - a reproductive situation which appeared as incomplete ovulation and resulting lack of menstruation.

Given recent events, it would seem that this issue may have stemmed from my pursuit of weight loss.

Just over two months ago, I finished my Yasmin-driven menstrual cycle. I stopped taking my pill, and waited to see if nature would take its course. I have been trialling this method of 'testing' every three months or so for the past year.

What made this trial different? I was back to my original weight (more fat than before, though), and I was enjoying sweet potatoes and fruit regularly. Stress was diminishing as the teaching year tapered away to nothing, and the weather was showing signs of pending loveliness.

Three weeks after I stopped taking Yasmin, my period arrived. With the severity of the cramps and the brevity of menstruation, this clearly was not the doing of the pill. This was back to my high school suffering. Four weeks after that, I had another one. Crampy death pain hell.


So kids, what to make of this?

Was it the sudden drop of 5kg of body fat in January '09 that threw my body for a loop, and stopped it recovering until that fat has been restored? I have read many times that a girl's weight during puberty sets the normality level for her reproductive system, and swings this way or that in weight or body composition can confuse said system...

Was it the fact that I cut carbs to 20g per day, except for Christmas '09 and much of '10? Was running on ketones insufficient to adequately feed all systems in my body?

Was I failing to meet my caloric needs? We can scrub this one since during my carnivore experiments I ate far beyond my caloric needs, although the ketone question may come back into play here.

Was it the combination of drugs - BCP and another nerve-repairer like DepTran? This is possible if the problem started pre-2009 but was masked by the pill - but then why weren't other 'tests' successful?

The only way to know is to try self-experimentation and to gather the experiences of others with PCO, but this would not be enough to establish a cause. The medical profession still has no idea what causes PCO. I would have been quick to blame environmental factors in the past, but the return of ovulation defies this hypothesis.

Nevertheless, I wanted to put this bit of intimate detail into the blogosphere since the PCO post is the most visited of my posts, and since my situation is reversed, I want to let fellow sufferers know that there is hope!

Additionally, although PCOS is related in some way to insulin resistance, and shows some improvement when treated with a low-carb diet, there's a chance that non-PCOS PCO could actually be caused or impacted upon by a low-carb diet. I would be interested to hear from others who try or have tried tweaking their diets and what results they've seen.

But first, I will be trying the harder of the possible 'causes' of PCO to see whether my periods cease - lose fat. Since I'm eating paleo foods at least 90% of the time (including sweet potato, but not normal potato, rice, or dark chocolate), it's easy for me to stick to my new 'normal' eating plan. I don't think about it much, but I fast all day on work days since I'm not usually hungry and don't have time to futz in the kitchen or sit in the staffroom and watch colleagues eat garbage whilst they talk about Weight Watchers..! I eat something (often mashed sweet potato and butter) when I get home, and then have dinner with the beau. Ultimately, I'm trying to ignore food until hunger kicks in, and this will be made easier when fruit season finishes! I haven't been eating enough meat either, with this hot weather keeping me away from my usual home in the kitchen. I'm sure you will have heard about the manic weather in Australia of late - massive flooding, cyclones, heat waves... Good times! The hot weather is also partly to blame for the lack of posts - the computer room is usually the hottest place in this house, and the laptop is too hot to have on one's lap too long. The other reason for the quiet period was because I was waiting for my, er, period so that I could write this post!

With this year's school play about to begin rehearsals, I need time flexibility. Fasting works elegantly for me, and now that the house is no longer a giant sauna I will be capitalising on the fast by working out before dinner. Rather than paying for my belly dancing and circuit classes, I'll be looking for shorter, harder workouts like the Tabata training I played with last year, though my fatty misery meant I didn't enjoy the experiences, thus becoming unsustainable. I'm in a better state of mind now, though you couldn't pay me to get on the scales! I received a big discount on some Zumba classes across town, so that will become my 'play' time. I know that exercise is not enough to cause fat loss, but I'm hoping that physical stimulation will signal to my brain that it should crave healthy food and discourage over-eating since excess with be-labour my digestive process and slow me down!

Mission: Retain reproductive health. Encourage my body to physically reflect the healthy state it is in. Continue to relax my attitude toward my excess chub. Eat really well. Continue to use this blog as a feeder into the primal community, since clearly my experiences are not unique.

Finally, I recently began to doubt whether I really wanted to be a teacher, given the prospect of teaching a subject I'm not that interested in, and not getting much support for the programs I have started and continue to run alone for very little monetary and time compensation.

Today was day four with students back at school.

I knew by the middle of day one that I was where I was meant to be.

I was born to be a teacher, I love students, I love my subjects, I love my relatively short but intense work day, and I love the fact that I can give extra experiences to my students by means of running plays and so on even if I don't get that much in return! Let's face it, I'm a giver.

For myself, I have my dancing, cooking, jewellery-making, reading, and entertainment pursuits. This blog helps me to get my ideas in order and keep my recipes at hand, but it's really here for the rest of you, whether you have fellow health-seekers in your social circle or only online. I am pleasantly surprised by positive comments, and shake off the negative ones, but could quite happily run this blog without a comment section since I write it like a book, not as a beacon of attention. I consider comments as the commenter's book, sharing ideas as much with fellow readers as with me. Read and write on, lovely visitors - your experiences and perspectives have just as much a chance of inspiring someone to health success as my posts. :)


Oh hey, ten litres of awesome coconut oil, sup? (Let's just ignore for the moment that I actually ordered ten 1L containers, and that nui have ignored all my emails requesting empty containers to 'decant' the oil into, since it was bought to give to friends & family... Nui = crapness. Their oil's okay, but they won't be getting any more of my money.)

Bacon & veggie frittata!!

The leftovers

Homemade beef burgers cooked on the BBQ, and summery salad.

I made sushi! Rice is for lame-o's.

Typical dinner - hunk of meat (chicken), mashed sweet potato, assorted green veg. Yum!

See above, though with tomato instead of sweet potato. Obviously was too hot to be boiling things that night!
Happy February!