Zìjǐ Xiězuò (自己寫作) I Write for Myself: Labels

ORIGINAL CONTENT

Labels. Many frown upon them. There seem to be simply an overwhelming amount of labels that an equally overwhelming amount of people have chosen for themselves. Even those who refuses conformity and declare themselves free of such social constraints, in it of itself, the declaration is a form of labeling.

But labeling is not all bad and for some, a label can provide much needed answers and lead to resolutions. For example, figuring out that I have FODMAP food sensitivity not only alleviated my frustrations but the label provided a roadmap of how I can curtail my nutrition so that I can eat and feel good. Often times not knowing, no label, is much worse but I can certainly understand that for some, all the labels are just nonsense.

When it comes to personality traits, we are often presented with two choices – extrovert or introvert. However, extrovert and introvert are only the two extremes on a spectrum and for years, the Hubs was convinced that I was an extrovert but I knew better. The key element in determining where I fell was who each personality recharged. The extrovert is energized with other people, while introverts needs mass quantity of time alone. While I can find enjoyment in crowds, parties, or group events, my tolerance has limitations. And when my energy is all gone, I can’t retreat to a quiet place fast enough to recharge. I am what is called ambivert. Ambiverts have both introverted and extroverted tendencies and often lean towards one end of the spectrum or the other based on the social situations.

Quarantine during COVID-19 pandemic was challenging for many people for many reasons. For some it was the sheer inability to fulfill the very basic human need to socialize with other sentient being. While for others it was the inability to leave one’s quarters with a bit of cabin fever. For me, it was the lack of opportunity to have solitary time to recharge.

I was working from home. Thing 2’s classes were all online. We, like many other families partook in getting a COVID puppy which is essentially like having a child without the benefits of a diaper. Being a homebody, sometimes I felt as if it was difficult to just breathe because there were no where for me to hide to recoup 5 minutes of no obligation, no interaction, and just sit in priceless utter silence.

I remember that I would ride my scooter and brave the cold just so I can scrape some time of being alone but it’s not quite the same as being able to curl into the corner of a comfy chair, with a favorite book, and a cup of hot tea. On the weekends, the house was even louder and more populated as the Hubs would be home.

When I hear that many single people were drowning in loneliness, I often internally marveled at their luxury of being alone. I suppose that the grass is truly greener on the other side.

Zìjǐ Xiězuò (自己寫作) I Write for Myself: Me, According to Facebook

ORIGINAL CONTENT

I am fat, looking for a quick-fix weight loss supplement. And if the quick-fix doesn’t pan out then I will build a home gym and in the interim use shapewear to mold myself to the standard society has deemed physically appropriate. I am a young vegan mother looking for organic toys and Christian preschool, who is also looking for a online masters program in the fine arts, no wait, I am a seasoned man who needs supplements to enhance muscle mass. I have high interest in expensive food subscription boxes, love organic makeup, wants mensural underwear, love romance novels, purchase my wardrobe from home brew clothing brands, and perhaps most unfortunately, I am also inflicted with Cauliflower ear.

This is who I am according to the Facebook algorithm.

The Facebook algorithm is at a minimum somewhat inaccurate – at worst, laughable. As I sit here reviewing the ads for today, I rack my brain trying to recall what I could have possibly browsed that triggered an onslaught of romance novel ads. *shudders*

It occurred to me the hazards of these algorithms and how it can truly manipulate one’s perspective with just one-wrong-click. Once an end user clicks on one ad, one photo, one story, the algorithm awaiting in the shadows will begin to orchestrate similar ads, photos, and stories to bombard the end user’s news feed(s). Unless the end user is consciously aware of the system’s tendency to manipulate what is in the news feed and purposely & actively counter the AI by browsing other topics, the viscous cycle will only increase with ferocity.

It is foreseeable how the malleable or the lazy can be easily herded down the rabbit hole of conspiracies and be enveloped in a circle of unfounded rumors treated as facts. The malleable will take what they read at face value, questioning nothing, regardless of the source of the information. And from my experience being in various Facebook groups, the lazy will blindly rely on a bunch of strangers of varying degree of expertise instead of doing their own research from credible sources.

The lack of curiosity and the willingness to believe without question is a phenomena which I can’t quite comprehend. For me, I question everything and until I can confirm it for myself from multiple credible sources, I read everything with suspicion. Perhaps this is another benefit of being neglected as a child. I had to due without a parental figure to conveniently provide answers, instead I had to resort to finding the answers for myself, by myself.

Healthy Byte: Saying Goodbye

ORIGINAL CONTENT:

It has been almost six years since I have reached my weight loss goal and maintained it. Maintenance has been challenging and complicated with the burdens of getting older.

Along with the natural aging process of added wrinkles and sprouting of salt in our pepper the physical evolution is both noticeable and impactful. According to a study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information:

One of the most striking effects of age is the involuntary loss of muscle mass, strength, and function, termed sarcopenia [13]. Muscle mass decreases approximately 3–8% per decade after the age of 30 and this rate of decline is even higher after the age of 60 [4,5].

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804956/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20most%20striking,60%20%5B4%2C5%5D.

Some basic knowledge about muscle verses fat: #1 Muscles burns more calories than fat #2 Muscles weigh more than fat #3 We naturally lose muscles as we age

Therefore the true fountain of youth is to at a minimum, do enough strength training to mitigate the rate of natural muscle loss. Sounds simple enough but for someone who has been overweight and have been groomed to attribute success to set numbers, numbers on the scale and number of the BMI calculation, purposely engaging in an activity which would result in weight gain was very difficult task to embark upon.

But embarked I did … repeatedly … and failed. My vicious cycle of starting regular strength training, gain weight, panic, and quit continued through the majority of my weight maintenance. Until one day, a Facebook ad for a free class at OrangeTheory Fitness changed everything. OrangeTheory is HIIT training classes where every class has a session on the treadmill, rower, and strength training. It is the first time that I’ve stuck with regularly strength training for more than a few months. I absolutely adore the muscle definition on my shoulders and arms & every time I glanced at myself in the studio mirrors, I internally giggle a little.

HOWEVER, along with the muscles, my weight crept up … uncomfortably so. My old struggles with weight resurfaced and I continued to battle with a higher BMI and how the number on the scale was defining my alleged failure. I weigh myself on a weekly bases and if I had lost weight I was emotionally elated, relieved, empowered. But when I gained weight, I was defeated, depressed, and felt incredibly fat. It was heartbreaking to watch the numbers on the scale continue to climb even though I religiously attended OrangeTheory classes a minimum of four times a week.

This passed spring I completed my first full DriTri at OrangeTheory. DriTri is intended to simulate a triathlon with 2000 meters on the rower, a total of 300 body weight exercises on the floor, topped of with a 5K on the treads. I was stunned that I was not the last to finish in my heat, but more importantly I noticed that my overall finish time was better than some members 10 -20 years my junior! It was a testament to all the sweat equity I had invested for the last 4 years but it was also a validation that despite what the scale stated, I had no reason to feel defeated or be depressed about and I certainly was not fat.

And with that, I made the decision to forego the scale going forward. I have stopped my weekly weigh ins and as a matter of fact, I haven’t weigh myself for a little over a month now its quite liberating. I figured if I continue to eat responsibly and continue being physically active, the scale is a tool I no longer needed with my weight loss maintenance journey.

Healthy Byte: Day 3045

ORIGINAL CONTENT

DISCLAIMER: I am not a nutritionist or a trainer of any kind. The following is simply my opinion from what has been true for me on my weight loss / long-term maintenance journey. I have completed extensive research from credible sources, however, the information below is my interpretation of that information. So read with a grain of salt.

It has been 3,045 consecutive days since I have been logging my nutritional choices on MyFitnessPal which calculates to a little over 8 years of logging.

I read an article recently on Intermittent Fasting (“IF”) and it was an interesting read. Intermittent Fasting dictates the number of hours of fasting verses the number of hours of eating within a 24-hour period or week – depending on the version. The theory is that by prolonging the period of no food consumption, it forces the body to burn through the calories consumed during the last meal and begin burning fat. There are also research which shows that the period of fasting not only induces Human Growth Hormone levels which benefits fat loss and muscle gain, improves insulin levels, impact gene functions related to protection against disease, but also allows the body to initiate cellular repair because it is not burdened with processing food. Please see Healthline & Hopkins for additional details.

Over the years, I have had to continue to adjust both my nutritional and fitness plans in order to maintain – it’s just what it takes as we get older. I had followed the 80/20 Rule (eating on plan 80% of the time) for years but since I’ve hit the half-century milestone I noticed that the impact on regulating my weight was decreasing. So I transitioned to IF and found that 14:10 works best for me and my schedule. IF has made a noticeable difference in easing long-term weight management but it also has alleviated my angst in extensive meal planning.

Article Summary: The writer had been on 16:8 IF for years but was experimenting with a new version of IF called the “Warrior Diet.” The Warrior Diet consists of fasting for 20-hours and limiting eating to only 4-hours a day which I thought was utter madness. However as I read on, she explained that by only eating 4-hours a day, she was liberated to eat larger quantities and whatever she wanted which relieved a lot of the stress related to counting calories and feeling deprived. She also claimed that eating only 4-hours a day essentially eradicated the possibility of overeating which for her, helped reduced her sugar cravings and feeling bloated. The writer seemed to have success with the Warrior Diet after trying it for 2-weeks.

My Perspective: What stood out to me was her mention of bloating and admitted struggle with it. In reviewing a sample day of foods she consumed,

” … tofu kale salad … a bowl of roasted tofu, sweet potatoes, and red peppers … banana, raw almonds or cashews, black-bean burritos, avocado pasta with Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs and steamed broccoli, lentil soup and bread, or veggie burgers with roasted veggies. If I felt like it, I’d eat a little dessert after. Sometimes it was some trail mix and fresh fruit, and sometimes it was a vegan brownie sundae”

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/warrior-diet-1-week-2-weeks-43966339

I can’t help but to think that perhaps she maybe is FODMAP intolerant.

As I had incrementally phased out nutrition-poor food options, for the first time in my life I made the decision to incorporate vegetables with each dinner meal. Not being a vegetable person, I defaulted to the four vegetables I didn’t mind eating – green beans, carrots, mushrooms, and broccoli. I was so proud of myself for eating lean protein and vegetables but after a few weeks, my waistline increased, I gained weight, had severe constipation, and was constantly uncomfortably bloated – sometimes so painful that all I could do was curl up in the fetal position until the pain passed. I was very upset, frustrated, and couldn’t understand what I was doing wrong.

Around the same time, one of my dearest friends was diagnosed with Celiac. Her unfortunate diagnosis gave me the idea that perhaps I had some form of gluten or carbohydrate sensitivity. After hours of research, I had concluded that I was FODMAP intolerant. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols and unlike Celiac, FODMAP intolerance is not an immune reaction but an intolerance to certain types of foods. High FODMAP foods are short-chain carbohydrates (sugars) that the small intestine absorbs poorly which can result in the large intestine retaining too much water causing sometime unbearable bloating. Please see Cleveland Clinic; Healthline; Hopkins for additional details.

And to my surprise, many healthy foods are also high-FODMAP foods. Foods like wheat, soft & silken tofu, legumes, lentils, fruits like apples, avocados, ripe banana, and vegetables like mushrooms, snow peas, onion, cauliflower, and broccoli. And sadly, FODMAP intolerance varies greatly from person-to-person, therefore there really is no one-list to definitively identify all high-FODMAP foods for all people. To further complicate things, each person can have a certain persona tolerance to certain high-FODMAP foods. For example, onion and broccoli are both a high-FODMAP foods, but I can consume a small amount with no ill-effects. So it is truly a matter of persistent trial & error with a lot of patience in determining what the trigger FODMAP foods are.

Given the sample of foods the writer listed, there’s a possibility that perhaps all the Warrior Diet accomplished was to reduce her consumption of high-FODMAP foods within her tolerance level like onions & broccoli are for me.