Going on a cleanse

I saw something on Facebook yesterday that a friend of mine posted entitled “Six people who need to shut the f*ck up!” The piece is from FunnyOrDie.com, and among the people who need to shut up are “People on a Cleanse”.

Challenge accepted.

I hadn’t told anyone but one close friend (different friend than posted the funnyordie piece) that I am on a cleanse, but I am. My goal is basically to give my liver a break.

I am doing this at the suggestion of my favorite low-carb gurus, the Drs. Eades. Yet another friend — yes, I have several — suggested The Six-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle to me, and once I saw the Drs. Eades had written it, I knew I should pick up a copy. (You may recall that they also wrote the book on the health benefits of low carb eating, Protein Power. Or you may not recall it. Either way, they did.)

So, yeah, there are 6 weeks to this plan, and I will probably run through the whole 6 weeks at some point this summer — that bit of extra fat around my middle is just so stubborn — but I felt it was just a good idea right now to give my liver a rest, because I hadn’t done that for so long.

Why give the liver a break?

The liver is all about removing toxins from the blood. We tend to consume toxins in the form of caffeine, alcohol, ibuprofen, food additives, and more. The liver interacts with all that, keeping the blood in our system relatively clean so the rest of the body doesn’t get contaminated, and at some point it seems like a good idea to give it some time off, allow the liver to clean itself out, regenerate.

So that’s what I’m doing.

The basic cleanse rules are

  1. no alcohol,
  2. no caffeine,
  3. no unnecessary medications,
  4. 3 low-carb shakes, and
  5. 1 low-carb meal each day (meal plans are in the book)

Let me say here that the Drs. Eades are not generally averse to coffee and wine. In fact, Dr. Michael Eades has his own YouTube video about how to make an Americano (my favorite way to enjoy coffee).

Today is Day 5 for me. I had only planned to stay on it for a week, but I am feeling good, so I may go through next Friday.

The book suggests, btw, that at the end of the cleanse I donate blood and let it take the toxins with it (don’t worry, it’s still good blood). I may do that. Haven’t given blood in a while, but that’s primarily because it’s not convenient. They used to come to my workplace to get it, but now that I work at home…. Still, I think there is a place down the street.

Anyway, check out The Six-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle for the details. Maybe it’s time you gave your liver a break, too.

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels

“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

I guess that phrase has been around for a while, but I heard it the other day for the first time — read it in my friend Amanda’s status update — and I really like it, because that about sums it up.

Maybe you’re not there yet. Maybe you think you need that cinnamon roll or that slice of birthday cake or that bowl of ice cream. Maybe those do taste better to you than skinny feels.

Maybe that is because you’ve forgotten how skinny feels.

I was skinny when I was in my 20s. I mean really skinny, like 110 pounds lighter than I was when my fatness peaked in my 40s.

But I’d forgotten how skinny feels.

As I gradually built up my fat stores over the years, I simply accepted my weight gain as an inevitable part of getting older. Thinness is a thing of youth, I thought. As we get older, we automatically gain fat. Look around? All old guys are fat, right?

That is true to some extent — I am having a helluva time trying to lose these last pounds around the middle — but the first 60 lbs sure as hell came off, and stayed off . While I am much more active now than fat Steve was, the vast majority of my success in fat loss is directly attributable to my change in dietary habits.

75% to 80% of our body composition is based upon what we put into it, so, we are, indeed, what we eat. Not literally, though. That is the mistake in logic that’s been destroying Americans for 40 years. “Accumulated body fat causes all kinds of health problems,” we are told, “so we need to stop eating fat.”

The problem with that seemingly logical statement is that it’s simply not true. The science never supported it. Officials jumped to the “dietary fat is bad” conclusion, and then, when the studies didn’t support it, they were too embarrassed to ‘fess up. So they stuck to their guns, and now the American people are overweight and diseased.

Fat consumption does not lead to higher levels of stored fat. It does not raise blood cholesterol or triglycerides.

The science has shown over and over that it’s the sugars we consume that are much more likely to be stored as fat, which, in turn, raises our blood cholesterol and triglycerides.

(Don’t take my word for it. It’s all right here in science reporter Gary Taubes’s book Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It.)

So what was the primary change I made to my diet to lose and keep 60 pounds off? I got off the sugar. If something was created to be sweet, I don’t eat it. Period. No ice cream, no cupcakes, no Cinnabons.

And now, while I am not technically “skinny”, I do know how it feels to be thin again. I no longer need those blood pressure meds I was prescribed. I no longer need that cholesterol med I was prescribed. I no longer feel aches and pains that I was pretty sure shouldn’t be there. And I never want to go back to what I was.

Did I love that ice cream, those cupcakes, those Cinnabons? Yes. Do I miss them? No.

You know why? Because nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

Low Carb: My great-grandmother knew

Let me begin by saying that I am not against low-fat diets! If a low-fat diet works for you long-term, fine with me, go with it. Low-fat doesn’t work for me, though, so my personal choice is to eat low-carb.

One of my few childhood memories is of sitting around a dinner table with my parents, grandparents, and us kids. My great-grandmother, whom we called “Grandma Olive”, was also there, and I was sitting near her. When the dinner rolls came around, she passed them along without taking one.

I asked her, “No bread for you, Grandma Olive?”

She replied, “Oh no, dear. I have potatoes. Can’t have two starches.”

I didn’t think about that much, until a few years ago, when I was doing some in-depth research into low-carb diets.

I discovered that low-carb was the first modern weight-loss program, formulated in the 1800s.

I discovered that low-carb was, in fact, the weight-loss program of choice, until the 1950s, when politics dictated that fat should be declared the villain.

The demonization of fat seems to make sense. I mean, we know that excess fat on our bodies and excess cholesterol in our blood leads to bad things, right? So — logically — we should not eat those things.

Problem is that the science didn’t — and doesn’t — back that up.

(NOTE: For more about this subject, including in-depth reporting and solid scientific support, please read  Good Calories, Bad Calories by renowned science writer Gary Taubes. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you can read the first 100 pages of that book and continue to consume sugar in quantity, you have some kind of sweet tooth!)

As it turns out, when we eat low-fat meals, we tend to eat a lot more carbs, our calorie count goes way up, and our body stores the excess intake as fat. That’s why there’s an obesity epidemic in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 1994 — the first year data is available for all 50 states —  all states had an obesity rate below 20%. In 2010, all states had an obesity rate greater than 20%! (NOTE: “Obesity” is gauged as a body mass index of at least 30. BTW, the obesity rate in 1985 was below 15% in all states that were measured.) That’s how much fatter we’ve become over the past 18 (and 27) years.

The CDC also tells us that since 1980, obesity prevalence among children and adolescents has almost tripled. That’s why we had to change the name of “adult-onset” diabetes to “Type 2” diabetes, because our high-carb diets were creating diabetics at younger and younger ages.

Yup, this is where an emphasis on low-fat eating has gotten us.

I remember when I was a low-fat advocate. I used to do silly things like buy candy on road trips, instead of protein- and fat-based meals, because I thought that was nutrition, and, hey, little or no fat! Same with sugary soft drinks. Drink up! No fat!


Anyway, different strokes for different folks. If you are into low-fat dieting and it works for you — remember that is key, it has to work for you — get it on! Doesn’t work for me, though, and, apparently, it didn’t work for my Grandma Olive either. She knew.

The single best exercise

I read this article the other day at NYTimes.com about “The Single Best Exercise”.

Well, really, that’s just an eye-catching headline, because there is no one “single best exercise”. Or, rather, for my money, the single best exercise is the one you do! Just do something, ya know?

The article did get me to thinking, though. What if I could only do one thing, one exercise — well, let’s make it a group of exercises — the rest of my life. What would it be?

I know it would come down to either weight training or yoga. But how to decide?

Weight training definitely burns a lot of calories. It also makes me stronger, so it improves my aerobic fitness, too.

Yoga probably doesn’t burn as many calories, but it’s easy to make it a total body workout.

I’m going with yoga.

As I perused the yoga titles at Netflix and Amazon, I was amazed by how many people use yoga as a relaxer. There are yoga workouts on DVD, designed to make you sweat, and these people were complaining that it’s not what they wanted. Yoga is supposed to be relaxing, they said.

Okay, I guess so. It’s really all what you’re used to.

I was introduced to yoga by Tony Horton’s P90X, so to me it’s a workout. And I love it as such!

In fact, that’s why I was looking through Amazon and Netflix for yoga videos. I want more!

How about you? Which exercise would you do, if you could only do one? Running? Martial Arts? For me, it’s yoga.

HAH! I was looking for a video to put with this post and found this one from Tony Horton. I had not seen it before, but he came to exactly the same conclusion as I did about yoga.

How many reps should you do in P90X?

When I started Tony Horton’s P90X, one of the first decisions to make was whether to go for larger muscles or simply toned muscles. Tony would repeat over and over: 8-10 reps for mass or 12-15 reps for lean.

I have no desire to look like Tony Horton. He’s very muscular, has a bodybuilder’s body, and that’s just not me. But, hell, I could stand for my muscles to be a bit larger, so I decided to go the route most men take through P90X and shoot for 8 to 10 reps of each move.

To explain a bit more, the idea is to adjust the weight you use to work properly for the number of reps. That is, regardless of how many reps you do, the last two or three should be difficult. So if you’re shooting for 8-10 reps, you should be struggling on reps 7, 8, and 9. If you are not, you need to increase the weight.

Tony never gets into the lower rep side of things, probably because he is a bodybuilder, not a powerlifter, but you should know that HEAVY WEIGHT + LOW REPS = STRENGTH! You won’t necessarily get the muscle size, but your strength will increase dramatically with this approach.

Here, then, is a quick rundown on the whole number of reps concept. Tom Venuto includes this information in his article on his website.

  • If you are trying to improve strength, then most of your weight training will be in the 3 to 5 rep range. You may even do some 1 and 2 rep moves. This will make you stronger and faster without bulking you up.
  • Bodybuilders work on muscle mass, so most of your training will be in the 8 to 10 rep range. Doing some heavier weight training at lower reps makes sense, too, because you may not want to simply look strong.
  • To tone up, you should work in the 12-15 rep range. This is also useful for bodybuilders, to smooth things out.

I spend most of my time doing 8-10 reps. When doing body weight exercises, like pushups, I do as many as possible, so I have the high-rep end covered.

I have not, however, done anything in the lower rep range, and it seems to me I need to do that, so I’m going to try to work that into my workouts starting after this current recovery week.

Remember that fitness is not just finding one thing and doing that. That’s a good start, but fitness is really a lifelong commitment that involves reading and learning and implementing new techniques to stay as fit as possible.

So be sure to determine your fitness goals and then make an informed decision about how many reps to do based on those goals.