Thursday, December 14, 2017

Exercise More Important Than Obesity or Age as a Risk Factor for Knee Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) is the wear-and-tear kind. A recent study discussed in JAMA looked at skeletal remains and found that even after controlling for weight and age, if you were born in a developed country after WWII, you're more than twice as likely to have OA of the knee.

That is to say: a two hundred pound man born in 1945 and who died at 70 is twice as likely to have OA of the knee than a two hundred pound man born in 1900 and who died at 70.

What changed since WWII? Wealth plus automation = less exercise. This is quite consistent with the work done already showing that runners are slightly LESS likely to have knee problems than non-runners. (This should shut up those annoying people telling you you're going to mess up your knees.) As the JAMA editorial states, it's also consistent with evolutionary medicine - that if we behave as evolution designed us to behave - i.e., running around all the time doing stuff and not sitting at home in front of glowing screens - that we're more likely to be healthy.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Nothing is More Boring Than Reading Someone Else's Diet Log

Except maybe writing one. Still doing reasonably well. After my cheat day I did have a little bit of a GI disturbance, but since then have been doing mostly fine. I did notice that when I wander into the kitchen, I'm often not hungry, just bored. Amazing what happens when you actually pay attention to your eating habits. Instead I'll leave you with a self-motivation game I play, called "time machine".

Ever get frustrated at something you did in the past (or more likely, didn't do) and wish you had a time machine so you could go back and change it? Try this instead: think of what you will be frustrated about five years, ten years from now and wish you had a time machine to fix. Guess what? You do. You just traveled back in time from the future, and you're here. Fix it. Related: when you think of how stupid you were five or ten years ago, that's a good sign that you've gotten smarter.

Consequently, I worry if ever I'm not frustrated with how stupid I used to be.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Very Low Carb Day 9 - CHEAT DAY

Day 9:
  • Whole milk with protein powder
  • 2 protein bars
  • 1 piece of bread
  • half a bag of chips
  • 1 quesarito from Taco Bell
  • 1 chalupa from Taco Bell
  • 1 ultimate cheeseburger from Jack in the Box
  • 1 root beer float with Tilenti sea salt and caramel ice cream
  • 2 chicken wings
  • several crackers with much brie
Workout: very hilly 7 miler in Auburn (1000'ish of gain and loss, pretty much all at once)

Effects: In my previous terrible diet, I would get 4-5 items at Taco Bell and put them away with no problem. Now? I had to force the second one down. The Jack in the Box burger was not fun either. The boiled lettuce and shrimp dish my wife put together for herself actually looked pretty good! (Again, this is my *cheat day.*)

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Very Low Carb Day 8

Day 8:
  • Whole milk with protein powder
  • One hard boiled egg
  • One can of tuna
  • Whole milk with protein powder
  • Six slices of turkey
  • Ahi tuna with sesame
  • (and then cheat day began (at sunset, as the sabbath.)
  • ~10 horse derbs contained crackers and cheese but also meat)
  • glass of wine
  • 2 pieces of bread
  • 10 crackers
  • brie and parmesan cheese
Workout: none

Effects: none noted. Also, reading about Atkins (which basically this diet is), I saw that there's not a lot of good data on weight loss compared to other diets. It seems to me that many diets converge on weight loss via the same mechanism, which is that suddenly you're paying attention to intake and eating more filling foods (i.e. not crap from McDonald's and 7-11.) I don't know if that study has been done. In any event after cheat day, I will keep my carb intake lower than standard American diet, but I'm not going to strive for zero as I have been.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Very Low Carb Day 7

Day 7:
  • 3 slices of turkey
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 3 sunny-side up eggs with 1 chile
  • 1 packet of teriyaki beef jerky (stupid me, after I ate it I read the label and learned that there are 17g of sugar in this)
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • Flaked Romano cheese mixed with pound of beef and one fried egg with fat poured off
Workout: none. Very sleep-deprived.

Effects: Felt a little more hungry today than other days. Terrible sleep the night before so I think my lethargy is related to that, but still feel okay all things considered. Tomorrow is the last day before cheat day - will be interesting to see how my body reacts.

Very Low Carb Day 6

Day 6:
  • glass of milk with whey protein powder
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1.3 lbs of pain fried ground beef, fat poured off, scooped into lettuce "sandwiches"
  • 1 chile
  • 2 protein-style burgers from In-N-Out
  • 1 glass of milk with protein powder
Workout: None.

Effects: no cravings, although I spend most of the day inside the house with my wife and newborn, and when I went out to get the In-N-Out, exposure to all the convenience store and fast food logos did trip my circuits a bit (but not THAT much. Really didn't have to exercise that much willpower.) Oddly sore in triceps and platysmus and don't know why.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

RIP Dan Gorfain, Northern California Trail Pioneer

The Bee has an article on him. I hadn't heard of him before but his foresight and persistence have been behind the Sacramento River Parkway and the Great California Delta Trail. It's easy to get lost in negativity online these days, so when I see a life that was dedicated to trails and improving others' quality of life, I like to do my small part to advance that example to others. After all, trails don't just happen on their own.


Very Low Carb Day 5

Day 5:
  • 2 tilapia fillets with tartar sauce
  • 3 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 venti Americano with half & half
  • 3 tilapia fillets with tartar sauce, tabasco, and serrano chiles
  • 4 scrambled eggs
Workout: sprints x 4. They were bad - peak velocity lowered ~20%, long recovery afterwards with shallow puffing indicative of just trying to blow off CO2, just no good in general.

Effects: After the filets, bacon and coffee, and sprints, my blood glucose was 74. A little hungrier after eating than I had been. I'm thinking of instituting a cheat day on Saturdays after I've gone over a week (yes I know I won't enter ketosis.) While I'm being gross, I had a loose stool but that may have been from undercooked fish. No cramps today.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Very Low Carb Day 4

Day 4:
  • 4 slices of turkey
  • 1 hardboiled egg
  • half a bell pepper
  • crystal light (40 sugar calories)
  • 1 tall pumpkin spice latte (an indulgence, the most carby thing I've had for 3.5 days)
  • 1/2 venti Americano with half & half
  • 1 can tuna in water
  • ~1.8 pounds ground beef (some for lunch, some for dinner) with lettuce and serrano chiles
Workout: None.

Effects: Okay, now the cravings have begun. I dreamed about chocolate, and I've never before dreamed about food. I felt terrible (weak, grouchy) on waking, but not sure I can distinguish that from infant sleep deprivation. Some cramps (when bending awkwardly) but not severe. Overall, still feel full after I eat a meal.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Very Low Carb Day 3

Day 3:
  • 1 cup of coffee with half and half
  • burrito bowl with carne asada, lettuce, beans, guac and sour cream (guy at pick-up window: "Are you doing paleo?")
  • 2 black pepper-crusted tilapia fillets
  • 1 Crystal Light pitcher with caffeine (40 sugar calories)
  • 8 slices cotto salami with 2 chili peppers
Workout: flat 7.7 mile run which was MUCH MUCH harder than it otherwise would have been. Needed many breaks, couldn't sustain my normal pace for more than a couple hundred yards. I hadn't done weights for a long time and when I got back, decided to do bench presses and had to give up after 2 of my normal 3 sets, with a weak second set. Definitely feeling the effect here. Solution: more cardio! "Ve have vays of making you more insulin sensitive."

Effects: besides the crash and burn on my exercise as above, I was very hungry when I woke up and didn't eat until 1pm, but not still not dying. No incredible cravings like some people report. I continue feeling full after I eat.

I have terrible dietary discipline, so I'm a combination of ashamed and proud to admit that this may be the longest I've stuck to a major dietary change. Being in a heightened state of awareness and self-control due to my daughter's birth (and wanting to be healthy for her) likely has a lot to do with that.

Very Low Carb Day 2

Day 1 here, Day 3 forthcoming.

Day 2:
  • 3 hard-boiled chicken eggs
  • 8 oz of lentils with Japanese curry
  • 8 slices of cotto salami
  • 6 slices of turkey wrapped in lettuce with barbecue sauce
  • 1 package smoked salmon
Workout: no workout. Fell asleep when I was intending to run. Babies mess up your schedule. Well, at least everything will return to normal soon!

Effects: I may have urinated more than usual overnight. Slightly hungry when I woke up but not dying for a candy bar. After the eggs and lentils in the morning I was full, which surprised me.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Diet Experiment - Very Low Carb, Day 1

I've read enough about the benefits of this and been wanting to try it for a long time. Also, my wife had gestational diabetes, and went low carb, and she actually lost (fat) weight relative to her pre-pregnancy for the first five months - so it works! (That's without ANY additional exercise.) My intention is to get as close to zero carb, and zero fat as possible. I will be providing gory details so if you don't want to hear about blood chemistry, poop consistency, the whole nine yards, this is not the post series for you.

Zero carb!?!? you say? Yes I know about rabbit starvation, but partly I'm trying to induce ketosis, and I doubt I'll actually eliminate all carbs or fat so I will keep that as the goal knowing I may fall short. If I start rabbit-starving because I'm so committed, then it's easier to relax a bit than to wonder why it's not working when I'm aiming at x milligrams of carbs, and overshooting it.

So begins my experiment. I'll be posting my diet here partly to commit myself in public (embarrassing if I don't stick with it) and partly in case it's useful to others. I didn't have any kind of ease-in, just went from my crappy junk food diet day zero to this on...

Day 1:
  • 1 can of tuna fish in water
  • 5 swallows of heavy whipping cream (forgot about the diet for two seconds. See the crap I eat?)
  • 8 oz of lentils (with portions experimentally spiced with Japanese curry, turmeric, cumin, garlic, black pepper, oregano and basil. Japanese curry and black pepper were best.)
  • 1 tilapia fillet
  • 1/2 bell pepper
Effects: by the end of the day I had a very mild headache. Unusual for me, as I've had probably ten headaches in my life. I'm mildly more hungry, with occasional but not out-of-the ordinary carb cravings; i.e., while thinking I would make a sandwich for dinner, I had to catch myself to remind myself that that wouldn't be happening. No workouts today.


- Some question the wisdom of making such a profound change in diet when I'm already sleep-deprived with a newborn at home. But waiting for the ideal time to try something is often just a way of avoiding ever trying it. Another way to look at it: if ultra-low carb makes me feel terrible, well I'm already miserable, so why not?

- I also started taking a probiotic today. While I'm starving my high-carb flora, if I really want to give them the old 1-2, I could either take high-dose antibiotics (not responsible and carries risk) or load in a bunch of new competition just as the old ones are weak. And so far, the only effect is maybe a mildly softer stool. I've tried them before and it smelled like a wet cattle ranch, so this isn't nearly as bad.

- This diet is of course washed down with an ungodly amount of Diet Mountain Dew, which I'm also considering cutting out. People have actually warned me that switching over to all protein and vegetables AND stopping soda could leave me hyponatremic, when suddenly my body that's used to getting of salt is getting NO salt.

- I will be checking my lipids and A1c after 6 weeks and comparing to my most recent values.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Rural, Coastal Natural Areas Better for Sense of Well-Being

It's not just your imagination - a new paper by Wyles et al in Environment and Behavior shows that it's better to get away from people and/or head to the coast, rather than spend time in a natural setting in the city. So, as much as some time forest-bathing (shinrin yoku) in an urban park will improve your state of mind, maybe it's worth that drive to get out of the city and away from people for an even better experience.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Another Weird Weirdo: Walking from Portugal to Turkey

Man these people just keep coming out of the woodwork don't they. Here's ANOTHER cockamamey fiasco, walking from Portugal to Turkey. Well I hope they're proud of themselves!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Longest Walk to Save the Salmon

I often post about running or walking projects. Because they're interesting, and I've done a couple of my own. But let's be honest: whether it's Karl Meltzer's record on the Appalachian Trail, or my (much slower) run across California, ultimately we're doing it for fun. It's not like we're delivering medicine to a sick child, or a message to the other side of enemy lines, or exploring a wilderness. Ultimately, these little projects are all just for grins. Here's one that's not for grins.

Image above from PBS. Image below, Skaagi by Bill Reid. Image from
This year, for the first time ever, the Yurok Nation in far northern California voluntarily called off its salmon season this year because the fishery was so depleted? That might not seem like such a big deal, but if you're Yurok, it's about as big a deal as there is. If I said this was as if hunting season and and a trip to the holy land rolled into one, in terms of its cultural centrality, that might not be far off. For them, protecting the salmon is very much the same as protecting their lands, and if you've ever been there (think the Requa area, near Prairie Creek Redwoods) it's easy to see why it inspires such patriotism. It's some of the most ruggedly beautiful land anywhere on this planet.

The Yurok lands are not the only place people have seen a collapse of the salmon fisheries. Consequently a group of native people has been walking from Seattle to San Francisco (yes, now, in the rain) to try to bring awareness to this problem, in the aptly named Longest Walk to Save the Salmon. There's a radio interview here. Their Gofundme page explains as follows:
On our journey, we will also be addressing common issues and threats facing Native communities in the Pacific Northwest such as; sovereignty, pipelines, saving sacred sites, keeping our rivers in balance and harmony, equality and justice. We will present this to community leaders, politicians so we can work together to find solutions. We will also be stopping to honor and heal our Veterans, with visits to VA hospitals in Seattle and San Francisco. Helping our Mother Earth, we shall pick up roadside trash.
Consider donating to support them.

As I type, they're planning on arriving in SF tomorrow November 22. You can read about their walk and see pictures here and here. (Below: the Klamath River. From

Monday, November 20, 2017

Pictures of Textures

I am occasionally obsessed with getting "pictures" of textures. Some of these were done with older phones so please forgive the quality in some cases. Some of them aren't textures, exactly, but the image is so fuzzed out as to be more impressionistic. As near as I can tell, what I find interesting about these images is that there is always a suggestion of meaning or information you would get from a more detailed visual picture, but you're forced to infer much about the rest of it (even the scale), often (but not always) from imagined touch. These were amassed roughly over the period from 2007 to present. Most are mine except for the satellite images of course. Hope you enjoy.