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Showing posts from August, 2010

The Results of my Fat Fest Are In

If I listened long enough to you, I'd find a way to believe it's all true. From "Reason to Believe" At the end of January, I saw my doctor for pain in my shoulder. He examined me and assured me it wasn't injured. Since he rarely sees me, he ordered a blood workup while he had me there. This was about the time I cut out wheat; a month later, I started a low-carb diet. I've read a lot about a low-carb diet not ruining your cholesterol or your waistline, so a few weeks ago, I asked my doctor to order another workup. Here are the before and after results. BEFORE January 28, 2010 Typical daily menu: banana protein shake cup of caramel corn one-half baked sweet potato and cottage cheese turkey sandwich small salad one-half apple and low-fat cheese sticks meatloaf and mashed potatoes several chocolate candies Exercise: Daily workout of either 20-minute high-intensity aerobics or 50-minute weightlifting session (Body for Life) Weight: 140 Triglycerides: 46 HDL: 42 Tot

Cutting out Entire Food Groups?

I sometimes hear pronouncements on the dangers of cutting out entire food groups. Generally, these red alerts are rich in adjectives ("dangerous!" "unhealthy!" "extreme!") poor in verbs (like "causes" or "leads to") and generally empty of substantiation (like "your body can't make the needed nutrients found in only X food group"). Just for fun, let's look at some food groups these folks have probably cut out of their own diets, if they ever tried them. Plankton. If these tiny sea creatures nourish fish and water mammals, why couldn't they nourish us too? Insects. "Throughout history," says National Geographic, "people have relished insects as food. Today, many cultures still do." The magazine adds that insects are high in protein and pound for pound, require far fewer resources to grow than beef. Marilyn vos Savant once remarked that the insects farmers kill are far more nutritious than the c

Avoiding a Nightmare by Using Math

The answer lies in trigonometry. -Sherlock Holmes Don't worry if you never learned trigonometry--the answers here lie in arithmetic. Medical test results often come back positive or negative, as if the result were a certainty. Of course, there is the accuracy, but if the accuracy is 99% or so, what does that really mean? That you should get your affairs in order? Before you call your probate attorney, let's take an example from the book Calculated Risks by Gerd Gigerenzer. Let's say you're a 40-something year old woman with no symptoms of breast cancer. You have a positive mammogram. What are the odds you have breast cancer? Using some assumptions about test accuracy and rates of disease based on real data, the odds that you'd have breast cancer are one in eleven according to Gigerenzer. (If you were way off, don't feel bad--most of the physicians Gigerenzer tested were way off, too--and they had the data in front of them. Not that that's comforting in every

Working out Joint Pain

If there's anything that will make my knee flare up, it's dancing for hours on a sticky floor. The floor I danced on last night was the stickiest dance floor I've ever danced on; it was as if it were coated with epoxy. The shoes I wore weren't sueded on the bottom, either, which would have helped. And this being a big dance weekend, I had partners who really put me through the paces. Yet after a few hours of dancing, I had no knee pain. None. I attribute this to a few things. First, after I started a low-carb diet, a lot of my joint pain disappeared: I believe the carbs were inflammatory; my doctor thinks I may have had a wheat allergy. Second, I've been doing a new strength training program (Slow Burn) that has strengthened my legs. Having lifted weights for six years and danced for eight, I thought I had strong legs. But the single-leg, slow-motion doorknob squats have strengthened them further without hurting my knees at all. I noticed something similar a year or