Chicken Thighs with Spinach

For all the complainers who complain about my lack of food photos.

I tend to waste a lot of time watching other people cook on YouTube. But every now and then I actually make a dish I’ve watched someone else make and say to myself, this is a keeper.

“I make simpler things in a simpler way, now—as you get older your metabolism changes and you want something simpler, without embellishment.”

Jacques Pépin

Chef Jacques Pépin got through the pandemic with kitchen utensils, a video camera, and a great wardrobe — https://thecounter.org/rewrites-covid-19-chef-jacques-pepin-facebook-recipe-cookbook/

Salt, pepper, garlic, chicken thighs, and fresh spinach. That’s it. No added fats. Some rice or potatoes on the side and you have dinner on the table in 45 minutes or less. Check out the video.

I learned a lot by watching Jacques Pépin make chicken thigh. Incredible technique.

I’m a Big Dipper

Previous studies looking at blood sugar after eating have focused on the way that levels rise and fall in the first two hours after a meal, known as a blood sugar peak. However, after analyzing the data, the PREDICT team noticed that some people experienced significant ‘sugar dips’ 2-4 hours after this initial peak, where their blood sugar levels fell rapidly below baseline before coming back up.

Big dippers had a 9% increase in hunger, and waited around half an hour less, on average, before their next meal than little dippers, even though they ate exactly the same meals.

Big dippers also ate 75 more calories in the 3-4 hours after breakfast and around 312 calories more over the whole day than little dippers. This kind of pattern could potentially turn into 20 pounds of weight gain over a year.

King’s College London. “Why some of us are hungry all the time.” ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/04/210412114802.htm (accessed April 24, 2021).

Now I know there is a scientific biological basis for why I feel hungry more often than others. Over time I’ve figured out solutions for my unique metabolism and biology.

Whole grain bars. A small handful of nuts. A cup of yogurt. If you’re constantly hungry you might be a “big dipper” like me. Carry on.

Random Thoughts – April 2021

Sunday 04.04.21

My self imposed beer ban has ended. And to avoid any feelings of guilt and shame I created a new list. My new list is Things You Can Have in the House but Only on Occasion. Last week the trip to the store started as any other trip to the store. I had a short list and planned to stick to the list. But when I was in the store I found myself mesmerized by the beer choices while standing in front of the colorful cans all calling out to me. I broke down and bought a six pack. My three month self imposed beer ban ended and immediately on the way home the rationalization began.

I promised myself I would closely monitor my weight (an empty promise since I weigh myself daily). I probably lost my taste for beer and I won’t drink any (nope). I committed to drinking just one can a day (that lasted just one day). In the end I could only justify my purchase by making up a new house rule so I could drink the one beverage that caused me to create house rules to begin with. I know I’m being too hard on myself. But that’s what people do when they know they can eat and drink themselves back up to 370 pounds. I never want to weigh that much again so I am always pretty hard on myself.

When I tell people I used to weigh 370 pounds they don’t believe me. With my sense of humor a lot of people really don’t know if I’m kidding. Well, I’m not joking. I used to weigh 370 and I never ever want to wear 44 inch waist jeans again. Beer was one of the culprits way back when and beer could easily become my Number One Nemesis again.

Then during the last week of March all hell broke loose. We left home and our normal routines for four days of bonding with Tiny Humans. That was the good part of the trip. As you may have already guessed the bad part was me being bad. I had three restaurant meals via delivery to the house.

Although some restaurants provide high-quality foods, the dietary quality for meals away from home, especially from fast-food chains, is usually lower compared with meals cooked at home. Evidence has shown that meals away from home tend to be higher in energy density, fat, and sodium, but lower in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and protective nutrients such as dietary fiber and antioxidants.

Frequent consumption of meals prepared away from home linked to increased risk of early death — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210325084824.htm

A couple of beers I found in the fridge found their way into my belly. I did not weigh myself while I was gone. I ATE CHOCOLATE CAKE THREE NIGHTS IN A ROW. I might have eaten some chocolate chip cookies too. Maybe even a few pieces of chocolate here and there.

Too much sugar is unhealthy – that we know, but it’s not just down to the many calories. Even moderate amounts of added fructose and sucrose double the body’s own fat production in the liver, researchers have shown. In the long term, this contributes to the development of diabetes or a fatty liver.

Consumption of added sugar doubles fat production — https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/03/210316100709.htm

I was completely out of my normal routine and beginning to believe I had lost all control. I feared the worst.

We got back home on a Thursday evening. On Friday morning I approached the bathroom scale with immense trepidation. The Truth was about to unfold and when the number came into view I had actually lost a pound since the Sunday before. I was very bad and still lost some weight. Sigh. Of. Relief.

Yesterday morning I was at the grocery store with my short list of things to buy. When I got to the beer aisle I kept walking. I reminded myself of my new list and promised myself it was OK to put beer on the Things You Can Have in the House but Only on Occasion list. Then I went to the liquor store and bought myself a bottle of Monkey Shoulder blended single malt scotch. It was my reward for surviving a multi-day period of dietary indiscretions.

The 90+ Study finds link between moderate Alcohol Consumption and Longevity

https://www.mind.uci.edu/90-study-finds-link-moderate-alcohol-consumption-longevity/

Purely medicinal of course.

Random Thoughts – February 2021

Monday 2/1

“We can feel the book in our bones, but the writing of it can seem like we’re always at the beginning, always trying to figure out what the hell we’re doing. At least, that’s how I often feel.”

Amy Grier

A year ago I was either 194 or 192. I recorded two different starting weights for 2020 in my journal so when I write about how much weight came off it might not be 100% accurate. Look anywhere online you’ll find stories of Pandemic Weight gain but somehow I went in the opposite direction. The scale dipped below 172 this morning. As you know I try not to get too hyped about these random fluctuations.

My personal quest is to document what I’ve done so that others may possibly benefit. Of course I’m referring to my future best seller. But I must admit writing all of this is not easy. This blog helps as part of the process. Maybe I’ll write a few words here and there that will end up in the book as well researched, tightly edited prose. Then most days I’m not sure if anything like that will happen. Most days I end up like Amy Grier always at the beginning, always trying to figure out exactly what the hell I’m writing about.

I need to remind myself all of this is a process and that things have changed over the years. What worked for me at 20 may not work now as I travel the road towards 70 (except maybe the no beer thing). When I lost the bulk of my excess weight my diet was extremely restrictive both in calories and food/drink choices. During the past Pandemic Year of Isolation my diet was less restrictive in terms of food/drink choices but still somewhat calorie restrictive. I pretty much adopted The Boss’ dietary pattern and started losing weight again.

This past year has made me question my long held belief in veggie/non-meat meal percentages of 90/10. My personal pursuit of health didn’t result in any weight loss. I no longer keep a food diary so I can’t determine the exact percentages of meat free meals versus meat/dairy/eggs I’d eat in a week. Yet I’m still convinced the more plant based meals you consume the more you improve your chances for being and staying healthy.

Today’s meals were or will be:

Oatmeal with raisins, maple syrup, and soy milk.

Bowl of homemade chicken soup with vegetables and white beans. Cornbread (both homemade).

Chicken vegetable fried rice.

Maybe I should redefine and rename my 90/10 strategy to a minimal meat strategy. The MMS Diet. How to Lose 200 Pounds and Keep Them Off Forever! Yo Oprah, I’m waiting for your call.

Be The Person You Want to Be – now what’s your plan?

“The best solution is to change the way people eat, the way they live, the lifestyle, and diet,” Mackey says. “There’s no reason why people shouldn’t be healthy and have a longer health span. A bunch of drugs is not going to solve the problem.”

Americans are not taking as good care of their own bodies as they ought to be, Mackey says: “71% of Americans are overweight and 42.5% are obese. Clearly, we’re making bad choices in the way we eat,” he says. “It’s not a sustainable path. And so, I’m calling it out.”

Whole Foods CEO John Mackey: The ‘best solution’ is to not need health care and for Americans to change how they eat and live — https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/04/whole-foods-ceo-john-mackey-best-solution-is-not-to-need-health-care.html

Monday 1/18

Today is the fourth and final day of my long weekend. The Boss and I are already planning more time off together this year. You reach a point in your life where the Work Mojo is no longer the same as it was in previous years. But that’s OK. I’m fortunate in having work which I’ve managed to weave into my life seamlessly. Some days I’m in my office working, other days my computer based activities bring in zero revenue. I’m still talking myself out of buying another guitar but that’s another story.

Today began as all days begin with coffee and catching up on news. I started this post half-awake then left to do other things which is normal for this writer with ADD tendencies (now you know why my future best seller is not finished yet). More coffee, a little jazz, shower. Back in the office I took another look at Mackey’s quote and had a different reaction from my initial reaction when I started writing this post. Why is this guy an expert?

We have too many self-proclaimed experts telling people what they should or ought to do. Read the Mackey quote again and you’ll see what I mean. Simply stated the problem is way more complex than most people realize and the solution is a lot harder for most and even harder for others. But to be the person you want to be you have to make tough decisions and understand this race is a marathon with many hard choices along the way.

The Boss and I got out of our pre-Pandemic habit of eating lunch out on the weekends. Instead we’ve done the drive through or curbside pickup routines for our non-home prepared meals. Yesterday we had Okie-Mex for the first time in a while (kind of like Tex-Mex but not nearly as good). I chose a combination plate large enough to be served on a turkey platter in the restaurant if you know what I mean and I think you do. We shared the platter and still had leftovers. There was a time when I would/could finish such a meal all by myself. Now here’s my point: when you hear or read about changing your lifestyle and diet what are you willing to do to become who you want to be? Do you have the willpower and discipline to eat just half of a typical restaurant serving or are you eating it all?

Habits become habits for a reason and can be challenging to change. But changing your habits (lifestyle and food choices) are the only way to lose weight and to maintain the loss. I actually found a randomized controlled trial (n=130) that supports my opinion on habits.

Habit-based weight-loss interventions—forming new habits (TTT) and breaking old habits (DSD), resulted in clinically important weight-loss maintenance at 12-month follow-up.

Cleo, G., Glasziou, P., Beller, E. et al. Habit-based interventions for weight loss maintenance in adults with overweight and obesity: a randomized controlled trial. Int J Obes 43, 374–383 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41366-018-0067-4

This habit changing thing hit home as I was searching my cookbook collection for lunch ideas. I settled upon a quick chickpea salad sandwich filling and if it tastes good I’ll post the recipe. As a young man gorging myself on the worst possible foods on the path to 370 I didn’t even know what a chickpea was.

Change your habits, change your life. Start with one habit you want to change. Substitute a good habit for the bad one. Give it time to stick. Repeat.

I haven’t had a beer since mid-December. Trust me. This is real painful.

Random Thoughts at Christmas – 2020

Sunday 12/20

Random Thoughts

Thanksgiving is now three weeks ago. The scale read 175.4 two weeks ago and as always I reminded myself never get too high, never get too low. In a past life I would gain five pounds in a weekend just doing weekend stuff followed by an agonizing week or two to lose the pounds I found. I have a funny habit that if I believe a particular strategy works I try to do more of what works and less of what doesn’t work. The strange thing is what works doesn’t always work again which is frustrating as hell.

The Digital Devil surprised me this morning at 173.8 and I always have to remind myself to never get too high, never get too low. Honestly I shouldn’t be surprised. I can’t remember the last time I had a beer (I majored in beer at college). When did I make chili? One week ago Sunday according my recent Pandemic Pantry One Bean Chili post. Part of my Pandemic Life is to be kind to old people. At my age it’s not easy finding people older than me to be kind to but our friend across the street qualifies at the spry age of 80. So last week I traded a healthy portion of chili and some homemade Texas Corn Bread with the spry one in exchange for two beers. A fair trade no doubt and I drank one that night and the second the following night. So the last time I had a beer was nearly a week ago Monday. This is not rocket science. If you’re not sucking down 300 extra liquid calories a night your weight should come down.

All of this is intentional since I believe this calorie restriction strategy is working. The last time I bought beer was well over a week ago. I’ve added beer to my Don’t Have It in the House List along with potato chips, ice cream and M&M’s. If it’s not in the house you can’t eat or drink it. So not buying beer translates into less beer consumed. You don’t have to go crazy restrictive with your own not in my house list. Allow some relaxation of self-imposed austerity. For example, pizza is not on this list. Pizza is a food group and absolutely essential for good health and a long life. Additionally my total alcohol consumption pattern is different. Single malt scotch or bourbon on ice, single shot, not every night.

Losing weight is hard. Keeping the weight off is harder.

That’s it. Do the hard things you know you need to do. Speaking of hard things time to continue pecking away at the keyboard on my book.

More Random Thoughts on Sunday After Thanksgiving 2020

Sunday 11/29

Never get too high, never get too low. Trust the Process which has been developed and refined for nearly 45 years of weight loss followed by weight gain followed again with weight loss… The Truth Machine today displayed 177 and I am both pleased and relieved. I survived another Thanksgiving feast! Reading this you might think I’m compulsive about my weight. Guilty as charged. You get kind of obsessed with your weight when you never want to be 370 pounds again, ever. I am 70 inches tall. In high school I was the shortest (and heaviest) power forward on the hardwood. I had a decent shot but was better at rebounding because I took up so much space. I was also Captain of the tennis team but that’s a whole other story.

The roller coaster of shifting weights has been the story of my life. A constant struggle. A battle between the food within reach and my brain, one saying yes, the other saying well, here we go again. Part of the problem of losing a lot of weight is complacency. Knowing what works and what to do is not the same thing as doing that thing. I got lazy and allowed myself to balloon back up to 200-205. The Truth Machine had lost its policing effect. My brain started rationalizing, hey it’s a hell of a lot better than 370! Besides most people gain weight as they age…

I’m old enough now to remember what life was like before unsocial media. One (of the many) things I dislike about unsocial media are those dumb ass reminders in your online photo collections: One Year Ago Today…Two Years Ago This Week, etc. Well, at Thanksgiving this year for me, this unsocial media feature got a bit less unsavory.

“I saw a Memory on my photo timeline the other day. We were on the beach in Rhode Island and you looked heavier than you do now.”

“You mean fatter.”

“Not fatter, just heavier. You look really good now.”

And this ends the story of the best Thanksgiving ever observing Covid-19 pandemic guidelines while preparing turkey in a way you’ve never done before. Random Thoughts the Day After Thanksgiving 2020. The turkey turned out great and I got validation my weight loss efforts were working (again). The Mojo is back. I’ll be working on my book for a few hours today.

McPlant?

The company launched the plant-based Big Vegan TS burger in Germany in May 2019, and started testing the “P.L.T”—a plant, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with a patty made by Beyond Meat—in Canada later in the year. Competitors already have plant-based burgers in the market, including Burger King, which tested the Impossible Whopper in April 2019, and rolled it out nationwide in August.

What we know about McDonald’s new “McPlant” plant-based burgerhttps://www.fastcompany.com/90573484/what-we-know-about-mcdonalds-new-mcplant-plant-based-burger?partner=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=feedburner+fastcompany&utm_content=feedburner

Remember in the end it’s still fast food.