New Years Resolution to Lose Weight in 2013? Your Quick Start Guide


This is the time of the year where the traffic to my site skyrockets as folks decide that they want to make a change for the better in the new year and have decided to try a low carb diet to lose some weight.

Unfortunately, I have over 500 posts here, and it’s a bit harrowing to try to navigate all this – even for me. Really – at 500+ posts, I might want to begin to pare down some of the less useful posts (ie: crap) so that people don’t get lost in all this.

Before I do that, however, I thought I could provide a guide to some of my more popular posts – as well as some of my own favorites that I think would be most helpful in hitting the ground running on a low carb diet. Continue reading “New Years Resolution to Lose Weight in 2013? Your Quick Start Guide”

Does the Low Carb Approach Lose Its Effect Over Time?

I was asked this by Dr Dan over at Darwin’s Table as a comment on one of my posts – here’s my response.

I think that low carb effectiveness will decrease over time because the body builds a tolerance to the approach. Heck, if you’ve been doing low carb for five years then try to go even lower carb, you are not going to get the same effect that you would if you went low carb coming from a diet of cookies, coke and pizza.

I am also beginning to think that hormonal balance has something to do with it, and as we age, some of these hormones decrease (thyroid and testosterone are 2 I’m considering more research on) and this will make low carb less effective over the long run.

I’ve learned a lot from the people posting on the Irvingia Field Reports – even if you are not interested in the supplement, there’s plenty of other interesting stuff surrounding the challenge of weight loss that might be of help.

Younger folks just starting out on low carb have the best chance of dramatic weight loss. This happened to me in my early 40s – it’s my mid-40s where I’m not seeing the same result. I think this means that – if you succeed in losing weight low carb, NEVER LET IT COME BACK! Don’t think that if you let your weight creep up, you’ll be able to lose it as easily next time – it will be incrementally harder the next time.

And you will probably find that as time goes on, even if you don’t let it creep back, and keep the same habits, the weight will begin to increase anyway as you age and your body becomes more finely tuned to low carb. Let’s face it – all of us here are swimming upstream – we’re meant to be fat – it is the state our bodies want to be in. When you disagree with your body, expect it to fight you all the way.

My hypothesis is that, once we’ve trashed our bodies on high-carb crap for 20 years, it is impossible to totally recover from this. Like smokers who quit, you can reverse a lot of the damage, but not all. So you can never be totally like a true paleo – he never ate a bag of Cheeze Doodles while watching Australian Rules Football.

(By the way – I don’t like sports – but I LOVE Australian Rules Football. They used to show it in the US years ago – I was addicted. American football players are wimps compared to these guys.)

So – is it hopeless? Of course not. What it might mean is that you have to change your tactics as time goes on, while you stick to the same strategy.

Another Another Start…and Eats: Jan 26, 2009

Another Another Start

Yep…here we are again. Back from a great vacation that, unfortunately included a lot of good, carb-laden food. 

French cuisine cannot be surpassed in it’s ability to turn out a heavenly croissant, a lobster bisque with a hint of tarragon, topped with baked filo dough, or a simple baguette that convinces me that Americans will eat complete crap – if packaged attractively and maybe it comes with a toy.

One singular moment, when I was enjoying a croissant, looking out over the bay as the sun rose, I thought: If I were to know I was to die this day, just give me a pile of these croissants, some butter and some jam, and I’d be content.

Alas, I did not die – until I arrived home and saw the scale number for the first time in 8 days: 220.2.

No regrets, however. I might have felt great guilt if I swelled up on cafeteria mac & cheese, or some such nonsense, but it was a great, mind-clearing, soul-cleansing vacation where I actually did get in 2 workouts at the gym – not as much as I wanted, but maybe more than I really expected from myself.

So here I am…again. 

I’m not particularly discouraged because of one thing: I am beginning to like to exercise. Now don’t go all crazy on me – I didn’t say I loved it, or even liked it – I’m just beginning to notice that I kinda dread not doing it, like how I feel afterward, and have definitely noted all these bumps on my chest, arms and shoulders that must be my long-slumbering muscles awakening for the first time.

My thinking as of late is: with the habit of exercise comes wellness – in body, mind and spirit.

And with wellness comes weight loss.

Remember, muscles that are being weight-trained bump up you metabolism for more than a day after the workout – and muscles burn calories even while you sit on your ass and do nothing.

All of this has given me a bit more patience with myself, and with my weight goals.

One thing about the Irvingia field reports I see in a lot of the posts is a total lack of patience. Actually, a lack of patience is the Great American Disease.

Sometimes we must work and wait and prepare and fail and try again, and again, and again to get what we want.

I know that’s how it’s panning out for me – no zippity-zip fast weight loss for this guy.

I’m just some sucker plugging away, day after day, fighting an aging metabolism and a body so tuned to low carb that the great benefits of the Atkins diet are lost to me now. 

I envy you folks just starting low carb – you’ll notice some real quick results if you are like I was.

But I’m further down the road, and need to redouble my efforts.

But that’s OK – the only real failure is giving up, right?


So as I mentioned, I started again at 220.2 – my highest weight in some time.

First Day back from vac was a hit-the-ground running day, so I skipped the actual running to unpack.

Had my morning coffee – without cream. I think I can’t get away with the Atkins newbie fat-feasting I used to do, so I have to cut carbs and calories. 

It was Chinese New Year and I was offered dumplings before I ran out the door. It’s good luck to have dumplings on Chinese New Years, so it’s hard to turn one down. 

I grabbed one and put it in my mouth – then spit it out before I left the house, thus ruining my luck for the coming year and avoiding conflict over a dumpling.

I didn’t eat until after 1pm when I grabbed a hard-boiled egg. I had a case of the ‘traveler’s trots’ near the end of my vacation – noting too severe – but it did quash my appetite. And meeting after meeting. 

On the way home I remembered that I didn’t really eat all day and had an Atkins bar.

When I got home, I weighed myself – I was down to 215.6 – almost 5 lb difference from the morning. 

I think when you are a long-term low carber, you can really pack on the water weight – I was happy to see the loss, but it was no great surprise.

For dinner I had 4 or 5 store-bought spicy Italian sausages – were these the American Crap Food I described above? Maybe…I’m really rethinking my food choices.

I also sauteed some fresh Brussels Sprouts with some shallots in butter and olive oil with just salt and pepper. To me, the secret of this recipe is that you need to cook the sprouts until some are browned, or even burnt – it lends such a great flavor to them. 

Not crap food, most decidedly.

My younger daughter wanted to be held, so I held her in my right arm while cooking with my left – easier now that I’ve been working out.

That was a great dish…could have used a bit more butter as I only had a tablespoon left of the stuff.

I quaffed down glass after glass of the 4C drink mix – yet more American Crap Food. 

My wife came home with cake and ice cream – Chinese New Year, you know – have to have cake. 

I didn’t – and she didn’t push me – she saw me weigh myself that morning – and saw me struggle to stuff my blubber into a pair of pants.

Went to bed about 9:30 – tomorrow’s going to be a busy day at work and I want to get up early to exercise.

Back, But Not Quite…And Your Questions for an Irvingia Survey


I arrived home from my vacation around 9pm last night, and am still unpacking – physically and mentally. I’ve recently been  wondering if we sometimes disappear into our habits.

In other words: if we were to change our habits completely, would many of us just disappear?

Are we just the sum of out habits?

I say this because I am at this very moment living in this middle space between a world where all my habits changed, and the world of habits – the thousands of habits – that surround my ordinary life.

I haven’t let them all creep in just yet – I’m waiting for 9am, at my desk in work, before I let them hit with full force. This might be unwise – we’ll see.

My wife anxiously checked her work email last night from home to check for any ‘crisis’. I asked her if it made her feel any better.

She didn’t quite answer, but I think the non-answer was ‘no’.

Sorry to those of you who left comments that didn’t appear until now. They should be up there.


It appears that the Irvingia posts have become an absolute mess. Anyone trying to glean some simple facts from this will get lost in at least 50 highly interesting digressions and probably come away more confused than anything else.

To this end, I think a survey is in order.

Your task, those of you interested in the Irvingia supplement, is to suggest 10 questions that I can put to the the people taking the stuff.

Please leave comments on this post as to what those questions should be.

I’ll try to select the best 10 and survey the group – maybe it will help us all make some sense of it all.

28 Diet Pills You Shouldn’t Be Taking

Here’s an article I came across where the FDA is warning consumers to steer clear of a slew of weight loss potions because they are essentially junk, with unlisted ingredients, and compounds that could cause heart attack, stroke, and maybe even cancer.

Here’s a link to the article.

Here’s a link to the FDA press release, for those of you who prefer not to have their messages filtered through and interpreted by the press.

No mention of Irvingia, for those of you following our thread on that topic.

Eats, December 18

“I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success, but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life.”
— Madeleine Albright, secretary of state

Did not exercise in the am. Woke at 3:30 – was wide awake, so I got up.

Had my ritual coffee about 4:30.

Near 9am I had on hard-boiled egg with some Swiss cheese.

There was a breakfast for the company paid for by one of the teams – I went and checked it out – bagels and sticky buns. There was cream cheese – if I felt like getting out a spoon, I could have had something.

I didn’t bother.

“Nothing for the low carb guy.” I said to no one in particular.

“Oh, go ahead, spring for it” Said one of my coworkers.”

“The button on my pants is going to spring across the room if I eat this stuff. Thanks for being an enabler. Why don’t you find an AA meeting and help out there?”

I was hungry again today. Still feeling run down. Finished up the other egg, the remaining cheese, and the broiled Italian sausages I brought in.

Still hungry in the afternoon, I went to look at the pastries still in the kitchen. Didn’t have any. Instead, I went back and has the beat up Atkins bar I had in my bag.

The hunger did not lessen throughout the day – no sign of any appetite-lessening from the Irvingia. 

When I got home, I had more of the sausages, a *lot* of mineral water on ice with a little Crystal Light lemonade mix in it. 

I also cheated with a slice of regular bread, some M&Ms, some, clementines with my daughter, and some pasta.

This was a more intentional sort of cheat – sort of: I need a break from low carb for an hour or so. There wasn’t a lot of mental drama nor animal-like hunger here – it was just a break, nothing more.

Not good for the scale, which read 209.8  – all that liquid and all those carbs adding up to some awesome water weight gain.

Tomorrow’s another day.



Low Carb Meets Chinese Medicine – and Eats, December 13

We went out Xmas shopping and there was a health fair at the mall. There was an acupuncture table there offering a free ‘pulse diagnosis’ – they would have you take a test to measure your meridians – this was done by you holding a metal bar connected to a computer in your right hand, while the tester taps another probe also connected to the computer at various points on both hands and both feet. 

This (somehow) measures your energy fields, analyzes them, and spits out a printed result with a chart corresponding to various organs and their balance, along with a sheet that looks a bit like a blood test.

Briefly, acupuncture believes that you have these ‘pathways’ of energy that flow through your body which they refer to as meridians. In their thinking, these can be blocked, causing imbalance.

By using very fine needles, inserted into your skin along the proper meridian line, these blockages can be eliminated and balance restored.

I personally don’t have a prior experience with acupuncture myself, but I accept that there might be something there.

You can read more about it here, but regarding the science on this – there really isn’t much. 

But it’s the same with hypnotism – western scientists have studied this for years and concluded little, except that there might be something going on here, but they don’t know what it is.

Michael Shermer, in his book: The Borderlands of Science, calls hypnosis a ‘borderland science’. It’s not complete quackery, but it’s not a solid body of proven knowledge either, like, say, physics. 

I’d say that acupuncture falls in about the same place. As the article on acupuncture states:

“emerging clinical evidence seems to imply that acupuncture is effective for some but not all conditions.”

So anyway, I took the test, figuring it might be fun. 

Let’s see how low carb stands up to Chinese medicine.

My wife took the test, and the chart that got spit out had several red bars, indicating imbalances. The doctor then did the pulse diagnosis by laying 4 fingers on the pulse-points of both arms. 

I didn’t hear the exact diagnosis as I was having my own test done at the time.

When my test was done and it started to print out, the tester smiled and said: “This is the best result anyone has gotten all day!”

I took it to my wife and the Chinese doctor and told them what the tester said. The doctor grabbed the results from me, and looked them over carefully.

“This is very good. You should be very happy.”

He then did my pulse diagnosis. The form you fill out asks you what major health complaints you have – I left it blank: I wanted him to tell me what they were.

He asked me: “You left this blank – you have nothing wrong with you?”

I said, “Well, I’d like to lose some weight and exercise.” 

“Well, that is a matter of proper diet – stay away from fat – greasy stuff, you know?”

“Oh no, not for me – I live low carb, and eat a lot of fat and meat.”

He looked at me like he didn’t quite understand. “Well, that’s why you can’t lose weight – your diet.”

“No, actually I lost 80 lbs. The reason I’m overweight now is because I am not doing low carb strict enough.”

His eyes widened. “You lost 80 lbs.? It must have been the exercise you were doing.”

“But I didn’t exercise – I lost 80 lbs. without exercise.”

His eyes stayed wide as he attempted to process this information. He looked at my wife and daughter: “Do they eat like you?”


He looked at them, and scrunched his eyes, “Good, don’t eat like he does. You need vegetables in your diet.”

“But I do have vegetables – I just stay away from sugars and other refined carbohydrates.”

He asked. “What diet was this?”

“Low carb – Atkins.”

He repeated the name: “Atkins” under his breath as he continued the pulse diagnosis for a few minutes.

There were 23 bars on the chart, and only one was in the red – just slightly out of range. It had to do with my urinary tract. 

He asked. “Do you have problems urinating?”

“Yeah – I think it’s called BPH – benign prostatic hypertrophy. It’s been like this since I was in my 20s. When I told my doctor and gave him my own diagnosis, he seemed to agree with me and didn’t seem to be worried about it.”

“When were you last at the doctor?”

“In the summer. For a checkup.”

“What were the results?”

“Well, I have diabetes in my family, and my blood sugar was a bit high. My cholesterol was slightly high as well, but nothing he felt was worth medicating.”

The doctor saw an in: “Well of course your cholesterol is high – it’s because of all the meat and fat you eat.”

“Oh no, it’s because I was eating too many carbs. When I had lost the 80 lbs. and had a blood test, my blood work improved, with a total cholesterol of 186, the HDL/LDL ratios perfect, and the triglycerides were through the floor.”

His eyes did the pie-plate thing again.

“I am a vegan.” He said suddenly. 

“Oh – that’s works very good for a lot of people. Do you watch your ratio of Omega 3 fats to Omega 6 fats?”

He looked at me a bit strange, maybe almost defensively. “I know what you are talking about. I eat almonds and take flaxseed oil.”

“You might want to research the flaxseed oil. I’ve read two sources where it mentions that for men, flaxseed might be linked to prostate cancer.”

“I had not heard that.” He said. He appeared to be listening very carefully.

“Yeah – I had first learned about it reading a book by Dean Ornish.”


“He’s a very respected doctor that wrote books on reversing heart disease through a very low fat diet.”

He asked me to repeat the name.

“I am going to research this.” He said solemnly. We said our goodbyes.

Walking with my wife in the store a little later, she said: “do you believe what he was doing?”

“I don’t know – he did point out the BPH, but at the same time, if you are presented with a 46 year old guy and the chart is high corresponding to the urinary tract, it’s a pretty simple guess to think it has something to do with the prostate. Also – why didn’t he see that my back hurts a lot? Why didn’t he pick that up in his test?”

My back was hurting when I sat down with the tester, so you’d a thunk that the thing would have picked it up, right?

The Eats

First up, and hardly needing mention, was the 5am 16oz coffee with 2 tablespoons of cream. 

I was thirsty afterward, however, and had a bottle of San Pellegrino at 7am. At about noon I had a hard-boiled egg, then at about 3pm I have about a 1/3 of the remaining cup of Italian chicken.

In the evening I was hungry – maybe because I had people pushing me to eat spring rolls all day. These spring rolls were hand-made and deep-fried in peanut oil.

These things were to die for. 

Instead, I had the remaining 2/3 rds cup of the Italian chicken, a pickle, 3 slices of cheese, some leftover steak with butter, and one of my cryogenic meals frozen a few weeks ago – Italian sausage & meatballs. I washed all this down with a bottle of San Pellegrino.

I put lemon and two packets of Splenda in the San Pellegrino – the 2 packets of Splenda were the extent of my sweets for the day.

Later on in the evening, I sat down with some brie cheese and pork rinds with some wine. 

And right before bed, I had 2 leftover Swedish meatballs.

Now, while I typically don’t catalog it, I do weigh myself in the evenings. I have a theory about easy weight and hard weight.

Most days, I will notice a significant difference – maybe 2 lbs – from my morning weight and my evening weight. Then I eat dinner and this difference might disappear, or I might keep the pound or two off.

If I notice no change, or a slight increase during the day, I know that, even if I just drank water for the rest of the evening, I will probably gain weight.

So I wasn’t surprised that the scale reported a 2.6 lb. increase this morning to 206.6.

Now, if that did not happen, that would have been a pointer toward Irvingia having some impact, in my estimation. 

But instead, my body did what it usually does when it gets close to my setpoint weight of 203 – it bounces up.

No matter. It’s been little more than a week. There’s still 5 weeks to go, and nothing in the research on Irvingia indicated that there would be any impact on weight this early.

Not that it wouldn’t have been nice…