The Flesh Beckons

Today’s weight: 149 pounds… and dropping. This is down from around 190 at New Year’s, back when I was substantially more muscular, but a tad bloated. I like the lightness, but I’m not enjoying the weakness. Yesterday’s sad adventure on the field with the undergrads reinforced that sentiment.

Part of the problem is that my back pain issues are preventing me from doing my usual workout. So I’m designing a new program to ameliorate the situation. In addition to my regular lifting routine, I’m including a daily lower body regimen consisting of slow hamstring curls and static squats, based mostly on my kung fu training from decades past. The idea back then was to remain in a difficult stance for an hour or so to train both your mind and the small, balancing muscles around your lower joints. Today was Day One of the new program, and my back feels much better already. I’ve also instructed my massage therapist to focus more on my iliopsoas and hip flexors, again to accelerate the return to full mobility.

All of this will be very painful (and a tad expensive) in the short term, but I think it’s worth a good shot at a medicine-free solution to a chronic condition. The solution to most of life’s problems, kids, is always discipline.

And that brings us back to diet. I’ve shared with y’all my adventures in para-vegetarianism (which includes eggs and fish –’cause fish are moving vegetables, after all– but not milk, ’cause I’m not a fan). I’m into month #3 of that journey and I’m desperately feeling the need for protein. I’m convinced that my reduced protein intake is in large part responsible for my drop in weight, which I believe is a loss mostly of muscle mass.

Yes, other things have improved as well. My cholesterol is lower, and overall metabolic functions are better than they’ve been in years. But I miss the muscle, and I’m concerned that I may not be able to regain it if I rely strictly on vegetable and fish protein. Keep in mind that unfermented soy products (i.e., all fake meats, soy milk, most veggie burgers, TVP, etc) are mostly off limits due to their estrogenic effect.

I take solace in the existence of muscular vegetarians, like Christian Bale and the Klitschko brothers. But these dudes must be sucking back tons of cheese, vats of whey powder and a mountain of beans daily. The vegetable combinations necessary to make up a complete protein (akin to that found in animal flesh) are not too much work, but they’re not as easy as grilling up a steak. Luckily, a lot of Indian food comes already pre-balanced, after centuries of culinary evolution, to provide such completion. You will note, I hope, that a lot of Western vegetarians fail in their dietary quest because they do not pay enough attention to appropriate protein balancing standards. An amino acid deficiency will kick your ass in a serious way.

My problem is not in acquiring a full protein from vegetable sources, but in acquiring enough protein mass from those sources. Yes, the fish and eggs have helped. But a serving of oily salmon provides about 22 grams of complete protein. The same mass of chicken breast, boiled or grilled, provides more than twice that amount. Vegetable sources, per mass, offer a fraction of that amount. Despite my weight loss, I’m still a fairly muscular man, and I’m in dire need of more protein!

In short, I’m giving very serious thought to re-introducing bird flesh into my diet, specifically chicken and turkey breast. Do keep in mind that my migration to pesco-vegetarianism these past months was not solely a moral choice, but a health one, as well, and one borne of a theory that the human body is best atuned to the hunter-gatherer diet of our distant ancestors, one made up mostly of legumes and fruits, spiced monthly with high protein animal flesh. The point at which this experiment must be modified is when my health becomes affected, which I believe it has been.

So don’t be surprised if in a future post I wax poetically about the joys of a chicken breast sandwich.

In Other News…

Taken from Distinguished Canadian Leadership Awards

I met Allan Rock yesterday. He’s the new President of the University of Ottawa, and is making the rounds meeting everyone. Rock is, as I hope you know, a former federal Minister of Health, Minister of Industry and former ambassador to the United Nations. I’ve always been somewhat of a restrained fan of his, and welcome his ascension to the University’s highest office. Yes, I am sucking up to the new boss…. mostly because Mr. Rock agreed to give a guest lecture to my class this year, and I intend to see that he keeps that commitment!

Young Dr Klar sends us this great site: The World is My Canvas, about GPS art. It’s best enjoyed with the sound on.