I intended to write about the low-carb cruise on Monday, but the cowardly attack on Lierre Keith was something I just couldn’t let go. So now, back to the fun stuff …
Jimmy Moore invited me to fill a speaker’s slot on this year’s low-carb cruise after one of the doctors had to cancel … James Carlson, I think, or perhaps it was Mike and Mary Dan Eades. To whichever doctor it was, a sincere thanks. I had a blast.
A big part of the fun was finally meeting people whose books or blogs I’ve admired for a long time — Dr. Mary Vernon, Dr. William Davis and Fred Hahn, to name a few. Even more satisfying was meeting so many people who supported Fat Head when it came out, and even bought extra copies later for their friends and family members. I finally got to say thank-you to real, live people. Here are a couple of them, Lynn Machemer Setliffe and Kim Workman Palmer, longtime friends who now live in separate states but met up on the cruise:
Our group took up several tables in one corner of the dining room, and both Jimmy Moore and Becky Gandy (the organizer) reminded us on the first night to forget about our specific table assignments and mix it up every night. Great idea. By the end of the cruise, everybody had met and talked to pretty much everyone else. And since the dinners were leisurely, two-hour affairs featuring multiple courses, there was plenty of time for conversation. Good wine, lots of well-prepared fatty food, a relaxed pace … if I’d had a mistress along, I would’ve felt positively French.
I’ve been on many cruises, but other than my honeymoon nearly ten years ago, always as a solo performer with rather a lot of free time on my hands between shows. (I wrote the first draft of Fat Head while cruising around Alaska during a gig.) It’s a whole ‘nuther experience being part of a large group. On the sea-travel days, we had presentations. On shore-trip days, we didn’t, but we still got together for lunches and other activities. Dinner every night, of course, and afterwards different groups headed up to the lounges or show rooms for entertainment.
Quite a few us ended up in the karaoke lounge every night. In case you didn’t already know, Jimmy Moore loves to sing. I haven’t sung in public in decades (I was a in band in my 20s), but I joined Jimmy a few times for a rendition of “Elvira.” I’m a bass-baritone, so I did the “Oom-papa-oom-papa” part.
I also managed to talk Amy Dungan’s husband John into joining me for “Luchenbach, Texas.” I was Waylon, he was Willie … as you can probably tell. We sang that song twice, on two separate nights, and both times a young lady who appeared to be in college (it was spring break) felt inspired to run up onto the stage and dance with us. I believe she was more than a little inebriated. John told me later this week he was humming that song at home and she showed up at his door.
Jimmy, his wife Christine, and cruise organizer Becky Gandy also performed in the talent show for the week. They were great. Enjoy.
Late at night, a few of us raided the 24-hour pizza bar — but of course we only ate the toppings. We got some strange looks, thanks to conversations like this:
“Can I help you, sir?”
“Okay, how many slices?”
“How many are in a whole pizza?”
“I’ll take four.”
If you read Jimmy’s blog, you know he even suspended his teetotaling ways one night and drank an adult beverage. I think this may have been the night:
It wasn’t all fun and games, of course. The presentations were merely fascinating. As someone who reads a lot of blogs and books about nutrition and health, I didn’t expect to learn much new. I’m glad to say I was wrong.
Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt came over from Sweden to talk about the low-carb, high-fat revolution going on there. A couple of years ago, two idiot dieticians decided to sue Swedish doctor Annika Dahlqvist for treating her diabetic patients with a low-carb diet — they wanted the Swedish government to take away her license. She fought back with actual scientific evidence and proved that she was helping her patients. The result is that Sweden is now having the national conversation about fat, carbohydrates and cholesterol that I wish we could ignite here.
Dr. Eenfeldt, by the way, is approximately eleven feet tall. He’s also handsome, well-built, highly intelligent, funny, a nice guy, speaks perfect English, has a lovely girlfriend (she was also on the cruise), runs a successful medical practice, and has one of the most popular blogs in Sweden. Other than that, he doesn’t have much going for him.
Told you he’s tall … 6’7″ to be exact. (You’re looking at Fred Hahn, Dr. William Davis, Jackie Eberstein, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt and Dana Carpender.)
Dr. William Davis is also a popular doctor-blogger, and since his blog is in English, I recommend you read it. He spoke at length about heart disease and emphasized how important it is to check your blood sugar an hour or so after meals to see what kind of reactions different foods produce. So now I own a blood-glucose meter. I’ve poked my finger so many times this week, I can water the houseplants by drinking a glass of water while holding my hand over them. I don’t want to try to explain Dr. Davis’ blood-sugar guidelines in this post, so check out his blog here.
The bad news for me: even a small potato spikes my blood sugar much higher than Dr. Davis recommends. I had one last night for St. Patty’s Day, along with some carrots, cabbage and corned beef. An hour later, the meter still showed 162. No more potatoes. My Irish ancestors will have to forgive me. By contrast, a meat-and-vegetables meal barely pushes me over 100.
Fred Hahn from Serious Strength spoke about the benefits of strength training, and also explained why most other forms of exercise won’t make you thin. He was mobbed with questions afterwards. That’s one of those strong beliefs that are hard to jettison — no, jogging won’t do much to help you lose weight. But I saw a few light bulbs go on as Fred answered the questions … one woman even realized her weight loss had stalled around the time she began pushing herself to run several miles per week. She was over-training.
Dr. Mary Vernon spoke about a condition she calls “normal-weight obese” … having the symptoms of metabolic syndrome without becoming fat. As she explained, she’s not all that concerned with how fat people are. She’s far more concerned with what kind of fuel they’re burning. She walked us through charts like this, but fortunately there were no quizzes afterwards.
As a parent, I especially took note when she spoke about an experiment in which kids were fed eggs, steel-cut oatmeal, or instant oatmeal for breakfast. As you’d expect, the instant oatmeal produced a blood-sugar spike, followed by an insulin spike, followed by a drop in blood sugar to below where it started. Later, blood sugar returned to normal. But the surprise to me was how the blood sugar returned to normal: the little tykes were pumping out high levels of epinephrine — otherwise known as the fight-or-flight hormone.
Yes, epinephrine will raise your blood sugar. That’s what it’s supposed to do, so you can fight or flee. But does anyone think it’s conducive to, say, sitting still and studying in school? I thought back to what my wife and I noticed on our cross-country trip: if we let the girls eat sugary snacks, they’d fight with each other or have a meltdown. No kidding … their bodies were telling them to fight or flee, and they couldn’t flee because they were strapped into their car seats.
I can’t cover all the presentations, or this post would go on forever. Low-carb cookbook authors Judy Barnes Baker and Dana Carpender both spoke, as did Jackie Eberstein, a nurse who worked with Dr. Atkins for 30 years. It was all great stuff.
Fat Head was the last presentation — always fun to finish up with a movie — and I gave a brief introduction. It’s tough for me to talk in public without turning the topic into a bit of a standup routine, so I did. If anyone on the cruise recorded it, I’ll post it. But the real thrill for me was hearing the reaction from a room full of people (and a partisan crowd at that). For all the times I had to watch the film in production, I’ve only had the privilege of watching it with a big audience twice: during the premiere party more than a year ago, and on the cruise. That alone made the whole trip worth it.
Overall the cruise was way big fun, and very informative. I hope to meet many more of you there next year.
Thanks to Amy Dungan, Debbie Cusick, and Kim Workman Palmer for snapping the pictures and putting them on Facebook.