Thursday, October 23, 2014

Living on 1200 Calories...Without Starving

One of the greatest myths to changing your lifestyle to facilitate weight-loss is that you must starve yourself in order to gain results.  This is an exaggeration made by people who really are not well informed as to the right way to do this. 

For the better part of two years I survived on about 1200 calories per day.  When I say this to people their immediate response is one driven by the aforementioned myth.  "Weren't you hungry all the time?"  No.  We very rarely experienced hunger pangs that would send us into a ravenous tizzy.  As a matter of fact I don't think that ever happened.  We didn't experience the feeling of starvation, not because we claim to be awesome superheroes with powers of restraint and will that far exceed those of your average mortal, rather it’s because we went about this with an informed method to reducing our caloric intake.

To explain this you have to understand that all calories are not equal.  This is true at least as it pertains to a calories ability to keep you satisfied.  You can think about it in a way that would characterize any food you eat into two categories; those being slowly digested and those being quickly digested.  There are a number of factors that contribute to whether something is digested quickly or slowly.  Foods that are high in fiber tend to slow the absorption of calories and sugars from the foods you eat and these foods tend to take longer to move through your system.  Lean proteins are also slow to uptake, primarily because the enzymes needed to digest proteins live in your intestines.  So these proteins will pass more or less intact into your intestine before they begin to break into smaller components and this tends to slow the process of digestion for anything else consumed with it.  Complex sugars are also slower to digest than simple sugars and foods like whole grains and vegetable based starches are very fibrous and contain parts that we can't digest at all. 

So what does all this mean?

Your body is still going to attempt to digest as much of the food as possible and if your system slows down to a crawl that means food empties from your stomach much slower and food remains in your gut being processed longer thus you are not going to be hungry quite so quickly after eating. 
The other component to this is that the foods that are high in lean protein, have complex sugars or high fiber content are typically lower calorie when compared to fatty proteins, simple sugars (table sugar, candy) and low fiber foods.  A good illustration of this would be to compare 200 calories of apples (high fiber and low fructose) with 200 calories of chocolate.  In my experience you could eat 3-4 gala apples to attain the same calories and sugar that you would from a single chocolate bar.  And I believe it goes without saying that the apples will keep you fuller longer as a result of the amount eaten but also because your body will take its sweet time and getting those apples through your system.

Jess and I never felt deprived because we approached our food choices from the perspective of understanding what effect different foods have on our bodies.  It has been said that the greatest source of inequality is the ownership and proprietary state of knowledge.  If you want to make a change in your life, educate yourself and set your feet on the equal footing we've all been promised.

Happy Running!!!

Rob and Jess

Friday, October 10, 2014

Life Goes On...Long After the Thrill of Livin' is Gone

In the song Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp, Mellencamp explains that “Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone”.

It seems sometimes as we look around all we see is people going through the motions.  We live in a world that is so technologically amazing that it is plain.  We live at a time with so much violence and hatred that these things seem normal.  We work in an economy where the income gap has widened so much that we no longer reach for the stars.

The thrill is gone.  For many people who walk the halls past us at work or who are sitting next to us in the turning lane, this is their life’s summation.  At least, that is their perspective.  Is it any wonder that when the material thrills that were experienced by prior generations like family vacations, Disneyland, buying a home, etc… , slowly escape our financial reach, that we turn to the affordable thrills located in close proximity to our homes.  And our hometowns are full of local, cheap thrills.  Restaurants, bars, movie theaters and clubs are just a few examples of the type of thrill that comes much easier to your average American.  And these activities are increasing in their frequency for most of us.

This is a major factor for the increasing waistlines of millions of Americans.  The link between lower income and obesity has been well-publicized, however most people attribute this correlation to the type of foods that are affordable for folks who subsist on these lower incomes.  I would argue that a contributing factor to this correlation is the mere fact that for many of us since we can’t afford the fun being had on reality television, that we have replaced family trips with food, alcohol, drugs and a sedentary lifestyle. 

The thrill is alive and well.  For a growing number of people, like the people you see cycling to work, running at an absurdly early time or playing in the park with their kids, this is their life’s summation.  This is the perspective I’ve chosen to use as my looking glass into life.  Once we detach ourselves from the idea that to be entertained or to accumulate happy memories we must spend, what is too often, our hard earned yet increasingly meager earnings, a whole world of hope lies waiting to be discovered. 

In the song titled Blueberry hill by Fats Domino, exclaims, “I found my thrill on Blueberry hill”.  I have come to believe that blueberry hill is portable, and it represents the thrills in life that do not require a penny’s exchange for goods or services.  Giving or receiving a hug, listening to a child speak, making love with your partner…seeing the sun rise over the flatirons, covered in sweat, your heart ringing and racing…Seek these moments and BE in these moments, perhaps a whole new perspective will wash over you.

Happy Running!