Losing It

Excess body fat, that is.

Down 10.5 pounds as of this morning, since I started following Weight Watchers (WW) online program 3 weeks ago.  Truth be told, I have signed up for WW in the past but was unable to stick with the plan because I couldn’t tolerate any fruits and vegetables…and without produce this plan is near impossible.  What I like about it is that it’s really 100% positive – there’s no shaming or punishment for missteps.  There’s also no need to count calories or grams – I just put the food eaten into the online tracker and everything is assigned a points value based on nutrient composition. You can eat anything at all and still be “on plan” as long as you can work it into your points.  I have 30 points a day to “spend” however I want.  Fruits and vegetables are nearly all 0 points, so there’s never a need to be hungry.  Just eat.  There are also an extra 45 points per week to spend on anything at any time – so if I eat something that isn’t awesome there’s a forgiving points cushion there to catch me.

To give me more incentive to exercise I have also joined StepBet.  From their website:

StepBet is a fitness game that motivates you to be more active. Players “bet” on themselves to meet their personalized step goals during every week of the game, and win money if they do. The cash prize, accountability, and community support help you become more active while having fun!

If you hit your personalized step goals for the entire game, you split the pot with the other winners. That means you get your bet back plus a profit.

So I have 6 weeks of walking ahead of me with $40 on the line.  My Fitbit will report back to StepBet folks.

I also signed up for a DietBet (same company).  I’ve bet $100 that I’ll be down to 199.6 pounds by March 4th.  I’m within 2 pounds of that now, so I’m pretty sure I’ll make it.

Here’s what I ate yesterday:

today

I’d like to be clear once again that until I started taking Culturelle Probiotics, which dramatically altered my gut flora, I was unable to eat whole fruits or vegetables, starches, or fibers without becoming incapacitated with depression.  Now that my gut is working normally (maybe even optimally) I can eat these things and stick to a diet plan like WW.  Weight loss may come down to a certain macronutrient balance or even Calories-In-Calories-Out (CICO) – I don’t know for sure – but I do know that if you can’t tolerate healthy foods it’s much more difficult to make a long term change.

I think the probiotics also reduced systemic inflammation, causing hormonal changes (e.g., reduced cortisol) that are now allowing body fat to be released.  I spent months and months eating low-carb (even no-carb at times) and not understanding why other people I knew were able to lose eating that way while I didn’t.  I think my body was inflamed due to gut dysbiosis, putting me in a constant state of stress and making weight loss impossible.  It’s also possible I was just eating too much, but I was listening to hunger cues and never eating past that.

So…bottom line…maybe weight loss is as simple as CICO – but until my body was able to tolerate healthy low-calorie foods, a CICO approach wasn’t possible for me.  If you’re having trouble losing weight, I strongly recommend taking a good look at what may be going on in the gut.

Optimistic

I can’t wait till Saturday.  On Saturday I plan on making myself somewhat ill by consuming vast quantities of raw, organic garlic in order to kill off bad organisms in my gut.  I assume the more you need to kill the worse you feel, so I hope I feel terrible.

Yesterday I was listening to this podcast by Jimmy Moore, with Christopher Kelly as guest.  I hadn’t heard of Christopher Kelly before this, but he’s easy on the ears and is basically an athlete and health practitioner following a ketogenic diet.  I’m not much interested in the ketogenic diet part, but he said something interesting that has stuck with me over the past 24 hours.  He said that he was having trouble maintaining ketosis and had nutritional testing done at Spectracell Laboratories.  The testing identified some nutritional deficiencies that he was able to address with diet, and viola! his athletic performance skyrocketed.  That got me thinking about nutritional deficiencies and why people might have them, despite eating a good diet.  I seem to recall that Ray Medina talks about how SIBO and bad gut bugs can result in nutrient malabsorption.

Then last night I was reading over at the Jack Kruse forum.  Reading this thread, what caught my eye is MamaGrok’s long response on this page.  She discusses her ups and downs with her health, indicating that the only thing that has made a difference for her has been amino acid supplementation.

It seemed to me that my problem was very likely a severe, severe endorphin depletion. This fit with all my history, including patterns of dissociation from all negative emotions, serious decrease in enjoyment of hobbies I used to love, and the fact that when I first read the main sentence in Julia Ross’ paragraph on endorphins, I burst into sobs without knowing why.

Yeah, I feel that way too. I wake up with a feeling of dread most days now, knowing I need to endure the next 12-16 hours while appearing reasonably happy for the sake of my 4 year old.  I currently experience very little enjoyment in life.  A classic symptom of low endorphins. It’s affecting every part of my life.  I have no interest in going out in the sun or being with people, and my hopes of having a business seem very remote, as I don’t even want to talk to anyone (pretty much a deal-breaker when in a human services field).  My marriage is suffering the effects of my anhedonia too.

MamaGrok went to an inpatient addictions treatment facility for IV amino acid therapy, and says this:

The doctor running the clinic is also determined to help me get to the root of my issue, which he strongly believes (and blood tests showing terrible absorption of AA’s from food) is poor digestion.

This set off bells in my head.  What if my problem is all in my gut?  I know I’ve discussed this briefly in posts and in comments, but the things I’ve been realizing lately are that gut dysbiosis can probably cause all kinds of problems that we would otherwise rule out because we have a “good diet”.  What if the bad bugs are eating all of my expensive pastured eggs and organic liver?  What if I have such a hard time lessening the meat in my diet because I too am having trouble absorbing amino acids?  What if the pressure in my abdomen is an enlarged fatty liver but I’ve ruled that out because I THINK I’m getting enough choline in all the eggs I eat?  I do believe we’re driven to eat what our body thinks we need.  Maybe that’s why I felt much better back in the day when I was eating a Big Ass Breakfast every day.  It’s the one part of the Leptin Reset that really did work for me.

The Great Garlic Experiment begins on Saturday.  My goal is to eradicate the bad guys and promote a harmonious living environment for friendly gut bacteria.  I’ll be following a plan similar to the one Ray Medina used.

In other news, I went to the doctor yesterday.  Worthless (but expensive, ironically).  She didn’t even look at the labs she ordered for me.  If she had I would have had to have the unpleasant “No, I’m not going to take statins” conversation, and I would have heard the dogma about avoiding sugar.  Got it, already.  I did get her to switch out the beta blockers for a diuretic, and using nutrition I hope to be off both in the next month.  She didn’t seem too concerned about whatever weirdness is pushing up on my ribcage from inside.  Told me to take some Pepcid.  I told her it’s not indigestion or gas.  After a long pause she asked me if I wanted an abdominal ultrasound.  I said yes.  I plan to schedule it for AFTER the garlic extravaganza.  Maybe slaying the bad dudes will fix it somehow and I can avoid an expensive test.

No idea what’s coming up, but I do feel optimistic.

A New Phase

Welcome to Lanie’s House of Surly.  I seem to have taken a turn from depressed to irritable.  Two sides of the same coin, I suppose.  At least this way I can get some things done.  Depression sucks.

Know what else sucks?  High blood pressure.  It seems to me, after a month of being on beta blockers, including a failed attempt to get off of them, that they do nothing for me and I can manage this bitch completely by better managing my intake of minerals (potassium, calcium, magnesium).  I just took my blood pressure.  159/91.  That’s on beta blockers, and with NOT watching mineral intake for a week.  (And my meter measures low, by the way.)  That’s eating a generally healthy diet, not using the salt shaker, but not being so obsessive about it that I avoid all food that contains sodium.  I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and I think I’m going to be informing her that it is NOT “fine to just stop taking [beta blockers]” after taking them for only 3 weeks, and that I’d like a diuretic instead.  As well as a better plan to get off of these physically addictive craptastic pills without sending my adrenaline and blood pressure to the moon.

I’ve been reading Ray Medina’s blog lately.  Very interesting stuff, and he seems to be just a regular person – not a scientist or a doctor – just a guy who has done a ton of his own research on the role of gut bacteria in health.  Just like Ray Peat seems to think everything comes back to the thyroid, Ray Medina blames the ills of society on pathogenic gut bacteria.  I don’t know who’s right, but RM makes a lot of sense.  He seems to recommend a gut-healthy diet, something along the lines of Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet, which is basically Paleo plus “safe starches”.  Yeah, I tried eating “safe starches” and I haven’t felt happy since.  After spending hours reading his blog and not finding answers to my specific issues, I wrote to him to ask:

Q: Is there such thing as a pathogenic bacteria that may cause an endotoxin problem only in the presence of starches?

A: Interesting question.

Gut pathogens, like most living organisms, utilize glucose and iron for their metabolism, although not all. Lactobacillus bacteria, for example, do not require iron for growth. Other pathogens like Candida can utilize both glucose and ketones for their metabolism. I suspect this is why so many low-carb dieters are beset by yeast infections even when glucose intake is low.

It’s impossible for me to tell whether your problem is caused by bacteria or yeast. It may be one, the other, or both.

We know that lipopolysaccharides can initiate the inflammatory cascade that results in depression. Translocation of these types of gram-negative bacterial components to systemic circulation is dependent on their concentration in the gut, whether they are kept in check by beneficial bacteria, the condition of the mucus that coats the digestive tract, the state of the cells lining the gut wall, and the tight junction proteins that bind them together.

Best regards,

Ray

He states on his site that he’s not all about giving people medical advice, so I was pretty happy he even wrote back.  What I take from his answer is that lipopolysaccharides (LPS, also known as endotoxin) can cause depression.  Various factors, such as the balance of good bacteria vs. bad and gut leakiness have a lot to do with whether they become problematic.  Ray Peat says basically the same thing, and recommends eating a raw carrot salad daily to address this (antibacterial carrot + oil + vinegar).  Ray Medina stated also that yeast may be playing a role.

Who the hell knows.

I’m not sure what to do about this.  Medina recommends a probiotic (he has his own, the production of which has been discontinued) and there are others he seems to think highly of. None are the soil-based probiotics recommended by Nikoley and crew.  The challenge with probiotics seems to be getting the microbes to survive the stomach acid, which kills most of what we ingest. I ordered one of the last 5 bottles produced by Medina himself.  Add it to the collection.

In other news, I got a Fitbit Flex for my birthday yesterday.  I’ve walked 7800 steps today.  That doesn’t include the steps during which I was pushing a stroller, because apparently it doesn’t count those.  Awesome.

Ok, I’ve lost interest in writing.  Time to go be surly somewhere else.