Monday, October 15, 2018

Destination Universe! A E Van Vogt


I haven’t been disappointed until now on rereading Van Vogt. Here is a collection of short stories published in 1953 which, it usually being the case, were probably written in a previous decade. They weren’t hugely dated in terms of mores, but the technology (where described) was risible to modern sensibilities and in two separate stories we had humans walking about on Venus and Mars without any necessity for suits. I guess these would have been no biggie if it weren’t for other problems. The stories did not feel solid and coherent, in a couple of cases they meandered until the writer produced an ending out of his hat. That being said, some of them were enjoyable, I just suspect the publisher pulled together some sub-par offerings to bulk out the collection. 


Fasting Update 5


It’s a fact that when you exercise, the positive changes that happen to your body – increased muscle, fitness, lung capacity etc – do not occur during that process. They occur afterwards during sleep, resting and through eating the right foods. This too, it seems, is the way things work for fasting. Yes, when you fast your glycogen gets depleted, you dump water and your body start to eat its fat. You do see your weight drop. Autophagy and (later) apoptosis occur. However, these are only part of the process – the body stripping out the damaged and the useless, burning up excess fuel – and to complete it fasting must be complemented with ‘feasting’ and sleep. 


I’ve noticed my weight going down a lot during fasting then coming up again during refeeding, but every time my weight has been steadily declining overall. This is all good, but I noticed that where the fat was disappearing I had loose skin and that the weight returned to the same place. Then real changes occurred with sleep that was unusual for me: for example snoozing for an hour during the day, then flaking out for nine hours in the night. This has happened a few times during refeeding and, each time, I found that my weight had stabilized at a lower level, fat had melted away and my skin had tightened up.

Now for some negative effects: The worst day of fasting each week is always the first. I feel tired and often cold. I reckon it’s because on that day I’m making the changeover from the calories I’d been eating to fat burning again. This doesn’t particularly slow down a gym session in the morning or stop me writing during the day. I don’t feel particularly hungry either, probably because, having done this for so many weeks, I’ve accepted on some unconscious level that I am simply not going to eat on that day. On the following day the cold and lethargy go away and I don’t feel hungry then either. The hunger only returns when I actually start eating again.     

Another noticeable negative effect has been an increase in anxiety. This would probably not be a problem if you are not prone to it, but I have been for a number of years now. It’s been said, wrongly, that your body will slow down and go into starvation mode whereby it tries to burn less and hang onto more. During dieting, and perhaps towards the end of a lengthy fast for someone not carrying piles of fat, this may be the case. However, during intermittent fasting the body does not get the chance to do this. The metabolism actually speeds up by dint of adrenaline and cortisol. And this of course can lead to increased anxiety. 

Oddly, I have only experienced this in a way I rarely experienced while suffering from it long term. I don’t consciously notice it as I go about my daily routines, but do when I relax. Then I get a burning sensation mostly in my arms, but also elsewhere. My understanding of this is that it is the end of anxiety. The body fights for its own preservation by drawing the blood in around the major organs, when you finally relax, the blood returns to your extremities and hence this sensation. There are other effects too of this process, but they are not so bad that I am tempted to give up – the weight loss and other positive effects far outweigh them. 


Monday, October 01, 2018

Fasting Update 4

I’m into my fifth week of fasting for two days a week and eating sensibly on the other days. It is getting easier and easier to do. After an initial big loss of weight I’m now averaging 2lbs a week. I’ve kept going to the gym so there has been no muscle loss (in fact my gym sessions have increased in number and length). It is noticeable how, on refeeding, my muscles expand again. This brings home to me that the scare stories about you burning up your own muscle and piling on the weight after fasting probably relate to glycogen storage. Every gram of that stuff is stored using 3 to 5 grams of water so of course that weight will go up and down.

Nice this weekend to have to punch some more holes in my belts. Nice also to put on clothing that has been shaming me from inside the wardrobe for some time. My energy, mental acuity, libido and self-esteem are all up, while my negativity has dropped through the floor. As far as autophagy is concerned I don’t know – the aforesaid are probably a result of that. It will be interesting to see what other changes occur as I get down to my target weight, which is some weeks away yet. I’m still aiming for the upper end of my BMI.

A further note here on that ‘refeeding’. I have not noticed any tendency at all to want to gorge myself. I can be very hungry and eat (and thoroughly enjoy) a lot of food, but no more than I ate when not fasting and, over a day, usually less – when I count up the calories in a day they’re still below my BMR. This last may be because my body has adjusted to fewer calories for efficiency, but still, I’m not putting it all back on. It is also the case, because I’m in the groove of this, that I want to avoid carbs and think more carefully about what I eat. It would be ridiculous to go to this effort and then throw it all away.

This is well worth doing. It takes practise of course, and one must accept any failures and just carry on.

Fury - Henry Kuttner

This is a really old one. First published in Astounding Science fiction in 1947 one would expect it to be full of anachronisms, dated mores and all sorts of silliness. It does have old sfnal idea of Venus being a planet occupied by a massive hostile jungle, but this can be found in SF books published 20 or more years later and I wonder if here might be the first time it was used. The human race, having destroyed Earth in a nuclear war, is now resident in ‘keeps’ under the Venusian seas. It is sinking into decay under the overly cautious rule of immortals and needs someone to pull it out of that. Enter Sam Reed . . . I enjoyed this very much and didn’t find much in the way of the stuff that has made me wince in other SF books. As for Venus being a jungle planet it was easy enough to forget the reality.


Recommended, even though this is 71 years old.