Just Start your Diet, Will Ya?!? – A Rambling Intro to Low Carb and Starting Ketosis – Day 3

Day 3 – Monday, December 28, 2015 – Wt: 270.0 – Down 3.6 – Blood Glucose 104 – 75.0 pounds to go

I woke about 7:30 am and for breakfast I had coffee and maybe 3 tablespoons of cream. I don’t measure – I just pour. I don’t even know where the measuring spoon is.

Lunch was around 3pm when I had an avocado sprinkled with salt, then tomato slices on 4 slices of American cheese with mayonnaise. This is a mess to eat without bread to soak up the juiciness of the tomato so I usually eat this standing over the sink. While it might not be something you want to eat in front of other, the combination of a good tomato with American cheese and mayo is something I’ve always delighted in and has been in the past a ‘go-to’ low carb meal.

As it’s a vacation day I took the luxury of a nap. I attempted to listen to an audiobook ‘Excellent Sheep’ which is about the hypercompetiveness of college these days but I could not keep my mind focused. I fell asleep listening, then woke up before 6pm.

It was about this time that carvings hit. cravings for carbs, cravings for alcohol. Heck – throw in cigarettes while you’re at it. It was a craving for something to fill some empty void somewhere in me. I think it’s a craving familiar to many people – a longing to fill some unspecified emptiness and the present moment: simple and routine, just wasn’t enough. I wasn’t hungry, and after a sugar-free energy drink I wasn’t thirsty either. Yet there was this hole that could have been filled with food, booze, or cigarettes. This was an old friend – I need to recognize him sooner on this diet go-round and instead of letting him catch me unawares, turn to him and welcome him and ask him to sit with me.

Recognizing him seemed to make him lose his power. The cravings subsided – mostly.

I felt my mind going weird on me and decided to see if perhaps I had run out of carbs and was beginning to express ketones. I tested.

It wasn’t a lot but it was beginning. This explains a lot the crazy-talk above. My brain might be crapping out bits like that while it adapts to running on ketones.

Later in the night I had 2 fried Italian hot sausages with grated parm cheese, then my wife made an enormous, fatty slab of beef. Wonderful stuff. I gorged on that.

Later on I began the dull headache that announces real ketosis. I’m in the zone – I just need to stay in the zone now.

My biggest threat now is I have just been invited to a New Year’s Eve party. I had expected to go to bed early. There will be 30 people. I’ll need to navigate this one carefully.

(DISCLAIMER: I’m about to get a little sciency. As I am writing this off-the-cuff. Take anything I say here and anywhere in this blog as my understanding of things I am not trained to understand – meaning I might be very, very wrong. Do your own research.)

If I stick to my guns it should be long until I run out of carbs and my body has to switch to fat as fuel – ketosis. As I’ve documented here, that switcheroo can be a weird one. A low carb ketogenic diet is not like a calorie-restriction diet where you simply consume fewer calories. Your typical diet has plenty of carbs that your body can make glucose from and can happily feed all the cells their normal fuel.

But..when you change your diet to a low carb ketogenic diet, not only do you change your diet but almost every cell in your body has to change their diet as well. Just like you, they don’t necessarily like going on a diet, so there is a sort of sputtering and backfiring as the cells get used to the new fuel. This is known as ‘keto-adaptation’ and is a normal body process. This is how starving people survive: their body adapts to lack of food by burning fat.

Except on a ketogenic diet, you aren’t starving, but because you aren’t feeding your body carbs, the only option is to burn fat, and your body gets used to it. This getting used to can take up to 6 weeks to 2 months, but the first week can be a doozy. It can be worth it, however. Being keto-adapted can feel pretty good.

There are certain cells in the body that can’t metabolize ketones and need glucose. Your body has a card up it’s sleeve for this: a process called gluconeogenesis where your body can turn protein into glucose.

The problem for starving people is that your body will begin to consume its own muscle to manufacture this glucose. The heart is a muscle. You can see the problem here.

The low carb ketogenic dieter, however, is not removing protein from their diet but rather moderating it. If I remember correctly, a rule of thumb is about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of ideal weight. This rule of thumb varies based on how active you are and if you exercise. Muscles need protein to repair themselves after exercising so active people need more. The sedentary – like me – need less.

So math time again. There’s 2.2 pounds in a kilo so if my ideal weight is 195, then 195 / 2.2 = 88.64 grams of protein per day as my requirement. Too little and I risk the loss of muscle mass. Too high and my body might produce too much glucose.

Let’s not get too anal about the exactness of these numbers. This is more or less what I need. If I go over or under – even by a lot on a given day it’s not the end of the world. If I can manage it as an average though, I should be OK.

One thing I did notice: when I lost weight on low-calorie diets in my youth I also lost muscle mass – I looked emaciated. Losing weight on low carb helps preserve muscle mass and you just look better after the weight comes off.

Like anything, ketosis is not for everyone and DOES come with its problems. Your body does counterintuitive things and the remedies seem odd as well.

First off, you can get leg cramps. This can be remedied with magnesium supplements. Usually, there’s enough in your multivitamin. Also remember: the best cure for a leg cramp is standing on it. No – really. Works every time for me.

Also – if you don’t know how your gallbladder is, you might have gallstones and not know it. A ketogenic diet could trigger a gallbladder attack if you have a propensity for it but don’t know you do. This is one of the reasons that it’s recommended you drink a lot of water.

Another reason to drink a lot of water is for the sake of your kidneys. Let’s be clear here: a ketogenic diet is NOT a high protein diet – it’s a moderate protein diet. If you have kidney disease you probably shouldn’t be on a low carb diet. High protein diets CAN beat up your kidneys and NOBODY except maybe athletes should even consider a high protein diet.

There’s also weakness, wooziness, and headaches that you might experience. Part of the reason might be salt depletion. You excrete salt on a low carb diet and need more than the average bear. The people who actually know what they’re talking about recommend 1-2 cups of chicken broth (not the low sodium type) per day to counteract this.

A low carb diet is also a powerful diuretic. Carbs retain water. You can get dehydrated more easily. Again the solution is to drink more water.

I also read *somewhere* that there’s an itsy-bitsy chance of triggering appendicitis. I was in ketosis when I had *my* appendicitis so maybe there’s something to that. I really don’t think there’s much in the way of evidence here though.

There’s also the annoyance of keto odor. You can find your body odor changing to smell a bit like nail polish remover. This really can’t be helped. You are actually exhaling ketones in your breath and it comes out of your pores. You might notice you stink like hell the first few days but then it mostly subsides. A daily shower, teeth brushing, deodorant – the usual daily hygiene stuff – should keep this in check, Altoids also have sugarless mints which sometimes you just need in case you are in a situation where you are meeting someone new, job interviews – that sort of stuff. Actually, I find the sugarless Altoids make my breath *worse* after they dissolve – perhaps a secret ingredient to sell more Altoids.

Either parsley or fennel is used by some to cleanse the palate naturally – but are you going to walk around with parsley or fennel?

You are also going to provide quite a surprise to your gut biome. Your gut is filled with bacteria – thousands of species that digest your food and you can’t live without – and we really don’t understand all that much about how it all works. I think we can safely say that some like carbs and some like fat. Go on a ketogenic diet and it’s probably correct to say that the populations of the various types will change.

This change might lead to either work stoppages or fireworks down there while you adjust. The psyllium can help with this and it usually resolves itself in a few days.

Lastly, there’s the types of fat. Not all fat is equal. Actually, in low carb circles, the recommendations are about as opposite to what’s normally recommended that you will seem to be living in a parallel universe and will scare your friends and family when you tell them the fats you eat.

The long-demonized saturated fat is your friend. You’ll find this mostly in animal products so doing a ketogenic diet as a vegetarian is tough – if not impossible. Avocados and macadamia nuts are the only two non-animal sources of sat fat I can think of at the moment.

The fats that aren’t your friend? Seed oils. Peanut oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil – and a slew of others. This is a complicated topic I do not have the smarts to explain, so I will merely say that I stick to animal fats, butter, extra virgin olive oil, and will only allow cold-pressed canola oil in my diet not because it’s good, but because it sucks the least of all the seed oils.

OK – end of ramble. I have some vacation days to use up and have the time for this at present. When I’m back at work my posts will probably be much briefer.

 

Just Start your Diet, Will Ya?!? – Day 2

Day 2 – Sunday, December 27, 2015 – Wt: 270.6 – Blood Glucose 117- Down 3.0 lbs. from start – 75.6 pounds to go

Jeez – I’m so fat that on a BAD day I can lose 3 pounds.

I woke up late – 10am – my days of waking at 4am are long-gone. I had coffee with maybe 4 tablespoons of cream. The days of my drinking pots of coffee have also passed.

My 9-year-old daughter wanted to try to cook her own ‘over easy” eggs. It didn’t come out as she planned so the eggs were abandoned. They became my breakfast. They might not have been picture perfect, but they tasted OK.

My stomach ain’t what it used to be, either. I can’t seem to abuse it like I once did. I have been taking Align, which is supposed to help with your gut bacteria, but I can’t for the life of me tell you if it’s done anything.

It appears that since my appendectomy I have a hard time taking antibiotics. I had to take a round in the fall due to an active infection from some dental work. I haven’t felt the same since – and it has put me off antibiotics.

One of the things I am attempting to reincorporate into my daily routine is psyllium. I took it a lot when I first lost weight as a means to get fiber when I had little of it in my diet. I gave up taking it because I thought I was maybe a little obsessive.

Maybe I NEED to be a little obsessive to lose weight.

I had 2 tablespoons of the stuff with a big glass water, chugged down quickly before the psyllium turns to slime. This is not the most pleasant of experiences, I’ll admit, but I must have done it a 1,000 times so it’s no big deal.

If YOU do it, there’s a good chance you’ll think it’s a big deal, however, if you haven’t tried this yet.

To make it worse, I use the coarse ground organic, flavorless variety sold by Whole Foods rather than the fine-ground, orange-flavored Metamucil. Same stuff – just one is more for the hard-core types. If you were to try this, you might want to try the Metamucil first.

Around 5 in the evening I had 3-4 pieces of cheese, 2 tablespoons of mayo between a healthy pile of romaine lettuce leaves. It was a damned mess to eat.

Note to self: I like this combo, but iceberg lettuce works better from an engineering standpoint.

I’ve forgotten what to eat – what I *can* eat – and a lot of the tricks that worked for me in the past. I have much to relearn; to remind myself of. Much of it is in this blog – as well as at least 500 pages of writing – blog posts as well as entire books unpublished – but I can’t stand reading my own writing for the most part.

I also calculated that if I post daily until October 1, regardless if i lose weight or not, that’s 280 posts.

Dear Lord, I feel for you if you choose to stick this out. Just remember: you can always unsubscribe.

Later on I had a hot dog with 2 slices of cheese on romaine lettuce. My wife noticed my eating and asked: “Are you starting a diet?”

“Absolutely not.”

After that I picked at some roast duck from Xmas, as well as had some of the brussels sprouts cooked in the pan with him, as well as a few of the roasted garlic.

Lastly I had a small glass of sour cream mixed with 2 drops of sucralose – the pure stuff – EZ-Sweetz.

Day 2 actually met the criteria for a low carb diet, unlike day 1 – and it didn’t really suck.

 

 

Just Start your Diet, Will Ya?!? – Day 1

I said in my last post I’d see ya at 250 when I was about 260 – then gained 12 or 13 pounds.

I guess holding my posts hostage as a means to lose weight doesn’t work.

So maybe instead I *should* post and clutter up the Internet unnecessarily? I’ve posted and lost weight – and posted and GAINED weight. I’ve posted and stayed the same.

Does my posting matter?

How about this? Let’s pretend: yeah – posting has some magical influence on my weight and posting sheds pounds.

And maybe I shouldn’t worry too much about cluttering up my little backwater on the Internet. How much virtual ink has been spilled on Donald Trump, Kim Kardashian, and other innumerable fame-whores who crowd out the real news unless it is a full-blown terrorist attack?

Do my self-absorbed fat-posts really change anything a whit?

Let’s suppose not – at least for now. Here’s what I am going to do – or try to do – this might be another pointless ‘begin again’ post that does nothing and goes nowhere. I go a lot of these here.

Anyway: each day – or most days – I will attempt to briefly post what I ate, what I weigh, how I’m doing, and probably prattle on about something unrelated (I have a well-documented tendency to do this).

The diet? Ketogenic.Why? It’s worked well for me in the past. That’s not to say that it *will* work for me this time – this could end up another diary of failure. The best features of the ketogenic diet – one where you get most of your calories from fat, enough protein to avoid your muscles from wasting away, and very few carb (under 50 grams per day) – for me is a huge reduction in overall hunger and, given enough time in ketosis, a certain calm. It literally mellows me out.

Exercise? Nah. I’m 270 plus on a 5′ 10″ frame and a lifelong endomorph lacking grace in movement. Exercise is more likely to damage me than help me at this point.

As a reminder – or an intro to those new to the blog. I’m a guy in my 54th year who lost 80 pounds on low carb in 2004 and kept a good part of that off for about a decade – then rapidly gained it all back – and a little more – to where I am now,

I’m not big on New Year’s and like to start my next year’s resolutions early so today, the day after Christmas 2015, I started my new diet.

God – it sounds like a joke to write that. Like *I* don’t even believe it.

Another thing I should warn you about if you’re new and plan to stick around and see what happens to this fool: I’m a grump. If by some miracle I keep writing and that changes, then it is probably due to ketosis – which mellows me out – or somebody’s slipping happy pills into my Metformin bottle.

So let’s get on with this – shall we?

Setting Some Goals

Let’s play with some numbers. According to the BMI I should be in the 170s – but screw that. The BMI is a bullshit measurement. It’s also unflattering for me. I lost major amounts of weight 3 times in my life and when I was in the 170s people thought I had Anorexia.

I’m going to pick a number as a goal that is realistic for me. That’s a funny sentence to write because losing ANY weight right now seems as likely as finding a pony in my bedroom wearing a bowtie and singing Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.

Regardless how laughable, I have to have a goal so let’s pick a number out of my butt – 195 lbs. This was my high school weight. I wasn’t thin then, but I stood out because most kids start their fattening well after high school.  Being 53 and too thin (unless you’re cut) looks like you’re sick. 195 on my current frame, decades removed from high school, would be fine.

So next step is: how long will this take? Not that I am in a rush (I am but let’s pretend not), but having an ongoing expectation of rate of loss helps to anchor this in reality somewhat.

Now, science says a lot of things regarding nutrition and obesity that I don’t agree wth, but with regards to the rate of safe weight loss I am going to go with their 2 pounds per week. This will not be a steady incline (if it works) but a jagged bouncing about with spikes and crevices punctuated by plateaus. I’ve never seen it NOT work like this so to expect different would be pointless.

Success will have me weaving above and below the 2lbs./week line until landing at 195.

So how much weight are we talking about? 273.6 – 195 = 78.6 pounds to lose. Ugh.

If I lose 78.6 pounds at 2 pounds per week it will take me 78.6 / 2 = 39.3 weeks. As these decimals suck, I’m going to ditch them and round up to an even 40 weeks – a nice round number.

I used the calculator at http://www.timeanddate.com/date/dateadd.html to add 40 weeks to today and got a target date of October 1, 2016.

10 months to lose almost 80 pounds is aggressive but not too aggressive.

I still have lots to figure out (again) but at least I have a goal and a date.

Day 1 – Saturday, December 26, 2015 – Wt: 273.6 Blood Glucose 106 – 78.6 pounds to go

For breakfast I had 3 fried eggs cooked in butter. I also had coffee with cream. I don’t know if I am ready to start the infernal counting and measuring – I’m just going to get a few days under my ever-tightening belt of eating the ‘right’ things.

Even if I screw up nutrient balance, fat to protein ratio, or some other detail – I don’t care: I just need to get some ketones going and can adjust from there.

For lunch I had an entire container of cream fraise – over 800 calories of pure fat.

I stumbled at dinner. i had some leftover chicken, duck and vegetables from Christmas, but then gave in to some mashed potatoes, stuffing, and a slice of bread. I also had a chocolate-dipped dried apricot.

Not exactly the perfect start but you’ll find the word ‘perfect’ does not apply to any of my characteristics – unless you count ‘fool’.

 

I Started Ketosis in Less Than Two Days With This One Weird Trick

I’m sorry – I couldn’t help myself with that ‘one weird trick’ phrase that’s used as clickbait all over the Internet – but it really *was* one little thing that helped me get into ketosis.

I’ve been doing low carb to varying degrees for a dozen years now and the one thing I noticed in myself is eating enormous amounts of butter always got me into ketosis in record time. Once I’m in ketosis I can throttle back the butter – and the ketosis itself helps with carb cravings.

It’s also motivating to see the keto sticks turn a dark red. Doing this when I come home in the evening is a great motivator to keep me away from the carb-laden ‘kid chow’ that my daughters like.

The problem is *eating* enormous amounts of butter. Don’t get me wrong – I love butter, but the amounts needed to make this trick work was kinda ‘yuck’.

I used to wrap it in roast beef but I’ve grown sick of this trick.

This past week I stumbled across a way to get the amount of butter I need to do the trick – one stick per day – that I actually look forward to having. It’s also simple and takes 5 minutes.

Here’s the trick:

Ingredients:

  • The best butter I can afford. Kerry Gold Irish butter is great, but any ‘pastured’ butter will do. If you were stupid enough to try this you could probably do this with the cheapest stuff that you can find but there’s beneficial substances in the pastured butter – and since you’re going to be getting a massive blast of calories from this, shouldn’t you go upmarket if you can?
  • Chicken broth or chicken stock with sodium. Unless you are salt-sensitive (and I question if such people should go on a ketogenic diet), a ketogenic diet will deplete you of salt. I personally see nothing wrong with salt, but I’m a little nuts and you probably shouldn’t be taking my advice anyway
  • Tamari Soy Sauce. More salt. Tamari soy sauce is gluten-free and I’m experimenting with minimizing my gluten intake just for fun.

So what I do is get a large coffee mug – 16 oz. – and put a half stick of butter in it, then cover with the chicken broth and place in the microwave on high for about 3 minutes. The stick of butter won’t be completely melted, but with a bit of stirring and a minute or two and it will.

I then add the Tamari soy sauce to taste. I like salt so for me that’s at least a teaspoon if not more.

This – to me – tastes pretty darn good. It tastes like a creamy, buttery, chicken soup where the butter does not overpower the chicken and soy sauce flavor.

On day one of my upteenth time tried to restart my low carb diet I had this twice daily. I typically skip breakfast and just have coffee and cream, then have this at lunch time and right before leaving work to help me get past the dozen or so fast food places I pass on my way home that have been my downfall as of late.

To say this is ‘filling’ is an understatement.

By the evening of the second day the keto strips showed I was in full-blown ketosis – and there’s certainly a number of other physical symptoms of starting ketosis that I was feeling that backed up the strips.

My plan at the moment is to stay on a ketogenic diet for as long as I can. I’d like to do 3 months and go back to my doctor and get my bloodwork done. I might mix in intermittent fasting as well. Once your body is used to burning ketones for fuel – and this ‘keto-adaptation’ can take weeks if not months to fully adapt, fasting is way easier because you are not going to be dealing with hypoglycemia like you might coming off a high-carb diet. Your body knows how to mobilize fat as fuel and it just won’t be as much of a struggle.

I *do* feel compelled to state that this is awfully extreme and I don’t recommend ANYONE be as daredevil as I am. I think I’ve become quite the kook and super-duper low carb, high fat diets are not for everyone and have their hazards. Perhaps each post from now on should have a variation of the disclaimer you see on car commercials when you see them do high-speed maneuvers to convince guys in mid-life crisis to buy overpriced sports cars:

Professional stunt dieter – do not attempt this at home. 

The Hungry Ghost and Intermittent Fasting

I believe the ‘hungry ghost’ comes out of the rich tapestry of Hindu mythology. Hungry ghosts are mythical beings with small mouth and big bellies that can never be satisfied not matter how much they eat or drink and are condemned to eternal hunger.

This mythological creature could serve as a good metaphor for greed or power – but it can also serve my current need: to describe myself at the moment.

Something has happened to the person who started this blog and maintained it for 7 years and the person who writes these words now cannot find him.

The weight that was originally lost has all come back. Am I 262.2 or 262.4 today? Little matter if I’m off by 2/10ths of a pound – it is the journey from 207 – my weight when I had my appendix out – and now 55 lbs. heavier that occurred in an almost unbroken sequence of consistent weight gain since that time.

My physician says the two are unconnected. He might very well be right, but it is more that he is incurious as to if there might be a connection – and sees weight gain from his perspective as thin and athletic as a moral failing than anything that might have to do with something outside my control.

I have also noticed that more foods tend to ‘disagree with me’ in was I’ve never experienced before. Most notably, I’ve found that shortly after a normal meal I have a greater tendency to need to run to the restroom.

Funny – I’ve done a cursory Internet search and found a site that I wouldn’t call credible without way more research – but here’s a quote that is not a bad fit for how I feel:

without the appendix the patient would be more prone to low cellular energy (which can lead to everything from fatigue to cancer), poor digestion, weight gain, over eating, increased hunger cravings, opportunistic infections of the intestinal track that spread to other parts of the body (dandruff, asthma, vaginal yeast, acne, rashes, thrush, sinusitis, ear infections etc), fertility issues, PMS and an entire collection of seemingly unrelated diseases.

Being a guy, the PMS is unlikely, though I have been bitchy as of late.

It *is* looking as if the appendix does have a use – and this function I no longer have might (or might not) be wreaking havoc on my efforts to restart my diet – or even stop the continuing weight gain.

So looking back on this guy who lost all that weight and kept a good portion of it off: he had an appendix – I don’t.

This might mean if I have any chance of stopping the steady increase in weight and – happy happy joy joy – find the ability to lose it all again, I will have to come up with some new tricks.

I mean – at the moment I don’t even know *IF* low carb works for me anymore!

Perhaps I need to begin at the beginning: the notion of hunger itself. It’s changed somehow, subtly, over time. There’s been more junk food – probably because there’s been less cooking – and I believe there’s been less cooking because I’ve lost some of the joy in eating. It’s as if only tarted-up junk food is the only way to make food a pleasure. My energy levels are also in the crapper and that does not help compel a guy out of the house 12 hours a day with work and commute to eagerly rush home to cook up some low carb delight when I can grab whatever crap is available in the fridge.

It’s a complicated problem – a ‘multivariate problem’ for the folks that like big words. Lots of variables. There’s what i eat, when I eat, how much I eat, the carbs in what I eat, my lack of exercise, the knee pain that makes exercise tough – and the whole misnomer that exercise has some caloric equivalent where I can go on a treadmill for a half hour to zero out a cookie.

The whole of nutrition science is a conjecture competition where each group puts up its crappy theory based on suspect research and anecdotal evidence then calls each other names and insults their spouses and pets.

A pox on all their houses. I’m in this alone.

So starting at the beginning means starting at hunger – and starting at hunger means being hungry; craving things I ought not have, and just ‘being’ with this feeling rather than it overtaking me. It means listening to the little trope of a devil on my shoulder whispering that now is the time to eat – the requisite angel on the other shoulder has not shown up – it’s probably tucking away a value meal at McDonald’s.

I woke up late and only had black coffee and decided that today I would eat nothing. Just one day. By far the vast majority of humankind have had to deal with a day without food. I wanted to do it and just watch what I felt.

As I was hungry on my way to work I didn’t have long to experience the desire. I didn’t ignore it nor did I embrace it – I just sayed with it, like a smelly hobo on a bus where the stench and its impact would rise and fall as time proceeded.

While I began to feel odd by about 2pm, the weirdness began to up the ante around 4. My daughter had called and there was water in the basement at home, which meant some sort of misadventure was about to ruin my evening…wait – why was I not eating? What kind of STUPID idea was not eating? I have PLENTY of stupid ideas – what – another one?

I tried to find some solace in looking up ‘intermittent fasting’ and you know what? Reputable sites like Scientific American and The Atlantic Monthly discussed it as something that is not a kooky as it first sounds.

Regrettably for our forebears, we were designed to go hungry for periods – we just weren’t designed to like it.

Soon interruptions and phone calls distracted me, and after the passing of the things needed to be done that pass for my job came to a halt for a few moment I thought to have more coffee. I thought it might be foolish to have more black coffee on an empty stomach, but I’ve been good at giving in to foolish thoughts lately – as the woman at the McDonald’s checkout can attest to.

As I neared the end of the day I began to think: what would I do if offered food at home? Announcing that I was fasting for the day would not cut it unless I wanted to be ridiculed – and I didn’t. Then, as if someone had run up to me with an urgent message, I heard a voice say: “you go all day today without eating and tomorrow you can have all the pizza you want!”. Imagine the voice sounding like Roger Rabbit’s – that is a fair description.

We all have these competing thoughts and are really only sane when we understand that there are many of us inside us. Giving identities to this cast of characters is an act of insight – not insanity.

Roger’s voice disappeared as the workday wore down. I made it through the day and now it was time for the most dangerous part – the commute. While it’s not fashionable to admit, I do have a great affection for McDonald’s as of late and it’s been the bane of my existence when it comes to my diet. With a long commute ahead of me and little chance of a low carb meal waiting for me when I get home – our schedules simply too chaotic for such pleasantries, popping in at Mc’Ds was an easy fix – that’s got to stop.

It didn’t tug at me today. Actually, going the whole day without eating was easier than I thought it would be. Not easy, but easier.

When I came home one daughter wanted to bake brownies and the other wanted a drive to the mall to return something. I thought the mall trip was safer at the moment so I chose that – and waited in the car while she did her business. As I drove there I thought of mentioning to her what I was doing then stopped myself: I wanted this to be my secret. It would be somehow cheapened and tarnished if it was told.

I *did* begin t feel somewhat woozy for a moment as I waited but then the feeling passed.

At home, I helped my younger one with her school brownies. Honestly: sweets are not my downfall. It was uneventful.

It was sometime around 9:30pm when I gave in. I had a ‘cheese sandwich’ – a slice of bread with cheese, mayonnaise, and a lot of romaine lettuce. This was followed up with a hot dog on a bun. And that was about it.

I had gone 18 hours without eating, or 14 waking hours.

I wouldn’t call it a success – but it wasn’t exactly a failure, either. I woke up earlier than usual the next day. Interesting, since I’ve been having a hard time getting up early lately.

This proved nothing, but perhaps this – whatever it was – is in some form worth pursuing.

Kitchen Experiment: Homer Simpson-Style Low Carb Vegan Pumpkin Almond Suprise

The ‘surprise’ was it was good.

Our cupboards are filled with the discards of good intentions never followed up on, of exotic treats and unusual ingredients that go unused, of family food-fads that peter out and leave us with excess Water Chestnuts, applesauce cups, or Quinoa that seemed like a good idea at the time but now when offered up to the kids is reacted to as a punishment.

I was looking for something different – something sweet – and something that wouldn’t totally ruin the fragile hold I had on the start of a low carb diet. I found one of those aseptic boxes of cooked, unsweetened, unspiced pumpkin – the sort of thing you’d use for a pie. I don’t ever recall seeing it – but I also don’t remember looking for boxed pumpkin, so that might have something to do with it.

I’ve tried just sweetening this stuff with some sucralose in the past but that just doesn’t do it.

Then I noticed the forgotten almond flour. I try to avoid too many Omega-6s and most nuts are chock-full of them, but I’ve promised myself that I wasn’t going to get anywhere at present if I put too many restrictions on myself. Almond flour is low carb, high fiber, and tastes good, too.

I don’t have measurements for you but the box of pumpkin was roughly the size of your regular soup can, and I kept putting in almond flour until it had thickened considerably. Maybe 3/4 cups? I mixed well, and gave a taste.

Not bad. The almond flour ratcheted back the intense pumpkin flavor and the pumpkin blunted the almond flavor. It tasted like what? A pumpkin pudding? Pumpkin cake batter? I could picture throwing in a couple of eggs as binding and baking it into a cake of sorts but I didn’t go there.

It really wasn’t bad as-is. As a young adult/dope I used to occasionally buy rolls of cookie dough and eat it raw so I have a little Homer Simpson in me – and this was way better for me than that was. It *did* need a little touching up, however, so I added about 4 drops of liquid sucralose, maybe 2 tablespoons of cinnamon, and a 1/4 tablespoon of nutmeg and mixed well until no powder showed in the mix.

If I had intended to make this rather than bumbling around it would have taken less than 5 minutes.

I ate maybe a cup of the stuff and was quite satisfied. Whatever flavor-hole needed filling, this did it, I have maybe 3 cups left and can see myself probably finishing it up in the coming week.

I also realized the purely by accident it happened to be vegan, which helped the title of the post be even more absurd than it already was.

UPDATE 5/9/15: I have received comments on this that essentially say: ‘Worst. Recipe. Ever.’ Despite this, I’m having some for breakfast today and I still think it ain’t that bad. If you like pumpkin pie, it’s not a bad substitute in my opinion. Go ahead: hate on me, hate on my recipe.

Some Progress Made – and Caffeinated Greek Yogurt

As mentioned in a previous post I was thinking of starting slow on a new approach to what I put in my mouth as opposed to go ‘all in’ as that just wasn’t working out. Instead, I’d focus on one or two things, let the others slide, and see what happens.

So on April 19th I stopped drinking. I enjoy drinking, but never found any success in weight loss while consuming alcohol. I was 258.8 lbs. the next day, and while I am habituated to eating low carb from a decade on the diet, I wasn’t watching things too closely and simply went with the flow while I let time do it’s slow and steady work to ingrain a new habit.

I didn’t notice much difference in things at first. I’m not alcohol-dependent so there were no withdrawal symptoms to deal with – and the only noticeable difference was that I probably ate at the times when I would usually drink. My weight stayed in a narrow range though after 10 days I came within a hair’s breadth of 260 – and then something changed.

My appetite seemed to dial itself back by itself and while not following a strict ketogenic diet I was eating less in general and probably sticking to under 100 grams of carbs per day. Between 4/27 and 5/01/2015 I suddenly dropped in weight: 259.8, then 255.4, then 253.6, then 252.6, then 252.2 – a 7.6 lb. drop in 4 days.

Right now I’ve seemed to settle in a groove of:

  • Coffee and cream in the AM
  • 1 or 2 Greek yogurt during the day with a squeeze of the MiO Energy ‘water enhancer’ – perhaps making me the inventor of the first caffeinated yogurt.
  • More coffee throughout the day
  • A somewhat carb-controlled evening meal that seems – oddly for me – to remain somewhat in control and does not devolve into a constant grazing until bed.

So it’s nice to start May with what I’d like to think is a clearing out of most of my water weight, a modest weight loss to encourage me to up my game in the coming month, and leaving behind – at least until I reach 200 lbs. – an alcohol habit that ensured weight loss would never happen.

The Physical

“I don’t have time for this. I have other patients to see.” Said my doctor, clearly indicating that I had used up all my allocated time for my yearly physical – or had finally pushed enough of his buttons. One or the other. It was awfully late and I thought I was his last patient. Perhaps it was true that he had other patients to see, or maybe it would have been more truthful for him to say: “I’ve had enough of arguing with you. I’m hungry and tired and want to go home and see my wife and kids.”

Either way I wasn’t offended. I am an exasperating patient. I am exasperating human in general, always questioning the obvious, asking questions that generate cow-stares or mild shock from those within earshot, or saying what I believe to be the unvarnished truth when it might be more prudent to just shut the fuck up.

In this particular instance of exasperating another human being, it was because my doctor, assessing my spectacular weight gain of 40 pounds since my last visit and a crappy total cholesterol count in the 260s, wanted to put me on statins – cholesterol-lowering drugs.

He showed me a worksheet from the American Heart Association that, when my crappy blood work numbers were plugged in, said I had a 14% chance of a heart attack in the next 5 years. He had done his homework probably because he knew I was a hard sell. We had the ‘statin talk’ last year when I was about 207 pounds and my total cholesterol was only a little elevated. I told him ‘no’ then.

And 40 pounds heavier and with really shitty blood work – the worst ever, I told him ‘no’ again.

I told him: “I have to be honest with you: I’m not a big fan of statins. They have not been shown to reduce all-cause mortality in patients like me and they also have a curious side effect, little discussed, of increasing the risk of violent death and suicide.”

My doc is a chill guy. I like him, though we don’t agree on a lot of things. I’ve mentioned this to people and they say: “Why don’t you change doctors?”

“Why? I’m not looking for somebody to always agree with me.” He’s smart and has a good 15 years of experience as a clinician. I also think he cares. He took the time to prep for me coming in by running that American Heart Association risk assessment. I think that counts as ‘going the extra mile’. He genuinely thought that he had the evidence to convince me – a seemingly rational and  medically knowledgeable layperson – to comply with his recommendation.

And I exasperated him by still saying ‘no’.

So I suppose I like him because, with nearly every relationship I have, there is a certain aspect to it where the other person has to put up with me.

People in their professional roles sometime turn into caricatures – and I suppose doctors are probably more guilty of this than most professions. In a line of business where on any given day your job might be to tell a seemingly young and healthy parent who came in with what they thought to be some minor ill that they need to ‘get their affairs in order’ because they are going to die soon, I can’t judge them harshly for perhaps putting up a wall of sorts between their patients and themselves.

But I am fascinated with these walls we put up as part of our daily interactions – and I love to break through them. Being exasperating frequently causes people’s walls to unexpectedly crumble – and what’s behind them is usually interesting.

So when I mentioned the statin research showing no benefit in all-cause mortality for patients without active cardiac vascular disease – and the crack about the increased risk of suicide and violent death, my doc’s usual chill turned less chill. He seemed slightly taken aback by the all-cause mortality, violent death and suicide bit and said with reserved force: “I challenge you to produce the evidence on these.”

I could easily find these mentioned in respected journals like the Oxford University Press, Pubmed, and the Lancet sitting in my car on my smart phone before leaving the parking lot of his office. I’ll be printing out whatever isn’t paywalled before my next visit.

Here’s one link: http://www.thennt.com/nnt/statins-for-heart-disease-prevention-without-prior-heart-disease/

It says – and backs it up with a boatload of legitimate citations – that after 5 years of statin use in patients without known cardiac vascular disease:

  • None were helped (life saved)
  • 1 in 104 were helped (preventing heart attack)
  • 1 in 154 were helped (preventing stroke)
  • 1 in 50 were harmed (develop diabetes)
  • 1 in 10 were harmed (muscle damage)

Here’s another: http://qjmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/97/4/229 – you might have heard of Oxford, it is the world’s second oldest university, having been around since 1167. 16 Nobel prizes in medicine were awarded to alumni. It’s not a citation from some jackass with a blog and an axe to grind.

The study was small and warrants further investigation, surely, but a few people put on statins got really grumpy afterward. The link notes:

Manifestations of severe irritability included homicidal impulses, threats to others, road rage, generation of fear in family members, and damage to property.

Now – don’t get me wrong – statins have their place. In people with CVD it is a lifesaver (http://www.thennt.com/nnt/statins-for-heart-disease-prevention-with-known-heart-disease/). However, I come from a family with no predisposition toward heart disease even though my father’s side of my family ate and drank with abandon and all had potbellies and ruddy faces from all the beer they drank. A good part of my heredity ate whatever the hell they wanted and lived well past 80 – with 80 being the point where the dodginess from the family predisposition toward Alzheimer’s began to take full effect.

I don’t have known heart disease, nor do I have diabetes though my brother, sister, father, and mother all had it – with my siblings getting it way before the age I currently am. I don’t have a family history of CVD. I see nothing in my medical history nor my heredity that makes me a good candidate for statins and have to put up with the potential to develop diabetes, the potential for muscle damage, or the potential for negative psychological effects.

Before the ‘statin talk’ I had already parried with him on diet. As I sat in my underwear, an unpleasant sight except perhaps to a clinician who has trained themselves to be detached and doesn’t really give a shit as a protection mechanism from going insane, he mentioned in what in retrospect was carefully chosen language that “I was a much larger patient” than when he last saw me – and he hoped I had a plan.

“Yeah. My plan is to go on a low carb diet.” I said.

“Do you mean below 100 grams of carbs or below 50 grams?” He asked.

“Oh, I want to do a ketogenic diet. I’ve been on one on and off for a decade and I find it works quite well for me. It even seems to make me calmer.”

“What is recommended is a calorie-restricted diets with legumes, whole grains, and lean meat, along with vigorous exercise most days of the week.”

“Well, a ketogenic diet has worked for me in the past.”

His tone changed. He was going into his ‘learned clinician schtick’. It became more patronizing. “Well you know, a ketogenic diet puts your body into a mode similar to starving. You body can’t live without glucose. What is most important is that a diet be sustainable – and a low carb diet isn’t sustainable.”

OK – a decade of sustained weight loss shows it isn’t ‘sustainable’ – he’s right – I gained weight after a decade. Got it.

I did counter on the glucose thing, though: “Um…but your body can create the glucose it needs from a moderate protein diet and converts the protein into glucose through gluconeogenesis – right?”

He didn’t say anything for a bit – frankly, I don’t recall a direct response at all. Perhaps he had busied himself with the next part of the examination – the part that included the snap of a latex glove and ‘bend over’.

Given the asymmetry of the situation – he fully clothed and I in my skivvies – I wasn’t about to tell him that my lack of exercise is almost a badge of honor for me. I follow the advice of a quote I once read: ‘Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes.’ I have a sneaking suspicion that the relentless advocation of ‘exercise for everyone’ is not so much for the health of individuals but rather the health of the economy: every gym membership, every Thighmaster, every pair of running shoes raises the GDP – and so do the attendant sports injuries: muscle pulls and torn ligaments provide physical therapists gainful employment; injections of steroids provide income to doctors as well as relief to the patients who have exercised their way to worn out joints, and finally the people who thrive on a steady stream of former exercise enthusiasts who, instead of choosing the next pair of running shoes to buy, now have a choice between a hip replacement or a walker and constant pain.

I also feel that above a given weight, it is smart to start losing weight without the exercise (it can be done – I did it) – and with an increasingly lighter body comes more energy and the freedom of movement that can make you *want* to exercise.

And I haven’t even begun with my feelings about what constitutes ‘healthy eating’. If my differences with the standard accepted notions on exercise were a flaming match head, my differences on nutrition from most people were a nuclear bomb.

As I left I mentioned he should check out the book ‘The Big Fat Suprise‘ – a masterfully written work that clearly explains just how we ended up vilifying fat as a nutrient because of bad science, big egos, and politics. He just snorted. It was only a:

  • A New York Times bestseller
  • Named one of The Economist’s Books of the Year 2014
  • Named one of The Wall Street Journal’s Top Ten Best Nonfiction Books of 2014
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Books of 2014
  • Forbes’s Most Memorable Healthcare Book of 2014
  • Named a Best Food Book of 2014 by Mother Jones
  • Named one of Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014

Kinda what I expected. 

For those of you unfamiliar with my backstory, in 2003 I lost 80 pounds on a low carb diet. Unlike most people who would have reveled in their success, bought new clothes and left it at that, I needed to know why. How could I eat like I did and lose weight? I had only read the Atkins book, and learned about ketosis: a chemical transformation to your body that allows you to run your body on ketones – the product of burning fat – instead of glucose – which comes from sugars and starches and is what the vast majority of human beings run on these days. In fact, running your body on ketones is so rare that one way of measuring your ketones to track your progress – urine strips – are actually manufactured for people with severe diabetes to manage a severe side effect called ‘ketoacidosis’.

Being slightly obsessive – or maybe a tad more than ‘slight’ – I spent the next 10 years reading books, research, blogs, and articles and all aspects of diet nutrition, the history of diets and dieting, how diet has changed over the centuries, the psychology and sociology of food and eating, as well as a myriad of odd little detours into admittedly wacky material produced by people with dubious credibility as well as my own hare-brained ideas.

All that obsession spilled out into a blog on low carb which I started on a whim and then wrote and published over 500 articles over 7 years. I sort of abandoned writing on low carb and shuttered the blog at the end of 2014 for reasons not entirely clear to me. Perhaps I had grown tired of it all. Perhaps I had said all that I had to say on the subject.

Perhaps I was just paying lip-service to my low carb lifestyle and writing about it – as I gained weight – seemed disingenuous.

Perhaps I needed to regain enough weight to give a shit again.

Who Is This Guy?

IMG_2452

After a newfound commitment to begin again, and off to a great start in week one, things slowly drifted back to the habits that helped get me fat again and the passionate indifference returned.

I’m now back to pretty much where I started.

Iv’e spent some time reading some of my old posts – which I typically forget moments after writing and have to ask: who IS this guy? He seems more eloquent than I. He seems more curious, more committed, and more energetic.

He *is* younger than me – and thinner. I don’t think that time spent on the right-hand side of the big five-zero has been kind to him. He can’t claim any bad luck – actually the Universe has been quite generous to him in comparison to many of his age. Yes – there have been the sort of things one starts to expect as the car passes the 50,000 mile mark. Parts start to wear.

My eyesight isn’t what it once was and while wearing readers for almost a decade, it seems I need them now more than ever. I also have Uveitis in one eye – a condition that makes the vision quite blurry in that eye – and is treated with an injection – INTO THE EYEBALL.

Did that make you cringe? It really isn’t as awful procedure as you’d imagine, but it does make your eye blood red for a while.

And the 12-year-old in me get a kick by seeing the faces of the people who ask why my eye looks like that and I tell them it’s because I got an injection in it.

An appendix got removed. It’s wasn’t a big deal except that it was a milestone of sorts: my first surgery. Yet more proof that the Universe has been kind: how many people get cut open for a myriad of reasons well before the half-century mark?

Still – despite my good fortune in many aspects of my life, something seems changed. I’m different than the guy who wrote all these posts.

First, I’ve become somewhat tired of the science aspect of a lot of nutrition. Perhaps it’s that I know enough – or at least I think I do.

I think that it was the Buddha that tried to teach his students that his teachings didn’t need to be worshipped, made sacred, or endlessly studied but were only a tool meant to be used to accomplish a goal and discarded. He described it as a boat to cross a deep river. Even though it was valuable to make the crossing, once the river was crossed there was no need to carry the damn boat all over creation – it could be left on the shore while the journey continued unburdened by it.

In Zen Buddhism there is a state where an adherent is said to ‘stink of Zen’. It means they are going overboard. The tool has become more important than its purpose. The study has become more important than its application.

Zen has little tolerance for righteousness or for excessive knowledge. It’s about the practice.

Perhaps I know enough and it’s time to get my nose out of the books and practice more.

Second, which might be the bigger problem, is that I’ve become bored with low carb eating – and this extends from the fact that I’ve become tired of low carb cooking. As my enjoyment of cooking has waned, low carb eating by necessity becomes less varied, and perhaps this is what is derailing me.

Third, perhaps the gain in weight, combined with age, and combined with the fact I no longer drink 3 pots of coffee a day, contribute to a lack of energy. I used to happily get up at 4am, drink a pot of coffee, write blog posts, maintain a little notebook of goals and to-dos, then leave for work, put in my time while putting away another 2 pots of coffee, and come home and cook and do other chores. Now I get up between 5 and 6, have a cup of coffee while staring into space, then go to work where I have maybe 3 or 4 cups.

The decline in coffee drinking was not intentional – not something I wanted to necessarily do – it just happened. Perhaps being a caffeinated speed-freak was good for me, but it’s not me anymore.

Fourth, perhaps my long-documented love of sloth – and the ability to lose weight without it – has to come to an end. I don’t know where I read it, but the case was made that, while this nonsense of burning calories talked about as if it is a financial transaction: “If I run for 30 minutes I will burn 200 calories” is a simplistic explanation, wrong, and yet enshrined as a myth so strong that every treadmill purports to tell the user down to the calorie just how much they’ve ‘burned’, it was said that there is *something* more subtle going on with exercise and weight. It isn’t well understood – but there’s a connection.

I can buy that.

After years of reading all sorts of research on these topics, I’m more comfortable with the people who know that ‘I dunno’ is not an admission of stupidity but one of honesty.

A good friend is moving and giving away their treadmill. I’m going to try to get it. Maybe it will jumpstart some better habits.

Maybe my repeated failures shows I’m not ready for a full-blown low carb diet just yet. I’ve done a hard-core program before with great result – and I can do it now, too – for about a week. Then I crumple like a cheap suit.

Maybe I’m not ready for a diet just yet, but instead in need of a ‘pre-diet rehabilitation’. Maybe I should start small, make small wins where I can, and proceed slowly in the direction of the headwinds of the right direction than to think I’m going to do it in a dash.

After thinking this, I bought a salad – just vegetables – and bought that home. My wife asked if this was the start of a new beginning. I told her: “I’m not being that ambitious. I’m just thinking that ‘maybe a salad now and than wouldn’t kill me'”.

Her birthday is soon and I’m thinking of giving her a gift: I abstain from alcohol until I’m under 200 pounds.

The dynamics are different here: promising yourself is one thing – but promising the spouse you love? That’s another.

The occasional salad and the abstention from alcohol are not going to result in an almost 60 pound weight loss – but they might not hurt.

I have a quote on the recent change in dietary guidelines that has announced that all the dietary cholesterol we were supposed to be worried about? Nah – they were wrong. “It isn’t a nutrient of concern.” Apologies to all those egg lovers frightened into avoiding a food they loved by science that has now been dismissed.

One section really struck me of the article on the topic in the Washington Post (emphasis mine):

“These reversals in the field do make us wonder and scratch our heads,” said David Allison, a public health professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “But in science, change is normal and expected.”

When our view of the cosmos shifted from Ptolemy to Copernicus to Newton and Einstein, Allison said, “the reaction was not to say, ‘Oh my gosh, something is wrong with physics!’ We say, ‘Oh my gosh, isn’t this cool?’ ”

Allison said the problem in nutrition stems from the arrogance that sometimes accompanies dietary advice. A little humility could go a long way.

“Where nutrition has some trouble,” he said, “is all the confidence and vitriol and moralism that goes along with our recommendations.”

Perhaps professor Allison’s admonition to his colleagues might apply to those of us trying to lose weight as well. More humility, less moralism, less hubris about progress  – those resolutions the emptily echo because you know you and know it ain’t gonna play out like that. Patience and tolerance for ourselves while gradually moving toward a better way of eating – without worrying about the scale as much as how we feel might do a world of good before taking the plunge into a more serious diet.

For me that means trying to score me a treadmill and maybe replacing a few meals a week with a salad.

 

 

 

 

Week 1 Back on Low Carb: Not Exactly, But Sort Of

Here’s a day-by-day summary of my first week back:

Monday, March 23, 2015 – 257.8

That moment in a soon-to-be-dieter occurs: shuffle to the scale, get on, look at the number – and it hits. A flabby fist shakes at the heavens in defiance: “Damn you! I’m going to lose this weight starting NOW!” The act feels good: I know, I’ve done it for a year and a half. My wife calls it ‘The Tomorrow Diet’ because I would usually cave soon after my defying the Universe and my weight in it and resolve to try again – tomorrow.

This time, however, I managed to muddle through the day. I had done some prep the night before. Not exactly knowing I was going to plunge into a diet the next day, I had made some pork belly and eggs and created cup-sized portions for lunch the following week. I hadn’t lost my instinct to do these sorts of things – I just ate like crap alongside these behaviors.

I decided to skip the pork belly and just brought Fage Greek yogurt and butter to work. I put butter in my coffee and ate the Fage with the zero-calorie EZ-Sweetz. I decided at the outset that artificial sweeteners, which I have tried to do without on other attempts, would be A-OK – I lost 80 pounds guzzling them down my initial go at this in 2003. I wasn’t going to worry about them now.

I also bought some of that MiO ‘water enhancer’ – the ‘energy’ type that contains caffeine. That does help me get more water into my system – and the caffeine did help replace some of the coffee as my stomach had not been feeling good as of late and I cut beck.

Once out of work I passed through the gauntlet of stores and the fast-food restaurants with some concern – but I didn’t stop.

At home after work I had the pork belly and egg – swimming in pork fat and kicked up a notch with Tabasco sauce. Good stuff.

I then screwed up a bit, having two dinner rolls the size of a baby’s fist with butter, then mozzarella and tomato. Rumor has it a bit of chocolate cookie was also consumed.

Not a picture-perfect start, but way better than I had been doing.

Cals: 1,832
Fat: 146 (72%)
Carbs: 62g (14%)
Protein: 68.4g (15%)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – 255.4

Weight down a bit. Meh. I got my work cut out for me. A little more in the groove, I added a can of tuna to the day’s routine above, and had the pork belly for dinner again. I also had an avocado and 2 ounces of American cheese.

Cals: 1,506
Fat: 120 (70%)
Carbs: 30g (8%)
Protein: 86g (22%)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – 251.8

Screw the weight loss – I was feeling a lot better already. My Tums usage had plunged and I didn’t hit the snooze button a dozen times before dragging myself from bed. My energy was returning. I was also beginning to feel some of that weirdness that comes from going into a ketogenic state. Headache, though mild. A slight dizzy feeling. All manageable – and familiar.

I got derailed by an afternoon hunger that just wouldn’t quit. I had my yogurt but then tucked into to way too many macadamia nuts, then a can of sardines kept for emergencies, then another yogurt. Lastly, I had 2 squares of the Lindt dark chocolate with butter between them like a sandwich. This was way better than I expected – the butter adding the creaminess the brittle but tasty hard chocolate was in short supply of. I’d have to remember that trick.

It didn’t stop there, though. Home was some fresh-made potato salad and steak. I could have left the potato salad alone, but that didn’t happen. Four large slices of pepper jack cheese an a few slices of low carb bread also helped to put me way over the top. It wasn’t worth counting – or I was too mortified to try.

Thursday, March 26, 2015 – 254.2

Despite the excess eats and the weight gain, I was feeling way better and sleeping better. A bad day here and there wasn’t the problem – it was too many of them in a row. I switched things up a bit and brought the pork belly concoction at work, though something that oily is almost like handling nuclear waste in an office – and I’m glad no one asked me what I was eating.

I was a bit hyper as well. Caffeine has a stronger effect on me when I go low carb and it showed. I apologized in a meeting and blamed the coffee for my over-exuberence.

I was hungry on the way home and had a number of fast-food fantasies as well as internal negotiation (‘If I get the double cheeseburger and throw away the bun…’) but I resisted.

At home I had almost a third of a head of lettuce with 3 ounces of cheese, then a bit later caved for some of the potato salad. I also had some of the leftover kilebasa and hard-boiled egg mixed with mayo on a slice of low carb bread.

Not a perfect day – but not a bad one, either. I was off to shaky start, but trending in the right direction at least.

I decided not to count just because whatever measurement I came up with would be wrong – and counting all the time, well, sucks.

Friday, March 27, 2015 – 252.4

Another uneventful day at work. Had a Greek yogurt and that’s it. I do drink maybe 4 cups of coffee, and a 16 oz glass of water with the MiO energy stuff squirted in – one with 2 tablespoons of psyllium husk, the other without.

Psyllium husks, typically used for constipation, were a staple of my first time on low carb. This is what Metamucil is made out of. Here’s the thing, however: it might have other benefits. I’ve read that it can act as a prebiotic, and while no one is really sure, it might – just might – have had a hand in my initial weight loss.

As this is a possibility, I’ve added it back in.

For dinner I bought hot Italian sausages and cooked them with 4 onions and olive oil until the onions were nicely carmelized and the sausages cooked. The entire family pounced on them and I ate their leftovers – the sausage and onions along with boiled potatoes.

I also had a few glasses of red wine and one large sugar cookie.

Saturday, March 28, 2015 – 250.4

A quick review of the past weeks shows what I’d call a pretty poor performance at doing low carb. Despite that, however, I’ve shaved off over 7 pounds. I’d argue that it’s water weight mostly, and nothing to crow about, but two things jump right out:

  1. I have certainly stopped the upward trend of weight gain – at least in the past 5 days
  2. I have lost what most people would consider a considerable amount of weight in a short amount of time

I also feel better in general.

But what have I done right, exactly? Right now I think it’s little more than:

  • Keeping clear of takeout food – burger, pizza, and sandwiches at lunch
  • A level of accountability about what I eat
  • A lower carb level

Even though I’m not keeping my overall calorie intake to what’s considered an ideal level for me – and my carb levels are too high for generating ketones, it’s apparently been enough to start a course change.

In a way I’ve failed, however: I expected to be in a full-out ketogenic state. Perhaps this is a better way to start, though: easing into it.

As far as the day went, weekends can always be a problem because being home makes me much more able to grab a snack when I like. It’s far too easy to eat as a cure for boredom and I don’t consider any attempt to navigate a diet to be successful until I’ve run the gauntlet of a weekend.

By my reckoning, I ate too much. After coffee and cream in the AM, as well as an extra-large Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream, I came home and had another serving of the pork belly and egg I had made earlier in the week. Not content – though I should have been – I followed that up with some kilebasa in mayo on a piece of low carb bread.

Late in the afternoon I had a few ounce of American cheese, as well as some egg salad on another slice of the LC bread. A bit later, cleaning up, I found a jar of Tapenade misplaced in the wrong cupboard. What is one to do with a misplaced item?

Eat some, of course.

I had it with some pork rinds.

It was some time after this that the family decided to go out for dinner. I hadn’t planned for this, but I was also easing in to the diet and we really needed some time together as a family because, as of late we’ve all been too busy in our own stuff to spend much time together.

I’d survive.

We decided to go to a new restaurant, Seasons52. I wrote a review for the place that you can find here if you’re interested. I had a bit of flatbread with lobster, mozzarella, and diced peppers, and for the main course had a cut of roast salmon on a cedar plank with a creamy mustard sauce and the root vegetables potatoes and carrots. I skipped dessert but did have a taste of my wife and daughter’s. It wasn’t part of my diet plan, but it wasn’t an outrageous cheat, either.

Sunday, March 29, 2015 – 252.0

A minor uptick in the weight is nothing to worry about – I drank a LOT of water the night before and whatever triggered this usually like to retain some of it for a while. What I continue to notice are the things that have nothing to do with the scale that are changing. I woke up rested at 6am. This sort of thing had stopped happening a while ago. It’s coming back. My upset stomach, the unquenchable fire in the belly each time I eat, has disappeared. The feeling in my throat where it felt like I couldn’t eat when I haven’t eaten for a while has also gone.

I haven’t gone hungry, shed a few pounds, and have more energy – changing bad habits can be difficult and are fraught with booby-traps that catch you unawares – see ‘ironic rebound‘ – but so far it’s been a gentle and positive easing into a better routine.

I didn’t eat much – not particularly hungry – but did have a bit much wine in the evening as a sort of ‘goodbye’ as wine drinking has never been compatible with weight loss with me.

The combo of which knocked me flat.

Monday, March 30, 2015 – 252.6

So even off to a crappy start I lost 5.2 pounds for the week.

Let’s see if week 2 gets any better as I’ve ‘acclimated’ myself (somewhat) to a new routine.