Who Is This Guy?

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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.

 

 

 

 

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Fat, Dumb, & Happy Day 7

Sunday, March 16, 2014  – 221.4

9:15am

Earlier in the year I had intended to begin exercising and tried running. I liked it – even though when I was doing it the temperature was near zero. I was running for about 10 minutes tops each day, which isn’t much, but since I haven’t run since I was in primary school it was a big improvement. I liked running outside as opposed to the treadmill, which I think is somewhat soul-deadening compared to running outside in the real world.

But then my knees began to hurt. A lot.

I’ve seen the T-Shirts that say ‘pain is the weakness leaving your body’ – very macho – but I also know a number of my contemporaries who have had hip and knee replacements. No matter how cool titanium joints sound, I would prefer NOT to have one, thank-you-very-much.

My plan ‘B’ for this is to try again after losing 30 pounds so there’s less weight pounding on my knees I’ll try again.

In the meantime, I’ve been given the opportunity to get my exercise in another way – one that is low-impact and much more gentle for fat folks trying to get a little exercise: swimming.

It was nothing I pursued – it sort of found me.

A local drama that made the papers, good intentions, and mismanagement led to the construction of a beautiful building intended to be a Jewish Community College. It was funded by a huge donation by a generous benefactor, but cost overruns and overoptimism led to the whole project collapsing and the generous benefactor left with a huge, unfinished, empty building.

The generous benefactor, now a reluctant landlord with a white elephant on his hands needed to do *something* with this facility, and leased it to a local family who decided to open a ‘family-friendly’ athletic club.

I like that. It’s not a muscle-head gym, but a place where families can come with their kids and feel welcome and comfortable.

My wife came home one day and announced she signed the family up for a membership. The place hadn’t even opened.

I figure it’s water under the bridge *now* – I might as well see if I can get some return on the investment.

I got to test it out for the first time this morning. It is an olympic-size salt-water pool – I never knew salt-water pools existed. I did 20 laps.

I must be honest and state that I can’t swim – I only know how to propel myself through the water and avoid drowning. It’s not flailing, but a rather graceless yet workable facsimile of ‘swimming’.

I have no fear of the deep water because my ample adipose tissue causes me to bob like a cork.

With my poor form, swimming side by side with people who actually know how to swim, I shamelessly made a fool of myself if there was anyone there watching and judging me – but being of an age and disposition where I don’t much care what people think of me most of the time, I was unselfconscious and quite enjoyed the experience.

It was also a bit of a timing test. Much of my life, with kids and school and schedules and work and meetings sometimes requires down-to-the minute timing to make sure I can get done what needs to be done. From the time I left the house, got there, got undressed, got in the pool, did the 20 laps, got out, dried, dressed, left and got home and threw the bathing suit and towel in the dryer was 55 minutes total – I might be able to make that work.

I can get there at 5am on weekdays when they open, be back a little before 6am, have 20 minutes to chill with some coffee, then wake the kids and go through the morning routine of having my younger daughter to before-school daycare by 7:30, then head off to work and be there between 8:30 and 9am.

Could not only be workable, but enjoyable – oh – and good for me as well.

It bears repeating because it’s so important: I’m not exercising because it will help me lose weight! That doesn’t work except for the most dedicated gym rat with plenty of spare time. Exercising to lose weight is a myth perpetuated by people who sell gym equipment, athletic club memberships and sports accessories.

You can sit on your fat ass, diet, and end up with a much less fat ass without a lick of exercise. I did.

The reason to exercise is because it’s good for you – if you can manage not to hurt yourself doing it. There is ALSO a booming industry in repairing the injuries of exercisers who hurt themselves. A friend who was about as physically fit as one could imagine and looks way younger than his age (mid 50s) just got a hip replacement. Why? All that damn exercise – that’s why!

Exercise because you like it, because it is good for your health, and because it can make you feel better psychologically. Don’t EVER think it will help you lose weight – the chances of this are thin (pun intended).

4:00pm.

The feeling of being on the clock never ends. The moment I came home from the athletic club, my daughter needed to go to her lacrosse practice. I have no idea what lacrosse *is* – something involving a ball and long sticks with tiny fishing nets at the end – but my daughter seems to be interested so – whatever.

Coming home I had to help my younger daughter practice piano. Before that, however, I decided to make something with the crockpot. In another experiment I threw in a can of tomatoes, a pound of grass-fed gound beef, 2 bags of frozen artichoke hearts, some lelftover sliced onions, some aging mini sweet peppers and the remainder of the taco mix that was masquerading as smoked paprika (and threw away the container). lastly – 20 shakes of Tabasco sauce. I left that to cook, did the piano practice with my daughter, then needed to take her to ballet, then take her to her piano lesson, then come home and do dishes and clean the house.

Along the way I found two abandoned hard-boiled eggs. I had these with a few splashes of low carb ketchup. I’m not much for hard-boiled eggs but I’m a big fan of ketchup. they went well together. I should remember to do this more. Eggs are a perfect food – relatively cheap for even the highest-quality eggs, easy to cook, and packed with top-notch nutrients, protein and fat –  and hard-boiled eggs are convenient.

I also had a tiny brie, packed in a small plastic container.

I’ve been in ketosis continuously since day 2 and I still feel the ‘water in the gas line’ feeling where waves of energy appear, then falter, then appear again. Occasionally a slight headache appears, then disappears as well. Again, nothing unexpected – and certainly beats how I felt when eating a lot of carbs – perhaps I was more miserable than I realized.

9 pm

I ate a lot in the evening, though all of it low carb – if not as low carb as I would have liked.

I avoided the pasta, the cake and the pie that was about had my crockpot dish of ground beef, tomatoes, & artichokes. In fact, I had three bowls. The fact that I didn’t put in too much seasoning brought out the natural flavors of the meat and vegetables.

But I was still hungry.

I ended up having a half-bottle of wine while eating pork rinds with cream cheese. I had a lot of cream cheese – perhaps half the package. Again, right now the focus is on sticking to the right foods and not necessarily portion control.

The wine as concerning. It doesn’t make me fat in itself and is low carb, but it stalls me at least until it gets out of my system. The worse part is it’s potential to get me into carb-gobbling mischief. I thought this was it – the screw up I’d been waiting for. But it didn’t happen.

Before bed I finished up 2 cups of the drinkable yogurt and went straight off to sleep.

March 10, 2014 – Fat, Dumb, and Happy

I haven’t written as of late because I haven’t had anything of interest to say. You might find it interesting (or not) that after a splendid start of the so-called ‘2014 diet’, it petered out to an extent I haven’t seen in years. I haven’t even been *trying*, so much so that I don’t even differentiate between good foods and bad foods anymore.

There’s no ‘cheating’ when you’re not on a diet.

I also gave up the running because my knees were bothering me. I thought that I might start again after I lose some weight…I do have some bitchin’ shoes, though.

Of course the weight I put on at the end of 2013 is still with me – and I have increased since then. The highest weight was 230. I am strangely indifferent to it, though. I think it is because of work – I am involved in a very large and stressful project right now – but it could be plenty of other things. Real cause and effect can be hard to ascertain.

But I have proven yet again that low carb does work for me. I don’t do it – I get fat.

I’ve also proven that I feel better eating low carb because I feel pretty lousy at present.

I find being fed up is a good motivator – but I’m too indifferent to be fed up – or perhaps I’m fed up with my indifference? I dunno – I don’t understand myself.

Regardless, I have decided to indifferently give the ol’ diet-thing a try again.

The plan is to just do *something* – but indifference is a tough emotion to work with.

Here’s what *might* work. I have found that buying roast beef at the deli and eating it with butter is a good way to jump-start my diet. It doesn’t require much thought. It’s not a long-term solution, certainly, but perhaps it will get me started in the right direction and lead to a little more focus and a little less indifference. A few days of this can get me into ketosis, and after the weird feelings of the ketogenic cutover I usually find myself thinking clearer and having more energy.

Perhaps I’m suffering from a ‘carb fog’ – my brain working at a lower capacity because of too many crap carbs.

All I need to do is give it a couple of days. In my indifferent, ‘fat, dumb, and happy’ state – can I pull it off?

We’ll see.

Running – Day 8

It’s been 10 days since, huffing and puffing like a steam locomotive, I ‘ran’ (for lack of a better word) 0.27 miles.

Big whoop.

Regardless, it has been an interesting experiment so far. I’ve moved the diet from top priority to establishing this new habit. I have been eating so-so for most of that time – mostly low carb, but not to the extent that I would consider my being on a diet – and certainly not a diet where I burn ketones instead of glucose for body fuel.

In the 8 days of running I have noticed a dramatic difference in my experience. While not running fast nor for a long time – 8 minutes has been the longest run – my body has responded to the new routine. My breathing is better. I think my stride is less spastic as my body is beginning to grasp what I am asking of it. The routine of getting out of bed and out the door on winter days where the temperature is in the teens has not been easy but it seems to be getting less tough.

Right now my concern is my knees. I can’t say I’m in pain, but I am noticing a stiffness and a mild discomfort that comes and goes.

This could be the start of me screwing up my knees from sheer stupidity – or perhaps due to eating foods that might be cause of inflammation?

As you can’t do much about being stupid, I’m trying to address the latter and remove from my diet some faves that I believe might be a culprit in inflammation.

I’m wondering if my recent love of almond meal and almond milk – as well as my long-term love affair with mayonnaise is causing me problems and in the past 2 days have embraced a ketogenic low carb diet that excludes them.

Please note this is all empirical experimentation based on assumptions that I am willing to test as a hypothesis and not based on any ‘Facts’ with a capital ‘F’. Nutrition science is very hard to apply in the real world because people vary so much and there are so many factors that can’t be accurately measured.

Now ‘anti-inflammatory’ is a very suspect word as well because a lot of claims are made for it and a lot of foods and supplements claim to reduce it. Inflammation is also not a ‘bad’ word. It is a vital part of your body’s defense system. What is also interesting is that in a quick search yesterday I found that almonds are inflammatory AND anti-inflammatory based on different sources. Ketogenic low carb diets are also inflammatory and anti-inflammatory, depending on who you listen to.

The best was a slideshow on some site that was something like ‘7 foods to avoid if you have arthritis’ which mentioned dairy. A second slide show on the exact same site on ‘foods good for fighting arthritis’ mentioned dairy – and used the EXACT SAME PICTURE.

Let’s face it – the Internet can tell us what we want to hear. What I do know is that I believe that ketogenic low carb diets work for me – and some research thinks they are anti-infmallatory, so I will work with that assumption.

This has meant that I have been faithful to my diet for the past 2 days not because I want to lose weight but because I believe that eliminating carbs as well as some high omega-6 fats might help me run better and with less joint discomfort.

It was interesting how I had this thought and it was as if another part of my mind then said to me: “See? this is an example of the keystone habit having a ripple effect.” The thought to use a ketogenic diet for my knees came from somewhere else than the voice that pointed out the keystone habit. The same happened when last Friday, very stressed in work, I thought of running instead of a cigarette and wine and that other part of my mind pointed out how my thinking had changed in a week as to where to turn when stressed.

I think the short of it is – whatever is up – I have been faithful to my diet for 2 days for reasons having nothing to do with weight loss (my primary goal) by playing mind games with myself.