Fast!

This has no connection to the previous post, “A Run”. In fact this isn’t even about me.

My LSW (Long-Suffering Wife) has tried a therapeutic regime that is becoming very popular and even trendy among doctors. Yes, “real” doctors. The idea is to avoid eating for a while, i.e., to fast.

Billions of people fast for a day, once in a while, many for religious reasons. Obviously, it is not dangerous, for a day; else this practice would become unpopular. It seems safe for one day even when a religion forbids drinking anything on that day.

But as famed fitness advocates Hans and Franz say, “Hear me now and believe me later!!” :

I AM NOT A DOCTOR

I AM NOT EVEN AN EXPERT ON FASTING

DOCTORS AGREE THAT FASTING REQUIRES LOTS OF LIQUID

DOCTORS AGREE THAT FASTING FOR MORE THAN A DAY OR TWO REQUIRES PLENTY OF MEDICAL SUPERVISION AND PREPARATION

DOCTORS AGREE THAT ALL FASTING IS DANGEROUS FOR PEOPLE WITH CERTAIN CONDITIONS

SO DON’T FAST ON MY ADVICE! THAT WOULD BE STUPID!

TALK WITH A DOCTOR WHO HAS EXPERIENCE WITH FASTING PATIENTS

If you ever were worried about passing a blood test for marijuana, you probably read up on it, and learned that THC-family chemicals can appear for a very long time. This is because the body stores them along with fat.

It’s as if your endocrine system is worried there will be a “dry summer”. (That’s slang for a summer with no weed available. Yes, kids, there once was a time when weed supplies were unpredictable and unreliable. So Henry went to Mexico …)

When the body uses the stored fat, the chemicals dissolved in the fat are released back to the bloodstream along with the fat (as fatty acids). There are good things like vitamins and minerals in there, as well as toxins and allergens.

Many scientists are studying fasting these days. Much is known, but much is unknown.

Clearly it leads to weight loss, which is a huge boon to our cardio fitness and to our old joints. But weight loss also reverses easily.

There may be major benefits to the health of the brain due to ketone metabolism. Now, you may recall that long periods of ketosis occur in low-carb diets like South Beach. Ketosis also occurs after a few days of fasting, and continues until the fast is broken.

During ketosis, ketones flood the bloodstream. During prolonged fasting, the brain uses ketones for its energy needs instead of the usual glucose.  This may be beneficial.

Fasting also may improve health by getting  rid of toxins that were stored in the fat. This is a traditional belief which has some scientific basis.

Scientists still debate the benefits of fasting. They also haven’t settled on exactly the right way to conduct a fast. Some recommend exercise or vitamins, others do not. IMO, vitamins and other medications have not been proven to help, and may aggravate the digestive system, which goes into a mostly-shut-down state while fasting.

Which brings to mind the problems of breaking a fast. After prolonged fasting, one must be careful how food is reintroduced. Else, nausea or worse can result. One approach is to take small amounts of watermelon, or fruit juice, carefully timed.

Folks, if have any chronic conditions, you should find out whether fasting is dangerous for you. In any case, understand the potential problems and their symptoms. Don’t just rely on your doctor, unless your doctor is with you 24/7.

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A Run

After stretching, I ran a little over quarter mile. I mean I ran it, no jogging, with an all-out finish for the final 50 yards. It was exhilarating. I estimate this is the first time in twenty years that I ran that far. (I never keep exercise records; this blog is the closest thing.)

At the end the cooldown took longer than the run. Now that’s life after sixty!

I give credit to the well-rounded exercise course at the park. Hiking is good for you, of course. It can be cardio. It is necessary  if you plan to do … more hiking.

But the park routine works all the major muscles. You can do more cardio than with just running or walking, because the legs get rest along the way. The routine builds more muscle in total than just walking or running. And, it’s better-looking muscle – chest, abs, arms, glutes! (My legs are just too hairy to be eye candy.)

I started regular workouts, walking fast, about two-and-a-half years ago. My cardio function has improved gradually. I am pretty sure that in two months of the park routine, it has improved faster.

Modafinil

I’ve been trying modafinil over the past two months.

I do not know enough science about it to discuss it from that angle. All I want to do is detail my own experience with it.

First off, there is a noticeable improvement in thinking. It’s hard to pin down. More patience, more concentration, more desire to do work, to write, to read, to think. It’s similar to caffeine in that way. It lasts longer than caffeine.

Second, it prevents sleep. This is unsurprising, since it is used to treat narcolepsy. Narcolepsy is  a sleep disorder; the sufferer falls asleep unpredictably and suddenly at any time of day. If I take 50 mg of modafinil after lunch, I will be up way past my bedtime.

Speaking of mg, at first I tried 50 mg, then 100. I like the 100 mg dose, but of course it has more tendency to produce insomnia. I try to use it every second day, or every third.

A third effect is an improvement in my mood. It’s not prescribed for that and, from my reading, it does not do that for everybody.  Anti-depressants (and anti-histamines) have  mental effects that vary greatly from person to person. Often, the same drug that makes one person agitated, makes another person sleepy.

One downside of modafinil is that it does not mix well with alcohol. I haven’t experienced this, I just avoid mixing.

Another downside: sleep is important for your health. Stimulants that prevent normal sleep can be very dangerous. Fact: if you do not sleep, your brain will go insane after about 100 hours, until you sleep. Wealthy cocaine users often display this adorable trait (“Winning!”). You must be wealthy to get enough cocaine to have this effect. But ordinary folks can use meth instead and get just as crazy.

Modafinil is not exactly a stimulant. Stimulants increase our wakeful, active hormones (e.g., adrenaline). It is believed that modafinil does not do that, but instead, that it disrupts the mechanism in your brain that leads to sleep.

But the loss of sleep is just as much a problem. It does not matter whether it is due to crank, coke, modafinil, the Late Show, or a hot young girlfriend. Health and alertness depend on sleep, especially alertness.