Challenges to Come!

drunkenclamsThe next couple weeks are going to be a challenge for staying on program. My son is home from Colorado for two weeks. This of course puts us into a celebratory mood. For example, yesterday I made a nice surf and turf supper of “drunken” (cooked in white wine) clams, mussels and shrimp with grilled boneless beef ribs. Paired with a salad, it was fine on the level of carbs and only a bit over my on my daily protein for a Lean & Green meal (keep in mind I was instructed to have an extra 3 ounces of protein each day because of my build).

I did splurge in a way that could have been almost catastrophic. I enjoyed a glass of mead with my supper. The residual sugar could have been enough to push me out of fat burn. However, I checked last night and this morning and I am still going fine. Now, do I feel guilty for having the mead? Not a bit. The whole purpose of my journey is not to deny myself any good thing. The purpose is to build a life on healthy choices and there is a time to drink and a time to abstain. While it would probably be better for me to abstain until my program is over, I allowed myself to choose differently. This was a choice—it was mine to make. While I would never recommend it for anyone else trying to lose weight, the idea that I can only do things I would recommend to others is a fallacy. Recommending something is saying, “You should do this.” Instead, I would tell others, “You must decide for yourself.” It would be different if I told someone, “While on black currant melomelprogram you must not have mead,” and then turned around and had mead while on program—that would be hypocritical and unethical. I encourage each person to choose for themselves, and choose wisely with good information. If you want to stay on program and not risk getting bumped out of fat burn then you must not follow my example in this—the fact that it didn’t knock my body out of fat burn does not mean it will have the same effect on you. There are some things that will definitely have a certain impact on your health—regardless of the person involved. Then there are things that may have one impact on one and a very different impact on another. You must weigh your options and decide for yourself what is best. You must also decide if the enjoyment of your choice is worth the potential impact. Every choice in life involves exchanging one thing or benefit for another—if I do this, I will not be able to do that, etc.

Now, for the reason the rest of this two weeks will be hard. We are taking two trips. One will be to see several relatives in another state. This trip will be hard to stay on program because my relatives will not be on program, and I swore from the beginning not to make others submit to my new lifestyle—that is not fair to them. There are going to be times I must make a decision that will not be best for staying on track. My biggest goal will not be losing a certain amount over the next couple weeks. My primary goal will be keeping myself in fat burn and not making a choice that could spiral me down into carb cravings. After that my goal will be staying as close to program as possible. Beyond that will be the goal of losing something (weight wise) and staying fully hydrated the whole trip—not an easy proposition.

The second trip should be easier. We will be going to Galveston, TX for two nights. While there we will be eating out quite a bit—Gaido’s is hard to pass up! Then there are tourist activities that usually involve sugary snacks and drinks everywhere you look. These will be a temptation. I know it. I expect it.

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Rough Week! Important Choices!

This week, I don’t have a weigh-in to share. As I shared before, I followed my doctor’s orders to drop off my original plan because of some issues with abdominal pain. We now know the pain was not from the program, but from the doctor—or at least from the strong antibiotics he had put me on for an ear infection. The antibiotics worked with some other stuff to inflame my liver. After some changes and the ending of the series of antibiotics the pain is gone.

After it cleared up, I decided to experiment and see how my weight loss would do without going back on program. For about a week and a half I did fine. However, this week, according to my scale I am two pounds heavier than last week. This convinced me to once again make a choice for my health and go back on the original program.

This brings me to two experiences this week I want to share that have to do with temptations and with managing food intake. Earlier in the week, my daughter came over for supper and I really felt like doing something special. I grilled steaks. For the three ladies (my wife, my mother and my daughter) I picked thin steaks—as they prefer. Of course, I like manly steaks—at least 1 inch thick and grilled as rare as possible. If a steak doesn’t leave red in the plate it was ruined.

Of course, a thick porterhouse is going to be much larger than I am supposed to have in one meal. After I grilled the steaks, my daughter reminded me that it was too much for me to have right now. She was right. I appreciated her telling me—though part of me wished she had just shut up. I begrudgingly cut the steak in half to save for later. I enjoyed one half that night. I could still enjoy the thickness, but just had to reduce the size to make up for it. Eating to lose weight does not mean eating garbage. I didn’t have to choke down a “shoe leather” steak. Sometimes it just takes a bit of effort to make good foods fit.

The second episode happened the day I decided to go back on program. That day I had some errands to run around town. I kept feeling stronger temptations to eat unhealthy foods—stronger temptations than I have had since starting. My mind kept saying, “Oh go on! You are off program. You’re going back on tomorrow. Just enjoy today and tomorrow you can restart.” At one point I was passing by a small chicken shop that I knew carried really good fried gizzards. At that moment I just wanted some gizzards—those glorious breaded, chewy, chunks of fried chicken flesh! I could taste them from a hundred yards. I had to have them, so I whipped the car into the store and ran in to order. I was, at that moment so tempted I ordered a double order (16 gizzards). It took about ten minutes for them to get my order done. I’m glad it took that long.

While I stood there waiting, I kept thinking about what I was about to do. Yes, I could go back on tomorrow. I didn’t feel any guilt because I was making a choice that I had a right to make—there was no moral failing. However, I thought about when I dropped off of another famous low-carb program, years ago. I was on that program for two months and lost 50 pounds. I dropped off, because it was so easy, I figured I’d drop off for the holidays and then just restart later. Unfortunately, I went into major carb binging and just stuffed myself. I gained all the weight back and an additional 25 pounds over the next few months.

As I stood there in the store I kept thinking about this and feared I was setting myself up for a bad failure. I didn’t want to start gorging on carbs and lose control. I didn’t want to risk being unable to finish my yearlong commitment to healthy choices. I also did not want to get back to that old fat, lazy, tired, dying self that I once was. I feel good. I enjoy being told how much better I look. I love knowing I have a future and hope for a healthy life. Did I really want to risk all that for a sack of greasy gizzards? Why yes, I did! But I wouldn’t. Instead, I took the sack and gave it to someone I knew would appreciate them. I didn’t eat a single one. Instead I went back home and ate a meal replacement. Did it taste as good as the gizzards? Don’t be silly. But it was chosen by me.

I scream; you scream…for sherbet?

IMG_20140803_201606430One food I added to my diet recently was bananas for their nutritional value. I’ve seen many people use them to make smoothies, but I had another plan using a frozen banana. I ended up with a nice cold treat to relax with. It is sort of a strawberry banana sherbet.

Ingredients (understand that unless baking, I don’t measure):

1 frozen banana, peeled and chopped into chunks

About 1 tablespoon of Walden Farms Strawberry Fruit Spread

About ½ cup of crushed ice

About a ¼ cup of vanilla unsweetened almond milk

 

Blend together; enjoy.

Burger Option

IMG_20140801_173823059My last experiment in using portabella mushroom caps as pizza crust was delicious. After posting it, a friend pointed out that they make a great bread replacement for open faced sandwiches, which gave me an idea. Last night for supper I grilled burgers for the family and decided to make a version that I could have.

Ingredients:

  • Portabella mushroom caps, large enough for hamburger patty
  • Hamburger patty (as lean as you choose to use)
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Goat cheese
  • Tomato
  • Condiment of choice (I used Dijon mustard)

 

Procedure:

  • Remove stem and scrape gills from mushroom caps (a spoon works well for this)
  • Brush olive oil into caps, then salt and pepper
  • Grill burger patties and mushrooms
  • Add goat cheese to top of patty and allow to soften
  • Place patty on mushroom (after removing from grill, of course)
  • Add leaf lettuce, tomato (I grilled mine) and condiments
  • Final step: enjoy!

Weight-loss as Lifestyle

IMG_20140801_072619This is my first official weigh-in after changing my program a little over a week ago. About a week and half ago my doctor asked me to drop off the diet program I was on because of some abdominal pain. He thought I either had gallstones or right-side diverticular disease. Since the purpose of this journey is to build habits through healthy choices, I chose to follow his advice. I decided to drop off the actual program but keep following the principles it taught (eating small meals every 3 hours, low carb, with controlled levels of fat, and lots of fluids, etc.). A couple days later I had continued to lose weight and that was last Friday. I also discovered that my pain was caused by several factors combining with some strong antibiotics the doctor had placed me on. These had given my liver a hit and it had become inflamed. Everything is better now, no more pain.

After that point, I still had a choice—go back fully onto the previous plan or stay where I was to experiment with using the principles I’d learned, without the foods purchased through the program. I chose to keep experimenting with choices to see what would and would not work. The danger was that one of my experiments would drop me out of fat burn and it would take several days of very low carb to get me back into it. I decided to check at least twice a day for a couple days with my Ketostix after each addition. The questions I wanted to answer were several. When I tried and then dropped off a famous low-carb diet back 10 years ago I quickly went on a carb bender and gained back all the weight I had lost as well as an additional 25 pounds. Because of this I wanted to see if I would do the same this time when introducing some new carbs into my routine. I added carrots, Greek yogurt, bananas, as well as the occasional onions. I also wanted to learn how the principles worked with regular store bought food. If the principles are sound, then they should not be material dependent. If the principles work with regular food then the principles are sound (and key to being healthy). If the principles did not work without the packaged foods then the foods were primary and the principles played only a supporting role. Another question I wanted to answer was whether I could actually treat this as a lifestyle rather than a formula. With a formula you follow A to B to C to D and do not waver from this. With a lifestyle you make choices naturally and easily at each step deciding the best route to get from A to D. With a lifestyle you make choices because they fit with the life you are living. With a formula your choices are limited to following the formula or wavering from it. A formula is very effective, especially when first making changes. But it can only be kept up for so long before some variety is desired.

I have been living the principles I learned as a lifestyle for about a week and a half. I have used no packaged foods from my program, but only what I can buy in my local grocery store. Last week I weighed 292 pounds. This week I weighed 286 pounds. I actually weighed lower earlier in the week, but I only take whatever happens on Friday as my official weight. I lost six pounds this week only using the principles I learned and living them as a new lifestyle.

Before you jump to conclusions and think there was no need for any of the other elements of my program—coaching, packaged foods, support network—you are wrong. It was these that helped me to learn the principles I now follow. It was these that made practicing them easy. To try to jump straight into this without that step would have lasted about a week—if that long. I know me well enough to know that early on, if I didn’t have a little box where I could go and take out a package and eat it when the alarm on my phone went off I would have given up long ago. Will I stay off of the packaged items? I don’t know. They are awfully convenient. Besides, I know if following the formula with the packaged foods there is no danger of falling out of fat burn. As it is right now, when I add something new it takes several hours to discover if I screwed up. This wait and the anticipation can be quite discomfiting. I choose to continue this way because I have questions I want to answer and because I want to practice making choices for my health.

I’ve noticed after eating this way for over three months that I no longer crave the things I once craved. I don’t crave potatoes, pasta, bread (though I would still, occasionally, be willing to trade one of my children for a flour tortilla), etc. Last night my wife made chicken for our supper. I asked her how she was going to fix it (in the past she would have fried it). She said she’d bake it because of my diet. I came in the kitchen as we were getting ready to sit down and saw the chicken. It was breaded. I asked her if she had put flour on the chicken. She responded, “No. It’s not flour. It’s bread crumbs.” I got a bewildered look on my face and told her they were ultimately the same thing. She responded, “Well I can’t bake it without putting something on it. I thought you would just scrape it off.” So there I stood over the sink scraping and washing my chicken before I could eat it, even though I was hungry. The interesting thing is that I considered just eating it breading and all, but knowing it would make it harder to make my goal the idea of eating the breading actually repulsed me. I have a weight I want to get to, a level of health I want to return to, and anything that gets in the way of that is not really attractive.

Mongolian Grill at Home

IMG_20140707_114006Today I tried a new idea—sort of a new idea for me. I love Mongolian grill. I love the fresh vegetables and meats with sauces cooked on a rocket hot surface. I decided to try a version of it at home for my Lean & Green meal today. It turned out so good, I wanted to share it. I am definitely going to make it again and make it often.

Such cooking takes a hot surface that can spread the heat. To do this in many pans is difficult because they will have one area that is far hotter than the others. I have an old Wok we bought my wife years ago, but it is not really that good, since the metal is far thinner than it should be. I decided for my experiment to use a large cast iron skillet—one that I have owned and used for years.

For the green portion of my meal—three servings—I used one serving each of mushrooms, red sweet pepper (both sliced in thin strips), and broccoli. For the lean portion, I used 6 ounces of chicken breast cut into ¼ inch thick strips.

Once everything was prepared, I heated the skillet until it was hot. With such cooking I start with a hot pan before adding the oil. I wanted to cook the broccoli to soften and have plenty of time to get some good searing/crust, so I added some oil to the pan and after a moment to spread it around the surface I added the broccoli (with chicken I am allowed an additional fat and this oil was part of it. Use oil with a reasonably high smoke point. I used Canola). The broccoli cooked by itself for a few minutes then, I lowered the heat a bit and added the rest of the vegetable portions. While these cooked (stirring regularly), I added a bit of salt and Asian sesame oil to the chicken (my wife is Korean so we have this by the gallon). Once the vegetables had cooked for a few minutes I added the chicken breast to the pan and cooked everything together. Once the chicken was seared a bit on all sides, I added Walden Farms’ Asian sauce to the pan and let it continue to cook—stirring often.

After everything is properly cooked, pour into a plate and enjoy.

A Great Meal

IMG_20140622_092121This past week I tried something new that I wanted to share. I’m not much of a cook—other than what I can pull out of a smoker or off of a grill—but really enjoyed this very simple Lean & Green meal. That is the keyword for anything I cook: simple. The more complex it is, the less it interests me. This applies to both cooking the food and eating it. I prefer things as close to their natural form as possible. I don’t want a lot of things between me and my food. This caused some interesting conversations with my wife when we first got married. She is Korean, and their cultural cuisine includes powerful marinades for all kinds of meat. One day she asked if I wanted a steak for dinner. Of course I wanted steak. Is there any other food if steak is available? Being a new bride she gladly fixed and brought me my steak. It was OK. She had covered the steak with an assortment of Korean oils and spices. I love those spices and Korean flavors…on Korean food. However, they just weren’t right on this Texas boy’s steak. I told her she did a great job and was a wonderful cook, but that I liked to taste the actual meat. She looked at me like I had two heads. She just couldn’t understand that.

This meal is simple, though it has some great flavor. I put together something another person told me about with a new marinade purchased from Walden Farms—their Asian sauce. These sauces and marinades are great. They are zero sugar, zero carbs, zero fat etc. I know you are thinking, “And zero flavor.” As I’ve said before they are quite good—but not exactly like the full fat, sugar and carb versions. However, I get good flavor and my program counts them as condiments they can go with anything.

I started by thinly slicing three servings of assorted peppers: red, yellow and orange (one serving of each). These I grilled. I topped this with a grilled chicken breast (seasoned with a bit of salt, pepper, and powdered garlic). Finally a small addition of the Walden Farms Asian Sauce and toss everything together. It was quite tasty. It stayed within the limits of my plan. It gives me another way to enjoy a healthy meal.