Saturday, June 30, 2012

A freaking minefield...

So normally I post about my art and other such creative things. Right now I just really really want to rant about all the weird things out there for a woman who is trying to lose weight to stumble upon on the internets.

I was reading a blog I follow but apparently not as closely as I thought when I stumbled upon the Paleolithic diet, to which the blogger follows. I had never heard of this one, and I've heard of some doozies out there. This diet apparently presents the idea that we should eat as hunter-gathers do because that's what we did before. It requires cutting out things you couldn't hunt or gather, like all grains, dairy, legumes (I'm pretty sure these were gather-able at some point in history), refined sugars and processed oils.

The last two things I totally understand. Refined sugars are pretty well terrible for you, and processed oils ( anything that isn't just pressed from a plant) have proven to be some of the nastiest fats ever conceived. Yes, I mean you Hydrogenated Oils. You are the Ugly Fat and should have no place in anyone's gut ever. But Grains? Grains were perfectly gather-able back in the day, though not in huge quantities. They were most likely roasted and eaten with everything else they hunted/gathered rather than ground. There are also Native American tribes of the hunter/gatherer variety who GATHERED a wild rice variety of grain. They also included other things similar, like root vegetables, which were frequently gathered by the Native Americans for years as a staple food.

Dairy was definitely something that the nomadic tribes and those in the agricultural age were known for, but dairy is extremely good for people, as long as its treated correctly and said people aren't lactose intolerant. Modern cheese is a sad thing because its pretty well dead, nothing like the cheese of the past, because everything has to be pasturized (most likely because of agribusiness being lazy with sanitary conditions back in the day which caused a scare...oy...). But homemade cheese, and other cultured dairy like yogurt is fantastic for digestion and is a cheaper form of protein that could be used to ease the world hunger problem. And on a personal level, I will never stop drinking milk because I love it and it's one of the few things that eases my heartburn.

Legumes have their place. Beans and peas were probably gather-able at some point in history as well, and are great sources of protein and fiber. Those are good things since we are made of protein and fiber keeps things moving while ushering out the bad fats one may have consumed because they can't be completely avoided without going vegetarian or vegan (I have a whole other rant on those which I will save for later!).

All in all, there are good things about this diet but seriously?

Meanwhile, in the land of how and with what to exercise, no one can agree. The same blog that had some information on Paleo also contained some information that astounded me. I have grown up hearing that if you want to lose weight, you must consume less calories than you burn during the day and cardio combined with strength training was the way to go. Simple too, as you could walk and use a resistance band so you required minimal equipment. According to the blog, the cardio was bad but lifting serious weights was the way to go, but don't worry about obtaining a six pack because that doesn't come naturally to the feminine figure for most women.

I agree with the last part but last time I knew, cardio is necessary if you have a lot of weight to lose. You can burn calories during strength training but it isn't constant like during cardio. You have to have a calorie deficit of 500 per day to lose a pound in a week. From what I've seen with most strength training exercises, you have to do a whole lot more. I'd rather take a walk, thank you.

Also, I like my resistance band. It's has three bands of differing tension and I can adjust the tension myself during the workout without having to buy new dumb bells or kettle bells every time I need the next heavier weight. I use the darn thing, not because I think I'm structurally wrong for weights, but because it works for me. They aren't sissy pants things. They can work if you use them correctly and that's not all the difficult. Plus, who wants to trip all over the now useless weights scattered about the house?

My final beef with the weight loss world is how they measure how overweight/underweight a person happens to be. At one point it had to do with a person's measurements. I don't know how much science went into the old school measurement ideals. Maybe I'll look into that some time. Then it was these supposedly science-based charts that stated what an acceptable weight or weight range was for a person's height. I say supposedly because the weight ranges have gone down as progressively thinner women have become the expectation. It could be scientific updating, or body size trends. It's hard to say for sure.

Then we added the Body Mass Index, which is flawed because it assumes that two people of the same weight and height should are the same level of healthy. Yet say you have two 5'3" women who both weigh around 170 pounds. This would be overweight if I recall correctly. But if one woman is mega buff and the other 170 pound of fat, one is healthier than the other but according to those stupid charts, they both need to lose weight.

Just to make things even more confusing, we are handed the waist-to-hip ratio, based on the idea that a person with more fat around their midsection has more visceral fat which is not so good to have on you . And they would annoyingly call you an "apple". Some researchers have called this into question, saying that fat is fat for the most part and lugging around extra weight will put strain on your system, no matter where it is stored on your person. Of course they can't agree on it so we, the hopeful "losers" are left with going "hn?" and remaining the size we are because we can't possibly do it right.

As a side note, if you are trying to lose weight, avoid Pinterest at all costs because you will be bombarded by super skinny hard bodies with guilt-producing "inspirational" statements photoshopped on to them next to the best creamy pasta dishes and succulent desserts known to humanity. It's not fair. So far I've made two desserts and threw out most of the workout ideas. Save yourself the hassle.

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