Archive for February, 2012

Female fitness clarification

A la my recent post on the masculinization of the ideal female body, people seem to think I’m advocating that whole paleo muscled, shredded woman as beautiful.

I’m not.

do think it’s sexy.  It’s why I worked so hard to achieve it.

 

But I think it’s overdone.  Strong does not = healthy.  Strong = strong.  Sated and energized and fertile = healthy.  This often means fat.  Fat in your chest, fat on your thighs, fat on your hips, maybe some fat on your abdomen.

Deal with it.

I refuse to hate my thighs.  You know– that’s why I had to get so skinny.  I couldn’t get that damn fat off of my thighs.   Fuck it.  I’m tired of hating my body for something that I did to it, and I’m tired of counseling women as thin as I am on how to stop obsessing over food when the most obvious answer is to eat more.   Yes, I think of course that disordered eating is still a problem.  I think emotional relationships with food occur at all weight levels.  I will always help and love you within the paradigm of your mindset and your goals.  Unconditionally.  But when your health is at stake, please please please please please consider all of the options.  Including this one: embrace fat.  Double zeroes are not ideal.  Threes are even not ideal.  What’s ideal is your body and comfort.  That I am certain is sexiest thing of all.

 

22

02 2012

Quality of thought versus Quality of ideas

The Quality of an idea is sometimes obvious.   Denying birth control coverage at hospitals for example, is a bad idea.  The ontological argument is (for the most part) a bad idea.  A stick of butter for breakfast is (usually) a bad idea.  But sometimes it’s less clear– the science is out, the philosophy is at a standstill…we do our best.

This is what we do with nutrition.

The paleosphere is better at it than most.  That’s why it’s so attractive to me.  Paleo thinkers are generally good analyzers, and therefore see the quality of an idea pretty well.  Animal products = the cause of the obesity epidemic?  Please. 

BUT that doesn’t mean we have all the information.

Today, I have been reading Matt Stone* obsessively.   Over the last twelve months, I have been watching the carbohydrate argument snowball.  I have read all of 30-bananas-a-day.  I know what Richard Nikoley thinks.   I know what Chris Kresser, Chris Masterjohn, Mark Sisson, Stephan Guyenet, Jamie Scott, Melissa McEwen, Jimmy Moore, Paul Jaminet, Emily DeansRay Peat, JS, Denise Minger, Robb Wolf, and Kurt Harris think.  I know what I think.  What all of this has taught me over the course of several years is that we know nothing.

Did you know a crowd is as good as picking the “right” decision as an expert?

So when I say “we” know nothing– I want to talk about paleo thinkers specifically.  We’re guessing.  We all know this, with some people being obviously better informed and equipped than others.  But generally what it means is that we have to do our best, and experiment, and work off of what we see and analyze with the most propped open eyes we can possibly manage.

I am so happy to give my two cents, and to share the results of my research and experience, and to help you when you e-mail me, but the bottom line is I have no idea if any of it is ever going to prove truthful.

To me, this demonstrates quality of thought.  I do my damndest to be intellectually honest and open and discerning and wise.  I hope that gets me to the right ideas.    I hope I am helping you, god damnit do I ever.

So I think what this means is… we should use the science and ideas around us.  We should analyze them.  But we should also trust our bodies and our intuition  and the principle to eat real food that we crave and that satisfies us.  

We over-think things, I think.  Over-do.  Over-analyze.  Seaweed’s got iodine in it?   I’ll eat four cups a day!!!  Broccoli is good?  Give me some at every meal!!  No.  Don’t let yourself be holed up in a food perfectionism obsessions corner.  That’s for n00bs.   Honestly.   Read broadly.  Think deeply.   Listen closely.  Then gently, easily, lovingly, eat real food that you crave and that satisfies you.  

 

 

*The reason I am reading Matt Stone is because he is a critical, dissenting voice.  These voices are important.  Be informed.  Go!

22

02 2012

Carbohydrates for fertility

Lots of talk going on in the web recently about carbs and fertility!  Women’s health ftw!

Paul Jaminet: Higher Carb Dieting Pros and Cons

Chris Kresser and Chris Masterjohn: Cholesterol, mostly, also: Telltale signs you need more carbs

Cheeseslave: Why I ditched low carb

Paleo Diet News: Sort of rehashing Paul’s argument

Julianne: Okay, People, Carb’s Don’t Kill

Melissa McEwen (always a badass on women and fertility): What the bleep do we know about carbs

While you’re at it, go read Melissa’s post on Why Women Need Fat.  Now.

 

Hey.  I haven’t emphasized this enough on this blog.   Hypothyroidism can be induced via a number of mechanisms.  One is a low carbohydrate diet.  If hypothyroid, or even subclinical thyroid, is at all a part of your PCOS pathology, consider eating a high carb (at least 100 g/day, IMHO).   Really.   Do it.  Reading the links above will give you helpful insight into the mechanisms.

 

My quick anecdote:

Since adding carbohydrates to my diet– call me crazy– I’ve been less sickly.  The acne scars on my face heal much more quickly than they used to.   My acne itself is way better, though my meds, in part, can account for that.   I sleep much much much much more peacefully.  Most importantly, my breasts and hips have gotten larger, and my thighs a bit I guess, but my stomach has stayed flat flat flat.  How nice is that?   (But I would still be healthy if I had some tummy fat!)   Clearly my estrogen profile has changed.

(Note: I am also on a diuretic, so this makes it easier to have muscle definition, especially in the abdominals, but– well, I’ll take what I can get.  I’m not giving up carbs again.)

21

02 2012

Female fitness: optimization or masculinization?

HEY.

What do you think the most beautiful female body looks like?

Is it like this?

Or like this?

Or most probably, especially in paleo circles, it looks like this:

(For more of these, see Crossfit Babes at Tumblr.   There are thousands.)

HOT.  These women have got breasts and hips and beautiful sets of abs.  They’re defined, and they’re strong, and that’s something that we value very highly.  And holy crap, that woman doing the one handed push up, I’ll have sex dreams about her for a week.

Many years ago, we thought that fat women were hot.  That was socialized.  Then we thought super-corseted, rounded women were hot.  That was socialized, too.  Then we got angry about masculine dominance of modern society, and we set out to claim as much equality as possible.   We’ve got female athletes.  We’ve got title IX.  We’ve got weight lifters.  Bad.  Ass.

People in the paleo community I think are especially attuned to this.  We are feminists.  We also believe in strength, rather than in being thin and supermodelly, such that I see at least one post a month in the paleosphere that advocates fit, strong, womanly hotness.

I am (was–this was me four months ago, not today) fit, strong, womanly hotness.

Yes, I cropped my face out of this photo.  No, I will not tell you how often I dress like this.

But I wonder: is this a socialized norm, too?

We are still constructing notions of beauty.  We are still putting different bodies on pedastals.  We can’t help it.  We are human, and we have tastes!  The thing is: I wonder, since we are reacting so strongly to the masculine culture, and since we are excited about athelticism, are we taking those ideas to the extreme and idealizing the hot, muscled body?

When are we going to idealize what’s healthy?

Healthy spans a big, big range.  I get that.  Some women are very healthy and very thin.  Some women are healthiest at higher BMIs, and might look more like this:

Ok.  I don’t have a photo.  I googled “woman bmi 25″ and “woman not super fit” and all sorts of phrases and got nothing but photos of women pinching fat and crouching over scales.  nothing.   I did get these nice graphics, though:

 

The whole point being: next time you’re striving to flatten out your tummy, and it’s not working, and you don’t have an eight pack, or you don’t have huge biceps because your arms just don’t get that thin, GREAT.  FLAB can be sexy.  Fuck, guys, I mean it.  Embrace it.  Men can go to super low body fats and be healthy.  They don’t have babies.  Women can’t.  Deal.   Be one with your natural femininity.

20

02 2012

God-replacement: filling the void with food

“Oh my god, is she going to talk about religion?”

HAH.  You bet!

Peripherally, at least.  Now’d be a good time to exit if existential questions make you uncomfortable.

We live in a godless world.  That isn’t to say that people don’t believe in God.  They do, and that’s cool.  In my own hyper-qualified, super sciency way, I believe in God, too.  And that’s important.  I’ll get to that in a bit.  My point, however, is about what we, as modern humans, lack, and the crazy ways in which we try to make up for that.

What we lack is Meaning.  Fulfillment.  Serenity.  Assurance.  Gone are the days where we could ease fears about dying with assurances of heaven and limbo and reincarnation.  Gone are the days where we can assume we partake in a beautiful story unfolding throughout a grandiose history.  Gone are the days where we are hunter-gathering humans who have no concern for these things… because in that case what you do is go about your daily life, return home to your cave  at night and make love to your husband(s), and sleep peacefully knowing that your tribe is alive and well.

Today, we worry about things.  We question them.  We live in a world of hyper doubt.   The constant barrage of resources and differing opinions makes living otherwise virtually impossible– and who would want to be a hermit, anyway?   What’s worse than that, however, is how we are situated in this culture of doubt.  Doubt by itself is no evil thing, but doubt in a world in which feelings of support, love, and communal comfort are generally rare is something I would like to call a Big Fucking Issue.

But just you wait, you say.  I like doubts.  I like truth.  I like having the hard facts of the world laid out in front of me.  Even though I know it’s psychologically difficult, I would not have it any other way.

I agree with you.  I am the same.  I cannot sacrifice truth.  I cannot let go of doubt.  We are the modern world.  We are born of it, we breathe it, and we actively construct it ourselves.  Fears about our existence, and uncertainty about purpose….. these are things that we just have to live with, and that’s okay.

The problem is that we don’t live with them correctly.   These desperate fears and anxieties are deeply rooted in our psychologies, probably far deeper than we could ever imagine.  They worm their way in our brains from early childhood on, and our lives are constant reinforcements of the fact that nothing is ever certain.  In some worlds, this might be mangaeable.  If we lived in small communities, if we spent time every evening in the company of people we loved, doing activities that we loved, rather than being isolated by computer screens and our obsessions with internet communities, we might feel less despair.  We might feel less like something is missing.  

If we had more human contact, I think a lot of things would be better in our lives.  This is one of the big ways in which we might ease existential fear.    Because humans–real, live, squishy humans who rub our backs when we go to sleep at night–these are the things that assure us best that we are not alone.  It is crucial for our well-being that we do not feel alone.

But we are, in many ways, alone.  And even if we don’t feel alone generally, we spend a lot more time in isolation these days than is probably optimal.  And then even if we did have optimal human comfort, we might still be floundering.  Meaning still might be missing from our lives in important ways, even though we  can construct meaning in things such as hedonism, activism, and the arts (which I do not deride–they are important for our well-being, too).  We still might be mired down by questions.  Why is there so much suffering in the world?  Why is there so much suffering in my life?  What is the underlying nature of reality?  Is there a god?  What is going to happen to me when I die?   Oh god, please don’t let me die, please don’t let me die…

 

I think a lot of these questions lead us to live a bit of frantic lifestyle.  Because we are unhappy, and alone, maybe, and because we worry so much about what it means to make a meaningful life, we spend all of our free time doing our best to fill it.  We cannot have a still second, otherwise we have to be alone with our thoughts.  Or, even worse, beyond that: we cannot have a still second because resting would mean that we are not achieving perfection.  We are not getting that promotion.  We are not earning enough money for an HD TV.   And if you don’t take over the world with your ambitions, (or at least get that TV you promised your children) then what the fuck is your life amounting to?

Will you arrive at your 80th birthday party and have terrible regrets?

Is that not one of your greatest fears?

Anyway.  That’s my case for the existential worry.   I think it’s in all of us, to varying degrees.   I think there’s a big, gaping, hurting hole there, and if we don’t fill it with good things like deities or other human beings, we fill it with negative things like perfectionism, consumerism, and mind-numbing devices like TV and the internet.

Or FOOD.

It’s a bit much for me to say: “solve your existential crisis, be at peace, and you’ll stop exhibiting disordered eating behavior.”  But that is essentially what I am saying.   I am not trying to convince you that it’s 100 percent effective (or that people who believe in God don’t have eating disorders– of course they do).*  But I can tell you that these kinds of worries, the big deal kinds of worries, underlie a lot of the anxiety that manifests itself in our lives in different ways.   And we know that anxiety is one of the biggest triggers of disordered eating.  Believe in God:** salvage your digestive track.

——————-

Let me tell you a quick story.

I have been an anxious person for 23 years.  I don’t think there has been a moment of my life that wasn’t consumed by anxiety of one sort or another, and I think, too, that a great many of those moments were overlaid with pressure, by impatience, by irritability, and by anger.  I don’t know if I would have been able to attribute those nasty personality traits to my existential crisis, but I might have ceded the point to you if you asserted it yourself.  I was a high-strung, angry person.  It sucked.

I did a lot of eating.

For a variety of reasons, many of them scholarly and some of them experiential, I have come to see death as less terrifying.  I have come to feel a Buddhist-type release of my attachment to the world, and I have morphed into a more spiritual, less nihilistic being.

My anger has dissipated, my anxiety has floated away, and my eating…

well, it happens less.

I have always known that I ate to fill a loneliness hole.  I felt isolated, and the mechanical act of ingesting food made me forget that fact.   Now that I don’t feel so existentially lost and afraid, and now that I am at peace with existence and myself when I am alone, I don’t feel the need to fill the void with food.

It’s something to think on, anyway.

 

 

*but I can tell you that it is almost 100 percent definitively known that the greater belief one has in “something beyond humans” spanning from apophatic mystic conceptions of God to the Dao to a man with a beard in the sky, the greater psychological stability and well-being he exhibits.

**God-type thing.

 

09

02 2012