Saturday, 21 March 2009

Talking Fat and Cutting the Bull...meat..whatever...

So, 15 months (or so) of healthy living and I feel like I am starting from scratch. As I’ve mentioned, I never once read a guide to healthy living, dieting, etc. I didn’t jump on the bandwagon of a fad diet. Basically I just did what seemed right – and apparently it was mostly right, because it was mostly successful.

Recently I read a book “The Master Cleanse”. While the majority of this book was hooey (good use of my university vocabulary) and I disagree with major segments of this book, it did get me thinking. First off, I will never likely do a master cleanse. When the author forewarned of advanced yeast problems from doing the cleanse, I was sort of turned off by the idea. Seriously – who actually pursues a yeast infection? I’m sure the makers of Canasten and Monistat are pleased.
And contrary to the author’s belief, I do actually believe in the co-dependent relationship my intestinal bacteria and I have. Let’s face it – it’s really the most successful relationship that I have at the moment (or at least the easiest to maintain). Why ruin it?
The same friend who recommended the Master Cleanse (and the Martha’s Vineyard Diet) also recommended another book. “Skinny Bitch”. I was sceptical, but what the heck – I’m not doing anything productive with my time. Why not read it?

And it made sense.

Let’s get something clear first:
- I believe that humans should eat meat. I was technically trained as an evolutionary scientist; I believe that our evolution has hardwired us to be omnivores. In other words, I have no problems with humans consuming meat.
- I believe that there is something horrendously wrong with our culture, in terms of nutrition and lifestyle, and that has resulted in obesity.
- I believe that cows, sheep, pigs, etc, living on meat-farms were meant to be meat. That does not mean that I believe in animal cruelty, and does not mean that I like how these animals are destroyed. I can accept that if I were to walk into a slaughter house, I would likely be an instant vegetarian.
- Contrary to this, I am an advocate of the seal hunt. From the perspective of a person with an environmental science background, I can understand that the seal population has surpassed the natural carrying capacity of the environment; sometimes to maintain healthy and genetically viable populations, it is necessary to do a cull. I believe that there are other animal populations that have surpassed their carrying capacity as well. The Canada Goose and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are two populations that are heading for disaster in some localized areas. They need a cull. PETA will hate me.
- When a population surpasses the natural carrying capacity of the environment, natural pathogens materialize that systematically wipe out the population. That’s death. Or severely compromised animals cannot sustain themselves and then pass their problems on to other members. More death.
- I believe that when an animal population develops these pathogens, eventually, over time, these same pathogens (or whatever you want to call them) can modify themselves on a cellular level to infect humans. More disease. More death. But do you understand the survival of the fittest idea?
- To me it is better to have a small population of genetically viable, happy animals then starving, diseased, unhappy animals. I also don’t want avian flu. Or Mad Cow Disease. Or HIV. Selfish me. Make sense?
- I believe that human population has surpassed (or nearly) the environmental carrying capacity – pandemics and epidemics are the environment’s way of dealing with this. Luckily humans aren’t that bright, and have a habit of destroying themselves.
- All that being said, I don’t know why seals are clubbed. That guy I see in England – who is coincidently English (and we know what the English think of the seal hunt), argues with me about the seal hunt. While I am touched that the English think about us little Ole Canadians, I can’t explain why we partake in cruelly beating on the noggins of happy little seal pups. This really has nothing to do with anything, but I just want to say that I don’t actually like seal clubbing per se, I just agree with the seal hunt. I wanted to clear that up. PETA still hates me.
- Where was I heading with this??
- Oh ya…meat eating…sorry PETA
- Ok….so the decision to be a vegan, vegetarian, herbivore, or whatever – I really do believe that humans were meant to eat meat. That doesn’t mean I like how cows, pigs, etc, are killed. Bessy the cow isn’t particularly cute to me. The sheep that head butts Kobalt every summer, while out in the herding ring – I would like to see her become mutton. But in a humane way of course.
- For the record, every time I step into a herding ring, I do it with the knowledge that there is the chance that my dog or the livestock could be severely injured. In all honesty, I have had a sheep die in the ring. It was entirely accidental, and altogether traumatizing. You can’t always predict what animals will do. But it didn’t stop me from herding, training a dog to herd, or kept me from eating meat. Life happens.

So you get it, right?
I do believe that humans should eat meat.

I told my friend this the other day – she too has a background in evolutionary science.

And her response?
“What if we could evolve beyond meat? What if we are? Who says we keep having to eat meat?”

Hmmm…I don’t have an answer to this; no argument. Nothing.

We are geeks.

With my background in bones I do have moderate understanding as to what the evolution of bones tells us. Here is what I know. Humans are loosing their third molars – wisdom teeth. Yep – that’s right – not every single person gets them anymore (much to the chagrin of dentists who like to pull them out at a nifty fortune). But why are we loosing them?
Do you want to see other examples of evolution?
The dew claw on a dog’s legs? That’s evolution – it used to be a full fledged toe. Now it’s a middle-of-the-leg useless appendage.
The fusion of the leg bones in large ungulates. Evolution.

So “Skinny Bitch”. Again, I don’t necessarily agree with everything the authors argued. That would be silly. But there are things that they pointed out that I have heard more than once…and in journal articles. This was just a simplified version – and I understand it. I like things written in clear, concise language. I should learn to do that.

Unlike the authors, I don’t actually mind eating dead animal – likening it to decaying flesh is a little troubling…but…I can get over it.

I think it was the realization of just how gross our North American meat really is. And just how disgusting our meat industry truly is – and maybe I don’t want to support that anymore.

I don’t know if I could every truly become a vegan. A couple of weeks ago I consciously decided to cut out red meat. That really wasn’t an issue; I wasn’t a big red meat eater to start with. I just disturbed by what I was learning about our red meat products (including luncheon processed meats). Now I am looking at cutting out white meat – that poses more of a challenge. I don’t particularly like white meat, but it is sort of nice to dress it up.

Every day we inhale carcinogens, lather them on our skin, and ingest them. At almost 29 years old, maybe I don’t want to consume them anymore. I don’t like genetically modified animals in my belly; I don’t like knowing that genetically modified animals are eating the remains of other genetically modified animals. I also dislike that nobody really knows the long term consequences of eating the genetically modified crap, or the hormonally infused animal that we consume…except that these things contain carcinogenic elements.

Thanks to England, I made a conscious decision to start eating only raw sugar because of the health benefits (as opposed to eating processed). Seems stupid to keep eating cancer-causing agents, doesn’t it?

No, it’s not just that that I want to stop playing Russian Roulette with my food – what’s the point of life, if you can’t incorporate a bit of a gamble? Cancer is a gamble.

I still want to finish loosing weight. That means another diet shake up to go along with my recent workout shake up.

But, maybe it is time to wise up too.

No, I’ll never be entirely carcinogen free. Wave a cigarette in front of my face, and I’m more than willing to smoke it. I’m sure my makeup has a ton of chemicals in it – I use Clinique; who knows what is in it? But I will still use it. I drive and subsequently inhale exhaust. And even so, there is something about an industry that quietly modifies products that are directly ingested, that seems – hmmm…corrupt.

Giving up proper meat isn’t that big of an issue for me – it’s giving up on dairy that makes me a little sad. I love cheese – errr…pizza. But really? Would you breast feed from the woman sitting next to you? No?!?!?! Then why would you breast feed from a cow? Or a goat?

So – “Skinny Bitch” – ya, it is targeted at women. But I think I think men should read it too. It might open your eyes. Or at least make you think…and PETA is likely still unimpressed with me.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Mental Madness

A friend of mine just sent me this little survey to try out...
Not sure I believe the accuracy of it, but it's a good way to kill 5 minutes and question your sanity.

Click on the below link to find out!

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Talking Fat #9: The Meltdown

Two weekends ago I experienced a major food meltdown. I’m having a bit of trouble coming out of that meltdown. I love unhealthy food! I want Chinese food, curry, chocolate, icing – everything! For the ultimate flavour experience, most restaurants do not prepare ethnic food with “health” in mind. Let’s face it – fatty foods really do taste better. Yes, Chinese and East Indian foods could be prepared fairly healthy – but they aren’t – because it doesn’t taste as good!
Since returning from Vancouver I have been struggling to get my eating habits back in check. Sure, I feel much better when I eat right, and the benefits should be clear. I am also struggling to work out – again, I feel better when I work out. When I am on a regular exercise regime, I rarely get sick, my joints feel good, I have energy – sometimes too much. I hate spending time working out. Unfortunately I am starting to remember how easy it is to gain weight. No, correction – I’m remembering how easy it is for ME to gain weight. Sniff a piece of chocolate cake, and bang! There are 5 pounds on the waist.
The problem with my eating, is that I’m an emotional eater. The more stressed out I am, the more I will devour. Short of becoming a trash compacter, I have an appetite like no other. Now, combine my love for food with the fact I haven’t been eating what I want for the past 15 months, with the fact that I am stressed out…oh food meltdown, here I come! When I emotional eat, I have no off switch- there is no point at which I am full. The other night I devoured my dinner, literally by sucking it up. One of my girlfriends looked at me with some shock – and then showed more shock, when she realized I wasn’t full! As it turns out, moderately-less-fat-Leanne can actually eat more than Obese Leanne could. Really! After loosing over 100 pounds, I have an appetite that rivals my former self. Luckily there are few people who I actually allow to witness my true appetite.
Oh yes, I could eat – “eat healthy” is what I will be told. But it is not the healthy stuff that I want. It’s the empty calories, dripping with sweetness, that I so desire.
Ok now granted, I keep a good enough work out regime that I have a higher metabolism than I once had – but trust me, even with working out, I will never burn off the calories that I want to consume.

So, how will I deal with this food crisis? New tactics! New psychological conditioning! New strategies!

Tactic #1: Meal Planning
I’ve never really been into planning my meals. When I wake up in the morning, I grab whatever is in the freezer to defrost, and I work around that. This tactic involves me actually planning out my meals for the 5-7 days. Tonight we are eating turkey stew and salad. Sunday we are at an event, so I will try to maintain a careful distance from the deep fryers. Monday will be rosemary grilled pork chops, steamed vegetables, and salad. Tuesday’s menu calls for turkey tacos, seasoned potatoes (zero trans fat), and salad. Wednesday will be the boringly grilled chicken breast, fresh veggies, and maybe something with rice.

Two things – I’m trying to branch out the food options. For the majority of the past year, I have stuck mainly to grilled chicken breasts, broccoli, salad, and beans. It gets boring! Sometimes I would spice up the chicken breasts with Mrs. Dash. It doesn’t matter how you cover it, it is still a stinky grilled chicken breast. The other thing: I’m actually in the process of limiting my available meat options; a book that I recently read has pushed me towards cutting red and processed meats (including lunch meats, sausage, etc) out of my diet. Just because I love food, doesn’t mean I want my body to be a wasteland.

Tactic #2: Psychological Conditioning
This has more to do with working out. As I am returning to London at the end of the month, I have decided to increase my work out haul. The psychological factor is convincing myself (through every miserable step) is that it is “only for 2 weeks”, “only for 2 weeks”, “only for 2 weeks”.

Odds & Ends
I am presently reading the book “The Complete Master Cleanse”; you may know it by its more common name – The Lemonade Diet. My friend was talking about this great cleanse that cleaned out the colon, and removed years of debris from your system. I am sceptical, and think it is a bunch of hooey. At one point the author praises the cleanse for removing parasites and bacteria from the digestive system. Newsflash! We need those parasites!
Because I really have nothing to do, I might try this lemonade diet. I realize that any weight loss generated on such a diet is entirely superficial and the weight gain will be almost instantaneous once the diet is over. I just want to prove it is hooey.

The same friend is also interested in the Martha’s Vineyard Diet. You can loose 20 pounds in 20 days. I think this is hooey too. I feel that both of these diets, and any other fad diet, banks on the fact that you weren’t previously dieting when you started. Any time you “start” a diet from scratch, you will loose a fairly substantial amount of weight in the early stages; don’t credit the fad diet – credit your body.

This whole lifestyle-change-thing, has actually diversified my palate. A year ago I would never have eaten calamari – I ate it a week ago, and really enjoyed it. You reach a point that it really doesn’t matter what you eat, as long as you eat.

I’m keeping my breakfasts as 1 cup of Special K (various flavours) with a small amount of skim milk, 100 g of yogurt, 1 slice of toast or fruit, and coffee. I’m trying to eat lunch – lately it has been Knorr Coloured soups (green or red), and maybe toast. I need to get away from products with yeast – I could live on bread, and it’s really not that good for you.

Lastly, I just need to say that I am going crazy this spring. Peasants tops (or whatever they are called now) are the in-thing in all of the stores (at least in North America, and I’m hoping in London too!). A year ago I couldn’t fit the clothes in the majority of clothing stores. I love the Bohemian look, and I love peasant tops, and I fit clothes this spring – every time I walk past Costa Blanca, Old Navy, or whichever other store, I actually drool! Finally I fit, and I have no money!!!!!! GRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! I found a store in Edmonton that I am in LOVE with – XXI (Forever 21) – and can be relieved we don’t have one in Thunder Bay. I am in clothing angst!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Oh to be a teacher....

Here are two news articles, released almost simultaneously on CNN.

Regarding the first clip, it actually kind of irritates me - there are thousands, upon thousands of teachers in the world, and you end up with a couple of idiots who tarnish the entire profession. The worst part about it - there are teachers who have actually dedicated their lives to the profession, gone above and beyond their duties, been heroes, motivators, etc - and these teachers are long forgotten. Then enter the Mary Kay Letourneau's (sp?) of the world, who will forever remain famous (and who profit from their fame) for tainting a profession...

But I guess the same is true in every profession. Unfortunately teachers, like doctors, are under the microscope more than the average professional.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Talking Fat #8: The Ultimate Confession

So I’ve talked a bit about the whole “cleaning up my act and eating healthy” transition that I’ve undertaken. Today I’m going to talk about the reversal – the moments where it is oh-so-easy to fall off the wagon and go on a food bender. I love food – specifically junk food. If it has calories, carbs, sugar, icing, or any other unhealthy component, it is right up my alley.
The five days that I spent in Vancouver and Edmonton were a testament to my lack of willpower. Let me break it down (warning: you may be disgusted).

Thursday (AKA Flight Day)
Started off not too badly – ok, I forgot eat breakfast.
Thunder Bay to Toronto: coffee
Toronto Airport: a really tasty sandwich layered with mayo, chicken, and other garnish, a large double double coffee, and a Tim Horton butter croissant, apple juice
Toronto to Vancouver: coffee, Bits & Bites, more coffee, cookies
Vancouver: Chinese food combo order (lemon chicken, noodles, and a spring roll), gelato (two scoops: toblerone, coffee flavour), cheese, wine, crackers, coffee

Friday (AKA Chris arrives)
Starbucks coffee (Americano), a Starbucks dessert (maybe a muffin or blueberry bar, I can’t be certain), Twix chocolate, a steamed pork bun, all-you-can-eat Indian buffet in the Punjabi market (and I ate, and ate, and ate – there was salad, desert, and copious quantities of food – the waiter actually looked shocked by my eating vigour), sweet rolls, and a rice cake, and I’m sure there was more coffee at some point

Saturday (AKA Food Meltdown)
Breakfast (pancakes with syrup, scrambled eggs, toast), coffee, a Japanese Bento box (California rolls, spring rolls, teriyaki chicken, noodles, miso soup, noodle salad), gyoza, wine, kokanee beer, corona (several), a chocolate and whip cream crepe, Starbucks berry chai tea (mmmmm: warm kool aid)

Sunday (AKA Flight Day to Edmonton)
Chris did the early morning coffee run to Starbucks, more coffee, bits & bites, Marble Slab ice cream (birthday cake flavour with strawberries mashed in), Cajun lunch (gumbo soup, sweet potato fries, and a pulled pork wrap), Tim horton’s blueberry Danish, Wendy’s chicken strip combo, and more coffee

Monday (AKA A day to myself)
Soup (something Cajun, I think), pulled chicken sandwich, fries, coleslaw, Tim Horton’s coffee, a blueberry Danish, baba ganouj, hummus, an Indian chicken wrap, more fries, coffee

Tuesday (AKA Flying Home)
Tim Horton’s coffee, Bits and Bites, coffee, more coffee, more Bits and Bites, a Tim Horton’s blueberry bagel with light cream cheese (because at this point, “light” is important!), more Tim Horton’s coffee, Special K cereal (wait??!! Was I getting healthier again), salad…I fell asleep at 9pm, so my eating day was cut short.

Appalled? Me too! First off, I didn’t know I could eat that much in the course of five days. Secondly, the highlight of my travels was apparently the food, or so it would seem. On the bright side, I wasn’t hungry again until Thursday.

So here’s the point: no matter how much you clean up your lifestyle – old habits die hard! I’m a junk food addict and have zero willpower.

The irony is - for the past 15 months I've tried to stick to under 1500 calories a day (initially it was 1000 calories). I can't even imagine my daily calorie intake during my 5 day sojourn.

Thursday, 5 March 2009

Vancouver, Edmonton and Sleep Deprivation

So I had an incredible whirlwind of a weekend that I am still recovering from. In my infinite wisdom, I decided to fly to Vancouver last Thursday, and meet with my recruiter that same evening. By the time I met with her, I had been up for almost 24 hours solid (following 2 hours of sleep the previous night). Attempting to make coherent conversation was a challenge, but I think that I was fairly successful.
Aside from the meeting, I also had the opportunity to touch base with a friend from Edmonton. Talk about a mad dash through Vancouver!! China Town, the Punjabi Market, Stanley Park, Gas Town, Davey Street, Robson, Hookah smoking...all in 36 hours. It was great though. Vancouver has always been a favourite city! Though they are struggling with violence, they are also trying to clean it up for the upcoming Olympics. Main & Hastings was only moderately scary. What a vast improvement!
Even so, I think that we concluded that we are more than willing to move to Vancouver! It is kind of like a less b*tchy version of London.
After a busy couple of days in Vancouver, we carried on back to Edmonton. Another action packed couple of days, interspersed with sleep – Whyte Ave, West Edmonton Mall, more Hookah. I actually like Edmonton, and would likely move there if it weren’t for the overwhelming cold. Seriously – thirty seconds outside feels like an eternity. After Edmonton, I got the opportunity to hopscotch across western Canada, thanks to ordeal of flying into Thunder Bay (it just can’t se simple, can it?)
I had forgotten how much I enjoy impromptu travel. It gets so damn hard, the older you get (and the more indebt you become!) I would love to take this weekend and head to Quebec City, or Montreal, or some other locale. Unfortunately it’s not really feasible. Especially since I now have to decide when I’m going to get my merry *ss back on a plane and head to England. It’s not really a simple decision.
Anyway I will update this blog in the next couple of days. Mainly the eating portion, because I love to eat, and I did a fair bit of that!!