Letting Go of the Little Things

We’ve all heard it a million times: “Don’t sweat the small stuff!” We hear but we don’t listen, because about 90% of what makes us crazy or keeps us feeling pressured and/ or stressed is the small stuff. Other expressions we hear often hear are “the devil’s in the details” and “it’s the little things that count.”  The sweet spot is somewhere in between: knowing when the little things count and when to let go of that devilish detail.

One of those annoying little things that gets blown way out of proportion is tv.  On one level, we probably don’t give it a whole lot of thought, because it’s just television but how much time do we really put into it?  When I was in college, I used to tape my favorite tv shows because I’d usually miss them or I’d be doing homework while they were on.  I tried to watch the tape over the weekend and as I got busier with work and school, it’d be the end of the week and I’d have 5-6 hours of tv to watch and it wasn’t too long before I got behind on my tv shows, so I’d get another tape (this is the era of VHS) and then I’d have 8-10 hours of tv to catch up on and then I’d need another tape, and you can see where this is going.  (Just so you know, these shows were so important in my life I don’t even remember what they were anymore!)  Eventually, I had to let them go.  As much as I hated to miss these now-nameless programs, they did teach me something important: it’s just tv.

This probably sounds kind of funny coming from someone who is as dedicated to my favorite shows as I am. (I have reminders set on my phone for the ones I’m most likely to miss!)  But I also remind myself that it is just tv, and if I miss an episode, it’s not the end of the world; I have options like on demand and reruns (I don’t have a DVR and I don’t do streaming).  This week is a good example: I missed one of my favorite comedies (Big Bang Theory).  I was a little irritated but it’s just tv.  There are some shows that I will go the extra step to watch (Big Bang, Mom, NCIS, Grimm, etc) and I make an effort to pay attention, because in a way, they are my time for me, but at the end of the day, they are some of those “little things.”

Just as a comparison, in case you think I’m making too much about tv obsession, a few years ago, as I was on my way out to meet a friend for lunch, I got a frantic call from my mom.  She’d sat on her remote control (yeah, I know- eye roll) and now it wasn’t changing the channels or doing anything other than adjusting the volume. When I told her I would stop by after lunch and reprogram it for her, she literally had a melt down over the phone and threw a tantrum worthy of a 4 year old because she would have to wait a couple of hours to get control of her tv back.  This pretty much sealed it for me: tv is NOT a priority.  Even today she will have fits about having nothing to watch on tv.

Television is just one example of the small stuff so many of us hang onto too tightly.  Why does this matter? Because we put stress on ourselves over the little details and tasks that we cram into our lives. This is something from someone who has a lot to do and decides to cram a blog into her already crowded schedule! But it’s actually a good example: if I want to dedicate time to this blog, that probably means something else has to go or at least get cut back.  Also my boss recently informed me that he is considering extending my hours, so there will be more time spent at work (whoo hoo! more money! but also, less free time). Most of us like having a busy schedule.  It makes us feel important; it makes us feel like we have “full” lives, and that we are productive.  Those are good feelings, but when our schedule starts making us feel overwhelmed and stressed and starts eating away at our health, that is definitely not a good feeling. This is where we need to find the sweet spot: that place between hanging onto the small stuff that gives us fulfillment and holding onto that bucket of stones that’s pulling us under.  Time to empty that bucket!

At the time of this writing, it’s fall and the new tv lineup is premiering and at the same time, one of the shows I really enjoy is ending for the season, so it’s an exciting time for the tv fan in me: a lot of Can’t-Miss shows are on! Unfortunately, one of the shows that’s returning was one that I started watching while I was rehabbing from my knees, so I was off work and it didn’t matter if I stayed up ’til 11:00 p.m. or later, but now I work so doing that is not good for my sleep.  And it’s a show that I don’t get on demand, and it might not get rerun on PBS for several months (if ever).  Hmmmm, that stinks.  I guess I miss that show because the alternative (staying up late on Sunday nights) is not an option for me.  It’s already hell for me getting up on time on Mondays (I don’t do mornings or Mondays well). It also happened with the show that’s running its three part season finale: it also comes on late but on Monday nights, and that one, I do stay up for if I can, but I also know I can catch it on demand if I need to, and several weeks ago, I needed to.  I was wiped out at the end of a long Monday and rather than force myself to stay up later than usual, I called it a day and went to bed at my regular time.  Later that week, my tv receiver was acting up (it still is!) and on demand wasn’t available.  I managed to catch it eventually, but if not, it’s just tv. I like it; it’s a treat for me, but at the end of the day, it’s just tv.

This is just one example that I think most people don’t think of when they think about those stressors and time-gobblers, but it is. Even if you DVR or stream some of these shows, it still takes up your time.  The better thing about DVRs and streaming is that you can choose when you want to watch them, so you don’t have to cram them into your schedule, but then you’re still in the same boat I was in with the VHS tapes: sometimes  you’ve got more to “catch up on” than you have time to view it.

One of the other things that really gobbles up a lot of people’s time is social media.  People get so caught up in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, & Snapchat.  One of the popular commercials for an Internet provider is a mom freaking out because their service is down and she has to “like” something.  It would be funny if it weren’t so true.  People feel pressured to like and post and forward all of these posts from their “friends” on Facebook.  They need to tweet about what they are doing, or post something on Instagram: “I just ate the most delicious red velvet cupcake and I posted it on Instagram!” This consumes a big part of people’s lives and while I really don’t do any of these (I only do my fitness app MFP), I recognize that I am the oddity here.  It’s been a long day and after dinner and maybe a little family time, you want to go to bed, but you haven’t been on Facebook/ Twitter/ Instagram/ whatever all day and you really need to look at your feed to see what your friends are up to, so instead of going to bed, you stay up to scroll through what “happened” today.  You feel the pressure to like their posts at the very least,and maybe comment on a few.  I usually do this on MFP after dinner in front of one of the tv shows that isn’t really important to me, but I also acknowledge that if I’m very tired or it’s already late, catching up with my friends will have to wait.  They are as important to me as everyone else’s Facebook friends because we are all part of a support system, encouraging and helping each other with our fitness goals.  They boost me when I’m down and I try hard to be supportive for them.  It’s a tough decision sometimes, especially if I’m really behind, but this is part of letting go.  When it means I have to stay up late to post and “like,” it’s no longer one of those supportive “feel good” little things and becomes another rock in that bucket dragging me under and I need to let it go for now.

We all have that long list of things we like to do that keeps us feeling productive and accomplished: clubs and hobbies and friends and sports.  These are the things that round out our lives and most of them are good things.  We also have those necessities that need our attention, like family, house and yard work, and (for me especially) vehicle maintenance.  This is where we need to look at our list and decide what can we let go of for now (or maybe permanently) and what needs priority on our list.  It’s important to meet up with friends and spend time with them, but if I’m crammed for time, they’ll understand.  (I do it for them too.)  It’s important to me to spend quality time with my pets (they’re my “kids”!) and make sure they get enough attention and activity, and they are a priority since they depend on me to take care of them.  It’s important to me to keep current with my podcasts, with my blog, and my reading, but when push comes to shove, I can let those slide for awhile.  They are one of those feel-good non-necessities; making sure my car has oil and my cats aren’t out of food are priority items.

There are some things that I really enjoyed that I had to throw out of the bucket because I no longer had the time and feeling the stress of trying to cram them in wasn’t worth the benefit.  Some of these were television shows, some were hobbies (I used to collect stamps) and they were enjoyable, but at the end of the day, they were things that weren’t strictly necessary to my life. There were also some friends I had to let go because they weren’t exactly conducive to my health and well-being.  Most of us are familiar with the “toxic friend.”

We all have to look at what’s filling up our lives when we start feeling pressured or overwhelmed to get things “done.”  One of the things I remember hearing from my college psych instructor pops in my head every now and then: “sometimes it’s okay to put the dirty dishes in the oven and go see a movie.”  If the front lawn gets a little shaggy, there are dust bunnies under the bed or the latest book is collecting dust on your desk, it’s not the end of the world.  If you need to take the kids to the park and watch them run around for a couple of hours, that’s what you need to do! Family time, especially relaxing family time, is time invested in your health and your family’s health! Everything else can wait for a couple hours (or maybe a couple days) while you get the really important things done. For me on a lot of evenings that means putting the book down to play with the pets.  If I don’t get the book finished anytime soon, it’s not the end of the world, but if I don’t play ball with the pup, it’s a national disaster!


Food as Your Healthy Foundation

I personally think this is such an obvious idea that it hardly bears discussing, but it’s been to my attention that some consider my thinking a little left of center.  One of the things I see on a fairly regular basis on My 600 lb Life is patients who are given a general medical exam and are malnourished.  You wouldn’t think someone weighing 650 lbs would be malnourished but it’s not about the quantity of food or caloric intake- it’s about quality.  If all you needed to be healthy is a lot of calories, then these patients would be in tip top physical condition, but their diets are generally just an overblown version of what we all eat: processed foods, fast food, sugar and simple refined carbs, essentially, things like pizza, burgers, fries, packaged/ boxed foods, sodas, pastas, breads, crackers and cookies.  This is what the majority of the American public eats: stuff they can get easily at the supermarket or fast food restaurants.  The problem is that there isn’t a lot of nutrition in that list above.  How much nutrition is in the pasta?  Honestly, most of it comes from whatever sauce is on the pasta, because the pasta itself is generally just white flour, water, a little fat and maybe a couple eggs.  How much nutrition is in the pizza?  Again, depending on the toppings, maybe some meat, some veggies, the tomato sauce and then it’s the crust, which is again white flour, water, a little fat and maybe an egg.  Don’t get me started on the soda!

Our diet is making us sick.  I hear a lot on 600 lb Life: “what I’ve depended on all my life [for comfort] is killing me.”  Food is a comfort and a pleasant distraction for a lot of people.  I am no different: many times I’d watch my favorite tv show with a pint of my favorite ice cream or another favorite treat.  It was great watching a show I really enjoyed with foods I loved.  The problem was that not only did it happen too often, but I was feeding my body junk.  This is important because we’ve all heard the expression “we are what we eat;” think about what that really means, because as trite as it is, it’s really true.  What we eat is taken into our bodies and into our cells and that’s what our bodies use to repair, to grow and to fuel our minds and our bodies.  Remember the last time you put cheap gas in your car?  Remember knocking, pinging, the motor missing and the crappy mileage?  We are giving our bodies the equivalent of cheap gas and expecting premium performance.  You aren’t going to get it on pizza, tortilla chips and burgers.

When I was a kid, the idea of food sensitivity wasn’t as widely discussed as it is now.  There were people who were “allergic” to some things, mainly peanuts and shellfish, but the idea of being sensitive to gluten was unheard of.  The “milk allergies” I heard about sometimes eventually became lactose intolerance, but generally, people who had problems with things like milk, cheese or gluten were just thought of as having “digestive problems” and were sent to their doctors, who usually prescribed all kinds of medications.  The whole idea that maybe people should change what they are eating was just weird, like those people who don’t eat meat (generally for some religious reason) or those who don’t use any kind of animal product (vegans).  The idea of using food as the basis for your health was another one of those extremist ideas.  Modern medical thought holds that food is food and medicine is medicine, and they should not be confused with each other.  The idea of treating your digestive issues such as cramping, bloating, diarrhea or constipation by changing what you’re eating was bizarre- go to the doctor, man, and get a pill!!

I have to admit this whole idea of food being the basis of being healthy was really weird to me too, and it wasn’t until I started eating healthier and paying more attention to ideas like Paleo living, ancestral health and other ideas that more conventional people (hi, mom!) think are on the fringe or just plain quackery that it occurred to me that maybe they aren’t nutters- maybe they know what they are talking about.  The idea that what you eat makes you healthier is a pretty basic idea, but no one really stops to think about things that basic, especially since we all see the labels on the food packages we buy: “Fortified with 11 vitamins and minerals!”; “Vitamin D fortified!”; “100% of Your Daily Vitamin C!”  Our food is healthy and full of vitamins and if we eat these foods, we’ll be getting all of our vitamins and nutrients and we’ll be healthy- right? Ummmm….. I’m not really sure anymore.  I don’t think it’s that eating a Standard American Diet will make you unhealthy (unless you eat too much or eat only the junk food, which- let’s face it- is most of us), but I think now that eating less processed foods and more whole foods can make you healthier.  If you eat the way the most Americans who are trying to be healthy eat, then yes, you do eat some processed foods and some junk foods, but most of the time, you are trying to eat the healthy stuff: salads, vegetables, fresh foods and fresh meats. Most people I know, with families especially, are trying to feed their children fresh healthy foods, but the problem is that they are looking at the labels and think that they are giving their kids lots of nutrient dense foods.  In that peanut butter and jelly sandwich, how much nutrition is there?  Maybe it’s a ham and cheese sandwich, but how much nutrition is actually in it?  What about the rest of the lunch?  Is there an apple or carrot sticks or a bag of chips? Milk to drink or juice or a “juice drink”? How about what’s for dinner? Spaghetti with meat sauce and salad or veggies?  What about breakfast?  The healthy breakfast we see on the cereal commercials: a bowl of cereal, milk, toast/ bagel, and juice?  That sounds pretty standard for the “ideal” American family meal plan.  Seriously, that sounds like what I wished I got to eat when I was a kid- my “family meal plan” growing up was no breakfast, sandwich (PB&J or pimiento loaf), chips, juice drink and dinner was usually hamburger with rice-a-roni.  While I may not have grown up malnourished, I definitely grew up fat.

Once I started paying more attention to what I was eating, it made perfect sense that I could be eating better.  One of the ideas that made me want to do the Homer Simpson head slap (D’oh!!!) was that idea that “we eat what we eats eats,” and maybe that’s not so healthy for us either.  This is the idea that yeah, I’m eating lean hamburger, so that’s healthy, right?  Well, if the steer was fed grains and corns which were treated with chemicals or were GMO, the chemicals and GMOs became part of the steer which became the hamburger I ate that becomes part of me.  Hmmm- let me think about that.  So now the GMO corn treated with herbicides and pesticides is now part of me, via the “healthy lean hamburger.” It’s also lacking in all the Omega-3 vitamins and nutrients that grassfed cattle eat.  I am however getting a boat-load (or steer-load) of the lectins in the grains that the steer ate and whatever other inflammatories come with the grains.  It’s all part of the food chain.  (If you really want to hear a horror story about food chains, read Pearl S. Buck’s Silent Spring!) The  grass grows untreated on the prairie and the steer eats the grass and we eat the cow, so the nutrients that make up the grass end up in us as well.  This is the benefit to the grassfed beef over the grain fed beef.  This is the benefit to the free range eggs, because the chickens that make the eggs are making them out of a healthier diet (usually free range chickens eat all vegetarian diets with some bugs and some grass mixed in- not always, but it’s the idea).

I think we can all benefit not only from making sure we eat foods as close to their origin as possible (ie whole apples instead of applesauce) but also paying more attention to what that food eats.  It’s the difference between grassfed and conventional meats, organic broccoli and broccoli grown with herbicides and pesticides. This is where healthy starts.  If you eat the healthier foods, they become a part of you and your muscles, bones, and cells are stronger for it.  If you’re eating the poor quality foods, how much longer will it take you to reach “healthy” if you’re starting with a substandard framework?  If you build a house with crumbly bricks, you are always going to be repairing the crumbling brickwork.  Anything good you eat is going to go to shore up the deficiencies in the less than stellar foods you’re eating.  I’m not telling you to ditch the Top Ramen and start eating only organic vegetables and wild caught salmon, but that wouldn’t be a bad idea, if it sounds good to you.  I am saying that paying more attention and making the better choices can really benefit you in ways you may not have thought about.  I recently heard a podcast about protecting your thyroid (hypo thyroid is another genetic gift in my family) and I was a little concerned when the podcaster (Elizabeth Benton) said that in first world countries (like the USA) we often get too much iodine which can adversely affect the thyroid but she also said diets high in selenium can be beneficial.  Oh great! What the heck do I eat that has lots of selenium in it?!  Turns out that the lamb I eat usually more than once a week has lots of selenium, as does the chicken I usually eat for lunch and the eggs I eat on weekends.  Between those three foods alone, I probably get a lot of selenium.  Not that I was trying to, but I was glad to hear that by focusing on eating healthier I was already benefiting my body and possibly cutting off a potential problem before it became one.  (Only time will tell there!) This is a good example that supports my decision to eat healthier foods and I think it helps to justify the costs.  Yes, my grocery bill has gone up but the food is better quality and it is offset by the lack of junk food I don’t buy anymore.  Yes, six boxes of rice-a-roni are cheaper than six bags of broccoli, but the broccoli is a lot better for me.  I’m also full longer after eating the broccoli and not eating a bag of chips and salsa afterwards.

Maybe 20 years from now, everyone will recognize that I was wasting my money on expensive stuff that I didn’t need or maybe everyone will realize that cheap processed foods make you sick. We just have to wait to find out where that arrow hits! All of us can only make the best decisions we can with the information we have.  For myself, I’ve eaten a whole lot of processed foods and I eat more whole natural things now.  I know from experience when I do go back and eat the processed stuff again, it doesn’t taste as good as it used to and I don’t feel as good afterwards.  That alone is enough for me.  I like the way I feel and I like knowing that I’m not only building better healthier habits, I’m building a better healthier me (hopefully, with a healthy functioning thyroid too!)

Learning to Live in a Different Body

Recently, I listened to a podcast about learning to accept your body after losing a significant amount of weight.  Since this is pretty much my situation, I was eager to hear the advice this podcaster had to give, and… I was rather disappointed.  It wasn’t that his advice was not good; it was just really nothing I hadn’t heard before. It seemed to me to be mostly a lot of “feel good” mantras that I don’t think address my issues.  I also wanted to ask what does he consider a “significant” amount of weight?  20 lbs? 40? That’s a lot of weight to lose and it does cause some changes in your physique, not to mention your head, but my issue is a little bit bigger than that.

I’ve lost approximately 160 lbs over the last two years and there have been some really BIG changes in my life, my body and (loathe though I am to admit it) my head. I admit that when I first started losing weight in early 2015, I was pretty jazzed.  It was nice that my clothes were feeling looser, my shoes fit better and my knees weren’t aching as much as usual.  I liked feeling lighter, but eventually, I noticed that as my body got smaller, other changes became more noticeable and some of these changes were not so much fun.

Probably the most noticeable and most not-fun change was loose skin that continues to accumulate.  I noticed it first on my thighs when I lie flat: my legs look like they’re melting, and the more weight I lose, the looser the skin gets. It now sags in pockety pouches on my thighs, over my knees and now, over my ankles.  When I work out in the pool, it floats weirdly, almost like it’s attached to my bathing suit, and my saggy butt is saggier.  There is now a little pouch on my stomach above my waistline and a lovely turkey wattle under my chin.  I have bat wings on my upper arms and “fringe” on my forearms.  As I said, it’s not fun but neither is it the end of the world.  I knew it was coming: you can’t be as big as I was and not expect this when you lose weight.  It’s a little gross, and sometimes inconvenient, but it was entirely expected and I hope once I have reached my goal weight, I can get it removed.  That will be a whole ‘nother experience in itself!

There are some other things that come along with dramatically changing your size that I did not expect.  One of the changes that I was actually looking forward to was the steering wheel in my truck.  Obviously, I had to tilt the wheel up so I could turn without it rubbing against my belly, and now there is so much distance, I was thinking it’s time to tilt it back down, especially since one of the unexpected changes is that now I sit a lot lower on the seat. The bench seat in the truck does not adjust up and down, but apparently, my butt does.  Losing all that butt padding has “lowered” me a couple of inches at least and now I have to lean forward to see the end of the truck’s hood.  I was really not expecting that!

I think one of the other things in conjunction with losing some butt padding is that while my knees feel a whole lot better, the bone spur in my lumbar spine (low back) has not improved.  It hurts a lot when I have to sit for more than an hour or so.  That would normally not be a problem, except that I commute for almost two hours each way, five days a week.  So twice a day, each week day, my low back protests rather loudly.  In addition, I’ve noticed how much bonier I am.  My dog in particular has noticed, since he used to be able to lay on one of my thighs and now he slides off.  My knee, which used to make a nice platform for him to jump from, is now much narrower.  My joints are more prominent which makes for some painful whacks as I’m not used to them having way less padding.

My rings have gotten a lot bigger.  I sort of knew that was coming, but now they are so loose I have to put them on my thumbs or my middle finger to keep them from falling off. I also knew my clothes would continue to get bigger, but I have a binder clip keeping my pants on right now and I need a new swim suit because the old one starts to slide off in the pool. I keep adjusting my sandals tighter and tighter because they keep getting looser and looser.  My mom used to try to tempt me to lose weight with promises of a new wardrobe but I’ve never liked buying new clothes, even in smaller sizes now.  Of course, do I buy new clothes so I can shrink out of them too before they wear out?

I’ve also started noticing the changes in temperature a lot more: I was never one of those people who’s cold all the time, but I’ve noticed that I feel it a whole lot more than I used to and I know that’s because I’ve lost 100+ lbs of “insulation.”  I’ve had to adjust the thermostat at my house and in the car because I just get too cold sometimes, but this was another change that I could not have anticipated.

These are the physical changes;my lifestyle has changed in healthier ways: I eat better, eat less and am more active.  I sleep more and sleep better and those are good things.  If I’m watching tv in the evening, I’m not automatically scarfing something down something sugar- and carb-laden.  But the changes in my head are a little harder to explain and deal with.  I keep looking at the number on the scale getting smaller and smaller and it’s a little scary.  Sometimes when I’m writing it down, I think I must have written it wrong: it can’t be 277; I must have meant to write 377, but no, it’s a 2 not a 3 on the scale.  I catch my reflection as I go by a mirror and I think “who is that person?” because I really don’t recognize me sometimes.  In fact, the facial recognition software in my mom’s computer also doesn’t recognize me!  She was going over it with the tech who said “that’s a different person” and my mom told him, no, it’s my daughter.  He did the mother of all doubletakes! I’ve had other people not recognize, including my mom (she walked right by me at a restaurant recently). It’s odd to think that losing weight can be frightening but it is.  I heard once that one of the reasons we find it so hard to lose weight is that we are conditioned to recover what we lose, so when we lose 5 lbs, we try to gain it back.  I don’ t know if that’s true or not, but when I think that I’m slowly turning into a different person, physically and mentally, I start wondering a little about who this “new person” is. I wonder how else my life will change.

Last week I was at a festival at our local Greek Orthodox church; for $15, you get to see the Greek youth dancers, a chicken dinner and the opportunity to spend money on pastries and other things.  Usually my friends and I have pastries, coffee, watch the dancing, do some shopping and have our dinner in the park next door.  It’s a fun and busy day, but when I did this before, I was eating Paleo but I was still relatively new to it.  This last time, I noticed how much of the dinner were things I don’t normally eat, like rice, peas, bread and of course the pastries.  I still enjoyed the day, but later that evening I started craving protein.  Pretty much all I’d had that day was the feta cheese in the salad and the chicken.  It was so weird remembering that I used to eat like that all the time, meaning most of what I ate was refined carbs, breads, and pastas.

I’ve also noticed that more guys are talking to me.  I’m not the kind of woman guys normally talk to and smile at, but I’ve noticed more of them are. I’ve had guys ask me out, which is really awkward.  The person I used to be didn’t date.  I think part of it was there aren’t a lot of guys attracted to women my size, but I was always someone who liked living alone (if living with a pack of pets counts as alone!).  All of a sudden (it seemed to me anyway) guys are interested, and frankly, I don’t really handle this well.  Do I even want to date?  Is this one of those things where I don’t know what I’m missing? Talk about FOMO! If I don’t know what I’m missing, am I really missing out?? Honestly, this was the last problem I’d ever thought would come up! I’m fifty years old and worried about dating?! (Not going into the weightloss- menopause issue, but yeah, there’s an issue!)

This is kind of where I am right now: getting thinner and getting a little scared of getting thinner (Stephen King nightmares here). Not sure of who I’m turning into and trying to handle some of the more unexpected changes. This is why I was so eager to hear what this lifestyle guru had to say about accepting your body after significant weight loss.  A lot of his talk was about how to handle those old pics of the fatter you and that “little bit of loose skin.”  It was perfectly appropriate for his audience, which I’m assuming are people who’ve lost 20-40 lbs or so.  I am not in his target audience; I’ve lost the equivalent of an adult human. Believe me, I’m not whining about getting thinner and I certainly do not want to go back to the person I was, but a little guidance down the new road would be nice! I remember as I was gaining the weight, there was a slow and sometimes difficult transition into an obese person: things like buying bigger clothes, not fitting into chairs and cars, painful body parts and embarrassing close up situations in tight quarters where everyone was squished to let the “fat girl” in the room.  I don’t know why I would be surprised that there’s a transition back to being skinny.  I just didn’t know there would be so many bumps and odd detours.

Do Your Brain a Favor!

Many many years ago when I was taking classes to be an teacher, I took History of Journalism as a prerequisite.  I have no idea what requirement it fulfilled and to be honest, I was not thrilled about taking it, but I learned so much in that class.   A lot of it wasn’t really about journalism but about  how people perceive and process information.

One of the statistics that really stuck with me was about tv.  Neurologists had done a study of brain activity on people who were asleep and people who were watching tv and found that the sleeping subjects had more brain activity than those watching television.  I don’t know why I was so surprised (probably because I was young and naive back then)!

When you sleep, your brain is essentially updating- yes, just like your computer!  Your brain is an organic electrochemical computer.  When you sleep, it’s performing updates and maintenance, ergo your really weird dreams.  This is also why sleep is so important- no sleep, no updates, no maintenance = big brain-computer crash! (Seriously, chronic insomniacs go insane before they die from lack of sleep; the brain simply shuts down permanently!)

When you’re watching tv, the brain is pretty much in download mode.  All it’s doing is receiving information.  Nothing is really being processed.  Nothing else is really going on because it’s downloading the info from the tv.  FYI: this is probably no different than streaming video off YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu.  It’s still download mode for your brain.

I know tv haters and other detractors have always called tv things like the “idiot box,” the “boob tube” and have long been proclaiming that tv is turning our brains to mush.  (Aaaah!!  It’s true! Watching tv is killing my brain!) Really, I don’t know if that true or not, but I do know that the brain, like every other organ we have, needs to be used and gets better with practice.  This is why we have so many “brain game” apps and books and other products on the market these days, a few courtesy of AARP.  As the Baby Boomer generation gets older, we are learning that those who don’t use their head lose their mental sharpness.  (I don’t want to say they become stupid, but…….)

I also don’t want to blast tv out of the water.  it really can be educational.  I watch a lot of History Channel, Discovery, ID, and of course TLC (and Grimm- eye roll).  I’ve learned a lot off tv but I’ve made a few changes to my viewing habits, which includes one really big change after I heard that scary statistic in my journalism.  I try as often as I can to process information from the tv in more than just one way to keep my brain as busy as I can.

One of the other things I learned early on (and pretty much most of us learn this as we go through school, certainly at some point in college) is that our brains process information differently depending on how we take that info in.  In other words, some of us are audial learners, some are visual learners and some are kinesthetic learners.  We all take in information through one of these three modes and our brain has distinct preferences, either because that’s the way we’re wired or that’s how we’ve trained it.  Audial learners learn best through hearing information.  These are the people who do really well learning language listening to the CDs in the car, or listening to lectures or podcasts.  Their brains process information audially (hearing).  My mom is one of those people.  If you read the instructions aloud to her, she gets it right off the bat. If you give her the instructions to read, she gets a little lost.  They’re the same instructions, but her brain is trained to process info she hears quickly and more efficiently.

I on the other hand process information best through kinesthethics (movement or doing).  I remember once when I was moving, I’d gotten some of those cardboard bankers boxes to pack some of the smaller stuff.  I ripped off the plastic, looked at the flat folded up box and started unfolding and folding it and then did the lid, and after it was done, then I looked at the little sheet of instructions.  (I remember I laughed at myself for doing it backwards.) We are those people who can take notes and remember the info without having to re-read the notes before a test.  We write a grocery list and leave it at home but come home with everything on the list because we wrote it down.  If we’ve done a process or procedure once, we tend to remember it better than if someone has told us how to do it or if we’ve read how to do it.

Visual learners are quite obviously the readers.  They read it or see it and it’s stored in their brain and is easily accessed.  They can see it again in their memory.

Most of us have one primary learning method and a secondary method that the brain likes, but all of us process information all three ways.  It’s just which ways are easier for the brain to intake and store the information.  I know for me, my primary method is kinesthetic (movement) and my secondary is visual.  I’m the student who writes down everything the professor puts on the board and I tend to remember it once it’s written.  (As a short aside here, almost everyone remembers things better once they’ve written it down, because the brain takes the information in one way, ie seeing it on the chalkboard, and when we write it down again, we’re forcing the brain to process the same information twice.  It’s not only downloaded it into memory; it’s processed it back out again.  It’s stored in two places, essentially.)

So why does this matter when it comes to watching tv and our brains turning to mush?  Because when we take in so much information passively, we’re not really processing it back out again.  We’re binge-watching The Walking Dead for three hours straight.  What do we do with this “information?”  If we were in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, we might pay more attention and process the information differently. It’s the same for my five hour Grimm-a-thons almost every week: if I were in imminent danger of Skalengeck or Blutbad attack, I might be a little more alert and take a couple of notes, but the sad truth of the matter is that this literally is “brain candy.”  We love it and we gobble it up and go back for more, but really this is the equivalent of our brain lying around on the sofa snarfing potato chips endlessly. (Since this is pretty much what our body is doing too, it’s not good for either one of them!)

So about the same time I learned that my brain gets more activity while I’m sleeping than when I’m watching tv, I turned on the tv’s closed captions.  Almost anyone who has a tv knows that somewhere in its settings is one for closed captions for the hearing impaired.  It’s the same for most DVDs.  I was already interested in them because I was living with my dad, who went to bed at 8:00 p.m. and got up at 5:00 a.m. We had one tv in the living room and since I stayed up later, I was always having to keep the volume low.  I am also a huge fan of PBS and as any Brit will tell you, we may all speak English, but it sure ain’t the same language!  So between the lowered volume and the loverly British accents, it was a little hard to understand what they were saying.  Ergo, I was highly motivated to turn on the closed captions.  Since we’d recently gotten a newer tv, they were standard, and I made use of them.  I’m really not sure if “reading” tv is any better than “watching” it, but I figure if I’m reading, it’s not just passive info download, and it really does help if I’m watching a program with accents or the dialogue is hard to hear.  I’ve also noticed that in some shows, if someone says something in Spanish, about half the time I get a caption that says “speaking Spanish” and half the time they have the actual dialogue in Spanish.  That’s interesting to me because of how I process information: I can usually understand the written Spanish while the spoken Spanish goes right by me.  (It’s really hard for me to process information audially.)

I have also made a concerted effort to boost my audial information processing, meaning I try to learn through listening more than I used to.  I admit, it’s been a bit of struggle, because I have a tendency to zone out in the middle of a podcast if it doesn’t hold my attention tightly or if I have a zillion things going through my head.  I enjoy listening to music, but it’s a different (if also passive) info download. Listening to information is tougher for me to process and I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to visualize words.  When it comes to learning a new language, I do know that I’m hopeless unless I have something I can see.  I need to see and write the words or they just don’t stick in my head.

Regardless of how you learn, your brain needs to keep learning!  I’m sure this is one of the the reasons AARP is promoting the new brain games and puzzle for adults: the baby boomers who are not using their brains are finding they are losing their edge. Most of you reading this blog probably don’t/ won’t have that problem because you’re out on the internet looking things up and looking for things to learn about.  I’m not telling you to throw out your tv or unplug it or even stop watching your favorite shows, but I am reminding you that it’s good to exercise your brain now and then.  Most of us are used to exercising our bodies and we’ve come to realize that the more active we are, the easier it becomes.  The first time we went an hour on the treadmill, we probably felt like our legs weighed a ton each and we were going to collapse and slide off the wretched machine but the more we did it, the easier it got and we found we could go longer with less extra effort.  Our brains are no different.  The more we use them, the easier it is to process the information and the quicker we are at catching new things. Our brains are obviously the most important organ we have- everything else is secondary.  No brain, no person, and if we want to stay as healthy and as fit as we can, we need to make sure the guy up top is in top form! It’s something to keep in mind on those days when you find yourself parked in the recliner watching Nick Burkhardt go up against one more Verrat Hundjager.  Is this really giving your brain a workout? Drop and give me 10 crossword clues!!


Caution: Eating (Anything) is Hazardous to Your Health

As some of you know, I listen to a lot of podcasts (they make me smart and informed and occasionally a little flabbergasted).  Recently, Tony Federico of Paleo Magazine Radio attended the Ancestral Health Symposium at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  It sounded like a great conference and I was very glad he attended and was able to broadcast some of his conversations with a lot of the people at the forefront of this discipline. (I even enjoyed the Pokemon Go report- lol!)

One of the most recent talks he recorded covered a topic that really knocked me for a loop: it was the idea that plants were not intended to be part of the human diet (PMR #139).  Let me say that again a different way: humans are not made to eat plants.  My initial reaction: ?!WTF?!  Really.  I think this qualifies as news to every vegetarian I’ve ever met (including my sister) as well as the books I’ve read on the topic that point out that obligate carnivores (like cats) have a much shorter digestive tract than opportunistic omnivores (like humans) because decaying animal matter (the mouse the cat ate) needs to be metabolized and eliminated from the body a lot faster than decomposing plant matter (like the broccoli you ate for dinner) which is why the human digestive tract is so much longer.  It’s also why cows have four stomachs and chew cud; it takes a long time to break down grass and extract its nutrients, hence the longer digestive tract in plant-eating animals.

However, these speakers (J. Brett Smith, Guillermo Ruiz, L. Amber O’Hearn, Nick Mailer, Esther Nederhof and George Diggs) had some interesting points of view and in the interests of fairness, I listened with an open mind (or tried to anyway) and I really have to credit Tony for doing the same.  I think they reminded most people of some very basic facts about plants, but I also think they started with a faulty premise.  They seemed to think that people believe that plants want to be eaten.  I really don’t know where this idea came from but this was their starting point.  I think it may have come from the idea that since plants are quite literally rooted to the spot, in order to broadcast their seeds, they usually house them in something that an animal will ingest and pass the seeds, which will then take root where they are deposited.  Think eating a cherry and spitting out the pit. Ideally, a new cherry tree will grow wherever that pit lands.  Humans, animals and birds have done this since the beginning of time.  Scientists think it’s why fruit evolved: to house the seeds which then get spread by unsuspecting animals like us.

However, the point was made that plants, which don’t have feet to run or teeth and claws to defend themselves, have evolved toxins to defend themselves against ingestion.  These toxins are their evidence that the plants are not made to be eaten.  You all know I’m certainly no botanist (if my house plants are still alive by the time I post this, it’s a miracle!) but I am very much aware that certain plants are toxic. I make a point of checking out any plant I bring into my house because my little rugrats might eat it!  My friend has oleanders in her yard, which are highly toxic, but my dog doesn’t eat them and I am careful to remove any of the sticky leaves from his fur.  Frankly, we eat some parts of plants that are very toxic, like tomatoes, which are nightshades.  I know people say that you can actually eat tomato leaves, but I wouldn’t.  Some people are very sensitive to nightshades (which also include chiles, FYI).  The same is true for things like rhubarb.  Some parts of the plant are not edible and others are.  Really, I love cherries, but I sure don’t want to gnaw on a twig or the leaves, and as much as I love potatoes (another nightshade), I won’t be chewing on those leaves any time soon!  These experts concluded that plants have various and sometimes vigorous defense mechanisms which are obvious evidence that they did not intend to be eaten.

I think that’s a great point.  Really, I do.  So, I guess that means humans are only supposed to eat those things that want to be eaten.  Great!!  Tell me what those things are and I will gladly eat them!  How about that cow?  The one with the horns and hooves that runs away or tramples me?  (If any of you think a cow is not a dangerous animal, try getting between a mama cow and her calf- NOT FUN!)  What about that pig with the big teeth? Or how about that fish that keeps swimming away from me? That rabbit I can’t catch?  Frankly, people, NOTHING on this planet wants to be eaten! As I heard Robb Wolf say in one podcast (Paleo Solution UCSF Evolutionary Medicine talk), anything that doesn’t run away or defend itself is known as a “snack!” And that includes us humans!  We certainly neither intend nor want to be eaten any more than the rabbit or the rhubarb but the truth of the matter is that we are just one more link in the food chain.  We eat the plants and the rabbits and the cows and other predators like lions, bears, and sharks eat us!  If we don’t run away or defend ourselves, we end up as lion chow!  (Didn’t any of these people watch Zoo this summer?  Yeah, it’s fiction, but frankly that cow looked mightily p*ssed off when I got too close to her calf!)

“A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.”~ Hamlet

This is a fact of life: you are either the predator or the prey.  You eat others or are eaten by others, and that includes plants.  This is part of the circle of life (my apologies for the Lion King song stuck in your head now), but it’s the truth. This is true even among the plant world.  What do you think plants ingest through their roots?  They ingest the remains of other plants and animals!  When anything dies, its body decomposes and is taken in by plants through the roots and becomes a part of that plant and anything it produces, like a tomato or a peach, which is then eaten by an animal.  Where do you think we get expressions like “pushing up daisies?” A coyote dies on the prairie and becomes part of the compost, which fertilizes the grass, which is eaten by a bison, which is eaten by a human.  Everything on this planet is recycled in some form or another, from water to nutrients and minerals.  Nothing wants to be eaten, but this is how life perpetuates itself.

I think these experts make some interesting points when it comes to whether humans should be eating plants, but I think the fact is that humans are opportunistic omnivores, much like a Queensland mix I had many years ago.  That dog ate several things that by all rights should have made her sick, but they didn’t.  I used to call her the “shark” because if she ate it and it stayed down, it’s FOOD!  (If it came back up, NOT FOOD!) We pretty much follow the same guidelines: if we eat it and it doesn’t make us sick, then it’s food and the rest of the tribe will also learn to eat it.  Even though we are thousands of years removed from the Paleo hunter gatherers we used to be, most of us learned what to eat the same way as babies: mom or dad gave us something to eat and if we liked it and it didn’t make us sick, we ate it over and over again.  It became part of our regular diet.  Things we didn’t like or made us sick, we learned not to eat.  This is true with plants (I really do not like arugula and don’t eat it) and it’s true with animals (my dad hates lamb and won’t even let me cook it at his house).  I think if plants were really so indigestible for humans, we wouldn’t still be eating them but I think these speakers make a good point. The fact that  so many people have digestive problems with corn, soy, peanut and gluten (wheat) could be an indication that maybe humans shouldn’t be eating those things.  (They are not part of the Paleo diet FYI.) I personally don’t have problems eating any of those things, and they actually make up a big part of my sister’s vegetarian diet with no problems, but I did notice that my arthritis is much better now that I’m not eating the corn and wheat.

While I admit my first inclination is to think these speakers were nuttier than peanut brittle, I think they do have some good points regarding our evolving eating habits.  We definitely need to pay more attention to what we are eating and any nutritional value we gain from it, but honestly, there is nothing on the planet that wants to be eaten.  It’s why bulls have horns, roses have thorns and rabbits run away.  Eat or be eaten is the law of the jungle and humans are not exempt from it.  Either we eat something else or we are eaten ourselves.

Bit by the Fitbit Bug!

A while ago I did a post about how I got a Fitbit, and then my friend did and then another of our friends did.  Suddenly, wearable fitness trackers are all the rage.  People are snatching them up like candy from a busted pinata! But, like candy, there’s a few considerations when it comes to fitness trackers.

I think the thing that concerns most health & fitness “experts” is that people rely on the trackers for their calories burnt and, in turn, how much to eat.  This is something I was already aware of before I got my first tracker. Having been on MFP (My Fitness Pal website) for several months, I knew that when I entered my activity into the app, the app calculated my “calorie burn” for the activity, the amount of time and the level of difficulty.  Obviously, vigorous aerobics for 20 minutes burned more calories than leisure walking for the same amount of time, but one thing I heard repeatedly on the site is that the calculated calorie burn was not accurate and if you “ate back” those calories, you could be overeating.

My goal in getting the tracker was to encourage me to be more active.  I wanted to see how many steps I took a day, how many “active minutes” I normally racked up in a day (sadly, far fewer of both of those than I thought! sad face), but once I saw how active I really was, it got me moving more.  I’ve also noticed on my own that the tracker is far off on how many flights of stairs I climb each day.  I normally avoid stairs due to the arthritis in my knees (plus one has a pin), so climbing stairs is a painful hassle for me.  One day, my Fitbit happily told me I’d climbed a whopping 14  flights of stairs (yeah! One. Four. Hah!) Obviously, I hadn’t climbed even one! So this might beg the question: what’s the point if they’re so far off?  Because even though I might not have been going up the stairs, I was doing something active and that’s what the little device was picking up! It’s fairly accurate (most experts agree) as far as counting steps, and because you personalize the info you load it with, like age, weight and height, when it does calculate your “calorie burn,” it’s closer to the mark than a general machine or an app, even if it’s not entirely accurate.

The best thing about a fitness tracker isn’t actually your step count, active minutes or the calorie burns: it’s the bug that makes you want to move! We all love gadgets and games and this is both.  It tracks your steps and activity, so there’s always the incentive to beat your best score, plus once you add friends to your account, you get to compete with them to see who hits their goals or who gets the most steps.  It’s a motivator, and motivation is something we all need at one time or another!

It’s like the Pokemon Go app that so many people have been complaining about or defending.  I don’t play the game but I really don’t think there’s anything bad with making a video game that encourages people to get up and move.  I think people need to look where they’re going instead of staring at their phones, but people are going to do that for texting, watching YouTube or anything else on their phones! They were doing it long before Pokemon Go and they’ll be doing it once the game is no longer the craze du jour.

I know I gave it a lot of thought before I got my first Fitbit, mainly because not using it would be a waste of money, but once I decided to get it, I just made a habit of sticking it in my pocket every day and it quickly became a habit.  Just as quickly, I realized I should have spent a little more money and gotten the next model up.  My first Fitbit was a Zip, and I realized the One (next model up) would also help me track my sleep, which I really need to work on.  Eventually I got the One and my sister gave me a Charge HR for Christmas.  The Charge also tracks my heart rate, which I think is pretty cool.  [People make a lot of fuss about the fat burning zone for heart rates.  It’s a lower zone, so you allegedly burn less calories but the higher percentage of those calories are fat (about 60%) and people work to stay in the lower fat burning zone.  As Elizabeth Benton (Primal Potential) pointed out, if you burn 100 calories in the fat burning zone, 60 of those will be fat, but if you burn 500 calories in the non-fat burning zone and only 40% of those are fat, that’s 200 fat calories, so what’s the better deal here? Just an FYI.]

My point in my last post about trackers was how contagious they can be.  My friend Judy had seen her doctor who encouraged her to get more exercise naturally, and she was asking me about trackers.  I loaned her my Zip, which she’s had ever since, and after a while, a mutual friend of ours also got one, having seen how much fun we were having with ours.  In some ways, it’s a validation of how much we get done in a day: running errands, doing housework and yard work, just being out and moving.  When we come home and flop in the chair, and our Fitbit says we got 12,431 steps in, we feel a little accomplished and somewhat justified in our being tired.  We got it done!!

Conversely, when we pull out our Fitbit at 3:45 pm and we’ve got a grand total of 2224 steps for the day, it’s a reminder that we’ve been sitting on our butts for most of the day and even though we may have been “busy,” we really haven’t (“binge-watching Grimm reruns don’t cut it, hon!” says Fitbit).  It’s a motivator to get out and do something active, even if it’s just doing the shopping or the errands- it’s moving!

Movement really matters, and not just for the calories it burns.  I’m reading Kelly Starrett’s Deskbound, which is a little scary since just sitting in a chair can cause a lot of damage to your body.  Inactivity is deadly.  The old cliche “move it or lose it” really applies here, so one of the nice little bonuses about Fitbits is that you can set an alarm in some models (like my One) to urge you to get up and move.  They also have “chatter” which are slogans that pop up on the screen and say things like “Take me for a walk!” when you haven’t been very active.

As you might have guessed, I love my little One and if you want to take it from me, you are welcome to lean over my dead body and pry it from my cold dead hand (apologies to Charlton Heston here), but it’s true.  I love checking my stats for steps, sleep and active minutes.  I feel the nagging when yes, it’s 3:45 on Sunday and I’ve got less than 3000 steps (yikes!) and I feel very proud when I really rack them up (I clocked 7 miles on the Queen Mary last May- yay!) It’s the motivation that I enjoy.  I like knowing that I routinely get more steps now than I did when I got my first one over a year ago.  It’s progress I’m proud of.  I also like that my friends are also getting more active; this is something we love to share now, though both of them put my step count to shame (and they’re 15 years older than me too! Eeek!)

So if you decide to get a fitness tracker, do some comparison shopping.  I opted for Fitbit because I didn’t know a lot about some of the others, and Fitbit seemed a little more price friendly to me (code for cheaper).  If I do ever get another one, I will probably get a Garmin, since my water aerobics trainer has a waterproof model she wears in the pool.  (The one thing I don’t like about Fitbit is they aren’t waterproof.) But whichever one you decide to get, make sure you’re getting it for the right reasons.  If you want to track your calories or energy burn or even heart rates, bear in mind their accuracy is limited.  In my opinion, they function best as motivation.  It’s a lot like hitting the gym or going for a walk with a buddy- it’s just more fun to do and if you enjoy it more, you’ll do it more! The more you move, the easier it becomes and the better you feel.  Humans weren’t made to sit around; we were made to move!  So, move it, people!

Resources: Sharing is Caring- really!

One of the most important things I have learned on my weight loss journey is that resources are key to your success.  When I say resources, I mean things like a supportive community, reliable sources of information and the right tools for you.  Most people turn to the Internet, but the internet is a double edged sword.  While it can inform, it can also inundate.  Getting washed away by too much information is nearly as bad as having none at all.

When I realized I was actually losing weight and the changes I was making were actually becoming permanent, I went to the Internet to look for a diet that would work long term and be doable.  I also went back to the My Fitness Pal website, but this time, I began to use it!  This is when it started to dawn on me that not only is it easier to do this with friends, it’s practically impossible to do it without friends.  When they say things “it takes a village,” it’s the truth, not a cliché.  Doing the hard stuff is a whole lot easier when you know there are others doing it too!  It also puts difficult situations in perspective when you come home hurting or are feeling like you blew it and look online and see other people are having the same hard time: it’s not just you and no, you didn’t blow it—this is a normal situation and you can make progress!  You are just like everyone else going through this process and it’s not impossible!

I’ve made a list here of resources that I use pretty much all the time.  They work for me and if they don’t feel comfortable for you, don’t worry- it’s just a matter of finding something that does work for you! Hopefully, if these don’t, there’s a resource or a link that can help you find it!

The Paleo Lifestyle

This is more a way of life than an actual resource (obviously!) but I’m listing it because some people don’t know what it’s about, even though they may have heard about it in passing.  Paleo is simply put a whole foods diet.  People call it “the caveman diet” because one of the basic premises is “no foods our ancestors didn’t eat,” but really it comes down to eating as few processed foods as possible.  I stay away from most grains/ grain products because they tend to be highly processed, ie wheat gets turned into flour and turned into pasta or bread.  Some people argue about dairy products not being “Paleo,” but really what I do is eat foods as close to their natural state as possible, and most of my diet is vegetables, proteins, some fruit and a little dairy in the form of cream in my coffee and the occasional cheese or yogurt (I’m a little lactose intolerant).  I actually eat more vegetables than meat.  Most people think that the “caveman diet” is nothing but meat and it’s not- in fact, it’s mostly vegetables (I like broccoli and other cruciferous veggies with the occasional sweet potato thrown in!)  I think even you don’t want to “Paleo,” there is a benefit to limiting processed foods and refined carbohydrates.

My Fitness Pal (MFP)

This website and app is such an incredible source of support for me.  It lets you track your food, calories, nutrition, water intake and exercise.  You enter everything you eat and drink and the app/ website calculates the calories.  It’s got a huge database and if your food isn’t there (rarely happens!), you can add it in. It’s the same with exercise.  There are also forums available if you have questions, if you want to discuss or learn about a particular topic.  This is one place you can go to get information on some other resources & support.  It also lets you make friends.  It’s a lot like a fitness-oriented Facebook.  You get to see your friends’ posts and they see yours.  You can also message them in the app.  As I said, it’s an incredible source of support and information for me; I see that so many of them are dealing with the same issues I’m dealing with (I’m not a freak of nature! Yay!) and I can get some advice or at the very least, some perspective on what I’m going through.

Primal Potential & Elizabeth Benton

She is probably the second most important resource I have.  Incidentally, I got her name from one of my MFP friends.  Elizabeth has been through the same process I’m going through myself.  She has PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) which makes it hard to lose weight and has been overweight all her life.  After reaching nearly 350 lbs, and a lifetime of failed attempts, she learned to make sustainable long term changes, lost the weight and started Primal Potential to help others get healthier.  She has a lot of free information on her website, such as 100 healthy fat loss friendly meal ideas, free supportive wallpapers for your phone and a podcast available on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, and iHeartRadio.  She has other free information available in her free weekly newsletter and is very accessible by email and Facebook.  She has programs that you can purchase and she is hosting a women’s transformational weekend coming this November in Nashville (I think tickets are still available at her site).  She is very straightforward and honest about weight loss.  She does group coaching called Fast Track and the fall/winter fast track waiting list should be opening up sometime this fall.  She uploads new podcasts every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and all of the episodes are downloadable on Primal Potential.

Metabolic Radio/ Taylor Empey & Shane Pace

This is another podcast and website that I heard of through MFP.  Shane Pace, who is one of the hosts, is actually an MFP friend of mine.  He is a massage therapist and life-long lifter (weights).  Taylor is a fitness trainer and is in the process of becoming a registered dietician.  (They are both in Utah and I’m not sure what the certifications are there since I’m in California.  Their bios are available on the website.) Metabolic Radio is less centered on fat loss or weight loss like Primal Potential and is more focused on fitness and nutrition.  They have a private forum on Facebook that you can join once you send a request and you can ask them questions there or submit them to the podcast, where they do a weekly Q&A as well as episodes covering what’s trending in the fitness world and cover topics related to fitness, strength training and nutrition, such as supplements, how to choose a trainer, and probiotics, for example.  You can also sign up their free weekly newsletter or submit questions on the website.  They are relatively new to the podcast world but are growing fast.  They are so dedicated to giving you the best advice and if they don’t know the answer to your question, they will either find it or point you in the right direction.  They are much more oriented to fitness and training than Primal Potential and I think these two podcasts complement each other well.

Paleo Solution & Robb Wolf

You cannot have heard about Paleo without hearing about The Paleo Solution written by Robb Wolf.  This was one of the breakthrough books on Paleo (I blush to admit that I have not read it! Gasp!) I do however listen to his podcast.  One of the great things about his podcast is that he focuses on guests who cover different topics in the Paleo, health and nutrition world.  While Primal Potential and Metabolic Radio focus more on informational topics and questions from listeners, Robb’s guests cover various topics and tend to be experts in their fields, such as Dr. Mark Hyman, Katy Bowman and Dr. Jason Fung (to name a few!)  It’s a great way to keep up with the current trends in nutrition, Paleo, fitness and also get more background in the areas in which I am not well versed.

Paleo Magazine, Paleo Magazine Radio and Tony Federico

I was so excited to find there is an entire magazine dedicated to the Paleo lifestyle! This is a huge resource for me because it covers what’s new, what’s getting updated and it’s full of advertisements for Paleo friendly products! One of the problems with eating Paleo is that it’s hard to find products that aren’t highly processed or that come from non-GMO sources or aren’t full of things I don’t like eating.  (I don’t like eating crop oils, and most things have soybean / canola or corn oil in them.) So this magazine gives me all the latest information in my little nutritional niche, besides having a podcast (hosted by Tony) with guests who are at the forefront of new ideas and approaches in living healthy.  He recently attended the Ancestral Health Symposium and gave a great talk on the history of sedentarism (sitting) and how it’s not really healthy for you, and he also had several interviews with some of the big names in the AH and Functional Medicine arenas, not to mention a rousing discussion on the great Pokemon Go opportunities at the Symposium itself. Seriously! (I don’t play but it sounded like a lot of fun, and if you can’t have fun being fit, what’s the point?) Even if you’re not eating Paleo, it has some great info on healthy living in general.  I think it’s worth a look and I got my first copy at Barnes & Noble.  They also offer a digital version via a smartphone app!

The Paleo Women, Noelle Tarr and Stefani Ruper

This is a podcast I recently started listening to, so I’m still learning a lot about the hosts.  I do want to note that shortly after I started listening, I realized they had placed #2 in the “Best New Podcast” category in Paleo Magazine.  Number 1 (Nom Nom Paleo) is also an excellent podcast but they do not seem to be producing new episodes.  The Paleo Women seems to be geared mainly for younger women (I am 50) but I still think they have a lot of great ideas for healthy nutrition (they had a long discussion on apples! Lol) and just general fitness.  They are also a lot of fun to listen to.  It’s a lot like having coffee with a couple of friends and chatting about fitness, health and nutrition.

Some Helpful Tools

Everything is easier to do when you have the right tools and why make things harder on yourself? Getting fit and/ or losing weight is hard enough!  The list that I have here is by no means comprehensive and they are definitely not specific for Paleo, but I’ve found they are enormously helpful for me, especially when I was starting out.

Food Journal

I know a lot of people don’t like keeping a food journal.  They think it’s a hassle or it’s a little embarrassing.  It’s not about tracking calories, although you can; it’s about finding out what foods work better for you.  Elizabeth Benton (see above) recommends tracking what you eat, how much you eat, when you eat it and how it makes you feel (ie, low energy, really hungry, sugar spike, etc).  She has some great templates on her website if you want to check those out.  MFP  (also above) is essentially a calorie & food tracking app.  You enter in what you ate and how much and it automatically tracks your calories and your macros for you.  There is also a place where you can add food notes, like “ravenously hungry after breakfast” or “really worn out after workout,” etc.  The drawback is that it’s a little tough to page back to look at the trends.  I like a paper book journal.  The one I use is DietMinder from Memory Minder and they are available on their website or at Amazon.  I got my first one from Barnes & Noble.  It’s made mostly for tracking things like calories, macros and fiber, water, exercise, but it’s got some open spaces where I take notes and add in what I’m currently tracking.  The point of the journal is if you aren’t going in the direction you want, you can look at what you’re doing to make changes.  I was eating very low carb at one point and I was getting very tired so when I looked at my journal, I saw that the tiredness started when my carbs dropped 100 grams or lower.  I find now that when I keep my carbs around 135, I have energy and I still lose weight.

Nutrition for Dummies

This is important no matter what diet or lifestyle you try out!  As I’ve mentioned before, I like the Dummies books because they assume you know nothing and are laid out in a pretty straightforward manner and are easy to navigate.  This book covers the basics in nutrition and lets you know what you need to eat to stay healthy as a human being, and if you are going vegetarian or vegan, where some pitfalls might be hiding.  A lot of times, I’d see patients on My 600 lb Life who are eating badly and think they are doing great but they are actually malnourished, or eating high carbohydrates.  This book explains what all those macros are in detail and why we need to get certain vitamins and minerals.  If you haven’t looked at nutrition since high school biology and you’re starting a new eating plan, you might want to give it a look.  It’ll explain to you why something like the pasta lover’s diet might not be your best option!

Scales (Yes! The infernal Contraptions!)

I’ll be honest: I hated scales!  Food scales, me scales, any kind!  I really didn’t want to get one to weigh me, but I figured I couldn’t track my progress without one, since I only got weighed at the doctor’s office.  I finally broke down and ordered one off Amazon (the ubiquitous supplier of everything in my life!).  I got an EatSmart brand scale that has an extra wide platform and will weigh up to 500lbs.  It’s digital and it’s got an auto-shut off and calibration.  I like it (as much as I can like a scale!) and it’s been pretty reliable.  The best thing is that I can check my weight at home.

The other scale I finally bought is an Ozeri digital food scale (again from Amazon).  I’d actually had this one for over a year before it got reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen and it was their best buy! (Whoo hoo- I did good!)  This scale is flat so it’ll fit in a drawer, has clear tare and unit buttons (so you can switch between grams & ounces & milliliters) and an easy readout.  It’ll weigh up to 11 lbs and also has an auto- shut off.  The reason I bought the scale wasn’t so much obsessing about accuracy of how much I ate, but to help me determine portion size.  When you go to a restaurant, the amount of food they give you is not a portion for one meal; it’s usually for several meals, but if that’s what you’re used to seeing, you have no idea (I didn’t anyway!) of what one serving of meat/ veggies/ pasta looks like.  I got it so I could get an idea of what a serving of nuts looks like (0.25 cup) or what 4 oz. of meat looks like.  Now I have a pretty good idea, but I still use it almost every day, mainly out of habit, but it helps me stay on target with portion sizes!

I also bought a cheap whiteboard for my fridge to help with the food scale.  I discovered shortly after I got the Ozeri that I was having to write down the amounts on scraps of paper and then having to gather up the scraps when I wrote the numbers in my journal, or I was bringing my journal into the kitchen ( and getting it full of gunk!), so when school was starting up, I got one of the $5 whiteboards (made for student lockers) with the magnetic pen with the eraser tip. It hangs easily on my fridge right next to the scale; I write stuff down, and it makes this a lot easier.  Since I’m posting this in September, there should be a lot of these whiteboards available out there right now!

Living Paleo for Dummies

Again with the Dummies!  I got this because I was interested in this lifestyle and it definitely answered my questions!  It also has sections on movement and work outs (with pictures!) and a recipes section!  There are a lot of Paleo books out there but this one doesn’t espouse one particular field or author.  If you are interested in Paleo, I think a lot of my other resources can help you find your way, especially Paleo Magazine and the Paleo Solution and Robb Wolf.

I’m also going to give a plug for cookbooks.  I don’t particularly like cookbooks because I’m not that kind of cook.  If it needs a recipe, it’s too complicated for me, but I know lots of people use them!  One I did buy is Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong.  They are definitely not chefs and so their style of cooking is pretty simple and easy and their food is great! (They also have an app and a blog!)  Elizabeth Benton also has 100 Fat Loss Friendly Recipes on her website for free and she also did a podcast on fat loss friendly meals under $1.99 a serving (mostly available from Trader Joe’s but I’ve got one, so yay!)  The point I’m trying to make is that if you are starting something new or something very different from how you have been cooking/ eating, you want to have some kind of framework (which is what these tools & resources are supposed to be!)  They’re kind of like training wheels until you can get your balance! You don’t have to use them, but if they help, why not give them a look?  I’m not associated with any of the above except as an average consumer.  I’ve tried these products and I like them.  You might not, but hopefully you can find something similar that will be helpful to you!  As always, if you have any questions, you can leave a comment here and I will get back to you!  Thanks!

Is Living Fat Your Default Setting?

Recently I did a post on choices, essentially about how we choose our own lives and lifestyles whether we realize it or not, and I realized that so many of us end up in what I call “living fat” situations because we don’t consciously think about it.  It’s our default setting: like when you send an email to someone, unless you stop to think about setting it up, it’s going to be in whatever the default font is, usually something obnoxiously tiny.

The truth is that most of us think more about our email font than we do our lifestyle.  It’s more of that “big picture -small picture” thinking: we focus on the small picture when we need to see the bigger picture and can only see the big picture when we should focus on the smaller one. You’ve got a dozen things to get done on your way home and there’s nothing ready for dinner, so you think “I’ve got no time for grocery shopping, so I’ll get takeout.” You’re looking at the bigger picture: I’ve got a dozen things to get done before I can go home.  Your decision to get takeout is a little picture decision, but what you don’t see is that all the little decisions add up into the bigger picture.  If you had gone grocery shopping yesterday or over the weekend, you could have prepared something ahead of time so you would have a meal (a healthier meal hopefully) waiting for you at home, or you could have at least had something quick that you could whip up instead of the takeout.  But you didn’t go grocery shopping, because you were too busy doing all of the other stuff on your list of things that need to be done.  So now, you hit the pharmacy and the post office and the office supply place and run all your errands, whip through the local Jack in the Box and settle for the burger and fries for dinner.  So everything is accomplished and you’ve had your dinner, so you jump in the shower and get some sleep.  Everything is done.  Except the grocery shopping.  So tomorrow, what happens?  More stuff to do, no time for grocery shopping, hit Jack in the Box again and say hi to Dennis at the drive thru.

For those of you who might be thinking that I’m exaggerating here, I wish I could say I was.  This was my life in 2014.  I got off work about 6:30-7:00 p.m., drove the 75 miles home in the commuter traffic, hit all the errands on the way home (because I didn’t have time during the day!) and hit the Jack in the Box drive thru almost every night (and his name really was Dennis).  On the weekends, I was so tired and so busy trying to catch up with everything else I needed to do that ‘I didn’t have time to go grocery shopping.’  The sad truth of it was that this living fat lifestyle was my default setting.  I thought I was doing the best that I could do, but all of the little decisions were making my life harder and making me fatter and more unhealthy.  If I had taken two or three hours each weekend to do the shopping and planning a few meals, I could have skipped the drive thru, which would have at least given me some healthier options.

Most of us go through life on auto-pilot without really thinking about our “default setting” for things like eating or exercising or anything else that isn’t a five alarm emergency.  There’s the old reporter’s saying “if it bleeds, it leads,” and that’s kind of how most of categorize our tasks in life: whatever is due yesterday gets done first and then it’s the stuff that’s due today and everything else just gets in line behind those tasks.  The sad part is the “everything else” is generally what really matters in our lives: things like our health, our families, our wants and needs.  It’s like the expression I used in another post: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”  Really?  Is that how you want to go through your life?  Putting your job first?  Putting mundane matters before the ones who should matter most (and that includes you)?

The problem with my old default setting was that I didn’t plan anything.  It was always staying one step ahead of the flood, which meant a lot of takeout and processed or frozen foods.  There was no priority beyond what was due next and if that meant staying at work until 7:00 p.m. or later, then that’s what happened.  So what if I got home at 9:30 p.m. and dinner was yet one more sourdough jack burger eaten about 10:00 p.m. before falling into bed, so I can do the same thing next morning?  There is so much wrong with that picture!  Forget the dang burger- what about me?! This was my “living fat” default setting, and this was pretty much what my days were like for at least the last two years of the job from hell.  There was no healthy activity, no stress relief, no healthy food and no concern about the quality of my life.  My life was running in front of the flood trying hard to stay on high ground and all the while the water was getting deeper around me.  I was slowly drowning; I just didn’t know it at the time.

I think of this as a “living fat” situation because pretty much everything I did every day was conducive to my staying unhealthy and overweight.  I wasn’t consciously deciding to stay overweight and unhealthy, but the “every day” decisions that I thought were perfectly natural and normal were unhealthy behaviors, like choosing takeout, like being “too busy” to “insert healthy activity here” and what did that get me?  It got me regular panic/ anxiety attacks, mental and physical exhaustion, deteriorating health (various worsening disorders), out of control weight gain and growing unhappiness and sense of worthlessness.  None of this is healthy behavior, but because this was my default, I didn’t realize I was in charge of my decisions and could change my circumstances.

Your default setting may not be as crazy as mine, but it may also be keeping you unhealthy/ overweight.  It may be something as simple as working out “when you have time” but you keep putting everything else (like working late, the kids, the errands) ahead of the working out.  It may be something like buying healthy groceries which go to waste because you opt for “something quick” when you get home, like takeout or something frozen/ processed.  It may be something as simple as eating a whole bag or box of whatever because there’s too little to save but too much to throw away: “Eh- I’ll just eat the rest- it’s not that much!” This is another one I’m so guilty of doing! I hate keeping bags of leftover stuff when it’s almost gone, but then throwing it away is wasteful, but the bag is a real hassle to deal with, sooo if I eat it, it’s not wasted and I don’t have to store it! I just end up storing it on my butt or my thighs instead! Now I make myself throw it away and it still is really really hard!!

The problem with changing your default setting is that you may not know what it is that’s the problem, or you may not realize it’s something you can change (like me). You need to take a conscious look at your regular behaviors and see where you can make improvements.  You can also ask your friends and family to help with this.  Is there something they complain about to you on a regular basis?  If there is something that comes up regularly, maybe this is one of those behaviors you should change.  It can be something like staying up late every night or drinking coffee 24/7.  A journal of daily activities can help you get an objective look at your life.  Write down everything you eat and drink and when and do the same for your activities, even if it’s just something like “picked up prescription at Walgreens 3:13 p.m.”  If you do this for a couple of weeks, you can start to see your patterns and where you can make some improvements.  Remember health is not just about the body; it’s also about your mind and spirit.  If you want more quality time with your friends and family (or just you), this would also be a way to find it.  It’s also a matter of establishing priorities.  I hate feeling rushed in the morning so I take five minutes before I go to bed to set out what I’m wearing for the next day (no searching for socks at 6:00 a.m.!) and I get my lunch packed and the coffee set up.  Push the button, grab the lunchbox, fill the travel mug and we’re off!  It’s about five minutes the night before (during a commercial break if I’m watching tv) and it makes things easier in the morning (more play time with the rug rats)!

These may not seem like important changes, but when I slack off and don’t do it the night before, I sure notice it in the morning.  It’s an investment in me.  It’s the difference between seeing the email clearly and squinting at the micro-font.  To paraphrase a popular commercial for living space: “change your default setting- change the world!”


Simple Carbs? Fast Carbs? Macros?

Long ago (and far away), I was an English teacher and taught basic composition.  I’ll never forget the start of one semester when I began by explaining to my students that all complete sentences are composed of a noun and verb, minimum, and one student raised her hand and asked “what’s a verb?”  She had reached college and no one had explained to her what a verb was (which was probably why she was in Basic Composition.)  But, as I told my students more than once, the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!

Recently on one of the podcasts I just picked up on (The Paleo Women), a listener asked a question about carbs. (I think it was episode #81 if you want to try it out!) For someone like me who’s been doing this a while, the question seemed pretty basic- pretty “noun + verb” basic, but it wasn’t all that long ago that some of these “basic” ideas had me flummoxed (and I still get a little flummoxed by some of the short-hand out there!) I’m certainly not any kind of expert but I’ve been learning about this stuff for a while for my own edification so, in case anyone out there has any questions about carbs, macros and a few other “basics,” here goes nothing!

Carbs (carbohydrates) are one of three macronutrients (macros).  The other two are fat and protein.  Macros are your calorie sources.  Each gram of carbohydrate and protein has 4 calories and each gram of fat has 9 calories, which is why when people try to crash diet, they usually go low fat.  One ounce of fat is 28.35 grams, which is over 25o calories while one ounce of carb or protein is about 115.

Sometimes you might hear people talk about micronutrients; those are things like calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc.  They are the vitamins and minerals in the foods we eat, and they do not have calories to speak of (tiny miniscule amounts if any!)  Macros are what people pay attention to when they talk about losing weight and getting healthier.  If you take care of your macros, you won’t have any problems with your micros, unless you have some kind of health issue.  If you think you do have a health issue, then you really do need to see a professional (like a doctor!)

One of the things that gets bounced around a lot of the weight loss/ fitness community is the idea of “low carb.”  When people talk and post things about the “low carb lifestyle,” they usually talk about or show things like pasta, bread, rice and cereal.  Those are most definitely carbs!  The problem comes when the consumer looks up something on a nutritional- clinical website and sees that the cabbage or broccoli or apple she just ate is logged or labeled as a carb.  She gets confused because she’s “not eating any carbs” and why is this apple or salad being counted as a carb?  Because fruits and vegetables are definitely carbs as well!  There is also a lot of confusion when people start explaining things like fast carbs, slow carbs, simple carbs and complex carbs.  These are just labels people use to explain what they are eating or not eating, or more realistically- what they are telling you to eat and not eat!

Macros: Fat, Protein and the Always Confusing Carbohydrates

There are a lot of different kinds of fats: saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans.  Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.  In foods, they are basically your oils and butters.  They are also in animal products, like meat, eggs, milk and other dairy, and they are in avocados and most nuts and seeds.  The only ones I think you really need to watch out for (like avoid) are trans fats, because those are chemically unstable and people who are supposed to know this stuff say it’s best to avoid them.  If you stick with whole unprocessed foods, you will most likely avoid them, although you may get plenty of saturated fats.  If you want to limit your saturated fats, you will have to limit your animal products. I would caution you not to try avoiding fats altogether because your body needs fats to survive!  Every cell you have and will ever make requires fats to function!  No fats=no cells=NOT GOOD FOR YOU!

Proteins are mostly your animal products, like meat, eggs, and fish.  Most nuts, seeds and legumes (beans and peanuts) have some protein in them, but they are not a complete protein.  This means that the chain of amino acids that make a protein is incomplete in the plants, nuts and legumes, while in the animal product, it is complete.  This is generally not a problem unless you are vegan or vegetarian. While some plants contain a little protein, it’s generally not enough to meet your daily requirements unless you work on it. (If you are vegan/ vegetarian, you will need to work on making sure you eat enough of a variety to get complete proteins.)

Carbohydrates are everything that is not a fat or a protein.  These are your fruits, vegetables, grains and plants. Like I said, while things like nuts, seeds and legumes can contain fats and proteins, they are classified as carbs because that is what makes up most of their energy source.  You can eat your peanuts and think you are getting protein or fat, but you are mostly getting carbs.  People like to classify carbs as good, bad, fast, slow, simple, complex, refined or processed.  The words I generally use are “complex” and “refined.”

Carbs are made up of chains of starches, which the body converts to glucose (a sugar), fiber and water.  The reason people pay attention to carbs is because the more complex the carbohydrate is the more water and fiber it has and the longer it takes to break down which means there is less of glucose spike in the blood (and less glucose which gets stored as fat, ideally). If a carb is quickly broken down and does not have a lot of fiber and/ or water, it is a simple carb, which means there is usually a glucose spike in your blood and a lot of “sugar” which can be stored as fat.

The biggest confusion with carbs when people lump together things like noodles, bread and white rice and leave out things like broccoli, spinach and fruit.  Those are all carbs, but the difference is the noodles, bread and white rice are simple carbs: mostly starches without a lot of fiber or water.  They also don’t have a lot of those beneficial micronutrients either!  I usually refer to these kinds of foods as being “nutritionally vacant” because they bring nothing to the party but calories!  The broccoli, spinach and fruit are complex carbs: they have a lot of fiber and water (and micronutrients too!)  (Elizabeth Benton at Primal Potential did a great podcast explaining this! I can’t remember what episode, but do a search on Golden Rules of Fat Loss at her website and you’ll probably find it!) That means when you eat the simple carbs like noodles (I call them refined because the product is processed), you get mostly the starches which are quickly converted to glucose (a sugar) and you get a lot of calories but not a lot of anything else.  When you eat the complex carbs like an apple, you get the starches but you also get more fiber and more water and more micronutrients and the body takes longer to break down the apple because of the water and fiber.  So you get less sugar, less calories, more fiber, more water and more nutrition in the apple.

When people talk about things like “low carbing” usually they mean they are cutting out the simple/ refined/ fast carbs but not the complex/ slow carbs.  A bagel has a lot more carbs than an apple, although they might weigh the same, and they don’t have the same calories either.  So you can eat a huge bowl of broccoli and get way fewer carbs and calories than if you eat the same size bowl of pasta.  300 calories of pasta is a lot smaller than 300 calories of broccoli (I don’t think I can eat that much broccoli at one sitting)!  Remember the calories come from the grams of carbs. So you can essentially eat almost all the complex carbs you want in the form of vegetables (and some fruit) and still be much lower in carbs than if you ate the Standard American Diet (usually abbreviated SAD- for so many reasons- eye roll).  Generally, if you are trying to avoid processed foods, you will automatically be “low carb” because you will be avoiding the processed foods that make up the bulk of refined simple carbohydrates available: things like breads, pastas, chips, cereals, and most grain and rice products.

There are some anomalies, like potatoes.  They are a vegetable and they are starchier than most others, so they have more carbohydrates.  Sweet potatoes are less starchier than white potatoes, but they still have more than broccoli or cabbage.


There has been some talk out there about “flexible dieting” and IIFYM.  IIFYM (aka flexible dieting) is shorthand for “If It Fits Your Macros.”  One of the ways people try to lose weight without actually going on a diet is by changing their macro ratios.  Generally, most Americans eat a ratio of 40-50% carbs, 30-35% fat and 20-25% protein (somewhere in there).  So by changing the ratios, you change your calorie intake.  What people like about this is that they can eat whatever they want as long as they can “fit it into their macros.”  So if they are eating 35% carbs, 30% fat and 35% protein, if they can squeeze in a corn dog, they’ll eat it!  That’s kind of the bad thing about IIFYM, too: people will squeeze in junk food and think they are eating healthier.  It’s too easy to focus on the macro label rather than nutrition on this “diet” and it gets abused a lot.  It can also be well utilized!  I aim for a certain macro ratio, but if I blow it, I blow it because I focus more on nutrition than hitting a macro target.

I personally follow a Paleo diet, which means I avoid processed foods and most grain products in general (as well as most dairy).  This diet works for me and I feel a lot better eating Paleo.  There are some hidden benefits to it, in that people start eating Paleo for whatever reason, realize they feel much better (hey, that’s me!) and then realize that one of their problems was a food sensitivity, like wheat/ gluten or dairy.  I had known I was moderately lactose intolerant and I find limiting my dairy makes me feel a lot better.  I would give it up completely but I like cream in my coffee and it’s not enough to bother me much- yogurt on the other hand- ugh!

If you are still a little confused or just want to know more, I read Nutrition for Dummies.  I like the Dummies books because they assume you know nothing about the subject, and I find that even if I think I know something, I start at the beginning because just because I think I know something doesn’t always mean I do!  If you are interested in Paleo, I also read Living Paleo for Dummies, which lays everything out pretty simply.  I am also working on post about some of the resources I use to learn about nutrition, fitness and health and Paleo. I hope to have it up next week. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to post them as a comment and I will get back to you!