Thursday, December 29, 2011

Staring Into the Cellulitic Jaws of Pier Pressure Eating

Pier pressure, man. PIER pressure. Your friends come along and they're all like "Yo, Ding Dong Man, Ding Dong Yo!"

And "Hey man...what is it with you? You on Some Kind of DIET? Is that what they teach you in that little sissy school of yours??

And "You ain't down wid us no more! You ain't ain't FAT!"

Oh wait...I may be thinking of the Weird Al video.

More realistically, though, friends come along and they, meaning well, want to go out for lunch at, say Long John Silvers. You know, like you've always done. And it SOUNDS nice. And you LIKE hanging out with your pals. And you don't want to change the plans. So you go, right?

The thing about food is, it's a way of life. It's not just what you eat. It's the society you're in. It's how you interact with people.

The best I've managed to muster is to choose carefully what I eat when I'm going out to eat with some pals, and to recognize the temptations that await me when I'm going. I have opted to say no once or twice. And I have chosen the location once or twice. And hopefully, overall, the small changes will make a big difference.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Huff, puff, huff, puff...okay....did my exercise for today.

There are always reasons not to get exercise. Because you're sick. Because you're terrified of getting mugged or "jumped" by your neighbors during an evening stroll. Because you're busy.

I ran down my own personal list of reasons this morning and finally came to the conclusion that for me, I was just being lazy. I had dropped my boys off at my wife's store so I could have some time to get some work done. On my way home I stopped by the State Park, jumped out of the car, and walked up the 200 step dune climb. Then I came back down and drove home huffing and puffing.

The exercise session took all of 15 minutes out of my day.

Honestly, I'm feeling quite a bit more alert than if I had not exercised at all. So I'm hoping I'll be more productive today.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Don't Panic about your Post Christmas Weight Gain: I'ts Mostly Water Weight

Blarg! My Christmas binge has gained me almost three pounds. And before I learned about water weight, i'd be extremely disheartened and discouraged that I'd slid back so much and so fast. So read this, and maybe you'll feel better after your own Christmas binge.

Time to talk water weight again. Cuz boy do I got it. I blame my Christmas binge.

Water's tricky. CRAFTY.

When you first start losing weight, you lose weight fast. It's cuz of a certain chemicle in your muscles and throughout your body, which I like to call "Goo" (aka glycogen) which is sort an uber-fast energy storage method for the body. And the thing about this "goo" is that it holds a lot of water. When you first lose weight, this "goo"/glycogen gets used up and relases massive quantities of water, which is awesome because it feels like you're losing weight super fast at the beginning of the diet.

When it's used up, then the weight loss slows down. Fat takes quite a bit more time to burn off.

The major bummer, though, comes when you eat more calories than your body uses. Cuz then the glycogen/goo comes back and holds fast to vast quantities of water again. So you can gain three or four pounds all at once. WUMP.

Which is exactly what happened to me this week. I've gained three pounds even though my fancy calorie chart shows that I really only ate about 2300 more calories than I used...less than a pound's worth.

On the bright side, I should be able to drop it pretty fast again considering it's mostly water weight. It would be a LOT more discouraging if I didn't know what was going on. Which I do. So it isn't. I just gotta keep on with what I've been doing for a couple months and everything will be fine.

Monday, December 26, 2011

This Cheese Stands United in Favor Of Cheese in my Diet

GAH! Deal breaker. I fold. I'm not gonna be purist on the Paleo diet thing. If I can't have my cheese, I'm out.

No cheese in the paleo diet. No cheese in the paleo diet!

Oh I get your game. I GET it...lure me in with bacon and then SPRING the NO CHEESE on me.

No cheese. I'd give up on the bacon before I ditched my love of artisan cheeses. Cheese, I'll have you know, LITERALLY holds a special place in my heart.

No cheese....from my cold dead cheese...

Sometimes these diets intimidate me. The feel more intense than I'm comfortable with. I feel like I'm like most folks. I'm not out to make fitness into my hobby. It's cool for those who do want to do that. But that's not me. I just want to lose a few pounds and walk away a bit healthier.

I'm not out to get a six pack. I'm not out enter an iron man competition. I'm not trying to do triathelons or pull a dozen water skiing women in bath-caps behind a high powered boat using the power of my own jaw muscles.

Do I want to be as healthy as I possibly can be?

No. Not really.

The quest for perfection is more devout and obsessed than I'm looking for. And that's okay.

I love many aspects of the paleo diet. I love the notion of eating unprocessed foods. Of eating vegetables and grass fed or wild caught meats and reducing or cutting out gluten. But will I be a following that sort of diet to the letter? No.

Back to the Diet: Cheese is part of the Paleo Diet, Right?

Well, that was fun.

I ate food. For Christmas. There. I suspect I've gained back one of the pounds that I workd so hard to kill. Each one of those pounds of fat is 3500 calories. So amazingly easy to put into my mouth. So hard to take off my doughy midsection.

Do I feel some regret? Maybe a little.

Fortunately I'm still on track for my December goal. And now it's time to get back to ye olde diet.

But now arises a new problem: leftovers. Just because I am now seeking my way back to the path of healthy eating doesn't mean there aren't piles of cookies and bags of the traditional Christmas Cool Ranch Doritos hanging around. And real maple syrup. Dammit.

I just have to not put them in my mouth in vast quantities, right?

I should probably go back to my routine of filling up on something like cabbage and hot sauce for breakfast. And on the bright side, we have some fantastic, fancy cheese. Prima Donna cheese and a soft, goaty bucherolle.

Cheese is part of the paleo diet, right?

I'll probably also get out and do some more exercise today. Here's a vid I made yesterday while going out on my Christmas constitutional which theoretically burned about 400 calories.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Ain't Gonna Break Out the Hair Shirt this Holiday Season

Batten down the hatches, mateys. We're most of us in for a pefect storm of foods:
Candies, chips, cookies, cakes, breads, kola─Ź, nuts, crakers...booze, pastries, booze pastries...

It's true. Booze pastries. My wife has a 5 gallon bucket wherin she's steeped, for months now, several loaves of homemade fruit cake in a bottlesworth of high octane brandy.

Am I going to eat/drink that? Yes. Yes I am.

How can I not?

And there's the problem with the holidays. Everything is so good, how can you NOT eat? I admit, I've had terrible luck sticking to my diet these past few days. Most days I've been coming just under the wire of my caloric limit. Yesterday I went way over...but I think I burned most it off by shampooing the carpet and searching around for a gifts for my 789 nephews. Not that it's an excuse.

In a way, I'm trying to keep this in perspective and now allow my failure to stick to a strict diet make me give up the ship once the rough high calorie waves of carbs and sugars have settled down.

After all, Christmas time...the solstice's traditionally been a time of feasting. Perhaps the problem is not the presence of feasts during the Holidays. Perhaps the problem is that we feast all 365 days of the year as well.

Maybe it's okay to have a short time of gluttony to look forward to, and to remember fondly, while we spend the rest of the year adjusting to a healthy, normal eating style.

I remember learning about medival monks. They'd have their strict, regimented lives day in and day out. And then one day out of the year, for the entire day, the youngest monk got to be the head monk and for that whole day hillarity and chaos ensued. A pressure valve. A time of relative abandon.

Food addiction aside, where overeating is a severe, chronicl problem...if releasing the pressure valve once in a while was good enough for Medieval monks, it's good enough for me. I'm going to sample my favorite dishes this time of year. I'll celebrate with friends. I'll try to watch my food intake, but I'm not going to break out the hair shirt if I go over. And then...when the holidays are done, the feast is over, right? Such has been the lot of mankind for centuries.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Confused by the Diet Wars? Eating More Veggies is a Safe Bet

Here's an hour-long video of some dude talking up the virtues of low carb, high fat food choices. He makes a few great points. However, I'm looking at two different sides in these diet wars: The Low Fat side and the Low Carb side. One side insists that fat is killing us, giving us heart disease and cancer...the other side insists that carbs are killing us, leading to obesity, diabetes, and plenty of other ailments.

So if you're as confused as I am, take heart. Because the one thing everybody seems to agree is that EATING MORE VEGETABEDLS is a good thing.

In the diet wars, nobody is telling us to put down our carrots, or that cabbage is going to kill us. Nobody is suggesting that broccoli and spinach are deadly killers.

Whether you're low fat or low carb, it's probably a safe bet to Eat More Veggies. Peas, carrots, cauliflour, and my personal dietary staple, cabbage. Cabbage pan fried in butter, I'll have you know. A heap of cabbage in the morning with hot sauce and a sunny side up egg.

Though I admit I went a bit on the meaty side this morning. Two eggs and healthy portion of bacon. And I just ate a carrot. Anyway, enjoy the video:

Venturing into Candies and the Smell of Christmas Things

Today I venture into the high-risk pool of Holiday candy production. Sure, I may be on a diet, but one does not turn ones back on tradition, especially with children in the house. They must know the ways and virtues of the Candied Orange Peel dipped in milk chocolate. And besides, they make fine gifts.

Christmastime is a time of smells and snow. We barely have the snow right now, which is a strange thing in Michigan. So we'll need to go extra-heavy on the smells and create that humid food-preparation environment Grandma used to have going on every time we'd enter her house on any special occasion.

I've got a cabinet full of the spices. I've got the savory spices in one cabinet and the sweet/halloween spices in the other. Strange that synesthasia and spices are so Month-oriented:

In October the smell of cinnamon and clove conjurs memories of Witches brew and pumpkin breads, and watching Young Frankenstein on television.

In December the smell cinnamon and clove awakens memories of raisin breads, raisin sauce, spiced ham and that strange cheese, bread, egg thing at Grandma's house with my family, and those flying-saucer type tree orniments I used to love to pull off the tree and fly around the house.

Anyway, the point is, smell is important. And I want my two little boys to have that smell-memory activated and associated with pleasant home memories when they smell holiday spices.

And so, today, we make candies.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Help! The's TAKING OVER my MIND!!!

That's it. I've hit a wall. This is where the struggle begins. Where the Fatness starts to fight back.

Any suggestions are welcome....The fat, it has a mind of its own. It's taking control! It was but sleeping these past couple months while I mounted an assault on it. I admit, I got a bit cocky. Started to think "Well this isn't SO bad. This is going to be EASY."

I was a fool.

Something has happened. Somehow, after weeks of acclimating myself to sane and healthy portion sizes and food choices the fat is now brainwashing me. It's playing with my mind! Without noticing it, without even being able to point to a single individual slip up my calorie intake has started to rise....

Once is an event. Twice is a pattern:

I need to nip this in the bud. But I fear doubling down on food intake won't work. The Fatness is clever. It's wily. I need to out-smart the Fatness.

I've chisled about 20 pounds away from its empire and now it's pissed. This is where the struggle begins. Where the Fatness starts to fight back.

I think step one is to not eat out. At all. Maybe step two is going to be getting more munching veggies and have them on hand in case the fatness reaches for them. And breakfast. I need to be sure to eat a decent breakfast every morning.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

My pants, my pants, my pants are falling down.

Good god it's been a busy week-and-a-half. Scrambling around...doing this, doing that. Much doing. Haven't had time for the pithy commentary I prefer to do.

But I do have some good news to report: my pants are falling down. Repeat, pants falling down.

This morning I was scrambling to get ready for a meeting, and was met with this loose pants business, and grabbed a belt just before I flew out the door. As I put it on on my way to the car, I found the belt did not have holes enough to make the belt snug. So I went to the meeting with loose pants. One of the hazzards of losing weight, eh?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Seeking post-binge dieting suggestions.


I'm looking for good ways to avoid stress, or at least avoid eating while being stressed. If you've got suggestions I'm all ears.

I've been out. Busy. Stressed. Here, look, I have a graphic of my caloic intake. Let's see if you can guess the day before a deadline:

Go ahead. Guess.

Give up, its the red one. As I've mentioned before. Anyway, if you have some post-binge diest suuggestions, I'm allears.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dieticians Confuse Me

The world of health and dieting as a sub culture is very very, very very, very very very, very, very very, VERY, very very VERY VERY strange. I admit I'm having trouble adjusting or relating to it. There's all this crazy stuff packaged with the simple mathematical concept that: if your body uses X calories to survive and move around and you eat X+ you'll gain weight, but if you eat X- you'll lose weight.

Eat less, exercise more.

Easy concept.

I can even wrap my mind around the concept of eating regular food instead of, say, Pop Tarts. Or an even better concept, eat food instead of nutrients. Forget about Vitamin A and Phenolyuekariotc-spinonza-braunschwager 3 and just eat a Tomato, already. EASY.

But what I don't get is stuff like this: gluten. And by gluten I mean the protein found in things like bread and a bowl of otameal. Oatmeal! And now the folks advocating eating FOOD instead of nutriets are going back to confusing the issue and saying "DEAR GOD! We didn't mean eat THAT!"

Now...Some folks, they can't eat gluten. Messes their insides up something fierce. Celiac diseaes. Awful. Those folks should not eat gluten.

But oatmeal. Bread! The foods of civilization? The product of the easily cultivated foods that lifted us from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle where we died at the age of 43 and as many women died in child birth as not.....bread? We should avoid bread?

I can't get behind that. Donuts maybe. MAYBE. But only barely.

I'd always understood this simple thing: Bacon will stop your heart immediately, oatmeal will cleanse your arteries.

Then in strides the modern dietician suggesting exactly the opposite.

Who ya gonna believe?

Well I'll show them! I'm...I'm....I'm...I'm gonna eat a whole plate of bacon and we'll see whose heart stops first!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I've Switched My Breakfasts to Spicy Hot, Butter Drenched Veggies

Okay, so I've switched up my breakfasts quite a bit. Insted of toast and some eggs and some sausage, or instead of a bowl of cereal, both of which are about 500 calories, I've been eating a massive pile of pan fried vetables in the morning.

I know. It sounds like hell, right? But god help me if I'm not actually enjoying it. Each morning I look forward to breakfast now. I think I may be channeling the ghost of my 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Powers, who seemed singularly obsessed with teaching nutrition. Either that or the only time I paid any attention to her is when she was holding food in front of the class. If I recall there was quite a bit of hyping up of and eating of popcorn as an example of a healthy snack.

Anyway...back to the veggie breakfast...the cool thing is, I have a tremendous pile of food on my plate and have to refrigerate half of it because I can't possibly eat that much. So that's a nice change. I like when my brain is not locked in an epic battle with my stomach, both of us struggling for control of my hands as it reaches for and pulls back from a bag of cheetos, then reaches again. So there's that. Being full really helps with the brain/stomach armistice.

Ultimately when I'm done calculating how many calories are in my newfangled breakfast it amounts to about 112 calories. Not bad. 224 if I eat the whole massive, heaping pile of veggies.

So there's the choice between a 500 calorie breakfast that isn't particularly filling to a 200 calorie breakfast that stuffs you so full you don't feel like eating for the rest of the morning or most of the afternoon. It's really not much a a brainer. That is to say, it's a no-brainer.

Okay, okay...I think I'm at an advantage because I genuinely enjoy cabbage. I really do.

But for the folks out there who are reeling in horror and disgust at eating a heaping pile of pan fried veggies in the morning, I have three suggestions:

1. Butter. Lots and lots of delicious butter. Fry the veggies in butter. Let's say you use a whole tablespoon of butter. That's 100 calories right there by itself and you're only adding about 150 more calories to it with tons of veggies.

2. Cultivate a love of hot peppers. Make the food SPICY. Somehow, for me, it makes the food something I look forward to as much as salt, fat, carbs or anything else might. If not more. Except it's not going to load the foods up with calories. In just a couple weeks I've kind of become a fiend for the hot peppers.

3. Eggs. Add a couple eggs to the veggies. It helps to drop a fried sunny-side-up or two on top of the pile of veggies. Something with a little more fat and protein. Mmmm...and it doesn't really add that much more in the way of calories. You're still looking at a very filling 350 calorie breakfast instead of a 500 calorie breakfast, and that's good.'s how I do it. I usually start with cabbage. Cabbage is relatively cheap as vegetables go: about $1 to $2 for a large head of cabbage. Cheaper if you can get them on sale. If they're on sale, I buy a lot...cuz you can preserve it just about forever in the fridge or even out of the fridge.

Alright, so I slice off a large chunk of cabbage, about 1 or 2 cups worth, and shred it into thin pieces. That's about 22 calories per cup. Not bad.

I drop maybe a half a tablespoon of butter onto a hot pan and drop the cabbage in and let it sit there and let it fry until it's soft and nice and brown on one side.

That's when you add in some jalapenos which can be had for 50 cents for a half dozen of 'em at the store. I also add hot sauce or salsa. It's fantastic.

I like to add some onions if I have 'em. Mixed greens if I have 'em. I always, always have canned of pickled beets on hand so I add a few or those.

Peas. Canned peas give the veggies a bit more of a meaty tone to it. So I like to add peas.

But anyway, just throw a bunch of veggies into the pan and fry those up until they're soft.

And that's it. When they're soft, put 'em on a plate and eat it. Sometimes I add the sunny side up eggs, sometimes not.

I know, it sounds weird. But I actually look forward to these breakfasts.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Professor with MS Goes from Deterioration to Active Lifestyle by Eating a Paleo Diet

Here's a neat video from the TEDx Iowa City. A professor who went from a state of bed ridden deterioration from Multiple Sclerosis to an an active lifestyle in a matter of months just by changing her diet. If nothing else it's a pretty sound tesimonial about why you should eat healthier. For those into the whole paleo thing, this is some fascinating stuff.

My only two gripes:

1. I'm not giving up my dairy products and

2. Eating organ meats once a week...why, that's a load of tripe.

Anyway, enjoy.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Shoot the Messenger, Get a Better Scale

Okay, now that I've cooked myself up a high spice breakfast and I'm sitting down I'm going to vent some of my frustrations...namely that:

1. My scale is a piece of crap and
2. My weight loss has slowed

Now, I know what you're going to say about this scale thing. You're going to say what my wife says: that I'm just upset at the scale because it's not showing me what I want to see. And, okay, yes. But our scale is more of a ballpark figure scale. For example, my scale will tell me I'm 135 before a shower and might tell me I'm 149 after.

I don't think i use 14 pounds of soap. Or maybe I'm a lot more absorbent than I realize. I should try drinking water like Mork some time to see if...what? I said Mork.


That's right, I made a Mork and Mindy reference RIGHT here in 2011. Deal with it (for the kiddies, I've included a reference at the bottom)

Anyway, the moral of the story is, get a good scale if you plan to be obsessing about weight loss for any length of time.

In other news, I think I need to start setting shorter term goals. Sure, my goal is to lose 50 pounds over the next year. And maybe that's a bit too distant to really keep up the enthusiasm.

Maybe I should start set the goal of losing 4 pounds by the end of December. That's a 14,000 calorie deficit over the next 24 days. Totally doable.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Become a Hot Pepper Fiend - Forget the Weight Loss Benefits, It's DELICIOUS

Now here's a nice change of pace. Ever since experimenting with spicy foods as a weight loss help, I've really stopped caring one way or another if it's good for weight loss because it's SO GOOD. Why haven't I been eating like this before? Hot peppers are FANTASTIC.

For the first couple of days I had to psyche myself up to put jalapenos and other peppers on my food. But now I pile it on with gusto. GUSTO.

So far I can't much vouche for the weight loss benefits of capsaicin (peppers)...but holy smokes is it good once you get over the initial hump of having your mouth be on fire. And I even seem to be choosing spicey food over salty or high fat foods by choice rather than discipline.

As a side note, the same pals who recommended eating hot foods came over with some spicy asparagus spears their relatives canned. BEST pickled food I've eaten IN MY LIFE. Transcendent. And very spicy. With occasional hints of lime or cardamom, or garlic...

This hot foods thing is a whole new world. Plus there's some evidence it helps lower blood pressure.

And now, who else, the Red Hot Chili Peppers...

Friday, December 2, 2011

How To Fill Your Days with Negative Energy (that's a good thing)




Oh, hello! I see you've caught me meditating.

No! Wait! I said MEDITATING. Geeze.

Anyway. I have learned the importance of calm as a powerful dietary suppliment. It's pretty astonishing really. Regard the following graph so I can illustrate how meditation and calm can help fill your days with Negative Energy.

Hmmm...that sounded bad. Negative Energy Balance is a technical term for using more calories than you take in. It's a good thing.

This is a graph of my day to day calorie intake. Each bar represents a new day. The green ones going down are days I used more calories than I took in (Weight Loss) and the red ones...those are days I took in more calories than I used (weight gain).

Overall I'm doing pretty good. My weight is steadily declining...slowly, slowly, slowly. But it's going down. And that's good.

I've circled, in purple, a specific day. That red day. That day I took in quite a few more calories than I burned. Here's the interesting thing...that's the day I had a pressing deadline and a gagillion things I needed to get done. The kids weren't being terribly cooperative. People were calling to pile on more tasks for the day.

That was a stressful day. The thing is, I don't precisely remember eating more that day. It just turns out that I did.

A few diaries back I showed some research about how the analytical part of our brains can be easily overloaded, and when that happens, the salt-fat-sugar-hungry id part of the brain is no longer kept in check. It literally takes over, like some Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde sort of thing...or like a Cheeto crazed Incredible Hulk/David Banner sort of thing.

The research I talked about merely had test subjects memorizing numbers, and showed that JUST that task made people statistically MORE likely to choose chocolate cake over a fruit up

Now imagine if you have a million things to do over the course of a day and you're stressing out like crazy. A million little things to worry about. If your analytical mind is busy enumerating a To Do list and worrying about a set of crisies, your id is going to sneak a few bags of Swiss Cake Rolls while the super-ego is flailing around.

Weird, right?

I have found that it helps to relieve the mind of the To-Do list. Instead, I write things down. I try to get that crap out of my head. The moment I start listing off in my head all the things I need to do, I try to get it written down as soon as possible. That includes if I'm trying to remember what I ate during the day.

Get it out of your head. Clear the mind. That's why some caveman invented paper and a ball point pen.

And just as important....relax. Breathe. I'm sure I'll be talking more specifically about calm over time. It's something I stuggle to maintain.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Mouth is on Fire...but apparently there's truth to hot peppers being helpful for dieting

With the rumbling cacophony that is the sound of boys in the background, some pals mentioned to me that I should try to Eat More Hot Peppers to help with my Mission to Lose 50 Pounds. WAS at a child's 7th birthday party...and it WAS pretty loud, so it's possible I misheard them. It's possible my friend's said I should Skip More Fat Suppers, or Beat Floor Pot Schleppers, or Gleep Blore Zot Pebblers. But I'm PRETTY sure they said "Eat More Hot Peppers."

Anyway, they're fit, trim folks and their opinion is generally valuable to me, so I figured it was worth looking up and giving it a try. I'm talking about the Eating More Hot Peppers thing. I'm not even sure how I'd start Gleeping Blore Zot Pebblers.

So I hit Google Scholar and gosh darnit if there isn't some bit of truth to it. Capsaisin, the main hot-making component of hot peppers does, in fact, seem to help with weight loss:

Here's a scientific study: Effects of Capsaicin on Abdominal Fat an Serum Free-Fatty Acids in Exercise Trained Rats.

These results show that under conditions of pair feeding and exercise training, capsaicin intake induces a significant negative energy balance after only one week of treatment. This is associated with an increase in circulating free-fatty acids which is mediated by beta-adrenergic

"Negative Energy Balance" I had to look that one up. It means "burning fat". More techniclly it's when you use MORE energy than you take in, forcing your body to use some cases... vast stores of fat.

Of course...note in the aboce quote you can't JUST eat capsaicin and hot peppers to get thin. The study included exercise AND capsaicin (hot peppers).

It's never good to rely on just one study. But there are quite a few others confirming similar findings.

Here's another scientific study: Administration of Capsiate, a Non-Pungent Capsaicin Analog, Promotes Energy Metabolism and Suppresses Body Fat Accumulation in Mice

These results suggest that capsiate promotes energy metabolism and suppresses
body fat accumulation as does capsaicin.

So that's cool, eh? Maybe there's something to this capsaicin thing. I guess we'll find out.

Now I'm putting hot peppers into my eggs in the morning and munching on these pickled peppers I canned in 2010 but never had anything to use them for. Consider it a science experiment. A very painful....PAINFUL science experiment. My mouth is on fire half the day. I hear you get used to it.

Anyway, hot peppers. Give it a shot.

Picture Attributions:
Photo 1 by Photosteve101
Photo 2 by krossbow

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Self Defeating Irony of Counting Calories

So there was this study where folks who had a simple task of holding seven digit set of numbers in their mind were significantly more likely to make high calorie food choices. Once you read the study, you'll see why it's a good idea to write down what you eat if you're counting calories instead of trying to hold the info in your head.

Researchers split graduate students into two groups..."One group was given a two-digit number to remember, while the second group was given a seven-digit number. Then they were told to walk down the hall, where they were presented with two different snack options: a slice of chocolate cake or a bowl of fruit salad."

"Here's where the results get weird. The students with seven digits to remember were nearly twice as likely to choose the cake as students given two digits. The reason, according to Professor Shiv, is that those extra numbers took up valuable space in the brain — they were a "cognitive load" — making it that much harder to resist a decadent dessert. In other words, willpower is so weak, and the prefrontal cortex is so overtaxed, that all it takes is five extra bits of information before the brain starts to give in to temptation."

As it turns out, the rational part of our brain that says "GAH! Wait! Don't eat that piece of pizza! You've already had five slices!" gets distracted pretty easily. For example, if you hand it 7 digits to remember, it's too busy juggling those numbers around so the Id takes over and heads right for the chocolate cake.

Seven digits is enough to shut down the rational part of the brain that controls your impulses.

Now imagine you're on a diet that explicitly requires you to hold numbers in your counting calories. Seems pretty self defeating in light of this research, eh?

This is exactly why I've started writing down what I eat as soon as possible, either on paper or somewhere online. I want to get those numbers out of my head and recorded somewhere as soon as possible.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Oh My Sweet-Sweet Beer, Why Must You Betray Me?

Eeeech....what a mess.

I had forgotten about leftovers and visiting family and beer. The beer, even the whiskey, tears right through the calories. I had anticipated doing great yesterday, dietwise, but I didn't. Nor did I do great on Thanksgiving. Nor did I do great the day before Thanksgiving. Three days in a row of adding to what I worked so hard to subtract.

Addition is so much easier. Especially when you're a fan of beer, like me. I do enjoy the beer. That's probably how I got into this big fat situation in the first place. Mmmm....beeer.....

But alas...I just need to keep reminding myself that beer and any alcoholic beverage is, by nature, horrible for the diet.

Basically one of those airplane sized bottles of hard liquor is a bit over 100 calories more or less depending on the type of booze. It's slightly larger than a "jigger" or a 1.5 oz shot. But those tiny things are a bit easier to envision if you've ever encountered one. They're tiny. But they pack about 120 calories.

There are those who are going to suggest that there are "diet friendly" booze choices: some say wine, some say low carb beer, some say hard liquor is the way to go, but hidden deep within any of these choices is the cold hard fact that pure alcohol is crazy-high in calories. And there's no getting around it. It's like saying there are "diet friendly" chocolate bars or "diet friendly" hollandaise sauce. It doesn't really exist. Not really.

Pure alcohol contains 150 calories per oz. If you're having trouble envisioning 1 oz, it's basically 2 tablespoons.

Incidentally, we're talking more calories than pure sugar:

Calories Per Tablespoon of sugar: 45
Calories Per Tablespoon of pure alcohol: 75

That's nuts.

So....**sigh**....moderation and all that. A hard concept during the holidays when playing Apples to Apples or Uno late into the night with family.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Day After Mean Thanksgiving Day.

Yesterday being Thanksgiving and all, I gave a lot of thanks. And by "Giving Thanks" I mean I "Crammed Food Into My Face." I gave thanks all afternoon and into the evening. I'm not exactly sure how much thanks I gave, but I know that at one point my tummy felt as hard as a rock, and not from my bulging abs (which I don't have) but from being crammed with turkey.

My brother and I sat around thinking up alternative names for Thanksgiving that more accurately reflected the nature of the holiday:

"ThanksFeasting Day"
"FoodEating Day"
"FatGiving Day"

FoodEating Day brought to you by Stove Top.

I don't regret a bit of it. I didn't even bother recording the food I ate into my usual calorie counter. I just ignored it. It's a single black void in my month long consistent streak of tracking every food item that goes into gut. And that's okay.

My first impulse today, being the day after Thanksgiving, was to have a day of fasting. But that seems a bit on the silly side. I'm trying to establish a routine, healthy eating habit that I can live with for the rest of my life. Not some Frankenstein diet hell bent on punishing myself for having a single day of gluttony.

So today I'm back to trying to establish a normal, healthy eating habit with sane portions. Sane portions is the key, I think. I'm trying to teach myself what sane portions are.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Stick to Workouts You Like: Such As Attacking Things With an Axe

I hear it's important to find an exercise plan that you actually enjoy and that's why I've given up running.

I can't stand it.

The whole world of weight loss seems somehow festooned with self deceit. Convincing yourself you enjoy rice cakes. Convincing yourself that fat free dairy is actually food. Convincing yourself that tomorrow you'll do that super-healthy thing, or stop doing that horribly unhealthy thing.

I seem to have an easier time with it when I stop with the lies. And one of the lies I told myself was that I was going to become one of those running guys. For the longest time I told myself I was going to become a running guy. I'd get up at the ass crack of dawn, put on my Speedos and running shoes and I'd run around the neighborhood waving, all grins, at my neighbors. All summer long I planned to become that guy.

It never happened.


Because I HATE running. I HATE it.

It's not the exercise. It's the running.

Do you know what I like? Like splitting wood. I love it. I love to beat the crap out of massive logs with a maul, and hear that satisfying crack as the massive stump finally gives in, the high pitched pop as the smaller segments fly apart. I love bearing down on oak and beech with as much force as I can muster.


Yessir...There really is nothing more satisfying or stress relieving to me than attacking things with an axe.

I hope the FBI doesn't take that out of context.

Plus, chopping wood burns about 600+ calories per hour. And stacking and carrying it takes up about 500+ calories per hour. Not sure how many calories cutting up logs with a chainsaw is, but dang that chainsaw is heavy.

The point is....when you're working out, stick to the stuff you enjoy. Or you'll never do it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Oh the Wisdom of Yoda: "Do or Do Not, There Is No Try"

This morning I'm feeling weary of counting calories. WEARY.

As I put some of my homemade bread into the toaster, I dreaded for some reason going to my computer to tabulate the caloies........what?

Why YES, I DID day "homemade bread"! Why do you ask?

Oh it's very delicious. What the recipe, you ask?

Well, perhaps if you guys are REALLY GOOD, some day I MAY share with you my GLORIOUS bread recipe.

But where was I? Something about calories?

Oh yeah, I'm getting weary of counting calories. I think what's going on is I want to eat without contemplation. I just want to enjoy the food without reducing it to contemplation of energy in and energy out.

This could very easily be where I slack off. Where I say "Oh geeze, one day won't hurt." And one day turns to two. And two turns to a week...all the while I feel like I'll get back into it. Get back to keeping track until the idea is far in the distance.

I could think about how I'm tired of being fat, and there are two swirling blue portals in front of me. I can pick to enter the portal where I continue on as I have, or I can pick to enter the portal where I could actually lose weight and be done with it.

The second one is really what I want. I'm SICK of TRYING to lose weight. I'm sick of feeling heavy and tired. I don't want to TRY.

It's times like these I seek the advice of Master Yoda Do or Do Not.

There is no try. I know what I need to do. I know that if I keep counting calories, get myself acquainted with healthy portions, and keep going, I will succeed. I need to do it, or not.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The trickery of water weight and the hard second month of weight loss

So yesterday I weighed myself and was pleasantly surprised.

I had lost 15 pounds. In just 25 days!


Flattering, but it's impossible I lost 15 pounds of fat. By my own calculations I should have lost between 5 to 8 pounds (of fat). NO WAY did I blow through 2100 calories per day for 25 days. I would have had to have been fasting on an orbital machine to lose that much fat so fast.

That sill leaves an extra 7 pounds unaccounted for -- this is where we enter the murky world of water weight and the false sense that SUPERFAST weight loss is something that can be maintained over a long period of time.

Here's an interesting article on the subject.

During the first few weeks of weight loss due to dieting, a rapid drop in pounds is normal according to the Mayo Clinic. When you reduce your caloric intake, your body gets its needed energy by releasing and utilizing its stores of glycogen, which is a type of carbohydrate found in the muscles and the liver. Glycogen holds onto water, so when glycogen is used and burned up for energy, it also releases the water it holds onto. This is about 4 grams for every gram of glycogen. This results in the initial "water weight" loss that accompanies early weight loss from dieting and calorie restriction.'s what I'm afraid of. I've been here before. I've lost weight super-fast in the first month, then hit a brick wall and got discouraged at how slowly or not-at-all I was losing weight compared to my first month...then I went back to eating fried butter smothered in maple syrup with a side of beer sauce. The end.

So if you're out there and you're reading this, I want YOU to know and I especially want ME to know...that sustaining such a rapid pace of weight loss is just NOT going to happen unless you're into some really unhealthy eating disorder mojo.

There's a LOT of weight in water: 8.3 pounds in a gallon. Even if you're losing a cup of water per day due to water weight, you'll drop 8.3 pounds in just 16 days. 8.3 pounds of pure water.

It's a good sign. Don't get me wrong. It means we're on the right track and doing the right things. But we simply can't sustain that rate of weight loss.

So, you aware of it, be ready for it, and be ready for the next month to be much more slow going. I'm trying to psych myself up to be prepared for it, too.

Did the Gym Yesterday. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.

I managed to go to the gym yesterday where I did, in fact, work my pecs. RRRR!

The horrible irony: now I can barely lift anything. I feel stronger while being almost incapable of lifting a cup of coffee to my face.

That's okay. I used to be an avid gym goer. I know for a fact my body will get over the shock of having to do...*gasp*

Ow. Ow. I'm hoping the statement "No Pain, No Gain" is not true. I'm not trying to gain. I'm trying to lose.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Morning - Thoughts on GETTING RIPPED

Like every morning when I'm awake and alert and not hung over I wake with enthusiasm:

"I'm going to eat a healthy breakfast of celery and carrots and then I'm going to the GYM! I'm going to work my PECS....RRRRRRRRRRR!!! YEAH! My PECS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ROAR! I'm going to work my triceps and biceps and my monoceps and quintupleceps. ALL my ceps will be WORKED and I'll be RIPPED!!!"

And that briefly sounds awesome when I wake up in sort of a vague, I'll do it some time later today, sort of way.

But then I think "Ah geeze, I WOULD get ripped and stuff but I have to go to my son's student conferences." and "Oh yeah! I have that deadline I need to meet"

And little by little the day gets chipped away with responsibilities and excuses. This happens every day and by the end of the year I've never gotten ripped, and only spent a slight one nighter, or brief two-week fling with the gym. likely no exception. I'm all prepared to get RIPPED today. But I actually do have student conferences to go to, and I actually do have to pick my son up from school early, and I actually do have a deadline I need to meet....and gosh the gym seems so far away.

But maybe....

Maybe I'll just do it. I'll just DO it and see if my world collapses in on itself like I imagine it will. I'll get this tiny boy dressed, take him to his pre-school, and head to the gym to get RIPPED.

By the way...I work from home. I do web stuff, and I write stuff. This type of going to the gym is probably a quadrillion times harder for people who can't make the decision just to go but have to work around a job or two or three...a commute or two or three...and then getting home to have to make dinner for the kids, read them stories, pay attention to them, make sure they're not falling behind at schoolstuffs or suffering any type of drama-drama.

Exercise is hard. Formal exercise at least.

There are things like walks if you're in a safe or convenient neighborhood for it. There's also, and I'm not kidding about this: fidgeting. It's true. Be a fidgeter if you can't do anything else. I've got that part down. I fidget. And fidgeters burn more calories

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Losing Weight

I've been counting calories for about three and a half weeks now using this free site:

Everything I eat, drink, breathe is entered in there. Every tiny amount of exercise I do is entered into there.

It's worked so far. But then again so have all the other times I've decided to get down to a more healthy, long term weight. I lose ten to fifteen pounds and then I get abducted by aliens or something and wake up with all my weight back, plus a few more extra pounds as a warning from my body or from alien life forms that I should never, ever try to lose weight again.

I'm pretty sure that's how it happens.

And like any alien conspiracy theorist or bigfoot hunter, I'm going to record the actual point at which I lose control of my weight loss and spiral into stuffing my face with cheeze puffs and beer night and day until I've gained everything back.

If I write about it every day, I'll be able catch the exact moment my body is overtaken by gremlins or demonic possession. And maybe you will too.

Stay tuned. Or better yet...lose some weight with me.