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Simple Low Carb: Progress Report from the World’s Worst Successful Low Carb Dieter

Posted Jan 26 2013 6:33am


Looking back on the past 2 weeks I think the sole purpose of this post is to demonstrate just how *awful* you can be at low carb dieting and still lose weight. Part of me looks at my performance detailed below, then at my goal of 185 by May and laughs: “Yeah, right…”

Another part looks at the chart above and thinks…maybe.

Regardless, I just trudge on. This is what I do: low carb is sort of like breathing for me. It doesn’t matter how good or how bad I do at it on a given day /week / month, it’s just something I practice at day in and day out.

What follows is my personal eating journal. Let me ask this: does anyone find this helpful or am I just cluttering up the Internet? Let me know. I don’t know if this provides insight or wastes your time.

Sunday, January 13, 2013 – 204.0

The highlight of the day was a non-event. I had to deal with an emergency that required me to drive 3 hours and lose my Sunday afternoon. Nothing life-threatening, but I would have rather relaxed in anticipation for what will be another stressful work week.

I have 2 temptations when I go to this area: a sandwich shop with about the best cold sub sandwich I have ever had, and White Castle, with their oddly alluring little square burgers. I thought about both a lot – and decided against it.

The day turned out to be OK calorically, but eating a leftover Dunkin Donuts sandwich in the evening with their hash browns blew any notion of ketogenic low carb, though the total carb count is still lower than the vast majority of folks.

Calories: 1,515
Fat: 87g
Net Carbs: 80g
Protein: 95g

Monday, January 14, 2013 – 202.o

A light and austere day of roast beef, butter and yogurt. The night was NOT in any way the foods I would have chosen: a decent-sized piece of sausage Stromboli my wife brought home, chicken nuggets, a few tablespoons of leftover Trader Joe’s roasted potatoes and a small amount of chips leftover in a bag on the counter.

Luckily, the strategy of keeping the calories low during the day is helping out here – my totals are not within range, certainly, but not ridiculous, either.

Calories: 1,637
Fat: 211g
Net Carbs: 67g
Protein: 74g

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 – 200.6

On December 16, I left for my vacation and 15 days of eating what I wanted at a weight of 200.6. When I started this diet on January 1, I was 209.5. 15 days later I am 200.6 again. I think the universe has been very fair to me on this one, since the past 15 days have not been a model of dieting behavior by any means.

I had my 2 yogurts, a Dunkin Donuts coffee and my roast beef with 4 ounces of butter at work. At home I made no pretense of a low carb diet and had 2 bowls of spinach pasta with sauce and grated cheese, as well as some Argentine chocolate-covered confection a colleague had brought back from vacation – which I entered as a cupcake.

Calories: 1,965
Fat: 90g
Net Carbs: 178g
Protein: 84g

Wednesday, January 16, 2013 – 201.4

A little upset with myself from last night – I gave in way too easy. I enjoyed it, though. I blame society. Yes – stress at work cause by society made me eat that pasta. OK – time to move on and try harder today.

I went in late because of bad weather, and my mood was pretty OK. It wasn’t an unpleasant day – I got a small project out of the way and there were no fires to put out. I had 4.75 ounces of roast beef with 3 tablespoons of butter. I’ve found I like the butter warmed slightly, but just a few extra seconds in the microwave makes a god-awful mess. Got to get the timing right on that one. I also had a yogurt and my new comfort crutch - Dunkin Donuts coffee with cream.

On the way home I found myself tempted to stop at the store. I wanted some low carb bread. Still jonesin’ for bread, apparently. I caught myself and stopped myself, however, and drove by. I have not been cooking at all – lazy or uninspired, I suppose, so there was nothing low carb waiting for me. I had American cheese and mayo with lettuce as well as 14 cherry tomatoes. My focus was to keep low carb above anything else. I didn’t measure so I estimated the best I could.

Calories: 2,063
Fat: 173g
Net Carbs: 15g
Protein: 87g

Thursday, January 17, 2013 – 201.4

Yesterday was not a bad day – so why to I feel so lousy about it? Because of the 199.4 weight I saw on the scale the other day. A number under 200 is a big psychological hurdle to cross – and I am the wrong side. I tell the other part of me to be patient, that these things take time, and I suppose it helps somewhat. I can’t conceive of giving up – but I sure wish I was a little further along. ‘Patience.’ I tell myself.

I was strangely out of sorts. Sad and demotivated. I propelled myself through the day, however, on my roast beef, butter, Dunkin Donuts coffee and yogurt , and made it home where I was again left with ‘what to eat’.

I weighed myself when I got home and there seemed no appreciable difference. I thought of skipping dinner to try to goose things, but then thought better of it – that doesn’t work. The rational me knows that. Adequate calories and time are necessary for health and weight loss. Despite all I’ve learned, my mind still craps out stupid ideas from time to time and I need the awareness to cut them off at the pass.

I was in the mood for canned tuna and mayo so I approximated 4 tablespoons in a bowl and put in the can to mix. I had it on lettuce leaves, and tried it with sauerkraut – which seems so wrong on the face of it but was a really, really good combination – though eat it over the plate. Without a bun to absorb the liquid, this drips.

For dessert I went back to my old routine and had 4 squares of the Lindt dark chocolate. I don’t know why I hadn’t had any in a while – oh, yeah – I know – I was eating utter crap instead! I keep it at room temperature, refrigerating it ruins the flavor, and I savored each piece. This is about it in terms of sweetness for me when low carbing and it is a fine reward. When your palate isn’t blasted by sugar on an hourly basis, ‘sweet’ becomes a subtle and layered experience with a piece of dark chocolate. I very much enjoy this stuff – it is NOT a consolation prize – a poor replacement for what I really want, but rather an experience one comes to by eliminating all the lesser ones to better experience this.

And that was it. I was spent – exhausted by the day, one of the ones where every little thing is a big thing and it all seems so dark and hopeless. I went to bed early, falling asleep reading about football player’s imaginary girlfriends. I suppose some people’s problems are stranger than mine.

Calories: 1,681
Fat: 130g
Net Carbs: 18g
Protein: 84g

Friday, January 18, 2013 – 200.4

Ketosis. That explains it. Why didn’t I recognize the signs? Perhaps part of me had given up while the other part soldiered on. I felt the way I felt yesterday partly because of that switch into ketosis. I almost didn’t t test for it this morning – I haven’t tried yet this year as I haven’t been strict enough, but on this morning, the ketosis was moderate – and that explains the mood and tiredness. If I had made the connection, I could have managed my emotions better and not projected the feelings on the wrong things.

Old pro that I am, I still get tripped up.

I am also about the weight I was when I left, proving that it is harder to get back in the groove than out of it. Captain Obvious at your service.

So, as the World’s Worst Successful Low Carb Dieter, I made it into ketosis – and it only took me 18 days. Let’s see if I can stay there.

Saturday, January 19, 2013 – 199.8

Finally. A big psychological hurdle has been crossed.

If only weight loss was about a number on a scale. No matter how much we like to think of ourselves as rational and reasonable people, we are only a hair’s breadth away from a splendid insanity. One where the unimportant becomes important and matters of import are summarily dismissed.

One where 199.8 on a $50 bathroom scale is a world of difference from seeing 200.0.

Weekends are always a bear though, because there is less structure and more opportunities for random, unplanned eating. My approach to this is very middle-of-the-road: I don’t come down on myself, nor do I fling myself into reckless abandon (that was my vacation). I balance pleasure and discipline which, believe me, is a bit of a trick – one where I still get cut despite years of practice.

I woke hungry and had a yogurt. Later in the morning my daughter was cooking and had sliced tomatoes. I stole some and had it with American cheese – an old favorite combo of mine.

I decided to make ‘whateves’ again – a concoction of whatever leftovers I found in the fridge cooked with a pound of ground beef. My way of cleaning the fridge and making homemade Hamburger Helper. Each is unique and never to be repeated. And amazingly, each time I’ve made it, it all got eaten.

This day’s Whatevs consisted of the pound of ground beef, a half-stick of butter, a few aging zucchinis, some orphaned fancy mushrooms bought for a soup that never got made, some forgotten stewed tomatoes, and a cup of frozen pesto my wife had made during the summer.

It came out quite good though greasy as hell – and I mean that in the most positive possible way. I guesstimated that each cup was about 440 calories and maybe 6 grams of carbs – nothing wrong there. Both my wife and my daughter had some. My daughter spread it on French bread, my wife on Indian bread.

I had it by itself and it was quite good, but my appetite seemed out of whack – perhaps the unstructured nature of the day or maybe something else. I continued eating and ended up consuming another cup of the stuff with port rinds, ending up eating almost an entire bag of fried pork skin. I also had some pork rinds with salsa, which I really enjoy. In a bit of a feeding frenzy, a butter croissant was consumed with maybe 3 tablespoons of butter. It wasn’t on my proscribed list of foods, but I enjoyed it. I finished up with 4 squares of the Lindt chocolate.

I do not know the reason for this, but I suffered greatly from indigestion and woke a number of times during the night. It probably wasn’t anything in particular as much as the combo of things I ate, the quantity, and the fact that I guzzled down 2 liters of seltzer right before bed.

Calories: 3,221
Fat: 233g
Net Carbs: 80g
Protein: 162g

Sunday, January 20, 2013 – 203.0

Seeing 203.0 on the scale did NOT make me happy, but I thought it best to reframe this to ensure I put it into the proper perspective. I reframed it, which made me feel better, but this did not stop me from gobbling down green tea and red bean ice cream, as well as leftover Dunkin Donuts sandwiches, cool ranch chip and other stuff that on any diet would constitute junk.

I did my best to count this train-wreck. It somewhat approximates reality.

Calories: 2,182
Fat: 120g
Net Carbs: 187g
Protein: 77g

Monday, January 20, 2013 – 202.8

The two major themes of this day were:

My body was dumping water at an amazing rate. I was in the bathroom a half-dozen times before 9am.

I brought ample food to work but only had a yogurt and a DD coffee. When I came home I had a cup of sauerkraut, then some of the roast my wife, who had off for MLK day, made. I also had some potatoes and then went to bed. It was only when I tallied the numbers that I realized how low I went – not intentionally, mind you – it just happened.

Calories: 668
Fat: 33g
Net Carbs: 23g
Protein: 53g

Tuesday, January 20, 2013 – 200.0

Not unhappy with the number, though I’m not exactly thrilled how I got there. I don’t believe in starvation diets – and 668 calories is a starvation diet for a guy 5’10”.

I had whatevs and yogurt in work, then came home and had sauerkraut, then a bowl of avocado, yogurt and salsa – very filling. Sadly, cool ranch tortilla chips at my feet as I sat got eaten – a small amount – as well as a clementine waiting for my daughter to make her lunch. A slab of spam also got eaten.

Calories: 1,692
Fat: 118g
Net Carbs: 51g
Protein: 72g

Wednesday, January 21, 2013 – 198.6

Lowest weight since December 15th – the day before my vacation. Last year I played with 10 pounds – between 200 and 210. Hopefully this year I will do a little better and play in the 190s – then get the hell out into the 180s.

The day was whatevs, yogurt and DD coffee again, which I am fine with. After the whatevs in the afternoon I thought I could ‘go for a little more something’ but I calmly let it pass.

Evening was the leftover prime roast with Lea & Perrins Steak sauce, 2 tiny golf-ball sized fruits that looked like peaches which were good, though not particularly sweet – a good thing. I did tear into the kid’s leftover pasta some, and had a pickle with cheese and 4 squares of the Lindt chocolate.

While a bit high in carbs, the calorie count was spot on. It was fun. All good.

Calories: 1,624
Fat: 93g
Net Carbs: 89g
Protein: 94g

Thursday, January 22, 2013 – 199.0

Still under 200 and eating pasta? I’m happy…but part of me still cries: ‘am I skinny yet?’ I have keep telling this loser ‘patience’.

My routine stayed the same – whateves, a yogurt, a DD coffee. Home was some leftover pork with jalapenos on pork rinds and some leftover stuffed eggplant my wife had made the night before. I guesstimated the quantities, but I think I’m in the ballpark.

Calories: 1,872
Fat: 139g
Net Carbs: 25g
Protein: 117g

Friday, January 23, 2013 – 197.6

I was busy and stressed at work today and wasn’t all that hungry. They had a rare ‘pizza Friday’ but I was too preoccupied at the time to give it much thought until a colleague said: “You didn’t stop in and show your face?”. Appearances. Never good at this sort of thing. The plate in his had with the crust of pizza did make the pizza less abstract. I thought about a slice and eventually got up to look for leftovers – not that I would *eat* any, mind you – I just wanted to see it – but it was all gone and any evidence of it’s past presence had already been cleaned up.

I ended up having my DD coffee for lunch and it was back to work. A bit later I had a yogurt at my desk, and right before I left for home, my stomach a little unsettled from lack of food, I remembered I had 1 Atkins bar left in my man-bag. This had traveled with me to the Caribbean and back, and after the trip I tossed it in my bag. I ate it before the ride home.

My ride home was consumed by two thoughts: work, and how I was going to figure my way out of a tight spot with a big project I was working on – and not driving off the road due to the covering of snow on roads frozen to 10 degrees for a week.

On the way home my kids called and asked for pizza. It had been a while for them, so I agreed and called in the order: Sicilian, with mushrooms and onions on one side for my older daughter.

It took me an extra half hour to get home, and a third thought began to crowd out the machinating about work and the fear of sliding into a ditch: Sicilian pizza. I wouldn’t eat any, I thought, feeling good about myself. Then I amended that to I would only have a small piece, then stop. That sounded so much more the superior approach: I am master of my universe. Then I thought that would be dangerous, and I went back to the total abstinence approach. Then I began to think about what I *would* eat. I had whatevs, but whatevs tasted good in work – I associated it with work – it wasn’t what I wanted in the evening. I thought about *that* notion, how our setting can drive our food expectations, and made a mental note to think more on this.

I had been listening to a lecture on my iPhone and about this time turned it off – I wasn’t hearing a word the man said – I was thinking about pizza.

When I got home and walked in the door, I had concluded that I would have none.

Then I had 4 pieces. With my coat on. Standing in front of the box.

Ego depletion, I told myself. Here’s the definition of ego depletion from Wikipedia :

Ego depletion refers to the idea that self-control or willpower draw upon a limited pool of mental resources that can be used up. When the energy for mental activity is low, self-control is typically impaired, which would be considered a state of ego depletion. In particular, experiencing a state of ego depletion impairs the ability to control oneself later on. A depleting task requiring self-control can have a hindering effect on a subsequent self-control task, even if the tasks are seemingly unrelated.

Phew! Now that I have a fancy-sounding name for the act of eating 4 slices of Sicilian pizza standing in front of the box, I felt a whole lot better.

Believe it or not…I was kinda full at that point, and only had 2 small cookies, a leftover chicken nugget and a glass of water before I went to bed. I substituted 4 slices of Pizza Hut Sicilian pizza for the local version in my calorie-counting app.

Calories: 2,145
Fat: 120g
Net Carbs: 151g
Protein: 99g

Saturday, January 24, 2013 – 198.4

I dreaded getting up. When I get up I weigh myself. I didn’t want to weigh myself. What might the damage be from 4 slices of Sicilian pizza? The greasy slices felt like a pound each. I finally got my ass up and into the bathroom and speculated what the damage might be: 202? 205?!? I’ve seen spikes like this. When you are living low carb, you live retaining way less water than most people and carbs just soak up the liquid like a sponge, resulting in some awe-inspiring weight gains at time. One must keep calm, however, as these are temporary and getting back on the straight and narrow right after usually resolves it in a few days.

The scale said 198.4. I got a ‘get out of jail free’ card! Four slices of Sicilian pizza and I put on less than a pound!?! That was so totally worth it!

Of course, if I continue this decadence over the weekend I’ll be in deep doo-doo, but if I resume my usual low carb routine – not starving myself as penance, but just getting back on track – I’ll be fine.

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