Paleo is Just Bad Science

Renegade-Diet-Review-Paleo-ProtocolsIf one more person at work asks me if I am “On Paleo” I might scream. No, its not a drug, it is the newest Fad Diet. And everyone know that Fad Diets come with groupies. This diet is not different than the others in that it tells you that restricting certain foods will make you lose weight. No shit, Sherlock.

The Paleo diet maintains that healthiest way to eat is to avoid the ground grain products that were unavailable to our cave man ancestors. People all over the world are changing the way they eat because some dude name Dr. Loren Cordain. PhD, of course. I think he’s a total nut who is selling folks a bill of goods.

Author Laura Miller agrees with me. At least about the diet. She states that thinking the human species hasn’t evolved in billions of years is just plain silly. Humans (and animals) have been evolving and changing for a really long time. She also points out that many species evolve quite quickly (humans being one of them) so basing a diet on “science” of evolution doesn’t hold water. Think about it. Humans have been grinding grains for close to 40,000 years – that’s a really long time to not get used to something. There are a great deal of foods that are included on the Paleo Diet that were NOT around in the hunter gatherer time. Foods such as the Brussel Sprout are only a few hundred years old. They were first written about in 1587, around the time Mary Queen of Scots was executed. That’s a far cry from hunter gather time.

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Of course, people claim that the diet “works”. Yeah, maybe it does, but that doesn’t mean it is good for you. Bulimia “works” too, but I’m steering clear of that as well. The reason the “diet” works is because you are severely limiting your calorie intake. Anytime you put restraints on what you consume, you will lose weight. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that. Wanna lose weight and keep it off? Exercise  30 minutes 5x a week, and watch your calorie & sugar intake. Easy.

The Paleo concept is an idea with very little basis in fact. It’s a gimmick to get you to buy the book. If you follow his plan you’re cutting out low-fat cottage cheese and low-fat Greek yogurt (calcium), lentils and black beans (some of the healthiest stuff around), whole-grain carbs and heart-healthy oils. Sure, our bodies weren’t originally designed to eat these foods, but we (and every other species that is still in existence) have evolved since then.

e76f12b58f27ebddca23ef9e2c51e9f9If you feel the need to lose weight, you don’t need to follow a diet that restricts carbs, or limits grains and legumes (both of which are healthy for humans to consume).  Here is my easy 5 Point Plan for weight-loss.

  • Decide that you are ready to make permanent changes in your life. Yep, life. Loosing weight should be about changing the habits that led you to lose weight in the first place. It’s not about “giving up” foods of any kind. If you think you are not ready to stop eating ice-cream out of the container, then you are not ready. You need to be in a head space of moving forward and of positive change.
  • Once you have decided that you are serious you may begin to make small changes. When I dropped a significant amount of weight I made 1 positive change per week until I got in the habit of just knowing how to make good choices. For example, the first week I cut out all soda. I switched to fizzy water with fruit. Next week I walked for at least 30 minutes daily. You get the picture. You don’t have to make yourself crazy, or into a cave person to see results.
  • Portion control. Do it. Food served and prepared in the states is so big, it could be used as two (sometimes three!) different meals. Eww. If you ordered fries, don’t eat them all. If you want dessert, share it with a buddy. If the plate is as big as your head, then don’t eat everything on it. At home, get smaller plates so you feel like you are eating more.
  • Exercise, exercise, exercise! In order to loose weight you must burn more calories than you consume. It’s that simple. If you are not exercising you probably won’t lose much weight. You also need to lift weights, or do some sort of resistance training. Remember, there is no such thing as “spot reduction” so stop running the treadmill for an hour, doing crunches and walking out the door. You need to work your whole body.
  • Eat enough calories. I see women all of the time who think that by starving themselves they will loose weight. Yeah, you might. But you’ll also be loosing lean muscle mass, which is want you want to keep. Diets that severely restricts caloric intake result in loss of lean body weight as opposed to fat weight. This can result in a person who isn’t overweight, but has a high body fat composition. Not my idea of healthy. Just be mindful of what you eat, when you eat it and how you feel about it. Keep a food journal if it helps. I used an online food tracker at myfittnesspal.com to help me see my bad eating habits and take the necessary steps to 86 ’em.

I hope you enjoyed this little rant. And I hope that maybe you’ll do a little research of your own, if you are so inclined. The idea is balance, not restriction – with food and the rest of life.

And, in case you are wondering – I do know what I am talking about. I am studying to be a personal trainer which means I have read tons and tons of material about the human body and what it needs to perform, what it needs to drop weight, and what it takes to keep it in good condition. 

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Life Off-line

Hi there friends. I bet you have noticed a lack of witty and amusing posts from me lately. Heck, a lack of posts in general. And for this I am sorry. As you know I have recently relocated and have yet to get an internet connection in my flat, but I am told that it will happen by Monday. I have been able to get on line for about ten minutes a day – enough time for me to check my email and Facebook, and skim the news. I promise I will return with much awesomness ASAP. I am braving the coffee shop across the street to write this post. Here are my thoughts on whats going on in the world…

RNC – I am so happy that all of those republicans stood up in front of the entire world and said stupid things out loud. If anyone out there is even contemplating a vote for Romney, you haven’t really been paying attention. No thinking person would want to affiliate themselves with whats going on over there.

Speeches By Michelle & Bill – I hear these two speeches at the DNC were awesome and that I need a tissue handy to watch them. Clinton has always been a favorite of mine, and I still have a crush on him. Michelle Obama is by far the coolest, smartest, hottest, and most badass First Lady we have had since… ever. I can’t wait to watch! I even heard that a reporter on FOX news said that those two speeches pretty much won the election for Obama. As cool as that is, I don’t think calling a winner this far in advance is a good idea. But, it is FOX news, after all.

Starlettes – In brief, I think we should all leave Kristen, LiLo, Rihanna and the rest of them alone. If Rihanna is stupid enough to keep dating the untalented douchbag who beat her, and then kiss him on national television – then thats her bad. I don’t like her music anyway so I couldn’t give two shits. As for LiLo and Kristen, just back off. They are young American women which means they are going to make a ton of stupid mistakes – we all do. That’s what your twenties are for. The bummer for them is they have to do it in public. Think back to all the stupid stuff you did at 22 and then think about how great it would feel to have it plastered all over the internet. Give the dumb girls a break. At least until they are 26.

Texas  Many of you are wondering about Texas, and how I am doing here. Well, in brief I am happy, but that has nothing to do with being in Texas. I’m in Austin, which I keep being told is “The place to be in Texas” but I haven’t had much opportunity to see anything except freeways, fat people and my job. So far I have found Texans to be LOUD, overweight and bad dressers. If this is where “hipsters” are, then they are in hiding. Because the only hips I have seen were all on ONE woman. She had three sets all to herself. Texas makes me feel thin and pretty without doing anything. At all. And it’s fucking hot here. People keep telling me to wait for winter and it will get better. We’ll see about that. But, like I said – I am happy. I have a great flat, the best fella in the world and an actual bed to sleep on.

It doesn’t take much to make this little girl happy.

BIGGER! MORE! NOW!

I have a very unique vantage point from which to view the world around me. I am both foreign and native at the same time. Sure, I was born in the states, but I feel like an immigrant having lived in the Czech Republic for so long. And as anyone who has lived overseas – particularly in Prague – will tell you, it’s a little different over there.

The Czech Republic is a modern country with all the amenities one could hope for. Yet at the same time Czech culture is perpetually living in the 80’s. It’s hard to explain wi-fi and smart phones coexisting with mullets and a constant echo of “The Never Ending Story” on the radio. Prague is in this weird limbo of wanting to step into the same century as the rest of the world but in typical Czech fashion, refusing to do so. It’s weird and makes no sense at all, but it is what I am used to. America seems big, scary and greedy these days.

One of the biggest issues I am having back in the homeland is my adamant disgust for the American lifestyle. I can’t leave the house without wanting to vom at the amount of “stuff” American’s seem to need. And waste. And want. And feel they deserve just because it is avalible. I marveled at the oversized basket of chips placed on the table at a HUGE Tex-Mex restaurant, and gasped when another was brought to the table after the first was finished. “We don’t need this many chips”, I said. “We won’t finish them.” Yeah, but we CAN have them so why not? (barf) I watched a fat woman send her husband to the FREE SODA REFILL station 3x to get her more Black Cherry soda while she mindlessly ate one corn chip after another. Before her meal was even at her table she had consumed at least 500 calories.

Television is another thing I am amazed by. First off, they are everywhere. Honestly. I have seen them in every single restaurant I have been in, most drug stores and even at the movies. Needless to say they are always on. And perhaps this is why American’s have so much shit they don’t need. I watched an entire commercial breaks worth of ads, and not one was for a product anyone actually needs. Diet pills, creams, and exercise equipment promising to get rid of all the excess weight you put on eating that crap food you don’t need, followed by an ad for pizza hut stuffed pizza rollers. Dusting cloths that promise to pick up more dust than whatever you are using to pick up dust currently. Garbage bags that smell better than your current garbage bags. Laundry detergent that smells like what a happy family looks like. What?

And it’s worse for women. During the daytime shows already geared to the bored women of America you see ad after ad for shampoos, eye creams, make-up, hair removal systems, odor cover up or reduction soaps, and lots and lots of snack foods with reduced calories “just for you”. It’s absurd. How do women in this country deal with it? Or I guess a better question is, why? Women of America I implore you – turn off your televisions! Throw them out! You don’t need it. You’ll feel better about yourself without constantly being told that you are hairy, smelly, ugly, pale and fat.

I won’t claim to understand the American need to acquire more stuff just because we can. When I have brought this up in conversation I am met with glares and eye rolling. I see garages full of shit that has obviously been unused for years, if it was ever used at all. I see homes with more than one television (and computer), and most have TV’s that are bigger than me. I have seen cars with drink holders big enough for a big gulp. I have seen children sitting in front of adult sized portions of fast food.

The point is dear readers, that I don’t get it. Are we trying to show off? Have we become such mindless consumers that we honestly, truly believe we need that fucking Snuggie? Are you so stupid that you need a special blender to make a margarita? C’mon. I don’t buy it.

And neither should you.

Shoot for the Stars

Once in a while I set a goal for myself that seems, when I set it,  totally doable. For example, I once decided that I would  go to the gym and work out at least 3x a week. That seemed like t totally attainable goal. But that didn’t last long. I was either too tired to go, or I thought the gym would be too busy, or maybe I just didn’t feel like going. Whatever the reason I lasted about 2 weeks and I was over it. It seemed vastly more important for me to watch The Biggest Loser than actually go and workout. I couldn’t find the motivation I needed to stick to it. Until now.

I accidentally stumbled upon the biggest motivator I could ever ask for by wasting time playing video games. See, over Christmas break I started playing Angry Birds. I loved it. Since then it became my mission to achieve three gold stars on every possible level. And I did it. I found everything that was on offer to find in that game and I did it to completion. I was super proud of myself. I still am actually.

About the same time that I was making Angry Birds my bitch, I signed up for the President’s Challenge – it is a lifestyle and fitness challenge aimed at lazy Americans. Basically you sign up for an 8 week lifestyle overhaul, committing to put in at least 30 minutes of exercise 5x per week + you make a small change to your diet each week. By the end of the 8 weeks you are supposed to look and feel great, and you get some sort of certificate from President Obama. As if that were not incentive enough, each week you complete you are awarded a big old GOLD STAR. I love it! I have three of them already and I am working toward my 4th, which means I am half way done. I am seeing awesome results like hottie toned legs, and the discovery of my abs. I had always figured they were in there somewhere.

I realized that I need more than just a goal for my efforts, I need a reward. I know that the gold stars I receive from Angry Birds, or the Presidential Challenge are not real in the tangible sense, but I still feel like I earned something and it makes me feel good. I like to be able to track my progress and see how far I have come. I also like to collect gold stars and feel like a total badass, which I do.

I guess the moral here is that if you want to get me to do something, offer me a Gold Star chart and a reward system.  So far I  found out that I am able to kill ALL OF the green pigs, that I can write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, and that I can work out 5x a week every week. Not bad. Who knows what else I can do? I’m shooting for the stars.

I Don’t Understand…

I am a fairly smart and well-rounded woman. I have read a wide variety of books. I know a little about classical music and art, and I can hold my own in conversations about current events and politics. I can choose wine at dinner, and I am quite clever and witty if I do say so myself. But, even though I am pretty darned awesome, there are just some things I don’t understand.

  1. Czech customer serviceThe best example of an oxymoron I could ever come up with is “Czech customer service”. I honest to goodness don’t understand the mentality of business owners and the people they hire to represent them here in the CZ. I have been yelled at, ignored, asked to leave and come back with correct change and laughed at all while trying to spend money in a Czech establishment. I am trying to spend money in YOUR store and you decide it is a good idea to make me feel small? No, it’s not. Communism is gone and has been gone for twenty plus years – move on. I have a choice where I spend my money and I don’t have to put up with your piss poor attitude. You get to sit all day while you ring up people – why are you so unhappy? Why do you have to make other people unhappy? I am putting Prague on notice: You are a tourist city which means you are international, which in turn means that you have to start being…. NICE.
  2. The moms (and dads) on ‘Toddlers and Tiaras’ – Okay, first of all I have no shame in sharing with all of you that I adore this show. Do I agree with any of what goes on at pageants? No. Do I enjoy the fact that TLC is shining a light on the wretched excuse for parenting that seems to be the norm in those middle states? Yes. What I don’t understand is why these women (and some men) agree to go on the show. Have they ever watched it? Don’t they know they will come off looking like crazy, obsessed, sad, people who live vicariously through their three-year old? If I were going to live vicariously through someone, I wouldn’t pick someone who needed help eating, threw tantrums, couldn’t speak in complete sentences and falls down when they walk. But that’s just me. What are we teaching our girls when we tell them their looks are the most important things about them and that making kissy faces and flirting with people gets you money? (Watch this! 
  3. Women who “dress up” to work out –  If you have ever worked out in a gym, then you have seen these women. They are usually in a very well-coordinated outfit, wearing gobs of lip gloss and mascarra and most likely don’t exercise very much. You might mistake them for drag queens. I don’t get it. Why would you spend money on a gym membership just to chat with your friends? Why would you work out in make-up? Gross! Can you imagine what their skin is like under all that crap and sweat? I go to the gym to work and I usually do just that. I couldn’t do what I need to do if I was wearing enough make-up to cover twelve hookers and sixteen college co-eds. I usually wear some old sweats and a t-shirt with Gizmo on it. Like I said, I just don’t get it. 
  4. People who don’t read booksUnfortunately, I know a few people who not only claim this, but claim it with pride. As if being an idiot is something to be proud of. I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t read books, and then why they would go around telling people that! If you are only reading Reddit and People Magazine then you are destined to be a schmuck. Books (both fiction and non fiction) not only jump-start your imagination, but also improve your vocabulary, expose you to new ideas, and actually force you to sit still and practise concentrating on something for longer than three seconds. That’s right I am talking about your tiny attention span. Pick up a book and save your soul. 
  5. Scented toilet paperWhy? WHY? WHY do we need our asses to smell like chamomile? I really don’t understand this. Sure “down there” can get stinky, but I think any normal person can manage just fine without the help of a “linen fresh” asshole. C’mon people! Is this something we really need? Or even want? Who buys this stuff anyway? Oh, wait… I do. What some of you may not know about the city of spires is that you have very little choice when it comes to TP. You can either have unscented, 2 ply TP that looks and feels just like cardboard, or you can have 3 or 4 ply TP that smells like the first rain of the season, strawberries or whatever scent “blue” is. I like my ass so I go with the stupid scented even though I know it’s bad for me.

FITNESS

As most of you know, I am a big fan of “The Biggest Loser”. I love everything about that show. I love that people are trying to get in shape. I love watching the workouts and challenges. I love watching the contestants crumble at the foot of a treadmill. I love watching the trainers yell at fat people. I love watching people lose hundreds of pounds and gain self-confidence just by changing their diet and learning to exercise. It’s awesome. It inspires me to workout more. And I have been.

I finally (after two and a half months!) got paid. You might not believe this, but I was chomping at the bit to get into the gym. It had been a while since I worked out and I was starting to feel soft and weak – two adjectives that I would rather not associate with myself, thank you very much. So, I marched right into the gym and purchased a month-long pass.

I want to set the record straight before I get any further. I don’t go to the gym to lose weight or get skinny. I go to the gym in order to feel good and gain strength. I run because it makes me feel good. I lift weights because it makes me strong. (and feel like a super badass) I like my body. I have an ample posterior, a nice rack and a middle that is sometimes little and sometimes the result of too much beer and Choco Moos. But I don’t worry about it. I am happy with myself. I can do ten push ups, and I can do five pull ups. I rock.

Recently, my flatmate and I have taken to watching Australia’s Next Top Model. It is a much better version of the Tyra Banks vehicle we all pretend to hate but watch anyway. The models on this show are not “curvy” or short. They are not against type in any way. They are tall and thin. And weak. One episode featured the models doing a workout and a few of the girls couldn’t even do a sit up. Not only did some of these girls look disgusting – collar bones and ribs protruding – they looked unhealthy. Gross. I would rather have hips, tits and ass thank you very much. I don’t want to be a contestant on The Biggest Loser, but i don’t want to be a contestant on America’s Next Top Model either.

I want to look like Alias, or Angela Basset in “What’s Love Got to Do With It”. I want to be strong and healthy. I want to be able to outrun the zombies when they finally stage their uprising. I want to be super ME. And Super Me isn’t a weak, skinny, helpless girl. Super Me is a strong, fit, capable, hot badass babe.

Now all I need is a cape.

"I’m better than you Because…"

If you are on Facebook – you have probably noticed that there are “Groups” to join for just about anything. You can join a group proclaiming your political affiliation (Barack and Michelle Obama, or the popular “How about we stop blaming Barack Obama for everything George Bush did?”), your taste in music (“Coldplay Sucks” or “Coldplay is the best band ever!”) or, as I have come to find, even lame personal habits (I turn my pillow over at night for the ‘cool’ side. – which boasts about 30,00 fans.) Weird. Since a pickle managed to get more “fans” than the band Nickleback, people have made “groups” for their personal preferences. I find this trend disturbing. It disturbs me in general that we (as a society) have the need to share EVERY like and dislike we have as publicly as possible, and that we feel the need to validate those likes and dislikes by the number of people who agree with us.

I recently got an “invite” to join a group called – “Curvy girls are better than skinny girls!” Not only did the group name offend me, but the fact that it exists at all was offensive. Didn’t we all learn in grade school not to compare apples to oranges? Didn’t we learn that both are really really good? Maybe I should make a group called “Short people are better than tall people!” How totally absurd.

I am not a “skinny” girl – not by a long shot. I am short, I have a large bust, ample hips and a big booty. That’s me. I am not about to proclaim that these things make me “better” than a woman who is tall and thin and has less boobs than I do. This kind of thinking is what makes women want plastic surgery, or start throwing up their lunch. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being thin, or big as long as you are healthy. And, while I am at it – let’s try to desist using terms like “plus size” or “curvy”. I hate when people use the term “Real women” as if chicks who are naturally slender are an alien life form, or made of synthetic materials. They are still REAL people – just like you and me. I don’t think we need to bash people different than us just to make ourselves feel pretty, do you?

I think its great that magazines like Elle (recently Polish Elle) and Glamour have been using models of different sizes. The problem is still that the magazine’s are still photoshopping the heck out of these models to make them all look the same. The most recent example is Glamour’ new cover. It is supposed to be celebrating women of all body types (hooray!) but unfortunately comes off looking like it is celebrating three thin, beautiful women. Take a look at some of the non photoshopped pictures and you get a very different picture. All three women are gorgeous, why did they feel the need to make them all look the same?

If WE ladies stop trying to one up eachother by putting down one another, we might finally get someplace. Skinny? Great! Chubby? Great! Just work it. And while your at it, let me work it too.

(A note: These pictures are of the SAME model at different weights)

I’m So Over Weight

Recently I have been taking stock of my 35 year old, “not size 0” body. I stand in front of the mirror, suck in the tummy and peruse the yardage. My boobs are still amazing looking, my ass is alright – and hell – the guys seem to like it so I won’t complain, and I have a little tummy that seems to shrink and expand according to the whim of the gods. But, all in all I think I look aright. And that is a pretty big deal. It sucks that it is a big deal, but that is the way the low fat cookie crumbles these days.

Like most women, I have not always been happy with my figure. I have struggled with my weight and I developed some “issues” along the way. I attempted to become anorexic, but realized that I liked eating to much and decided to go with Bulimia instead. For me, puking was a WAY better option than skipping meals. I learned the ins and outs of eating disorders by watching made for TV movies like “Kate’s Secret”, “When Friendship Kills” – which my friends and I just call “Lexi Anorexi”, and “For The Love of Nancy” – starring Tracey Gold who was really anorexic, so it gave the movie authenticity. At any rate, I picked up some good tricks on how to hide food, vomit quietly and pretend that water with lemon is a Big Mac. I also learned that Meredith Baxter Birney is absolutely frightening when she is binge eating. If creepy wind chimes start playing when you open a bag of cookies – you are in trouble. (Watch this clip. Get to about 5 minutes and WATCH OUT! It is AMAZING. It makes you wonder if all bulimics lose their table manners, or if is a gradual thing that comes with hunger.)I also learned that smoking will suppress your appetite. What they don’t tell you is that while smoking helps you curb that demon hunger – it will also make you look like Hume Cronyn by the time you are 40.

By the time High School was over, I had finished my eating disorder phase. I was pretty skinny and pretty happy. Now, flash forward to 2000 and say hello to the whale formerly known as Alicia. I know, I hate when skinny girls say they are fat too – but I was. I am 4’11 and I weighed 150 pounds. That ain’t little. That’s fat. Put it this way – I was told that I looked like a walrus had eaten me and just left my head. F-A-T fat. But no one called me fat. My boyfriend never said a word. And I wish someone had said something.

There has been a slow and steady “pro Fat” movement going on in the states, and I for one do not like it. Now, I know some of you are going to get your knickers in a bunch here, but hear me out.

Being overweight is unhealthy and just plain unseemly. I’m not talking about a little pooch or ten extra pounds. I am talking about being fat. I am talking about the kind of fat where you look like a sausage in your sweat pants. This is a bad thing. I think these “Fat Acceptance” groups, and “Big is Beautiful” web pages are hurting more than helping. When I was fat, I wish someone had said to me, “Hey Alicia. Um, you might wanna lay off the tacos and cheeseburgers for a while because you are really big. Why don’t you just grow a mullet and swear off men forever.”

I think the “body acceptance” pendulum has swung a little to far the other way now. I mean sure, not everyone can be a size 0. I have accepted that I will never be as thin as Sarah Michelle Gellar, and I am now alright with that. I get to have big boobs and an ass instead. But do we need to say it’s alright to be fat? Have we women become so insecure that we can’t take a little criticism?

Men seem to have found a nice balance – well, most men. I think men worry about their appearance as much as we do, but the difference is – they don’t let it rule their lives. Men don’t fixate on that the way we do. And you can blame the media all you want, but you rarely hear a guy complaining how he doesn’t look like Brad Pitt and start to cry. Men don’t stage protest in front of magazines because the magazine had the audacity to put a model on the cover who is in good shape. Guys who are overweight just seem to shrug it off, or get that beer belly to the gym. They don’t seem to have a shit load of psychological issues about it.

And I think that is where we need to be ladies. Sure it’s great that magazines are putting models in their glossy pages that have a belly, but I don’t think that it is the answer. We need to be able to be honest with ourselves and the world around us.

So next time someone says, “Hey, you’re fat!” Just say thanks. It’s nice that someone loves you enough to be honest.