Keep a Journal (not just about food)

“Keep a diary or journal. Record your reflections on your life experience in a journal. You will find this simple practice to be invaluable in your quest for wisdom.”

Warren Bennis (March 8, 1925 – July 31, 2014) was the distinguished professor of business administration and founding chairman of the Leadership Institute at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He has advised several U.S. presidents and more than 150 CEOs. Bennis is author or coauthor of more than 20 books on leadership, change, and management.

The spirit of the writer is different from the spirits of other artists. Writers are quirkier. Maybe not as quirky as painters or the artist who builds things out of toothpicks. These artists qualify as top of the heap quirky. The spirit of the writer who has lost 200 pounds and kept (most of it) off for nearly 50 years also qualifies for top of the heap quirky. The Digital Truth Machine display showed 176 one week ago. So I went to my journal searching for the raw truth. Well, I found things like “the weather got hot back home in Oklahoma and there’s nothing like a really cold beer on a hot day…” Trouble in Paradise.

I didn’t realize just how many bad habits I allowed back into my life. My own words should have been enough to make me stop and change. But knowing what to do and actually doing it are two different things… Before our Colorado trip I was 168.

7/18
Last night M&M’s and some chocolate drizzled popcorn. I woke up this morning tipping the scale at 170. I’m not sure how much longer I can cheat like this and not gain any weight but I’m sure enjoying whatever time I have before I need to start restricting certain foods and drinks.

8/19
Well maybe I need to hit the panic button. Last night I snacked, drank beer and managed to stay clear of ice cream. Surprisingly I am lighter this morning and I feel fairly thin despite my lack of willpower. After a year of stringent measures I lack the discipline to avoid beer. Again, if it’s not in the house it’s much easier to avoid consumption. Lesson learned, over and over again.

8/22
It’s been nearly three months since our Colorado vacation where I abandoned all self-discipline and started drinking beer again. I managed to put on three pounds last month while boasting that my weight hadn’t changed a month ago. I’m not close to hitting the panic button but we all know why I’m gaining weight.

8/23
I put on four pounds in less than a week.

On 9/11 I hit The Panic Button.

Let’s count how many Gary’s Rules for Weight Loss got ignored. Eat only when hungry. Portion control. Snack but not too much and only healthier foods. Beer, sugary and other things you shouldn’t have in the house got into the house. My journal and fading memory produced the following list of what I did to myself: dairy whole milk, full fat yogurt, beer, wine, Cheez-Its, peach cobbler, potato chips, beer, granola bars, M&M’s, cookies, cakes, brownies, beer, AND a half gallon of ice cream that was purchased for a Tiny Human visit that ultimately got consumed by the Big Human. I had stopped keeping a food journal. There might have been other food and drink that I’ve forgotten about.

Welcome to my world. I need to ensure the new suit I just bought for a wedding in November won’t require alterations.

Finally Feeling Normal

Monday I restarted a food diary. The recollection of my indiscipline over the past several months plus a recent online article on this topic reminded me of the effectiveness of writing down what you eat especially if you want to lose weight or maintain what was lost. Put simply I’ve been bad. Time once again to get better at what I need to do. Two months ago I wrote “I’m not sure how much longer I can cheat like this and not gain any weight but I’m sure enjoying whatever time I have before I need to start restricting certain foods and drinks”.

The scale read 176 a few days ago.

I hit The Panic Button.

At the present I am walking a tightrope between normal and overweight.

The struggle continues. But sometimes I plug in the old numbers to remind myself of the old me.

Why Crash Weight Loss Programs Don’t Work

One of the most startling findings is the notion of constrained daily energy expenditure. This is the idea that the human metabolism adapts to our activity levels to keep our daily calorie burn in a surprisingly narrow range — no matter how hard you work out

Why Crash Weight Loss Programs Don’t Work: Clues From Hunter-Gatherer Societies — https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2021/07/16/1016931725/study-of-hunter-gatherer-lifestyle-shows-why-crash-weight-loss-programs-dont-wor?utm_source=pocket-newtab

Now I understand how my low exercise levels during year one of the pandemic factored into my weight loss efforts. My metabolism reset and it spent calories on other life functions. Here’s the part of the interview that hit home for me. The quote refers to a recent television show The Biggest Loser.

Contestants went on this show and were put under a brutal routine of intense exercise, coupled with near starvation. You can lose a lot of weight that way. But it’s not sustainable. Your body pushes back hard by slashing its metabolic rate.

The Take Home Lesson

DO exercise for all of its associated health benefits. But exercising more is not exactly the best strategy for losing weight.

Herman Pontzer is an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University. His theory argues that human metabolism has evolved to the point where how we eat and expend our calories is more important than what we eat. I think I’ll put his recent book on my list of books to read.

Random Thoughts – July 2021

Monday 7/5

“We can’t escape from the fact of our eating; no matter what, we are killing living things so that we can live ourselves. If it’s not an animal, it’s a plant or something else.”

Deborah Madison is a chef, writer, and author of 13 celebrated vegetarian cookbooks, including the modern classic Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Today is the 5th of July and I have the day off from work. Yesterday was the real 4th of July holiday which was celebrated in a typical American fashion, a cook out by the pool. I didn’t have to cook which made the fourth a special fourth for me. I know how much work and preparation goes into hosting a large gathering and my heartfelt thanks go out to our relatives in Claremore, OK.

The morning started with a little tree trimming in the yard followed by some deep thoughts no one should have on the Fourth of July. Reminder to all who read this: these are random thoughts. If I lose you, just stop reading.

The level of personal indiscipline since leaving Colorado has been astoundingly high. In plain English my diet has regressed. The rules and lists I’ve crafted over the years were not adhered to since coming back from the Rockies. I blame Colorado. The State of Craft Beer https://www.coloradocraftbrews.com/colorado-breweries/ overwhelmingly managed to delete the #1 item on my Do Not Have It in the House list. Beer is back in the house.

The folks in Colorado make real good beer. The Mountain Man and his Colorado Girl keep plenty of the good stuff in their fridge. Pizza out twice during the trip meant more good craft beers. We also stopped at Casey Brewing in Glenwood Springs, which is the only brand name I remember. Back home I continued the Colorado theme with some Odell and Blue Moon. As I’ve done for years I am monitoring my weight daily. I need to. See my previous post Consistent self-monitoring of weight: a key component of successful weight loss maintenance — Random Thoughts 01.02.21. To repeat myself – There’s beer in the house.

Abandoning old habits is hard especially when the old habit is just so damn satisfying. But if you want (or need) to lose weight you must change your habits. Colorado was fun and a lot of old habits crept back into my routine. I shouldn’t be surprised that some of those habits are still sticking around. The weather got hot back home in Oklahoma and there’s nothing like a really cold beer on a hot day…

One of the books I’ve been reading is Aging as a Spiritual Practice by Lewis Richmond, a Buddhist priest and meditation teacher. I’m nearly halfway through the book and it’s exactly what you’d expect from a Buddhist priest and meditation teacher. But every now and then we all need stark reminders of the obvious which we tend to forget about. Richmond reminded me of the value of being flexible.

“I hate when people say they want to go plant based or give up meat. But won’t mind eating chicken, eggs and bacon. I need to find vegan friends.”

Anonymous Twitter user

Flexibility, honest respect for differences in opinion, and critical thinking skills all seem to be in short supply, especially in younger generations who have become willing victims of confirmation bias on social media platforms. Maybe if they spent more time reading books…

So before you label me a hypocrite I have created a new list called Things That Are OK to Have in the House and BEER IS BACK. Food and drink that get put on this list are subject to swift removal if the trend-line on the Truth Machine takes a sharp turn to the north. Yet even after a month of indiscipline the number stands at 170. Check back next month for the next exciting installment of my lifelong struggle.

Postscript

Deborah Madison is not and never was a vegetarian. She wrote vegetarian cookbooks. Flexibility!

Random Thoughts – June 2021

Obesity is a Chronic Condition: Obesity is a chronic and often progressive condition not unlike diabetes or hypertension. Successful obesity management requires realistic and sustainable treatment strategies. Short-term “quick-fix” solutions focusing on maximizing weight loss are generally unsustainable and therefore associated with high rates of weight regain.

Core Principles of Obesity Management — https://www.drsharma.ca/core-principles-of-obesity-management

Tues 6/8

Random Thoughts

The Boss and I just returned from visiting the Mountain Man and his Colorado Girl. Great trip. I gained only three pounds. Of course there were many other reasons why this was a great trip. But when I stepped on the scale this morning for the first time in nearly a week I had gained just three pounds. I’ll take plus three anytime when I allow myself to cut loose, eat and drink whatever I want and not obsess about my weight.

The round trip between Edmond Oklahoma and Carbondale Colorado is rough 1650 miles. Heading west we stopped in Hays Kansas and driving back east we spent a night in Colby Kansas. In Hays there are many more choices for lodging and food. In Colby you are literally spending the night in a truck stop. Food off the Interstate would hardly be considered healthy fare. But knowing that was the situation I made sure I had some Clif bars in the car. Have I mentioned I only gained three pounds?

If you’ve been to this blog you know I like to keep lists. Here’s my list of what I ate on my vacation. Subway sandwiches (twice), homemade biscuits with sausage gravy topped with an egg, pizza (twice in restaurants, once leftovers for breakfast), local Colorado beer, wine, scotch (not for breakfast), home cooked Pad Thai, lettuce wraps, grilled steak/potatoes/broccoli, a freshly baked bagel with hummus and vegetables, fast food burgers/fries (twice), Chick-fil-A sandwich and waffle fries, flourless chocolate cake with fresh whipped cream. All of the above (aside from the scotch, Chick-fil-A and chocolate cake) are not normally part of my diet. I am surprised I didn’t gain more than I did.

There are Hampton Inns in Colby and Hays. We stayed at both. The “free” breakfast in Colby was better than the “free” breakfast in Hays. Headed home I ate a small cheese omelette and a couple of turkey sausage links. The eggs were fresh eggs. On the way west my breakfast consisted of a cup of powdered eggs and a couple of french toast sticks. The coffee in both locations was decent. On our next driving trip to Colorado it will be a tough choice of where to spend the night when splitting up the drive. Truck stop or powered eggs for breakfast? If you’ve never had powdered eggs I won’t spoil your first experience when you get an opportunity to try some. Besides, reconstituted scrambled powdered eggs are difficult to describe. Trust me on this.

We’re back home and it’s time to gradually slip back into our usual routines. Last night I ate yogurt with some sketchy strawberries that might have been a few days past perfect for the compost heap. Restoring my good gut bug population is a priority for the upcoming week. Egg salad (fresh eggs) and fruit for lunch today. Dinner will be pasta with veggies, olive oil and lots of garlic. It was a great trip and I’m tired so I’m glad I took today off before returning to work. I’ve already been to two grocery stores, purposely walked down the beer aisles and did not buy any on either trip. Today’s free time was spent taking care of errands, listening to music and writing but no work on my future best seller. If I don’t lose the three pounds I gained none of this will be in the book. That’s a promise.