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Die with t

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Argh. This diet is killing me. I made one of those classic mistakes. I complained to my Doctor. So he made things worse. I said I was tired and falling asleep onto my keyboard. Now, in part I was wondering if the black dog might be physiological…

Did he say: “Write a more interesting book” or “Go fishing” or “go diving, at least you’ll drown happy” or even ‘get more sleep’?  Noooo! Instead he made me even more tired, giving me anemia. Well, taking away some of the precious, rare blood in my caffeine stream.

And did he come back with some wondrous cure or answer… (because there is nothing worse than not knowing)? No.  Instead he said that basically everything was Okay (which was nice, but not congruent with the way I was feeling). But he was going to put me on this 5:2 diet to drop my cholesterol levels and possibly improve my insulin sensitivity.  Not particularly to lose weight – like most of us, I could stand to lose a pound or two of useless fat, mostly between my ears, or, failing that, off my middle.

Now this diet involves semi-fasting (1/4 of your normal calorie input, no carbs) two non-consecutive days out of seven. It wasn’t supposed to have a major weight effect. It was supposed to make me feel better, sharper, more inclined to write scintillating prose (well somewhat more capable of not writing boring stuff. That’s a more plausible target) oh, and to make me live longer.

I can report I’ve shed about 5 pounds in two and half weeks, and indeed, although living longer seems hard to quantify at this stage, I’ve lived through it and yes, the days have felt much longer, at least the semi-fasting ones.

Unless being a little giddy and having headaches is the sudden onset of mental acuity I can’t say that effect has been noticeable. I daresay being a little lighter will make feel less hippo and more zippo in time.

But seriously, it’s tough to write through, particularly on the starving days, when really all I want to is sleep, if I am to be denied the opportunity to eat a nice big pile of cream-cakes. I have been getting some writing done despite. It’s kind of escapism, even if I am sure what sort of quality this results in. It may make my writing more waspish and me to include less food description than usual. This may even be a good thing.

Anyway, what I thought I’d write about today was diet, because on starving days (today) I tend to get a little obsessive about it. Fortunately, this is a short term program so I will hopefully stop being so concerned that my stomach may crawl up my throat, find thin picking in my beard and go foraging for the cat, or at least the cat-food (which could be ugly. She’s possessive about her food).  It also seemed of limited direct relationship other people’s writing… but what isn’t, is the impact of your body and mind’s well-being on your writing ability.

And that I definitely find worth discussing, if not prescribing about. Look, I know there are writers who have continued with sometimes great output despite their health and other problems. I am certainly not one of them! However, the reality is that a need exists often enough to try and produce despite whatever the world is throwing at you.  If you don’t work, you don’t get paid, and you lose audiences. I don’t find it easy, but the few things I have found work for me…

Coffee. Then there is tea. Chocolate is good too… just not when I’m on this fast.

Jokes aside, THIS is when a work-pattern, and a work space, defined, ready and prepared, really work for me. Also, while starting is vital, I’ve found one of my most powerful tools for starting… is stopping. Or, rather stopping in the right place, so I can actually see some of the run-on from that point, when I start again.  I then find I tend to work in my head past that point.

The other thing that I found is when you can’t work (you’re feeling too rotten, or the world and problems are on top of you) don’t try to write – but do research. Sooner or later you will use it.

Your mileage may vary but I find music and brief bits of exercise – often offered as bribes to myself – also help me get past the focus on “I feel rotten/worried/starved etc.

So what works for you? Besides chocolate, that is.

48 Comments
  1. Eat smaller portions of smarter foods, be more active, take a multi-vitamin to cover anything you might be deficient in. I know, sounds simple, but it works. I’m down about 14 lbs (over the course of a year and a half, but still) and I feel better. Of course, I recently fell off the wagon and got lazy again, but I’m trying to get back at it. One day at a time. One week at a time. If you fall down, don’t beat yourself up about it.

    The idea of fasting makes my skin crawl. And it makes me want to eat all the time, like I’m a bear stocking up for winter hibernation.

    October 29, 2018
    • Smaller portions, and heavier breakfast and lunch, then light dinner would be nice, except dinner is when everyone is home, and getting their one big meal of the day…

      October 29, 2018
    • Fasting is not the right choice for anyone subject to hypoglycemia, but what you can do is get a few things that hit the snack button in small amounts. Like nuts, or jerky, or cheese.

      October 29, 2018
      • I eat a nut or two every hour or so. Otherwise I fall over.

        October 29, 2018
      • Yeah. I can’t do fasting. I can do smaller portions, but I need to snack through the day or I fall over. Used to be literally.

        October 30, 2018
    • Mary #

      Fiber.

      Not only is it filling, it does a great job on the cholesterol. (Soluble fiber binds the bile salts in your gut, so they can’t be recovered, so your liver goes and uses cholesterol to make more bile acids.)

      Mind you, I’m aiming at 300% of the RDA to get that effect.

      October 29, 2018
  2. I definitely find that creativity is sleep dependent. If I’m not sleeping well I won’t create anything useful. If I am rested then I can create all sorts of things.

    October 29, 2018
    • Yep. That’s why I went to see the doctor in the first place. I am not used to being too tired to think. loathe it.

      October 29, 2018
  3. Eating salad works. Knocks pounds off the Phantom frame.

    Sadly, I hate salad. ~:(

    October 29, 2018
    • One of the things I’ve found I really disliked about salad is the odd smell and taste of eating grass with some of the things. I like iceberg lettuce for salad… well, in sandwiches. It worked, I think, until I got pregnant again… A bento lunch of a sandwich (ham, turkish bread, shredded iceberg, with butter, a bit of honey or jam, and a wee bit of pickle) with strawberries, and a bit of dark chocolate, I found, actually gave me loads of energy; and I didn’t have to give up my requisite can of coke. (I cannot give up sugar, I crash too much and unpredictably so.) Spinach is fine too, but I prefer it cooked into a quiche.

      Walking about 15km a day helped too, but that really eats into the sit and write time. I fidget a lot – deliberately, so my legs don’t fall asleep (necessary because my feet don’t touch the ground when I sit)

      October 29, 2018
      • I was almost an adult before I found out that most people consider lettuce an essential part of salad. I live in a climate where it has to be grown in the spring, not summer, and salad is what came out of the garden. So tomatoes, peppers, carrots, radishes, cucumbers—but not lettuce.

        October 29, 2018
    • Zsuzsa #

      Hay. My ancestors did not spend 3 billion years fighting to the top of the food chain so that I could eat hay.

      October 29, 2018
      • mrsizer #

        ^THIS (and I’m stealing it)

        November 1, 2018
    • Salad is lovely with enough bacon!

      October 29, 2018
      • The trend of cooking magazines to add more and more raw greenery to dishes I actually find visually off-putting.

        That said, when I make my own salad, it probably doesn’t strike folks as ‘healthy’ – iceberg lettuce, ham, cottage cheese, honey and vinegrette and bits of blueberries or fruit. More protein than vegetable.

        October 30, 2018
    • mrsizer #

      A shared kitchen had many dressings in it, none of which I liked. I started making my own French dressing. I realized what the difference was: The other dressings were very weak/mild to bring out the flavors of the salad. Mine was very strong to cover them up.

      November 1, 2018
  4. Greg #

    Black coffee, bacon and anger.

    I need the caffeine, foods high in protein and/or fat keep me satisfied and my energy level up longer than carb heavy foods, and the last resort finding something to get a bit angry about does wonders for my energy level (but I avoid that last one unless absolutely necessary, side effects).

    October 29, 2018
    • Anger. Heh. Part of this relates to low blood pressure. I have been known to go and read political comments to wake me up…

      October 29, 2018
      • I was constantly getting told that I was ‘using the screen too much’ when I was in the hospital (even if the nurse had just walked in a bare minute after I’d turned on my laptop) – I was reading political news and commentary to help with the coffee, ‘turn my brain on.’

        My blood pressure is apparently a bit high lately, but I still behave like a low blood pressure person. Sluggish in the morning too.

        October 30, 2018
  5. Do I have to rant about this AGAIN? Get your &^%#^ thyroid checked. Full workup (and if that’s in the good range, check parathyroid, coritsol, and sex hormones). Falling asleep inappropriately and tough to lose weight screams low T3 syndrome. Which will eventually kill you, usually via heart failure. It’s actually fairly hard to put on fat if your hormones are all at good levels.

    October 29, 2018
    • Thyroid, vitamin D, and iron levels. (That last is far more common in women, but don’t discount it.) All three are easy to check and comparatively easy to fix. Barring that, get a sleep oxygen study. If you’re not getting enough oxygen, you’re not sleeping well.

      October 29, 2018
      • We eat a lot of green veg, eat more meat than most people (costs me around 2 cents a pound – figure it out ;-). D is faintly plausible, but I’ve just spent a month working outdoors. We take a multivitamin for any that we might miss and also the trace elements, as yes, most of food comes from our own land (some from the sea). Thyroid was supposed to be part of the blood tests. Sex hormones… could be. That’ll be next. I really am NOT struggling to lose weight! – I have maybe 12 pounds I could safely lose over the 12 weeks – and I lost 5 in the first 2 and a half. Basically I lose a pound for every fast, and don’t recover it before the next. Sleep oxygen is my bet.

        October 29, 2018
        • I don’t know if he did this… but have him check your d-dimer levels if they haven’t already.

          October 30, 2018
        • Mary #

          Eat Vitamin C with your meat. It helps with iron absorption.

          October 30, 2018
        • Does wallaby have the same issue as rabbits?

          I know it’s possible to starve to death when eating rabbit, something about it being so lean?

          Do you use olive oil or something to make sure you’ve got enough good fats?

          October 30, 2018
          • Wallaby – contrary to rumor is not fat-free – but there is little fat in the tissue (marbling). They can have a layer fat to make pig look like it is on a diet. When I mince I always leave a little – but it IS leaner than beef mince. But we eat pork and lamb too. I use olive oil a lot, and bacon and butter 🙂

            November 1, 2018
            • Good, one fewer thing for me to fuss about. ^.^

              November 1, 2018
  6. I got a “possible fatty liver” diagnosis in May, and that prompted me to diet. Learning that I’m “overweight” whenever I’m over 165 pounds was a motivating factor too.

    I think the general plan of eat a little less, exercise a little more, and be patient is the right one. It definitely won’t leave you tired all the time, but you do have to stick with it.

    My personal strategy for losing weight has been to drop alcohol and ice cream (or other sweets) and add some exercise (I now swim about 4 km per week). Otherwise I eat what I always have, although I try to be reasonable about it. I already only drank black coffee and diet sodas (or just water). We’re eating a lot more apples and grapes these days for dessert.

    In not quite six months time, I’ve lost 16 pounds. (178 down to 162.) I’d like to get to 150, which I weighed for many years once upon a time.

    I find it helps to keep a daily graph. If you weigh yourself naked, first thing in the morning, with an empty bladder, I think that gets the most stable results. I’ve discovered that salty foods will usually cause a big (~1 lb) but temporary weight gain. Ibuprofen will cause 2 to 4 pounds, depending on the dose, but it takes a week to build up and another week to go away. A big meal for a special occasion can make a huge difference (up to three pounds) but just for a day or two. Even allowing for that, loss isn’t even; I’ll go days at a time within half a pound of the same weight, and then abruptly drop a pound. Not sure why that is.

    I’m told that men generally gain about 1 pound of fat per year after high school. At my 40th reunion, my classmates and I estimated that’s about what we averaged. Trouble is, when you increase your max weight, the body makes brand-new fat cells to hold the new fat, but when you diet, all it does is deflate the existing ones. With all those empty fat cells on standby, your body is ready and able to reinflate you in far less time than it took to gain the weight the first time. About 10% of your fat cells die every year, so to actually lose the weight for good, you need to keep it off for 5 or more years. (It’s not 10 years because the body has a certain minium amount of fat you have to keep.)

    Anyway, best of luck. Hope this helps.

    October 29, 2018
    • If you’re female, you have to track by the month. I found out recently that I’m fluctuating almost ten pounds due to fluid retention, but it’s consistent.

      October 29, 2018
    • Weight really isn’t a huge issue in my case – I’ve put on about 12 pounds in 40 years, some of which is muscle. I’ve already lost 5 of those. I’m actually watching it to see I don’t drop too much because a little reserve is a good thing. The theory behind the intermittent fasting is that you keep your metabolic rate high and thus when you do have your reduced calorie days, you have the equivalent of a cow used to a daily move to the best fresh pasture – with a fast and wasteful metabolism as a result… suddenly kept on the same grazing strip the next day. So it eats the less palatable weeds it normally doesn’t bother with. But before the metabolism can reset to conserving every bit of nourishment and accumulating any spare as fat – you put it back on good grazing again, and keep repeating this cycle. So you autophagy of damaged cells and consumption of any bits it can find lying around – like LDL cholesterol. It also heightens the degree of insulin sensitivity, which could reduce the chance of diabetes.

      October 29, 2018
  7. Lee #

    Or, if you are like me and have already had all of that checked, see if a sleep study might be in order. Apnea can cause issues with weight in addition to causing you to be sleepy all the time.

    As for your question, I use reading to try to escape my misery. Or doing something deeply involved like shampooing the carpeting. Or building a raised bed for a garden.

    October 29, 2018
    • I suspect sleep apnea. It’s just very hard to assess here.

      October 29, 2018
  8. Jake #

    I went with lowering carb intake and sticking to lean meats and eggs for protein. Fortunately, chicken is a pretty versatile food. And apples and carrot sticks as snacks, of course.

    Also, I cut “liquid calories” from my diet. Alcohol, sugary drinks, even milk. Mostly I used an infusion pitcher and stuck to water.

    Finally started taking walks in the morning. Just a half hour or so before breakfast. I hear it helps in weight loss to burn calories on an empty stomach.

    October 29, 2018
    • Talking a short morning walk seems to help me, at least in terms of energy level.

      October 29, 2018
      • I’ll try the walk.

        October 29, 2018
    • Liquid calories? Surely beer doesn’t count? Seriously the weight aspect is not a big issue. It’s the tiredness. That MAY relate to sugar, which is why I have given it up. About 75 % of our protein is Wallaby – which is very lean. Fish and shellfish about 20% and pork and lamb the rest. I suppose eggs too. We have chickens.

      October 29, 2018
      • Beer is nothing but liquid calories. It’s the whole point of beer.

        October 30, 2018
  9. When I’m sick, I take the morning off until about 1100, then work. I can write/read academic monographs/other high-concentration stuff until around 1600, when the evening crash begins. If I’m not sick at my stomach, I try to keep walking, stretching, what have you, but no heavy gym effort. I don’t need to be spreading germies, and there’s no gain in hurting something because I couldn’t focus.

    This time of year I prefer to sleep a little later and walk in the evenings rather than before dawn.

    Weight loss? I find a 16/8 fasting schedule works well, cut back on sweets and starches, increase water intake, and keep exercising. I’ll never get back to the 109 LB I was in college, which was really too light for good health, but I’d like to shed about 15 lbs or so.

    October 29, 2018
    • Well, the weight loss – I moved from a BMI of 25, to a BMI of 24… so I really don’t need to lose much more. Once I get 22 this has to be watched. But it was the other theoretic benefits I was after. Perhaps spiritual enlightenment… but so far only physical ;-/

      October 29, 2018
      • My doc and I disagree on my weight. We both agree it is higher than desired, but he’s thinking that I have a slight build and light bone structure under adipose. I have a heavy build and heavy bone structure under adipose. So BMI for me is a bad indicator of health and fitness – as is true for most power-lifter types. (No, I don’t power lift, but that’s my build.)

        October 29, 2018
  10. *is now associating her dieting days with little old ladies poisoning someone with tea– die with t– and is debating if it’s better or worse*

    October 29, 2018
    • Better than dying without tea 🙂

      October 29, 2018
  11. Die with a T – is this going to be a new cozy mystery title? 🙂

    October 29, 2018
    • Sounds like a good one 🙂

      October 29, 2018
    • Mary #

      We look forward to reading yours.

      October 29, 2018
  12. Kord #

    Have you switched to another brand of table salt over the last few years? If so, check if it has added iodine? Plenty fancy salts don’t. With enough eggs, and seafood it might be fine anyway but checking doesn’t hurt.

    October 30, 2018
  13. 23 skidoo

    October 30, 2018

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