Thursday, May 31, 2018

Weight-loss schedule

Intended schedule:

Apr 28: [read Obesity Code, changed some habits] 310 lb.

May 31: [today] 286.6 lb.

June 30: 260 lb.

July 31: 230 lb.

August 31: 200 lb.

Sep 30: 180 lb.

October 31: 165 lb. [stable hereafter]

This is an intention, not an oath, but I believe it is a realistic intention. If I can do it faster, I will. This will roughly double my strength-to-weight ratio (since it turns out that, contrary to my prior understanding, your body does NOT need to ever burn muscle to fuel your brain, unless you're already out of fat) and I already have some ideas of what I want to do with that extra strength. I foresee a lot of hiking and pushups in the future. Maybe some day I'll give the Great Wall of China another shot.

-Max

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Hypothesis: literal meaning of the word "Mormon"

[From a 2013 post in another conference which, I think, never made it onto this blog. -Max]

I think I'm the only person I know who has a theory as to the literal meaning of the word "Mormon," as in Mosiah 18:4.

I think it has something to do with the concept of reclamation or restoration. First we have the verse (Mosiah 18:4) where Mormon attempts to explain the name as follows:

And it came to pass that as many as did believe him did go forth to a place which was called Mormon, having received its name from the king, being in the borders of the land having been infested, by times or at seasons, by wild beasts.

So the name 'Mormon' is appropriate for... a place which had formerly been infested by beasts but isn't any more? And it's a name which is important enough and appropriate enough for Mormon to not only mention the name but give the etymology, which isn't usually the case except for a few names like Irreantum.

Then throughout the remainder of the chapter, the name Mormon is heavily emphasized in a way which makes it clear that it is fraught with meaning to Alma's people in their own new start:

7 And it came to pass after many days there were a goodly number gathered together at the place of Mormon, to hear the words of Alma. Yea, all were gathered together that believed on his word, to hear him. And he did teach them, and did preach unto them repentance, and redemption, and faith on the Lord.

8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light;

...

16 And after this manner he did baptize every one that went forth to the place of Mormon; and they were in number about two hundred and four souls; yea, and they were baptized in the waters of Mormon, and were filled with the grace of God.

29 And this he said unto them, having been commanded of God; and they did walk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants.

30 And now it came to pass that all this was done in Mormon, yea, by the waters of Mormon, in the forest that was near the waters of Mormon; yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their Redeemer; yea, and how blessed are they, for they shall sing to his praise forever.'

He uses the word 'Mormon' nine times in describing the purification of the Nephites. Try to find a word or concept that fits better into verses 4,7,8,16,29, and 30 than 'reclamation' and then account for the fact that active verbs in English are sometimes passive in Hebrew and vice-versa, and it could be either 'reclamation' or 'restoration', emphasizing either the actor who reclaims or that which is redeemed.

Also look at 3 Nephi 5:12, Alma 5:3, Mosiah 25:18, Mosiah 26:15, and consider how much more meaningful and poetic each of these verses would become if the hypothesized meaning/wordplay were present in the original tongue. Not to mention Moroni's choice of title: "The Book of Mormon."

[Moroni--I see what you did there!]

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

Friday, May 11, 2018

Doubt your doubts

[written to a friend publicly wrestling with doubts about the Church, rejecting some doctrines and scriptures while expressing a desire to find a way to still believe in the rest]

I want to echo those who express appreciation for your forthrightness, [redacted], and I can relate to having doubts, although for me it's doubts about my relationships with other people. I read [redacted]'s comment above, for example, and think, "Yeah, I know what that uncertainty feels like. That sounds like my relationship with (for example) dear Katherine Morris back in the day: lots of rational reasons to think the friendship is just over, forever, and walk away, but I feel somehow that I shouldn't walk away, but I don't know if I'm just being stupid in not listening to reason." It kind of leaves you feeling bad about yourself no matter which road you choose.

For what it's worth, I *did* eventually walk away. (Several times, but the last one finally stuck.) And yet here we are years later, good friends, the kind I always wanted us to be. So my rational doubts weren't wrong, and yet my feelings/inspiration/intuition about what we ought to be wasn't wrong either. Reason and faith turned out to be compatible after all, and it just took time to get there.

I can think of at least one other important relationship which took a similar path, and it's taught me not to give up on my feelings too early. (Not the same thing as emotions in this context BTW.) I now think that it's okay to walk away, instead of beating my head on a brick wall, but if I do that I am not obligated to conclude that my feelings about what ought to be are wrong--better to adopt an attitude of "wait and see." And if I don't walk away from someone, I don't have to feel bad about that either.

Religious doubts and interpersonal doubts aren't exactly the same thing, but for me it was. I have an easy time trusting Heavenly Father and a hard time trusting human beings (for completely logical and rational reasons!). If you have an easier time trusting human beings and a hard time trusting in God and/or the Church (for completely logical and rational reasons!) then I sympathize, and hope things work out well for you.

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

Saturday, May 5, 2018

A proper ally

And I, the Lord God, said unto mine Only Begotten, that it was not good that the man [Adam] should be alone; wherefore, I will make an help meet for him.

"Meet" means "equal to" or "fitting for." Another translation might be, "I will make for him a proper ally."

Lucky Adam. Someday I hope to have a proper ally to watch my back, too. But for now it is better to go to war alone: a false or incompetent ally is worse than none at all. (It increases the number of exposed targets, without yielding a corresponding defensive benefit.)

~B.C.

P.S. This does not mean I would never aid someone who increases my own risk. I know how to make sacrifices. There have even been a few girls whom I would have gladly married if they had needed me to. But I'm very aware that I'm better off because they did not need any such thing from me, and I'm not going to feel guilty about that.

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Science of fat storage (The Obesity Code)

[Dear J., you might find this interesting. -M.]
So... I'm normally pretty skeptical of nutritional fads and medical findings, because I often feel like it's not really grounded in good science. But I feel like I can recognize solid science when I see it.

My friend Eric Mueller recommended a book to me called The Obesity Code, in which the author (a kidney/diabetes specialist by the name of Dr. Jason Fung) advances the hypothesis that obesity is essentially a hormonal imbalance (high insulin levels leading to insulin resistance), and I find the claims impressive, consistent with my own experiences, and persuasive.

One key fact, supported by many, many case studies (Dr. Fung describes so many case studies that it starts getting tedious), is that your brain can adjust both appetite (calories in) and metabolism (calories out) and tries to balance them against each other. If you try to feed someone more food than they'd naturally eat, not only do they lose appetite and resist eating that much, but even if you do get them to overeat, their metabolic rates go up too. (I'm oversimplifying because there are multiple ways to body consumes energy, from raising your temperature to motivating movement to depositing it in stool.) If you decrease food consumption, metabolism slows too--not perfectly but pretty close, which is why obesity is something that generally takes years to develop instead of being something that can happen to you in a single month of really bad decisions in college. And it's also why trying to "Eat Less [calories], Move More" practically never results in long-lasting weight loss, even in studies where we measure the participants and know that they really are exercising more and eating less.

But the argument (as I understand it) goes that this metabolic homeostasis (keeping calorie intake and metabolism close to each other) is regulated by hormones (chemical signals sent to each cell of the body), and there's excellent evidence (detailed in the book) that the key hormone is insulin. High insulin levels tell cells to store energy; low insulin levels tell cells to release energy; insulin levels rise after a meal (especially carbohydrates without fiber), telling your body to store food. Normally that is fine, but here's the sticky point: when your insulin levels are high all the time from constant eating, your liver and muscles develop insulin resistance (respond less and less strongly to a given dose of insulin) but your brain, which regulates your appetite and metabolism, does not. Over a period of years or decades, your insulin levels get higher and higher as your insulin resistance in your muscles and liver get higher and higher (because more insulin is needed to do the job), but the parts of your body controlled by your brain get more and more inclined to store energy. Then if you ever manage to lose weight, your insulin resistance outside your brain is still as high as ever, so your body still keeps insulin levels high, so your non-insulin-resistant brain is still very willing to return your body to its previous weight.

I'm about halfway through the book so I haven't finished reading all the science yet, but it's obvious at this point what the conclusion is: in addition to eating fewer foods that boost insulin production and insulin resistance (i.e. eat fibers, whole grains, and avoid sucrose and fructose like the plague, especially soft drinks, because fructose boosts your liver's insulin resistance due to being metabolized only in the liver)--in addition to that, it's important to be hungry more often. 21st century humans spend waaaay too much time in a "fed" state (insulin excess) and often the only time we spend in an "unfed" state (insulin deficiency) is when we're asleep. For decades I've thought that you need at least 500 calories per day or so to prevent muscle loss--I'd been told that your brain can't metabolize fat, so your body winds up burning muscle to fuel your brain, but that turns out to be untrue. There is nothing wrong with occasional fasting, and the world record is a guy who (back in 1973) went 382 days without eating, under medical supervision, and came out of it much thinner but perfectly healthy and ambulatory. [ref: http://cristivlad.com/total-starvation-382-days-without-food-study/] So clearly being hungry isn't going to kill you or liquidate your muscles.

So that's basically it, apparently. Reduce insulin levels by eating fewer highly-processed, sugary carbohydrates, and by being hungry more often and for longer periods of time. (Dr. Fung recommends skipping or delaying breakfast, which is something I like doing anyway.) These are things, I think, which I can actually be quite good at doing, now that I understand specifically what I'm trying to accomplish. I've always been better at absolutism than moderation, and "don't eat right now" is a much easier message for me to get my head around than, "Eat right now but don't eat very much." (How much is "very much"? If eating is sort of bad right now, why am I eating at all? Etc.)

--
If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

"Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shalt cleave unto her and none else."