Sunday, March 9, 2014

Healthy Eating, But What About Healthy Drinking Water?

My 2-Day Diet Progress Week 18, March 9, 2014 
Beginning weight 11/3/13: 209 lbs.
Height 5'8" Age: 61
Goal weight: 165 lbs.
Total loss goal: 44 lbs.
Beginning waist size: 43 in.
Current waist size: 39 in.
Weight end of week 18:  183 lbs.
Gain/Loss this week:  3 lbs.
Total Gain/Loss:  -26 lbs.

I continue to lose weight, 26 pounds since November 3rd. Three pounds since last Sunday (though I had not shown loss for two weeks before and attribute some of today's weigh in to gradual loss that just didn't register last Sunday morning because I'd had a large meal and snacks the night before). I rarely snack anymore, and when I do, I don’t have much. I just don’t need to eat nearly as much as I used to for a feeling of fullness, and I also don’t feel it necessary to eat until I feel full, so meals have been shrinking without measuring portions or keeping track of how many carbs, proteins, fats or fruits I’ve eaten (I’ve always figured green vege portions didn’t need counting—they’re healthy; graze as much as you want). It would be interesting to know how many calories I’m consuming. I don’t know how many I was consuming before I made my radical shift in gastronomical philosophy, but I’ll bet it was at least three times what I’m eating now. And I was able to maintain my weight fairly well, fluctuating within a range of about 10 pounds but not exceeding it for the past 10 years. News Flash #2: I’m losing weight primarily because I’m eating a whole lot less than I used to, and the fat in my body is packed with energy which as it burns, sustains my daily activity quite well.

And a quick Google search and calculation later, I have a better understanding of why losing a pound is so hard to achieve. There are 9 calories in a gram of fat, and about 450 grams in a pound, so one pound of fat has about 4,000 calories in it. Since a healthy number of calories a day to maintain weight for someone my age and level of activity is somewhere around 2,000 or so calories, I’d have to eat nothing at all for two days to burn off a pound of fat! Well, I think I’m going to stop obsessing over my weight every day from now on. With that science literally under my belt, it seems unreasonable, doesn’t it, that I’d lose a pound (or more) every week, which I’d come to hope for, if not expect.

However, that is what the 2 Day Diet book told me I might expect. The reasons they give are that by consuming proportionately more protein than carbs you’re preserving more muscle, and if you’re also exercising, you build muscle, and muscle they say, citing research, burns 7 times more calories than fat even when resting. Further, it seems to me that IF one is very strict about avoiding foods with carbohydrates for two days a week, you have a chance of achieving what’s called “ketosis”, or fat burning, that is the 'secret' to low carb diets like the Atkins Diet. The body needs carbs to metabolize the proteins and fats, and lacking them, passes them through. Lacking energy from the food one eats, the body turns to stored body fat for sustenance and produces keytones, a byproduct of the burning fat. 


The weather has finally taken a turn towards Spring the last couple days, and I’ve ridden my bike more. I usually ride in my Charleston, WV neighborhood, called Fort Hill. It’s an old neighborhood of a couple hundred modest homes and few upscale ones. A solidly middle to upper middle class neighborhood. By West Virginia standards, most of us are probably in the top five percent of earners, however. Despite the number of snowy and cold days this winter, I’ve  had about 7 rides in February and March so far. And on these rides I’ve been asking people out walking their dogs or getting their exercise whether they drink the water. The answer is no. I would guess I’ve talked to almost thirty people who probably represent at least twice that many, since when I ask if their whole family does the same thing, they usually say yes. They often say about drinking the water, "not yet," or "I’m getting close." 

When I follow up with, "When, if ever, will you drink it?" I get strange, illogical answers. 

"Soon," or "I’m just not ready," or "When I run out of the bottled water I have left." Only two have said never, and one of those wasn’t drinking it before, only drinking distilled water because she and her husband believed fluoridation and chlorination were dangerous to health. The other said it was basically because she just couldn’t ever again believe public officials or the water company, she thought they may have been involved in conspiratorial cover-up or were just incompetent and that we’d likely been exposed to MCHM for a long time already from the tank leaking into the river over time. 

Almost everybody uses city water to shower, wash dishes, and wash clothes. One single woman, probably in her late forties, said she used it to make coffee, but drank bottled water.

And that’s, I think, one of the most interesting aspects of the aftermath of Aquageddon (I think it’s a terrible name that over-aggrandizes the seriousness of this event, but at least it’s short). It has undermined people’s sense of trust in our local and state government officials, and certainly in the water company. And while a few weeks ago I argued it was a form of post-traumatic stress causing people to be afraid of the water, now I just see it as revealing quite starkly just how irrational people are in making judgments. Because for most of them, when they will drink the water has nothing to do with waiting for a final report from a study being conducted or confirmation that the chemical has reached a certain level or can’t be detected, or a water test in their own home, or when they no longer smell licorice in the hot water, or when hum sees the governor drink it with hum’s own eyes (those were some answers I collected). 

What it usually boiled down to when I pressed the issue was they would begin drinking the water when they feel emotionally secure enough to do so, when some internal switch goes off, or some outside force like running out of bottled water makes it less convenient not to. News flash: most people are not rational decision makers.


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