Tag Archives: diet

9 miles, uphill, both ways

I know– it’s been a while. I could say I’ve been waiting until I had an expertly drafted, nail-biting, page-turning blog post before hitting “publish” again, but that’d be a lie. Still, better to get something out there before another week goes by, and so forth.

If I let that happen, I’d find myself here two years later (in the same position, curled up on the couch in my Carrier-branded fleece jacket and cat hair-covered fleece blanket, watching another thrilling episode of Ice Road Truckers). And I’d wonder, what happened to the past 24 months?

It’s one reason I decided to blog again, aside from the obvious “living abroad is exciting” thing. Too often, I find myself missing complete chunks of time. I can’t remember how old I was when I learned how to ride a bike, or what my favorite TV show was in 12th grade, or what I learned in my college French classes, or what it was like living in my first apartment in Philadelphia. Without stopping to write things down, my brain doesn’t have that motivation to go, “Hmm, we might want to remember this one day.” And then I feel boring. Complacent. It’s not that I need my life to be filled with constant excitement– on the contrary. I’m kind of a homebody, happier on the couch with John and the cats (with or without Ice Truckers) than…anywhere else, really. But If I don’t stop to notice and appreciate (and remember) these nice, relaxing days and nights, they’ll just turn into more “missing chunks.”

To summarize that tangent into one sentence: Writing and sharing is good for the soul, so here I am.

In attempt to remember what the hell happened this week, before it goes into black hole territory:

1. I started my new job! Oh, maybe I didn’t even mention I had a new job. Or an interview. I’m superstitious like that; it wasn’t a sure thing. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted the position, so I was pretty relaxed about the whole interview process. Somehow, that translated to confidence. And the most surprising thing is that I really like it so far. The people and work environment are wonderful, and I’m finding more and more support to what might be the closest I ever get to a life epiphany:

It’s more important to find a supportive, engaging and enjoyable environment rather than to  land the ideal (planned-for, studied-for, ultra-specific) job.

Maybe it’s just the honeymoon phase, but I don’t think so. Speaking of honeymoons, though…

2. That thing in September is my wedding. This might be awkward, but obviously we have guest list limits (and there’s that whole dislike of large crowds thing). We’re keeping it to mostly family, because, well, John and I are becoming our own family through this whole “marriage” thing. We’d like our individual families to see that, be part of it, support it. It’s kind of a private event, if you think about it. We can always party with our friends later, right? (Please don’t hate me, non-invitees!)

One promise I plan to keep, before that bigger “I do” promise: this blog will not turn into a melodramatic, wedding planning bridezilla frenzy disaster. I couldn’t care less if my “bridal party” (our siblings) wear matching ensembles that they’ll never wear again. I frown upon chair sashes. Pomanders and place cards? Shudder. It’s one day, people. It’ll be a fun party, and I’ll get to wear a pretty dress, and then I’ll be married. It doesn’t have to be an overly-constructed, over-priced ordeal. And instead of getting into wedding bikini shape or whatever pre-wives do to torture themselves, I’ll keep nursing my Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food (half price at The Co-op today! In all my excitement, I ate, um, most of it).

3. My name is Clea, and I have a problem: lists must be comprised of at least 3 items.

Oh, biking. That was going to be the subject of my original post. See what happens? Anyway, I have a 9ish mile round-trip commute to work. There’s one way to go that’s maybe .2 miles shorter than the second route, but it involves the grueling Headington Hill, that murderous quad-builder that starts at my front door. So I take the more scenic route through Cowley and Rose Hill (“the ghetto” of Oxford, apparently, though it seems pretty idyllic and just like everywhere else in this city). The slightly-more-flat route. I’m getting dusted by everyone from middle-aged ladies on cruisers to teenage boys riding with look ma, no hands!

It seems like everyone and their grandma “cycles” all across town, so I should be getting in pretty good cardiovascular condition in a few weeks here. And catch up to my fellow commuters. Maybe leave a few of them in the dust.

Fine, and maybe negate some of that Ben & Jerry’s, because I’m not above vanity after all.

A nutritional post

One of my beloved commenters recently mentioned wanting to make the recipe I posted the other day, but expressed concern over the saturated fat/cholesterol content. On a related note, I was talking to a good friend via Google Hangout (like Skype, but better) the other day, and we got into a discussion about milk(s). She’d gradually switched to skim, while I have progressively gone the other direction, to whole milk. So I figured I’d share some of the research I’ve been reading, to show you that I’m not trying to give anyone a heart attack or further the obesity epidemic (cue scary music).

1.) Source: http://www.gnolls.org/1086/the-lipid-hypothesis-has-officially-failed-part-1-of-many/ (I know, I know: some random website, but it does point to a legitimate scholarly journal article).

Excerpt: “The American Journal of Medicine Volume 102, Issue 3 , Pages 259-264, March 1997. Divergent trends in obesity and fat intake patterns: The american paradox. MD Adrian F. Heini, MD, DrPH Roland L. Weinsier …

RESULTS: In the adult US population the prevalence of overweight rose from 25.4% from 1976 to 1980 to 33.3% from 1988 to 1991, a 31% increase. During the same period, average fat intake, adjusted for total calories, dropped from 41.0% to 36.6%, an 11% decrease. Average total daily calorie intake also tended to decrease, from 1,854 kcal to 1,785 kcal (−4%). Men and women had similar trends. Concurrently, there was a dramatic rise in the percentage of the US population consuming low-calorie products, from 19% of the population in 1978 to 76% in 1991. From 1986 to 1991 the prevalence of sedentary lifestyle represented almost 60% of the US population, with no change over time.”

2.) Source: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/22116724/ns/health-diet_and_nutrition/t/what-if-bad-fat-isnt-so-bad/#.UUnCQ1sRAR9

Excerpt: “In the 1960s, a Vanderbilt University scientist named George Mann, M.D., found that Masai men consumed this very diet (supplemented with blood from the cattle they herded). Yet these nomads, who were also very lean, had some of the lowest levels of cholesterol ever measured and were virtually free of heart disease.

Sure, we’re very different from the Masai, so how about something more applicable to you and me?

“We’ve spent billions of our tax dollars trying to prove the diet-heart hypothesis. Yet study after study has failed to provide definitive evidence that saturated-fat intake leads to heart disease. The most recent example is the Women’s Health Initiative, the government’s largest and most expensive ($725 million) diet study yet. The results, published last year, show that a diet low in total fat and saturated fat had no impact in reducing heart-disease and stroke rates in some 20,000 women who had adhered to the regimen for an average of 8 years.”

3.) Source: http://chriskresser.com/specialreports/heartdisease 

Chris Kresser is an “integrative medicine” guy, which may turn some people off, but he certainly does his research and supports his writings with scientific, peer-reviewed journal articles.

The following comes from this article.

Excerpt: “Now, thanks to research published last week in BMJ, an old study is shedding new light on the omega-6 fatty acids and heart health controversy…replacing saturated fat with high omega-6 vegetable oils is likely to put you at a greater risk for heart attack, and it certainly won’t provide any health benefits…As more evidence surfaces about the dangers of high omega-6 PUFA consumption, it will be more difficult to defend the current AHA guidelines for fat consumption that are currently promoted by conventional health professionals. It seems the tide may be turning (slowly) when it comes to dietary fat recommendations, but it will be interesting to see how the American Heart Association responds to this new study.”

Okay, one more:

“The recent review I’m talking about is a meta-analysis published this week in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It pooled together data from 21 unique studies that included almost 350,000 people, about 11,000 of whom developed cardiovascular disease (CVD), tracked for an average of 14 years, and concluded that there is no relationship between the intake of saturated fat and the incidence of heart disease or stroke.”


1). Americans shifted to a “low fat,” “healthy” diet and got fatter. I wish the article/author of the website talked “health” rather than body size, but there you have it. A good reason to ditch those money-making, “low fat” diets that really, just make you buy more mass-marketed crap, because you’re hungry all the time. Fat is satiating.

2.) The notion that saturated fat causes heart disease is predominantly based on one very flawed study from the 1950s, wherein Ancel Keys tried to show that the more animal fat we eat, the higher our risk of heart disease. The NBC news article goes into much further detail and proportions of nutrients (fat, carb, protein) and does state that a low-fat diet might work for a small population that isn’t also trying to lose weight or exercise. So the key takeaway is that percentages of fat, protein, carb probably don’t matter as much as exercise and being a healthy weight, but also that sat. fat has been unfairly demonized.

3.) Eat butter, not margarine. Also, recent research compares the benefits of Omega 3 vs. Omega 6 fatty acids, and shows that our “heart healthy” intake of highly processed, high-Omega 6 vegetable oils is pretty terrible for us. Old research lumped these two types of fatty acids together. I could link to a zillion (okay, maybe not that many) other sources that explain why we’re better off aiming for a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio, compared to our modern 1:10 intake (eek!) but my battery is dying. 


Finally, for the more visually inclined, here’s a clip from the movie “Fat Heat,” which strikes me as kind of cutesy and oversimplified, but it’s certainly captivating:


So I originally titled this “a quickie nutritional post,” but as you can see, it turned into quite the lengthy diatribe. I’m not even sure if I’m using that word correctly. Comments? Concerns? Bacon? I’d love to hear from you.