Current Happenings

Plains & Pastures Bike Tour (2013)

I'm so proud to live here! Fredericton folks are just AMAZING!!!  Thank you one and all!!  My team raised over $2000.  The support was humbling.  What a great place to be!!!

Mind you, the journey isn't about me - it's about people who fight this horrible disease on a daily basis.  If you're reading this now, I hope you'll come back and sponsor me in the ride next time. 


Bike for Breath

Many thanks to everyone and their generosity.  The amazing people in my life supported me to the tune of $377.  Some days it is just great to be here!   (Fall 2012)


Entries in Myths (3)


Confidence - Arrogance - Ignorance and Fine Lines

One of the things I’ve been doing for the past year and a half has been to read and learn as many things as I can about nutrition, physiology, exercize and metabolism.  

My brain likes to see the big picture, then start attaching details.  I liken this to one of those old fashioned mug racks hanging on the wall.  Without building the rack in the first place, you’ve got nowhere to put the cups.  So making tea is a waste of time because you’re not going to be able to find any cups.  When the  brain fog begins to clear, this approach often leads me to question the underpinnings of positions, opinions, recommendations, etc.  I’ve had a couple aha moments lately.  There is no shortage of expert guru’s out there.  The trick is in sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Coach Michael Boyle has achieved serious guru status in strength, conditioning and all things sports in the USA.  I figured that I could probably learn a lot from his materials.  I certainly did, but not what I was expecting.  He wrote an article in 2010 about training an obese client, and actually talked about how much he didn’t know for a client like this and how often you see trainers making recommendations that are dangerous and foolish.  OK - this is a good start.  I can relate to humble.  Then a few things started jarring.
“In the real world psychology is job one when taking on an overweight client. Overweight clients are conditioned to fail. You have to remind yourself that this will probably not be the first time this client has attempted to lose weight or to change their diet. ...... snip.... If you want to succeed with your overweight clients you must be willing to become the biggest part of their support structure. Daily emails, texts and or phone calls will be essential to insure compliance and encourage continued participation. Very often your relationship with the client may be the only thing that prevents them from giving up.”

Oh my.  These poor little obese morons that are so utterly dependent upon YOU for salvation?  What the hell happened to the education process and working yourself out of a job?   Daily communication to insure compliance??  You have got to be kidding me.....  Why would you think that??  Because fat people are incapable of managing anything without your divine trainer help?  

Then came the kicker:  I have done a lot of research and have come to a simple conclusion. Overweight people generally eat too much.

There it is.  Obesity is purely because these poor morbid fools with no control and no drive and who haven’t managed to do anything but give up in their lifetime JUST EAT TOO MUCH.  Really?  I so wish I’d seen this post 20 years ago.  It would have answered a lot of questions.    

Adding much insult to injury, he goes on:  Think ready, fire, aim but, aim a little low with an obese client instead of a little high. I love “don’t worry be crappy” and “ready, fire, aim”. I learn well on my feet. Just remember to use your common sense and keep it simple. These are not athletes.

Not an athlete?  Really?  So biking a few thousand kilometres and swimming a few hundred kilometres is not a feat of athleticism because obese people are not athletes?  Needless to say I did NOT spend 40 clams on his videotaped lecture on the training programme for his ONE client.  With this belittling and patronizing attitude I am actually surprised that this one client was happy with the process.

This article had set my teeth on edge, and while the ignorance was blatant I couldn’t let it go.  Then it struck me.  This person is probably one of those lucky bastards that won the genetic lottery and has never battled weight in their entire life.  One of the smug ones that think they’ve got all the answers, but in fact don’t even understand the question.  I moved on (finally).

This whole lesson came to the fore again just a few days ago when a trainer I was following on twitter made a vaguely similar comment.  

My advice - Stop trying to get a PhD in endocrinology by studying blog posts and articles about hormones and hormone interactions and stick with this simple plan:   Consistency of Effort in the gym + eating a little less than you want to.

OMG.  Are you kidding me?  Fat people are fat because they’re inconsistent in the gym (aka lazy slobs) AND they eat too much?  Forget all that endocrinology mumbo jumbo and get your big-mouthed lazy ass to the gym.  That’s all that’s wrong with you.

Well here’s a news flash for anybody who happens to think that little quote is anything but utter crap.  I’m eating MORE than I was eating back when I couldn’t lose and I’m now exercizing LESS than I was doing before and still losing weight.  

Until I actually figured out EXACTLY what was happening to my body and why following the Canada Food Guide is utter nonsense, then I was susceptible to ill-fitting advice from guru’s just like this one.  I’m whittling the Twitter list down now to a small selection of trainers (that is getting fewer all the time), medical doctors, nutritionists, some psych & motivation folks, and a LOT of researchers.  

In fact, I’m getting to the point where I don’t put much stock in advice from anyone who hasn’t personally conquered over a hundred pounds in their life.  I’ve tried diets.  I’ve tried starvation.  I’ve tried manual labour AND exercizing to excess.  I’ve tried psych counseling.  I’ve tried Over-Eaters Anonymous.  I’ve even dabbled briefly in hypnosis.  

NONE of that stuff worked until I started to understand the interactions among nutrition and hormones and exercize.  Buddy was right on one thing: you don’t need an PhD in endocrinology.  I’m doing just fine thank you.   And that’s why I’m going to become a trainer.  

I’m into a new book right now by Abigail C. Saguy called “What’s Wrong With Fat?”.  She’s a sociologist looking at the construct of the obesity problem and how the way we think about the problem sets up the solutions we advocate to cure it.  She talks about one approach as the “Immorality Frame” where being fat is “condemned as evidence of sloth and gluttony”(p.40).  

Indeed.  Both people spurring my rant today have clearly bought into that frame.  I have six key words in response: 

Genetic lottery,


Go Fly a Kite. 

Here's a picture off Facebook that says it all.


On my own - nutritional common sense.

A friend sent me an article from the journal "Nutrition" the other day.  It was a commentary posted by a collection of nutition experts which contradicted the government sanctioned report on nutritional guidelines.

The article is called "In the face of contradictory evidence: Report of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Committee" by Adele H. Hite, M.A.T.,Richard David Feinman, Ph.D., Gabriel E. Guzman, Ph.D., Morton Satin, M.Sc., Pamela A. Schoenfeld, R.D., Richard J. Wood, Ph.D.

 Here is the abstract of that article (verbatum):

Concerns that were raised with the first dietary recommendations 30 y ago have yet to be adequately addressed.  The initial Dietary Goals for Americans (1977) proposed increases in carbohydrate intake and decreases in fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt consumption that are carried further in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) Report.  Important aspects of these recommendations remain unproven, yet a dietary shift in this direction has already taken place even as overweight/obesity and diabetes have increased.  Although appealing to an evidence-based methodology, the DGAC Report demonstrates several critical weaknesses, including use of an incomplete body of relevant science; inaccurately representing, interpreting, or summarizing the literature; and drawing conclusions and/or making recommendations that do not reflect the limitations or controversies in the science.  An objective assessment of evidence in the DGAC Report does not suggest a conclusive proscription against low-carbohydrate diets.  The DGAC Report does not provide sufficient evidence to conclude that increases in whole grain and fiber and decreases in dietary saturated fat, salt, and animal protein will lead to positive health outcomes.  Lack of supporting evidence limits the value of the proposed recommendations as guidance for consumers or as the basis for public health policy.  It is time to reexamine how US dietary guidelines are created and ask whether the current process is still appropriate for our needs.

Starting from the first line:  Concerns raised 30 years ago have yet to be addressed??  Well then what pray tell, was the basis for the recommendations at all??   Then there's the kicker in the middle of the text: Although appealing to an evidence-based methodology, the DGAC Report demonstrates several critical weaknesses, including use of an incomplete body of relevant science; inaccurately representing, interpreting, or summarizing the literature; and drawing conclusions and/or making recommendations that do not reflect the limitations or controversies in the science. 

Technical reference: Nutrition 26 (2010) 915-924.

The website I used:

Holy Cow.  I'm thinking these folks have got something important to pay attention to!!!  Considering the recent CBC articles on the Canada Food Guide which pointed out the shaky scientific foundations for that piece of "common knowledge", now I'm questionning EVERYTHING. 

Which leads me back to my personal experiment, sample size of one.  I pay attention to what I eat, reduce those nutrients that I have a lot of trouble with (i.e. carbohydrates), and apply my own version of common sense to the rest.  I can tell by my present lack of headaches, shakes, cravings (and even mood swings) that my system is stabilizing.  Today is 86 pounds down and counting.  You can't argue with success.


The Canada Food Guide

Today is a day in history - at least for Canada's Food Guide.  It is 70 years old today.  Why is this important to me?  Because I have literally organized myself to eat, sleep and breath according to those principles.  I have mentally planned my daily consumption around the Canada Food Guide for decades.  

My personal move away from the guide was in keeping with what I have learned by trial and error about my own unique physiology.  It never occurred to me to question the guide itself.  I mean -- the science behind it is based on the average person right?  Ummmmm.... as it turns out: maybe not.

CBC website news had a article today called "The politics of food guides".  The food guide in Canada started as a response to malnutrition associated with poverty and the Great Depression.  At the time, government has set relief rations well below "nutrional adequacy" for budget reasons.  It was estimated that 60% of Canadians at the time had inadequate nutrition and that was a big problem for the military.  "Over 43% of the first 50,000 military recruits had been rejected for medical reasons."  The whole story will apparently be published next December in a book called Edible Histories, Cultural Politics by a historian named Ian Mosby.  I will be looking for that book!!!

The impact of lobby groups for the food manufacturers and agricultural producer groups successfully influenced the recommendations over the years and managed to increase the recommended servings for several goods.  Say what?????  That's right -- lobbyists increased allotments for their represented group.  WHAT???  I have always assumed that the food guide was based on sound nutritional science: Bona fide science.

As a consumer this really really annoys me.  I placed my health in the hands of lobby groups??  Then I thought about all the farmers in my life.  Those around me growing up on a farm, the dozens who welcomed me in their kitchens as a professional, the hundreds I worked with over the years, and hopefully thousands I served at least indirectly in some way.  Honest, hard working farmers doing their best to produce healthy food and put their kids through school.  I wonder how many of them know that the much-heralded food guide recommending their products is the result of arm twisting, sabre rattling & drum beating?  It makes me really, really angry.  Surely honest folk deserve the truth?

I read the blog of a nutritionist named Zoe Harcombe (see references page).  She did research into the background for the "Five-a-day" fruit & vegetable recommendations in the US.  Where did it start?  It turns out that it started with a partnership in 1991 between the US National Cancer Institute and the US Produce for Better Health Foundation.  Well that sounds OK.  Right?  It turns out that the sponsors of that foundation are farm product organizations as well as some other interesting ones like BASF (world leader in agricultural chemicals), GLAD products (yep - plastic bags and other stuff), and McDonalds.  Not a single dietary or nutritional advice-type organization in the mix.  In essence, the Five A Day campaign, trademarked and adopted across many countries, was one of the most successful agricultural marketing campaigns every mounted.  Really?  So the US food reccomendations aren't based in bona-fide, replicated, refereed and peer-reviewed research???  A marketing campaign??  Really.  

Bummer.  Shows ta go ya.  I didn't learn it all in university.  Mind you .... I don't remember this aspect EVER coming up in Food Science either.  In fact, my best memory of Food Science was when the poor professor had a memory blank talking about post-harvest losses in grain and the word "silo" disappeared on him.  I am often reminded of his sage observation that "having insects in your thing is baaad news".