Monthly Archives: July 2013

Back in 2009 I had this whole weight-loss, getting healthy, curing disease thing licked.  All except for one little thing.  What happens between my ears and in my heart, both literally and metaphorically.

I have written about this stuff before, and I’ll make a little “mind and emotions” index at the bottom of this post, but a recent BBC Program, “The Truth About Personality” re-ignited my interest, that and some posts in other people’s blogs, and some thoughts of my own … but let’s start with the BBC.  The programme is presented by Michael Mosely, of whom the BBC says:

Michael Mosley is a science presenter, writer and executive producer.  After training as a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital in London, Michael switched course and joined the BBC. He has produced a wide range of science-based programmes … and he was named Medical Journalist of the Year by the British Medical Association.

and of the programme, the BBC says:

Michael Mosley explores the latest science about how our personalities are created – and whether they can be changed.  Despite appearances, Mosley is a pessimist who constantly frets about the future. He wants to worry less and become more of an optimist.

He tries out two techniques to change this aspect of his personality – with surprising results.  And he travels to the frontiers of genetics and neuroscience to find out about the forces that shape all our personalities.

I found the programme fascinating, and I believe there’s a lot here that can help those of us for whom getting lean and healthy is more than “just” a problem of metabolic disorder.  It’s easiest if you take some time, get comfortable, grab a coffee or a gin and tonic, and watch the programme (it takes an hour).



You can see the actual “smiley faces” exercise used in the programme, online (the Cognitive Bias Modification), right here (just click the link).


There are a number of apps for the iPhone and Windows–I haven’t yet checked out for other platforms.

  • PsychMeUp, is from Mindhabits (the link goes to the app store).  Mindhabits also have a number of games on the web, some demo, some for purchase.

PsychMeUpMindHabits also has a Windows-Based app, with a free demo version, and a downloadable Windows Version.  Here’s the demo version.  The free, downloadable version only lasts for an hour, but that’s long enough to get a sense of it.  You can play PsychMeUp on your iPad or iPhone, forever, for free, so that should help you decide if it works.  The full MindHabits Windows app costs $19.95.  I haven’t tried any of them long enough to report personal experience over the long term.

AnxietyMint have a paid-for app (£1.69 in the UK).  Click for AnxietyMint on the App Store.

Jason Pegg, the author of the app uses the same basic structure for two other apps: (they are all £1.69).

These apps are fully editable: I am already working on editing Diet Mint to be more of an aid for the Ketogenic Diet.

I have all of these (except SmokingMint) and will review them as soon as I have got used to them.


Still To Come

  • Pzizz to aid mindfulness,
  • Other Mindfulness aids
  • Further thoughts if your mother didn’t lick you enough (if that’s a mystery, you haven’t watched the video!)
  • Index to blogs already touching this subject.
  • etc

Gary Taubes

Peter Attia

Most people with an interest in overcoming obesity will have heard of Gary Taubes, especially if you’re a regular reader of Live Free From Obesity: I mentioned him originally in Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes, and Vegetarian or Carnivore? You choose!, amongst other blogs.

In fact when I first read Gary’s [simpleazon-link asin="0307474259" locale="us"]Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It[/simpleazon-link] he immediately became a hero of mine.

Gary is a science journalist, rather than a practising scientist (although, I happen to believe, with a sharper scientific mind than many who are practising scientists).  For a significant part of his career he has majored in writing about bad science–which is what first got him interested in nutrition.  But whereas when he was writing about the bad science of cold fusion he was content to just tell the story, he has become much more deeply involved with nutrition and, last September (2012), with Peter Attia, he set up the Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI).

I have always found both Gary and Peter quite scary: they have brains much sharper than mine (and I’m no fool), and they also have a level of personal discipline and persistence that I can only envy.  So I was pretty much moved to tears when I watched Peter’s recent TEDMED talk, when he, too was almost moved to tears.  See what you think.


For a less emotional, more factual introduction to NuSI and its work, spend three minutes with this video:


Peter is also running a blog covering some of the most burning questions that individuals have: what should I eat, should I be concerned about cholesterol, how can I protect myself from the major “diseases of civilisation” on his own website, The Eating Academy.  To begin to study what Peter has to say, start on the Eating Academy’s “Start Here” page.

Peter is at pains to explain scientific concepts in everyday language, but I have to say, his blogs sometimes make me work hard, and I suspect they may leave some of the readers of Live Free From Obesity gasping for air!

Don’t worry, I will make it my task to translate the more difficult posts into still simpler language, so that people with little of no scientific training, but who are eager to understand Why We Get Fat, And What To Do About It, can take the news on board!

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The mainstay of our Keto life are the amazing keto rolls.  When people ask “what is keto?”, rather than tell them what we don’t eat, we give them some crispy bacon in a keto roll, and tell them that this is what we do eat (plenty of butter on the roll, too).

Then we tell them that there’s no flour or sugar in the roll.  It tends to go easily after that!Keto Rolls 01 Keto Rolls 02 Keto Rolls 03

To get our version of the recipe, right click here: Keto Rolls, and select “Save As” (or whatever your browser says).  There are many other versions!

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It turns out that Susan has a new preferred keto roll recipe from nutritional blogger Maria Emmerich.  Susan says that the recipe above is good, but not reliable.  Sometimes the rolls are fine (just look at them in those pictures!) and sometimes they come out looking like … well, sort of flattened pancakes.  And solid!

Here’s Maria, making keto bread:

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And you can find more details of Maria’s recipe on her blog page “Toasted Sub Sandwich and Panini” (Scroll down until you get to: “HEALTHIFIED” SUB (June 2013 update!)).

Here’s a PDF of our version of Maria’s recipe (right click and “save as” here).

… and my ultimate in gastro-gasmic gustatory heaven is to slice a keto roll and put the two pieces, cut side down in the frying pan while cooking the bacon!

I have never had a guest post on Live Free From Obesity before, but my FB friend, Deborah Dunkerton, posted this on the Ketogenic Diet Group on Facebook and I thought it was so good, I asked her to allow me to post it as a guest post.  Over to you, Deborah:

16 July 02:55
This will be long winded ;)

Reading James’s post and seeing the comments about cholesterol give me this funny little eye twitch.

First a disclaimer: I am not a professional on this subject but I have studied it INTENSIVELY for more than five years, and I discount any silly sensationalist web sites that make wild claims, I zero in on rational valid studies and even then I’ve spent hours pulling apart the data to draw my own conclusions.

Time for a little cholesterol 101.

Traditional western medicine would have you believe your body is some kind of ticking time bomb primed to self-destruct at any time. Why this is I’m not sure; I’m not one for conspiracy theories but it is in their interest to make you believe that you can’t possibly survive without their help or intervention.

Contrary to that philosophy, CAM (Complementary Alternative Medicine) will tell you that your body is an amazing machine capable of healing itself from just about anything, given the right fuel.

Humans are the most adaptable higher-order animals on the planet: we survive on every continent in every extreme. We can eat anything, from insects to elephants.  The only thing we can’t digest is grass, but we can eat the things that eat the grass.

Because of this adaptability and our superior brain capacity, we have thrived for millennia to become the dominant species on the planet–keep that in mind the next time your doctor tells you to eat some processed chemical-laden food to keep you healthy.

So to cholesterol: cholesterol is essential for just about every function of the human body, for healing, hormone regulation and nervous function.

Without it, you’re dead.

Your body doesn’t produce cholesterol as some kind of self-destruct mechanism, it produces what it needs in response to the requirements of your body – if your cholesterol is high IT’S HIGH FOR A REASON and that almost certainly will not be because you ate too much butter.

The vast majority of cholesterol in your body is produced by your own liver (more than 95% IIRC [James: I think it's more like 80%, but who's quibbling?]), a tiny proportion comes from ingested cholesterol but is normally excreted, and cholesterol has too many specific functions for the body to simply use the cholesterol from another species or plant.

Cholesterol is essential for healthy cardiovascular function – and here is where the issue arises. To cut a long explanation short, your body uses cholesterol to deal with inflammation in your arteries, the cholesterol is not a bystander but it’s also not the cause. When artery walls become inflamed (imagine rubbing them with sandpaper) your liver produces a special kind of cholesterol to smooth and cover the damage, cells then grow over that smoothed layer and the cholesterol is trapped in the artery walls. If you don’t address the cause of the inflammation the body continues to smooth over the damage resulting in a thickening of the artery walls and eventually blockage. Researchers find cholesterol at the site of arterial sclerosis and blame the cholesterol but really that’s like shooting the fireman at the scene of a fire.

To complicate matters further small particle LDL (oxidized cholesterol) tends to get trapped in these narrowed arterial sections exacerbating the problem.

So what is the real cause of arterial inflammation?

High blood sugar is the first culprit and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) are now thought to be another culprit (seed oils like sunflower and canola). So the very diet they tell you to eat to avoid heart disease actually causes it in the first place.

If your cholesterol is high you need to go look for the reasons.  It takes a good six months on a ketogenic diet to bring cholesterol levels down to normal, and this depends on you not having any other inflammatory processes as well. Myself for instance, I have a food intolerance, my C reactive protein and cholesterol skyrocketed when that manifested itself quite suddenly after a period of intense stress and a bout of shingles. These days my cholesterol sits slightly above normal because I continue to deal with the food intolerance (which ironically involves green vegetables), but I look on that as fine: it means my body is dealing with the issue.

Another issue and the one that makes my eye twitch go crazy is Statins. [James: me too--"On Statins, Cholesterol and the Like"]

My personal opinion is that taking statins to reduce cholesterol is borderline malpractice.

Even disregarding the issue of messing with a perfectly-tuned system of hormone balance, statins stop the body’s production of CoQ10 which is essential for cardiac health. On top of that, you leave yourself open to liver damage, onset of T2 diabetes, nerve damage, impaired brain function and muscle damage.

Oh and girls, taking statins can lead to early onset menopause because it messes with hormone production.

Coronary Calcium Scan

A word about the “accepted” levels of cholesterol as advised by the health authorities – the level used to be much higher, but because of research by the drug companies (and we know that research is fair and balanced right?) the level was lowered drastically, that coincidentally caused tens of millions of Americans to be classified with high cholesterol and put onto cholesterol lowering medications thereby boosting the profits of the drug companies. Pfizer is actually lobbying the FDA to take Lipitor off the prescription list so it can be bought off the shelf in the US. Lipitor is the biggest selling drug of all time, $3 billion a year last I checked, its in their best interests for you to worry about cholesterol levels.

Bottom line: eat a healthy low-carb diet and stop worrying about your cholesterol.  Iif you’re worried about your heart health then ask for a coronary calcium scan.

If you want to watch a real eye opening documentary on statins I highly recommend you go buy this DVD,

OK, now my eye has stopped twitching :)


$tatin Nation Trailer


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Arnold Schwarzenegger

Michelle Davis

It is true that if you look like either of these two people then your BMI will be pretty meaningless, so, before you read any further, please undress and either stand in front of a mirror, or in front of a good friend, and ask them whether, in all honesty, you look much like either of these pictures.

If the answer is “no”, and if you are concerned for your weight or you health, then BMI can be a useful metric, provided that you understand it.  So what is  the body mass index?

Consider this: the taller you are, the more you would expect to weigh.

The shorter you are the less you would be expected to weigh.  But what about a short and very fat person?  They may weigh more than a tall, thin person.

BMI is the measure that evens that out, so that we can compare like with like.  It is your body mass (or weight: only a physicist needs to know the difference between mass and weight) divided by the square of your height.  For all the gruesome detail, check the Wikipedia article, “Body Mass Index“.

You derive the number directly if working in kilograms and meters: you need to multiply by 703 if working in lbs and inches.  And then those numbers fall into broad bands just to give a description to where you are, and to turn the raw numbers into descriptive words.  Here are some charts to give you an idea.

BMI, Kg and Metres

BMI, Pounds and inches


Now you think that would be all very simple … but it isn’t.  Let me tell you my own story, by way of illustration.  Back in June 2009 I weighed 22 stones (308lbs, 140kg).  I am 6’4″ tall.  That falls off of the chart above, but let’s use the calculator that’s in the right margin of this page.  It gives a BMI of 37.5, classed as “Obese Class II”.  Back in 2009 the description was more blunt.  It was called “morbidly obese”.  I accepted the verdict.

The pharmacist who was guiding me into weight loss using Lipotrim asked me what I thought I should choose as my goal weight.  I didn’t know, so he looked on the BMI chart (I had never come across it before).

Look across from 6’4″ until you get to the green zone.  Somewhere between 190lbs and 200lbs looks about right.  In English stones, 14 stones is 196lbs.  So he suggested 14 stones as a goal weight.  ROFL, LMAO, and other such tags came to mind.  That was patently ridiculous!  I hadn’t been that weight since I was in my early 20s, which was before the metric system had even been invented!

He wasn’t fazed by my mirth, and asked what I thought was reasonable.  Well, once, back in the mid-1970s, I had made a concerted effort to lose weight and had come within a whisker of 15 stones (210 lbs, 95.5 kg).  But that was 35 years earlier, and I was older and wider now (I wish I could say older and wiser, but I’ll stick to the truth), so I figured I’d shoot for 16 stones (224 lbs, roughly 100 kg).

That would get me down from Morbidly Obese, through Obese, to merely overweight.  And I wasn’t looking at his chart.  And he didn’t want to put me off by holding me to what I obviously thought was an unachievable target.  To help someone lose 84 lbs (6 stones, 38 kg) was a huge improvement, after all.

But here’s the thing.  When I hit 16 stones I did the test above: the jumping up and down naked thing.  Not only did I not look like Arnie, I didn’t even look like the 7-stone (97 lb) weakling in the Charles Atlas ads of my youth.  I still looked like a fat guy, just not as fat as I had been.  I realised that the BMI scale is pretty accurate.

Yesterday evening a friend wrote to me, convinced that the BMI calculator over on the right is wrong; giving false information.  So let’s check it out.  First I’ll use my measurements.  6’4″ is 76 inches.

22 stones comes to 308 lbs.  So, my height squared is 76 x 76 = 5776.  308 ÷ 5776 = 0.05332409972299168975069252077562, times 703 = 37.48.  Which is what the calculator gives.  So it works for this tall, heavy man.

Now, my friend is a woman, and she’s shorter and lighter.  She tells me that she is 5’5″ (65 inches, 165 cm), and that she currently weighs 154 lbs (11 stones, 70kg).  Let’s do the sums: 65 squared is 4225, and 154 ÷ 4225 gives a BMI of 26.23, which makes her in the lower third of the “overweight” band.  It also gives her a range of goal weights to aim for.  The lighter end of the normal band for her height is 110lbs (7 stone 12, or 50kg) and the upper end is 140lbs (10 stones, 64 kg), which is quite a range.  Only you (or your best friends) can tell you whether you are truly big-boned, or whether you are kidding yourself.

And, of course, the BMI won’t tell you if you are fit.  Even when you are at a BMI rated as “normal”, it is interesting to see what happens if you jump up and down naked in front of the mirror.  Can people bounce coins of your butt, or would they vanish.  As you head towards your goal weight, getting some muscle tone will help a lot, and BMI has nothing to say about that!

How surprised people are when told of the goal weight that would give a “correct” BMI is, I believe, a measure of how overweight we have all become.

(An earlier version of the calculator in the right margin gave incorrect values lower down the range.  I have switched to a different calculator.)

A couple of weeks ago I needed to see the diabetic nurse at my GP Practice.  Expecting that she wouldn’t have heard of the Ketogenic Diet, I produced a one-page introduction that I (and you) can download and print out.  It’s here, if you would like it: A One-page Intro to Ketogenic Diets to hand to medical sceptics.

She had a look at my recent blood results: (you’re welcome to have a look if you’re interested: Blood Results James Hardiman 2013 07 03) and said my cholesterol was high and handed me a highly-coloured sheet of advice for people with high cholesterol.  I was going to scan it, but it’s too much of a hassle, for no benefit to anyone.  If you want to know what Flora Pro-Activ say about cholesterol, and themselves, try their website.  I was shocked at this blatant commercialism, getting my health professional to push their stuff, especially when it tells me to eat bread spread with margarine as a “heart-healthy diet”.

I whinged about it on Facebook and a good friend came back to me with a link to an article in the Ecologist: “Behind the label: Flora Pro-Activ“.  By now I was pretty unhappy, so I have made that article into a printable one-pager, together with one-pagers from two of my own blog posts: Is There Good and Bad Cholesterol? and On Statins, Cholesterol and the Like.  To download these articles, right-click on the link below and choose Save As.

I have been doing some cooking (and so has Susan).

The mayo recipe is derived from someone else, but we’ve lost track of who–if you recognise it, please say and we’ll acknowledge you.

The Frittata and the salsa are all mine!

Quick and Easy Mayo

Designed to look and taste like Hellman’s, but without the canola oil and other nasty stuff, and without putting money in Monsanto’s pocket (yes, they own Hellman’s, it seems).

Also, this recipe doesn’t call for that “pour the oil very slowly” stuff.  Just pour all the ingredients in a tall cup and blend with a stick blender. Success every time!

Click here (or right click and click “Save As”) for the Quick and Easy Paleo Mayo recipe.

James’ Frittata

Clothilde Ermintrude

Clothilde and Ermintrude

Harriet and Juanita

Sort of like a cross between a quiche (but without the pastry), a Spanish tortilla (but no potato), or an omelette (but much easier).

Especially good if you have lots of eggs (we do: we have our own chickens.  Thank you girls!)

This recipe is for experimenting: learn the basics, and then experiment with the optional ingredients.

Click here (or right click and click “Save As”) for the James Paleo Keto Frittata recipe.

 James’ Salsa Recipe

If you don’t like sharp and hot flavours, then this isn’t for you.  But if you, like me, hanker after vinegary, chilli flavours, then this will accompany almost anything!  And as tomatoes come into season, substitute the canned tomatoes with fresh ones: preferably home grown.

Click here (or right click and click “Save As”) for the James Salsa Recipe recipe.

There is a lot of advice on the Internet in general, and Facebook in particular, for people wanting to go Low Carb, Paleo, Primal or Ketogenic.

But if you can’t find the answer to your particular problem, especially if you have a very particular medical concern, where do you turn?

For general advice, check out my list of Facebook pages I must update it: the number of FB pages on this subject grows daily!) “Paleo/Primal/Low-Carb/Weight Loss/Fitness Facebook Pages

Otherwise, try these:

Primal Docs

Primal Docs is a network of over 400 physicians, healthcare practitioners, and independent businesses with a practical and evolutionary approach to health and nutrition. We are at the forefront of what is “Real Healthcare Reform”.

Paleo Physicians Network

The Mission:
The purpose of the Paleo Physicians Network (PPN) is to provide a simple interface between health conscious consumers and the medical professionals who practice Darwinian/Evolutionary Medicine.

Health practitioners in the PPN share these values:
For non-emergent (life threatening) situations the first intervention for most issues should derive from an Evolutionarily consistent framework including, Paleo Nutrition, sleep patterns, socialization, and exercise which is consistent with the processes which formed the H. Sapien genome.

Jimmy Moore’s Low Carb Doctors

Jimmy says:

A list of all the low-carb doctors across the United States and around the world so that people who want to learn more about this miraculous way of eating and how it can change their life like it did for me and so many more can find a friendly, caring physician ready to help them do it the right way. Too often we are left to our own devices without any medical assistance when we start on a diet. Use this resource to find doctors who will SUPPORT you, not BLAME you for your obesity and disease.

I have to see the new diabetic nurse at my GP surgery this morning (no more avoiding her now I have to take Warfarin, and need to visit the GP much more often!)

I anticipate that she won’t have heard of the ketogenic diet, so I have written a one-page intro, The Ketogenic Diet, which you can download by clicking that link.

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See also:

Ketogenic What is a Ketogenic Diet, in a nutshell?
Ketogenic A Guide to Ketosis
Ketogenic What is the Ketogenic Diet Good For?
Ketogenic Tips for Starting and Restarting Ketosis
Ketogenic On Ketogenic Diets
Ketogenic How to Use the Keto Calculator
Ketogenic Ketone Testing
Ketogenic A one-page intro to Ketogenic Diets, to hand to medical sceptics
Ketogenic 203 Comments on Mark Maunder’s “Basic Ketogenic Diet”

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