Category Archives: Shape Up

Low Carb/Paleo/Primal resources

When people ask me about low carb or Paleo/Primal, I find I recommend the same resources over and over. I decided to compile them, so I’d have a good place to send them for the details.

Blogs I highly recommend

The first two are written for the lay person. They present a fair amount of science, but they’re still strongly skewed toward a lay audience.

  • Mark’s Daily Apple (The Primal Blueprint) — My favorite on a daily basis. For basics about the Primal Lifestyle, however, I think you’re better off reading his book.
  • Robb Wolf (The Paleo Solution) — I find this one kind of hit or miss on a daily basis, but overall there are more hits than misses.

These next three blogs have a more science-heavy bent. I think they’re still (mostly) accessible to a lay audience, but they go into a lot more depth. DOn’t be scared off, though. The information is FANTASTIC.

Blogs that are sometimes helpful

  • Healthy Diets and Science — a compilation of scientific research that supports low carb dieting. I don’t always love how the person who runs the site summarizes the results, but the studies are fascinating. Includes links to the studies themselves, if you want to delve into nitty gritty.
  • Chris the Kiwi — the guy behind “Athletic Greens.” Defnitely for the lay person. Not as good as Mark’s or Robb’s sites, but occasionally interesting.
  • The 4-Hour Life — based on Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Body. Not all of that book agrees with Paleo/Primal, but there’s still some good info here. I *think* this site is written by a doctor.


If you want an intro with lots of science but still written for a lay person:

If you want the in-depth science (written for doctors by doctors), this has become my BIBLE:

Other books

These two outline the diet principles, but don’t delve exhaustively into the science behind obesity:

This one, again, doesn’t agree entirely with Paleo/Primal, but it has some AMAZING tips and tricks:

Finally, if you’re not interested in Paleo/Primal, but are still open to low carb, check out these two:

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Paula Deen

Interesting article here in the Huffington Post about Paula Deen:

As you’ve probably heard, Paula Deen recently admitted that she has been diabetic for three years. Her announcement came at the same time that she became a paid spokesperson for a diabetes medication. Since that time, crap has been raining down upon her.

I disagree with most of the criticisms being leveled against her.

First, I couldn’t care less that she waited three years to “admit” to the world that she has diabetes. Celebrity or not, chef or not, it’s none of our business. Can anyone look at her and at the food she cooks and be SURPRISED that she’s diabetic?

Second, I don’t happen to personally like diabetes management drugs and won’t take one myself, but I don’t begrudge her for either taking one or becoming a spokesperson. LOTS of people take similar drugs — Metformin, anyone? — and believe, in their hearts, that they HAVE to take the drug to avoid (or slow) the progression of the disease. Since the media isn’t coming down on them, I guess it’s just that she dares to make a living as a celebrity by being a paid spokesperson for a product she believes in. Well, get over it. That’s neither a crime nor a moral failing.

Third, Paula Deen’s food isn’t healthy and has never been healthy, and no one, including Paula Deen has ever claimed it to be so. Is there ANYONE out there who thinks her concoctions are health food?

Paula filled a niche. She is personable and fun, and she makes food that some people enjoy. This is not a crime. She has ZERO responsibility to provide only healthy products or to coach people on how to eat well. Her job is to provide recipes of the type that her audience WANTS, and she does that well.

The article claims that in “real home cooking,” the chefs would make everything from scratch — that Paula Deen’s failure is in using processed food. Um, I’m from the South, and I can assure you that even my grandmother stopped making most things from scratch except for special occasions by, oh, 1975. Get real.

Fourth, Paula Deen bears no responsibility for anyone’s health except her own. Period. She does not need to change her style and offer healthy, non-diabetic recipes. There are other chefs who do that. Her only responsibility is to herself and the people who pay her — people who want the unhealthy stuff because that is what people are BUYING.

Fifth, just because Paula Deen promotes a certain style of cooking and certain recipes doesn’t mean she eats that way all the time. Get serious, people. If she ate like that all the time she would be 500 pounds.

Sixth and finally, Paula Deen is not an authority figure. She is not a role model. Children are not looking up to her and thinking, “If I make all these recipes, I can be just like her!” She’s a celebrity chef who provides a product that people want. She didn’t MAKE them want it, and she is not responsible for their eating habits in any way.

She does not need to educate people on healthy cooking or eating. They need to do that themselves. If people think that eating a breakfast sandwich between two donuts is healthy, then, well, they have bigger problems than Paula Deen.

I like Paula Deen. I’d love to meet and chat with her. I’d love to spend an afternoon in the kitchen with her (on my cheat day, of course). I hope she discovers Paleo and makes a huge turnaround in her health. But I also hope that she sticks with her current brand unless she herself wants to change.

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Realistic expectations

Last time I had my body fat percentage (accurately) measured, my lean body mass was about 135. That means my body without fat — my skeleton, muscles, and organs — weighs 135lbs. If I add a healthy body fat percentage on top of that — say 20%, which is really good for a woman in her mid-40s — my weight would be 162lbs.

I’m 5’4″. Okay, really I’m 5’3.75″, but I claim 5’4″. (Don’t judge me.) According to the standard height/weight chart, a woman of my height with a large frame should weigh between 134 and 151. I’m not certain whether I have a large frame or not, but we’ll go with that.

Note that my lean body mass — no fat at all — is already within the range. To get inside the range — to weigh 151 — I’d have to cut my body fat to 12%. If a woman’s body fat falls below 12% of her total body weight, hormone production can be compromised, and menstruation can be interrupted, and therefore the risk of osteoporosis is high. Body fat below 10% in women may be indicative of an eating disorder.

How about BMI instead of height/weight? At 162, I would fall clearly into “overweight,” despite being at 20% body fat. To get to the very top of the “healthy” BMI range, I would have to weigh 145. That would put me far below 10% body fat. A little over 7%, I think. (Which I think equals dead.)

Muscle makes me strong. It makes me fit. It makes me look better, and it makes me more functional. I’m working hard to *increase* my muscle — no way I’m going to let it melt away with the fat. My goal, if you really want to know, is to increase my muscle mass to 140lbs, which would drive my “ideal” weight to 168.

My mentor is a USAW weight lifting certified coach. She is a triathlete, a Crossfit coach, and a firefighter. She has 16% body fat, but doctors and nutritionists tell her that she is OVERWEIGHT. They tell her that because the chart says she’s OBESE, she is.

At 16% bodyfat.

She doesn’t care what the charts say, because she knows how strong she is, how fit she is, and what her cholesterol and blood sugar numbers are. She knows how she feels and what she can do. (She can also look in the damn mirror. No one with any sense would say this woman is overweight. Ain’t a pick of fat on her.)

I don’t care what the charts say. I’m strong, and I’m getting stronger. I’m losing fat and getting fit. I will never be a size zero. I will never be “normal” according to those charts. And I do not care. I am doing what’s right for THIS body.

I saw a person on SparkPeople the other day who had 146lb of lean body mass whose goal weight was 135. To weigh 135 with a healthy body fat percentage, she would have to lose about 30lbs of muscle during her weight loss journey.

Is that realistic? Is it healthy? Is that in her best interest as she ages, even if it’s possible? I think she’s setting herself up to fail because of a damn chart or because of that stupid BMI. And that makes me really, really sad.

Those charts are based on a mythical “average” that doesn’t exist. Really, truly — do you want to be AVERAGE? I’ve never been average, and I sure don’t plan on starting now! I am wayyyy better than average, and I think you should be too.

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Week 3 check in!

Weight loss this week: 3 lbs
Total weight loss: 12.2 lbs

Woo! I’m really happy with my progress.

I had trouble with my knees and ankles this week after a killer Crossfit workout on Sunday. It included lots of full squats (88, by my count) and some jump rope. I spent the week one-footing it up and down stairs. I even iced my knee on Monday — and I almost never ice sore joints.

When I worked out with Bernard on Thursday, I insisted on an upper body workout to give my knee a rest, and I asked for another one this morning when I worked out with Jenny. I’d rather progress more slowly and stay healthy than do the two-steps-forward, one-step-back thing. (Those upper body workout pay off though. I bench pressed 135lbs today!)

Of course, I also want to say, happy holidays to everyone!

My holiday started yesterday. I met four coworkers (and dear friends) for lunch, and then I had a massage (ostensibly to work on the sore bits, but my massage therapist is also a dear friend, so really it’s a gab fest).

Oh, oh! Funny story. So I’d gotten undressed and was lying on the table under the sheet and blanket when my massage therapist came in. She touched my shoulder and said, “Is this new?” Since I was buck nekkid, I couldn’t imagine what she was talking about. “No, that’s the shoulder I’ve always had.” And then I remembered that I got a tattoo last month.


This weekend, Jay and I are having a quiet Christmas at home with the beasties (and their new toys). We both worked out first thing this morning, then we met for a late breakfast at our favorite cafe. Now it’s home to cook and play video games all afternoon, then a feast of favorites this evening.

Good thing Christmas Eve fell on cheat day!

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The science of obesity

We get fat because we eat too much and don’t move enough, right? Calories in, calories out?

Actually, no. From a physiological standpoint that’s actually backwards.

Insulin is a hormone that reacts to the amount of glucose in the blood:

  • When glucose is low, insulin receptors tell the body to release fat and burn it for fuel.
  • When glucose is high, insulin receptors tell the body to stop releasing fat and, instead, to store it.

When a person keeps their blood sugar elevated too often, the insulin receptor for fat becomes desensitized. It stops working. It stays switched into the “store fat” mode, even when blood sugar is normal.

Because this receptor is malfunctioning, we get fat. Added fat does several things to the body, but two particularly pertinent things are that it zaps energy (so you move less) and it make you more hungry (so you eat more).

Can the receptor be “fixed”? Can it become sensitive again (without medication)? In some cases, the answer is definitely yes. What you eat is what caused the problem, and it can be the solution.

  • Carbohydrate raises blood glucose.
  • Protein has substances that both raise AND lower blood glucose, so the overall effect is null.
  • Fat lowers blood glucose.

Insulin levels are, by and large, determined by the amount of carbohydrate we eat. Factors such as the amount of carbohydrate we eat, the amount of fiber, and the amount of sugar affect the amount of insulin we secrete. The worst foods: liquid carbs (beer, soda, and fruit juice), flour and grains, starchy vegetables like potatoes, and sugars.

Varying the percentages and the timing of the macronutrients can enable you to lower your blood sugar and keep it low, enabling your body to return to its natural fat-burning state.

Here’s an interesting study that came through my blog reader a day or two ago:

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