Note: This is week 10 of what was supposed to be a 12-week experiment in low carb dieting. I have kept true to my title for these posts. The past chronicles are here , if this sort of stuff holds any interest for you.
I started this week pretty much where I started every week doing this public performance of diet-flailing: 208.
I was still in the range I’ve been in for 8 months. What changed was not my weight, obviously.
And maybe that was OK. Maybe this wasn’t about the struggle to take off a few pounds. Maybe this was about the ability to struggle without despair. To enjoy the struggle. To keep trying without getting wrapped up in my obsession.
What the hell does that mean?
I just finished an important book: The Obesity Myth by James Campos . A law professor and a former fat guy, he wrote a case for the prosecution. The defendant is the title of the book: the obesity myth – the notion that we are a nation of fat sedentary and unhealthy individuals, and if we only stepped away from the table occasionally and got some exercise, we’d all be thin.
This book is out of print. Not because it’s a bad book: it’s an interesting read, and one that I think everyone who is on a diet or considering going on one should read.
It’s out of print because it flies in the face of conventional wisdom. It calls out the entire diet industry as perpetrating a fraud on people, defining ideal weight as something unattainable to the vast majority of Americans, painting even the slightly overweight as suffering from the same health issues as those people grossly overweight and unfit, and condemning millions of people to a life of shame, self-hatred, damaged health, and counterintuitive, weight gain through perpetual useless dieting.
It’s one Hell of an indictment. In fact, it can be described as an old friend of mine would say: ‘Like a turd in a punchbowl.’
No wonder it’s out of print. Nobody wants to read this. An entire industry has been created around the myth that being fat has a direct correlation to being unhealthy, but professor Campos makes clear that there is little health difference between a fat person who eats healthy and exercises and a thin person who eats healthy and exercises, while there is a BIG difference between that healthy fat person and a thin person who eats junk and is sedentary.
There’s a lot of people who want to believe this myth – including its victims: us fat people.
If you are reading this, you’re probably fat and want to be thin – that is: if you haven’t abandoned these posts because I have ‘failed’ in my weight loss – and who wants to see that?
If you are ‘fat’ and still reading, let me ask you: are you really fat? Or is it that you don’t meet a cultural ideal, an airbrushed magazine cover of what ‘healthy’ looks like?
Assuredly there will be more on this from me. I’ve done a lot of reading in this area. These diet deniers write wonderful, insightful books that quickly go out of print, but given the wonderful ability to buy second-hand books over the Internet – I have a few of them.
I am also not just having my head turned by some recent idea I’ve been exposed to – which does occur with me, to be honest. No – there’s a thread throughout this blog that I do not condone weight-loss-at-any-price – despair and self-hatred are verboten. The ability to enjoy food and not being hungry are paramount. The occasional overindulgence encouraged. That’s why low carb is so freaking awesome. Give up pasta for bacon? Sure! Sign me up! If I gotta make a choice there, it’s an easy one.
Sunday, April 22, 2012 – 208.2
Anywho – to the mundanity of daily eats.
Five thousand calories the previous day leave a man a bit unhungry in the AM…I broke my fast around 12:30 with some prosciutto, followed by some of the grocery store roaster. I then experimented with a coconut milk ice cream. I tried it with a little stevia, but I really don’t like stevia, and having more or less ruined it at the outset, I regressed to childhood and threw whatever in: cinnamon, cocoa powder, cayenne pepper. My wife and older daughter tried it. “Interesting.” was the guarded response from both.
I think it sucked, actually – for me, stevia ruins the flavor even more so than cayenne pepper in ice cream would.
It might have been better with no sweetener at all, or been that one rare use for splenda.
My wife and I cooked in the afternoon. I made some grass-fed burgers and grocery store spicy Italian sausages on the grill, and had 2 of the burgers and ultimately 2 of the sausages. My wife, now officially off her 6-week Ultramind diet, made a brioche as an experiment. I had some – it was quite good though she was disappointed it didn’t rise all that much. It went well with some butter. We played cards – ‘progressive rummy’ – a card game we learned at our friends house the previous night. My wife won and I was the big loser. Then we went to bed.
Total grams for the day: 283 (10oz). Total calories: 1,750. Fat: 113g, Net carbs: 34g, Protein: 136g (40/12/48%)
Monday, April 23, 2012 – 208.2
The most notable aspect of this day was my mood – it was in the shitter. OK, it was a Monday, it was rainy, and I needed to start putting together a big, complicated project that felt akin to starting to clean a garage or basement: where the hell to begin? This isn’t an unusual feeling to have in similar past situations, so I chalked it up to ‘situational stress’ and figured I’ll get a head of steam on this eventually and I just need to weather the emotions.
Eats during the day were a combo of leftover sausage and hamburger as well as yogurt and 1/2 of a very large cucumber with salt.
I skipped exercise on the way home – and I didn’t go out of a walk because of the weather. I was conflicted about this, of course: I’m was in a crappy mood and when like this it’s best to get the most mileage out of little things by turning them into big things. That’s what a good funk is good for – right?
At home with the kids, however, I felt better. I had a burger with some cheese and a small piece of the brioche from the other day – there was only a little piece left – it wasn’t restraint that prevented me from eating more.
When my wife came home she brought a key lime pie and I had a piece. It was pretty good – not great, however. We’re the carbs worth it? In this case, probably no.
Total grams for the day: 303 (10.7oz). Total calories: 1,761. Fat: 97g, Net carbs: 68g, Protein: 138g (32/22/46%)
Tuesday, April 24, 2012 – 204.0
Today sucked less than yesterday, which I attribute as to making some good progress on the project in work. I walked at work, though 2/3rds of what I usually do. I had just a yogurt and 3 of the spicy Italian sausages I cooked up on the weekend – that was it for the day. In the evening I went and exercised. Because there was a guy on one of the machines I used, I upped my reps to 20 from 10 – and was surprised to see I could actually do it. Perhaps the rest in between had helped?
At home I cooked up some ground beef I got over the weekend on the grill and had 2 burgers with ketchup. I also had a small piece of the kid’s leftover pizza – my thinking here, oddly, was a fallback to when I lost 30 pounds last year: a portioned indulgence, eaten with fat. It wasn’t all that much. I had jumped on the scale in the evening and I was down to 201.6 – why is the weight suddenly dropping off me now? Despite all this documenting, I’ll be damned if I know.
A few strange items: the past 2 nights I’ve had these long involved dreams, something I don’t usually have. I also was wondering if I am subconsciously fixating on my BMI being under 30. While I know this is in many ways a worthless number, it was a milestone for me to get under 30 – and under 30, right under 30 – is where I’ve been for months.
I decided to change my height in my weight tracking program. I mad myself an inch shorter. Now my BMI is over 30. Let’s see if I do what I usually do when I see that: get the number under 30. I know: weird.
Total grams for the day: 239 (8.4oz). Total calories: 1,761. Fat: 94g, Net carbs: 26g, Protein: 119g (39/11/50%)
Wednesday, April 25, 2012 – 202.2
On Monday I was 208.2. By Tuesday night I was 201.6. Whatever the reason for the precipitous drop (magic key lime pie, perhaps?), it usually swings up at this point.
Certainly my hunger did.
Something I rarely mention is that I *never* starve myself. Never on low carb have I allowed myself to suffer from hunger. I’ve managed it – eating some and waiting a bit, or attempting portion control, but if my hunger continued, I ate – and I measured my success on what I ate, not how much.
This was a day I could not control the hunger.
I started with an Atkins shake for breakfast in the car. I had also forgotten my ear buds in work the day before and was forced to listen to staticy radio for my entire hour commute – and I listened to the news. Bad idea. The news does NOTHING good for me, especially as I’m in a bit of a funk, most likely little to do with the diet and more to do with stress at work and cold and cloudy weather.
At work I had a yogurt and was good most of the morning, then had one of the hamburgers I cooked and 1/2 cucumber.
I grabbed a Dunkin Donuts coffee for lunch as a treat for myself. I looked up the nutrition facts on this – not an easy thing to do. They aren’t even listed on the Dunkin Donuts site. I eventually figured out there was approximately 145 calories in the thing as they use light cream – I’ve been overestimating on this for a while now. Counting calories suck.
Later in the afternoon I had a can of baby clams in the lunchroom. A colleague was walking by, and apparently having pegged me for a ‘health nut’, asked: “What are the health benefits of clams?”
“I like them.” I said.
On the way home I had a mean case of the hungries. Bad, because I was having food fantasies. Always a bad sign. Sandwiches and McDonald’s danced in my head. The volcano needed to be fed virgins to appease the Gods. It was big.
I mollified myself by through what I considered a negotiated settlement with the hunger volcano. No virgins for you – how about we go down-market? I bought 2 ‘snack-size’ bags of BBQ-flavored pork rinds, with a dusting of everybody’s favorite possible neurotoxin, MSG.
Hoping this would appease the hunger, I crunched these things on the way home, with bits of neon orange toxic BBQ-flavored dust landing on my jacket. It wasn’t a pretty sight, I’m sure. I munched my way through 2 bags, and followed with an Atkins shake as a chaser.
It wasn’t until the Atkins shake that the hunger subsided – perhaps I should have started the appeasement with that?
At home I was exhausted, and took a nap until my wife came come from work and woke me up. Everyone went to the kitchen at this point and I availed myself of an abandoned Wendy’s chicken sandwich that gets a ‘meh’ rating from me on quality. Next up was 1/2 slice of bread with some cheese, a few bites of the once-fashionable-but-now-forgotten key lime pie, and a small glass of milk, then back to bed.
Total grams for the day: 470 (16.6oz). Total calories: 2,710. Fat: 158g, Net carbs: 89g, Protein: 223g (34/19/47%)
Thursday, April 26, 2012 – 203.8
Considering how much I ate yesterday, the scale was kind. As I mentioned the other day, I did mess about with the bullshit BMI number calculation by making myself an inch shorter, and now the BMI reads over 30 – let’s see if I react to that on some unconscious level. We’re complicated beings – I wouldn’t put it past me to be so irrational that it matters.
What was particularly notable about this day was the total lack of hunger during the day: a shake in the am, a yogurt, mid morning, and a cucumber in the afternoon – that’s it. Took a walk, but didn’t lift.
In the evening I got the kids pizza and had some myself – considering I was so low in food for the day – and like pizza – I had 2 slices, then cleaned up the kid’s leftover, putting some butter on the crust.
Mood was so-so and inconsistent. I was more cranky than depressed – which is better. Anger is a much better emotion than despair – anger has energy and, if properly channeled, can be productive. Despair just sits there – waiting. Still overcast and chilly.
Total grams for the day: 241 (8.5oz). Total calories: 1,377. Fat: 241g, Net carbs: 74g, Protein: 100g (31/41/28%)
Friday, April 27, 2012 – 203.4
I was all over the map on this day in terms of mood. In general, I’d say it was OK – but there were ups and downs, believe me. I had my shake and my yogurt – both are convenience foods, and as much as I dislike drinking the chemical concoction that is the shake, it sure is handy and does prevent me from gobbling down much worse…at least sometimes.
I thought I would cut my walk short on this day, but I found myself doing the full three circuits around the building where I work. Sunny though cold and blustery, I see sunshine as medicinal, and whether it’s true or not, it makes me feel better to walk in it. I was appreciably less cranky in the afternoon.
Before leaving work I had a can of oysters, and in the car another shake. I picked up McDonald’s for the kids, which was a bad idea for the kids and a bad idea for myself.
Considering how little I actually ate during the day, I thought a few fries wouldn’t be a big deal. This lead to a few more. Then a few more. I had bought an extra chicken sandwich and ate that as well.
At home, the fast food set off the hunger trigger and I vacuumed up a number of items that certainly weren’t on the acceptable foods list: leftover pasta, some sandwich my wife had leftover from her day at work, some Lindt chocolate balls, some brown rice, and even a little jelly on some bread. The jelly was some sort of Swedish preserves we got on our last day trip to Ikea, the Swedish furniture store. The place is a trip – so clever in so many ways. Very experimental in their notion of something as mundane as selling furniture you have to put together yourself. They even sell food from Sweden and have a mini grocery store.
The jelly I had – ‘cloudberry’, if I recall, had some strange aftertaste – apparently, living near the Arctic circle make you think any berry tastes good. I think not.
I felt sick after my little overindulgence – and pretty tired as well – and went to bed.
Total grams for the day: 601 (21oz). Total calories: 3,391. Fat: 181g, Net carbs: 240g, Protein: 180g (30/40/30%)
Saturday, April 28, 2012 – 204.0
Very interesting that the food consumed seemed to have little effect on my weight. 0.6 pounds is far less than I would have expected.
Being Saturday I slept in and got up around 6 and drank black coffee. At 11am I had a can of tuna with mayonnaise. In recording this, I noted that this was the first time in nearly a month that I had mayonnaise. I used to eat it all the time. I have been trying to stay with animal fats and olive and coconut oil and avoid the other oils – I suppose I’ve done well here.
I also had an ounce of provolone cheese.
We went to an arts festival in the afternoon and I had street vendor paella. Being the town arts festival, this was no ordinary street vendor but the best restaurant in town making the stuff in a giant pan on the street. No wonder the line was 70 deep. It took a while, but just about the time we were at the front of the line, they brought a giant fresh pan of scallops, sausage, octopus, chicken & rice to the head of the line. The man in front of us said: “It doesn’t get any better than this.”
I had to agree. In the restaurant, you can’t get a piece of bread and butter for $6 – but that was how much the paella cost.
To be honest, however, I was not in the mood for the crowds and the vendors. I would have really preferred a quiet day. I think I’m a bit depressed.
Oddly, I’m not depressed about my lack of weight loss, nor my ‘cheating’, nor anything to do with the diet. Really, I’ve been doing this for so long that I am aware that there are times that are just not right for weight loss for whatever reason. This I accept. I don’t give up – I just fail gracefully and try again. As I’ve mentioned a number of times in this chronicle, I am maintaining my weight loss of some-odd 60 pounds from 9 years ago – and doing so eating carbs – plenty of them.
From a weight maintenance perspective, I’ve got nothing to complain about.
From an exercise perspective, while I have tapered off to only a few days a week of lifting and my walks are down a bit as well, I still have created a craving for activity. I have also proven to myself with the Fitbit that even on days where it appears to me I’m not that active, my life is such that I am still getting on average of 5000 steps in per day and on days where I try to get that number up, I’m over 10,000 per day.
From an eating perspective I do have some bones to pick with myself. I can’t quite bring myself to demonize food anymore. It’s a wonderful way of self-mind control to do this: break foods down into ‘good’ and ‘evil’ and eat in such a way that you become a ‘good’ person. I think people sometimes use their diets as a way to feel superior to others – and I don’t even hold it against someone to do so. If they reclaim their health and happiness through this means, I am fine with it – even if they *do* become insufferable, self-righteous assholes in the process.
The problem for me is that I *know* how this magic trick works. And of course, when you know how a magic trick works, the magic disappears.
If there’s a change to be made, more than anything, it would be that I redefine what junk is. I’m OK with not losing weight right now, but if I’m going to splurge of goodies, I’d like them to be higher quality & less processed. Fruit instead of candy and cake, for example. Fresh instead of in a package with a shelf life guaranteed by chemicals to be longer than the lifespan of some family pets.
I don’t believe in total prohibition of any food. What I’m working toward is the eventual loss of desire for what I see as ‘tacky’ food. I would like to banish ‘good’ and ‘bad’ from the thinking about food forever and replace it with ‘lame’ and ‘pathetic’ and ‘pointless’.
Having a gooey and sweet God-knows-what on occasion should never be a crime. What should be a crime is that it wasn’t that good – that you wasted that intake on something that just wasn’t worth it.
Coming back to the notion of ‘depressed’, I do want to make clear that it’s OK, and that I’m OK.
I have an ability that I don’t think everyone else has: I can detach myself from my emotions and look at them as if I was not the one experiencing them. With this ability to observe myself, I can see that, yes, I do have external life issues – things that happen to people – nothing all that unusual – that are weighing on me. A dispassionate assessment of these show that these will pass, and I just need to weather this.
My mood is also sensitive to the actual weather, and the approach of summer and sun will do wonders for my mood.
Really – I’ve had the exact same problems I do now and been in a wonderful mood. It’s not the problems that are the issue – it’s the mood – and moods pass.
To complete the discussion of depression, it pays to make fun of it. The problem with depression is that it can be defined as a disease where one takes themselves way too seriously.
Life’s too serious to take too seriously, frankly.
To conclude this ramble, after the arts festival and grocery shopping, I came home and put away the groceries while my wife whipped up some ‘rapid brioche’ from her French baking cookbook. While filling the cupboards and stuffing the fridge, I ate 3 hot dogs on delicious potato rolls, followed up with a glass of milk. Later, when the brioche was done, I had a piece – hot from the oven. Delish.
Total grams for the day: 467 (16.5oz). Total calories: 2,642. Fat: 147g, Net carbs: 175g, Protein: 145g (31/38/31%)