“It gladdens me to know that Odin prepares for a feast. Soon I shall be drinking ale from curved horns. This hero that comes into Valhalla does not lament his death. I shall not enter Odin’s hall with fear. There I shall wait for my sons to join me. And when they do, I will bask in their tales of triumph. The Aesir will welcome me! My death comes without apology! And I welcome the Valkyries to summon me home!” – Ragnar, Vikings
Miley Cyrus after some bronzing and a bit of weight loss.
What’s the ugliest word in the English language to a person who is losing weight?
Plateau came from the French, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary (LINK), and first entered into the English language just a decade before when Napoleon was on his Russian Winter Vacation (hint: no land wars in Russia – Napoleon started with about 500,000 French troops on his joy ride to Moscow, and when he crossed back into France he was down to 27,000).
The first recorded use of plateau in the sense dieters dread (The stage at which no progress is apparent) was in 1897, the same year that John D. MacArthur, whose foundation gives out the MacArthur Genius Grant (HINT HINT!), was born.
Plateau comes from the Greek word “platys” which means “flat, wide, and broad.” Wide and broad are the last adjectives a dieter wants to hear, since those are generally the adjectives that started the diet in the first place. Taken together, “flat, wide, and broad” also describe my first girlfriend, but I digress.
Every time I’ve lost weight, I’ve ended up at a plateau (or two, or three) on my way down. I don’t seem to have the plateau problem on the way up, or if I have, I’ve never managed to really notice it because the scale is covered in melted rocky-road ice cream dripping from my chin. And, as plateaus go, this one isn’t horrible, I’m still pleased with the overall weight loss. But it is a marked decrease when compared to the earlier rate, when pounds were dropping faster than Kathy Griffin supporters.
I credit some of the earlier losses to water. One think I’ve noted about the Aktins/Primal lifestyle is that two days or so after I stop eating carbohydrates, my weight takes a significant bump downward, which I attribute either constant prayer to the Norse god Wåysfyärläëss (wears furs, has a wolf and a book containing the carbohydrate content of Norse cuisine) or, more than likely, a drop in pure water weight because I’m no longer digesting carbs.
The second place I lose water is working out, and they sure have noticed at the gym, since they’ve installed an intricate drainage system around the stair climber I normally use. They also are building a vaguely ark-like think near the climber, and the staff runs for life preservers when I wring out my headband . . .
Emotionally, the early, big success helps you a lot. It shows that your efforts really do pay off, that the sacrifice of time, sweat, and sweat chocolate ice cream is worth it. But in the last few weeks I’ve lost the equivalent weight of clothing that Mylie Cyrus normally wears (like an ounce). The change in Jupiter’s gravitational impact on me between night and day is more than that.
From XKCD, reminding me that little changes add up.
I’ve hit plateaus before, and used a variety of techniques to get through them, but hacking off limbs is painful and has a bit of an air of desperation about it. I did some research, and there are some things I’ve started/going to try that I thought I’d share:
- Change Up My Cardio – I had been climbing more virtual stairs than the number of times that Stairway to Heaven was played in 1978, but at a constant, Clydesdale pace.
This week I’ve changed it up and am doing interval training, doing four minutes my Clydesdale pace, and one minute like a greyhound. An old greyhound. With hip problems. But, this one change (four minutes medium and one fast, repeat 6+ times) has already increased my stair climbing number by 43% in terms of the number of floors climbed. 43%! Now, I should be increasing my output and going up farther and faster, I weigh less, right? But 43% is a lot. And it feels good.
Verdict: Yup. This will help break the plateau, but the gym folks are now digging a sweat moat.
- More Sleep – Studies have shown that people who get less than six hours of sleep a night lose less weight on a diet than those who get eight hours of sleep.
I’ll never average more than 8 hours of sleep a night until I retire. Never. Work happens during the day, and my boss wants me there . . . in the morning. Ugh. My mind has different ideas, though, and I hit my creative peak in the evening. I will put in an effort to get more sleep than the six hours I’m averaging now. But life is really spelled T-I-M-E. I just have all the time I want, even now.
True Wilder Story:
I went up to my friend, Madge, and said, “I’m so tired, I’m just wondering if something is wrong with me?”
Madge: “What time did you go to bed?”
John Wilder: “2AM.”
Madge then, after slugging me, patiently explained that sometimes tired is a symptom of “not sleeping enough,” whatever that is, and perhaps the ultimate cure was sleep.
Why sleep when there’s caffeine? Silly Madge.
Verdict: I’ll try, but . . . sleep is for the weak.
- Re-fanaticize About Calories – As time progresses, sometimes lifestyle changes start to slip a little backwards . . . I’m not talking about burying my face into a full box of donuts, but there is part of my mind that likes to pretend that Bud Light® and a single slice of pizza doesn’t have any carbs.
Verdict: Back on it with a passion.
- Vitamin C – One website (one) that I reviewed thought that since vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that somehow it does something that might slow weight loss. It was boring, so I can’t remember. Heck, maybe I slipped into a coma.
Verdict: I’ll keep this one in my back pocket for now. Maybe if the plateau doesn’t break in June . . .
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Wow. Not sure how I missed this one. I could do an entire post about the supposed benefits of this stuff. The websites mention that the apple cider vinegar should be unpasteurized, unfiltered, and unboxed. Wait, the unboxed is a Sammy Hagar album. I was a bit skeptical about the unboxed part, thinking it might come in a used one liter Miller beer bottle, but, no, Heinz sells the stuff, too, so it seems legit? Some claims about Apple Cider Vinegar:
- Helps with upset stomach
- Cures hiccups
- Soothes a sore throat
- Kills cancer cells???? (everything does in a petri dish)
- In a 2006 study – Lowers Cholesterol
- Aids in weight loss by suppressing appetite and increasing metabolism
- Clears acne
- Controls blood sugar, especially in pre-diabetic patients
- Whitens teeth (SERIOUSLY – DON’T DO THIS! IT WILL DISSOLVE YOUR TEETH.)
- Prevents metabolizing starches (not all carbs, like sugars, but somehow slows down metabolizing of more complex carbs)
Verdict: Wow. E, F, H and J are amazing, if true. D would be amazing, but sounds bogus to me. I’ve started taking some of this morning and night and now kinda smell like a salad. Doesn’t seem to be a downside except causing my teeth to turn into a crumbly calcium paste. We’ll see?
I’m pretty sure that the weight loss dam will break in the next week or so, or else I’ll have to pull up the stone altar to Wåysfyärläëss that I put in the backyard and apologize to the neighbors about the wolf and the chanting and drinking of mead late into the night.
Wait, Mead doesn’t have calories, does it?
Nah. On to Valhalla!
Okay, I’m reminding you again – I am NOT a medical doctor, though once the MacArthur Fellowship comes in I’m thinking of becoming a Podiatrist, because feet need love, too – SO DON’T CONSIDER THIS MEDICAL ADVICE OR DO ANYTHING WITHOUT DISCUSSING WITH YOUR OWN PHYSICIAN.