The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
This week, we’re back to a rapid-fire edition of Dear Mark. I enjoy honing in on a single reader question well enough, but I also like covering a smattering of questions from you guys. In future weeks, I’ll probably continue to mix it up. Which do you prefer? Anyway, we’ve got four topics today. First, I discuss carb cravings during “That Time of the Month.” Why do they occur and should you give in? Next, I provide a few Primal food choices suitable for a former Clif bar addict heading out on a five-day ski/snowboard trip. Then, I give advice to a father of an overweight, inactive teen. This is always hard, and there are no easy answers, but I have a few thoughts on the matter. I wrap it up with the safety of feeding fat to children.
“Everyone has a physician inside him or her; we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well. Our food should be our medicine. Our medicine should be our food. But to eat when you are sick is to feed your sickness.” – Hippocrates
“Instead of using medicine, rather fast a day.” – Plutarch
“No kibble today, thanks. I’m feeling a bit under the weather.” – Fido
For thousands upon thousands of years (during most of which overweight, let alone obese, people were fairly rare), therapeutic fasting was a common protocol for the healing of many a malady. From famous sages like Plato, Aristotle, and the aforementioned Hippocrates and Plutarch to cancer patients unable to eat during chemotherapy to pet dogs and cats who suddenly lose once-voracious appetites upon falling ill, it seems like the natural response to – and perhaps therapy for – major illness is to stop eating for a while.
Today’s Dear Mark topic is a sensitive one: excess, or loose skin after major weight loss. This is a problem for a lot of people, and it can really take the sails out of someone who’s had otherwise seamless success losing weight. I may ruffle a few feathers here, but I assure my intent is merely to give folks who have loose skin the best shot at reaching their desired body composition. So, as you read my response to the reader question, keep that in mind.
With that said, let’s get to it:
Excess skin after weight loss is a big topic in most weight loss communities, yet I rarely hear about it in the Primal community. Does the Primal lifestyle prevent excess skin? Are there any tips from either yourself or from the members of the community about avoiding or preventing excess skin after weight loss? I am currently approx 100 lbs overweight so this is something that really concerns me.
“When a person has nothing to eat, fasting is the smartest thing he could do.” – Herman Hesse, Siddhartha.
I like that quote. It’s making (non-caloric) lemonade out of lemons, and for all the transcendental insights contained in Hesse’s book, this line strikes me as a really cool, no-nonsense way to make the best out of a bad situation. No doubt about that. But how useful is it, really, to today’s readers? Very few of us ever have “nothing to eat.” On the contrary, food is ever at our beck and call, with very little effort required to obtain it. Actually, that’s not completely true. Processed junk and fast food is readily available, while the good stuff – fresh meat and veggies, actual, you know, food – requires prep work, cooking, time, and the doing of dishes. But the main point stands: we rarely go without.
Questions: where were you at dinnertime last night? What did you eat? Was anyone else with you? Did you do anything else during the meal besides eat? How did your food taste? Did you enjoy your food? What did you think about as you ate? What mood were you in when you came to the table? When did you decide you were done eating? How did you feel after the meal? Some days we may be able to answer all of these questions. Other days not so much.
The truth is, there are days that we’re lucky to sneak in a meal at all. Children, meetings, travel, overtime, activities all mean we’re running from one thing to the next. Eating can be an afterthought – a chore inserted when possible and usually in tandem with at least one other activity. Even on the days when we sit down to a set table, we’re not assured a peaceful meal. The phone rings. UPS delivers a package. (Yes, aren’t you always the last house?) Little Suzy has a meltdown. Junior is feeding the dog from the table. There are multiple trips back to the kitchen for whatever was forgotten and a dozen or so fragmented conversations. If we’re eating alone, there are other kinds of distractions. Do we even bother sitting at the table? How about checking email or Facebook? A new magazine came today. Maybe I’ll just leaf through it while I have the chance. Whatever the case, the food itself quickly recedes into a mental background. The fork reaches our mouth. Maybe a taste registers, but we’ll have little recollection of the meal by the time our dishes reach the sink.
We all make poor choices against our better judgment. It’s kind of what makes us human – the tendency to actively and willfully make decisions that will result in unfavorable outcomes. Sure, the candy bar tastes good, but you know you’ll feel awful after eating it. Yeah, that blog is fun to read, but you know you’d be much happier if you finished that essay for class first. And yet five minutes later, a candy bar wrapper sits, emptied of its contents; your molars house fragments of nougat and sport a caramel sheen; light nausea approaches; and you find yourself wading knee deep through comment sections, MS Word window minimized. What just happened? Why did you do those things that you told yourself you wouldn’t, that you warned yourself against, and whose negative ramifications are already coming to fruition – just as you predicted?