Making Your Own Mayonnaise for Cowards – Atkins Induction Day 10 (with 07/05/13 Update)

There’s cooking and there’s cooking.

Throwing some chicken on the grill, over seasoning with a store-bought seasoning mix, then checking that it is cooked enough to avoid salmonella poisoning is cooking of a sort. Throwing everything into a pot and cooking until done is also technically cooking, but ‘cooking’ is a discipline that extends across a continuum from the ham-fisted, knuckle-dragging cooking that I do, through an inspired craft, ending at fine artistry in edibles.

I think cooking is a big part of any success I have had over the years in maintaining my (at the moment) 65 pound weight loss – and I’ve made a number of inspired dishes, though a true gastronomic devotee would be generous in saying that it least there was some creativity and enthusiasm.

But then there’s technique – knowing what your ingredients can do, understanding their properties and the proportions that yield something special – something unexpected. Something rising above mere cooking.

Mayonnaise is one of these things.

Continue reading “Making Your Own Mayonnaise for Cowards – Atkins Induction Day 10 (with 07/05/13 Update)”

The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7

THE LONESOME BREADROLLIt is usually the ‘kiss of death’ for my diet to mention these things, but the above picture is from my lunch at Legal Seafood, which is one hell of a seafood restaurant and should be visited if you ever get the chance – there’s not a lot of them around.

This was the roll for me. The three others were being consumed by my wife and kids while this one sat forlorn.

If I had any interest in appearing to have willpower and projecting upon myself some nobility of character I would tell a story of how my steely will and the dedication to my diet and my goal allowed me to refrain from this fresh roll hot out of the oven sitting in front of me.

That wasn’t the case, however. My character nor willpower played no part in it. There was no heroic struggle involved. It didn’t even appear on my radar. No neural circuits fired with conflicting eat/don’t eat messages.

As mentioned before, it is easy to miss non-events and I was completely oblivious to this thing until my younger daughter asked me to butter her roll for her. Only then did I dimly realize that: “Hey – why aren’t I drooling over this thing sitting in front of me?”

I think it was the ketones. Continue reading “The Lonesome Bread Roll – Atkins Induction – Day 7”

The Skinny on Fats – Without the Gobbledegook

[First, a quick disclaimer: while there’s a chance that I might end up in bankruptcy court because of my habit of obsessively buying books on health, food, and nutrition, reading a lot does not mean I truly understand what I am reading. It was once said that the inherent danger in books is it can create the appearance of knowledge in some – and people not versed in the area might not be able to tell the difference.

Because of this I want you to promise that you will keep this in mind while reading what follows. It’s not meant to be advice for anyone else but myself.

Actually, it’s a gamble. I’ve chosen to take an unorthodox approach to eating based upon what I’ve learned, but this is a personal decision – not an expert opinion.]

The problem with ‘fat’ is it is a gross simplification – and a dangerous one. It’s sort of like thinking every species of fish is the same and handling an interaction with a goldfish the same way you would with a great white shark.

One you might eat on a dare (in college and involving alcohol in the 1920s perhaps) and one might eat you – it’s a very different interaction. Continue reading “The Skinny on Fats – Without the Gobbledegook”

Why I Hate Supplements

It’s Jimmy Moore’s fault.

Not that I hate Jimmy Moore, of course, he’s a nice guy who tirelessly promotes ‘low carb’ with sincerity, honesty, warmth, and graciousness.

I hate that he made me think about supplements again. That’s not his fault, of course – I take full responsibility for what I choose to do.

He contributed to the e-book Fat Fast Cookbook: 50 Easy Recipes to Jump Start Your Low Carb Weight Loss by Dana Carpender. I like the book, and in it Jimmy mentions that he takes 2 tablespoons of the Carlson’s Lemon-flavored Cod Liver Oil to keep his ketones high on the very high-fat ketogenic diet he was on at the time of the book’s publication. (I don’t know if he’s still doing this now.)

I gave up most supplements after reading about the history of contaminated food in the book Swindled. It talked about the ‘chain of trust’ from the source to the consumer and how often that chain of trust just needed to be broken by one unscrupulous supplier. In England in the 19th century, manufacturers used to boil pickles in copper pots to make them bright green – despite the fact that the copper that made the pickles green also made them poisonous – that why copper pots you buy today have the copper on the outside – it should never touch the food. They also used to sell brightly colored candies for children that got their color from red lead. Lead actually tastes sweet, and the Romans used to put it in their wine to correct the flavor. They didn’t know that lead was poisonous – but the 19th century English knew – and still put it in candy for children. This is just two examples from a book that details hundreds of similar frauds – both in England in the early 18th century and the US in the late 19th century. Continue reading “Why I Hate Supplements”

Atkins Induction Day 10 – Ketosis Hits Like a Ton of Bricks

I said yesterday that I went into ketosis and didn’t feel it.

I spoke too soon.

That heaviness hit – and what I would describe as tiredness without sleepiness. This lasted most of the day, though it didn’t impact my performance at work – mind still clear, still solved a few tough problems. I always go to work and ask myself: “Did I deserve that check I get for the work I put in today?” I think I did.

I’m down to 208.0 as I write this. No dramatic weight loss. The water weight loss that strips off a few pounds overnight is over – now it’s just getting into the groove for the long haul.

There are some people I feel comfortable talking about this stuff with at work. Others, I don’t. One colleague knew of my somewhat odd dietary proclivities because, stuck in a long meeting together, I grabbed some lunch of roast beef and butter and ate it as a wrap. He was visibly shaken, as if he had suddenly realized that this guy he had worked with for months was a fucking lunatic.

With some people, I take an approach similar to that Grandpa that pulls out his dentures and chases the frightened children with them. With some people I let my low carb freak flag fly, and this fellow, after the initial revulsion, was somewhat intrigued, in the way one might be if they came across a strange new type of human being.

He asked me: “Does your family know that you eat like this?” The very structure of the sentence conveying the underlying fact that he must think me a harmless crazy person and someone like me, like the Elephant Man, should keep these proclivities hidden from the light of day.

“I’ve been eating like this for nearly a decade.” I said. “They know.”

“Do they ever say anything?”

“Well, my daughter DOES occasionally make a comment like ‘Daddy, that’s a lot of butter.’ when I put almost half a stick on a single piece of low carb bread.”

He said nothing, though his lips drew tight together. He is a decent fellow, and has been brought to be polite and not tell people they are fucking nuts to their face.

I HAVE been eating some decidedly odd things this time around.

If you haven’t noticed, I like experimenting. Lately I have been experimenting with what to eat and have come up with a few good things, some (ahem) interesting things, and a few no-gos.

If anything might dissuade you from reading more on this blog – this might be it.

Yogurt and green tabasco sauce – I had a yogurt and I had the green, milder tabasco sauce. What the hell. Mixed together, it was actually pretty good. I think adding salsa to the mix will be my next trick.

Tablespoon of butter and a packet of splenda – a little bit of sugar – or splenda – makes this pretty tasty. It worked on unsalted butter better than the salted kind, but I liked it on both.

Bacon and Lindt 90% Dark Chocolate – Um, no. This didn’t work at all. I warned you.

‘Milk’ – I had a hankering for milk so I turned to a 2 tablespoons of heavy cream in a 4 ounce cup with a drop or 2 or liquid splenda and a drop of vanilla. This was great – I’ll be doing this again.

Hamburger wrapped in ham – Hamburgers are no fun eating with a knife and fork. I’ve taken to eating them wrapped in ham. You can hold the sandwich in a paper towel.

Ham and cheese and onion – A variation on the above, the ham acts as the container for the cheese, onion and sugar free ketchup.

In the past few days I’ve also had to coexist with pizza and McDonald’s. Again, I don’t like to demonize ANY food, and I love pizza and McDonald’s. I don’t necessarily feel all that great after eating the stuff, but I’m not going to try to pretend to myself I don’t like it when I know I do – I’m just going to try and avoid it at present.

I managed to avoid the McDonald’s except for a single french fry – which was good, and did not set me off. I also navigated the pizza so far, except to have the cheese topping my 6-year-old pulls off. Neither one was a cause for concern, though there is still pizza leftover in the fridge so the navigation around it continues.

My wife saw me eating the cheese. I am in and out of my diet so much, announcing that I am on a diet to her would be like announcing “I am breathing.” It is nothing worthy of announcement. She asked: “You’ve been trying to good lately, right? You couldn’t help yourself?”

“I’m just having the cheese – not the crust.” I said. “It’s harmless.

Her question probably sprung from her natural competitiveness.

She has always been long and lean, but as of late put on ‘a few pounds’. Nothing to be alarmed about in my estimation: she’s still beautiful to me. It’s bothering her, and she’s begun running to ‘lose weight’.

I told her: “Exercise is great – but you won’t lose weight doing it. You’ll feel better, but if you are doing it to lose pounds you have to change your diet.”

She ignores me, though. She’s lived with me long enough to have come to the same conclusion my colleague has: I’m fucking nuts.


Atkins Induction Day 9 – Actual Atkins Induction

I can usually feel it coming on – but not this time. I suppose I’ve gone in and out of ketosis so many times recently  that, like an athlete, I have been conditioned to do this to the point I don’t even notice it anymore.

If you are new to this – you’ll notice.

When I notice it, it feels like a heaviness. It doesn’t conjure up any particular emotions, nor scramble my brain – in fact, my mind feels clearer when I am ketogenic. I do get a mild headache sometimes, though nothing that I can’t ignore.

For those of you new to this, ketosis, (what used to be called ‘induction’ by the Atkins folks though I believe they’ve retreated from calling it that as the name sounds somewhat harsh), is the product of eating so few carbs that your body cuts over to its backup fuel system and you burn fat and begin excreting ketones in your urine as a byproduct.

I am 5 pounds down from a week ago, but no accolades: I’m apt to screw up and this might be temporary.

I was in ketosis last night as well as this morning. I am 208.6 – a terrible number because it means that I’m not the 193 I briefly got down to in the fall, but a wonderful number because according to the stupid BMI scale I am no longer ‘obese’ but just overweight.

“Obese’ is such an ugly word. In comparison ‘Chlamydia’ sounds like a beautiful girl’s name and ‘Syphilis’, the name of a Roman general.

I’ve found myself as of late focusing on one thing: the percentage of fat. I like seeing it in the 70% range or over when I do my calorie and nutrient count. To do this is not an easy feat, I’ve found. You need to be mostly carnivore. It doesn’t leave much room for veggies, and this doesn’t concern me because, hey, who came up with this ‘balanced diet’ shit in the first place?

Perhaps the notion of ‘balance’ is in the eye of the beholder?

For the most of humanity, people ate whatever the fuck was available, or died of starvation. These people didn’t know what a vitamin was and didn’t care. Even today, one culture might argue that the other’s is unbalanced. A Hindu or Buddhist vegetarian diet seems unbalanced to me – there’s no meat. Some cultures think ‘a day without rice is like a day without sunshine’.

And through all these cultures and their different ways of eating, the lifespan mentioned in the Bible – ‘threescore and ten’ pretty much held until the advent of modern medicine that has proven quite well at adding years to life but the quality of those years? Not so much. I see it in my own Dad: kept alive by a spectrum of medications, his heart beats while his mind is gone from Alzheimer’s – or maybe the medications. He doesn’t recognize anybody, and talking to him is like listening to a series of short recordings of my old Dad – the one I want to remember – randomly played back. He’s reduced to a series of disconnected sound-bites – a human Furby.

Hell – I’ll take my threescore and ten and be happy eating my meat and butter and die at 70, to the great pleasure of the people who prognosticate that my diet will kill me, rather than end up like that.

For me, a day without butter is like a day without sunshine’. I am also still taking Carlson’s ‘lemony’ cod liver oil. I have my suspicions about this stuff, but that I’ll leave for another post, except to say that I wrote to them last week asking just how the stuff was produced and never got a reply.

I set what I believe is a reasonable goal for Saturday – get to 205 pounds again. It’s possible, but there’s no guarantee even if I stay in ketosis.

While I hope I get there, it’s OK if I don’t. The reason?

I actually feel better when I am in ketosis. Fewer mood swings, my mind is clear, I have more energy. Regardless of my weight, it’s all good.

Atkins Induction Day 8 – Keep Failing, Keep Trying

I’ve been doing this Atkins low carb stuff for nearly a decade now. I’m stuck at present in a familiar pattern: I do good, then not so good, then better, then worse – and my weight bobs around a particular number.

It’s about the time for me to relax – not the diet, but my expectations.

It’s the expectations that cause us to fail far more often than the diet itself. In the past in times like this I’ve taken the ‘fail each day’ approach: I wake up knowing I’ll probably screw up, give it my best shot, then either I screw up the day or don’t.

You might say I am being negative, but actually this approach reduces negativity in a strange way. Someone once said: “It is impossible for an optimist to be pleasantly surprised.”

True dat. If I screw up, I’ve cushioned the blow. If I have a good day I am more pleased than if I had simply expected it as a foregone conclusion. I find this approach works for me.

“Just Do It.” Might work for other people or for sneaker advertising  but if you have a less than stellar record of being successful at things, persistence can often make up for a deeply ingrained talent for screwing up.

Can ‘natural-born screwups’ lose weight? I have.

I had a decent day yesterday and hope to have a good day today. I’m going to set myself up with foods that I hope will help me succeed today.

And if I don’t succeed? There’s always tomorrow to try again. Perhaps try different low carb foods, or eating at different times. I keep experimenting and see what happens. For example, I’ve been eating way too much low carb bread, which I love but I find stalls me. I finished up the last slice yesterday and hope to avoid buying more. Perhaps I’d be smart to buy some iceberg lettuce, which can act as a container for food like bread does.

I’ll keep at it, trying this and that until I find my groove.