The Farm Report

      107 Comments on The Farm Report

Chareva has been spending her days overseeing the renovations at the farm while I’ve been spending mine working as a contract programmer to pay for them.  Yesterday we took a trip out there so I could see the progress.

Much of the inside of the house is still in the demolition phase, so it looks like this:

When we bought the house, the basement (which was moldy) had a garage door leading out to the driveway, and that garage door was covered with huge burglar bars.

Pretty much everything in the basement has since been ripped out and is being rebuilt.

We replaced the garage door with a wall, a door and a window.

The bad news is that a county inspector declared that the septic system had to be replaced.  From what we were told, this particular inspector never met a septic system he didn’t think required replacing.  The consensus opinion (excluding the inspector’s) is that the existing system could have merely been cleared out.  But since the inspector could hold up the renovation permits (another reason I just looooove government), we had to hire a crew to tear up what was once a beautiful front yard.

Not that the girls minded …

So I’ll be spending part of this year re-seeding our new dirt field.

The last time I visited the farm, the pastures looked like this.

A few days ago, Chareva hired this guy to drive his bush-hog around the property.

So now the pastures look like pastures.

We were surprised to learn that the back pasture has a pretty serious slope to it.  When it was covered with tall weeds, it looked relatively flat.  Nope.

My plans for paleo-type exercise after we move to the farm include sprinting around the land.  Sprinting up those slopes will no doubt get the ol’ muscles working.

At the lowest point on the land there’s a creek bed, which is currently dry.  (That will probably change this week, when the rains from tropical storm Lee reach Tennessee.)

The girls love walking around the creek and exploring.  I followed them for a while yesterday, until Sara yelled, “Look, Daddy!  There’s a skunk up ahead!”  At that point, I encouraged them to conclude the expedition.

There’s still plenty of work to be done on the land.  There are barbed-wire fences all over the place, which I’m going to have torn down.

There are also some dead trees we need to have removed, such as this one, which fell over at some point and put the hurt on one of the hurricane fences.  I plan to replace the hurricane fences with wood fences anyway, so no big deal.

Sara has a risk-taker’s personality, which can be both good and bad.  Two of her favorite phrases, in order, are “Watch this!”…  followed by “I’m okay.”  Yesterday, she decided it would be fun to swing from one of the branches on the dead tree.  I warned her that the dead branch could snap and she could end up landing on her butt.

Just about the time she was finished disputing my analysis of the situation …

She then punctuated her usual declaration of “I’m okay” with a little victory pose.

As usual, the girls protested when we told them it was time to leave, which I take as a good sign.  They’re going to love living out there with their own little wilderness to explore.

Since it was after 5:00 p.m. when we left, we stopped at our local Chipotle grill for dinner.  For those who believe low-carb diets work by boring people into eating less because the food is tasteless, I invite you to take a look at my dinner.  That’s a big ol’ portion of lettuce, shredded beef, salsa, sour cream, guacamole, onions, peppers, hot sauce and shredded cheese, with a small scoop of pinto beans tossed in.

It was delicious.  It was also quite satiating.  I didn’t go to bed until nearly 2:00 a.m., and even though there was plenty of palatable food in the refrigerator, I had no desire to go looking for a late-night snack – because eight hours later, I wasn’t the least bit hungry.


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107 thoughts on “The Farm Report

  1. Becca

    As usual, everything looks wonderful (including the food!) Keep up the good work and keep having a great time. I grew up on 80 acres with horses and goats and chickens and lots of woods to explore and trees to climb. Your girls will love it! 🙂

    Eighty acres … wow. The 25 acres surrounding us are owned by a 90-year-old man. I’d love it if I could somehow manage to buy up his land too if and when he’s ready to sell.

  2. Laurie D.

    That place looks like a little piece of heaven. Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I moved to a similar place. The renovations never really stop but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    Once you own a property like this, the best you can hope for is that the rate of renovations slows down over time.

  3. FormerTNGuy

    Looks like a nice place. East TN is it? If you don’t like snakes (read in other post) be on the look out for copper head snakes. They are popular in TN like wood piles. The creek is going to look nice with some water in it.
    Wish i was back in TN.

    So when are you opening the grass feed meat shipping operation?

    Middle Tennessee. Franklin, just south of Nashville. We’ve already been warned there are copperheads in the area, so I’ll be shopping for a machete when we move in.

  4. Andrea Lynnette

    You know, if you’ve got a fireplace and a chainsaw, those fallen trees could be useful. They’d make good firewood for next year.

    Good luck with getting things settled.

    We have a fireplace, and that’s the current plan for the dead trees once they’re down.

  5. Sherry

    “For those who believe low-carb diets work by boring people into eating less because the food is tasteless, I invite you to take a look at my dinner.”

    Maybe low-carb can be highly palatable – it will always cause a decrease in palatability compared to the stand american diet, however. So don’t be so quick to dismiss the impact of food reward in low-carb dieting.

    And if it is as palatable as you describe, maybe that’s why so many low-carbers fail to lose weight, plateau and even gain weight. And some people embracing the low-reward approach are already seeing better results than those they achieved eating low-carb, and they do so without facing the potential health effects of extreme macronutrient restriction.

    I tried a low-reward diet. It was called a low-fat diet, and it was nowhere near as palatable as the diet I consume now. However, I never lost more than a few pounds before stalling.

  6. Sherry

    If you want to dismiss the influence of reduced food reward in low-carb diets, go ahead. But surely you’re aware of the evidence that insulin plays no role in low-carb dieting.

    http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html

    Many low-carb advocates flaunt studies of reduced insulin on their diets, but they do so without the slightest proof that insulin levels truly effect weight gain/loss. The entire movement is based on a highly ambitious assumption.

    Do you have absolute proof that insulin levels determine fat mass, Tom? Or do you admit that has always been an assumption. The fact that people lose weight on low-carbs diets – that may or may not reduce insulin levels – is not proof by the way. Too many uncontrolled variables to count, not “science for smart people”.

    The idea that insulin levels are the prime arbiter of fat mass was as speculative and unfounded as the idea that saturated fat causes heart disease.

    Ancel Naughton or Tom Keys, which do you prefer?

    Actually I prefer Petro Dobromylskyj:

    http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-have-read-good-calories-bad-calories.html

    Or Andreas Eenfeldt:

    http://www.dietdoctor.com/guyenet-taubes-and-why-low-carb-works

    Yes, I’m aware of the arguments that insulin plays no role in low-carb dieting, but I don’t find them at all convincing. As for the “ambiguous” assumption, it’s not ambiguous that insulin inhibits lipolysis. It’s a known biological fact.

    The same crowd claiming that insulin plays no role is now arguing that insulin is an appetite suppressant. Yes, in the short term (or injected directly into the brain, as in the experiments they cite) it is. But we’re not talking about the temporary rise after meals; we’re talking about chronically elevated insulin levels. Most obese people have higher levels of circulating insulin throughout the day than lean people. I can’t help but wonder why so many people with all this wonderful appetite suppressant coursing through their veins are continuing to overeat.

  7. TonyNZ

    Paleo-type exercise? Tom running round in animal hides trying to skewer a goat with a sharpened stick? Or just an approximation of such.

    Tom running around hoping he doesn’t step on one of the ground-wasp nests the septic guys discovered.

  8. fredt

    Chainsaw not Paleo enough. Paleo-ish exercise, Swede saw, bucks, and make firewood. An hour ever evening will keep you in shape. Saw a bit, split, haul, pile, not necessary in that order. Wood heat in the winter. Wood will warm you twice.

    Renovations slow as the money runs out. Keep up the fine work.

    Rats, I guess I’ll have to stop working to put an end to the renovations.

  9. Emily

    Oh man, looks like a beautiful slice of pastoral heaven! That house will be lovely when the renovations are done. I think you’re going to need to make a firepit and invite all your fathead fans over for a giant pit barbecue and housewarming party! Just tell us what to bring for the cookout… 😀

    We’re planning to put stone patio with a fire pit behind the house in phase II, which will probably be next spring. All Fat Heads are encouraged to bring big slabs of meat. I just found out this weekend one of the blog readers/DVD buyers lives a couple of miles down the road from the farm. She’s certainly invited.

  10. Becca

    As usual, everything looks wonderful (including the food!) Keep up the good work and keep having a great time. I grew up on 80 acres with horses and goats and chickens and lots of woods to explore and trees to climb. Your girls will love it! 🙂

    Eighty acres … wow. The 25 acres surrounding us are owned by a 90-year-old man. I’d love it if I could somehow manage to buy up his land too if and when he’s ready to sell.

  11. Debbie

    Wow, it looks absolutely wonderful. I’m enjoying the photos of the renovations. It looks like a great place to live and to raise the girls. I can’t wait to see further progress pictures and the completed project.

    And LOL, your dinner looks almost exactly the one I had last night at the Southwest Grill near my new home in Fleming Island, Florida. Since I still have no stove or fridge I’ve been eating dinners out every night since I moved in on Wednesday. I should go appliance hunting, but I’m trying to get some painting done before my furniture arrives on Tuesday or Wednesday, so I’m under a deadline!

    Thanks again for the farm update.

  12. Laurie D.

    That place looks like a little piece of heaven. Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I moved to a similar place. The renovations never really stop but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    Once you own a property like this, the best you can hope for is that the rate of renovations slows down over time.

  13. Digger

    Hard to believe those little fences can stop a hurricane……………

    If a hurricane ever hits Tennessee, we’ll find out.

  14. FormerTNGuy

    Looks like a nice place. East TN is it? If you don’t like snakes (read in other post) be on the look out for copper head snakes. They are popular in TN like wood piles. The creek is going to look nice with some water in it.
    Wish i was back in TN.

    So when are you opening the grass feed meat shipping operation?

    Middle Tennessee. Franklin, just south of Nashville. We’ve already been warned there are copperheads in the area, so I’ll be shopping for a machete when we move in.

  15. Andrea Lynnette

    You know, if you’ve got a fireplace and a chainsaw, those fallen trees could be useful. They’d make good firewood for next year.

    Good luck with getting things settled.

    We have a fireplace, and that’s the current plan for the dead trees once they’re down.

  16. Sherry

    “I tried a low-reward diet. It was called a low-fat diet, and it was nowhere near as palatable as the diet I consume now. However, I never lost more than a few pounds before stalling.”

    I can’t speak to your former eating habits, but from what I’ve gathered from your blog you weren’t just on a low-fat diet, you were on an unnatural, low-fat vegetarian diet that was likely missing key nutrients and woefully low in protein. Protein and fat – which you consume much more of now – are very satiating. Incidentally, protein often causes significant insulin spikes – that niggling little fact most low-carbers like to ignore.

    [Protein also stimulates the release of glucagon, which works in opposition to insulin to some degree. But even if protein didn’t stimulate the release of glucagon, when we go on a low-carb diet, we don’t replace carbohydrates on a one-to-one basis with protein. When I stopped eating 300 or so carbohydrates per day, I didn’t replace them with 300 grams of protein. I replaced carbohydrates mostly with fat.

    As I said before, it’s not the brief post-meal rise in insulin that drives fat accumulation. It’s chronically elevated insulin resulting from insulin resistance. There are of course competing theories as to what causes insulin resistance (which isn’t to say only one can be correct; there may be multiple causes). Dr. Lustig blames excess fructose. Others blame repeated spikes in blood sugar, which eventually causes cells to resist the signal from insulin to take up more glucose — because they can’t take up more glucose. If repeated spikes in blood sugar do, in fact, lead to insulin resistance, then the fact that beef raises insulin after a meal is irrelevant, because beef certainly doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. But sugars and starches do. Anecdotally, when I started exhibiting signs of pre-diabetes, I wasn’t over-consuming fructose by any means. I already avoided sugar. But I was living on potatoes, rice, pasta, bread and cereal.

    All that being said, I agree that protein and fat are more satiating and are part of the reason a low-carb diet often leads to eating less spontaneously.]

    So you failed on one extreme and found better results on another. Perhaps the non-extremists will find equal or better results on a middle ground that reduces food reward.

    [I’m sure many do, and as always, I encourage people to find what works for them. Some people may do well simply by cutting out sugar, or sugar and grains. Others, like me, may find that potatoes and other starches send their blood sugar on a roller-coaster ride and have to give them up too.]

    How Tom Naughton faired on low-fat vs. low-carb, and his idea of palatability, speaks nothing to the masses and whether insulin has a damn thing to do with weight loss from low-carb dieting.

    [Add up a few hundred anecdotes, and pretty soon you are talking about the masses. I’ve lost count of how many emails I’ve received from people who failed on low-fat diets but succeeded on low-carb diets. Does that mean everyone will have the same experience? Nope. Name any diet, and it will work for some people and fail to work for others. But I believe (as Chris Gardner found in his study) that for insulin-resistant people, low-carb diets stand the best chance of succeeding.]

    “Yes, I’m aware of the arguments that insulin plays no role in low-carb dieting, but I don’t find them at all convincing.”

    Once again, if you have convincing evidence that insulin reduction is the main cause of weight loss from low-carb dieting, and not just a side effect, I’m all ears. Without that evidence you’re operating under an assumption – a risky maneuver for a man who criticizes the lack of evidence behind the lipid hypothesis and tours the nation lecturing on “science for smart people”.

    [There’s evidence, but I doubt you’ll find it convincing since you’ve taken such a strong position already. Lustig’s clinical experiment in which giving obese kids an insulin-suppressing drug led to weight loss and spontaneous increases in activity is evidence. The fact that teenage type 1 diabetics will risk their health by skipping their insulin shots because they know they’ll immediately begin losing weight is evidence. The fact that when hibernating animals begin producing high levels of insulin just before the hibernation season begins, you can cut their food supply in half and they’ll get just as fat is evidence. The fact that people who inject insulin into the same spot over and over will often end up with a fatty bulge in that area is evidence. But yes, it’s just evidence … we can’t call it proof.]

    The most intellectually honest approach to your lifestyle recommendations would be to say “I don’t know how low-carb diets work – the insulin theory is on shaky ground, and reduced food reward is certainly a possibility – but they seem to work for a lot of people, so I will continue recommending them”. You would also do well to advise complete abandonment of the diet if any signs of reduced thyroid function appear, past the point of it being the dubious ‘Atkins Flu’.

    [I don’t believe the carbohydrate/insulin hypothesis and the food-reward hypothesis are mutually exclusive, but I’d want to clarify what we mean by “reward.” I didn’t find fat-free pretzels to be especially palatable in terms of taste — nowhere near as tasty as last night’s dinner, but I could start eating them and finish an entire bag. There was definitely some kind of reward involved, but it could have been anything from eating to maintain blood sugar as an exaggerated insulin response began to drive blood sugar down to a dopamine reward in the brain. If “reward” simply translates to “palatable,” I don’t buy it.]

    “As for the “ambiguous” assumption, it’s not ambiguous that insulin inhibits lipolysis. It’s a known biological fact.”

    That doesn’t even begin to support your belief that insulin levels determine fat mass.

    [Well, in one sentence, no, I don’t suppose it does. If chronically elevated insulin partitions a disproportionate number of calories into our fat cells and inhibits the release of those calories later when we need them, then it supports my belief.]

    You are focussing on one note in a vast symphony of metabolic activity that regulates our weight. That’s about as deep as saying the brain needs glucose therefore we need carbs. But let’s look at that statement of yours…

    The carbohydrate hypothesis:

    Carbs spike insulin – insulin traps fat in cells causing hunger – person overeats – more fat is stored/trapped – vicious cycle

    Why then, Tom, do overweight people remain weight stable? If their excess fat mass is the result of heightened insulin levels trapping fat and causing continual hunger and overeating, there would be no end to the weight gain. The fact that overweight people are weight stable completely overthrows the carbohydrate hypothesis.

    [The hypothesis is that we become fatter to overcome our own insulin resistance … that is, at some point, the now-larger fat cells can release fatty acids at the necessary rate to maintain energy balance. When we reach that point, we stop becoming fatter. The body will then defend that level of fat mass. If you read Good Calories, Bad Calories, that is exactly the explanation Gary Taubes offered after citing data that people tend to reach a certain level of obesity and then stabilize. He certainly didn’t include that section in order to overthrow his own hypothesis.

    If anything, the fact that people stabilize at a certain level of obesity overthrows the food-reward hypothesis, as far as I’m concerned. That is, if people get fatter and fatter over a number of years because the food is just too palatable to resist, why do they eventually stop getting fatter? Why don’t they just keep eating more and more of that rewarding food?]

    “The same crowd claiming that insulin plays no role is now arguing that insulin is an appetite suppressant. Yes, in the short term (or injected directly into the brain, as in the experiments they cite) it is. But we’re not talking about the temporary rise after meals; we’re talking about chronically elevated insulin levels.”

    Like the low-carb crowd claiming insulin increases appetite, and then extol the satiating power of cheese, beef and seafood, all of which spike insulin to a greater degree than carb-rich oatmeal.

    [See above. Protein foods don’t spike blood sugar and don’t lead to chronically elevated insulin levels. It’s been demonstrated in studies that when people go on low-carb diets, their fasting insulin levels drop. If you prefer to see that as a side-effect rather than a cause, be my guest, but the fact remains that low-carb diets lead to lower overall insulin levels, despite all that insulin-spiking beef and cheese.

    http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/9/2375.long
    http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2011/03/fasting-insulin-and-weight-loss.html%5D

    http://www.ajcn.org/content/66/5/1264.full.pdf+html

    “Most obese people have higher levels of circulating insulin throughout the day than lean people. I can’t help but wonder why so many people with all this wonderful appetite suppressant coursing through their veins are continuing to overeat.”

    Once again, they are not overeating. The majority of overweight people are weight stable – just as much fat exiting as entering. So I can’t help but wonder how anyone can believe that heightened insulin levels are the cause of obesity. Clearly insulin is not trapping fat and causing excessive hunger and overeating once they are weight stable.

    [If they’ve got a great appetite suppressant circulating in their bodies, they should happily eat less and lose weight, but they don’t. See above for why they’re weight-stable. The reason just as much fat is exiting as entering is that they became fat enough to overcome the slower rate of lipolysis caused by chronically elevated insulin. But with each incremental increase in circulating insulin as they become insulin resistant, they would (so says the insulin hypothesis) get fatter to keep the fatty acids flowing and maintain energy balance. That would explain why they get fatter and fatter over a period of years until they become weight-stable once they’ve either stopped becoming more insulin-resistant, or when the fat cells themselves become insulin resistant. Again, this is exactly the process described in Good Calories, Bad Calories, so I’m wondering if you even read it.]

    Their bodies are defending an elevated fat set-point. Random, haphazard insulin spikes don’t explain that. The food reward hypothesis is a much better explanation.

    [Honestly, I don’t see how the food-reward hypothesis explains set point at all. But I definitely see how the insulin hypothesis explains set point: If chronically elevated insulin has required you to become obese in order to overcome your own insulin resistance and release fatty acids at the rate necessary to maintain energy balance, then your body will resist shrinking your fat mass, because with a smaller fat mass you could no longer release fatty acids at the necessary rate.]

  17. Sherry

    “For those who believe low-carb diets work by boring people into eating less because the food is tasteless, I invite you to take a look at my dinner.”

    Maybe low-carb can be highly palatable – it will always cause a decrease in palatability compared to the stand american diet, however. So don’t be so quick to dismiss the impact of food reward in low-carb dieting.

    And if it is as palatable as you describe, maybe that’s why so many low-carbers fail to lose weight, plateau and even gain weight. And some people embracing the low-reward approach are already seeing better results than those they achieved eating low-carb, and they do so without facing the potential health effects of extreme macronutrient restriction.

    I tried a low-reward diet. It was called a low-fat diet, and it was nowhere near as palatable as the diet I consume now. However, I never lost more than a few pounds before stalling.

  18. Sherry

    If you want to dismiss the influence of reduced food reward in low-carb diets, go ahead. But surely you’re aware of the evidence that insulin plays no role in low-carb dieting.

    http://wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2011/08/carbohydrate-hypothesis-of-obesity.html

    Many low-carb advocates flaunt studies of reduced insulin on their diets, but they do so without the slightest proof that insulin levels truly effect weight gain/loss. The entire movement is based on a highly ambitious assumption.

    Do you have absolute proof that insulin levels determine fat mass, Tom? Or do you admit that has always been an assumption. The fact that people lose weight on low-carbs diets – that may or may not reduce insulin levels – is not proof by the way. Too many uncontrolled variables to count, not “science for smart people”.

    The idea that insulin levels are the prime arbiter of fat mass was as speculative and unfounded as the idea that saturated fat causes heart disease.

    Ancel Naughton or Tom Keys, which do you prefer?

    Actually I prefer Petro Dobromylskyj:

    http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2011/08/i-have-read-good-calories-bad-calories.html

    Or Andreas Eenfeldt:

    http://www.dietdoctor.com/guyenet-taubes-and-why-low-carb-works

    Yes, I’m aware of the arguments that insulin plays no role in low-carb dieting, but I don’t find them at all convincing. As for the “ambiguous” assumption, it’s not ambiguous that insulin inhibits lipolysis. It’s a known biological fact.

    The same crowd claiming that insulin plays no role is now arguing that insulin is an appetite suppressant. Yes, in the short term (or injected directly into the brain, as in the experiments they cite) it is. But we’re not talking about the temporary rise after meals; we’re talking about chronically elevated insulin levels. Most obese people have higher levels of circulating insulin throughout the day than lean people. I can’t help but wonder why so many people with all this wonderful appetite suppressant coursing through their veins are continuing to overeat.

  19. Patricia

    @ Sherry

    I have found the discussion of food reward vs lo-carb interesting at best, and have appreciated the exchange of ideas, comparisons of studies and questioning of philosophies as the foundation of discovery and exploration. After all, isn’t that the purpose of these forums?

    You were doing a fairly decent job of fulfilling these parameters until you found it necessary to stoop to a mean-spirited snipe: “Ancel Naughton or Tom Keys, which do you prefer?”

    If you were a regular visitor to the FatHead site, you would know that Mr. Naughton does not rise to trivial insults such as yours. I, on the other hand, will tell you, when you come to our house, mind your manners.

  20. TonyNZ

    Paleo-type exercise? Tom running round in animal hides trying to skewer a goat with a sharpened stick? Or just an approximation of such.

    Tom running around hoping he doesn’t step on one of the ground-wasp nests the septic guys discovered.

  21. fredt

    Chainsaw not Paleo enough. Paleo-ish exercise, Swede saw, bucks, and make firewood. An hour ever evening will keep you in shape. Saw a bit, split, haul, pile, not necessary in that order. Wood heat in the winter. Wood will warm you twice.

    Renovations slow as the money runs out. Keep up the fine work.

    Rats, I guess I’ll have to stop working to put an end to the renovations.

  22. Emily

    Oh man, looks like a beautiful slice of pastoral heaven! That house will be lovely when the renovations are done. I think you’re going to need to make a firepit and invite all your fathead fans over for a giant pit barbecue and housewarming party! Just tell us what to bring for the cookout… 😀

    We’re planning to put stone patio with a fire pit behind the house in phase II, which will probably be next spring. All Fat Heads are encouraged to bring big slabs of meat. I just found out this weekend one of the blog readers/DVD buyers lives a couple of miles down the road from the farm. She’s certainly invited.

  23. Erica

    It’s looking good, Tom. Tell Chareva she has my admiration for dealing with all that.

    Your dinner looks delish. I had one of those a week ago. It was so much food I was stuffed for hours, too. Also discovered black beans maybe have too many carbs. I would have been happy enough without them.

    When that firepit is ready, I’ll stop by on my Diet to Live For Tour in the RV and join the meat-fest. Maybe I’ll stop by sooner and help bring in the firewood. My best friend and my sister both live in Memphis, and the other sister’s in Bristol at the other end of the state.

    I sense a rather large outdoor party brewing …

  24. Peggy Holloway

    Just to throw in another 2 cents worth – I am a total believer in the insulin/carbohydrate theory because my family and I are living proof that genetic insulin-resistance coupled with a high-carbohydrate diet results in extreme difficulty maintaining a normal weight. But, there is so much more to this than the obesity issue. In my family, the blood sugar/insulin level repercussions of a high-carb diet extend to mood and emotional disorders, heart disease, and high blood pressure, not to mention all of the horrible consequences of so-called Type II Diabetes. (My grandfather died after a diabetes-related amputation and my father died of congestive heart failure at age 69 and was nearly blind from retinopathy; both were being treated with low-fat diets and oral insulin). My brother and son, who have never had weight issues, (they both have tried being vegans/vegetarians) turn into Jekyll and Hydes with ADHD alternating with near comatose zombie-itis from the insulin spikes and drops. My own symptoms are horrendous including swinging from panic attack-style anxiety to complete brain fog in the course of a day; gnawing, painful hunger; IBS and GERD. My daughter (who once weighed 300 pounds, and now weighs half that) has discovered, now that she has “gone paleo,” that her last episode of binging/bulemia/insomnia/depression corresponded with her last attempt at being a vegetarian. My niece could not lose weight even though she was training to run a marathon until she cut her carb consumption, which also improved her depression. My very athletic HS football/wrestling coach nephew just failed his exam to be an activities bus driver because of high blood pressure – he is one of the few in the family refusing to follow a low-carb diet because he believes that if you exercise enough it doesn’t matter what you eat. So, my own experience and my family story is enough to convince me that insulin has a great deal to do with obesity, emotional and mood disorders, and most of the “diseases of civilization. One final anecdote: my partner who is of course not genetically related is a retired physician who has been supportive of my low-carb lifestyle (11 years and counting), but never thought it was appropriate for him. After reading Taubes and Phinney and Volek’s latest book, which is aimed at medical professionals, he decided to try low-carb himself. He is a long-distance cyclist, and years ago could take off his winter weight each cycling season just by biking. The past few years, the “beer belly” had gotten larger and larger and summer exercise saw no improvement. He went low-carb in March and by June had lost 35 pounds. On our last multiple-day 250+ miles ride, we both were ultra-low carb and could ride for hours without “bonking;” no snacking – just a brunch of steak and eggs and dinner of meat and salad. He says he has never felt stronger or more energetic. He will be 70 next spring and I will be 59.

    It’s amazing how many health issues, both physical and emotional, can be cleared up by proper diet.

    Stephan Guyenet doesn’t dispute that low-carb diets work for many people. He just doesn’t believe they work by lowering circulating insulin. Now he and Gary Taubes have a debate of sorts going on in their blog posts. It’ll be interesting to watch — they’re both passionate and highly intelligent — but I don’t see any need to declare that one has it all right and the other has it all wrong. But to me, Gary’s hypothesis makes more sense and explains more of my own experiences.

  25. Beowulf

    Love the pictures of your farm, especially the little extras about your kids’ antics.

    As for the insulin vs. food-reward debate, I’ve seen too many of my personal training clients over the years unable to lose weight yet possessing far more willpower than I in the presence of a tub of ben and jerry’s to believe that reward plays more than a side role in obesity.

    Same here. I’ve heard from a lot of people who suffered through diets they didn’t like and still barely lost weight.

  26. Andrea Lynnette

    Fred T said: “Chainsaw not Paleo enough. Paleo-ish exercise, Swede saw, bucks, and make firewood. An hour ever evening will keep you in shape. Saw a bit, split, haul, pile, not necessary in that order. Wood heat in the winter. Wood will warm you twice.”

    I have split wood. Once. For a half-hour. And I will neeeever do it again. The chainsaw is a piece of progress I like.

    I may come to the same conclusion.

  27. Sherry

    “I tried a low-reward diet. It was called a low-fat diet, and it was nowhere near as palatable as the diet I consume now. However, I never lost more than a few pounds before stalling.”

    I can’t speak to your former eating habits, but from what I’ve gathered from your blog you weren’t just on a low-fat diet, you were on an unnatural, low-fat vegetarian diet that was likely missing key nutrients and woefully low in protein. Protein and fat – which you consume much more of now – are very satiating. Incidentally, protein often causes significant insulin spikes – that niggling little fact most low-carbers like to ignore.

    [Protein also stimulates the release of glucagon, which works in opposition to insulin to some degree. But even if protein didn’t stimulate the release of glucagon, when we go on a low-carb diet, we don’t replace carbohydrates on a one-to-one basis with protein. When I stopped eating 300 or so carbohydrates per day, I didn’t replace them with 300 grams of protein. I replaced carbohydrates mostly with fat.

    As I said before, it’s not the brief post-meal rise in insulin that drives fat accumulation. It’s chronically elevated insulin resulting from insulin resistance. There are of course competing theories as to what causes insulin resistance (which isn’t to say only one can be correct; there may be multiple causes). Dr. Lustig blames excess fructose. Others blame repeated spikes in blood sugar, which eventually causes cells to resist the signal from insulin to take up more glucose — because they can’t take up more glucose. If repeated spikes in blood sugar do, in fact, lead to insulin resistance, then the fact that beef raises insulin after a meal is irrelevant, because beef certainly doesn’t cause blood sugar spikes. But sugars and starches do. Anecdotally, when I started exhibiting signs of pre-diabetes, I wasn’t over-consuming fructose by any means. I already avoided sugar. But I was living on potatoes, rice, pasta, bread and cereal.

    All that being said, I agree that protein and fat are more satiating and are part of the reason a low-carb diet often leads to eating less spontaneously.]

    So you failed on one extreme and found better results on another. Perhaps the non-extremists will find equal or better results on a middle ground that reduces food reward.

    [I’m sure many do, and as always, I encourage people to find what works for them. Some people may do well simply by cutting out sugar, or sugar and grains. Others, like me, may find that potatoes and other starches send their blood sugar on a roller-coaster ride and have to give them up too.]

    How Tom Naughton faired on low-fat vs. low-carb, and his idea of palatability, speaks nothing to the masses and whether insulin has a damn thing to do with weight loss from low-carb dieting.

    [Add up a few hundred anecdotes, and pretty soon you are talking about the masses. I’ve lost count of how many emails I’ve received from people who failed on low-fat diets but succeeded on low-carb diets. Does that mean everyone will have the same experience? Nope. Name any diet, and it will work for some people and fail to work for others. But I believe (as Chris Gardner found in his study) that for insulin-resistant people, low-carb diets stand the best chance of succeeding.]

    “Yes, I’m aware of the arguments that insulin plays no role in low-carb dieting, but I don’t find them at all convincing.”

    Once again, if you have convincing evidence that insulin reduction is the main cause of weight loss from low-carb dieting, and not just a side effect, I’m all ears. Without that evidence you’re operating under an assumption – a risky maneuver for a man who criticizes the lack of evidence behind the lipid hypothesis and tours the nation lecturing on “science for smart people”.

    [There’s evidence, but I doubt you’ll find it convincing since you’ve taken such a strong position already. Lustig’s clinical experiment in which giving obese kids an insulin-suppressing drug led to weight loss and spontaneous increases in activity is evidence. The fact that teenage type 1 diabetics will risk their health by skipping their insulin shots because they know they’ll immediately begin losing weight is evidence. The fact that when hibernating animals begin producing high levels of insulin just before the hibernation season begins, you can cut their food supply in half and they’ll get just as fat is evidence. The fact that people who inject insulin into the same spot over and over will often end up with a fatty bulge in that area is evidence. But yes, it’s just evidence … we can’t call it proof.]

    The most intellectually honest approach to your lifestyle recommendations would be to say “I don’t know how low-carb diets work – the insulin theory is on shaky ground, and reduced food reward is certainly a possibility – but they seem to work for a lot of people, so I will continue recommending them”. You would also do well to advise complete abandonment of the diet if any signs of reduced thyroid function appear, past the point of it being the dubious ‘Atkins Flu’.

    [I don’t believe the carbohydrate/insulin hypothesis and the food-reward hypothesis are mutually exclusive, but I’d want to clarify what we mean by “reward.” I didn’t find fat-free pretzels to be especially palatable in terms of taste — nowhere near as tasty as last night’s dinner, but I could start eating them and finish an entire bag. There was definitely some kind of reward involved, but it could have been anything from eating to maintain blood sugar as an exaggerated insulin response began to drive blood sugar down to a dopamine reward in the brain. If “reward” simply translates to “palatable,” I don’t buy it.]

    “As for the “ambiguous” assumption, it’s not ambiguous that insulin inhibits lipolysis. It’s a known biological fact.”

    That doesn’t even begin to support your belief that insulin levels determine fat mass.

    [Well, in one sentence, no, I don’t suppose it does. If chronically elevated insulin partitions a disproportionate number of calories into our fat cells and inhibits the release of those calories later when we need them, then it supports my belief.]

    You are focussing on one note in a vast symphony of metabolic activity that regulates our weight. That’s about as deep as saying the brain needs glucose therefore we need carbs. But let’s look at that statement of yours…

    The carbohydrate hypothesis:

    Carbs spike insulin – insulin traps fat in cells causing hunger – person overeats – more fat is stored/trapped – vicious cycle

    Why then, Tom, do overweight people remain weight stable? If their excess fat mass is the result of heightened insulin levels trapping fat and causing continual hunger and overeating, there would be no end to the weight gain. The fact that overweight people are weight stable completely overthrows the carbohydrate hypothesis.

    [The hypothesis is that we become fatter to overcome our own insulin resistance … that is, at some point, the now-larger fat cells can release fatty acids at the necessary rate to maintain energy balance. When we reach that point, we stop becoming fatter. The body will then defend that level of fat mass. If you read Good Calories, Bad Calories, that is exactly the explanation Gary Taubes offered after citing data that people tend to reach a certain level of obesity and then stabilize. He certainly didn’t include that section in order to overthrow his own hypothesis.

    If anything, the fact that people stabilize at a certain level of obesity overthrows the food-reward hypothesis, as far as I’m concerned. That is, if people get fatter and fatter over a number of years because the food is just too palatable to resist, why do they eventually stop getting fatter? Why don’t they just keep eating more and more of that rewarding food?]

    “The same crowd claiming that insulin plays no role is now arguing that insulin is an appetite suppressant. Yes, in the short term (or injected directly into the brain, as in the experiments they cite) it is. But we’re not talking about the temporary rise after meals; we’re talking about chronically elevated insulin levels.”

    Like the low-carb crowd claiming insulin increases appetite, and then extol the satiating power of cheese, beef and seafood, all of which spike insulin to a greater degree than carb-rich oatmeal.

    [See above. Protein foods don’t spike blood sugar and don’t lead to chronically elevated insulin levels. It’s been demonstrated in studies that when people go on low-carb diets, their fasting insulin levels drop. If you prefer to see that as a side-effect rather than a cause, be my guest, but the fact remains that low-carb diets lead to lower overall insulin levels, despite all that insulin-spiking beef and cheese.

    http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/53/9/2375.long
    http://high-fat-nutrition.blogspot.com/2011/03/fasting-insulin-and-weight-loss.html%5D

    http://www.ajcn.org/content/66/5/1264.full.pdf+html

    “Most obese people have higher levels of circulating insulin throughout the day than lean people. I can’t help but wonder why so many people with all this wonderful appetite suppressant coursing through their veins are continuing to overeat.”

    Once again, they are not overeating. The majority of overweight people are weight stable – just as much fat exiting as entering. So I can’t help but wonder how anyone can believe that heightened insulin levels are the cause of obesity. Clearly insulin is not trapping fat and causing excessive hunger and overeating once they are weight stable.

    [If they’ve got a great appetite suppressant circulating in their bodies, they should happily eat less and lose weight, but they don’t. See above for why they’re weight-stable. The reason just as much fat is exiting as entering is that they became fat enough to overcome the slower rate of lipolysis caused by chronically elevated insulin. But with each incremental increase in circulating insulin as they become insulin resistant, they would (so says the insulin hypothesis) get fatter to keep the fatty acids flowing and maintain energy balance. That would explain why they get fatter and fatter over a period of years until they become weight-stable once they’ve either stopped becoming more insulin-resistant, or when the fat cells themselves become insulin resistant. Again, this is exactly the process described in Good Calories, Bad Calories, so I’m wondering if you even read it.]

    Their bodies are defending an elevated fat set-point. Random, haphazard insulin spikes don’t explain that. The food reward hypothesis is a much better explanation.

    [Honestly, I don’t see how the food-reward hypothesis explains set point at all. But I definitely see how the insulin hypothesis explains set point: If chronically elevated insulin has required you to become obese in order to overcome your own insulin resistance and release fatty acids at the rate necessary to maintain energy balance, then your body will resist shrinking your fat mass, because with a smaller fat mass you could no longer release fatty acids at the necessary rate.]

  28. Patricia

    @ Sherry

    I have found the discussion of food reward vs lo-carb interesting at best, and have appreciated the exchange of ideas, comparisons of studies and questioning of philosophies as the foundation of discovery and exploration. After all, isn’t that the purpose of these forums?

    You were doing a fairly decent job of fulfilling these parameters until you found it necessary to stoop to a mean-spirited snipe: “Ancel Naughton or Tom Keys, which do you prefer?”

    If you were a regular visitor to the FatHead site, you would know that Mr. Naughton does not rise to trivial insults such as yours. I, on the other hand, will tell you, when you come to our house, mind your manners.

  29. Erica

    It’s looking good, Tom. Tell Chareva she has my admiration for dealing with all that.

    Your dinner looks delish. I had one of those a week ago. It was so much food I was stuffed for hours, too. Also discovered black beans maybe have too many carbs. I would have been happy enough without them.

    When that firepit is ready, I’ll stop by on my Diet to Live For Tour in the RV and join the meat-fest. Maybe I’ll stop by sooner and help bring in the firewood. My best friend and my sister both live in Memphis, and the other sister’s in Bristol at the other end of the state.

    I sense a rather large outdoor party brewing …

  30. Peggy Holloway

    Just to throw in another 2 cents worth – I am a total believer in the insulin/carbohydrate theory because my family and I are living proof that genetic insulin-resistance coupled with a high-carbohydrate diet results in extreme difficulty maintaining a normal weight. But, there is so much more to this than the obesity issue. In my family, the blood sugar/insulin level repercussions of a high-carb diet extend to mood and emotional disorders, heart disease, and high blood pressure, not to mention all of the horrible consequences of so-called Type II Diabetes. (My grandfather died after a diabetes-related amputation and my father died of congestive heart failure at age 69 and was nearly blind from retinopathy; both were being treated with low-fat diets and oral insulin). My brother and son, who have never had weight issues, (they both have tried being vegans/vegetarians) turn into Jekyll and Hydes with ADHD alternating with near comatose zombie-itis from the insulin spikes and drops. My own symptoms are horrendous including swinging from panic attack-style anxiety to complete brain fog in the course of a day; gnawing, painful hunger; IBS and GERD. My daughter (who once weighed 300 pounds, and now weighs half that) has discovered, now that she has “gone paleo,” that her last episode of binging/bulemia/insomnia/depression corresponded with her last attempt at being a vegetarian. My niece could not lose weight even though she was training to run a marathon until she cut her carb consumption, which also improved her depression. My very athletic HS football/wrestling coach nephew just failed his exam to be an activities bus driver because of high blood pressure – he is one of the few in the family refusing to follow a low-carb diet because he believes that if you exercise enough it doesn’t matter what you eat. So, my own experience and my family story is enough to convince me that insulin has a great deal to do with obesity, emotional and mood disorders, and most of the “diseases of civilization. One final anecdote: my partner who is of course not genetically related is a retired physician who has been supportive of my low-carb lifestyle (11 years and counting), but never thought it was appropriate for him. After reading Taubes and Phinney and Volek’s latest book, which is aimed at medical professionals, he decided to try low-carb himself. He is a long-distance cyclist, and years ago could take off his winter weight each cycling season just by biking. The past few years, the “beer belly” had gotten larger and larger and summer exercise saw no improvement. He went low-carb in March and by June had lost 35 pounds. On our last multiple-day 250+ miles ride, we both were ultra-low carb and could ride for hours without “bonking;” no snacking – just a brunch of steak and eggs and dinner of meat and salad. He says he has never felt stronger or more energetic. He will be 70 next spring and I will be 59.

    It’s amazing how many health issues, both physical and emotional, can be cleared up by proper diet.

    Stephan Guyenet doesn’t dispute that low-carb diets work for many people. He just doesn’t believe they work by lowering circulating insulin. Now he and Gary Taubes have a debate of sorts going on in their blog posts. It’ll be interesting to watch — they’re both passionate and highly intelligent — but I don’t see any need to declare that one has it all right and the other has it all wrong. But to me, Gary’s hypothesis makes more sense and explains more of my own experiences.

  31. Beowulf

    Love the pictures of your farm, especially the little extras about your kids’ antics.

    As for the insulin vs. food-reward debate, I’ve seen too many of my personal training clients over the years unable to lose weight yet possessing far more willpower than I in the presence of a tub of ben and jerry’s to believe that reward plays more than a side role in obesity.

    Same here. I’ve heard from a lot of people who suffered through diets they didn’t like and still barely lost weight.

  32. Andrea Lynnette

    Fred T said: “Chainsaw not Paleo enough. Paleo-ish exercise, Swede saw, bucks, and make firewood. An hour ever evening will keep you in shape. Saw a bit, split, haul, pile, not necessary in that order. Wood heat in the winter. Wood will warm you twice.”

    I have split wood. Once. For a half-hour. And I will neeeever do it again. The chainsaw is a piece of progress I like.

    I may come to the same conclusion.

  33. Mary

    I hope you get just enough snow for your family to have some sledding fun this winter! The place looks like a paradise, albeit a paradise in progress. All the best to you and yours!

    When I saw the slope on that hill, that was my first thought: sledding! Last year we had three pretty good snowstorms over the winter, and the girls were thrilled just to ride their sleds down the little hill in a neighbor’s yard. That back pasture will be a sledding paradise by comparison.

  34. gallier2

    Is it not depressing how easily the old refuted bullshit is regurgitated when it is presented by a so called authority? It’s not because Stephan had some good ideas some time ago, that his weak attempt, initiated by a personal feud, was any good. He repeated the same old nonsens James Krieger (Industry shill, look up his CV) and Carb(In)Sane peddle for some years now.
    Peter’s last entry is brillant and a must read for everyone believing that Stephan refuted anything, btw read also J.Stantons serie on satiety vs. satition, to get a grasp on why the palatability is at best a 2nd order effect (the effect of it is only measurable if the higher order effects are fixed beforehand thus amplifying the importance of the effect itself).

    I think the debate is healthy, but I have to shake my head when people toss out certain facts and claim they refute Gary’s hypothesis, when anyone who actually understands his hypothesis should know better. The latest “falsification” going around is that fat people release fatty acids at the same rate as lean people, so that must prove elevated insulin isn’t the problem. In the chapter on Energy Balance in GCBC, Gary contends that people become obese precisely so they CAN release fatty acids at the same rate as the rest of us — and until they lower their circulating insulin levels and thus allow smaller fat cells to release the same number of fatty acids, their bodies will fight to maintain that extra fat mass.

    So I’m guessing some of these people tossing out criticisms are repeating what they’ve read online, but have never actually read the book … and if they did read it, they didn’t grasp some important sections.

  35. Mary

    I hope you get just enough snow for your family to have some sledding fun this winter! The place looks like a paradise, albeit a paradise in progress. All the best to you and yours!

    When I saw the slope on that hill, that was my first thought: sledding! Last year we had three pretty good snowstorms over the winter, and the girls were thrilled just to ride their sleds down the little hill in a neighbor’s yard. That back pasture will be a sledding paradise by comparison.

  36. bc

    I’m laughing that you’d run around the farm for exercise when that farm needs so much work that would put you in super shape all on its own! Between the fences, firewood and renovation you’ll be fine. And the running away from skunks.

    We’ve got 70ha (umm… 175ac?) and I’m shamed by some of the old boy farmers near us who march up and down hills for hours a day. Then they disparage the younger generation for using quads. It makes you feel guilty for using a bicycle to get around. 🙂

    Best of luck with it all. I am looking forward to seeing the changes to your paleo lifestyle once you get into the farm groove.

    Good point. Once I start working on the land, it may become laughable that I was trying to dream up ways to exercise.

  37. gallier2

    Is it not depressing how easily the old refuted bullshit is regurgitated when it is presented by a so called authority? It’s not because Stephan had some good ideas some time ago, that his weak attempt, initiated by a personal feud, was any good. He repeated the same old nonsens James Krieger (Industry shill, look up his CV) and Carb(In)Sane peddle for some years now.
    Peter’s last entry is brillant and a must read for everyone believing that Stephan refuted anything, btw read also J.Stantons serie on satiety vs. satition, to get a grasp on why the palatability is at best a 2nd order effect (the effect of it is only measurable if the higher order effects are fixed beforehand thus amplifying the importance of the effect itself).

    I think the debate is healthy, but I have to shake my head when people toss out certain facts and claim they refute Gary’s hypothesis, when anyone who actually understands his hypothesis should know better. The latest “falsification” going around is that fat people release fatty acids at the same rate as lean people, so that must prove elevated insulin isn’t the problem. In the chapter on Energy Balance in GCBC, Gary contends that people become obese precisely so they CAN release fatty acids at the same rate as the rest of us — and until they lower their circulating insulin levels and thus allow smaller fat cells to release the same number of fatty acids, their bodies will fight to maintain that extra fat mass.

    So I’m guessing some of these people tossing out criticisms are repeating what they’ve read online, but have never actually read the book … and if they did read it, they didn’t grasp some important sections.

  38. Lauren

    Looks like the farm is coming along!

    This is off topic, but did you see that a family in England is having all of their children taken away because they are overweight? The family has been put through Hell for the past few years, trying to comply with their horrific rules. They literally had to move into a home with cameras everywhere and social workers watching their every bite. They were only allowed to live with 3 of there 7 children at a time. Well, the kids didn’t lose weight (even with the all knowing eye of the government watching every bite) so the government is taking away the children.

    The government does not allege any abuse or neglect, apart from the fact that the kids are overweight.

    Here’s a link to the story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2033486/Your-children-fat-again.html?ITO=1490

    That’s a freakin’ outrage.

  39. Tom Stone

    Long-time reader and fan, first time commenter… my wife Susan Wake and I are looking forward to meeting you in person someday (one of the cruises or AHS events perhaps?).

    A few comments came to mind while reading this great post and collection of photos:

    1. Congrats on the major home and land purchase — a wise investment (not because it will necessarily appreciate in value, but because of the many years of joy and farm production it will bring to you.) This kind of major life decision is what leads people to lead truly “flourishing” lives.

    2. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I was fortunate enough to grow up in the country — upstate NY, on 7 acres of land, that was about half grassy field… which included a veggie garden (corn, potatoes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, popcorn (!), carrots, green beans, peas, and more) and plenty of room for baseball/football… and half was woods on a hill which is where the house was/is (my parents still live there). We — that is my brother, myself, friends — had great times creating trails and playing in that little woods — so you are right to predict that your daughters will similarly love living at this new place.

    3. Many of your comments and photos also bring back memories for me for another reason — half of my extended family is from the Bristol, TN area, so I know some things about TN, where we’d visit every other summer for a week or so. In fact, my grandfather had a farm there — at one time a pretty large one — though over time decreased in size through emminent domain (when Highway 81 came through), and later through voluntary sale of land (e.g., to build an area hospital). I still have family on what remains of the farm, complete with some wooded land, a very small pond, etc., and I enjoy visiting them there when we can.

    Point being… keep up the hard work — both programming to pay for it, and the actual work on the house/land — it will all be worth it for decades to come for you, your wife, and your kids.

    — Tom Stone

    Thank you, Tom. If you make it to the next cruise, I’ll see you there.

  40. Firebird

    It looks great, Tom, but are there any plans to fix that bridge? It looks like it, too, may be ready for a renovation.

    We’re told it’ll hold up for quite awhile, but I’d like to tear it down someday and put up something more aesthetically appealing. Ideally (assuming it’s both legal and doable), I’d like to have someone dig the creek wider and deeper and turn it into something more like a long, narrow pond. Then I’d want a nice, wide wooden bridge over the pond.

  41. Alexandra

    @sherry Bloodsugar fasted today=85. 1 hour after a breakfast of 8.8 grams carbs, 34.5 grams of fat and 35.3 grams of protein…( protein=77% of the RDA according to Fit Day,) my blood sugar=88

    There are few things that spike my blood sugar more than oatmeal does, maybe whole wheat bread. I can’t be the only one.

    For me, Carbs=uncontrolled hunger and obesity. Protein+fat and few carbs= vibrant health, satiety and slimness.. what else do I need to know?

  42. Peggy Holloway

    OK. After my long diatribe about my family and how we have all been rescued from fates worse than death by low-carb diets, I have to admit that there is one family member for whom low-carb does not seem to have worked. I have mentioned before that my sister is not able to control her blood sugar or lose weight in spite of careful low-carb dieting for nearly 12 years. She is so desperate that she went to see Dr. Mary Vernon, in spite of reading negative reviews about Dr. Vernon’s practice and both Tom and Jimmy Moore supported enthusiastically endorsed that plan. It has been about 6 weeks since she went to Lawrence, KS (not an inconsiderable investment of time and money). She commented on my Facebook posting of Gary’s latest blog with “Why doesn’t all of this work for me?” I replied “What does Dr. Vernon say.” I am pasting in Jane’s reply because I think it is important that everyone in the low-carb community know about this. I also am desperately seeking an answer to why my beautiful sister can’t find the relief of her health problems that everyone else in my family has found through the low-carb lifestyle. She is the only one of my generation to be officially diagnosed as “Type II” and she spend years on low-fat, low-calorie, high-carb diets (including the 3 months on Weight Watchers + walking 5 miles a day when she gained 10 pounds and received her official diagnosis). Well, here is a direct quote:
    Jane wrote: “Well basically nothing. She is very hard to get ahold of (never answers the phone or e-mails) and I’m not sure that she believes me that I am following the diet and it just isn’t working for me. I had all those expensive tests and I have heard nothing from her about the results. I have only heard once from her nurse and she said that maybe they would put me on Januvia which I already take and listed on the form they had me fill out when I went there. I am not happy with the situation at all.”

  43. Auntie M

    Looking good! It’s great that your daughter is strong and healthy enough to fall down and not hurt herself. I swear, I see more students in casts now than ever before, and we even had a student at our school break his pelvis running down the football field when he tripped and fell. Their diets are so poor, they break bones much more easily. I can remember when I was younger that broken bones seemed a lot less common.

    Wow, that’s awful, a kid breaking his pelvis just from falling down. I can tell you from Sara’s many “I’m okay” moments that she’s certifiably hard-headed.

  44. Lauren

    Looks like the farm is coming along!

    This is off topic, but did you see that a family in England is having all of their children taken away because they are overweight? The family has been put through Hell for the past few years, trying to comply with their horrific rules. They literally had to move into a home with cameras everywhere and social workers watching their every bite. They were only allowed to live with 3 of there 7 children at a time. Well, the kids didn’t lose weight (even with the all knowing eye of the government watching every bite) so the government is taking away the children.

    The government does not allege any abuse or neglect, apart from the fact that the kids are overweight.

    Here’s a link to the story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2033486/Your-children-fat-again.html?ITO=1490

    That’s a freakin’ outrage.

  45. Tom Stone

    Long-time reader and fan, first time commenter… my wife Susan Wake and I are looking forward to meeting you in person someday (one of the cruises or AHS events perhaps?).

    A few comments came to mind while reading this great post and collection of photos:

    1. Congrats on the major home and land purchase — a wise investment (not because it will necessarily appreciate in value, but because of the many years of joy and farm production it will bring to you.) This kind of major life decision is what leads people to lead truly “flourishing” lives.

    2. I didn’t grow up on a farm, but I was fortunate enough to grow up in the country — upstate NY, on 7 acres of land, that was about half grassy field… which included a veggie garden (corn, potatoes, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, popcorn (!), carrots, green beans, peas, and more) and plenty of room for baseball/football… and half was woods on a hill which is where the house was/is (my parents still live there). We — that is my brother, myself, friends — had great times creating trails and playing in that little woods — so you are right to predict that your daughters will similarly love living at this new place.

    3. Many of your comments and photos also bring back memories for me for another reason — half of my extended family is from the Bristol, TN area, so I know some things about TN, where we’d visit every other summer for a week or so. In fact, my grandfather had a farm there — at one time a pretty large one — though over time decreased in size through emminent domain (when Highway 81 came through), and later through voluntary sale of land (e.g., to build an area hospital). I still have family on what remains of the farm, complete with some wooded land, a very small pond, etc., and I enjoy visiting them there when we can.

    Point being… keep up the hard work — both programming to pay for it, and the actual work on the house/land — it will all be worth it for decades to come for you, your wife, and your kids.

    — Tom Stone

    Thank you, Tom. If you make it to the next cruise, I’ll see you there.

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