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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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The end of overeating, by David Kessler

My mind is currently being blown by this book. It concerns the science of human appetite and the biological reasons why we overeat. I'm only at the end of Ch 1, but the way he describes how the trifecta of fat, sugar and salt screw up our brain's reward mechanisms and make us crave those foods, then overindulge in them once we get them is fascinating. He also describes how the first epidemiological studies in the early 90s first identified that obesity rates were climbing, and what a huge deal it was to confirm that fact scientifically because humans have basically had stable weights for thousands of years. What began in the 70s and 80s with the burgeoning of commercial fast food and the corporate processed food supply chain appear to have led directly to our currently skyrocketing obesity rates.

In a Food, Inc. kind of way, the author also describes a meeting with a food industry insider who admitted off the record that commercial food scientists make specific, targeted efforts at creating the most perfect mix of fat, sugar and salt that seems to make people become addicted to the stuff. I find this terribly enlightening and I look forward to the dietary recommendations the author lays out later in the book. I suspect that they'll be common sense, like Michael Pollan's edict, eat food, not too much, mostly plants, but there's something very compelling and reasonable about the way Kessler writes about this topic that might resonate more strongly with me.

He's also a former fatty, which makes his message ring that much truer.

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iamom December 6th, 2009
Heh. "Calorie target and workout routine" would be putting way too much emphasis on a technical approach which I've not started to plan for or deploy in any way whatever.

However, my general plan is to start adding more fruits and vegetables into my daily nutrition, cutting back heavily on bread and other simple starchy stuff (including sugar and junk food), then resuming what has always been my workout routine of choice: pumping iron. I love lifting weights and when I do it I hit it hard and have great, sweaty, awesome workouts. I've been off the wagon for a few years now, and am just starting to come back online right now, and I've had a handful of great workouts in the past month or so. Looking forward to getting back into that on a more regular basis.

I also know that you are a healthy and active guy -- into martial arts too, right? -- so do you have a recommended plan of attack you'd like to share with me? Any favourite books or particular routines you think are awesome? I'm open to any and all suggestions, especially from strong and healthy guys such as yourself. (I'm also really interested in martial arts -- particularly aikido and kung fu -- but I haven't really looked into trying those yet. Any ideas there?)

Thanks for your interest man, I'd like to hear what you have to say about it.

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iamom December 6th, 2009
Damn dude, these articles are great! I'm totally going to try them. I'll look into the kickboxing too, but I have no idea what's available here.

I wanted to clarify something about the emotional eating, too -- and hopefully I won't sound defensive. What I'm talking about is an effort of will to eat better food, it's not just an airy-fairy, "I'm going to wait till my body starts to want better food." I firmly believe that one of the reasons I overeat is because I'm nutritionally starved from eating bad food. My body wants more food, but it's hungry for real food, not the bullshit I've been giving it. I think I sort of need to start with a bit of a cleanse or something, a nutritional detox such as what you suggested to rid myself of my basic sugar/fat cravings, and then I'm pretty sure that if I started to eat more real food, that my body would start to crave that more.

But listen, your point is totally well taken. I have years of bad eating habits under my belt (ha ha) and I can't just wish them away with the kind of attitude it sounded like I was describing.

Great articles on the exercise though, I really appreciate those. And the complexes sound like exactly the kind of workouts that I love. Short, intense, with a great lifting component that brings your HR way up. I don't just like to do regular strength training, I love the kind of lifting workouts that exhaust you cardio-wise, too. High intensity ones, with perfect form that require strong mental concentration.

Thanks again. I'll keep you posted on what I start with.

Edit: Doesn't a strength training plan which builds some mass help with weight loss, though? I always thought that increasing muscle mass also increases your basal metabolic rate and also helps to burn fat faster.

Edited at 2009-12-06 05:14 pm (UTC)

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dizziedumb December 6th, 2009
it makes absolute sense to me that fast food companies get people in the sack with that perfect trifecta. when i ate hamburgers and the like, i remember often thinking, "so disgusting, but so good!" although i attributed it to my forces of habit, i did notice that if i stopped at a fast food joint one day, i'd probably be back for a similar experience a week or so down the road. of course that shit is addictive! otherwise, why would we keep returning to it?

on a dare, i went with my boyfriend for a roast beef sandwich at a place that i used to visit frequently. it was absolutely odious, and i couldn't finish the food that i'd bought. this probably has to do with being vegetarian and- you know- eating a mammal, but i found the experience so distasteful. my body didn't desire it at all. once i had decided to listen to my body, my dietary choices were made much easier. temptation still exists, because i still really love pizza and booze. but anymore i crave things like spinach, beets, and miso. why? because those are the things that i physically need, instead of eating out of habit, emotion, or addiction.

iamom December 6th, 2009
Oh, great story! That's exactly the state that I wish my body to reach. Eating for nutrition's sake -- probably enjoying treats occasionally, but on ordinary days, letting my body's natural nutritional desires drive my food choices. For a long time now, I've been convinced that my body has an intuitive sense of what it should be eating, and that my emotions and addictive habits have been overriding that sense with overeating and eating junk food. I've long thought that if I could train myself to eat what my body wants instead of what my emotional drive wants, that my nutrition would totally change and I'd start to lose weight.

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