nature, systems, biology, genetics, weight, evolution, efficiency

We’ve become too efficient at feeding ourselves

Obesity, its causes, and solutions are not a soundbite or two.

We’ve evolved to what we are today because of improvements in efficiency.

We are so efficient now at producing food, we waste 30% of it globally.

It’s so easy to feed ourselves, we need to go against our genetics and do things with the sole purpose of removing excess food stores.

Biologically, we want to do things the quickest, simplest way.

Hence fad diets, extreme diets.

Hence arguments about the one cause or cure of obesity.

As Nobel Prize winner, economist and psychologist Daniel Kahnemann’s many studies show, the very act of thinking hard in itself depletes us of energy.

We want a quick fix, like our quick reactions in simply running from bears or hunting them.

Our bodies including the brain organ don’t like expending energy we will then have to replenish.

In the 12,000 years since we started farming, we have grown taller, and are now living longer, becoming more obese, but it’s not obvious we have evolved in such a short time.

Instead, though, our knowledge has grown.

It’s up to us to use the collective knowledge of our tribe to help each other make learning easier, buying the right food easier, and to help make regulating our weight easier to do and understand.

It’s up to us to stop insisting on extremist, over-simplified, and/or fad approaches that we can’t sustain long enough to make all the required changes.

drinking alcohol in moderation

Can’t moderate? Blame alcohol, not yourself.

601 days alcohol-free.
$3,435 saved ($40 a week).
Last drank on January 31 2018.

(Stats from my Nomo app data.)

I don’t miss it. Alcohol doesn’t seem comforting or pleasurable to me like some people think it is for them (or the advertisements make us want to believe).

I don’t just look at the buzz and high of the first hour or two.

I see all the guilt, regret, anxiety, expense, conflicting thoughts, desperation, sickness, insomnia.

Douglas Adams wrote a book entitled, “The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul”. To me, that phrase can describe when the sun is nearly over the yardarm and you want to start drinking to stop the worry and stop feeling crappy about everything – to get a quick buzz like a rat in a science experiment in the 1940s.

That’s alcohol. That’s the result of chemical effects the day after you drank (again).

It’s not your fault you can’t moderate. Totally not your fault.

Alcohol is to blame.

It’s lovely to NOT drink. Not to desperately reach for a fake high that messes up your already borked chemistry.

It’s lovely to look forward to feeling tired in the evening and ready for rest and relaxation.

Evolutionary psychology, dieting, hormones, exercise, and injuries

Ideas emerging from the aethers. Been learning bits about evolutionary psychology.

As well as leptin and ghrelin, other hormones seem to affect hunger. e.g. women need more energy intake during certain times in a cycle. (re Lyle McDonald.)
PMS is worse if you’re not eating enough.

Running and exercise help with stress and burning off our fight/flight instincts when most of us have desk or indoor jobs that can be very stressful. But too much intense exercise increases stress (adrenaline and cortisol).

I’ve suspected for a while that testosterone compels men to continually compete and overdo it when they exercise. It’s certainly pretty bad for women comparing ourselves to others in the gene pool. And social media and technology’s effects on top causing us to want to look more awesome than the next person.

I have more I could say about this all leading to injuries, and un-sustainability in fitness.

Dopamine and serotonin can also be nice happy comfortable influences that make competitiveness less important and make us want to be happy just being with our tribe around our campfire safe from wild animals.

I guess these hormones can also be part of the reason people want to stick to a diet their peers prefer.

Leptin and its role in metabolism

The 1994 discovery of the hormone Leptin has led to exponential incremental scientific discoveries and now its role (in obesity in particular) is becoming more widely known.
“Jeffrey M. Friedman, whose [1994] discovery of the hormone leptin has transformed our understanding of obesity, will be a 2020 recipient of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences. He is being honored for his discovery of a new endocrine system through which adipose tissue signals the brain to regulate food intake. Friedman is the Marilyn M. Simpson Professor and head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller, as well as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator.
“The relatively new Breakthrough Prize, with its accompanying $3 million award, is the most generous prize in the sciences, and recognizes achievements in the life sciences, fundamental physics, and mathematics. The prize was established eight years ago by several Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs, including the founders of Google, Facebook, and 23andMe.
“Friedman’s 1994 discovery of leptin, and of its receptor in the brain encoded by the obese gene, shed new light on the pathogenesis of obesity. He and his colleagues have since shown that leptin acts on sets of neurons in brain centers that regulate food intake and energy expenditure, and has powerful effects on reproduction, metabolism, other endocrine systems, and immune function.”
 
Jeffrey M. Friedman’s latest Nature article:
Leptin and the endocrine control of energy balance.” – Jeffrey M. Friedman, Nature, August 29, 2019.
(pdf download available.)
 
I’ll add that leptin research is not limited to leptin deficiency.
There is work being done on how leptin (satiety hormone) and ghrelin (hunger hormone) levels can be altered by diet in beneficial and harmful ways.

About Me

I had 15 minutes of fame from my “before/after” photo from my first year of running.

A Year of Running

10 October 2015 to 22 September 2016

It was featured in a story about me in the parkrun Australia newsletter.

The photo garnered an article in The Telegraph, UK.

It had 1,400+ likes on Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook Group One Year of Running.

My Imgur photo made “Viral” status and had nearly 200,000 views

It was posted on Reddit and had 10,000 points and 381 comments.

I lost 36 kg (80 lb) between April 2015 and April 2016 by eating whatever I felt like (in moderation) within my calorie limit, using the free My Fitness Pal app.

I had started feeling better and better after quitting smoking cigarettes cold turkey in May 2014 and have just kept going. In 2015 I started walking a bit more every day.

On 22 September 2015 I suddenly felt the urge to run for the first time in 30 years.  2 weeks later, I started doing parkrun on Saturdays when it started in my town and I have only missed parkrun 3 times since then. #loveparkrun

I ran 50 km in 6 hours on 10 June 2018.
Along the way, these are the goals I’ve made and completed:

Raise money for cerebral palsy and walk 10,000 steps a day for Steptember 2015.
Run 5 km. 5 December 2015.
Run 10 km. 6 March 2016.
Run 15 km by end of June 2016. 27 March 2016.
Run 5 km in under 30 minutes. 9 April 2016.
30 Day Planking Challenge. May 2016.
Run a half marathon. 26 June 2016.
Run 100 miles in August 2016. Done by 22 August 2016.
Run 1,000 km in 2016. Done by 27 August 2016.
Walk 35 km on 23 October 2016.
Run 100 miles in October 2016.
Run 10 km in under 55 minutes. 8 Jan 2017.
Run 30 km. Done 24 March 2017.
Walk 50 km on 6 May 2017.
Hike 80 km in 2 days. 10-11 June 2017.
Run my first marathon in my year of turning 50. Sunday 27 August 2017.
Run my 100th parkrun. 17 February 2018.
Run a half marathon run (or further) every month for a year. July 2017 to June 2018.
Run a 50 km run in 2018. Sunday 10 June 2018.
Hold a handstand for 10 seconds. 17 June 2018.
Draw every day for Inktober 2018.
No-Spend November, 2018.
Get onto the parkrun Australia Most Events List by running a parkrun at 20 different locations without driving or ever having gone for my licence. December 2018.

See how far I could walk on Boxing Day 2018. 51km!
Ran 2019 km in 2019.
1 year alcohol-free January 31, 2019.
Ran at least one 21.1 km run (or longer) every month for 2 years. 28 June 2019.

Writing all this is a reminder to myself that goals are achieved by making a little effort every day.

Don’t wait around for motivation. Just do it.

Challenge your thoughts.

Don’t believe everything you think.

Zenmode.org was started 20 June 2018.

“About Me” updated 15 September 2019.

 

Addition for a more complete picture:

  • I was founder, owner, and administrator of The Australasian Skeptics Forum.
  • I’ve studied at The University of Melbourne, and Deakin University.
  • I studied painting and drawing under Howard Arkley and Christine Johnston.
  • I’ve worked for local, state, and federal government in Arts, Environment, and Law.
  • I’ve managed bookshops and currently work in finance.
  • Zenmode post “Less Alcohol” was featured in an Australian Department of Health newsletter in April 2019.
giving away my books, donating books,

Giving away many of my books

I donated loads of my books over the past few years. I was tired of them gathering dust; wanted them to be loved by others; wanted more space in the study/library;

I freed myself of my snobbery of thinking owning lots of books made me a good thinker.

 

I kept ones I’d truly loved or find useful or know I’ll have desire and time to read.

I love putting old books in our local Book Swap free mini library and not taking any.

They’re always gone the next day.

Interesting and beautiful feeling.

Though I am still snobbish enough to point out this photo doesn’t show all of the ones I’ve got left.

 

giving away my books, donating books,

Freed myself of my snobbery in thinking owning lots of books make me a good thinker.

Facebook rolling out the option to let you control data shared with apps and websites

That scary feeling when Facebook shows you an ad from something you looked at elsewhere?

 

“To help shed more light on these practices that are common yet not always well understood, today we’re introducing a new way to view and control your off-Facebook activity. Off-Facebook Activity lets you see a summary of the apps and websites that send us information about your activity, and clear this information from your account if you want to. ”

https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2019/08…book-activity/

By Erin Egan, Chief Privacy Officer, Policy, and David Baser, Director of Product Management

Starting in Ireland, South Korea and Spain, Facebook will let you:

  • See a summary of the information other apps and websites have sent Facebook through our online business tools, like Facebook Pixel or Facebook Login;

  • Disconnect this information from your account if you want to; and

  • Choose to disconnect future off-Facebook activity from your account. You can do this for all of your off-Facebook activity, or just for specific apps and websites.

 

After a few months of testing and when it’s known to be working in Ireland, South Korea and Spain, data-sharing control will be made a feature for everyone.

I’m relieved, and really hope this means Google and Siri will try and one-up Facebook and make data sharing opt-in, not opt-out!

Rant about people who rant about Facebook:

So many people talk about Facebook as if they haven’t used Facebook since 2010.

I’ve set all my Facebook ad preferences and get cool stuff. I get things like requests for subjects for scientific studies (I’m doing one now, which has been very rewarding).

I get things like courses to study which are relevant to my interests, running or hiking events, environmental organisations’ announcements.

These ads are often from sites I’ve viewed on Google  or my iPhone anyway.
Facebook will be letting you stop sharing with other apps, so that should mean not sharing Facebook data with Google or Apple/Siri, Microsoft.
But most people prefer to complain, or opt-out of Facebook completely, instead of using it as a tool like snail mail in all its permutations (paper junk mail supports that industry).

It would be better for those people if Facebook data-sharing was opt-in, yes.

Setting your ad preferences is a bit like setting Google alerts (notifications of new webpages that mention certain search words).

Ads can be indistinguishable from news these days anyway. 

Event scientific studies that hit the health headlines are selling the fruits of their labour and hoping for income from paid downloads and/or journal subscriptions.

facebook data sharing google apple siri ios advertising targeting privacy opt-in opt-out settings social media information technology

What is shown to us can be a reflection of ourselves or what we want it to be.

Do you know someone who is a binary thinker and just defaults to “Facebook is shit” for every discussion about it?

Darning tights. Boro stitch. Japanese slow stitching. Contrasting darning. Rainbow embroidery thread. Slow fashion. Fashion Rebellion. Circular Economy

My Extinction Rebellion Personal Manifesto to Support Sustainable and Ethical Industry

1. Be a relentlessly optimistic and logical realist.

2. Be curious. Learn, practice, share, teach; Learn, practice, share, teach; Circular Economy.

3. Email/communicate with local, state, national government workers and with politicians. Suggest ways to present sustainable policies to their colleagues and voters in a way that makes the people they represent like the ideas and understand how the voters will benefit.

4. Act Global. Online, share, encourage, and communicate information and technological and ideological developments. Be curious! Be part of sharing the circular economies in learning, open source policies, strategies, ideas, data, technology. Connect with innovators and activists.

5. Tell brands I’ve liked what they can do to be even better and transparent and make me recommend them even more.

6. Don’t subscribe to shop email newsletters because they tempt us to buy because something is “cheaper”.

7. Subscribe to alerts on circular economy, open source information, and sustainability in materials, technology, energy, recycling, transport, fashion, architecture, education.

8. Keep my finance spreadsheet updated including my list of any material things I need and only buy once I’ve researched the best product for my needs and situation.

9. Tell friends important things I’ve learned and make their lives easier and more fulfilling by giving them simple ways to be ethical and sustainable.

10. Re-use, repair, retain, redesign, upcycle clothes and goods. Only buy good quality, and ethically or second-hand. Vote with my note. Spend less so I can spend wisely on a few sustainable and ethical things that may cost as much as lots of fast fashion.

11. Act Local. Keep working with my local War on Waste group. Attend the nearby sustainable fashion festival and clothing swap; get ideas for a swap meet of our own. Keep sharing information about Repair Cafés. Learn about mending workshops, and gather interest and ideas to hold one, and hopefully more.

12. Keep walking for enjoyment and health and necessity (never ever had a driving licence since being old enough to get one in the 1980s and seeing my father devastated at hearing David Suzuki for the first time speak about climate change).

13. Activate for more public transport use and better footpaths and lighting in my area.

14. Activate for a running track in my town.

15. Activate for fair wages and unemployment benefits and universal basic income.

16. Absorb information from Ellen MacArthur, Greta Thunberg, Jeremy Rifkin, Rutger Bregman, Fashion Revolution, Slow Fashion Season, #CircularEconomy, The United Nations, The World Health Organisation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

17. Be prudent.

18. Embrace the Zen.

19. #loveparkrun

20.Run sustainably.

21. Draw daily.

22. Practice sustainable and ethical investment.

23. Call out injustice and illogic.

24. “Now is the time for civil disobedience” – Greta Thunberg.

25. Speak the unspoken.

26. Be awesome!

fast weight loss, weight gain, crash diet, yo-yo dieting, binge, serial starter, biggest loser,

Fast weight loss makes you fat again

Crash dieting leads to a crash and burn.

Crash dieting fucks up your Leptin (satiety hormone) and Ghrelin (hunger hormone) for years. There’s lots of good science about this now.  Leptin and Ghrelin are parts of our metabolism. (Fast weight loss also affects other elements of your metabolism, but these are the main ones and are simplest to explain.)

When your satiety (fullness) signals and your hunger signals are out of whack, that is when people can’t control their eating and binge and yo-yo.

All those “serial starters” crash diet, overeat, rinse and repeat.

 

Fast weight loss causes yo-yo weight gain

 

There’s no point doing a crazy diet you hate then going right back to eating the way you used to. Hello yo-yo!

And that’s assuming you can even stick to the crazy diet long enough to lose any weight!

 

Please talk to a doctor and/or dietitian about your health and dietary requirements regularly.

People seem to think “eating healthy” or “losing weight” means punishing yourself.

Kale, steamed chicken, and 6 hours in the gym a week… Sound familiar?

The endless hype about motivation is your weight loss worst enemy.

 

The idea is to learn how to eat sustainably for the rest of your life. 

 

You don’t even need to “eat less and move more” (a saying which causes a lot of extremism). You could just do one or the other.
Eat back your exercise calories!

If you’re already eating less food overall every day, if you fuel the exercise you do, it’s still going to mean you will lose weight.

 

If you don’t eat exercise calories back, that’s when you lose muscle, get weaker, move less, get really hungry, and can end up with an eating disorder, or crashing and burning and failing to reach goal weight.

 

Then when you fail, you go back to your bad habits and gain more weight back than you lost because your hormones and your perception of food can’t regulate your hunger.

You don’t have to count calories to lose weight, but you need an understanding of the body’s general “Energy Equation”. (A calorie is a unit of energy.)

 

  • Small men less than 15 lb overweight should eat at least 1500 calories a day when dieting, plus what they burn in exercise;
  • Small women less than 15 lb overweight should eat a minimum of 1200 calories, plus what they burn in exercise.

 

If you’re taller and/or heavier, you need to eat more because you need more energy to move yourself around.

 

These calorie figures are the bare minimum you need to function normally while still losing weight.

There are a couple of other general guidelines about weight loss rates.

 

One is not to lose more than 1% of your body weight a week.

 

Or:

 

If you are around 10 kg or 20 lb overweight:

  • To lose 1 kg = 28,000 kilojoule deficit: Should not take less than 4 weeks. E.g. 1000 kj or one Mars bar less a day than if you’re maintaining.
  • To lose 1 lb = 3,500 calorie deficit: Should not take less than 2 weeks. E.g. 250 kcal a day less.

If you try to lose it faster, you’ll gain it back fast!

 

I’ve seen this too:

If you have 75+ lbs to lose 2 lbs/week is ideal (1,000 calorie daily deficit)

If you have 40-75 lbs to lose 1.5 lbs/week is ideal (750 calorie daily deficit)

If you have 25-40 lbs to lose 1 lbs/week is ideal (500 calorie daily deficit)

If you have 15 -25 lbs to lose 0.5 to 1.0 lbs/week is ideal (250-500 calorie daily deficit)

If you have less than 15 lbs to lose 0.5 lbs/week is ideal (250 calorie daily deficit)

 

 

Crash dieting causes people to crash and burn and regain more than they lost. They get weak and lose muscle mass and hence get a slower metabolism (lower Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)) and lose perspective on how much they need to maintain weight.

 

Losing muscle and feeling weak means less non-exercise activity thermogenesis (N.E.A.T.), so it lowers total daily energy expenditure.  You feel lethargic so you don’t do as many little walks or jobs at home or work.

 

To keep losing weight they eat even less, and so it spirals downward towards hormone disruption & bingeing it back, and/or developing an eating disorder.

 

The massive and aggressive competition in the diet industry is a huge cause of so much yo-yo dieting, obesity, and eating disorders.

The diet industry feeds itself on the harmful goal of fast weight loss, offering fad diets, diet scams, quick fixes, and crash diets.

Cutting out all fat, carbohydrates, vegetables, or sugar, can lead to deprivation that is unsustainable.

 

Fast weight loss is bad.

 

Extreme diets are bad.

 

All those “Biggest Loser” contestants gaining all the weight back weren’t learning anything about weight maintenance being on the show.

 

Sustainable eating does not mean punishing yourself.

 

It takes quite a while to think this through.

 

It can be very hard to switch to having a mindset of sustainable eating when all around are advertisements offering fast and extremist solutions.  

 

Once you notice this you see it everywhere.

 

We can’t change our mind about this easily, especially when society, family, and media teach us this mindset.  Also genetics, biology and evolution.

 

Eat what sustains you as long as possible.

Here’s what’s sustaining me:

 

  • Volume Eating. Fruit and veg have fibre which makes you feel full, and they bulk up the size of your meal and add very few calories.
  • Protein and fat (and fibre) can make you feel fuller.
  • My macronutrients are usually around 50% carbohydrates, 30% fat, 20% protein, and that keeps me very healthy, active, and happy.
  • Most days lately, I love eating Greek yoghurt, cereal biscuits, fruit, vegetable and pasta Napolitano, vegetable protein/seafood/chicken with rice/noodles/potato, more veg, and dessert or chocolate depending on my day’s exercise.
  • Some days (after a big sweat, perhaps), I need some salty chips, and maybe a chocolate protein drink.
  • Some days, I like pizza (which can have all the micro and macronutrients you need AND not have too many calories).

 

If I deprived myself of things I love, I would never have lasted the distance.

 

What sustains you?

 

Again, see a doctor and/or dietitian about your health and dietary requirements regularly.

 

“Cheat days?”

 

When you are maintaining your weight and tracking calorie intake, you can’t get the maths exactly right. Some days your intake will be higher than your energy intake.

 

I go by my weekly calorie limit, and make sure I stick to it, and also track my weight daily so I get data for the weight trend.  If you can tweak smaller fluctuations, you don’t need to make larger changes.

 

Having a higher calorie day here and there balances out over the week if you have some lower calorie days. That’s how Intermittent Fasting works, in all its varying personas.

 

You can also gauge your calorie deficit by your weight loss via the scale and tweak that way.

Just don’t be a “Biggest Loser” wannabe because they gained it all back!

 

Diet breaks

The slower you lose as you get close to your goal, the higher the chances of having hormones and habits that mean you can handle maintaining your goal weight for longer.  This process is also aided by regular week-long diet breaks / refeeds of eating at maintenance calories, which let your hunger hormones settle down.

People set a weight loss goal deadline, and starve themselves to get there, not realising that they want to get there so quickly because starving themselves is so awful. A snake eating its tail.

fast weight loss, weight gain, crash diet, yo-yo dieting, binge, serial starter, biggest loser,

“If I lose weight fast, the sooner I can go back to eating too much.” – Pretty much everyone dieting ever.

 

Someone had to tell me something similar after I’d been using My Fitness Pal to track calorie intake for about 6 months and not eating my exercise calories back.  A hard lesson to learn. But I really appreciate what he said now so much.

 

If you enjoy the process you can stick to the process.

Sustainability in eating, running, living

I lost 35 kg and have kept it off 3 years 3 months so far. This is what I’m loving doing currently.

I did a 2 day 60 km bushwalking event (with about 5 km of running at the end) a few weeks ago, rested A LOT, and last Friday I ran a half marathon. That means I’ve now run at least one half marathon distance run (21.1 km or longer) every month for 2 years. Longest run was 50 km. Happy! Practicing not running too much or too hard so I can keep running without injury.

I’m currently busy being a coach/run leader for our Running Club (I’m also Secretary), one of our parkrun Run Directors (my third year doing that), and happy being involved as an artist & volunteer at a gallery for local artists. And working in a financial planning office 4 days a week.

Writing regularly about running, weight loss, logic, self-care, the joys of freedom from alcohol, and more on zenmode.org

I’m obsessed with sustainability, and doing a 3-month “Slow Fashion Challenge” and not buying any new clothes, and involved in groups and arranging a mending/swap event.

Studying a course on The Fashion Revolution & the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030, and devouring information on The Circular Economy, and on recycling in Australia/globally. Sharing what I’m discovering in our local War on Waste group and page, and pretty much everywhere.

I created a spreadsheet/pic of all the types of recycling and their collection points in town that’s being shared around.

Sustainability in eating, running, living. Perhaps obsessiveness about moderation, hahaha.

If you’ve read this far, I appreciate your interest. Hope you’re thriving and loving life too.