June 13, 2010

Health Update - June 2010

"A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition." 

~V. Vale and Andrea Juno, Modern Primitives

I did hit my weight loss goal in May, about a week after my birthday.  Then I lost a little more before getting stuck again.  After bouncing around the same number for three weeks, I decided to increase my caloric intake.  I am now eating as if to lose half a pound per week instead of one and a half.  It seems to have made a difference because I am now steadily dropping tenths of pounds each day; hitting a new low this morning.  I'll eat like this for another week, and then change it back.  I am also planning to add weight training to my fitness routine.   Something I learned while researching how to break this newest plateau; if you begin to feel hungry all the time, and are not losing weight, then raising your calories is a good idea.  I needed to shake up my body's metabolism because it thought I was starving.  Silly evolution.  Catch up already!

I've been pretty embarrassed this whole time to reveal actual numbers, but I going to put it out there so I can write more easily about it in the future.  My highest ever was around 210, but after going vegetarian in 2004 I lost 25 pounds.  I stayed between 185 and 190 through last October.  My first goal was to go from 190 to 160, and I am now at 157.6.  My final goal is 130.  

And as a reward to myself for hitting my goal, I did get a new tattoo; two actually.  Both are still healing.  

This one I totally borrowed the idea after reading An Atheist Symbol.  The idea of brain waves reminded me of the recent studies where Buddhist monks meditated for scientists, who took scans of their brains.  I researched the studies, and any other science I could find on meditation.  Then I tried to find real examples of what those brain waves would look like.  Alpha waves are representative of that state of relaxed awareness.  You can see I took that alpha wave straight from Wikipedia.  Those are the kind of waves I want my brain to generate more often than not.  The 'be mindful' is just to bring me back to the moment each time I see it.  The color is olive green.  

This one was spur of the moment.  I'd been continuously searching for something science-related/atheistic, but could never find anything that worked for me.  I could think of a lot of phrases that represented the idea I wanted, but I didn't want to add more words.  I wanted something colorful.  After I wrote the post I Am Here, I realized that something to do with the stars would be perfect.  The kids understand that they are made of elements that were made in the stars.  Those basic building blocks have always been here, and will one day be back in the stars.  I love this idea, and so there is one star for each of us.  I let the kids each pick their own color.  This is as close as I will get to an atheist tattoo.  I can say as little or as much about it as I like, but my family and I know what it means.  That's all that is important to me.  

I had thought I would get another tattoo at the end of my weight loss, but since I covered both science and atheism in these two, I may very well be done.  

Some weight-loss science that I've been collecting along the way:

"These data suggest that the 2008 federal recommendation for 150 minutes per week, while clearly sufficient to lower the risks of chronic diseases, is insufficient for weight gain prevention absent caloric restriction. Physical activity was inversely related to weight gain only among normal-weight women; among heavier women, there was no relation, emphasizing the importance of controlling caloric intake for weight maintenance in this group."

Exercise doesn't make as big of an impact as one would hope. At some point, to lose or maintain weight, you are going to have to watch what you eat. It's my brain that has the most trouble with this. I still want to eat all the junk I used to enjoy, but eating it doesn't actually feel or taste the same. I'm finally starting to break through the mental barriers of weight-loss.

 "Our study provides further evidence that, within the context of lifestyle treatment, losing weight at a fast initial rate leads to greater short-term weight reductions, does not result in increased susceptibility to weight regain, and is associated with larger weight losses and overall long-term success in weight management. We suggest that, within lifestyle weight control programs, substantial efforts should be focused on promoting large rather than small behavioral changes during the initial weeks of treatment."

I can see how making the hard changes up front can lead to a more permanent change. It's really easy to talk yourself out of making little changes as you go along, especially if you are still steadily losing weight. I didn't have to exercise or give up ice cream since I was still dropping. But when I did significantly reduce junk food and start exercising, I was more consistent with my weight loss, and it came off faster. If I had to do it all over again, I think I'd start out more aggressive.

The results showed that people earning the lowest wages were more likely to have weights in the obese range, or BMIs of 30 or greater. People living in the southern United States -- where state minimum-wage levels are among the lowest -- were more likely to be obese than people in other regions.

This is sad, but not surprising. Even as an obese person, I was more judgmental of "unhealthy" looking people. I hope when I was in the position to be hart of a hiring decision that I did not actually let this influence me though. I don't remember consciously thinking about it. I have since worried that it might be harder for B or I to find employment, should we need it again, due to our appearance. Fortunately, we are both making changes.

What to do: walk around the block or work up a sweat in an aerobic workout at the gym? If you're looking for the best health benefits from an exercise program, a traditional aerobic fitness program that gets your heart pumping beats a walking program hands down. But if you want to get moving, a walking program is easier to do, it's good for you, and you're more likely to stick with it.

Well there you go. If you are wondering what sort of exercise to do, get out there and sweat!

In humans, men are more likely to carry extra weight around their guts while pre-menopausal women store it in their butts, thighs and hips. The bad news for men is that belly, or visceral, fat has been associated with numerous obesity-related diseases including diabetes and heart disease. Women, on the other hand, are generally protected from these obesity-related disorders until menopause, when their ovarian hormone levels drop and fat storage tends to shift from their rear ends to their waists.

Good to know.

Jarrett said the emphasis on BMI can have damaging psychological effects on young people who, this study suggests, typically do not have health problems related to their weight. Though the BMI is convenient, it doesn't take into account different body types or gender differences; a measure of body fat percentage would offer a more accurate picture of risks associated with an individual's weight, he said.

I didn't know know what BMI was until I started using the Wii Fit. Apparently that was a good thing, I don't really focus on that number. I prefer to see my clothing get smaller and the scale numbers go down. According to the Wii, my ideal weight could be 124 with a BMI of 24. I think that's a bit low, but we'll see. I don't plan on letting the numbers bully me when I get down there.


  1. Just one observation on the Alpha State. I was taught (back in the day) that the Alpha State renders one "open to suggestion", and, therefore, what we expose ourselves to while in that state is incredibly important in forming who are as human beings. Conscientous creation of environment is incredibly important when we seek to reform our Selves. That's why most folks run off to a monastery or retreat when they reform :)

    Love watching you blossom. - Mo

  2. I saw some references to the alpha state when I was researching. Sometimes it was unclear if meditation is more Beta or Alpha. Ultimately, to me, it sounded more like Alpha as I read definitions. The monks in deep meditation were in Alpha. But the emphasis for me is on the mindful part. Not letting myself get lost, but being aware and calm.

    Besides, the Alpha waves are much prettier :)