GETTING STARTED

by admin on December 14, 2010

Getting Started

Congratulations!

You have just taken the most important step in saving your life!

Every journey begins with the first step, and the way back to health and weight loss begins with a plan. As my old Scout Master Dave Graham would always say years ago, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” What I’m about to share with you is a simple yet effective plan to help you take control of your health and optimize the benefits you’ll experience from normalizing your blood sugar.

Please keep in mind that with any program, your weight loss experience will be different than mine and will also depend on your level of effort and commitment you make to master your illness.

I’ll periodically update this list so please check back on a regular basis for the latest information!

So here are 8 Simple Steps to help you get started!

1. Define what a “healthy” weight is for you.

How you define what is healthy maybe more than just the number you see on your bathroom scale. A good place to start may be the BMI or Body Mass Indicator that takes into account your height, weight, gender and a multiplier. Although BMI is the most popular and internationally used standard of obesity, the formula has its limitations. If you’re like me and participate in competitive athletic sports like Masters Swimming, then you may have a more muscular physique. In this case, the BMI may overestimate body fat. Or, in older persons it may underestimate body fat due to muscle loss. If you’d like to calculate your BMI, use this automated calculator (http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/).

Another indicator of health is waist circumference. The rule of thumb for men is having a waist circumference of 40 inches or larger; for women it’s 35 inches. Anything over that standard increases one’s risk of getting certain health problems like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.

Another popular concept is “body typing”. It considers where most of the body fat is distributed and the shape it most closely resembles. If most of your fat is concentrated around your abdomen (beer gut), then it’s called “apple” shaped and usually indicates a metabolic disorder such as insulin resistance or Type II diabetes. If fat is concentrated around the thighs and hips, then it’s “pear” shaped and may indicate an hormonal imbalance with your thyroid or adrenals, or perhaps an estrogen imbalance. Or, it could be a combination.

There’s also a growing trend of drug-induced obesity and Type II diabetes due to the side effects of certain medications like second-generation anti-psychotics (like Abilify®, Ripserdal®, and Geodon®) and mood-stabilizing SSRIs (like Prozac® and Zoloft®). These powerful drugs leave a person craving for carbohydrates and feeling lethargic, resulting in a vicious circle no amount of willpower and dieting can help in weight loss.

The point is, obesity may indicate other underlying yet interrelated health issues and risks. So it’s important to take these other factors in consideration when you decide on what your weight loss goals are.

2. Determine your current blood sugar level.

The next step is to identify a baseline or starting point for your current blood sugar level.

There are other blood tests that are just as important in providing a more complete picture of your health: cholesterol levels, triglycerides, HDL/LDL (good fat/bad fat) ratios, and so on. But from my research, I believe normalizing blood sugar levels is the key to unlocking many of these interrelated health issues that lead to obesity. And it’s also the simplest.

Blood sugar levels vary. What is considered “normal” for others may be either too low (hypoglycemic) or too high (hyperglycemic) for you. According to Drs. Carl Pfeiffer. MD and Abram Hoffer, 95% of alcoholics are undiagnosed hypoglycemics. And there’s a high incidence of hypoglycemia among those who suffer from some sort of mental illness. The blood sugar pattern of a hypoglycemic reacts differently than one who has normal blood sugar patterns. It’s important to understand how your body reacts to blood sugar when it breaks down the food you eat. Carbohydrates, proteins and fat will all be converted by your body into glucose; it’s just a matter of timing. It typically takes 2-5 hours for complete digestion of food, and it’s important to know what pattern, if any, your blood sugar follows. If you’d like to take a look at what these graphs look like, skip to ABC’s of Blood Sugar.

There are several ways to determine your blood sugar level.

a. The most accurate and expensive way is to do a Glucose Tolerance Test (G.T.T.). It requires you to be at the lab for several hours, so if you’re pressed for time, this option may not be right for you. In essence, you have to fast for 12-hours and the test will require your blood to be drawn several times in order to check how rapid your blood sugar rises and normalizes after you drink a glucose solution. Caution: for some people, a G.T.T. test can be dangerous because it can precipitate psychosis. * (See Mental and Elemental Nutrients by Carl C. Pfeiffer, MD, PhD Keats Publishing Co. 1975 pp.380-395,418,194,alcoholism and,372,374, 377, 450, blood histamine and, 397 (table 40.1), blood spermine and, 392 (table 39.2,449—diet for 392-393 (table 39.3)

b. The second option is the Glycosylated Hemoglobin (HgbA1C) test. This blood work also requires that you go to a lab.  It measures the presence of glycation or the process when glucose binds to protein (in this case hemoglobin) in the blood. Because the HgbA1C test is a 3-month average of your blood sugar level, many physicians believe that it’s more accurate. The values are expressed as a percentage (%) and range from 4 – 13 which has a corresponding amount in mg/dl. For example, the American Diabetic Association recommends that “normal” blood sugar should be below an HgbA1C of 6%  or 120 mg/dl. Other physicians say normal is 90 mg/dl or an HgbA1C of 5%. For the full conversion chart, go to ABC’s of Blood Sugar.

c. The last option is to purchase a blood glucose meter. This is much more convenient and relatively inexpensive.  In some cases there are companies offering free meters if you purchase the glucose test strips from them.  Usually the kit comes with a lancet and a lancing device. The result gives you a reading of your blood sugar at that particular point in time and gives you feedback on how certain foods or exercise affects your blood sugar levels.

Technology has improved now such that the latest meters test the plasma glucose levels. Thus, the reading you get is similar to your lab blood test. However, blood glucose meters have been known to have some inaccuracies. The American Diabetes Association recommends manufacturers to have a total error rate of less than 10% at blood glucose levels of 30mg/dl to 400 mg/dl. In other words, a blood glucose meter reading of 70 mg/dl could actually range from 63 mg/dl to 77 mg/dl. I personally use a One Touch Ultra 2 meter and find it very easy to use.  Their meter self-calibrates and their test strips actually take two measurements with each drop of blood for increased accuracy. You can get a free meter if you buy test strips from them by calling Lifescan Inc at 1-800-227-8862 or in Spanish at 1-800-381-7226.

Here’s a link for more tips on Blood Glucose meters.

3. Journalize your progress.

I’ve found that keeping a log of my progress has been a very useful source of inspiration! For me, I’ve chosen to track my daily results by using this blog, but any old notebook will do. The most important items to keep track of are: Blood sugar reading, the time and date you took your blood sugar, what you had for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks and also the type of exercise and duration. On days when your blood sugar reading is a bit off, you can easily look back at the days when you attained your goal and see what you can do to get back on track. You can also make note of anything you did the day before that might have caused a sudden rise in your blood sugar so you won’t repeat the mistake again. The key is to take you blood sugar at the same time every day for ease of comparison.

4.      Clear out your pantry.

What better time of year than the Holidays to donate to your local food bank or church food drive! To avoid temptation, get rid of those bags of pasta, jam and fruit preserves, breakfast cereal and bars, fruit juices, cookies, chips, crackers, canned sweet or starchy vegetables like chickpeas, chili beans and carrots, most commercially prepared canned soup, cake, pancake and cookie mixes, left-over Halloween candy, and other packaged foods that have more than 12g of total carbohydrates.

According to Dr. Richard K. Bernstein, author of The Diabetes Diet , in order to keep your blood glucose as close to “normal” as possible, carbohydrates need to be limited to no more than 6g for breakfast, 12g for lunch, and 12 g for dinner or remember it as the 6/12/12 program. Dr. Bernstein discovered that for every 1 g of carbohydrate, blood sugar rose approximately by 5 mg/dl. He lists these foods under “No-Nos”. These are: tomatoes, tomato paste and tomato sauce, vegetables like beets, carrots, corn and potatoes, skim milk and cottage cheese, non-dairy creamers (liquid or powder), and even alternative grains like quinoa, kasha and sorghum, and most fruit.

I find that as I stabilize my blood sugar, I can add back some limited amount of fruit but I compensate by exercising more and vigilantly monitoring my blood sugar levels.

For more meal planning suggestions, visit the section Nutrient Dense, Lower Carbohydrate Guidelines .

5. Restock.

You’re probably wondering, what else is there left to eat? Plenty!!  It’s time to take your shopping cart and go to the grocery store for: low-carbohydrate “green” vegetables like kale and mustard greens, asparagus, zucchini, pumpkin and squashes, fruit like avocados and Granny Smith apples, meat, fish, fowl, seafood and eggs, sardines, canned tuna, coconuts, full-fat plain yogurt, cheese, butter, nuts like almonds, unsweetened nut butters like pumpkin seed butter, coconut flour, coconut sugar, bran crackers, toasted nori, natto, miso and so on.

I’ve come to especially love arugula salads with hemp oil dressing and Elk burgers (minus the bun, I don’t eat any bread whatsoever.)

Notice that there are no soy-based foods in the list. According to The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, soy is controversial at best as a health food, and at worst, is dangerous to our health. Check out this link to learn more about the other side of soy (http://www.westonaprice.org/soy-alert/689-ploy-of-soy.html ).

For a more comprehensive list for ideas and suggestions, visit the section Nutrient Dense, Lower Carbohydrate Guidelines .

6.      Plan your meals.

There are other “low carb” diets out there, but the one program that I’m following is Dr. Bernstein’s 6/12/12 protocol. In other words, if I limit my carbohydrate intake for breakfast to 6g, and 12g for lunch and 12 g dinner, plus a reasonable amount of protein and fat, then I will normalize my blood sugar and help my body burn glucose instead of storing fat. And, the protein and fat I eat will be oxidized for energy. In addition, because I am hypoglycemic, I find that by eating small protein snacks throughout the day, I avoid the “ups and downs” of blood sugar levels that affect my moods. The reason is protein breaks down into amino acids and glucose, but there’s a delay in how it affects the rise in my blood sugar. By eating soaked almonds or hard-boiled eggs, I’m able to continue to lose weight and keep my mood swings in check.

I’ve especially come to love the energy I get from eating natto, a traditional Japanese food that is made of fermented soybeans infused with a Bacillus natto strain.  I combine natto with organic, raw egg yolks mixed with a little mustard, soy sauce, green onions wrapped up in pieces of nori seaweed. The energy I get from that breakfast is phenomenal! It blasts through any brain fog every time I eat it! You can find natto in the frozen section of most Asian groceries and it’s usually sold in packs of 3 or 4.

For more meal planning suggestions and recipes, please visit the section Nutrient-Dense, Lower Carbohydrate Guidelines.

7. Energize with Exercise.

I’ve known personal stories of people who have reversed their Type II diabetes and eliminated their need for diabetic meds by simply walking twice a day. One person even golfed his way to curing his diabetes! For me, I’ve found that the best combination is at least a half-hour morning walk to activate my vitamin D levels, and another half-hour to one-hour work out at the gym by either swimming, lifting weights, using the treadmill, elliptical trainer and nautilus equipment.

The point is, exercise will help sensitize your cells to glucose and will also help your brain gain its neuroplasticity. That means, for every hour of exercise, your brain creates new brain cells. One such activity to help increase your neuroplasticity is geo-caching. Geo-caching is a modern day treasure hunt that’s really fun and a new activity the whole family can enjoy together outdoors! Check out this link for more information (http://www.geocaching.com/ ).

Be sure to keep a log of the amount and type of exercise you do. It doesn’t really matter what kind of exercise you do just so long as it’s something you enjoy and do consistently. When you make it a daily habit, you will find yourself having a much easier time with any other area in your life and you’ll be able to focus much better on  Quadrant Two aspects of your life that are “high value, but low urgency”. For more information on Quadrant Two, I highly recommend reading  Stephen Covey’s book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People http://ee.sharif.edu/~commi/Comm1_files/SevenHabits.pdf .

8. Vitamins and Other dietary supplements

There are specific natural supplements and herbal extracts that have been used in Asia and other parts of the world for centuries that help lower blood sugar. They are known as insulin mimetics because they mimic insulin’s primary function of transporting glucose into the cell walls. These are bitter melon or charantia momordica. There’s banaba tea and ginseng. And of course, cinnamon.

Several decades of research also confirm the efficacy of certain dietary supplements like chromium polynicotinate, B-complex vitamins like biotin, B3, Vitamin C, zinc and manganese to stabilize blood sugar; other supplements like L-Carnitine, Acetyl-L-carnitine, and the universal anti-oxidant R-Lipoic Acid work synergistically to help metabolize fat and improve weight loss as well as helping maintain one’s ability to minimize the damage caused by glycation and oxidation within our cells.

I also take Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) before breakfast every morning for its thermogenic or fat-burning benefits. Unlike other saturated fats, coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids that go straight to your liver where it’s burned for energy. It actually helps you lose weight! And, the added benefit is that VCO is high in caprylic acid which has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, thus boosting your immune system!

Last but not certainly least, I must share one of nature’s truly superfoods, cod liver oil. According to Weston A. Price, DDS in his book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, there are at least four factors to Vitamin D. Cod liver oil has both natural vitamins A and D in the correct proportion, as well as the Omega-3 Fatty acids DHA and EPA which help people who suffer from depression.

Please visit the section Dietary Supplements and Resources for a more comprehensive list.

So, there you have it! In a nutshell, the secret to successful weight loss and health is consistent practice of good habits…and lot’s of planning! I know I’ve given you a lot of information to digest. I suggest you print out this information and review it again. The bottom line is, if you eat carbs that you can’t handle due to an insulin resistant condition, no supplement is going to totally counteract that no matter how good it is. You MUST change the way you eat, there are no short cuts to success with this program. The good part though is that once you cut out the carbs you can’t handle, the brain fog and lethargy actually go away.

Your thinking will become razor sharp, and if you have a tendency to be tired all the time, you will experience a dramatic increase in your energy level, so cutting out the carbs won’t feel like a burden once you get into it, it will become self reinforcing behavior due to the benefits of radically improving your cognition.

Disclaimer: The author of this article is a layperson not an MD. Please note that if you are taking any medication, please do not stop taking your medication and consult your medical doctor before taking any medication or embarking on any program involving sudden changes that can impact your health. I recommend consulting either a Naturopath or an orthomolecular MD due to their superior understanding of the concepts brought forth in this article and emphasize that many mainstream physicians are biased against the information and concepts espoused herein, so please choose your guides wisely. You can locate a practitioner conversant with this information via www.orthomed.org , http://www.acam.org/ or http://findanaturopath.com/ or via your local health food store. Please communicate with me about any experience you have stemming from utilizing this information so we can all learn together.

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