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Hey, Gang -
Lookie! I actually got an issue out on time! ;-D Sort of an odd combination of stuff this time; hope you enjoy it.
All contents copyright 2002 Hold the Toast Press. All commercial reproduction is expressly prohibited. If you think your friends will enjoy Lowcarbezine!, please forward them the WHOLE ISSUE. Please, do not post articles or recipes elsewhere on the internet without permission. My attorney tells me that I'll have to come scold you and tell you to cut it out if you do.
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Low Carb Pets
You'll never believe what my vet asked me the last time I was in the office -- "Have you heard about low carb diets for dogs and cats?" I answered, "Doc, I'm way ahead of you."
Obesity and diabetes are reaching epidemic proportions not just among humans, but among our beloved pets. I now know of a half a dozen cats among my circle of acquaintance who need insulin injections every day; my younger brother lost his buddy Bernice, a sweet black and white purrbox, to diabetes. Pets also have terrible dental problems - I've read estimates that as much as a third of a veterinary practice ends up devoted to treating the rotting, tartar-covered teeth of cats and dogs fed "healthy" commercial pet food. If a high carb diet is causing tooth decay, obesity, and diabetes in humans, what do you think might be causing the problem among pets?
Bingo. Most commercial pet food is simply loaded with grain, and often has sugar as well. Seeing as dogs are primarily carnivores (they're omnivores with a strong bent toward animal foods), and cats are obligate carnivores - they must have meat to be healthy - and neither species has had grains as a large part of their historical diet, it has long struck me as strange that most commercial pet foods are loaded with corn or rice.
It's easy to explain why this is so: Most commercial pet foods are not formulated to make your pets healthy, or to give them optimum nutrition. They are formulated - indeed, the pet food industry was invented - to create a market for foodstuffs that are not of a good enough grade to sell for human consumption. In other words, they're designed to sell cheap garbage for the highest price possible.
Worse, they're trying to convince us that this stuff is the best possible thing for our pets, as if no one had a healthy dog or cat before pet food was invented less than a century ago. There is currently an ad on TV for a brand of dog food, talking about how healthy it is, because after all, it has whole grains for energy -- as if a dog were a grain eating animal by nature.
Still more wrong-headed, "lite" pet foods, marketed for overweight animals, are largely higher in carbohydrate and lower in fat - the same diet that has made millions of human beings obese. My mom feeds this stuff to her cat, Max, and he's still just as rotund as he can be.
So what can you feed your pets? There are better and worse packaged pet foods out there. If you like to feed your cat canned food, my vet feels that Iams and Eukanuba kitten foods are among the best - highest in protein and lowest in carbohydrate. After careful reading of the labels on all the dry cat foods in my local pet store, I found that Eukanuba dry had the lowest level of grain, and the highest level of animal protein (I don't trust soy for my pets anymore than I do for myself) of all the kibble I could find. My cat loves it, and his coat became thicker and shinier after I switched him over. I had not, by the way, been feeding him cheap food; I had been feeding him a widely advertised "premium" brand sold in many vets' offices. Still, he became noticeably healthier on the Eukanuba. He's now 17, and as spry and cranky as ever; everyone is stunned when they find out how old Billion is.
I also have four ferrets (also known as furry two year olds, or Living Slinkies). Ferrets, like cats, are obligate carnivores, and need a very high protein and fat diet; they are doing well on the Eukanuba - indeed, better than my previous ferrets have on ferret chow. Their coats are beautiful, and their energy level is, er, high.
How about my dog? I got a shep/lab pup, Jed, from the shelter last August. I fed him puppy chow approximately three times, then I started him on what is charmingly known as the BARF diet. BARF stands for Bones And Raw Food or Biologically Appropriate Raw Food, depending on whom you talk to. The bulk of Jed's diet is raw, meaty bones; mostly chicken backs, including the skin, the fat, the marrow, the meat, and the bone. Each of these components contains different vital nutrients; feeding just meat would be a very deficient diet. He also gets pork neck bones, and fish scraps which I get for free at the fish counter at my local grocery store.
Don't panic about those bones - according to Dr. Ian Billinghurst, an Australian vet who has written the book on the BARF diet, it's cooked bones that are dangerous, because cooking changes the texture, and makes them prone to splintering. Billinghurst claims that he has never seen a problem in a dog due to eating raw bones - and chicken bones, in particular, are soft, since chickens are slaughtered at only a few months old.
Along with raw meaty bones, Jed gets the occasional meal of vegetable scraps - wilted lettuce and cabbage leaves, onion trimmings, pepper cores, the ends of asparagus, etc - ground fine in the food processor. I sometimes add a little plain yogurt, some nutritional yeast, an egg, a bit of hamburger that's been in the fridge too long, an apple that has fallen off the tree in the back yard. Vegetables for dogs must be ground fine, to imitate the vegetation they would find in the stomachs of herbivorous prey if they were hunting - dogs can't chew up vegetables by themselves. Oh, and I fairly often give Jed a raw egg all by itself - I just drop it on a plate on the floor, so it cracks (if I don't crack it, he'll pick it up, carry it onto the dining room carpet, and crack it there!), and let him lick it up - and chew up the shell.
Well, you've never seen a healthier, better formed dog in your life. Shiny coat, shiny eyes, shiny teeth. Tons of energy. Well muscled, with a good, full rib cage and a nipped-in waist. No horrible itchy skin problems, or any of the other nasty things that are common among pets these days.
Is it trouble to feed my dog this way? No. I don't feed him all of these things at each meal; mostly I thaw whatever raw meaty bones I've got on hand and drop them in his dish. Takes no more time than opening a can, and certainly smells better and leaves me with less to recycle. When I feed him a veggie meal, it takes a few minutes to make, but it's no big deal, and the food processor goes in the dishwasher.
Is it expensive? Again, no. I get the chicken backs cheap in 50 pound lots at a local poultry processing plant; I get free deer bones in season from a guy who processes for hunters, and I get free fish scraps from the nice fish guy at the grocery store. The vegetables I feed him are scraps I would otherwise toss. About the priciest thing he gets are pork neck bones at 59c a pound, and free range eggs, which I get for $2 a dozen.
The premium cat food I buy is more expensive than grocery store brands, but I still don't consider it expensive for two reasons - one, my pets eat less of it than they do of less nutritious, carb-filled foods (sound familiar?), and two, I pay almost nothing for vet bills. None of the ferrets have ever been ill, nor has Jed, although he's young. Perhaps more impressive, my 17 year old cat has blood work that is still stone normal - and still is killing mice around the house and terrorizing a dog at least five times his size.
Dear, dear. I've been nagging you for years to feed your kids the same healthy stuff you eat, now I'm going to start in on the beasts. But if you're like me, your pets are family, and you want them to be as well as they can, and live as long as they can. Turns out a low carb diet works as well for them as it does for us.
(BTW, this is not true for animals like rabbits and guinea pigs, who are naturally herbivores. Please don't go feeding your hamster raw meaty bones!)
If you'd like more information about the BARF diet, visit www.drianbillinghurst.com and click on "About BARF Diet". There is also a BARF FAQ at http://www.njboxers.com/faqs.htm
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The world is full of yo-yo dieters - folks who go on a diet, lose 15 or 20 or 30 pounds, then go off their diet and gain it all back. We've all heard dire pronouncements about how unhealthy this is. I don't know if it's truly unhealthy, although I do know from my mail that low carbing is much tougher the second time around, which is why you should all behave yourselves, not abandon your low carb Way of Eating, and not gain all your weight back.
I, however, do not yo-yo diet. At least not deliberately; I did gain a whole bunch of weight when I cut my fat intake and increased my consumption of grains and beans, but that was in an unfortunate attempt to lose weight and get healthier. No, for some bizarre reason I don't pretend to understand, I have no problem with sticking to my healthy eating plan. I'm rarely tempted to transgress; I'm way too hooked on feeling great to succumb to the lure of junk food.
What I do instead is yo-yo exercise.
Yep, I seem to be on a cycle where every, oh, five years or so I go from being out of shape to being in really, really killer shape, then back to being a big flab ball again. I hate being a big flab ball. I take a great deal of my sense of self from being strong, so being weak really eats into my self-confidence. So why do I do it?
Generally it hasn't been my fault. Once I got knocked off track by mononucleosis, another time by a virus that dropped my blood pressure to 90/50, making me dizzy every time I stood up for 6 weeks. Amazing what weeks spent lying on the couch, too tired to watch TV, will do to destroy the effects of months of exercise.
Well, I'm a big flab ball again. I was in fantastic shape when How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds! hit the market - indeed, I was actually 51 pounds below my highest weight. I did great all through that first year the book was out. Then, as many of you know, I was in a car wreck on June 1st, 2000. It was fairly serious, and I was very fortunate and very, very grateful that I was not badly injured.
However, my right leg - jammed into the brake pedal at the moment of impact - took a 40 mph blow that was translated into my hip joint and my spine. Since that day, I have suffered from sciatica in my right leg. At first it was all the time, but in the intervening two years some healing has occurred, and now it's only really a problem when the weather is bad - and when I exercise a lot. Grrrrr.
As you might imagine, this has played havoc with my fitness. I am now - depending on the day - about 15 pounds heavier than I was when the book came out, or only 35 pounds lighter than my highest weight (and in the week before my period, I can be heavier than that!) I hate it, I hate it, I hate it, and I resent it with all my heart. You know how badly you hate to gain weight back - imagine how frightening it is when you're building your career around health and weight control!
I am eternally grateful for my low carb diet, which is, I have not one doubt, the reason why I haven't gained back every pound and then some. But there's no question that muscle mass dramatically affects metabolism for the better, and right now my muscle mass just ain't what it used to be.
Just as bad, not only am I bigger than I'd like to be - a 14 instead of the 12 I'd come to love and count on - but I don't have the stamina that I had before the wreck. I used to be able to dance women half my age right off of their feet - that's not an exaggeration; a friend told me after his wedding reception that 20 year olds were coming up to him and asking who I was, that I could dance like a maniac for 4 hours straight. I can't do that any more; the last wedding I went to, I danced two numbers and had to sit down because I was gasping. That hurt.
I've had enough. I'm sick of this, and I want my damned body back. I want to be a size 12 again, or maybe even a size 10 - something to which I aspired before the wreck. I want to feel strong again - I mean really strong. I want to be able to dance until everybody else on the floor is begging for mercy. And I won't stop until I get there. I don't care what it takes.
I can't go back to doing step aerobics; the leg won't take it. I can't do the Stairmaster/weight lifting routine I did for one whole winter - again, the leg can't handle it. And I can't do my beloved Firm videos, although I hang onto them in the hopes that some day I'll be able to do them again.
What I can do without a lot of trouble - some, but not a lot - is walk. And I live in a beautiful neighborhood for walking. So I'm walking seriously 6 days a week, with a restful stroll with my husband on the 7th. To get the intensity I'll need to get into the sort of shape I want, I am putting all the added effort on my upper body, which, thank goodness, seems to have sustained no lasting damage.
What I'm doing is called Heavyhands, and those of you who paid attention to fitness back in the early 1980s may remember that it was a 9-days wonder back then. Heavyhands was invented by Dr. Len Schwartz, who was trying to develop an exercise that would approximate cross-country skiing, well known to be the best cardiovascular and fat-burning sport. Dr. Schwartz developed a program of full body movement while holding smallish hand weights, and discovered that vigorous arm movement with the weights while walking or otherwise moving the legs would get the heart rate way up there - far higher than fast walking alone - and burn far more calories.
Heavyhands fell by the wayside when folks started insisting it didn't work. However, the problem was not that Heavyhands didn't work, but rather that the exercisers didn't work with the Heavyhands - instead of the vigorous arm movements prescribed by Dr. Schwartz, people started simply carrying little hand weights with them when they ran or walked - which does approximately nothing to increase fitness.
However, I can testify that properly and energetically done, Heavyhands is great exercise - and exercise which is keeping the stress on my bad leg to a minimum. Here are the basics of Heavyhands walking:
* The "resting stroke" with the weights is to swing your arms as you would normally, but with a bit of exaggeration, so that the weights come up to shoulder height on each pump. This is called "pump and walk", and will add quite a bit of intensity to your walking.
* When you want more intensity, swing your arms so that the weights reach the level of your head. This is hard to sustain for 25 - 30 paces!
* Do lateral raises - with your arms half-bent, lift to the side, till your arms are level with your shoulders. This should go up-down in pace with your feet going left-right. Eight to ten of these at one time is pretty strenuous.
* Do chest flies - again, with your arms half-bent, bring them forward and together in front of your chests. Once again, this should pace your feet. Eight to ten of these at a time, again.
* Do overheads - pump both hands over your head. This is the hardest of all!
CAUTION: DO NOT LET YOUR ARMS EXTEND ALL THE WAY WHILE DOING THIS STUFF, ESPECIALLY THE PUMP AND WALK. If you let your elbows snap out straight while Heavyhanding, you'll get tennis elbow so fast you'll think you're Andre Agassi. This is the voice of experience, but I haven't had a problem since I learned not to let my elbows go completely straight.
The idea is to do the "pump and walk" just until you feel you *can* do the harder stuff some more. You know that the harder you work, the faster you'll progress, and the more fit you'll become. For pictures of Heavyhands walking technique, check out: http://www.energyfirst.com/home/heavyhands.asp
Heavyhanding is a fantastic exercise for a number of reasons - you can start with no weights at all if you like, and just do the vigorous arm movements while walking at a pace that is comfortably brisk for you. This means that even those who are quite out of shape can get started. Yet because you can work your way up - less time in the resting stroke, more in the harder arm movements, faster pace, adding weights, increasing the size of your weights - Heavyhands walking is unlimited in terms of the level of fitness you can achieve. If, like me, you have a problem with a leg, or perhaps feet, that keeps you from doing more strenuous leg exercise, like step aerobics, heavy weight lifting, or Stairmaster, you can get in killer shape while your legs do no more than walk. And the cost is minimal - a pair of comfortable shoes, and one or two sets of dumbbells - spend the extra buck or two and get the weights with the spongy coating; your hands will be much more comfortable. (In case you're wondering, I'm using 3-pound dumbbells. I plan to graduate to 4-pounders by May, and hope to be using 5-pounders by summer.)
I've come a bit far afield here from my original intent to talk about the motivation to get back in shape. But I hope my enthusiasm will fire you! If you've ever been in serious shape, you know how good it feels - the feeling that your body can do whatever you call on it to do, whether it's run across the street, or carry 6 sacks of groceries at once, or climb four or five flights of stairs without huffing - or dance all night! If you've lost that feeling, I hope you'll join me in fighting to get it back.
Furthermore, there is nothing that will compliment your efforts to lose weight more than getting in shape, and you know it! My dear friend Tonya told me just today that she's been going to a local health club for women and doing cardio work and weight lifting, both. She wanted to know was it true that muscle weighs more than fat, because she's lost 3 ½ inches off her waist, without losing a pound. Well, yes, it's true, and putting on muscle will pull everything up and in. It will make you stand better and move better, which gives the illusion of being slimmer (and younger!) And it will increase your metabolism, because muscle tissue burns more calories than your other tissues - even when you're asleep.
You know what it will do for your heart and your bones!
So, who's with me? Who's sick and tired of dragging their out-of-shape carcass through this world? Who is determined that they're going to be fit and muscular this summer? You don't have to Heavyhand if you don't want to; I've long said that the best exercise is the one you'll do. Whatever appeals to you is fine, although it's best if it includes some sort of resistance - weights or the like - to increase muscle mass. Just get moving!
This yo-yo exerciser has reached the bottom, thank you, and is on her way up with a vengeance. If you're fired up to do the same, I want to hear how it goes for you. I'll publish people's exercise stories as I get them!
If you'd like to see Dr. Schwartz's Heavyhands Walking Book, you can get it at: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/092996201X/lowcarbohysoluti
There is also the original Heavyhands book, explaining exercises combining arms and legs that you can do inside in front of the TV if you like. I have this book, and do these exercises when the weather is nasty; they're great. Sadly, this book is out of print. However, at the moment Amazon has a few used copies listed - the full title is _Heavyhands, The Ultimate Exercise System, by Dr. Leonard Schwartz. Other used book sellers may have it as well.
For that matter, you can go to your local library; if they don't have these books they can undoubtedly get them for you through Interlibrary Loan. Just ask a reference librarian.
Know Why We're Not Having A Big Sale At Carb Smart? Because Everything Is At A Discount EVERY DAY!
That's right! Protein bars! Sugar free candy! Protein powder! Bread and tortillas! Low carb pasta! Sugar free margarita mix! You name it, it's discounted at Carb Smart!
Plus we have recipes, interviews, helpful low carb tips, and more!
If you're low carb and smart, you'll shop Carb Smart!
Nothin' Says Lovin' Like Feeding Them Good Food
I feel a rant coming on again!
How about Pillsbury, with their ads about how their white-flour-and-hydrogenated-oil biscuits are a way to "show how I've missed you all day" and "the heart of the meal"? That's pretty high-falutin' for something so prosaic, not to mention unwholesome. The hearts of the family are going to suffer from the heart of the meal.
Then there's the ad that makes me want to throw things at the TV - an adorable little boy on a school bus checks his lunch bag every day, while the old pop tune sings "Waitin' and hopin' and wishin". When he finally discovers the much hoped for Lunchables - surely the least nutrition for the most money you could possibly feed a child for lunch - the song choruses, "Show them that you care!" Yeah, right. Giving kids the overpriced junk food they beg for is a terrific way of showing them how much you love them. Uh-huh. This explains why obesity and diabetes are epidemic in our children.
I am so sick and tired of junk food being pushed as a way to demonstrate love, instead of a way wasting money and making your family sick, to avoid the effort of actually cooking them something that will not just taste good for a few minutes, but will support their health and happiness.
Show them that you care - feed them real, healthy food. And teach them about nutrition at the same time.
Reader Review of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds!
A diet book without a hidden agenda - what a concept!,
Dana Carpender's 'How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds! is one of the best books on diet and nutrition I've ever read -- and I've read a lot of them. Carpender manages to accomplish a rare feat in such books by being both credible and thoroughly engaging.
The book contains fairly comprehensive information about the connection between insulin and obesity, and how a low-carb or carb-controlled diet can help. All of the popular related diets are summarized. Most authors of diet books (understandably) have the ultimate goal of persuading the reader to choose their diet over a competing diet. In contrast, Carpender does not endorse one kind of low-carb diet over another, rather, acknowledges that every individual has to be the ultimate decision-maker about what works best for his or her body and lifestyle. This is incredibly refreshing - especially for us cynics who have tried it all and are tired of authors and doctors who claim to have the magic bullet that works for everyone. Carpender even does what no doctor who
wants to sell only their books and products would do - encourages experimenting with mixing plans and creating hybrid programs customized to one's lifestyle and body.
Also, Carpender comes across as honest and passionate, and provides a good bibliography if readers wish to research the topic further. This is a good book for anyone interested in low-carb or carb-controlled eating, and would also make an excellent gift for those who don't like boring
diet books, are convinced that low-carb is unhealthy, or are searching for an alternative to the high-carb/low-fat diet that does not work for everyone.
Sara from Salt Lake City, UT
Wow! I just love people who call me "both credible and engaging"!
And yes, passionate would describe me pretty well... Thanks, Sara.
You can read this and 24 other reader reviews of How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and Lost Forty Pounds! at Amazon :
and of course, you can also order the book!
If you'd like to read the first chapter of the book for FREE, plus find a bunch of other useful low carb info, visit: http://www.holdthetoast.com . You can also see my smiling face and my
If you'd like to buy the book from a bookstore, you'll probably have to special order it. If you're in the USA, this shouldn't be a problem --
just tell them that you want to order How I Gave Up My Low Fat Diet and
Lost Forty Pounds! by Dana Carpender, and that the ISBN is 0-9668831-0-1. You could also tell them that they can order it through Baker and Taylor; one of the country's biggest book wholesalers. We do ship to Canadian bookstores.
If you're outside of the US, your best bet is to order from Amazon.com. They do international business regularly.
More About The Firm
Carol Vandiver writes:
I saw the question on weight videos in the Lowcarbezine and thought I'd give you an update on my progress for Cyndi and any other low carbers considering weight work.
I am a success story at 46. I've done Firm videos since the early 80's but as a low-fatter I only had limited success. I've topped 200 on more than one occasion, binged on carbs, dieted my weight down, worked out and binged some more.
But Firm videos as a low-carber is a different story. Wow, I'm kind of buff for a scarred up (c-sections, stretch marks), peri-menopausal, formerly fat girl.
I do two other things to support low carbing and Firm workouts which I feel have great benefit -- I use Oxycise to breathe correctly and keep flexible and I take a full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, EFA's and amino acids. I also taught myself to Oxycise to the Firm and that takes some work!
I am still a Firm Believer. I've ordered the new tapes and know the old ones by heart. They have an infomercial now which may get new converts but annoys me. They now call our 14-inch step box a "Fanny Lifter" which sounds a bit creampuff to me ... okay let me just say that the whole infomercial is so-o-o-o "infomercially" and that the Firm is, in reality, the antithesis of Denise Austin.
This all allows me to eat a ton of food I might add. I just have a large appetite and I'm sure many people can identify with that. I eat lots more than the 1/4 cup of nuts a day you recommend and 5 pieces of bacon with an egg almost every morning. I am also able to "careful" carb or just give
myself a treat now and then.
In other words, my metabolism is improving by leaps and bounds every day. I now control my eating which is INCREDIBLE! I feel not just normal, but when I look at the other women my age, a little bit superior!
When they took my bone density test at the health fair, the technician actually said "You are off my scale. Your bones are so dense my machine doesn't go that high."
That's the Firm. I haven't received my infomercial tapes or new Fanny Lifter yet but I'll give you a review when I do. I did order the new Upper Body and Lower Body Split tapes and love them both. The Firm has taken segments of workouts from old tapes they don't sell anymore and reworked them with Tracy Young as the instructor. I liked them. Instead of Janet-Jones Gretzsky you get Tracy.
Remember the eighties when every tape had to have a celebrity and every celebrity had to have a workout video? Remember leg warmers? The Firm was the best in the eighties and it still is today. As the New York Times said in a review "The Firm is the best, most effective, video series on the
Also in response to Cyndi's request for weight training video recommendations, I got this post:
I use weight training videos (some of which are also aerobic) by Joyce Vedral, and I love them.
She might be a tad too perky, but she keeps you moving and has a lot of different videos so you
don't get bored.
Go to: http://www.joycevedral.com
That's it for this week! See you next week!
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