Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 23rd, 2016

How’s your experience with dieting? Does it usually work?

You can take control of your health by taking control of your lifestyle, even If you can’t lose weight and keep it off.

Three and a half years ago, I made one of the best decisions of my life. As my New Year’s resolution, I gave up dieting, stopped worrying about my weight, and learned to eat mindfully. Now I eat whenever I’m hungry, and I’ve lost 10 pounds.

Why dieting doesn’t usually work . Posted Jan 2014

0:32 This was me at age 13, when I started my first diet. I look at that picture now, and I think, you did not need a diet, you needed a fashion consultant. (Laughter)

But I thought I needed to lose weight, and when I gained it back, of course I blamed myself. And for the next three decades, I was on and off various diets.

No matter what I tried, the weight I’d lost always came back. I’m sure many of you know the feeling.

As a neuroscientist, I wondered, why is this so hard?

Obviously, how much you weigh depends on how much you eat and how much energy you burn. What most people don’t realize is that hunger and energy use are controlled by the brain, mostly without your awareness.

Your brain does a lot of its work behind the scenes, and that is a good thing, because your conscious mind — how do we put this politely? — it’s easily distracted. It’s good that you don’t have to remember to breathe when you get caught up in a movie. You don’t forget how to walk because you’re thinking about what to have for dinner.

Your brain also has its own sense of what you should weigh, no matter what you consciously believe.

This is called your set point, but that’s a misleading term, because it’s actually a range of about 10 or 15 pounds. (would be lovely if set point is just 10 pounds?)

You can use lifestyle choices to move your weight up and down within that range, but it’s much, much harder to stay outside of it.

The hypothalamus, the part of the brain that regulates body weight, there are more than a dozen chemical signals in the brain that tell your body to gain weight, more than another dozen that tell your body to lose it, (Not fair?) and the system works like a thermostat (a thermostat that need to be redesigned?) , responding to signals from the body by adjusting hunger, activity and metabolism, to keep your weight stable as conditions change.

That’s what a thermostat does, right? It keeps the temperature in your house the same as the weather changes outside. Now you can try to change the temperature in your house by opening a window in the winter, but that’s not going to change the setting on the thermostat, which will respond by kicking on the furnace to warm the place back up.

Your brain works exactly the same way, responding to weight loss by using powerful tools to push your body back to what it considers normal. If you lose a lot of weight, your brain reacts as if you were starving, and whether you started out fat or thin, your brain’s response is exactly the same. (overweight people have a brain damage?)

We would love to think that your brain could tell whether you need to lose weight or not, but it can’t. If you do lose a lot of weight, you become hungry, and your muscles burn less energy. Dr. Rudy Leibel of Columbia University has found that people who have lost 10% of their body weight burn 250 to 400 calories less because their metabolism is suppressed. That’s a lot of food.

This means that a successful dieter must eat this much less forever than someone of the same weight who has always been thin.

From an evolutionary perspective, your body’s resistance to weight loss makes sense. (weird evolution)

When food was scarce, our ancestors’ survival depended on conserving energy, and regaining the weight when food was available would have protected them against the next shortage. Over the course of human history, starvation has been a much bigger problem than overeating.

This may explain a very sad fact: Set points can go up, but they rarely go down. (soon, we’ ll all be Fat) 

Now, if your mother ever mentioned that life is not fair, this is the kind of thing she was talking about. (Laughter) Successful dieting doesn’t lower your set point.

Even after you’ve kept the weight off for as long as 7 years, your brain keeps trying to make you gain it back. If that weight loss had been due to a long famine, that would be a sensible response. In our modern world of drive-thru burgers, it’s not working out so well for many of us.

That difference between our ancestral past and our abundant present is the reason that Dr. Yoni Freedhoff of the University of Ottawa would like to take some of his patients back to a time when food was less available, and it’s also the reason that changing the food environment is really going to be the most effective solution to obesity. (move to famine stricken environment)

Sadly, a temporary weight gain can become permanent. If you stay at a high weight for too long, probably a matter of years for most of us, your brain may decide that that’s the new normal.

5:52 Psychologists classify eaters into two groups, those who rely on their hunger and those who try to control their eating through willpower, like most dieters.

Let’s call them intuitive eaters and controlled eaters. The interesting thing is that intuitive eaters are less likely to be overweight, and they spend less time thinking about food.

Controlled eaters are more vulnerable to overeating in response to advertising, super-sizing, and the all-you-can-eat buffet. And a small indulgence, like eating one scoop of ice cream, is more likely to lead to a food binge in controlled eaters.

Children are especially vulnerable to this cycle of dieting and then binging. Several long-term studies have shown that girls who diet in their early teenage years are three times more likely to become overweight 5 years later, even if they started at a normal weight, and all of these studies found that the same factors that predicted weight gain also predicted the development of eating disorders.

The other factor is being teased by family members about their weight. So don’t do that. (Laughter)

I left almost all my graphs at home, but I couldn’t resist throwing in just this one, because I’m a geek, and that’s how I roll. (Laughter) This is a study that looked at the risk of death over a 14-year period based on 4 healthy habits: eating enough fruits and vegetables, exercise three times a week, not smoking, and drinking in moderation.

Let’s start by looking at the normal weight people in the study.

The height of the bars is the risk of death, and those zero, one, two, three, four numbers on the horizontal axis are the number of those healthy habits that a given person had. And as you’d expect, the healthier the lifestyle, the less likely people were to die during the study.

Now let’s look at what happens in overweight people. The ones that had no healthy habits had a higher risk of death.

Adding just one healthy habit pulls overweight people back into the normal range.

For obese people with no healthy habits, the risk is very high, 7 times higher than the healthiest groups in the study. But a healthy lifestyle helps obese people too. In fact, if you look only at the group with all four healthy habits, you can see that weight makes very little difference.

You can take control of your health by taking control of your lifestyle, even If you can’t lose weight and keep it off.

Diets don’t have very much reliability. Five years after a diet, most people have regained the weight. Forty percent of them have gained even more. If you think about this, the typical outcome of dieting is that you’re more likely to gain weight in the long run than to lose it.

If I’ve convinced you that dieting might be a problem, the next question is, what do you do about it? And my answer, in a word, is mindfulness.

I’m not saying you need to learn to meditate or take up yoga. I’m talking about mindful eating: learning to understand your body’s signals so that you eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, because a lot of weight gain boils down to eating when you’re not hungry.

How do you do it? Give yourself permission to eat as much as you want, and then work on figuring out what makes your body feel good.

Sit down to regular meals without distractions. Think about how your body feels when you start to eat and when you stop, and let your hunger decide when you should be done.

It took about a year for me to learn this, but it’s really been worth it. I am so much more relaxed around food than I have ever been in my life. I often don’t think about it. I forget we have chocolate in the house.

It’s like aliens have taken over my brain. It’s just completely different. I should say that this approach to eating probably won’t make you lose weight unless you often eat when you’re not hungry, but doctors don’t know of any approach that makes significant weight loss in a lot of people, and that is why a lot of people are now focusing on preventing weight gain instead of promoting weight loss. Let’s face it: If diets worked, we’d all be thin already. (Laughter)

Why do we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results? Diets may seem harmless, but they actually do a lot of collateral damage. At worst, they ruin lives: Weight obsession leads to eating disorders, especially in young kids.

In the U.S., we have 80% of 10-year-old girls say they’ve been on a diet. Our daughters have learned to measure their worth by the wrong scale.

Even at its best, dieting is a waste of time and energy.

It takes willpower which you could be using to help your kids with their homework or to finish that important work project, and because willpower is limited, any strategy that relies on its consistent application is pretty much guaranteed to eventually fail you when your attention moves on to something else.

11:54 Let me leave you with one last thought. What if we told all those dieting girls that it’s okay to eat when they’re hungry? What if we taught them to work with their appetite instead of fearing it?

I think most of them would be happier and healthier, and as adults, many of them would probably be thinner. I wish someone had told me that back when I was 13.

Origin of English Language? Turkey and Near East region?

English language ‘originated in Turkey’

Image caption Words in common use betray the language of our past

Modern Indo-European languages – which include English – originated in Turkey about 9,000 years ago, researchers say. (The eastern seashore region of the Mediterranean sea)

Their findings differ from conventional theory that these languages originated 5,000 years ago in south-west Russia.

The New Zealand researchers used methods developed to study virus epidemics to create family trees of ancient and modern Indo-European tongues to pinpoint where and when the language family first arose.

Their study is reported in Science.

A language family is a group of languages that arose from a common ancestor, known as the proto-language.

Linguists identify these families by trawling through modern languages for words of similar sound that often describe the same thing, like water and wasser (German). These shared words – or cognates – represent our language inheritance.

According to the Ethnologue database, more than 100 language families exist.

The Indo-European family is one of the largest families – more than 400 languages spoken in at least 60 countries – and its origins are unclear.

The Steppes, or Kurgan, theorists hold that the proto-language originated in the Steppes of Russia, north of the Caspian Sea, about 5,000 years ago.

The Anatolia hypothesis – first proposed in the late 1980s by Prof Colin Renfrew (now Lord Renfrew) – suggests an origin in the Anatolian region of Turkey about 3,000 years earlier.

To determine which competing theory was the most likely, Dr Quentin Atkinson from the University of Auckland and his team interrogated language evolution using phylogenetic analyses – more usually used to trace virus epidemics.

Fundamentals of life

Phylogenetics reveals relatedness by assessing how much of the information stored in DNA is shared between organisms.

Influenza virus
Image caption The researchers used methods developed for tracing virus epidemics

Chimpanzees and humans have a common ancestor and share about 98% of their DNA. Because of this shared ancestry, they cluster together on phylogenetic – or family – trees.

Like DNA, language is passed down, generation to generation.

Although language changes and evolves, some linguists have argued that cognates describing the fundamentals of life – kinship (mother, father), body parts (eye, hand), the natural world (fire, water) and basic verbs (to walk, to run) – resist change.

These conserved cognates are strongly linked to the proto-language of old.

Dr Atkinson and his team built a database containing 207 cognate words present in 103 Indo‐European languages, which included 20 ancient tongues such as Latin and Greek.

Using phylogenetic analysis, they were able to reconstruct the evolutionary relatedness of these modern and ancient languages – the more words that are cognate, the more similar the languages are and the closer they group on the tree.

The trees could also predict when and where the ancestral language originated.

Looking back into the depths of the tree, Dr Atkinson and his colleagues were able to confirm the Anatolian origin.

To test if the alternative hypothesis – of a Russian origin several thousand years later – was possible, the team used competing models of evolution to pitch Steppes and Anatolian theory against each other.

Image caption Cognate words represent our language inheritance

In repeated tests, the Anatolian theory always came out on top.

Commenting on the paper, Prof Mark Pagel, a Fellow of the Royal Society from the University of Reading who was involved in earlier published phylogenetic studies, said: “This is a superb application of methods taken from evolutionary biology to understand a problem in cultural evolution – the origin and expansion of the Indo-European languages.

“This paper conclusively shows that the Indo-European languages are at least 8-9,500 years old, and arose, as has long been speculated, in the Anatolian region of what is modern-day Turkey and spread outwards from there.”

Commenting on the inclusion of ancient languages in the analyses, he added: “The use of a number of known calibration points from ‘fossil’ languages greatly strengthens the conclusions.”

However, the findings have not found universal acceptance.

Prof Petri Kallio from the University of Helsinki suggests that several cognate words describing technological inventions – such as the wheel – are evident across different languages.

He argues that the Indo-European proto-language diversified after the invention of the wheel, about 5,000 years ago.

On the phylogenetic methods used to date the proto-language, Prof Kallio added: “So why do I still remain sceptical? Unlike archaeological radiocarbon dating based on the fixed rate of decay of the carbon-14 isotope, there is simply no fixed rate of decay of basic vocabulary, which would allow us to date ancestral proto-languages.

“Instead of the quantity of the words, therefore, the trained Indo-Europeanists concentrate on the quality of the words.” (Like what words can be classified as quality? Eating, running, killing, war, stealing, raping, fruits, grains, earth, land, mountains, rivers, water…?)

Prof Pagel is less convinced by the counter-argument: “Compared to the Kurgan hypothesis, this new analysis shows the Anatolian hypothesis as the clear winner.”

Note: Civilizations centered around major rivers and estuaries.The meeting spots for all the people fleeing catastrophic events and shortage of food.

The Euphrates and Tiger Rivers, along of where they flow in Syria and Iraq, have been centers of great earlier civilizations. The hot bed of civilization where all the migrant people lived and developed for many thousands of years.

It is from these centers that civilizations spread to other regions and constituted this unified DNA for mankind.

Turkey was the transit stage toward Europe and the Caucasus.

How I became an activist?

How a youth gets engaged in changing rotten systems?

How a youth joins rallying movements?

Africa is a complex continent full of contradictions?

What’s image got to do with it? And I must say, I think Emeka is trying to send a lot of subliminal messages, because I’m going to keep harping on some of the issues that have come up.

But I’m going to try and do something different, and try and just close the loop with some of my personal stories, and try and put a face to a lot of the issues that we’ve been talking about. So, Africa is a complex continent full of contradictions, as you can see. We’re not the only ones.

0:47 And you know, it’s amazing. I mean, we need a whole conference just devoted to telling the good stories about the continent. Just think about that, you know? And this is typically what we’ve been talking about, the role that the media plays in focusing just on the negative stuff.

Why is that a problem? A typical disaster story: disease, corruption, poverty.

And some of you might be standing here thinking, saying, “OK, you know, Ory, you’re Harvard-educated, and all you privileged people come here, saying, ‘Forget the poor people. Let’s focus on business and the markets, and whatever.’ “ And they’re all, “There’s the 80 percent of Africans who really need help.”

And I want to tell you that this is my story, OK? And it’s the story of many of the Africans who are here. We start with poverty.

I didn’t grow up in the slums or anything that dire, but I know what it is to grow up without having money, or being able to support family.

Euvin was talking about bellwether signs. The bellwether for whether our family was broke or not was breakfast. You know, when things were good, we had eggs and sausages. When things were bad, we had porridge.

And like many African families, my parents could never save because they supported siblings, cousins, you know, their parents, and things were always dicey.

when I was born, they realized they had a pretty smart kid, and they didn’t want me to go to the neighborhood school, which was free.

They adopted a very interesting approach to education, which was they were going to take me to a school that they can barely afford. So they took me to a private, Catholic, elementary school, which set the foundation for what ended up being my career. And what happened was, because they could afford it sometimes, sometimes not, I got kicked out pretty much every term.

You know, someone would come in with a list of the people who haven’t paid school fees, and when they started getting pretty strict, you had to leave, until your school fees could be paid. And I remember thinking, I mean, why don’t these guys just take me to a cheap school? Because you know, as a kid you’re embarrassed and you’re sensitive, and everyone knows you guys don’t have money. But they kept at it, and I now understand why they did what they did.

3:18 They talk about corruption.

In Kenya, we have an entrance exam to go into high school. And there’s national schools, which are like the best schools, and provincial schools. My dream school at that time was Kenya High School, a national school. I missed the cutoff by one point. And I was so disappointed, and I was like, “Oh my God, you know, what am I going to do?” And my father said, “OK, listen. Let’s go and try and talk to the headmistress. You know, it’s just one point. I mean, maybe she’ll let you in if that slot’s still there.”

So we went to the school, and because we were nobodies, and because we didn’t have privilege, and because my father didn’t have the right last name, he was treated like dirt. And I sat and listened to the headmistress talk to him, saying, you know, who do you think you are? And, you know, you must be joking if you think you can get a slot. And I had gone to school with other girls, who were kids of politicians, and who had done much, much worse than I did, and they had slots there.

And there’s nothing worse than seeing your parent being humiliated in front of you, you know? And we left, and I swore to myself, and I was like, “I’m never, ever going to have to beg for anything in my life.”

They called me two weeks later, they’re like, oh, yeah, you can come now. And I told them to stuff it.

Final story, and I sort of have to speak quickly. Disease.

My father, who I’ve been talking about, died of AIDS in 1999. He never told anyone that he had AIDS, his fear of the stigma was so strong. And I’m pretty much the one who figured it out, because I was a nerd. And I was in the States at the time, and they called me. He was very sick, the first time he got sick. And he had Cryptococcal meningitis.

And so I went on to Google, Cryptococcal meningitis, you know. Because of doctor-patient privilege, they couldn’t really tell us what was going on. But they were like, you know, this is a long-term thing. And when I went online and looked at the infectious — read about the disease, I pretty much realized what was going on.

The first time he got sick, he recovered. But what happened was that he had to be on medication that, at that time — Diflucan, which in the States is used for yeast infections — cost 30 dollars a pill. He had to be on that pill for the rest of his life.

You know, so money ran out. He got sick again. And up until that time, he had a friend who used to travel to India, and he used to import, bring him, could get him a generic version of it. And that kept him going. But the money ran out. He got sick again. He got sick on a Friday. At that time, there was only one bank that had ATMs in Kenya, and we could not get cash.

The family couldn’t get cash for him to start the treatment until Monday. The hospital put him on a water drip for three days. And finally, we figured, well, OK, we’d better just try and take him to a public hospital. At least he’ll get treated while we try to figure out the money situation. And he died when the ambulance was coming to the hospital to take him.

6:45 And, you know, now, imagine if — and I could go on and on — imagine if this is all you know about me.

How would you look at me? With pity, you know. Sadness. And this is how you look at Africa.

This is the damage it causes.

You don’t see the other side of me. You don’t see the blogger, you don’t see the Harvard-educated lawyer, the vibrant person, you know?

And I just wanted to personalize that. Because we talk about it in big terms, and you wonder so what? But it’s damaging.

And I’m not unique, right? Imagine if all you knew about William was the fact that he grew up in a poor village. And you didn’t know about the windmill,? And I was just moved. I was actually crying during his presentation. He was like, I try and I make. I was like Nike should hire him, you know, “Just do it!”

7:47 And this is, again, the point I’m trying to make. When you focus just on the disasters  we’re ignoring the potential.

So, what is to be done?

First of all, Africans, we need to get better at telling our stories. We heard about that yesterday. We had some of them this morning. And this is an example, and blogging is one way of doing that.

Afrigator is an aggregator of African blogs that was developed in South Africa. So we need to start getting better.

If no one else will tell our stories, let’s do it. And going back to the point I was trying to make, this is the Swahili Wikipedia.

Swahili is spoken by about 50 million people in East Africa. It only has five contributors. Four of them are white males — non-native speakers. The other person is — Ndesanjo, if you’re here, stand up — is a Tanzanian, [the] first Swahili blogger. He’s the only African who’s contributing to this.

 We can’t whine and complain the West is doing this. What are we doing? Where are the rest of the Swahili speakers?

Why are we not generating our own content? You know, it’s not enough to complain. We need to act.

Reuters now integrates African blogs into their coverage of Africa. So, that’s a start, and we’ve heard of all their other initiatives.

The cheetah generation. The aid approach, you know, is flawed. And after all the hoopla of Live 8, we’re still not anywhere in the picture. No, you’re not.

9:46 But the point I’m trying to make, though, is that it’s not enough for us to criticize.

And for those of you in the diaspora who are struggling with where should I be, should I move back, should I stay? You know, just jump.

The continent needs you. And I can’t emphasize that enough. I walked away from a job with one of the top firms in D.C., Covington and Burling, six figures.

With two paychecks, or three paychecks, I could solve a lot of my family’s problems. But I walked away from that, because my passion was here, and because I wanted to do things that were fulfilling. And because I’m needed here? I probably can win a prize for the most ways to use a Harvard Law School degree because of all the things I’m doing.

One is because I’m pretty aggressive, and I try and find, you know, opportunities. But there is such a need, you know?

I’m a corporate lawyer most of the time for an organization called Enablis that supports entrepreneurs in South Africa. We’re now moving into East Africa. And we give them business development services, as well as financing loan and equity.

I’ve also set up a project in Kenya, and what we do is we track the performance of Kenyan MPs. My partner, M, who’s a tech guru, hacked WordPress. It costs us, like, 20 dollars a month just for hosting. Everything else on there is a labor of love.

We’ve manually entered all the data there. And you can get profiles of each MP, questions they’ve asked in parliament. We have a comment function, where people can ask their MPs questions. There are some MPs who participate, and come back and ask.

we started this because we were tired of complaining about our politicians. You know, I believe that accountability stems from demand. You’re not just going to be accountable out of the goodness of your heart. And we as Africans need to start challenging our leaders.

What are they doing? they’re not going to change just out of nowhere. So we need new policies, we need — where’s that coming from, you know? Another thing is that these leaders are a reflection of our society. We talk about African governments like they’ve been dropped from Mars, you know?

They come from us. And what is it about our society that is generating leaders that we don’t like? And how can we change that? So Mzalendo was one small way we thought we could start inspiring people to start holding their leaders accountable. Where do we go from here? I believe in the power of ideas. I believe in the power of sharing knowledge.

And I’d ask all of you, when you leave here, please just share, and keep the ideas that you’ve gotten out of here going, because it can make a difference. The other thing I want to urge you to do is take an interest in the individual. I’ve had lots of conversations about things I think need to be happening in Africa. People are like, “OK, if you don’t do aid, I’m a bleeding heart liberal, what can I do?”

And when I talk about my ideas, they’re like, “BBut it’s not scalable, you know. Give me something I can do with Paypal.” It’s not that easy, you know? And sometimes just taking an interest in the individual, in the fellows you’ve met, and the businesspeople you’ve met, it can make a huge difference, especially in Africa, because usually the individual in Africa carries a lot of people behind them. Practically. I mean, when I was a first-year student in law school, my mom’s business had collapsed, so I was supporting her. My sister was struggling to get through undergrad. I was helping her pay her tuition. My cousin ran out of school fees, and she’s really smart. I was paying her school fees.

 A cousin of mine died of AIDS, left an orphan, so we said, well, what are we going to do with her? You know, she’s now my baby sister. And because of the opportunities that were afforded to me, I am able to lift all those people. So, don’t underestimate that. An example. This man changed my life. He’s a professor. He’s now at Vanderbilt. He’s an undergrad professor, Mitchell Seligson. And because of him, I got into Harvard Law School, because he took an interest.

I was taking a class of his, and he was just like, this is an overeager student, which we don’t normally get in the United States, because everyone else is cynical and jaded. He called me to his office and said, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I said, “I want to be a lawyer.” And he was like, “Why? You know, we don’t need another lawyer in the United States.” And he tried to talk me out of it, but it was like, “OK, I know nothing about applying to law school, I’m poli-sci Ph.D. But, you know, let’s figure out what I need you to do, what I need to do to help you out.”

14:21 It was like, “Where do you want to go?” And to me at that time university — I was at University of Pitts for undergrad, and that was like heaven, OK, because compared to what could have been in Kenya. So I’m like, “Yeah, I’m just applying to Pitt for law school.” He was like, “Why? You know, you’re smart, you have all these things going for you.” And I’m like, “Because I’m here and it’s cheap, and you know, I kind of like Pittsburgh.”

Like, that’s the dumbest reason I’ve ever heard for applying to law school. And, you know, so he took me under his wing, and he encouraged me. And he said, “Look, you can get into Harvard, you’re that good, OK? And if they don’t admit you, they’re the ones who are messed up.” And he built me up, you know? And this is just an illustration.

15:02 You can meet other individuals here. We just need a push. That’s all I needed was a push to go to the next level.

Basically, I want to end with my vision for Africa. A gentleman spoke yesterday about the indignity of us having to leave the continent so that we can fulfill our potential.

my vision is that my daughter, and any other African child being born today, can be whoever they want to be here, without having to leave. And they can have the possibility of transcending the circumstances under which they were born.

That’s one thing you Americans take for granted. That you can grow up, you know, not so good circumstances, and you can move. Just because you are born in rural Arkansas, whatever, that doesn’t define who you are.

For most Africans today, where you live, or where you were born, and the circumstances under which you were born, determine the rest of your life. I would like to see that change, and the change starts with us. And as Africans, we need to take responsibility for our continent.

Patsy Z shared

“[…] Accountability stems from demand. You’re not just going to be accountable out of the goodness of your heart.

as Africans, we need to start challenging our leaders. What are they doing? They’re not going to change just out of nowhere.
So we need new policies — where’s that coming from, you know?

Another thing is that these leaders are a reflection of our society. We talk about African governments like they’ve been dropped from Mars; they come from us.

And what is it about our society that is generating leaders that we don’t like?
And how can we change that?”

how she came to do her heroic work reporting on the doings of Kenya’s parliament.|By Ory Okolloh




November 2016

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