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Monday, December 11, 2017

Myth Buster: You Can Lose Weight And Gain Muscle At Same Time

Two friends were discussing dieting. Friend A said he wanted to lose weight and gain muscle. Friend B said, "You can't do both at the same time." 

I intervened: "That's a myth because you can.

Friend B said, "No you can't. It's impossible." 

I said, "It is possible, and I have. That's the entire premise of work out programs like the Body-For-Life." 

"Do you have proof?" he said.  

"Yes. As a matter of fact, I have loads of proof. I have articles. I have myself."

"What do you mean, you have yourself." 

"I am proof. I have lost weight and gained muscle lots of times. I have lost up to 40 pounds while gaining muscle. I mean, I'm no Arnold, but I do have some muscle tone that didn't exist."

See, that was the end of the discussion. But this highlights the difference between common sense and what they teach in colleges and universities. They teach conventional wisdom. They teach the same stuff that has been said over and over and over without citation. 

You have to eat breakfast. You can't eat eggs. You can't lose weight and gain muscle at the same time. Cholesterol causes heart disease. Salt causes high blood pressure. All of these are myths that do nothing but cause people to eat boring foods that are not satisfying. Foods that make it harder to lose weight.

So, just ignore them all. I mean, do your research. Sometimes the conventional wisdom people are right. When they right give it to them. Let them know they are right. But, when they are wrong, ignore them. You don't have to argue with them. But when it's your children, I think you ought to share what you know. 

Go to John Hussman is a doctor. He's also a weight loss expert. He proves how you can lose weight and gain muscle at the same time. So, don't just take my word for it. I mean, I've done it. But, take the experts advice before mine. 

In fact, there are lots of people I know who have lost weight. They all look good. But those who participated in a muscle training program developed muscle tone while they lost weight. Anyone who loses weight looks nice. But those who also gained muscle look all the sharper. 

Further reading:

Monday, December 4, 2017

Myth Busted: Eggs Are Now Good For You

I started eating healthy in 1998. The diet I did was the Body-For-Life Diet. I still stick to this diet, although with my own moderations. One of the moderations I made is that I now eat eggs every day. I eat lots of eggs. I eat two for breakfast and then I eat 2 more as a snack for brunch. Sometimes I eat more than that.

I told this to my son the other day. He goes to the University of Michigan, so you know he's smart. But, a University education doesn't necessarily mean you are getting useful information. He said, "I bet your cholesterol is high."

I said, "That's a myth."

Actually, my cholesterol is normal. This is after eating 4 eggs nearly every day for over a year. So, if conventional wisdom were true, I'd be well on my way to having a heart attack. But, the truth is as it is, this is not the case.

I mean, I don't even have heart attack genes. There is no evidence of heart disease in my family. So, I'm certainly not going to worry about having a heart attack. But, I'll save that for a future post.

The truth is that I hated doing the BFL diet prior to when I started eating eggs. Sometimes I would get those fake eggs you get in a box. The ones that don't have the yolk. But they are expensive. My wife stopped buying them years ago. So, I've had to make do without eggs.

But that ended about a year ago when I discovered that saturated fat doesn't cause heart disease. Then, as I did my research, I learned that eggs are actually good for you. They have lots of protein. So, eat up!!!

Eggs fill me up. Eggs give me satisfaction. Eggs are yummy no matter how you cook them. They are now the main staple of my diet. They make it so much easier to diet. I can't believe I went all those years without eating eggs based on a myth.

And I'm not the only one. My nephew is trying to add weight. I noticed the definition on his arms when I saw him at hunting camp. We had a discussion about working out. He said, "Eggs are the staple of my diet."

I said, "Yeah! Same here. I suppose, if conventional wisdom were to hold true, we will both be dead of heart disease in about ten years."

But conventional wisdom, once again, is proven false.

The result is that I lost 30 pounds eating eggs. I did not gain weight. I also did not gain a high cholesterol. I'm not using myself as proof. The myth that eggs are bad for you was busted before I started eating them.

In fact, before I started eating eggs every day I had trouble getting enough protein into my system. Now weight loss experts like Jillian Michaels champions for eating eggs.

What's so good about eggs? I'll delve into that in my next post.

Further Reading:

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Myth Buster: Eggs Do Help You Lose Weight After All

So, I started a weight loss program in 1998. Eggs were not on the recommended food list. I ate fake eggs, but they were expensive and no fun. Today it appears eggs are now recommended. They are now the staple of my diet. So, what has changed?

When did I start eating eggs? Why? Well, it started when I was listening to a radio program on the radio. This would have been sometime in 2015. A pediatrician was being interviewed. He said researchers were studying why children pooped out during the course of the day.

He said a theory was that they were eating foods high in carbohydrates for breakfast. They were eating lots of foods like cereal. By the third hour and before lunch, their carbohydrate levels tanked. This made it hard to pay attention. This affected grades for the third hour.

I'm simplifying this, but this is the gist of it.

I'm sure they developed various theories attempting to explain this. Should lunch be earlier? Or did it have to do with what kids were eating for breakfast?

As part of one study, they had two groups. The study group ate eggs and bacon for breakfast. The control group ate what they normally ate, which was cereal. It turned out that those who ate eggs and bacon did better in school. They did not tank at the third hour. Their grades were better.

Now, this was just one study. But other studies showed the same thing. Kids who ate hearty breakfasts performed better in school.

Then there were other studies done regarding eggs and bacon for breakfast. You had the study and control groups. It turned out that those who ate eggs and bacon for breakfast lost more weight than those in the control group.

Actually, it was simpler than that. Initial studies showed that those who ate eggs and bacon for breakfast were less likely to binge during the course of the day. They were less likely to have those weak moments where they craved cookies and cake. They were less likely to give into these low points in the day.

They conclusion theorized this was due to the increase in protein.

Another similar theory is that a good hearty meal increases the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a happy hormone. It makes you feel good. Dopamine makes you feel satisfied. So, you are less likely to binge the rest of the day.

But eggs will cause cholesterol levels to rise? Studies proved this was also a myth. Eggs did not cause a rise in choleserol levels. In fact, it was learned that eggs contain low density lipoproteins, which is good cholesterol.

Other studies showed that they did not cause a rise in cholesterol. Other studies showed that cholesterol does not cause heart disease. In fact, even the government now recognizes this.

So, weight loss gurus now recommend eggs for breakfast.

It was initially thought this had to be for breakfast. But, this is not true either. It just has to be the first meal of the day, no matter when that meal is. I discussed this in my post, "Myth Buster: You Must Eat Eggs For Breakfast."

Further reading:

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Myth Buster: Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease

When it comes to medicine we have to be careful what we read. This is particularly true when it comes to conventional wisdom, especially when something is said without citation. Something like, "High-fat foods may cause weight gain and heart disease."

We are fed a barrage of information about fatty foods causing weight gain and heart disease. Seldom is there a reference supporting this. It's just said as though it were a fact, similar to the one that says, "Humans are causing global warming."

Evidence, please?

At least with global warming, it's computer moderated information. What they don't tell you is that the information that comes out is only as good as what comes it. So, if what goes in is junk, what comes out is junk. But, when it comes to fatty foods causing weight gain and heart disease, there's no evidence to be heard from.

In this case, it seems that someone just made this up because it sounds good. Then everyone else just kind of went with it. Then it becomes conventional wisdom. And it's thought to be a fact. When in fact it's just a myth.

A few years ago I wrote a good article on this blog. It was called "Myth Busted: Junk Food Doesn't Cause Heart Disease." So true I turned out to be. Nina Teicholz discussed this in the Wall Street Journal in her article: "The Questionable Link Between Saturated Fat and Heart Disease."

She said the myth was started by one person by the name of Ancel Keys. This lead to a 50-year campaign to convince people not to eat meat, eggs, and whole fat dairy.  Despite this campaign, there has never been one scientific piece of evidence to show this to be true. 

She said:
"Saturated fat does not cause heart disease"—or so concluded a big study published in March in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine. How could this be? The very cornerstone of dietary advice for generations has been that the saturated fats in butter, cheese and red meat should be avoided because they clog our arteries. For many diet-conscious Americans, it is simply second nature to opt for chicken over sirloin, canola oil over butter.
The new study's conclusion shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with modern nutritional science, however. The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.
She provides us with the history of the myth.
Our distrust of saturated fat can be traced back to the 1950s, to a man named Ancel Benjamin Keys, a scientist at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Keys was formidably persuasive and, through sheer force of will, rose to the top of the nutrition world—even gracing the cover of Time magazine—for relentlessly championing the idea that saturated fats raise cholesterol and, as a result, cause heart attacks.
This idea fell on receptive ears because, at the time, Americans faced a fast-growing epidemic. Heart disease, a rarity only three decades earlier, had quickly become the nation's No. 1 killer. Even President Dwight D. Eisenhower suffered a heart attack in 1955. Researchers were desperate for answers.
As the director of the largest nutrition study to date, Dr. Keys was in an excellent position to promote his idea. The "Seven Countries" study that he conducted on nearly 13,000 men in the U.S., Japan and Europe ostensibly demonstrated that heart disease wasn't the inevitable result of aging but could be linked to poor nutrition.
Critics have pointed out that Dr. Keys violated several basic scientific norms in his study. For one, he didn't choose countries randomly but instead selected only those likely to prove his beliefs, including Yugoslavia, Finland and Italy. Excluded were France, land of the famously healthy omelet eater, as well as other countries where people consumed a lot of fat yet didn't suffer from high rates of heart disease, such as Switzerland, Sweden and West Germany. The study's star subjects—upon whom much of our current understanding of the Mediterranean diet is based—were peasants from Crete, islanders who tilled their fields well into old age and who appeared to eat very little meat or cheese.
 As we know, once something becomes established in the medical community, it becomes conventional wisdom. Once something becomes conventional wisdom, it becomes almost impossible to disprove. Global warming is a perfect example of this. Now, it appears, that saturated fat is another.

But, don't worry. The American Heart Association still lists Saturated fat as a big no-no. No citation. I'm not criticising the AHA here because they do lots of good things. I'm just saying, it's so easy to become a victim of a myth.

And, besides. Modern evidence does show that only some people have heart disease genes. So, it would seem to me that a better thing to teach is, "If you have a family history of heart disease, you might want to be careful with high-fat foods and cholesterol."

But that's not how we are in this world. We continue to repeat myths long after they have been disproven. Hypoxic Drive Hoax anyone?

Further reading:

Saturday, November 18, 2017

My 20 Year Anniversary

I showed up for work on November 10, and my boss says, "Today is your anniversary?"

"What?" was my feeble response.

"Today is the 20th anniversary of your first day of work here," she said.

"Do I get a cake?" I ruefully said.

"No!" she said, laughing.

Before I had this job I never had a job longer than a year. So, it's a pretty good accomplishment to last this long.

What has changed? 

When I started, there were senior RTs who always seemed to take the easy assignments. I was happy about that because I got to take exciting ER and critical care.

Whenever I had questions I'd tap in on their wisdom. When I wasn't confident, I'd have them shadow me. When I wasn't sure about myself, I'd ask them questions.

When they were thinking about retirement, I'd think, "How are we going to replace all that wisdom?

The answer: "You don't!"

"Who is going to fill your shoes?" I ruefully asked once.

"You!" One of them said.

"What? I don't know half of what you know."

"You are! You have no choice."


"Yeah!" she said. "That's, like, part of getting old."

What you do is you add your own wisdom. You have your own experiences. You have your own wisdom from these experiences. You have wisdom from what you have read. You have wisdom from what you have heard. You have wisdom from your conversations.

This wisdom is there even if you don't know it. And you will be asked to share it, whether you're ready to or not.

Fortunately for me, I have done lots of research for the RT cave. I have spent lots of time reading science journals for articles I've written. That helps. But it's not always needed. Some RTs don't read that much and they're equally brilliant.

So, now I'm the senior RT. That's what has changed. The seniors I tapped into are retired. Now I'm the senior RT. This is not a role you seek out. It sort of just happens.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The RT Cave Is 10 Years Old

On October 13, 2007, I yearned to start a blog. I had no idea what to call it. I had no idea what I was going to write. I just wanted to do it. I just knew I wanted to write.

I worked night shift back then. I remember walking around the hospital. Everyone was busy but me and the nurses working in critical care. So, that's where I hung out.

I remember rolling ideas in my head for a title for my blog. I asked my CCU friends if they had any ideas. They did. But none of their ideas impressed me.

Finally, about halfway through the night, I said, "Well, folks, I'm going back to the cave!"

My eyes lit up.

"THAT'S IT!" I said. "I will call it the cave!"

I already knew I wanted respiratory therapy in the title. that way my blog would come up during any search for respiratory therapy.

I went back to the cave and decided to write. I had no idea what to write. I ended up writing this stupid article about the beeper. I read that post every anniversary date. And every year I think, "What a stupid post."

Sure, I've thought of deleting it. I have thought of editing it. But I don't.

It's kind of like saving your belt after you lose 30 or 40 pounds. You keep it even though it's worn out and useless to you now. You save it as a memento of what was and what is now not.

I wanted to write. I have always kept a journal. I started a journal when I was in high school. I did a diary before that. I just loved writing.

My dream was to be a published author. What I planned on was writing a book and getting it published. I wanted to be like Stephen King. I mean, I knew I wouldn't write like him, but I wanted to be published like him.

But I was unable to write that book. I was more of a columnist type of writer. I liked to write columns. But, I didn't have the confidence to publish what I wrote in the local newspaper. I say this even though the opportunity was there. I was asked to do it more than once.

But then something happened that I never anticipated: the Internet. It was there in all its glory. All I had to do was tap into it. And so I did.

I started the Cave. I decided to write something every day. My early stuff was shit. But, the more I wrote the better I got at it. I learned how to write pithy. I learned how to keep articles to one thought. I learned how to write for the Internet.

A year after I started this I received an email. It started with, "I love your blog." That email turned into my job at I would write a weekly column for them for eight years.

That job came about just because I wrote. I wrote every day. And people must have liked what I wrote about. I know this because my blog was soon the #1 respiratory therapy blog not associated with a peer-reviewed journal. This is still true to this day.

But I did not make money on this blog. I just did it for fun. I did it to pay it forward, you might say.

There's this old saying that if you like to do something, and you do it and do it well, good things will come of it. I think it comes from the Bible. Well, one day I received that email. And, well, the rest is history.

I retired from Healthcentral in 2015. It was a hard decision. Now I write for and That's where most of my time is spent now.

But, this is my baby. So, you can expect for me to keep it around. If you have ideas what you want me to write about here, please do share. Like, if you have questions you want answered or whatever.

Anyway, it all started 10 years ago. It's been a great ride! It's been fun! I would like to thank YOU for making this so successful. None of this would be possible without YOU. THANK YOU!!!

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Monday, September 25, 2017

Should You Become A Respiratory Therapist?

I get a lot of emails from people who are considering going to college to become a Respiratory Therapist. But because of something a respiratory therapist said, you are now having second thoughts. My humble advice to you is:

Don't fail to do something you think you'd enjoy because of something someone else said. 

Okay? Don't do it. Don't let someone else's negativity towards their own job sway you from doing something.

Let me just give you some of my own examples. I'm 47 years old now. Often I wonder what my life would be like today if I had become a teacher. I had thought long and hard about choosing the career of teaching long before I ever became a respiratory therapist.

So, here I was a Senior in High School. I had two teachers I really respected. I asked both these guys if teaching was a good profession. To my dismay, they were both very negative about the job, "There's a lot of burnout! The pay isn't good!" Are some of the negative comments they made about their job.

I did not go into teaching simply based on what these two teachers said. And, to be honest, I have regretted it ever since. I have always thought I would have been a great teacher. I think I would have loved that profession.

The same with counseling. I had actually thought of becoming a counselor at one time. However, I had a friend who was a counselor, and she said, "There's a lot of burnout! The pay isn't good!"

I sort of became a respiratory therapist by default. It was never at the top of any of my lists. However, since I didn't have a friend trash that profession, that's what I chose.

And, don't get me wrong, I love being a respiratory therapist. It's one of the better things to happen to me in my life. It has taught me a lot about my own asthma, allowed me to meet a lot of great people, and has to lead me to this profession as a health blogger.

That said: I'm burned out, and the pay isn't that good. See my point! All jobs lead to, or most, lead to a time when you're going to realize your pay is poor and you are burned out. It's a fact of life. It's why many people switch jobs or go back to school at certain times in their lives.

Some high school students tell me that they were told by a respiratory therapist that there is no respect for the profession. Sure, there are some things that need to be improved.

But, respect isn't one of them.

Our profession is a new one, and so there is still some room for the profession to grow. And you can be a part of making it better. So, if you are thinking about becoming a respiratory therapist: Go for it!

And if you decide later on that you want to do more and make more money, then the profession of respiratory therapy is a great stepping stone for other healthcare jobs, including a Physician's Assistant. I can surely tell you that any PA with an RRT background is going to be one hell of a PA.