When I stepped off the plane, the air hit me like a slap with a wet towel. I hadn’t been in Texas for years, and coming from Erie Colorado’s 63 degrees, San Antonio was a bit of a shock.
Yes, team, I have managed to put myself in San Antonio on the first day of the new experiment. A good friend from graduate school is marrying, and wanted me to dust off my old Universal Life Church ordination and perform a mildly Buddhist wedding. Right now, I’m in a pleasantly old-fashioned motor inn with knotty pine furniture and an air conditioner laboring diligently in the bedroom half of the room, and I’m reflecting on the old saying that life is what happens when you’re making other plans.
In my case, life is what happens when you’re trying to start an experiment. Still, unless I want to develop agoraphobia, I have to come out of my little circumscribed life every so often,
Although sometimes claiming agoraphobia is an interesting option.
So, I’m starting the next 13 week experiment anyway, and here’s my final offer of what I’m going to do. The hypothesis: a somewhat higher-carb diet, along with intermittent fasting, will result in more sustained weight loss without adversely affecting my blood sugar. The measure here, of course, is weight, and I’ll continue measuring that every morning, nude, within 30 minutes after getting up. Okay, I admit it, I care about the weight. I’ll also be taking at least daily blood glucose readings with the Bayer USB glucometer; that records everything.
Preparing for my third 13-week season, working to lose weight, control my Type 2 diabetes, and improve my health. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own. A new 13 week experiment starts June 1 2013. Join in!
Okay, this is a long one, just to warn you. Here’s the basics:
I’ve been rethinking these 13 week sessions and how to do them; I’ve written a new explanation.
I’m starting to see how the emotional part plays into the issue.
I’ve used the pattern as I now see it to start planning my next 13 weeks, and provided that as a “worked example” for other people who want to try it.
I’m looking for people to volunteer to try a 13 week experiment of their own, and possibly to try a web site meant to support 13 week experiments. Volunteers should mail me at email@example.com
Now on with today’s show.
As I said last week, I’m taking a little bit of a vacation from attempting to strictly follow some eating plan while I think about my results and what to do next.
The vacation has been interesting. I gave in to one of the things I’d been missing, and had a McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder and large fries for lunch, the same day I was going to my niece’s daughter’s first birthday party. Then at the party, I had a nice piece of cake as well as a bunch of things that were actually low carb.
From this I learned two things: I don’t actually like McDonalds as much as I used to, and I really can manage to drive my blood sugar up to the 230′s with carrot cake. But this was a momentary indulgence, especially since I, sure enough, had some of my old stomach troubles for a couple days afterwards.
As they say in Shangri-La, “Everything in moderation — including moderation.”
In the mean time, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about the experiments, and about the emotional/psychological/spiritual aspects of what I’ve been learning. (Let me just say, I don’t really believe there is a difference between the emotional, the psychological, and the spiritual. We’re not made up of a lot of pieces; what we’re thinking is what we’re thinking, and what we’re feeling is what we’re feeling, all together.)
What I’ve realized is that when I started my first 13 week experiment, I was groping toward something that would let me make changes in a way that didn’t scare me with the prospect of endless and unproductive deprivation, didn’t shame me as so many diets had done in the past, didn’t blame me for the lifelong problems I’ve had with weight, and gave me some emotional support in the process.
For me, writing about it has been a good bit of that support — I learned from Twelve Step programs that sometimes the best support you can get is by honestly admitting to the problems and your feelings about them.
Another big part of the support has turned out to be the rooting you, my readers, have been doing for me, and the sense that by talking about this I’m actually helping other people.
I hope to help other people use the things I’ve learned, and that means I need to figure out how to explain them. I’ve made a couple of previous attempts, but in this week’s thought I have what I think is a better explanation.
The First Insight
This is really what got me started: my first insight was not to think of a diet, not to think of of a weight-loss goal, but just to think of performing an experiment. I now realize that this was a first step in insulating myself from the years of fear and shame that had accompanied Dieting.
Above the desk I work on every day there is a Culpeper Minutemen Flag, a Dream Board, a Ronald Reagan bumper sticker autographed by Ann Coulter, and 10 slogans. I spend hours of each day with those slogans in the corner of my eye, burning into my brain.
Because we’re constantly being hit with other people’s slogans. Advertising jingles, billboards, songs, TV shows, comments from friends, orders from the boss — all of those are being inputted into our subconscious each day.
Well, it’s important for us to control some of the information that goes into our brain as well. Here are the slogans I find so essential that I want to be exposed to them daily.
1) On attitude: “When a lion wants to go somewhere, he doesn’t worry about how many hyenas are in the way.”
2) A standard: “If every day was like today, would it be enough to achieve my goals for 2013?”
3) On dedication:
“7 months straight. No stopping, no maintenance weeks, no cheat meals. Why? Because if someone beat me, I didn’t want to look back at any cheat meals and ask ‘what if.’ I did what it took every single day, and THAT is why I looked the way I did. You either want it or you don’t. Just so you know, there wasn’t a day that went by in the last 8-10 weeks of that prep where I didn’t want just ONE extra yogurt, or 5 less intervals of cardio. But, I was not going to be outworked! I was NOT going to be denied! And you know what? It was all worth it.” – Tommy Jefferson
Week 13 of my second 13 week season: low-carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own.
We’re now in the last week of my second 13-week experiment. I’m planning another 13 weeks and I want to talk about what I’m going to change and why, but first I think it might be useful to look back at when I started this, six months ago:
It struck me just a couple weeks ago. I’m 57, weigh 300 pounds, massively deconditioned, verging on type II diabetes if not actually there, and I don’t want to die.
It’d been a hard year. A year ago this week, my mother had a heart attack, and over the ensuring months failed and died, passing away on 11 January, two days before her 77th birthday. Following that, I had a succession of illnesses that put me in the hospital for a day, four times between January and August. One of those times was with pneumonia, and as my friends all insisted on reminding me, “you can die from that!”
A sense of mortality struck me on my birthday, 57 this year; arithmetic started showing up for me. My father died in 1994, at 69. That’s only 12 years older than I am now. Mom at 77, only 20 years older than I am now.
Now, my Dad weighed in the neighborhood of 450 lbs when he died, and he smoked. My Mom, around 200 lbs and she’d smoked heavily, drunk heavily, and generally been rode hard and put up wet nearly her whole life. I’ve got some advantages, since I don’t drink or smoke; on the other hand, I’ve been struggling with my weight since I was literally 6 years old. You can hear a lot of bad diet advice in 50 years.
The long and short of it is that I want to change this and need to change this, and there’s relatively new science that suggests there are better, faster, more efficient ways to change this. So I’m doing an experiment: for 13 weeks, which I plan to start a week from today, 4 November 2012, I’m going to start an experiment where I’ll be keeping a very low carb, more or less “paleo” diet, and doing “high intensity interval training” and “high intensity strength training” two sessions a week. This scheme has good reasons behind it, biochemically and otherwise.
Then I’m writing about it, and I’m going very public with it, so, frankly, it’ll be too embarrassing to quit.
And I have changed my situation. I’ve lost 30 pounds, 10 percent of my bodyweight. My blood sugar is down, way down. (As we saw a couple weeks ago, maybe a little too far down.) I have been more successful with exercise, if not astoundingly successful. And my health is definitely better, both by objective medical measures and just in the way I feel. But I’d still like to lose maybe another 50 pounds, and I’d like to get completely off diabetes meds. And I’m bored with what I had been doing.
Here’s the basics of the next 13 week experiment:
- I’m going to change over to Tim Ferris’s Slow Carb Diet as defined by his 5 rules. Now, that’s kind of the Reader’s Digest Condensed version of his full diet plan, but I like simple things. Also, his full-fledged diet cuts out dairy and I like cheese. This is still low-carb, although not quite as low, but with the episodes of hypoglycemia I’m hoping to maybe level out by blood sugar some.
- I’m going to pick out two (gasp) goals: by the end of this 13 weeks I want to do 100 pushups in a row, and I want to do at least one unassisted pull up. I’m going to continue to track my Fitocracy points and plan to get 2000 points or more a week.
- I will continue to track weight and glucose, and I’ll make a full set of body measurements at the beginning and end of the 13 weeks. Measuring body fat is going overboard; I’ll talk more about it next week, but basically I don’t think any method I’ve got easily available is turning out to be either precise or accurate.
- I’m going to concentrate more on mental, or if you will spiritual, aspects. As part of that in a way I’ll explain in a minute, I’m going to ask those of you who are inclined to try to change something in your life to join in. We’ll talk a lot more about coaching and support; I’ll also want to know what tools you feel would help you perform a 13 week experiment of your own.
The mental/spiritual idea is, I suspect, a surprise. It sure as hell was to me: Dave Swindle, who edits the Lifestyle section, suggested it to me as an addition for the next experiment and — well, I replied “Hm. I’ll think about it.” but what I meant was “Don’t like it, no.” But there was a chain of events I didn’t know was happening. Dave had put the idea in my head. I recently became enamored of the Brazilian novelist Paulo Coehlo, and was reading his book Aleph. (I recommend Coelho, by the way, even if he did get noticed because Bill Clinton was reading his book The Alchemist.) Aleph is a sort of fictionalized (I think) biography; in a powerful scene, in a ritual in a church Coehlo asks a woman he wronged in the past for forgiveness. Then she continues by spontaneously saying essentially the same words, forgiving herself for past wrongs she had done to herself.
Reading that, I had one of those moments of visceral, pleasurable electricity, and I realized that there had been an emotional theme I’d been working on during the last 26 weeks. Part of it was seeing the ways I’d been hurt by things said about my weight and appearance, general lack of athletic motivation, extreme nerdiness and the emotional distance that comes with long-term depression. I’ve devoted a column on several occasions to various kinds of baggage, including that column about the car wreck, which I found hard to write because it felt like I was admitting to failings.
Reading Aleph, I realized there was a central theme: I needed to forgive myself for sometimes being imperfect.
1. Belief in God Is Logical. God’s Fingerprints Cover the Universe. It Is Irrational to Believe That the Universe Was Created Out of Nothingness.
Dear [Insert Name of Your Secularist Friend or Family Member Who Does Not Understand Why You No Longer Share Their Hatred of Traditional Religion Anymore],
It seems like our arguments on Facebook and over email have been increasing lately with all the horrific news stories. And again you continue to misunderstand why I approach the stories of the day from Kermit Gosnell to the Boston Bombers with a good and evil, Bible-based perspective.
One of the best places online you can go to better understand my approach to these issues is Prager University. Every month they release two five-minute courses designed to educate people in a quick, entertaining way about history, philosophy, religion, and politics. I discovered Prager University’s videos when I noticed that they decided to start featuring every new one at PJ Lifestyle, a publication that I enjoy reading which shares the same goals of reaching out and engaging with the culture at large instead of just preaching to the choir.
I’ve collected six of Prager University’s videos on God and religion, starting with their newest one above that they just released yesterday featuring Boston College philosophy professor Peter Kreeft answering the question “God or Atheism — Which is More Rational?” I hope if you want to understand better how it is that I’ve come to reject your ideology and returned to faith in the God of the Bible you would consider these videos along with these six points I’ve written in relation to them.
- Version 1.0 of my 2013 Self-Improvement Program: 7 New Year’s Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal
- Version 1.5, published a month later after my 29th birthday: The Plan So I Don’t Waste the Last Year of My 20s
Today I am joining Charlie Martin and Sarah Hoyt in attempting a 13 Weeks Blogging Self-Improvement Program. I invite others to join me and assist in the continued development of what we should call The Charlie Martin 13 Weeks Method. (Has a nice alliterative ring to it, methinks.) Back in February Charlie laid out his approach:
By accident, however, I’d noticed a process, or pattern.
- Decide there’s something you want to change.
- Find ways to measure your progress.
- Decide on some small unthreatening things you can do that should affect those measures.
- Track the results for 13 weeks and see what happens. It helps to pick appropriate tools and techniques for that tracking, but something as simple as a Seinfeld calendar, where you just draw an X on a calendar for every day you do something can be very powerful.
So here’s my 1-2-3-4 for The 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen:
1. The problem that I’d like to change is the one that Sarah identified in her PJ Lifestyle article yesterday: being buried in books for research. Over the past year I’ve tried to figure out how to organize the various subjects that I want to study in order to best make sense of them and find the connections across the disciplines. I want to read more books and do a better job of staying organized with the ideas and research that I find in them for my future writing and editing projects. I want to continue to explore connections across disciplines, reading both novels and a wide variety of nonfiction, both very serious philosophy and absurd satire.
2. I will continue to share the most interesting nuggets of my research in one daily PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf post that features an excerpt. Additional snapshots from my research will appear at my Instagram and Twitter accounts which can be followed here and here.
3. I will only create seven piles of books, one for each day, and then base each day’s reading on the titles from that pile. I won’t have to think about which books I’ll read each day. I’ll just draw from each pile. Each day will be based on 1-3 authors and 1-4 related subjects that I want to juxtapose together. This will not be a hard rule that I can only read from that day’s pile. If a book on another subject has caught my enthusiasm then I can still read it after dong the day’s necessary reading.
But I need to find at least two excerpts worth Instagramming and at least one of them should appear as a PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf selection to inspire debate and discussion. (That’s the purpose of those posts — for the regular readers who have complained, asking why I don’t take a few paragraphs to spell out my opinion of each excerpt offered. They appear because I am more interested in hearing reader feedback on them than pontificating my own ideas.) These seven piles will then flow into the six categories that I created in my original Counterculture Conservative book list from back in October. The seventh (and last) category I plan to add will be based on my list of the The 15 Best Books for Understanding Barack Obama’s Mysterious Political Theology. (This will be the basis for Friday’s systematic exploration of evil ideas.)
4. I will create a calendar on a page of my journal broken up into 13 weeks and at the beginning of each day I will notate which page I am on in the books that I am reading associated with that day. I will photograph this calendar and blog about it each week, noting and analyzing my results on Tuesdays (the PJ Lifestyle day focused on writing, media, and technology). At the end of the 13 weeks I will see the progress I made on each author and subject. Then I will decide how to adjust each day’s reading focus, maybe taking a break from an author for a bit or adding another writer whose ideas are worth juxtaposing with the other thinkers of the day.
So what will the reading subjects be for the seven days of this “first season,” as Charlie calls it, of the The 13 Weeks Radical Reading Regimen? I’m doubling down on the authors and subjects of previous self-improvement plans, but focusing some plans and expanding others. As always, your recommendations for additional books and authors that I need to read are sincerely appreciated. Please leave suggestions in the comments or email me.
And publishers, authors and publicists: any and all paperback/hardback books received by mail will be photographed and blogged about. (And e-books that are especially interesting may also be featured. But actual books are of course more photogenic.)
Writing A Novel In Thirteen Weeks:
If you’re going to write a novel, you have, of course, to start with an idea. Just like if you’re going to make a shepherd’s pie, first you have to catch your shepherd.
One of the questions I always get — in every panel, in every interview, at every con — is: “How do you get your ideas?”
The normal answer is: “I get them from [insert random, remote/small town].” I use: “Hays, Kansas. But it will cost you a dime, and you have to send a SASE.”
The sad thing is that I could possibly sell ideas and never reach a point where I have none to sell. Like with everything else, ideas are something you train yourself to have, and once you start having them, you have them all the time. You’ll be Standing On the Corner, Minding your Own Business (the infamous SOCMOB that guarantees you’ll be jumped by “two bad dudes”) when an idea will jump out of a nearby dumpster, and there you have it.
For instance, the other day in my blog comments, commenter CACS mistyped “High School Cemetery” instead of “High School Chemistry,” and there was immediately a boarding school for vampires (children with special needs) in my head.
So, was that idea enough to write a novel?
Probably not, because it doesn’t interest me enough – but what you also have to understand is that the boarding school for vampires is not an idea for a story. It is an idea for a setting. I still don’t have an idea – and it is the idea that determines whether it’s a novel, a short story, or just a passing, throw-away detail in another story.
Let me explain: What you have there has no characters, no conflict, no… story. It’s at best a spark of a story, even if for a fantasy reader (or writer) it comes freighted with all sorts of implied problems like “do they have classes at night?” “What do they do for the cafeteria — a blood bank?” etc.
Week 6 of my second 13 week season; low carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own.
So let’s just end the suspense right away: yes, I am feeling a lot better this week.
At one point or another, the draft of last week’s column started with the line “Okay, ‘despair’ may be a little strong…”. I cut it because as I thought about it, I realized despair was the right word. Look it up and we find “Noun: The complete loss or absence of hope. Verb: Lose or be without hope: ‘to despair of ever knowing’” (via Google.) That’s exactly what I was fighting against — the feeling that there was nothing to be done, that there was no real hope. That’s the real enemy of any attempt to change, or to do anything extended really — that moment of no hope, when you don’t see the end in sight. It’s not just diets, either — it happens to me in writing, when I hit the point at which I think “oh, this is awful, no one will want this.”
That’s why I started this on the basis of a 13 week “season” — it was long enough to see some real changes, short enough to be bearable. Even so, about the fifth and sixth weeks of the first season, I’d reached the point where I was wondering if it was going to really do any good.
So look at the results this week: my 7-day average weight is down 3 pounds, my 7-day average blood sugar is down 16 points. What happened? I don’t know for sure, but I can tell you one thing I did differently, based on a lot of suggestions from others who’ve done the low carb thing. I broke training. I got out of the no carbs jail for a couple days. I had my ice cream, and I had some congee (zhou, Asian rice porridge). I didn’t go real far off the overall diet except for violating the carb rules, and based on calories I was actualy doing fine.
So now I’m back on the low-carb diet. What did I learn?
First, yes, you can break the diet for a day or a few days and get back on. What’s more, for me at least, if you do it with rice and ice cream, you don’t get sick like I did after Thanksgiving.
Second, your body can get used to anything. In weight training, they tell you to change routines fairly often if you want to keep making gains. The trick is to watch what happens. I broke the rules a little bit, up to maybe 100g of carbs one day, and didn’t have my blood sugar go nuts, didn’t gain back lots of weight. (Right now, I’m on a little bit of a bounce, but I’m basically up to where I was complaining about not being able to break in the downward direction.)
And third — there’s a new-ish idea in the nutrition world: orthorexia. It means an unhealthy fixation on a healthy diet. Maybe, just maybe, an occasional 4 oz cup of ice cream (26g carbs) is good for you.
|Date||7 day Weight||7 day Glucose||7 day Bodyfat||Sum Fitocracy Points||Weekly Fitocracy Points|
|Δ since 2-1||-2.64||-14.57||-3.00%||N/A||N/A|
The joy of children also comes with the horrors of what motherhood does to the body. Trying to recapture some semblance of my former self, I joined a few fancy corporate gyms with salons and spas and pretty associates selling banana-choco-gluten-free $12 shakes, but I never achieved the results I wanted. It turns out that quitting was the answer. I finally discovered how to get fit and have a great time doing it. I joined a family-owned, martial arts gym. The following truths will convince you to ditch your corporate gym membership in favor of a much better option that actually produces results while improving every area of your life.
9. “Do you believe in love at first sight or do I have to walk by you again?”
A simple Google search on “picking up girls” will lead to hundreds of smarmy articles advising men on how to hook up at the gym. This particular sentiment — from someone claiming to be a gentleman — sums it up about perfectly:
Utilized properly, the gym is one of the finest hunting grounds for the well prepared cocksman.
Wow. Where to begin? If you’re 20 and this is the kind of thing you’re into, I’d say that guy is right. Big corporate gyms with lots of young, dumb girls would be a good place for a sexual predator to stalk his kill. However, when you’re a married mom or dad, this is not the kind of environment that will encourage your marriage. Further, it’s uncomfortable to feel as if you are being sized up by people who refer to themselves as “cocksmen.” It’s also disconcerting trying to avoid that one guy who stalks you with his eyes when you’re trying to use that embarrassing machine where you pretend to strangle someone with your thighs. Awkward.
A small, family-owned gym that caters to both children and adults has a totally different vibe for more mature members with the goal of family fitness. Many people don’t know that most martial arts programs have cardio classes and training for adults. My family belongs to Randori Jiu-Jitsu, where we can take a variety of classes like jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, boxing, judo, karate, mixed martial arts, and conditioning and strength training all without a nightclub atmosphere or threat of venereal disease.
So, as far as my own progress goes, the last couple weeks were kind of boring: I wasn’t losing any weight, my glucose was coming down, but nothing very dramatic was happening.
Since the last time, though, I’ve done several things: I got “after” pictures taken for the first 13 weeks, I have started tracking bodyfat as well as weight, and best of all, I got my post-13-weeks bloods done.
Those are the most fun, so let’s hit them first.
Glucose. My A1c is now down to 5.9 percent, from a starting A1c of 7.5. That means I’ve lowered my average glucose from roughly 170 mg/dL, or just over 100.
My doc was more or less slack-jawed. I had to talk her into doing the A1c, as she didn’t think it could have changed much since the one I had in January.
I’ve cut my metformin to 1000 mg/day from 2500 when I started this.
Cholesterol. Or more generally, blood lipids. Now, remember that I’m following what is, by traditional medical measures, the perfectly wrong diet for cholesterol — heavy on meats, no grains at all, and with roughly 60 percent of my calories coming from fats.
My total cholesterol is down to 123. That’s the bottom of the normal range; that’s a score that the ultra-low-fat Ornish diet would be happy to reach.
Low-density lipoproteins — LDL, the “bad cholesterol” — is down to 70.
High density lipoproteins — HDL, the “good cholesterol” — is up to 26 (up in this case being the good direction.) Although it’s still low as an absolute number, what’s perhaps more important is the ration of HDL tot total cholesterol. HDL of 26 makes my total cholesterol over HDL ratio about 4.7. This is now well under the boundary the American Heart Association recommends.
In other words, while my HDL could be better, I am now in the “good” to “very good” range.
Body fat. I’ve just started tracking this, so the numbers don’t mean a lot yet, but as you can see from the chart, it is showing a real down trend. I’m somewhere around 30 percent right now, and obviously I hope it’ll drop significantly in this 13 weeks.
So far, I’ve mainly been tracking Fitocracy points, which are a kind of arbitrary measure of various kinds of exercise, but handy because it converts various exercises into one easily-tracked number. (I hope to have an interview with some of the Fitocracy people in the near future; in the meantime, if you want to follow me, you can sign up for Fitocracy here.)
Since this 13 weeks season has started, i’ve accumulated 2800 Fitocracy points.
Of course, David Steinberg is doing his own series on this. I sent him some videos which didn’t work out, but I’ve just taken another set. Have a look at his piece this week, in which he makes some entirely unsubstantiated suppositions about how I’ve managed to practically break every bone in my body over 57 years. It’s pretty funny, and good advice.
I’ve now completed the first week of my second 13 week program, which is like the first 13 week program with more
cowbell exercise. I’ve also been thinking a lot about something that had been in the back of my mind for awhile: that this notion of thirteen week “programs” was applicable to lots more than lowering blood sugar. Dave Swindle noticed the same thing, and mentioned it in one of his own self-improvement pieces.
So let’s think about this in more general terms. My first, unformed, thoughts went like this: If I don’t do something about the diabetes I’m going to die, and I don’t want to die. But I’ve been on a million zillion diets and they’ve always been heartbreakers, appealing and attractive and exciting and then after a while leaving me flat. So I decided to try something I’d had some success with in the past, a low-carb diet informed by Gary Taubes books. Somewhat coincidentally, going low-carb meant not eating much wheat, and about the same time I read Wheat Belly, and realized my lifetime stomach problems might have something to do with wheat. But then I thought “I’ll never eat chocolate and pasta and bread again?” and wanted to shoot myself.
Which would really screw up the “I don’t want to die” part.
So I decided to make it an experiment. Limited time, limited goals, just doing something that I supposed would be helpful and seeing what happened. How long? It had to be long enough to see some real differences, but not so long that it seemed endless. I narrowed down to thirteen weeks sort of by intuition, based on liking the number 13, but thirteen weeks turns out to be 91 days. It’s basically one meteorological season, and when I was a kid at least it was a TV season — would Batman get picked up for another 13 episodes? There are four 13-week periods in a year, with a a day or two days change.
And it worked — I’ve lost 30 pounds, my blood sugar is back into more or less normal range, and as a side effect my stomach troubles are much much better.
By accident, however, I’d noticed a process, or pattern.
- Decide there’s something you want to change.
- Find ways to measure your progress.
- Decide on some small unthreatening things you can do that should affect those measures.
- Track the results for 13 weeks and see what happens. It helps to pick appropriate tools and techniques for that tracking, but something as simple as a Seinfeld calendar, where you just draw an X on a calendar for every day you do something can be very powerful.
I also, over this thirteen weeks, have realized there are some things that have been key insights for me.
1) “The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses – behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.” — Muhammad Ali
2) “Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody else expects of you. Never excuse yourself. Never pity yourself. Be a hard master to yourself – and be lenient to everybody else.” — Henry Ward Beecher
3) “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” — Winston Churchill
4) “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not: Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” — Calvin Coolidge
5) “The only way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open.” — Chuck Palahniuk
So here it is: week 13 of the 13 Weeks, which officially ends tomorrow. This is also Day One of the next 13 Weeks, which I started today to make everything match with the publishing schedule.
I pretty well explained what I’m doing for the next 13 weeks in my post last week, so I won’t linger on that: same eating plan or similar, but adding a Seinfeld calendar with six days a week of a Tabata protocol workout, plus weightlifting and yoga or Pilates. I have a new spreadsheet which tracks body fat as well as weight and glucose. As of today, this is a new experiment, so I’m starting from an empty spreadsheet. As of today, weight is 272.1, body fat by Withings impedance scale is 33.1 percent, and morning fasting glucose is 109. “After pictures” and a comparison in next week’s column.
So, below the fold, a little change of pace.
See you next week.
On Tuesday I turned 29. Apparently this is one of those “milestone” birthdays meant to suggest that now I’m really growing old and should start worrying or feeling worse about myself in some abstract way. Apparently when you’re 30 it means that the party decade is over and you should scrape the cheeto dust out of your navel, put some pants on, and finally grow up.
So be it. Growing old has never really bothered me. (Though I wish the hair wasn’t going so fast…) I’ve felt like a cranky old man trapped in a young person’s body since at least junior high. So how about this for an old-fashioned way to really put the last 362 days of the third decade of my life to use: actually writing out a plan for the year. Here’s what I’m going to try to do so that when the 30th birthday hits in 2014 I can look back and not feel too much embarrassment at another wasted year.
In December I declared my “7 New Year’s Resolutions I Invite Others to Steal” and then began the process of integrating these general self-improvement goals into both my daily routine and the weekly schedule of my PJ Lifestyle blogging. I left them somewhat vague so over the course of the month more concrete goals could materialize. And here they are, revised from my original list but generalized so perhaps others might still find them useful to consider as potential additions to their own Lifestyle self-programming.
1. Family Life on Monday: Rediscover and Celebrate Your Family’s Origins.
On Monday this week I blogged an open letter to my wife informing her that the time had come to change directions with our Netflix diet. The number of Dexter/Battlestar Galactica-level cable shows on DVD had dried up and new releases offered little hope of consistent entertainment satisfaction. We had to start mining older regions of film and TV history — but could we agree on a path forward?
Turns out we still can. April selected the first option:
1. Watch the entire Criterion Collection. Maybe in order?
You’re always complaining (rightfully) that the past few years I’ve spent too much time on politics and don’t show you weird, artsy movies anymore. Well here’s the mother lode and now we should start exploring it.
April suggested we call it “The Criterion Challenge.” We’re going to attempt to watch as many as we can this year — and yes, as close to in the order of their release as we can. We started last night with my copy of The Seven Samurai (spine #2) and watched the first hour. I’d forgotten how entertaining a film it was — and was delighted when April got into it too.
In charting this new entertainment course for us, we’re really going back to the origins of our relationship. I never realized what a role my oddball movie tastes had for April. When we began dating seriously for a second time in the fall of 2006 (a few months after I’d graduated and she was starting her sophomore undergraduate year), I would drive up to Muncie from Indianapolis on weekends with different art movie DVDs to share with her.
But in the years since our marriage I’ve neglected this original film guide role. My movie obsession fell by the wayside to make way for political warfare and new media trouble-making. Now’s a good time to correct course as I seek to re-balance my life between the legs of culture, religion, and politics. (Instead of the ideological focus that it’s largely been for the last three years…)
And we’re both on the same page in why we’re watching this series of classic films — to further develop our own understanding of the visual arts. What makes a beautiful, powerful image? How does film tell stories and evoke feelings? April and I are going to explore these questions together and I’ll try and blog a few thoughts on each film. Also, keeping with the return to film, for our year off from Disney Land I’m going to make a point to explore the ideas that brought it into existence.
Monday Bookshelf and Blogging Focus: Research the life, work, and ideas of Walt Disney to separate the wheat from the chaff.
Three weeks after publicly proclaiming seven self-improvement goals for the new year, my quest for more disciplined time management still remains the most elusive. Some of the problem is that I have not yet figured out how best to utilize the four tools that will navigate me through the combination of my personal and professional lives:
*** Cell phone – currently a Motorola Droid but soon to switch to an iPhone… Finally!
Part of this I can blame on not having all the puzzle pieces yet. My new journal — a birthday present from The Wife — arrived on Friday. And our new phones won’t appear until the end of the week. But soon I’ll have only myself to blame for those all-too-familiar feelings of anxiety and frustration that still arrive some days when I fail to achieve all the goals set.
I suspect that part of the problem is my tendency to multitask. As much as I want to focus on just writing a blog post or just editing an article or just reading a book from the stack of to-review titles, it’s so easy for interruptions — a phone call from a writer, an instant message from another PJM editor — and stray thoughts to lead me astray. And then before I know it I’m juggling numerous tabs across devices, drowning in a sea of emails, tweets, and YouTube videos. And then I’ll have half a dozen tasks part of the way done. Then Maura, our Siberian Husky, comes and asks for me to take her out.
Part of the problem is the nature of the technology itself. For most of the tasks that I do throughout the day I can technically use either my laptop, phone, or iPad. And often even within the same program. Writing emails, reading news reports, and publishing PJM articles through WordPress — these all happen in a single program on one device, and thus end up intermingling together. I haven’t figured out yet which devices and programs are the best.
A few areas that I’ll investigate on in the next few weeks and then report on:
1. Is it easiest to keep track of and respond to emails the traditional way with a computer or primarily on ipad, or phone?
2. Can I really get to the point where it’s possible to publish and edit WordPress articles from the iPad? Can one blog more efficiently and effectively from iPad instead of laptop?
3. What possibilities do the cameras on the iPad and iPhone allow for increasing organization? Am I the only one who has gotten in the habit of casually taking photos of bits of information I’d rather not forget?
4. Maybe I should experiment with this as a “division of powers” of sorts: A) To encourage concise communication, email primarily on the iPhone or iPad B) Use laptop for serious writing and editing, work C) The iPad should be utilized for consuming and sharing media (keeping up with news, blogs, and Kindle books) and social networking.
But what I’m definitely going to start doing:
5. With my new Moleskine journal (volume 15) I’m going to get in the habit of early EVERY day, taking the time to write down a quick summary — perhaps a bullet list — of my goals and plans for the day. If I can visualize the ideal day first thing can I then project an image of it through the visual reminders on the iPad and cell phone? Can I program my technology to help program me into a more organized, more focused person? We shall find out…
Related at PJ LIfestyle:
Anyone on a faith walk will eventually ask the question, “How do I pray?”
Except for the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus taught his disciples, there is no easy answer, for prayer is a very personal and personalized pursuit.
And, as with all pursuits, practice is the key to success and prayer is no different.
You will soon discover the more you pray, the more you will find answers to difficult questions, along with mental or physical healing from various maladies, protection for you or your loved ones and comfort from any number of storms that happen to be raging in your life.
Whatever the current state of your prayer life, even if you do not have one, or practice no faith at all, here is a powerful “prayer exercise” that you should find very beneficial.
Back in 1990 I first experienced this exercise in a group while attending a prayer seminar at my church. During the course of the exercise, the answer to a personal spiritual question that had been plaguing me for 15 years was instantly revealed.
Thus, I immediately became a huge believer in this prayer exercise and since have shared it with many others over the years. You too might find some answers but only if you are truly honest and unafraid to ask or face the most difficult questions or issues in your past or present circumstances.
So without further ado, here is the exercise.
Jesus is visiting your neighborhood. He is going house to house and will be at your door in five minutes.
Will you let him in?
What will you say to Him when he appears at your door?
What is He going to ask you?
What questions are you going to ask Him?
Are there any rooms in your home that you do not want him to see?
Any closets, drawers, photos, or computer files that you want to hide from Him?
Pray about these questions for five minutes.
(Five minutes passes)
Knock, knock Jesus has arrived.
Greet Him at the door or ask Him to go away.
If you invite Him in, visualize actually letting him in the door of your home or apartment as you would any guest.
You may even offer Him something to drink or eat.
Just let the visit unfold.
Perhaps you might want to take him on a tour of your home. Or ask him to sit down as you begin chatting in your most comfortable space.
Remember to discuss the questions or issues you identified in the first part of the exercise.
His visit can last as long as you want because, as the Bible says: I will never leave you nor forsake you.
However, in my group prayer seminar His visit lasted about 10 minutes.
After that time, the prayer leader asked our group if anyone was willing to share their experience of “Jesus’ visit.” Many did, but I was still in shock from His most perfect answer to my question, so I remained uncharacteristically silent.
This exercise is effective in a group setting or when one is alone. Adults, teenagers or even children can be enthralled by this 15 minute “visit with Jesus,” if participants take it seriously and deal with sometimes difficult personal issues honestly.
For a different twist, you could even visualize Jesus walking around your office building for five minutes visiting others before He shows up at YOUR office.
Even though it has been 23 years since I was first introduced to this prayer exercise, my experience was so enlightening it was imprinted on my heart and soul forever.
Do not be surprised if you have similar results. This exercise is extremely powerful because it presents Jesus as someone who you can communicate with in a two-way conversation.
And, after all isn’t that what prayer is anyway, a conversation with God?
Finally, this week on a country music station I heard the song, If I Could Have A Beer With Jesus for the first time. This song by Thomas Rhett reminded me of my 1990 prayer seminar experience and that is the reason why you just read what you read.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
From the official description:
Publication Date: January 1, 2013
Your emotions can be killers!
Have you at one time or another let your feelings of hurt, anger, disappointment, rejection, rage, betrayal, insecurity, or hopelessness cloud your best judgment? Did you make disappointing, self-sabotaging life choices as a result? If the answer is ”Yes, many times,” then this book is for you.
Emotions can kill your ability to accomplish your plans, fulfill your dreams, and attain the life you so dearly desire.
Think of Your Killer Emotions as your emotion-mastery kit, to be used in consistently making positive life choices; it will enable you to beneficially channel the supremely potent energy charges triggered by your potentially sabotaging emotions, impulses, and urges, thereby turning them into your allies.
Ken Lindner, ”The Life-Choice Coach,” has counseled thousands of individuals over the past thirty years to make great, life-enhancing decisions. In Your Killer Emotions, he will show you how to identify your Personal Emotional Triggers (PETS), and empower you to nullify the energy charges from potentially sabotaging emotions. You will be able to think and reason clearly–destructive-emotion-free–so that you make life choices that reflect your most highly-valued life goals.
Your Killer Emotions will change the way you make your life choices–and your life–in the most positive ways!
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
For 2013 at PJ Lifestyle we’re going to try to organize the seemingly endless abyss of “Lifestyle” topics with a general theme each day. These appear on the About Us page and include links to some of the articles we’ve published this past year:
We try to blog on seven general subjects each week from a variety of perspectives that do not always agree. The topics include:
Every Tuesday, we post career advice, self-improvement tips, product reviews, and how-to guides as well as blogs on entrepreneurship, disaster preparation, gardening, and self-sufficiency.
The middle of the week requires some laughter. That’s why every Wednesday we’ll have humorous pieces featuring satire, viral videos, goofy images and amusing photoshops, cute animals, slideshow galleries and other memes from across the Web.
On Thursday, PJ Lifestyle is your go-to place for the latest info on pop culture – ranging from movies, TV, novels, music and celebrities – as well as posts about other cultures – like military culture, counterculture, California culture, traditional culture, international culture, odd subcultures, geek culture – and more.
Spend Saturdays finding new recipes and cooking tips, learning about new ways to exercise and stay healthy, reading medical stories, and keeping up with sports and outdoor life.
And on Sundays, you’ll find content featuring interfaith dialogue, religion-based commentary, and posts on spirituality, ethics and morality.
One of the most important contributors to PJ Lifestyle this year has been Charlie Martin. His Thirteen Weeks diet and and exercise regimen has been an inspiration. This past fall Charlie has updated us every week on his progress to improve his health and live a long, long life. We’re going to try to provide more content like this — but on all seven subjects. Not just blog posts pontificating on what should be, but articles documenting what we do. Too often as writers and bloggers we forget that these New Media tools aren’t the end. They’re merely the means to whatever end we want to pursue and achieve. And at PJ Lifestyle that end is a happier, more fulfilling, richer life appreciating all the possibilities of what it means to be free.
I’ve decided on 7 New Year’s Resolutions this year, each corresponding with one of these themes and inspiring my daily blogging. I invite others to join me and offer their suggestions.
“It must be him, it must be him, oh dear God, it must be him or I shall die.”
Before the advent of answering machines, and decades before mobile communications and social media, waiting by the phone for your man to call was an ancient mating tradition that single women of all ages thankfully will never again have to endure.
I was reminded of this dating ritual since we are on the cusp of celebrating what is traditionally known as the greatest date night of all, New Year’s Eve.
While wracking my brain thinking of a suitable baby boomer topic applicable to this holiday, it hit me… New Year’s Eve, 1971, when I was a high school sophomore and my boyfriend was a senior.
All that stands out about that evening was my having to wait by the phone for my boyfriend to call to tell me the time he was coming by to take me to a house party (where someone’s parents were out of town).
As 5 pm turned into 6 pm, turned into 7 pm, turned into 8 pm, I became extremely anxious, especially when my mother said, “Would it be so bad if you stayed home?” (Yea mom, how about the end of the world as I know it.)
When Mr. Considerate finally called at 8 pm the trauma ceased. But thinking back upon that 1971 New Year’s Eve, it was how waiting by the phone helped form five positive personality traits that women like me did not even realize we were developing. Eventually these five traits served baby boomer women extremely well as we made our way through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s taking advantage of all the new career opportunities that the women’s movement afforded.
Here are the five personality traits aging baby boomer women learned while waiting by the phone.
When you were forced to accept someone else’s timetable you learned it was not just all about you. Waiting by the phone developed patience and was superb training for almost any career and life in general.
This feeling was experienced when you finally realized that he was not going to call after he said (or you assumed) he would. Learning to cope with rejection without feeling like a complete loser was an important life lesson. The key was to think about all your positive attributes that this man was obviously missing. Then move ahead and don’t look back. This concept was easily applied to the professional world, especially if you were a business owner or involved in sales of any kind. Women of a certain age who experienced sitting by the phone waiting for him to call learned how to be resilient in the face of rejection.
3. Self worth/Self esteem
You waited by the phone and he did call. High five! You were on top of your game. All your flirting skills worked and you were the master of the feminine universe. (But sometimes you discovered that he was not worth waiting for!)
Later in life this same initial exhilaration was experienced when you landed a new job or a new client/contract/project was won. But you never let it go to your head. One learned early on that you must never be cocky because rejection in love or life could be lurking right around the corner.
He called, (maybe even weeks after he said he would) and you refrained from telling him that he was an insensitive jerk. But since you were really glad to hear from him you said no such thing. Later in the business world this skill came in handy when “the customer was always right” even if he/she was not.
5. Playing the Game
Once while chatting with some guy friends in my high school classes they admitted to me that often they did not call a girl after they said they would because they did not want to appear “pussy whipped.” (Yes, that was the operative term at the time.) So from this conversation I learned that there was a lot of game playing going on when it came to the timing of “the call.”
As a result, my friends and I would discuss when it was time to stop waiting and time to start living. (However, flirting with his friends was always an appropriate response.) The lesson “stop waiting and start living” developed into positive personality traits that were applicable to many future life situations.
But alas, girls/women today don’t have to deal with any of this waiting by the phone. In fact, waiting is a thing of the past since now there is no stigma attached to calling a boy before he calls you. Girls today will call, text, tweet, Facebook, or email and if that does not get his attention they will have their friends call, text, email, Facebook or tweet. From what I have heard about today’s dating habits, “whatever it takes” to catch the attention of the man of the moment seems to be acceptable behavior.
This behavior is a result of both the instant communications revolution and the women’s movement which generally has made the girls/women of today much more aggressive than my friends or I ever were in high school and college.
Perhaps this more aggressive behavior is cultural “payback” for all the countless hours their baby boomer mothers and grandmothers spent waiting by the phone especially in the weeks leading up to important date nights like New Year’s Eve. For around that time whenever the phone rang, teenage girls and young women were conditioned into thinking, “It must be him, it must be him, please be him or I will die.”
Happy New Year’s everyone!
More on generations at PJ Lifestyle:
Victoria Soto, the Sandy Hook Elementary teacher slain in the Newtown massacre is being praised the world over as a hero – and rightly so. But is America being taught the true lesson of Soto’s sacrifice?
The reactions to the massacre in Newtown do not illustrate our culture’s value of human life so much as our desire to engineer the society in which we live. Whether the call for more gun control or less, the root of the argument is the same: human beings can create a perfect society through government, despite the fact that history has repetitively shown the exact opposite to be true.
Social engineering, an outgrowth of the industrial revolution, values human beings as assembly-line manufactured cogs in a wheel. Designed for a specific task, these human cogs are trained through government programming to follow bureaucratic blueprints for the creation and maintenance of a perfect society. This Marx-meets-manufacturing perspective may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but it continues to emerge over the course of human history. Ideas that sound innocent in theory are enacted with deadly results. Take, for example, one of the most grossly influential theories of social engineers in the late 1800s: Eugenics. This mad “science” that sprouted from Darwin’s Theory of Evolution posited that human beings could be determined “inferior” or “superior” based on their genetic makeup. This racial theory had as much influence on Margaret Sanger as it did Adolf Hitler. Both sought to engineer a “perfect” society and whether abortion or Holocaust, the result has been the same: A deadly lack of respect for the sanctity of human life.
It took less than an hour after we first learned about the events in Newtown for commentators to begin pontificating about gun control laws. We were never given an opportunity to mourn the dead. Those murdered were not valued as human beings, but as cogs to be used in the mechanical argument over the definition of a government-created perfect society. Even later arguments regarding mental health services were voiced under the auspices of government-funded programming more so than removing the stigma from, and promoting treatment for mental disease. Little to nothing has been said about the violent video games the shooter played, or the fact that his mother was a “Doomsday Prepper” like those seen and mocked on reality television. I wonder, when those comments finally make their way around the round tables, will that conversation also be guided by the advocacy of greater government regulation on media as well?
In the meantime, a nation mourns in silence, taught by example to channel their emotions into angry demands for government action, leaving little room for the comprehension — let alone teaching — of personal responsibility for the life of another human being. The real lesson of Newtown is the one that is being missed: Individuals are responsible to make the choice to value the sanctity of human life.
Your behavior is influenced by information that surges through three different channels — your conscious mind, your subconscious mind, and your instincts.
Your conscious mind is easy to explain. Think about how you use your conscious mind and, congratulations, you’re using your conscious mind. Now, think about what that means — and again, you’re using your conscious mind and you know you’re doing it.
Your instincts are a little trickier and many people would even categorize them as part of your subconscious mind. However, because they’re more instantaneous and easier to read, i.e. “This just doesn’t feel right” or “Something tells me that guy is lying to me,” they deserve to be treated as distinct from our conscious and unconscious mind.
That brings us to the subconscious, which is the most fascinating of the three because it so often steers us without our being able to feel its misty hand on the reins. It’s like The Matrix Revolutions except with mediocre special effects and no Keanu Reeves. One day you’re a computer programmer and the next thing you know, you’re engaged in a seemingly endless stream of philosophy class banter while you wait for your ten-minute fight scene at the end of the movie with Agent Smith, which is the only cool thing left in the atrocity you call a movie…ehr, a life.
The message: Your life doesn’t have to be as crummy as The Matrix Revolutions. You can be better than that by spotting and correcting these psychological defense mechanisms.
In C.S. Lewis’s classic The Screwtape Letters, a devil instructs his nephew to try to corrupt a man by
(aggravating) that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practice self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office.
Actually, it doesn’t take a devil to pull this off. Unless you have honest friends, a good psychologist, or are unusually introspective, that’s probably a good description of you as well. Taking a tough, unsparing look at yourself is painful and even scary because when you find problems, you feel compelled to change to fix them. Denial may be easy, but ultimately it’s those who know themselves best who go the farthest in life.
These are the adventures of Charlie Martin, his 13-week mission to follow a Taubes-inspired low-carb eating plan with high-intensity training, to find out what the hell happens and hopefully lose some weight and improve his health besides. Follow me here on PJ Lifestyle, and on the 13 Weeks Facebook page.
Yeah, it’s Saturday. I forgot to mention last Sunday that to fit in with the new weekly schedule for Lifestyle health-related posts, we’re moving to Saturday. So strictly, this is really sort of week 5 1/2, but roll with it.
This really has gotten to be sort of the boring middle — my blood sugar continues its slow decline, and I’m still more or less plateaued: my weight hovered at 278.2 exactly for 6 days before breaking below that this morning. Except, maybe it’s not a real plateau: my weight is still fitting a trend line of about 1 pound every four days. We’ll see on Sunday.
In the mean time, though, there’s been one thing I’ve noticed: I’ve been letting the exercise slide. There are several reasons, or excuses, for this — I really did feel bad right after Thanksgiving, and last week was a terror, with one all-nighter programming and a cold. But still, I’ve been back to my old habit of the most exercise I get being the trip from the parking lot to my desk at the office, and I’ve been parking closer to the door than usual.
And that nonsense has got to stop. Starting today, I’ll be carefully recording the exercise on Lose It! and I’ll be announcing it in my morning updates on Facebook. Every time. Days with no exercise I’ll also mention in my morning updates. That’ll keep me honest.
I did notice one interesting thing this week. Here’s my Physics Diet chart from the start of the experiment:
The line along the bottom is daily weight; the straight line is the linear-fit trend line and the blue line is a exponentially weighted moving average. What’s interesting is the way it seems there’s almost a pattern to it — a bump up, a plateau, then a sudden decline. I don’t know what to make of that. In any case, the current plateau is going to be challenged quite a bit this weekend; I’m having a little procedure done this Monday, so I’ll be on clear liquids for the weekend.
What? What procedure? Just a procedure.
Oh, all right: it’s a colonoscopy. Happy now? Another of the joys of middle age.
This is what a study found on how women respond to female politicians:
Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher famously had elocution lessons to lower her voice and make it sound more masculine and authoritative.
She was advised – correctly, in light of subsequent research – that members of the public would find this more appealing.
Studies have demonstrated that men and women prefer leaders of both sexes in politics or business to have lower voices.
The new research shows this rule even extends to leadership positions traditionally occupied by women.
Unfortunately for me, the low voice phenomenon is accurate. When I was in LA recently, I had the opportunity to meet with voice coach Bob Corff who runs an LA studio. I tend to talk to0 quickly and my voice pitches upward when I speak at times. The first thing Corff told me was to speak slowly and lower my voice. “I sound like a man!” I exclaimed in my high-pitched voice. “No” you don’t,” he told me, “but if you want people to listen to you, you have to learn to communicate effectively. Lower your voice and slow down.” I now practice this technique when I am at a store, out in public or even just talking to others. It is hard and doesn’t come naturally for me but it works. I notice people hear more of what I am saying and respond better. It also helps me stay calmer when I speak which is important.
I still practice Corff’s techniques with an inexpensive audio CD called Corff Voice Studios: Speaker’s Voice Method that I highly recommend if you want to improve your voice for work, speaking, or just in general. You can also watch his video here at YouTube for more tips. (Oops, just removed the exclamation mark from that last sentence so you wouldn’t get the impression that I raised my voice).
Being a more effective communicator is ever important in the present economic and political climate.
Backstory: In October I realized that if I didn’t lose weight and get my blood sugar under control, I was going to die. I didn’t like that. I decided to try a 13 week experiment: cut out carbs and add a small amount of high intensity exercise and see what happened. This is the continuing story of that experiment. Follow it every week here at PJ Lifestyle — including some sort of embarrassing “before” pictures — and follow my 13 Weeks Facebook page. I’ll report more on results next week, but right now, I’ve lost 21 pounds since 19 October and my blood sugar is down from 157 mg/dL to 119.
I started worrying about my weight — and being teased about it — by the time I was six or seven. At twelve or so I was an experienced dieter, and my experience was pretty much uniformly negative: I’d try dieting and maybe lose a little weight. Then the weight loss would stop. This would be doubly traumatic, as on a “balanced healthy diet”. I felt horrible, I was hungry all the time, and my pediatrician would yell at me that I had to be cheating, no one could not lose weight on that diet.
I could lose weight on the Stillman Quick Weight Loss Diet — nothing but lean meats boiled or broiled, cottage cheese, and poached or boiled eggs — but then I got yelled at by my pediatrician, my gym coach, and random people who happened to hear about it because it wasn’t a balanced diet. Also, after five or six weeks, it got a little boring: I remember breaking into tears one night when presented with another skinless, boiled half-chicken.
So my feelings about “going on a diet” have a lot of baggage. Skipping about 40 years, I read Gary Taubes first New York Times article, “What Really Makes Us Fat“, which said some things I knew from personal experience but had been told real science disputed. Like “all calories are not created equal,” and “what you eat is more important than how much you eat.” I bought Taubes’ books, Good Calories Bad Calories, and Why We Get Fat and read the primary literature, which makes a strong case that the underlying culprit is refined carbs. Sure enough, cutting out refined carbs helped me lose weight. This time around, I’ve lost 21 pounds since the 19th of October, and my blood sugar is also down a good bit.
But what about the boredom?
What I’m eating now is, thankfully, far more interesting than boiled chicken and cottage cheese. I thought today I’d tell you about some of them.
Most mornings, I’m up at 6AM and about to write. I feed the cats, and stumble about waiting for the coffee — the worst part about getting your first cup in the morning is needing to make it before you’ve had it — and I’m not up to doing anything complicated, so I zap bacon in the microwave, take cold boiled eggs out of the refrigerator, and have
Charlie’s “Diet” Breakfast
- 3 boiled eggs, sliced with an egg slicer and drizzled with about a tablespoon of mayonnaise
- 4 strips of bacon
Except some mornings I have 4 eggs and 8 strips of bacon. I slice the hard boiled eggs because otherwise they last about two bites, and I add the mayonnaise because it tastes good.
I usually go out for something because someone who can’t cope with cooking eggs in the morning isn’t going to handle making lunch very well either. There are really lots of options — a diner where I can get bacon or ham or pork chops and eggs, a buffet restaurant where I get salad and roast chicken, or MAD Greens, where I make up a salad with lots of protein:
MAD Greens Salad Example
- baby spinach
- feta cheese
- Oil-marinated tuna
- Red wine vinaigrette
Mad Greens actually has a calorie and nutrient calculator on their web site, which scores this out as 41 grams of protein and 6 grams net carbs (9 grams – 3 grams fiber),
Another thing I’ve done is make a big bowl of tuna salad. One variant is my Mediterranean Tuna Salad, based on something I used to get at a sprouthead restaurant in Durham, NC 20 years ago.
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 4-5 stalks celery, finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed, diced, and made into a paste with a little salt
- 3 12-oz cans of water-packed tuna (cheap non-albacore is perfectly fine)
- 1/4 cup olive oil (it pays to use extra virgin, but not super-good extra virgin)
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp dried dill weed
- salt and ground black pepper to taste
make a rough vinaigrette by whisking together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, and dill in a large bowl (you need a bigger bowl than you think.) You can add a little dry or grey poupon mustard as well, which will help the vinagrette stay together, but I don’t much like mustard with tuna. Add other ingredients, breaking up the tuna to match with the vegetables. Toss until well combined. It’s good now, even better after a day or two in the refrigerator. By the way, oil-packed tuna would be just fine; around here, though, it’s hard to find and significantly more expensive than the water-packed.