April's CR Diary

A diary of a 30 year old woman following CRON, or Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition, for health and life extension.

Monday, November 29, 2004

April's Low Tech, Happy, Easy Version of CR

I promised some new readers some more food-related content, since if you're looking for ideas for what to eat on a daily basis, you might not have found much in the last few days to help you.

Today I'm having one of my very low tech CR weekdays. Here's what I'm eating today:

280 calories of fat free cottage cheese, 42 g protein, 70% of the RDA of calcium. I mix a little tabasco into it. I had some for breakfast and some with lunch.

For lunch along with half the container of cottage cheese, I ate about a cup and a half of my gazpachzo that I made on Saturday. It has organic whole peeled tomatoes, blended in the food processor with red bell pepper, cucumber, the juice of one lemon, and a large clove of garlic. I added paprika and cumin, a tablespoon of lemon herb olive oil, and a little salt and pepper. I add tabasco to it before eating... as you may have guessed, I like spicy food.

Tonight I'll eat my brewers yeast soup, which is made of two cups free range organic chicken broth mixed with two tablespoons brewers yeast, a little salt, and half a bag of frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. That has 221 calories and is very warm and filling. The brewers yeast solves a lot of my nutritional problems, like iron and copper, and I like the taste. I've also learned to like nuts, so lately I've been eating about 200 calories of hazelnuts or almonds at night. Those are really filling. I think I'll stick with the hazelnuts that I've had the last couple of days because I'm not tempted to overeat them, as I sometimes am with almonds. When I was little, I hated nuts, but have grown to like them, no doubt a sign of emotional maturity.

My favorite thing to do at night is to curl up in bed with a bunch of blankets, a glass of red wine, and a good article... back in the early days it was all stuff directly related to CR, and mostly about specific food choices, but lately I've been on an Aubrey de Grey kick. More on that later.

My whole day, added up carefully in Dr. Walford's Interactive Diet Planner, comes up to 990 calories. It's got over 100% of the RDA's of everything except: iron 54%, manganese 90%, and zinc 44%. Not bad for under 1000! And check this out (you have to have been reading the blog for awhile to know why this is so exciting for me: 30% protein, 34% fat, 36% carbs! When I started CR, my idea of protein for the day was one hard boiled egg, and I thought oil was something you put in cars. Lots of normal people think that all fat is bad, but some kinds of fats are really important. I've tried it both ways, and I feel so much better now. I especially notice when I don't get enough protein. The high carb roller coaster makes you think you want things you don't. Like bagels. Or Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream and sugar. Or tickets to a Brittney Spears concert. Or whatever.

So that's my day. Low calorie, great nutrition, and I'm never particularly hungry. Also note: all my food is very easy to prepare. The cottage cheese I just buy in large containers, the gazpachzo I made in about twenty minutes on Saturday, and the soup takes maybe five minutes to prepare at night. Nuts live in the freezer, wine keeps with a stopper in the fridge (the wine store people say to put it in a sealed glass jam jar to keep it fresher, but I have a thing about opening jars so I don't.)

It took me a long time to develop an easy CR lifestyle that works for me, and it might take you some time and effort too. What you eat is so personal... what you like, what you're willing to make time for, how much hassle you're willing to put up with from the people in your family and social circles. If you're new to CR, try some of the things I do, but try other things too. Read Mary's blog at www.crdiary.blogspot.com, and see how two women eating similar calorie levels eat radically different things, but still great great ON! There's no one way to eat. Try it and see what works for you.

But I beg of you: buy yourself some nutritional software. Nutribase, DWIDP, whatever. I thought I was eating healthy before I bought my software, and the first time I put a "good" day into the DWIDP, I almost died of shock. It's worth the $48 to know that you're giving your body what it needs. You'll feel the difference, I promise. Just go do it. Go do it now. Go on. Click on www.walford.com. You're wasting your time trying to figure out what to eat until you have the software. And no, I do not have any financial connection to walford.com, or really to much of anything. Just buy the software. And eat your protein. Please. I promise, you'll be glad you did. It'll change your whole life.

What I Made For Dinner

My science advisor got right back to me on the new revisions on the blog entry we've been working on... and then I went and changed a bunch of stuff, so now it needs one more look before it's ready to fire off. I just want you all to know that it's entirely my own fault that I have to create more food related content to entertain you while you wait for the big stuff.

Here's what I made for dinner:

-- shrimp and scallops in a Williams Sonoma sauce that had roasted garlic and chiles, no oil
-- my vegetable soup: free range organic chicken broth, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, brewer yeast, juice of one lemon, 1 tablespoon lemon herb olive oil, dash salt.
-- my mother contributed a pumpkin bread pudding that was amazing and had no butter or anything, just pumpkin, rasins, pineapples, and German bread. Wow, it was so good.
-- little vanilla creme wafers from my mom's trip to Germany, the same kind that are in that Absolut Vanille billboard, pictured bowing down in worship of the vodka.

Side note inside baseball for CR list subscribers: when MR talks about "absolute calories," am I the only person who imagines an Absolut ad that somehow conveys this concept? Of course vodka is not a useful CR food (please don't take this to be a blog entry endorsing vodka, though I've been known to have the occasional Ketel One and cranberry) but that advertising concept is so embedded in my brain that I can't hear "absolute ____" without thinking of it.

Now that's catchy advertising. I must learn from this.

Yes, it's 4 am and I've been writing for two hours. I can't sleep, okay? And before you all tell me what I should take for insomnia, remember that I wouldn't produce nearly as much blog content if I could sleep through the night.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

General, Count Me In

Princess Leia, of course. Go re-watch the movie until you find it. As you would expect, I knew the context of the quote as soon as I saw it in an email message yesterday morning. If there's one thing I know even better than the CR Society archives, it's the Star Wars movies.

It's the title of this post because it sums up my response to the latest round of debate about what I should do to contribute to the cause of ending aging as we know it.

For weeks now I've been talking about the blog entries I'm working on. I've spent most of my writing time over the last few days revising them, and they're almost, but not quite, ready. I'm waiting on the final okay from my science advisors.

A preview of coming attractions:

What started as an off-hand question to Michael Rae at the CRS Conference about what he would do with $23 million dollars for anti-aging research turned into a two hour debate between several of the most brilliant people in the world (all of whom are of course CR Society members!) My CR world was turned upside down, and I started to question all of my assumptions and everything I thought I had learned.

Don't worry... we're not about to revisit the quest for the right source of protein. I'm just fine with my eggwhites, thanks. Those hours of archive searches weren't wasted at all... in fact, if it weren't for all I learned in the last eight months, I wouldn't have even dared to ask the questions I now found myself addressing directly to my CR superheroes.

"What can I, personally, do to cure aging?"

The suspense is killing you, isn't it? Well, you'll have to wait just a bit longer. There's so much I don't know, and I've relied heavily on people who understand far more than I do. I'm hoping that their investment of time in energy in me will more than pay off. I may be prone to delusions of grandeur, but I think it will.

So wait just a bit longer... and I'll entertain you with some food related content in the meantime.

Friday, November 26, 2004

You Don't Even Know Who Liz Phair Is

No, that's not a comment on the failure of the vast majority of my readers to understand my pop music quotations. It's a line from a Liz Phair song called "Rock Me," located on the same album as "Extraordinary," and the title of a blog entry I've carried around in my head for months.

One Friday night in July, very soon after I began writing the blog, I was lying on the couch recovering from a girls' night out in Center City Philly, slightly dizzy from the effects of my 800 calorie a day experiment combined with a little cheap champagne from the Zanzibar Blue (an excellent jazz club, if you happen to be in Philly) happy hour. I was blasting "Rock Me" into my ears from my walkman. In the song, Liz Phair appears to be talking about her fling with a much younger musician who is unaware of her rockstar credentials but thinks she's cool anyway. In my habit of mentally bending pop music that has nothing to do with CR to be about CR, I somehow related the song to my blog.

Here's how it goes: Liz Phair had been a successful rockstar with something of a cult following. Then she meets this young musician (nine years her junior) who likes her for who she really is, not just for the hit records she's made. Chaos, scandal, and pop music ensue.

At the time, I was thinking about how nice it was that I was getting so many blog readers who had no idea who I was, and that I was making so many CR friends whose primary interest in me had nothing to do with my reputation as an organizer.

In the beginning, I was very careful to omit details of my work and personal life. Part of my motivation, as I've mentioned before, was concern about the blog being misinterpreted as a long and bizarre personal ad. While a girl going on at length about the quality of asparagus available in her local markets might not seem all that prone to misinterpretation, with all the weird stuff that goes on in the online world, one can never be too careful.

My other motivation for being intentionally vague about my personal and professional situations was that I very much enjoyed a mental break from my regular life, in which most of the people with whom I interact know me as a union organizer. As much as I enjoy hanging out with other labor movement people, it was nice to make friends who don't even know who April Smith is.

Organizing, if you're good, is a very consuming lifestyle. You talk to workers all the time, you work nights, weekends, holidays, months on end. You build intense relationships with workers during campaigns, and you have to be there for them, answering your cell phone or your pager at all hours of the day and night.

I have been very successful as an organizer. I've led many winning campaigns, and I've paid the price in terms of hours and refusing to be tied down by things like husbands or children. I'll spare you the details, but about a year before I started CR I led a successful organizing campaign at the largest hospital in Vermont. It was the kind of campaign that usually comes around only once in an organizer lifetime, and it broke a bunch of records.

The art and science of organizing is far from what it appears. To be successful, an organizer has to fundamentally change workers' worldview from one in which they are powerless into one in which, by joining together with their co-workers, they can change their working conditions. Challenging people's basic assumptions is a messy job, and it requires being comfortable with a level of conflict that most people can't stand. Every day, I confront people's deepest fears. Fear of losing their job, fear of losing their co-workers' respect, fear of just plain being wrong. I'm the person they yell at, the person they call at 2 in the morning, the person who is there for them when they're angry and scared and frustrated and in despair. I'm not just a teacher or a counselor, I push people to change things. Information alone rarely moves people to action. I take over where the information leaves off, connecting the dots in people's minds between their objective conditions and the power to change them.

When people assume that they can't change something, they have no motivation to try. It's been my job for nine years to prove to people that they can change their work lives, and to push them to take the actions they need to take to do it. Even when those actions are difficult and frightening. Even when that means going against everything they've ever been taught about how the world works.

When I talk to my friends and co-workers about CR, or about any sort of anti-aging intervention that might produce a real cure, I am met with responses like, "Aging... isn't that what we're doing since the day we're born?" "It's nice that you're healthy, but you're not going to forever." "Why would you want to live that long anyway?"

De Grey talks about aging as an engineering problem, and I'm sure he's right. But it seems to me that getting the funding to solve that engineering problem is largely an organizing problem. And I've been wondering a lot lately if an organizer might be of some use in the fight.

Suggestions welcome.

Women's Magazines

Last night in the airport I picked up one of those "women's" magazines, having decided that after driving from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, drinking two drinks with my new friends in the airport bar, and eating eggdrop soup (wow, it has been a terrible nutritional two days... no wonder I feel like crap... no giving up CR for me, not even after... but we're jumping ahead...) I lacked the mental focus necessary to give Dr. de Grey my full attention.

Now if you're looking for a diatribe about how those magazines are trash, how women shouldn't focus so much on beauty and pleasing men, you'd better read someone else's blog. I find those magazines very entertaining. I've often thought of myself as something of a later day, less uptight, better housekeeping, female Martin Luther, both as a freedom fighter and also as a lover of wine, women, and song... or in my case, wine, men, and pop music. So I am not offended by the content of Cosmo.

However, I don't read them nearly as often as I did when I was younger, so last night was the first time I had taken a look at a Glamour in awhile. In the magazine I found an article by the author of _The Vagina Monologues_, I can't remember her name but you know who she is. She was talking about her new play, I think it's called _The Good Body_, and urging women to give up their obsessions with their bodies in favor of other, more important pursuits. Like, say, taking over the world.

I've always had mixed reactions to this kind of advice. First, I wholeheartedly assent to the premise of Naomi Wolf's _Beauty Myth_. Keeping women focused on beauty, and keeping women divided into categories of irrelevant (if you're not pretty) and slutty (if you're too pretty) is a great tool for oppression.

However, I've never believed in "accept yourself the way you are, even if you're obese." What we eat is something that, unless we are in prison, we have some control over. Yes, it's hard. Yes, I struggled my entire life before March 26, 2004, with the whole body thing. But being relatively thin can be done, and there's tons of ways to do it. I was thin as a lowfat vegan, I'm thinner as a CR'd Zone wannabe, whatever, and I'm not one of those girls who is naturally skinny. Left to my nachos and margaritas, I look like a fertility goddess in a size eight petite.

The thing that was remarkable about this reading of the "Stop worrying about your body, accept yourself the way you are and take over the world!" advice was that for once, I was not one of the 99.9% of women cited as hating some part of their bodies.

That's right. I feel guilty saying it, the other women will no doubt come after me with pitch forks and pumpkin pie tomorrow, but I am happy with my body.

The author of play (wish I could remember her name) is right... liberation from the body hatred that governs most women's lives really does free up a lot of energy!

This will be hard for the brothers to understand, but the sisters should get it right off. Being set free from the "If only I were... thinner, more in shape, blah blah blah" mental feedback loop is like being given an entirely new life.

That's why I think it's so funny when people ask if CR takes a lot of time. Sure, it takes time to play with my DWIDP, to cook my veggies instead of grabbing a burrito, and it takes willpower to not eat like crap all the time. But compared to the constant mental self-bashing of the normal American woman... CR is the world's biggest time saver.

Yes, yes, yes, CR is not about weight loss. Yes yes yes, eventually I may get so thin that everyone will say, "You were prettier before." I remind you, it's not a contest for the cutest mouse.

Living in a way that is extremely healthy, refusing to poison myself with the deadly cocktail of bad food and bad body image, is unbelievably liberating.

Being back in my dad's house brings me back to all the struggles I've had with body image and weight. It's kinda scary to write about it because a) it's not considered cool for girls to talk about ever having body image issues b) I am terrified of not being taken seriously, and I am already fighting a lack of science background that makes me annoyingly clueless way too often. But I think it's important for us girls to be open about this stuff. If we talk about it, maybe we can save other women from the hell we went through. Maybe it just makes us feel better. In any case, here goes:

I was never anorexic. I suffer from a certain amount of survivor's guilt because several of my friends were very seriously anorexic, and one almost died. Have you guys ever read Marya Hornbacher's _Wasted_? It's a bit of an anorexic cult classic. She went to my high school... I am actually in the background in one scene, though not identified. As she got smaller, she gave me her old clothes. I was pretty tiny too, but at a performing arts high school where dancers were marked down on their grade reports for gaining weight, a curvy girl felt fat. However, the example of my friends losing their youth, their freedom, and almost losing their lives, made me too scared to go down that road. So while I wasn't always happy with my body, I did the Jane Fonda workout and ate bagels with mustard (remember those lowfat late eighties?) instead of starving myself. I was also lucky enough to have some great boyfriends and friend-boys who would talk me into sense when I started asking "Do I look fat?" For some reason, men were easier to believe than women. Your mom can say you're beautiful, but it really means something coming from the cutest boy in the class.

I remember the scale in the bathroom I shared with my step-brother at my dad's house. When I was in seventh grade, I weighed 108. I was exactly as tall as I am now, 5' 1.75" and I was one of those girls who started looking like a woman earlier rather than later. On a routine doctor's visit, my doctor told me that she thought I was getting heavy and needed to lose weight.

I stopped eating. I dropped to 92. I looked like a little ghost, and my parents were concerned, but you see, all the girls were shrinking. It's just what we all did. We didn't know about nutrition or anything like that... we thought that skipping lunch would make us look like we were supposed to look. I remember being so hungry that I once ate an entire candy bar that some kid on the bus was selling to pay for the band's trip to New York City.

Years later, when I was in college, I went back to visit the doctor who had said I was too fat and told her how that made me feel. We both had a good cry, and she said, "We just didn't understand back then."

I eventually re-fed, went away to school, fought the anorexic wars and won, and helped some other girls pull through. When I look back on those days of holding back my friend's hair while she threw up, or figuring out exactly what to feed a girl who had fainted due to hunger but just couldn't keep food down anymore (not eating makes it harder to eat... you feel sick when the food hits you) I feel so sad about the youth that was stolen from me and all those other girls. And some boys too... they were far from immune. It wasn't so much about thinness for us, though of course we thought that was the focus. It was about power, about controlling the one thing we had control of in a world where we were powerless.

I survived, but that bathroom scale never lost its grip... after I gained weight in college (knowing the location of every french fry in New Haven will do that!) I got into the lowfat vegetarian thing, at first to lose weight. It worked! 130 -> 110, my pre-CR lowest adult weight. I looked great, and felt a whole lot better than I did on the french fry and frozen mocha diet (does anyone out there remember the Daily Cafe, home of the frozen mocha? Ah, those sunny spring afternoons, skipping class and quoting Nietzche with my friend Katherine... I did enjoy college.) The weight came and went over the next eight years... up during periods of boredom and overwork, down during periods of excitement like the aftermath of the Republican National Convention (how can you eat when there are hunger strikers in jail? how can you eat when you have to clean up after six anarchists who are camping out in your living room?)

I've been thin, I've been really thin, I've been a little heavy, but up until now, I've never been at peace with my body.

Exorcism of the twin demons of anxiety and negative body image isn't like being quietly set free from a cage -- it's like smashing a mirror with a hammer. And the most important thing is that I did it myself... I carefully and quietly, sometimes obsessively, turned over every little corner of every book I could find, years of the CR Society archives, and the shelves of Whole Foods, until I found a way to save myself. At the time I thought I was just afraid of annoying the other people on the list by posting silly questions... in retrospect, I see how important it was that I did so much research on my own. While there were so many times that I could have asked, I had to figure it out for myself. Now I can look back and say "This is mine. I saved my own life."

Does that help you understand why I want so much to give something back? If you thought you were going to serve a life sentence, and you had resigned yourself to that, then suddenly they kick you out of jail, you have a whole new life! You've gotta do something with it!

I've been wrestling over the last few weeks, especially since the CRS Conference, with the question of what specifically I should do with all my newfound freedom and energy. I've been writing about it, and I've gotten some wonderful help from two CR brothers whose work is a constant inspiration to me.

Over the next few weeks, you'll read the details of my existential dilemma. I had no idea when I started CR that any of this would happen, but when I look back at last winter, I can see the storm brewing. I had, in a relatively short period of time, gotten almost everything I had ever wanted, both professionally and personally. At the same time, my anxiety was eating me alive and my health was going the way of most American woman in their thirties... to hell. These two forces hitting each other was bound to produce something weird.

I can't thank you, the people all over the world who read this nutty blog, enough for your support. When I think I'm about to get hit by a truck on the PA Turnpike, my first thought is, "Thank God some of the brothers have my blog password... someone has to tell my readers if I die!" The next few phases of this journey may take us into some unfamilliar territory. I hope you'll come along with me, and I hope that you'll find these new ideas just as challenging and difficult and powerful as I do. I won't stop telling you what I ate, throwing out easy, low calorie, always delicious recipies. You'll still hear about my cat's hunting trips, my eggwhites, and my adventures with VLC. But I may be going in a direction that neither of us expected when we first met. I hope all that I've written tonight, as weird as it was to share, will help you understand why I am so determined to go running down that road.

I'll close with my favorite quote from Martin Luther, a historical figure who may have had almost as many catchy lines as Michael Rae.

"Here I stand. I can not do otherwise. So help me God."

Thursday, November 25, 2004

One Fine Day

George Clooney and Michelle Phiffer (that's not how you spell her name, but you know who I mean, the former Catwoman) movie that I watched at my dad's house last night. I don't own a television or a VCR (or a DVD or whatever it is these days,) so it's rare that I watch a movie.

It's the title of this post because Thanksgiving went relatively well. My relatives were very supportive of my new mid-CR look, and no one shrieked "You're too thin!"

I did okay on food. I started with a plate of six steamed shrimp, no cocktail sauce, just lemon, and a plate of salad: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, onion, and olives, no dressing. Then I got a plate of steamed veggies: broccoli, sweet potato and acorn squash, as well as tiny tastes of my old favorites: about a tablespoon of mashed potato, stuffing and green bean casserole. Just enough to taste it, but not enough to make up more than one bite of each. I had a tiny sliver of the apple pie and a bite of the baked Alaska, a dessert which fascinated me as a child, since I never did figure out how they got the ice cream inside the cake and meringue. If anyone knows how they do that, please write in. I am fascinated by all engineering, from biomedical to baking.

My grandparents were sprightly and adoreable as ever, and my aunt and uncle brought my aunt's mother who is 97. My niece Madeline was busy being adoreable and throwing herself into my father's pumpkin soup, while her mom, my sister-in-law, handled it all with patience. She had a baby in April and is already back to her pre-baby figure, which is astounding. I told her I hope my step-brother spends every waking hour thanking God that this beautiful, calm, patient, smart woman married him. I suspect that he does. He's a very intelligent man.

As I always seem to do when I am in the land of free flowing excellent wine (aka my father's house,) I drank more calories in alcohol than are helpful. I had a small one of my dad's world famous Bloody Mary's before Thanksgiving dinner, and merlot with the meal. Later on at around 10 last night my step-mother showed me her interesting new creation of orange zinger Celestial Seasonings tea with a dash of orange juice and a dash of Myers' Dark Rum, so I had one of those. I hope I haven't lost too many brain cells to the neurotoxins.

Today I was back on the straight and narrow. Well, I skipped breakfast, which wasn't good, but I ate a good lunch of romaine with tomato, celery, red onion, beets, balsamic vinegar, and a half cup of cottage cheese. Then my mother cooked us Thanksgiving dinner late, with free range organic turkey, cranberry sauce, green beans, and a small steamed sweet potato. It was delicious. Her cat didn't seem interested in the turkey, but I am about to take leftovers home to Kieffer, who I'm sure will behave in a more cat-appropriate fashion.

So Loud That You Can't Help But Listen

A line from an ancient XTC song I am listening to on my walkperson. I hope that it does not describe the sound of my typing, as my parents are asleep in the next room. I have always been a rather loud typist.

It's 4 am and we join our regularly scheduled insomnia attack already in progress. I slept for a long time last night, the first night in my old bed at my dad's (I lived with my mom growing up but spent many weekends at my dad's, where my step-mother decorated a beautiful little pink room for me) so I shouldn't have expected to sleep through the night tonight. Luckily, my dad has internet access! DSL! Wow! Blogging in the middle of the night without a) waking the cat b) driving to the office! Nice! I've been up since 2:30, after going to bed somewhere between 11 and 12. Hmmmm... two - three hours of sleep, not good. Let us hope that I can write myself into exhaustion.

The trip to the neighbors' was lots of fun, but I ate way too much and now I don't feel like looking at food again, ever. This seems bad considering that tomorrow is a holiday dedicated to gluttony. At least there will be salad. The food was delicious... a Southern hostess is always concerned that her guests not leave hungry. Glad I hadn't eaten much during the day. Let's see: a small cup of cream of mushroom soup, five shrimp with cocktail sauce, two triangle shaped pieces of cheese and two thin slices of cheese on crackers, seven crackers with crab dip, five small cheese straw pieces, and two chips with guacamole. Two margaritas, two glasses of red wine. An eating and drinking event like I haven't seen in I don't know how long. Oh, and let's not forget the itsy bitsy sips of Scotch from the really strong, undiluted by spring water, as authentic as possible bottle of Scotch that my dad got at Caddenhead's (am I spelling right?) on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Neurotoxins here we go. I am actually starting to like the stuff. Chalk it up to my ancestry. Decided to hit the place next time I make it to Edinburgh... my dad says if you act clueless they'll give you lots of free samples. My cluelessness will not be an act.

I feel rather terrible now, no doubt as a result of poisoning myself with too much food and drink. At least there is no danger that I offended the hostess by eating too lightly. The food really was excellent... Southerners can cook. I guess I sometimes have to eat and drink a lot to remind myself that I just can't eat and drink like that anymore and expect to feel okay. I hope I feel better by morning.

Whenever I go out to meet normal people, I expect one of two things to happen:

a) Someone will make a joke about my name being a month. Usually when they first are introduced, usually, "Where are May and June?"

b) Someone, upon finding out that I am a union organizer, will ask me if I know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried.

I got both last evening. Perhaps a record.

But enough about that...

Go look at this and tell me if that's not the cutest mouse ever:


(Yes, yes, I know that it's not a prize for the *cutest* mouse. That's the much better funded *Minnie* Mouse Prize.)

I don't want to say too much about that because I don't want to get into too much content that will be covered in later entries. I think I'll write an entry that was kicking around in my head last night on the plane. New entry...

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

You're Not Too Skinny!

That's what my step-mother said upon seeing me in the new mid-CR incarnation. My dad confessed to a certain amount of apprehension but agreed that I look healthy.

I took a play from Kenton's book and salt loaded last night... eggdrop soup and a salted pretzel at the airport. My flight was delayed several times, and I met the most fascinating people while hanging out in the airport bar. First, a woman sat down next to me and we started chatting... I won't go into too much detail about her as she has not consented to being a character in the blog, but as it turns out she has a PhD in pharmacology and we have a ton of interests in commom. We also live near each other and are about the same age, so we're going to hang out after the holiday. I am so excited... I am always on the lookout for new friend-girls, as my circle of close friends is mostly men. That's great when you need someone to get something down from a high shelf, or you want "the guy's perspective," or you need to field a basketball team for some reason. But sometimes a girl just wants to hang with girls, and I seem to have trouble finding many girls close to my age who share my outlook on the world. My closest friend-girls seem to have all moved away from town.

She left and I discovered that my plane was delayed yet again, so I ordered a glass of cabernet and a kid, about 22, sat down next to me. He was thinking of going to law school, but definitely had a "save the world" mentality to him, so I talked him into checking out the Organizing Institute's website and thinking about becoming a union organizer. I thought that made for a fair and balanced airport bar experience: I may have been chilling with my de Grey articles and the cool science girl, but then I did my part for the labor movement by recruiting some new organizer blood. It all works out in the end... I hope.

Today we went to Southern Season, as promised, and for the first time in about ten years my step-mother and I ordered the same thing for lunch: garden salad with steamed shrimp on top. Back in my lowfat vegan days, she was doing Atkins. You can imagine the difficulties of those days. Anywya, she was actually interested in the CR stuff, and detecting that I had a new and willing victim, I went on at great, great length. She now knows more than she ever wanted to about p:f:c ratios, good protein sources, where to get calcium, etc. We went shopping and I bought some very interesting pepper and spice mixes, the kind that come with a grinder, that looked like they would be fun to play with at home and add to recipes. I love spices. I love strong flavors of any kind.

We went to the grocery store near home after that and I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of the most beautiful skinny green asparagi I've seen in ages, but alas, I couldn't get them because we're going over to the neighbors' for "cocktails and heavy hors d'oeuvres." Hmmmm. I am a little concerned about what this will mean. I'm not hungry and I haven't had that many calories today, just the salad plus a few little grocery store samples, 500 calories today max but more likely around 400 (I am afraid of the calories in a small piece of cheese that I tasted) so I can afford a little. I have my brewers yeast with me, and am planning to eat some of that in broth after the event to fix some of the nutritional holes I know will be left in this day if I don't.

more soon more soon... my dad needs the computer.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

A Girl Has To Have Travel Shampoo

I am on the road so much and often at such short notice that I keep a bag packed at all times.

No time to blog... driving across the state, then getting on a plane to go to North Carolina for Thanksgiving.

I should be able to blog from there.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Bread Served With Every Meal

More text from a diner wall. Before CR, sit in diners and wait for nurses. After CR, sit in diners and wait for nurses.

Now when is that enlightenment supposed to hit?

No time to really blog but a few quick observations:

-- Saw: Western PA -- beautiful this time of year.
-- Ate: one french fry off co-workers' plate. Wanted no more. I kid you not. I wonder if I should seek medical attention... I don't want french fries? I used to know the location of every good french fry in New Haven, and how late they were open. I knew that food cravings might disappear, but this is a little more than I had hoped for.
-- Ate: cottage cheese, tossed salad (no croutons) with vinegar. Gotta find something real for dinner. Food is not good at turnpike stops.
-- Drove: across PA. The whole darned state. Driving back tomorrow.
-- Entertained: two children, ages 7 and 4, by teaching them how to build towers out of half and half.
-- Regret: putting half and half and sugar in my coffee, which I almost never do, but diner coffee really sucks and needed something.
-- Noted: talking about the end of aging as we know it doesn't make people, or at least the random sampling of people I've talked to about it, nearly as defensive as talking about CR. I think it's cause they don't feel like their creme brulee is threatened.
-- Also noted: You can build towers out of small packets of jelly too, and they hold up better because they're flatter. Kids love that.
-- Received: Facinating email from CR brother re: links between low cal levels and a cure for anxiety. Must find out more re: this.

Gotta go. More later, but probably not tonight.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

0 Petite

Well, now I'm back from The Mall, the King of Prussia Mall that is, and I'm feeling a little better. Thanks to all for your emails re: Katherine... it cheers me up a lot to know that there are blog friends out there thinking of me!

Meanwhile, back at the mall, I went to the Ann Taylor, found the one black suit in 0 petite, tried it on, it fit, I bought it. That was easy. At the risk of beating a dead horse, CR is not about weight loss. It's a side effect. But it's a pretty noticable side effect.

I also did a little more shopping, picked up some interesting sauces at William Sonoma to put on food, bought a new cranberry scented candle for my living room. There must be something about human nature that forces people, when confronted with a candle that is clearly labeled "unscented" to pick it up and smell it. I did it, and everyone else I observed in the Pottery Barn did it too. This is obviously a great project for a psych grad student out there somewhere.

I had a half cup of eggwhites over spinach for breakfast, along with 180 calories worth of cottage cheese. Put the green chile sauce over both. I thought it was a good sign that I was hungry this morning, since I tend to stop eating when I'm stressed out or sad. Kieffer is doing okay... I distracted him by playing with a whole walnut on the floor. He really enjoyed chasing it around and batting at it. CR has brought walnuts into my life, and thereby provided my cat with a new toy.

Tonight my mom is coming over for dinner (I'm going to be out of town all next week so I won't see her after tonight -- for those of you who are confused, we live a couple of blocks from each other, so it's easy for us to hang out. We lived in separate states for 12 years, then decided we liked to be in the same general area, so now here we are) and I'm making scallops with some of my new Williams Sonoma sauce, green beans, romaine lettuce salad with tomato. I was just entering everything in advance in my DWIDP, and figured out that if I eat my chicken broth brewers yeast soup and a fourth cup of hazelnuts (my mom found some for me, yea!) I can get my RDA's up over 100% for everything except just under on the usual suspects Zinc 54%, Iron 49%, and hey, what's up with vitamin C? I'm usually way over on vitamin C, and today it's hanging out at 74%. Well, I get so much vitamin C most days that I'm not going to mess with it. P:F:C 43:23:34. If I add some olive oil to the salad (or maybe to the soup... I put the lemon herb evoo in last night and it was delicious!) I can up that... let's try it... yea! 40:28:32. Sounds like a plan. I really don't understand how anyone can do this without software. For those who eat the same thing every day, and those who have been doing it so long that they know what to do, I suppose it's possible, but I eat basically the same foods every day and I'm lost without my software to help me figure out the combinations. I mean, left to my own devices without the little ratios staring at me from the DWIDP, I would eat only traces of fat. I wonder if it will ever come naturally to me. Such a freak accident that I came of cooking age in the lowfat era.

Ah, but the no fat no protein -> now crisis was beaten to death in the blog months ago, and I'm sure you guys will run screaming away from your computer if I rehash it again.

I'm going to be in Pittsburgh tomorrow, so I'll have another five hour drive to write in my head. The next night I fly to Greensboro, NC to spend Thanksgiving with my dad and his side of the family. I'll be away from my DWIDP for a long time, and I'm worried about it. Luckily, my dad is an amazing cook, and cooks really fresh veggies and good seafood stuff. He also uses evoo rather liberally so I'll be eating fat. Protein sources mostly from fish. Thanksgiving Day I think I'll eat some of the New England clam chowder, something we have every year, but not much. There are tons of salads and vegetables so it shouldn't be a problem to eat fairly well.

Thanks again all for your support... I have the best blog readers on earth!

There's Something About Death That Brings Me to Crisp, Clear Resolution

You're probably thinking that I'm about to say that the death of my cat has led me to some profound conclusions in my latest round of existential angst.

Think again! I may be melodramatic, overly enthusiastic, and easily amused, but I am not tacky. It was bad enough that I pulled on your heartstrings to get you to click on the SENS website. That was a cheap trick, but justified by the cause.

No, this is not about immortality. It's about fashion.

The headline is a paraphrase of a line from one of my favorite books when I was a child, "Puppy Love," by Janice Harrell. Janice was a friend of my mom's, and she wrote teen fiction. The book was about a high school girl who opens a shelter for homeless dogs. Anyway, it was an incredibly funny book, and the line I'm working off of was, "There's something about other people's problems that brings me to crisp, clear resolution." I used that the other day when telling a friend what to do.

While I was in the shower about an hour ago (I often run home between morning writing sessions to take a shower, feed the cat, and drink coffee) it occurred to me just what will cheer me up today: I am going to go buy clothes that fit!

Not many, mind you... I'm a little broke from the recent round of veterinary medicine. But I desperately need a suit that fits, both for work and also for Thanksgiving.

Have I told you about my family's Thanksgiving tradition? I do Thanksgiving with my dad, Christmas with my mom. So I fly to Greensboro, North Carolina, usually the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. On the Wednesday, my father and I go to our favorite amazing gourmet grocery store, A Southern Season www.southernseason.com, in Chapel Hill. This year, now that my step-mother is retired from teaching kindergarten, she can come with us! We have lunch there and shop, usually buying wine and Christmas presents.

Then on Thursday, we pile into the car with my step-brother (and now his wife, and this year, for the first time, my niece!) and drive to Winston-Salem, NC, where my grandparents live. I think I've mentioned them before... they're in their ninties, in excellent health, and extremely active. By active I mean that they go out dancing. A lot. They have more fun than I do. They've been married for 69 years, and every year on their anniversary, my grandfather says, "Well, your grandmother and I have talked it over, and we've decided to give it another year."

My grandparents are very snappy dressers, and occasionally show up in matching suits. I can not remember ever seeing my grandmother in anything other than a skirt suit with a beautiful suit pin and heels. She is not the kind of woman who would ever wear comfortable shoes. Needless to say, I adore her. In April of 2001, in the same week as my then-boyfriend went to trial on felony charges after being arrested and beaten by police officers at the Republican National Convention protests in 2000 (he was acquited of all charges, which was good, as he had done absolutely nothing!), my grandmother beat back an illness that turned out to be colon cancer. She is still 100% cancer free! I share all of these details because early on in my CR journey it occured to me that my grandparents have been practicing moderate CR as long as I've known them, and probably most of their lives. For breakfast, they eat a little yogurt and fruit. For dinner, they usually split a small piece of fish, eat salad and vegetables, and a tiny bit of rice or something like that. My grandmother has always been slim and petite. My grandfather, also thin, says that he weighs himself every morning, and if his weight has gone up a pound, he cuts back on his food that day. They're so cute when they go out to dinner because the eat like little birdies! They could easily pass for people in their 70's.

My grandfather was a painter and later a photographer. He did advertising photographs, society photography, all kinds of things. His house is like a museum. His work was shown at the Chicago Art Institute and other cool places. Of all of his kids and grandkids, only one got his artistic talent. The rest of us can't even draw stick people. My grandmother ran his business and raised two children, my uncle who is a dean at Duke and my dad, who is a retired college professor and ordained minister.

The point being, CR works! You too can go dancing well into your ninties!

Even if we're wrong about The Second If, that's reason enough for me to stick with CR. Except that as a rule I hate going dancing, though I have occasionally been known to go salsa dancing, but only in LA. You don't have to go dancing in your ninties... you could do whatever it is you like to do now. Like fishing. Or whatever.

My grandmother does not cook, so every year for Thanksgiving we go to the Twin City Club, which is an old institution that hosts Sunday brunch, tea dances, and parties, as well as holiday events. They've been members since the dawn of time. It's a super dress up occasion, and when I was a teenager I used to absolutely obsess about what I would wear to the event. My older cousin, Holly, five years my senior, was always the pretty one. (She's still gorgeous, and just had her first child.) I was the smart one. I got good grades and got my picture taken with Jonas Salk at the awards ceremony for kids who did really well on the SAT in seventh grade, Holly was a debutante and got her picture taken in an amazing long white dress. I hated being the smart one, not because I hated being smart, but because I wanted to be the pretty one! So I would pay careful attention to my outfit every year, in a pathetic attempt to compete with my goddess cousin.

The goddess cousin lives in San Francisco now and no longer attends the Thanksgiving, but the need to look right for the occasion has never lost its grip on me.

Last year on Thanksgiving I weighed 33 pounds more than I do now. I looked basically okay, but I was wearing a size eight suit that I have long since given away. My father and step-mother saw me 19 pounds ago at 123, but the rest of the family haven't seen me since Thanksgiving. I talked on the phone to my aunt and uncle and told them about CR, so they know I'm thinner. But still, I think it's going to be a big shock. So there's no way I'm showing up in something that doesn't fit. Spending most of the weekend reading and running errands in lycra leggings that actually fit has really brought to my attention that my body is much smaller than any of the clothes I currently own.

Therefore, today I am going to take a break from writing, cooking, reading de Grey, and doing the laundry (CR, alas, does not make the process of laundry any less tedious) and go out to the King of Prussia Mall, which is truly a monument to American consumerism. There I will buy myself a decent suit in size 0 petite or whatever. Both Ann Taylor and Banana Republic have some awesome stuff out now. I think I'll go with plain black and dress it up with a suit pin. Very high but conservative heels.

It's not quite what Molly would wear, but it'll have to do for now.

Well, Ya Gotta Eat

Last night around five, my cat died. Not Kieffer... he's fine, though grieving. Katherine, whose been his best friend for the last seven years. We thought she was going to pull through when we went to pick her up at the vet, but almost as soon as we got there it became clear that she wasn't.

I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that what was supposed to be a good day... picking up the cat, bringing her home to Kieffer who has been running around looking for her, fixing dinner for friends... turned out to be a pretty bad day.

We (my mom and I) got home from the vet about ten minutes before company was due to arrive, but in typical April fashion I had already set the table and put out all the ingredients, so all I had to do was put things together. I made up the soup, pasta sauce, etc. I ended up making the pasta sauce with artichoke hearts and tomatoes since I had already eaten red peppers earlier in the day and they're really expensive right now. The guests ate the pasta with the sauce, but I put a layer of spinach between the pasta and the sauce, so the sauce lightly steamed it. I ate just the spinach with the sauce, and oddly enough didn't even miss the pasta. It was pretty good, and I ate fairly well considering. Earlier in the day I had made the brunch I told you about earlier, and then I had a cup of cottage cheese as a sorta mid-day snack. The entire day is coming in at 967, low in the usual suspects, with 100% of everyting except only 91% of calcium, 71% copper, 41% zinc, 93% thiamine. P:F:C ratios pretty bad at 34:16:50, which just goes to show that when I'm not paying enough attention I revert to my high carb ways. Of course, the wine I had with dinner didn't help, driving up the carbs. I put olive oil in basically everything I cooked, but split between three people my share of it wasn't much.

Before the whole cat crisis hit I had a solid block of time and mental energy, so I read an article by Aubrey de Grey called "The unfortunate influence of the weather on the rate of human aging: why caloric restriction or its emulation may only extend life expectancy by 2 - 3 years" that you can find here: http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/sens/weatherPP.pdf

If you find that a bit concerning, you can go to http://lists.calorierestriction.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0310&L=crsociety&P=R37783 and read some things Michael Rae had to say about it. Caution: That was awhile back and he may have changed his mind about some things. Beware of the passage of time and its effects on the archives: remember that time I read the Albatross and went out and bought lots of tofu, only to find out the next day (upon further archive searching of later posts) that tofu caused dementia?

I figure it might be fun for all you bloggie friends to follow along with what I'm reading and see what happens to you. Let's do an experiment: you read what I'm reading, and see if you draw the same conclusions I do. Out of all the faithful blog readers, from Hong Kong to DC, there must be someone who is willing to play this game with me.

Friday night I read some stuff that can be found here: http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/sens/AdGpubs.htm#social

which I was drawn to for obvious reasons.

If you're confused re: what the hell am I talking about, there are two good articles under "Introductions for the Non-Specialist" that might help. http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/sens/AdGpubs.htm#intro

Wow, that's a lot of homework for the bloggiefriends, but since my cat just died, don't you think you can at least skim the intro stuff?

I think I'm going to work for a little while on the last of my revisions on the new entries... I've had it almost done for a couple of days now except for two small pieces that I can't seem to figure out and may just give up and ask for help.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Second If

I was talking last night with one of the brothers about an "Intro the the CR List" message that I've been working on. I couldn't locate a minor gramatical error that he had found, and he said, "It's the second if." Apparently, the second if should be "whether." We decided it wasn't worth worrying about, but I pointed out that "The Second If" sounded like a great headline for a blog entry. He couldn't quite figure out how I would work it into the concept of CR, but I pointed out that if I can work a song about Saint Augustine into CR, I can do anything.

I was sitting in the parking lot at the vet's, having found out that my cat has to stay another night in the hospital. By the time I got to the traffic light at the corner of Ridge Pike and Butler Pike (about two blocks away) I had the premise of the entry in my head.

I got home, made dinner (ate only half the broccoli/cauliflower, so take 75 cals off yesterday's total.) Poured glass of wine, got in bed with stack of de Grey articles.

[If anyone has been following so closely that they would have noticed this: Earlier in the week I had talked about having dinner plans with some non-CR folk, and about the fear that I would not be able to keep my consistent calories theme going when we went out to a place I'd never been before... social struggle, etc. I ended up cancelling the plans, not because of that, nor so I could sit at home and read de Grey (a level of geekiness of which I am certainly more than capable but in this case did not happen to be expressing) but because I thought I was going to be taking care of a sick cat. I didn't find out till very late in the day that the cat had to stay at the hospital another night, and by that time it was too late.]

Began to wonder if I will start quoting de Grey in casual conversation too. He has quite a few catchy lines.

Got a call from a friend, chatted for awhile, read more, got tired, turned off light, went to sleep.

Went to sleep remembering one of Brian's old posts in the archives that seemed to address a conflict that must have been going on in the CR community at the time. It went something like this: "Life extensionists, meet want to be healthier people. Want to be healthier people, meet life extensionists."

Now I'd like to point out for the five thousandth time, if I had just wanted to be healthy, I would have stayed a lowfat vegan. I wanted to squeeze enough years out of my life to participate meaningfully in a pretty big change in the political economy of the US... that'll take awhile, don't you think? But I certainly did not have a "cure for aging" in mind on March 26, 2004, at 5:10 pm.

I fall asleep rather quickly... my insomnia is not a problem of not being able to get to sleep, it's not being able to stay asleep.

Had horrible blog stress dream, in which Mary says that she isn't going to talk to me anymore and is taking down the link from her blog to mine because I'm talking so much about non-food stuff in my blog.

Just reminding everyone... it was only a dream! But it provided me with a great framework for the concept of "The Second If."

It goes something like this:

The first if, for CR practitioners, is the "If CR works at all." Does CR slow down, (though not stop) aging? If we didn't believe that the answer to The First If was yes, we would be silly to eat less than our friends. Will CR keep us healthy and alive, longer than eating a "healthy" diet that is not restricted in calories?

For now, CR is all we have, so we may as well go with If Number One, eat as few calories we can, and enjoy the short term benefits of better health while we're hoping the long term benefits come through.

The Second If is: will there ever (or at least in our somewhat longer lifetime) be anything better?

I would venture a guess that many people in the CR Society would answer "No" to The Second If.

I wonder if this is out of a well-researched belief, or simply out of not knowing that there are people out there making progress on this stuff? In my case, I had no idea.

There's plenty of good reason to do CR even if you'll only go as far as The First If. To my mind, *any* lengthening of health and life is worth quite a bit of effort... I mean, what else are you going to do?

I have heard of, though never met in person, people who say yes to The Second If but no to The First If: they're waiting for the pill.

The debates about the Ifs remind me somewhat of discussions I used to have when I was a labor organizer (which as you know I still am) but I spent most of my social time with anarchists, especially the green variety of anarchists. "Are you an anarchist?" "Are you a communist?" "Are you a democratic socialist?"

My answer to these questions was always the same, "I'm an organizer."

It didn't matter to me so much what the final vision of the future was because I was determined to do whatever I could, right here and now, to make things better. If that meant the slow and agonizing process of helping workers fight tooth and nail for evey the smallest improvements in their workplaces, then so be it. I used to get quite frustrated with my anarchist buddies (who are by no means representative of all anarchists, in case there are any offended anarchists out there) not only because they would spend a lot of time sitting on my couch and drinking all my beer, but because they refused to do things in the short term that might cause incremental improvements. Some of them even argued that organizing unions was bad, since any improvement in workers' lives would only slow the coming of the eventual revolution.

"Big Labor is not revolutionary," one of them said.

"Get off my couch and out of my house," I said.

It was a rather dramatic moment.

That series of struggles cemented my belief that one, or at least I, must do what I can NOW, every day, even if the victories are far between. It's that belief that keeps me organizing workers in a time of fairly extreme darkness for the American labor movement.

And of course, that belief leads to doing CR at the most intense level I can work out in my life.

However, it doesn't preclude belief that the answer the The Second If might be yes. We certainly can't know that it won't. (Like the Black Moth, I enjoy sentences with double negatives.)

It seems to me that those of us who are willing to act based on assent to either, or any, of the Ifs, had better stick together. Buying into either of them makes us unusual, and being willing to act at any level on anything we believe makes us even more unusual.

Besides, who else is going to understand our bizarre eating habits?

The CR Society is a great example of a community in which people with very diverse beliefs, habits, visions of the future, and politics co-exist very happily, learning from each other even when they disagree.

Still, I'll be really happy when Mary writes to tell me that it was just a dream!

Food Related Content

That being said, I don't want to run the risk of boring those who look to the blog for food related content.

So here's some Cooking for the Non-CR'd Angst.

I have a lot of non-CR'd friends. Well, don't we all? VLC loves my food, as does Very Skinny Mom, but most of the people with whom I spend my social time are supportive of me, but not interested in trying CR themselves (except for those who aren't supportive of me either.)

Tonight I have company coming over for dinner. One of the guests is relatively CR friendly, the other is a standard American diet person, not even a "healthy eating" person. Has never had Indian food. CR challenge!

I am going to make my free range organic chicken soup with lots of vegetables for starters. But I'm really drawing a blank as to what to serve after that.

What I would really like to make would be a giant plate of sizzled vegetables on top of eggwhites on top of greens. Luckily, my mom is coming over for CR friendly fancy brunch this morning, and I'm going to make this favorite dish then.

But I am in the dark as to what to do tonight. I'll think about it all day and let you know what happens.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Eating the Same Basic Thing Every Day Makes Things Easier

Note: I am not saying that this is the only way to do CRON.

That being said...

Last night I found myself making what is in retrospect a rather absurd claim: that I was going to put my relatively smooth CR practice on autopilot so that I could devote the energy/time that I had been pouring into designing my diet into learning more about a real cure for aging (for the purposes of eventually knowing enough to be able to convince people to fund said cure, not just for my own entertainment.)

I woke up this morning thinking that might be the dumbest thing I've ever said in my entire life.

But then as the day went on, and I went about my normal routine of eating what I usually eat these days, I realized, that's not as nutty as I at first thought.

I've spent tremendous time and energy over the last nine months figuring out what I should be eating to get maximal nutrition in the fewest possible calories, within the limits of how much time and money I feel like I can spend. And when I just do what I normally do, I do pretty well!

Here's today so far:

eggwhites for breakfast (plain, with a touch of pepper) 140 calories, 29 g protein
half a large container of fat free cottage cheese, 140 calories, 21 g protein
salad with lettuce, tomato, balsamic vinegar, beets, olives, pineapple, strawberries: 229

509 so far for the day, and that's with going out to lunch with a co-worker.

I'm kinda excited about this: all the effort I've put into designing a diet that works for me might just pay off.

A lot of CRON folks like to eat different things all the time, and I certainly eased into CR by doing that, but I do find that it is much easier to stick to the same basic group of foods, varying the veggies and fruits, but keeping things like protein, fat and calcium sources fairly constant. I know I love egggwhites, I know I love cottage cheese and nonfat plain yogurt, I know I love almonds. (I can't find hazelnuts in my store... what's up with that?)

If you throw into the DWIDP what I was planning to have for dinner, which was a bag of frozen broccoli and cauliflower cooked in my 2 cups of chicken broth with 116 calories of brewers yeast, plus 200 calories of almonds and a glass of red wine, you get 1090. Not bad at all! And that's just what I was going to do anyway... before I threw it into the DWIDP. P:F:C = 34:26:40. Never Zone perfect, but a far cry from the high carb darkness. 90% of calcium, 80% iron, 48% zinc, and well over 100% on the rest! I am less worried about the usual suspects, calcium, iron and zinc, because the tier one stuff MR suggested for me would fix that, and while I'll never give up on getting them through food, I'm not going to stress too much about it if I'm both getting *close* to the RDA's in my diet and supplementing with the stuff.

So maybe I wasn't completely smashed with optimism when I said that I can maintain a decent CR lifestyle while thinking about other things too...

In a funny and probably completely irrational shift in perspective, I am suddenly finding my own personal low tech easy happy version of CR to be less stressful than it seemed a week ago.

Another happy warm fuzzy CR moment: I've been up since 3 am, it's almost 3 pm, and I have tons of energy! CR makes you need less sleep!

Forbidden Fruit Creates Many Jams

I read that line on a sign at a church somewhere in the middle of rural PA a couple of weeks ago, and I've been dying to use it as a blog headline ever since.

It's a bit of a stretch to work it into the larger themes of the blog, so when I realized that I'd forgotten to enter the red delicious apple into my DWIDP for yesterday, I thought, aha! A chance to use great line!

So that brings the calories for yesterday up to 1073 (I knew there was a reason why I wasn't feeling as hungry as I usually do the day after an under 1000 day!) and throws off the P:F:C ratios... argh. 31:22:47.

Oh well. Better today. Now, I'm going to go off and write for another hour or so before I need to start work.

Last Night I Didn't Get to Sleep at All

It's 4 in the morning, and I'm writing again.

I actually went to sleep around 9 and slept till just after 3, which is not too bad for me. But I heard that old song on the radio from which the headline was taken, and I thought it amusing that a radio station would be playing that at 3:30 am.

I've been getting lots of advice on what to do for insomnia, but at this point I don't mind it much... six hours of sleep is plenty, and the early hours of the morning seem to be the best time to write.

So here I am again.

Last night I made some nice steamed brussels sprouts with lemon herb olive oil and the juice of one lemon and some pepper. Brewers yeast soup. Glass of red. The rest of the almonds... 100 cals worth. ON = over 100% on everything except for: 92% Calcium, 81% Copper, 49% iron, 84% Manganese, 91% Vitamin A (that's weird, that's usually really high), 43% Zinc. 948 calories, P:F:C 35:24:41. Lower calorie day... not very hungry due to stress re: cat.

Eating my basic foods-that-work: eggwhites, plain yogurt, skim milk, almonds, brewers yeast, veggies, etc., saves me a lot of the time that I used to put into obsessing about ON. The blog up until now has been in large part about the quest for the right foods, and while obviously I still have problems, I think I've done pretty well. Now that I've figured out what seems to work for me in terms of what to eat on a daily basis, I'm planning to devote some the mental energy that had been going into the quest for the right foods for the last eight months into the quest for some meaningful way in which I can contribute to what I now understand to be the real fight: the fight to cure aging.

When I first started, I thought CR would help me live better longer, maybe a little bit longer and a lot better. Even then, I was hoping to get twenty more years out of this. [Remember that post where I said that before CR I had never thought I wanted children, but that if I could be relatively sure of getting back the 20 years I might spend raising kids, I might be willing to consider it?] I knew that starting at 29 was not as good as starting earlier would have been, and that even though the people who had been doing CR for awhile looked good and seemed to be doing much better than normal people, we couldn't be sure what would happen in the long term. Still, I thought it silly not to try...

I had absolutely no idea when I first started that there were people out there who thought there was a way to cure the fundamental problem of aging.

But wait... I'm afraid I'm giving away too much of the story. I've been working so much on the blog entries about the conference and the discussions we had there that I'm jumping ahead. You'll have to wait.

I have pretty decent mental focus now so I think I'll spend some time revising said entries.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Can Everyone Just Refrain From Perishing?

No, that's not my new approach to anti-aging medicine. It's what I said this morning when I returned home from my 5 am email checking/blog writing trip to the office to find a very sick cat!

To make a long story short, I spent most of the day at the vet, and the cat is in the hospital now, getting excellent care. I'm worried, but there's not much I can do about it, so I'm writing.

Oddly enough, today's CRON has gone well. This morning, 140 calories of eggwhites scrambled with a touch of a delicious new green chile sauce on top and some pepper. A red delicious apple as a morning snack just before the cat's vet appointment. After leaving the poor kitty at the vet, I ate the leftover "cream" of broccoli soup for lunch -- 120 on the yogurt (12 g protein, 30% RDA of calcium), plus about 40 of broccoli and 10 of free range organic chicken broth for a total of 170. Four tablespoons of tomato and red pepper salsa, straight out of the jar (old lowfat vegan thing... I prefer to eat salsa straight, having long ago given up chips and never found any point in putting it on anything else, except sometimes a salad), for 40 calories if I can trust the label (it was rather watery and had no oil). Iced latte in the afternoon, which is good since I'm sleepy but need to stay up late enough that I don't wake up in the middle of the night... I hope. Tonight I'll eat my brewers yeast soup with some fresh brussels sprouts that I picked up. I need to eat something with fat in it, so I may make an olive oil and lemon pepper sauce for the sprouts and eat them separately from the broth. Glass of red.

More soon.

Playing With Hunger

As you can tell from the last few entries, I have rather ambivilant feelings about hunger. On the one hand, I blog at length about avoiding it: though meal spacing, excellent nutrition, and avoiding blood sugar games, I have controlled it pretty well so far. On the other hand, I talk about trying to live with a little more hunger, thinking that I will get more benefits from CR if I drop my calories a little lower, which will at this point require a little hunger from time to time.

In the post-CRS Conference universe, I'm feeling a funny kind of shift in my attitude towards CR. What started out as a fun roller coaster (complete with funky dips into ketosis when I went too low, entertaining clothes shopping adventures when I hit size two, etc.) is now turning into a long distance drive. I'm feeling a very "in it for the long haul" type of spirit, and it makes me want to experiment with some new ways of structuring my relationship with food.

The problem is, I'm so used to having basically whatever I want, whenever I want, that the idea of not having this or that is a little hard to get used to. Between my every five or six day eating out events and my meal spacing that kept me from being hungry even on a fairly low calorie (under 1000) day, I haven't felt like I was engaging in much self-denial at all. While I certainly ate differently, eschewing the pizza and bagels and margaritas and nachos and pasta and well you get the idea, it wasn't like I was walking around feeling hungry. Maybe right before lunch, but at any other time I would just eat, even if it was just eating lettuce. I do love lettuce...

It's not just about getting the maximum anti-aging benefits from CR. I have a feeling that on the other side of this whole hunger dilemma is that ethereal calm that I am questing after. Facing down the hardwiring that says "Oh, just go ahead and have a bite," seems like the only way to get to the mythical other side.

That's why I'm playing some games with hunger, testing the waters to see just what it does to me.

For years, I've been afraid of getting hungry, afraid that if I let m

[break, that was yesterday afternoon, now 5:30 this morning]

That's where I trailed off yesterday because VLC called and said I should meet her for coffee to a) get the report on her trip out to a far away hospital b) catch up on relevant gossip. So I did that... in a bizarre role reversal, I drank tea, she drank coffee. She had some funny stories.

[I was rambling on about hunger because I wasn't eating much in an effort to keep my calories down in anticipation of a fairly big dinner. So I ate leftover vegetables with my red pepper marinara sauce for breakfast, followed by an iced latte for lunch. By the time I wrote I was getting kinda hungry.]

Then I went to an early evening meeting. Then I went home to cook dinner for non-CR dinner company. I cooked two things I hadn't cooked before: let's call them, "Not So Creamy Cream of Broccoli Soup" and "fish."

Cream of Broccoli (not particularly creamy)
2 heads of broccoli
2 cloves of garlic
2 cups free range organic chicken broth
3 cups non-fat plain yogurt
lemon (juice thereof)
salt, pepper

Blend broccoli, garlic, and chicken broth in the food processor. Put in big pot, turn on heat, stir. Add yogurt gradually, stirring. Turn off heat, add lemon, pepper and salt to taste. Don't expect it to be creamy. If you want cream soups, go read someone else's blog.

Fish. I had never made fish before. I had made shrimp and scallops, but not fish. I had gotten some advice about some rather high calorie ways to serve it that sounded delicious, but I really wanted to keep the calories to the fish itself, not add to. So the guy at the fish store said to coat it with olive oil spray, garlic, salt, and pepper and lemon juice, bake at 375 for 15 - 20 mins, and cover with fresh lemon juice. I did, and it was delicious. The cat went crazy. I gave him a few bites.

Drove to Center City to pick up my mother who teaches at night and had left her car at home on her most recent work trip.

I am continuing with the post I had started to write earlier... not even cleaning up the transition, because I want to have a record of exactly what I was thinking yesterday.

"On the other side of this hunger dilemma is that ethereal calm I am questing after."

Does that make sense?

I was trying to say that for years I was afraid that if I let myself get too hungry, I'd do something stupid. You know how all those books say "Don't let yourself get too hungry." Eat something you don't particularly want, at a time when you don't particularly want it, just so that you won't be hungry.

What exactly I was expecting to happen if I got hungry is beyond me... I mean, I never had one of those bad relationships with food where I would go nuts and eat myself into oblivion. The worst thing I'd ever do was eat a bagel with cream cheese.

CR = cure for anxiety, for me. The relationship between CR and anxiety is linear... the more I cut my calories, the less anxious I feel. At some point (and it's not a ketogenic state, which is another drug in itself, I'm always way over 10% carbs) the lack of anxiety starts to transcend just not being anxious and turn into a bit of that ethereal calm that I'm looking for. But just a drop, just a little peek at another way of feeling.

I think it's going to take more CR to get there. And I have lots of reasons for wanting to be there: not just the absence of feeing bad, but the presence of more focus, more power, etc.

I might need all that stuff, you know.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Saint Francis Of Assisi Could Never Be This Good

Quote from the Sting song "Saint Augustine In Hell," found on one of the mix tapes I made when going through a period of mild obsession with Saint Augustine in my late teens. In the midst of some late night thinking about religion, I somehow managed to leave that part out. Let's just take a moment to think of how the entire history of the Western world could have been different if Saint Augustine had known about CR.

To end my cheap attempts to somehow tie a Sting song in with CR, I'll explain the hadline this way: after falling asleep from about 7 pm to 10 pm last night, waking up and running back to the office to check my email, an event which ended in writing for about three hours, then going back to bed at 3 am, I still managed to get up and come to the office early enough to blog a bit before starting work. And I am pleased to report that my CR inspired clarity of skin and eyes seems to be saving me from *looking* like I was up all night writing.

You may be wondering what the hell I am writing, as my posts have not seemed any longer or more intense than usual. I'm working on some posts about the conversations I had at the conference, and Michael and Brian are working on them with me, so I'm doing a lot of writing and editing on stuff that is not yet ready to be published.

Writing myself into exhaustion seems to work as a cure for insomnia, though I suppose you could just say that I would have been tired again by 3 am even if I had done nothing but pet the cat.

I did have a bizarre dream in the early hours of the morning, right before I woke up at 5:30 am. I dreamed that a rabid right winger in the CR society (not someone who exists, a figment of the dream imagination) hated my blog and tried to organize all the other CR society members to disassociate themselves with it. He said he hated a) the politics b) what I eat c) the fact that I listen to my walkman all the time. How's that for a blog anxiety dream?

I think the Black Moth is right about not eating at night leading to better sleep... I also suspect that just eating less, for me, leads to better sleep. Yesterday was a higher calorie day for me than the day before, since I was hungrier and got home still needing to get some of my ON. Let's see... when last I wrote, I had eaten my 140 of eggwhites for breakfast, and was busy speculating on whether or not they actually like the Texas Pete.

When I got to the office, a co-worker suggested that we have a meeting we were planning over lunch, so I knew I would get a good salad since we decided to go to a place that has a decent salad bar. I didn't want to rely on the salad bar alone, though, since it has almost nothing in the way of protein sources and I didn't want to be so hungry that I would be tempted to eat one of the pasta salad thingys. So I went ahead and ate my cottage cheese pack, 280 calories, 70% of the RDA of calcium, 42 g protein. No fat. With tabasco. That was yummy. I also ate one rye cracker, 35 calories, with the cottage cheese.

At lunch I ate a salad of romaine, grape tomatoes, a few beet slices, ten black olives, artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar and a teaspoon of olive oil, with a small plate of fruit (melon, pineapple, strawberry) for dessert. The olives and the olive oil helped out with the fat for the day, but the fruit upped the cals and the carbs. Did some guessing in terms of total amounts on my DWIDP, but I always guess on the higher end.

Got home earlyish from work, around five (things have been rather quiet since the Conference, after the crazy sprint of the two months before) and was hungry, plus wanted to fill in some holes in my ON for the day, so I ate my brewers yeast soup and about half the almonds I usually eat, for around 100 calories. Got in bed to read with my glass of wine and my cat, but fell asleep almost immediately. P:F:C ratio for the day: 35:25:40. Great ON -- over 100% on everything except zinc (49%) and iron (89%). It wouldn't have been great ON without the brewers yeast soup, and the PFC ratios would have been way off without the almonds... I had entered everything from earlier in the day before I went home, so I knew what I wanted to fill in. That works wonders for my ON... entering things before I eat them so I can figure out just what the right combination is. It makes it possible for me to eat a pretty large variety of foods without totally screwing up all the time. High calorie yesterday: 1264.3. If you average that with the day before, at 980, you get 1122.15. Not bad, and if I stay in this pattern, I'll end up averaging to around 1100 if I don't have the wacky 1500 or more calorie big eating days every five or six days. I have plans to go out for dinner with some definitely not CR'd friends on Friday night, so I'm worrying about that. It might make sense to adapt to the different pattern without dropping my calories (my weight is remaining very stable around 104 - 106 depending on how much salt I ate the day before and how late at night I ate my last meal), and then try to drop the calories a little bit.

One thing I've noticed about weight loss... I seem to stay stable for a long time, then drop a couple of pounds almost all at once, like I did after the conference, then hover right around there, going up a tiny bit if there's a "refeeding" period after a particularly low time (like the week after the conference), but rather quickly dropping back down permanently to the new low. It's hard to believe sometimes that I've lost so much weight since March 26. 137 - 104. Weird. It will be terrifying to see my family at Thanksgiving, since they haven't seen me since last year. I hope they don't freak out. I don't look all that thin (people who saw me at the conference can confirm that this is true, and considered positive in CR world where we all know that the ob/ob mice on CR live longer... ha!... not some anorexic raving that she's not skinny enough.)

Still no taller... but I acutally really like being a short person. Easier to be comfortable on planes, etc. You can always get someone to reach items from high shelves. Even after the Biotech Rapture, I will still probably want to be 5 feet, 1.75 inches tall.

Am thinking a lot about hunger lately and about the various uses for it. Meal spacing is so critical to avoiding hunger. Careful planning to make sure that the right foods and only the right foods are available when I am hungry seems to be the key to ON, now that I have found foods that I really like that are CRON friendly. When I read back over old issues of the blog, I see how much time and trial and error went into finding those foods. That entertaining adventure with Grape Nuts... I just can't eat high carb like that without going nuts. Talk about food cravings, and blood sugar games!

Wondering if I could channel physical hunger into useful pursuits, like writing. Seems like a small rewiring of my brain could accomplish this. Will think more about this later... it's time to organize the nurses now.