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.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

And I'll Pay The Price, and I'll Pray That It's Enough

That's a line from Melissa Etheridge's "Chrome Plated Heart," another song off my old tapes that is ringing true this week.

And the title of this post because I am beginning to think that I am nowhere near the level of CR that I need to be at.

Now that may seem absurd when my daily calorie target is 1000 and I've lost 33 pounds in eight months, but remember this: at least once a week, usually twice, I am going out and eating many, many calories, which thrown onto my averages means I'm eating at least 1100 - 1200, and some weeks more.

Upon hearing from all the scientists about the many theories of why CR works, as well as hearing from the brothers and sisters about their own experiences, I am starting to wonder if my body is not stressed enough. I mean, at first, I was just burning off a lot of unnecessary fat, so it's no wonder that I was not hungry even when I dropped my calorie levels very low. (or does that make sense? it's how I felt. could have been a ketogenic state, though my carbs were never low, if anything, they were way high back then.) I have rarely felt hungry, and I'm starting to think that's a problem.

WARNING: Soft skinned folks in the moderate camp should just stop reading now. It will only upset you. (vague paraphrase of Rant: Moderate CR, MR, Sept. 5, 02)

I am not doing this to lose weight. I am not doing this to look like a very short supermodel... I wasn't happy with my body at 137, but I've been happy with how I look from about 128 on down. The "You're too thin" comments didn't start to hit until under 115. Now they're becoming more frequent, though it's hard to tell the motivation of those who say it... especially when it's coming from women. I've started to just say, "Okay," when someone tells me I'm too thin. Like, I heard you, but I don't feel the need to explain myself.

I am not even doing this to "be healthy," though of course CR WORKS BECAUSE IT MAKES YOU HEALTHY (again, quoting the Rant). I am healthier now than I have ever been, but that doesn't mean that the things I do fit into the normal American definition of "healthy." [Relevant tangent: Have I ever told you about how I think that "healthy" is the new American substitute for "virtuous" in Victorian morality? Read any pop psychologist: anyone who is over 30 and isn't married with 2.5 children, "balancing" work and family, pursuing the ownership of houses, cars and vacations, is "unhealthy." Well, bullshit. If that works for you, great, but it doesn't work for me, and if it did, there would be several thousand workers who wouldn't have a voice on their job because I would have been too busy planning a wedding to be a union organizer.]

I am doing this to live a very, very long time. As one of my CR brothers put it, living longer means that if you hate the way things are now, you may live long enough to see them change. The slowing of aging may be caused by the very stress of eating less than the body thinks it needs. I feel like I have been eating only as much as my body thinks it needs, and not a drop more, but because I am rarely hungry, and when I am, I eat, I don't think I am stressing my body out enough.

Now I get tons of benefits, and the benefits of "moderate" CR are undeniable. It does make you feel better than the deadly standard American lifestyle. You've read essay after essay on how great I feel, how happy I am, how CR can do everything from cure anxiety to mow your lawn to do your taxes. If you're out there and you want to do CR but you don't want to do anything extreme, that's great! Eat less, buy your nutritional software, get your RDA's everyday, up your protein and your MUFA's, and you'll look and feel great! If you're a woman, it's likely that you won't feel that hungry once you adjust your macronutrient ratios and figure out what meal spacing works for you. I would be really happy if any of my readers made changes like this in their lifestyle and felt better, lived healthier, in part because of things they had learned from my crazy journey.

But you didn't think that would be enough for me, did you?

For months now, ever since I first read "RANT: Moderate CR" I've known that I would not stay at that point. I'm not a moderate... and I want to live forever. Or at least the 600 years I should get before the NJ turnpike eats me alive. I want to be there when de Grey and his buddies figure this whole thing out. I believe this can work. I want to be first in line, and looking fabulous at that. What's the point of living forever if you...

I keep saying that, and I keep making progress, but I suspect that the next phase will be much, much harder.

First: hunger. I am not good with hunger. For example, last night, I was hungry. No doubt due to playing blood sugar games, eating an apple and a banana on the road after eating that silly bagel for breakfast, etc. I ate right around 1500 calories yesterday, which if you throw it only the day before still averages out okay, but was a good example of how when I'm hungry, I just eat. Low carb tortilla filled with eggwhites and part skim mozarella... not terrible, but I'm not going for "not terrible," I passed "not terrible" months ago. And this am my anxiety threatened to jump back up. I have to learn to deal with hunger, both from the perspective of anxiety control and for the possibility of achieving that thing that people think might be doing that thing we're trying to do. You know what I mean?

[Moderately relevant tangent: I am chilly and I am putting on a sweater. I know I said I'd never eat breakfast and I do now, but this one I'm not backing off from any time soon. I really hate being cold. And I own some very cute sweaters, and everyone knows about the life-extension benefits of cute sweaters, especially if they were on sale.]

I had a long chat (hmmm... name of a Thai restaurant in Burlington, VT -- hello JG and PF!) with one of the brothers about hunger, and he said he was basically hungry all the time. I am so amazed by that. He didn't even like vegetables before CR! I haven't changed my life all that much, compared to that. I respect that level of self-discipline. I hope I have it.

Second: social issues. I was asked twice in the last two days, "Do you really eat?" Context was talking about going out to dinner with friends. Up until now I've been able to say, yes. I have arranged my food intake such that I can eat low cal for five days or so and then go out for a normal dinner out and act like a normal person. It makes social life easier, and it's fun! I really love good food, and I enjoy being able to eat fancy out food without worrying too much about the calories.

That collides with the hunger issue in this way: I suspect that the up and down-ness of my diet has made it easier to deal with hunger that would naturally arise at 1000 cals/day because just when I start to get really hungry, I go out and eat a whole lot. If I want to lower my total calories, I think I need to do it by cutting back on the fifth-day-out practice, not by lowering the other days. As evidenced by Thursday's 700 ish leading to Friday's low carb tortilla with eggwhites and mozarella, I get super hungry if I go too low. So I need to even it out to be about 1000 each day, which will lower my averages.

That means: even more fanatical attention to nutrition. This is why I am so grateful that Michael Rae did me as a case study and just sent me lots of info on what supplements he thinks might help. I've done pretty well on my diet, but I don't want to take chances. The whole world of supplements is totally new to me, and I need to re-read my notes to his presentation, combined with the me-specific info, a bunch of times to decide exactly how high I go in the tiers. (Go read his presentation if you're wondering what I'm talking about. Use the archives, find Dean's Conference Day One Notes.) But to put it mildly, my interest here is in life-extension, and so I'm willing to try a lot. As I said a couple of times at the conference: I'm up for anything.

The April's diet day 1 is pretty good, you've read it before, and if I did something like that most days, combined with some tier 1 and 2 supplements, I would feel confident about my ON. No room for junk calories though! Ah, those days when I drink more than one glass of wine... those days when I eat seafood, which has suspicious levels of toxic stuff... you're getting the idea.

Tonight I am going out to dinner with friends in New York city, and I will no doubt drink more than one glass of wine and eat seafood. And I will enjoy it. But I will spend the entire train ride there and back, plus my night time insomnia attack, wondering how much longer I will be the person who does that.


  • At 4:34 PM, Blogger Mary Robinson said…

    I really understand your issues. We must have similar metabolisms, since I have lots of problems with blood sugar unless I watch what I eat pretty carfully.

    I have this theory of hunger. There are three kinds of hunger: low blood sugar, food cravings, and honest-to-goodness real hunger. Before CRON, I used to feel food cravings and low blood sugar every single day. Now I never get these kinds of hunger. I am really hungry to some extent often. However, this kind of hunger is so much easier on me than the other kinds that I barely notice it. It's just the stomach growling thing and my brain is not really involved. It makes me eat somewhat more ravenously than is really polite. I actually enjoy this hunger - it's kind of a reminder of CRON working. It heightens my enjoyment of food. Are you sure you aren't this kind of hungry? It's nothing compared to my previous food cravings. I really used to suffer!

    If you are like me, you may need to get more consistent day to day to really get happy with CRON. I try to keep calories between 1050 and 1250 a day and to never do a carbs only meal. Low days mess me up at least as much as high ones.

    April - you don't want to keep losing pounds a month until you weigh 85! If I eat 1050 calories a day, I just start losing, too. There were a lot of questions at the conference about how low was too low. And no great answers. But some people have gone too low and come back up. My rule is to stay about BMI 18.5, which for me is 105. I think you are there already.


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