The Chef and I

Let me describe the enemy in detail. First, this is the enemy of my attempts (and repeated failures) to stick to a diet. The particular enemy I am about to profile is just one out of many such enemies. I have chosen this one because this enemy has a number of characteristics that make him perfect for the experiment I am about to embark upon.

This enemy invites me at a moment’s notice to pull the tab on the easy open lid – proudly noted by red text in a yellow band that runs the entire circumference at the top of the can. It proudly states: ‘EASY OPEN LIDS ARE BACK’ twice around the perimeter, each instance of text followed by an arrow pointing upward, just in case the consumer is unaware that lids are typically found on the top of cans.

The fact that ‘EASY OPEN LIDS ARE BACK’ is on the label at all seems to indicate that some fool thought it a good idea to remove them at one point – probably the new guy who thought he could save a penny a can by switching to a more traditional can top that opened with a can opener. The announcement of this feature’s return, which means customers no longer have to exert any energy to find a can opener, takes up a lot of real estate on the label. In advertising, that label is the ‘slinky black dress, pumps, and push-up bra’ that makes the product stand out amidst the competitors to each side on the supermarket shelf and every square inch on that label matters.

That label is not an afterthought: perhaps more thought has been given to the label than to the ingredients.

Let’s pretend that some guy, let’s call him Barry, came along and convinced executives that by saving a penny per can, they could increase revenue by 10 million dollars per year. Barry was persuasive, as anyone rising to such a position would be, and money talks.

What Barry didn’t understand completely was his customer. Barry’s product was designed to be taken out of the can, heated on a stove top, or more likely these days, a microwave, put on a plate, and eaten. After the change, as sales plummeted and the dreams of multimillion dollars of revenue disappeared, Barry realized – just before he was escorted out of the building by security, carrying a cardboard box with pictures of his kids and that autographed baseball he kept on his desk – that his mistake was not knowing a huge segment of his customers had skipped the unnecessary, though perhaps civilizing, steps involved in heating and plating his product.

Instead, they just ate it straight out of the can.

Soon after Barry’s departure, the factory was retooled at some expense back to handle the easy open lids, and the label redesigned to herald its return so that the customers they lost would abandon that competitor on the shelf that also had the easy open can – the tipping point for that market segment’s product choice.

Now that they had parity again with their competitors on convenience and could again compete for the ‘eat-out-of-the-can-standing-up’ market segment, they could now compete on quality. Honestly, Barry could be forgiven his mistake. I’m sure he had based some of his pitch to the executives on market research – but how many people are going to admit that they regularly eat the stuff out of the can?

That’s the problem with market research. What people say and what they do are very different things sometimes.

Now with that crisis passed, the company had the opportunity to get back their lost market share – and maybe more – because, for the market they targeted, they had a good product.

First, they had name recognition. I can’t imagine anyone born in the last 80 years who has participated in the swirl of American popular culture NOT to be familiar with the name. They might also be hard-pressed to come up with the name of a competitor. The product also had a real person behind it, though that person might or might not cringe at what is being sold with his bastardized name on it these days, he probably would be proud and amazed at his immortality on store shelves 30 years after his death.

Second, they had a product that promised meat, pasta, and tomato sauce without needing an Italian grandmother toiling over a hot stove all day. For one US dollar, you could have the product of that grandma – or at least an approximation – with the pull of an easy open lid and a fork. Add an extra 3 minutes to heat, a plate, and glass of wine and you’d be that much closer to having that grandma – without the necessity of remembering to buy her presents on her birthday, remembering to visit her regularly, and not have to call to say hi and the discussion always being about how you never call.

The product is Chef Boyardee Overstuffed Beef Ravioli in Hearty Tomato & Meat Sauce. The name ‘Boyardee’ is the most prominent word on the label. The second is the word ‘overstuffed’, done in a font that is designed to appear to be bulging itself to emphasize the point that these raviolis aren’t some stingy store-brand ravioli filled with a miserly smear of meat but they are packed with almost dangerous proportions of the beef you blood-lust for.

To make this point yet again, the label also shows an actual specimen of these overstuffed ravioli, appropriately covered in a handsome layer of sauce, cross-sectioned to prove the vast quantity of meat contained within, and placed upon a fork facing the viewer as if it is about to leap from the label and enter your mouth.

For weeks now, I had been craving this stuff and not knowing why. I hadn’t eaten it in maybe 25 years? It wasn’t a staple of my diet at any point in my life. I had it occasionally as a kid but it never made my grocery list when I began to do my own shopping.

Yet, for reasons unknown to me, I was haunted by the desire to consume a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli.

I did. And you know what? It was awesome. The label did not lie. The raviolis were generously stuffed, the sauce was perhaps a bit too much in proportion to the pasta but it was flavorful and sweet – and I was sure to consume all the tomato sauce in the can.

It was an almost perfect example of processed food. The food technologists who designed this perfectly engineered faux food did a wonderful job of balancing the flavors and textures. I was part of that market segment that used only can and fork – who needs heat and a plate? It was delicious anyway.

The bastards.

I’ve begun thinking about hunger again. Why are so many of us powerless to our hunger while in other spheres of our lives we can have tremendous resolve, self-restraint, and control? Why do we eat when we really aren’t hungry? Why do we eat things we’re not really enjoying all that much? Is variety our friend or our enemy?

I want to explore all of these in more detail, but I needed to do something today, as my diet has been an abysmal failure and I seem helpless to do anything to change course.

So today on my way to work I bought another can of Chef Boyardee Overstuffed Beef Ravioli in Hearty Tomato & Meat Sauce. I briefly thought of buying two and eating one in the car because I was hungry – but then realized that sorta defeated the purpose of what I was attempting to do.

When I got to work I put it in front of me next to my computer so that it would never be out of sight.

It’s ‘sleeping with the enemy’. It’s ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’. If I wanted to I could have that easy open lid easily opened and the first tomato sauce-covered ravioli in my mouth in less than 10 seconds.

It’s been 5 hours, however, and the easy open lid remains unopened.

The premise here is I don’t have to crave for anything – it’s right here in front of me. I can have it anytime I want.

But since I have it – I don’t crave it.

Does that sound strange or what?




Revenge of the Red Snapper

He was a handsome red snapper, eyes bright, that committed the crime. He had a somewhat startled look on his face, as if to say: “What the hell happened?!?” He had reason to ask this, of course – he was dead, and on the command of my wife he had his guts pulled from him. He didn’t care about that part – being dead removes these sorts of concerns from a fish’s mind – but this never-sentient, now non-being, would exact revenge for my wife’s rendezvous with the fish monger.

There was no grand gesture he could make to get back at us for his life being taken as he lie wrapped in paper in our shopping cart, but he could get us in a dozen different ways. The first occurred at the checkout: $15.44 it would cost us to cart his dead body home.

The second insult he perpetrated on us was the leakage of his fish fluids on our vegetables. You can’t rinse that off and put away your salad greens after – it meant cooking up something with the vegetables impromptu, and because it was impromptu, it went uneaten. From the pulling out of the sautée pan, the chopping board, the spices and the oil, the chopping, sautéing, then storing in a dish in the fridge, the cleaning of the board, the pan, and the utensils, and the eventual tossing of the uneaten vegetables a week later and the cleaning of the storage bowl all likely added up to probably $8 in wasted food thrown away and an hour of a human’s life for all that taking out, cooking, cleaning, storing & tossing.

Well played, red snapper, well played.

And he wasn’t done yet.

He was bought without a plan – which fit neatly into his. He was ours because we felt he’d be a meal ‘some time during the week’ but his arrival in the house without immediate utility meant that he would have to compete for space in our overcrowded fridge, and since dead red snapper have lost all of their competitive nature, we would have to take on the challenge.

He was a leaker – we already knew that, so we took extra care to wrap him in a plastic bag and find him space on the lower shelf, where competition was fierce. He ended up as bedding for a carton of eggs and when we finally found him a home, he was promptly forgotten as he had hoped.

A fresh red snapper is excellent broiled with some ginger and scallions with a little soy sauce and sesame oil. The simple preparation brings out the delicate flavor of the fresh fish. Not so the less-than-fresh red snapper – as ours proceeded into with each subsequent day he was forgotten in the hustle and rush of typical weekday.

Now, way past his prime – not yet foul but not still able to wear the label of ‘fresh’ – he was discovered late in the week during a random rummage. This was perfect for our snapper’s plan for revenge. He was still too good to just straight toss and this would be his grand finale of destruction and revenge for our pescetarianism.

It was thought that he might not be a smart candidate for a light broil due to his age, but he might fare better as part of a fish soup, cooked a little more thoroughly. Out came the soup pot and the cutting board, some complimentary vegetables, and the prep and cooking time needed to make our sunk-cost fallacy – and the snapper’s revenge – complete.

The kids and the husband wanted nothing of Mom’s impromptu fish soup made from fish rescued from the trash, so they ate leftovers. Mom had a bowl, but that left a pot – a huge pot – on the stove. There was no room for it in the fridge so it took up residence on the stovetop with a lid on it – and was forgotten again.

Only when Mom walked in from work two days later and said: “What’s that smell?” Did we realize that the snapper had begun to exact the most fragrant part of his revenge – saving the best for last. Getting rid of a large pot of ripening fish flesh is like dealing with nuclear waste – one must carefully think through the options or the cleanup could be worse than the problem you are trying to deal with.

We removed enough dishes from the sink so as to allow us to pour the remainder of the soup into the food disposal and with a whir and a run of water, he was gone, though we needed to throw a lemon in there to get the fish smell out of the disposal.

There was still the pot to be dealt with, however. The red snapper had left a portion of his skin on the pot-side like an inner-city gang tag spray-painted on a random wall – he would not let himself be forgotten that easily. It was late and the pot seemed too much a task to clean, so it was filled with hot soapy water and left to sit.

And it sat. Having no established kitchen cleaning rules except ‘somebody is going to have to clean that up!’ means that the family plays a game of ‘kitchen-chicken’: while the utensils become less and less and cooking pots scarce, the sink fills more and more, arguments ensue about who is the biggest culprit in filling the sink. The blamestorming and finger-pointing can continue for days while the cups and utensils get further depleted and tensions build. This particular week was particularly contentious because of the black pot of now-fermenting snapper, now with a slight lavender scent from the soap detergent, that awaited the first person to blink in the high-stakes game of: ‘who’s going to clean the kitchen?’

Dad played the ‘sick’ card having been actually sick – why not use it to his advantage? When life gives you lemons, make lemonade – right? But no one else did it either. Dad started feeling better and the kitchen began to drive him nuts, so he blinked and began to clean.

He saved the pot of the end. It was omnipresent while Dad cleaned around it, and dreaded the entire time. A half-measure was taken: drain out the fermenting water that had been soaking up the fish remains for 2 days and replace it with fresh water and soap. This bought some time, but then the showdown came – and it consisted of Dad sticking his arm in the pot and scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing the fish skin off the side of the pot. It did not want to leave. The fish laughed. Dad scrubbed. After what seemed like a few hours, elbow grease and scalding hot water finally yielded a clean pot.

The snapper was finally gone, leaving in his wake two containers of mostly wasted food, innumerable dishes and utensils to clean, pots to scour, fish remnants to toss in the trash, a fishy lingering smell in our kitchen, hours of human life taken never to return dealing with the results of his revenge, and probably a total of $25 for 1 bowl of old fish soup.

Next time I’ll recommend the wife have a bologna sandwich instead. Who says convenience foods suck?

My Crappy Diet So Far 11-11-2014

Another missive from the trenches. Where was I?

Oh, yeah – November 8th – a Saturday. I spent a good part of the day cleaning up the house, and part of that was the fridge. My wife has a tendency to purchase greens for what ends up being a form of torture of vegetables as they slowly degrade into uselessness, only to be thrown away – an utterly pointless existence. One could argue that food that has died for us so that we can eat has participated in ‘the circle of life’ – but to be thrown in the trash seems a sin against existence itself.

I think this philosophical position is one of the reasons I’m fat.

Anyway, I found a bunch of vegetables well past their prime and decided to make a soup out of them. The sad and wilted made it into the soup – the fuzzy from mold were too far gone even for me and got discarded. I didn’t even recognize what the greens *were* – except for the fennel root.

They either came from our excellent Farmer’s Market or from Whole foods, so they were – at least at one time – high quality – whatever they were.

Everything got chopped with the care and precision of an axe murderer late for an appointment and placed in the crock pot with the leftover chicken broth and beef broth. I then topped the chopped up greens with some Trader Joe’s IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) chicken thighs. These are very handy to have around. As individual chunks of meat-ice, you just take what you need and don’t have to worry about defrosting as I believe that they squish them to be sorta flat – making cooking time from freezer to plate reasonable within the context of a busy modern life.

Some things about food processing technology are not bad ideas at all.

I had a cup of my zucchini noodles in cream cheese pasta sauce as my first meal of the day. This is really good stuff. Who would have thought cream cheese would make an ideal ingredient in a pasta sauce?

I also made another pot of coffee and had more – along with cream.

While cleaning the fridge I found 1/2 burrito left to perish as its guacamole faded to black – but I had found it behind another item on the top shelf before this descent into inedibility occurred. So I ate it – the first cheat of the day.

I need to learn to waste food. My family does it with nary a thought – which is why I always seem to be taking up the slack and eating leftovers I shouldn’t. The problem is – as parents of depression-era parents, I heard too many stories about not enough food to go around and I suppose it scarred me as I find the wasting of food to be as abhorrent a thought as eating a bowl of wiggly worms.

Given I can’t change anyone but myself, this is something I need to work on – but it’s very near the core of what I consider ‘sacred’ and someone once said that the closer you get to what people consider ‘sacred’ the closer you get to the irrational.

Anywho,  I ran out and got chicken breasts as dinner for the kids. I also got them canned corn.

As I did all of this it occurred to me that something was different: my energy level. I didn’t feel as fatigued as I normally did. I wanted to do more, and kept at the long list of chores rather than putting them off. Things I didn’t expect to get done got done.

After 4 or 5 hours of my decrepit greens and chicken crockpotting I took the chicken thighs out of the crockpot and hit the mix with the immersion blender to break up some of the larger chunks. It didn’t blend as nice as my kale soup but it did help kinda even out the hack job I had done on the veggies when I hacked them up.

I then took the chicken thighs, cut them into bite-sized chunks, and put them back into the soup to cook for another hour.

When the hour was done, I had a small bowl. It tasted…OK, I guess, but I had put no spices in. I thought to try salt but then thought: Lea & Perrins sauce.

Yummmmmm. I am such a slut for Lea & Perrins. It’s said that Worcestershire sauce stimulates the umami taste buds – the more recently discovered taste bud to join the sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. I believe the Japanese discovered umami in the 1980s, which is why it has a Japanesified name. English speakers sometimes refer to it as ‘savory’.

You know what else goes well with this kind of very thick soup with little broth? Sour cream. Put a spoonful on top, and the hot and cold, the differing textures, and the sourness of the cream increase the complexity and makes it quite enjoyable. I had a second cup while my kids had their chicken, potatoes and corn.

I also drank 2 liters of Orange soda – sugar-free of course.

Of course I then enjoyed some of their chicken and potatoes and corn. Not too much – at least for me, but I didn’t stop there. I had some grapes as well, and right before bed, a handful of dried fruit.

Sunday, November 9, 2014. Woah. Abrupt change in direction. The magic fairies that gave me progress despite my lax diet standards have abandoned me. I’m up to 238.4 with my blood glucose up to 122. I’m guessing the dried fruit drove up the blood glucose and I’m retaining a goodly portion of the 2 liters of orange soda from the night before, but we’ll never know for sure.

The body does what the body does.

I’d like to think that the past week was a ‘practice run’. I’ve ditched the alcohol habit. It wasn’t particularly bothersome, but I didn’t drink daily anyway – I just needed to break the habit of drink as a ‘reward for a stressful day’ – and *every day* was a stressful day in the past week so it was good practice under my belt. I’m feeling less sluggish and actually had an honest-to-goodness energy burst yesterday. I have plenty of the right foods in stock. My middle of the night GERD has disappeared and my Tums usage has gone way down.

And this post is *way* less grumpy than my last few.

I think I’m ready for a next step where I focus on two things:

  1. Eating all low carb (no cheats)
  2. Portion control

Both of these are a cakewalk during the day. I need to bring all my energies and focus on these items to the time period between 6pm and bed time.

Here’s an idea: perhaps I should attempt to go a week without eating after 6pm.

Logistically, I can do this. I can bring my pre-made dinner to work, eat it at my desk before I leave at 6, then only drink fluids at home.

But could I actually *do* this? This is a really big change in my habits. It’s a simple rule – no eating after 6pm – and I believe just this one rule would cause a dramatic change in my adherence to my low carb diet as well as weight loss. but my search-and-destroy approach toward food in the evenings is so powerful that I wonder if it’s possible. I’d be fighting a powerful force within myself and I might be asking too much.

How about this: change it to just ONE rule for the coming week – starting today:

No food after 6pm

Trying to do too much too fast is the trap of every dieter. I’ve been dieting since I was in 5th grade. Don’t try to undo everything at once – even two things at once.

So I’ll start with just one.

So I made sure I had a good meal – two hamburgers covered in melted cheese and Worcestershire sauce. While I waited for the burgers I had salami and cheese. I also had some slices of American cheese with tomatoes and mayo – one of my favorite weird eats – after the burgers.

At 5:57pm I had some crunchy chocolate chip cookies my daughter wanted during our stop at Trader Joe’s.

Then it was 6pm. No eating.

I was good until about 7pm. Then a mental inventory of the fridge began.

I sat back and had more orange soda.

I tried distracting myself, reading on my phone while my younger daughter binge-watched some Disney show on Netflix.

I would go a half hour, then the inventory would start.

Around 8:30pm, the ‘renegotiation’ began. Perhaps a better plan would be one more thing to eat just before bed – low carb, of course. don’t you think? Then an alternate voice started mentioning the leftover pasta. No, said the first voice: low carb or nothing.

Ultimately, I caved and had a small bowl of pasta. Seemed like a good idea at the time…

Ugh. Some force just refuses to let me get a *single day* of low carb under my belt!

I am going to explain it as a result of how far I had fallen. McDonald’s every day. Deli sandwiches at lunch.

Perhaps I just need to keep trying and failing until I stop failing. My only other option is to stop trying and I did that – it didn’t work out. I’m at a point where the easy way out isn’t even easy.

My last thought as I reread this post for spelling errors is: I write too damn much.

Monday, November 10, 2014 – I porked up some more and landed above 240 at 241.2. Given what I ate – and the liters of water I drank, I’m going to attribute much of this to water weight – though it still sucks.

To be continued…

A Tip For Getting Through the Upcoming Holidays Low Carb

Holidays are always rough. Jeez – even getting my diet *started* has been rough! I’ve concluded that portion-control of high-carb stuff might work for some people – but it doesn’t work for me. If *I’m* going to make it through the holidays, it’s going to be by saying ‘no’ to a lot of foods. Telling people you are ‘on a diet’ usually gets an eye roll from them, but I had a houseguest that thought it would be a generous gesture to buy a lot of beer and for us to get drunk together. I got out of that one by saying: “I’d love to, but I’m on a medication where I can’t drink.” People don’t pry much after that, and they can’t really be insulted.

That might work for alcohol, but what about food? I myself am thinking of conjuring up a lie for well-meaning friends – something about: “I am on a special diet that, if I don’t follow, My doctor told me I’m going to have to end up being put on a lot of medications.”

This is technically true. Given my family history of diabetes and the fact that both my siblings developed full-blown diabetes a decade prior to my current age – and the fact my doctor said: “You KNOW you’re going to develop diabetes.”, it’s not exactly a lie. It also seems like the type of thing where most people won’t pry further – and you’re not discussing discussing diseases at a holiday table.

Mentioning a ‘doctor’ also helps. They hold magical powers – similar to priests in the middle ages.

There is also the wonderful thing about low carb in that most meals. with a bit of substitution, can lend themselves to low carb. Thanksgiving dinner can be turkey, gravy, and whatever low carb vegetable they make. Eating beforehand can also help. You seem like a character out of a vampire novel, seeming to eat, but not really. If food pushers – the nicest, but least helpful people to a dieter question it, pull out the ‘I have to watch what I eat of I’ll be on a lot of scary meds’ line which should shut them down.

Maybe there’s something in that you can adapt for yourself.

My Crappy Diet So Far 11-08-2014

Another missive from the trenches. Where was I?

Oh yeah – Friday, Day 5. Still grumpy and wrote a screed on how much BS a positive attitude is for weight loss.

Don’t misunderstand: a positive attitude and a cheery, positive outlook are great things and help with motivation.

My concern is what happens when they abandon you because of the vicissitudes of life – or if you’re just not that type of person.

Are you doomed to never losing weight because you lack positivity? I call bullshit on this.

Anyway – back to Friday. I don’t start out with anything other than a half-baked plan, and it wasn’t in my plans at all to survive the work day on coffee with Atkins shakes as creamer and a big handful of macadamia nuts before I left work – but that’s how it ended up.

Beat up from the week at work, I went home and found the energy to cook the zucchini concoction from the other day. That gizmo to noodlize the zucchini really is a neat little contraption.

I had a bowl of the stuff, then found myself craving the REAL pasta in the fridge – and had a small bowl of that. My daughter had made a pile of these wonderful baked potatoes where she slices them very thinly almost all the way through and drenches them in oil, butter, and spices. I had two of these small wonders.

Lastly, I had a bit of chocolate cake and a few tablespoons of ice cream.

I still haven’t started my low carb diet apparently – maybe it should be called ‘lowish’ at this point.

While not sticking to a plan (as if I really had one), the volume of food eaten was not excessive for the day, and I was not particularly bothered by my so-called diet. Perhaps its indifference: it was lunch time and I decided to have some lunch – but the thought of *any* food just filled me with ennui.

I had another cup of coffee instead.

If I were to characterize my state of mind I would list cynical, indifferent, with a repressed anger that comes across as a dark humor that most people have come to expect of me. I was talking to a coworker who is leaving and he mentioned that I had a very good reputation within the company. I had told him that he had very good social skills and he told me: “You have your own social skills.”

We never see ourselves as others see us, but if I were to try to fathom why people put up with me in work is because I am often the target of my own savage sardonic tongue. I am quick to point out my own flaws – perhaps it takes the edge off when I criticize others’ ideas with the same savage, sarcastic, and original banter. I am nothing if not original.

Or maybe my coworker was lying and they all hate me. Always a possibility.

Self-absorbed digression aside, the day did end and I the next one arrived.

Day 6 – Saturday, November 8, 2014. Wow. The number just keeps going down. I was 234.6, which puts me down 6.6 pounds from the outset. My blood glucose was 111, which is still inching lower.

It’s the weekend, and that brings two possibilities:

  1. The time to think out a more detailed plan for the coming week and maybe get the ‘low carb’ part of the diet started
  2. A time to eat incessantly with a comfy chair to sit in and a fridge nearby

There was also the possibility of neither. Chores are piling up and my younger daughter needs an emergency trip to the dentist because a loose tooth was giving her a lot of pain. It might just be another weekend stumbling through the brambles that appear out of the mist – which seems a fine metaphor of my life as of late.

It’s not to say I don’t have *any* plans. There’s a pork belly in the fridge I want to cook. I still have sausages. I have plenty of sour cream. I have tuna and mayo. I have my leftover zucchini pasta with the cream cheese sauce. I still have 2 big containers of my kale soup in the freezer.

If I didn’t hit a store the entire weekend I wouldn’t starve the coming week, but it would do me good to maybe go through my recipes, put together a bit of a meal plan so I don’t get bored, and try to align it with my family’s food needs so they can add a starch to what I’m eating and join in as well.

We’ll see if that happens.

Again, I’m going to stop here and press ‘post’ before I overthink this post and end up not posting it.

To be continued

My Crappy Diet So Far 11-07-2014

Here’s another missive from the trenches. Where was I?

I was on day 3, where I had KFC chicken thighs for lunch.

For dinner that night I made the kids pasta. I was going to make burgers for myself – or maybe have more of my leftover kale soup – but had leftover pasta, meatballs, and Halloween candy instead.

The only consistent success of the diet so far has been the elimination of booze. That’s something, at least.

I’ve been feeling slightly better and have not had the GERD that wakes me in the middle of the night. I suppose a good night’s sleep is another benefit as I ease myself into a better routine.

Day 4 – Thursday, November 6, 2014 – showed still more, though slight, improvement. My weight continued to inch down. Now it was 237.4 – down 3.8 from that 241+ that shook me. My blood glucose also peeled off a few points, going down to 112 – 26 points lower than at the start.

Despite an awful, blunder-filled start, at least I’m stumbling in the right direction.

I had coffee and cream in the morning – perhaps too much – but I’m trying to go light on the unnecessary rules until I have a better grip on myself. We had visitors in work and that meant copious amounts of bagels and pastries – which I ignored. I did have 2 roast beef sandwiches – I should have stopped at one – and ate the meat off the bread and threw the bread away. Afterward I was uncomfortably full.

As there was plenty of free coffee, I drank still more of the stuff.

When I got home it was announced that I was going to take the children to their evening class. Typically when I do that I get pizza for the kids while I wait for them to finish their class. I thought this might be a good test of my resolve (fool that I am).

I ordered a large pizza with mushrooms and onions as per my older daughters peculiar tastes, and drove home pizza and kids.

My resolve lasted all of 10 seconds. I tore into two slices of pizza with my kids and enjoyed it greatly. A little later looking for something sweet I had a bit more of the candy corn. My younger daughter said: “Awwww”.

Fear not my little love, there is still plenty for you to rot your newly emerging adult teeth with.

This might be a good time to mention what I’ve been drinking the past few days. It hasn’t been alcohol. While I might miss the buzz I feel a lot better. Dieting is all about giving up things now for something better in the future. I am sorry to say that perhaps I’ve drunk enough alcohol for one lifetime. The fact of the matter is, unfortunately, alcohol just doesn’t agree with me anymore. When drinking alcohol, even hours and hours later, every meal feels like I am swallowing fire. The Tums consumption is keeping factories running three shifts in order to supply my needs. Without alcohol, this changes almost overnight.

So what have I been drinking? Well, Mary Dan Eades ruined almond milk for me with a post about the polyunsaturated fat in almonds. Thanks, Mary Dan! I don’t like to get to sciency in this blog anymore but I try to avoid polyunsaturated fats and keep my remaining fats to either saturated or monounsaturated. I don’t want to go into the science because we end up going down a rabbit hole of studies and then contradictory studies and endless debates and all sorts of arcane fine points that I would frankly like to avoid.

The result is that I might have almond milk on occasion but as a regular drink I’m going to try to avoid it. I’ve tried the coconut milk sold as a replacement drink for regular milk and I find this stuff or a horrid thing.

My liquids have been:

  • A daily pitcher of water at work. I bought one of those PUR water pitchers and it does a fine job of stripping the chlorine flavor out of the tap water at work
  • Coffee with cream at home, and coffee at work with Atkins shakes as creamer. I’ve seemed to lose my taste for black coffee. Perhaps I need to get used to it again just to keep the calorie count down.
  • Seltzer from my SodaStream (one of the best and most-used gadgets I’ve ever bought) with ice and MiO soda flavorings. Too much artificial stuff in that MiO stuff? I don’t care.

Day 5 – Friday, November 7, 2014. Down over a pound from yesterday to 236.2 – 5 5 pound total weight loss so far. My blood glucose is essentially the same as yesterday at 113.

Considering how crappy I’ve been doing over the past 5 days, the weight loss and blood glucose management shows just how spectacularly awful I must have been prior to that.

I can’t say I’m not pleased with the reduction, nor the reduction in Tums use, and not waking up in the middle of the night coughing and choking from GERD. I can still say, however, I am still in a crap mood overall.

So grumpy dieters, take heart: you can still have a crappy and cynical attitude and lose weight. You don’t have to be all positive and cheery if you don’t feel like it. Keep your grump on and still lose weight – and fuck those people who say you must have a positive attitude first before you can have any success.

A positive attitude has nothing to do with weight loss. Nice to have, it helps – but it’s optional. Your weight regulation mechanism doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your positive affirmations.

If I lose enough weight and notice enough positive changes that my mood starts to improve – great – I can’t wait – but long-term weight loss and maintenance will NOT be a result of maintaining a perpetual ‘blissed out’ Tony Robbins positive attitude. Your life, like everyone else’s, will have its ups and downs. If you can’t manage your diet when life gives you lemons and you don’t want to make lemonade, then it’s going to be hard to pull it off long-term.

To be continued

My Crappy Diet So Far 11-05-2014

Everyone loves a cheery blogger – one chomping at the bit to seize the day and make it theirs – with a big grin and a spring in their step to boot.

I ain’t that.

Right now the most cheery thought I can conjure up is a meteor crashing through the roof and striking me dead.

But you didn’t come here to read about ol’ gloomy Gus here bitchin’ about life – you’re here because…well, I don’t have a clue why you’re here, exactly, but it probably has something to do with low carb diets – I’m guessing that from the name of the website.

So on Monday, November 3rd, I attempted to start my low carb diet again. I had tried on November 1st, it being the beginning of the month, and that’s a fine place to start. When that didn’t pan out, I tried November 2nd, since that was a Sunday – another good demarcation point to start. When that didn’t pan out I figured I’d try Monday.

I wouldn’t say the third time’s the charm, but I did get a little nudge from a couple of things that I think helped me to get a creaky and backfiring start to my diet.

The first was that I picked up the super-cheap Relion blood glucose meter from Wal-Mart and tested my blood glucose for the first time since the summer. My fasting blood glucose was 138. While I’m not particularly afraid of death, I have a significant fear as to how I arrive there. The direct meteor strike doesn’t concern me, but a lingering future of all my tiny capillaries getting chewed up by excess blood glucose, leading to blindness, amputations, and loss of sensation in my extremities among the many things that diabetes does to you before it kills you outright does register with me.

Then there was the number on the scale: 241.2. All I can say to that is: oh, fuck. I’ve spent a year drawing a line in the sand, having my weight cross it, then drawing another line in the sand, and now I’m above 240.

I’ve got to draw a line in the sand.

Day 1 was a mostly OK day, which coffee and cream at home, then coffee with a splash of Atkins shake as creamer, then Italian sausages with sour cream for lunch. Evening is always the worst but I managed to hold it together (mostly) with a bowl of my kale soup. I did  have some bread and butter as it seems I can’t get my act together to pull off a single good day from end to end. It could have been worse, however – like day 2.

Day 2 showed progress in both numbers. The fasting blood glucose was down by 20 points to 118 – I guess that 20 was courtesy of the Halloween candy lying about. I also got under that 240 number to 238.8 – a number that gave me some hope – though if you told me last year I’d be at this number I would have pulled out tufts of my own hair.

The day was more or less the same as the previous day, but the evening was different. I ended up getting McDonald’s for the kids and questioned my sanity in doing so as I drove 45 minutes with the smell of burgers and fries wafting up next to me. I didn’t touch it though – at least not yet.

At home I found some abandoned sausages in the deli drawer that said ‘sell by 10/22’. I wondered if they would make me puke-sick almost as an aside as I heated them in the microwave and ate them on the last of the low carb bread I am not planning to replenish.

I did have a leftover bite or two of a Big Mac and maybe a half-dozen fries. My younger daughter had candy corn that appeared out of nowhere – how long had it been since I had any? Now I knew: a half-dozen at that moment. Lastly, I had some dried apricots – just to make sure I couldn’t pretend it was even a halfway OK day from a low carb perspective.

Day 3 found me at the same 118 for a blood glucose number and down almost a pound to 238.0. The diet Gods were toying with me – making me think I could eat like I did the day before and not screw things up.

I brought the same Italian sausages and sour cream to work but it was so uninspiring that I couldn’t bear it. Instead, I went to KFC and had 3 of their grilled chicken thighs. I make no claim that these are ‘healthy’ – I once read a list of the ingredients that they tart these things up with to make them taste so darn good and I’m sure that they will increase no one’s longevity – but the things are zero carb and I’m in an ‘any port in a storm’ mode with my diet at this point so I could have done a lot worse.


As I am also having problems writing and not posting, I’m going to stop here and just say…to be continued.