Monthly Archives: November 2011

Baldaufs Vs. Genetics: Pre-Thanksgiving

I am waaay behind right now in posts. This is a combination of my still-absent internet at home and busyness with Thanksgiving. (I miss the internet!! Come back to me, pleeeease.) So this was supposed to be up on Monday. Post-Thanksgiving, might be able to get back on track. But things might stay erratic until post-Christmas. Just to warn you.

So the big weigh-in!! Who will win the bottle of brandy?!? Let’s find out! Also for this week, we had two questions to answer:

  1. Any short-term changes for the last two weeks and how’d it go?
  2. Any plans for dealing with the holidays?

 

The Uncle (Dan)

1. “Hunting caused some short-term changes. Low carbs had gone okay, but hunting made it harder.”

2. “My plans for the holidays is moderation. It will suck, but I will watch my weight and know when it is time to quit and go clean for awhile. If I can come through Thanksgiving at 260 I will be happy, then focus on getting down to 245 my Christmas.”

Starting Weight: 268.8 lbs
Last-Weigh In: 260 lbs
Current Weight: 257 lbs
Overall % Change: -4.39 %

And most importantly,
2-Week % Change:  -1.12 % 

The Bob (Dad)

1. I did not receive a response for the first question. Clearly, he cheated somehow then.

2. “Everything in moderation.” (In case you haven’t figured it out yet, my dad isn’t very verbose with his answers.)

Starting Weight: 223 lbs
Last Weigh In: 216.8 lbs
Current Weight: 213.4 lbs
Overall % Change: -4.30 %

2-Week % Change: -1.52 %

Me (Shane)

1. “My plan for the two weeks was to try to not graze as much and to work out pretty much every day. Went alright for the first week, but I didn’t quite make it every day. The second week didn’t go so well. I kind of thought I broke a bone in my foot (pretty sure I did not now), but it hurt enough that I didn’t want to run/bike. So that kind of set me back a little bit. Probably could have eaten less sweets as well. And I had to celebrate a little bit (because I got into med school!!!!).”

2. “My plan is to not let the holidays become a holiday month. I’m fine with overeating on Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that’s it. Outside of those days, it’s all about limiting myself.”

Starting Weight: 195 lbs
Last Weigh In: 193 lbs
Current Weight: 190.5 lbs
(This is an average. I had to use my terrible scale at home and it couldn’t distinguish between 190-191.)
Overall % Change:  -2.31 %

2-Week % Change: -1.28%

The Winner

1st: Bob  -1.52%
2nd: Me  -1.28%
3rd: Dan  -1.12%

So the Bob wins the bottle of brandy (which I forgot to leave money behind for. I can get it to you at Christmas if you want to just take care of it Dan). Meanwhile, Dan holds onto the overall lead with Bob close behind while I lag behind. The next month should really separate the contenders from the pretenders though. We’ll see who can make it through the holidays the best. And one last thing…

I finally have a photo! Since neither of them gave me, I was forced to sneak a couple during Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get any pictures of them eating tons of food because I was too busy stuffing my own face at those times. The Bob is on the left and Dan is on the right. (Also in the background is the Mother on the right and my Aunt Carla, Dan's wife, on the left)

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What The F*ck Does Eating Healthy Mean?

First things first, a little bit of business. Stiiiill no internet at home, going on a month now. It’s finally starting to get to me. Allegedly it’s supposed to be back up by this week, but I’m not holding my breath. Until then (or I cave and start paying for internet again–which probably won’t be soon out of necessity), the posts might be a little erratic for timing. I apologize for that. Someday I’ll get on a regular schedule. Now on with the posting!

I started getting interested in eating healthy around my sophomore or junior year of high school. My chief motivation was to put on muscle for football. It didn’t work very well. Anyways, since then I’ve gone through a lot of different phases in eating healthy and my opinions have changed countless times. And now I can definitively say…that eating healthy is confusing as fuck.

There are a million different voices out their telling you a million different ways to eat healthy and lose weight. Count calories? Low carbs-high fat? Low fat-plenty of carbs? I KNOW, I JUST WON’T EAT ANYMORE! That should solve things, right? All I’m missing is support for a high-calorie, high-sugar, high-fat diet. Actually, I think I found that once but it was for world-class athletes. So I just have to work out 8 hours a day. Got it. I’ll call it the cinnamon-toast-crunch-kill-yourself (working out) cure to obesity. Because cinnamon toast crunch is always good. (No matter how generic, it turns out. True fact. Personally tested).

That was fun. Anyways, I talk about eating healthy a lot. So it’s time to figure out what that means, to me. Like I mentioned before, I’ve adopted and dropped most of the opinions out there. I’ve spent lots of time looking into nutrition. I wrote a painfully long paper on the effects of carbohydrates on obesity comparing different diets. (Holy. Fuck. Was that a pain in the ass). I’ve read Michael Pollan and watched Food Inc. I’ve watched lectures by Gary Taubes, author of “Good Calories, Bad Calories”. I do, in fact, have some degree of expertise on this subject (unlike many other things I talk about) is what I’m trying to get across. DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor (yet), nor am I a professional in the subjects of nutrition.

And you know what? I am sick and tired of trying to figure out what the hell is healthy. So I’m going to boil down eating healthy to common sense (with a little bit of science).

Veggies Equal Healthy

Duh. No arguments anywhere on this one. We can pretty safely assume the produce section of a store is healthy.

Organic/All-Natural is Generally Better

I don’t want to get into all the aspects of this argument (I already had to do that in a med school interview. Because, you know, the yield of organic vs conventional is extremely relevant to my potential as a doctor. Sorry, little bit bitter). But let’s look at this simply. How does conventional agriculture work these days? Maximize yield to maximize profit. Not unreasonable. So most produce has been bred to grow as quickly and largely as possible, while taking up as little space as possible. There’s not much energy left for nutrients. There’s also the risks that pesticides bring.

Now, organic has it’s problems too. Lower yield means more expensive. There is risk of bacteria and other problems without pesticides. And organic agriculture is also concerned with turning a profit; let’s not kid ourselves. But in theory it should be more nutritious. The science is all over the place and oftentimes biased, but I think it makes sense at a basic level. Note of warning–there is zero regulation on claiming to be all-natural, so seeing it on a package means jack shit.

Lots of Sugar Isn’t Great

This seems like another duh but the sugar gets snuck in a lot of different ways. Most people are aware of high fructose corn syrup (or the new corn sugar thing they’ve been pushing). One of the mechanism for fat storage is driven by excess simple carbohydrates (sugar). It tells our body to store fat. (This was a large part of my paper). So excess sugar is bad. And sugars like fructose and high fructose corn syrup are absorbed/broken down more easily. Also, watch King Corn. It’s pretty ridiculous. Which leads me to another rule.

Don’t Eat It If You’re Grandmother Wouldn’t Recognize It

Yes, I borrowed this one from Michael Pollan (along with plenty of other themes in this argument). But it’s a pretty good rule. If the ingredients have a ton of stuff, most of which seems like advanced chemistry, I would distrust it. Now I’m sure plenty of them do useful things, like keep it fresh longer. But why not just eat it fresh. And natural ingredients just seem to work better together (more on this later).

Fats Get A (Somewhat) Bad Rap

Okay, don’t eat a ton of fat. But fat is a better source of energy than sugar (or carbs). If you don’t pair fats with carbs, you’re body doesn’t store the fat and will use it for energy. There is a reason Atkins diets work for weight-loss. But like any diet, it will plateau and can be easily reversed. So maybe this rule should be “Don’t Pair Fats and Sugar”.

Forget Reductionism

I really hate all the calorie counting, figuring out which vitamins I need or don’t need, and all that stuff. Including constantly checking sugar and fat contents. It’s annoying. Yes, there are better calories than others. I’m pretty sure 200 calories of salad are better for me than 200 calories of cake. I’m also pretty confident that taking a vitamin pill with 5000% of my daily value of vitamin X is trying to tell me that it probably doesn’t work as well on it’s own. Certain things work well paired up in ways we haven’t figured out yet. (Some might call this synergistic). So instead of wasting your time taking vitamins, pills, counting calories, get it out of real food and use your head. If you need more of a certain vitamin, find it in a food and figure out a good way to eat it.

Beware Advertising

Any health claims on food, probably bullshit. Seriously, the food industry pours ridiculous amounts of money into doing studies that find their food healthy. You know, peanut M&Ms? Good source of protein. Because of the peanuts. I’m surprised it’s not on the bag already. I’m not saying be like me (which is paranoid of every box at the store, while also being sucked in to plenty of things based on advertising), but don’t be foolish or naive about it.

Moderation!!

I suck at this one. Seriously, I will destroy a pan of brownies on my own. But this is pretty obvious. Stop freaking out about fats and sugars. Stop it! Just don’t pig out on stuff. Try to mix in veggies. And stop worrying about it so much. It’s a waste of time and billions of dollars a year. This is way simpler than it’s made out to be. I don’t think many of us would consider Twinkies to be healthy. But you can still eat one once in awhile. Just make sure that the good foods vastly outweigh the bad ones. Trust your instincts.

Did I just give you a bunch of rules and do all the things I just complained about? Yes. So here’s the one and only rule. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!! Seriously, all the information out just confuses everything and most of it has a vested interest. So ignore it.

Quick Update: There Will Be Posts…Eventually

The Internet is still down at my apartment and my work schedule is a little bit busier this week, so I haven’t had as much time at my usual coffee shop to get at the Internet. Therefore, I’m running behind on posts this week. Sorry. I’ll hopefully have the Pulling (Sweet) Teeth post up some time tomorrow and then the Trust Me, I’m Going to Be A Doctor post by Friday/Saturday.

Is WebMD helping or hurting?

Healthcare costs are through the roof and are generally one of the bigger issues facing the country (when the economy isn’t overshadowing everything else). Healthcare costs also are dragging on the economy. So bringing those costs down is a very important goal. I touch on this a little bit last week, and this week is going to look at another small piece of the puzzle–you.

Getting costs under control is going to require everyone, from doctors and pharmaceuticals to the patients themselves. For example, the CDC reports that in 2008 there were 123.8 million ER visits. According to the Director of the federal Office of Management and Budget, almost $700 billion is wasted on unnecessary care. Some of this unnecessary care comes in the form of unneeded ER visits. This article contains links to sources for both claims. It also makes some good counter-arguments in terms of saving costs on ER visits. But I’m not trying to argue about how much we could save on ER visits.

In general, patients can help cut healthcare costs with some education. We should be teaching high school students when they need to go to the doctor and when they don’t, about health insurance, and the differences between name-brand and generic pharmaceuticals. (Also, the importance of healthy eating. I’m pretty sure that was covered in my 9th grade health class, but I didn’t get much out of it. And everything gets overcomplicated when it comes to healthy eating). It would be expected with increased internet access that patients would have better access to health information. I’m sure sites like WebMD and Mayo Clinic Health Information pop to mind.

So why haven’t we seen a decrease in costs (or unnecessary ER visits) as more people have gotten access to the internet and its wealth of health information? It’s a good question, and I don’t have the answer. But I do wonder if sites like WebMD are actually helping or hurting things.

1. Easy Access Info

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Baldaufs vs. Genetics, 3rd Weigh-In

Another two weeks, another weigh-in. We’re now six weeks in, with our first real hurdle (Thanksgiving) coming up.

As usual, I had a few questions for each of us to answer this week. They are as follows:

1. What do you think was the biggest problem that led to you needing to lose weight?
2. How are you dealing with any setbacks?
3. Any plans going forward?

So how’d everyone do the last two weeks? Well, let’s see…

The Uncle (Dan)

1. “The problem that led to my need to lose weight was the sneakiness of the problem. Its uncanny ability to creep up on you like Jason chasing a shirtless chick. Also, my love of food acting as a reward, motivator, antidepressant and energy source made it hard to step away from the table.”

2. “Dealing with setbacks has been ok for me, as I knew the actions would have consequences. The resulting setback was more of a leveling then gain.”

3. “My plan going forward is to stay with the anti-carb movement until Thanksgiving, cooking lots of whole grain breads for Thanksgiving and focusing on the biking until the snow flies. Then I might just take up running like Rocky in the snow (80’s movie reference).”

(Side note: If anyone doesn’t get the Rocky reference, I am very disappointed in them. Rocky IV is a very important movie about the end of the Cold War (citation Bill Simmons from ESPN). Also, it snowed today. Yay for Wisconsin.)

Starting Weight: 268.8 lbs
Last Weigh-In: 259 lbs
Current Weight: 260 lbs
Overall % Change: -2.53% 

The Bob (Dad)

1. “Lack of exercise, due to lack of interest in exercise and the inability to say no to food.”

2. “I’m whining a lot, but that doesn’t seem to be working either, so then I stress eat Halloween candy.”

3. “I think I’ll try going low carb, but Thanksgiving will be tough.”

Starting Weight: 223 lbs
Last Weigh-In: 215.8 lbs
Current Weight: 216.8 lbs
Overall % Change: -2.78%

Me (Shane)

1. “The biggest problem for me was getting into a habit of not working out. I had a problem with that my sophomore year of college, but I did a really good job of sticking with working out throughout my junior year. Around winter break of my 4th year, I got too busy and stopped working out and never really got back into it. And then it became the norm and I stopped caring about it.”

2. “I started off really strong last week but since then it’s been all setbacks. They’ve been killing me. Something will come up and I’ll miss a workout, and then I’ll follow it up by eating out or eating too many sweets. I haven’t been handling things well.”

3. “Really committing myself to working out. I missed Monday, but now I’m back on track. Princeton Club has been treating me well. I’ve done alright with cutting my portions down, now I just need to rein in my sweet tooth to a manageable level.”

Starting Weight: 195 lbs
Last Weigh-In: 191 lbs
Current Weight: 193 lbs
Overall % Change: -1.03%

Recap:

The Bob takes the lead during a week of slip-ups all around. It’s not a great sign for us to be falling back with the holidays coming up, but it’s not unexpected. The fact that all three of us gained this time around suggests that it’s more of an general issue of the enthusiasm of the first few weeks wearing off.

So we’re combating that by placing a 2-week side bet. Whoever loses the most these next two weeks wins a bottle of brandy (or some other booze) from the other two, to be paid up on Thanksgiving. This should help kick start things before the holidays while getting all three of us back on track. Remember, it’s a combination of short- and long-term goals that holds the key.

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The Pros and Cons of Stress Eating

First of all, sorry for the missing post last Friday for the still-untitled third section of the blog. Still lacking internet. I might have to break down and start paying someone for internet again. Either that or hunt down who my landlords get (or more accurately don’t get) the internet through, and then call them every 5 minutes whenever I’m not working. The second idea is surprisingly tempting. Moving on…

This week’s food post is all about stress eating. I’m currently in that totally awesome period of time where I’m just waiting to hear back from the schools I’ve interviewed with and waiting to see if the last two schools I haven’t heard anything from will give me an interview. I also got my first rejection (from a school that I interview with). Not that much of a surprise, but the wait list would have been nice. So I’ve been bouncing back and forth from a general level of stress from waiting to a full blown WHAT THE HELL AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE!?!?! level. I’m sure most recent college grads or soon-to-be-grads can relate.

I generally deal with stress in a few ways:

  1. Extreme irritability–Much scowling and complaining here. I try to avoid it, but it happens. (My apologies to the Girlfriend)
  2. Sloth–Some people work out to deal with stress. Occasionally I do when the irritability builds up too much. But more frequently, I don’t do anything. As someone who is trying to lose weight, this usually doesn’t help things much (weight-wise or stress-wise)
  3. Eat–As long as I’m not working out, why not eat more! Because stress isn’t bad enough for one’s health on it’s own!
  4. Eat Some More–Especially sweets, resulting in a never-ending spiral of more sweets.

So, in order to convince myself more thoroughly why I should avoid stress eating, we’re going to make a pros and cons list.

Pro: Eating Makes Me Feel Better

When you’re stressed, why shouldn’t you do things that make you happy? I like eating. I can’t help it. (“It’s the genetics!” whispering in the back of my mind. Might want to get that checked out.) And it does make me feel better. Who doesn’t like cookies and milk? (I mean seriously Whole Foods, how many weeks can these cookies be on sale? You’re killing me!) I can feel the endorphins flooding my system with each bite until I hit an only slightly uncomfortable food coma.

Con: The Subsequent Self-Loathing

First, let’s be honest. I rarely stop at slightly uncomfortable and go full bore into an extremely uncomfortable food coma. Then I feel guilty about eating an entire row of cookies. Plus, I’m already not working out because of the sloth strategy so I only hate myself more. Things just keep spiraling more and more once I start stress eating.

Con: More Eating Out

An increased appetite. A crabby attitude towards cooking (see extreme irritability) and the dishes that go with it. Just wanting unhealthy food. It all adds up to ordering out more. Now I’m spending more money and eating less healthy than before.

Pro: More Eating Out

Tasty food. No dishes. No cooking. Doesn’t sound that bad actually. We’ll call it a wash for now. Ignoring the money part.

Pro: I Like Sweets

Cookies, brownies, chocolate bars (dark chocolate = healthy right!?)–I like them very much. They are delicious. No further arguments are needed.

Con: My Inability to Moderate Myself

Once a little bit of sugar enters my system, it creates an unquenchable need for sweets. It’s like a vacuum. I’m turned into a mindless, sugar-killing machine. When I was younger, I would eat an entire pan of cookie bars over the course of the day. Any time I went into the kitchen, I’d grab one or two. Eventually, I’d be making up reasons to go to the kitchen. I need something to drink. Oops, forgot my pen in the kitchen. Get back here you silly cat–oh hey, cookie bars! Then it would devolve into getting a brother to bring them back for me. Hey Aaron, I’ll give you a dollar if you bring me a cookie bar. Hey Kyle, get me a cookie bar and I might not punch you. Bam! All gone. (And Kyle probably punched.)

Things haven’t improved. You’d think without brothers to bribe or extort, it’d be a little better. But now I make the sweets. Which means I have the leftover batter or dough all to myself. Which might be worse, since I eat all the extras and then eat the cookies or brownies too. Plus the Girlfriend doesn’t put up nearly as much of a fight as my father in terms of quantity eaten. Which leads to…

Con: Increased Need to Work Out

All the bad eating and uncontrolled bingeing means, more working out. And another bad week in Baldaufs vs Genetics. As someone who doesn’t love working out, definitely a con.

Verdict: Stress Eating Is Bad

Okay, no real surprises here. But let’s be honest, this was mostly an exercise in convincing myself to stop eating so shitty. I really need to find a different stress hobby than eating. While stress eating is enjoyable and maybe even helpful in the short-term, it only creates more problem down the road. And while it is important to blow off steam once in awhile with a few cookies, an entire pan of brownies is probably a bad idea. So remember kids–Moderation!!

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Trust Me, I’m Going to Be A Doctor Intro

Welcome to Trust Me, I’m Going to Be A Doctor (hopefully). Once a week I’m going to post on various public health topics that interest me or catch my eye. A lot of the time, it will probably be one link or video that I will breakdown and/or discuss why it’s right or wrong. Usually, I’ll provide further links for people that want to know more. As always, I’m open for suggestions! If you have a topic you want discussed or are just curious about, let me know. (My email is srbaldauf@gmail.com if there isn’t an easy way to do so on the page).

Anyways, I’m going to jump right in this week. This was one of the first videos that really got me thinking about public health issues. The video itself is a little long at 20 minutes, but definitely worth it and I highly encourage you to watch it at some point.

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