Thursday, February 21, 2008


I used to be young.

I used to be skinny.

I used to have lots of energy.

Luckily, to make up for this, I've always been ugly. But I'm still fat.

Fat is relative. People always argue with me when I say I'm overweight, or when I tell them how to pronounce my name. No, seriously. My name.

I thought I got to decide this one, but no. Likewise with weight. I now jiggle. Have jiggled for about 10 years, especially going down stairs. It's like wearing a vest. Maybe it will stop bullets, and maybe not, but it's a vest, and I wear it every day, all day. I sleep in it too.

The good news is that it's already paid for. A friend came up with that line. I like it. Solace is where you come upon it. My vest is paid for and can see me through a few weeks of famine. And you can hardly notice it under my clothes. So it's not all bad. It is sort of dimpled and wrinkly but overall fits well.

Washable too. Even tans itself. Has a little hair around the nipples.

So recently I started eating more fat. Sounds dumb, but it was a good move.

For years I tried getting by without eating any fat, or very little. Every one of those years I gained weight, except during two strenuous backpacking seasons. During the first season I lost about 20 pounds and had a jolly time putting the weight back on. The second season was a little too strenuous, too quickly, and it laid me low for a few weeks while the old bod readjusted after some serious trail stomping.

After deciding to eat more fat I felt better. Immediately. The first day.

I gorged for a while, then settled in. I found that I could eat smaller meals, spaced more widely apart, and also feel better. Better fed, more content, less often ravenous. More stable all around. I still got hungry, but not within seconds. I came on slowly and built slowly. More like hunger and less like being hit in the face with a baseball bat. Pretty good.

But I don't seem to be losing weight. Only half the battle won so far.

Yesterday I finished a book on the Shangri-la diet. The idea is to eat flavorless calories between meals and let them kill your appetite. It doesn't work for everyone but it sounds like it's worth a try. You either eat small quantities of flavorless oils or small quantities of plain sugar diluted in water. Either one works.

I'll try the oil-and/or-sugar diet for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Yesterday (it was an exciting day) I swallowed a tablespoon of oil between first and second breakfasts.

First breakfast is a cup of cocoa (powdered milk, cocoa, a dab of brown sugar, and lately some oil). Second breakfast these days comes about three hours later and has been bulghur wheat with oil and spices.

But I was hungry for real food, was off balance all day. Today I did it differently. I had some oil a couple of hours after second breakfast and then went all the way through to late afternoon before I decided to eat (and wasn't especially hungry).

This is good. This is like the next step of switching to the high-fat diet.

Fat isn't bad. Some fat is, and too much of anything is. Olive oil is good, and so is canola oil and similar oils. They can actually lower cholesterol and mellow out the body overall. You can do the reading if you're interested.

In case you want to check out the Shangri-la diet, the book is short: "The Shangri-la diet: the no hunger eat anything weight-loss plan, by Seth Roberts". Or see his web site.

He's done his homework, tried it himself, and has lots of testimonials from people everywhere. It's simple and cheap, and the idea has been around for quite a while. I first read about it in "Extreme Alpinism: Climbing Light High and Fast", by Mark F Twight. Twight, a climber, mentions gulping a couple ounces of olive oil when needing an extra shot of energy. The oil doesn't do it, the body does, once it's been reassured by a long, slow, slippery, high calorie trail of oil flowing down the gullet. This is a way of tricking the body.

There is a similar way of losing weight by eating very small meals very often. The last I really heard of this was on the Oprah show a year or so back. Janet Jackson was telling how she lost 60 pounds or thereabouts (with the help of a trainer and lots of exercise). You keep eating, never getting hungry, and the body never clues in to the fact that it's starving to death. But it takes discipline.

You have to eat every hour or so, and before you get hungry, and never too much. Never a real meal. I did it once but can't do an encore. So I'll see if Seth has the answer.

I'm waiting to read a book by Gary Taubes. At least some of his ideas are similar to those of Seth Roberts. The Taubes book is "Good calories, bad calories: challenging the conventional wisdom on diet, weight control, and disease". He's in favor of fat.

Rather than trying to explain his ideas, I'll provide links to a couple of items in the New York Times.

One is "What if It's All Been a Big Fat Lie?" and the other is "Carbophobia". (You may have to sign up for a free account to get to them.)

Munch. Jiggle.


  1. You might give some consideration to the quality of your food intake. After all, your body rebuilds and repairs itself many times through your lifespan. I suggest "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan.

    By all means, read Gary Taubes' book also. They complement each other.

    A good older book is "Nutrition Against Disease" by Roger J. Williams, PhD.

    David Brown