A Calorie Counting Success Story

The Amazing Shrinking Woman

Vitamin D and Stop the Presses(!) Because I Agree with Rosie O’Donnell December 8, 2009

Wow. I can honestly say I never thought I’d say this, ever. But I agree with Rosie O’Donnell.

I didn’t trust her at all back in the day when she had a talk show and was obsessed with Tom Cruise. I know Tom Cruise does it for some people, but not for me. I’ve always been more of a Hugh Jackman girl, and if he’s not available, call Clive Owen or Daniel Craig.

But Rosie O said that “exposure to the sun isn’t dangerous,” and I agree. Now, before the skin cancer lynch mob successfully beats down my door, I must clarify my own position on this issue and give some background on my opinion.

This country has a terrible problem with cancer. All types of cancer. This has really puzzled scientists and doctors and all sorts of people who wear white coats to work. But recently, the UC San Diego’s School of Medicine had a lightbulb moment about cancer and a possible cause. They realized that many of the diseases that plague modern society and are often blamed on pollution, plastic, sugar etc etc, might actually be caused by a vitamin D deficiency. (I would normally shorten that to VD, but I’m not feeling that playful tonight.) In fact, the math/science types at UCSD made an entire website devoted to vitamin D deficiency.  I suggest you check it out.

Why does the modern world have such a serious problem with vitamin D?  Because the body makes vitamin D naturally… from sunlight exposure.  We’re known for sitting on our butts inside all day at work until we drive home to sit on our butts inside there.  For one week in the summer we go to the beach and either wear enough sunscreen to make coworkers think we lied about going, or so little that the chef at the seafood restaurant chases us with a pot of boiling water, thinking we’re lobsters.  Neither of these is good, because we should take our sunlight in moderation, because, as my mother says, “the skin never forgets a ray of sun,” or so we’ve been told.

Unfortunately, certain people aren’t privy to as much sunlight as others.  Canadians, for instance, don’t get nearly as much strong sunlight as we southerners do.  Neither do people in Maine, North Dakota, or Michigan.  All of those people have worse cancer problems than those who do get regular sun.

Now I’m not any sort of “back to nature” type, but I do think that earlier people did something right (except in the Middle Ages, when they all died at 25).  They walked around outside, and they ate natural food.  Oreos were hard to come by in the 3rd century.  We should probably take the hint, and do more of what they did, like spending some time outside without sunscreen.

Naturally, when Rosie O said what she did, the skin cancer people grabbed their ropes and ran out the door, then ran back in and slathered on the SPF 120, then ran out again, hot on Rosie’s trail.  They said what she said was “irresponsible.”  I think her flock of seagulls hair cut was more irresponsible than this episode,  but tomato/ tomahto.

Apparently the research is so strong that the Canadian government has recommended that all Canadians take a superdose of the vitamin in order to stave off cancer and other diseases.  It really makes sense, I think.  We’ve switched from spending tons of time outside to almost none in about a century, and consequently, diseases are stalking us.  Consider this: the “flu season.”  Why is it that the flu comes in winter and stays til early spring until it magically disappears?  It’s because people aren’t going outside in the cold winter, and they don’t have any vitamin D to fight off getting sick.  Once the weather improves and it’s nice outside though–wham!  People are out in the sun again, making boatloads of vitamin D, effectively ending the flu season.  Interesting thought, no?

Now I’m not sure I agree with Rosie O entirely, however, because she also says she “lives to tan.”  I’ve never liked lying around in the sun, because I’ve always been afraid that a bug would crawl on me.  But what’s wrong with working in the yard for 30 minutes in the heat of the day?

Whenever I go to the beach and don’t put on too much sunscreen, my skin improves within 2 or 3 days.  I usually don’t have breakouts for a week or more after being in the sun.  This is not to say that we should get burned, though.  Being fair-skinned, I’d have to work up to a tan in 30 minute increments before I could spend more time out without sunscreen.  If you’re going to be in very very strong sun, you should wear sunscreen if you’re starting to burn.

The white lab coat people suggest that we spend 15-20 minutes in the very strong sun every day (with zero sunscreen and at least 40% of the body exposed).  This isn’t always possible, because it gets cold in the winter.  That’s why instead of spending the time outside, you can take vitamin D3 gelcaps to make up for it.  You probably shouldn’t exceed 3000 Iu (international units) a day if you’re getting solar-powered vitamin D, but the jury is still out on exact dosages.  Also, it takes your body about 48 hrs to absorb all the vitamin D from your skin, so when you shower, don’t scrub the areas that were exposed to sun, or else you’ll wash all the vitamin D down the drain.

So that’s something to think about.  People who get vitamin D are far less likely to develop cancer.

Take my own grandfather, for example.  He was a smoker.  When I say “smoker” I mean he was a cigarette with a person attached.  He started smoking when he was about 8 or 9, and did so until his emphysema prevented him in his 80s, but even then he chewed tobacco and smoked a pipe.  He also was a supervisor for Bell South, so he spent all day at work standing in the hot southern sun making sure that workmen put up phone lines correctly.   He was unbelievably tan.  Brown.  If his skin were a trendy paint color it would be “toasted autumn.”  For all that smoking, he never had cancer, or any other non-smoking related disease.  Even when he was retired, he took long walks outside every day.  And he didn’t wear sunscreen, let’s just say that.

So I agree with Rosie O’Donnell.  For once.


Why Should I Eat Six Small Meals a Day? December 5, 2009

I think we’ve all heard this one.  Don’t eat one huge meal, or three normal meals, but rather six small meals a day.

In the past, on all my various diet debacles, I’ve flirted with the idea of Body for Life, and that is one of the programs that makes you eat 5 or 6 small meals a day.  I think the South Beach diet might also encourage multiple small meals.

Why is this?  Where did all this “eat six small meals a day” business come from anyway?

When I was growing up, I heard, as I’m sure you’ve heard, “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”  As I’ve said before, I don’t understand why the king and the prince aren’t eating the same thing, but no matter–you get the idea.

The point of the six small meals is two-fold: it keeps your metabolism from slowing down because there’s always a new supply of food, and it keeps your energy levels high for the same reason.

1.)  It keeps your metabolism high.

Remember the post not too long ago about reworking your metabolism?  Read it here.  Basically what I said there is that when you aren’t eating, your metabolism slows down.  The capability of our metabolism to speed and slow based on the needs of our body is actually really useful.  Well, it would be more useful if we were cave people, and maybe it’ll come in handy again after a nuclear holocaust.  But it doesn’t slow without a reason, and that reason is most often lack of new energy (food) entering the system.

Doesn’t this seem like a catch-22, though?  Think about it.  You’ve got to eat more to burn more.  It doesn’t really make that much sense, but that’s how it works.  I’m convinced that our minds are always thinking beyond our own reasoning, so when we realize that this is just the way it is, our “back burner” part of the brain doesn’t believe it, and that keeps us from really committing ourselves to acting on it.

Basically what eating six small meals a day does is convince your body that there is new food coming in all the time; there’s no need to worry–you don’t have to bank what you don’t use.  That way the body starts working with the energy you’re supplying to it much more efficiently.

2.)  Your energy level stays high.

This is the same idea as the metabolism.  When your body has a constant supply of food, your metabolism doesn’t slow and you don’t get that low blood sugar empty feeling that makes you want to tear through your kitchen like the monster in a godzilla movie.

Now I’ve often thought of scheduling my eating along these lines, but it wasn’t until last night at about 8:30 when I was standing in my kitchen griping about how I didn’t have anything to eat that I realized that the problem has a fairly easy solution.  Six small meals a day!

Why hadn’t I ever actually tried it?  Because it seemed like so much work.  I’m a busy person who doesn’t have time to measure out almonds with a pharmacy pill counter six times a day.  But last night the answer clicked.

Just divide your calories allowed by six!  Duh.  So if I’m allowed 1,758 calories a day, then each meal on the six-meal plan would amount to 293 calories or fewer.  Since it’s so close to a rounder number, I could shoot for 300 and go easy on the last one, or something like that.

So what I should do is this: get healthy food (because eating six Krispy Kreme donuts a day isn’t exactly a balanced diet), stock the Ranch with fresh fruits and other easy things, and then decide on the intervals.  Since I still like making real food and cooking, I’d probably combine two of the meals a day or so for supper.

The schedule would look something like this:

8-9:45 ish — breakfast of grits and butter

11:00 ish — a banana and an apple

1:00pm ish — sandwich

3:00pm ish — nuts or a slug o’ peanut butter  (I’d eat something here, but come in way under 300 so my supper could be a bit bigger)

5:00pm ish — fish, potatoes, and peas

9:00pm ish — popcorn (again coming in under 300 to give supper a wider buffer)

Honestly, that doesn’t seem so bad at all.  In fact, it will be good for me, and I’m almost sure it will speed up my rate of weight loss.  I’ve been ending many days with 700+ calories left to go, and while I’ve been losing weight for sure, I’m getting low blood sugary at times, and that’s a feeling I hate.

So if any of you are going to try this, let me know.  I’m sure some of you have done it before, maybe on South Beach.

Answer the poll about six meals a day if you’re feeling saucy!


Day 6 – Supper (and calorie counting vindication from the Wall Street Journal) November 9, 2009

Filed under: Lessons Learned,Weight Loss — felineaids @ 10:16 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Apparently all those crazy science-types who peer through bubbling beakers and scribble cryptic notes on graph paper have come to a conclusion about calorie counting.  (drumroll) It works!  (Cymbal crash.)  So it doesn’t matter what kind of calories you eat, only how many.  I suspected this, but I’m sure this study cost several million dollars, so I’ll give it some credit.

Read the article here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123559955210376029.html?mod=dist_smartbrief

Have you ever tried calorie counting before?

So it’s supper time.  I had noodles and peas.  Not too exciting, so this won’t be an exciting post.  But I do have a question for you lurkers.  Why are there Christmas-themed commercials on already?


2 T. Ken’s light caesar dressing –70

1 1/2 c. Ronzoni rotini pasta –360

1 can of peas –210

1 medium onion –64

Total for supper –704

Remaining calories –386