Saturday, September 27, 2008

BMI and its failings

I talk about my Body Mass Index quite a bit. In general, it forms a useful way to compare relative obesity for people of different heights. Of course there are several flaws in this mechanism.

However, people are talking about the failures of

From Malicious to Morbid

I had my monthly doctor's appointment yesterday and I now weigh 310 lbs. I am under 50 BMI. I'm now morbidly obese and not super obese. Yay.

Really, I'm happy though. That's a movement of 18 BMI from when I started about 14 months ago. I just don't want to celebrate yet; I still have a long way to go.

Originally I had set this as a very unrealistic 6-month goal. My much more realistic aim of losing 250 lbs in 3 years, putting me at 175lbs, is nearly 50% complete in about a third of the time. My doctor even offered to remove the skin tags on my neck for free if I could lose 200lbs.

All this makes me think back to why I started the diet in the first place: to prepare for a bariatric surgery. IN order to qualify my insurance required I complete a 6-month diet plan guided by a physician. Also, most surgeons fear operating on super-obese patients. Both those criteria are cleared, so, in theory, I am ready to go under the knife. However, surgery seems like a terrible idea right now. Why take the risk while the diet moves along well?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pissing it all away

What is the actual chemical pathway of weight-loss? I tried to think this through logically and managed to get about half the story. Talking with my doctor revealed the second half.

To explain my thoughts

1. I was fairly sure that the actual weight of the food contributed very little to my long term weight. For the most part, food simply traveled through the system and any useful energy or chemicals were pulled out by various enzymes and bacteria. Basically the weight of input food was fairly close to the weight out output feces including the various enzymes excreted to digest the food. The only inputs that mattered would be those things my body actually absorbed. Fats, sugars, proteins, and minerals would be taken in while fibers and the like would simply keep on going.

2. I also figured other excretions such as sweat would be offset by input water.

3. The only input that was easily show to be less than the output was breathing. The body disproportionately absorbs oxygen compared to what it exhales, the converse being true of CO2. So I would take in O2 and exhale CO2. Losing a carbon molecule many, many times over. Silly me though, I didn't seem to make the connection that this was of course part of cellular respiration, which has water as a product also. Combined, these two products would make up most of the weight-loss caused by proper diet and exercise.

Though this reminds me of a revelation which shook up my thoughts on the body when it came. The idea that the digestive system really didn't absorb your food and the excrete the waste back into the system for elimination. Of course, my thoughts on digestion were hardly systematic before and many things fell into place after such an understanding. The moment of "Eureka!" really sticks with me though. This is about the closest I get to a religious experience, the moment of clarity when you realize a fact about the world and suddenly so many separate facts which seem to contradict each other spin around and fit together. This is why I say science is more than simply practical knowledge. Science has enriched my life even if I never find a useful thing to do with any particular piece of knowledge.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cold Hands, Empty Stomach

The diet plan I set up for my time on Phentermine seems to be too much food. I find myself forgetting to eat for long stretches of time. Then, when I do eat, I only eat what I had planned to eat for the last meal. If I try to make up for lost calories, I feel as if I have eaten a feast. So, I'm not even hitting the 1400 calories on a daily basis.

This worries me. My hands, feet, and tip of my nose have started turning ice cold during these forgetful fasts. If I go too long, I suddenly lose all ability to focus on any task and must eat immediately. It's almost as if the narrator from Gauntlet is intoning "Your Hero needs food." over and over. Then I rush out, eat all of 360 calories and feel as if I am going to burst once the food hits my stomach 30 minutes later. If I try to use this 30 minute window to eat a respectable number of calories, then I feel nauseated later.

Though, I'm not really complaining so much as I am amazed. Still, I am looking forward to not worrying about my health as much.

Another worrisome development, I have developed periodic tingling and numbness/reduced sensitivity in my left hand ring and pinkie fingers. This radiates a bit downward into my hand, also.

The causes I can find in my research are diabetes and carpal tunnel. Diabetes has long been a worry, but is unlikely in this case. My urinalysis didn't contain sugar a few months back, so pancreas function probably wasn't decreasing. Plus, given the amount of time I spend typing about a computer in any given day, carpal tunnel seems the most likely cause. I have an appointment with my doctor on Friday of next week and will bring it up then.

Update: I realized that carpal tunnel syndrome affects fingers other than the pinkie. I found another source which suggest I have nerve compression and that I should splint my arm at night and take ibuprofen. Still going to talk to my doctor about it though.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Constitutional Federal Communism

I was thinking about China today. THe thoughts were inspired by recent stories of China blocking iTunes.

I know so very little about their manner of government. As best I know, they have a one-party ruling system. Still I wonder how much variation is tolerated in policy ideals within the party. They certainly wouldn't be as bad as during the Cultural Revolution. Of course, that doesn't say much about the state relative to Western-style democracies.

Anyway, I wondered if they have hard-line Mao followers conflicting with the more modern communists seeking out a relationship with Western businesses. In a lot of ways, this may end up with the same sorts of situations we find in U.S. two-party systems.

This thought leads to the idea of China having two (or more) Communist parties vying for power. So that two parties with different visions of communism try to convince the People of China to vote for them. However, I am so clueless on the politics of China that I don't even know if they vote for their leaders.

To get to the main point though. If the Communist party in China were to split into two groups, could the people successfully agitate for a more egalitarian form of government. Now, some of the urban Chinese have been making at least a little noise about having more autonomy as their quality of life and wealth rise. The rural Chinese have built up a fair amount of animosity though for what I've read. (sources later). If this division in party and people could be exploited, perhaps some people in China could successfully get a new social contract formed. Perhaps a system that allows for a far less centralized Communist structure, hence the title, Constitutional Federal Communism.

In theory, this would allow much more personal freedom and create a much more vigorous political culture in China. Still, this idea needs much more fleshing out and a lot more information. This idea could sound much more harebrained after research and deeper thought.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Code Is LAW!

I was unaware that building and electrical codes and the like were actually copyrighted material. I am flabergasted that any laws in the nation could be considered intellectual property.

A flickr web comic is agitating for distribution of codes and standards. "It ain't public if it ain't public."