This is Week Eight of the Rest-of-My-Life-Diet-Change-and-Exercise intentions. I expected little success. I was wrong. Little changes that aren't difficult, one at a time, begin to create a larger effect. Compare it to knitting: small, numerous stitches make up a beautiful, coherent fabric at the end of our efforts.
Diet. This is the hardest part. My goal was to eliminate crap and unhealth from my diet. The USDA food pyramid has long been contaminated by commercial and lobbying interests. I did not start there. Two food pyramids made sense to me. Walter Willett, M.D. wrote a book called Eat, Drink and Be Healthy. He covered evidence-based science in layperson's language for all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that people need. That book started my idea of better food choices.
I took it a step further. Fifteen years ago, the medical community thought viruses were the root cause of many diseases, including those associated with aging. The buzzword today is inflammation. Coronary disease, cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer's all seem to have links to normal and increased immune system function. It's a sobering thought, that. A system that is supposed to protect us can end up helping to kill us.
That lead me to the interwebs. But let's first talk about scientific studies.
The gold standard of research is the prospective, randomized, double blind study. That means that the subjects recruited into the study are divided into two random groups. They are then treated differently. Neither the subjects nor the scientists know which group is being treated with which intervention. At the end of the study, which people got which treatment is revealed.
Diet and disease is impossible to study in humans this way. Animal studies are the only way a researcher can control diet throughout an animal's lifetime. Human studies are usually based on questionnaires. How many times a week do you eat red meat? How many times a month have you done aerobic exercise? You can see the flaw already: the studies are based on what people remember about their habits. There are also many environmental influences that aren't tracked: exposure to urban pollution, suburban herbicides in the lawn, microwaved plastic, consumption of the chemicals in lipstick, etc.
That means I can only refer to either animal studies, or studies done by observing health issues in people and trying to backtrack as to why they developed those health problems.
Walter Willett's food pyramid is an excellent place to start dietary changes. A pdf version is here. Reading the book is better.
The pyramid I'm following is by Andrew Weil, M.D. He is the anti-inflammation guru. I thought I would give it a go, and see if I felt any different. If you can stand heavy science, this link is representative of some of the stuff I referenced while determining for myself if dietary change had any relevance to inflammation.
The closer I adhere to it, the less achy I feel. I was shocked. As a skeptic, I expected no changes to occur, except maybe a bit of weight loss. Of course, I have fallen off the pyramid every so often. It took about two weeks to feel a difference, and it has become its own reward. (Don't yell at me if I have dessert at SPA, please. I'm only human.)
The differences in my diet are pretty simple: no butter, no white flour, no whole wheat flour, minimal red meat, no sweets, no high fructose corn syrup, no diet drinks, cut back on sugar with the goal of eliminating it entirely in the future, and no pasta.
I've lost two pounds. I consider that a success. I've also built muscle, because these pyramids mean little without adding exercise into the mix.
The exercise part is as important as the dietary changes. I'll cover that in a second post.
JMM's second book, The Intentional Spinner, is wonderful. It is like having your own personal spinning class with her. Skip around, read what is relevant to whatever spinning question you are asking on a given day. That will work much better than trying to read it cover-to-cover.
The technique I am having the most trouble with is her short forward woolen spinning technique. It is not even discussed in the book in the woolen section! She covers long draw only. The other technique she leaves out is any draw other than long draw where the back hand pulls the fiber supply BACKWARDS. She stated at the Rhinebeck class that pulling the fiber supply back while doing a short draw makes for a less consistent yarn than the classic short forward draw. She said she did not know why. Her demonstration of both showed this to be true, for her hands.
Clearly, there are no randomized, controlled, prospective studies that cover woolen spinning technique. (Thank g-d.) When I start up my wheel again, it will be back to my usual comfort spinning for awhile to get the mojo back.