Hard Rules Required for Good Health!

There is no way I could have succeeded in changing my behaviour, that is to change my diet, increase my exercise and lose weight without defined rules. I simply could not manage vague criteria and come out with a concrete result.

A little candy or chocolate? I always had trouble with that. Just one cookie, or one cookie occasionally or a few chips occasionally? Nope! It does not make sense either. Without definition, your behaviour cannot be defined. What exactly is a little or occasionally? Why not define it? Maybe commitment is still lacking.

Losing weight is difficult work. Lack of definition simply makes it harder and lowers the probability of success. It provides a connection to the reasons why one gained weight to begin with, but one needs to let go of the past behaviour that led to the weight gain initially. I am sure one cannot simply just change without reason or cause, or a plan for that matter. And the less defined it is, the harder it will be. It shows a lack of commitment and lacks the substance necessary to make the changes required to succeed.

I no longer eat artificial dyes and flavours. Dyes poison me, some of which I am allergic to. Artificial flavours entice me to eat food that is not good for me. They make it harder. They make the food unhealthy. I don’t need them, I don’t want them so I won’t eat them anymore. This rule eliminates most fast food and all candy.

I quit drinking. There was nothing good about alcohol and health. Some issues are specific to me, but regardless, it did not fit for either my mast cell disease, nor my goal to be healthy. None is the only answer and it has been much easier than drinking just a little.

There are many foods that cause an allergic reaction in me and cause gastric, cardio pulmonary, dermal and cognitive problems in me so I don’t eat any of them. Not a little, none at all once I know.

Histamine in food causes me trouble, but this is not an absolute. Histamine is a part of life and cannot be eliminated. Managing it keeps my GI tract, brain and the rest of my body healthy enough to eat and exercise. They are necessary. Once again I have an easy rule. No hi histamine foods and careful management of others. This is not directly related to weight loss, but overall health, which in my last post I explained.

I don’t eat cane sugar, as I get headaches from it. Sugar is not good for me so I eat as little as I can and nothing that sugar is the primary ingredient. I don’t eat chocolate, for example. Cocoa is also high histamine so none. For more on my Mast Cell Activation Disease (MCAD) and diet restrictions specific to this, please see The food I eat and the Poison I don’t.

I currently do not eat filler carbs. No rice, potatoes (allergic to anyway), or pasta. Once I reach phase 4, I may add some carbs back but they will always be managed and determined by how much exercise I am doing and how high my metabolism is.

I do eat bread, but only sprouted grains, no processed wheat flour, but because of artificial flavours and sugar content, there are few I can eat.

I do get carbs from dairy, but I choose higher fat dairy to balance my diet. Ingesting fat is not my enemy and does not make me fat. Excess carbs taken in are stored as fat. It is difficult to maintain. Fat is a more stable fuel source in actual fact.

Another rule for my diet is variability. Anything I do eat I try not to eat excessively and make sure to mix up foods so I am not eating a lot of any one food all the time. This is important for my health, but may not be as big a deal to others.

Everyone will have unique rules they require. But it is the definition that helps one change and guides future choices. These rules make it easier to make choices. No thought is required. Less fortitude is required. Having definition removes future rationalization and debate with oneself over how much of something bad is allowed.

And in the end, I have actually changed what I see when I look at things I have eliminated. If  I simply try to reduce them, I admit they always have that attraction to me and that they are acceptable as food in my diet. And that is not true. Most of these things have no nutritional value and do not contribute to health and in fact subtract something from our health. This acceptance of them provides the avenue for craving s to be maintained and I prefer to eliminate them, making my diet choices easier.

So make some rules to follow, or wait until you can before you attempt to change your diet, get healthy and lose weight. Wait until you are ready to commit to some rules that will guide your future path.

Healthy and Fit Is and Always Was My Goal!

170 pounds (77 Kg) was only my target and not the Bullseye!

For a month now I have oscillated around my target weight of 170 lbs, one of the targets I set for myself along the way, but this was not the final goal! This was simply an estimate of the weight I was trying to achieve as part of my health plan and was based on an idea of who I was when I was a teenager and young adult. Obviously I have lost muscle mass since then so the difference will still be fat.

But since reaching 170 lbs and completing phase 2 of my health plan, weight loss is no longer a component. At least for now, maintenance of this weight while building muscle through exercise is the plan. I will continue to burn fat as I gain strength and muscle mass, which helps maintain my weight as I burn, but I don’t plan to burn all of the fat.

As someone who goes through periods where I cannot eat and now has a very high metabolic rate, burning calories constantly, I need to maintain a healthy layer of fat I can use if necessary when sick and eating is not possible. Healthy is and always has been my goal. Weight loss, muscle mass, fat content all need to be in a balance that is healthy for me. I enjoy working out and lifting weights and the work and fortitude required so I expect I may need to adjust my final target weight up a bit possibly.

Achieving 170 lbs, although a target, was never the goal. I think this is critical to understand. An artificially determined, desired weight is not sufficient as a goal and is a likely reason most people do not maintain what they have lost. The behaviour that led to the weight gains is still there. Nothing has changed. That is not going to work. And although weight is a significant factor in many ways, appearance does not seem to be a sufficient factor in motivating permanent change.

Setting targets helps for sure! To have a specific milestones you work towards and are rewarded by when you reach them is extremely important. But what happens after you reach them is even more important. If the goal is to be healthy, nothing changes but a few specifics. All along the changes in behavioir are intended to be permanent changes. Permanent change in what you eat, the way you eat, the way you exercise, how you sleep, what you do to handle stress, are all a part of being healthy.

Weight loss must be a component of a bigger plan if it is your goal to make a permanent change in your weight. I customized my health plan with great care to what I now know that is unique to me and begins with what I eat. Changing what I eat was not just about losing weight, rather it was about clearing my head and body and making me stronger and healthier in order to achieve the ultimate goal of good health.

Changing what I ate was about putting the right foods in me to keep me strong in both mind and body. Changing what I eat was also about creating a healthy environment for losing weight. Maintaining an appropriate amount of fat is necessary so I can exercise; go to the gym and walk my dogs the way I like to, with a lot of energy for my dogs and I. Losing weight was not about appearance. It was about being healthy and being able to enjoy exercise, my life and my dogs.

Losing weight was not easy. It was a lot of work and it has been very rewarding and critically important, but it is but one piece of the pie. An important piece for sure, as exercise for me is not possible carrying so much extra fat, which creates extra work and heat and insulation trapping that heat inside me. It also puts a lot of stress on one’s body while exercising and makes that exercise harder.

I see this in the gym where people are pushed by trainers too hard too fast and do things they are not ready for. I know where that goes, burn out, or hurt. I have been there! Most recently earlier in 2017 and in 2014 as well. I have been careful in each phases to make sure I am pushing myself, but that I am not over doing it either. Every step has been a carefully planned step. Each phase has had goals that when reached result in further changes to my behaviour.

Phase 1 was changes in diet combined with moderate exercise and weight loss. This phase was focused mostly on what I ate and how much. In addition to my 185 lb goal weight, keeping my intestines working and my brain working was critical and required very specific changes to what I eat. Learning what works and what doesn’t work. Knowing that when I began pushing myself physically, that this would be critical in order to feed myself sufficiently to maintain the mental and physical fortitude that would be necessary.

Phase 2 required increased and regular exercise, including very intense periods of determined work along with slower weight loss. Losing weight in combination with building strength and muscle is challenging and more difficult. I needed to make this task easier (dropping to 185 lbs (82 Kg) first) and be ready mentally, which meant a diet capable of feeding my brain and keeping it healthy and feeding muscle growth while allowing for the burning fat. I definitely added protein but still restricted how many calories and carbs in particular that I ate in order to keep metabolism high and burn fat both while exercising and while at rest.

Phase 3, my current phase, no longer includes weight loss at all, having reached my goal of 170 lbs, but I am not done. And in fact this phase has involved increasing how much I eat. How much protein, fat and carbohydrate I eat has changed and I have added more of each to my diet. At this point 170 lbs is the minimum weight I want to maintain, but as I put on more muscle, and I have increased strength about 40 % so far, maintaining a good balance of fat may mean my goal weigh actually needs to increase. I won’t see that as slipping. Slipping would have to include eating crap, or gaining weight when not intending to.

I have always known that in order to maintain my weight loss, there would have to be more than simply losing weight as my goal. I would need to make permanent changes to myself and my behaviour. I may not have known how drastic those changes would have to be, or even what was behind some of them. But I always knew permanent changes to my behaviour would be required.

Once I achieve a level of strength, muscle mass and fitness that I see as healthy for me and that I am comfortable with, phase 4 will be about finding a balance of diet and exercise that maintains a that healthy body mass, strength and fitness. A permanent change in behaviour from my past that will result in a constant and healthy weight and fitness and a healthy mind throughout my future.

I love my new diet. I love my new weight. I feel great. I don’t really miss anyting. I don’t crave the things I have cut out. I actually see much of it as simply toxic, just like I see eating canola or corn laced with RoundUp / glyphosate. I no longer see food in chocolate bars and jujubes, cookies…

There is no substance in the artificial chemicals that are added for flavour. They simply drive hunger for something that is not healthy or good for us. They drive us to eat more of food that has no value, or more likely a negative value in our attempt to lose weight and become healthy. And there is no regard for the health value from those who have created these foods to dominate our diet.

Whether it is artificial flavours, or dyes, fillers, thickeners, preservatives, whatever; there is little health value in any of it. I avoid it all. My diet change was about more than weight loss. It was about my cognitive and mental health. It was about my strength and energy and desire and happiness. Weight loss was simply one component of a much bigger plan.

A plan to be as healthy as I can be. Healthy despite my mast cell disease. Healthy so I can enjoy each day. So I can do the things I want to do like run and walk with my two amazing dogs. We generate dozens of smiles as we cruise through town and my dogs and I work hard. We go as fast as we can and have as much fun working hard together as we can. I can enjoy my time with them and in the gym now and I don’t burn out. I have the energy and I am having fun!

The Cost of Preventative Health Care

My goal was not just to lose weight, but to be healthy. Not easy to do and certainly not cheap either! I feel much better now than I have in many, many years because I do eat healthy and exercise regularly.

In Canada one can pretty much get most drugs covered by health care, at least after a deductible is reached. Doctors who prescribe drugs for treating symptoms too, no problem! But this method of dealing with our health is not healthy. It is reactive and without forethought and in many cases, without effort.

But try and eat right. It’s not cheap!

At least my gym membership is very reasonable at $4 per week and I do have to mention and thank Trevor Linden and Club 16 for this. I spend at least 8 hours per week using a variety of equipment and weights they provide. Can’t beat $.50/hour. Complemented by my intense dog walks, I have no issues with the exercise side of my proactive health care.

I don’t really want to eat anything special though. Just meat and vegetables, legumes, grains, maybe some dairy – all natural and nothing more. I would like to maximize my health benefit and to be able to eat the food I can eat and nothing else.

50 or 100 years ago it was possible and probable since we ate what we grew and there wasn’t a lot of the great new farming practices nor the processing and ingredients we use to make and ship food all over the world.

I cannot eat artificial dyes. I may also react to artificial flavouring, but even if I don’t, I do not want it in my food so I don’t have to deal with future issues, or with “idiopathic” issues – that is issues of no known cause (as long as you ignore what we put in our food, that is).

I want to eat healthy so I want the natural flavour of food to guide my palette and not man made, money motivated, enhanced flavouring added to so much of our food to help us want more. Well I don’t want more. I simply want what I need. My world is a  minefield of over reacting mast cells and allergic reactions. I need clean food!

In order to avoid many food additives I have no choice but to eat organic food. Almost all non organic bread contains artificial flavours. Obviously this is so we eat more. But I don’t want more simple carbohydrates in my diet. I am okay with complex carbs and I get enough bread from the sprouted breads I do eat.

I cannot eat genetically modified foods either. There is no way I put glyphosate and the other toxic ingredients from Roundup and other weed killers they are designed to absorb and concentrate into my body. There is so much wrong with this idea for everyone, but for someone who is reactive to extremely minute quantities of natural pesticides (anti nutrients) in food; I  think it is likely a good idea for me to avoid the arrogant practice of lacing our food with “harmless” and “safe” poison.

The way we use antibiotics and hormones too is another group of sad farming practices. Motivated solely by monetary gain; bigger animals from both antibiotics and hormones, more get to market. Good for farmers, but not at all healthy for us. I am sure this was not Mother Nature’s plan.

Another lovely North American practice I choose to avoid is the fact that we maximize yield of our crops by spraying them with weed killers that do kill them, just prior to harvest. This makes all the plants sprout just as they are harvested for “maximum yield;” however again we are just poisoning the food for many and who knows how much damage is really caused to everyone.

I was not healthy eating that way. I cannot eat that way! I can only make myself sick and kill myself that way.

I am healthy now but I avoid most man made processes and practices and food additives. These things are motivated by money and sales and not health.

I pay extra for that. And I mean a lot extra. Since the only way to avoid it at all (and maybe I cannot truly avoid it and simply choose to minimize it) is to eat organic. For years I ate organic, but threw in a lot of fast food and other non organic food whenever I felt like it, candy, sugar, carbs… and I loved the artificial flavours in my fast food.

To the tune of 230 lbs! And it is not just man made toxins I react to. Who knows where my issues with mast cells and my allergic reactions to food comes from; but even in eliminating them, I cannot eat a healthy diet of what is actually good for me by just avoiding those foods I am allergic to. I have to cleans all toxins that I can.

The pesticides we add, the artificial dyes and flavours, preservatives, thickeners, the sugar and much more; all are deadly and are a considerable factor in what makes living healthy an almost impossible task.

If I eat the crap and stay totally sick, I get free and subsidized medical help. But I have to feel like crap, sick, overweight, headaches, cognitive difficulties, psychological challenges…

If I want to eat healthy and be healthy, I have to pay! And I am sure I pay double at least for the right to eat clean food.

I find this a very sad state. Proactive health care is costly, but beneficial to me and to society in reducing health care costs. As a behavioural specialist, I am pretty sure I know the benefit of treating illness as a preference, rather than preventing it. Reactive health care is big business. Proactive health care is small business.

There is huge money in feeding us crap and getting us to eat crap; making us fatter and unhealthy as we go. This creates a very significant stream of cash for some. Forcing us to pay so much to eat healthy makes it very unlikely that we all will do so and can afford to do so. I hear this all the time.

But there is nothing more important to me. And changing my diet is the most important thing I have ever done.

I am not free from illness but at least I feel I have some control over my health, whereas I did not before. As long as I can afford it, I will continue to eat healthy foods, free of pesticicdes where possible, free from artificial dyes and flavours, free from other additives and preservatives, free of antibiotics and hormones!

I figure I’ll pay either way so I choose to pay for clean food now and have fun while I can.