Meditating in the Garden of Self Loathing

grandad-and-kids
A couple of days ago I ran into an old friend of ours, whom I hadn’t seen in about a year. She is a highly successful, intelligent, middle-aged woman who, the last time I saw her, was at least 30 or so pounds overweight. She is now slim and trim. In fact, I almost didn’t recognize her.

I told her she looked fabulous and asked her what happened. I knew that she had been a perennial low-carber, but, like so many people, never really got into it seriously for any length of time. She knew how much better she felt when she stuck to her regimen, but a million things kept coming up – parties, weddings, business travel, etc. – preventing her from really taking her diet seriously. As she put it:

There was always a valid reason that I couldn’t really get going. I had a friend’s wedding coming up, and I knew I was going to eat and drink. So, I put off starting until after the wedding. Then it was a business trip, then it was something else. It seemed that there was always something lurking in the future that kept me from getting serious today.

As she related it to me, one day, late last summer, she had been invited to a beach party. She agonized over going because she didn’t want to be seen in a bathing suit. But she went. And she ate too much of all the wrong kinds of foods and she drank too much. That night, in her bedroom at her host’s house, she couldn’t sleep. She was propped up in the bed trying to keep her acid reflux at bay, looking at her reflection in the mirror across the room, and wallowing in misery. She started ruminating on her condition, or, as she put it, meditating in her Garden of Self Loathing.

She looked back over her life and realized that her financial success had not come without a price. She had made commitments that were difficult to keep, but she kept them. She had worked all night long, numerous times, on projects to get them finished on time. She had gone to work sick. She had traveled when she didn’t want to. She had overcome looming financial disaster in the early days of getting her business going. She had met all kinds of challenges and dealt with them successfully, but she couldn’t meet the challenge of staying on a diet that she knew was good for her.

When she analyzed the situation during her meditation, she concluded that all the commitments she kept – sometimes seemingly having to move heaven and earth to do so – were all commitments to someone else. She had promised someone to have a project done by a specific time. She was working under a tight deadline imposed by a boss or by a customer. If she made a commitment to someone, she delivered. No matter what the cost to her in angst, lost sleep, time away from family, whatever. Her word was good as gold. When she committed to anyone, she came through. For everyone but herself. When she committed to herself to change her eating, to lose weight, to get rid of her GERD, she never followed through.  But she did recall that she had easily given up drinking and smoking (she smoked at the time, but hasn’t in years) during her pregnancy.  Again, however, she realized that she made these sacrifices for someone else.

That was her epiphany during her self-loathing meditation. She was perfectly capable of making commitments to others and keeping them but not commitments to herself.

She decided as she lay there in misery that she was going to commit to herself, and she was going to by God keep the commitment just as if she had made it to someone else.

The first conflict arose in her mind immediately after making the commitment to herself. It dawned on her that she was staying with friends over that weekend (in fact, she was in their guest room at that very moment), and that they had all planned Sunday brunch before she left. And Sunday brunch for her always included a Bloody Mary followed my several mimosas. So, she decided to start her commitment to herself on Monday morning. Then she realized that this was what she had been doing all along: making commitments to herself, then putting off getting started on them until after some future event had passed.

She recommitted at that moment and decided to eat correctly starting the next morning. She also decided to forswear alcohol until she lost the weight she wanted to lose. She concluded that if she ate right and didn’t drink starting the next morning, she would be one Bloody Mary, several mimosas and a whole lot of carbs ahead of the game come Monday morning.

She went to Sunday brunch; she ate right; she didn’t have a drop to drink; and she told her friends about her commitment. They all had just as pleasant a time together as they would have had she indulged. The difference was that she didn’t have reflux that night and was a couple of pounds lighter on Monday morning.

She maintained her commitment to herself just as she would have maintained it to someone else. She ate just as she told herself she should eat, and she avoided booze until she reached her goal weight. She persevered through weddings, parties, and travel – all the events she formerly thought she couldn’t make it through without eating the wrong foods or consuming alcohol. Now she eats whatever she wants whenever she wants it; but she doesn’t eat everything she wants all the time. She drinks again, but she watches herself. Whenever she does overdo it with either alcohol or food, she gets back on the straight and narrow until the pound or two she may have picked up is gone. She says she views her days of no drinking and following her low-carb diet to the letter as being in boot camp and her current life as like being in the regular Army. She requires some discipline, but not like she did in boot camp. She can live with it. She says it getting easier every day.

And she looks terrific.

My conversation with her got me to thinking about the whole diet/health commitment from a different perspective. Which is why the photo of me with my grandsons is at the top of this post. (It’s not totally just because I want to show them off.)

We all have people in our lives whom we have loved dearly and who have gone on because they didn’t take care of themselves. Think of a loved one who has died who would have lived longer had he/she been more committed to improving or maintaining his/her health. What would a year or two more (or three or five or even 15) with this person have meant to you? A lot, I would imagine.

And how many of these people had the attitude that it was their life, so they would live it like they wanted? I suppose that’s true if you leave no offspring or have none that count on you. But most of us do. And, although it is our own life to live how we like, we owe it to those who love and depend upon us to stay around as long as we can. It’s really kind of selfish to deny your children or grandchildren or great grandchildren your company because you would rather eat carbs. That’s the way I like to look at it.

When MD and I left after our recent visit with the grandsons, they both wailed when we departed. During the last couple of days we were there, they kept asking if we couldn’t stay just a day or two longer. I know the PETA folks probably hate me, but there is no doubt in my mind that my grandchildren love me. And they love their granny (MD) even more (or at least they think they do at this stage of their development 🙂 ). We want to be around for them, not just for our sake, but for their sake.

When I was a kid, I loved my maternal grandfather so much it hurt. He got sick once, and I started worrying that he might die. (He was in his mid sixties at the time, but he seemed old as a rock to me.) I stressed over the loss of him mightily. And must have looked really down in the mouth. Finally he asked me what was wrong. Why was I moping around? I told him that I was worried that he might die. He said to me, ‘Mike, don’t worry about that. I’m going to live until you’re way up in college.’ (He actually made it until I was 30.) I can’t tell you how much relief flooded over my young self on hearing those words. (It never occurred to me, of course, that he really couldn’t predict such a thing, but since I trusted him implicitly, I was assured of his long survival.)

I know my grandchildren feel the same about me. So, I don’t want to live a long time just so I’ll be around to watch them grow up – I want to live a long time so I’ll be there for them.

Thinking this way helps keep things in perspective, and it makes it a whole lot easier to avoid eating what I shouldn’t eat.

Should you ever find yourself meditating in your own Garden of Self Loathing (and who hasn’t?), take a page from my friend’s book.  If you can make a commitment to yourself like she did, go for it. If you don’t seem to be able to do it that way, then make a commitment to someone who would be devastated to lose you.

Either way, whether it’s making a commitment to yourself or to your loved one, you need to do it. And keep it. I would bet that everyone reading this post has had to overcome major adversity at some point. We’ve all had to do a lot tougher tasks than just to eat right, and we’ve done them. Following a proper nutritional regimen is far easier than many, many things we’ve all done. Just make the commitment and follow through.

Enough sermonizing. Back to the normal in the next post. Meeting this woman and leaving our grandkids has had an effect on my psyche, so I figured I would spread it around.

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65 thoughts on “Meditating in the Garden of Self Loathing

  1. “Brother Mike”…I would not call your post a sermon…
    I would just call it an excellent insight into life and all it’s nuances. Well done.

    Mutual support is very important when it comes to changing/improving our lives. Tell everyone around you about your commitments to be healthier. They WILL support you, because they want you to be around as long as possible…a “win-win” situation!

    Dr. John

  2. Hi Mike, I have read your posts for a long time – commented maybe once.
    This post moved me to write – beyond all the diets, theories, books and data live emotions, love, longing and desire. These are strong currents that tapped into could us lead right to where we need to be – beyond the “experts” (sorry) and into our own lives.
    Great photo – better than a food shot.

    I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Thank you. I am an avid low carber, but there are things I am doing that impede my ability to lose those last several pounds. I needed to hear this. I’m recommitted to the promises I’ve made to myself.

    I was close to my grandparents, too. I lost them all too early. If I had only known then what I know now about eating low carb…but, too late. I can, however, be around for my future grandkids a lot longer than my grandparents were able to be for me, and I plan on it.

    Your grandchildren are gorgeous, btw. 🙂

    They are gorgeous, aren’t they. Smart, too. Thanks.

  4. Doc Eades,

    Thanks for this wonderful post. As a trainer, I know first hand how important commitment, small promises and mindset is in the fat loss equation. So many so-called experts only worry about counting calories, tracking macro-nutrients and and calculating calories burned. But if the person does not start from a place of commitment to the process, the rest is just fluff.

    Great perspective.

    Cheers,
    Adam

  5. This is good. In the past 2 weeks, I started doing the Primal diet from http://www.marksdailyapple.com — I call this my “caveman diet” to friends. You’d think you’d get funny looks, but my friends do what friends should do – they’re supportive and ask good questions. I get teased sometimes but rarely ever.

    It’s not hard at all. I’ve grown to realize how delicious mother nature makes things and that we don’t need processed sugars. At business lunches, I get an Ahi Tuna salad and nobody bats an eye.

    The hardest things for me in these occasions are:
    – Bread served right away before orders taken at restaurants, especially when I’m hungry. I just sit there and watch everyone else enjoy
    – Chips and guacamole. This is where I cheat. I don’t turn down avocado-based anything, ever 🙂
    – Pizza. I miss this dearly and it will definitely be a cheat meal sometime in the next month.

    I started this because back home at Christmas, we ate the typical high-carb Italian diet. By the end of Xmas break, I felt like GARBAGE. It took me a week to get back to feeling normal. I realized that this is how high-carb people normally feel! How awful!

    Other than that, I went from 16.5% bodyfat pre-Xmas to 18% body fat during Xmas to 15% bodyfat already. I feel great lately!!

  6. My grandchildren (natural, adopted, step and great) are the most beautiful in the world, but yours come in a very close second.

    I’m surprised at how many low carbers go off plan because it’s a “special” occasion. Having good health every day is a special occasion, and my better health is much more important than that piece of pie or cake or whatever the food is that the special occasion calls for. It’s time we all made new “special occasion” foods. Nothing wrong with steak instead of cake to celebrate that anniversary, or whatever occasion!

  7. Dr. Eades,
    I have been reading you for quite a while now, but this is the first time I post a comment. Your post today touched me intensely. I am a mother of two and a grandmother of one. I am just that lady, who eats low carb most of the time, but too many cals and always a glass of wine or two or three. I am healthy, mostly, but yes overweight at 170 and 5ft4. I am shortening my life, I know it, and your post forced me to realize this. Thank you, thank you so much, for helping me see this. Danielle

    I’m glad it helped. My conversation with my friend who committed to herself helped me, too.

  8. Only slightly off topic: I just got done reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration (Weston Price) and so I now study faces for signs of nutritional deficiency (including my own). The first thing I thought when I saw your grandkids was how well-formed their faces are: broad dental arches, wider noses…they look just like the photos of traditional-living children in the book.

    The thing that impressed me in the book was the uniformly beautiful faces of well-nourished people from all races and how much they resembled each other, whether Swiss, Gaelic, South American or African. Your grandkids would fit right in.

    Scott

    Thanks. Our grandkids never ate a single bite of any grain-based baby breakfast pablum. Their pediatrician put them on it, but the DIL didn’t go for it. They both remained on breast milk until a year old, then ate nothing but home-made baby food. Our DIL pureed turkey, chicken, ham, vegetables, and fruit – and that’s what they both ate.

  9. “meditating in my Garden of Self Loathing”…wonderful image. Thanks for posting a great article. BTW, great grandkids and grandpa’s not so bad either *G*

  10. Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing. I have to say, Dr. Eades that your grand kids are good looking boys, but you aren’t so bad yourself.. 🙂 Nice to see a happy, healthy family.

  11. Question for you please if slightly off topic. but maybe not so ?

    Low carb is essentially low cal unless eating oodles of fat right ? (rhet.)

    So if ones lost the weight (fat) one wanted years ago..put it back on and now trying to lose it again does the bod. ordinarily ‘think’ its in starvation mode when eating a low carb/low cal diet as its eating far less cals?

    Not necessarily if the calories it does eat are good calories versus bad calories.

  12. I had the same thoughts as Scott about your gorgeous grandchildren: perfect Weston A. Price faces. It is one thing to see the photos in Price’s book, but power of proper nutrition is impossible to deny when you see the result in modern American children.

    Thanks for the photos and the post.

  13. Gee, what adorable kids, and what a mind-blowing post. Boy how did it resonate with me. I’ve been on low carb, and then off again for 12 years now – but since 2000 much more off than on, to the detriment of my health – but indeed there was always that one more special occasion, that one more goodie, that prevented me from getting back on the wagon.

    But it actually learning that I will become a first-time grandma this year that kicked me right back onto the straight and narrow. I *do* want to be around to see my grandkids grow up, and to be there for them if they need me. Tomorrow I start my 6th week of being grain free/sugar free/low carb. The scale was down almost 10 pounds this morning. I’m feeling better than I have in years. I just hope my body can start to repair itself and I haven’t left it too late!

    Congrats on the loss. Keep it up. The body is a wonderful self-repairing machine, so it’s hard to be too late.

  14. Not necessarily if the calories it does eat are good calories versus bad calories.

    Err but given a low carb diet is often rather low cal wouldnt that send the body into starvation mode and thus hang on to more fat ?

    Perplexed.

    This was one of the main points of Gary Taubes’ book. When people consumed 1500 calorie diets that were high-carb diets, they starved; if they consumed 1000 calorie diets that were high in fat and protein, the did fine. With good calories – even in low amounts – they were okay; with bad calories – even in higher amounts – they got in trouble. You can read my take on it in this post.

  15. Excellent post, Dr. Mike. It’s good to be reminded that this isn’t just about how to “lose weight and keep it off.” It’s so much more important than that.
    Thanks for the noodge.

  16. Great post! I cant imagine being you a very strict grandfather. Do you spoil your grandkids more than you did so with your kids? I know that parenting is touph and parents are much stricter than grandparents. How different you are as a grandfather than whne you were a father?

    The relationship with grandkids is totally different than the relationship with your children. I was semi strict with the children (they may remember it differently), but don’t have to be so strict with the grandkids. That’s what their parents are for.

  17. Commitment is admirable but unfortunately sometimes people make the wrong commitment with dire results. I lost my mother to colon cancer (she was 50). Funny enough, 15 years earlier she made a strict commitment to health and followed it which meant, not too much meat, very lean, little saturated fat and a lot of healthy grains and plant oils. Several family member who are doctors looked at me funny when I asked “Coincidence?”

  18. Dr. Eades,

    “Even the most perfect protocol is useless unless you can actually follow it.” All too often it’s not the “how” that fails us, it’s the “why.”

    I greatly relish your usual fare but this is your best post in recent memory. Thanks.

  19. Thanks for this wonderful post Dr. Mike. It really encouraged me today and was just what I needed. I’m always so busy with this or that, trying to do things others need me to do, yet when it comes to taking care of myself, I tend to put it on the back burner and hope I get to it later. I will no longer do that. This doesn’t just involve me.. this involves my children, who need their mom around, my husband who loves me, and other family members who will be hurt should I not care for my own health. Again, thanks. And your grandkids are just beautiful!

  20. Thanks for this post. Something like this happened to me after Thanksgiving. Up until then we were fine, with a pretty low carb Thanksgiving dinner. The following weekend at my brother’s house they celebrated my birthday – cake and all. Of course unfortunately I rationalized it and partook. Well, there are some family and social pressures at work. Of course it was all down hill towards Christmas and New Year’s after that. I’m glad to report I’ve been totally on the low carb dietary habit since Jan.2nd, no sliding and no excuses. And I believe I’ve lost a couple of pounds already. (Haven’t weighed myself). I had already resolved not to do that again this year, but this post is a really good reminder and support mechanism. Maybe you should repost it again at Thanksgiving.

    I’m in agreement with everyone else. The three of you guys are very photogenic. But, is that a suntan? Be careful of the UV.

    Again thanks for this shared and common experience. Jim

    Why be careful of the UV? That’s where I get most of my vitamin D and my protection against melanoma.

  21. Hi Dr. I want to tell you that through the years as one relative after the other passed on ” in my adult years that is ” my sisters and I would say to each other “I am taking real good care of my health from now on. Most of the deaths in my family were from cancer but mostly Diabetes. It was always shocking to see how the physical and emotional trauma effected us 3 girls. It is devastating to see the horror one goes through with such a disease as Diabetes and all the while my relatives would deviate to the sweets thinking the diabetes drug they were on would some how protect them. I’m talking relatives who have lost their sight a limb developed heart disease on and on. I am so thankful for this post , I have only about 15 pounds to lose which is not bad and thanks to your post no one had to die for me to recommit and it’s pretty solid in my heart this time.

    Good for you!

  22. Wow
    Sitting here 40 pounds overweight and trying to finish an experiment to get a grant application in while writing a paper and trying to find a job when I graduate while trying to figure out what I really want to do with my life after grad school.
    This hit hard, thanks.

    From your email address it appears that you’re studying at the Univ of Wisc. I spent a great summer there in Madison during my medical training. I lived at Slichter Hall for about 10 weeks. Had a great time on Lake Mendota and at the Terrace. And even learned a little gross anatomy.

  23. Hi,

    Your grandkids do appear to have broad faces and wide dental arches a la Weston Price. Let us know if they need orthodontic treatment before adulthood (which of course you’ll be long around for…) I’m on my second course of orthondontics (should have cut out the sugar earlier…)

    James

    It will be interesting to see. The dentist told our son and wife that the older one, the one with the dark hair, would have to have orthodontial work, but when his permanent teeth came in, they came in straight and even. We’ll see how things progress. The kid never tasted sugar, wheat, or dairy until his first birthday when he had some birthday cake, which he didn’t like and pushed away in favor of his meat and vegetables. Sadly, he now does love sugar, having been introduced to it, and his folks have to limit his access.

  24. What a great post. And what beautiful grandchildren.

    “Meditating in the Garden of Self Loathing” is a great book title.

    Maybe you or your friend should write it.

    May be a great book title, but would you buy a book on Meditating in the G of SL? 🙂

  25. What a post – You’ve pierced the dark curtain in the struggle for dignity. Thank You!

    Aristotle: “Love impels to do whatever is necessary to improve or enrich the life of the other.”

    Great quote. Pretty much sums it up. Thanks for sending it.

  26. “I lived at Slichter Hall for about 10 weeks.”

    Egad! The fact that you spelled Slichter correctly means that you really did do it! Did you make it to Babcock Hall for some ice cream?

    Sadly, I didn’t. Isn’t that in the Dairy Research Bldg? I spent all my non-study, non-dissection time (of which there was plenty) at the Memorial Union, The Terrace or the giant campus bookstore on State St (?). It was at the Memorial Union that I first tasted frozen yogurt. In fact, the other day I ran across one of my old notebooks that I kept at the time, and I had written in the margin to explore the idea of setting up a frozen yogurt franchise deal. This was years before TCBY and all the other national frozen yogurt chains. Always a day late and a dollar short.

  27. Loved this post. You seem to have a knack of posting what I need when I need it.

    About the ProOmega, Krill Oil, and Curcumin. I’ve been taking it about 2 weeks now, and the pain in my knee and lower leg is almost gone. Amazing! It seemed to be better day by day during the first week, and then I had about 3 days during which I could put no weight on it at all. I could straighten the leg, and no pain. But if I put weight on a straight leg, I’d buckle. I kept up the regimen, though, and today there’s only an occasional twinge when I stand after sitting for a spell.

    My only complaint about the curcumin (purchased here) is that there’s curcumin dust everywhere! Anything I touch after touching a capsule is permanently yellow. I dropped a capsule on the Corian countertop, and still can’t get the yellow out. Good thing my towels are a goldenrod color! I now take one sheet of toilet paper, put it on my left palm, and then shake out one capsule from the bottle. Then I pop it in my mouth.

    Thanks so much for posting on this regimen. The Aleve I had been taking was not even touching the pain, but this new regimen did the trick. My knee is still swollen, and I have a bump of swelling on the front of my leg where the anterior tibialis attaches to the bone. I suspect this will go down in time.

    Glad to hear you’re doing so well on your regimen. I suspect that with time everything will normalize.

    I understand the circumin problem. In fact, I should have written about it to warn people. What happened to me was that I had a mysterious yellow spot in the middle of my left palm that I couldn’t figure out how had gotten there. Then I noticed that my left pants pocket had yellow stains from where I had put my hand in my pocket. It never occurred to me that it might be from the circumin, so I was trying to figure out what could stain my left hand only. The only thing I could think of was that it was the golf glove that I wore only on my left hand. I threw the glove away that I had been using and got a brand new one. I wore it for a day and noticed no stain after. I figured that was it, but then the yellow palm was there the next morning (I take my circumin at night before bed). Finally, I realized that I was pouring the circumin capsule from the bottle into my left hand, then popping it into my mouth. But just the brief time in my hand was enough to color it yellow. The interesting thing is that (on me, at least) it doesn’t color it immediately – it takes a while before it becomes noticeable. Now, I pour the capsule into the lid of the bottle, throw it back from the lid, and follow it with some water. And I no longer have a yellow left hand and yellow left pocket.

  28. One more comment, this one on the “Control Theory” book by William Glasser you wrote about recently. What a great book! I’m only about a third of the way through it, but already I see things differently. I’ve been craving a pizza for the past several weeks (Amato’s Grilled Chicken and Spinach — they put oil on a somewhat thick crust, and top it with several kinds of cheeses, grilled chicken, plum tomatoes, and spinach). This morning I woke up thinking about it again, and contemplated getting one for dinner (hubby is out of town).

    But then I stopped and said to myself, “It’s only a picture. Find a different picture.” And sure enough, I’m not craving the pizza anymore. In fact, it’s 2:00 in the afternoon and I just finished my lunch — 2 eggs over easy with sausage patties. Dinner will be a ribeye and a small salad.

    I have one thing that’s bothering me about the book, though. Like I said, I’m only about a third of the way through, so maybe he’ll explain this later.

    At one point he says, “Our hospitals are filled with people who have lost effective control of their lives. Together with many of the physicians who treat them, they are unaware that their rebellion against the control of others, or their ineffective attempts to control themselves, are being expressed in illnesses like peptic ulcers, colitis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, or heart disease.”

    Is he really saying that we give ourselves these maladies? Heart disease (other than by eating the wrong foods)? Ulcers? Aren’t ulcers caused by a bacterium?

    I hate to say it, but he sounds eerily similar to Christiane Northrup, who believes women get thyroid problems during menopause as a result of years of “swallowing their feelings” in their relationships with men.

    I know you can’t speak for the author, but what do you think of his premise that it is how we act on our feelings that cause ulcers, heart disease, etc? I can buy that the way you deal with stress and emotional issues can result in migraines, which means your feelings and actions brought them on, but heart disease and ulcers?

    I don’t buy the ulcers, but I do buy the other stress-related diseases, of which, I suspect, heart disease is in many cases. Read Malcolm Kendrick’s book to see what I mean. At the time Glasser’s book was written, the common notion was that ulcers were also a stress related disorder – the bacterial cause hadn’t been discovered yet.

  29. Great post Mike. As with other commenters, this hit hard. Like your friend, I have been a ‘perennial’ low-carber, on again / off again.

    I recommitted on Jan. 2 this year, so far so good 15 pounds lighter already, feeling great. This post is now copied and printed out on my wall near my desk to remind me to recommit myself every day.

    Again, Thanks.

    BTW – I grew up in Madison. Now I know you definitely have good taste. I go back every couple of years and enjoy a walk up and down State Street, and indulge my appetite for Gyros (sans pita) at the Parthenon restaurant. I live in Austin now which is kind of like Madison South, sans the snow (sadly).

    I’ve been back only one time in the winter (several times in the summer, though), and I was real glad that I had spent my time there in the summer. Although I did hate the mosquitoes.

  30. LOVED this post and gave it a Stumble.

    Of course I want to send it right off to my overweight family members, but maybe I should look at my own unhealthy habits instead…

    Thanks for the Stumble. I appreciate it.

  31. I have a sort of off topic question that came up from reading my college pscyhology textbook, and my teacher and I are really going at it. I have read all your books as well as McCleary’s book about low carb and keeping attention and have followed your advice and feel great.

    My question is what do you think of studies such as Korol and Gold’s 1998 study about glucose and enhanced memory? Here is part of the study, “In college students, glucose consumption significantly enhanced memory of material in a paragraph. Glucose also appeared to enhance attentional processes in these students. Neither face and word recognition nor working memory was influenced by treatment with glucose.”

    If you have the time, I would love to hear your response…

    Thanks in advance,

    Jeremy

    The brain always works better when it gets more fuel. These are college students, so presumably they are young and healthy. Young, healthy people don’t have insulin resistance yet and so get plenty of glucose into their brains where it fuels their thinking, allowing them to perform better on many kinds of tests. After years of high-carb consumption, when these people aren’t so young and healthy, things change. Glucose isn’t as well regulated, and the problems begin.

  32. I had a similar “you need to put yourself first” moment when I was taking a relaxation course 4 years ago. The key is to empower yourself so that you can control situations instead of letting them control you (the focus was on employers, bosses, co-workers). When we showed up for the first class, we each got a sheet of coloured adhesive dots but weren’t told anything about them until a couple of days later. You put a dot above the door each controlling person. After that, you can’t help but smile to yourself & feel in charge whenever you pass through the door. On my way back from HR classroom to my office, I noticed lots of dots that I’d never noticed before. After taking control of things at work and not martyring myself anymore (which just made me mad and more stressed out than from overwork alone). Once you start controlling things in one part of your life, it is easier to take control of food, esp. on low enough carbs to keep cravings at bay.

  33. Dr Mike, I know I have asked you this question before but is there anything else besides magnesium that might help alleviate sympathetic nervous response and slow down a racing out of control heart rate? It seems like every time I try to get back on a low carb bandwagon after screwing up on high carb junk , my sympathetic nervous system kicks in an extra gear and activates extra adrenalin. I feel jittery and I feel palpitations even in my stomack. I have had a complete cardiac check up and was told its an anxiety or panick atack that my body activates when it senses changes of any sort! Is there a natural way to help my brain reklax and not to screw with the rest of my body?

    You may have to avail yourself of the services of a psychologist or psychiatrist to deal with this. I can’t think of a physiological reason that it could be happening.

  34. As so many have said… I am just like your friend. Fantastic at committing to other people, terrible at keeping commitments to myself. It is very hard to learn that committing to yourself is as important or more important than committing to other people; in my head, it makes sense to me, but in my heart, it’s difficult to do. Much of the taking care of myself that I do is more motivated by needing to set a good example for my husband, who is in worse shape than I am.

    And the rest of your post just made me cry. I lost my mother last summer to ovarian cancer, and she said, nearly every day for a year, that she was fighting because she wanted to see her grandchildren grow up. Didn’t happen. This time we have with the people we love seems beyond precious when it’s gone, but we waste so much of it.

  35. What a great post!!! I needed to be reminded that it really is okay to put myself first, especially when it comes to my health. I began my low carb journy almost a year ago now, vowing to lose weight and lower my cholesterol. 25lbs lighter I feel like a new person. I had my cholesterol checked 5 months ago, everything returned to well within normal limits except my LDL. I continued on with my LC life style, instead of taking statins as prescribed by my cardiologist (she was very unhappy with me). I am to get them rechecked next month. My goal is to prove her wrong. That a LC life style is much healthier then statin drugs…
    Thanks again for the reminder and wish me luck.

  36. Boy, this post popped back into my mind last night at dinner. Your friend described above sounds *so much* like my sister, a middle aged lady who looks svelte and lovely to most people who see her – but who has wanted for years to lose 25 pounds. She talks a good game about how much she wants to be low carb, but never lasts more than a day or two. She has wild mood swings where she will suddenly declare her home is carb-free, and run around throwing every carby food into the trash – then two days later bringing home a dozen Dunkin Donuts for the family, and making cakes and cookies for her kids. She alternates between screaming at the kids that they need to give up grains and sugars, and then buying pizza two days later. Her teenage daughter has a lot of food issues and was verging on serious anorexia last year until she wound up in the ER. She claims my sister has ruined her life with her wild swings about food.

    So I sent this blog post to my sister and told her that if she really wanted to be low carb she needed to be like your friend, to seriously commit, to think about the family members she is hurting, to think how much her kids say her wild mood swings and constant flip-flops back and forth drive them crazy. She emailed me back:

    “All that stuff you wrote is reinforcing what I think and believe…I need to be strong and stick to my guns..everyone always says Awww come on ..this one time won’t hurt or have a bite or a little of this or that…well 53 years later and I have not achieved any of my dreams or goals by always making others happy by caving in and indulging. Of course I am not complaining nor is it their fault as I willingly agreed and allowed myself to go ahead….Now it is time I just stop, take a breath and learn to stand up for myself esp. now while I have some momentum going and some resolve…”

    So I thought maybe this time she might make that decision. I thought that my being into my 6th week of strict low carb – grain and sugar free – and down 11 pounds, might encourage her too. And last night we went out to dinner and talked about low carb all through dinner. She had an eggplant and mozzarella omelet and had them hold the potatoes and toast.

    But at the end of the meal she said she just *had* to have dessert, she just aways craves something sweet after a meal. Well the diner where we ate offers sugar-free cheesecake on their dessert menu, and she ordered that. I ordered a decaf. We waited 5 minutes but the waitress came back and said they were out of the sugar-free cheesecake and the pastry chef was going to make another but it would take a while to make – longer than we had of course!

    So, did she skip it? Nope, she ordered a slice of *regular* sugar-filled cheesecake, one enrobed in a thick chocolate shell. “Oh well”, she said. “At least cheesecake is not the worst dessert I could have.”

    I said nothing. What could I say at that point. I thought we’d said it all before and during the meal. But her resolve and commitment to go low carb and give up grains and sugars lasted about 4 hours this time before she gave in, about par for the course. No wonder her kids say it drives them crazy, and will not even *listen* to anyone who says the words “low carb” in their hearing, though I’m convinced they both have issues that would benefit greatly from being on a low carb or at least reduced carb diet themselves. Both kids are skinny (more like my sister’s husband who has to eat constantly, multiple times a day, just to try to keep 160 pounds on his 6’3″ frame) but low carb fixes other things besides weight issues!

  37. I wouldn’t fret about being hated by the PETA types Dr. Mike; talk about a bunch of self-loathers, sheesh! I mean, to subject your body to a diet that it’s not biologically set up for? The ultimate act of self-hatred. Oh, and they’re a real hoot at a barbecue! ; )

  38. May be a great book title, but would you buy a book on Meditating in the G of SL?

    Well now I love books with quirky titles. Sometimes I even like the stuff written inside. 😉

  39. Dr. Eades: Great picture of all three of you, and very cute kids!! I never had any kids of my own, but from friends have heard that having grandkids is more fun than having kids… you can spoil them and then give them back to their parents. 😉

    I have been trying to up my intake of good fats (animal fats, coconut oil, butter, some rendered pork fat, eggs, etc.); however, after this last week I believe that I am going to have to take that part slowly.

    Last Thursday evening, I ended up going to a clinic for some symptoms which, to both the doctor and me, indicated both gallbladder trouble and pyelonephritis. I am now on an antibiotic (ciprofloxacin) and pain medicine (fioricet). The pain was not severe, but it was bad enough so that I could not get comfortable in any position.

    I have had some fullness over the gallbladder for several years. The dorky M.D. who diagnosed me with type II diabetes, about four years ago, merely looked at the fullness and said, “gallbladder.” He was nutritionally ignorant enough to suggest that I go on Slim-Fast, of all things. Needless to say, I did not go back.

    I am scheduled for a gallbladder ultrasound on Monday. I am not merely going to submit to immediate surgery. I will keep reading about less drastic measures which can be taken to avoid surgery. I have read some about gallbladder flushes, etc.

    I will say that one of the things I appreciate about your and Dr. Mary Dan’s “Protein Power” series is the fact that you provide quite a bit of the science rationale for what you do.

  40. Beautiful post (beautiful picture).
    Very moving reminder that being selfish
    is not only necessary, it’s noble.
    Thank you, Dr. Eades.

  41. I love reading stories like this–they are truly inspiring and I’m very happy for her! 6 months is easy to do and the feedback of seeing the pounds drop, buying new (smaller) clothes and the compliments from people is powerful enough to keep one going.

    I would like to hear how she’s doing in a year or 2, however. I’ve never thought of LC as a “diet,” that is, a tool to lose weight, with the idea of going back old habits once the weight is off. Each and every time, it’s been a commitment in my mind to a permanent change in eating habits, putting myself first, etc, etc.

    There’s something about that 2nd year, however, that has always been the killer for me. I have yet to figure out what it is–whether it’s lack of the above “feedback,” or just ADD-induced boredom with it. One would think that after a year, the habit would be so deeply ingrained it would be so easy to just keep it going.

    I’ve been following a low-carb diet for over 25 years, and I still have my moments when I bolt from the straight and narrow.

  42. I loved this post so much, I’ve taken a quote from it and am using it as my signature quote (giving you credit, of course) everywhere I go.

    It’s this one
    “…although it is our own life to live how we like, we owe it to those who love and depend upon us to stay around as long as we can. It’s really kind of selfish to deny your children or grandchildren or great grandchildren your company because you would rather eat carbs.”

    I hope you don’t mind. It really struck me right in the heart.

    Thank you so much for this post – and yes, I do wish my mom had taken better care of herself, and I fear my dad is on the same path.

    Be my guest. Use the quote however you like. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  43. Wow!!!
    Boys have healthy looking rosy chicks! It is something unusual to see novadays. I have only seen one boy with the blush – he was sitting on mom’s lap and eating pieces of meat and pickles from her plate.
    Most children have pale, often grayish face skin tone.

  44. Susan J., thanks for posting that link. I much appreciate it. I have browsed it and will peruse it more in-depth tomorrow.

  45. As a follow-up to my earlier post: I had a gallbladder ultrasound today. The technician told me it was normal. Apparently ALL the symptoms I was experiencing were most likely the result of passing a kidney stone. Since it was one of those county clinics with a zillion people waiting to be seen, eventually I got bored and tired of the waiting, so I went home without actually seeing a doctor. So I will finish the 10-day course of Cipro and hopefully this won’t recur.

  46. Hello DR Eades i usually post things out of topic but I have no choice sometimes. I hope that doesn’t upset you. But i was reading quite a bit and the only negative thing i can fins thus far with keto diets is Methylglyoxal which are elevated. From what i understand this should be bad right? But it seems to cure cancer! Your thoughts? here’s the link

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2001/06/13/methylglyoxal.aspx

    I wouldn’t put a lot of faith in the ability of methylglycoxal as a cure for cancer. I’ve posted about methylglyoxal in this blog. Just enter it into the search function if you’re interested in reading.

  47. I was disgustingly virtuous through the holiday season but have weakened of late, probably due to the cold and especially dull weather and a strong hibernatory response. I don’t normally put on weight but have managed to add a few pounds, all round the middle. My fasting glucose is up about 5 points and my postprandials up around 10 – 20 which is probably the reason. Probably a few too many carbs, OK definitely a few too many carbs, and certainly less exercise.

    Dammit, I’ve been good for about five years now and had nothing but benefits. Hopefully if the sun ever comes out again it’ll make it easier to get back on plan. There’s something so disgustingly more-ish about that “just the one!” when various mental and physiological factors all conspire together. DON’T WEAKEN!

    To Vadim

    You may have to avail yourself of the services of a psychologist or psychiatrist to deal with this. I can’t think of a physiological reason that it could be happening.

    Could be reactive hypoglycemia, I used to suffer from rapid BG drops which would set off hypo symptoms (neuroendocrine dumps) even at non-hypo BG levels, one of the many things that low carbing sorted out through stopping the highs and thus the following lows. Might be worth checking your blood sugars during and also before these symptoms. But I’d get a second opinion anyway, especially since they are worse on low carb.

  48. Hello DR thanks for answering my last question. I appreciate it. Oh by the way i really love your book PPLP. I think it is one of the most complete books on nutrition Ive ever read and believe more so every time i reread it. LOL. I have everyone i know who is interested in nutrition buying it. Anyway I had a question. I know you love those. What do you think of a nearly vegetation free diet? All meat? Something like the inuit. I have been following such a diet for about a week now and feel great, a lot better vegetable free. The only things is that sometimes i have a mild pain in my stomach after eating. Any idea why? I do however supplement with a trace mineral/magnesium blend. I do eat a little carb from kombucha tea and 85% chocolate – for the copper. This guy is a world jujitsu champ and has been following a diet similar to that for 15 years he’s 55 and looks freaking great for his age! Very low carb minus the chocolate here is the link. It a post on his diet http://maxwellsc.blogspot.com/2008/04/my-take-on-diet.html

    His blog is pretty cool for exercise related subjects. The type you endorse anyway- no jogging here. lol. As always thank you so much for taking time to answer all our myriad of questions. have a good one

    I don’t have a problem with a vegetation-free diet. I follow one myself from time to time. I think it’s perfectly fine.

  49. I had one more question DR. E. I have seen many reports of smoked and preserved meats causing cancer in the digestive tract. But I want to adopt a diet consisting largely of Grassfed beef jerky and grassfed pemmican like the plain Indians . With some free range eggs and grassfed cheese and some yogurt thrown in for good measure. The source would be http://www.grasslandbeef.com/index.html So considering that it is all natural what do you think? Of a such a move. Again id be eating a decent amount of this stuff. About 3
    pemmican bars a day and 8 ounces of jerky a day. sometimes more or less
    Thanks

    All of the reports you have seen are observational studies and are worthless at determining causality. Go for it.

  50. “All of the reports you have seen are observational studies and are worthless at determining causality. Go for it.”

    What do you mean observational studies? Whats the difference? Whats the significance? So you don’t believe these types of meat cause cancer, At least not in the context of a low carb diet?
    As always thank you for your time. Having the opinion of a doctor as knowledgeable as you is priceless.

    Look at the link I highlighted in the answer to your previous question.

  51. I see no link DR.

    Click here to get the post on observational studies. If the link doesn’t work, simply enter ‘observational studies’ in the search function, and you will get that post as a choice.

  52. I also study faces for signs of malnutrition. Some childrens faces are so unnaturally narrow these days. You hardly see broad faced, rosy cheeked, robust kids. Your grandkids are so handsome.

    With my daughter, I ate low carb throughout my pregnancy, breastfed her for 14 months, and didn’t give her any grains or sugar until her 1st birthday party, as well. She is a strong, smart, beautiful girl.

  53. DR. thanks for the link
    Also is it normal to have insomnia and a racing heart the first few weeks of a zero carb diet? I read in some atkins forums that it is common, but whats your take? My blood pressure is a little up also 130/76. Im 19 years old. My blood pressure was checked when i was donating blood today. “Thanks for PPLP”
    thank you for your time
    Oh your grand kids have very beautiful full faces> GO low carb!

    Increased ketosis will give you insomnia, and the dehydration that comes from the increased urine production can cause the heart to seem to race. Make sure you take plenty of fluids and even some salt.

  54. I was afraid to say “cute kids!” in case I got arrested, but they are!

    Interesting point about the broad/narrow faces, my face is much narrower than the size of my head. When I was little my favourite treat was one of those multipacks of small boxes of different breakfast cereals. Who knew?

    I think I moved to the right place to spend the rest of my life, people here are disgustingly healthy looking into advanced age, far less pasty faced and much more characterful than in other areas I’ve lived. I’m certain sure the fact we still have local shops selling real vegetables meat and fish has a lot to do with it, there’s less “food” with the micronutrients carefully removed and replaced with starch. Their brains seem to work better too.

    Just so inquiring minds will know, where is ‘here’?

  55. “Just so inquiring minds will know, where is ‘here’?”

    If I told you I’d have to kill you . . .

    . . . actually Suffolk, the original one, the buttock-shaped bit on the east of England. Agricultural, near the sea and not overpopulated (unless everyone who reads this wants to move here)

    In a local churchyard the other day I saw several gravestones of people in their late eighties . . . back in the 18th Century, so whatever we’ve been doing right we’ve been doing it for a looooong time

    Thanks for the info.

  56. This post is a wonderful incentive for a person such as I.
    I am a 50 year old, menopausal; somewhat small person and only need to lose about 10 or 15 lbs. But these last pounds are beastly, and not so surprisingly around the center of my body. I call it the “Torso moreso” as it is not limited to my belly alone but also the dreaded “back fat” that plagues most middle aged women and is evident by the bra bulge above and the muffin syndrome below.

    I quit smoking, went into menopause and gained weight 5 years ago. Ever since then my obsession has been to get healthy and let go of the weight. I exercise regularly and follow a low carb diet, but I cheat at least once a week.

    I have been told that I don’t need to lose any more weight; that maybe I should accept this weight gain as part of my middle age due. Like a right of passage! (these kinds of words come out of the mouths of doctors and laymen alike… it is as though I am being told that it is a GOOD thing.)

    But I rage against this theory. I believe that I have at least 3 inches of fat around my middle alone that I could stand to lose even if I didn’t lose an inch anywhere else! I seriously can’t find a pair of jeans that don’t make my belly bellow!

    Are these 10-15 lbs equivalent to vanity pounds? Surely this middle fat can not be good for me… I wonder how much of it is subcutaneous or how much is visceral? But with that said, I wish to tell you how excited I am that you have a book coming out that will address this.

    I have recently become a reader of your blog and am so excited to begin living (instead of obsessing) again. Thanks for your help.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I don’t think that excess weight around the middle is either a good thing or an inevitable part of aging. I, like everyone else in middle age, fight it like crazy. I’m on my own program all the time.