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Good Things for You to Watch, and to Ponder

Yeah, I know, in the last post I promised to get back to talking about food in my next post.

Sorry.

At the conference I’m attending, our plenary speaker today was Dr. Brene Brown (there’s an accent over that last “e”, but I’ll be damned if I know how to produce it here.  Use your imagination).  Apparently I’ve been living under a rock for two years, because until today I’d never heard of her, despite the millions of hits her original TED video has garnered.

She studies shame, guilt and vulnerability, and how vulnerability is the key to all things awesome.  She makes a hell of a case, and one that fits right into the Skipping Dessert gestalt.

I am feeling, at least in the near term, rather evangelical about her message, so I’m sharing these two videos with you.  I strongly urge you to watch them both in their entirety.  They’re 20 minutes each, and both worth every minute.

And then, I swear, we’ll get back to food.

The first, from 2010:

The follow up, from 2012:

Thanks, as always for reading (and for viewing), my friends.

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A Skipping Dessert Endorsement

I feel like we’re kind of in a rut here at Skipping Dessert.  It’s time to take a short break from telling you what (and what not) to eat so I can tell you something else to do.  This is primarily directed at my male readers. And maybe those females among you with fathers, sons, brothers or friends who might be males.

Gentlemen, you need a shave.

good shave. Not that barely-awake face-scrape you give yourself with a four-blade disposable cartridge and some otherworldly-colored foam every morning.  A shave.  With a straight-razor.  In a barber chair, from an old-school barber.  Hot towels, maybe even a manly fragrance or two.

There was a time when a good shave, by somebody who could not only handle a straight-razor but could give you some pointers in its proper use, was available to most men in most neighborhoods.  Sadly, that time is gone.  We’ve become convinced, by the Gillette company and a variety of others with a stake in the game, that the manly and proper thing to do is to shave yourself, and to do so as quickly as possible with the strangest – and most expensive – bundle of elements your local pharmacy can sell you.

I’m here to tell you, if Sinatra could take pleasure in buying a good shave, it’s OK for you as well.  Maybe you already know about this, and maybe you already have a place in mind. If not, let me recommend a chain you can depend on:  The Art of Shaving has locations in most large-ish American cities, and they know their stuff. They can sell you what you need to do the job better on your own and they can give you good advice on kind of “best-practices.”

Or they can give you a shave.  And a haircut too, if you’re interested.  And you should be interested.

My Lovely Wife gave me a gift certificate for The Art of Shaving back around Father’s Day, but the nearest location is in Jacksonville, so I just never got around to it.  This week I’m in San Diego for a conference, and yesterday I had a free morning. Best forty-five minutes I’ve spent in weeks.

Do it.  Get yourself a shave.  You’ll be glad you did.

Tomorrow, more food talk.  Eagle-eyed readers will note that I’m away from home – and thus my scales – and deduce that there will be no weigh-in report this week … which is probably good.  Conference travel and weight-loss, they don’t always work hand-in-hand.

Thank you for reading, as always.  Don’t be shy about sharing.

Let’s Talk About Fish.

Actually, we’ll just use fish – one in particular – to illustrate how really, honestly hard it is to establish a healthy diet.

We all know we’re supposed to be eating more fish.  Up until about a decade ago I thought that should be easy.  Tuna is everywhere.  Canned tuna is cheap, tasty and versatile.  I love tuna salad.

Then I read all about how tuna is loaded with mercury.  Reckoning that I am not smart enough to sacrifice the brain-function I’d lose digesting quicksilver, I backed off the tuna.

Lately, I’d convinced myself it’s OK.  The mercury content can’t be that  high – the FDA wouldn’t let them sell it to us, right?  Wrong.  But at least it’s actually tuna, right?  Wrong.  Apparently, nearly 6 out of ten servings of “tuna” are not so much tuna.  Grocery store “tuna” is the most reliable.  Only 18% of that appears to be fake.  The worst is “tuna” from sushi restaurants.  Nearly three out of four of those are serving fake “tuna.”

Aww, maaaaan!  Seriously, how bad can it get?  But this fake tuna, this escolar, it’s still good stuff, right?  Sure.  If you’re having trouble going to the bathroom.  Seriously.  Maybe they could start marketing “tuna” as “high-fiber.”  (Yes, I understand the difference between food that causes this nasty side-effect and food that is high in fiber.  I was making a funny.)

My – very serious – question here is, “Why the hell does the government let people sell “tuna” that isn’t TUNA?” It’s mostly a rhetorical question.  I’m pretty sure I know the answers.  First, we don’t want to fund the FDA well enough to actually inspect our food and help keep us safe.  Second, the FDA (and a whole lot of regulatory agencies) are in a constant legal war with the extreme money Big Ag brings to the table, and you and I don’t get a seat at that table.  And third, we kind of don’t want  the truth about stuff like this.  If we (and I mean the collective “we”) wanted better regulation we could get it.

So, in brief, don’t order the “white tuna.”  Unless your bowels need a little push.

This blog post helps illustrate the problem so many of us have with trying to find food that not only tastes good, but is good.  You can drive yourself to distraction with this stuff.  Please read the link.  You’ll be glad you did.

Then follow Pollan’s advice.  Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

Thank you for reading, as always!

Stuff That Works

A few months ago I read an article that swore up and down that drinking water before consuming anything else every morning – a fair bit, a pint, a quart, I can’t remember the magical formula – was a key to optimal health.  The piece included impressive sounding references and actual science, but between you and me, most of that science is beyond me.  It made sense and sounded like a good idea with little downside.

Since the beginning of the year I’ve been following exactly that.  Before coffee, before Cheerios and frozen blueberries, before meds (Singulair – the allergy blocker of the gods) or supplements, water.  About a pint and a half.

I think it works.  I’m not sure exactly what it does (other than make a visit to the men’s room my first stop at work every day), but it feels positive.  So I do it, and I’m claiming it works.  You should try it.

Speaking of supplements, I believe I’ve mentioned before that I take a B-Complex every morning.  B-vitamins are a  group of nutrients that do all sorts of things, and that naturally occur in a variety of foods.  Taking a supplement might be superfluous. Or it might not. I was wondering recently if that was doing me any good.

One of the things a B-supplement is supposed to do is increase energy and /or awareness.  I ran out of my B’s a couple of weeks ago and didn’t really give it much thought.  If anything, I had become dismissive of it.  Then I forgot about it.

After about five days, I noticed I was really tired in the early evenings.  Now, my Lovely Wife will tell you (and it is true) that without something actively going on, I can pretty much always fall asleep.  So this is not the sort of thing that mighty be obvious, but I noticed an overwhelming exhaustion, without anything having changed.  Anything, that is, other than that my B’s had run out.

As an experiment, I bought a new bottle of good B’s and took one with breakfast, as instructed by the bottle, and as I have been doing before running out.  I won’t tell you I noticed a sudden rush of energy, but without making any other changes, there is no question the the evening tiredness went away.  Is that evidence? Is it scientific?  Probably not.  But it’s good enough or me.

You might give it a shot as well.

I stole the title of this post from a Guy Clark song I like.  Thought you might enjoy it, so here it is:

Thanks, as always for reading.  If  Skipping Dessert is “stuff that works” for you, share it please.

Yep. Left a Mark.

As predicted, the cake, beer, etc. was not helpful.  Up a pound this week to 263.  If I was y’all I’d be about sick of reading me not making progress.  Thanks for stickin’ with me.

I’m worn out, frustrated and fresh-out of bon-mots.  Lucky for you, my crack research director found this amazing article from the Washington Post. I’d really like you to read it, and I promise I’ll get you something fresh and original on Monday.

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

Sprightly Daughter Number One turned eight years old this past Friday.  I ate cake Saturday.  It was sort of compulsory.  The beer at the concert Saturday night and the sugary baked beans at my mom’s on Monday were … less so.  The pancakes and syrup at Shrove Tuesday dinner?  I could make excuses, but I’m guessing they would sound hollow.

What I’m saying is that I am not hopeful regarding the weigh-in on Friday.  I’ll let you know.

Weeks like this remind me of how tough the process can be.  The name of the game is concentration.  Or mindfulness, I suppose.  Pick the one that works best for you.  But, you know, I’m not going to say no when the eight-year-old says, “You’re going to have birthday cake, right, Daddy?” Of course, that’s when it falls apart.  The first slice is emotionally compulsory, the following slices chemically so. The baked beans were kind of the same process.

Speaking of Shrove Tuesday, which you might know better as Mardi Gras, depending on your tradition or lack thereof, it leads into Ash Wednesday.  Lent.  Longtime readers might recall that Lent, 2011, is when this process started.  Lent is a time of introspection, spiritual healing, etc.  It’s traditional to give something up – often something relatively frivolous, but the older I get the better use I’m able to make of this process.

This year I’m working on giving up anger.  If not actually giving up, at least isolating it when it happens and being mindful of it with the hope of minimizing it.  Which fits really well into that whole better living thing that Skipping Dessert is all about.  Right now I’m working on not being angry at myself about those pancakes I wrote about up in the first paragraph.

Thanks for reading – if you’re working on your own Lenten journey, best of luck to you.  Let me know if I can help.

Pics, Links, Vids

First, the picture:

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What’s this, you ask?  Why, it’s how you get a better idea of what you’re buying if you have to buy at the supermarket instead of the co-op or the farmer’s market. Now, I don’t want to get into a discussion right here about whether or not genetic modification is the devil incarnate (there are actually good arguments either way, although I lean toward the “yes, it’s the devil” side).  What I want to do is arm you with a little information to make you and me better consumers.

As you see, a four-digit plu starting with 3 or 4, well, that’s “conventionally grown.”  That means it was grown with pesticides and commercial fertilizers.  It also means it looks and feels pretty standard and is pretty cheap. May not have a lot of flavor, but hey, it still grows out of the ground.

The five-digit code starting with 9?  That’s the expensive one.  It’s also the one with the most flavor and nutrients.  Your call.  I report, you decide.

The link:  This CNN story about dieting.  A few simple, and one would hope, obvious, points that may help keep you on track.  Things like, even foods that are really, really, really good for you still contain calories, so if you find the most awesome wild salmon that ever swam upstream, and you eat the whole thing, you’ve eaten too much.  Read, learn. Just puh-leeze, don’t think of it as “dieting.”

And the video:

There’s a good chance you’ve seen this (very) short film featuring an older vocal track from Alan Watts.  You might have even seen it a few days ago when I posted it on Facebook.  Regardless, I highly recommend you watch it.  The gist is that if we all did the thing(s) we love instead of the thing(s) we think we’re supposed to do, we’d all be better off and so would the world.  I got some interesting feedback on it, but the truth is, I think it was misunderstood.  It sounds simple.  And it is simple.  It’s also really hard.  As Malcolm Gladwell tells us in Outliers, mastery (which Watts talks about in the video) requires at least 10,000 hours of practice.

Trust me, just watch, then think.

Thanks for stopping in, dear reader.  You know the drill – pass it along as you see fit.

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