13 Simple Rules To Lose Weight and Be Happy Doing It

There’s so much advice on weight loss – where to begin?!?

May I be so bold as to say begin here?

You want some simple rules that will peel off the weight? Based on real-world experience from a not-too-bright person who doesn’t really exercise, doesn’t have all that much willpower, and loses weight? A guy who has been at it for 9 years and has kept off 65 pounds most of that time? Here you go:

  1. Write down everything you eat. Practice keeping a journal. The definition of ‘practice’ is that you will fail a lot, but you keep at it and get better  – like playing the piano. Make your journal as simple or as detailed as you like. Experiment. Journaling raises awareness
  2. Ride the motivation wave. When motivation is high – go with the flow. When it isn’t – relax. It’s like sailing: when the wind doesn’t blow, wait patiently and enjoy the view.
  3. Don’t be in a rush.
  4. If you are unhappy on your diet, mix it up. People lose weight on low carb diets AND low-calorie diets. It’s not illegal to switch back and forth. I won’t tell
  5. Practice not snacking.
  6. Don’t drink your calories if you can help it. Make this a practice as well.
  7. Practice the reducing of processed foods in your diet as much as possible. Avoid as many chemicals and additives as you can
  8. Stay away from weight-loss supplements – they’re expensive, possibly dangerous, and will NOT lead to long-term, sustainable weight loss
  9. If you have a lot of weight to lose, consider going on a diet first, take off some weight, then exercise. Anyone who tells you that you can’t lose weight without exercising is simply wrong.
  10. Unplanned cheats should NEVER upset you. In the long-term, they don’t matter. Just get back on the horse tomorrow
  11. If you lose weight then plateau, think of it as a place to rest. To throttle back, to recuperate before the next leg of your journey
  12. Don’t do anything to yourself that smacks of emotional abuse or physical abuse. Your health and well-being can’t be measured by a number on a scale.
  13. Realize that weight loss might make you happier but it won’t make you happy. If you pin all your hopes on weight loss making you happy, you’re in for a letdown when you reach your target. Happiness is being at peace with yourself now – not in some future place. It doesn’t mean you don’t strive for things, or don’t work hard, or even fail occasionally. If you count your blessings and fight the good fight every day, you’re in a good place.

That’s it. Short and sweet. Start your practice now.

Can You Make Ice Cream With Atkins Shakes?

My wife had bought an ice cream maker – just what a low carb guy wants in the house – right? Anyway, I got to wondering if I couldn’t make some use of it. Perhaps bored the other night, I said to myself: I wonder if that ice cream maker can turn those Atkins shakes into some sort of frozen treat?

All ready for the experiment…

Continue reading “Can You Make Ice Cream With Atkins Shakes?”

The Diabolical Plot To Make Dieters Eat Processed Food

I’ve seen the plot. I know how it works now.

‘Counting calories is the only way to lose weight’ they tell us.

So we get books listing calories, or get an app for our smart phone that tallies it for us. And we count the calories. And life goes on. We eat, and we count.

But there are tasks that can wear us down while dieting, and one of them is calculating how many calories there are in a home-cooked recipe. I made my kale soup the other day. The ingredients are simple: 2 bunches of fresh kale, 2 large onions, 8 chorizo sausages made fresh at the store, and 2 boxes of chicken broth.

Continue reading “The Diabolical Plot To Make Dieters Eat Processed Food”

Thank You, Anthony Bourdain: It’s About the Food

I am an idiot. I only have a slight edge over some other idiots in that I am open to discovering that I am an idiot, so that I might actually learn something new, or discover, sometimes to my horror, how something I thought I knew was so blindingly wrong.

For the past month, I have been in an immersive course of Anthony Bourdain and his writing, as well as had the experience of cuisine of another country while on vacation. Not just as a tourist eating at the hotel restaurants, but more like a food anthropologist, spending a good portion of our time in the Caribbean in grocery stores, looking at what the locals eat, inspecting each aisle of the store, fumbling with packages in French, and trying to figure out what the hell was in them due to my not knowing the language.

And never, to my recollection, eating at a ‘touristy’ restaurant. It was either casual French-inspired dining, or simple local fare.

It has been illuminating, to say the least. Continue reading “Thank You, Anthony Bourdain: It’s About the Food”

MiO Drink Mix (sorry -‘Water Enhancer’) – A Replacement for the Sodastream Soda Mixes?


I have already stated – somewhere – that as part of my 2012 resolutions I was going to try to ditch the drink mixes.

the reason I’m writing about MiO, however, is because my resolutions are not necessarily your resolutions, and I thought you’d appreciate an honest review.

Prior to going on vacation, I wanted to bring some drink mix and stopped in the local grocery store – and this stuff was all that I could find that didn’t come in huge tubs or contain Nutrasweet.

I grabbed 2 – Berry Pomegranate and Strawberry Watermelon. They are little squirt bottles, and as long as I packed them in my luggage and not my carry-on, they probably wouldn’t be considered potential explosive devices by the TSA.

When in the Caribbean, we’re big fans of Badoit sparkling water – a brand I never saw in the US. Here’s a pic for the hell of it:

I drank a lot of the Badoit with these 2 mixes. I found 2 squirts were about right on the rocks. The 2 containers lasted me the entire 10-day trip, with only a little left over.

These containers are certainly more portable than the SodaStream soda mixes, that’s for sure, and as I’ve NEVER used the Sodamix the way SodaStream expects me to (pouring a cup full of flavoring into the liter bottle), this packaging concept works quite well for me. In fact, the MiO bottles are refillable (I’m sure they don’t want you to know that!) and I could see myself – if I were to continue to use the Sodastream soda mix, to actually pour the stuff into these little squeeze bottles and use it that way.

As to the flavors I got – I enjoyed them both. Maybe I liked the pomegranate a tad bit better.

I didn’t do a direct cost comparison. These were a bit pricy, but I don’t know if the stuff inside is more concentrated than the Sodastream stuff.

As to the ingredients – same artificial crap, more or less. I’m not faulting them there – it’s a drink mix – what do you expect?

You can check out their website, and their awesome, over-the-top advertising copy that seems like they cured cancer AND found a way to convert the simple intake of fluids into a religious experience.


Fatty Foods Addictive as Cocaine in Growing Body of Science

Is the mainstream media starting to take notice?

This article from Bloomberg is a must-read, I assure you. It discusses research that shows the addictive properties – real, serious, addictive responses to junk food as serious as the chemical dependency of drugs – occur.

I think that while the entire article is worthy of a careful read, one aspect jumped out at me – the total unscientific response the researchers got when they initially tried to get funding for the research:

Scientists studying food addiction have had to overcome skepticism, even from their peers. In the late 1990s, NIDA’s Volkow, then a drug addiction researcher at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, applied for a National Institutes of Health grant to scan obese people to see whether their brain reward centers were affected. Her grant proposal was turned down.

“I couldn’t get it funded,” she said in an interview. “The response was, there is no evidence that food produces addictive-like behaviors in the brain.”

Wait…isn’t the point of research to find evidence?

I guess if you don’t look for something, it doesn’t exist…right?

Oh. Notice the unconscious bias in the headline. It should be ‘fattening foods’, not ‘fatty foods’…

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?

Food Paranoia

You know how you sometimes know things but really don’t know them?

I had come across this article in the New York Daily News about veggie burgers. Veggie burgers are looked upon by many as superior replacement for the much-maligned hamburger made from ground up cows. Leaving out the fact that cows are considered a stupid, but somewhat charming and endearing animal that no one wants to watch being ground up, veggie burgers are considered much healthier than the flesh of our barnyard friend and resident of children’s books. It is also supposed to be better for the environment: you picture fields of crops gently swaying in the breeze rather than the chaos of the feedlot and the horror of the slaughterhouse.

Most people don’t picture vats of hexane, a petrochemical byproduct found in gasoline, being used to extract the oil from the pesticide-laden GMO soy that makes up the main ingredient of your oh-so-low-fat veggie burger.

Yep – to make that veggie burger – or a lot of them, at least, you take the soybeans, crush them up, and soak them in this gasoline byproduct, which acts as a solvent and helps the manufacturer extract the oils from the beans and allow the consumer to feel proud of how little fat they are eating compared to those nasty, nasty burgers made from animals.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the toxicity of hexane – slightly redacted so you don’t nod off:

The long-term toxicity of n-hexane in humans is well known.[6] Extensive peripheral nervous system failure is known to occur in humans chronically exposed to levels of n-hexane ranging from 400 to 600 ppm, with occasional exposures up to 2,500 ppm. The initial symptoms are tingling and cramps in the arms and legs, followed by general muscular weakness. In severe cases, atrophy of the skeletal muscles is observed, along with a loss of coordination and problems of vision. Similar symptoms are observed in animal models. They are associated with a degeneration of the peripheral nervous system (and eventually the central nervous system), starting with the distal portions of the longer and wider nerve axons.

In 1994, n-hexane was included in the list of chemicals on the US Toxic Release Inventory (TRI).[8] In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued regulations on the control of emissions of hexane gas due to its potential carcinogenic properties and environmental concerns.[9]


Anyway, it can’t be all that bad, right? Manufacturers must get all that stuff out. When the extraction is done, it must be completely removed, or evaporate…or something…right?

Again, from Wikipedia:

According to a report by the Cornucopia Institute, hexane is used to extract oil from grains as well as protein from soy, to such an extent that in 2007, grain processors were responsible for more than two-thirds of hexane emissions in the United States.[10] The report also pointed out that the hexane can persist in the final food product created; in a sample of processed soy, the oil contained 10 ppm, the meal 21 ppm and the grits 14 ppm hexane.[10] The adverse health effects seem specific to n-hexane; they are much reduced or absent for other isomers. Therefore, the food oil extraction industry, which relied heavily on hexane, has been considering switching to other solvents, including isohexane.[11][12][13]

If you would like to read the full report from the Cornucopia Institute on soy, it’s here. It’s well worth the read if you are curious about the health benefits of soy.

The issue is larger than just veggie burgers, though. It turns out that most cooking oils are also extracted from their seeds in a similar process, so unless you buy expensive cold expeller-pressed oils where the oil is squeezed out rather than extracted through solvents, your oil – soybean, canola, olive, corn, etc. – has had a little hexane bath.

And don’t think if you don’t use those oils, you aren’t exposed. After the oil is extracted, what remains (at least for corn and soybean) ends up in a myriad of ‘low fat’ products.

This leads me to a larger – much larger conclusion that I already knew, but didn’t really act upon – until now.

I do not trust government to protect me from unsafe food. Nor do I believe their guidelines for healthy eating.

But I am not a scientist. And I take everything I read with a grain of salt. People have agendas. People distort findings. The truth is impossibly hard to find in all the conflicting messages.

So I am proceeding on my own personal set of assumptions. I don’t know if they are right. I don’t know if I am wasting my time. I don’t really know if my low carb diet is going to kill me tomorrow – but it is my decision. If I am wrong, I only have myself to blame. Here they are:

  • Become a hell of a lot fussier about what I eat. Even more so than I am already.  Yes, it makes me even more of a pain in the ass, which might be hard for some to imagine. So be it.
  • Eat animal fat and protein from animals raised properly – from a real farm, not a corporate farm.
  • Get all my carbs from veggies. No grains.
  • Eat minimally-processed foods.
  • Eat everything possible organic.
  • Read every damn label. If any ingredient sounds like something from chemistry class – don’t buy it.
  • If it comes in a box, has a glorious 4-color picture of what it’s supposed to look like when served – don’t buy it.
  • If it comes in a box and is endorsed by the American Heart Association – don’t buy it.
  • If it has the word ‘healthy’ anywhere on the box – don’t buy it.
  • If it is considered a ‘convenience food’ – don’t buy it.
This totally eliminates a wide swath of what I call ‘crutch foods’ – ones that help you stay on a low carb diet because they mimic high carb foods.
Sorry, Atkins bars – this means you, too. And my beloved low carb bread. And my cheap bologna habit.
It means eating a much smaller variety of foods. It means paying a lot more for the organic versions. It means cooking more. It means going to 3 or 4 stores to find what I want. It’s a big damn hassle.
And it might not change a damn thing with respect to my health or my weight.
But I’ve placed my bet.

Fake Fat Makes You Fat – Stuns Researchers – Low Carbers Say ‘Meh’

The gist of this story about Olsetra, the fake fat that they sometime use in chips to lower the calorie count, shows that rats that eat the stuff not only eat more calories, but eat more calories even after they stop eating it.

The writer of the story appears to be stunned, and writes the following:

This counter-intuitive finding shakes the conventional wisdom that substituting lower calorie, lower fat foods for the full-fat versions will help reduce overall caloric intake and encourage weight loss.

In other news, water runs down hill. Researchers amazed.

How many times must researchers be ‘stunned’ before they realize that just calorie counting doesn’t work?

Here’s another learned response from a puzzled professional:

“It goes against what you might think — you remove calories from food and you’ll lose weight, but at the end of the day the chemical manipulation of food leads to increased weight. We don’t understand exactly why yet, but research continues to show this is true,” ABC News Medical contributor Dr. Marie Savard said.

Actually,  Dr. Savard, it is not only the chemical manipulation that does it, but many other factors in food – both natural, unnatural, and processed that will do it. An understanding of nutrition beyond the ‘calories in, calories out’ myth could help you puzzle this out.

Stop by any Low Carb hangout on the Internet – you’ll find plenty of friendly and helpful people would would be happy to explain it to you.

Do You Know What Your Veggie Burgers are Made From…Really?

Let me start by mentioning that I don’t know if this is for real. I hope not.

The video above links to a story on a Japanese researcher who is perfecting a process of making artificial meat from human feces.

(Long pause here to let that sink in…OK…ready to go on?)

While there’s a lot one can say about this, my point might be a bit different that most of the commenters out there.

As someone who tries to avoid processed food as much as is possible, this adds to my reasoning why.

You never really know what you’re eating.

There is a long and rich history of food adulteration going back centuries. I have a wonderfully disgusting book on the subject named ‘Swindled!’ that I should review here (but haven”t because I’m lazy).

The one big takeaway from the book is this: the longer the chain that the food needs to travel to get to your table, the more likely it has been adulterated along the way.

The point being – even if you know that you would never order a burger made from the above process – how do you know some didn’t slip in?

Let’s score another one for eating natural foods, being a locavore, and knowing the farmer that feeds you.