Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Retrospective #110: My Body and Me

Homeostasis, I have slowly and begrudgingly come to accept, is a controlled condition with a compound predicate. It is controlled by both my body and me. I used to regard it differently. I used to think that my body and I were one entity, and that I was in control. I am wiser now. Let me explain how I came to recognize that reality.
The first step occurred 17 years ago when I recognized that, with respect to diet and nutrition (and its myriad implications with respect to health), I was in charge of my health care. I do credit my doctor with suggesting that I start eating Very Low Carb, but it was for the purpose of losing weight, not to treat or control my elevated blood sugar, or transform my lipid chemistry. I still saw my doctor four times a year, but it was primarily for blood tests. As I educated myself in diet and nutrition, I came gradually to see and understand 1) that he was hopelessly out of touch with developments in nutritional science as it related to my long-term Type 2 diabetes and 2) why he was.
To be fair, as my doctor saw the improved health outcomes I had achieved through dietary means, he began to back off a little. As my weight dropped, so did my blood pressure (duh!). On balance, as my doctor’s influence on me diminished, my sense of empowerment increased. When my HDL doubled and my triglycerides dropped by 2/3rds, I requested to be titrated off statins and he agreed.
My doctor actually encouraged me too. He frequently said I should go on local (NYC), even network TV, to tell others of my accomplishments and how I did it. I declined his offer to help me (He knew a producer.). I was just an amateur, entirely self-taught and without any “credentials.” I also know that there are scads of much better trained professionals in practice and in research out there who understood and advocated for this Way of Eating (WOE).
The bottom line is that I gained a sense of empowerment. It was, I think, a natural consequence of all the improvements I made to my health generally, by changing the way I ate. I considered it a major accomplishment. I came to think of myself as being “in charge.” That’s the me-in-charge-of-my-body predicate.
I contrast this with most people in our culture – the ones who are getting sick and sicker on the Standard American Diet (SAD), and who are doing so while diligently and conscientiously following the diet that their medically trained clinicians advise. We put our destiny – our precious health – in their hands, for better or worse. To switch from professional medical advice to going your own way on the basis of what you read in a blog is…well, crazy, right?
Well, I did it. And so, have many, many others. My doctor monitored me once a month for a year, and 4 times a year thereafter; he did an EKG, took blood, and happily observed and approved of the outcomes. But I was in charge of what I ate. I stuck to Very Low Carb, and I got the results. And my doctor looked on approvingly.
Over the years I have adjusted my daily calorie targets and the macronutrient ratios. Carbs have always been very low (from 7% to 5% now), protein always “moderate” (from 28% to 20% now), and fat always high (from 65% to 75% now). Calories have ranged in recent years (after I had lost well over 100 pounds) around 1,200 calories a day.
I have always believed that a calorie deficit is necessary. You cannot burn body fat, even in a mildly ketogenic state, if your dietary fat is sufficient to maintain your metabolic activity level. You must call on your body for that added energy, i.e., the difference between the energy content of what you eat and what you need for energy balance.
This was never a problem for me. So long as my carb intake was very low, my serum insulin level would be low, and I had access to body fat. My blood glucose was low and stable. But that is where “my body” as predicate came into play. I did “my part” – ate low carb, moderate protein, high fat and still low calorie – and my body did “its part.” It continued to break down and burn fat and tell me, by not sending me hunger signals, that it was “happy.”
That’s when I realized “my body,” and “I” were partners (my conceit), or actually my body was actually “in charge” and I slavishly follow its demands. My body is, after all, much more powerful and better controlled and disciplined than I am. We both live in the same skin, so my goal now is just to feed it what it needs to keep us both “happy.”

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