Thoughts After a Lengthy Hiatus

Hi, everyone. No, I didn’t drop off the face of the Earth! Time has been slipping away, but my efforts toward better health haven’t ceased despite setbacks in the realm of weight. Currently I am exploring a ketogenic dietary approach.

My first step is coffee with coconut and other oils for breakfast. The idea behind it, from the Bulletproof Diet, is to allow greater time without carbs between dinner and the next day’s first meal and encourage the body to operate in a fat-burning mode.  I started also adding a low carb protein powder, thinking it wouldn’t create a lot of carb-powered energy, but after a month or so of doing so consistently, my weight had not budged. I’ve now gone with just coffee and fat in the morning, aiming not always successfully to complete my masks by early evening. I’ve also stated applying a tip from Paul Pitchford of adding a different form of coconut, trying coconut water, which he believes can counteract the difficult that some people have with coconut oil alone.

I’ve also upped my exercise a lot this summer with my lighter schedule, and am experimenting with not weighing myself so frequently. I’m also increasing my water intake, and fairly consistently taking the anti inflammatory supplements they Dr. Perlmutter recommends




1PoundaWeek15Weeks to Victory!!! (1)

I have decided to challenge myself in a public way to finally achieve my goal of reaching the weight of 155 pounds, as well as a waist measurement of 34″ or less, and a body fat percentage of 16% or less.  This challenge starts today, October 28th, and runs through February 10th.

I deliberated about the time frame for achieving my goals.  Starting from a weight of around 170, I decided 1 pound a week would be a reasonable target, equaling 1/7 a pound per day.  In this blog project, I will be “thinking out loud,” sharing some ongoing or renewed efforts at weight management, as well as any discoveries of new ideas.  I would be delighted if my readers want to chime in to share their thoughts, or own struggles and/or insights as a fellow traveler on this popular path!

In a way, this “thinking out loud” is in itself a bit of an experiment, as according to Myers/Briggs Personality profiles, extraverts prefer thinking out loud, yet I am more on the introverted end of the scale. My idea, though, is that I have been unsuccessful in numerous prior attempts to reach and maintain my target, so it’s time to try something new!

My initial measurements are weight 169, waist 36-1/2″, caliper measure of belly fat, 19%.

I already have the outline of my basic strategy, but anticipate refinements and new ideas along the way.  I plan to focus on things I know are important but I have often found challenging:

  • increasing exercise, with a daily goal of 30 minutes walking or equivalent
  • increasing water intake to at least 80 ounces a day
  • increasing sleep to 7-8 hours
  • daily intake of green vegetables
  • keeping a food diary.

Lately, I’ve also been moving toward gluten-free eating, and have ordered a couple books on the subject which should arrive soon.  I also have identified herbs that are well-suited to my body/personality type that I will be incorporating, as well as continuing to refine my vitamin and mineral regimen .

I was reading in the October issue of a publication of my religious organization entitled Living Buddhism, that there is research that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.  But the November issue of the same magazine features a lecture on the celebrating the New Year, including the thought: “The purpose of our Buddhist practice is to lead lives of complete fulfillment, with the spirit that every day is New Year’s Day and illuminated by the morning sun of time without beginning.” (SGI President Daisaku Ikeda)

I have also created a map  of the factors that influence weight, having the ambition of making it all-encompassing.  I will  certainly be open to suggestions by you, the readers, on anything missing that should be added.


A 28 Day “Gentle Cleanse” with Coach Erin Weesner, Part 2

June 23, 2014

On day 11 of my cleanse, I’ve made progress toward one of my major goals, reducing my waist size (circumference wrapping around belly button) by 1″, down to 37″!  My longer term goal is to reach 34″ again, the lowest in my recent past.  I was encouraged (a word which means “to give courage”!)  this past Friday in this endeavor by seeing my friend Norb again, who very recently won a contest as his workplace for losing the most weight!

I attribute the progess so far to

  • Consistent weight training since the start of 2014 that has kept my muscle percentage up, and thus my metabolism.  I am aiming to increase to two days per week.
  • scaling way back on caffeine — In the last six days, the only caffeine I’ve had was a glass of green tea.
  • focus on variety of food choices, much more so than I typically do.  For example, I recently went through a phase of several months where I ate almond butter almost every day.  Also, one of my most frequent lunches usually has been hummus with varying chips rice, bean, corn, veggie, etc.   In an act of spontaneous creativity, I ate the hummus with Simply Balanced Whole Grain Garlic Six Grain Blend, a virtually ready to eat blend (simmer in water for 5 minutes) which contains parboiled brown rice, rye, bulgur wheat, quinoa, wild rice, sunflower oil, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, rice starch, spices.  Of course it would be fantastic if the salt had been sea salt instead!  I also crumbled 5 Flamous Falafel Chips, but that is still a large improvement from a whole meal’s worth of them!
  • Re-incorporating greens into smoothies, including arugula, spinach, celery, spring mix.
  • Having fun improvising meals with food combinations I hadn’t tried before.

Drinking water is a fascinating subject, starting with what source to use.  I opt not to drink tap water.  While I could filter the chlorine out of the faucet (and I do have a chlorine filter for the shower), there are more quality issues than that alone, as raised in a fairly recent report by the National Resources Defense Council.   For now, I’ve chosen to drink spring water using six gallon recyclable containers.

Another issue is timing of water drinking. Dr. Batmanghelidj, who wrote the book,  Your Body’s Many Cries for Water, recommends in that book that the best timing for digestion is to drink 30 minutes before each meal, and 2-½ hours afterwards.  I had tried this previously but lost track of it, and have been striving to reincorporate it.   An occasional challenge has been when I ate a meal about 3 hours after the previous, so that there was only a single drinking opportunity instead of two.  Then I realized I could drink two glasses instead of just one. He also suggests adding ½ teaspoon of sea salt for every ten glasses.  I happen to have a pinch-sized measuring spoon, which is defined as 1/16 of a tsp, so that’s pretty close (10/16 tsp  in every 10 glasses is a little more than ½ tsp total), so I have begun adding a pinch of Celtic sea salt to each glass of water.  Batmanghelidj explains the role of salt in hydration:

  • “When we do not drink enough water to serve all the needs of the body, some cells become dehydrated and lose some of their water to the circulation. Capillary beds in some areas with have to close so that some of the slack in capacity is adjusted for. In water shortage and body drought, 66 % is taken from the water volume normally held inside the cells; 26% is taken from the volume held outside the cells; and 8% is taken from the blood volume. Blood vessels close lumen to compensate for the water loss [otherwise gases would separate from the blood and fill the space, causing ‘gas locks’], [and] lumen closing causes the rise in tension.” (p. 72)
  • “Basically, water we drink will ultimately have to get into the cells — water regulates the volume of a cell from inside.  Salt regulates the amount of water that is held outside the cells — the ocean around the cell. There is a very delicate balancing process in the design of the body in the way it maintains composition of blood at the expense of fluctuating the water content in some cells in the body.” (p. 74)

I’ve had headaches off and on for a few days, and happened to re-encounter an insight of Dr. Gabriel Cousens in his book Conscious Eating — people of kapha disposition as I’ve determined myself to be (within the outlook of the Ayurvedic tradition) risk overhydrating.

Often those with a kapha constitution who drink six to eight glasses of water per day test as overhydrated. Because I eat primarily fruit and vegetables, if I, as a kapha-vata, drink more than four glasses of water per day I test as overhydrated. Excess fluid may precipitate a kapha imbalance, especially if it is a time of day when the kapha forces are strongest, such as 6 AM to 10 AM and 6 PM to 10 PM.
Cousens Md, Gabriel (2009-03-03). Conscious Eating: Second Edition (Kindle Locations 1802-1805). Random House Inc Clients. Kindle Edition.
For now, based on that, I’ve decided to scale back on the water for a couple days at least.  I had been using the formula describing on my nutritional ideas and offerings page of dividing my weight by two and drinking that number in ounces.

A 28 Day “Gentle Cleanse” with Coach Erin Weesner, Part 1

June 13, 2014

I have begun my latest effort to improve my health in fresh spirits, a 28 day cleanse, with a coach, Erin Weesner.  My long-term goals are to reduce my waist size by 4”, to 34”, to reduce the percentage of body fat (which in a recent Bod Pod test measured at just under 21% —  21% is generally considered to be in the unhealthy zone), hopefully through reducing my weight while building my muscle mass.  Toward that end, I am currently lifting weights for one hour per week, and the the next few weeks will have a little more time, so intend to increase that to 1½ to 2 hours/week.

My quest to bring my health up another notch begin about seven or eight years ago (I’ve lost track). During that timespan,  I’ve tried and temporarily succeeded in losing weight, but have not escaped the outcome of the 65-95% (depending on the fact source) of dieters who regain what they have lost.  I have (at least) a two-fold purpose for this pursuit: first, my life as a performing musician demands the most rigorous focus, in my estimation, that of an Olympic athlete.  Surely such a result requires careful attention to diet and other lifestyle choices. Second, my fascination with nutrition in combination with a decade of financial instability  regarding my employment has spurred my studies to the point where I recently became certified as a holistic health counselor through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.  I believe it to be paramount that I succeed at applying the large amount of knowledge I’ve acquired, of converting knowledge into wisdom in order to achieve the confidence borne of personal experience.

For the large majority of that time, my endeavor has  been a solitary one. I’ve tried multiple approaches and seem to have been “spinning my wheels.”  Of late, I’ve come to desire the opportunity to work with a coach, someone to bounce around ideas as an aid toward bringing my goals to fruition, and to be accountable to.  I have also decided to publish this on my blog as a further incentive to achieve a positive outcome!   

The Enjoyment of Running

February 27, 2014

I began running about 33 years ago, while in college at Indiana University.  I won’t give you my age, but I was around 19 then : ).  Over those years I have varied quite a bit in my consistency.  It wasn’t until 2010, though, that I ran in a timed race, the Jacksonville Symphony River Run Classic (sponsored by my employer!).  My pace was around about 11-1/4 minutes/mile (I had thought it was slower, but when looking it up, discovered the race had been 4 miles long).

Sometime around that year, while attending a Buddhist study conference at the Florida Nature and Culture Center Sheilah Edwards, now deceased, happened to see me running, and encouraged me to be certain to enjoy myself.  As time went on, I came to value those words, especially as I began running in more races and noticed that many people were not enjoying themselves, pushing themselves so hard, perhaps from lack of practice/training to the point where they were in pain.  I even learned about a running club that gave extra points if a club member threw up after crossing the finish line, apparently viewing that as a badge of honor!

I have discovered several things that have indeed greatly enhanced my sense of enjoyment while running.   First was finding the book Brain Training for Runners, by Marc Fitzgerald.  To date, I have applied only a few of his ideas. The second is the Alter-G treadmill, which benefits both rehab patients and runners trying to improve by allowing less strain to joints and muscles while training.   Locally here in Jacksonville, Fl, you can get a free 10-minute trial on this treadmill by contacting Heartland Rehabilitations Services at (904) 288-0900.  Currently, they are also running a special of 10 30-minute sessions for $45, or 5 30-minute sessions for $34, a 55% discount for first-time users.  (Please make sure to tell them I referred you, as it entitles me to one free session of my own!)  The treadmill user selects a percentage of body weight he/she would like to utilize, then an air chamber adjusts gravity accordingly. Third, I began the practice of nose-breathing advocated by John Douillard in his book Body, Mind, Sport.  I’ll share more details about this in a future posting.

Also, I have been running using the Vibram shoe for several years, which has virtually removed any sense of burn I used to feel in my shins, although I am not sure how I will hold up in longer distance-runs.  So far, I have run only up to 10K (6.2 miles).  My time has steadily improved. In my most recent effort, part of a 10-person team for the 55 mile Wolfson Children’s Hospital Run, I finished at around a 9″30″ pace.

I now definitely enjoy running, and also continue to experiment with various supplements to aid me in being at peak performance.  The latest that have been very effective so far, are Mitoblast 2, developed by local doctor Anthony Capasso, who is the medical director of Thin Centers MD, and Instant Cordyceps.