2015 Weigh-In Number 7 (of 52)

Let me say right up front that, no, I do not intend to only post every second Friday.

Life just works out that way.

I bring good tidings of great joy, however: Today’s number is 278. Which is 11 pounds in 7 weeks. I obviously don’t expect to maintain this sort of result, but I’m darned happy to be ahead of the curve.

It’s mostly an issue of portion control, spurred by three things: This time around, I actually feel better when I don’t eat like a fool. And no, that hasn’t always been the case. In years past when I made an effort to eat with more intention I honestly didn’t feel the difference and had to just count on the scale (and my clothes) to give me reassurance. At 47 I seem to get same- or next-day physical and emotional reassurance. So that’s good.

The second thing is the fact that I am 47 years old. I already know that it does not get easier to shed pounds as I get older, and I don’t want to exit my forties feeling “old.” So there’s that.

Akin to the second issue is genetics. Mine are not stellar. My dad started having heart attacks in his fifties, which are staring me down right now. Cardiac trouble seems like something I’d like to avoid, and something I’d like my lovely wife and sprightly daughters to not have to deal with.

But today we celebrate! Two more pounds and I will have met my goal for the entire first quarter. That’s a good thing.

As always, thanks for reading and don’t be shy about sharing.

2015 Weigh-In Number 5 (of 52)

Yes, you did miss number Weigh-in Number 4, but all is well. Or at least on-track. 281 this morning, the last Friday of January. You may recall that we started the month at 289. That’s two pounds a week, and I’m certainly happy with that. Shirts fit better, and I’m probably only a couple of pounds from changing my waist size.

I can’t claim to have been eating particularly well because for the past two weeks I’ve been fighting a stomach bug and eating whatever would … umm … let’s say, “process” correctly.

Here’s hoping next week presents opportunities to be intentional about food. On the other hand, this bug seems determined to help me find my way back into the 270’s, so it’s got that going for it.

Thanks for stickin’ with me! Planning to feel more like mid-week blogging this coming week.

2015 Weigh-In Number 3 (of 52)

At the risk of irrational exuberance, I’m feeling pretty positive at this point. 283 this morning, or six pounds in two weeks. As I noted last week, the initial weigh-in was probably impacted by something I ate in the day or two prior, but still, six pounds in two weeks is solid.

Biggest Dietary Deviation of the Week: Shrimp Fra Diavola for lunch yesterday. With a bunch of old-school white-flour linguini. Tasty, but of questionable value to my goals.

Biggest Win of the Week: Wednesday night I came home with quite an attitude. Long, stressful day. My first thought was to head for the refrigerator. BUT … my rational, “Skipping Dessert” mind prevailed over my irrationally hungry lizard brain and I stayed away. I knew this was an emotional response, not a hunger issue (I’d eaten a reasonable dinner several hours earlier). This has always been one of my biggest problems with maintaining healthy eating. Some people respond to stress with vodka, I respond with sugar, salt and fat. Mostly salt and fat. But this time, this one day, I beat the habit.

Now, pardon me while I seek treatment for the shoulder I’ve dislocated by patting myself on the back.

Thanks for reading, as always. Coming up in the next few posts, chia seeds, vitamins and the difference between supper and dinner. Don’t be shy about sharing this blog.

Not Your Grandfather’s Diet

My Dad and his sister like to tell about the time Granddaddy went on a lettuce diet back in the 50’s. According to them, his Doc told him he had to lose weight, and the Lettuce Diet was just the way to do it. The way they remember it he didn’t eat anything but lettuce for weeks.

Given that he doesn’t seem to have developed scurvy or any such malady, I imagine Dad and Aunt Joyce may be misremembering some details of the Lettuce Diet.

I know I sound like a broken record but, really world, enough with the weird diets.

Today NPR – National Public Radio – of all sources, told me about the 5:2 Diet. Which is basically “Eat whatever you want five days a week, but two days a week don’t eat much at all.”

(Yes, there’s more detail – if there were’t they wouldn’t be able to sell you a book and a DVD – but that’s pretty much the gist of it.)

Here’s the truth: All the diets work. Every single one of ’em. Butter in your coffee, 600 calories a day, All carbs, No carbs, Cabbage soup, Mediterranean, No fat, Brown rice … all of ’em. They all work. As long as you follow them to the letter and do what they say.

But sooner or later you’re going to stop living the way The Diet tells you to live. And when you do it’s going to feel good. And you’ll do it again. And again and again and again. And then you’ll realize you’ve gained it all back and maybe more.

The world is so crazy to find the magical, mystical perfect diet that when you start to type in the word “Mediterranean” the Google automatically fills in the word “Diet” before you get halfway through. Go ahead and try. I’ll wait right here.

I know that as the king of documented false starts and relapses in the world of healthy-eating attempts, I do not currently have a lot of credibility on the subject. But I remain convinced that the only way to reach and maintain a healthy weight in a healthy fashion is to follow the advice of my old standby, Michael Pollan:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Focus and intention, that’s the key. We all know what’s smart to eat (another Pollanism: “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”), but the world wants us to act not-smart.

You’ll be happy to know that I’m on-track, and so far (13 days in) it’s been relatively simple. Hear that sound? That’s me knocking on wood that it stays that way.

Thanks for reading, as always.

2015 Weigh-In Number 2 (of 52)

Yeah, yeah, I know, I should have posted Friday. Didn’t work out that way. But I did weigh-in yesterday morning, to a shocking four-pound loss at 285. Which tells me that last week’s weigh-in, the baseline, was probably the result of a bunch of water weight. Regardless, yes, I’m pleased with a four-pound jump start.

Biggest Dietary Deviation of the Week: A “Southern Cucumber” – Bourbon, cucumber, lemonade – at dinner last Saturday night. I would not have been surprised to not lose a pound after that.

Biggest Disappointment of the Week: Remembering how inconvenient it is to eat without fast food. Yes, I know if I prepared lunch at home and brought it with me it would not be inconvenient. I’m unlikely to do that. The day moves by really fast sometimes, and driving through a fast-food place is A LOT faster than anything else. Regardless, I don’t do that anymore.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading!

Random Monday Thoughts

So … this exists. And it lives in my kitchen.

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In a fun bit of irony, I found this while rooting around in the cabinets for actual Jif, which we did not have. My Lovely Wife swears it (the powdered stuff) does not suck, and is useful for things like smoothies. Which is why it lives here at Casa Ward.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Sometimes the universe enforces your rules on it’s own. Last week, before the Week One weigh-in, I decided to have a goodbye visit to my old pals at McDonald’s. Yes, I am fully aware of everything that is wrong with eating at McDonald’s (which is why I was making a farewell trip), but if we lay aside all the rational reasons why McDonald’s is Of The Devil, a fresh order of McDonald’s french fries is nothing less than sublime.

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Now, a lukewarm, unsalted order of McDonald’s french fries, like the one pictured? That’s well-nigh disgusting. Apparently the universe decided I was done with fast food a day or two before I was ready to get back on the wagon. It probably knows best.

Don’t even ask why I ate half the fries anyway. Seriously, don’t ask.

I read Vox.Com regularly. It’s my daily go-to national news source. Because they knew darn well I (and most of the rest of America) would get all weight-conscious right about now, they started posting a series of articles debunking the American way of dieting back in November.

There are several, but the one about the “bulletproof diet” is my favorite. I have friends who swear by “bulletproof.” Like every other “diet,” it probably works if you follow it to the absolute, expensive letter (like at least one of my friends has, to great effect). But I’ll be damned if I believe putting butter in your coffee is sustainable healthy living.

I’ll leave you with this for now. Some guy named Chef Richie Nakano hosts a video blog called “The Week in Stupid Food News.” You’re welcome.

Thanks for reading, as always. Don’t be shy about telling your friends this blog exists.

2015 Weigh-In Number 1 (of 52)

Lord, how I hate to follow the pack.

My natural inclination is to strike out in my own direction and do things my way. Yet here I am, starting my – let’s call it a “regimen” – the second day of the year, with everybody else.

Let’s take this blank slate of a new year and get after it, what say you?

The goal, as before, is a pound a week. Starting at (oh, my, I can’t believe this) 289, my challenge is for the scale to read 237 at weigh-in number 52 on December 31 of this year.

To help myself reach that goal, I’m re-committing to posting at least three times a week here, including the weekly weigh-in.

Thanks for reading.

The Tyranny of the CSA

My Lovely Wife, who is much smarter than I am, signed us up for a CSA half- share. No, we’re not trying to resurrect the Confederacy. “CSA” stands for Community Supported Agriculture.

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Basically, we paid $X to the farm (in this case, to the fine folks at Swallowtail Farm) over the summer, and so did a bunch of other people. The farm uses that money as working capital to, well, farm, and when the crops begin to come in (here in North Florida, that’s October-ish) they pull ’em out of the ground and drive ’em to Farmer’s Markets around the area.

As a pre-paid CSA member, every other Wednesday afternoon I walk over to the Union Street Farmer’s Market in downtown Gainesville, check our name off the list and fill up a big burlap sack with that week’s produce.

Everything sounds good so far, right? The good people at Swallowtail pre-sell their product at a fair rate and my family gets healthy, organic, abundant local produce. What could be wrong with that?

I’m glad you asked.

I have never seen so many sweet potatoes in my life. Do you have any idea what “Tat Soi” is? What does one do with a rutabaga? And who names these things?

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In short, the very first week our refrigerator filled up with leafy greens, tubers and other root-like substances neither my wife nor I had any idea how (or when) to cook.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. They’re beautiful. And I’m certain they’re bursting with the promise of health for us and the Sprightly Daughters.

There are peppers. I know what those are. But they’re mostly hot, which means one out of the five of us <waves hand> enjoys eating them.

But eat them we must. After all, we’ve already paid for them, and I feel so very superior every other Wednesday evening as I drive past the oh-so bourgeois supermarkets and convenience stores with my sack of robust, colorful healthiness beside me on the front seat.

After we put the kids to bed I spread the veggies out on the kitchen counter and admire the bounty and beauty of our local harvest. And then I call out to Gillian, “Do you remember what I said this one with the big veiny leaves is called?” Because, you see, if you don’t know what it is how are you going to look up how to store it, much less cook it?

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Yeah, now and then, like the peppers and sweet taters, there’s a bunch of parsley or cilantro that I know how to handle. But at least half of it is a guessing game.

The tat-soi we ended up stir-frying with some peppers and something that was very much like (but not exactly) broccoli, and it was tasty. Most of the root vegetables we chopped up and roasted with olive oil and salt and pepper, because we figured if it works for sweet taters, how far wrong can we go? One of the varieties of what we thought were skinny sweet potatoes ended up being purple potatoes. That was all pretty good.

Some of the more exotic lettuce we just kind of admired until we decided it was ok not to eat it. And then the guilt set in.

Perhaps the bigger problem than our embarrassing lack of familiarity with real food is that we don’t cook all that much. Even with food sitting right there in the fridge. Because, and I am not ashamed to say this, we are busy people. We have three kids who all do stuff and both of us are working professionals with interests outside our work lives. And we’re borderline nazi-esque in the bedtime routines we’ve built for our children.

So do we leave work early to cook dinner? Do we break the rules and let them get to bed an hour or two later than they should? Or do we go out to dinner?

We go out to dinner. Three, four times a week. And sometimes we don’t feel like arguing with the Sprightly Daughters about how they should at least try the green stuff on their plates, so we just let them have cereal for dinner.

I’ve come to terms with that, and have decided that, no, it does not make us bad parents.

I have not come to terms with all that green stuff in the refrigerator yet.

** I am mostly being snarky above, and recognize the first-world-ness of my struggle. Just wanted to be clear about that before the scold-mail starts.

Thank you for reading, as always. If you enjoyed this, don’t be shy about forwarding, Facebooking, Tweeting or otherwise spreading the word.

Things I’ve Done Since I Last Blogged Here

So, ummm, it’s been a while. Nearly two years, actually. Hope you’ve been well.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • I ran for Alachua County Commission. That was quite the experience. Fourteen months of it. Oh yeah, I lost. Will I do it again? Don’t know. Stay tuned.
  • Found out that Sprightly Daughter Number One has a chromosomal disorder called Turner Syndrome. As a component of that syndrome she has Celiac Disease. Which is sort of a cosmic comeuppance for having written this piece.
  • Lost a close friend to mental illness.
  • Had an uncomfortable medical experience of my own that you don’t even want to know about.
  • Celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary.
  • A bunch of other stuff but most relevant to this blog, I ate my way back up to 286 pounds.

    I’ll be back to blogging regularly here, because I’ve proven to myself that writing here helps me lose weight and live healthy.

    I hope you’ll check in. As always, I appreciate you reading.

Baby Steps From Consumption to Production

I’ve seen this meme floating around the internets, and re-posted it on Facebook myself recently:

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We’re not about to turn the backyard here at Skipping Dessert Central into a farm, and I’m not about to turn this blog into a home-ag blog, but this is as true as anything I’ve posted.  While the clear implication in this image regards food production, it applies across the board to better living.

Inspired by this sort of thinking (not the image itself, I saw this after our “Spring planting”) over the course of a weekend in March the Sprightly Daughters and I re-invigorated the backyard garden.

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This year, in addition to God’s own tangerine tree and the resurgent peach tree, we’ve planted, in nine containers, eight tomato plants (three varieties), three eggplants, four bell peppers (red and green) plants, a key lime tree and a Meyer lemon tree.  Whew!

Why containers when I have all that dirt right there in the backyard?  I’m glad you asked.  I am an amateur’s amateur when it comes to growing stuff.  I come from a long line of plant-killers.  Our tangerine tree is my crowning glory, and I worry every single day that something bad will happen to it.  Containers give me control over not only my growing media (the potting soil I buy in bags means I don’t have to worry nearly as much about soil ph, other plants – weeds – or funky bugs that are crawling around looking for homegrown tomatoes to destroy), sun reach and temperature.

Mostly those containers are going to stay right where they are.  But if the weather gets really weird – tropical storms, occasional freezes, etc. – I’ll move them onto the back porch.  If I notice the sun isn’t getting to one of the containers just right, I’ll move it to a better spot.  If I were planting them in the dirt, they’d just be where they were.  Which makes no sense.

The downside is that container gardening is significantly more expensive to get started, as I had to go get the containers and the fancy dirt.  The plants were the cheap part.  So, in an effort to keep overall costs down, in the Fall when the tomatoes and peppers are played out I’m going to do a Fall/Winter planting  Of what?  Don’t know yet. We’ll have to see.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I know this is only a tiny fraction of what my clan will consume.  But we might be able to cover all the tomatoes and bell peppers we need.  And nobody will be forced to pick those tomatoes and peppers.  We might be able to stop buying limes and lemons trucked from Lord-knows-where.  I also believe it’s just good for humans to dig around in the dirt and grow stuff.  If I can do that successfully and consistently, it’s a heck of a gift I can give the Sprightly Daughters.

I’ll leave you with some citrus pics.  This first one is an over-exposed lime flower that will eventually be a lime.  The tree we planted has a couple of limes well on their way to being usable fruit.

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These pretty purplish buds will soon become Meyer lemons.

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And this bee is one of several who were harvesting orange-blossom nectar from the tangerine tree yesterday afternoon.

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As always, thanks for reading, and don’t be shy about sharing.

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