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Happy. Healthy. Heathen.

Traveling, training, thinking, talking, typing

Social Distancing. Week 2.

Monday, March 23. Day 8

Gah. We need some sunshine. We’ve had a pretty rainy March in middle Tennessee. It hasn’t been too cold, which is nice, but that has resulted in an abundance of weed and grass growth, that no one can mow because it’s too wet! We had a couple of hours of glorious sunshine yesterday, and I was stunned at how warm it felt and how beautiful it was.

I’m committed to getting out every single day, regardless of the weather, so I caught a quick hour walk dodging the rain storms. I really didn’t want to go – like most of you, I was still in my jammies, working around the house answering emails and enjoying the sound of the soft rain. But that’s when I have to rely on my rational brain, not my emotional one, and get dressed and get out. And of course, I’m always glad I did.

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Today’s concern was with politics. I didn’t catch Trump’s press conference live, but when I read about it later, I’m just livid. Hinting that we’ll open the country back up in a week or two might be the WORST possible thing we could do. Why would the US be exempt from the pattern we’ve seen in China, South Korea, and Italy? The sooner we get this lockdown going, the sooner we get this under control, and the sooner we can return to whatever will be normal then. There are just not enough words to describe this timeline: we’re facing the most serious national health crisis we’ve ever faced, with the worst leadership we’ve ever had.

Tuesday, March 24. Day 9

It’s not the isolation or the virus that’s going to kill me – it’s the endless, relentless rain. This is normal spring weather for middle Tennessee, and I get mad at it this time every year. Grass is growing, weeds are up, can’t mow in a downpour. Need to weed the beds and till the garden, but it’s a mucky mess (reminds me of Mark Twain’s description of the Mississippi River: too thick to drink, too thin to plow).

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So today’s agenda includes all the inside stuff, plus I think I’ll start a puzzle.

 

Wednesday, Mar 25. Day 10

Went into double digits today for days sequestered. What will life be like when I go into triple? Current reports indicate that our trajectory is going straight up. Today, New York appears to be the epicenter in the US. Washington and Louisiana are very high, and it looks like Florida will be the next hardest hit. Tennessee continues life apace – no state mandates. Schools have been closed but not businesses, and from my local social media,

One of my guidelines is to restrict/limit/manage the flood of information coming in. I try to ration global, national, state, and local news (which, I’ll admit, is a skill I’ve probably needed to develop). I like politics and government, and at other times I read and watch a lot of political news. Since the virus is devouring the airwaves, and because there’s so much anxiety + anger and how we’re being governed now, I’ve cut my consumption down to about 3 hours a day: an hour in the morning and 2 hours in the evening.

Today was a good day, in spite of. Everything. I braved the outside world and took my trash and recycling to the dump. It wasn’t busy, so I didn’t have to dodge a single interaction. I could put my trash and recyclables in their bins without touching anything. I drove straight there and straight home. We have to find our victories.

Then I earned my Community Action merit badge by picking up a bag of trash on the lane where I live. Even if it was rainy and drippy.

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Then my chicken coop was delivered! My little guys are growing by the day, and I’ll be glad to get it put together for them.

Then the rain stopped. Glorious glorious sunshine. I jumped on the mower and did a quick cut of the front yard. Oh, the smell of freshly mown lawn in the spring.

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Lastly, I had a cocktail party with the leadership team of the nonprofit I work for. Look at these faces. We can get through this, with a little help from our friends.

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Thursday, Mar 26. Day 11

Sunshine all day long. What a difference my outlook has been since the rain stopped. 10 days of nonstop rain right over the top of this national crisis, the claustrophobia of being shut in, and the need to get outside was beginning to take its toll on my disposition.

Today, however, was the opposite. I was outside from just after daybreak til just after dark, and it was delicious.

Mowed everything, weeded beds, turned the compost – spring is here (or close enough to feel like it today). I also had a little fun with last year’s grapevine pruning: made a little wreath to add to the garden gate.

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Friday, Mar 27. Day 12

Now that the grass is mowed, I have picked out the space for my new coop.

Here’s how it started:

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And here’s how it ended:

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My little guys are so happy!

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It will take a couple of days of training them to use the ramp. So several times a day, I crawl in there and put them up in the brooder, then push gently urge them down the ramp.

 

Saturday, Mar 28. Day 13

And on Day 13, my honey came home.

My partner has been working in DC, and the company for whom he has been consulting has finally cut everyone loose to go home. They’ve been observing safety protocol, but nothing’s as good as sending everyone HOME.

It resets my calendar back to Day 1 for the incubation period (although not for the distancing ticker), but I’ll take it. We’ll hunker down together here on the farm for the duration. So glad to have my lovey back.

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Sunday, Mar 29. Day 14

Today’s weather was stunning. Warm and sunny, birds singing, grass growing – you’d never know there is a global pandemic. Eliott spent the day walking around the farm, getting reacquainted with all the animals, looking at my projects – my amateur fence-building skills, the coop, and a little home repair I’d done in his absence.

We had a delicious dinner al fresco – he grilled the steaks, and I baked the mac n cheese (faux, cauliflower version).

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Not a bad week. All the kids and partners seem to be managing, and my parents are complying with all the new rules down in Georgia. I am grateful beyond words to have a warm dry house on a lively little farm to endure this challenging time.

Thanks for reading.

Social distancing. Week 1.

Wow, a blog post about our national crisis! What a completely new and different thing!

Initially, this was just for me. A place to write down all the feels and emotions and fears. I’m not an intensely private person, and I recognized there might come a time when I would share it. This is all about the therapeutic effect writing has for me, but I’ve decided to share some of what I’m journaling about.

 

Tuesday, March 17. Day 1

Today I drove from Washington, DC to Murfreesboro to begin my sequestration. I headed out last week for a speaking engagement at ETSU, then traveling on for a quick visit to my honey who is working a consulting gig in DC. The situation got more serious by the day, so I cut my visit short when it became apparent that this was not going away any time soon. I can leave my farm for a few days at a time, but I couldn’t stay the duration with my sweetheart.
I stopped at my Publix coming into my town to get isolation supplies and a few groceries. I was surprised to see how busy the store was, considering how locked down DC had felt as I left. I was able to get most of what I needed for a couple of weeks of staying at home.
This means that I’m isolating alone (kind of redundant). I’ve always enjoyed solitude, but I recognize the challenge this will be.

 

Wednesday, March 18. Day 2

I’ve been here before. Not with the added layer of a severe national crisis that might affect life on this planet as we know it, but you know. When I studied for the Bar in 2015, I spent 3 months is mostly self-isolation. I was living alone, I studied 8 hours a day with breaks for food, exercise, and relaxation, but only 1/2 day per week socializing with friends in town. This feels a lot like that, but I was so singularly focused on study, I wasn’t really feeling the effects of the isolation.

I’m ready to permanently relocate to the Pacific Northwest, to be nearer to my adult children. It was my plan to put my farm on the market on April 1. Not so fast, I guess. So while I’ve been trying to prepare for the move: I’ve gotten rid of my longhorn cattle, and am still working to rehome my donkeys and goats, I’m reversing some of that.

Freethought Farm stays As Is for the time being, and I ventured out today for a dozen baby chicks. The store agreed on the phone to bring them and the feed to the car, so contact was limited. I’ve ordered a new coop online, since in my preparation I’d given away my old one to a neighbor.

Now these little peepers are keeping me entertained, reminding me of the continuity of life, and will be laying by August.

 

Thursday, March 19. Day 3

Today I drew up some guidelines. Suggestions. Parlay.

A dear friend, mentor, and psychologist recently shared a video with words of encouragement and education. I’ve added to and tweaked some of his suggestions to keep me grounded in the days to come.

It’s a work in progress, but it felt good to write it out, and gives me goals to achieve every day. I’ll repost the shot as I add more items that help me. Don’t ask me if I’m adding a color-coded checkmark to my schedule every day unless you want the answer.

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Friday, March 20. Day 4

Today I changed my strategy, and it was a tough day. I had initially planned on making a once-a-week foray into town to get groceries, and anything else I needed. I could practice good 6-ft technique, limit my exposure, all that. I have a car that is due for emissions testing/registration, a check to deposit, a package to mail.

Now I’ve decided not to do that. I can have grocery delivery. I’m going to let the cars expire (won’t be driving them anyway, and I’ll take the ticket or fine or whatever). I’ll mail the check and hold off on the package. I’m not standing in judgment of anyone who does otherwise – my own beloved partner is still working in DC, my son and son-in-love are still working on-site, and probably will continue to for the time being. But since I can accommodate those tasks without leaving the house, I am.

Right now, the next thing I’d really like to have is some vegetables for my garden. The nursery I use is open-air, and around April 15, I’d like to get some tomatoes and peppers and squash. Something that would have been routine and trivial has now become a Big Upcoming Event. Stay tuned.

Saturday, March 21. Day 5

I can’t stress enough how grateful I am a) that I live on a farm and b) that it’s spring. Both of these things are helping tremendously in filling my days with productivity. The video below is a combination of both of those things:

 

Her name is Corona. ❤

 

Sunday, March 22. Day 6

This is the best day of the week. This is the day I Zoom with the Fam. I missed catching my grandson in the screen grab, b/c he had to dash out to go snowmobiling with his grandpa before dark. Notice the ChickCam in the upper right.
The kids are all isolating in their homes with their partners/roommates. We all share the same anxiety about the situation, but generally everyone is prepared to hunker down for a while. This 90 minutes has become the most important 90 minutes of my week. Grateful beyond words for technology that will sustain us through this crisis.

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My first week has been an evolving adjustment. I’m moving toward acceptance that this is going to be longer than just a couple of weeks. One of my Guidelines is to set realistic expectations, and then adjust them with new information. That’s what this timeline blog will be about.

I’ll try to post regularly on Mondays, as it helps me to anchor to a schedule and some semblance of structure. If you’re journaling too, or have a blog about your experiences with this strange new world, please share it in the comments.

Thank you for reading, and staying connected, even if just electronically. We have so much to learn.

 

Good fences and all that

With everything in our nation being as serious as I have ever known it in my lifetime, here’s a little lighthearted DIY about a simple fence.

I live on a little farm in middle Tennessee. 8 acres, with a pond, a couple of barns, pastures, and a huge yard. Lots of room to breathe and roam and spread out. Neighbors just near enough and far enough away. Hard to believe that as much as I love it that I intend to put it on the market for sale this spring. Moving to the PNW to be nearer to my 4 adult children, but that’s a blog for another day.

Anyway, with all of that space, wouldn’t you just know that my favorite place to have coffee or a sunset cocktail backs up to precisely where my nearest neighbors like to have THEIR coffee and sunset cocktail.

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I’ve needed for a long time to put up a little semi-private barrier between our yards. It’s not so bad in summer, when all the leaves on the trees fill in and create a visual and noise filter. But in winter. Yikes. No cover at all. Hidee-ho, neighbor.

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My partner is off on a consult in Washington DC for a few months, so I’m left to my own devices. I’d love to have this ready for when he gets home and we can have our coffee on the deck in our jammies on a warm spring morning.

Phase I: the planning. The 40′ stretch actually has a fence, an old deteriorated chain link, with wobbly posts, and overgrown with vines and trees. I’ve got to see if I can clear out enough brush and vine to put up a straight length of fence.

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All that gotta go
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All that gotta go from another angle.
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What’s a farm story without a dog?
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Or two.

Phase II: The clearing. Clippers. Chain Saw. Hand Saw. Shovel. Rake. Wheelbarrow.

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Damn you, old vine elbow that protrudes into my line! And is grown INTO the chain link. MOAR CHAIN SAW!
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*sigh* And again. Chainsawing dirt is good for the blade.
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Seriously. Such a helper.
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Some removal was too tight for the chainsaw.
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What’s a fence-building story without a stuck chainsaw? I know this is out of sequence, because it’s after the stock panels are up. I thought I could get away with leaving this one up. Nope.

Phase III: Set t-posts. I’ve decided on an unconventional, shortcut version of my fence. I’m going to construct it of t-posts, stock panels, 1″x4″x8′ uprights, and 4’x8′ lattice panels. Semi-private, but not rude or anti-social. Privacy lite.

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Don’t be hatin my old pos farm truck!

Phase IV: Run the stock panels. This will serve as the framework for the uprights and the lattice panels. Attach to the t-posts with a little clippy, easy peasy quick and squeezy.

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Laid in, but not clipped. It gets straighter, I promise.
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Because none of us can give them enough of our money

Phase V: Attach the uprights. This ended up being the trickiest of all the tasks, because I’m attaching the uprights to the stock panels with poultry-netting staples,  small u-shaped nails which have to be hammered into the back, reaching over the top of the stock panel, and with only inches to hammer between the panel and the old chain link.

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Hard to see, but the space between the old fence and the new is about 8 inches. Plenty of room to swing a hammer.
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Here’s a better view.

Final Phase: Set the panels, and watch it grow! This was the most dramatic of the phases, and also the fastest and easiest! Sometimes I joke that Freethought Farm has a second nickname: ZipTie Acres. Those little suckers are handy! I’ll admit if you come see my fence, if you look closely, you’ll see a ziptie or two.

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Suh. Weet. Every time.
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It’s happening!
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A little precision detail work…

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Halfway there.
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Almost done.

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How I Spent My Superbowl Sunday.

Now for an icy mule as I sit and enjoy my deck, now with extra solitude.

I’ll come back and post photos of the mandevilla or jasmine I’ll plant after it vines and blooms.

Thanks for reading!

RfR Fall Excursion 2019

The peace, comfort, and happiness I saw on so many faces was the truest and most profound gift to me. Thank you, my friends.

 

The cliche´ “everyone has a story,” was never more true than it was at the First Annual Recovering from Religion Excursion. We had ’em and we told ’em. For many it was cathartic.

 

Another memorable moment occurred on our last night together.  A group of us, accompanied by three wonderful guitar players were singing our lungs and I suspect, our hearts, out.  We were in fine form.  As someone who loves music, I know! One of our group became emotional.  I saw the early stages.  The song?  A personal memory?  I felt it best to leave him alone in his thoughts.

Then, although fighting it, he began to cry. I later learned that the Christian Matrix had dictated that only certain music, played a certain way, was appropriate.  This person chaffed at the restrictions and eventually “lost” his music.This very night, at this very moment, we witnessed him finding “his music” again.  Part of his freedom to be “ME.” What an extraordinary experience.  Would that it be more common for more people.

Having just returned from the first-ever Recovering from Religion Fall Excursion, I am reflecting on the experience in all of its experimental glory. One year ago, we asked: What if we built a religion recovery event around a weekend, in a retreat setting, with therapists and volunteers available, with timely topics related to morality, sexuality, and  community, post-religion? Would people attend? Could we build a structure that would be helpful, welcoming, and affirming?

Boy, did we get answers. What a profound, refreshing, and at the risk of sounding overly-dramatic, life-changing event this was.

The setting: the cool mountains of North Carolina in cozy lodges;

the agenda: to create a peaceful space for sharing stories and nurturing friendships;

the presentations: deep dives into religious intrusion and human vulnerability;

the objective: to provide hope and healing to those struggling with doubt and nonbelief;

all came together to create an experience that was greater than the sum of its parts.

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On a beautiful fall Friday afternoon in September, where the table was both figuratively and literally set, attendees began arriving: by plane and automobile, checking into cabins, meeting one another, exploring the retreat grounds with its ponds, waterfalls, and bonfire rings. Informal chats began, with the common thread being a history of exposure to religious dogma and indoctrination. Couples, parent and adult child, singles, friends – all working through the awkward first moments of introduction, melting immediately into comfortable conversation, and a tangible sensation of relaxation and acceptance that this was a warm and affirming space to share.

The announcement at the opening about limiting screen time to enhance the weekend was unnecessary – no one wanted to miss a moment. Email, texts, and social media lost their position of priority for a few short days.

The weekend included informative presentations (Why are we vulnerable to accepting unsubstantiated beliefs? How do we reclaim our sexuality? Why do irrational fears of a tortuous afterlife imbed into our brains? How can we live a happy healthy nonreligious life?),

a hike on a small portion of the Appalachian Trail,

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guided meditation,

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loads of carefully-prepared and beautifully-presented food and snacks,

joyful and hilarious karaoke with our very own Mandisa,

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and loads and loads of sharing, talking, laughing, and hugging.

 

And then, just like that, it was over. It was time to return to our busy lives. The simplicity of that reality belied the progress so many had made. We were not sure when we planned this event where on the spectrum of belief our guests would fall. My conclusion was: almost all of our new friends had done the difficult academic work of examining their religious beliefs, found them wanting from lack of evidence, and discarded them. However, many of them, as do many former believers, had gotten stuck right there. Coming out to one’s family and loved ones, finding and building a community of freethinking friends, deliberating and creating a humanism-based morality were all significant tasks that lay ahead.

It is our deepest hope, as we gave yet another round of goodbye hugs, exchanged contact information, and headed off for all points of the compass, that our guests will return to their lives inspired, informed, and energized to continue rebuilding their lives, free from dogma, cognizant of the relics of indoctrination, and as said by Robert Ingersoll, to stand “erect and fearlessly, joyously, face all worlds.”

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To the donors who provided the means,

To Shanon who had the seed of the idea, nurtured the growth, and brought it to life,

To the volunteers who gave of their time and effort,

and mostly to the guests who leaned in and opened up and embraced the offering,

our deepest gratitude.

 

 

CAC Test

Welcome back! Apologies for not staying on my one-post-a-week track.

In review, I’m training for my 4th Iron-distance race. This time I’m doing it fat-fueled. I eat what is known as the keto diet, a low-carb/moderate-protein/high-fat diet. I incorporate Intermittent Fasting (IF), in the form of Alternate Day Fasting (ADF), Time-Restricted Eating (TRE), and Extended Fasting (EF).

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Because this is an experimental, n=1 adventure, I spend a lot of time reading, listening to podcasts, attending conferences, etc. In and amongst that learning, I’ve been hearing a lot of encouragement to have a Coronary Artery Calcium test performed. CAC. I hadn’t heard of this test before now, but I set about researching it.

The test is known as the coronary artery calcium (CACtest. It is performed by taking an ultrafast computerized tomogram (CT) scan of your chest. … The CAC test measures the amount of calcium that has built up along the inner wall of the coronary arteries in your heart.

Have I learned a truckload! There is an entire documentary about this diagnostic test. I’m not one for conspiracy theory, but if I ever were to lean into one, this might be it. This test reveals the single most relevant factor in your likelihood for a heart attack. (Here. Here. And here.) It’s cheap, non-invasive, painless, and quick. Most insurance doesn’t cover it. Mine didn’t. Eliott’s didn’t – and his is Medicare. Eyeroll level infinity.

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This test reveals whether you have blockages in your coronary arteries: both plaque – soft and squishy, and calcium – older and harder deposits. The vessels that are scanned in this test are the vessels that supply the heart, which means if you are to have a heart attack due to insufficiency here, the heart itself begins to collapse, earning this type of heart attack the nickname Widowmaker.

The higher your calcium score, thus the more your arteries are blocked, the greater risk you are at of having a cardiac event.

I found a facility in my town who will perform the test without a referral. Very cheaply. Make an appointment, pay your $50, lie in the CT tube 5 minutes, come back in 2 days for your results.

I am proud and delighted to report our scores.

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None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Keep in mind my diet is loaded with saturated fats – butter, fatty meats, full-fat dairy, and coconut oil. Eliott’s score was a 15, and he’ll be 69 next Friday. Here’s the interpretation:

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I think what this means is that we are much more likely to be hit by a dump truck while we’re out on the rural roads riding our bikes than we are to have heart attacks. Wahwah.

Next tests we want to do are a series of blood work – cholesterol, triglycerides, etc. We’ll post here as we journey through our experiment.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

The annual 7-day fast

By the time I post this, it will be over.

Before you even ask, at the end of this post is a link dump to some of the research supporting a periodic, extended fast for cancer prevention. Read these at your leisure – I tried to supply a mix of scientific papers with more accessible articles and interviews.

In August of 2018, when the honey and I first began to discover the benefits of fasting (IF: intermittent fasting, EF: extended fasting, TRE: time-restricted eating, ADF: alternate day fasting), we embarked on a 7-day fast. We opted to include coffee with butter/cream and coconut oil, and bone broth. We have since learned that the protein in the bone broth might diminish the effect of fasting, and of course the calories in the coffee prevented it from being a true, zero-calorie fast.

Another year has rolled by, and we have just completed what we now see as our annual 7-day fast. We mixed in some water only days with coffee-with-cream days.

Since this post is already link-heavy, I will simply describe what our experience was like, and will leave our regular fasting schedule, and the science behind it, for another day.

Day 1 – We fast regularly one day per week. In the fasting universe, this is referenced by how many hours are spent fasting.. For example, our usual pattern is one 42-hour fast per week. That means dinner on a Monday around 6, fasting on Tuesday, and eating again on Wednesday, midday. So today is no different than what we’ve been doing for over a year. Are we hungry? Comes and goes. We stay busy, stay hydrated, and think about what we’d like to break our fast with.

Day 2 – A good day at Freethought Farm. We stayed busy with tasks and didn’t feel too much hunger. I had a lovely walk on the Greenway with a bestie who is also a faster, so we enjoyed talking about what we’re each learning about fasting and nutrition. We had electrolytes and an abundance of water.

Day 3 – This seems to be the day for most fasters that it gets a little easier, and that is true for us too. Hunger comes in waves, so we drink a little water, go for a walk, make a phone call, etc, and the sensation passes. It’s not cumulative – we don’t feel hungrier and hungrier and hungrier.

Day 4 – If you research intermittent fasting at all, an important component of every plan includes consuming electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium. We have both a homemade recipe, and commercial drops we use in water. Especially when you add in outdoor exercise in the heat, replacing electrolytes is absolutely critical.

Day 5 – Now we’re beginning to think about what we’ll eat to break the fast. We have a list of things we get hungry for (sometimes that helps when you get a little obsess-y thinking about food). It also helps for us to review the books and blogs I have posted below, and to visit a couple of Facebook pages we follow for inspirational stories from other people who incorporate the keto and IF lifestyle.

Day 6 – Almost there. Our sleep has improved, as have the other markers we measure daily – blood pressure, ketones, weight, mood, energy, performance, focus. We measure this whether we’re fasting or not, so it gives us the opportunity to compare. We have continued our regular workout schedule (6x week), and have recorded our results for those as well.

Day 7 – We made it! We don’t plan to do this again until next year. We are excited about breaking our fast, we both feel mildly euphoric (unless that’s an oxymoron), and looking forward to eating!

Breaking the Fast: We began with a small salad, then progressed to a medium rare ribeye with roasted broccoli and every bite was better than the one before. We’re glad not to do it again for another year, but we like what the exercise of extended fasting does for our appetite, our patience, our enjoyment of food, and potentially, our long-term health.

 

UCSF Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Unlike CR, fasting induces changes associated with cellular protection to actually protect against weight loss initially and increases protection from oxidative stress.  Fasting results in a more significant drop in insulin levels, as well as an increase in insulin sensitivity in a shorter amount of time compared to CR.  Given that insulin levels play a role in cancer risk, these differences are potentially clinically important.

 

Podcast: The Quantified Body, with Dr. Thomas Seyfried, author of Cancer as a Metabolic Disease

All cancers can be linked to impaired mitochondrial function and energy metabolism. It’s not a nuclear genetic disease. It’s a mitochondrial metabolic disease… therapeutic ketosis can enhance mitochondrial function for some conditions, and can kill tumor cells.

 

Confessions of a Supply-Side Liberal, Miles Kimball, Eaton Chair of Economics, CU Boulder

If I were ever diagnosed with cancer, the first thing I would do would be to begin fasting immediately; my hope would be to slow down the progress of the cancer during the time it took to develop a more conventional treatment strategy for my cancer. I would also do my best to try to convince my cancer doctor to read Thomas Seyfried’s book in the hope my cancer doctor might get some good ideas for improving the treatment strategy.

 

Fasting Cycles Retard Growth of Tumors and Sensitize a Range of Cancer Cell Types to Chemotherapy

This is a link to the paper itself, and I didn’t want to pull a quote from the research, but here is part of the abstract:

The therapeutic potential of fasting would be even greater if it also increased the death of cancer cells. Here, we tested this possibility by studying the effect of fasting on cancer cell survival in the presence or absence of chemotherapeutic agents.

 

Interview with Dr. Jason Fung, author of The Complete Guide to Fasting

Apoptosis, which is also known as “programmed cell death”, is when cells commit suicide. It sounds kind of macabre, but it’s essential for good health. The cells of the body are like cars. When they get too old to be repaired they need to be destroyed to make way for healthy new cells – up to 70 billion every day. Not all cars need to be scrapped, though. Sometimes you can replace the parts, and this is where autophagy kicks in. The word derives from the Greek ‘auto’ (self) and ‘phagein’ (to eat), so literally means ‘to eat oneself.’ It’s when a cell doesn’t die, but replaces the worn out ‘sub-cellular’ parts with new ones. Autophagy is a form of cleansing: the process of breaking down and recycling cellular components when there’s no longer enough energy to sustain them. Once all the broken-down parts have been cleansed, new tissues and cells are built to replace the old ones. So, our bodies are in a constant state of renewal, but when these processes are hijacked, unwanted cellular bits build up and diseases such as cancer occur. Increased levels of glucose, insulin and proteins all turn off autophagy, and it doesn’t take much. Even as little as three grams of the amino acid leucine can stop it. But fasting turns these cleaning mechanisms on.

 

Fasting-like diet turns the immune system against cancer

“It may be that by always being exposed to so much food, we are no longer taking advantage of natural protective systems which allow the body to kill cancer cells,” Longo said. “But by undergoing a fasting-mimicking diet, you are able to let the body use sophisticated mechanisms able to identify and destroy the bad but not good cells in a natural way.”

 

Fasting and Caloric Restriction in Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Whereas chronic CR provides both beneficial and detrimental effects as well as major compliance challenges, periodic fasting (PF), fasting-mimicking diets (FMDs), and dietary restriction (DR) without a reduction in calories are emerging as interventions with the potential to be widely used to prevent and treat cancer.

Next post: We both had the Coronary Artery Calcium scan, which might be the most important indicator for heart health. Stay tuned for our results!

Thanks for reading!

Workouts

This will be a fun post!

No, seriously. We’re having the best time.

To review, I’m shooting for an Iron-distance race in 2019 or 2020. This summer’s goals are a sprint race or two, and an Olympic distance (double the sprint length). And I’m planning to do it as a keto-fed, fat-burning, intermittent-fasting machine.

My workouts are built around the progressive training that incorporates all 3 sports. If you Google Triathlon Training, you’ll find dozens of plans, and there are trainers everywhere who are capable of taking you to that level.

I’ve trained for and participated in 3 Iron-distance races, each time with a little different training schedule. This time I’m building my own. Keep in mind I’m not competitive, which just means that my goal is to finish, and suffer as little as possible, not to establish any records or win any awards. (Although this is funny – I’ve won my division in this race before because no one else was in my category!)

Here’s what my training looks like:

Every week, on Sunday, I plan my workouts (and food) for the week. I have to work around the weather (bike rides), the lap lanes at the pool, my work schedule, social events, etc. And I have to stay flexible when life happens and scuttle the whole week and start over sometimes.

With a tweak in length/distances from week to week, this is what I schedule each week (blog posts to come about each session):

Two 45-minute full body strength training exercises

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Not me

 

One tabata sprinting session

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Not me.

 

One bike ride

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Me

 

One swim session

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Not me

 

Two walk/runs

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Me. And my honey.

 

One brick (2-sport workout like swim/bike or bike/run) or one long bike ride or run

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Tri humor. Try humor?

 

One rest day

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Definitely me

You can see that there are days when I have to have 2 workouts to fit them in to the week: strength training and swim in one day, sprints and walk/run in one day, for example.

Right now, these workouts are little more than 30-minute sessions each. As I build, some will become longer (although some, like the strength training, will stay 30-45 minute sessions).

Additionally, these are simplifications of what I’m actually doing in the workout. If I were to drill down, for example, in the 30-minute swim sessions, it would reveal that I’m working on form, sprinting, technique, breathing, etc. Then I’ll add open-water swims to the basic schedule. I’ll write posts further detailing each of these as I go.

There’s the overview. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have equal parts structure and flexibility: without both, I’d never get the workouts done. The least worrisome part is what occurs within the workout time – getting there is more than half the battle.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more news about Iron Training 4.0!

 

 

 

 

We Tri Together.

There are those days.

Those days that have so much meaning, so much joy.

Today was one of those days.

I’ve blogged about racing with my kids. (Amy, Sam). I’ve tried to express what it means to me to have the children take an interest in what I do, to the point of training for, and competing in an endurance event.

Today was the icing.

Today I completed a triathlon relay with my honey and my grandson.

I recently blogged about a race that my grandson attended and cheered me on, and expressed an interest in joining me. We found a race that worked with our schedule.

Today was that day.

Most triathlons allow for a relay team to participate in the 3 sports: Swimming, Cycling, and Running.

The Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon is a popular, long-standing race in the Tennessee area. While Chattanooga is relatively close to Murfreesboro, it made more sense for us to go a day ahead, stay in a hotel, and be ready for the 4:30am wake-up alarm.

We divvied up the legs like this: Gammy on the swim, Eliott on the bike, and Aden as anchorman on the run. It’s a Sprint distance, so not too taxing.

Before I can get to the 4:30am wakeup call, we need to review a little race prep.

I’ve posted here that I’m in training for an Iron-distance triathlon in 2019 or 2020. I’ve posted about my training and nutrition, and I’ll post more as I do a deep dive into each sub-topic.

This race, however, was relatively chill. Short, fast, no pressure. Me in the water (400-yd swim), Eliott on the bike (14m), and Aden bringing us home (3m).

But it was the first opportunity for us to participate together, as a team, in a relay.

So off we head to Chattanooga.

First stop, Team check-in.

We get bibs, bike numbers, swim cap, the usual. Weather threatened a bit, but didn’t muck up the whole affair. We stayed in a sexy hotel, The Chattanoogan, in a beautiful room that was comfortable and convenient.

Eliott and I implemented a 42-hour fast beginning with dinner Friday night, and ending at lunch on race day. All kinds of posts to come about that.

Our resident 14-year-old opted to fuel his race a little differently:

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Here’s his choice for night-prior dinner – bacon double cheeseburger, french fries, and Mountain Dew. You can see my and Eliott’s lemon, salt, and water shots.

Then to an early bedtime, with this snackage happening in the bed next to ours:

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Allow me to describe:

a couple of ziplocks of the prior’s day Krispy Kreme donuts

peanut M & Ms

his greasy bag of leftover burger and french fries from 5 Guys

sweet tea

Frito Honey BBQ corn chips

Haribo gummies

Hershey’s kisses from the desk check-in bowl

Digestion of steel. Whatever.

The next morning brings a 4:30am alarm to get down to the race site.

65198986_10219387139890064_8447122106159726592_nGammy has the first leg, so this means a pretty brisk 6:45a jump into the Tennessee River.

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My unsure-about-this-non-wetsuit-legal-water-temperature face.

This is a sprint triathlon – the shortest 3-sport race you can participate in. And short it was.

6 and one-half minutes later, I’m out of the water.

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Notice it’s a couple of minutes PAST sunrise.

Then it’s time to put the timing anklet on our bike leg racer.

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And off he goes

After a blistering 14 miles, we have one more exchange to go.

Our anchorman, grandson Aden, 14, takes off out of the chute, and reappears before 9am:

Who in the HELL is doing this hideous camera work?

Anyhoo, a fabulous day out on the circuit with my honey and my grand.

And if you wonder if we ever indulge and eat anything besides meat and vegetables, the answer is yes.

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Breakfast of insulin champions
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This ain’t keto.

All in all, a wonderful day. What a joy and an honor and a privilege to get to watch this boy experience the delight that is triathlon.

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Yes we do. Yes, we do.

Thanks for reading.

Food first.

What is keto? I can’t begin to blog about my training without beginning with nutrition.

I know I’m going to bungle this, but I’ve always believed if you can’t clearly articulate a basic understanding of The Thing*, you don’t have a full understanding of it. So here goes my extreme layperson version:

When we eat food, our bodies begins a series of chain reactions to process the food that goes into our stomach. One of those reactions is to deal with the rise in our blood sugar (blood glucose) that occurs when we eat certain foods. Carbohydrates raise blood sugar a lot, protein raises it a little, and fat raises it almost not at all. Our meals and snacks are usually a combination of all 3 of those macronutrients, and acids and enzymes go to work breaking down the food during digestion.

Our bodies carefully monitor the sugar that is in our blood, and it has some choices about how to maintain the level it wants. Our pancreas secretes insulin, which directs the body to put a certain amount of the glucose into our muscle cells, and when those are replenished, the rest gets stored in the liver and fat cells for later use.

A keto diet is a low carb, high fat diet that results in lower insulin levels. A consistent reduction in carbohydrates results in your body going into a metabolic state known as ketosis. This means that the body burns fat instead of glucose, because a) there’s limited glucose to burn, b) there’s plenty of fat available, and c) the fat storage hormone insulin is low enough for our bodies to access the fat in all of our jiggly fat cells. The fat we burn can come from what’s on our plate or what’s on our body.

The fewer carbs that we eat, the more consistently we can reduce our insulin response, and the more we become fat-burners instead of glucose burners.

This is far too simplistic an explanation to describe the many components, down to the cellular level, that are active in our organic, self-replicating bodies.

We humans have the ability to burn sugar or fat. As long as we restrict the sugars/carbs going in, our body is forced to seek sources of energy elsewhere. Not only does this give us a steady stream of energy (even lean folks have enough body fat to fuel for hours), we don’t experience crazy hunger surges. We can only store so much glucose in our blood and in our muscles, and once that’s depleted, and insulin is low, the body resorts to burning fat for energy.

There are some great analogies that help us picture what is happening when we are fat-burners instead of sugar burners.

Here’s Dr. Jason Fung on his fridge-in-the-kitchen/freezer-in-the-basement analogy (video version). And this is it in blog form.

There’s another illustration that describes switching from a sugar-burner to a fat-burner is similar to reworking a mechanical engine to burn a different type of fuel.

I’ve also read another comparing burning sugar to burning twigs and leaves, and burning fat is a big log on a nicely-banked bed of coals.

At some point all of these analogies collapse, as analogies do, but you get the general idea, and maybe one of these would be helpful.

I think my explanation was a little messy and wordy. You would be much better served hitting up a few good Google search links to get a more comprehensive understanding of ketosis and the ketogenic diet. Both of the following are awesome, but heavy on the science:

This site is called ketoschool:

The concentration of glucose in your blood is the critical upstream switch that places your body into a “fat-storing” or “fat-burning” state.

This site/blog is among my favorite: Virta Health  – it’s LOADED with good information and clear science.

I’ll post more extensively soon about what I specifically eat, but it’s pretty simple: meat, fat, dairy, eggs, nuts, and low-carb vegetables.

I don’t want to finish without adding this little thought: I’ve been working on understanding nutrition science for years. I’ve experimented with paleo, primal, and all the buzzwords in this category. It’s taken me a while to get it all dialed in, and I’m still tweaking and learning.

I’ll also write a post soon about what I would suggest if you are just starting out, because this way of eating (WOE) is so drastically different than the standard American diet (SAD), I think it would be overwhelming to jump from SAD to keto.

I’ll repeat my disclaimer here that I fully embrace that there is more than one way to skin that proverbial cat. This is what has been working for me and my body and my training.

Thanks for reading.

*This works with financial investments, studying for the Bar Exam, defending your non-evidenced beliefs, and explaining your politics. 😉

 

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