At this time of the year I’m always searching for motivating tips that will help my patients get through the holidays. I often remind people that their new eating habits are a gift they are giving themselves. “If you are going to give yourself that gift,” I say, “then DO it! Don’t pull it back at the last moment just because of the Christmas cookies!”
I think that maintainers understand more about this gift than dieters do. This is because we have to experience a period of prolonged maintenance to “get it”; to feel the true benefits of changed eating. While staying at a lower weight is part of that benefit, it is often a smaller part than we might have expected. The gift we receive is a feeling of being in healthy harmony. This harmony allows us to enjoy powers of energy, a new smoothness of mood, a feeling of strength, and a body that stays well when other bodies fail. Escaping from the daily fear of illness---that’s probably the ultimate maintenance gift.
We know that maintenance makes us feel better. But could the gift be even greater? Could maintenance be helping us to live longer?
Recent research in the field of caloric restriction continues to be intriguing. As most readers know, cutting calories leads to longer life and slower aging in most species. But how does that happen? A study from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091118143217.htm looked at this question and came up with the following answer. “It may not be about counting calories or cutting out specific nutrients, but how a reduction in dietary intake impacts the glucose metabolism, which contributes to oxidative stress.” (Dr. Charles Mobbs, principle investigator).
Oxidative stress is the damage done by substances called “free radicals” which are created as a byproduct of certain body processes. You can think of these free radicals as rogue particles which shoot through cells causing injury. When we take “anti-oxidant” vitamins, we are attempting to sop up these free radicals and thus get rid of them. A better approach would be to generate fewer free radicals (and less damage) in the first place. As it turns out, overeating— the great American pastime--- appears to increase free radical damage. Restricting calories means less oxidative stress and healthier cells.
The Mt. Sinai team discovered that caloric restriction increased body levels of a substance called CREB binding protein, or CBP. High levels of CBP were associated with longer and healthier lives in worms and mice. In mammals, Dr. Mobbs believes that an equivalent effect might be seen at about a 30% reduction in calories. If CBP levels are known to be high in mice who eat less, what would they look like in mice with sugar problems---in other words diabetic mice? Mobbs’ team discovered that CBP was low in these animals, predisposing them to accelerated aging and disease. It seemed that CBP might work by blocking glucose (sugar) processing in the cells. Higher CBP might mean less glucose metabolism and less free radical damage. Most intriguing, Mobbs found that CBP levels were quite fluid and responded to changes in blood sugar within hours of feeding. Calorie restriction elevated CBP for as long as restriction was maintained. This research is another small piece of evidence that points to the wisdom of primary diet (eating as anciently as possible). It is intriguing on two levels. First is the issue of optimal meal frequency. Paleo diet afficianados have become interested in figuring out how often our ancient ancestors ate. It appears that many tribal peoples ate one large meal per day. This means that we may be optimally adapted to spending longer amounts of time in the non-eating state. The SAD encourages us to eat constantly and in large quantity. If Mobbs’ data translates to humans, overeaters would theoretically have a low level CBP and a higher incidence of aging and disease. Maintainers generally eat many fewer calories per day than their free-eating counterparts. The second important issue raised by this study is the suggestion that cell aging and glucose metabolism are linked. If aging and age related disease can be lessened by reducing glucose metabolism, does this mean that we can create the same effect by lowering our S Food consumption? As we know, ancient diets were low in starches and sugars (carbohydrates). Our body design seems to reflect this by having difficulty dealing with large amounts of these substances. Might eating anciently raise CBP levels? We won’t know until studies target humans. For now, most research is geared toward finding drugs that can mimic the effects of caloric restriction. But here’s the problem. Drugs take years to develop and, once developed, have the pesky habit of manifesting unpleasant side effects. If CBP turns out to be a real marker for the pace of aging wouldn’t it be great to have a portable CBP monitor? Perhaps someday, people will carry an “age-meter” instead of a glucometer. If you could painlessly monitor your longevity factor and aim to keep it over a certain level, wouldn’t it be easier to wait another hour for dinner or pass up pasta in favor of salmon and salad? In the meantime, I strongly believe that the gift of longer and healthier life is there for the taking. Keep starches and sugars low, eat with less frequency and in smaller quantities and use your scale as your longevity tester. If you are maintaining weight, chances are you have things in the right balance. Enjoy the holidays with the knowledge that your heart, your eyes, your kidneys, your liver, and your blood vessels--- right down to your tiniest capillaries--- are sending you grateful messages of thanks.
Negotiating success in maintenance reminds me of so many things: balancing on a bongo board, walking a tightrope, learning to sprint on tiptoe through a vast field of food, negotiating a temptation-jungle with blinders on. We tame the hungry lion with nothing more than our wits. We balance on the tip of a skyscraper-high food pyramid and all the while…. we dance. Maintainers are artists. They are skilled professionals. Their tricks and focus put others to shame. Don’t try this at home. Maintainers are the Cirque du Soleil of the diet world.
Like the final act of any circus, the end of the food year is our crucible, our most daring trick. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, it will all be thrown at us. The cocoa, the cookies, the emotion, the cinnamon, the chocolate, the tear-jerker movies, the alcohol. We will need to somersault, leap and dodge in order to avoid being annihilated. And who will be triumphant? Not the most virtuous. Not even the most deserving. The ones left taking the final bow will be the most skilled.
I am now entering my sixth year of Primarian eating. Tonight, I prepare myself like a gladiator getting ready for battle. I sharpen my swords, I gird myself, I imagine the inevitable pumpkin-scented opponent. I am determined to remain standing at the end of it all. Are you preparing too?
My skills? Nothing fancy. Sometimes it’s mastery of the most basic techniques that gets a maintainer the furthest. So here are some of the skills I’ve practiced over and over. Hopefully, they are routine by now, ready for deployment as the year’s food circus comes to a close with its final eating lollapalooza: 1. The Old Scan and Plan: Don’t ever get caught in a corner. You should know what’s coming and have a plan to counterpunch. Imagine each holiday situation in as much detail as you can way before it ever happens. Plot a course through the food challenges. When the day comes, mentally check off each situation as you enact your plan. It’s your private game.
2. The Switcheroo: Everyone’s there for the food. Except you! Switch your reason for being at the dinner, family gathering, office party. You’re there to gather information by finding out at least one thing you never knew about five people in the room. You’re there to advance your career by finding someone at the party who can give you a lead. You’re there to see how many people you can get to ask you about your weight loss and how you did it. You’re there to change someone’s life by inspiring them to eat healther, be more like you. Set a goal. Keep track.
3. The Stare Down: For advanced maintainers only! For the true gladiator, there’s nothing more enjoyable than challenging yourself to a direct face-off with the food that used to control you. If you’ve passed the invisible barrier that separates maintenance junior (early maintainer) from SLIM (senior level maintainer), you might enjoy this trick, which is the equivalent of facing down a lion with nothing more than your expression. Go to the table, look at everything, and laugh. A good, loud, internal “HAH!” and a head toss help a lot.
4. The Dress for Success: Wear your best looking and most form fitting clothes. Let them talk to you as you negotiate that dangerous territory. The pressure of snug clothing will remind you of what your body has achieved and prevent you from filling up.
5. The Bring Your Own: A good trick for buffets, pot lucks and other challenges too. Bring a safe dish and make it something you can really load up on if there is little else that fits your rules. Generally, these clean, simple dishes go fast. After all, everyone recognizes healthy food..even if they don’t want to admit it.
There are lots of other tricks I use, but enough about me. Do you have holiday skills? Send them in. Tag them with a punchy name and include a short description. Let’s share the wealth! You’re not dancing alone, you’re not fighting alone, you’re not balancing alone. You’re part of a growing acrobatic troupe. A veritable army of skilled maintainers. Are you ready for the challenge? If so, I salute you! “Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good FIGHT!”
The first step is to know your feet and the easiest way to determine what kind of running shoe your feet need is by using the Wet Test. The test is done simply by wetting your feet and stepping on a dry surface. The wet footprint is the determining factor for the type of shoe you might need. Shoes are split into three groups (cushioned, stability and motion control); and three subgroups (performance training, racing and off-road). The first group is specific to your biomechanical requirements. The subgroup is specific to your type of training and terrain.
What to look for when evaluating your wet footprint?
You are looking to see what kind of arch your feet display. Arches can be normal, flat, or high. The arch of your foot can help you determine the proper amount of stability, motion control and shock absorption required for desired running results and to prevent injuries or pain.
- Dry space around the arch that is similar to a half circle correlates to a normal foot.
- No dry space, or very little, is indicative to flat feet. This is a result of overpronation.
- Excessive dry space around the arch identifies a high arch, resulting in underpronation.
- Evaluate the wear of the shoes soles is another way to identify your foot type. If the wear is on the inner side of the shoe you most likely have flat feet, if it's on the outer side, you most likely have a high arch.
More information coming…………