Posts Tagged ‘weight loss’

This is Unpleasant

It is not, as this blog suggests, the worst thing I’ve read all day (I’ve read some pretty bad stuff), but it sure is, ahh, what’s the word, mean spirited?  Yes, let’s go with mean-spirited.  I won’t go so far as to call it bullying, but it’s not far off.

This guy, a bioethicist (I’m not entirely sure what that is, and am too lazy to look it up – hey, I’m fat, what do you expect?) named Daniel Callahan, proposes that the problem with obesity is that we just don’t make fat people feel bad enough about themselves in this country.

Allow me to quote from an Atlantic piece on the subject:

“An edgier strategy is needed,” is his (earnest and entirely devoid of irony) way of putting it.

The edgy strategy he came up with entails “social pressure combined with vigorous government action.” Callahan likens it to the campaign to end smoking: The combination, in his experience, of being criticized, sent outside, and taxed for his “nasty habit” was the motivation he needed to quit. “

Yeah.  Because smoking and being fat are exactly the same thing.  Because fat people – children and adults, male and female – don’t already spend enough time hating themselves.  Because popular media is rife with positive fat role models.

Look, I made a lot of less-than-good choices that helped me gain the weight I’m trying to lose, and I freely admit that.  If you honestly believe genetics have nothing to do with this belly I carry, however, you’re fooling yourself.  And so is Dr. Callahan.

I’m a hell of a lot more comfortable in my skin than most people I know, regardless of weight, but I’ll tell you right now – and you know it to be true – every fat person you know feels like a pariah already.  Find me a middle-class American woman whose figure resembles Marilyn Monroe’s and who doesn’t already hate herself every time she opens a magazine or watches a TV commercial.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.

What’s that you say?  You don’t think Marilyn Monroe was fat?  Neither do I, but you can bet Dr. Callahan thinks she should be scolded for her weight.

Yes, we need education campaigns about the risks of obesity.  We need education campaigns about what “healthy” food actually is.  We need to make more opportunities for exercise.  We need honesty from Big Ag.  We need a lot of things to help us all live healthier.

What we don’t need to do is make fun of the fat kid.  Which is exactly what Dr. Callahan wants us to do.

Thanks to an eagle-eyed friend of the blog for forwarding this odious garbage to my attention, and to you for reading, as always.


Weighing in, and bacon.

I don’t know if you read this blog for the witty turns-of-phrase (yes, I flatter myself), for the insightful links from the research department, because you have nothing better to do, or because you keep thinking that sooner or later I’ll lose some more weight.

If that last reason is your reason, I have good news and bad news for you tonight:  No, I haven’t lost weight since the last time I posted a weigh-in. I was 262 this morning, which isn’t bad considering how much I stretched my “program” since I was last posting regularly in March, but it’s not the same thing as losing weight.  The good news is that now I’m pissed-off about it.  Which isn’t a good motivator for everyone, but for me, it’s always been a fine way to keep my mind on the project at-hand.  Being angry about something sharpens my focus.

Why am I pissed-off?  Well, there are the obvious reasons – primarily that I’ve been stalled within a few pounds for too long, and since I actually write about his stuff on the internet it’s kind of embarrassing to be stalled for so long for no other reason than that I haven’t been on-task.  I wanted to be farther along than this before summer, and I’m not, and it’s nobody’s fault but my own.

But that’s not all.  The truth is – and we all know this – that there are a lot of too-good-to-be-true weight-loss gimmicks out there, and if people like me who are doing this sensibly don’t succeed, and don’t share that success, the gimmicks win.  And then everybody loses, because the gimmicks don’t work.  At least not in the long run.

So I won’t have it.  No white-bread hamburger bun, no bowl of cheese-grits, no Kraft Mac and Cheese tastes good enough for me to let the gimmicks win without a fight.

Speaking of hamburger buns, here’s a bonus bacon cheeseburger link and a couple of thoughts.  You may have read that McDonald’s announced they will phase out using pigs from gestation-crates for their pork products.  Good news, right?  Yeah, turns out they’re not going to actually, ummm, do that for about ten years.  One more reason to stay away from fast food.

Beyond that, let’s talk about bacon cheeseburgers for a minute.  A while back, in one of my more lucid moments in this process, it occurred to me that when I order a bacon cheeseburger – or any sort of beef burger – what I taste is the burger.  Furthermore, that’s what I want to taste when I order a burger – the beef.  So I tried really thinking and tasting my burger (yeah, eating intentionally) to see how much the bacon was adding to the experience.  Answer?  Almost nothing.  And on further review, I think I’m going to jettison the cheese.  A good burger stands on its own.  No reason to tart up a good piece of beef.  It’s insulting to both the cow and the pig.

Yeah, I still eat bacon, you bet I do.  But I save it for places where it really makes a difference – carbonara, next to an egg, places where it belongs.  It doesn’t belong on a burger.  So I don’t put it there anymore.  And I don’t miss it.

Thanks for reading – don’t be shy about passing this along to a friend!

Reading Assignment, Etc.

First, read this.  Then come back and we’ll talk about it.

All done?  OK, thanks for coming back.   If you’ve ever lost significant weight (No, not five pounds to help your favorite jeans fit better.  You’re the only one who notices that.), you know what she’s talking about. Surprised expressions of congratulations that you should take as compliments end up feeling … very different than they were intended.

If you are lucky enough never to have been in those sweat pants, first count your blessings, then try to use this piece to understand why the last time you told someone how much better they looked now that they’ve lost weight ended with you getting a curious expression in return.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about peaches and tomatoes.  Yesterday Sprightly Daughter Number Two and I headed over to Garden Gate Nursery and picked up some farm supplies.  By which I mean three tomato plants and a peach tree.

I should note that in a surprising turn of events, Sprightly 2 didn’t even argue with me about coming along.  I asked if she or her sister would like to ride with me, fully expecting them to less-than-politely demur, as is the tradition, but she was totally into it.  We spent a lot longer at the nursery than I would have liked … looking at flowers and fountains … but I figured I owed her that much for being enthusiastic.

Previous forays into the world of backyard ag have taught me that there is nothing economical about growing one’s own, but there is something strangely satisfying about eating food you’ve grown on your own chunk of dirt.  Regardless, in addition to the existing tangerine tree, we now have tomatoes and peaches planted.  I’ve designated one section of the yard “The Grove” and another “The Orchard,” and hope to add another tree to each next weekend.  I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Thanks, as always, for reading.  If you regularly read Skipping Dessert posts at the blog address, you might consider clicking in that little box to your right that says, “Don’t Miss a Post!”  Several readers have done that, and they get every new post sent directly to their email inbox as soon as I click the “publish” button.  Also, don’t be shy about sharing Skipping Dessert with your friends.

A Little Perspective

Whew!  Busy week.  Sorry about missing Wednesday and Friday.  Hopefully you used the time to read some older posts.

Regardless, know that I did weigh-in Friday morning, I just didn’t get a chance to blog it.  260, which is down one more pound from last week.  Still in the 260’s, still annoying.

A couple of weeks ago I was whining about how slow this slog is, and how frustrating it is to not be losing at a greater clip.  A friend of the blog made the remarkable suggestion that the next time I’m in the grocery store I pick up a 25-pound bag of dog food and carry it around for a bit.  The point being that, having started at 287, I used to carry more than that around with me every step I took.  Hey, that’s a good idea, I thought to myself.

I didn’t actually do it, of course.

And then this afternoon I was in the Publix, and I was thinking, “Damn, I can’t believe I’m still fighting my way through the 260’s.”  And I remembered Ed’s suggestion.  So I pushed the cart over to the pet aisle and discovered that the Publix doesn’t sell 25-pound bags of Purina.  But they have 20’s, so I picked one of those up and carried it around for a few aisles.

You know what?  Twenty pounds of dog food is a lot to carry.  Twenty-seven pounds of fat must have been as well.

I don’t feel “better” now than I did before I started this journey, to be honest.  Clothes fit a bit better and I don’t have to take heartburn meds every night anymore, but I think I’m still about 25 pounds from really feeling what I could describe as “better.”  However, the reality is that right now … 27 pounds lighter … my knees aren’t working as hard.  My flat feet aren’t working as hard.  My heart isn’t working as hard.  Which means all those components – and more -should keep working longer than they otherwise would.

Which is fine thing.

So.  Thank you Ed, hell of a suggestion.

Thank you for reading.  I promise to get you a Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday post this week.

As Promised, Music.

Five Things Wednesday makes a bold, triumphant return to Skipping Dessert today with five songs about food.  Good food, bad food.  Good habits, less-than-good habits.  Click and enjoy!

I’ve long considered this post. I like food and I like music.  In my mind there must have been millions (foreshadowing) of songs about eating healthy and losing weight.  It’s such a big part of our national conversation (at least it is if you call it “dieting”) that there are more songs out there than I could possibly work into one brief post, right?


There actually aren’t a lot of pop songs directly about food.  Sure, lots of songs that pretend to be about food … but are actually about sex (take, for instance, this one)  But this ain’t a sex blog. That’s what we have the rest of the internets for.  No, on this blog I’m trying to tell a story about food and the struggle to, you know, not die early because of it.  And there’s surprisingly little in the western pop canon to support that.

Regardless, for you, dear reader, I persevered, wracked both my brain and The Google, and now can present …

Five Songs About Food

(Yes, I considered embedding the actual videos, but this isn’t really a picture blog at this point.  Just click ye the links.)

1.)   If I’m going to tell you a story about my relationship with food this is a great place to start.  Kind of a “how I got into this mess” cautionary tale.  I’d be lyin’ if I told you I didn’t enjoy – really, truly enjoy – a whole lot of buffets in my time.  So I won’t tell you that.  Ladies and gentlemen, direct from 1985’s Krush Groove, The Fat Boys and “All You Can Eat.”

2.)  Of course, over the years I’ve tried many times to “amend my carnivorous habits.”  I went through a variety of fad diets and always ended up, like the dude in this song, faced with an overwhelming craving for the food I denied myself.  Which is why they failed.  A classic from Mr. Jimmy Buffett, here’s “Cheeseburger in Paradise.”  Pass the Heinz 57, if you please …

3.)  It’s true that I simply don’t eat dessert anymore.  I can count the number of sugary treats I’ve had since March of this year on two hands with fingers left over.  I do, however, eat a bunch of fruit.  You know what fruit I like?  Peaches.  “Millions of Peaches“.  Peaches for me.  Enjoy, please, the Presidents of the United States of America

4.)  Now, eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and you can’t enjoy food.  Quality ingredients, cooked by people who care about what they’re cooking, man, that’s hard to beat.  Take, for instance, some good rice, some Gulf shrimp, maybe some andouille sausage, peppers, onions and celery, a good roux, before you know it you got you something gooooood to eat!  A classic among classics, my friends, the one and only Mr. Hank Williams signing “Jambalaya.”

5.)  But you know, every now and then I get this nagging, craving feeling.  I know you think of me as a paragon of healthy eating and a trusted weight-loss advisor, but now and then I have to work hard to put my inner “Junk Food Junkie” back in his box.  Larry Groce tells the story better than I can …

Thanks, as always, for reading.  Don’t be shy about sharing this blog with your friends.  Oh, and let me know what songs about food you like.  Feel free to post ’em in the comments.

In Which I Get My Politics On

From the “Really Stupid Ways to Force People to Eat Healthy” department, there’s this item from Denmark, as reported by Jack Cafferty and Ezra Klein, both of whom are interesting writers (in different ways).  Remember when the Danish government was only worried about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?

These days the Danes are apparently less interested in fundamental existentialism than in social engineering.  Regardless of the politics of how deeply into your menu I think a government should be, this is, I believe, on the wrong track because (regular readers will anticipate this) fat is not the problem.

People have been eating fat – even the saturated kind – for as long as people have been eating.  What have people not been eating for millennia?  Fake food.  Heavily engineered corn sweeteners.  I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter.

As you may remember from posts like this one, there’s good research out there to indicate that the problem is overly processed and highly engineered “food.”  That the stuff we eat today does a better job of making us want more of the stuff we eat than it does of helping our bodies run efficiently.

If a government wants to socially-engineer better health, it could start by cutting US corn subsidies.  I realize this is Denmark we’re talking about, but here in America, we’re getting an average of ten percent of our calories from High Fructose Corn Syrup.  Seriously.

Klein, in the more substantive of the articles on the Danish tax, points out that research indicates a tax like this has to be pretty heavy-handed to affect behavioral change.

So, you want to lead people away from their dinner plates?  Don’t tax their bacon.  Just stop subsidizing their corn.

Hey, remember yesterday when I promised you music?  Sorry about that.  So, tomorrow, the bold return of Five Things Wednesday features music about weight loss.  Good for YOU!

Thanks for reading, as always.

Some People Just Don’t Get It.

Like, for instance, this jackass.  He set out, a while back, to prove to the world that the only thing that matters in a weight-loss regimen is the math:  burn more calories than you take in.  So he cut his daily caloric intake to 1,800.  Most of which he obtained through, apparently, Twinkies, Doritos and Oreos.  And yes, he lost weight.

To his credit he’s apparently been able to keep it off.  But here’s why the point he “proved” is a slap in the face to people trying to manage their weight responsibly:  Some of us, Dr. Haub, can’t eat just one.  And let’s face it, if your total caloric intake is less than 2,000 calories, you ain’t gonna get many Twinkies. One (1) Twinkie is 150 calories – and they come packs of two, which means somebody with less-than-perfect will-power is going to consume 300 calories when they open a package of Twinkies.

I don’t know if you’ve ever eaten a pack of Twinkies, but I have to tell you, they aren’t particularly filling.  He says he ate one every three hours, plus other snacks.  Let’s say he started at 9 AM and ate one every three hours through 9 PM.  That’s 750 calories, and nearly nothing in his stomach.  Let’s say he added two handfuls of Doritos every day.  That’s another 280 calories.

Maybe he added a couple of Oreos and a bowl of Honeycomb cereal just to round-out the days snacking.  There’s 310 more calories.  Which leaves 460 calories for the protein shake and vegetables he says he consumed.

A reasonable person isn’t FULL after eating that amount of food.  It rings the calorie register too quickly, and there’s no bulk, no satisfaction to the “meal.”

Perhaps he’s one of those rare folks who can eat a couple of Oreos and just walk away.  Or perhaps I’m the strange one.  But here’s what happens when I eat an Oreo:  I eat another Oreo.  And then another and another.  And then I start looking around to be sure nobody sees the fat guy eating the next ten or fifteen Oreos.  And you know what?  I think there are more of me than there are of him.

As I referenced in this post, there’s actual research to back up my point that bad food is engineered to make you want more bad food.  So this guy is effectively telling people – many of whom are desperately trying to get healthy – that there’s no difference between an all-Twinkies-all-the-time approach and the Michael Pollan approach.  But there is.

Yes, he tries to back off from it by saying he doesn’t know what the right answer is.  Really?  Seriously?  You think the right answer has anything to do with Doritos?  That’s simply disingenuous, and worse, it’s harmful.  Because I’ll promise you there’s somebody reading the CNN article about him and thinking, “Alright!  I CAN eat junk food and lose weight.”  And a year from now that person is going to blame themselves, and not this jackass. And that’s inexcusable.

Two housekeeping items:  First, I’m stuck at 262.  That’s 25 pounds in 25 weeks.  Gotta pick up the pace or I’ll be OFF pace … and that won’t be good.

Second, see those little pictures of the Facebook, Twitter, Google and other icons?  Click those.  Share the blog if you enjoy it.  Thanks!

Five Reasons Running is My Preferred Exercise

In the triumphant return of Five-Things-Wednesday after a tw0-week hiatus I discuss the reasons I prefer running to other forms of contrived exercise.  Make no mistake, I’d rather not exercise at all, but I recognize that as a white-collar kinda guy I’m not going to reach my fitness goals without some form of contrived exercise.  And running is that exercise for the following reasons:

1.)  I actually go somewhere.  I can’t stand stationary bikes, stair climbers, elliptical machines (what the hell does that even mean?), etc.  Because they make you work and sweat … and you stay in one place.  They are, by definition, stationary.  Which makes them the epitome of contrived exercise in my opinion.  Running is still contrived (I’m not actually running from or to anything, after all), but at least I put some distance behind me.   This is, by the way, one of the biggest reasons I don’t like NASCAR – the idea of driving a car 500 miles and never leaving Daytona is mind-boggling to me.

2.)  I get to be part of the world around me.  It’s easy to take for granted, but the pace of running (especially my particularly slow pace) is ideal for actually seeing the stuff in my neighborhood without standing and ogling.  Soon I’ll know where all the dead birds, illicit garbage piles and hidden fences on Glen Springs Road are.  If I were doing anything in the gym I wouldn’t see anything but bad TV and a lot of people in infinitely better condition than me.  If I were biking I’d have to pay attention to other, bigger vehicles.  If I were swimming I’d be way too focused on not drowning to even see the sides of the pool.

3.)  It’s cheap.  And so am I.  Running (and yes, walking) is the least expensive exercise I know of.  Invest in a good pair of shoes and you’re in bidness.  Sure, there are gadgets and accessories you can add, but all you need is the shoes.

4.)  It’s portable.  Referring back to number three above, all you need is the shoes.  Which are a lot easier to pack than a bike or golf clubs.  When I used to run regularly I brought my shoes on business travel and as a consequence (referring back to number two above) I got see some really cool things in Denver, Austin and Fargo, just to name a few.  No, really, Fargo was interesting.  Stop laughing.

5.)  It’s removes the desire to sing along with Mick Jagger.   When I’m walking I find myself singing along, playing a little air-guitar, pumping my fists, etc., as I listen to my exercise playlist.  Which looks really stupid.  That’s not a problem when I’m running, because all my attention is focused on silly things like breathing.  And yes, I know that to exercise safely I should be able to carry on a conversation comfortably while I run, to which I respond, “Not with these lungs.”  At my most fit that wasn’t possible.  It’s darn sure not possible right now.

I noticed when I posted this that this is my 52nd post on Skipping Dessert.  Which means that post number 50, a nice, round milestone kind of number, was my running shoes haiku.  Which sort of opens the door to the exercise portion of my weight-loss path.  Interesting how things happen that way.

One More Reason Not to Count the Calories

Generally speaking, I don’t care what the menu says about how many calories are in my steak.  I’m pretty sure I’m not making a stellar nutritional decision by dining at Outback (or any other chain restaurant) in the first place.  I already know the less sauce and the more vegetables there are on the plate, the “healthier” it is.  I don’t need a little heart printed next to it on the menu.

Plus, I don’t trust their numbers.  They have plenty of motivation to be less-than-honest about the calorie count on any given item, and there’s plenty of room for error in the kitchen.

Vindicating my distrust of menu-math, a friend of the blog (actually my Lovely Wife) sent me this NPR story highlighting a Tufts University study printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week.

In all fairness, it turns out restaurants are right more often than they’re wrong (by a long shot) but when they’re wrong, they’re really wrong.  One chain mis-labelled their chips and salsa (yeah, they couldn’t even get chips and salsa right) by more than a thousand calories.  Considering that I know people who refuse to eat more than 600 calories a day, that’s a a substantial error.

What the article doesn’t report, but which is, I think, pretty important, is that there are diet plans out there (I won’t mention them by name, ’cause I don’t make any money off this and don’t want to pay a lawyer when they sue me, but the second word in the title of one of them is “Watchers”) who actively promote checking the printed calorie counts.  You’ll notice many of the chains even include “exchange” information next to the calorie count.

If the data is wrong … and you’re counting it for your “points” … you’re likely to be left wondering what went wrong at your weigh-in.   Which is devastating to the psyche of someone committed to a program like that.

So while part of me is happy to be right about those calorie counts, the consumer advocate in me is more than a little annoyed by this news.  Let the eater beware, I suppose, but I’d like to see the counts ditched altogether.

There are few crutches worth using on the path to losing weight.  In the long run, we all have to do the hard work on our own.  But there’s no reason for restaurants to make the work harder.

Here’s a rule of thumb:  Eating at a chain restaurant is not good for you.  Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it occasionally – they make stuff that tastes GOOD to most of us.  It means you have to be careful and you have to do your own research.

As a side-note to this, the NPR Health Blog (“Shots“) is a fine health resource.  I recommend it.

An Unlikely Group

It’s Five-Things-Wednesday …

People have been thinking and writing about eating for as long as people have been thinking and writing.  Cave painters painted the animals they hunted, which they hoped would end up in their bellies.  Scanning my cable channels late at night I realize that’s still mostly what we think about – half the channels have some sort of food programming and half the commercials on all the channels are food-related in one way or another.

Some people have had more interesting thoughts than others.

Here are five food thinkers I find interesting.  They’re an odd group, and they probably wouldn’t like each other all that much.  I don’t know that I like most of them all that much.  But they’re all worth reading up on.

1.)  Pythagoras.  Yeah, the guy with the theorem.  More than a mathematician, Pythagoras led a whole school of religion and philosophy back in the 5th century BC, which included extensive dietary guidelines.  Until the nineteenth century, the phrase “Pythagorean diet” was the describer of what we’ve come to know as “vegetarianism.”  He and his disciples didn’t eat meat or fish … or beans.  Which makes me wonder how they got any protein.  Maybe they were into dairy products.

2.)  Jack LaLanne.  I know, big jump from Greek Philosopher to Freaky Old Guy in a Jumpsuit.  But there was more to Jack than the jumpsuit.  A friend of the blog recommended clips from a TV show LaLanne hosted in the 1950’s.  His advice on nutrition is solid – excellent even.  He grates on my nerves, but if you can get past that (and his body-image issues), he’s a fine fitness coach.

3.)  Zig Ziglar.   I know this is where some of you will jump ship.  Ol’ Zig ain’t for everybody.  But I’m a big fan.  A segment from one of his talks actually inspired me to set the weight-loss goals that started this blog.  He knows what he’s talking about regarding weight, as a former tubby dude who (at a one-pound a week rate) lost the excess poundage and has managed to keep it off for decades.

4.)  Mike Huckabee.  Now, those of you who know me personally know Huckabee and I don’t see eye-to-eye politically.  At all.  To say the least.  But again, here’s a guy who struggled with weight issues most of his life until he decided he wanted to, you know, not die young.  He’s been remarkably frank about his path to healthier living/eating.  He wrote a book called Quit Digging Your Grave With a Knife and Fork.  Which is kinda what I’m trying to do.

5.)  Jared.  The guy from the Subway commercials.  I don’t know if Jared is a big thinker or not.  He may have brilliant thoughts on the topic, or he may just be cashin’ checks as a spokesdude.  I include him because he’s made millions of Americans do their own thinking – if only for the duration of a Subway commercial – about losing weight in a (relatively) healthy fashion.  Plus, I like how he juxtaposes with Pythagoras.


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