Gettin’ Healthy Phase Two: Fasting Protocols

December 2, 2018    By: Geoff J @ 9:13 pm   Category: Health

In the first installment of this series I talked about how the first step I took to getting into better shape and cutting body fat was to start counting calories. That works. The problem is that if you do it wrong you’ll consistently be hungry and no one wants to live the rest of their lives feeling hungry. The persistent hunger is largely why my previous calorie counting forays worked for a while but ended up not lasting. Basically the normal pattern was I’d injure myself somehow, stop exercising, and with the extra calorie-burn from exercise gone from my counting equation I’d give up and stop counting calories since it was too easy to get into a calorie surplus daily with no exercise anyway. Then I’d go back to that 185-195 lb range I had drifted into over the years. Like I said, at just over 6’0″ I was never all that fat, I was just a bit… what’s the right word… Squishy? Flabby? Soft? (And for the record, the BMI scale indicates I am “overweight” at anything over 185 lbs. I know BMI gets a bad rap, but the fact is that most of us would benefit from believing it.)

Anyhow, I believe that trying time-restricted eating was a key ingredient this time to help the calorie counting stick and to me getting much better results this time around. More on that below.

Various Fasting Protocols

First of all, we Latter-day Saints know a bit about fasting. Most of us have been fasting at least once per month since we were wee Mormons. Turns out there are all sorts of ways one can fast, including the standard 20-24 hour no food or drink method I grew up with in the church. Here are some variations that get lumped under “fasting” when it comes to health.

1. Straight fasting

A little studying revealed to me that as long as you keep your sodium levels up (for electrolytes) and a few other things like magnesium and potassium you can fast (with water) for many days at a time. Our bodies are pretty good at keepin’ on it seems. I haven’t tried a long fast but I will fire up and occasional 24-48 hour fast now that I’ve been sold on some of the benefits of fasting, not the least of which is autophagy. It’s not always comfortable but the reported benefits make it worth trying I think.

2. Time-restricted eating

This is probably the most popular method of “intermittent fasting” these days. It basically means you do all of your eating for the day in a specified window of time. Probably the most popular version of this is an 8 hour feeding window per day with no calories the rest of the day. So for instance, maybe you skip early breakfast and do all of your eating for the day between 10:00 AM and 6:00 PM. Or maybe you go from Noon to 8:00 PM. Or maybe 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM works best. The hours you choose don’t matter much — the key is no calories outside of that eating window. Many folks will take this a step further and cut the feeding window to 6, 4, or 2 hours per day. With the One Meal A Day (OMAD) method having lots of champions — especially for when trying to cut fat.

The reported benefits of this kind of fasting are myriad. Just do a search on the term “intermittent fasting” in a search engine or YouTube and hundreds of results will pop up. But here are the things I personally like best about it:

    A. I just get less hungry. Especially now that my body has adapted to the eating window. I get hungry basically at 10:00 AM every morning because that’s when I normally start eating every day. Other than that I might have some mild hunger in evenings or just before 9:00 AM but it’s just that — mild.

    B. When I do get hungry I know it will pass and knowing when I’m eating next makes getting past any hunger waves way easier.

    C. It’s not that easy to massively overeat in a shorter feeding window. I mean you can do it — but it’s much harder than it is when you are grazing from 7:00 AM to 11:00 PM.
    D. My migraines have gone away. I don’t know which of the magical aspects of fasting made this happen but the migraines I used to have to stave off with Excedrin once or twice a week have basically gone away. Love that part.
    E. I haven’t had the bouts of melancholy/depression this year that used to come on for a month or so at a time. I just feel better.

I want to note that while I keep my eating window pretty similar most days, I am flexible about it. For instance if I know I am going out to a restaurant that night I’ll usually just hold off longer before I start eating that day. Or some days, like holidays, I’ll just scrap the eating window and pick things up again the next day. I don’t recommend being fanatically strict about the hours. The goal is to find something that is sustainable and fanatical hour watching is not sustainable long term.

3. Quasi-fasting (calorie restriction on certain days)

One form of “intermittent fasting” has people restricting calories to 400-600 per day periodically. I blogged about this some years ago. Some people do this every other day, some recommend it once or twice per week. I tried this back in 2013 and my problem with this approach was I got ravenously hungry when I tried it. In retrospect it was probably from trying to spread the 600 calories out throughout the day (thus never really entering a “fasted state”). Plus for my 600 calories I was eating too many carbs which spiked my insulin and made me way hungrier by the afternoon. If I were to do this again I’d just treat it as an OMAD day with low calories and would probably go straight protein and fat on the 600 calories to avoid insulin spikes. That would make it more of a real fast anyway.

I’ve learned fasting ain’t for everyone

The time-restricted version of fasting in conjunction with calorie counting has worked wonders for me. I’m back to my wedding weight and KJ and I got married back in 1992. But it doesn’t work for everyone. KJ tried time-restricted eating and hated it. Her hunger would get ravenous — especially late at night and it would interfere with sleep for her, which was already an issue. In the next installment I’ll talk about the approach that has worked wonders for her: The Keto Diet.

I decided to get less fat this year: Phase One

November 16, 2018    By: Geoff J @ 11:05 pm   Category: Health

So I’ve cut like 30 pounds of fat this year. I figured I’d blog about it.

First, the basics: I’m just over 6 feet tall, turned 48 this year, and at the start of the year I was up to 196 pounds. No one considered me fat, but I was sporting a fairly standard 21st century middle-aged-man dad bod. I was convinced that if I could get down to 180 pounds I’d have super low body fat. Turns out, I had WAY more body fat on me than that. But more on that later.

Phase One — Calorie Counting:

First thing I did was I started counting calories in and calories out. Don’t let anyone tell you that doesn’t work — it does. I like to build me a good spreadsheet so I determined that the number of calories it took me to maintain my weight (at the time) was probably about 1800 per day (assuming basically no exercise). This is generally referred to as basal metabolic rate or BMR. You can easily get an estimate for your BMR by googling some online calculators.

So I started recording how many calories I consumed daily. Then when I exercised I’d subtract the extra calories I thought I’d burned from that. For instance, I roughly assumed I burned about 100 calories per mile of walking (again based on basic internet research) so if I went on a three mile walk I’d subtract 300 calories. The cardio machines at the gym give you a calories burned number so that’s easy. And I basically assumed an hour of weight lifting is about 500 calories. You get the gist. My goal wasn’t to be exact because that’s not feasible, but I didn’t want to cheat because that defeats the purpose.

Every day I’d tally things up. If I consumed 1500 calories but lifted weights for any hour at -500 that would be 1000 net calories that day. The assumption I use, again from internet research, was that -3500 calories was roughly one pound of fat. So my initial goal was to get to -35,000 calories which would mean I cut 10 pounds of fat.

Side note: Having tried this on and off in years past I discovered that my biggest problem was under-counting calories. So to offset that, I set my BRM number at 1500 rather than 1800. I figured that would balance out my persistent under-counting problem and it has proved to be effective.

Solid Early Returns

I went at it pretty hard that first month or so, and sure enough, it worked. I was consuming an average of about 1300 calories per day and burning off an average of about 700 per day, putting me at a net of just 600 per day. In less than forty days I was at my -35,000 calories goal. And sure enough, I was tipping the scales at just 184 — 12 pounds lower than when I started. Success! Plus I was actually slowly getting stronger by hitting the weights maybe 2-3 times per week.

I kept on for a few more weeks and pounds kept coming off. By day 50 I was down to 181 pounds and feeling pretty stoked about it. Then came the work trip to New Orleans and I encountered my first hiccup. More on that next post.

But for now I’ll just say counting calories works like a charm for me. At least to lose weight at first. My spreadsheet is crucial to it all though. I’m already in front of my computer all day for work so having that spreadsheet there all the time helps when it comes to recording the calories in and out. Plus I have made a nifty little graph that makes it all super visual and motivating for me.

Counting Calories In

In order to count calories in I ended up eating a ton of frozen foods that first couple of months. I liked the food well enough, it’s mostly easy to microwave, and the exact calorie count is easy to see with those. Same with canned food. For other foods you often have to just google the stuff you’re eating. Occasionally I’d even weigh some stuff but I’m too lazy to do that much. After a while you kind of get a hang of figuring out how many calories you’re taking in. If you cheat the scale (and the tightness of your waistband) won’t lie.

I do a lot less frozen foods now, as I’ll explain later, but those easily calorie-countable items are still useful as part of my program.

What Next?

In follow up posts I’ll go over what I did when I got off track, my experiences with intermittent fasting (aka time-restricted eating), the ketogenic diet, creatine, weight training vs cardio, and more. Stay tuned.

But of course, chime in on the topic in the comments here. I’ve been away from my blog for years so we can make it like old times!

20 years up and running

October 11, 2018    By: Matt W. @ 8:53 am   Category: Life

20 Years ago today, I was baptised.

20 years on, I still believe.

 

 

Insulting Utes on Twitter

October 9, 2017    By: Geoff J @ 5:07 pm   Category: Evolutionary psychology,Life

Hey look! I just noticed I still own this blog… nice.

Ok, I knew I still owned NCT. I just haven’t posted here in more than three years. These days I mostly get my online fix by talking BYU sports on Twitter. (See @GeoffJbyu) The thing about rooting for BYU on Twitter is it means I get to argue with Utah Utes fans a lot. Of course arguments in the 140 character format of Twitter mostly consists of taunting and insulting. I get a lot of Ute challengers appearing in my Twitter mentions these days because I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for being highly optimistic about BYU (which infuriates and frustrates many of them to no end) and for being somewhat pugilistic in my responses to Ute antagonists who come after me. My go-to insult with most Ute fans is to call them imbeciles in one form or another. Some variations on that theme have included: moron, dimwit, stupid, dumber than a box of rocks, illiterate, fool, dullard, ignoramus, simpleton, pea brain, numbskull, and knucklehead. Such insults tend to get under their skins, which of course is my goal.

Not sure if I should feel bad about all the online arguing and insulting or not. I normally don’t. Although sometimes I get the feeling the rough-housing has gotten too heated and sort of feel bad when that happens.

Anyhow, in some ways the whole Twitter fighting process is kind of cathartic. I have long been a bit of a fan of evolutionary psychology theories that posit that we have all sorts of instincts that we’re born with as a result of the evolutionary history of humans. (And yes, I do think human evolution can square with a Mormon cosmology just fine with the right assumptions). So I kind of suspect this sort of raw tribal fighting is coded into all of our DNA. It sure seems to come naturally to us all.

If that’s the case, seems to me that the low stakes, almost ritualized sparring associated with this literal Team Blue vs Team Red serves as a useful and largely harmless outlet. It is undoubtedly a lower stakes fight than the ugly political fighting we see between Team Red (conservatives) and Team Blue (liberals) so many other places these days. Likewise, the religious fighting I used to do with anti-Mormons here and elsewhere online seemed to have higher stakes (even if that was just my impression).

I recently saw someone make a prediction for the future of humanity that went something like this: “Unrelenting Tribalism”. I tend to agree. I think tribalism is probably in our DNA. So I’m hoping that getting my tribal warfare fix via low stakes sports team rivalries is actually a useful pressure release valve rather than just an excuse for me to be rude to a bunch of anonymous Ute fans online.

If unrelenting tribalism is in our blood and inevitable, maybe finding a low stakes outlet like a sports team rivalry for it would be good for all of us. Especially if we could then let cooler heads prevail when it comes to higher stakes issues in society.

Moving to Seattle

April 11, 2017    By: Matt W. @ 6:12 am   Category: Life

This Summer, My Family will be moving to Seattle.

Questions I have:

What is church like there?

Why isn’t there a website that helps you find the right ward? (Reviews of YW programs and choirs would be nice)

Is it morally wrong to ward shop?

Rent or Buy? Is the AirB&B thing going to cause a housing price decline?

Utah election results

November 13, 2016    By: Matt W. @ 8:43 am   Category: Life

Alot of people are bothered that Trump won Utah. A couple things to keep an eye on.

In 2012, Romney won Utah with 740k votes. In 2016, Trump won with 375k. In 2012, a million people voted, in 2016, only 700k did.

So the reality is that trump did 50% worse than Romney,  and the top drop in support came from disenfranchised voters who didn’t vote for anyone.

If we estimate Utah voting population growth for the past 4 years at 2% a year (which per the census would be very conservative)  This would mean almost 400k people who would have voted, based on 2012 rates, didn’t. This is more votes than trump received.

So the Utah reality is that Trump won for a number of factors, but none of those factors was massive Mormon support for him.

The Mormon Ross Perot Moment

October 22, 2016    By: Matt W. @ 10:14 am   Category: Life

Ross Perot was the anti-establishment candidate in 1992, who rose to prominence for taking 19% of the Vote in the presidential election. The vacuum that created his success was a very unpopular incumbent president, who’s party was disenfranchised with him due to broken campaign promises about taxes, failing to eliminate Saddam Hussein, and a poor economy. The vacuum was also created due to lukewarm response to the democratic candidate, who was freshly coming off a scandal where he had an affair with Gennifer Flowers. This created a space for a 3rd party candidate to give people somewhere they could vote as a protest to the other two candidates. There is often talk that George Bush would have won without Ross Perot taking the votes, but polling data and exit surveys clearly paint that Bush was always lagging behind Clinton and Ross took votes equally from both candidates.

I think this parallels well the situation in Utah today with candidate Evan McMullin. McMullin is a relative unknown with virtually no history, but the one main power he has is that he is neither Trump no Clinton. He gives people who do not feel comfortable with either establishment candidate a space where they can register their dissent. This is why the latest polls show McMullin with a 14-25% chance of winning Utah (and thusly a .00001% chance of becoming president through a very unlikely scenario that the house negotiates with him after a very unlikely Clinton/Trump tie)   (more…)

From Civic to Liberal Republicanism: John Locke and the Dutch

September 29, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 1:19 pm   Category: Calvinism,Ethics,Happiness,Life,Money and getting gain,Politics

This is the 4th part in my series whereby I roughly follow Jerry Muller’s Thinking About Capitalism, in order to bring socio-economic and intellectual history to Jonathan Haidt’s political taxonomy.  Here is the political spectrum that I have been working with:

spectrum-and-legend

Last post I discussed how Machiavelli, Hobbes and various religious thinkers contributed to the transvaluation of Civic Republican virtue into the modern “virtue” of self-interest.  This post will discuss the ways in which the 17th Century Dutch experience in general and – even though Muller strangely ignores him – John Locke in particular transformed the aristocratic Civic Republicanism into the middle-class Liberal Republicanism that would later form the very heart of the American constitution. (more…)

A Genealogy of Self-Interest: Machiavelli and Hobbes

This is the third post in my series where I appropriate Jerry Muller’s lecture series “Thinking About Capitalism” to bring socioeconomics and intellectual history to Jonathan Haidt’s social-psychological account of political differences. Briefly, on the right is a very rough, graphical depiction of Haidt’s tripartite political taxonomy. On the left is my taxonomy which is (with huge caveats that I won’t elaborate upon here) the vertical mirror image of Haidt’s:

my-spectrumhaidt-spectrum

Paternalism = Theocratic Chiefdom (Traditional Segmentation)
Abs. = Absolute Monarchy
Const. = Constitutional Monarchy
Individualism = Libertarianism (Classical Liberalism)
Welf. = Welfare State Liberalism
Soc. = Socialism
Fraternalism = Anarchism (“Utopian” Communism)
Mult. = Multi-Cultural Humanism
Civ. = Civic Republicanism (Aristocratic Humanism)
Nat. = Nationalism

To be sure, no 2-dimensional political spectrum could ever include every nuance or exception to every rule.  As such, these circles and boundaries are suggestive, high-level generalizations intended to function as entry points and primers rather than the definitive, last word on any such position. (more…)

Greek/Christian Condemnations of Profit/Usury

September 12, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 4:29 pm   Category: Ethics,Life,Money and getting gain,Mormon Culture/Practices,Politics

(This is the second in a series of posts dedicated to the relationship between Mormonism and capitalism.)

Last post I proposed to frame the history of capitalism around the tensions between self-interested exchange and reciprocal charity – two very different and mutually incompatible ways of organizing social relations.  This tension is best illustrated by a father who will not provide for his family unless somebody can answer the question: “What’s in it for me?”  To be sure, some classical liberals have sought to actually answer this question, but I think most of us think the very act of asking the question (let alone trying to answer it) is, at best, morally problematic.

The question that capitalism forces upon us is the extent to which we want to model social relations on familial reciprocity or on contractual exchange?  Which is the rule and which is the exception, and when is it the exception?  Muller’s second lecture, “The Greek and Christian Traditions,” is aimed at describing how medieval society insisted that we organize economic relations around household relations as both the Civic Republican and Christian traditions dictated. It is against this moral background that the modern advocacy of capitalism and the radical trans-valuation of morals that it entailed should be understood.  The questions which we Mormons ought to ask ourselves are: 1) To what extent do our scriptures and revelations presuppose the traditional condemnations of profit and usury? and 2) To what extent do our scriptures and revelations support the radical trans-valuation by which these condemnations were overthrown?  (more…)

Capitalism and the United Order – Pt. 1

September 8, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 5:45 pm   Category: Ethics,Happiness,Life,Money and getting gain,Mormon Culture/Practices,Politics

This will be a new series of relatively short posts that will center around Jerry Z. Muller’s lecture series “Thinking About Capitalism” (follow the link for transcripts of the first 18 lectures).   In previous posts, I have strongly recommended his “The Mind and the Market“, and I wish to reiterate that recommendation.  While there is a lot of overlap between the lecture series and the book, I will stick to the former since 1) it breaks things down into manageable, 4,000 word chunks and 2) it doesn’t require anybody to go out and buy a book.  For these and other reasons, I strongly suggest that people read the lectures that I have linked above.

First, a little overview of what to expect.  Muller is an intellectual historian who has a clear but guarded preference for free-market capitalism.  He knows that capitalism is not perfect and is fraught with several dangers and moral costs, but thinks that its benefits justify those costs.  Like most liberals (I will insist upon the European sense of this term while reserving “socialist” for left-wing despisers of the free market), he has a tendency to draw strong connections and parallels between right and left-wing critics of free market liberalism.  While we should be on guard for this, his approach does provide a lot of historical context and continuity to various left-wing criticisms of capitalism.  Now, moving on…. (more…)

The Meaning and Morals of Marriage

August 29, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 12:48 pm   Category: Ethics,Evolutionary psychology,Life,Money and getting gain,Mormon Culture/Practices,Politics

Terrence Deacon’s classic work, The Symbolic Species, is a very interesting synthesis of 1) Peircean semiotics, 2) a socio-anthropological account of morals and 3) a very traditional understanding of marriage.  It is thus quite surprising to me that this confluence of symbols, morals and marriage within a text as widely cited as Deacon’s has gone almost entirely unnoticed within the LDS community.  Starkly put, if ever there was a naturalistic and historical argument to be made for the sanctity of marriage, this is it.

Since my goal is primarily to explicate rather than appropriate Deacon’s ideas, the quote-to-exposition ratio in this post will be quite high. Before getting to those quotes, however, let me first summarize Deacon’s account, if only to provide a roadmap for what is to come:

All and only humans have been able to combine 1) cooperative hunting, 2) male provision of offspring and 3) sexual exclusivity.  The means by which this unstable combination is maintained is marriage.  Marriage is a uniquely human practice that is totally different in kind from the pair-bonding found in other species.  By way of analogy, pair-bonding is to associative thought as marriage is to symbolic thought: While the former are concerned with the regularities that an individual can predict to hold between two objects (smoke and fire), the latter involve a collective assignment of meaning or prescription of status upon both A) an object with respect to many other objects and B) those many objects with respect to it.

Thus, while pair-bonding can be understood as a negotiation of child-rearing responsibilities between the male and female (and them alone), marriage involves the collective ascription by an entire community of not only these roles and responsibilities but also those toward an entire social network that crosses kinship lines.  Stated differently, in the same way that a change in the symbolic meaning of one sign also changes the symbolic meaning of and between 20 other signs, so too a change in the moral/marriage status of one person also changes the moral status of and relations between 20 other people. Deacon’s theory, to summarize, is not merely that symbolic thought closely parallels marriage relations; rather, it is the much stronger claim that the latter was the evolutionary origin and cause of the former. (more…)

The Word of Wisdom as a Boycott of the Free Market

August 23, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 8:34 am   Category: Ethics,Happiness,Life,Money and getting gain,Mormon Culture/Practices

A Word of Wisdom … showing forth the order and will of God in the temporal salvation of all saints in the last days… In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days… And, behold, this should be wine, yea, pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make. (D&C 89)

Market demand is not the same as moral evaluation – and the production and consumption habits of the saints should conform to the latter rather than the former.

Up until the turn of the 19th century, the Chinese held a significant trade balance against the British.  Chinese tea had become extraordinarily popular within the British Isles, but the Chinese refused to trade anything other than silver for their tea.  The British, however, eventually solved their trade deficit with China by providing them with an even more addictive combination of American tobacco and Indian opium.  By 1804 the trade deficit had reverse direction in favor of the British as opium addiction spread widely (50% of men and 25% of women) throughout China.  This trade deficit along with the social effects of widespread addiction together led to a Chinese prohibition on the substance and, eventually, to the opium wars against the British (1839).

It is in this light, I suggest, that we ought to understand the importance of the Word of Wisdom (WoW). While we currently focus on the social effects of addictive stimulants, I would like to argue that the economic effects are at least as relevant.  The British addiction to tea had given the Chinese so much economic power over them that the only way in which the British could reverse this power relation was through an even more addictive stimulant.  Understood this way, the WoW can (and perhaps should) be understood as an economic boycott, and as such being much more pro-active in its moral intent than the passive “abstaining” from consuming various substances. (more…)

Common Consent, Consensus Formation and Habermas

August 16, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 11:57 am   Category: Bloggernacle,Ethics,Money and getting gain,Mormon Culture/Practices,orthodox,Politics

Is there anything that you would be more willing to purchase when your mother is not present?  What about your father?  What about your children? What about an attractive young adult with whom you’re on a second date?  Does this person’s presence effect how you treat a homeless person that asks you for change?  Does his/her presence effect which jokes or stories you are willing to tell?  Which moral values you are and are not willing to take a stand on?  I think the standard answer to most of these questions is: yes, of course.  It is perfectly normal and healthy to adapt one’s behavior to those who are present.  In this post I wish to approach the ways in which public acclamations of “common consent” in the form of sustaining our leaders differ from other forms of “consensus” and the means (both private and public) by which they are formed and maintained.

For starters, almost every type of community holds some type of “consensus” or “common consent” in high esteem.  It is in this sense that many consensus theories of truth (where “truth” is the “consensus” that is arrived at at the end of “inquiry” under “ideal” conditions) and many appeals to “common consent” within the church can often be quite bereft of content.  Jürgen Habermas, however, is a clear exception to this tendency in his defense of a participatory democracy in which the consensus reached at the end of “communicative action” ought to determine collective action.  While I do have serious reservations about his theory, it is certainly not empty and will thus serve as a convenient entry point to the discussion. (more…)

Grace, Faith and “Loyal Opposition”

August 2, 2016    By: Jeff G @ 8:17 am   Category: Bloggernacle,Ethics,Mormon Culture/Practices,orthodox,Politics,Scriptures,Truth

Grace without hierarchy is meaningless.

I wish to unpack this claim using (while at the same time taking very large liberties with) Alexis de Tocqueville’s contrast between the paternalism of the European Ancien Regime, on the one hand, with the individualism of the then nascent America and the idealized fraternalism of the French Revolution, on the other, as a spring-board.  (I will lump the latter two under the common label “modernity”.)  I would also point out that Protestantism did not banish hierarchy altogether, but merely flattened it to three levels: God, humanity and non-human life.  This view, however, is the historical exception rather than the rule.  Most societies have, as a matter of historical fact, organized themselves by assigning a social/moral status to persons that they either 1) inherit by birth or 2) are set apart to by those above them in the social hierarchy.  (more…)

Next Page »