A time for feasting, a time for fasting

Fasting

In ‘The Complete Guide to Fasting’, the authors talk about the importance of feasting and fasting. In most traditional cultures there are both feasts and fasts. They balance each other out. But in our culture the fasting side is ignored and we feast, feast, feast. And then we get Type 2 diabetes and die. Or, if we are lucky, we learn about ketogenic diets and Intermittent Fasting and live.

The authors of ‘The  Complete Guide to Fasting’ recommend a ketogenic diet for your eating periods. A ketogenic diet has been scientifically proven to have a number of health benefits— unlike the low-calorie/low-fat fad diet which has been shown in scientific studies to slow your metabolism and raise your blood sugar.

One thing you need for your ketogenic diet is some good recipes so you can make some food that is permitted on your diet and tasty. The hardest part of ketogenic is that most of us have to start cooking our own meals. Dr. Atkins in his diet books claimed that you could order what you want at restaurants. We don’t have that kind of restaurant where I live. The restaurants I used to go to had amazing levels of trouble just remembering not to bring me toast or muffins when I asked them not to.

What I most need is recipes I can make again and again. I used to always make up a batch of devilled eggs for ketogenic meals. I made some with cheese and bacon bits added to the yolk mixture.

Then I used to make a recipe with tuna adapted from a recipe in one of Dr. Atkins’ recipe books, for ‘fish loaf’. I’ve adapted a lot over the years and now add in a bit of mushrooms and a small amount of peas. That makes the ‘tuna loaf’ taste a bit like my mom’s tuna casserole.

I have a few other recipes that are my staples. But it is hard to make my own keto meals nearly every day when I’m not fasting. I’ve always been planning to try freezing portions of some recipes to reheat on days when I can’t stand cooking but I haven’t gotten to doing that yet. I’m not one of those super-organized kitchen women.

Lately what I have been making often is crustless quiche. I’ve made several variations— one with bacon bits, one with mushrooms, and one with some shredded Gouda cheese for the cheese portion and some tuna.

Intermittent Fasting really helps because it cuts down on the number of meals I have to cook. Frankly, I’d rather make some hot tea in the morning than cook something and have to clean up after myself.

Intermittent Fasting: You are already doing it…..

Podcaster Jimmy Moore sometimes says that talking about fasting is like using another f-word in church. Not very popular. But the fact is that Intermittent Fasting— fasting for less than a day— shouldn’t be so scary. We all do it.

Let’s think of someone with the worst eating habits ever. This person snacks during most of their waking hours. But this person takes a break from eating every night during sleep. So– let’s say this person snacks from dinner until midnight and goes to bed. Wakes up just before 6, and by the stroke of 6 has breakfast-food in the mouth. Bad, huh? But that person has just done intermittent fasting from midnight to 6. A six-hour fast!

Yesterday on Jimmy Moore’s Fasting podcast he had a guest, Aarn Farmer,  who does intermittent fasting daily for a few more hours than six a day. And he has gone from over 400 lbs to about half that. (Jimmy Moore also used to weigh over 400.)

In my own practice I am going back on to an intermittent fasting routine. My problem is that when I do eat, I eat high-carb foods too often. Jimmy Moore recommends going on a good ketogenic, low-carb diet before adding fasting to your routine. A ketogenic diet makes you less hungry and many people find themselves skipping meals when they have been on lowcarb/ketogenic diets for a while. (Unfamiliar with Low-Carb/Ketogenic diets? Read the book Keto Clarity by Jimmy Moore and  Eric Westman, MD.)

Intermittent fasting is about increasing your non-eating hours. Many people on an Intermittent Fasting plan skip breakfast. Biologically, breakfast-time is our least-hungry time of day.

You can also increase your non-eating hours by stopping eating after supper— cutting out those post-supper snacks. By stopping eating at 6pm after dinner, and not starting eating again until the next day’s lunch, you cut a number of eating hours out of the day.

There are a lot of health benefits from fasting, including intermittent fasting. The details of some of these benefits can be found in the book The Complete Guide to Fasting by Jimmy Moore and Dr. Jason Fung. You will learn, for example, that you can have cups of unsweetened coffee or tea while fasting, or even cups of bone broth.

Aarn Farmer, Jimmy Moore’s podcast guest, recommends listening to a lot of podcasts about intermittent fasting or about the ketogenic diet to keep you inspired. I’ve been doing that myself. I listen to Jimmy Moore’s Fasting podcast— new episodes come out on Fridays— on days when I’m doing intermittent fasting and his other health and diet podcasts on other days.  Jimmy Moore’s podcasts are great because he often has medical doctors as guests or co-podcasters, and he frequently talks about medical research of interest to those who fast or follow ketogenic diets.

I must admit I am not that good at fasting yet. I often don’t fast for as many hours in a day as I had planned— I usually eat lunch around 11 or 12, and I have a hard time with not snacking after supper. I also haven’t finished any longer fasts yet. But I am hopeful I will improve. The amount of intermittent fasting I’m doing at the moment is helping to bring my blood sugar down. Not into the normal range yet, but it’s better than it was.

 

 

Asperger Syndrome writers: how to write social interaction

If you go to an online group for writers and creative people with Asperger Syndrome, one common topic is whether an Aspie writer can write scenes of social interaction well enough to pass muster. After all, we have a deficit in social interaction skills in real life. We commonly miss nonverbal cues and that can make a social interaction go wrong. So how can we write social interaction?
One factor is the fact that we actually have social interactions all our lives. We may not fully understand them, but neurotypical people also have social interactions they don’t fully understand. Every time we interact with another person, they have things in their head that affect the interaction— and they may not reveal even important things either verbally or through nonverbal cues.
But the most important reason we Aspies can write good fiction, including social interaction scenes, is that it is FICTION. And social interaction in fiction is governed by rules.
Social interaction in fiction takes place in the form of scenes. Each scene in a work of fiction has a purpose— it advances the overall plot in some way. And each character that acts in a scene has a purpose in that scene. He brings an agenda to the encounter.
For example, take the first scene in the novel ‘Gone With the Wind.’ In the first scene there are three interacting characters— Scarlett O’Hara, a sixteen-year-old Southern belle, and two of her many beaus, Brent and Stuart Tarleton.
It seems like an ordinary social call, but all the characters start off with agendas. Scarlett prides herself in being a popular girl with lots of beaus, and she doesn’t want to lose any one of the beaus to the other girls. She flirts with the Tarleton twins even though she has no intention of marrying either one, since her heart is set on her neighbor, Ashley Wilkes.
Brent and Stuart want to rise in Scarlett’s estimation and become the chief members of Scarlett’s string of beaus. They probably have a vague idea that in time one or the other of them will propose marriage to Scarlett and she will accept. But the boys haven’t thought far enough ahead to even figure out that they can’t BOTH marry her and that this fact is likely to lead to a future conflict between the brothers.
Brent and Stuart have an immediate goal in the scene. A barbecue at the Wilkes plantation will be held the next day. There will be dancing, and the boys want Scarlett to promise them as many dances as socially possible.
Scarlett doesn’t want to give the boys the encouragement of too many dances. She has lots of other beaus she wants to dance with. And she wants to spend time with Ashley, the man she believes is her One True Love.
The Tarleton boys have a secret, though. They’ve previously visited the Wilkes plantation and were told a secret: Ashley’s cousin Melanie Hamilton will be at the barbecue, and the Wilkes family intends to announce the engagement of Ashley to his cousin Melanie.
Brent and Stuart think that revealing this will get them what they want— Scarlett’s attention. Girls like to know secrets, and they love hearing gossip about who is getting engaged, especially when they hear it before it becomes common knowledge. Surely this will win them lots of dances and attention from Scarlett at the barbecue!
But because Scarlett loves Ashley, she is distraught. It can’t possibly be true! Her attention has turned firmly away from the Tarleton boys. She absently promises them dances and other attention at the barbecue, but then she leaves without inviting them to dinner, which would have been common good manners.

You can see that it would not require lots of knowledge of real world social interactions in order to write a scene like this. Only a knowledge of what each character in the scene wants— and you, the author, gets to decide that.
Now, you will note that not everything in the scene is normal and typical of social interactions of the period. It is odd for the Tarletons to be chasing the same girl, and it’s odd of Scarlett to accept the brothers both into her circle of beaus. It’s also odd for Scarlett to forget her manners and not invite the boys to stay for dinner. But readers accept that. People don’t always live their lives according to the etiquette books. Because the characters have goals, and they act to further those goals in the scene, their behavior is accepted.

The scene, the first in the book, serves the purpose of introducing the main character, Scarlett, and the major threat to her happiness— her love is apparently about to marry another. This situation is central to the major conflicts of the novel right until the end.

So for writing effective scenes of social interaction, it is more important to know writing rules than the rules of real-world social interaction. And most Aspies with an interest in writing will be able to learn those rules by reading books like James Scott Bell’s book ‘Plot and Structure’ which will help you learn to create plots which follow the three-act structure, which in turn will help you to write valid scenes.


Blogs I’m reading:

Dawn Witzke: Review: A Pius Man by Declan Finn   –  I just finished reading Dawn Witzke’s book last night. An intense dystopian novel with a Catholic touch. And here she’s reviewing Declan Finn’s thriller A Pius Man (Pius like the popes of that name) which basically shoots up the Vatican but in a Catholic-friendly way.

Josephine Corcoran: Ignoring blog commentsJosephine tackles the topic of how the blogger should respond to certain types of blog comments, particularly those on very old posts.

Celebrating: Therapy!

Celebrate blog hopThis is the day of the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop.  And even though the fearless leader might be too ill to participate this week (prayers for her, please) I’m putting up a post and visiting some of the participants anyway.

Today I’m not posting from my own home. I had to come into town for an appointment, and stayed overnight at the home of my 90 year old mother.

My appointment was with my therapist, John Lindt. Besides being a licensed therapist, he also is a Protestant ordained minister, recently retired. We find a lot to talk about.

I originally started therapy because I needed someone to make an official diagnosis of my Asperger’s Syndrome. I continue because John’s a good guy to talk to.

Because I have Asperger’s Syndrome, I don’t have real-life friends. I don’t have a good enough relationship with any of my family, other than my mother, that they are willing to call me on the phone or want to talk to me if I called them. So, after my dad passed away, I had only one person to talk to IRL. And that’s not healthy.

John and I have a lot to talk about. We are both college-educated people. We also both have conservative political ideas. Sometimes John asks me about my opinion on stuff on the news— he’s interested in my sometimes-weird take on them.

We talk about things in my life (which I am not sharing) and other things. Yesterday’s session was taken up with talk about my new interest, psychology. Since he studied that in college, I thought he’d know some things, and he recommended an author to read (Viktor Frankel).

I find it very important to have this other voice in my life. Since my dad died I’ve had a problem in that my mom still knows how to press my buttons in order to try to force me to do everything in life her way. (As you can see, my mother never reads my blog.) She often acts as if the thing she wants to require me to do is the way every NORMAL person does things. It’s good to have John to talk to so he can reassure me that the way I do things is also valid and does not disprove my validity as a person.

Of course I know admitting I’m in therapy means that any lurking blog trolls can make fun of me for being ‘crazy.’ But, hey, people have been making fun of me all my life. I ignore it, mostly. And on a blog that means I don’t have to post the mean comments at all.

So, I’m celebrating my therapy and my therapist. And hoping all the other lonely people with Asperger’s Syndrome out there have good therapists to celebrate. Hint: if your current therapist is awful, thy a different one.

What I’ve learned since becoming a writer #IWSG

Insecure Writer’s Support Group

It’s IWSG posting day, and the question of the day is: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?

OK. One valuable lesson I have learned is that I am disorganized as hell and I can’t be fixed. Which I suppose is just another way of saying that I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a disorder in which lack of executive function— a scientific term which means ‘disorganized as hell’— is a feature. And not one of the cool features.

One way ‘disorganized as hell’ works out in my writing life is that I lose vital stuff and never find it again. For example, years ago I came up with the absolute perfect system of military rank for my Starship Destine series. I remember that each rank had 3 grades, and there were no captains in the rank system. ‘Captain’ was just a title for the guy who commanded a starship.

I wrote this system down in a composition book, then misplaced the composition book. I couldn’t recreate the system from memory. This stalled the Starship Destine project for years. A year ago I finally bit the bullet and created a new system.

What I have learned from such experience is that every writing project must have a home. A physical home, such as a plastic box in which to keep the composition books, three-ring binders, and random paper scraps related to the project. And an electronic home, such as one or more Scrivener projects, backed up on Dropbox. (If you don’t have the money for Scrivener, try YWriter which is free. Or give up some of your expensive habits, like eating breakfast, until you’ve saved up for Scrivener.)

Physical printouts of your work is important. With my poems I have a Scrivener file for them, in which they are sorted by year and month. When I write a poem into the Scrivener file, I ALWAYS print out a copy and put it in a file box.  When one of my computers died in 2015, I got a new one, re-downloaded my Scrivener, and retrieved my poetry file from Dropbox. I found that several of the most recent poems were missing from the file. But since I had my hard copy, I printed out the missing poems and nothing was lost.

For my Starship Destine series, I had one Scrivener file which was all my worldbuilding encyclopedia. I wrote out topics about my Starship Destine world/galaxy such as the different alien races, what Terra was like in that time period, how intelligent races were classified either as dominant, non-dominant and sub-dominant, how interplanetary affairs were conducted (no, not THAT kind of affairs….)  Printouts from this file are housed in a 3-ring binder which has a set of alphabetical dividers. So if I want to check a key fact about the Mender race, I find it under the letter ‘M’. in the binder.

Later I decided to use the Starship Destine world of an earlier era for my Western-with-aliens series which was to begin with a story called ‘Sky Machine over Texas.’ I did some outlining and character work on that and did some work on creating a Mender language— at least enough of a language to come up with personal names, place names and the like. I think it was based on a combination of Biblical Greek and ancient Egyptian. But I wasn’t being very organized at the time and some of the notes I made, including a language list of a couple dozen words/names and a list of Mender noble family surnames, has gone missing. I’m going to have to do a revamp of my Destine worldbuilding file to include the new material and a place to house the notes for both series. Will have to clear off some shelves to house some of this material when I’m not currently working on it.

I find that using this system helps me feel more confident. It’s a bit of work to keep it going and I have to remember to have composition books, 3-ring binders and plastic boxes around to house my hard copies, and have to remember to keep up with the Scrivener files and make sure to back them up to Dropbox. But I’m hoping I won’t have to drop writing projects for years any more because of lost notes. And for sure I mustn’t procrastinate recreating stuff that has been lost— I’m going to get out my Egyptian language book and my Strong’s Concordance (for the Greek) and create a new list of Mender words/names, as well as adding old Mender names and a word to my Scrivener file, by the end of this week.

Have you every had problems with organizing the notes for your writing or other creative projects? Have you come up with a system that works for you?


Blog posts I’m reading:

Since it’s IWSG posting day, I will be reading LOTS of posts from the IWSG list. If you want to read some for yourself, the list of blogs is here: http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/p/iwsg-sign-up.html

Intermittent #Fasting, Day Two

Last night I finally bought book The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung and Jimmy Moore. I’ve been listening to Jimmy Moore’s health podcasts for some time now and he has a new podcast about fasting with his co-author, Dr. Fung.

What most people don’t know about fasting is that fasting isn’t some odd or scary thing. We do it every day when we stop eating in the evening, go to bed, and don’t eat again until morning. One form of fasting recommended in the book is the 16 hour fast, when you stop eating at dinner and don’t eat again until the next day at noon. Since human beings feel the least amount of hunger during the morning, the 16 hour fast is something many of us have done without knowing we are fasting!

I’ve actually been doing 16 hour fasts for years without thinking of it as fasting, ever since I read a health-related book which recommended skipping breakfast. In our snack-happy culture, we all need to start putting some limits on how many hours a day we are eating. (In 1970 the average person ate— meals and snacks— three times a day. Now we eat 6-7 times a day— and the diabetes and obesity rates are sky high.)

One thing that interests me about the book is that one author, Dr. Jason Fung, is a nephrologist (kidney doctor) who works with many diabetic patients. I have diabetes and kidney disease myself, and have endured a series of second-rate nephrologists who seem oriented to watching my kidneys deteriorate until I’m condemned to their dialysis clinic.

Dr. Fung seems to be giving his patients hope that their diabetes and kidney disease will get better when they follow his treatment which includes ketogenic diet and fasting. One of my nephrologists, by contrast, told me kidney disease never improves (even though mine had) and is never affected by diet changes.

Dr. Fung recommend his patients go on 3 fasts of 36 hours per week. How that works is:

Day one: stop eating after dinner

Day two: eat nothing all day, water and plain coffee and tea are allowed.

Day three: don’t eat until noon/lunch, stop eating after dinner

Day four: eat nothing all day

Day five: Don’t eat until noon/lunch, stop eating after dinner

Day six: eat nothing all day

Day seven: Don’t eat until noon/lunch.

You will notice that since day seven is followed by the next week’s day one, and so there are two eating days in a row.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this blog is to be construed as medical advise, and you should READ THE BOOK and pay attention to its restrictions and advice— including the advice to NOT FAST if you have certain medical conditions and CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR about your fasting.

I’m currently on Day Two of the plan about and have not eaten since 6 pm last night. It is currently nearly 1 pm and so I’ve gone 17 hours— which I’m fairly used to. Things will get tougher in a few hours, and so I have to keep drinking my water/tea regularly to prevent excessive hunger.

My writing has been adversely affected by my health problems in part because I do keep going off my ketogenic diet, and find it hard to get back on because going OFF saps my energy. Fasting, like going keto, tends to increase your energy.

I’m also hoping that the alternate-day fasting will give me extra time both for writing and for getting things done around the house, because I won’t have to be spending as much time cooking and washing dishes. I will post updates on this blog to let you know how it’s working out.

 

Getting fat people to plead guilty

It’s funny how easy it is to make a fat person plead guilty to a dietary crime. I sometimes watch this program where a weight-loss surgeon berates morbidly obese people. Somehow all his patients end up accusing themselves of ’emotional eating.’ Now, unless you count hunger as a emotion, or insist that no normal weight people take pleasure in tasty food, or that normal people don’t eat when they have reason to be down or depressed, this doesn’t make all that much sense.  But this particular doc seems to encourage a belief in ’emotional eating.’ But he’s willing to perform the surgeries anyway.

In older weight loss books the theory was that a fat person was the guy who reached for a extra slice of bread at the dinner table. To understand that, you must know that years ago, people placed a basket of bread at the table for each meal. If you ate your share of the prepared foods and were still hungry, you took a slice of bread. If you were still hungry, you took more bread. I am sure there were plenty of fat people back in that day who WEREN’T filling up on bread at every meal. But it seemed that everyone who bought a weight loss book back then was willing to plead guilty to taking that extra slice of bread. After all, most of them had taken bread at the dinner table at least once.

Fat people tend to have low self-esteem because they are told that their extra weight is caused by their own bad behavior. So they admit guilt to  whatever it is thin people or doctors accuse them of doing. But the science is not behind all these little pet theories. There is research that would indicate that the real problem that causes weight gain has to do with how an individual person metabolizes carbohydrates. If you have metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance, it’s likely you are overweight or will become overweight. If you remove the root of your problem by adopting a healthy low-carb diet as a lifelong eating plan, you will likely lose weight and feel better without the need of massive doses of ‘willpower’ to help you stick to the diet in spite of hunger— because after the first couple of days on a low-carb diet, you don’t really feel hungry.

I think it’s time that we who have weight problems stop pleading guilty to ’emotional eating’ or taking ‘extra’ bread and start realizing we have a physical, biological condition that is not our fault. Read some good books on low-carb/ketogenic diets— I’d recommend the original Atkins diet book, as well as ‘Keto Clarity’ by Jimmie Moore and ‘How I Gave Up My Low-Fat Diet and Lost 40 Pounds’ by Dana Carpender. Because berating ourselves doesn’t cure anything. Knowledge, however, when properly applied, does.