The Slow Carb Diet

June 13, 2019

I first learned about the Slow Carb diet from Tim Ferriss' book The 4-Hour Body. I tried it exactly as directed and lost weight, then for various reasons drew back from carefully following the diet and put weight back on. I know the diet works and I am working my way back to the point of following it carefully again.

I like the approach of the Slow Carb diet because it doesn't make any broad statements like "all carbohydrates are bad". Carbohydrates are like the other macro-nutrients (fat and protein) and come in varieties that are better or worse for us. This intelligent handling of carbohydrates sets the Slow Carb diet above all other contenders for me.

The whole purpose of the "Slow Carb" diet is to reduce the speed of the arrival of sugar (in the form of blood Glucose) into the bloodstream, hence its name, because you only eat carbohydrates that are converted to blood Glucose slowly. This reduces the incidence of spikes of blood sugar values and keeps the body's levels more even and consistent. Spikes in blood Glucose cause the body to produce Insulin and that then stores excess Glucose as fat. Promoting a flatter blood sugar level over time causes the body to start releasing those fat stores as it doesn't see any food panic situations causing spikes.

Because the fundamental principle of the Slow Carb diet is that you do everything possible to keep your blood sugar stable, it brings other benefits. It is simple, effective and does not require counting calories. These are very important for longevity of staying on the diet. The more complicated the diet the lower the chance of it working and the dieter staying on it.

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Walking Is Good For You

January 24, 2019

So I wrote a post a few weeks ago about an interesting article where doctors were prescribing taking a hike for their patients. This got me thinking about something I'd heard before, but that was not specifically mentioned in the article, that of the benefit to joints from free walking.

I first heard about the joint benefits of free activity in the context of weight lifting. This is pretty much what you think it might be. Rather than using weight machines, you literally just pick up the weight directly and in the process of doing so your main muscles get worked, but so do your supporting muscles and ligaments and this adds not only to your direct lift capability but also makes your muscles more robust and less likely to suffer injuries. Nassim Nicholas Taleb would call this being antifragile. Weightlifters who follow this protocol appreciate the extra strength benefits, but mostly do it for the durability that it builds into their joints. This is also a compelling reason for recommending that people use kettlebells in their workouts because the non-linear movements that most kettlebell exercises require cause even greater ancillary muscle and ligament strength.

Well, it turns out that the same principle that helps free weightlifters also helps freewalkers. When walking on a flat uniform surface, the ancillary muscles and ligaments get very little use and hence do not strengthen significantly from the exercise. In contrast, when a person walks on a rough surface, their ancillary muscles are forced to do more work to support the ankles and knees and help keep the person upright and balanced. This has the same benefits that free weightlifters get. The walkers get stronger muscles and their joints get tougher and less likely to suffer injury from unexpected lateral movements.

Here are a couple of articles that say the same thing with more sciencey words.

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Take A Walk

December 30, 2018

So, it turns out that my mother was right. And likely every other mother in the history of mothers. Going outside is officially good for you.

Scottish doctors are now issuing prescriptions to go hiking

When I was a lad, growing up in England, I played outside on a regular basis. As often as I could I would be outside. As I got bigger, my activities switched from playing to hiking and cycling. I would range all over the surrounding countryside that was close to my parents house as we lived at the edge of town. I couldn't even begin to number the miles that I've walked through fields or cycled down country lanes.

While I respect those who run, I've always been more of a walker/hiker. My constitution and leg strength are just more suited to distance walking. And with the exception of a small number of people with body types suited for distance running, most people get more benefit from brisk walking than running.

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Thoughts On The Art of Eating Well

December 3, 2018

America is well known for enjoying fast food and doughnuts. Everything has sugar in it and everything is fattening and the average American likes it like that. Unfortunately, as nutritional science advances, many researchers, practicing nutritionists and concerned citizens are realizing that this is a terrible dietary lifestyle and almost exclusively responsible for the thicker waistlines all across the fruited plains of the United States.

We are among the first generation that has had to re-learn the ancient art of eating well. I'm sure that there were overweight people back in the day, but it's hard to find much in the way of evidence when looking through pictures of grandparents and great-grandparents. Pictures of families from back in the day show a uniformly fit and healthy view of men and women. Such a selection of healthy people is increasingly hard to find today.

Certainly, the increase in people working in offices, performing less arduous work, has to be acknowledged, but the general trend of obesity continues regardless. We cannot blame everything on office work, no matter how tempting. There are a couple of things that most of us need to do to reverse this situation. The first is to get moving, but I'll cover that in a different post. The second is to eat well.

But what is eating well? Nearly everyone has seen the government authored food pyramid and it's recommendations. Eat lots of grains and all will be well, they say. Yet, the start of the obesity epidemic and the introduction of the food pyramid coincide so closely that it's really hard to believe that the two are not linked.

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Life Principle - Make the Best Decision You Can With What You Know Now

October 18, 2018

Make the best decision you can with what you know now.

My father

If you learn more later, you can make a better decision then.

Me (as a corollary to the above wisdom from my father)

In the world of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics), the inability to arrive at a decision is known as analysis paralysis. Those of you who don't live in that world may know it more simply as being indecisive. Either way it's a bad thing. It's frustrating to the indecisive one and those around them and at the end of the day it brings more problems than it avoids. Voltaire captured the heart of the matter with his saying "Perfect is the enemy of good". (And then the computer science world reduced it down to "Worse is better".)

Voltaire understood what most indecisive people do not, and that is that if you are trying to decide between two almost equally good options, then it really does not particularly matter which one you select in the long term. If the decision were between an good option and a bad option, there would be no indecision, so we can ignore this scenario. The closer the options are in expected outcome, the more likely most people will be to experience decision making paralysis. Yet, despite this truth, most people will agonize over their decisions, clinging firmly to the belief that they must make a perfect decision or they will have failed.

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