Random Thoughts at Halloween 2021

October 31

The town we live in moved Halloween to October 30. Weather was perfect and last night felt almost like a pre-Pandemic Halloween full of tricks or treats. The majority of the kids were masked despite the fact it was an outdoors activity. We ran out of candy except for a few M&M’s and one Snickers bar. It felt…eeirly normal.

Many times in life I find myself ignorant of my own advice. There’s beer AND ice cream in the house. Excess candy would have made the situation worse. We all know the addictiveness of sugar and chocolate. I’ve been managing my addiction by eating chocolate covered granola bars but that’s another story.

When my weight was 200 my rationalizations were endless. It’s a whole lot better than 370. Everyone puts on weight as they age. My 38 inch jeans still fit. YOLO so have another beer… At 200 I felt my ideal weight was 175. This year I gained seven pounds to get to my ideal weight. YIKES.

With the goblins gone the annual Holiday Season for Gaining Weight has begun. Time to get super serious again and make better food choices. Portion control. Less snacking. More bourbon and scotch, less beer. Less granola, more oatmeal. The food swaps are endless. Pick what works for you (as long as they’re not chocolate covered granola bars).

I can fit into my 36 inch jeans but they are somewhat snug. The battle continues. Maybe I need to eat more Heart Healthy Small Bites.

Pumpkin Tree 2021

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.

Should you eat many small meals to boost weight loss?

The short and simple answer is no. This eating pattern worked for me until it didn’t.

For example, researchers told 51 adults with overweight or obesity to eat 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, either as three meals or as mini-meals (with at least 100 calories each) every few hours. After six months, the grazers had lost no more weight than the three-meals-a-day eaters. And when Schoenfeld analyzed the data on weight from 15 trials that lasted two weeks to a year, “there was no difference if people ate, say, one meal or five.”

Should you eat many small meals to boost weight loss? — https://www.nutritionaction.com/daily/diet-and-weight-loss/should-you-eat-many-small-meals-to-boost-weight-loss/

The Challenge to Stay Active During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Certain COVID-19 measures, including the closure of sport and exercise facilities, as well as remote working practices can lead to sedentary behaviors for both young and old. With less outdoor activity and more indoor time, people reported turning to comfort foods and “pandemic baking.” In fact, grocery stores struggled to keep up with the demand for flour. Dr. John Morton, Medical Director of Bariatric Surgery at Yale New Haven Health Systems, says that during telehealth appointments, he has seen patients who have gained 5-30 pounds [5].

Physical Health, Obesity, and the Challenge to Stay Active During the COVID-19 Pandemic — https://www.rgare.com/knowledge-center/media/covid-19/physical-health-obesity-and-the-challenge-to-stay-active-during-the-covid-19-pandemic

Author Disclaimer – The quote and article link above have been sourced from my employer and is not a shameless act of self-promotion. The paragraphs following this disclaimer are indeed a shameless act of self-promotion to generate interest in purchasing my future best seller which is currently a work in progress.

I have lost over 20 pounds during The Great Pandemic Year One.

Boom.

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.

Random Thoughts One Week After Thanksgiving 2020

Thurs 12/3

Thanksgiving is now one week in the past and the time has come to see if I’ve managed to take off what I put on for the holiday. The digital truth teller read 175.4 and again I remind myself never get too high, never get too low. The downward trend in happy numbers began in pre-pandemic February. Unfortunately the reason why I lost five pounds was a GI bug. Back then I wrote the following in my journal (lightly edited for the blog to remove the F-bombs):

Tues 2/25

I was hit with viral gastroenteritis. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve had a bout of stomach flu and I forgot how unpleasant this can be. Last night I pushed down some baked potato despite a lack of appetite. I was in bed at 7:30 pm fading in and out of alertness. I was up numerous times during the night either drinking water or peeing. The first time I got up the chills were so bad I thought I might have the full blown flu. This morning I feel washed out and headachy so I took some ibuprofen. The headache is gone. The washed out feeling is improving. Despite advice to the contrary I had three mugs of coffee. Nothing worse than recovering from a stomach bug with no caffeine. I managed to eat a piece of toast but I’m still not hungry. At the The Boss’s suggestion I took a sick day. I feel good enough to work but decided not to push it. I will be home most of the day recuperating.


What happened in February could have been Covid but I’ll never know without taking an antibody test. I began the year at 192 and the downward trend was ignited by a nasty stomach bug. You hear so much nowadays about people putting on weight from the pandemic. Too bad my book won’t be finished anytime soon to help the people struggling with weight gain. I’ll keep pecking away at the keyboard. Promise.

For a hint on how to take off or maintain your weight check out The 90% Solution.

Now I can’t believe I’ve been pecking at the keyboard for over three years and pretty much gotten nowhere on the 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.

The Apology Post – 11.01.20

Before we go any further I am guilty as charged. I’m spending a lot of time with https://lifeunderwriter.net/ and even more time at my Day Job so the posts here have been somewhat sparse. I promise to be better. A lot of time has also been devoted to my Pandemic Weight Loss Program. I started the year at 192 pounds. This morning the scale was 176.2 pounds. A lot of folks have been on the Pandemic Weight Gain Plan. And for faithful readers who want to know more about my weight plan you’ll just have to buy the book (if and when I ever finish writing it). But for now, here’s the latest I’ve stumbled upon in the plant based diet craze.

CONCLUSIONS: Young adults who increased plant-centered diet quality had a lower diabetes risk and gained less weight by middle adulthood.

A Shift Toward a Plant-Centered Diet From Young to Middle Adulthood and Subsequent Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Weight Gain: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) Study — Diabetes Care 2020 Nov; 43(11): 2796-2803. https://doi.org/10.2337/dc20-1005

Small study (n=206) but still interesting.

CONCLUSIONS: Replacement of red and processed meat with cheese, yogurt, nuts, or cereals was associated with a lower rate of type 2 diabetes. Substituting red and processed meat by other protein sources may contribute to the prevention of incident type 2 diabetes in European populations.

Replacement of Red and Processed Meat With Other Food Sources of Protein and the Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in European Populations: The EPIC-InterAct Study — https://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/43/11/2660?rss=1

Another interesting study but with serious limitations as the authors themselves point out:

A limitation of the current study is that the food substitutions were inferred based on a statistical model that compared individuals with different average intakes while no one actively changed their diet.

Well, I’ve actively changed my diet the past several months. I know increased exercise did not contribute to my weight loss (I have some physical limitations and actually cancelled my gym membership due to the virus). Hopefully I’ll find the time to review and document the changes that generated the loss.