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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shagri-La Week 1

Well it's been a week since I started swallowing oil as an attempt to lose weight, and so far my stats haven't changed -- I'm still 161 lbs and 36.1% BF.

However, I have been noticing some effect on my appetite. I'm currently experiencing a "Thanksgiving Full" after my lunch today, even though I didn't eat as much as I usually do. In fact, I'm feeling a little overstuffed, and I kind of wish I could take some of that pasta back out of me. So perhaps the appetite suppression is setting in a little bit.

I moved up to two tablespoons of oil -- one in the morning, and one in the afternoon -- starting Sunday. Most people on the diet take between 2 and 4 tablespoons, and many are adding other methods espoused in the Shangri-La Diet book. I'm still waiting for my copy of the book to arrive in the mail, so I'll wait to see if I want to add any other methods. But for now I'm taking a gradual approach and adding elements one thing at a time to let my body adjust to the changes.

Some people on the discussion forum are talking about xylitol -- a sugar alcohol made from things like tree bark. It has 2/3 the calories sugar has and acts rather strongly in suppressing appetite. It also is purportedly beneficial for your teeth and even sinus infections, since it kills bacteria and yeast. Ian argues that this could be bad too, because your body needs some of the bacteria living in it -- particularly in the digestinal tract. This is probably why sugar alcohols often have a laxative effect. However, it's my suspicion that oil might have quite the opposite effect, and so maybe a combination of the two wouldn't be altogether unwelcome.

I'm considering adding some xylitol to my routine, but for now I'll stick to the 2T oil. Don't want to rush into anything.

I'll report back on progress next week.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Shangri-La Begins

I've decided to try out the Shangri-La Diet.

First of all, I acknowledge that it's rather out of character for me to say that I am going to go on any kind of diet at all. For one thing, I think most diets out there aren't particularly good for you, or if they are, they are too difficult to follow, which is why the success rates aren't very high. For another thing, I'm generally pretty happy with my average weight, and tend to allow myself to eat whatever I want. But it's becoming harder to manage my weight easily as I age, so I've decided to give this a try. Finally, most things associated with the word "diet" are disgusting. Diet Coke, for instance. The word "diet" is practically meaningless in contexts like that anyway. People think of diet as being good for you, but Diet Coke is not good for you. It's not even better for you than regular Coke. But "diet" sells. I'm just waiting for the day someone tries to market Diet Air.

So back to the Shangri-La Diet. This diet was started by Seth Roberts, and you can read about it on his website or in his book. The premise of the diet is built on the idea of a set point -- a weight that your body is programmed to aim for. This set point can go up or down depending on a number of factors, including how much you eat and how good your food tastes. If your set point is higher than your weight, your body will be programmed to gain weight. If the set point is lower than your weight, your body will strive to lose weight. So that's the first part of the idea behind the diet.

The second part is built on the idea that you can lower your set point by ingesting calories that are not associated with flavor. This is the tricky part of the theory to understand. But how I understand it is that flavor signals to your brain that you are in a time of plenty as far as food is concerned, and your body takes this signal and goes into stock up mode, in preparation for a time of famine. (Possibly a result of our evolution.) So if you are ingesting bland foods, your body assumes that it is a time of famine, because you wouldn't choose to eat bland food if you didn't have to, and so it switches into a more conservative mode of operation, believing that it will need to live off its fat stores for a while. So the idea is to ingest some bland calories to trick your body into lowering its set point.

When the diet first came on the scene around 2000, fructose water was used as a bland but high caloric method of tricking your body into lowering your set point. These days Seth and his fellow dieters have switched to oil, such as extra light (not extra virgin) olive oil. I guess the reason for the switch has mainly to do with concerns over blood sugar levels being affected by the fructose water.

So as far as I understand the diet based on Seth's site and other Shangri-La sites on the web, the general idea is to take a tablespoon or two of oil sometime during the day without tasting anything for an hour before or after. That includes gum and toothpaste and flavored lip gloss. This will give you 100-200 essentially flavorless calories, and will begin to lower your set point. Over time you should lose weight.

The overwhelming response from people who have tried the diet is very positive. Most people are getting results (generally dropping around 1 pound per week) much quicker and more effortlessly than they have achieved using other weight loss methods. People still eat what they want, the difference is that what they want changes. Appetites lower and cravings begin to lean toward more wholesome foods.

So I figure I will give it a try. Can't hurt, after all.

I took my first tablespoon of oil this morning, and I'll admit that it did gross me out a little. There really is virtually no taste, but you can feel the oily liquid in your mouth, and that's kind of weird. I thought I might need a water chaser, but it turns out I didn't. It's only the first second or two that is gross, and then it's like it never happened.

My beginning weight is 161, and I have a goal of achieving 145. This is just a rough goal, because frankly I don't put too much stock in weight. In fact I had a rule of never weighing myself, which I started in high school, because I believe it's generally bad for your self esteem to obsess over something that can fluctuate several units per day anyway. But I really like Ian's bathroom scale, because it tells you not only your weight but your body fat percentage. And it's the body fat that I'm worried about. My BFP today was 36.4%, I believe. Might have been 34.6, I'll have to double check. I'm not sure what is considered healthy for a woman, but I think it should be closer to 25%. So we'll see if I can bring it down to there.

I'll report in every week or so with my progress.

Day 1:
161 lbs
36.4% BF

145 lbs
25% BF

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Have You Ever Been to a Concert at Club Sound?

Have you ever been to a concert at Club Sound? I'm not talking about the In the Venue side with the balcony, I'm talking about the other side with the stage shoved in a corner by the windows and the bar in the back.

Well, it's my personal opinion that the sound at Club Sound is routinely bad. The bass is always too high and the vocals too low. I go to a lot of shows, and unfortunately quite a few have been at Club Sound. With one or two exceptions, all these shows have been a disappointment.

The last straw was the recent Deerhoof show. Deerhoof is an obscure experimental band which rocks my socks off, and so I jumped at the chance to see them live. The band is composed of a little Asian woman and her band mates. The Asian woman sounds like a five year old girl when she sings. Think Joanna Newsome. Well, her voice is so high, that the overly invasive bass levels completely muddied her out. I was pissed.

So I wrote a MySpace message to Club Sound complaining about the sound at that show and many others and suggesting that they change their name to Club Sounds Shitty.

Admittedly, saying something like that to someone is not a good way to get what you want, but as a paying customer, I feel I have a right to complain, and even to use insulting words.

Well, Club Sound wrote me back with insulting words of their own, as follows:

Hello This is the SOUND GUY and I appreciate your amateur opinion on frequency related sciences but....Almost every band to come to the venue has had there own engineer and in every case it is impossible to make a variable enviorment sound like a CD, all of us at the venue read the emails and your the first to complain...... EVER...Not having the facts staight make people look VERY STUPID.

Have a nice Day


I answered by pointing out that not understanding the difference between your and you're and there and their also makes people look stupid. As do the misspellings in the words straight and environment.

But anyway, since he's basically begging for more people to complain about the sound at Club Sound before he takes me seriously, I'm urging any of you who have also been disappointed by the sound quality at Club Sound to let them know!

After all, if enough people give feedback, maybe they will do something about the Shitty Sound.

Concert fans unite!

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Money Matters

Canada dollar trumps U.S.

Well, it's clear that the U.S. dollar is not as mighty as it once was. When I went to Germany for the first time in 2002, the exchange rate between the dollar and the euro was 1:1. It's been all downhill for the dollar ever since.

But now the impossible has happened: Canada's dollar is stronger than ours! The difference is only 2 or 3 cents so far, so it's not that big of a deal, but this speaks of the strength of our country dwindling in the global economy.

I guess the only thing to do now is to open up those penny rolls that we've been trying to hide Canadian pennies in for all these years, head on up to Canada, and try to hide our American pennies in the Canadian penny rolls. That'll show 'em. Suckas!

U.S. Banker

About a month ago, I brought a $37 check to my bank to be cashed. It was a partial reimbursement check for my $50 enrollment in a community ed weight training class. I don't know, I guess I had the crazy expectation that the instructor would actually, well... instruct. Otherwise I could just go to the gym, right?

But anyway, I was slightly amused when the teller asked me if there was any special way that I wanted my money. How special could $37 be? I thought to myself as I shook my head no. I mean, I understand asking if I want $100 in any special way, but below that, seriously, how special can pocket change be?

My friend Mike pointed out that $37 dollars in pennies could be pretty darn special. And he's right. Maybe next time that's how I'll ask for my money. Then it'll be off to Canada to hide my American pennies in Canadian rolls.

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