Learning about Leptin

Take a toddler with a room stuffed with toys. She shows no interest in a toy until another toddler picks it up and plays with it. This is how I am with books. I didn’t get very far with Mastering Leptinwhen my friend gave it to me. I listed it on Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap. and the minute someone wanted it I had an overwhelming need to read it. I’m glad I did. The book has the feel of a self-published book—especially in layout and graphics—a hurdle to overcome when you care about such things.

Just what is leptin? First discovered in 1994,

Leptin is the hormone secreted by fat cells contained in white adipose tissue. It is the most significant hormone there is in understanding the function of the human body. p.4

Most overweight and fatigued people suffer from leptin resistance, a condition where the brain doesn’t receive the signal leptin sends to reduce the appetite. So this person feels hungry, particularly after dinner. Compulsive sweet cravings indicate leptin resistance.

DSC_2017Hormone management is complex because you can’t balance one in isolation from the others. With leptin resistance the brain can’t tell the pancreas to stop making insulin. Insulin stimulates leptin production. When a person is leptin resistant, he is probably insulin resistant and adrenaline resistant — when the fat cells can’t receive the signal to stimulate metabolism. Enter fatigue.

Expensive tests are not needed to prove there is a problem [of leptin resistance]. A person just has to look in the mirror and then take note of their level of energy. p.47

This book was never destined to be a best seller because there are no quick fixes, no pills that magically correct the metabolism. It comes back to those three ubiquitous words: diet and exercise.

Five Rules of Eating (The Leptin Diet)

1. Never eat after dinner.

2. Eat three meals a day.
3. Do not eat large meals.

4. Eat a high protein breakfast

5. Reduce the amount of carbohydrates.

Common sense, right? The most controversial is no snacking, making meals five to six hours apart. Richards maintains that frequent eating clogs the liver’s fuel system, that not eating between meals is good exercise for the liver. He likens frequent snacking to a repetitive strain injury to the pancreas.

Consistent exercise is the most important action I can take to correct leptin resistance.

Six Important Reasons to Exercise

1. Improve natural rhythm and pattern of fuel utilization.

2. Increase the parasympathetic tone of the nervous system.

3. Keep leptin food cravings and out-of-control behavior in check.

4. Enhance strength to stabilize leptin and insulin.

5. Improve muscle use of fatty acids so weight loss is easier.

6. Ensure adequate body heat, an important foundation for body rhythms and patterns.

Richards recommends a few supplements: Omega 3 oils, GLA, CLA, pantethine, and calcium. I’m not a big fan of supplements. I prefer to eat real food that contains what I need.

I plan to follow the five rules for at least six months and see what’s what. If you are interested in more information check out Wellness Resources.

Back Home Again

DSC_2117 October was a friendship-saturated month.

DSC_2151When I had an empty day in a city far from home, I contacted Faith,
an online friend. We picked up as if we had known
each other forever, drinking pots of tea and talking nonstop.

DSC_2213A week of solitude meant garden clean-up, reading, walking,
and a trip to the wildlife refuge to feast on the Harvest Moon.

DSC_2268My husband and I had a few days in the middle
where our schedules synced. The joy of reuniting, ah!

DSC_2281I met two year old Max and his mom on a flight to Minneapolis.
When he got antsy, I snapped a photo and let him see.
Take another, he urged. He drew in my journal with many colors;
years from now his drawing will remind me of our brief friendship.

DSC_2287A fire is a great conversation accessory. On my cousin’s
back deck we not only caught up on our 17 years apart,
but I—thanks to her transparency—got a tutorial
on life as a new widow.

DSC_2299We gloried in fall colors.

DSC_2347Our dads were brothers. We talked through our
family history, all those quirks we recognize.

DSC_2371And we laughed.

October 2014Then to Chicago for my annual visit.
I enjoy studying each my sister Dorothy’s dozen grandchildren:
their gifts, what motivates and aggravates them,
their unique personalities.

DSC_2525My sister Margaret soldiers through many infirmities.
Cancer and a stroke have attacked but can’t quench her spirit.
Through the pain I never hear her complain.

DSC_2625Several other friends blessed me with time and attention,
a precious gift. Our friendships span the years.
Stories jogged memories.

DSC_2423Tender mercies, all.

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

mma1When I first read The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, I chirped with evangelistic fervor about the series. But, a few disappointing books cooled that impulse to the point that I quit reading the last three books in this series.

A library hold came available so I read the books out of order. But the 14th book The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon has rekindled my love for the traditionally built Mma Ramotswe and and her quirky assistant, Mma Makutsi. This book might appear to be about a newborn baby, but on every level it is about friendship, about rearranging a relationship that expands from business to personal. Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi remind me of Marilla Cuthbert and Rachel Lynde in Anne of Green Gables.

Any book by Alexander McCall Smith will have his trademark humor. There were three snort-and-holler moments in this book. I don’t want to give them away, but prepare yourself for horse laughs.

Only to the extent that they reveal human nature do I care about the solving of mysteries in this book. No. I read for the gentle wisdom, the poignant words of Mma Ramotswe. She thinks, she ponders, she reflects. Death, sunlight, music, change, marriage, the pace of life, beauty, differences between men and women. And she truly loves Botswana. It’s so refreshing.

I don’t like Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni’s two mechanic apprentices: Charlie and Fanwell. Their characters are a waste of print. But I was surprised at Charlie’s response to the baby. He admires it, he wants to hold it; his cooing amuses and puzzles the women.

I want to highlight two passages whose beauty astonished me. One is a foot washing scene. Mma Ramotswe visits Mma Makutsi at her new home (she married Phuti Radiphuti) after a heavy rain. Her car gets stuck; she exits the car barefoot and walks through the mud to the front door.

Sidenote: only once have I participated in a foot washing ceremony. It was at a church retreat. The women gathered in a room and each one washed the feet of the person next to them. I felt humble shyness, willing to wash someone else’s feet but reluctant to have a friend wash my feet. It was emotional. It was potent. It was unforgettable.

“Let me wash them, Mma,” she said. “You sit there, I’ll wash your feet for you.”
Mma Ramotswe felt the warm embrace of the water and the slippery caress of the soap. The intimacy of the situation impressed itself upon her; that an old friend—and that was how she looked at Mma Makutsi—should do this for you was strangely moving.

And this short note on reconciliation:

And with that, she felt that most exquisite, and regrettably rare, of pleasures—that of welcoming back one who has left your life. We cannot do that with late people, Mma Ramotswe thought, much as we would love to be able to do so, but we can do it with the living.

Five solid stars and kudos to Alexander McCall Smith.

Reminders of Mortality

DSC_8672One thing hymns do so well is remind us of our mortality. A lifetime of singing lyrics that regularly refer to death prepares us for that one moment from which we can’t escape.

Yesterday I knew that our friend Dean’s life was hanging in the balance. After a long bout with congestive heart failure, he had had a heart attack. His daughter wrote me that the next 24 hours would be vital. As I sung yesterday’s hymns my heart prayed for Dean and for his family.

And when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace.  (from Amazing Grace)

Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die  (from There Is a Fountain)

Be near when I am dying,
O show my cross to me;
And for my succor flying,
Come, Lord, to set me free:
These eyes, new faith receiving,
From Jesus shall not move;
For he who dies believing
Dies safely, through thy love. (from O Sacred Head)

We arrived home late, after a long day unplugged from technology and plugged into friendships. I checked my messages to find out that Dean had died a few hours before.

Sitting on my desk is a sticky note reminding me to send a card. It says “Dean – Even down to old age.”  Today he is in glory — doesn’t need encouragement.

Even down to old age all my people shall prove
My sovereign, eternal, unchangeable love.
(from How Firm a Foundation)

The Long Cord

500setsIt was 1983. I was staying home for the first time in my life, bringing up baby. We had one phone, attached to the wall. When you talked on the phone you were limited to, um, talking on the phone. Your options were sitting or standing.

It was BIG excitement to get a long cord! Now I could clear the table, pick up toys AND talk on the phone. There were daily calls with Kathi, another young mom. Our conversations ranged from our son’s latest schedule change to the man who picked his nose—and studied the results—during church to Gorky Park to Jazzercise.

Through the phone my oldest sister walked me through the dilemmas of motherhood and listened with patience and delight to my momentous pronouncements. He stared at me for two minutes without blinking! Like my lunches with my mom when I was in kindergarten, I had a need to narrate the current events of my life, give my commentary, consider and then demolish any imaginary criticism. When my thoughts had been downloaded, when I had been heard, we could comfortably end the conversation.

That cord would s-t-r-e-t-c-h almost to the kitchen sink. I learned to station the diaper bag within range so the conversation could carry on amidst messy diaper changes.

When I hung the phone up, the long cord spiraled into a double helix.

Well Come

DSC_3218I’m in the process of moving my blog, Magistra Mater, from Xanga to WordPress. I devour words, so I’m tickled that the word ‘word’ made it into the name of the platform. My Xanga posts from  2005 – 2013 have migrated. Glory! It’s such a relief to be able to revisit that season of my life.

Hey! I can change my blog name to something with a nicer mouth feel. A Living Pencil.

Mother Theresa is reported to have said, “I am a living pencil in the hand of a living God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

There is much to learn. That’s good: I’m always touting the joys of lifetime learning.

And a growing excitement is incubating about writing more regularly.

Well, come along with me! Welcome!

Thankful, Spring Edition


photo credit: National Audubon Society

Thankful, Spring Edition

Fair sunshine and small flecks of green,
revealing treasures emerging,
an opened window, freshened air,
the deep inhaling of this grace.

Sorrow distilled,
ache and agony
poured in one vessel,
yearning for relief;
You who gather tears in a bottle,
hear our prayer.

For reunions in the produce section,
full-exposure answers to politely worded questions,
so satisfying an exchange
that we wonder
we ever let our friendship drift…

For a cataract of books,
flooding my shelves,
swamping my senses.
I splash
and sing
and scoop them up,
drenched in delight,
mesmerized by the mist
of so many nourishing words.

Balsamic vinegar,
fresh-squeezed lime,
tangy smooth yogurt,
crumbled cashews,
aroma of cilantro,
pan-fried asparagus,
savory lamb,
sweet oranges,
a cup of cold water.

For a well-placed chord or two,
a progression that knocks down
any preconceived notions,
a new way of hearing
a familiar tune.

For nicknames and
the way they bore
through apathy and passivity.
The current that keeps cracklin’
when I hear his voice say
“Hey, Babe!”

The foreshadow of Easter
in the springtime cycles:

The song of the crocus and daffodil,
the squeaks and chirps and outside noises,
The solid joy of this abiding truth:
Winter is past.
Death is dead.

Awake, my soul, and sing!


“Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
my daily thanks employ;
nor is the least a cheerful heart
that tastes those gifts with joy.”*

* Joseph Addison

More Thankful posts.