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Category Archives: Food & Body Chemistry

What Is Normal?

We Are All Weird, by Seth Godin

Seth Godin published a little book in 2011 called We Are All Weird. Click on the title to read an excerpt.

You’ve really got to think hard about this:

Being normal is based on what the average person does, through conformity.

Following this logic, I am, therefore, far from normal. Not in every way but in many ways. But I’ve known this since I was a kid. Most of us so called “weird” ones have been OK with our standing. We know we’re different. But there are many who are still learning to accept their differences and with every ounce of their being resist their nature and struggle to fit in or to be “normal-like-everyone-else”.  I would like to encourage everyone to be true to who you are, not who you think you should be; there is a difference.

Let’s talk about food for an example.

On occasion people say this phrase to me: “Well, you’ve got to live!” Often in reference to doing things that they know that they shouldn’t be doing; for instance consuming certain foods or drinks.

Eating Contest

Eating Contest

Since when, why and how did engaging in risky behavior equate living? And why is it so often about consuming substances? Is it that charge of adrenaline that is so titillating – oh, how it wakes us up like we have never been awake before and bang! we feel alive. Again, let’s do it again, but let’s push the envelope a little further this time. It is a heavy question with reasoning that could fill the infinite scroll down potential of any blog. I think the adrenaline rush associated with extreme sport is a little different from the rush derived from consuming substances, but they straddle the same hemisphere. So if you will, allow me to ramble for a minute.

At a restaurant, about sixteen years ago, when I was just dating my husband, he said to me, “If I’m going to risk my life why would I choose to do so by doing something as unadventurous as eating mussels?” I fear, most people are ignorant of the toxins present in the foods or drinks they choose to consume. Some restaurants actually have a disclaimer on the menu where items such as mussels, clams and raw oysters are served.

Cooked Mussels

Cooked Mussels

I am very aware that how I conduct myself is not the norm. The fact that I feel like I am “living” everyday without sacrificing anything, would categorize me once again as weird.

Definition of Sacrifice:

“an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy. We must all be prepared to make sacrifices.”

Must we?

Ah…sacrifice. It is such an interesting word, such an interesting feeling. It has been a long road of learning, but I can honestly say that I am at such a place where sacrifice does not exist. There is nothing that I would have to give up to be where I am. I make time to focus and take care of myself everyday because that is where I want to be. I eat well all the time because I want to – because it makes me feel great; and because really, for me there is no alternative.

It seems to be more difficult for others to accept that I have accepted that celebration and reward does NOT come in the form of food or alcohol or excess. I am right where I should be and continue to learn more about my body, mind and health each day. I have chosen to represent this sentiment with a photograph of a bee in flight, just approaching a flowering chive. Why? Because bees have focus and it seems to me like they enjoy what they do. It comes down to perspective.

I choose not to eat or drink anything that disagrees with my system. I choose not to eat or drink anything just to please a host or because it was a gift. The story of The Hungry Coat: A Tale from Turkey comes to mind when I think about this, because one thought always leads to another.

I won’t finish off something just to prevent it from going to waste. Forcing food to go through my body before it becomes garbage is no different than just throwing it away in the first place. Both are equally wasteful, but the former causes bodily harm. Better to learn not to prepare so much or order so much food. It is OK to have leftovers…I rely on them.

We can choose to make a thoughtful, informed choice or we can choose to sacrifice. In the end we have still made a choice. If we are going to bother to choose, shouldn’t we choose wisely?

“You can choose a ready guide in some celestial voice.
If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.
You can choose from phantom fears and kindness that can kill;
I will choose a path that’s clear-
I will choose Free Will.”

~Rush the Band, Freewill

But clearly, weird is subjective. I think it is pretty weird to consume things that are known toxins, which contribute to lowering life expectancy, have potential side effects, which may contribute to birth defects, known diseases and cancer. And yet in the normal universe, which is parallel to my weird universe, this is considered living, by letting loose and not being so serious.

“I want to be normal!” – not me, thanks.

Just about everyone wants to be normal. Kids want to be normal; they want to fit in. They learn it at a young age. If they don’t conform they will be excluded.

“Nowhere is the dreamer or the misfit so alone…

In the high school halls

In the shopping malls

Conform or be cast out…

In the basement bars

In the backs of cars

Be cool or be cast out…”– Rush the Band, Subdivisions

They want to be able to eat or drink what everyone else does without thinking about the after effects or repercussions; they want to live in the moment. They want to live.

A few years ago when my husband and I were hosting our annual Canadian Thanksgiving feast, one of my guests, knowing that I was deep into the experimental phase of eliminating certain foods from my diet (to heal myself), said that she just couldn’t do what I was doing. So I asked, “I didn’t realize there were any foods that disagreed with your system.” Her: “Oh, yeah there are, but I eat them anyway and pay the price the next day.”

What?!

To me that’s CRAZY, insane even. I told her that I thought so. :) 

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~Albert Einstein

Except in this case I don’t think people are expecting different results. And we call THAT normal?! Only because the masses are doing it. If everyone is doing it, then it must be OK.

After that conversation, I started asking other people if there were foods or drinks that they knowingly consumed which caused a delayed negative reaction. One person told me that they would eat certain foods knowing that they would have to be practically connected to the toilet for the following three days. “OH! But it’s so worth it going down.”

Really?

This is the original more familiar version of the famous song Crazy – by Gnarles Barkley. I’ve transcribed the lyrics below so you can read or sing along. While looking for the song I came across this slower version, which is outstanding. I have posted the link here in case you want to have a listen.

“I remember when, I remember, I remember when I lost my mind

There was something so pleasant about that place.

Even your emotions had an echo 
In so much space

And when you’re out there Without care,

Yeah, I was out of touch, But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough

I just knew too much

Does that make me crazy? Does that make me crazy? Does that make me crazy?

Possibly [radio version] Probably [album version]

And I hope that you are having the time of your life


But think twice, that’s my only advice



Come on now,

Who do you, who do you, who do you, who do you think you are,

Ha ha ha bless your soul


You really think you’re in control

Well, I think you’re crazy, I think you’re crazy, I think you’re crazy

Just like me

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb

And all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them

Ever since I was little, ever since I was little it looked like fun

And it’s no coincidence I’ve come, And I can die when I’m done

Maybe I’m crazy, Maybe you’re crazy, Maybe we’re crazy

Probably

Uh, uh”

We need to practice thinking about what we practice.

We can choose.

Salt vs. Sodium & That Nutella Case

Table Salt

Table Salt (Photo credit: MoHotta18)

On January 10, 2012, I read Carly Weeks’ article featured in the Globe and Mail, “Harper must demand action on sodium levels, health groups urge“. To view the article in its entirety click here. I got so heated about this topic (can you guess why?) that I started to compose this post right then and there. I had other pressing chores that morning but could not let this go. In the end I didn’t have time to finish until now, six months later. But serendipity strikes again, for today (July 11, 2012) I read about the “California class-action lawsuit that slammed the makers of Nutella for ads suggesting the spread was a healthy food [it] was settled this week in favour of consumers.” (Tralee Pearce, Globe and Mail). To view the article recounting this ridiculous ruling click here.

Deutsch: Ein Glas Nutella-Nussnougatcreme

Regarding sodium levels: Yes, I agree it would be good to bring sodium levels down, but more importantly choose to stop buying ready-made products; problem solved. Regarding Nutella: No, I disagree with the settlement. However, I think that this is a great opportunity to talk about taking personal responsibility. We, as a collective don’t really need to wait for our governments to take responsibility for ourselves – or do we? Can we not choose to prepare more healthy foods from home as opposed to consuming and relying so much on ready-made, pre-packaged food? Waiting on the ‘other guy’ to solve our problems or make us healthy hasn’t done much for us thus far. In these two cases, generally speaking, the problem isn’t with our governments or manufacturers, it is with the pre-packaged foods, which are loaded with sodium and unhealthy ingredients and making the choice to buy them in the first place. We need to take personal responsibility and read the labels. Better yet, cut back, if not stop altogether, buying and eating foods that come with labels. Eat less pre-packaged food and work on choosing whole natural foods that don’t come with ingredient lists. But, if you must, then in the case of sodium in particular, look for labels that have less than 5 mg of sodium PER SERVING (and good luck finding any, by the way – which takes us back to the first article). If nothing else we can use these points as an opportunity to start evaluating this one aspect of our health.

“Ay, there’s the rub.”

The conundrum is that if we don’t have the desire to self-educate, to ask questions and search for meaning then we can easily accept what we are told to be absolute. I squirm inside whenever I hear someone exclaim with a strong measure of conviction: “THEY say (or I’ve read) that (enter product here) is good for you.” How do THEY know? Who are THEY? And why do we believe THEM without experimenting for ourselves?

Read this from Dr. Mercola: “Why Your Doctor’s Advice May Be Fatally Flawed”

As we all know, there are countless products being peddled that purport to transform our lives. Beautiful images of apparently perfect human specimens lure us to buy everything from skin and body products to nutritional supplements. And all the convincing research, don’t forget the convincing research studies…

We are only as strong as our weakest link.

What if, you don’t know that you don’t know? If we are raised by seemingly well intentioned parents who don’t know much about a healthy lifestyle, and surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, and believe everything advertisers promise…”Ay, there’s the rub.”[1]

"The New Fred Meyer on Interstate on Lomb...

“I’m sick of parents blaming everyone from McDonald’s and their Happy Meal toys to cereal companies and their jovial cartoon characters for trying to make their kids fat and unhealthy, when it’s our job first and foremost to determine what foods they eat and don’t. It’s a little thing called personal responsibility,” she writes. “So congratulations on the [Nutella] lawsuit, but I find it ridiculous, and it’s frankly insulting to consumers and mothers who DO read labels.”

The Stir - Julie Ryan Evans

By the way, my daughter eats a version of Nutella (NocciolataFROM TIME TO TIME – NOT EVERYDAY! 

With respect to Nutella and ready-made products? Cut back on consuming them, eventually, eliminating them entirely. Many may panic at the idea of cutting back on the convenience of ready-made processed foods, but I promise, you will survive.

In fact you will likely start to thrive.

Over the last year and a half, I have been working on cutting out all processed foods – I open few containers and packages these days, which is having a positive impact on my carbon footprint. Mostly, I make everything from fresh whole natural foods. Sure, it takes time and practice, but just about anything is possible with enough practice. What could be more important than nourishing our health and the health of those we love?

“One always has time enough, if one will apply it well.”

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We’re smarter than we think. We can do this. (Read this book by Joshua FoerMoonwalking With Einstein)

Look at what the human species has accomplished, it is mind-boggling. In the same breath I can think of many inventions that are used everyday that are unfinished and by that I mean they have fallen short, causing more problems. Pre-packaged food is one of the items on my list. So take your pick: Convenience or your health. THEY want you to believe that you can have it both ways.

Hey, you gotta live!

(I say this with healthy dose of sarcasm in case it isn’t obvious. A kind of paradoxical-oxymoron.)

My strategy is to prepare enough food to ensure leftovers; this way, I’m never scrambling at the last minute and tempted to grab whatever is convenient. I’ve become a short order cook for my family, and I have learned to love it. Meal times have become more of an opportunity to educate and reawaken our natural instincts and intuition about what foods make us feel well, feel nourished and fueled.

Besides, imagine the environmental effect we are having on our planet by the amount of processed products we purchase each day! Have you seen this film?

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not saying that my kids always eat what I want them to eat. In fact they often want to eat the junk that their friends eat. As much as it makes me cringe, I know that it only makes up about 10% of their diet and one hundred percent of the time they admit to how lousy they feel from eating it. The lesson for me is that I have to let them experience these things for themselves, within reason. We talk about ingredients and how certain ingredients affect the body etc. It’s not easy training children to become responsible for themselves. They want to make their own decisions but our job as parents is to protect them from themselves. It’s not so different from having dogs. Our dogs like to eat everything they smell, much to their own detriment; they are indiscriminate with what they will ingest – because they don’t know that they don’t know!

The most important message I can leave you with is that children cannot eat whatever they want all the time. Their bodies will not “figure it out” as they grow-up. Many adults have said to me over the years that, they ate whatever they wanted as a kid and they turned out ok. It’s not about the size of our body or the amount of body fat we carry, it’s about the damage that we cannot see, what we are doing to our internal body, our organs and cells.

Lets review:

What is Sodium?

  • Sodium is an essential nutrient.
  • Sodium is one of the primary Electrolytes in the body.
  • All four cationic Electrolytes (Sodium, Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium) are found in unrefined salt.
  • BUT too much Sodium is bad for you.
  • Sodium is a mineral.
  • It is a chemical element, Sodium (Na) also known as Sodium Chloride (NaCl).
  • Sodium is naturally occurring in most food sources.

salt

What is Table Salt?

  • Table salt is refined salt.
  • Table Salt is Sodium with additives:
  • Table Salt contains 97% – 99% Sodium Chloride.
  • 3% -1% is additives.
  • The additives vary from country to country.
  • Some countries that do not have fluoridated water add Sodium Fluoride to their Table Salt.
  • Some countries add Iron and Potassium Iodide Salts (Iodine) to their Table Salt
  • Some countries add Folic Acid to their Table Salt.
  • Some countries add Inverted Sugar Syrup to their Table Salt.
  • Most Table Salt contains anti-caking ingredients: Calcium Silicate, Sodium Thiosulphate, Sodium Ferrocyanide, Magnesium Carbonate, Tricalcium Phosphate etc.

What is Sea Salt?

  • Sea Salt has the same Sodium content as Table Salt.
  • Sea Salt is obtained by the evaporation of seawater.

What is Iodized Salt?

  • Iodized Salt has the trace mineral Potassium Iodide added.
  • Iodized Salt will be clearly labeled: contains dietary iodine.
  • Because access to natural sources of iodine, such as saltwater fish, sea vegetables or plants grown in iodine-rich soil are scarce in some parts of the world, Iodine is a welcome addition for health reasons.
  • The Thyroid gland needs a certain amount of dietary iodine to function properly.

CAUTION – Sodium in disguise:

Soy sauce, fish sauce & oyster sauce.

soy sauce [119/366]

One Tablespoon of Soy Sauce = ~900mg of Sodium

One Tablespoon of Bragg’s Soy Sauce (non GMO) = ~660 mg of Sodium

One Tablespoon of Fish Sauce = ~1190 mg of Sodium

One Tablespoon of Oyster Sauce = ~492 mg of Sodium

One teaspoon or 6 grams of salt contains about 2,400 mg of Sodium.

Which exceeds the Tolerable Upper Intake Level! For optimum health we should

NOT exceed 1,500 mg per day.

How much Sodium does the average Canadian consume each day? 3400 mg.

 

What happens when we consume too much Sodium?  Some associated diseases or conditions include: Stroke, Cardiovascular Disease, High Blood Pressure, Renal (Kidney) Disease, Stomach Cancer…

Too much or too little salt in the diet can lead to muscle crampsdizziness, or electrolyte disturbance, which can cause neurological problems, or death.[42] Drinking too much water, with insufficient salt intake, puts a person at risk of water intoxication (hyponatremia). Salt is sometimes used as a health aid, such as in treatment of dysautonomia.[43]  Source: Wikipedia

How much is an ideal amount of Sodium per day? From the age of one year and up the range is from 1000 mg to 1500 mg per day. (Tolerable Upper Intake Level – UL – and not to exceed is 2,300 mg).

Now how confusing is the following statement?

“When people are cutting back on salt in their diets, what they really mean is that they are concerned with their sodium intake, because it is the sodium that kills, and not the salt. It should be mentioned, that even when people avoid consuming salt, they might still get a lot of sodium from other sources. So in effect, staying away from salt is NOT the only solution.” 

You have to read it carefully to understand that it is not just the Table Salt “shaker” or the Sea Salt “Mill” that we have to cut back on, BUT to be very aware of the naturally occurring Sodium in the foods we are eating IN ADDITION to the ADDED Sodium, which is found in processed, prepared, and pre-packaged foods.

Help Yourself:

  • Begin weaning yourself off processed foods.
  • Start by noticing what your daily food habits are.
  • How many products do you eat each day that come from a package?
  • Plan ahead and pick ONE day to experiment with limiting your consumption of anything that comes processed.
  • When you are ready, try keeping a food diary one day a week.
  • And add up the amount of sodium from the foods you ate in that day.
  • Let me know how it goes.

[1] William Shakespeare.

Related Articles

Rx FOOD

“There is no ONE GIANT step

that does it,

It’s a lot of LITTLE STEPS.”

To date, I’ve been experimenting with food as medicine for a solid year and a half.

In a recently published post, titled: My Hernia, I described my experience with an umbilical hernia, and by the end of the article I commented on the fact that some exercises can be useless. Which triggered another thought…how certain foods can actually be useless too.

There are a lot of fancy exercises that are in vogue these days, that fall into the useless category causing more harm than good. Now, this is assuming we know better but keep on repeating them, regardless. However, because it’s unlikely that doing the occasional useless exercise likely won’t cause much lasting damage, it begs the question, then WHY would we do them in the first place? What is our motivation behind doing things that are useless? Our best bet is to stick with the basics, but also to work with an expert who can identify which basic exercises will actually be beneficial for our specific needs. (Collaborating with an RMT trained in Rolfing [Structural Integration] or KMI / Myofascial Release is my first choice). Sure, we can go ahead and do exercises, which are not appropriate for us and survive…(clearly, there are worse things we can do!). But, from my perspective, if we’re going to bother in the first place, doesn’t it make sense to at least try to do it right? Getting to the point of doing it right can take a lot of trial and error and a lot of research; if we’re too busy to learn and grow, then what are we here for? I have come to have this same opinion about food as a result of exploring which foods actually support my health. We can go ahead and eat anything for energy, but if we’re going to bother, doesn’t it make sense to do the research and fuel ourselves accordingly to actually enhance our health?

…Prescription Food, as I’ve come to think of it.

Why not?

I met Sandrine at my daughter’s school about three years ago. Our daughters have been in the same class over these few years and so naturally, we have had many opportunities to chat. And as parents often do, we talk about our daughters; their talents, milestones and of course the challenges: the sleepless nights, the food sensitivities/ allergies, which doctors ;) or finding THE magical balm to soothe irritated skin, etc. – You get the idea.

Sandrine went the distance like no other to help both of her daughter’s with their skin issues. She had eliminated certain foods from her girls’ diet in the hopes that that would help. She would go so far as delivering fresh homemade meals to her girls everyday at lunch so they could stay true to their program. This kind of effort puts tremendous strain on a parent; anyone raising a child with allergies or food sensitivity knows only too well what I’m talking about.

Six months into my experiment with ER4YT, I happened to be chatting with Sandrine at our girls’ first chess tournament. Since Sandrine and I share a similar interest in following current news regarding health, our conversations often revolved around comparing notes on such topics. I told her about ER4YT and my suspicions about gluten causing my joint inflammation. She considered looking into it as a possibility for her daughters. Sandrine is a researcher…she will leave no stone unturned. Months later, once back to school in September, I sidled up to her to get an update on the skin issues…because when I greeted her daughter, it was quite evident the skin issues were no more.

“Soon after my child was born, I knew that it was food which contributed to her rashes and other issues.  The skin tests did not reveal food sensitivities, but food allergy.  However, avoiding the foods my child was allergic to did not bring relief, in fact, it got progressively worse over the years.  When I asked for their advice, Allergists and Dermatologists talked about elimination diet and its challenges. Recently, after almost nine years and two kids later, I discovered ALCAT testing.  ALCAT and our naturopath transformed my children’s life and naturally mine. With ALCAT, we are confident in what they can and cannot eat.  The recommended rotation diet along with the ALCAT test meant no more rashes or eczema, bleeding wounds from scratching, thick dandruff on the scalp, sleepless nights due to scratching, respiratory congestions, fatigue and failure to thrive.  Today, my kids are not only doing well, but thriving, all without the need for medicated ointments and medications.”  -Sandrine

 

This is an incredible story, and yet, elements of it are universal.

I know most of you reading this don’t know me and at this point are genuinely wondering if I am advertising for ALCAT or ER4YT. With all sincerity, I promise you that this is an information sharing website only. I do not have any affiliate codes associated with any of the links found on my site and am not receiving and discounts or support from the practitioners with whom I consult.

Any pop-up advertising you may see on my site from time to time is generated by WordPress, my host, who benefits from it in order to keep the operating costs down.

Sandrine did her research and took the blood type philosophy to the next level by actually having both her daughters and husband’s blood tested by ALCAT. Seeing her success with the program I am considering trying ALCAT testing for my family too. Right now, however, we are going to go the distance with ER4YT because we are still in the infancy with our exploration. My husband and I have done the Secretor Test, which helps to fine tune our beneficial food lists (I am blood type O+, Non-Secretor, my husband is AB-, Secretor). My kids will be taking the Secretor test next week – we are all curious for the results. My kids are becoming more and more interested in taking care of their health, now, and beginning to understand the significance of NOW, and the impact it will have on their adult health. Many people falsely believe that children can eat and drink whatever they want. They believe that kids will figure it out for themselves like so many of us did. I say, look around…there is an entire population plagued with an inability to figure it out for themselves. Our health will not fix itself. Raising kids on candy and sugar and processed foods is damaging, period. There is absolutely nothing beneficial or nutritious found in those products. But what if you’re like Sandrine or myself, who make every attempt to nurture healthy habits by introducing nothing but whole foods to our babies, to then being completely mystified that those supposedly healthy, super foods are not tolerated.

Yes, we can eat anything. We can drink anything. Most of us know of, or may even be related to people who do not espouse a healthy lifestyle in the least, but are still living- against all odds. You know, like James’ uncle who each day smoked half a pack of cigarettes, drank like a fish and never exercised, but lived to be 102. Mind you living a long time and living well for a long time is a horse of another colour. I often wonder what the longevity might have been for people like James’ uncle had they taken care of themselves?

I know a man in his mid-seventies who has been Diabetic (type 2) for thirty years. For many years when he had kept his Diabetes ‘under control’, his weight had stabilized at 200 pounds, which seemed like an acceptable weight for a man at a height of six-feet. He is currently sixty pounds over that weight. It seems like his weekly schedule is busy with regular check-ups with his doctors or advisers. When I ask him how he’s doing, he tells me that his doctors tell him that he’s doing OK. This frustrates me, so I ask him gently, “How can you be OK, when you are 1) Diabetic and 2) sixty pounds overweight? You are NOT OK.  This is unacceptable.” He continues to do the same thing he has always done, which rewards him with the same results he’s always gotten. No change to his health; just a slow decline. He tells me, “Well, we’ve all got to go sometime.” This is true, none of us is getting out of this life alive.

But there is a huge difference between accepting our fate and having the belief that there is no fate but what we make.

“Since the dawning of the Age of Genetics, we have been programmed to accept that we are subservient to the power of our genes. The world is filled with people who live in constant fear that, on some unsuspecting day, their genes are going to turn on them. Consider the masses of people who think they are ticking time bombs; they wait for cancer to explode in their lives as it exploded in the life of their mother or brother or sister or aunt or uncle. Millions of others attribute their failing health not to a combination of mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual causes but simply to the inadequacies of their body’s biochemical mechanics. Are your kids unruly? Increasingly the first choice is to medicate these children to correct their “chemical imbalances” rather than fully grappling with what is going on in their bodies, minds, and spirits.

Of course there is no doubt that some diseases, like Huntington’s chorea, beta thalassemia, and cystic fibrosis, can be blamed entirely on one faulty gene. But single-gene disorders affect less than two percent of the population; the vast majority of people come into this world with genes that should enable them to live a happy and healthy life. The diseases that are today’s scourges – diabetes, heart disease, and cancer – short circuit a happy and healthy life.

These diseases, however, are NOT the result of a single gene, but of complex interactions among multiple genes and environmental factors. “

Bruce H. Lipton, PhD - author of Biology of Belief            (quote from pg. 20 -21)

I understand that our doctors only have about 5 – 30 minutes with each patient (the upper number if you’re lucky!) and it is equally frustrating for health care practitioners, because as much as they want to eradicate disease, their hands are tied. Patients MUST help themselves and be more than a willing participant who accepts pharmaceuticals as their cure.

There are so many websites promoting miraculous cures, from natural supplements, water purification systems to products or equipment. It’s easy for any consumer to be charmed by all the claims often accompanied by glossy photographs of eye-catching perfection. All these advertisements remind me of the traveling-snake-oil-salesmen from the 19th century – Are we still being duped? Clearly, the only way to know for sure is to experiment for ourselves (with caution!).

Having said this, most of us are skeptics and require a lot to convince us to buy a product. But isn’t it interesting that when we finally do decide to jump in, and put our whole belief into something, we become a self appointed spokesperson for said product. As if, because it might work wonders for us, we think everyone else should try it too.

Listen, I don’t know exactly what works for me. I’m still figuring things out. And it seems to always be that once I get a handle on what seems to work my body goes ahead and ages, bringing on new changes and challenges. We are in a constant state of change. I believe we have to stay alert to these changes and adapt to them.

 

KEEP

CALM

AND

ADAPT

to CHANGE

 

In writing this post it is my hope to encourage others to consider that: because none of us know anything for certain, that we have to try and keep trying and not sit back accepting our ‘fate’.

For those interested in exploring Prescription Food for Our Individual Health, I have imbedded the links to the sites that I have personally explored. I have done Dr. Mercola’s Nutritional Typing questionnaire, which pegged me as a Protein Type (which is very similar to ER4YT, just without the blood typing). One thing that I took away from Dr. Mercola’s site that I have been experimenting with is: the order in which I eat my beneficial food.

Dr. Mercola says:

“In addition to eating the right foods for your body, believe it or not, we discovered that it is not enough just to make the right food choices…It is equally important to eat your foods at each meal in the right order!

 

  • Many leading protein types should eat their meat first.
  • Carb types should eat their vegetable first.
  • Mixed types should eat their meat and vegetable together.

When your food is consumed this way, digestive and nutritional efficiency will improve dramatically, shown by:

  • Improved meal satisfaction.
  • No need for snacks between meals.
  • No more food cravings.

 

Dr. Mercola has a basic Nutritional Typing Plan. Click here to view Dr. Mercola’s Nutritional Typing.

ALCAT Testing Website: ALCAT

Eat Right 4 Your Type website: Eat Right For Your Type

ER4YT: Secretor/ Non-Secretor Information page

ER4YT: Salivary Secretor Test Kit

 

In addition, this 5 minute video presented by HU Medicare Local, Australia talks about Understanding Pain. There is a lot we can do for our own self-care. Whether we live a long or short life, I think that we can all agree that the best choice would be to live out our days at a healthy weight, without pain or debilitating disease.

 

This goes out for anyone struggling with mental, physical, emotional or spiritual challenges…I care about your well-being and hope that the information in this post will be useful for your exploration. Just try and keeping trying.

 

 

 

What Is Visceral Fat?

Illustration of obesity and waist circumferenc...

Image via Wikipedia

After yesterdays post on “What Is A Wheat Belly?”, I received a few comments from readers wondering how they can be tested for the presence of visceral fat and how can they reduce the amount of it?

I just found this well written, clear and concise article from the Health Bulletin site.  They list a few options for testing visceral fat such as CT scans, bioelectrical impedance and circumference measurements. CT scans are expensive and put the patient at risk for unnecessary radiation especially when the circumference measurement test can be done at home, with a simple measuring tape.  When I was a fitness appraiser I did at least half a dozen waist-to-hip ratio tests per day.  Basically, if the ratio from the girth circumference measurement from your abdomen is larger than the girth circumference measurement from your hips (taken at the largest buttock protuberance) then consider yourself in the visceral fat category.  You can also take an honest look at yourself in the mirror to know where you’re at.

A word of caution: It is also possible for people to be “skinny-fat”.  I’ve seen many who’s body fat is so evenly spread over their body that they don’t have the typical body shape of someone who is overweight; they tend to ‘carry it well’ (at least in clothes).  I often see this in men who wear business suits.  The suit hides it and just makes them appear ‘solid’.  This is worrisome because they ‘get away’ with not exercising and eating recklessly because they don’t show an outward appearance of carrying excess fat (until the suit comes off!).

Check out the Health Bulletin site it has a lot of very useful information.

A word on BMI: BMI stands for Body Mass Index. Often doctors use this measurement to determine if a persons weight is acceptable for their height.  It has it’s draw backs and in our household this test is a laughing stock.  My husband, who at 5’9″ weighs in at 168 lbs. of solid muscle and at approximately 7% body fat –  according to the chart he is overweight.

So as with everything, one must do their homework and think through the process, beyond the numbers.

What Is a “Wheat Belly”?

Wheat (Triticum aestivum) near Auvers-sur-Oise...

By chance I caught this audio segment from CBC Radio‘s The Current.  Dr. William Davis, a cardiologist from Wisconsin postulates that the wheat grain used in agriculture today is very different from the wheat grain grown from fifty years ago.  As a result of this difference, he believes (aside from the increase in sedentary lifestyles) that the consumption of this grain is actually addictive which not only leads to overeating but also to an increase in the “accumulation of deep visceral fat – that is fat that accumulates around the organs but is shown on the surface as a large belly…It is this visceral fat that is different – it is unique, metabolically different from the other fat, say, found on your back side or arm or leg – it is metabolically active, it produces inflammatory proteins, it causes diabetes, hypertension etc.”

He calls this large belly a Wheat Belly, which is also the title of his book.  You might imagine the controversy his theory is generating among grain farmers and others.  Of course, I find this most fascinating especially if you consider my latest post titled, Full But Empty?

He briefly talks about the fact that in an effort to be healthy we are encouraged to eat more whole grains or complex carbohydrates most often in the form of whole wheat…’because complex carbohydrates sounds healthier versus simple sugars,’ but in fact they (the whole wheat grain) may very well be the source of the problem.  He comments on how people or his patients who complain that since they’ve been eating ‘apparently healthier’ or exercising more they have strangely put on more weight and can’t seem to shake it.

Something we need to address is: what is a complex carbohydrate in the first place?  Do you know?  The first item that comes to mind for most people is GRAINS.  But in fact, complex carbohydrates abound.  Here is a list from Livestrong.com of some, not all complex carbohydrates:

GRAINS millet, oats, wheat germ, barley, wild rice, brown rice, buckwheat, oat bran, cornmeal and amaranth.

FRUIT apricots, oranges, plums, pears, grapefruits and prunes.

VEGETABLES Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, turnip greens, eggplant, potatoes, yams, corn, carrots, onions, all types of lettuce, celery, cucumbers, cabbage, artichokes and aspragus

Soy milk made from soy beans is a complex carb and dairy products like low-fat yogurt and skim milk are also complex carbs.”

As you can see, complex carbohydrates are in abundance, we are not at a loss if we should eliminate wheat as an experiment.  In fact if you do, you may find that you end up eating more vegetables which is a better choice regardless.

Here is the link for the audio segment from CBC Radio’s, The Current featuring Dr. William Davis. It is 24 minutes long.  When you open the link, just below the title/ opening paragraph you will see a black bar which reads- Listen: (Pop-up). Turn up your volume.

Maybe whole grain wheat could be utilized for other things such as cleaning products? It must be useful for something other than food. I would LOVE to hear any comments or stories that are relevant to to this topic…please share your ideas below.

Related Articles:

Three Hidden Ways Wheat Makes You Fat, by Mark Hyman, MD

Full But Empty?

Food for Life distributes food on an internati...

A strange thing happened on the way to the cupboard…seriously.

I wrote the below commentary at BodyRockTv in response to a post in which a fellow BodyRocker had written about emotional eating.  I can’t say I’ve ever really been an emotional eater, I’ve been a big eater of the non-stop variety (just ask my friends), but the following is what came to mind.

Once I started to not only regimentally analyze what I chose to eat, but actually started to assess how those food choices made me feel, physically – in my gut and energy-wise, that’s when things really started to change for me.

I’ve attached a link to an interesting, short article for you to read, which in a nutshell talks about: how if the foods we choose don’t supply our body with the required nutrients for our system to function –  we keep on eating. The article is called: “More Food Doesn’t Necessarily Mean More Nutrition” byBrendan Brazier who is Vegan, though I don’t think we all have to be vegan to be healthy, (at least I’m not at that stage yet – don’t hold it against me), but I do believe that the information in the article applies to everyone as well as being helpful if we take a closer look at how and why we consume food.

“We are living in a very strange time, a time in which people who are overweight or obese can be (and most likely are) malnourished. Yet how can it be that a person who eats an inordinate volume of food can show signs of malnourishment? After all, isn’t food synonymous with nourishment?…” http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-health/more-food-doesnt-necessarily-mean-more-nutrition/

At the beginning of Brendan Brazier’s article, he talks about how some people can wolf down a loaf of white bread for example, and still not feel satisfied.  I had a similar thing happen to me enough times that I can actually tell which foods trigger this empty nutrient reflex!

I found a new brand of chips made with lentils and adzuki beans (no potato), I thought awesome, looks totally healthy – I’ll give them a try.  Got home, ate the whole bag.  Felt terrible.  Next day went back to the store in search of the same chips.  Bought two.  Got home, ate one bag…COULD NOT STOP, then opened the second bag and only stopped half way because my husband showed up and with a worried look on his face asked, “are you going to eat that entire bag?” (not knowing I had already polished off the first!).

So then, feeling really lousy, and not just because I’d eaten a bag and half of what I thought were healthy chips, but because they just didn’t sit well in my gut.  That was when I was just beginning to consider the relationship with Blood type and beneficial foods; so I cracked open the Eat Right for Your Type book…interesting: Lentils – AVOID, adzuki beans – neutral and likely the oil used was on my avoid list too.

Since then I’ve noticed that when I eat the foods on my avoid list this kind of nutty, obsessive eating pattern takes over me.  And it truly feels, as the article writes that my body is not absorbing any usable nutrients, so I just overeat in a manic way to fill up.  It is very strange indeed.  It makes me wonder if there is a place for the possibility of this empty nutrient theory for those who THINK they are overeating as a result of emotions. Could very well be that the food choices are simply not doing what the food is supposed to be doing in the first place which causes this vicious cycle?

By the way, since I’ve been eating from this approach, I don’t overeat, I end up eating regular sized meals and feeling completely satisfied.  (Satisfied and feeling full are very different sensations and important to learn the difference -it does take practice!) However, I do have to eat more often, every 1.5-2.5 hours.  As a result, I have to be VERY organized and have healthy food prepared in the fridge otherwise the tendency is to go to the cupboard and grab whatever is there.

I just had to add this in…If you have read My Log you will have noticed that I like to have a square or two of good quality-high-cocoa-count chocolate, often daily!  Long story short, I came across another brand made from acceptable ingredients (according to my needs).  I devoured the first square.  A-MA-ZING chocolate.  I was ready to post about it – tell the world- you have got to try this – kind of post.  But then I went back to the cupboard and devoured a second and third piece.  That crazy eating feeling was coming back – I COULD NOT STOP.  Within a few hours the bar was gone!  That bar should have lasted a week had I only had two squares each day.  This was not a case of will power or emotional eating.  Whatever was going on in that chocolate had triggered something in me and I had lost any sense of sanity…really.  So, of course after a few days I hunted down the chocolate bar again. Bought two.  Maybe it was a fluke – I might have been pre-menstrual.  Surely I could control myself this time around. BOTH were gone within two days.  I decided I would never buy that bar again.  I’ve gone back to my previous chocolate which doesn’t make me crazy, but satisfies me…of which I can walk away – we have a good relationship.

Does this kind of thing happen to you?  Maybe it has nothing to do with emotional eating or will power, but rather how our body reacts to the food.  So if we don’t react well to something, accept it, and like The Most Interesting Man In The World says on Success: “Find out what it is in life that you don’t do well, and then don’t do that thing”.

High Performance

Local Fruit and Vegetables

What grade of fuel runs your living machine?

Though I appreciate their aesthetic, sound and performance, I couldn’t write about how high end sports cars or motorcycles run without doing some serious research.  I do understand, however, that these high performance engines require high octane fuel.

As a human machine we perform, function and recover best when we have been fueled with fresh (unprocessed) whole foods. But what if the fresh whole foods we choose are not compatible with our living machine?

I love serendipity. I just happened to flip open Outside Magazine (July 2011) to the article below.  This article could have been written for me. The article is about how gluten sensitivity is becoming more prevalent.  It is a quick read that will provide you with some great information.

I started experimenting with “Eat Right For Your Type” in December 2010, which categorizes certain foods as Beneficial, Neutral or Avoid according to one’s blood type.  I was experiencing on-going joint pain and inflammation for a number of years.  It was not getting better so I decided to experiment with food as medicine.  To my good fortune it is working.  Every once in a while when I let my guard down and reintroduce a “forbidden” grain, I get hit with that familiar joint pain. Read my post on Motivation for the full story. http://youasamachine.com/inspiration/motivation/

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.”

-Hippocrates

I don’t believe that there is one single approach for everyone.  I think we need to experiment and borrow ideas and create our own salad, so to speak.  Since reading the Outside Magazine article I will experiment more with eliminating all gluten.  According to the blood type diet, rye and spelt are neutral and I have been eating small amounts of those grains.  However, what I want to share with you, though it may seem very confusing or complicated and one too many steps ahead for you at this point especially if you are just learning about how food could be a factor in our health.  For the blood type diet there is what’s called a secretor or non-secretor:

“A secretor is defined as a person who secretes their blood type antigens into body fluids and secretions like the saliva in your mouth, the mucus in your digestive tract and respiratory cavities, etc.  A non-secretor puts little to none of their blood type into these same fluids.” From the Official website of Dr. Peter D’Adamo

In his updated Complete Blood Type Encyclopedia, Dr. Peter D’Adamo lists which foods are compatible for secretors and non-secretors.  So once I became familiar with the secretor list, which is what is in his original book, I still felt that I needed to refine things. When I discovered the non-secretor list, I speculated that perhaps I was a non-secretor.  I ordered the saliva test (which I have yet to do and send to the lab).  So here I am bouncing between these two lists.  When I eat Spelt, which is acceptable on the secretor list as neutral and listed as an avoid on the non-secretor list, I experience joint pain in my hands.I’ll keep you posted on my secretor status!  But in the meantime, I’m going to stay away from spelt and rye just to see what might happen.Many will panic at the thought of eliminating grains.  What can I eat?  There’s so much to choose from that we don’t even give ourselves the opportunity to explore because we get stuck in a pattern of convenience. What I love about the blood type diet is that I am filling my refrigerator with more foods from the Beneficial list.  Instead of making salads with Romaine (which is neutral for me) I hunt down Escarole.  I eat more vegetables than ever before.  I consider myself a vegetarian who eats meat.  I am an O type and completely need meat and fish protein. There is so much more to say on this topic but will leave it for another day. Our bodies are constantly changing.  It would be wise for us to adapt and work with these changes as opposed to resisting.
I’m quite happy to leave these gluten guys out of my life if it means less joint pain, better recovery and a body that can play hard.
_______________________________________________________________________
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2011 Outside Magazine, July 2011

ARE YOU TOO SENSITIVE?

The gluten-free movement isn’t just a fad. It could be the performance boost you’ve been missing.

By: GORDY MEGROZ

IT WASN’T A FREAK STORM or pulmonary edema that nearly derailed Dave Hahn’s attempt to top out on Mount Everest for the second time, in 1999. It was a piece of bread. For two years, the mountaineering legend had battled a host of maladies—upset stomach, diarrhea, and a lingering weakness—but he never suspected the foods he was eating to fuel himself (pasta, cereal, bread) were the root of his problem. Hahn, it turned out, had developed celiac disease, an autoimmune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. “It was hell,” says Hahn, recalling the trip. “I was supposed to be the old hand, but because of me we got back down late, after it was already dark.”

Now 49, gluten-free, and trying for his 13th Everest summit, Hahn has never felt better. “I could not have continued climbing had I not been diagnosed,” he says.

Since Hahn’s near disaster at 29,000 feet, celiac disease has reached almost epidemic proportions, afflicting 1 in 133 Americans and creating a $2.6 billion market in gluten-free foods. Now, growing evidence suggests that it’s not just athletes with celiac who may benefit from giving up their pre-race pasta feed. A study published in March by the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research suggests that approximately 20 million people who don’t test positive for celiac or its less potent cousin, wheat allergy (which affects roughly 500,000 people), suffer from gluten sensitivity. Symptoms can range from fatigue to depression to joint and abdominal pain.

Like celiac, gluten sensitivity prompts the immune system to inflame cells throughout
the body. And though the symptoms usually aren’t as severe as with celiac, which causes toxic particles to leak into the body, gluten sensitivity can have a corrosive
impact on athletes trying to stay at the top of their game.

Just ask professional mountain biker Brian Lopes. Though he has never been tested for celiac, Lopes gave up gluten eight months ago and is riding 5 to 10 percent faster. “I stopped eating gluten because my friend said it would make me fart less,” says Lopes, who’s won four world championships. “Now I don’t fart and I’m faster.”

According to Alessio Fasano, M.D., lead author of the Maryland study, Lopes’s bowel distress is a common side effect of gluten intolerance. “And if you do have a sensitivity to gluten,” says Fasano, “exercise may make the problem even worse.”

That’s old news to Robby Ketchell, the director of sports science for the Garmin-Cervélo pro cycling team. Since 2008, riders have experienced improved post-ride recoveries, which Ketchell attributes to the team’s gluten-free diet. “When our guys ride, they’re tearing muscle fibers, and that creates inflammation in their bodies,” says Ketchell. “We need to get rid of that inflammation so they can ride strong the next day. The last thing we want is something that causes more inflammation.”

Scientists aren’t exactly sure why there’s been an increase in gluten intolerance in recent years, but they believe it may have something to do with the proliferation of bread, pasta, and other gluten-laden foods in the American diet. “Gluten is increasingly found in the things we eat,” says Fasano. “It may be that our bodies just aren’t equipped to handle that much of it.”

Currently, there is no test for gluten sensitivity. But Shelley Case, a Canadian dietitian and author of The Gluten-Free Diet, offers this advice to help you determine whether you’re better off without it: Run a mile and time yourself, then go on a gluten-free diet for four weeks. Keep notes on how you’re feeling. Then do another one-mile test. “If you’re feeling better during your training and you perform better, you may very well have gluten sensitivity,” says Case.

The next step is finding enough carbohydrates to substitute in your new diet. A moderately active person requires about four grams of carbohydrates for every 2.2 pounds of body weight per day. For a 150-pound guy, that’s about seven large potatoes. Nancy Clark, a Boston-based sports dietitian and author of nine books on sports nutrition, recommends eating things like bananas, lentils, corn, and quinoa instead of muffins, bread, and pasta. “You can’t just stop for pizza after a race,” she says. “You need to be careful about what you eat.” Really careful. Gluten is found in everything from deli meats—it’s often used as filler—to sauces and salad dressings.

Fasano doesn’t recommend everyone go gluten free—after all, wheat is an effective fuel for athletes who can tolerate it. But since the Garmin-Cervélo team gave it up, Ketchell says that no rider has told him the diet isn’t worthwhile. “Part of that,” he says, “is that eating gluten-free foods forces you to avoid processed foods, and that just makes you healthier.”

Outside Magazine, July 2011

Motivation

View of Mountains in Zion National Park, Utah,...

What motivates me is very different from what inspires me.

I mentioned in an earlier post how I had been unwell for a few years.  Here’s the breakdown.

After the birth of our kids I was very sleep deprived, going non-stop during the day and what seemed like non-stop in the night; not so uncommon for new mothers.  I seemed to pick up any cold or flu with which the kids came into contact.  It felt like I was sick and tired all the time.  Once the kids were two and four, they woke less frequently throughout the night and I was starting to sleep more and get fewer colds.  I started back to a regular yoga practice and was feeling much better.  Until, one joint at a time started to become inflamed for what seemed like a few months only to get better and move on to another joint.  It was very peculiar, worrisome and exhausting.  I spent a lot of time researching, visiting doctors, physiotherapists and traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners.  Anyone, really, who might be able to figure out what was going on.

Long story short, I visited the Arthritis Society who suggested I had Palindromic Rheumatism, a type of rheumatism, which ‘comes and goes’.  What?!!

I was thirty-six at the time.  I researched again.  I tried eliminating certain foods from my diet, based on the studies done on arthritis and rheumatism.

There were months where I felt completely fine, to periods where my hands were so sore I couldn’t tie my kids’ shoelaces or put a fitted sheet on the mattress without difficulty and pain.  Other times I would walk around with what felt like a fractured foot or hand.  This was shocking to me.  I was too young for this and could only imagine how much worse it would get with time.  As a physically active person my future looked bleak.  I blamed myself, wondering if all the years I had spent doing sport or working out (sometimes in the extreme) had caught up with me and it was pay back time.

Not long after these episodes started, I went for a long-weekend getaway with my mother-in-law to Hawaii.  I took in a lot of sun, relaxation and fit in some runs.  Sadly, I came home with a cough that lasted nine months.  I had x-rays, pulmonary function tests, you name it, but the doctors couldn’t find anything amiss.  For this entire period not only had I lost any desire to exercise, but I was physically unable to do any except for some light walking.  This was not me.

After about seven months and what felt like a broken rib from all the coughing, I finally took my friends’ advice and went to see her MD who consulted in Homeopathic Medicine.  After two months of homeopathic remedies, my cough was losing momentum and by the four-month mark there was no cough to be heard.  Who knows, maybe the cough had run its course?  Maybe it was the homeopathic remedies?  I don’t know, no one really knows.  But whatever it was that stopped me from coughing, I am grateful.

Now back to the inflamed aching joints.  It seemed like my whole body chemistry was off, which is not uncommon after pregnancy. My ferritin (iron) levels tested low so I started taking a daily Iron Citrate supplement. My thyroid test result at 10.8 was in the low-normal range.  Normal range is from 10 – 20.  But I was feeling far from normal. What if my normal should be closer to 20?  My homeopath recommended a low dose of Iodine.  After two months my free T4 test result had gone up to 12.6 – my eyelashes were growing back and I was running on real energy, not on my adrenals.  About a month before I started the Iodine, I also started to “Eat Right For Your Type”.  I was ready to try anything (natural!) that would help.  I don’t like taking medication and so working with food as medicine appealed to me.

I tried eating for my blood type in 1999, a few years after Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s book was published but since my husband and I rarely cooked at home it was overwhelming to follow the program while going to restaurants.  So we both gave up.  Fast forward to the present.  Five months ago I decided I would give it a real effort.  I had been eating a lot of foods recommended in the media as super-foods but my joints were telling me differently.  I’d reference “Eat for Your Type” and low and behold all those super-foods were on my avoid list.  Yikes!  So I eliminated them and my joint pain went away.

As a stay at home mom I am always grocery shopping and in the kitchen so the timing was perfect.  I focused on eating the foods that are in the Beneficial list, which react to the body like medicine and I avoid the foods from the Avoid list, which are dramatically defined as a poison to one’s system.  The end result?  My joint pain is mostly gone.  I can tell which foods trigger a bout of pain.  It’s all very fascinating.  But this was my experiment.  So far it is working for me.  It may be less convenient to follow a regimented program like this but I’ve got to tell you, it’s way less inconvenient than the debilitating joint pain I was living with.  Being pain free is what motivates me.

“If what you are doing isn’t working, doing more of it won’t work any better.”

-Alan Cohen

“It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.  There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

-Alan Cohen, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Fuel

Farmer plowing in Fahrenwalde, Mecklenburg-Vor...

The modern world has a strange relationship with food.

While early humans foraged for survival, modern civilization indulges in the increased production and availability of food, which has enabled us to focus our attention on other pursuits.

Food has become an affordable disposable luxury item for the developed countries, while the majority of the third world’s population cannot get enough to eat.

How is it that we over-eat until we feel sick then do it all over again? It is a cruel Pavlovian reflex.

We eat or drink to celebrate.  We eat or drink because we feel we ‘deserve’ a treat or as an emotional response.  We eat or drink to be social or to ‘fit-in’.

And sometimes we do not eat enough with the hope to control our weight.  Both extremes can leave lasting negative outcomes.

 In his book How to Be Compassionate, The Dalai Lama says:

“There are many discrepancies between the way things appear and the way they really are.  Something that is impermanent can appear permanent.  Also, sources of pain, such as overeating, sometimes first appear to be sources of pleasure, but in the end, they are not.  They actually bring us trouble.  Although we want happiness, in our ignorance we do not know how to achieve it; although we do not want pain, we misunderstand its workings, so we end up contributing to its causes.”

This can also be the case with exercise. Pushing so hard, not taking enough time for the body to rest and recover to the point of developing stress fractures; knowing better but not listening to your inner voice or the physiotherapist for that matter.

Can you find a parallel in your life?  Something that you do in excess or even in what might seem like a negligible amount that you know is harming you or will harm you in the future?

Will you stop this cycle?  Do you want to?

Were you able to stop this cycle?  How did you do it?

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