The Feeder and the Fed: Losing Weight and Cheating Without Cheating

I have been losing weight as of late – and am wondering why.

In particular, I’m wondering this because of my thinking about writing a book on the topic of weight loss. One thing I’d like to avoid is creating another me-too book that is more of the same. Diet books have been done to death. Low carb books have been done to death. And a lot of these books are good.

So why do so many people fail on them?

I REFUSE to accept that it is a matter of willpower alone. I am as flawed as they come (just ask my wife). There needs to be some effort put to anything new that we might do, but it’s not just a combination of willpower and a diet plan.

There’s something more.

One notion that I am entertaining is that there is a third item – beyond a diet plan that works, and beyond the necessary level of effort, that needs to be respected and not ignored in this. Let’s call this ‘the fed’.

We’ve all lived the scene where in the morning we commit to a diet, and by the afternoon we’ve broken it. What gives? Are we so weak we can’t make it through the day?

I think it’s more complicated than that.

Without getting into psychobabble here, let’s entertain for the sake of argument, that there are two of us going on the diet: the feeder and the fed. You – the person reading this – is the feeder. You choose the diet, the day, and the food.

This other part of you is the Fed – that person sitting with a bib on at the table in front of an empty plate, knife and fork in hand, eagerly waiting for the meal.

You, the feeder, give them some tiny portion, or some over-processed, fake food from the microwave and chirp: “Eat it slowly. Chew your food. Next meal in 4 hours.”

You’ve become your own little restaurant in your head, the waiter and the patron. And you, the waiter, serves up crap.

Problem is, this patron is also you – and they can’t go to another restaurant.

So what does the patron do?

They sneak to the fridge and eat cold leftovers standing up in front of it. And they eat more than they need to just out of spite.

Sound familiar?

Now – what if you changed the dynamic a bit, and instead determined what your patron likes to eat that still fits within your diet plan – perhaps not perfectly, but OK. And also suppose that some of these meals, and impromptu snacks contained food that is most definitely NOT allowed on the diet plan. You would slow down your weight loss for sure – maybe even gain a bit – but you’d have a less frustrated patron at the restaurant in your head.

And what if you did this without guilt or shame, and didn’t waste your time with awful ‘diet versions’ of the things that you love?

I lost 8.2 lbs in the month of August. Not spectacular, but not shabby, either. I’ve lost more in September, though at the beginning of the month I gained a bit. That came off, and a little more. The trend is steadily downward though.

What were some of the things I ate in August? Looking at my chart, during that month I had:

French fries twice, Chicken nuggets twice, 2 peaches, a McDonald’s hamburger, some cake 10 times, fried chicken 3 times, cheese puffs twice, dumplings 3 times, and ice cream once.

Did these things cause my weight to go up? Of course they did! But I would balance this out with my diet foods, which I ate the majority of the time.

What I’ve found is that if you practice this balancing act, you can find a point where you ‘have your cake and eat it too’, do it guilt-free, and when you do binge, it isn’t something to be guilty about – it just means you weren’t properly feeding your patron.

You take it as a lesson of the extent you can push yourself, respect it, and learn to feed this other part of you that makes the both of you more happy.

And what I have personally found is that when eating the things not in my diet plan I can stop myself earlier.

So how about removing the notion of ‘cheating’ entirely from your diet? There is no longer any shame, any guilt to deal with. You apply some effort – yes – and you listen to your body and sometimes give in to its needs. You feed it well with high quality whole foods – not processed crap – that are filling and satisfying and fit your plan. You respect the fact that it gets bored so you have a variety of these.

And you listen to your inner patron when it grabs you by the throat and tells you: “I’ve been good for a while and the scale has been kind. Now, if I don’t get a reasonably-sized slice of cake, somebody is going to get hurt!”

Something of this sort has been working out for me.

What do you think of this?

Save the Crab!

Legal Seafoods is an awfully expensive seafood resturant that I go to maybe once or twice a year. I have to travel over an hour to get there, and usually buy the trout, which is one of the least expensive items on the menu.

Why I do this is because they are one of the best seafood resturants and also are fanatical about the freshness and quality of the seafood they use.

There are very few of these resturants, and typically don’t advertise, but I did find these three commercial spots that are great. They are simple, funny, and most definately offensive. PETA would not approve, but I suppose that PETA members aren’t a large percentage of their customers anyway,  so they said ‘to hell with them’.

These commercials seem to be hard to find on the Internet, and given the potential for people to get their shorts/panties in a twist over them, I don’t know if they will remain available.

If you’ve got a twisted sense of humor, I urge you to check them out.

Kitchen Experiment: Kale & Eggplant Beef Chili

I didn’t hold out high hopes for this one.

You might ask: if that’s the case, why did you do it?’

Just the way I roll, I suppose. I can look a kitchen experiment in the eye and take that chance that what I make might be so bad that, after the time and money spent, it all gets put down the garbage disposal.

Call me a culinary daredevil.

A big part of it might have been the obsession with not wasting food – my parents grew up in the Depression, and their stories of going hungry – and of being late to the table and there being nothing for them to eat until the next day – stuck with me.

Given the current state of affairs in the world today, perhaps remembering these stories is a good thing.

Anywho, Saturday morning presented me with the usual task of trying to come up with something or somethings that I could prepare and eat at least part way through the coming week. It’s tough to cook during the week, and I often get lazy and eat things like deli meat and Spam when stuck between not eating and a plate of pasta the kid didn’t finish.

I did an inventory of our cupboard and found a packet of taco seasoning and 2 cans of green chilies.

So whatever it would be – it will be Mexican.

Next up, I scoured the fridge. 2 aging eggplants forgotten and 2 bunches of kale the wife bought but then abandoned.

Hmmm…sounds like an experiment to me.

  • 2 bunches kale
  • 2 aged mediums-sized eggplants
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 4 onions
  • 4 giant cloves of garlic
  • 1 packet Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

As I’ve mentioned before, I like kale, but only if I’ve reduced it’s kaleness by making chips out of it, or blending it into a green mush as part of a soup. The chips, while good – even awesome – mean tossing the stems, which violates that Depression-era sense of food waste being a sin. So I went the mush route.

I didn’t want a soup though – I wanted something far more substantial.

Into a soup pot went the kale, finely chopped, including the stems. From my kale soup experience, I know that the more chopping now would save work later on. On top of that went 2 onions, chopped in eights. Nothing fancy – they will get blended.

To this I added about a cup of chicken broth as I needed something to get this stuff softer. I let this cook for maybe 15 minutes then hit it with the immersion blender. And hit it again. And again.

I probably spent a good 10 minutes doing my best to turn this stuff into a goo – and succeeded into creating something resembling chopped spinach. I turned the heat off on this one – I was done here.

Next was the – ahem – chili. I say ‘ahem’ because some people have accused me of heresy by calling stuff like this ‘chili’. I don’t want to offend anyone.

In a large skillet, I browned the meat with the garlic in a little bit of olive oil, then threw in the diced eggplant. No, I don’t peel it, nor do I wash it in salt water, put cans on a colander full of the stuff to weigh it down and wait for whatever evil resides within to come out, then wash them again – why???

but I digress. Anyway, next went in the taco mix, then 2 more onions, then the 2 cans of green chilies. Some more oil went on top of all this and I gave it a good stir to mix it all up.

I let this cook for maybe another 20 minutes.

The result was that I was left with 2 pots – one with the – ahem – chili and the other with the kale mush.

In my serving bowl, I mixed them together – maybe 60% kale mush, and 40% – ahem – chili – and put a little salt since there was none except for what was in the taco packet and the broth.

My my – this was WAY better than I expected! The kale went together with the faux-taco-mix-eggplant chili quite nicely. It was gone in a jiffy.

The wife had some of the ‘chili’ and noted that ‘something was missing’ – the salt, most likely. Other family members took the kale mush and had it with rice – because of this, I figured I’ll leave the 2 pots separate so that people can eat what they want to eat. The faux chili would probably go nice with rice as well – if you have non-low carb folks living with you like I do.

I also see potential for the kale mush in the future. It’s a blank slate of a sort. I can see myself mixing it with other stuff.

Not rice, though.

Of course, experimentation aside, and flavor aside, it’s an awfully nutritious and healthy bunch of ingredients, and the carbs contained int it are the type low carbers should be eating.


Book Review: Unwasted by Sacha Scoblic

Note: I tend not to do book reviews because I feel I’m awful at them – and I’d only bother to do a review of a book that I enjoyed and found to be of value. If you agree that this attempt is a hatchet job like I do, I ask you to check out some real reviews, as this work deserves a look. 

I was at my local B&N one lunchtime trying to decompress from a brain-sucking morning at work when I stumbled across this book. I read a few pages and was hooked. As the Kindle version was a few bucks cheaper and reading on the iPhone doesn’t bother me for certain books, I bought it for that and consumed this short book in a few days.

While the book is about giving up alcohol, and dealing with the pitfalls of sobriety in a world where booze ads are everywhere and there’s a bar on every corner, it is also about any decision to go against the flow. The awkwardness that others might have in dealing with us. The awkwardness we might have with ourselves as we leave the comfort of our routines.

And the simple fact that addiction is a bitch – the Uncontrollable that We Must Control.

It reminded me a lot of low carb dieting.

It bothers me that I always feel the outsider – planning for a day where my food choices might not be under my control. Trying to avoid the carbs that set me off. Asking sheepishly what the menu will be. Trying not to be the pain in the ass. Eating ahead of time. Turning down food offered by well-intentioned and sometimes very demanding folks who don’t quite understand.

Then there’s the explanations. The wrinkling of their brow. Their trying to understand – sincerely trying to frame the information so it makes sense to them.

And if they have made sense of it – it’s usually only insofar as to partition you as unlike them. You’re now the Outsider. When dessert is served, they ask: “Can you have this? It’s low in calorie.”

They don’t quite ‘get’ low carb – it’s not their fault – not their deal, really. It’s yours.

And the really awful part of all this? You really WANT what they’re serving. But you say no.

In some ways Sacha has it easier. An alcoholic embraces sobriety by a total abstention of drink. But people on a diet still need to eat – the slippery-slope of no-carb to low-carb to high-carb to eating an entire pint of Hagen Daz is much easier for those of us prone to this.

You might might read her book and say: this isn’t me. She’s a druggie and an alcoholic. She did Ecstasy!

Is your Ecstasy a box of Oreos and a quart of milk?

I give her a lot of credit for writing such an honest and authentic memoir. I didn’t feel sorry for her. It’s obvious she doesn’t want our pity.

She makes a very good point about ‘hitting bottom’. It’s not necessarily the same for all of us. It doesn’t fit a stereotype.

It’s when you’ve decided to stop digging.

This point can apply to alcoholism, obesity, or a dozen other things in our lives we should control – that we tell ourselves: “Tomorrow I’ll do it.”

But don’t.

There is another strong similarity between alcoholism and obesity: you are never ‘cured’ of either.

You don’t stop being prone to obesity because you lose weight any more than you stop being an alcoholic because you don’t drink.

No matter how thin you get, you are only a few months away from gaining it all back.

If you’re here because you’re fat and want to be thin, or trying to stay thin, you should check out this book.

Even if you’ve never had a drink in your life, you’ll relate.


Workout Videos Gone Horribly Wrong: Karatecise

Being a life-long dieter, I’ve researched – and possibly dabbled with – scores of diet and exercise programs.

There’s some doozies out there.

Imagine it’s the 80s.  You decide you’d like to exercise, and you think martial arts are cool.

You think a video named ‘Karatecise Workout’ might be a perfect fit.

Unless your idea of a great workout video includes jumping on broken glass barefoot and adults karate-kicking small children – you’d be wrong.

I didn’t even mention Little Red Riding Hood kicking the big bad wolf in the groin.