Designing a New Weight Loss Program

Doing this blog has led me to believe that there is a need for a new weight loss program. It uses the Atkins program as it’s core, but expands on areas I think are critical to people having success losing weight and, even more importantly, being happier.

I mean, most of us ultimately want to lose weight because we want to be happier, right? And when we get down to it, we believe that losing weight will make us happy.

Let me tell you from experience: losing weight will not make you happy.

You make yourself happy.

If you want to lose weight, you are onto something, something bigger than just weight loss. If you are reading this, you have the desire and are willing to expend some energy to achieve this goal.

What if you were to take this desire and energy and leverage it across all the areas of your life to achieve not only weight loss, but almost anything you could ever hope to achieve?

What I’m talking about is a program that takes the goal of losing weight and uses that as a basis for change in every other area of your life.

I originally started this blog as a place to keep my recipes on line so that could get them from anywhere.

I then started going through writings I had been keeping on low carb since 2003 and began posting some of those observations, as well as new ones.

But it’s all a jumble of articles without a linear progression.

What I would like to do is put together a book online for people who want to lose weight and be happy. You see, I believe that every diet book looks at the problem of weight loss as somehow separate from our lives – yet while we are dieters, we are also husbands, wives, friends, lovers, bill payers, citizens, church members, dog walkers, employees, students, etc., etc., etc.

Diets fail because they don’t integrate well into people’s lives. Atkins has been called ‘a rich man’s diet’ – he mentions lobster drenched in butter in describing the joys of his diet, but lobster is not on my shopping list. Maybe Atkins could afford it, but I can’t. Other approaches and other books suffer the same flaw – they don’t approach weight loss with you as a person living in the real world.

Diets also fail because they don’t leverage your energy. We only have a finite amount of energy to do what we have to do every day – the planned items as well as the unanticipated hassles that spring up. Some diets don’t seem to take this into account, Atkins, almost in a throwaway line in his book says: don’t drink coffee.

Wait a second – I want to lose weight, not stop drinking coffee! I don’t know if I can muster the strength to change my eating habits and give up coffee at the same time. My approach was to drink all the damn coffee I felt like, thank you, and I still lost 80 lbs.

Why would he say that? Because it might prevent weight loss in some people, and he was writing a book for everyone, it was easier to throw out a rule like this.

I learned to cherry-pick from Atkins as well as other sources and find out what I could get away with and what I couldn’t, and designed an approach that worked for me. This took a little longer, but I’m going on my 4th year of keeping the weight off so maybe I’ve hit onto something.

My general approach to this whole thing at the present moment – subject to change at any time – is:

  • Lose weight permanently by tackling the mind game first.
  • Using Atkins as a core, experiment with different aspects to what works best for you.
  • Make changes in your life leveraging your existing personal strengths so you get the maximum effect for the least amount of effort.
  • Using weight loss as the agent of change in other areas of your life.
  • Easing yourself into a new lifestyle focusing on your total health and longevity without feeling deprived.

I’m going to call it: Change Your Weight, Change Your LifeCYWCYL for short. Awful name, I know – I had to call it something.
There seem to be two types of people reading this blog:

  1. People who have designed or are designing their own path. These are the other low carb bloggers who have checked out my blog – or even linked to it, and from what I’ve seen, they are some smart people – explorers trying this and trying that – and I’ve learned a lot from them.
  2. People who would like to lose weight, have just started out, and are looking for good information. Perhaps they’ve heard about low carb, and are trying it out – but they are grasping at straws a bit. They haven’t hit on the right formula for success – for them – yet.

I talked about leverage before. What I mean by leverage is a long bar can be used to move a rock way too heavy for you to move without the long bar.

Both of the two groups of people above can help in designing this new weight loss program – be my lever to help me move this rock.

  1. From the people already succeeding, I would appreciate your comments on my postings. My purpose is to give people the tools to create their own program – there is no one right way to do low carb, or any diet, which is why dieting is such a losing proposition for so many people and most weight loss programs don’t work long-term. You can help ‘keep me honest’ to this.
  2. From the people just starting out – let me know what you think is helpful and what isn’t. For the present, at least, there’s no charge nor advertising for any of this, and while I will be recommending specific products, I have no arrangements with any of these companies – I don’t make a penny off of this blog so if I recommend something, it’s not like I make a buck off of it. All I ask is your feedback.

I am working on the first section now. As I do have a busy life, I can’t guarantee delivery – but your comments and suggestions will help push me along. I see this as a collaboration – an unusual one – but my own success in losing weight depended on the help and insight of so many others, so maybe we can succeed together rather than fail alone.

What do you think?

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Recipe – Wine Cooler

Please note that in my experience, alcohol can be consumed while on Atkins, but it will definitely slow, if not completely stall, your weight loss. Don’t try this on induction – it won’t work. Feel free to prove it to yourself if you like but don’t be suprised when ketosis stops dead.

This recipe calls for a red wine – make it a dry red or white wine as there’s less sugar. Don’t waste your money on the expensive stuff – it would be like throwing ketchup on filet mignon.

  • Seltzer and wine in equal proportions
  • Splenda to taste
  • Ice

Now, this is more a set of guidelines than a recipe – you are trying to recreate a flavor, so more or less of any of these ingredents might be necessary for you to find the exact blend you like.

You might also want to chill the wine and seltzer, minimizing or removing the need for ice in the drink.

8 Things I Do To Lose Weight That You Don’t

One of my big questions is: why did I lose the weight on Atkins when so many others don’t? While I still am trying to find the answer to this, I thought I’d document some of the things that I do that most people probably don’t.

Is it something about these things that helped me lose the weight? I dunno:

  1. I weigh myself every day – They used to say this is bad – then within the last year I saw a study that said it was good. Wait long enough, and a study will come out that agrees with whatever you believe, I guess. Weighing yourself every day puts you more in-touch with your body, alerts you to when things are going horribly wrong before your clothes do, and can be a powerful reminder to watch out for those bagels in the lunchroom.
  2. I weigh myself before dinner – When I come home from work and am changing clothes, I weigh myself. The scale can be quite the appetite suppressant.
  3. I drink up to a pot of coffee a day – or more – Remember, I’m reporting – not recommending. I do this in the morning before work – I infrequently have coffee later in the day. I have drank this much coffee, then had my blood pressure taken – 120/80. Some people with hypertension (like me) don’t increase their blood pressure if they drink coffee regularly – their body acclimates to it. Coffee also contains antioxidants – a lot of them, apparently. coffee affects people very differently – some people shouldn’t use it on low carb and some people shouldn’t use it at all, but it agrees with me.
  4. I take my supplements in the evening, after my dinner – Because I typically have a small breakfast, and coffee will deplete your body of minerals, I take my vitamins with my evening meal – I have heard that many vitamins are better absorbed with food.
  5. I eat most of my calories in the evening – This is considered a disease now – amazing – take a behavior, and give it a name like Nocturnal Caloric Impact Syndrome – NCIS (I just made that up), and now it’s something more than a physiological or behavioral preference. Whatever it is, I probably take most of my calories in the evening, most of the time – most of my life – fat or thin.
  6. I don’t watch TV – Want to be reminded of food? Try this test: take a pad, and in one evening of TV, count how many times you see people eating food, commercials for food, or commercials for diet programs. An impressive number, isn’t it? Atkins helps you take your mind off of food – you don’t need TV to remind you about food that many times.
  7. I don’t follow the news – I used to. I used to be a news junkie. I gave it up and find the world is not that much different – just less depressing. Point is – no one will ever get on the TV and say: “nothing much happened today – let’s show some cartoons.” The way things are structured, if something doesn’t happen, they have to invent something worth showing – news is about ratings – not information. Try it – you won’t find yourself all that uninformed. Why does this matter? More on TV and the news in another post.
  8. I take a fiber supplement every morning – Metamucil, store-brand (I use Costco), or plain Psyllium husks (never tried ’em). Sugar free, of course. The sugar-free varieties use Nutrasweet, but it’s a small amount and doesn’t prevent ketosis in my case. I take 3 or 4 small teaspoons in a half-glass of water every morning – totally ignoring the label. Don’t try taking it dry – you’ll choke. And drink it as fast as possible after mixing – it isn’t a taste sensation to begin with, and it only gets worse as it sits. Why take a fiber supplement? To put it gently, what goes in must come out, and fiber helps in this department – and again, as I said – I’ve used it on induction and it works fine. Also note – using fiber supplements is NOT laxative abuse. Laxatives are unnatural and harsh on your body – this is just ground up seed husks.

Anyone out there have their own ‘unusual’ habits that run counter to the norm but seem to work? Let me know – I’d love to hear them.

Recipe – Tomato Eggplant Parm

Show your vegetarian friends (at least the ovo-lacto vegetarians – the vegans are out of luck) that you can play in their backyard, but they can’t play in yours.

Sounds harder than it is. One tip – don’t drive yourself crazy trying to peel the eggplant entirely, but cut stripes with a vegetable peeler. It prevents the skin from becoming a long, unchewable string, saves time, adds fiber, and looks kinda pretty. For fussier eaters, take off more of the skin.

Oh – you will notice there is no ‘parm’ in my recipe. Feel free to add it – I had ran out – it tasted fine without it. Also feel free to add diced vegetables like squash or green peppers to the sauce mixture.

  • 2 large eggplants cut 1/4″ thick
  • 1 – 28oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 -12oz can diced tomatoes
  • Dried Basil (use the fresh stuff if so inclined)
  • Dried Oregano
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 lb mozzarella, grated
  • 10 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • Olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush the cut eggplant with oil and bake for 20 minutes. While you are waiting for that to cook, mix everything else except the mozzarella and ricotta in a pan and simmer. Add salt, pepper and spices to taste. When the eggplant has been cooked, take some of the sauce and coat the bottom of a baking pan. Cover with the eggplant – try not to overlap. Then more sauce, cover the eggplant and throw on some mozzarella and blob a few tablespoons of ricotta. Repeat with the remaining eggplant, sauce, mozzarella and ricotta. When you get to the last layer, use up whatever you have. Bake this for 45 minutes.

I made a pan of this last week and it was gone in a few days. Everyone ate it. Only negative comment was ‘I would have liked it more with some breadcrumbs’. Ain’t gonna happen. Made great sandwiches (open-faced, on low carb bread).

I plan on making more today – it was so good.

Recipe – World’s Easiest Low Carb Crock Pot Chicken

It doesn’t get any easier than this. Or cheaper.

  • 4 to 5 lbs chicken quarters (I paid $.59/lb – $3.00 total)
  • 1/2 bottle Ken’s Italian Dressing (the 1g carb per serving variety)
  • 1 can chicken broth

In a large crockpot, place the chicken, pour in the can of broth, then cover the chicken with the dressing. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. That’s it.

I added some pepper and a few tablespoons of butter, but it was totally unnecessary in my opinion.

The chicken came out fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy. The chicken can be eaten with the soup as a chicken soup, the meat can be put over a salad, or eaten plain. It’s not ‘finger food’ so use a fork.

Total prep time was 5 minutes. Maybe less. Total cost was maybe $4.00 for a massive amount of chicken.

Who said Atkins is expensive?

UPDATE: A day later and it’s almost gone. Everyone liked this one.

Recipe – Avacado, Onion, and Green Pepper Soup

As I write this, it’s summertime, and of course, with the high temperatures, ones’ thoughts turn to…soup.

Well, maybe not.

But I did come home, and with a lack of ingredients, some half-formed idea for a recipe, and a desire to cook, I came up with the following, which I think has such a great flavor, I would not hesitate feeding this to guests (in a soup-appropriate situation, of course).

For this recipe you need a hand-blender, which is easy to use, easy to clean, and a heck of a lot better than the mess caused by a food processor. I have a motto: Cleanup is part of every project. If a recipe is too complicated to cleanup while you are cooking it – I don’t like to do it.

  • 1 large red onion
  • 1/2 large green pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 12oz. cans chicken broth
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 8 dashes Tabasco sauce

In a deep pot (very important!), place the cut up onion and green pepper in quarters, at least, and brown in oil and butter. I heard that butter adds great flavor and also increases the smoking point of olive oil (whatever that means), so I tried it. This took about 5 minutes. Add 1 can of broth and the avacado.

Now the tricky part – you want to use the hand blender to partly puree the ingredients. A hand blender has a nasty habit of splashing ingredients all over the place – hence the importance of a deep pot. Here’s what I do: take a paper plate and from the edge, cut a line to the center, then cut a hole in the center for the shaft of the hand blender. Sounds complicated but takes less than 10 seconds. Use this as a cover for the pot and proceed to puree. Don’t totally liquify – you want a few chunks.

Add the other 2 cans of broth, simmer for a minute or two and serve.

this resulted in a creamy soup with a lot of flavor. I will definitely make this one again.

UPDATE: This soup works well chilled – ‘chilled’ sounds better than ‘cold straight out of the fridge’, doesn’t it? Serve it to friends and tell them that the recipe is based on one that was served to Louis XVI of France during a state visit by the Czar of Russia in the 1700’s. This is a total fabrication, but who will know? And it helps you to get rid of some cold soup.

Diet Studies Suck

This article from US News and World Report is a great example of why we really don’t know much about what diets work, which don’t, and which are harmful. The problem is outlined here quite nicely and explains why any study you read should be carefully reviewed to find out:

  • Who sponsored it – where the money comes from can alter the science (can you believe it?)
  • Methodology – how was it done? Was it a study where people self-reported information – like they kept a diary – or was there some way to objectively measure the data? Self-reported data is so horrible – people lie, or are just plain wrong, or answer questions to try to fit to the reality they would like to believe rather than the reality that is.
  • How big was the study? If it had a total of 8 people, maybe that’s too small to make any real conclusion.
  • Was it a clinical study or an epidemiological study? The first studies the people directly. The second studies populations. Lots of assumptions are made in population studies. Say that the heart attack rate is lower in Japan than other countries. Then compare the diets and you find they eat more fish. You might conclude that eating fish reduces heart attack. Not so fast. there are a 1000 factors – known and unknown – that might contribute to this. You can try to factor out the knowns using statistics, but you can’t factor out the unknowns – you don’t know what they are.
  • Was the study on animals or people? Animal studies can sometimes be better because you can control what a rat eats – they aren’t keeping a diary – you can measure it. You can also cut them up and take a real hard look at their arteries – gross, but that is what they do. But people are not rats, and while we are genetically close – we are also genetically close to that crazy uncle of ours with the giant ball of tinfoil in the garage who eats Vaseline because he thinks it’s good for his health. So take this rat, and feed him the equivalent of 400 diet sodas a day to compensate for the fact that a rat only lives a few years, watch him get cancer, and make the leap that the stuff will cause cancer in humans. Possible? Yes. A fact? No.

It’s hard to really really know anything, so my advice is to act arrogant and self-righteous when studies come out that support your world-view, and question the science of any and all studies that don’t support your world-view.