Fasting [A Rant]

I had a slight knee injury last week, which means I couldn’t do all the fun stuff I love to do on my free time (climb, bike, run). So I decided to kick something off my bucket list: fasting. I had no solid food for 4 days. And only juice for the first and last days.

Note: I will never water fast again. At least voluntarily…..

It’s not the hunger; that’s the easiest part. And it wasn’t the bad breath, strong case or BO, or excessive oily perspiration. And I did get mild headaches and weird aches in random locations on my body

It was the feeling of physical weakness. People in favor of fasting would probably say it’s just mental. But when you raise an arm for 30 seconds and it starts to feel like it’s full of pin needles when you bring it back down. The weird feeling in your intestines, where food blockage may be occurring (because there’s no other food pushing it through). And when you lie there, 40 hours into no caloric consumption and your muscles start to shiver like a cramp is on its way……

You feel the odd presence of your body…….slowly eating itself from the inside out.

What exactly happens during a fast is kind of up for debate. There are medical professionals from both sides describing the helpful and harmful effects of such a practice. So I’ll just rant about my personal opinions of what could possibly be happening (with a help of a Human Anatomy & Physiology book, by Elaine Marieb and Katja Hoehn).

I know it’s not pure truth. But if there’s already tens of thousands of websites already posting their ideas and opinions of food intake, or lack of, then one more wouldn’t hurt. At least I’m throwing my disclaimer out there.

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On a typical day, I eat food. Three to five times a day.

Eggs for breakfast, some pre-lunch nuts, a lunch of carrots and hummus, a light pre-supper of yogurt or an energy bar, and a late post exercise supper of vegetables and chicken (or tofu if I don’t have anything fresh).

My body will typically absorb the useful stuff and convert them to glucose and glycerol. We typically use these molecules to create high-energy particles called ATP (via the Krebs cycle) which are used for …..everything. If you’ve ever taken a biochemistry class, there are A LOT of breakdown pathways for a variety of compounds, and a lot of enzymes to facilitate these processes.

What you don’t use tgets stored. Typically, my body will start making glycogen from the excess glucose. It’s easier to store and breakdown when needed. Nice and tucked within various tissues, like skeletal muscles. But we don’t need much of it. S whatever glucose (and family) is left will be stored into fat.

Ironically, when we consume fat, it doesn’t go straight from our intestines to our white adipose tissue (fat cells) without going some sort of transformation. The majority of it all started out as broken down form of glucose, glycerol, or a modified triglyceride.

Additionally, our stored fat is constantly being broken down, re-released into the blood, and then re-absorbed back into the tissue after making a few laps in the body via the bloodstream. My text literally states “that bulge of fatty tissue you see today does not contain the same fat molecules it did a month ago.”

So when you stop eating, things start to change over time. The body continues as normal, depending on how much glucose/glycerol is in your blood. But after about half a day, it realizes that……….it should start setting some priorities.

Priority #1, your brain!

Glucose sparing. That’s what the textbook calls it. The free glucose energy in your blood is reserved for your brain to maintain your capability to move around, find food, and stay alive (well…..if you aren’t choosing to starve yourself). Most of other tissues switch to alternative energy sources.

And yes, this is when your organs and muscles start to burn more fat for fuel. Lypolysis is the academic term. And typically it needs a compound (oxaloacetic acid) to do it cleanly. But when you are water fasting, there isn’t much of it to go around (it’s being consumed by that ever-so-important brain). So……..it just haphazardly shreds it through ketogenesis. The result is a variety of “aromatic” compounds which makes your breath smell,  armpits reeks, and piss quite pungent (even though you didn’t eat asparagus….or anything).

If we solely relied on fat breakdown (in this fashion), the body would suffer “metabolic acidosis.” The blood pH would dangerously drop, lots of bad things would happen (proteins and nerves would fail), and we would die ….. nuff said.

Fat cells also store a variety of compounds, including necessary vitamins. But I believe they can store a lot of weird molecules. When your body digs into these reserves, they ultimately come out as a consequence (and not very pleasantly). I would like to think that my fast allowed for some “fat cell cleansing” during my experience. My mouth did taste a little “metallic.”And it makes sense.

For example. Tuna is known to be a source of high concentrations of mercury. This is due to the accumulation from living a carnivorous lifestyle. By staying old and consuming a lot of smaller fish, it tends to hold all the heavy metals from digested prey until something else eats it (like you). And then we accumulate those heavy metals.

It’s like an attic in a house. We put stuff there we don’t want to (or easily can’t) throw out. And we don’t go up to the attic and routinely organize and clean it out. We’d rather leave it be, unless something forces us to go through the clutter. Like moving. Or a wasp’s nest….

Because ketogenesis is so unfavorable, the body will acquire energy through other means. The body will start ripping your muscle fibers apart for metabolic requirements. It’s easier to do, a lot less messy, and you get more energy/weight out of it. And this will happen a lot more after 24 hours of fasting. By that time, my body didn’t seem to smell as bad, but it’s when the physical reminders of “weakness” started to emerge.

This is why some have praised the idea of intermittent fasting. Where you only eat in an 8 hour window each day, so there’s that 16 hour window to induce fat breakdown, without digesting too much muscle fiber content.

Surprise, a study telling you to NOT eat breakfast!

If fasting still continues, somewhere after three days the body starts to digest just about everything else. By that time, there’s not much glucose left to spare and the brain starts eating other things (like them nasty ketones), making your head hurt more than it already did. There are still priorities; the brain is definitely not going to eat itself away. But once the body eats away at something (like your heart, or kidney, or your soul), it fails and death occurs.

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I do enjoy juice fasting. Taking in a small amount of glucose and protein. It allows me to realize that disconnect between needing substance and “being hungry.” A reminder to me what my body is actually telling me.

But I did obtain my strenuous fast experience (even though I wasn’t hungry at all during my water fast days), and I’m hoping that my physical build wasn’t impacted that much. I also did lose 12 lbs in 4 days (mostly water and salt), which I’ll slowly gain back in the next month or so. And I’m fine with that.

But for now, I’ll work on not how how my body looks………but what I can do with it.

 

Note: I kind of have a similar reaction with the level of attraction I have with women. I never did get that “boobs or butt” preference thing. If they can hike with me 600 m vertically up a mountain at an impressive pace, that’s a 10 in my book.

 

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The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People [Book Review]

When I think of career categories that make the most money, there are always three that come to mind. In third place, having an expertise in technology (computer science, physical scientist, and engineering) is highly valuable in the creation the large-margin profit goods in our ever-advancing economy. For second place, the people who handle money well (stocks, banks, treasuries) are paid kindly in return (with large stocks of money). You want to treat people kindly when they’re handling millions of your investments, unless you don’t mind NOT have millions anymore…..

But I truly believe that the most sought-after career skill is in effective organizational leadership and management. These are the CEOs and top executives, the program leaders and project managers, and large business owners. You can always buy equipment and materials, but improving your workforce’s functionality is a major endeavor. When a new employee is hired or a new company is acquired, additional time must be personally sacrificed to properly train the new acquisition. If done poorly or by only using quick fixes, supervisors are stuck active-supervising and micro-management duties. Deep training is required for a person/unit to function independently, to relieve leaders of “low-level” duties to allow time for “higher-level” practices. These activities could be acquiring more workers or companies, researching the optimal direction the company should take, and re-evaluating or even re-inventing the business as a whole in an ever-changing market.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, written by Stephen Covey, aims to teach those in that last category, or just about anyone, on building the necessary people skills in any environment.  This literature was first published in 1989, so it has been around for a while. The book has gain worldwide recognition, and there’s even a following of “further readings” to contribute to the fundamentals in this work.

Being a very popular book, I’ll try and just hit the highlights.

People are very sensitive beings, especially to each other. When we interact, we typically have a good grasp on sensing the motives of other people. That is due to the theory that how a person portrays her actions is strongly dependent on the characteristics of the individual. A person in a volunteering position will appear more generous if they aren’t internally looking for some sort of feedback, praise, recognition, and/or acceptance.

Thus, in order to be effective (not efficient) working with other members of society, one must first build on his own character. That’s the first half of the book: personal independence. To achieve this, the individual must 1) be pro-active with his actions and not worry about uncontrollable external factors, 2) decide what his ultimate goals are, and 3) learn to manage the time and resources available to best advance towards those goals.

While there are plenty of examples in the book, including career, family, and personal goals, there’s no specific checklist of “what has to be done.” This is up to the individual to decide for himself. I made my own personal statement today, and I realized that I had to think of a higher level accordingly. A level where there’s no mastery or completion, but a direction that I can keep progressing in. I realize that I don’t need an end, but an enjoyable journey to keep life fulfilling and interesting.

This is what I came up with, and I can see it slowly changing over the upcoming years:

Kruse_PersonalMissionStatement

With a strong independent foundation, one can then reap and sow the advantageous possibilities achievable with those around them. This is the main goal of the book; to acquire a healthy lifestyle of interdependence (not to be confused with dependence). Knowing how to how to work with others, even if they are quite different in character from you, to create a synergistic working environment that is more productive than what the individuals could accomplish independently.

But of course, every book in its own way is always trying to sell you something. Something different, something new. Whether it be a “quick fix” or a deep personal transformation to fix a problem you may have.

Sometimes an issue you have not even realized until “this book” came into your life. Does that ring any bells? Not going to lie, I myself have experienced that more than once.

Additionally, it’s interesting to look back on previous “personal help” books I’ve read and compare them to this work. Recently, I wrote a review on The Rationale Male, a work on inter-gender (male/female) interactions, which seemed to have some truths behind its long “rant” of a novel. While The 7 Habits focuses on empathy and synergy, The Rational Male seems to throw out interdependence, proclaiming a male’s success is based on his independence, becoming unperturbed and even incoherent of the input and actions from the “typical women” in order to maintain attraction.

But both books strongly picture the success that comes with a person’s ability to build and maintain their frame. Frame is a term to describe who you are and what you do based on your character. If you can do that, both works emphasize that this practice builds respect. People will take you seriously. You become a role model that people want to follow and become. You act on your environment instead of being acted upon. In other words, you can move the game pieces, instead of playing the role of the pawn.

I’d rather play the role of the king, which is the most protected and least likely piece to die. But that’s another rant….

This book is not the ultimate truth, of course. No one book is. But it is another tool that one can acquire knowledge or a potential habit (or more), if taken with an open mind, that may improve the quality of your lifestyle. Or at least an improvement in the way you see your surroundings. To see what goes wrong or what succeeds. And most importantly, why!

Learn the underlying workings of your life and surroundings, in order to effectively build on your sense of self-fulfillment in life, no matter what it is.

 

Note: It amazes me that Dr. Covey passed away a well-established man, while being able to successfully raise 9 kids (and each of those had an average of 5 kids as well….). The large family could be because of a strong religious background, which he STRONGLY hints at in the last page of the last chapter. And if you aren’t a fan of religion, don’t worry. It’s ONLY the last page; feel free to rip it out if its that distasteful to you…..