Friday, June 2, 2023

"Hedonic" foods

 There are some foods I know I have to stay away from, even though they are low carb.  What comes to mind are nuts and sliced American cheese.  The reason is that I can't control my intake of these foods, and will eat until the package is empty.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

4 exercises, 2 planes, 20 minutes

A simple workout that takes about 20 minutes is to do pushing and pulling movements in 2 planes.   This consists of bench press paired with rows, and shoulder press paired with pull downs.  Most people would suggest also adding leg press, but my thinking is that I'm already carrying a tonne of extra weight against gravity.  I'm not sure it makes sense to put more strain on the lower extremities. 

I do all of this work on a machine, primarily because the machines at my club are in an area that is less scary than the workout floor.   When getting back into it, I do very light weight something on the order of 15 to 25 reps.   I will pretty quickly move into sets of around 8 to 12 reps but I want to ease into it.  

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Sugar and the 'addiction' model

 Let's break down the definition above, and see if it applies here:  

1) Chronic and relapsing

That certainly seems to fit.  I have been able to go on brief periods of abstinence from sugar, with interstitial periods of overconsumption and weight gain.

2) Adverse consequences

We had a guest this weekend that one minute was injecting himself with a diabetes medicine, and then the next minute baking and then shoveling down pieces of blueberry pie.  Is the injectable enough of an indicator that there are adverse consequences to this addiction?

For me personally, not being on insulin or a semaglutide, the adverse consequences are a little subtler.  Clearly I myself knew that having a BMI of 50 was not healthy, but a part of me thought I was just being vain. 


The upshot of all of this is that I essentially treat refined sugar like cigarettes at this point.  I don't have 'just a little'.  I know that if I fall off the wagon that it will be exceedingly difficult to get back on.  

I also stay away from most fake sweeteners.  My palette has adjusted to the point that a half pint of raspberries is a bomb of a desert.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Decadence and Health Externalities

 Sitting down to a lovely meal with family.  The menu is a salad (asparagus, spinach, strawberries, vinaigrette), roast chicken with a bit of cajun spice, and lamb chops.  This feels like a very luxurious meal, and in some respects, primarily because of the lamb, it is.  My weight is down another half pound the next morning.

However, every time we sit down to this type of meal, in the ideal we shouldn't be comparing it against a big platter of pasta, or a trey of fast food.  It feels decadent to eat this way, but is it really?

I first heard the term "externality" in reference to the environmental crisis.  The term was applied to pork farming and processing, these large cesspools of waste, and water contamination.  The argument was that the "externality" of the environmental impact wasn't figured into the cost of the product.  The pork was only able to be sold cheaply if the cost of clean-up (or proper handling in the first place) was not figured in.

There are other kinds of externalities though, the primary one being the cost of the health deficits from regularly eating that bowl of pasta or that fast food:  Insulin, infections, amputation, blood pressure meds, meds to manage triglycerides, continuous glucose monitors, treatment of strokes and cardiac problems, and loss of productivity.  Some of it might be picked up by insurance, but that doesn't mean it isn't swamping the economy.

We don't typically think like this.  We are so used to eating shit food that it just feels viscerally like we somehow don't deserve to sit down for this meal.

Let's break it down though, where it really matters:  Replace the lamb (a treat) with chicken leg quarters or thighs, and it's really only a couple of dollars a pound.  If you want, substitute sautéed cabbage for what I put in the salad.  For the price of a Chipotle burrito, we can buy a whole mess of this protein and prepare it for ourselves.  Even the 45 or 55 minute break while it is cooking has built in health benefits if you can sit down and relax or chat with friends and family while it is cooking.

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Electronic minimalism around the exercise bike

 When I used to train as a junior rower, one of the things I identified about aerobic activity is that if someone interrupts you during it, your reaction might be more severely annoyed than if you were at resting heart rate.

I've experimented with all manner of electronic distractions to put in front of an exercise bike.  In grad school, one of the projects I worked on was a VR rig for indoor cycling.   At home years later I had a big TV and Chromecast on a mount in front of the bike.

None of these were ever that satisfying for riding.

I had an insight today on my indoor bike:  the visually-heavy solutions for distraction can be an annoyance, where something calmer might be more sustainable.

Currently I have my bike facing out a big window where I can see some trees, I had a keto podcast playing, and I had a heart rate readout on my wrist.  Built into the bike is an RPM monitor and difficulty control.  This was a pretty calming combination, and I didn't feel like I missed more of a distraction.

When I was a rower, I didn't even really like headphones in, much less a TV to stare at.  I can foresee a point where the podcast becomes annoying at higher exertion rates, and I just want to listen to techno, or nothing at all.

So maybe try a bit of minimalism around your exercise experience? 

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Dietetics Degree

 My overriding feeling about getting a dietetics degree is that by becoming a licensed professional, I would be bound by the current standards of care such as:

(Recently seen on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics under "Breakfast Recipes")...

"Pancakes are an all-American breakfast treat, and this version pairs chocolate chips and fresh bananas for extra goodness. In Michigan, where wild berries grow, people love to use blueberry syrup; you can also try them with wild blueberry sauce."

Additionally, the recipe calls for low fat buttermilk and cooking spray.  In their defense they do label this a "breakfast treat" though.

"This version of French toast uses whole-wheat bread and fat-free milk for a healthier option. Enjoy the traditional way or chop into sticks for dunking!"

In their defense at least they list the maple syrup as "optional".

Uncomplicated Keto from Eric Westman MD

Westman is a practicing physician, and inherits from the Atkins approach.  He has authored numerous academic research studies on keto, and continues to treat patients out of his Duke University clinic.  

My general comment is that step one is to get off of sugar, and to eat whole, unprocessed foods.

Not much comment on this slide, pretty self explanatory.

Keep in mind that this could be thought of as an 'induction' phase of keto.  I have personally experimented with eating more leafy greens and non-starchy veggies than listed here.  You also want to pay attention that you are getting these veggies for the fiber content and the effect on bowel movement.

NB: The mayo, cream, oil, butter, and salad dressing limit has been combined to 6 TBSP per day in the recent Adapt literature.  My personal experience is that adding lots of butter to eggs, or cooking baby spinach in bacon grease with added butter is counterproductive to my weight loss.  The idea is to eat the natural fats that come along with the protein you are eating.  

Another note is that cheese may really worsen constipation.

The cheese, cream/butter/oil, avocado, and olives..etc are all "AND" not "OR".  What you should find is that your appetite reduces in such a way that you CAN eat all of these but don't feel the need to.

Don't add extra fats and oils

Eat the natural fats that come along with the protein you are consuming, but be wary of adding extra fats like butter and oil. 

I really like this tracker

 I've been in a little bit of a stall since upping my exercise and starting to cook for myself.  A friend suggested that it might be a problem with portion control.  I was eating all the right foods.

Most of the luminaries I have been following say that you don't need to count calories, or track macros.  However, I would cook 5 pieces from a pack of chicken, and proceed to eat them in one sitting.  I didn't have any way of applying reason to my portion control, and was just relying on satiety signals.  Regularly, I was blowing past feelings of fullness and over-consuming.

The tracker Carb Manager has been really helpful in remedying this.  I am able to stoke my analytical brain in the process of managing my input.  It's a bit arduous, and the numbers aren't exact, but I find the data really helpful.

As an app developer, I also feel a certain amount of envy for how well put together this app is!

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

How to leave food on the plate...

 I noticed that I have what you might call a compulsion to finish the food on my plate, due to a loathing of wrapping up leftovers. They are never enough for a full meal, and I just don't want to be snacking at midnight.


an irresistible urge to behave in a certain way, especially against one's conscious wishes.

I devised a pretty simple, and probably obvious technique for dealing with this: wrap up the bits in a sandwich baggie, and add them to brekkie the next morning!

Monday, April 24, 2023

Talk: Evidence-based vs internet keto.

Taking a cue from Eric Westman about "triggering" foods that are otherwise low carb.

Westman talks often about how nuts can be problematic on a low carb diet.   Even though they have a pretty tolerable macronutrient composition, the foods can be triggering. This often causes overconsumption. 

There might be other foods that effect people in this way, and this might be different on a person-person basis.  

For me an example is Cajun spice on otherwise plain baked chicken legs and thighs.  Inevitably if I use or overuse this spice I either overeat at the meal, or dive into leftovers later in the evening.   The latter being out of an addiction to the flavor, rather than being hungry.  

Friday, April 21, 2023

Figure out if there are things that can make a low-carb diet as addictive as chocolate chip pancakes.

 Breakfast was sausage, baby spinach, and eggs, cooked together in a frying pan. (sausage first, then spinach, then eggs) For spice I added some garam masala, and some cayanne pepper.  

I was thinking though - this meal is good, but what would make me want to eat it every morning (and save the money over diner food to boot) would be a dallop of sour cream.  Sour cream being a low-carb food, there's no problem adding it, and if it improves the palatability this much, it's worth it.

Kitchen optimization: Use the correct bags for your garbage can

 When I moved into my place, I went to staples and bought some generic black plastic garbage pales.  What makes these a real joy to use, is that I actually bought the correct sized garbage bags for them.  There is no overflowing mess from a bag that is too big or too small.

Kitchen optimization: Use paper towels

 At my house, I use paper towels.  Maybe this is a crutch to get me to cook more by reducing the clean-up overhead.  I just don't worry about the environmental impact, but I do choose towels made of recycled material.

The difference between a stinky, overused sponge, or having to wash cloth napkins and towels (environmental impact / water / energy usage?) is that I actually cook, and have fun in the kitchen.

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Jersey Diners are Great, But...

When you do the right thing and order spinach instead of potatoes and toast, there's something uniquely annoying about a waitress saying slightly sarcastically, "that's a really healthy meal".

The other thing that drives me _nuts_ is the stupid awkard interaction about the upcharge for a vegetable.  If you say "Could I have spinach instead of potatoes and toast", you have to engage in this embarrasing, complex negotiation.  I have resorted to just saying "Hold the potatoes and toast, and give me a side of spinach."  Avoiding the pain point and the embarrasement of seeming like you are trying to get something for nothing is more important to me than the stupid $1 up charge.

It's funny how even a small amount of friction reinforces bad behavior.

A wifi scale is a key tool in this process.

 I currently use a Withings scale, but any scale that can log to the internet and produce a weight loss graph is great.  There is varying advice on this, but I weigh myself every morning.  The minor ups and downs are smoothed by a moving average.  I don't expect the scale to trend downwards every day, but I have enough data to see movement in the right general direction.

In that sense the logging feature is key.   When I used a regular mechanical scale in the past, it was sometimes hard to remember from day to day what was going on, and see a trend.  You get caught up in the micro-movements from day to day.  Again, the graph's moving average takes care of this.

Saturday, April 15, 2023

When you see just a giant hippo of a person at a Jewish deli, stuffing their face with french toast and drinking Dr. Pepper in front of their obese daughter, what do you think is going through their mind?

Call my a sadist, but I find it strangely motivating to sit there and watch this managerie of horribly obese bodies go by.  I'm not where I want to be in terms of fitness end goals, but I feel like I'm on the path.  I have thought everything in the above list at one time or another, and I can totally empathise with these people.  At the same time, I can't help but have thoughts like "$200 of my $500 ACA monthly insurance payment is going to treat their diabetes."

I'm in a strange mood and I feel like I shouldn't post this at all.  However, if I'm thinking this, then it's no wonder that people in fit bodies exhibit something bordering on hatred of the obese.

I hope with this blog, to work on some of the issues below.  I 100% believe obesity is a disease of lack of good information, not of laziness.  I also acknowledge that it is also a disease of poverty, but these people are paying $25 a plate for their shit meals here, so at least in this specific case, poverty isn't the issue.

 1) "I've tried every diet, and none of them work, so I've just given up."

2) "I've tried low carb specifically" (But I was drinking a tonne of diet soda, and processed sugar replacements, or I found it too difficult for some other reason.)

3) "I hate myself, and I just don't care anymore."

4) "I've done everything my doctor told me: cutting fat and calories, walking more..etc, but it didn't work.  He keeps exhorting me to follow his advice, but I've tried."

5) "I can't afford the pastrami."

6) "I know I'm fat, but I'm just confused about diets, and don't know what to do."

7) "This is a celebration of..."

8) "I've been (some level of) obese my whole life, this is just how I move through the world."

9) "This is the last meal like this before I do everything right tomorrow."

10) "I killed myself at the gym all of January, and it did nothing.  I give up."

New fitbit.. weight is going up?!?

 I ramped up my walking routine now that the weather is getting better.  Unfortunately, this has had a probably-temporary negative impact on my weight loss.  This may be attributable to three functions:

1) Micro-tears in the muscle fibers lead to increased inflamation and water retention.

2) Increase in appetite.

3) More lean muscle mass.

We have all heard the term TOFI (thin on the inside, fat on the outside), but what about a term that describes someone doing all the right things nutritionally, but who is essentially sedentary?  I think the increased fitness is a net win, and I have enough good weight loss trajectory to withstand a little bit of an inflection point.  My concern is for people who are just getting started who might get frustrated.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Eating intuitively might not be possible if you haven't cleaned up your diet.

 Sugar and starch are addictive.  Processed food is also engineered to be addictive.

An example I heard recently (in this film) was consider a bowl of raw almonds.  That's pretty enticing, but I think you would quickly reach a point of satiety eating them, probably before the bowl ran out.  

Now replace those raw almonds with honey roasted and salted almonds, i.e. almons covered in sugar and salt.  There is literally no end to the appetite for that.  If it were me, I would only stop eating when I ran out. If I didn't, and had them in a cabinet, I would suffer intrusive thoughts of eating them, even when I was full.

I like the idea of intuitive eating, and do it naturally these days.  However, dinner was a piece of beef that I cooked myself, and cauliflower, both cooked in butter.  That's a very filling meal, even at a relatively small portion size.  It's also satieting in the sense that one stays full for hours afterwards.  I'm fairly confident that even if I cooked up a platter of it, I would reach a reasonable point where I just didn't want any more, and that that point would be similar to the amount I cooked for myself as one serving.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Michael Pollan's advice

I'm watching a video from some keto influencers on YouTube, and it strikes me as a little weird how much they are pushing various products.

I want to avoid bro-science, and I want to keep the "instructions" for my diet pretty simple.  That is, "avoid starches and sugars."

However, if I was going to add something to that, it would be Michael Pollan's advice to "eat real food".  My dinner of salmon and greenbeans is real food.  Following that up with some kind of bar or cup from some food corporation feels counterproductive.  

You might lose weight eating whatever is the low-carb equivalent of gogurt yogurt tubes (the example Pollan uses as the paragon of processing in his book), but I wouldn't recommend it. 

Zero Sum-ality

Sometimes it feels like the balance between creative work, sleep, gym time, time spent relaxing, and attention to the quality of the diet is some kind of zero sum game.  Add to one part, and the other parts suffer.

It's interesting that not all of those are time-related.  Sleep quality, and the quality of the diet don't really have to do with temporality, so if all of these are zero-sum with each other, then there is some other resource that is being depleted. 

One theory is that it's related to executive function or willpower.  The more energy I spend resisting crap food, the less I have for creative work.

Another theory is that it's related to stress and cortisol.  Creative work, fueled by caffeine, fueled by stress, can create an exhaustion that effects attention to the other areas.  Even short of outright exhaustion, within the span of a day, a creative burst leaves me with nothing left for the gym.

What I will say is that with routine, gym-time and nutrition (even sleep and creative time) become easier.  That's why I shy away from cheat meals or cheat days.  There is something happening in my biology when I become accomodated to, and stay accomodated to a low-carb diet.  Considerations about the diet just become normal, and don't contribute or detract from the zero-sum.  If I were having to constantly reset after intermittantly eating chocolate chip pancakes, it would be a lot harder.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Quick Chicken Quantity Experiment

 I noticed that when I cook dark meat chicken, and use the cajun rub, I inevitably overeat.  One thought is that the rub is addictively salty and spicey.  

I wanted to really understand the quantities though.  When I go to a steakhouse, often a queen cut (6-8oz) along with a salad and vegetable is more than enough.  How much meat was on one of these chicken leg/thigh combinations?

Weighing the meat after cooking it, and then again after I had consumed the edible portions, the number I came up with was 6.6oz per leg/thigh combination.

So... If I eat an entire package in one sitting, I'm eating 26oz of meat.  Chicken is a tiny bit less calorie dense than beef, say by a factor of .85, giving  beef equivalent of 22oz.  That's a pretty big steak, but maybe absent the salad and vegetable it's not so out of range.

I'm pretty consistantly having a problem with ready-to-eat food hanging out in the refrigerator.  Ingredients that I have to cook are not a problem, but I feel like I'm eating the leftovers just because of the immediate availability.  It is true that I attribute a lot of the early weight loss success to eating out nearly all the time, and not having food ready at home.  

This is a good crutch, but I've started to cook for myself.  The answer is probably be more judicous with that cajun rub that I like so much.


My current technique is to break the pack of chicken into two parts.  I got these really easy to handle gallon-sized bags (I hate dealing with plastic wrap and ziplocks), and I just put half of the raw chicken in the freezer.  

When I need it I just put it on a pan in the fridge, and it defrosts overnight.  I do the same thing with breakfast pattys.

Thursday, April 6, 2023

Sugar, starch, and anxiety

 For years, at dinner parties, I had to get up from the table and find a quiet corner to deal with my social anxiety.  That was not my experience at a passover seder last night, a few months into a low sugar, low starch diet.  

Maybe it's just getting older, but the experience of this dinner -- the first since going on the nutritional change -- was very different from how I had experienced social gatherings in the past.  I just felt more level and less reactive. More able to just enjoy the gathering of friends and family.

I recommend this podcast by Stanford professor Andrew Huberman on the subject as a start.

Taubes' conclusions in the epilogue of "Good Calories Bad Calorie"

Good Calories, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes, p453-454

As I emerge from this research, though, certain conclusions seem inescapable to me, based on the existing knowledge:

1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not a cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization.

2. The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis--the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body.  The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.

3. Sugars--sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup specifically--are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.

4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, startches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes.  They are the most likely dietary cause of cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and the other chronic diseases of civilization.

5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior.

6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child to grow taller.  Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long-term weight loss; it leads to hunger.

7. Fattening and obesity are caused by an imbalance -- a disequilibrium -- in the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat metabolism.  Fat synthesis and storage exceed the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue and its subsequent oxidation.  We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverse this balance.

8. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage.  When insulin levels are elevated -- either chronically or after a meal -- we accumulate fat in our fat tissue.  When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and use it for fuel.

9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity.  The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.

10. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.

Movie Recommendation


Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Does this look like food production, or does it look like drug production?


Negging from the dogmatic

Writing from the perspective of confidence that a 40 lb weight loss lends me...

 I come from a family of physicians.  The older ones have been pretty well steeped in the low-fat, calorie reduction dogma.  They look at some of the bolder assertions from those that subscribe to the low-carb approach as quackery.

It's one thing for us to assert that low-carb helps you reduce weight.  However if we go as far as to call Alzheimers potentially "Type 3 diabetes", we get derision.  If we say that  heart disease isn't caused by high cholesterol, but high sugar, we get condescension.  If we say that not only are mental health disorders like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia worsened by the standard American diet, but that it seems possible that some of the discontentment and seeming mental unwellness of society in general might be ascribable to that diet -- well...

Again, I'm looking back to when I first read Taubes' book Good Calories Bad Calories, and wondering how the last 10 (15?) years could have been different.  Wondering what could have been had I not been subject to lectures on fatty-foods-causing-cholesterol while cooking steak dinners.  Wondering about my body and my mind had I not been lectured about  how cooking my chicken thighs in butter because it made me more satiated was not a good idea.

We can't have parents or other medically trained family on pedestals.  They are as fallible as we are, and deserve to be forgiven.  It really just illustrates the power of dogma. 

How to change how you feel about cooking and cleaning up.

 When did I internalize the message that cooking and cleaning up afterwards was some kind of arduous, time-consuming chore?  It takes vastly more time to drive to a restaurant than it does to put a sirloin in the broiler, and a bag of green beans in the microwave.

I come from a pretty eco conscious family.  At one point my dad decided that paper towels were the enemy, and switched his household to cloth towels.  He is probably right, but just purely as a crutch, having a roll of paper towels on hand makes the cleanup a lot easier than the specter of it I had been carrying around.

I wipe the plate into the garbage can, and I don't even have to clean the sink.  A dishwasher makes the final sanitization that much easier.

Some of the problems of low-carb dieting are only problems in the sense that we have an aversion to them:  In another post I talked about how I needed to learn to live with a reduced dynamic range of flavor in meals.  Whole foods being that much less exciting than chocolate chip pancakes.  In cleanup and cooking too, it's not really the time that it takes, or the arduousness of the process, but really just an aversion to it.

Flipping it on its head, if I look at cooking as a pleasure, as a rest activity from the cognitive and stress demands of the day, then it becomes something I look forward to.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Helpful visualization for goal setting


Research definitions of various weight classes [1]: 

Please note that this dataset has historically been created by evaluating white males.  There is good evidence that it a) may be pretty irrelevant entirely when talking about individuals rather than populations, and b) may be pretty well flawed for people who are not white males.

** Unfortunately I don't know the source of the original image.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Really good motivation for eating salads and veggies.

 If you are comparing the taste of salads and veggies to chocolate chip pancakes, then obviously they will loose.  However, if you are comparing life without these fiberous foods to life with them, you may find that you cherish them in other ways.

Image by azmeyart-design.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Is an overweight but not obese BMI protective, especially as you age?

There is a JAMA study from 2013 (see below) that seems to think it might be.  The study is a meta analysis that compares the hazard ratio of overweight BMI (25-30), and obese BMI (>30) to normal BMI.  Obese BMI was more hazardous than normal weight, which is what you would expect, but overweight was less hazardous, which is somewhat surprising.  

The effect is even greater for people over 65.

I checked that "normal weight" didn't include underweight people, and I don't think it does.  

 Flegal, K. M., Kit, B. K., Orpana, H., & Graubard, B. I. (2013). Association of all-cause mortality with overweight and obesity using standard body mass index categories: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA, 309(1), 71-82

I keep hearing successful people talk about not cheating on low-starch, low-sugar diets.

 I wrote before how there is this common meme in all dieting which says "you can't deprive yourself for very long."  I wrote that what I thought this meant in terms of low carb diets was that ocassionally you had to come off the diet and have a cheat day.  I think this is actually counterproductive.

What I think it really means is that you have to endulge in ways that are concomitant with the diet -- meaning endulge in luxurious steaks and fish with good (often salty) seasoning pretty regularly.  For me it also means ocassionally adding raspberries or keto cups.

My mental health professional shys away from talking about food or sex issues as addiction.   Unlike substances, you can't totally quit food, and it plays a positive role in your life.  Same with sex.   However, I think there is a real argument for completely abstaining from high-sugar, high-refined-carb foods.

My argument is that there is a physiological adjustment to low carb or keto (see "keto flu" or the "Atkins flu").  There is also an adjustment to your pallette that happens, where you fundamentally stop craving sugary foods in favor of just real nutrition.

An additional note on the palette changes that make this diet sustainable:  I'd stay away from artificially sweetened soda.  I don't really buy the argument that says it subtly raises insulin, but I do buy the argument that it exerts a pressure on your palette towards the old way of eating.  It's better to just become accomodated in a way that makes seltzer water and lemon more appealing.

Finally, there is an aesthetic shift that happens:  once you realise you can have success eating this way and have lost some mass, it becomes very hard not to walk through the world looking at the huge people who haven't figured it out. (Nutrition isn't about willpower, it's about knowledge, so these fat bastards shoveling pancakes into their faces at 9am on a Thursday are more stupid than slothful.  [sorry, I couldn't resist -- that statement will probably come back to haunt me karmically])

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Beware cheese

 One mistake I have made over and over again doing low carb is eating too much cheese.  This last go round on a road trip, I ate so much, that I think I gave myself a hernia trying to pass it. (I'm not joking or using hyperbole, I literally have had a sore stomach for days) That's my main objection, I just can't eat it without getting really bound up.  YMMV.

The food environment was always pretty f*** up.

 I went on a road trip this past week, surving on truck stop food.  I was eating mostly the innards of sandwiches, which primarily consisted of meat and cheese.  There were also some more modern keto packages with a few nuts, again cheese, and meat cubes.

Looking around a typical truck stop, the thought I had was -- this must be what it was like for our foraging ancestors to go into the forest among poisenous plants, berries, mushrooms, and try to scratch out an existance.  The shelves were lined with inedible, sugary, garbage, and you really had to hunt for something that wasn't going to lead to an early death.

So I guess my hypothesis is that the food environment was always a little f*** up.  There was never a utopia where you walked into a store and the shelves, including the ones at kids heights at the register, were just lined with fresh berries, protein, and dark chocolate.

I support political efforts to clean up our food chain, but I also think that you shouldn't wait for that to happen, or use that as an excuse to not eat well right now.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Sunday, March 26, 2023

The last time I did this drive I almost crashed!

 I'm on my yearly road trip, this time to Fort Wayne Indiana.  I did a similar trip 2 years ago before I was eating a low-carb diet.

This trip I left NJ kind of late, and only rolled into Fort Wayne around 3am.  What was strikingly different between this trip and the previous one was that I never reached a point of tiredness that pulled me off of the road.

On this trip I ate mostly the innards of 7-11 turkey and roast beef sandwiches with shelf-stable mayonaise and mustard packets.  I drank a lot of coffee, but I didn't feel the need to result to sugary snacks to keep me awake.

Even at 2am during the last hour of the trip, I wasn't falling asleep like I was the first time I did this trip, and I attribute that to better blood sugar stability.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Memetic Explanation for the Obesity Epidemic

 Around 1968 we went from understanding that frequent snacking, and consuming starchy and sweet foods makes you fat to whatever the new lay undertanding of calories was.  The prevalent memes were, "a calorie is a calorie", "calories in = calories out", and "eat less move more", and probably also "eat smaller meals more frequently".

And in the early 1980s, we villified fat, further adding carbohydrates to the recipe.

Note on Mindful Eating: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Keep your counters clear!

"The researcher Brian Wansink tells the story this way: A man comes into the office on Friday, hungry because he’s had to rush to work with no breakfast. On the way to his cubicle he sees a plate of doughnuts left over from a meeting the previous day. He pokes a doughnut and finds that it is hard and stale. He goes to his cubicle, where the vision of the doughnuts keeps reappearing in his mind. He says “no!” to the impulse to get up and go get a doughnut. He says “no!” ten times. Finally he gets up and heads for the staff room and the stale doughnuts. There he meets a coworker who did not see the doughnuts on his way into the office and has been working all morning without the distracting visions and impulses. Who will eat the most doughnuts? As Wansink notes, the man who has been struggling with the vision and the impulses all morning will always eat more. Because the existence of the doughnuts entered his awareness, because he took in the possibility of eating them and said no ten times, eventually he is likely to say yes."

Heart Rate Monitors And Other Electronic Aids are Great, But They Can Be A Faff. Try The "Conversation" Metric Instead.

 A coach / English teacher friend of mine from way back in my rowing days once told me:

"With aerobic exercise, you should be able to carry on a conversation, perhaps more in the manner of Hemingway than Joyce."

I love gathering data with a heart rate monitor, logging software, Polar Flow, spreadsheets...etc.  However, I am finding that there is a reality to the idea that reducing the number of pain points in getting set up to work out is absolutely critical.  Perhaps once you know what 65% max heart rate feels like, you don't need to wire up each time.

I'm even willing to sacrifice having consistant workout logs, just to not have to keep the gear charged and with me all the time.  I suggest creating a blog as I have done to keep track.

Boring Low-Starch, Low-Sugar Meals Aren't The Problem, It's The Resistance To Them That Gets You

 The context for this post is having learned how to do mindfulness meditation during the pandemic with a reputable mediation app.  In that process I learned to manage anxiety by reducing the aversion to being anxious.   I learned to live with anxiety as just a phenomenon,  something that can be experienced as a physical sensation rather than a scary emotional state, and one that I could live with.

At the outset of the nutrition modification of the last few months, I found myself strategizing about how I was going to get really tantalizing, interesting meals when on low-carb.  I found myself thinking in terms of equivalents to really tasty (addictive) carb-full meals like chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast.

The reality is that it is much more helpful to not consistantly battle the fact that you are going to be eating whole foods like meat, protein, and fat. It's helpful to just acknowledge that the dynamic range (difference between the highest and lowest values) of excitingness of the meals  has got to come down.  Just kind of embrace that new range, and stop fighting it.

What I learned is that the pallete adjusts.  A really luxurious meal of prime rib, brocoli, and caesar salad with anchovies feels, in terms of pleasure response, just as beautfiul as gorging yourself on those pancakes, with much more satiety longevity, and much fewer downsides in terms of mood and energy.

One learns to move about that range with more adeptness using spices, salt, umami...etc.  As with the anxiety, the boringness of low-carb is much more tolerable when you kind of just acknowledge it and stop fighting against it.

Tuesday, March 14, 2023


 Since going on a low carb diet, my trigs have entirely normalized from nearly double the recommended range.  My total cholesterol and LDL are still marginally high, albeit lower than they were before the diet.    

I'm hesitant to post the actual labs, but I will at some point.

Calorie Density

 My PCP in Philly from a few years ago was kind of an idiot, and I don't guess that he succusfully reduced very many patients.  He was one of those guys that tried to steer me away from what I was at the time referring to as an "Atkins" diet, towards a diet that consisted of "low calorie density foods", such as salads.

Now, I think the first half of that, steering away from low-carb nutrition is patently stupid.  However the second half of that, "low calorie density food" has some merit.  

My dinner tonight was two cajun-spiced, reasonably small but tasty chicken breasts.  The only reason that this meal was satisfying is I pretty much also ate a whole head of steamed broccoli with it. 

I love broccoli so this wasn't a chore.  If there is something you like that is similarly green, fiberous, grown-above-ground, and tasty, then I would recommend mixing it in with your source of protein, fat, and calories.

Note to Self: Adding in Exercise After an Initial Success with Weight Loss (round #2)

Be very careful that adding workouts doesn't derail the diet.  I need to eat more food, or potentially more frequently, but I dont want to start eating crap.

Before workouts I was OK with 2 meals a day.  If I try to just "tack on" workouts, and don't modify my diet / calorie intake / meal frequency, it will exert undue pressure on being able to maintain low carb.

Newly Discoverd Spice / Recipe

 There is a restaurant near me called "The Chicken Or The Egg" (Marlton, NJ).  They make a mean order of chicken wings, non-breaded, with a cajun spice dry rub.

OMFG.  There is some slight danger of overeating because it tastes so good, but it is a low carb / high fat / high protein recipe, so if you do, you will feel very, very full for a long time.

Budget Secret Weapon #1

 Go for the cheaper / leaner cuts of sirloin, with a side of melted butter!

Progress Report (Reasonable Expectation For The Next 4 Months)

 I'm 4 months in and down about 35 pounds, which is about 10% of my starting body weight.  I and my PCP are ecstatic about this.

One temptation is to assume that the next 4 months will have the same negative slope as the previous 4 months.  It feels a lot healthier just to frame it this way:

"If my weight loss completely plateaus for the next 12 months, I will have still made significant inroads towards health."

I'm not arguing for starting to eat crap again, I'm just putting a lot of value in maintenance.  I'm not significantly liberalizing my nutrition plan, but I have started regular incline-power-walking for exercise.  (That new workout alone has the power to really derail a program due to apetite increase if not handled carefully).

Seasons are changing, given my seasonal job my agency over my own location, free time, and nutrition is about to get more challenging.  Even at total body weight just under 300, which _is_ heavy for my frame, I'm willing to be totally happy with maintenance for a little while, but I secretly hope weight will continue downward.

March 14th: current weight is about 297.  The first hump was a fasting-regimen that resulted in weight regain. The second hump is the current low-carb nutrition plan + exercise.

Monday, February 20, 2023

Establish a "Minimal Workout" Even If It Is Rediculously Short.

 When I lived on the island, walking out my front door, and doing "the loop" was a quick 20 minute walk.  It felt really unchallenging and easy.  Having it in my arsenal usually lead to either longer workouts, or much much more consistancy.  

You need to have a really small workout that doesn't take any executive function to convince yourself to do.  It really helps with consistancy.

Being Able to Eat Really Luxurious Food is a Key to Sustaining A Low-Sugar, Low-Starch Diet

 Steak and eggs can be a $40 breakfast, but the way I look at it so would one with a couple of mojitos, and I don't drink.

I always thought "don't deny yourself", or "you can't deny yourself" meant that occasionally on Atkins you had to break the diet and just indulge.  I have come to learn that what it means is that the food you are able to eat has to be luxurious, well prepared, and tasty.   I know I will go crazy if I try to eat my own cooking.

This can mean not shying away from fats, but it can also mean indulging a bit in salt and spice.  If you are taking away sweet, one of the core facets of food that make it tasty (as in salt, sweet, acid, fat, umami) then you really have to ramp up the other flavors.

Raspberries and "Keto Cups"

 I have been on a low carb diet for almost 4 months, and I have lost over 30 pounds.  One of the things that has been really helpful is finding a treat that isn't super-sweet, that I can have on a pretty regular basis.  For me that is raspberries, and this thing called a "Keto Cup" that you can find at whole foods.  That is basically a very unsweet reeses peanut butter cup that doesn't have any artificial sweetener. The first time I ate one I thought it was really bitter, but my pallet has adjusted to it.

I've noticed that over-indulging in this (as in eating it every day), can stall my weight loss a bit, but being able to have it a few days a week really adds to the sustainability factor of the diet.

Sunday, February 12, 2023



Finding a lot of success cutting out bread, rice, pasta, sweets, sweet sauces, and diet soda.  Eating out a tonne, and my food budget has exploded, but I'm losing weight and I don't feel like I'm depriving myself.  Sleep apnea has gotten a lot better.  

Haven't been doing much exercise beyond trying to walk a bit.  Too much exercise has derailed diet before, and I am wary.  Currently trying to weave in some light cycling.

Starting Weight | BMI = 51 | 335lbs
Current Weight | BMI = 46.1 | 303lbs | 32lb loss
Class 2 Obesity Threshold | BMI = 40 | 263lbs | 40lbs to go
Class 1 Obesity Threshold | BMI = 35 | 230lbs
Overweight Threshold | BMI = 30 | 197lbs