12.28.2018

Rock-n-Roll Rescue

I am playing a few shows with YOUR MOM (the band) over the next few weeks due to their bass player breaking his hand in an untimely manner.

I tell you this mainly because one of said shows is tonight and I'd like you to come get your game on. I have busted my hump to learn a pantload of songs, if you need a little guilt to motivate you...

YOUR MOM
@Bowl-a-vard Lanes (MAP)
FRIDAY 12/28/18
9 PM to 1 AM
Free Admish

12.25.2018

The Greatest Gift - A Post-Holiday Post

The greatest gift is no gift at all.

I have never been a fan of Christmas commercialism, and that's even more true now that I work with economically disadvantaged people and I see the human cost of commercialism on mental and physical well-being. It is morally and ethically questionable to coerce* people who already have very little discretionary time and money to spend more of it for a dumb reason.

A better way to celebrate the joy of the holidays, and one that my family has largely embraced, is to rest and relax, while enjoying pleasant company. It's much more beneficial to do a lot of self care and low- or no-cost activities. Board games are an excellent option. Definitely don't work overtime at your job just to make enough money to then go fight zombie hoardes at shopping centers for material things that will lose their value in a few days or months. Instead, do something collective and cooperative, like hosting a potluck meal where everyone brings a dish, for example. Watch a movie at home or at a theater on the day that admission is discounted (Tuesday where we live...which also happens to be Christmas Day this year).

What are some other non-commercial ideas? Share yours below.

*Note: Advertising is a form of psychological coercion. If you doubt that, then how do you reconcile the fact that Corporate America spends billions of dollars on advertising? They would not do that if there were not a big return on that investment.

12.24.2018

The Year of Living Un-Dangerously - A Holiday Post


DISCLAIMER: This post may contain "alternative facts." That is by design. It is my ethical responsibility as a blogger to promote critical thinking by my readers. Do not simply accept information here without question. I hope that you will call me out (constructively, or at least civilly) in the COMMENTS section below each post. Also, do not try anything reported in this blog at home. That could be self-defeating.

It is close enough to the end of the year that I can now report on my year-long experiment to live as un-dangerously as possible.

The results...

I lost about 15 pounds, give or take, and my current weight is just under 200 pounds, the lowest it has ever been in my adult life (or at least since college, the time period when most of said weight was established...and it's questionable if I was functionally an adult then either...). My blood pressure is now consistently around 100/60. I thought this was actually too low, but it is in the normal range, according to two oft reliable sources - my wife, the registered nurse, and the Giant Internet Brain (90/60 is the lowest normal blood pressure allowed, according to whoever decides such things). The lowness of my blood pressure may explain the slightly heady feeling I have been experiencing when I stand up too quickly. Also, my arthritis pain (in my toe, from an athletic injury over 15 years ago) is 95%-98% gone. This joint inflammation was the source of a great deal of low level, but annoying, throbbing and burning in my foot for a long time. Gone! (Mostly!) Mentally, I feel happier than ever and my daily mood is ridiculously good as well, although I am not sure if this is attributable to my diet, per se, versus high self-esteem from both my mad physical wellness and academic gains (another straight A semester under my belt for grad school in Marriage and Family Therapy). I have definitely noticed significant improvement in my stress response. My resilience to stressors that would typically* annoy the crap out of me is subjectively much greater. I don't even know if there is an objective metric for that, but I am fine with perceived elevated resilience, if it gets the job done, even if it's a "placebo effect."

The methods...

I essentially made three lifestyle changes toward an un-dangerous lifestyle. At the start of this year, after turning 50 and returning from Hawaii, both my wife and I adopted a vegan diet, 99% devoid of any animal-based/derived foods (the 1% comprises** ingestion of accidental animal ingredients and maybe some honey here or there). We successfully stuck with it, notwithstanding a few minor challenges, such as vegan-apathetic restaurants. I lost some decent weight initially on this diet, but then plateaued, notwithstanding regular exercise, which comprises** the second lifestyle change. I have always exercised, but I increased the regularity of it during this past year, and I increased the amount of weight training (more muscle mass burns more calories at rest...). The third change toward un-dangerous living was to start counting calories in my diet, using a Smart phone app and a simple digital kitchen food scale. That last change was the really the proverbial kicker. Weight starting sloughing away once I became cognizant of what a realistic portion size looked like for various foods, compared to the way I had been eating (Hint: salads bowls are big, pasta dishes are small...). I was also surprised that I was not a much heavier person before starting this experiment, given how much caloric food I used to eat (i.e., a full bag of potato chips in a day!).

So that is the long and the short of it. It is an absolute myth that people over 50 cannot get in shape and easily lose weight. That myth is promulgated by the food industry, whose policy makers would very much like you to give up the will to be healthy and instead eat yourself to death, literally. The reason some middle aged people (but not all) get fat and seem to have more difficulty losing weight has nothing to do with biological metabolism slowing down [SOURCE]. It has to do with lifestyle choices and priorities. If your metabolism were to slow down, all that would mean is that your body requires fewer calories to run it's basic biochemical machinery, and if you continue to consume the same number of calories as you age, then of course you would gain weight. However, due to natural aging, the body is actually less efficient as you get older and requires MORE energy calories to run itself normally [SOURCE]. So, you can actually have an easier time losing weight as an older adult, if you use common sense and adhere to a healthy diet, which maintains the body's biochemical machinery at maximal performance [SOURCE] (similar to maintaining the functionality of an automobile by using quality motor oil and mechanical parts).

Reversing the aging process is actually quite simple once you know the not-so-secret science behind it. Although it is essentially calories in/out, it's much easier to regulate the inputs than the outputs. Consider this: If you want to lose a 3,500-calorie*** pound of fat from your body, you can try to go to the gym seven days per week and expend 500 calories each time (500 x 7 = 3,500). That would be a high/moderate intensity workout of about 30-45 minutes each time. Or, you can simply eat 500 calories less each day (this equals about 4-5 slices of bread per day, as an example). You can probably figure out which option requires less effort! Not doing something (eating) is always easier than doing something (exercising). #FACT. The science is pretty solid on this point...exercise is an inefficient way to lose weight, due to the body's evolutionary tendency toward energy homeostasis. When your muscles expend energy, your body actually slows down metabolism in other organs and tissues in the body to conserve energy. That's why exercise is naturally anti-inflammatory and slows the aging process.

So why do some people struggle to lose weight? It's clear that very few people are willing to change dietary habits that have been established over several decades of life, especially given the food industry's prime directive: To get as many people hooked on calorie-dense, nutrient-poor (profitable) foods as possible. However, for those who can free themselves from the hype and misinformation, the solution is really quite straightforward. It's too simple to say, "Take in fewer calories than you burn off." You also have to know the ratio of calories to nutrient content. Most vegetables and some fruits have low calorie-to-nutrition ratios. This is why no study has ever shown that eating these food groups is harmful to health. Nuts also actually have a good calorie-to-nutrient profile, supplying high protein and healthy oils to the diet. However, the calorie content is still very high due to the, albeit healthy, fat content of nuts. So, they should be eaten in limited quantities.

Enjoy the holidays!

*Note: I hesitate to use the word "normally," because I honestly believe that the excellent health and wellness that I now have should be the norm(al). So, "typical" is a better choice of word. Your thoughts?

**Note: This is the correct grammatical use of the word "comprise." Many people confuse it with the word "compose," as in "composed of." However, "comprised of" is wrong. Now you know...don't eff it up in future.

***Note: A pound of fat contains 3,500 calories, more or less.

Alternative Fact Patrol - Oats

Hi, Readers. Happy Holidays!

So...the back of the old-fashioned rolled oats box would have you believe that a half cup of dry oats weighs 40 grams and contains 180 calories.

Since I have been weighing out my foods consistently for about 3 months now, I can tell you that this nutrition info is false by even the most conservative interpretation of how much dry oatmeal one can fit into the leanest of half cup measures. A level half cup of dry oats weighs in the ballpark of 60 grams ± 2 grams, almost 50% heavier than the nutrition label on the box suggests. That actually amounts to around 270 total (90 extra) calories, a significant deviation if you are counting calories and trying to eat healthy (as I know many of you do and are).

That being said, oats are healthy and good and you should eat them. But always weigh out your portions and and disregard the serving size volume measurement indicated on the oats box. It is wrong.

12.05.2018

Almost Done

I am not quite done with school for this semester, but I almost am. Today I submitted my last written paper and gave my last class presentation of the term. Next week, I have to do a video interview with one of my professors on a topic that I wrote and submitted a paper on last week (about dietary factors in ADHD). Then it's smooth sailing till late January, academically at least. I am still interning as a therapist-in-training at a local mental health facility, mainly on Mondays and Thursdays. My winter vacation trip is planned and booked. My spring classes are registered for. I need to take care of a couple tasks on my TO DO list, but there's no great urgency on those. I have lost 18 pounds over the past roughly two months and I am down to 200 pounds now, about the break through the weight barrier into the high 100s. That was accomplished through exercise and healthy eating habits, and it's pretty fantastic, considering I have been overweight for a lot of my adult life. But I have learned a lot of motivational skills as a therapist, and I figure if I am going to teach SMART* goals to my clients, I need to be able to apply them to myself too. And so I have. Life is good.

*Note: Small, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Limited