Starting to look back a lot more.

2010 March 22
by Alan Aragon

 /></p> <p><strong>Let's talk about haystacks for a second</strong></p> <p>The beauty of this forum is that I can talk about whatever the hell I want, without reproach. Or something like that. Anyway, I'm in a sentimental mood for the moment. It might just be a side-effect of being dangerously close to turning 40. I remember almost exclusively looking ahead when I turned 30. But now, as I approach what statistically is likely to be the halfway point of my life, I find myself constantly looking back - thinking about what I can do <em>better</em> moving forward.</p> <p>That pic above, taken last week, is me & my two sons at a neighboring farm. Standing atop that pyramid of hay held a special type of significance. Just last year, my youngest one was too fearful to climb past the first step, and this year he made it to the second to the top row. Next year it's virtually certain he'll ascend to the top with no trace of apprehension in sight. This is the hope and anticipation of all parents - and of anyone in a position of nurturing young minds.</p> <p><strong>Career coach for a day</strong></p> <p>Just yesterday I presented at the annual career symposium at California State University, Northridge. First off, I think it's amazing that I get continually get asked back to present to a college where, during my undergrad, one of my professors incredulously asked, <em>

The fact of the matter is, I wasn’t always a model student. My original objective for getting a degree in nutrition was pretty frivolous – to have a unique credential among personal trainers. Amazingly enough, I intended to make a life of personal training – which didn’t end up panning out. Based on the evidence, I was destined to be glued to the computer rather than hands-on client work at the gym. Anyway, the point is, my underlying goal for the nutrition degree was to just get it over-with, so I could be more marketable than most personal trainers. In contrast to my lackadaisical waltz (& mediocre performance) through the undergrad, I got straight-A’s through my master’s degree in nutrition because I was actually interested in the topics. Timing is important; interest can’t be forced.

The class that shaped my future

The most profound change in my educational enthusiasm occurred during my graduate work in nutrition, in a research methods class. I had a professor in the late 1990′s named Brian Koziol, who had a brief stint as a part-time professor at CSUN. At the time, he was employed at Amgen, and as far as I know, he still is.

Brian Koziol’s passion was research — more specifically, dissecting it. What makes a good study? What makes a not-so-good one? What constitutes a true butcher-job of a study in terms of external and/or internal validity? Koziol actually tried to get the class interested in picking apart the strengths and weaknesses of studies. I’d say he succeeded with a handful of the class, but the majority were sort of lost on the point. In my opinion, he forgot to get across to the class why this exercise was important in the first place.

If I were to teach his class, I’d begin with the philosophy of science, and then move into the continuum of evidence. Heck, I’d even burden the class with the philosophy of evidence. I’d sincerely ask the class if they believed that science as an underlying philosophy is important, and why. I’d also belabor the elements of scientific thought, and why this is important in the battle against the bullshit products and protocols that pervade the health & fitness industry.

Perhaps not too surprisingly for those who’ve followed my work, Koziol’s research methods class was my single greatest career influence. There were other catalysts (such as the work of Lyle McDonald) that led to the materialization of my research review, but Koziol’s class – which I took more than a decade ago – was the foundation for that.

Notes for the students

Back to my presentation at the career symposium… Each year it forces me to introspect upon what makes me tick, and what makes my career something I happen to be very happy with. Here’s a relay of some of the important bits of advice I threw at the students:

  • Come to grips with what it is you’re absolutely nuts about (not just vaguely interested in). This is what you should be doing as a career.  Try to recall the last time you did an exceptional job at something you couldn’t give half a crap about, and my point becomes clear.
  • It’s ideal to match your interests with your talents, but skill can always be developed; whereas the desire for a particular job cannot always be developed. Do not pursue a career merely because you think it’s a prudent or safe choice. This naive capitulation has been the kiss of death for many.
  • There’s a market for EVERYTHING, but just be aware of how large or small that market is, in order to estimate your earning potential.
  • Experience builds confidence. Don’t expect to be polished right off the bat. Get in the trenches, get dirty, but try to learn as much as you can from the mistakes of your predecessors. The career series I wrote to kick off this blog should give anyone contemplating a fitness career ample food for thought.
  • Your perception of success will change over time.  Your interests & goals will evolve over time. It’s crucially important to be aware of this metamorphosis and act upon it regularly. We get so caught up in the mind-numbing routine of our work week, that it’s easy to lose touch with where we are, versus the direction we need to be moving. The solution? Do a “blank sheet day” at least once a year. This is an idea I got from a highly successful friend of mine, Daryl Wizelman. What you do is block out an entire day once a year to be by yourself. The whole day – with no one around you. I know that this is a horrifying concept, but bear with me.  Get a paper notebook (not something with internet access), and get yourself out into a secluded area  (a park, abandoned wherehouse, etc – whatever it takes to be alone), and VERY SPECIFICALLY write out your dream lifestyle. I’m not talking about compromising here, I’m talking about having the balls to actually fantasize for a moment about what type of life would make you truly happy. This obviously is gonna vary, but in all cases, be honest with yourself about what it is. Answer questions like: Where do you want to live? What do you want to spend your day doing? How many days a week do you want to work? What kind of life & career have you always dreamed about having, and what SPECIFIC steps can you take to get there if you’re not there yet? What sacrifices do you need to make? How do you want to give back charitably once you get the means to do so? How do you want to be remembered? Then, review your plan regularly through the year. I’ve been doing this “blank sheet day” exercise annually for the last 3 years now, and suffice it to say that I can’t even begin to tell you how much it has helped me personally. I’m also consistently entertained by how much my goals & general perspective changes.
  • If you are enjoying the process of pursuing your goals and crafting your career, you can consider yourself successful. This principle is hammered so very eloquently by Robert Hastings in his essay called The Station. As cliche as it sounds, the destination is far less important – and certainly far less real - than the journey. Life is merely a succession of days. What you do with each day determines the kind of life you’ll create, and ultimately the kind of life you’ll look back on.

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43 Responses leave one →
  1. March 22, 2010

    Awesome post Alan.

    The day out once a year is such a BRILLIANT exercise, I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now.

    In fact, I like to take a 3 day period for myself each year. One of these is spent thinking and planning and the other two are spent doing some things I love which I am normally trying to squeeze in between the normally pressures of life. Cooking, going for a nice long walk, reading or listening to some audio books. And you’d be surprised how some of the best ideas for your life come when you’re not trying to think about it and are just taking time out to enjoy life.

    I made a blog post about a month ago on goal setting/life planning here – http://danielclough.com/?p=32 (my blog is new and I haven’t even decided if I will continue with it yet lol)

    Your point about your perception of success changing over time is spot on too. I used to spend AGES writing down REALLY specific goals and making sure all of the words/sentences sounded absolutely perfect and that the layout was really perfect etc.

    But, things change. What was the most important thing for you last month might change the next month based on something that happens. You have to be adaptable and flexible and not get caught up in the detail and change your plan accordingly.

    Because of how often things change, I now just have really rough areas of focus for each area of my life and just a few hard/specific goals. That way I review the rough areas regularly and something will normally pop out as important to do.

    For example, in my financial area of my life I have just 3 areas – savings, living below my means and making my money work for me. And one hard goal of where I would like my savings to be on Jan 1, 2011. That’s it.

    I reviewed them this morning (as I do each week) and decided that there are higher interest accounts I could be placing my savings in, so this week I will be moving some accross. I probably wouldn’t have thought to do this had I not had a sheet of paper with some goals/areas of focus on for the financial part of my life.

    Great post as always Alan!

  2. Jordan permalink
    March 22, 2010

    Very inspiring post, Alan. I especially enjoyed the part about following your passion. Too many people take the safe route when it comes to their career, instead of daring to do what truly inspires then. All too often, however, they wake up years later to discover they are uninspired, unmotivated, and unfulfilled.

    Success can be defined many different ways, but to me, being successful is less about the title of your job or how much money you make, and more about how energized you feel on Monday morning, and what kind of impact you make on the lives of others.

    Good food for thought, as always.

  3. March 22, 2010

    Alan says, “The beauty of this forum is that I can talk about whatever the hell I want, without reproach. Or something like that.”

    So, is it OK if I do the same? Guess I’ll find out.

    I don’t have any formal training in nutrition and only one introductory class on philosophy. But still, I sometimes wonder why so many intelligent people limit the scope of their investigations when it comes to nutritional issues and controversies.

    There are two ingredients in the modern food supply that appear to be responsible for most of the metabolic disturbances that affect the mental and physical well being of of modern man. One of them is added sugars and the other is omega-6 fats. I’m guessing excessive intake of the latter causes far more damage to the public health than the former. In fact, I think the evidence suggests that excessive omega-6 consumption is the major public health disaster of the 20th century and beyond. If readers disagree, then I’m curious to know what dietary component wrecks more havoc on the immune system.

  4. Jordan permalink
    March 22, 2010

    Pardon me David, but don’t you have your own blog to express your opinions on? Why come to Alans, in a post that has little to do with nutrition per se, to express your particular view? Are you getting so few hits on your own that you must resort to spamming others with unrelated content?

  5. March 22, 2010

    Simply Awesome. Thanks Alan. =]

  6. March 22, 2010

    Jordan

    I do have my own blog. I’m a real person so my comments are not spam And my comment here has everything to do with nutrition, philosophy of evidence, and scientific thought.

    To be sure, not many visit my blog. However, and I find this amusing, my blog was recently selected (most likely because of the name) as one of the top 50 Health and Medical Education Blogs. http://mastersinhealtheducation.com/2010/top-50-health-and-medical-education-blogs/

    So yes, I probably should have waited until Alan brought up the omega-6 problem himself to offer my two cents worth. Problem is, what if he never takes notice? After all, virtually every health association is paying absolutely no attention to the matter. In fact, they are warning people not to reduce their intake of omega-6 fats. http://www.webmd.com/heart/news/20090126/expert-panel-omega-6-wont-hurt-heart

    And actually, I’m kind of mad at myself for not being more thorough in my investigations. I’ve experienced first hand what omega-6 can do to ones immune system. In 1993 I developed a leg ulcer that took nearly half a year to heal. I eventually figured out I was consuming too much mayonnaise and salad oil. The major ingredient in the salad oil was cold pressed soybean oil.

    More recently, I’ve been losing mobility in my legs due to chronic pain. I tried to deal with the problem using various supplements, stretching and exercise with limited success. However, after hearing Dr. Bill Lands comment that peanuts contain 4,000 milligrams of omega-6 in each 28 gram one ounce serving of peanuts, I suspected that my daily peanut butter for lunch habit was slowly doing me in. So I stopped consuming the stuff last November. At this point, the pain has subsided. I can run, jump from a three foot saw horse, and stand up from a sitting position without having to think about it. I’ve dodged the bullet so I’m understandably happy. I’m also deeply concerned that there is so little interest in the omega-6 problem. Enough so that I’m willing to risk a rebuke from Alan’s readers for posting somewhat off topic material.

    At 40, with ten years of random nutrition research under my belt, I thought I had a pretty good understanding of nutritional issues and controversies. But in the 23 years that have since elapsed I’ve been blind sided by this omega-6 problem twice. And I’ve seen a number of health conscious individuals die early from cancer or heart disease, likely because they were not aware of the omega-6 hazard and were consuming too much of it for fear of saturated fat.

    So Jordan, thanks for you criticism. I hope I’ve adequately addressed your concerns.

  7. March 22, 2010

    Daniel — You said: “Because of how often things change, I now just have really rough areas of focus for each area of my life and just a few hard/specific goals. That way I review the rough areas regularly and something will normally pop out as important to do.” — This is a great idea. I’ve had the tendency to be painstakingly specific with everything, but I can immediately see the merit in applying nonspecific or principle-based goals as well. I’ll take this advice & run with it.

    Jon — Thanks bro, glad you liked the piece. This was definitely a spur-of-the-moment latenight catharsis with no planning going into the post. I’m not really used to writing unplanned pieces, but I’ve been encouraged to do so, and it’s actually kind of therapeutic.

    Josh — You said: “Success can be defined many different ways, but to me, being successful is less about the title of your job or how much money you make, and more about how energized you feel on Monday morning, and what kind of impact you make on the lives of others.” — I would imagine that this is the universal definition of success among people who have sorta been-there/done-that. It’s certainly the same definition of success that I hold. Really, what good is having a huge salary if you would rather be doing something else? One of my former clients is the CEO of a gigantic multinational corporation. His day began with a phone meeting on the cardio machne, another phone meeting while being driven to work, more meetings at work, regular meetings with important folks after the work shift, and at least 2-3 flights across the country per week. That would literally drive me insane, but to each his own. I am hugely into simplicity and family time, so for me, it’s do-or-die important to carve my work around a foundation of family time, not the other way around.

  8. March 22, 2010

    David,

    I’ll reiterate my responses to previous posts of yours:

    Although I agree that adverse effects can result from an overconsumption of n-6 FAs and an underconsumption of n-3 FAs, I would hesitate to conclude that, as you put it, “excessive omega-6 intake is THE major public health disaster of the 20th century and beyond.” Fundamentally speaking, there cannot be a single factor attibutable to crippling public health. There are a multitude of interplaying factors (not just nutritional factors), and frankly, like the fructose debate, the solution is not to focus on a single aspect & blow it out of proportion from the big picture of contributing factors that vary across individuals.

    While I agree that omega-3 FAs are generally underconsumed (esp. in terms of proportion with omega-6 FAs), I wouldn’t cut out foods I enjoy on those grounds. I’d just eat less of them, or I’d eat more omega-3 FA. There’s magic in peanut butter, you didn’t know this? I think people can go overboard in their zeal for omega-3 as well, taking a more-is-better approach & swinging the pendulum too far in the other direction. Throwing out peanuts on the sole basis of FA proportion may be a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. More reading for you:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18716180
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17514537
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12672709
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18716179
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19396658

  9. March 22, 2010

    I love the positive message and reminder that success comes in the enjoyment of the process, not in the destination. Thank you!

  10. March 22, 2010

    Alan,

    Actually, I’m not against consuming nuts or legumes. It was just a mistake for ME to eat peanut butter regularly, day after day, year after year for nearly four decades. I simply didn’t see the harm in it.

    But while you’re right to say that “There are a multitude of interplaying factors (not just nutritional factors)” that affect the public health, still, there are those two major ingredients in the modern food supply that people consume way to much of.

    I reduced my sugar intake three decades ago and consumed foods rich in saturated fat with reckless abandon. And I did fine for a couple decades. Then my health deteriorated to the point where I started getting colds and the flu in winter. Didn’t happen this year. We’ll see how I fare in the future.

    I guess a person could develop a list of environmental insults that affect human health. But from what I’ve seen, experienced, and read, compared to any other single factor or combination of factors, added sugars and omega-6 fats cause far more mischief. Now which causes the most mischief is still open for debate. I choose omega-6, partly because is so closely connected with chronic inflammatory conditions, cognitive problems, addictive disorders, and mental illness. There’s considerable literature about this but is anyone paying attention?

    No doubt sugar has similar effects but sugar does not accumulate in the tissues over the long term. It took about two months of not eating peanut butter to notice an improvement. It’ll likely take years to recover as fully as I’m able to recover at my age. But this summer I suspect I’ll be able to bound down the mountain trails that way I used to. If not, at least I won’t have to turn around and walk backwards on the steep parts.

    Thanks for allowing me to comment on your blog. I take it you’re not sufficiently interested in the omega-6 hazard to pursue it further so I’ll not bring it up again.

  11. Vickie permalink
    March 22, 2010

    I really loved this post and the responses as Alan marks what he thinks is almost the middle of his life. He swerves into one of my current interests — what our lives will look like when so many people have a complete and relatively active second fifty years of life.

    As i said to my friend this morning, people had better love what they do b/c except for the precious few that are genetically or intellectually gifted, most of us will be working until the day we drop in this coming era of the increased longevity and decreased financial/professional stability.

    It’s one thing to subject yourself to your own ideas – and quite another to put others lives into your invisible row boat and start paddling so career advice is not for the faint of heart as is all kinds of planning for others. I know because I work professionally as a planner – not career planning but with people’s money. That in itself is kinda laughable because anyone that knew me would be surprised that i could sit still long enough or that my head would be used for anything but wearing a baseball cap while working out.

    I have had at least few career/life incarnations. I agree that flexibility is key — being able to morph as your passion will have to ride the crest of many outside forces. Decades will subject you to unplanned and untimely changes in spouses, random trends, failure of industries too big to fail, government regulations, etc . Just look at all of the those soon to be out of work postal workers who played it safe. How many are saying ‘ I coulda been a contender but no…. I chose the security of the postal service’.

    Following your bliss is not without significant financial and emotion peril at times. But think of the greater peril — not following your bliss. Your perception of which was the better path might change and change again over time or at least mine has. I think that means I’m still alive and there is always a chance to realize my bliss.

  12. Eric permalink
    March 22, 2010

    This was an excellent post! It spoke to me pretty much on every level. From a 30 year old looking to the future wondering what I’ll be looking back on when I get to 40. To a teacher (and future parent) being in a position of shapin young peoples minds. And all the notes to your students. Wow.

    I was the biggest slaker throughout pretty much all my schooling, that includes my bachelors and masters. I coasted through because I took classes that interested me and I’ve always found it easy to do well when my interest was peakes. But the classes were never strenous. That was until I got my first C on a paper in my graduate studies. Everyone was used to their easy A’s never thinking twice that little effort was put into getting that grade. But that C made me think twice because I knew I deserved it! And I busted my ass and got an A on the next paper but this time I knew that the A was truly and A. That teacher pretty muched changed my view of things and encouraged me to truly seek knowledge.

    One frustrating thing about it is that it seems so many other people don’t bother to seek out more knowledge. They are satisfied with their diploma and never seek out new knowledge. Ignorance is bliss and now that I know more it’s all the more frustrating to see how screwed up things really are and I’m pretty much powerless to stop it.

    But this piece kind of forces me to think “What can I do?”

    -_-_-_-_-_

    Sitting down and just writing stuff spur of the moment is a great strategy for ideas. I know I’ve practiced what is called freewriting for ideas plenty of times, and many of my friends (who are more into writing) do the same. Just sit down and write whatever comes to mind, refine it later. It might not come out fleshed out but some other ideas might surface

    Sorry for the uber long monolouge

  13. BMJ permalink
    March 22, 2010

    muther-effer! I didn’t think CSUN’s symposium was until the middle of April…dammit! That sucks, I was going to try and make a run over there to see you speak, but guess i’ll have to wait possibly another year:(

    At any rate, nice blog post. I graduated with my undergrad in 2003. Have you thought about teaching a class or two there Alan? There are a lot of new staff at CSUN, a few are older professors are still there though. My friend Ilene teaches there part time. I remember helping to put those symposiums together as part of their SDFSA club:)

  14. March 23, 2010

    Alan, it’s definately a bit tough at first to be vaugue about things because everyone bone in my body and everything I have read about goal setting was be as specific as possible. Easier to measure and know how to get there etc.

    And actually I think it’s good to go through that process before trying to approach it in a more vague manner. But, once you get very good at focusing on goals and working towards them, you realize that the time spent being specific is redundant due to the fact that you generally know what you are trying to achieve and also because things change so goddamn much. I was literally revising my 12m goals every month at one point lol

    Now for my physical area of my life, I have four key areas:

    - Mobility
    - Strength
    - Physique (muscle mass and bodyfat)
    - Cardio vascular

    I do have 3 or 4 hard 12 months goals (related to weight, bodyfat and a few strength ones) but thats it.

    One week I may feel I have neglected mobility so I chose that to really hammer and other times I decide I want to home in on the cardiovascular area for a few weeks etc. I set my goals at that point rather than trying to crystalize everything for a year.

    Hey, check out Rework if you get a chance too – http://37signals.com/rework/

    Great audio book and it covers simplicity in plannng a lot too!

    Again, coooooooooooool post!

  15. March 23, 2010

    I will be doing your “blank sheet day” very soon.

    I tend to keep a journal, writing incessantly about my thoughts, goals, anger and rage. My only problem is that while I really get a lot out when I do it, I don’t do it enough. It’s often that I find month long gaps in between musings.

    As of right now at 23, my only hope is that I can look back when I am your age and be happy with my choices in life. I hope to be without regret and disappointment as you seem to be.

    I really appreciate this random post and the awesome advice you’ve bestowed upon me many of times.

    Cheers and beers.

  16. March 23, 2010

    Alan,

    I enjoyed reading the AARR that included an interview with Ronnie Coleman. However, the word down here at Muscletech is that you sold his phone number on ebay for a sum of 300 dollars. Now, I gotta ask, was that 300 regular dollars, or 300 ‘solid ass’ dollars?

    -BC(AA)

  17. David Miklas - snorkelman permalink
    March 23, 2010

    Alan, I found the last abstract you referenced about nuts very interesting. Kind of implies that all calories are not equal.

    “CONCLUSION: Two weeks of snacking based on peanuts does not cause the same negative metabolic effects as an isocaloric diet in which the snacking is based on short acting carbohydrates in the form of candy in non-obese healthy subject.”

    And Branch may have just created a rumor that may rival the fake email to Ronnie:

  18. March 23, 2010

    Great post, Alan. It hits some things that have been on my mind lately. I won’t go into detail here but thanks for the great post.

    I had a grad school class with my major professor who made us do the same thing your prof did….dissect research. And every time I thought I did a good job of dissecting a study, she would come up with 100 other ways to dissect it. There was one other professor who taught me to really critically look at the statistics in a paper (a section that most people fail to critically examine). These two really helped shape my critical thinking skills, as well as helped me in my own published research in the sense that it helped me pay good attention to detail and produce quality work.

  19. Martin permalink
    March 23, 2010

    Alan,
    A very humanizing piece you’ve written – assuming you’re human (and I question it sometimes).

    You’ve got a new generation now in the same boat you were in almost 20 years ago. Students going through the motions but terrified of their career and future. That includes the future MDs, who should have the greatest sense of security in their lives.

    People like you have got to start lecturing on a regular basis. At least at the undergraduate level, the classrooms are devoid of any enthusiasm for the topic. Thanks for this post.

  20. March 24, 2010

    Thanks for the great feedback, everyone. I’m glad this post resonates with you. I’m learning quite a bit from the responses too.

  21. bannedNSguywholostweight permalink
    March 24, 2010

    Alan:

    Your desire for truth shines through in your writing. Not just this piece. If you don’t already, would recommend reading Volokh.com as a blog. Also, think you would have fun reading Dick Feynman’s personal account of his experience on the NASA shuttle crash investigation.

  22. bannedNSguywholostweight permalink
    March 24, 2010

    I can’t make head nor tail of Lyle’s last article on what happens with excess protein consumption.

    If I take a normal guy, eating some mixed diet (not in protein deficit) who is exactly maintaining weight. Then I add 500 calories per day of protein (all else stays constant). What happens? Does he (A) stay exactly the same weight since excess protein does not result in fat gain? Or (B) gain a pound a week (by “calorie math”). If it’s “in between”, what is the rate of fat gain? And if “it depends”, what does it depend on, and what is a best guess assumption for a random individual?

    P.s. I am banned from Lyle’s site for spamming and trolling. (Sorry.)

  23. March 25, 2010

    bannedNSguywholostweight — The question you asked would at best evoke a bunch of speculation since this has not been systematically investigated yet. Indeed it is possible for the body to store bodyfat as a result of excess caloric intake regardless of which macronutrient, but in the case of protein, the storage of calories in the adipose is least efficient. This is what we know thus far, and quantifying that claim has thus far not been done to any degree where definitive answers can be given.

  24. bannedNSguywholostweight permalink
    March 25, 2010

    (squeeeeezing the onion) Closer to “simple calorie math” fat addition or closer to “no gain”? (The answer makes a difference to how a person makes choices in daily life.) And if there is no quantititative info, what’s your Bayesian (betting hunch) guess?

  25. March 25, 2010

    bannedNSguywholostweight — I think the answer to your question is a series of “it depends” clauses. Disappointing answer, huh? I haven’t conducted this specific experiment on any clients (ie, 125g surplus as protein vs 56g surplus as fat), so I can’t even offer you a meaningful anecdote. There would still be a bunch of potentially different outcomes given different circumstances. Find me this study once it becomes available, and we can (try to) extrapolate their findings to our present question: http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00565149

    I have an idea: why don’t you experiment on yourself with the scenarios you described, & report back?

  26. bannedNSguywholostweight permalink
    March 25, 2010

    My experimentation has pretty much shown calorie math to work regardless of nutrient type. Whether the diet was protein excess or not. I ran both of these during my 70 pounds in 6 month weight loss and loss rates were similar. But I’m kind of biased as that’s how my hunch of how it would work. And a single sample. And that is my impression (an honest one, of a thoughtful observer but still…) based on visually integrating the weeks. I did save all my weekly weighins, so I honestly do think the rate was invariant. You get some week to week chatter, but doing linear fits over a few weeks, the rates were similar.

  27. bannedNSguywholostweight permalink
    March 25, 2010

    Actually I was in deficit the whole time, so maybe it’s not even the same test. Still, my impression from the limited self-experimentation as I dieted was that going from protein excess…to EVEN MORE protein excess, but keeping activity and total calorie deficit the same, the loss rate was invariant.

  28. bannedNSguywholostweight permalink
    March 25, 2010

    And actually I only changed 200 calories, the one time I did that. So that is only a 0.4lb/week implied rate change. Maybe hard to see.

    I’m not going to overfeed myself. My Bayesian prior is too strong. And I don’t want to be fat.

    Hmm…that study seems dead on. I sent the PI an email and a phone call. Maybe he will answer.

    Sorry about the frequent comments.

  29. bannedNSguywholostweight permalink
    March 25, 2010

    And to be clear my first interest is in the marginal impact. While big changes in modes of action such as ketosis are interesting, I want to know the impact of a single extra calorie of protein above maintenance diet. Should I think of it as essentially “an extra calorie” or “not an extra calorie”. IOW the partial derivative of weight wrt protein grams, measured at initial mixed diet state where weight is constant.

  30. Karla-brah permalink
    March 26, 2010

    Just catching up on my Aragon reading tonight and ran across this treasure. I always, always preached to my girls to, “Do what you LOVE to do and what you are going to BE will just happen” They are both pursuing their passions without regard to career. I could not be more proud of them.

    Just LOVED this one!

  31. March 26, 2010

    My friend,

    I’d tell you how I think you look in a cowboy hat, but I’d like you to actually call me again someday.

    -Travis (post)

  32. March 28, 2010

    bannedNSguywholostweight — Interesting account, and I can’t really expect anyone who worked so hard to lose a lot of weight to run the experiment I proposed. Perhaps I’ll do it… Or not :)

    Karla-brah — Much of your childrens’ success is a reflection of your greatness (teachings AND example).

    Travis — I’d still call you. I might call you a dick, but still.

  33. bannedNSguywholostweight permalink
    March 28, 2010

    Thanks, you are a cool guy. Pretty mellow actually. I actually, honestly did leave both a phone call and an email with the PI who did that weightloss study. (No response.)

    New topic: Do you get any response from the hard core nutrition researchers (I mean the full on academics) on your popular articles and/or your literature review? What’s your impression of the field? I would not expect them all to be a bunch of particle physicists, but are they generally competent or incompetent?

  34. David Miklas - snorkelman permalink
    March 30, 2010

    bannedNSguywholostweight, take a look 2 blogs back re: Alan’s interaction with Dr. Robert Lustig. As for Tallon’s CEE study that is in litigation, apparently Alan has spoken to or emailed Tallon and received some response. I’d love to hear any details if Alan is at liberty to share, as the response I received from him was curt and basically just told me to wait and see and that he was sticking to his claims.

  35. April 2, 2010

    BannedNSguy — I interact very occasionally with primary researchers. They are generally competent, but it’s tough to make any judgements with such a small body of interaction to draw from. A lot of my time is spent working with clients & writing, so peers (& would-be peers) often must get the tiny leftovers of communication. But, it’s all good since they understand the nature of my work.

  36. April 5, 2010

    Alan, in regards to bannedNSguywholostweight’s question; I’m sure that protein would be stored as fat if one where to have a big calorie surpluss coming from protien? Let’s say 4000 calories for a 2500 calorie guy, where 95 % of the calories come from protein, he would surely have to gain fat? I know those ammounts would be difficult, but theoretically..?

  37. April 7, 2010

    Fredrik — Yes, in the hypothetical scenario of an all-protein diet, a surplus of protein calories would indeed get stored as fat. The unanswered question is what proportion of it would get stored as fat, and of course, this would vary according to other variables.

  38. April 15, 2010

    Excellent article Alan! Loved it!

    Everyone needs to realized that their time on earth is limited, so get out there and do what you are passionate about. The world needs more passionate people doing what they love.

    Kudos to you for doing it! I am working down the same path, and many days when my dissertation is causing me hair loss and off the charts cortisol levels, I need to remind myself of the journey and that I am blessed to be on the path that I want to be on and truly love.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

  39. Mark permalink
    April 18, 2010

    I really enjoyed this blog post, as it’s very timely for me. I was a horrible student through high school and college. My academic career could be summed up as “Do what it takes….but not much else.” I’m about to return to school after many years, and I find myself excited at the prospect. I have a feeling things will be very different this time.

  40. Paul Skavland permalink
    September 28, 2010

    I loved this post. Only one caveat: sometimes the job attached to the field one is interested in can suck. (e.g. just because you love cooking doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy being a professional chef. Or, just because you love training doesn’t mean you’ll love training other people.)
    Truly enjoy the way you write and what you write about!

  41. September 30, 2010

    Paul — I hear what you’re saying. I think that the goal would be to find that elusive place where you’re enjoying the field & the job within it. It’s a good thing the fitness field has so many facet/avenues to delve into & find a good fit.

    All — Thanks again for the feedback.

  42. May 4, 2011

    Terrible news, Brian Koziol is in a coma after suffering a heart attack. ck with updates. He would have loved your blog comments about his passion, connecting with students.

  43. May 4, 2011

    I wrote wrong web name earlier. Pls ck updates on Brian’s condition

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