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.

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My Crappy Diet So Far 11-11-2014

Another missive from the trenches. Where was I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The body does what the body does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No food after 6pm

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

So I’ll start with just one.

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

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

Then it was 6pm. No eating.

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

I sat back and had more orange soda.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

My Crappy Diet So Far 11-08-2014

Another missive from the trenches. Where was I?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I had another cup of coffee instead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll see if that happens.

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

To be continued

My Crappy Diet So Far 11-07-2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My liquids have been:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued

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?”

“No.”

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.”

“Who?”

“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…

If Low Carb Makes So Much Sense, Why Do Other Diets Work?

As I’m in bed this morning waiting for the precise perfect moment to roll out, I happened to dwell on the several ads that I’ve been glancing at in magazines and the newspaper recently.  I say recently, but they’re always there, just more so in the beginning of the year, it seems.  You’ve seen the ads, I’m sure: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, the hypnosis ads, the food plan ads, all the health clubs, and plenty of before-and-after photos and testimonials to go with them.  When you’re at the supermarket checkout line, count the number of magazines that have a sure-fire diet plan on the cover.  (Even Dr. Atkins’ diet was the darling of the Vogue readership for years before he published his New Diet Revolution in 1973.)

I’m to the point in Taubes’ Good Calories, Bad Calories that I firmly believe that the only effective way to lose weight is to cut out carbohydrates and make dietary fat a good percentage of your daily diet.  Exercise is not necessary and can actually work against you if you’re trying to drop pounds.  I’m in the middle of an experiment right now, so I can’t really carp for the time being that I haven’t lost any weight doing just this for the last seven weeks.

But come on… other people lose weight doing other things.  Even I have.  One year, I lost over 20 pounds by simply eating a bag of raw vegetables for lunch every day.  Boring as all get-out, but I got into a routine, stopped thinking about it, and the pounds came off.  (Yes, after I stopped that routine, they went back on.)  My first wife and I paid a lot of money to a chain called “Weight Loss Clinic” where we had to go every day to be weighed by a nurse and report what we were eating on a very low calorie diet.  We both lost over 50 pounds each and we both regained most of the loss within six months.  Around that time, we started getting postcards from the business asking if it wasn’t time to come back in if we needed to.  Perpetual customers, what a concept, but hardly original:  the obsolescense factor is a well-known marketing tool.

So why do all these other approaches work at all?

Maybe the key word is “effective,” as I used earlier to describe low carb.  Do you know anyone who lost weight through exercise who gained it back when (if) they stopped their routine?  How about eating low calorie?  I know plenty of people who’ve tried this, and for them it’s a continuous battle with hunger; all they ever seem to talk about is food and how much they want it and how many things they are tempted with.  I personally don’t know anyone who’s lost weight by being hypnotized, but my wife tried it once to quit smoking many years ago and she sat through one session and came back with the report that it was a bunch of nonsense.  (To this day she will occasionally cluck like a chicken, but she doesn’t realize it and I don’t say anything.)

If you’re overweight and you want and need to lose a significant number of pounds, isn’t keeping those pounds off the real issue?  Look at how many studies of subjects on various diets end with those people losing either an insignificant amount of weight or not being able to stay on the eating plan long enough to make a difference.  How many subjects maintain a significant loss for a year or more, a factor considered essential in rating the effectiveness of an eating plan?

I’m not saying low carb is going to work for everyone.  Not because the science is at fault, but because we’re human beings.  There’s a psychological element to dieting to lose weight, and even if we’re losing, we’re leaving something behind that we enjoyed.  Maybe some kind of special food or drink, maybe the camaraderie of joining friends eating things that we now know are very bad with regard to overall health.  Working out takes time away from other things we’d perhaps rather be doing.  Some people get bored doing anything for too long, especially if it takes effort and discipline.  Even some of the women in the Atkins group in the recent Stanford University study of popular diets strayed toward the end, although this group did better than any of the other groups in both weight loss and “sticktuitiveness.”

John Galt knows, I don’t consider myself a poster boy for low carb.  I’m just as guilty of regaining a lot of the weight I lost in 2003.  Almost all of it was because I returned to eating high carb foods, and it started immediately after I started eating carbs.  It was not difficult to eat a low carb diet month after month, year after year.  I never had a problem turning down celebratory cake slices at birthday parties, or dessert when eating out.  I haven’t felt a desire to patronize the snack machine at work except for an occasional bag of peanuts. 

When I read that eating carbs begets an urge to eat more carbs, I believe it because I’ve been through it and I see it all around me every day.  There’s little satiety in carbohydrates.  Conventional nutritional wisdom tells people to fill up on fiber to make them “feel full” and therefore fend off their appetite.  I’m amazed when I think about how infrequently I feel any hunger at all, in fact, I probably eat when I do because it’s “time” to eat more than for any other reason.

I’m still looking forward to correcting the results of my backsliding, and maybe, just maybe, this time I’ve learned my lesson for good.  Anything’s possible.