Monday, March 31, 2014

...Out like a lamb.

March comes to an end.
Baseball begins.
Life is good.

It's obvious to those that have followed Out of My Hat for any length of time that I have have been pretty lazy when it comes to posting this year. Sorry about that.
Truthfully, I've also spent less time reading blogs. My reading has been limited to just a handful of the blogs that I've been reading over the years.

I've actually been reading...books.
Not as often as I would like to, but more than I have done recently.
I've also been spending some of my "online time" offline and am getting some daily exercise. The exercise varies. Some days it's cycling on an indoor bike (I'm looking forward to spring weather and an outdoor bike). Other days it's a Nordic Track cross country ski machine (yes, we still have one of those!) or a short run. On most days it's walking 45 minutes to an hour.

I'm hoping that my indoor exercise time will combine nicely with my baseball watching time. I also plan on less time following baseball this season.

I know! That doesn't sound like the John you're used to. But it's true.
I do plan to keep things more in perspective this season. Let's face it, though baseball is fun to follow, the outcome of the season (much less, each game) has little impact on life in general for most of us. It does nothing to improve ones intellect or health. It is nothing more than a time consuming form of entertainment for most people. Maybe walking while listening to a broadcast or just checking the scores and stats after each game will serve me well most of the time. We will see as the season rolls on. Overcoming this addiction will not be an easy task.

One quarter of 2014 is history.

Be well.
John <><

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fats: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

One of the many things that I'm learning is that all fats are not the same...and not all fats are bad for you. As a matter of fact, good fats are essential for--get this--weight loss!

One of the many food industry lies that we've been told over the years is that poly-unsaturated vegetable oils are better for us than saturated animal fats.


If you stop and think that we are animals and primarily produce saturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats (about 97% of our fat with only about 3% being poly-unsaturated), it would make sense that we would best metabolize the same and better use the building blocks from the types of fats that we produce. It turns out that the great influx of omega 6 fatty acids (read vegetable oils) is a big player in the fattening of America. Plant based saturated fats like coconut oil and palm oil, mono-unsaturated fats like olive oil, and animal fats like butter, tallow and lard, are actually better choices!

Good fats are necessary for our bodies to produce the hormones that help to regulate all of our bodily functions--including the storing and burning of fat energy! If we don't feed our bodies the good stuff, our bodies tend to under produce or poorly produce the hormones that we need.

Also, as we age, our bodies produce less of (or stop producing) some of the hormones that we need to keep burning fat as an energy source--namely testosterone and estrogen. Hormone production is a big player in weight loss and weight gain! Although I started with a prescription testosterone therapy, I now use an over-the-counter supplement. Combined with the better diet and better dietary fats, I really believe that it has been a key factor in my weight loss.

If you are around 50 (for men) or post-menopausal (for women), I'd recommend being checked to see how much hormone therapy might be necessary to help you on your way.

Another factor in proper weight management hormone production is getting enough sleep!
For the past eight or nine months, I've been trying to get more sleep. While there are still plenty of days that I run on four and a half (and some on three) hours of sleep (with the occasional power nap), I'm trying to manage six or more hours as often as I can. I'm pretty sure this has also had a positive effect on the weight loss.

As always, I wouldn't take any of what I have to say as any kind of health advice. It's just what I have found works for me.

John <><

Saturday, March 22, 2014

More on Weight Management

It has been a number of years since I read The Atkin's Diet and put it to the test. I was intrigued by the science of the plan and approached it with my usual skepticism. I figured that this guy claims I can eat all of the "approved" fats and proteins that I want and still lose weight as long as I cut out virtually all carbs during the induction phase. I ate meats and cheeses until I was about to puke. I went to breakfast buffets and ate eggs with cheese and hot sauce and all the bacon and sausage I could stand...and that's a lot of bacon and sausage! I skipped the healthy lean meats like chicken and fish and loaded up on pork and beef. Big greasy cheeseburgers were regular fare. I even ignored the no caffeine part and continued with my daily coffee and 3+ liters of diet sodas per day. I snacked on slices of pepperoni that were crisped in the microwave (they were like little crackers!) topped with slices of sharp cheddar. I substituted the milk in the sugar free cook and serve pudding with 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 water for a high calorie, low carb chocolate snack. I shunned fruits and vegetables like the plague.

...And I actually lost weight!

And I began to realize that if I was more diligent about eating good proteins and limiting fats, I might actually improve my health!

In retrospect, there is no telling how much damage I may have caused by being so careless about the crap I ate during those few weeks. But, since I did actually read the book rather than just hear about the diet part from somebody that didn't really know what they were talking about, I was able to understand that the induction phase was just to reset my system and wasn't intended to by a long term way of eating. Overall, I think that the basic philosophy of the Atkin's system is good.

Whether it's Atkin's or South Beach, The Zone or Eating for Life it seemed to me that the main theme revolved around controlling insulin levels.

The current book I'm reading, The Abs Diet doesn't make a big deal of it, but the foods it promotes are the same foods in the other diets, as well as the philosophy of eating less, but more often.

I'm not a big conspiracy sort of guy, but I do believe that the food industry is killing us by its promotion of fast, cheap, chemically produced and genetically modified foods. Just by eating real foods, I've managed to feel better and lose a lot of weight.

I'm not a strict "don't eat that" kind of guy. In the past month I've had a couple of White Castles, an Arby's Jamocha shake, a couple of McDonald's soft serve cones, fried chicken wings, bread sticks, corn bread muffins and a few other foods that would make serious nutritionists cringe and serious dieters throw up.

I eat very little that is grain based (other than oatmeal) or comes out of a box. I'm eating less fried foods and more fruits and vegetables. I've cut back on red meats and high fat foods. I generally have at least one meatless day each week and I pay more attention to the number of calories that I consume that I probably need to. It's just that those little buggers have a way of adding up--even when they're good calories from good foods.

It's time for dinner.
Eat healthy foods.
Be well.

John <><

Note: I used Wikipedia rather than Amazon because I'm not promoting these books nor their philosophies. I think that they are good reads and have some good science to back their respective claims.

Monday, March 03, 2014

It's March!

Wow! How did it get to be March already? The year 2014 is one sixth over and it will soon be Spring!

So many people have commented and asked about my weight loss that I thought I'd share a few things about it here on Out of My Hat.

Before I really begin, I need to say that I am a subscriber to the theory of eat for weight management; exercise for health. I know that there is a correlation between activity and weight loss, but principally, you manage weight by what you eat.

Also, I no longer believe that calories in vs. calories out is a good way to manage weight. Not all calories are considered equal. By understanding how different foods affect my systems, I am better able to manage weight loss. By eating better foods, I am able to manage hunger and therefore eat less.

Since I am far from an expert on such things, I'll just give a few of the things that have worked for me. The biggest thing was to try to limit the amount of chemical crap that I ingest. For the most part, that meant cutting out all processed foods--and drinks. I cut out the diet soda and drink mostly water, coffee or freshly brewed tea. I eat very little bread, pasta or prepared foods. Other than cereals (which I don't eat a lot of), there are few boxed foods in our pantry.

Also, in the past nine months, I've only been to a fast food restaurant a handful of times--and even with those few times, I am much more aware of the crap that I'm eating and so I eat less of it or make the best choices available.

I'll admit, breaking old, destructive habits isn't easy. I was recently asked what it was that finally got me started on the weight loss and healthy lifestyle. My answer was that it was time. I knew what needed to be done but I just had to settle it in my head that I was going to do it. Switching out diet sodas for water was probably one of the biggest things--and that's not even a calorie saving choice! Little steps, simple choices; they add up.

I'll share more in the future; some about what works for me, some about the science I've learned, some about the little bit of exercise that I'm doing.
I suppose I should also share the benefits I'm reaping from a healthier lifestyle.

Live healthy.
Be well.

John <><