Saturday, November 26, 2011

What to do?

So you're leptin resistant. So what?

If you want to make any lasting changes in body composition, you'll need to fix it.

Any effort at weight loss can result in weight loss. If you're reading this, you want fat loss that lasts. Most likely, you've already worked at weight loss, had success but watched it come back. That's because the underlying issue of hormonal and metabolic dysfunction has not been addressed.

Start with a high protein breakfast immediately upon waking.
Eat Paleo
Three meals a day with NO SNACKS
Destress and "unstimulate"

Each of these is of critical importance and are each interrelated. One depends on the other.

It is important to signal your body that it is time be be awake, so fire up the metabolic engine. Eat a breakfast containing at least 50g protein within 30 minutes of waking. More protein is better. This will be a challenge, but do it anyway. I eat 4 eggs and 4oz meat each and every day, roughly equal to 50g protein.

Eating Paleo simply means, "eat meat and vegetables for every meal". Nothing special or exciting. Avoid food from containers. No grains, No sugar. This can get as complex and expensive as you want it to be.

Eat three meals a day with no snacks. If you get hungry between meals, do two things: look down at your body and imagine your stored energy (fat) mobilizing to energize your body and remember that the hormone that makes you feel the hunger pangs also puts your brain into overdrive (see Snacks make your digestive system, especially your liver, work unnecessarily hard.

Sleep. Eight hours at a stretch. If, because of your job, this is not possible, nap. Sleep will become easier as things become right in your body - unless:

You are a ball of stress. Whether it's job requirements, family issues, financial troubles; we all have stress. It's easier said than done to "destress". You can't just flip a switch and all is well, I get that. But humans are social animals by nature and from the dawn of our existence we have relied upon one another for our survival. The only way to reduce stress sometimes is to face the stressor head-on. Rely on God, friends, family, church, faith, even me to stand by your side when you do. Inaction increases stress. Always feeling alone also increases stress.

On the topic of stress; keep in mind that you artificially increase your stress by astronomical amounts each time you chemically stimulate your body. Caffeine is the most commonly used stimulants, but nicotine is also a powerful stimulant. If you are often stressed and can't sleep right, chemical stimulants are often to blame and you will never achieve optimal  health. Simplified: you have to quit the nicotine.

You can either spend the next few years quitting tobacco or working on all other aspects of health and fitness - not both. Climb one mountain at a time.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Leptin Rx - What is leptin resistance

Are you overweight? Do you seem to gain weight regardless of exercise, or at least seem to be unable to lose the extra fat? Does every bite of food you eat seem to go straight to your butt (thighs, belly, thighs, etc)? Do you sleep poorly and wake up still drowsy, unable to function without your coffee (tea, Coca-Cola, Monster, etc.)? Do you tire quickly during activity and experience muscle soreness almost every time?

If you answer yes to most of the above, I'll bet you also experience crushing mid afternoon energy slumps, can sense when your blood sugar gets low, and have cravings for carbs and/or sugar. I'll bet you've also worked hard to lose weight in the past, only to seemingly go out of control at some point and eventually gain all the weight back.

How do I know? Because it is very common. I also have experienced those symptoms for the last 15 years. Guess what that particular combination of symptom is indicative of? Leptin resistance.

Now, I am not a scientist, nor am I particularly well-read or spoken. But I can distill a bit of the science that pertains to leptin. I need to give credit to Dr.Jack Kruse, a brilliant man who has researched metabolic functioning and seems to understand it better than anyone I've read. His blog, is really the source for my knowledge and I openly admit to standing on his giant shoulders. If you want the science behind the information presented here, go there and read.

I'm sure you've heard of hormone involved in metabolic function like thyroid and insulin. I'm also sure you've also heard of the diseases involving these hormones: hypothyroid and diabetes. Let me introduce you to their master - leptin. Leptin is the ultimate regulatory hormone of the body and can actually influence more than just metabolism. Leptin is a chemical signal to the brain as to how much fuel is stored in the body.

When a person overeats a high sugar / high carb diet, they overstore energy as fat. The excess fat produces an excess of leptin and the parts of the brain that "listen" for leptin become deaf to it. No longer able to sense the amount of fuel stored causes the body to work to keep storing fat (continual fat storage) and blocks access to the fat stores when the body looks for energy (inability to lose fat) and forces the body to rely on sugar for its primary energy source (carb / sugar cravings).

Years of this sort of living will cause widespread dysfunction. That's why we see so many people slide into obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, type 1 diabetes, etc, that we, as part of American society, tend to accept as a normal aging process.

If you too accept what was just described as normal and believe that your doctor knows how to effectively combat those diseases and is currently doing all they can, successfully, to save people from them; read no more. Go back to your regular life and forget me.

However, if you refuse to accept to live with metabolic syndrome and ever-increasing ill health, or are at least angry about being fat and scared to death about what it is doing to you, stay with me. I am too. I refuse to accept that I need fistfuls of medications to live normally. I'm fed up.

I will not promise you an easy path. I can promise that you will, in time, feel better than you have in a long time - maybe better than you ever have.

Next up, the Leptin Rx: what to do and why. AKA: the path back to the body of your youth (or better).

Friday, October 28, 2011

HPI continuation

The time had come to take action. Unfortunately, I had reached the point where either I took drastic measures or I would give up the struggle for health and accept my lot in life of degenerating knees and back and just be an XXL firefighter. Then my chiropractor mentioned MediFast.

My wife joined me as I (we) ate 1,000 cal / day of prepackaged processed "food"  and low-fat, low carb dinners for three months. Don't get me wrong, it was a struggle. But it was easier and less complex than many plans I've heard of. The results were actually pretty good - fantastic even. I lost 50lbs in that time and went from a 40 waist to a 34 waist. Now, at 210lbs and out of money to spend on the food,  I needed a new direction.

For nearly a year I scoured the internet blogs for what would work. My weight "bounced" a bit in that time, but I've maintained 220lbs and buried my 34 jeans for when slimmer days return. I stumbled upon paleo / primal through crossfit and much of what was contained in those blogs and books spoke to me. Point of clarification: Crossfit (HQ) taught me the Zone diet during my Level 1 cert and I found it to be BS even before trying it. The crossfit (community) seems to like to do periodic paleo challenges and that seemed to make more sense.

I devoured the writings of J. StantonMark Sisson, Richard Nikoley, Robb Wolf, Andrew Badenoch, Diane Sanfilipino, Chris Kresser, Rachel Jennings, Ned Kock, and others (click on name for website). But truth be told, it wasn't until I found Dr. William Davis and read his book Wheat Belly that I felt I had truly acquired "actionable intelligence".

I now use Dr.Jack Kruse's Leptin Rx as my guide. I suggest that you follow it to and fix what you broke because you can't replace it.

So, to be clear, I have NO credentials or other formal training in nutrition. I do know what does not work and am working really hard to clarify and follow what does. Day by day I feel better and stronger. I no longer feel out of control over food. And I'm looking better too (at least I think so)

Grocery Zombie

Credit where due: ThinkGeek

Usually when I go to the grocery store after not having eaten anything for hours, I wander about the store like someone in the picture above, collecting items that no human should eat and spending twice the amount I had budgeted. So imagine my surprise when I went yesterday after not having eaten for 7 hrs and not even coming close to wanting to buy the "food" I usually crave. Hmmm. Maybe Dr. Jack is on to something...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hx or HPI

As I put off for a few more minutes doing another PCR, I'd like to write down a quick narrative of what has brought me to this point in my life, especially concerning health and fitness. This is my HPI, or History of Present Illness.

I grew up a farmboy; meat and potatoes and hard work. I ran cross country in high school in the fall and track in the spring. I sucked. But I liked it. After high school I became a Marine. It was the proudest moment of my life. The D.I.s kindly showed me all the things I was capable of: shooting very large machine guns and generally just kicking ass. They also showed me that I sucked at pullups and getting better at them was apparently going to take a whole lot more than "more pullups".

After the Marines I went to college. In my spare time I mountain and road biked, dabbled in triathlons, swam for fitness, and had one of my formative experiences in health and fitness...

It began soon after I transferred from NAU to ASU. I would make a habit of riding my bike approx 8 miles to school, lift in the weight room for about an hour and/or swim for a half hour, maybe play racquetball, learn some stuff (can't quite recall what), then bike home 8 miles. I did this for two years solid - spring, summer, winter, fall - rain, shine or dust storm - 18 degrees F to 118 degrees F. At the end of it all, I lost no weight, carried 25% bf, and looked the same in the mirror as two years prior. Hmmm... maybe, just maybe it was all the ice cream, fast food, burritos, pretzels, candy, etc., I was eating.

Fast forward 8 years, I'm now working for the local fire department as a Paramedic / Engineer / Haztech. I weigh 260lbs; at my height of 6'4" it's actually hard to tell how fat I was. I often argue that the best way to determine your adult weight is to complete Marine Corps boot camp. I was 180lbs and fightin' mean. My habit of ice cream, "muscle" shakes, crappy fitness had me up 80lbs with knees so bad that I couldn't run.

Stay tuned, next post will cover the turnaround...