Friday, February 18, 2011

Would you bet your life on it?

Something that's been on my mind lately... 

American's love diets and "lifestyle" plans.  Low carb, high carb, primal, paleo, no gluten, high fat, intermittent fasting.  There are so many opinions, bits of pseudo science and books out there it's become a (grim) hobby for me to keep up with them. 

The Next Great Thing

One of the latest iterations of "the next great thing" is the HCG diet.  Here's how it works. 

1.  You get weekly injections of HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin), a hormone created by the placenta in a pregnant woman in order to signal the hypothalamus to mobilize fat stores. 

2.  You eat a 500 calorie a day diet.  

Does #1 do anything? Honestly, it's irrelevant because #2 is both unsustainable and dangerous.  If you're fat enough to need this diet, your fat enough to need behavior modification.  A quick fix isn't that. 

Studying China

I know someone else that is convinced, after having read "The China Study" that consuming anything outside of a vegan diet is poison, and that consuming a vegan diet is all that is necessary to solve all your health problems. 

Lets put the logical fallacies present in that statement aside for just a moment.  This person doesn't have the discipline to sustain a completely plant based diet.  They try and fail over and over, and the weight problem that will eventually kill them remains. 

There are some great reasons to adopt a vegan diet.  Food intolerances, convictions regarding the treatment of animals, or even the environmental issues around animal consumption are great reasons... And while most vegans eat very healthy, eating healthy and eating vegan aren't the same. 

There is junk food for every eating pattern.

Betting Your Life On It

I'm not going to log my food, thats way to extreme!

I'm not going to exercise every day, thats way to extreme!

I hear stuff like this all the time.  And you know, for someone that can manage their weight and be healthy, maybe food logging and daily exercise is more than they need. 

But I have to ask...  Is it more extreme than injecting yourself with unstudied hormones and subjecting yourself to a starvation diet?   Is it more extreme than the vegan diet you can't stick with?  Can you do the thing that you are doing right now for the rest of your life and be healthy, not just as a diet but as a lifestyle change  Are you sure?  Are you so sure, that you're willing to bet your life on it?   

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Running in a Blizzard

Disclaimer:  You should not run in a blizzard.  I did because 1.  I'm an idiot. and 2. I had the stuff and experience to do it safely.  Don't try this at home.

There's a blizzard going through Central Illinois at the moment.  Big snow, big wind, big cold.  My day started pretty normally.  I woke up, ate some breakfast, donned the spandex, and got on the bike.  After that, shower and off to work.  About an hour in it became very clear that we were about to get a big big snow.  A few hours later we were sent home.  So, I did what any runner would do...I went to the gym to try to get my run in before it closed.  Alas, I was too late.  The gym was closed as well. 

At first I was bummed.  I really hate missing workouts.  Then my mind wandered to some people I was helping a few days ago, and some of the word on this blog.  And then the endurance athlete started bargaining with the sensible part of me.  "Well, the snow isn't that deep, and you're just supposed to run 5k easy anyway..."  "Besides, you just told all those people to do whatever it takes, and to suck it up buttercup."  Yeah, I did say that.  And then my mood changed.  How many people go running in a blizzard?  This is going to be fun!  Apparently, my inner athlete had thought I was suddenly getting off too easy.  "And oh, BTW, these easy tuesday runs are always form you're running in your vibrams (aka almost barefoot), but hey, that's not totally barefoot, so no whining."

So off I went.  It was 16 degrees out, with 25 mph winds gusting up to 55 mph, and a wind chill of -1.  There was, at the time, about 4 inches of snow on the road.  At first it wasn't so bad.  I was working hard to run my easy pace, since I'd probably added about 20 pounds of clothing.  The snow wasn't so bad at all.  The cold was bad.  It cut right through both pairs of gloves and my hands stopped hurting less than a mile in.  In the cold, the absence of pain is concerning.

The hardest part was the wind and blowing freezing snow/ice.  It really hurt.  My eyes stung to the point that I kept them closed as much as I possibly could.  It was in the worst of this that I started to wonder "why on earth am I doing this?"  It was for me, in my quest to be better than my previous self, sure.  But more than that, it was for the people I've met since my escape from obesity.  I know the fight.  It's every day, it's exhausting, it hurts.  It's not even a fight that can be won, but rather it's a fight you take on for the rest of your life.  I ran in the middle of a blizzard so that I could say "suck it up buttercup" and not be just another fake with a weight loss book talking about the latest gimmick. It was because, for at least today, I'm fighting and I'm winning.

It continued to snow, and after I had been out there around 20 minutes traffic was having a real difficult time making it down the smaller streets.  They certainly had strange looks to share with me however! 

After returning home I stood with my face over a sink of steaming hot water, melting the ice covering my eyes, and grinning like a dumb ass. That was a huge challenge, and also possibly the most fun I've ever had running.

So suck it up buttercup, what's your excuse, a blizzard?