Monthly Archives: April 2012

I have long been a fan of Brené Brown, ever since I saw her 2010 TED talk (I’ve embedded the video below).

You may not immediately get the links between obesity and what Brené talks about, but there are a number of them.  For instance, her key research interest is in shame, and who of us obese people isn’t ashamed of it at some level?  We know we shouldn’t be ashamed; we’re not the lazy, greedy slobs that everyone thinks we are, but we’re ashamed anyway.

But Brené’s chief subject is that of connection:

Connection is our ability to forge meaningful, authentic relationships with other people.

I believe that connection is the essence of the human experience.

It is what breathes life into, and gives meaning to our lives.

… and I think that “meaningful, authentic relationships” can be a true source of comfort, the comfort that we mistakenly seek in food.  She says that it is shame that impedes our ability to make connections, because it raises the fear that people will not want to be with us, because we’re too fat, too thin, too old, too ugly, not strong enough, not successful enough, not manly, or womanly, enough.

Food, of course, doesn’t judge us.

It just kills us!

Here’s an 8-minute clip of Brené, talking about shame and empathy, two ends of a spectrum:


Here’s her 2010 TED talk, the one that has over 600,000 views on You Tube, and probably many more on the TED website.  It’s where she begins to outline her concept of “Whole-heartedness”, which I think will become a core concept of Together We Can, just as soon as I manage to relate it to the Secure Attachment Status described by Bowlby and others.


… and here is Brené at TED once more, in March 2012, talking about shame.  This is very powerful for me, and many others, I think.

Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.


[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="B002OIKZAG" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="133"]If you want to know more about her, check out her website:  That’s where I discovered her “Connections Curriculum“, which I am looking forward to bring back from Florida in a couple of weeks.

One post script.  By making these talks, and publishing this stuff, Brené walks her talk, makes herself vulnerable, and, sometimes, gets kicked in the teeth.  I’m sorry for that, and I admire her courage, and I hope that I can learn something from her, and stand up for what I believe in as passionately as she does.

[simpleazon-image align="left" asin="159285849X" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="107"]Here she is discussing the price of being vulnerable in public.  What can you do?  Can we overcome stuff like this?  Probably not. Can we find ways to live with ourselves and our passions, in a world that has such people in it?  I believe that Together We Can.  It’s about who you make connections with, the integrity of those connections, and how you cut connections that don’t serve.

Good news, first seen on the BBC.

Organisations representing nearly every doctor in the UK have united in a single campaign to tackle rising levels of obesity.

The campaign will start by reviewing the case for fat taxes, promoting exercise, restricting food advertising and other measures.

Now, if only I could find a way to get them to:

  • Actually talk to obese people,
  • Use the latest brain research to work on the mind, emotions, spirit side of obesity,
  • Get the nation Nordic Walking

I would be a happy soul!

Can anyone introduce me to Professor Terence Stephenson?

I have been following up some Internet research for a good friend of mine who has followed the “Radical Nutrition Programme” of LFFO, has lost close on 60lbs and looks FABULOUS, but still has some problems.

Some of those are in the mind, and we’re working on that together, but this person also has all the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome:

  • Can’t shift the weight around the middle, even though the BMI says you’re at a good weight
  • High Blood sugar that medication has difficulty shifting (insulin resistance)
  • High Blood Pressure (hypertension)
  • High Cholesterol

[simpleazon-image align="left" asin="1468161776" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="107"]There are other symptoms, but this is enough.  Susan found an article in “The Week” that was a summary of a longer article in the Daily Telegraph, called “The Bitter Truth About Sugar“.  It’s not a long article but it certainly inspired me to Google the scientist behind the article, Professor Robert Lustig of UCSF.  His video on You Tube (below) has had 2.25 million hits and makes compelling viewing: I just watched it in one go.  He argues that sugar is as toxic as ethanol (alcohol).  The table above summarises the argument: I still think it’s worth watching the video.

At times it gets a bit technical when he delves into the biochemistry, but he’s entertaining and keeps us with him, but if you’ve ever worried about your weight, you owe it to yourself to find the times to watch one of these videos.

Nobody chooses to be obese,” says Lustig. “Nobody. Especially not children. This is a global pandemic. D’you think, all of a sudden, everybody in the world became gluttons and sloths at the same time? Get with the programme!

Read the article and if it catches your attention, and either watch the short version of the video (26 minutes)


… or the long version (89 minutes)


This isn’t just scare stuff: he suggests what we can do to help ourselves:

Lifestyle Intervention

  1. Get rid of all sugared liquids–only water and milk
  2. Eat your carbohydrate with fibre
  3. Wait 20 minutes for second portions
  4. Buy your “screen time” minute-for-minute with physical activity.

Also, get some exercise: not because you’ll burn the calories (it takes a LOT of exercise to burn a Big Mac!), but because:

Why is exercise important in obesity?

  1. Because it improves skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity
  2. Becasue it reduces stress and resultant cortisol release
  3. Because it makes the TCA cycle (the basic process that digests food and produces energy) run faster, detoxifies fructose, and improves hepatic insulin sensitivity.

Also, he’s heavy on making sure that you have plenty of fibre in your diet:

Why Is Fibre Important in Obesity?

“When God Made the Poison,
He packaged it with the antidote”

Fructose is a poison, but wherever it appears in nature, it’s packaged with way more fibre.


  1. Reduces the rate of intestinal carbohydrate absorption, reducing insulin response (Fat or Fart)
  2. Increases speed of transit of intestinal contents, raising PYY 3-36 and thus induces satiety signal sooner
  3. Inhibits absorption of some free fatty acids to the colon, which are metabolized by colonic bacteria to short-chain fatty acids, which suppress insulin

So, here’s the summary of the message:

  • Fructose consumption has increased in the last 30 years, coinciding with the obesity epidemic
  • A calorie is not a calorie (fructose is not glucose)
  • You are not what you eat, you are what you do with what you eat
  • Fructose metabolism in the liver leads to Metabolic Syndrome
  • Consuming fructose interferes with obesity intervention
  • Fructose is a chronic liver toxin: it’s alcohol without the buzz.

Here’s an excellent infographic from an article (The Amazing Similarities Between this Toxic Sugar and Alcohol) on Mercola’s website with a wealth of info:
fructose overload infographic

Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic “Fructose Overload.” Use the embed code to share it on your website.

fructose overload infographic

Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic “Fructose Overload.”

Here’s another BBC Horizon programme, investigating fat and obesity.  Interesting stuff but a lot of it gets me mad!  The only obese person they spoke to was just about to go for gastric bypass surgery … and that’s an option you may not want to take:

People undergoing weight loss surgery typically do so because they believe it will save their life … but according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, you have a one in 50 chance of dying within 30 days of gastric bypass surgery.  And if your surgeon isn’t experienced, your risk is even higher. Within the surgeon’s first 19 procedures, the odds of death within 30 days were 4.7 times higher!

Mercola Fitness Website

But it’s their investigation of the effects of the hunger and satiety hormones, ghrelin and leptin that is most interesting, and which gets me most mad.  Their conclusions (that obese people don’t respond to leptin and ghrelin like non-obese people, and that’s why “they are hungry all the time”) are so grossly unscientific.  If these “scientists” would go and talk to obese people,  they’d discover that most of us are never hungry.  We quite often miss being hungry!

[simpleazon-image align="right" asin="0380718723" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="128"]So why do we eat if we’re not hungry?  Well, Dr Roger Callaghan  has an interesting book with exactly that title: Why Do I Eat When I’m Not Hungry?  He puts it down to anxiety, and I think I go along with him.  The latest neuro-science research would probably support it, too.  Basically, it’s because we’re addicted, and that’s a long subject.

Anyway, “flame off” for now and there is interesting stuff in the programme, so watch “The Truth About Fat” here on BBC iPlayer. (no longer available, but here’s an interesting insight:


I did find their research with identical twins interesting, where they had a genetic pre-disposition to obesity, but only one twin of the pair had expressed that gene.  There’s an interesting piece of research that I saw reported on the Ordnance Survey maps website (“Regular walks can cut obesity gene in half”) that reports some research showing that walking can reduce your probability of the “obese gene” expressing itself by 50%, by regular walking.

There was a recent BBC Horizon programme that reported on High Intensity Training … where 3 minutes high intensity exercise will make you fit and healthy!

Sceptical?  So was I!!

You can no longer see the programme on BBC iPlayer, but there’s a BBC News article about it, and here’s a 30-minute version that aired in the USA on PBS:


The programme seems to have been inspired by the work of Izumi Tabata which has inspired a lot of interest in Tabata training or Low Frequency High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).

This video should give you an idea:


There are also some echos of HIIT in the Paleo exercise regimes … the notion being that we think about the likely pattern of exercise for hunter gatherers: short bursts of intense effort while hunting, followed by long periods of rest while eating the kill.

A lot of paleo people are into Crossfit:


The description on that You Tube video says:

What is CrossFit? CrossFit is an effective way to get fit. Anyone can do it.

My reaction right now is, “yeah, right!”

We just signed up for six sessions of Crossfit with CrossFit Lake Mary, mainly because of the “Power of Community” book, below.  They say that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger; we will see.

[simpleazon-image align="none" asin="B006ZI0WTA" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="160"][simpleazon-image align="none" asin="B007L3NFJ2" locale="us" height="124" src="" width="88"][simpleazon-image align="right" asin="1934030902" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="107"][simpleazon-image align="right" asin="1936608731" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="108"]


I shall have more to say about super humans later, but my mind has been completely blown away by realising that there are people doing things I never imagined possible: like running 135 miles across Death Valley in 120 degree heat in 24 hours, non stop.  It makes you think, doesn’t it?  Well, it makes me think!

[simpleazon-image align="none" asin="0547569653" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="106"]  [simpleazon-image align="none" asin="0307952193" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="106"]  [simpleazon-image align="none" asin="0738212547" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="108"]  [simpleazon-image align="none" asin="1584154845" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="104"]


[simpleazon-image align="none" asin="0307279189" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="104"]   [simpleazon-image align="none" asin="1592334652" locale="us" height="160" src="" width="128"]

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