September 11, 2020

Dr. Fung's basic priciples as I see them

Before I get into my explanation of the self focused experiment and what I am doing in it, I thought it would be good to summarize the basic principles the Dr. Fung details in his book, The Obesity Code. This is not an outline of his book, but more how I understood it. I do recommend getting and reading The Obesity Code, even if you are not obese. It isn't a diet. It is a better understanding of how the body works and if you are healthy and would like to stay that way, it will help you a lot. If you are obese, it will help you understand why and what you can do about it.

Overall, the biggest principle that he states over and over is that "Insulin makes you fat." That isn't really the best way to describe it in my view, but it gets his point across pretty well. Basically, insulin and how the body produces, uses, and reacts to insulin determines metabolic health. If you are fat, it is because of your body's insulin condition. If you want to change it, you have to change your insulin production and response. Insulin is supposed to spike a few times a day, and stay low the rest of the time. Insulin resistance happens when that pattern is disrupted by high insulin for longer periods of time, resulting in obesity. 

So, the first principle is:

  • Understanding insulin is the key to understanding and treating obesity. Insulin resistance is what causes obesity (and type 2 diabetes).
Secondly, the next principle is that if you reduce your calories, your body reduces it's calorie burn. All calories are not equal, since different types of calories has a different affect on insulin levels. Our body will revert to it's set point based on how it responds to insulin. Our body will change all sorts of things about how it works to maintain that set point, including reducing our brain function level.

Second principle:
  • Reduced calories eaten results in fewer calories burned. Calorie restriction doesn't result in long term weight loss because the body adapts to maintain it's set point.
The third principle is very related to the second principle. Increasing exercise will not increase total calories burned, it will just shift where your body burns them. While it is true, it can result in short term weigh loss, it will hit that same set point, and will eventually revert to it. Most often, increasing deliberate exercise will result in less energy expenditure in other parts of our days.
  • Increased exercise will only shift when, where, and how calories are burned. 
The forth principle is about the other major weight impacting mechanism besides insulin, which is cortisol. If you are more stressed or get poor sleep, it impacts your cortisol, which impacts both fat storage and insulin. These are things you can do something about, so do them.
  • Cortisol impacts obesity and insulin, so do what you can to keep it at healthy levels by getting good sleep and reducing stress.
The fifth principle is the first one that shows how to make improvements. Basically, it shows what a healthy insulin (and eating) pattern looks like. Insulin spikes when a meal is eaten, but goes back to very low levels between meals, with a very long (fasting) period between dinner and breakfast (including during sleep). If insulin is low for all those in between periods, insulin resistance is avoided. This means we should not snack. Period. We need enough calories during our meals to sustain a healthy level of functioning, but we should only eat during meals.
  • Only eating at mealtimes results in a healthy insulin spike pattern.
The sixth principle is that not all calories are created equal. This is basically the very principle that my nutritionist uses as the basis for her whole nutrition recommendation to me. Processed foods, particularly sugars and carbs, create more unhealthy insulin spikes that take longer for the body to regulate and results in higher glucose levels in the blood. There are also many other benefits that Dr. Fung documents about natural healthy foods.
  • Eating processed foods and high sugar and carb foods results in many bad insulin affecting processes and effects in the body.
A large percentage of determining factors as to why some people are obese are genetic and not based on diet and exercise. We can only change what we can change. A lot what makes some fat people fat is not under our control, but we should change those things that we can control.
  • While many of the causes of obesity are out of our control, we should do what we can with what we can control.
For those who already have insulin resistance, lowering that insulin resistance will take changing many things in their lives. One key approach is fasting. The human body does really well with fasting, even for extending periods of time. Dr. Fung details what happens in the body with different length fasts. If you only follow a healthy mealtime eating pattern, it will help your body not develop more insulin resistance, but to greatly reduce existing insulin resistance, fasting is one of the most effective tools.
  • Fasting is a major key to reduce insulin resistance. The body under normal circumstances handles fasting very well.

There are other less significant principles that Dr. Fung illustrates in his book, but these are the major ones that come to mind right now.

September 7, 2020

Fat man's Journey

Five years ago. I was having a lot of problems. I was 44 yrs old. I had just had my gall bladder out. My weight was 335 lbs and I was so allergic to potatoes that if I ate something that had a tiny amount of modified food (potato) starch, I would have massive spasms in my back and intestines that would leave me crippled for days, while also suffering from massive constipation. 

Everything I had ever done to lose my excess weight was only effective for a maybe 15 or 20 pounds that immediately came back on with extra. I had severely ruptured 4 disks in my lower back when I was 24, and re-ruptured them when I was 32, so my exercise was limited to walking and light swimming. I walked as faithfully as I could. The previous 15 years had seen me try just about everything. I restricted my calories. I went off chocolate for a whole year. I ate only lean meat and vegetables. I increased my walking to over 5 miles a day. All of these showed a small amount of progress, but I would plateau and then the pounds would come back, even if I was still keeping with those changes. I felt awful both mentally and physically.

I was at the end of my rope. I didn't know what to do. The terrible physical shape I was in had me at the lowest point I had ever been in and was only made worse by the severe allergies. Now, being both a skeptical type of person and one that would try just about everything, just to show that things didn't work, I was willing to try stuff that I didn't believe in but that others said had worked for them. I had seen multiple people try something called NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques), which as one of them said, it is complete hocus pocus that works. So I decided to try it.

I was living near Orlando FL at the time, and we went to one of the NAET practitioners there, who just happened to be one of the foremost in the field, and one who had been doing it longer that just about anyone except for Nambudripad herself. Her name was Kathy. It was really strange, but after a month of weekly visits, potatoes were back on the menu. Additionally, she said I had a huge candida overgrowth and needed to go on a candida diet. Hers was a very extreme candida cleanse diet, and instead of following it for 7 days like what here documentation said, she had me do it for 6 weeks. It was brutal. It didn't focus on calories, but it cut so much from what I was allowed to eat that it basically cut my calories down to between 500 and 700 a day. I know, this is danger zone, but I followed her recommendations religiously. After all, she had fixed my allergy problem, so she must be onto something, right. Well, I lost weight. down to 300 pounds. That was more than I had ever lost doing anything else. At the time, I was transitioning to a new job, and I really wanted to get past that 300 pound barrier. It didn't work. It was a more extreme diet than anything I had ever tried, and it still hit a plateau. I never made it to 299 lbs or lower.

Fast forward a few years. I eventually got laid off from that new job after about a year, and ended up working and moving to California. I counted my calories (1300 a day), walked 3 to 5 miles day, was always tired, had trouble focusing, and slowly crept my way back up to 335 lbs. I ended up moving to Tucson AZ, and needed to find a way to still get my exercise in during the extra hot summer months. I got a gym pass for the whole family, and in addition to using their cardio equipment, I decided, based on medical advice, that I needed more muscle mass. After all, muscle burns fat, I was told. I had been quite buff in high school, and new how to bulk up my muscle mass. I started using the weight machines and was able to work up to doing nearly full stack workouts on most of the machines over the course of the next 6 months. I also went up to 352 pounds. I had slacked off on counting my calories, but was exercising more than ever. I blamed myself for eating too much, and started restricting my eating, trying to repeat what I had done with that earlier candida cleanse. 

I also had gone into a new doctor here for a physical. My A1C (a key metabolic metric) was at 7.2, which was bad diabetic territory. He recommended a bunch of things, and I redoubled my efforts. In 4 months, I had gotten down to 327 and my A1C was down to 6.4. I continued my efforts. I got a Fit-bit. I increased my walking and tried to improve my sleep patterns. after 4 more months, I was at 327, with an A1C of 6.4, which is the top edge of pre-diabetic. My doctor insisted that while I was doing the right things, I must still be eating too many calories, and he set me up with a nutritionist, who was fairly new out of medical school. She had me change what I ate, and not focus so much on calories, but more on net carbs. It sounded a lot like a modified Atkin's diet in some ways. I had decided to follow her advice as best I could. I also wondered if my problem was endocrine related, so I set up an appointment with an endocrinologist after following the nutritionist's advice for about 6 weeks. She had me do all new labs. Following the nutritionist's plan had helped my A1C to improve to 6.0, which was about halfway to getting back to healthy. The good news is that it had improved. I also showed completely healthy endocrinologically. The bad news is that I was going back up in weight. I was up to 332. The last thing she told me was I needed to read a book called The Obesity Code by doctor Jason Fung.

Flash back about a year. My mom is an extreme fad dieter. She is also very overweight and has self diagnosed herself with all sorts of things over the years. Every so often she would tell me about some new breakthrough diet, exercise, or other health related program or approach that was going to revolutionize her health. The latest thing she was going on about was some crazy intermittent fasting thing and that her sister (my aunt) had lost a ton of weight doing it. My mom went on and on about how amazing it would be. She of course, was going to modify what she was doing. After about 6 months or so, when I saw her again, I thought "Yeah, you haven't lost anything." Just another joke program. She continued to swear by it, but I think her total loss was something like 12 pounds. She kept telling me I needed to read the book for it, which was called "The Obesity Code". I was not going to read that book for anything. I did not need another way to lose weight that didn't work.

So, back to the endocrinologist. Here this doctor is telling me to read this same book my Mom is telling me to read. I was not excited. The Dr told me about a lot of her patients who were having phenomenal success with it, but it was more than a diet program. It was a whole new understanding of how our bodies work and what makes us fat or not. I rolled my eyes discretely, took a deep breath, and committed to order the book, and read it. I dragged my feet for two or three weeks before I finally ordered it on Amazon. It wasn't too expensive, and I committed to eventually read it. It sat on my living room table for over a month. I finally figured I had better read it, since my followup appointment is not getting any further away. I read the first half of the book. I was very surprised. His explanation described my experience with precision. I had absorbed a lot of scientific data and concepts out of the book, and I put a bookmark in it while I tried to figure out the best way to implement the new knowledge so that it would help me to actually get in better shape and lose weight. after about 2 weeks, I felt like I had mentally digested the info and had applied a lot of it. I had eliminated snacking completely, but not cut my calories. I tried to keep with the earlier nutritionist's advice, while applying this new info at the same time. In 2 weeks, I was back down to 328, but it stopped and plateaued again.

I decided it was time to read the other half. I was still not excited about starving myself, which is how I viewed what my mom had described to me as the program. I finally dug into the other half of the book. It really opened up my understanding a lot. I could see exactly how everything I ever had done nutritionally and worked, and how I got to where I was. I also read the recommendation at the end of the book. My first thought was hey, wait a minute, but you just said this, and that, and this other thing. Yes, his recommendation follows from what he had said, but it really was a halfhearted application of what he had said. I decided to take the principles he documents so thoroughly, and put together my own thing (gee, sounds like my mom, only more extreme). I am now down 7 pounds in 5 days. I feel better than I have in a very long time.

My wife and daughters said I should be recording this, and documenting it. so I decided to dust off my old blog and use that. I am going to try to summarize Dr. Fung's main points, and describe how I and using them and why. I am also going to explain how my approach differs from Dr. Fung's recommendations at the end of his book. I am not recommending anyone follow what I am doing. It might not work. It is an experiment on someone who was born overweight, and was always the fat kid growing up. Dr. Fung himself says that up to 70% of our obesity ties back to genetic factors, so, I should not be considered a normal case study. I hope that it works. It might not. the last 5 days have been very encouraging, so I am going to document as I go. Who knows, maybe the data from my experiment can even be useful to Dr. Fung as he advances this new approach to metabolic health.

June 3, 2017

I'm Back

I didn't leave on purpose. I swear it. I just had things to do. It has been a while. I am sorry. Anyway, I still have crazy thoughts. I still express myself in a stodgy, stiff old manner that people don't really relate to.

Anyway, It has been a while. I think I need to post more often, or delete the whole mess. For now, I will not delete it. I just posted a hair-brained idea I had in response to the latest round of gloom and doom "We are all going to be replaced by machines" articles.

Read it before I published it. Meh. It is a weak attempt to address such issues. Mostly, a lot of blah blah blah. Really. Just look up distributism and then compare it to capitalism, socialism, communism, libertarianism, and fascism, and then keep in mind that all of them are flawed. We have to have a balance of some kind. That might still be a negative thing, if we implemented the negative aspects of each. But if we can find a way to balance the positives, then maybe we might get something worthwhile.

Anyway, I have about given up on ever seeing a real solution for anything come from our so called leaders in government. They don't care about us or what is right. Nobody else does, so why should they, nevermind whatever oath they gave when they took office, everyone knows those are not serious.

Automation and People and Land

I have been seeing a lot of prognostication lately about how automation is coming and robotics and AI is going to replace a lot of jobs. I even read one article saying that the haves will become a different species. I think a lot of these such articles are missing something important. Economics.

If we automate everyone out of a job, who will buy the products? How do we take advantage of economies of scale, if the scale is a handful of super rich. If owners of companies are so rich, and everyone else is so poor, what becomes of the people? What do you do with massive populations of people who don't or can't work, due to the economic and technological realities around them? Do we get to the point that we start wholesale elimination of large populations? Undoubtedly, some will see this and the answer. Genocide of such magnitude is unprecedented, but that is where the thinking of such articles lead.

I don't think it will come to that. People will not be replaced by machines in total. Sure, many jobs and functions will be. It will be painful, but people are creative. AI is not. It is not self aware. It does what it's programmers set it up to do. Again, most programs do things differently from what the programmers intended, but they do exactly what they are told. But what if our technology does get to that level where almost all jobs are replaced?

I am not sure how this whole thing works itself out, but it will have to. To feed such masses of poor will require a significant portion of the Earth's land for their maintenance. Who will pay for it? To resolve such questions will probably get ugly in some way, and the poor will probably have the bulk of the losers. I see a variety of solutions to such a dilemma , none of which are very palatable. Most of them will be some form or another of expansion of the current welfare state. Another disgusting alternative is the re-institutionalization of slavery, based solely on economic standing. I certainly hope that no governments will reach the point of deciding genocide is a good way to go.

One of the welfare state expansions that we are beginning too see is called basic income. Many nations are beginning to experiment with this concept. This money has to come from taxes and fees. If only the rich are making money, they will be who has to pay for everyone else. Still a no-win situation. The poor get an income, but become dependent on the government. They will lose incentive to work and create and make the world a better place. It sets up continued and increased tension between the rich and the poor which will eventually come to a head. The more the poor are displace by technology, the more the rich will be taxed. At some point, the rich will resist or rebel. That would lead to one of those other nasty scenarios mentioned above.

It doesn't have to be that way. Perhaps, there may be other solutions which might be worthwhile to look into. I remember reading about laws that existed in some small island countries many years ago that each family was required to grow and preserve a certain amount of food for each family member. They were required to spend a specified amount of time working their gardens. Those that could afford it could pay others to work in their garden's for them. If we step forward a couple of centuries and add technology into the mix, perhaps we find that there may be wisdom in some of the underlying principles of self reliance. This is a variation off of the theme of distributist thinking.

The key is making sure each person has access to the means to take care of themselves. This probably means some kind of guaranteed access to some required per person amount of land and water resources. It will require people to learn to work. The government would have to create some kind of equitable way of distributing, and redistributing, and redistributing again, the land and resources. It would have to be fair, and yet still make sure everyone had their required minimum. I suppose having rules for land inheritance which are different from other inheritance might be required. At any rate, there are some uncomfortable changes which would have to be made to our policies.

The interesting thing is, if we did establish such a program to support the poor, it won't prevent those who are so inclined from setting their sights higher, and seeking more than the bare minimum. If they fail, well, what better safety net than self reliance. Those who succeed can have that benefit of having other people or machines to their work to meet the requirements of such a system. It also would still provides enough of an economic structure to ensure trade will exist and therefore the capital required to create our modern wonders will continue.

Yes, it is true, there will still be rich and poor. Many will inherit their wealth. They will still have to be taxed to pay for government. The difference is, the poor will be better taken care of, have a better safety net, and still have opportunity. The taxes would not be as onerous as in the basic income scenario mentioned previously. A land distributism program would certainly not address all the problems that exist and getting people to understand and agree on the specifics will be extremely difficult. But it will be better than either hordes of unworking being paid for by massive taxes on a few rich, or the alternatives of mass slavery or wholesale genocide of those viewed as having no economic value.

January 21, 2015

Discernment and Discrimination

Discrimination is a much maligned word. People use it most often to describe unfair or hostile treatment of broad groups of innocent people. Whole sections of our federal code address the evils of discrimination. Millions of people have been victims of discrimination when seeking employment, attending school, searching for a home, or even where they shop.

However, discrimination may not be exactly what we think it is. And, it may not be all bad. Think of a related word: Discern. What does it mean? say it means "to distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different; discriminate". There it is again. Discriminate. So what does that mean, in a dictionary sense. Again, says it means "to note or observe a difference; distinguish accurately". So, discrimination is when we accurately distinguish the difference between things. That doesn't sound all that bad, so where does the problem lie?

To address this, we will again go back to, but do another entry. It says "to make a distinction in favor of or against a person or thing on the basis of the group, class, or category to which the person or thing belongs rather than according to actual merit; show partiality;". This sounds less nice. The real problem here is the partiality, and ignoring actual merit. Our laws specifically talk about discrimination, but discrimination can be good, as long as actual merit is recognized.

We have laws that say we can't discriminate on the basis of certain group memberships. The list of groups so protected has grown, and will continue to grow. Then we have other laws saying some discrimination in favor of certain group members is required. I couldn't agree more that we should avoid discrimination against a class of people without regard to personal merit. But what about when we discriminate against that personal merit. What if we decide that the specific qualities, traits, and characteristics of a specific individual are completely unacceptable, or at least inferior to some other alternative.

I think we all must do this in some degree or another in many aspects of our life. I see this in hiring whenever I see hiring done. Companies want the best employees that they can afford. Likewise, employees want to work for the best employers. We have to make such judgement calls in many aspects of our lives. There are a few, however, that can become very controversial very quickly.

Take dealing with neighbors for example. If you live in a neighborhood, and someone moves into the neighborhood that changes the nature of this neighborhood. What if it goes from being a place you loved to live to being a place you are looking to move away from. What kind of things might this new neighbor be doing that could make such a change. What if they are dealing drugs in what previously was a very child friendly place. What if they are a hoarder that fills their yard with such massive piles of junk that you begin to have major rodent and insect infestations. What are your avenues of recourse. Do you just move away and abandon your once wonderful neighborhood and take the financial hit that comes with such circumstances.

In some places, there have been local statutes which address these issues. A common phenomenon in real estate is the use of Home Owner Associations which enforce codes, covenants, and restrictions with the ability to file leans against and foreclose on homes for behavioral problems in neighborhoods. Some cities have created neighborhood preservation services which try to regulate these problems.

But what if your neighbor is just a jerk. What do you do then. I guess you are back to moving. What if all the other neighbors feel that same way. Generally speaking they have no recourse. But perhaps they should. Now, it isn't fair to foreclose and take the property of someone just because you don't like them.

But here is a crazy idea. What if the neighbors could get together and if a high enough percentage, like, 80%, decided they wanted some other neighbor to be forced to move, they could do some kind of forced buyout? Of course, they should probably have to pay a premium for the inconvenience, like maybe 15 or 20 percent. The neighbors would have to front the cash for it. There would have to be legal protections and a very specified process to go though, but, then, the neighborhood might be able to protect itself against deterioration, even if the problem was not a health or safety issue.

Now that I have presented such a nice little fix, now lets view what are ways it could go wrong. First, lets just assume that the hated neighbor is hated only because of race or religion. Is it fair they should be kicked out of where they live just because of discrimination? Also, what about those that rent? Should they have a say? Could a landlord be forced out because of bad tenants? Should they be able to? What are the ramifications? Might we end up with completely segregated neighborhoods? Most of our neighborhoods today are quite segregated. Would it be any worse using this system? Invariably, this subject, whatever side you find yourself on, is ripe for abuse. If it were implemented somewhere, there would have to be a lot of safeguards to protect against abuse. However, by not having such a law, we do not get rid of abuse, we just make it less visible. Under such a system, perhaps, the real benefit would be bringing existing abuses and persecutions out in the open.

I am not saying I think this is the ideal system, nor am I saying I favor unmerited discrimination. I do not. I am just saying that the current system is not working. It would be interesting so see a city, or small state, or even a small country institute such a policy for a trial period and what it would result in. It might turn out bad, but it might actually turn out with less unmerited discrimination than we now have.