Effective, healthy weight loss isn’t only due to the simplistic calories in, calories out paradigm. Nor is it solely reliant on diet and exercise. It’s everything – it’s all the various signals our body receives from the environment that affect how our genes express themselves and thrive. How we approach the subject matters, too. Our mood, our methods, our temperament. Our conscious decisions and our willpower. It’s setting good habits and expunging bad ones. Most of all, it comes down to keeping our genes happy by providing an environment that approximates evolutionary precedent.
“Losing weight” is insufficient terminology. It’s too vague, too unspecific. When a person sets out to lose weight, just what are they trying to lose? Bone density? Muscle mass? Organ weight? Of course not – they’re generally looking to lose adipose tissue. People want to burn body fat, and they want to do it without negatively impacting the more beneficial sources of (corporeal) gravitas. Simply put, you want to lose fat, not muscle. The only problem is that the popular methods for shedding weight often result in excessive (but really, any amount is excessive) muscle loss, too. I’m talking, of course, about precisely the practices I rail against in the Primal Blueprint – Chronic Cardio, ultra low-cal/low-fat ascetic dieting, and other trappings of Conventional Fitness Wisdom. Granted, adhering to any, individually or in concert, will probably help you lose weight, but a ton of it will come from your lean mass (not to mention bones and organs). That said, if you’re going for skinny-fat chic or the waiflike, undernourished look, feel free to run fifteen miles a day and live off canned tuna and rice cakes. The scale will drop, and you won’t be weighed down by that pesky musculature any longer.
It’s the question every Primal adherent faces: how does alcohol fit into a low carb lifestyle? Maybe you’re out with friends, bravely resisting the assorted chips and fried concoctions in the center of the table. You don’t mind waiting patiently for the steak and salad you conscientiously selected, but must you be relegated to the likes of club soda and tap water? What would happen exactly if you ordered, well, a “drink-drink”? A nice glass of red wine perhaps? Hmmm…maybe that’s too much to ask at a place where onion blooms are a specialty…. A mixed drink? You begin reminiscing about those great sidecars your best friendused to make. Maybe a shot? That’s simple enough, isn’t it? How about those memories? Well, maybe we’ll fast forward through those recollections. Beer? Beer belly. What about a light beer? They’re low in carbs, right? Whatever the case, you presume there’s no Guinness in your future tonight. Or? Sigh. Now you really need something. What’s a Primal type to do when it comes to a simple social drink?
Ah, the bathroom scale. Nearly every household has one, but the ways we treat them vary wildly. Some people fear the scale, and keep it tucked away behind the toilet. They might bring it out occasionally to settle a bet or to replenish their food guilt stores, but their relationship with the scale is mainly one of fear-driven avoidance – though you can be sure they never fail to sneak a guilty glance or two when brushing their teeth. Still others have a totally different relationship with the bathroom scale, treating it more like an addictive substance. They might weigh themselves daily, or even after every meal or workout, each tick downward giving them hope and each tick upward bringing despair – or it could be the complete opposite, depending on the person’s goals. Now, I don’t mean to disparage the scale itself. It’s a useful tool that gives us an accurate, objective measurement of what is for all intents and purposes an abstraction (without scales giving us actual numbers, most people would have trouble understanding weight as tangible), but we can obsess and overdo it. And when we do that, we lose sight of what eating right and living well is all about.
Every day we run across research that further bolsters the logic of Primal living. However, once in a while we read something that just feels like a good pat on the back, the kind of news that makes us nod our heads smiling or do a little end zone dance if it’s Friday and we’re punchy enough….
The study in question (from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University) highlights lipoic acid, brave biochemical antioxidant, free radical scavenging extraordinaire. Lipoic acid, little known champion of many a physiological process, has once again proven its value and valor, and its recent performance is just one in a long chain of impressive, promising displays.
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