Saturday, September 26, 2009

Communists and Eating Fast

Day One is getting closer and as I work on what I eat, it occured to me that I may need to look at how I eat as well.

I eat fast, in part because I always have. The other part comes from a brief stint in the military where as a part of basic training, soldiers are taught how to inhale food. It's a practical lesson based on the idea that in battlefield conditions you may have only a few minutes to throw down some sort of sustenence before the battle resumes.

Now the way they teach this possibly valuable skill is by a lot of screaming and rigorous instruction. Meal time in basic training was perhaps the most stressful part of the day. Line up, scream your number, get your food, chew, chew and get out. Drill Sergeants prowl like tiger sharks shouting encouragement and instructions.

"Take the french toast, apply the eggs and saugsage, fold like a taco. Two bites, two chews. Drink your syrup from the little plastic cup and you are done. Did you hear me! I said you are done!"

Ah, good times.

I never really had a problem with the situation because I ate fast before I got there and with the Drill Sergeant's kind instruction I only got faster. But, no one gets a free ride. The Drill's will get you sooner or later and no matter how fast your eating, it's not fast enough.

"Why is there still food on your plate?"

I assumed that was a rhetorical question since my mouth was full to the point that I had a corner of french toast sticking out of one side of my mouth and a sausage link dangling from the other.

"Why are you chewing?" he screamed. "Do you not understand the purpose of this excercise? Do you not realize how important it is to get food in your gut before the battle begins? 'An army travels on it's stomach' Who said that?"


"Why are you talking and not chewing? Why are you not getting this? You are letting your buddies down! You are letting me down! Your are letting your country down! What if your mother was sitting next to you and commies were just over the hill ready to attack? And here you are eating! Eating! Do you know what commies will do to your mother?"

He was leaning over now with that wide brim of that brown hat pressed right against my forehead, his voice suddenly low and accusatory.

"Son," he said. "Why do you hate your mother?"

Well, heaven help me, I stopped chewing as I tried to mentally flowchart how I got in trouble for chewing and ended up hating my mother.

Which, of course, initialized another tirade that ended with me outside doing push-ups in the sand under the hot Georgia sun.

So, to this day, I eat fast.

Here is an older article that describes some of the issues that eating fast might raise and since most of those issues are counter productive to my goals, I will endeavor to eat slower.

But I won't pretend that it will be easy. I realize the commies are not the threat they once were but even after all these years I cans still hear the Drill Sergeant screaming that the commies will get my mother if I chew too much.

Interesting, the effect people can have on your life.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Immortality and the Art of Strategic Impurity

Legends say the the ancient Taoist masters discovered the secrets of physical immortality.

Now, interestingly enough, immortality is achieved through ultra-clean living. You sit on a mountaintop, eliminate meat, grains and alcohol from your diet, don't have sex, meditate for 18 hours a day and there you go. You're immortal.

I'm assuming the dichotomy is obvious. To become immortal, you give up living. The Taoist masters will say that you only truly live when you become one with the Tao and forsake the world but they were also a pack of realists, these masters, and they acknowledged the fact that we can't all sit on the mountain top and eat bean sprouts and contemplate the navel lint of the universe. Some of us have to work and live in cities and breed or else the cycle would not cycle and the universe would not be the universe.

Hence, the concept of strategic impurity.

It goes like this: Living in a modern society, we can not avoid all the bad stuff. But we can be strategic about what we let in. We can pay attention to what goes in and acknowledge what it may do to us.

I gave up sugar once and I'm here to tell you that quitting smoking was easier. Take a walk through the grocery store and read each label of the foods you normally buy. I guarantee that at least 95% will have sugar or corn syrup as an ingredient. So to say you will give up sugar means that you may possible need to replace 95% of what you normally eat with something else.

And as I said, I gave up sugar. Once.

Giving up nicotine means a few days of irritability, stress and nervousness. Giving up sugar can mean laying in the floor in a fetal position begging for a cookie.

Ok, I didn't lay on the floor but I wanted to. It was sheer hell. And the aftermath wasn't much better. If I got caught out and stopped at a convenience store for a quick snack, I was doomed. Your friend, Corporate America, knows the addictive powers of sugar and freely packs it into anything they produce. So if you want to avoid it completly, don't stray far from the produce section of your favorite mega-mart.

Don't get me wrong. You can live sugar free but it takes optimum planning and a good bit of cash and some, with way more time and money than me, could do it successfully. Hell, I lasted a good six months before the stress of every day living and time constraints led to the purchase of a candy bar and a soft drink.

The concept of strategic impurity is simple. You can't live a modern life and avoid all the bad stuff. But as long as you are consciouse of what you consume then chances are it's ok. Just be conscious of it. Avoid the impulse for the sake of impulse and pay attention to the effect certain foods have on your body.

Be responsible for your choices.

Dan Millman made several good points about many of these concepts in Way of the Peaceful Warror. I highly recommend it. It makes a beautiful point about halfway through the book on conscious choice and being responsible for your decisions.

Oh, and for the "corn syrup isn't bad" crowd: If it has the same effect and dietary results as sugar, then it's sugar. Sorry, logic wins.

Convert your corn to biofuel and be happy.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Difference Between a Diet and a Dietary Lifestyles

I'm not really looking for a diet. I've experienced most of the fads and a few of the fashions but they all lack sustainability or they fall short on results. What I'm looking for is a dietary lifestyle, as in a way of living that fits with the modern environment and within a certain budget.

Diets don't work unless you adjust your life to meet the restrictions of the diet and that's more than most can stand for too long. But, for the sake of argument, let's run down the most popular diets and illustrate some weaknesses and be honest about their strengths and see if they might apply to the experiment

Any diet that sells pre-packaged food is out. The food is too expensive and usually is bland and tasteless. The epitome of the diet as opposed to the dietary lifestyle.

Any diet that involves a lot of numbers and points and counting is out. I don't want to have to count to live. I am an artist. That side of my brain does not work very well. I would starve to death. It works for some people, I must admit but I don't think its sustainable.

Any diet that uses pills is out. Way out. As in don't do it, don't think about, don't consider it even for a second in your weakest moment while standing in front of a full length mirror, blubber a-jiggling. Weight loss drugs are not well tested and do not work.

Any diet that requires an inordinate amount of time be spent in a health food store is out. Way to expensive and too experimental. I want food. Good food. And fried beetle shit from the backside of the planet that some hippie says is going to cure all my ills is not food. The trends come and go too quickly to be of any relavence. One week it's wheat germ, next acai berries, then herbal enemas and then come to find out that none of its working because your colon isn't clean enough. The snake oil salesmen of the old west live and breath in the modern health food store.

Now some diets do work but they to have some faults. Any of the varieties of low-carb could be an option but few follow the program into the maintenance phase after the initial weight loss. I doubt many even finished the books and realize that you return to a normal diet after you hit your target weight, slowly adding in carbs until you discover your level of tolerance. Most get so excited about the initial weight loss that they stay on meat and cheese way longer than any of the programs recommend. Then they burn out and quit.

I'll tell you now, this experiment involves a low carb element but we'll get into details later.

And there are of course, established dietary lifestyles that bear mentioning. I lived as a vegatarian for about three years and I must say that I miss it a bit sometimes. It was clean living and philosophically sound but I personally had hell finding enough protein in plant form for my nutritional needs especially with a mild allergy to anything soy. And I can't even imagine living as a vegan and truly respect anyone who can and does.
The list goes on and on of course and can never be exhaustive since a new fad is born every day. So let's get away from fads and trends and infomercials that promise the impossible for $19.95 and get back to eating what our bodies need and avoiding what our bodies don't.
It really just might be as simple as that...

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A new beginning . . .

My quest for a reasonable dietary lifestyle that will deliver health and energy with minimal expense and that can stand the burdens and temptations of everyday life has lead me to this moment in time. Here I will commit and begin a chronicle of an experiment that puts everything I've observed and learned through many years and countless variations of diets and lifestyles into play. My hope is that if I record the means and methods as I go, I can pin down what works and what doesn't and solve the riddle of health and sustenance in a modern environment.
Modern life is not conducive to modern health. Fast food, processed food, toxins both deliberate and unintentional saturate the average lifestyle and the health of the average American is all the proof one needs that a change is necessary.
But change to what? The options are endless but what works and what doesn't? Who's right and who's milking the common fat phobia to get an extra buck?
Well, the short answer is every diet may be right for someone out there but most will be wrong and few will have a lasting effect. Personally, I believe that each person should get the facts and adjust their lifestyles to suit their goals and standards of health.
That being said, what are my standards of health? Simply put, I want to feel good. I want energy and I want to eliminate nagging health conditions that may be due to or encouraged by certain foods. So my experiment begins with discovering foods that deliver energy and well-being and eliminating everything else. But I will not starve and I will enjoy food.
The logic is simple. We are born to this planet and we should be able to thrive on the sustenance within the life-cycle. Our food shouldn't be killing us. And living well shouldn't be outside of the average income. There has to be a way to live and thrive within the environment that we evolutionarily grew up in.
I think I'm close to a solution. I think I've spotted the common elements that contribute to weight gain, bad health and chronic conditions and now its time to use myself as the guinea pig and put it all into practice.
Keep in mind that I am not trying to lose weight but, having dabbled with this lifestyle before, I can tell you that it is a definite side effect. And the lifestyle is simple. I cut out or drastically reduce three things that, in my experience, appear to lead to weight gain and chronic conditions. It requires a bit of planning sometimes and a bit of compromise but the effects are remarkable. I'll share the effects, the challenges and solutions in the form of a daily journal for next thirty days although I can guarantee other topics will slip in from time to time. I consider a good online rant a great way to reduce stress.
I am not a doctor or a scientist and this will be nothing more that a recording of my own experiences. If you plan any major dietary change or plan to start a new excercise regime, consult your doctor.