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Archive for the ‘energy’ Tag

Fear Itself   Leave a comment

Last night it rained a bit, and early this morning it rained a bit more here in northern Alabama.  Shocking, I know.  So when I drove into work this morning the roads were a little wet, and there were a few sprinkles along the way.

The road conditions were not perfect, but not bad either.  There was a car in front of me most of the way to work.  If a vehicle approached our road from a side road he’d start slowing down.  If he came across a puddle in the road he’d swerve a bit to miss it.  When people would pass him on the left he’d quickly move right as far as possible.  His driving gave me the distinct impression that he was fearful of driving on the wet roads.

It wasn’t that any of the things he did were inherently bad ideas.  Puddles can hide pot holes so avoiding them would seem wise.  Except these puddles really weren’t that big which meant it was really unlikely there was an issue there.  Sometimes people ignore stop signs so slowing down for the people approaching on side roads could seem a prudent precaution.  But the vehicles on the side roads were going really slow and showed no signs of bolting out.  And giving someone a wide berth when they pass you would seem reasonable, if he wasn’t moving so far to the right he was crossing the line and driving on the shoulder.  He appeared way more fearful than he should have been under the circumstances.

When you experience a small amount of fear, that’s a good thing.  It’s your mind’s warning system telling you to start being more vigilant.  Experience too much fear and it quickly become negative.  You begin overreacting and stressing out, neither of which is good for you.  If the level of fear rises high enough it can even be crippling, keeping you frozen and unable to react at all.

Making things worse is the fact that your mind doesn’t know the difference between a real threat you should fear, and a perceived threat, that only has the potential for harm because a perception in itself isn’t harmful.  Seneca famously stated “We are more often frightened than hurt;  and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”  Or more simply, fear’s bark is often much worse than its bite.

So how do you fix this?  How do you keep fear at the smaller level of a simple warning system?  You be mindful.  If you are keeping yourself focused on the here and now there’s less time to focus on the fear.  If you aren’t focused on the fear, it can’t grow.  If you’re focused on the here and now you can make decisions in the present moment, not the feared future.  And when you’re making those decisions mindfully and calmly you’re seeing more options and making better decisions.

Mindfulness is a form of meditation, which means it’s stress reducing, which reduces anxiety and fear.  It promotes calmness, which reduces fear.  It makes you happier, which reduces fear.  It enhances gratitude, which reduces fear.

Why focus on an imaginary future of fears and worries when you could spend that time quietly thinking to yourself that “you’ve got this” and that “I am more than enough.”  Focus on the good things in life.  Or dwell in fear.  The choice is yours.  Me, I’m going with calmness, happiness, and gratitude.  I hope you do to.  Have a great day.

 

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Your Great Experiment   Leave a comment

I was talking today with a coworker about the ketogenic diet.  She was interested in knowing what I was doing to lose so much weight since the beginning of the year.  And I didn’t mind sharing.  In fact, I’d say that the problem tends to be getting me to shut up after I get started talking about keto.

As much as I love keto and as much success as I’ve had with it, though, I always try to remember to share that not every diet will work the same for everyone.  And I think that’s a good thing for everyone to remember for a great many things in life.

When I first tried losing weight a long while ago I tried simple calorie restriction.  It’s worked for many a person, but not for me.  I lost a little weight at first but after a short while my body just adapted to the lower calories by slowing down my metabolism.  I was tired and cranky all the time.  My cravings went up, and soon enough I just broke and went back to eating what I used to, and lots of it because I was starving.

I tried creating a caloric deficit from the other side of the equation, increasing the calories I burned each day via more exercise.  Again, I lost a bit up front, but then I just started feeling hungrier all the time and eventually broke again.  And I felt terrible to boot as I know that lots of people have lost weight this way.  So what was wrong with me?

Over the years I tinkered with lowering calories and increasing caloric burn in shifting amounts but it all wound up right back reaching the point where I lost the willpower to keep at it.  So eventually I just gave up trying for a while.

Then a few years ago my friend wanted to try the Whole 30 plan.  She felt it would be easier if she had an accountability buddy to do it with her and asked me if I would go Whole 30, too.  I got a copy of the book “It Starts With Food” by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig.  I liked the premise of it and felt it was something I could stick to for 30 days, especially if my motivation was to help a friend.  So I told her I’d be happy to try it.  I dropped a lot of weight quickly and was really happy with the results.  I felt better and had way more energy.  It’s a great diet plan that has worked for a lot of people.  I highly recommend it and have included an affiliate link to the book below (just click the pic).

The problem came after the 30 days was over.  If I had continued to follow the Whole 30 eating plan I have no doubt I’d have continued to lose weight.  The worst mistake I made was after the 30 days was up I decided to reward my willpower with a mocha, as I couldn’t have one for the last 30 days.  It seemed innocent enough.  After all one mocha wouldn’t erase all the success I just had.  And it’s true, that one mocha didn’t.  But the mocha I had a few days later, and the trip to Dairy Queen I justified using the same “just one” principle, plus other justifications slowly led me back to my old habits.  So the diet was great, my desire to stick to it wasn’t.  The only difference was instead of reaching a breaking point where my will just snapped, it was more a slow downhill slope that eventually created enough momentum to knock my willpower out.

This brings us to January 1st of this year.  I started the keto diet.  Like with the Whole 30 I wanted to be prepared by studying up on it.  So I purchased a copy of “The Ketogenic Bible” by Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery (there’s also an affiliate link for it, just click the pic).  And I started doing research online, including following people on YouTube who were living the keto lifestyle.  And a friend of mine had great success with it so I was really excited to see what it held in store for me.

The best part was that I knew I wouldn’t fall into the same trap I had with Whole 30.  Although I do enjoy one day off from keto a month, I knew the rest of the month I needed to be strictly keto.  Unlike the Whole 30 where one mocha wouldn’t wipe out all the rest of the proper eating I was doing, one mocha on keto stops the diet in its tracks.  Doing that for one day a month is ok because it won’t override the other 29 days of staying keto.  But it’s definitely knocking you out of ketosis on the day you do it.  A day of fasting after my day off and I’m quickly back in the game.

And it’s worked.  I’ve steadily lost weight on keto.  Sure, there have been a couple of upswings in weight since the beginning of the year, but I’ve still managed to lose a lot of weight.  Because I’ve stuck with it.  I’ve found what works for me.  I clearly needed the disciplined nature of keto so I couldn’t allow myself to make excuses.

Which is why I titled this post “Your Great Experiment.”  Not every diet your friends have had amazing success on will work for you.  Or the supplements that your friend has taken that increased her endurance while running may not move the needle for you at all.  Or running itself may be a terrible exercise choice for you.

The thing to keep in mind is, just because one thing didn’t work for you, doesn’t mean you’re destined to fail at all things.  Thomas Edison famously stated that he didn’t fail 10,000 times developing the lightbulb, instead he discovered 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb.  He experimented with a lot of different methods and one finally paid off.

So treat your life like a great experiment to find your best version.  Try this, that, or the other.  Figure out what works, and keep it.  Find out what doesn’t work, and discard it.  But keep running the experiment every day.  Eventually by implementing all the things that work, while not wasting time on the things that don’t, you’ll arrive at your best version of yourself.

Was I happy I had failed so many times before?  Of course not.  But I kept running the experiment and eventually found what works for me.  And now I keep running the experiment by continuing with keto while trying new things like meditation (it works and I’m keeping it) and supplements (a lot don’t work so I don’t waste my money on them, but a few have shown promise).  And I’ll continue to run my experiment until my final day so that when my time comes to an end I’ll leave with a smile knowing I’ve done everything I could to be my best version.  Have a great day.

Fasting   Leave a comment

One of the cool things about the ketogenic diet is that it has a similar affect on your body to fasting.  Notice I said similar, not same.  That’s a very important distinction.  While you can get a lot of the benefits of fasting by living a ketogenic lifestyle without actually going without food, the only way to get all the benefits of fasting is of course to fast.

And that’s where another benefit of the ketogenic diet comes in.  By reducing your hunger pangs, when you do decide to fast to get all the benefits, it becomes a lot easier.

The logic is simple on this one.  When you live a ketogenic lifestyle you’re constantly in a state of ketosis.  Now if you want to be nit picky, yes, there may be times when you fade a little in and out of ketosis but for the most part you are in ketosis.  What does being in ketosis mean?  That means you have a higher level of ketone bodies in your system.  And where do you get ketones from?  Ketones are derived from fat in the liver.

So if you are in ketosis you are running your body off of fat.  Now on a regular day you are ingesting fat to power yourself.  Even if you’re on the ketogenic diet to lose weight you’d still be taking in a good amount of fat.  But what happens if you don’t take in extra fat?  Or food at all for that matter.

Since your body can already use fat for fuel your body goes looking for fat.  And as mentioned in previous posts, you have plenty of that in your system even if you have a low body fat percentage.  So your energy needs can be maintained strictly by your fat reserves. From 16 hours (the shortest period you’d want to fast) to days, depending on how much of a reserve you’re carrying.  And during all that time your body is being powered from within, you’re receiving all the benefits of fasting.  And when you do eventually decide to go back to consuming food you’ll go back to getting most instead of all the benefits.

This has been a really brief discussion about fasting and ketosis.  If you’d like more information on the subject I highly recommend reading The Ketogenic Bible by Jacob Wilson and Ryan Lowery.  They cover the topic in much better detail, along with a lot of citations to the latest research.  You can get as in depth as you want from the information provided.  I’ll include an affiliate link to the Kindle version of the book below, just click on the picture.  If you’d like a physical copy, I’ve had that before too.  It’s a decent sized book, which is why I prefer the Kindle version.

That’s all for today.  Hope you’re having a great day and hope to see you again soon.

Energy   Leave a comment

This is not so much a benefit of not being hungry as it is more of a tag along experience.  The reason why you don’t feel hungry on keto is because you have a better gas tank all of the sudden.

Think of it this way.  Imagine I owned a dealership that had two nearly identical cars to sell you.  Every detail about the cars was the same.  The style, the color, the price, all identical save the fuel source.  With the first car you’d get a range of around 2,000 miles.  The other car has a range of 30,000 miles.

Well that’s how your body works.  When you rely on glucose as your fuel source you can only store 2,000 or so calories at a time.  That’s regardless of your size and shape.  2,000 calories, maybe 2,500 if you’re lucky.  That’s why your body craves food so much on a glucose based diet.  You go through a lot of your fuel tank each day even if you aren’t particularly active.

Now look at the person who is keto adapted.  Your fuel source is ketones.  Even if you’re lean and athletic you’re holding on to 30,000 some odd calories in your tank.  Way more than you’ll burn in a day, even if you’re very active.  So there’s no sense of urgency in your body to replace the fuel as you use it.  That sense of urgency of course is hunger.

How does this play out over the course of the day.  Well if you’re glucose based as your day goes on you’ll actually see the needle moving on your fuel tank.  And then your body becomes nervous.  It doesn’t want to wait until the tank is about empty, as we often do with our cars.  The body feels there’s a scarcity of food and it acts now to protect you.

Using the car analogy, if you are flying down the highway at 80mph and you realize that you need to start conserving fuel, what do you do?  You slow down of course.  You decrease the amount of fuel you need to burn and try to become more efficient in how you’re burning it.  As a human you experience this as tiredness and lower performance.

Now think of the ketone powered vehicle.  It doesn’t worry because even if you’re super active you’re likely only going through 10-15% of your fuel supply.  So there’s no need to take emergency measures to make sure you can go until the next fuel up.  In fact you could go a few days without fueling up before it becomes an issue.

So how does having all day energy play out for you?  You get more stuff done.  There’s no mid day taper off of performance.  You’re not wasting time having to refuel throughout the day so that’s more time you get to spend doing whatever you like.  When you wake up in the morning you don’t need to rush to fill the tank to get started.  You wake up with a sufficient fuel supply on board so you hit the ground running.  And staying up later isn’t an issue either, although you still should get a good nights sleep every night.  In an interesting “paradox” since I started I have more energy during the day but when it’s time for bed I sleep like a baby.

All of that is great and all, but I’d say the biggest energy boost goes to the biggest energy hog in your body, your brain.  It’s such a small part of your body but it uses about 20% of your daily energy expenditure. I’m not a biology major or medical professional, that’s just the figure I’ve seen in most everything I’ve read on the subject.  Brain fog, that feeling you get where it gets harder and harder to think and concentrate, is an energy issue.  When you switch to ketones you not only have a much larger reservoir of energy for the brain to use, it’s an energy source it finds easier to use.  You stay alert and awake all day with better mental focus and clarity.  And it’s not hard to see how that will improve your productivity throughout the day.  Imagine reading faster and comprehending better because you’re not having to keep going back and rereading passages due to brain fog.

All of this because you have more fuel on board which translates to more energy throughout the day.  So let’s get back to the car analogy we started with.  I have the same two cars to sell you.  The only difference is one will get you 2,000 miles down the road, the other 30,000 miles.  Which one are you going to buy from me?  The answer is pretty obvious.  So now the question is which body do you want?  The one that has a small tank and gets cranky when the tank isn’t full?  Or the one that can go for days without a fill up and still run at top performance?  Which brings us to the third things I mentioned, fasting.  And that is a topic we’ll cover in tomorrow post.  Hope you’re having a great day and see you soon.