623 – Prep Work • 06

The Friday Blog

I promised that I was going to keep everyone updated about the state of my and Lena’s efforts to become healthy. I haven’t written recently… because I kinda forgot to… but I thought I’d do so here, and also chat about some of the unintended consequences of our reformed lifestyle.

We began on the 3rd of January, when we went to the store and bought a new digital scale that would measure as much as I weigh. (In itself a challenge.) We started eating whole foods… veggies, grains, salads, (making all our own dressings) fish, organic chicken, and lots of fiber. No dairy, no processed foods, no fast food, and no sugar. We get on the elliptical every morning (I’ve been gradually dialing up the tension) and take the dog for a brisk walk, and then try to take another walk later in the day. (That second walk isn’t a habit yet, but we just started doing it.) We enforce a bedtime and get up when the alarm goes off… for the most part. So far Lena has lost eighteen pounds and I have lost twenty eight. We are already feeling much better physically and emotionally, and are more energetic and productive throughout the day.

Both of us were loud snorers, and dealt with sleep apnea. This appears to have vanished. We were also aware of  our reactions to sugary foods… both of us became irritable and much more prone to fighting in the hours after or even the next day after eating a sugary dessert. That is totally gone as well. We are saving an enormous amount of money on groceries. I’ve been shopping at Costco and utilizing my freezer more than ever. I spend more time in the kitchen cooking, but I feel like all the money we aren’t spending at the grocery store is like getting paid for it. Finally, the most unexpected thing… something which makes complete sense, it’s just nothing I had ever thought about… is the trash. I take about a third of the normal house trash out of my home now that I did before January 3rd. A third. If I miss a week, or even two weeks of getting the trash out to the street, it’s not a big deal. It used to be very important that I get it out every week or there would be bags accumulating everywhere… but no more.

The more Lena and I continue down this path, the more excited about it I become. We are losing weight, which helps our self esteem, but we are also seeing improvements in our health and in our work. We have more money and we’re even living greener… reducing our carbon footprint along with our literal ones.

Ain’t that a thing.

41 Responses to 623 – Prep Work • 06

  1. Congrats to you both; I’ve never been overweight my metabolism has slowed considerably and I now have to deliberately monitor my consumption & exercise. It initially depressed me but I’ve become accustomed to watching what I eat and I feel fantastic after exercise, which I really like. There was an eight-month stretch of being a layabout the end of which I can still vividly remember; my eyelids were notably heavy at the end of the day, I felt physically slow and cumbersome, friends & family told me I wasn’t as engaging as usual in conversation, etc. I think back to how I felt whenever the urge strikes me to pack my face with abandon (and that urge strikes me every day — what I wouldn’t give to scarf down bowl after bowl of simple spaghetti cacio e pepe — I prefer parmesan, though). I have to restrict myself to the one bowl I can effectively process. Sadface.

    I’ve found myself in the kitchen more, too. Not solely because I watch what I eat, mind — there is a fantastic new organic foods shop in town which has spurred my interest in cooking — but it is a factor. And, while I may not be eating as much as I once did, what I am eating is definitely better-tasting and better for me.

    The great thing about warehouse stores and buying direct is you can find lots of stuff you can’t get anywhere else. My local butcher has PSMO tenderloins, for example, which are ridiculous-cheap compared to the saran-wrap-and-strofoam filet cuts from groceries. They have the chain, too, which can be used in all sorts of stuff. It’s great fun to carve down a big hunk of meat and portion stuff for the freezer.

    Garden-planting time approaches, as well. Yay, dirt! I’m gonna try some serrano this year… 😯

  2. Can I move in with you guys??? LOL. Being the only one in the house who has to be concerned with weight really sucks. 🙁 It makes it so hard to stay (or even get) motivated. I do well for a few days at a time but then it just all falls apart. I need an intervention! 🙂

    • Losing weight is just the byproduct of eating healthier. The other rule is “don’t eat anything that says ‘diet'”. I only want to eat real food. If I have to eat diet bread or diet dressing – screw it. So, if you could just get everyone on board to want to eat healthier and feel better, that would do what you needed. If you shift your diet to whole foods and not worry about the calories, you’ll be golden. You can’t eat too much.

      It’s funny because we have tried over and over to do this. I realize now that sometimes we ate well. Sometimes we exercised. Sometimes we got rid of the stress of his parents. It was like trying to put together a puzzle with only some of the pieces. Let me tell you, it’s SO much easier when you are using all the pieces. Each small thing we do supports the other small things. It’s like a bonus to hit on every item (I can’t believe I just used a D&D analogy).

      Getting to bed on time (makes me more productive and able to get up early consistently and stay on schedule)
      Eating whole foods (gives me good nutrition and energy)
      Eliminating Sugar & High Fructose Corn Syrup (makes my mood better and reduces calories. You feel better in general)
      Eliminating Dairy (I just feel lighter? Hard to explain. I’m not stuffy or puffy. My digestion is better)
      We try to eat more foods from the Mayo top 10 superfoods list (again, good nutrition)
      Shopping in Costco (Makes it much easier to save money, plan, and eat well)
      Exercise (makes me feel better and more motivated)
      Not skipping meals (metabolism stays up and I don’t crash and shove things in my mouth)
      Snacks (we always keep some homemade spiced almonds around for when we are hungry between meals)
      Try new things (trying new food and just being open to new experiences. Gives you more to work with.)

      And, we do have sweets. We make baked apples with honey or agave. Or grilled fruit with honey and walnuts drizzled on them. That chocolate cake we had a couple of weeks ago had no processed sugar in it at all (the frosting was ‘okay’, but the cake was great)

      We’ve always skirted around eating this way. So, that makes it easier. When I met Kevin and found out that he didn’t eat red meat, I was flummoxed about what to make. My brain just went “well, what could you possibly eat then?”. After a while I learned about ground turkey and it was easy. Then I faced the same thing again the time we gave up meat, the time we went vegan, the time we went no process, etc. (We have tried eating a lot of different ways.)

      Trying new things has been huge. We have always liked to cook, and I think we are pretty good at it – but we have been trying really hard to try new foods. I mean, we are only eating/experiencing the tiniest bit of what the world has to offer. There are so many cuisines that focus more on vegetables and spices, etc. Things that are actually GOOD for you. Indian food is a great one. We substitute coconut milk for dairy and brown rice for white. Mexican food is another good cuisine. Lots of things you can make healthy. We made Paella the other night for the first time and it was AMAZING! We made up a soup using our favorite spices from our Chicken Tikka Masala and it was SO GOOD. It’s been fun to learn and try new ingredients.

      But, even eating out is not so hard. Sushi is pretty easy and I like to go there if I eat out. But, also you can go to Moes (or this place at the St. Johns Town center called Chipolté I think) and get a burrito in a bowl. Load that sucker up with the meat and veggies and guac and salsas. Skip the cheese and sour cream. Delicious.

      I was worried about eating out. But, once I decided I was open to trying new things I didn’t mind being really picky and finding something that wasn’t bad for me and giving it a try.

      Also, you make your own motivation by doing. It comes from inside. Just do it when you don’t want to and next time you’ll want to even more! I imagine everyone wants to feel better in your house. And, whether they have weight to lose or not, eating better WILL make them feel better.

      So, there is your free advice/diatribe for the day. Feel free to hit me up for ideas, etc. I used to have the hardest time figuring out what to eat. Now, it’s not so tough. I’m happy to help. Feel free to come over for dinner sometime. You can try out something new with us!

        • Sure pizza is a whole food… if you eat the whole thing.

          Seriously, to me the only reason to eat a pizza is the cheese. So, no cheese, why bother. There are so many things I can substitute, but I haven’t found a good substitute for pizza yet. 😥

      • Butting in kinda randomly here: I’m really trying not to write a huge-ass post, because I tend to do that and do it badly, all vague-y, so here goes.

        Personally, I recently started reading about Fat Acceptance (along with many other forms of activism dealing with marginalized people) and Health at Every Size or HAES. Now, I’m of completely average build in comparison to my countrymen (I’m not American). It’s still very interesting and made me look very hard at the influences and media coming to us from the US. I think it’s great that you and Kevin have discovered healthy living for yourselves… and are not doing it just to lose weight.

        So right now I’m saying KUDOS! and encouraging you, if you’re interested, to read about fat acceptance, for example at Kate Harding’s Shapely Prose (http://kateharding.net/faq/). HAES is a wonderful, excellent thing and more people should do it and love their bodies instead of constricting, harassing and fighting with their biology and body. Check it out if you find this kinda thing is your kinda thing.

        post not proofread so may be messy and error-y

  3. Great eating. It’s all about health; starvation doesn’t work. Also try a handful of almonds or sunflower seeds each day and either some onion (or anything in the onion family) or an endive heart (or anything in the endive family) from time to time. Among many other things, those 2 nuts give vitamin E and those 2 veggies feed beneficial intestinal bacteria. Oh and it’s easy to forget to consume adequate salt when you start making your own food. I only single out these 2-3 things, and maybe you only need the nuts, since it seems like you know what you’re doing on everything else.

    • We ended up picking almonds because we could buy them in bulk and they were on the top 10 list. I’d like to make some spiced walnuts. I love them and they have all those good omega 3s. We eat a ton of onions and garlic and use a good amount of sea salt. So, we are probably good there. We also do other hippy/crunchy activities like sprinkling fresh ground flax seed or wheat germ on our cereal or putting it in salads.

      Didn’t know about the intestinal bacteria thing for the onions and endive. I know that raw garlic will kill anything bad in it’s path in your system. LOL. We do that a lot when we have been around sick people.

    • For the salt get -real- sea salt. It’s grey, not white, and has an awesome selection of trace elements in a really good holistic combo. “White” processed salt is rather poisonous and while needed for the bodies electrical system is to the nerves what processed sugar is for muscle tissue.

      Also check that it is sea salt, not just white/processed salt with a colouring agent or the trace elements re-added.

      And seeds are very good.

      • There is another kind of salt that we tried at Whole Foods called “Ancient Salt” or maybe it was “Ancient Sea Salt”. It was SO good. I think it comes from salt mines from when the ocean covered more of the continent. It really tasted amazing. I actually meant to pick some up today when we went grocery shopping, but forgot. Our sea salt is Alessi. It is very white. They send it through a bunch of ponds for evaporation and to get out impurities. Perhaps that is why the other stuff tastes so good. I’ll have to check out other kinds next time I run out.

        • Those “impurity” are the trace minerals. Which they extract and then sell back to people as pills to make up for what is missing in their diet.

          Do go easy on the coconut milk to, it’s ok in moderation but pretty much the worst of the vegetable oils

      • Fortunately, here in Germany you can buy table salt enriched with iodine everywhere, but also variants that are enriched with iodine, fluoride and folic acid. Most of it is rock salt, because Germany has extensive rock salt mines.

        “For the salt get -real- sea salt. It’s grey, not white, and has an awesome selection of trace elements in a really good holistic combo. “White” processed salt is rather poisonous and while needed for the bodies electrical system is to the nerves what processed sugar is for muscle tissue.”

        I’m sorry, but that is complete and utter nonsense. And as a biologist, I always get testy when someone starts throwing New Age words like “holistic” around. 😡
        Someone apparently has gotten white processed sugar mentally mixed up with white salt. 🙄

        Table salt is a mineral, natrium cloride. As rock salt it’s called Halit. In its natural state, it is translucent white. And it’s not poisonous, in itself, unless you scarf down enough to make you puke.

        As you said, the various colored salts are due to impurities. The current fashion in the West for “natural” grey salt is a food fad, like so many things with the label “natural” on it since the 1980s. In prior centuries, all salt was obtained by evaporation, either from brine, sea water or rock salt, but even the rock salt was first dissolved in water and then re-crystallized to get dirt out. Fine-grained white salt with regular crystals was considered the best if you could afford it, because it had no impurities, white the rough grey salt was used to salt meat and fish and used as table salt only by poor people.

        These days, however, the rarity of the few remaining salt works in i.e. Brittany (France), where salt in sea water pools is still raked by hand in the traditional way, combined with a fad for “traditional” and “natural” products which are not “uniform”, means this salt (which contains traces of umber loam inside the salt crystals) with its irregularly sized crystals gets high prices especially by tourists.

        But really, given what chemicals float around in the oceans these days (mercury, oil spills, chamicals carried into the sea by rivers such as run-off from agriculture and the breakdown products of dozens of medications and drugs that get into the water with our urine and cannot be completely purified by sewage plants), I’m not sure I’d prefer sea salt over rock salt which comes from ancient oceans.

        Other rock salts, especially the potassium salts (KCl, KMgCl3) used industrially as fertilizer and in medicine, may be colored pink when they contain some amount of magnesium salts, or orange from iron oxides, or violet. Magnesium sulfate as a mineral is called Kieserite and can be white, grey, yellow or greenish.

        If you want an fascinating account of the history of salt making from the Egyptians to modern day, trade routes and the wars fought over salt, and the many uses salt was put to by mankind (including sculptures), read the monography “Salt – A World History” by Mark Kurlansky.
        From the flap text: “Until about 100 years ago, when modern geology revealed its prevalence, salt was one of the world’s most sought-after commodities. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires and inspired revolutions.”

        As for “additives” in table salt, I’m aware of the pathological paranoia many Americans have against anything connected with “government”, but as with anti-vaccination propaganda, most of those idiots do not remember how the frak things used to be in the Bad Old Days, because they as children grew up in a world without polio and goiter. 😡

        “Do go easy on the coconut milk to, it’s ok in moderation but pretty much the worst of the vegetable oil”

        Another myth that gets recycled every few years, depending on how the various vegetable oils are doing in the global market. You get articles in the news about how coconut oil is among the healthiest oils, then some time later you get the opposite opinion about how it’s dangerous, then vice versa again. It’s the same with cholesterine and butter. First everyone is in a mass panic about it, then it turns the anti-butter propaganda was paid for by the margarine-producing industry.
        Pacafic Islanders have been living on coconut oil for millenia. Look at Tonga, for example. People there only developed the typical “diseases of civilization” when they started eating canned foods shipped to the island, including canned pineapple… despite the fact that they used to grow their own pineapple on the island. But the canned one was considered “better”. Like all food fads, it’s rarely logical or sane.

  4. That is FANTASTIC! You guys made me smile!

    I used to get so irritated having to cook every night, I can be grumpy getting home from work, but once you start smelling what you are cooking and really get into all the great aspects of cooking real food at home it starts to become fun! I really enjoy making stir fry, just the flavors alone that fill my kitchen and all the delicious fresh vegetables you get to chop into really relax me after a long day in the cubicle.

    Another really good item you can get at Safeway is Butcher’s Bacon. This stuff is golden, it is not processed like all the other packaged stuff and has less fat in it too, while more than trippling the flavor. I am a HUGE breakfast guy and having a couple of strips of this stuff gets me energized for the day, along with my orange juice and cereal, and sometimes some fruit in the morning.

    I find the most interesting thing about eating not only well, but correctly, is that you Don’t jam your face full of food untill you pass out, at least for me, I simply are full (without having overeaten) and am satisfied, unlike when you eat a lot of crap food where you end up still feeling hungry after eating 2 portions.

    I am still working on the Exercise part of my path to being healthy again, but I like to think the weeks of shoveling I did at least play a small part! I am maintaining my current health at this point by eating healthy, which is good, but to lost that weight you have to exercise.

    Carrots are my snack food, these I actually do stuff in my face, but that is ok, cause they are carrots.

    • (:

      You can eat a pound of chocolate, but you can’t eat a pound of dates.

      I heard that someplace and it’s so true. Your body registers your stomach as “full” when you are eating nutritional. If you are eating empty calories it never turns on and I could easily eat a bag of Cheetos, etc.

      The food companies actively REMOVE vitamins and minerals from your food so you’ll eat more of their product. That box of cereal with 8 vitamins and minerals they so proudly announce on the front? Well, before they got done with it, it had about 80. There should be a law.

      Anyway, we’ve found just what you have. Eating well you just don’t overeat. It really is fascinating. We are just so excited to be playing with all of our puzzle pieces at once!

      • Most sweeteners (High fructose corn syrup is particularly notorious for this) actually block lepin from being registered in your brain.

        What lepin does is TELL your brain “nope, food’s here, we good.”

        I have had friends who did not believe me on this. I demonstrated by going to Joey’s Only (all you can eat fish ‘n chips woooo), ordering a root beer, drinking it strategically, and proceeding to leave the establishment still hungry after having devoured 10 pieces of fish, many fries, and the complimentary coleslaw.

        • I have thought about the relationship between sugar and it making you want to eat more – but somehow I never thought of it in terms of all the sodas I used to drink while eating high fat food. You changed my perspective. No wonder people can lose so much weight by just eliminating sodas. I think I have read that the diet sodas can do the same thing. I must have spent even more time sabotaging myself than I thought.

  5. It seems to me that you changed quite a few things in a short amount of time. Your success serves as a testimony to the understanding relationship you both seem to share ; and the rewards are not late. All the health to you.

    • Yes. We changed a lot. Mostly. We have done all of these things kinda half-assed at one time or another. I was worried that doing them all at once would have been really tough – but it’s made it easier. We just substitute instead of eliminate. We know our weaknesses and try to plan for them. I think if I had done any of this stuff cold turkey, it wouldn’t have worked. The best advice I got last year was pick ONE thing and do that until your used to it and then add something else. Maybe it’s eliminating soda one week and then eating breakfast each morning the next.

      Thank you. I think we do have a great relationship and are okay with each other not being perfect. Well, I mean, I am perfect. But, I’m okay with HIM not being perfect. This would be much harder with only one person participating. We spend a lot of time telling each other how cool we are. It would get old if it only went one way. LOL.

  6. One thing that I notice is that if you exercise more than once a day, the results are nigh-immediate.

    I decided it’s time to burn off some of this winter fat and maybe get myself into something resembling ‘shape’ again, also I was slacking off (it’s reading break weeeeeee) and thus leaving for work late.

    So I jogged. Also ran the dog a bit on days where this didn’t happen.

    Lung capacity yes, which is all I really cared about, but then I started jogging home, too, after work.

    Suddenly (I’ve done it maybe three times, and one of those times was friday and me noticing it then) my uniform waists feel very, very loose.

    So, anecdotally, go for those second walks!

    • An extra benefit from exercising is that in addition to the calories you burn performing them, you also raise your metabolism for a short period afterwards. (Up to an hour.) Extra exercise during the day can thus drastically affect the ratio of “burning to storing” of calories in your body. Affecting that ratio can really speed up the process.

      (In other words, “Yeah”!)

  7. Heh my wife tells me Kevin Smith got kicked off a plane cause they said he needed two chairs and they didn’t have a second one available. I think it’s interesting they want you to pay more (first class anybody? It’s only 10x as much) if you’re big but they don’t give a discount for being little. Anyways, kudos to you for figuring out the SECRET OF DIETING: eat semi-sensibly and get some exercise. Most people these days think that’s too traumatic and opt for subtle things like stomach stapling – WTF? Personally, I just hit 191 lbs with my leather jacket on and I’m 5’8″… Beer is doing me in. Keep it up Kev, I’m proud of you.

    • On one hand it’s all about ability to sell seats man; you can’t fit someone else in your seat too just because you happen to be say fifty pounds lighter than average for an adult of your gender (if you are that much lighter without being short as well that could be medically bad too). On the other, when do companies ever come up with ways of taking less of your money instead of more? Only when there’s a price war going on or the launch of a new product or something like that, it’s all about the Benjamins after all.
      Just be glad you don’t have the opposite problem: 6’+ and 150 lbs- eh? Everybody thinks I’m on heroin or something until I explain I’m a programmer.