Mathematical Anomaly on Weight Loss Journey

As of today, I have lost both 63.2 pounds and 108.2 pounds, but not 163.2 pounds.

A riddle for the ages, but I’ll explain.

I started my current regiment on September 8, 2016 at a weight of 245 pounds. My highest know weight taken at doctor’s office sometime in 2009 was in the 290s. I don’t know exactly how much, because who wants to think about it when you are resigned to being too heavy because you don’t see another option? Please remember, I’m 4 feet 9 inches tall. Your mental picture should adjust a bit to shorter and more round like a fun-house mirror.

It means something to me that despite my struggles with weight fluctuations since I originally went from 290+ to 217 in August of 2010, I never went all the way back to 290 pounds. (Pro-tip: Get rid of clothes that are too big; Give yourself no where to go without admitting defeat.) I’ve already beaten the odds which say the vast majority of dieters regain what they lost within 2 years. I consider myself to have a leg up in this leg of the journey where the real goal isn’t the losing but the maintaining a healthy weight, reversing and preventing disease, and building my fitness levels. Deep down, I don’t consider “thin” one of my major goals. But excess weight is a health risk, especially when you have the underlying health challenges I do. Weight is also easy to measure.

As of this morning, I weigh 181.8 pounds.

While I don’t advocate for BMI as a measure of health as it only takes height and weight into account, it can be a useful comparison tool. I’m currently 39.2 on the BMI chart. At 290, I was 62.8. At 245, 53.

My goal, because it helps to have one, is 145 pounds. I picked it rather arbitrarily as I don’t have any concept of what my adult body at a normal weight would be like. Plus, it’s half of my highest known weight. It’s entirely possible I’ll won’t consider myself finished at that point, but I suspect it will be time to start working out in earnest

I was around the size I am now (weight unknown) in high school. I am not as muscular in my legs as I was back then when I walked everywhere, but I’m okay with that as part of the plan is *not* exercising in order to avoid bringing up a desire for more food. Since it’s impossible to outrun your mouth, this has proven an effective strategy. Have I lost muscle? No doubt. But what I lost was marbled with fat like a fine cut of steak. Once I reach my goal, I’ll be working to rebuild lean muscles as well as firm and tone which should be easier without the excess me. I have some unorthodox goals but being tasty when grilled is not one of them. Sorry, you are going to have to stick me in the slow cooker with some barbecue sauce.

I have begun in the last few weeks to take walks again. There was a period a few years back when Chris had to drop me off an hour and a half before my shift started so I got in the habit of walking three miles in the morning before work and usually a mile on my lunch. I got to where I was consistently hitting 20 minutes per mile and sometime squeaking out a bit faster. I got addicted to the feeling of that third mile when adrenaline starts pumping hard. I’m not pushing hard these days as my endurance and stamina aren’t what they once were, but it still feels good to put my headphones on and move.

Accomplishments matter. Less to impress others than to convince myself I’m capable. Being able to say I’ve lost 100 pounds and am a mere 37 pounds from my goal is a big deal well beyond the realm of the scale.

Veggies and Brown Rice

I love recipes, I do.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time surfing vegan and Paleo food blogs as well as browsing cookbooks. Saving whole plant food ideas on Pinterest is a hobby level occupation. Even before making a drastic change to my diet, I loved watching Good Eats or reading recipes. Food is essential. Cooking is a basic life skill worth mastering and, if you can, enjoying.

Yet a large percentage of our meals aren’t elaborate. A large part of our diet success is how the limitations (especially the no salt, no oil, no sugar directive which is so important) make restaurants and prepared foods off limits. It’s also made for culinary streamlining. I seldom cook one meal’s worth of food. More dishes are 2 – 4 ingredients than anything. Easy to prepare, inexpensive and good as leftovers is the trifecta for getting in the rotation.

Yesterday’s midday “breakfast” is pictures above. At this point while still working to lose weight, we don’t typically eat in the morning. I’ve joked calling it “fasting” makes it sound better than talking about not eating until later in the day or allowing yourself to become hungry because that’s when the body burns stored calories.

At first, I was avoiding too many whole grains and potatoes, but I have not observed any adverse impact on the scale when I partake. Brown rice has quickly become a staple. At just over 200 calories a cup and with tons of filling fiber, if anything, it keeps me satisfied. We’ve also found that Chris is able to avoid gout flair ups with eating grains and potatoes.

This particular brown rice was seasoned with garlic powder at the ratio of one teaspoon per cup of uncooked rice and cook to the directions on the package. Brown rice takes a bit longer – 45 minutes instead of 30 – to cook than white but otherwise it’s the same method. It’s flavorful enough to be interesting but plain enough to pair with any other dish or add another flavoring on the table. Sometimes I do plain or add ginger as well as garlic. My serving got a hit of Tabasco before I got down to eating.

The veggie mix is Costco’s frozen stir fry blend, plus a pound bag of Costco frozen broccoli. I never think there is enough broccoli. I think we pay around $7 for the four pound bags and it’s great quality stuff. Yes, there is a difference. Buy yourself a cheap bag of store brand frozen broccoli and enjoy all those weird end pieces that are more white than green and I’ll be over here with my bright green tiny trees.

One thing I always get questions about our diet is how can you cook things without oil? I admit, it seems weird when nearly every recipe starts with oil or butter in a pan. Granted, it adds flavor and sometimes adds to the texture of a finished dish, but it’s not required. I start with a little water in the bottom of my pan for things like cooking aromatics or this vegetable blend. I’ve also used vinegar to add some moisture to the pan for things like onions and mushrooms.

In this case, I added the coconut vinegar to the pan once everything was thawed and well on it’s way to done. It’s a mild one and brings a little flavor the the party. We got the vinegar as well as several other flavors (the spicy one is wildly popular in our house) at Saigon Market of Greenville. Watch the labels because some will have salt or excess sugar, but otherwise vinegar is your friend.

A giant pile of veggies, including green peas and string beans which are legumes, and whole grain rice is a nutritionally sound meal. Ready in under an hour. Eating healthy is *so* hard.

Happy eating!

Diet Advice From a Juggler:
What I’m Eating to Lose Weight

As a side effect of dropping 60 pounds in 4 1/2 months, I’m forever asked about what I’m eating, not eating, doing, not doing. My husband has lost more than twice the number of pounds and gets at least as many questions as well as peanut gallery commentary.

Totally understandable. Who wouldn’t be curious?

And I often say I love the opportunity to talk about what we’re doing without being one of those insufferable people who won’t shut up about their special diet.

Short answer: Whole plants, omitting fruit, nuts and seeds, not because they are bad but because they are more densely caloric than other plant foods and will be added back in once our target weights are achieved. We eat vegetables, legumes, whole grains and mushrooms. For seasoning: spices, herbs, vinegar, nutritional yeast, cocoa powder. Coffee, teas of any kind. (Hello fruity herbal teas! Love you!)

No animal products. No added salt, oil or sugar. No processed grains. Nothing artificial.

The hardest thing to get out of one’s diet is salt. If you think you don’t eat much because you don’t use a salt shaker at the table, you are wrong. It’s in everything packaged or prepared. Eating out is impossible. I gave away so much canned food and seasoning blends full of sodium. We buy no salt added canned tomatoes but otherwise nothing in a can works. Had to learn to cook from dried beans. Frozen veggies are a blessing and of course the produce section is safe even if Costco puts it right by the bakery. We do make a concession for Tabasco as the salt content is modest and you earn it with the heat.

What I do run into is the need to provide reference material  for those who ask with the underlying hope of finding a plan they’ll be able to use.

When my answer starts with “Do you know who Penn Jillette is?” it can go a couple different ways, but usually ends with “I’ll send you links to some information.” Penn was the emotional heart of the change we’d first flirted with in 2013 after seeing a bunch of documentaries about plant based eating. I am going to provide a bunch of links at the bottom of this post for anyone who might be curious.

Back then, we didn’t take it extreme enough, mostly by still using salt and oil. The weight simply didn’t come off for me. While I can personally attest to what we’ve undertaken as not being easy – starting with a two week mono-diet of nothing but potatoes – it has allowed me to overcome the impossible catch-22 of insulin resistance where being overweight exacerbates trouble regulating blood sugar but the condition makes it nearly impossible to shed the weight.

I’ve done the research, heard what doctors and scientists have to say, but it took a man who went to clown college and taught himself fire eating from a pamphlet to convince me I was crazy enough to do it. The only major difference between our plan and Penn’s is he gave up caffeine years ago and I partake for everyone’s benefit.

Resources covering the why & how of whole plant based eating:

Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales  by Penn Jillette – I recommend the audio book. Penn is a performer and hearing him in his own words about his journey is going to have an impact. Word of warning: NSFW or the easily offended. It’s not a diet book, but a first person chronicle of a guy who almost died due to uncontrollable blood pressure doing a crazy thing to live. 

CalorieLab breakdown of Penn’s diet – I love Presto! but it isn’t meant to be a diet book for others to follow, so there’s not a list of do’s and don’t’s like we’ve come to expect. For those who don’t want to read the book, this will give you what you need to know. For those that do read the book, it’s a perfect crib sheet for implementing the plan.

Safe for work and still packs the emotional punch, this Big Think video is an ideal Cliffnotes version of what Presto! provides in a family friendly way

Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Dr. Joel Fuhrman (alternatively, although I haven’t read it myself: Dr. Fuhrman’s book The End of Diabetes: The Eat to Live Plan to Prevent and Reverse Diabetes) – The science as well the diet we’ll eventually spend the rest of our lives on for both maintaining weight and good health. 

Ray Cronise’s blog and Penn’s Sunday School episode: More an honorable mention than anything, “Cray Ray” is the former NASA scientist who once took Penn up in the vomit comet (and let him get naked in Zero G) and was the brains behind Penn’s weight loss. Cronise was, last I knew, still working on a deeply scientific book Our Broken Plate.

Forks Over Knives: I’ve linked to the documentary (it’s on Netflix, too), but check out the website. Lots of recipes and information.

Hungry for Change: Another great documentary (Netflix and Hulu) about the science behind a whole plant based diet. 

My personal Pinterest board for recipes which either fit or can be modified to fit (currently pushing 700 items):



How I Broke My Blog
(Or Didn’t Appreciate It
Til It Was Gone)

Long story short, I updated by WordPress version over the New Years weekend and *poof* the whole site was gone. I didn’t get a fix from GoDaddy until today, mostly due to my lack of follow up. It involved upgrading the type of hosting I was using which meant transferring servers. My famous last words, always: How hard can it be?

I learned a few things in the process but all from not succeeding in transferring my backup files, so I’m rebuilding from spare parts. For the second time as a blogger, I’ve used the Wayback Machine to rescue content. From my previous blog, I pulled the reading lists from before 2010. I had knowingly pulled the plug on the domain but realized later even with the posts I’d had sent to my email over the years, I wanted a few other things. I should make a donation to this wonderful resource.

Today, I wasn’t even planning to change the theme. Now, anything dated before today is transferred. I was terribly upset at the idea of loosing everything. Maybe my blog isn’t anything to anyone else, but it’s something to me.

Sure, I only posted a handful of times in 2016, but I renewed my domain and paid hosting. Money talks, right? I’ve never blogged consistently like I did years ago when it was possible for a humble personal blogger to make a couple hundred dollars a month with a modest amount of traffic and semi-ethical paid links targeted at SEO optimization and some sponsored content.

It was partly the cash, but partly the community. Both dried up. Blogging used to be the way to make and maintain online friendships. I was never great or a run away success, but I still can’t bring myself to let my domain and hosting go. I always say how allowing social media to hold all our content is foolish, but I don’t take the time to post. It’s so convenient to use Facebook or Twitter.

I do tend to write blog posts around my birthday as well as around the first of the year. Despite myself, I get reflective. It was my New Years post that had me logging to break the darn thing.

Since I’ve made so many life changes in the last few months – dietary, obviously – I am thinking about writing here more regularly. Not because I have everything figured out, because I don’t, and since I was a kid writing is how I figure things out.

As I always say, we’ll see what happens on my little corner of the web, but if you are feeling nostalgic yourself, take a trip to the Wayback Machine for yourself.

Happy New Year’s from My Kitchen

 


Since I first moved to South Carolina in 2010, I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying traditional Southern New Year’s Day meals prepared by my mother-in-law. Black-eyed peas, collared greens, cornbread and the most wonderful pork chops you can imagine.

This year, since Chris and I are back on our restrictive weight loss plan after several holiday indulgences, I decided it was up to me to prepare some kin of the good-luck meal to fit our limits. Neither of us believe in superstitious luck bringing, but do believe in the benefits of traditions. We believe in making your own luck and healthy eating is a big part of the luck we’ve made in the last few months. I’d like to write more about our dietary choices here on my blog rather than simply being insufferable on social media, but I will not go into extreme detail in this particular post.

Behold, black-eyed peas prepared with no salt, oil or animal products. Greens, well, didn’t get to the grocery store for collards to cook. Fresh kale and spinach seem just as lucky, right? It’s doubly lucky to go through the Costco sized bags before they get funky and slimy. Greens and beans are the foundation of our plan, so it’s as fitting as it is likely sacrilegious to my hardcore Southern friends. Your meals today are certainly better tasting, but I only just got the scale to read the same as Christmas Eve morning, so I’ll have to pass on the butter and bacon for today. No disrespect to your ancestors intended.

Not pictured is the pot of brown rice. I didn’t plan for corn to go with the meal to symbolically stand in for cornbread. Since it’s a whole grain with so many uses, corn is a staple in our kitchen. Corn on the cob, air popped popcorn, homemade corn tortillas (we bought a press) are all permissible and only scratch the surface of corn’s potential. Popcorn later in the evening is likely, if not corn on the cob, while we watch the new Sherlock special on PBS.

Happy (and Healthy) New Year!