Temptation

I love how so many people recommend that you clear the house of all your chips, cookies, cakes, etc. as part of starting a low carb lifestyle.

Not all of us have that luxury.

My thin wife and my thin daughter might not be too happy if their goodies suddenly disappeared – in fact, there would be something of a riot. While a person might make a decision to live a certain way, they cannot expect that others are going to join along – it’s unrealistic – and just plain rude.

And even if you do convince them, you suffer from the fact that their commitment might wane before yours – and if you made a goodie-free household a cornerstone of your weight loss success, when they bring in the Yodels, You Are Doomed.

It’s one reason why I’ve always shied away from having a ‘weight-loss buddy’ – you are supposed to be helping each other be strong, but what happens many times is one of the two falls off the wagon and the other follows.

No one can lose weight for you – no matter what strategies work for you, always remember: You are responsible for You – so if you do the buddy thing and your buddy bails, you don’t get dragged down.

Maybe because I’m trying to get into induction, but it sure seems that the number of high-carb goodies has increased in my house. Cakes and candy bars, mini bite pizza bagels for the kid. All sorts of gooey, yummy junk.

What do I do?

I live with it.

Temptation is all around us. It is a waste of energy to try to create a temptation-free zone most times – certainly if you live alone, ditching the chips is a good idea, but there’s a whole world out there full of chips – and unless you are housebound, you will run into them.

I remember people who would want to stop smoking and they would tell their friends not to smoke around them – then when a friend (who didn’t particularly want to stop smoking at that point in time) smoked in from of them, they would start smoking again – and blame the friend.

Stupid idiot – a person like this will never accomplish anything and blame everyone but themselves for their failures. You take personal responsibility for yourself and your actions and you will suddenly acquire enormous power in your life – not just to lose weight, but to do anything.

I know the M&Ms are in the basement – I have some ricotta with Splenda instead. There’s still a slab of strawberry cake in the fridge – I’ll have one of my almond cookie balls with some zero-calorie jelly on it.

Atkins is a great lifestyle because fat can really satisfy you appetite – OK, so you’d rather have the M&Ms – you’d also rather fit in a smaller pair of pants – you can’t have both.

200 – Lost 15lbs in 8 days

Got on the scale two days ago and I’m down to 200 lbs. That’s a 15 lb. loss in 8 days.

Even I find that hard to believe, but it’s true.

While I don’t exactly feel all that great – I’m fighting an ear infection and am taking antibiotics, which I think might be helping to make me feel like crap – along with the diet change – induction does take some getting used to.

I used the Ketostix the other day and got a color-change – so I got into ketosis – the measurable fat-burning aspect of Atkins that I believe makes it an easier diet to follow than other low carb diets – which give no indicator other than your bathroom scale of progress.

As mentioned before, I believe 10 lbs of the 15 is water weight, but my guess is I’ve taken off the remaining 5 lbs as honest-to-goodness fat.

What makes it unbelievable to me is that I wasn’t trying to control my portion – I was eating what I thought was a lot. I’ve found that hunger on Atkins is of a different nature, but as I’m just starting on low carb after a long vacation from it, my initial appetite the first week was higher than what I remember my hunger being when in ketosis long-term – my body is still transitioning, I suppose.

What I did was I went to the store and picked up a number of my low-carb staples. The following is a short list of ingredients that allow me to have a variety and that I like without any cooking. I’ve been rushing around recently and I need to be able to grab something quick that satisifies the urge for high-carb junk – and the temptation was there – my kids were eating pasta and I was drooling – but I toughed it out.

Here’s the list

  • Bologna – yeah, I know – crap food – but at least it’s crap food that I can use as a crutch while I get into the groove. I eat it wrapped with some mustard, maybe with some american cheese, or with lettuce. Or sometimes just plain.
  • American cheese – not the ‘processed cheese food product’ that has to say that because it is not what the government defines as cheese. Not gourmet cuisine in any way, but a comfort food that satisifies.
  • Romaine lettuce hearts – great way to get your veggies – rip off a leaf or three, wash, eat with either of the above foods.
  • Pickles – specifically, Claussen – these pickles, found in the refrigerated section, are the best pickles in my opinion – I love them with cheese and maybe mayo – an odd combo that my Mom used to make for herself when I was a kid. She’d make a sandwich with this and I thought she was nuts until I tried it – then it became a lifelong favorite. (Check out this link for some odd comment on pickles.)
  • Ricotta cheese – whole-milk type only, please. Mix with Splenda for a sweet snack, mix with pasta sauce on a low carb bread as a way to stave off the uge to eat the kid’s pasta. I used an ordinary pasta sauce with the lowest carb count I could find, but I use it sparingly. I also try to use the low carb bread sparingly – I’m actually surprised I got into ketosis eating it – both the sauce and the bread can’t be overdone on induction.
  • Heavy cream – I drink it straight, or mix it with water, ice, and 4C flavored drink mixes (4C uses Splenda – Crystal light doesn’t) for a concoction that resembles a milk shake.
  • Ground beef – staple of the low carb diet for newbies – it is fast and easy – cook up some burgers, store them in the fridge, nuke when you want one, wrap in a lettuce leaf with cheese and some reduced sugar ketchup and you’re all set.
  • Eggs – I’ve made some egg salad and thrown that on top of some pre-washed spring mix of different greens as lunch for the past couple of days.
  • Mayo – a gotta-have in my book – goes well with the cheese and the eggs.
  • Store-bought roast chicken – easy – rip off a piece, eat with mayo or cheese – or both.
  • Pork rinds – gives you something that goes crunch when you eat it – a replacement for chips. I eat them plain, with cream cheese, or salsa.
  • Cream cheese – eat with the pork rinds or add splenda to create a mock cheesecake filling.
  • 4C drink mix – they use Splenda – Nutrasweet stall me so I only use it sparingly as ingredients in foods like jellies and the fiber therapy I take.
  • Sour cream – goes great as a topping for chicken – can also add Splenda to this for a yogurt-like experience
  • Cucumbers – I like them with oil and vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder. They also aren’t bad plain with a little salt.

As I described, I combine these ingredients in a number of ways to give some variety. I couldn’t live on the above forever though – as I said, I’ve been rushing around, so the above list gives me low carb food without real cooking -until I get the chance to cook this weekend – it’s getting me started.

How to Eat Low Carb Without Cooking

As you might have noticed, most of my so-called ‘recipes’ are very simple. While I don’t mind cooking, it is a means to an end, and I usually don’t want to while away the hours cooking – I want to eat. Whenever I see a recipe, I try to remove steps – do I really need 3 pots? Can I skip exotic ingredients that I might use once a year?

This reductionist approach to cooking produces results that, while no one would credit me with being a master chef, are frequently good enough for people to request I make the same thing again. While politeness might have someone say a meal tastes good when it doesn’t, they would never ask you to make it again if they thought the first batch sucked – and I do get request to make some of my recipes again.

Don’t get me wrong – I do like to cook on occasion, and I am particularly impressed with George Stella’s style of low-carb cooking – he adds some techniques in his recipes that make it a bit more fun – and add a gourmet touch to low carb cooking that I have fun with when time allows.

But – I know there are those of you out there – the ‘can’t boil water’ crowd – the ‘bachelor-eating-in-front-of-the-fridge’ person – you’ve been living on fast food, diner food, takeout and frozen entrees that you nuke in the microwave. Your oven has only been used for storage. You never have to clean your stove-top – you’ve never used your stove.

Your idea of ‘real home cooking’ is Boston Market.

You look at even my simple recipes and think: this hill is too steep to climb.

OK – You want to lose weight and feel better, but all you know is the kind of life described above. I don’t think that any sort of pre-packaged food will really allow you to lose weight and keep it off – I’ve known a number of people who went on Nutrisystem and it didn’t seem to do anything except allow them to lose weight in the wallet.

There is the McDonald’s Diet – see the movie Supersize Me for more info – but I don’t recommend it.

Fact is – if you want to lose weight you are going to have to buy and cook food that doesn’t come with microwave instructions – and doesn’t come with a toy.

I think this stops many people in their tracks. They simply don’t know how to feed themselves, and low carb fails, not because they lack the willpower, but they lack the knowledge of a few simple techniques and some creativity in their food choices. I’ve seen the classic Atkins Failure – the person who quickly tires of scrambled eggs, bacon, and burgers – this is the person that Atkins detractors point to as losing weight because their food choices are so limited. They are right, but it’s not because Atkins limits their choices, but they limit their choices.

What follows is my own quirky solution to the problem of what to eat when you aren’t inclined to cook. It may sound odd, and it may not be the stuff that you want to eat, but it’s meant more as food for thought – think of it more as a technique than a meal plan. You will still have to get your stove-top dirty with some regularity, but think of this as training wheels as you work to embrace a new lifestyle – and a new you.

If you grasp the technique and experiment to find what works for you – and invent your own micro-recipes, you can come up with a wide variety of eating choices that prevent you from saying: to hell with it all because if I eat one more scrambled egg, I’m going to puke!

  • Ricotta Dessert – 1 cup of ricotta and 4 packets of Splenda. Mix.
  • Chocolate Ricotta – Take a teaspoon of coca and mix in a cup of ricotta and 4 packets of Splenda.
  • Ricotta with Tomato Sauce on Toast – Smear ricotta on a piece of toasted low carb bread, put a low carb tomato sauce on top of that, sprinkle with oregano and basil and red pepper if that’s what you’re into. Nuke for 30 seconds if you like – I don’t.
  • Tomato and American Cheese – 1/2 tomato and 4 slices of cheese. Eat on top of a piece of low carb bread or toast as a open-faced sandwich – or skip the bread and just eat as if you had the bread. Messy, but a great combo if you have good tomatoes in season. Add mayonnaise if you like.
  • Hard-boiled Egg with Mayo – Slice a hard-boiled egg in half and put a spoonful of mayo on each half.
  • Cheese Pizza – A thick slice of mozzarella on low-carb bread, topped with some tomato sauce, oregano, basil, red pepper – pepperoni is great on this, by the way. Nuke for 1 minute or until the cheese melts. Eat with a knife and fork.
  • Sardines with Mayo and Relish -A can of sardines in olive oil (keep the oil), a large tablespoon of mayo and some no-sugar sweet pickle relish. For me, it’s the sweet relish that makes this one a classic. Yeah – sardines do have a certain ‘yuck’ factor for some – try it anyway.
  • Sour Cream and Splenda – Mix a cup with 4 packet of Splenda for a yogurt substitute. Throw in some blueberries if you aren’t doing induction.
  • Tuna Salad – One can of light tuna (albacore has more mercury) in oil (if you can find it), mayo, sweet relish, and some mustard. Eat as-is, as a filling for half of a bell pepper, or on low carb bread.
  • A Packet of Splenda – Yep – just a packet of Splenda. I get some strange looks on this one, but sometimes you just need to ‘cleanse the palate’ with something sweet – a packet of Splenda will work – especially on the run.
  • Half-Pickle Slice with American Cheese – Add some mayo if you like – one of my faves.
  • Romaine Lettuce Leaf Stuffed with Any Low Carb Food – They can substitute for bread to allow you to hold whatever filling you are into. They are classic in low carb lifestyles as a replacement for a bun with a hamburger. Wrap the burger in a leaf or two and you can eat it without a fork. But why not try some cream cheese, american cheese with mayo, slices of chicken breast or ham, or a low carb italian meat sauce, or tuna salad? Even low carb bread can be a problem when you are trying to get into induction – Romaine lettuce is more ‘nutrient dense’ than iceburg lettuce, and you can buy just the hearts in bags of three at your grocery store and you only have to pull off a few leaves and rinse – one minute is all it takes.
  • Block of Tofu with Chopped Scallion, Sesame Oil & Soy sauce – Old chinese snack. Get the tofu in the boxes – lasts way longer than the refrigerated kind. Get it in a chinese market and you’ll pay way less too. This is a good one.

I probably have ar least a dozen more of these quick tricks – they add the variety needed for the long haul and so what if my wife and kid look at me like I’m a lunatic?

205 – The First Things I Notice

I basically lost 10 lbs since I weighed myself on Dec 30. I wrote about losing 10 lbs in 2 days sometime back and afterward wondered if maybe I read my scale wrong.

Nope.

I don’t know if this holds true for other low carbers, but it seems to me that when you’ve trained your body to live low carb, then eat carbs, it just doesn’t know how to properly manage water weight – of course, that’s what the 10 lbs is – water.

For those of you new to low carb, carbohydrates cause your body to retain water – remove the carbs  and you shed it. This happens with most diets, but it’s more like 5 lbs – 10 lbs seems a lot, but it is the second time this has happened to me, so perhaps it’s not a fluke.

Some other things I’ve noticed:

  • I need less sleep. I was used to getting up at 4am – I couldn’t seem to do it anymore – probably the last few months. I wouldn’t hear the alarm – kept thinking the darn thing was broke. It woke me up this morning though. I had found that a combination of low carb and the supplements COQ10, ALA and ALC seemed to allow me to live on 6-hours of sleep rather than 8. The supplements weren’t working – until now – back on low carb.
  • My hunger is changing. In my experience, hunger on a low carb diet is a different experience than when eating carbs. It is subtle and hard to explain, but there’s less of a ‘crazed ravenousness’ – I call it ‘carb-crazed’. Have a bowl of high carb pasta and in an hour I’m inventorying the fridge and cupboard for anything edible. Hunger on low carb is still there – it’s just a milder manifestation.

I know both these things. I’ve written about them in this blog (one I never posted), but as someone once said:

Those who know but do not act, still do not know.

For those curious as to what I’m eating: I made the crock pot chicken listed here (forgot the chicken broth – came out fine), had some cream cheese with Splenda, american cheese with slices of store-cooked chicken, lettuce and mayo, my almond cookie balls with some zero calorie jelly, and some stray blueberries.

I watched my family eat cake, fried rice, and other goodies with some wistfulness but no feelings of deprivation.

They can do it – I can’t. It is what it is.

215 – And Following My Own Advice

It’s been fun – really fun. I like food, and for a number of reasons that are really just excuses, I’ve not been eating low carb and put on a considerable amount of weight – my ideal weight is 175 and I’m now 215 – that’s 40 lbs of fun.

Along the way on this road of not following my own advice about eating low carb and getting fat, I’ve had my heartburn return full force and have been sick with a head cold and a chest cold for over a month. I never got sick when I did low carb – now I can’t shake this cold.

And on top of this, a person who eats in a low carb fashion while still eating carbs sets themselves up for the high cholesterol that can give you that heart attack that people who don’t follow low carb think we’re all in for – it’s the combo of the carbs and the fat that does it. Lay off the carbs and my bloodwork is fine – I’ll bet you it’s a Godawful mess right now. I know my blood pressure is through the roof.

I have again proved to myself that low carb is the only way for me to maintain my health because I certainly proved that not following low carb doesn’t work for me.

So December 31 – with my vacation over, I started low carb again. I chose not to make New Years’ resolution (nobody follows them) so I made a December 31 resolution instead.

I went out with the family to PF Changs and had the ribs and the Shanghai cucumber – less than 20 grams of net carbs. Skipped dessert, went home, watched the ball drop and went to bed.

So here I am – 40 lbs over my goal weight and now I’m going to go back and reread my own advice. I think I had a number of good points – and now I’ll put them to the test.

If my credibility is ruined for you folks that do read this, there are plenty of other sources of info out there for low carb living. Thanks for stopping by.

For those of you that are curious, I’ll be posting my progress – I’m interested myself to see if I can pull this off again. Am I a one-trick pony? Is low carb bullshit  – and I’m just another example?

We’ll see…