Hard at work in Seattle

Mt St Helens blog

I haven’t posted in a week because MD and I have been hard at work in Seattle and at Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands located in northwestern Washington.

We’re working on our project that we’ve been keeping under wrap.  No, it’s not the new book, and, no, it’s not Metabosol.  It is something pretty cool and even revolutionary in its own way.  Barring further bumps in the road (there have been a few), we should be able to reveal all on September 1. The reason for the secrecy is that this project is most press worthy, but, for reasons that will be obvious when we reveal what we’ve been working on, we don’t want the press to report it prematurely.

We flew into Seattle Sunday afternoon after buzzing across the top of Mount St. Helens and looking into the crater left when the top 1300 feet of the mountain blew off on May 18, 1980.  After landing, we got picked up by our partner and taken to his boat for an afternoon on Lake Union.  A huge annual celebration was taking place, so we spent the afternoon on a lake made choppy by a thousand other boats while the Blue Angels zipped through the sky overhead.  Seattle has been experiencing brutally hot temperatures, which we got blasted by on Sunday afternoon.

When we were in Seattle in December, we got caught in the worst snow storm in 30 years.  All the while we were slogging through the snow, our hosts were telling us to come visit in the summer when the weather is always beautiful.  So, we come in the summer only to be confronted with the worst heat wave since temperatures have been recorded.  I hate to imagine what we may encounter on the next trip.

Here is the Seattle skyline on Sunday afternoon.  Notice the chop on the water.  We were one of God only knows how many boats in the lake.  After getting pounded by the chop and brutalized by the heat, we tied up to a nice restaurant and had a lovely dinner complete with (at least for me) copious amounts of Jameson to go along with the copious amounts of Jameson I had already swilled to combat the heat on the lake.

Seattle skyline blog

Our partner’s boat, which is his pride and joy, is a handmade Venetian water taxi.  He worked with a guy who makes such boats in Venice, Italy several years back, had it built to his specs and then transported to Seattle.  It is a gorgeous boat, and, one day, I hope to go out on it in clement weather.  Below is a photo of MD standing by the boat tied up to another restaurant the last time we went out in it.  The temperature was about 23 degrees (not counting the chill factor), and you can see by the lack of chop on the water surface that we were the only fools out there.  (In case you were wondering, it is heated inside…but not air conditioned, thought the back of the roof slides open to admit fresh air and sunshine.)  As I say, our partner loves to show off his boat.

Boat in winter blog

After our Sunday respite (which it was, despite the heat and chop), we crashed and for the next two days worked from early morning until late at night.  We didn’t have time to answer emails, deal with blog comments, or do much of anything other than work.

We started each day with a quick breakfast at Louisa’s, a little restaurant close to the office where we spent our days.  One of the menu selections, fittingly enough, was called Mike’s Special, so how could I resist.  Especially when it was such a great low-carb option: two poached eggs on a bowl of sauteed spinach, red and green peppers and onions.  Good, good, good.  It came, of course, with a giant piece of toast that was at least an inch thick, which I ate a couple of bites of just to try.

As we were eating breakfast on the last morning, a man was eating alone while reading the paper at the table next to us.  He looked to be about 70 or so and was fairly thin with a pot belly.  He had on two pressure stockings on his lower legs and bruising in the crook of one of his arms from where, obviously, blood had recently been taken.

Watching him eat, I created an entire story about him that I’ll bet is not too far from the mark.  Even if it is not accurate in this man’s case, it is totally (and sadly) accurate in many thousands of others.

The man was eating a bowl of oatmeal.  He had a glass of skim milk so fat free it was almost blue that he poured little bits of into his cereal from time to time.  Along with his oatmeal, he was eating one of the giant pieces of toast the restaurant serves.  He took one pat of butter (I assume there was no margarine available) and cut it in half.  He carefully spread one half pat on one half of his toast then loaded it with an entire individual serving of jelly.  After eating the first half piece of toast, he prepared the second half the same way and ate it.  The only fat he got from his entire meal was that that came from that one pat of butter.  Based on the size of the bowl of oatmeal and the size of the toast (and the skim milk), I calculated that this guy consumed about 100 grams of carbohydrate. (Thirty grams in the oatmeal; at least 30 in the toast; 15 in each container of jelly; and about 10 in the skim milk.)

I imagine (here is where I’m speculating) that he has elevated cholesterol and has been told by his doctor to watch his fat.  And he is complying. He got a whopping 4 grams of fat in his one pat of butter (36 calories-worth) while getting 100 grams of carb in the rest of his meal (400 calories-worth). The tiny bit of fat he got contained short-chain fatty acids that are immune enhancing whereas the 100 grams of carb he got provided really no health benefit.  Since the 100 grams represents 20 times the amount of sugar circulating in his blood, his pancreas had to release a large amount of insulin to deal with it.  His pot belly indicates that he is already insulin resistant with an abdomen full of visceral fat, so he no doubt secreted a lot more insulin than a person without insulin resistance.  This excess insulin help him store fat in his liver, increase his level of visceral fat, ratchet up the inflammatory process, injure his blood vessels even more and increase his risk for heart disease, the very thing his doctor was trying to prevent by putting him on a low-fat diet.

How much better off this guy would have been had he joined me in the Mike’s Special.  But, his cardiologist, I’m sure, would have been apoplectic.  A sad state of affairs indeed.

MD and I were so busy this entire week that not only haven’t we been able to keep up with even our emails, we haven’t been able to go through the over 300 requests we got for a copy of our new book.  We will go through those and respond to everyone over the next couple of days.

Also, I have about 60 comments dating back for months that are stacked up in my awaiting-moderation queue. My plan is to deal with six of them per day and have them all cleared out within 10 days.  And this all while keeping current on new comments coming in.  So if you have had a comment languishing, it should be up within the next ten days.

Our newly designed site is supposed to be up this next week.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I’m certainly keeping mine crossed.

For those of you who still can’t get your minds around the idea that exercise doesn’t make you thin, read next week’s Time. The cover story, ‘Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin,’ is a long article parroting what Gary Taubes wrote about a couple of years ago.  The notion has finally made it to the mainstream.

Finally, I’ll end with a book recommendation.  I finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on the flight to Seattle.  If you haven’t read it, and if you like offbeat mystery/thrillers, give it a whirl.  A disgraced investigative journalist headed for prison teams up with Lisbeth Salander, the eponymous girl with the dragon tattoo, and one of the strangest and most interesting protagonists to ever find her way into fiction, to solve, at the request of an aging industrialist, a decades-long mysterious disappearance.  The novel, set in Sweden and written in Swedish but masterfully translated, has become a world-wide phenomenon.  The book is satisfying throughout, and I highly recommend it.  As soon as I catch up on all my work, I’ll start the second book in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Tomorrow I’ll post on working, crabbing and eating on Orcas Island.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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30 thoughts on “Hard at work in Seattle

  1. We just got back from our vacation on the east coast- the boating and crabbing was fantastic! The crabs are everywhere and taste better than lobster (also everywhere).

    Unfortunately, visiting my mom was a lot like sitting next to the old man with the oatmeal. I threw away all the evil soy milk, oatmeal, and rancid oils in her house. We bought her bacon, butter, and cream. None of that will do any good- the old folks are completely brainwashed.

    Here is a conversation from the clubhouse pool:

    Mom: “Hey Rose, do you have diabetes?”

    Rose: “Not yet, but my doctor says I’m getting there”

    Mom: “Do you know that medicare will pay for it?”

    Rose: “Yeah, I know, I know”

    Mom: “Did you know that on Saturdays we can get a hot dog, soda, and bag of chips at the clubhouse for only 3.00?”

  2. Mike,

    My wife Ann-Marie and I own and operate a strength training facility in Seattle where we teach a protocol very similar (actually identical) to Fred Hahn’s Slow Burn. I’ve known Fred for 15 years or so.

    Anyway, the owner of Louisa’s, Alcena Plum, has been a personal training client of mine for ten years. It’s great to see you mention her restaurant!

    If you ever want to drop in for a workout, or better yet, get together for a round of golf (and maybe a tot of Jameson) give me a call at (206) 364-9944. If you guys are up here during football season, I’ve usually got extra Seahawks tickets.

    Enjoy your time on the island. It really is beautiful up there.

    Greg Anderson
    Ideal Exercise, Seattle

    Thanks. Will do.

  3. Dr. Mike, would that be 300 requests for your new book, or 300 requests to be part of your case study group?

    In my case, I guess you can put me in both categories! 😀

    That breakfast DID look amazing! I only wish restaurants around here would be so imaginative. Sometimes, when we go out for breakfast, I’ll ask if they have any salsa. Since Mexican is popular here, a lot of times they say yes. Then I ask if they have sour cream. If yes, I order scrambled eggs with cheese and side orders of both salsa and sour cream. They think I’m nuts, but it’s really tasty!

    ~ BawdyWench

    300 requests to be one of 20 in the study group.

  4. Thanks for this post, I really needed it. I admit I’ve been backslidig a bit with some whole wheat bread. Nothing like your anonymous breakfast companion, though. Just before I sat down to read this post I kind of snapped out of it and realized I needed to cut the bread. Reading this post was a kind of illustration. Back to extreme low carb for me from now on.

    As always, thanks for the photos. It’s nice to see other places when I’m not able to travel myself. I have a feeling, though, that you both kind of enjoyed the lake, at least a little, during the winter.

    Well, of course I’m on the edge of my seat about the new project. Can’t wait for September 1st.

    I ordered “The 6 week cure…” some time ago and naturally I haven’t received it yet. I’m hoping the order doesn’t fall through the cracks.

    I love mystery thrillers and the book sounds good. Gonna look into it. Travel safely.

    Jim

  5. Eagerly anticipating your news!

    Thanks for the link to the Time article. It’s reminiscent of Taubes’ article in the NY Times a few years ago. Hopefully this author won’t get as much hate mail as Taubes did. After moderate exercise, I usually feel less hungry, so I think a lot of the perceived hunger is more habit and thinking “I deserve a reward,” coupled with the constant advertising and advice to replenish carb stores. I think it is still disturbing how the exercise industry is pushing carb supplements and that nutritionists preach high carb diets, and refilling glycogen stores the instant they might have diminished a few percent. I exercise (run and/or hike mostly) quite a lot, and can attest that excessive exercise will definitely make you very hungry- I’ve increased intake maybe 500-1000 calories the day after say a 50K race at times- just couldn’t get sated. Still a calorie deficit though. But for smaller amounts of exercise, say 2 hours or less, you would be better off with no supplements, or at least a high protein snack or meal instead of a sweet treat.

  6. Serendipitously, I had browsed the exercise article in Time 6 hours ago, before buying The Economist and The History of God by Karen Armstrong.

    Your pen portrait of the 70 year old is extraordinarily sad to me. I am in my 69th year, and I expect to have 6 weeks off-piste skiing in my 70th year, as I did in my 68th.

    I remember reading a piece in “The Sunday Times” in the early 80’s on the failure of the MRFIT trial to “prove” that reducing dietary fat had any effect (either by amount or statistically) on blood cholesterol or on coronory death rates, and since then have eaten as much animal fat and protein as I wished. But of course I had read “Eat Fat and Grow Slim” in the 70’s.

    Whenever an MD advises me to change diet or take a statin, I say “I do not believe in those hypotheses, they are unscientific”.

    Have you come across Ian Rankin’s series featuring Detective Inspector Rebus, set in Edinburgh, or Reginald Hill’s Dalziel set in Yorkshire? I recommend a trial.
    I have not yet read the latest Daniel Silva.

    I look forward to September 1st: “curiouser and curiouser”!

    I have read all the Rebus books and all the Pascoe and Dalziel books. (I love Fat Andy.) Both Rankin and Hill have written other books besides the ones featuring the above characters, but I haven’t read those.

    Hope the Sep 1st revelation lives up to its billing.

  7. Oooooh! Gorgeous boat! You can have the eggs. Poached eggs are disgusting. I’d want my veggies topped with fried eggs and crisp bacon. 🙂

    Off I go to see if my bil has the mystery book…

  8. I’m over on San Juan Island, and used to live near you in the harbor in Santa Barbara (I was on N finger).

    Next time you’re in the neighborhood drop by. We have some good restaurants over here, too.

    We were on S finger, so not too far away.

  9. I had just read the Time article, and thoughout I was thinking, “This guy is ripping off Gary Taubes.”

    Then to my amazement, he actually quotes Taubes. The quote, though, is about how obese people burn more calories than skinny people. It seems unforgivable to me to quote Taubes in such a small and insignificant way when Taubes has already written this guy’s entire article.

  10. Your portrait of the 70-year-old is, indeed, sad. It reminds me of the time I visited my dad in his assisted living place and there was a blind man at our table. For breakfast, the man was served—among other things—a huge glass of orange juice and a pile of pancakes, for which the staff scrambled to bring him his “diabetic syrup.”

    We’re being led down a blind alley—some folks quite literally—and I shudder to think that I was following right along for many years. I cooked as low fat as possible, and cheerfully bought dh his beloved saltines and jugs of strawberry jam (zero fat), while making sure to get him the lowest-fat margarine possible to replace that nasty old butter. All that began to change about a dozen years ago, when I was diagnosed with a chronic autoimmune disease and started reading. There have been many detours, but I’m now fully convinced that low-carb, real food is the only way to go for decent health. And it tastes soooo much better than low-fat. 🙂

  11. I just read Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human by Richard Wrangham.
    I think regulars at this site will enjoy reading it. Apparently man didn’t and couldn’t become man the hunter i.e. relying on meat for the majority of his calories until after cooking was invented and cooking has impacted the evolution of our digestive system and brain growth more than meat.

    I read the book about a month ago. It’s pretty good, but I don’t buy completely into his premise. I’m working up a post on the subject that I should be finished with before too long.

  12. I do the exact same thing, when I see an obviously insulin resistant or diabetic person loading themselves with carbs. I consider how they must think they are doing such a GREAT job of following the advice of nutritionists, avoiding that evil saturated fat, making sure the only fat they’re getting comes from “vegetable” oil. The result, of course, is loads of sugar, omega-6 fatty acids, chronic inflammation and fat bellies.

    Then they go to the gym 3 days a week, do what they are told works best – steady state cardio – and come home starving and exhausted. After burning SO many calories, they decide they can treat themselves to a nice doughnut. Cooked in “vegetable” oil, of course!

    Sad, sad, sad.

  13. Sad, sad, sad, indeed. I just returned from at weekend at Legoland, which is a Danish equivalent to Disney Land. Though overweight and obesity is not so prevaling here as in your country, we are getting there. The amount of carbs people, and sadly mostly so, kids, consume there is devastating. I hunted for ribs one day and a large rib-eye steak the other and of course left the obiquitous french fries well enough alone.

    What I saw at the breakfast morning buffet mirrors your experience with the old timer. The chubby crowd, about a third of those present, were doing the exact same: wolfing down bread with little butter and copious marmelade followed by multiple servings of fruit juice. I partook of the soft boiled eggs and sliced real ham (I know it was real because of the fatty layer, yummy).

    Also the buffet revealed a truly alarming development: No bacon! No less than eight different kinds of cereal. I guess the hotel is going for a ‘healthy’ profile.

    The carb disease is spreading throughout the world, I guess. Too bad.

  14. To top it off, the nurse (or some other assistant for the doc) probably suggested Weight Watchers. That breakfast probably had less than 8 points – a winner!

    On a side note, one of my customers brought me a present this morning. It was that book. She said I should pay close attention to the weight loss methods of one of the characters.

    With the Mitch Rapp series constantly pulling me in, all I need is another page turner series!

  15. Dr. Mike,

    I couldn’t find your email (you’re smart for not putting it out there – my inbox is overwhelming!), so that’s why I’m asking this in a comment.

    Could I have your permission to post just the story of the sick man in the breakfast restaurant on my blog? (Of course with a link back to here.)

    If not, no biggy, but my readers would love it.

    Thanks,
    Kelly

    Sure, go for it. Thanks for the link.

  16. Thanks for recommending the book! A while ago I managed to read all three tomes in just under two weeks (it was published in French Canada as The Millenium Trilogy). Truly addictive! I do hope it gathers a following south of the border.

    The first book has now been made into a movie – not sure if it’s showing in the US yet – and it was the first time I saw a movie that was this faithful to the book. The casting is excellent. I would recommend it for anyone who is not a keen reader.

    p.s. did you know the author died of a heart attack just a few weeks after handing in his completed manuscript? Too sad.

    Yes, it is very sad. Sad, too, for all the readers who will be hooked by his characters and wish for more.

  17. Hi Dr. Eades,

    I have a question about your upcoming book… I know that the target audience is people aged 40-60 with “middle aged middle”. What about younger & older people? Does the advice in the book apply specifically to that target audience or can it be applied more broadly?

    I’m 37, so I’ll probably pick it up anyway since I’m knocking on the door of both 40 and “middle aged middle”.

    Thanks!

    It will be helpful to all. And I’m not just saying that to sell books. People older than middle age will profit mightily from the recommendations, and younger people starting to develop a larger waist will also find help regardless of their age.

  18. Thanks for answering my question.

    Another example of dissonance in action: I just saw an article about an associattion between incidence of ulcerative colitis and linoleic acid intake. The article, of course, describes linoleic acid as “found in beef, pork, sunflower oil, and some margarines”.

  19. Looking forward to the Sept 1st revelation.

    Did you ever come across this 2 minute clip where the late bodybuilding legend Mike Mentzer discusses nutrition. He advocated a diet high in carbs. He was a very intelligent man, but he may have missed the mark on this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1KKzIAu-ms&feature=related

    Mentzer died from cardiovascular disease, brought about perhaps by the excess carbohydrate in his diet and consequent insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. Although neither one has been proven in the classical sense to cause heart disease, there is a much, much stronger correlation between even minimally elevated blood sugar (within what are considered normal limits) and elevated lipids.

  20. “He had a glass of skim milk so fat free it was almost blue that he poured little bits of into his cereal from time to time.”

    My grandmother, a Depression-era Okie, called skim milk “blue john” and said it was only fit for “slopping hogs.”

    Yep, my elderly relatives called it ‘blue john’ too. And wouldn’t drink it.

  21. Great post, thanks! I used to live in Seattle and loved the pics – you sure know how to find extreme weather. Wow, what a beauty that boat is! I’ve been to Orcas Island many times and it is wonderful. Can’t wait to find out what you’re working on next month. Also thanks for the pic of Mt. St. Helens. I was in Eastern Washington when it blew and was ‘snowed in’ for several days by the ash cover. It was a very surreal landscape.

    I guess I’m still one of those who can’t get my mind around the idea that exercise can’t make you thin. I lost 130 lbs on Protein Power over 18 months while exercising 2-3 times every day (walking, biking, weights-slow burn). I still exercise once a day to maintain. The article from Time you linked said the subjects were told not to change their diet. In my case, I ate the same amount every day regardless of how much I exercised. I seem to have a minimum threshold of how much food makes me feel civilized. So holding food constant, the weight loss would correlate to the amount of exercise. I was on close to zero carbs so there was no such thing as stopping for a caramel latte and muffin.

    The thing I really can’t wrap my mind around relating to this is that you’ve mentioned several times that it’s impossible to gain fat on zero carbs. You’ve had patients that at 5,000 calories on zero carbs and didn’t gain weight. So if it’s impossible to gain fat on zero carbs, then during a long exercise session, say a 2 hour walk, you’ll be using body fat for energy. Then afterwards, even if you gorge on meat, you won’t gain. So logically it would seem you would ratchet down, either losing or staying the same. Can you help me wrap my mind around that compared to the Time article and Gary Taubes’ articles?

  22. Mike Mentzer was a very bright guy but he had more than his share of issues–crappy nutrition (he wrote about living on small amounts of junk food while dieting before a contest), family history of heart disease, a tendency to stress out, some mental health issues. He was also candid about his history of amphetamine abuse (which no doubt helped with appetite).

  23. John Cloud, writer of the Time article makes no mention of this research
    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2640399
    entitled:
    “Extremely short duration high intensity interval training substantially improves insulin action in young healthy males.” Naturally it references MJ Gibala’s research at Dept of Kinesiology at McMaster University, Ontario. I expect Fred Hahn would be aware of it.

    It might, however, have led John Cloud to review his own exercise style and make his experience available to Time’s readers.

    It uses Maximum effort training intensities which I suggest could be called Super, so that along with Sprint Interval Training (SIT), High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) we may end up with another acronym
    Super High Intesity Interval Training (SHIIT).

    I am currently applying the idea to my home rowing machine, but have yet not reached the goal of six training intervals per session.
    Y’all have a nice time now.

  24. Me again. Can I use the picture of “Mike’s special” in my post? Also, I can’t find a picture of you to use anywhere – can you help? 🙂

    Thank you!
    Kelly

    Yes, you may use the photo of Mike’s Special in your post. In fact, you can use any of the photos on my blog as long as you give credit.

    If you want a photo of me, I guess the best place to go would be my Twitter account. You can click on my little photo and enlarge it up to a pretty good sized one. You can then save it (it’s a jpg) and use.

  25. Dr. Mike: Does exercise improve health as claimed by the Time article, or do healthy people exercise more than unhealthy ones?