Diet, then Exercise. Diet first. Atkins and Paleo work.

Yep, I don’t need food anymore. Just water, maple syrup, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.-Veep

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Visited this Denny’s before the Russians built a Denny’s at the North Pole.

Historically, I had been able to bring down/control my weight by exercise alone.  In fact, at the age of 18, I was singly responsible for 80% of McDonalds® pre-tax profit.  A sample order:

  • One Big Mac®
  • Two Cheeseburgers
  • One Large Fries
  • Make that Two Large Fries
  • Nine Pack of Chicken McNuggets© with Hot Mustard Sauce
  • Make Sure You Put in THREE Sauce Packs
  • A Cherry Pie
  • No, Make that Two Cherry Pies
  • Large Orange Drink.

I would then look at my date and ask if she wanted anything.  I did learn that high school girls like a healthy eater, or were perhaps amazed to see such a consumption event.

When I was between 15 and 19 I could eat like this each and every night, and not fluctuate too much during the school year, and I wasn’t fat, either.  Now the easiest part of almost any daily workout started with a quarter mile run.  During an average workout, I’d sweat out about a gallon of water.  That 7.48 pounds of water.  Or sixteen metric beers.  In reality, one of our coaches said that a day of our practice made boot camp in the 70’s look easy, so we were really working hard.

Fast forward to early dates with the Not Yet The Mrs.  We visited her hometown, and were walking down Main Street.  We took a left hand turn into a bakery and inhaled the smell of just baked sugar cookies on a spring day.  She smiled at the aroma as the memories came flooding in.

It is now that I have to come to a shameful admission:  The Mrs. has a drug problem.  If she doesn’t take a certain drug, she starts sweating, and if none is administered, eventually withdrawal symptoms will kill her.

I’m speaking of insulin.

At the tender age of eleven, The Certainly Not Yet The Mrs. was diagnosed with Type I diabetes.  Type I diabetes is not the “addicted to Twinkies® and chubby and insulin seems to not work anymore” but rather the “pancreas has left the building and no longer produces insulin type.”  She actually slugged me in the upper arm the first time I looked her in the eye and told she should deal with her addiction.

You see, insulin is absolutely required for your body to turn sugar into the gasoline that runs your cells.  If you don’t have enough insulin (or in the case of The Mrs. ANY insulin) your blood will turn to maple syrup, and you will become a zombie Canadian, and start to like hockey.  And eat brains.

No, I’m kidding.

Why I Owe The Canadians for The Mrs.

Without insulin you’ll die.  And that happened routinely before insulin was isolated in the early 1920’s.  By Canadians.

In October 1920, Canadian Frederick Banting concluded that . . . (it was Insulin). He jotted a note to himself: “Ligate pancreatic ducts of the dog. Keep dogs alive till acini degenerate leaving islets. Try to isolate internal secretion of these and relieve glycosurea.” – Via Wikipedia, kinda

No one knows what that means.

But Banting figured out how stop the hockey-loving zombies by illustriously isolating islet insulin in at totally tubular test tube.  And, thus 90 years later, allowing The Mrs. to not have maple syrup for blood.  Oh, and to live and stuff.  Even with the insulin, however, a Type I diabetic has to watch what and when they eat, so they don’t temporarily spike their blood sugar and turn zombie.

When The Mrs. was growing up, her parents sent her to “Diabetic Camp,” which is (by her description) a cross between hell and un-air conditioned hell where they have no candy.  Well, they have candy, but it’s made from coal-tar extract and pebbles instead of sugar.   They learned how to be diabetic.

Back to the Story

So, we made that left turn into the bakery in her home town, and bought a cookie.  As we walked out, she said, “My Mom figured out that I was buying cookies here during lunch when I was in Junior High after I became diabetic.  She said, ‘You’re digging your grave with your teeth, girl,’ and I always remembered that.”

Although The Mrs. has very good teeth, I could not imagine her getting to a standard six foot depth for a grave, even if she cheated a bit on standard width.

Then I realized it was a metaphor!

Fast forward to some other time in the future (in the last three years or so) when I heard my next metaphor.  The second in twenty years.

“You can’t outrun your teeth.”  This pithy observation indicates that I can eat a metric ton more than I can work off on any given day, especially since I have a desk job calculating the approximate number of electrons in William Shatner on a daily basis.  Not a lot of time to get away from the desk, since I have to keep calculating how many electrons he gains when he drinks more coffee.

“You can’t outrun your teeth.” Well, of course I can’t, they’re busy digging my grave.

And that’s what Karl Denninger says.

Karl makes several points as he writes (quite passionately) about health and how it intersects with the economy.  As we look to the way our health care system is gradually melting like the Wicked Witch of the North East covered in picante sauce, Denninger notes that getting healthy is smart, and also it removes you from the nonsense related with health care nowadays.  And Penn Gillette showed that there is a direct correlation between weight and life expectancy.

Diet, especially as you get older, is key. Atkins and Paleo are (for me) two good choices.

J.P. Sears has a fun take on Paleo.  He’s a bit cynical, but I still like Paleo.  Enjoy!

So, Atkins® and Paleo (Mark writes about it at his blog, here’s a great recent post) are based around changing not only the total amount of calories that you consume, but the types of calories.

For example, drinking a gallon of gasoline would provide you about 31,000 calories.  So, if you just drank a tenth of a gallon of gasoline each day, you’d never have to eat anything (DON’T DO THIS AT HOME OR ANYWHERE!  IT WILL NOT BE GOOD FOR YOU! GASOLINE IS NOT FOOD!).

But just like Justin Bieber can’t process a thought, your body cannot process gasoline.  At all.  IT WILL KILL YOU.  But when someone says a calorie is a calorie, they have no idea what they are talking about.

Let me explain:

To determine the number of calories that food has in it, they dry it, burn it, and see how much heat it gives off.  When you think about it, you would see that firewood would be awesome to eat!  But it’s not.  It does, however, make awesome toothpicks.  All energy content isn’t the same – your body has to be able to convert it to use, and some things are converted to energy more easily than others.  I’ve read in the past that the order of preference is something like this:

  1. Alcohol – because it’s what a body craves? Well, it gets used first.
  2. Sugar – like, well, a sugar high. No one is surprised.
  3. Other Carbohydrates – okay, you have to use enzymes and explosives to break the stuff up.
  4. Protein/Fat – depends on several factors which one gets used. It’s like The Mrs.
  5. Pebbles and Dryer Lint – mmm, mmm, good!

Paleo and Atkins remove part of number 1., most of number 2., and some of number 3.  That leaves your body (lots of times) burning at the number 4. level, which is where you want to be if you want to either lose weight or stay lean.

In my case, avoiding 2. and limiting 3. allow me to lose weight and also have a ton of other beneficial effects:

  1. I lose weight. I know I already mentioned this, but it’s just awesome.
  2. My mood is better. Nuclear war?    It’ll be fine.
  3. I still have number 1. Yay wine!

Honestly, I could not physically eat the order I listed (and, I’m sure at some point that was a real order I actually ate) anymore.  But I have teenagers . . . .

I guess I’m back to supporting 80% of the pre-tax profits of Taco Bell®.

So, do you have a strategy or system to keep lean?  Does it involve Scotch?

Oh, final thought – I AM NOT A DOCTOR!  EVERYONE CHANT – YES, HIS ADVICE (except for not drinking gasoline) IS HORRIBLE.

Author: John

Nobel-Prize Winning, MacArthur Genius Grant Near Recipient writing to you regularly about Fitness, Wealth, and Wisdom – How to be happy and how to be healthy. Oh, and rich.