Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category
This past Saturday marked my second cheat day on the slow carb diet. This will be a much shorter post, with the addition of Recipes section.
This week we decided we wanted to eat more savory foods, as the diet can be quite bland. We tried spaghetti squash with home made marinara and turkey meatballs with almond flour. It was OK… the squash wasn't cooked enough, and the marinara recipe we used wasn't very good, either (it was essentially tomatoes with onions, and not much "sauce" ugh). Next time we'd bake the squash longer, and use a better marinara recipe.
We also made chili with black beans, kidney beans, and garbanzo beans (chickpeas). We added WAY more veggies: mushrooms, broccoli, red peppers, and we also threw in one ear of raw corn cut off the cob. (Yes, we "cheated", if you could call < 1/8 of an ear of corn per serving "cheating".)
It was amazing. So. Bloody. Good. Best food we've eaten since being on the diet.
- Weight: 222.5 (down ~1lb)
- Waist: 40" (no change)
- Hips: 40" (no change)
I spent first 3 days after my cheat day above my weigh-in weight. I suspect I may have weighed in at the perfect time: just evacuated everything, slightly dehydrated, didn't eat much the day before. (All of these things were unintentional.)
- Energy levels are still higher and smoother than what I've been used to (more on that below)
- Weight loss was much less than the first week. I believe my assertion that most of the weight was water weight in the first 3 days was incorrect, and that I continued to shed water weight for most of the week.
- I'm really at a "new normal" now as far as preparing food, making lunches, eating food, etc is concerned. It's easy to say no to most foods, and I cook without thinking.
- My allergies seem to be gone. (Weird!) I don't breathe heavily, nor have I been congested. This doesn't seem connected to the air quality, so I don't have any idea why this is true.
The most illustrative thing, though, is the bike ride I went on. I hadn't been on a bike in a month, and I decided to go on one about 2 hours after lunch. Up until that point, I'd had breakfast (two eggs, lentils, half a thick sausage patty) and lunch (cereal-bowl-sized bowl of chili with melted cheddar). I knew I'd be hungry by the end, so I brought some carrots with me to eat when I was done.
About halfway through, I got hungry. In the past, this would have meant I would have hit the wall, unable to bike with any appreciable energy. I did not have this problem. I had no problem sustaining 18-20mph, and when I turned back, I was sustaining 20-22mph, despite being hungry. In fact, these are the fastest speeds I have ever sustained on this course… even though I hadn't been on a bike in a month, and my weight loss wasn't much as a percentage of my starting weight.
It was very strange to have my energy levels largely decoupled from my hunger. Similarly, my leg strength was the limiting factor, not my cardiovascular system. This hasn't been the case since I was in high school, so this is A Very Good Thing.
I've been asked what I ate during week 1. The answer: pretty boring stuff, mostly. I actually took pictures of most of the food I was eating to send to Laurel, because she was planning on doing the diet, but was away in Israel when I started.
The trick is to cook more than one serving at a time, even for things like cooked vegetables. I don't like frozen veggies, so I generally buy fresh and make 2-4 servings at a time because it saves time and energy. Hooray for dishwashers.
Things cooked in bulk:
- Lentils: one package tends to last me about a week. I like them a little softer, so I boil them for close to 30 minutes.
- Bacon: one package of center cut bacon at a time. I save the bacon rendering for later. Haven't used it for anything yet.
Breakfast tends to be the same thing every day:
- Lentils (often fried in some oil; the texture is nicer)
- 3 scrambled eggs, Gordon Ramsay style
- 3 strips of bacon (microwave them for 20 seconds, and they taste like they're right out of the pan!)
- 1 serving (8oz) of V8 juice. This was my savior at the beginning, as it the thing with the "loudest" flavor, and until I adjusted to the subtleties of the other things I was eating, it was the most interesting thing on a daily basis
- 2 cups coffee with 1 tablespoon of cream per cup
- Steak spiced with a rub or seasoning
- Chicken spiced with a rub
- Boneless pork chops spiced with a rub
- Breadless cheeseburger, using aged swiss cheese, and often topped with salsa
- Tuna (usually wrapped in lettuce like a lettuce+tuna roll)
- Chicken sausage (grilled or broiled)
- Black beans or lentils
- Raw cucumbers and carrots
- Nathan's dill pickles
- Asparagus (sauteed in olive oil with spices, or steamed)
- Green beans (steam a bunch, and eat them over the next 2-3 days)
Other dishes I make regularly or would make again:
- Spaghetti squash + slow carb tomato sauce + turkey meatballs, and shredded parmesan on top. Surprisingly good. Make the turkey meatballs with almond meal instead of breadcrumbs.
- Two slices of Thin n trim chicken from the deli with a slice of aged swiss in between. Brown it up in a pan (no oil needed!), which melts the cheese. Top with salsa, and eat with a knife and fork like a thick slice of ham.
- Lentils mixed with salsa.
Things I'd like to try:
- Grilled kabobs with meat and veggies
- A cooked black bean salad/stir fry thing with meat and veggies and beans
- A stir fry over lentils or beans.
I eat the same things over and over again, which is what most people do (and certainly what I did before the diet). The only real difference is that I've changed the things that I repeat.
Last Saturday, I sat down in the morning, and planned out my strategy for eating for the weekend. I knew I'd essentially be by myself, so if I was going to be miserable, I wouldn't be bothering anyone. Ideally I need to lose about 40lbs; I'm at 230lbs now and 190lbs would put me at about 5lbs more than my high school weight.
My initial goals for the weekend experiment were modest:
- Eating entirely slow carb, where the biggest change was replacing starches with beans and lentils
- Seeing how I would feel during my first two days: how bad would the transition be?
- Putting together some slow carb meals to see if they were palatable
Knowing that I'd be doing at least a full month of it at some point, I figured I would just stick with the diet if:
- The transition was miserable, but I got through it in the two days (why repeat it?)
- I was satisfied with the meals I'd created
This is how I approached the experiment:
- I didn't treat "Tim's word" as received wisdom, which is fairly unusual in the slow carb world where explanations are often prefaced with "Well, Tim says…" whenever a newbie asks a question.
- I haven't read 4 Hour Body (and probably won't)
- I skipped the supplements; "toxins being released" and "flushing the body" and other pseudosciency hand-waving is nothing but woo and appeals to magical thinking
- When in doubt, I looked at the glycemic index of the food before eating
- I deferred to Gary Taubes more often than Tim Ferriss, as Gary's work is incredibly well sourced
- I followed the diet pretty strictly, though I did add a slice of aged swiss cheese to make breadless cheeseburgers and tuna melts
- I ate any time I felt hungry
- I did not count calories
- I deferred to sustainability if I was particularly unhappy with something (adding in cheese, for example)
- I didn't exercise any more than usual
To make it easy, I planned out all of my meals for the next two days, and made enough inputs to more than last for that time. (I batch cooked all of my legumes, because cooking them is time consuming and generally sucky.) I also bought a bunch of vegetables to have as snacks, as most of my normal snack foods aren't allowed.
Yesterday (Saturday) was my cheat day. Now for the results…
- Down 7lbs (230 -> 223)
- Two inches off my waist (42" -> 40")
- I spent about $40 on food this week, way less than normal
- I got a headache the first day, but 800mg ibuprofen cleared it up
- I felt a little light headed and dizzy on the first day; this may've been psychosomatic.
- Day 2 was substantially better, and I didn't need to approach my routine in a "defensive" fashion; I just went about my life as normal
- It was going so well by the end of day 2, I decided to just roll with it indefinitely
- I was pissing like a racehorse for the first couple of days (most of the weight loss occurred after this period, oddly enough)
- I could not wait for my cheat day for the first 3 days. This urge disappeared almost completely by day 5, and when I added in aged swiss cheese and made a breadless cheeseburger, the results were even better
- I stopped getting hungry after 2-3 days. (Not that I don't get hungry, but if you were to graph hunger over time, it'd look like a slow wave with no sharp spikes. Except on cheat day(!).
- I did not get tired in the afternoons the way I normally do. This happened around day 3; I didn't notice until day 6. Even trying to take a nap was useless; I couldn't stay asleep for more than 15 minutes.
- My energy was quite high this whole week, even after playing frisbee. Normally I'm depleted afterwards, but not this week.
My cheat day was not nearly as excellent as I thought it imagined it would be during the first few days. By the end, I was anxious to get back to the slow carb eating. My energy was lower; I had severe hunger spikes.
The strangest thing I noticed?
Unhealthy food is very loud. The tastes are overpowering, and there isn't much subtlety. It's like a food version of the loudness war: there's not a lot of dynamic range in processed foods. Even "boring" foods like honey bunches of oats are incredibly sweet. The foods I ended up enjoying the most were fruits, and apple pie. I ate 1/4 of a 12" pie for dinner last night, and I have no regrets for having done so.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the small Hawaiian pizza I ordered, and my normal grape fizzies (grape juice + seltzer). On my next cheat day, I will probably eat a buttload of fruit: strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, apples, and apple pie. Maybe another pizza. That's about it.
How does this compare to counting calories?
I dieted the "normal" way back in 2010, for about 3 months; eating balanced meals, maintaining a calorie deficit of at least 500 under maintenance load every day except one cheat day per week. I lost 3lbs during that time. On the slow carb diet, I never felt hungry or deprived–which is more than I can say for my experience in 2010.
There's an argument to be made that my weight loss is purely do to with releasing water weight by depleting the glycogen stores in my liver–which theoretically happens whenever you restrict caloric intake. That said, I did not lose any water weight when I was counting calories, and most of my weight loss occurred after the first three days.
How sustainable is this? I don't know. I don't have an end game right now, and I'm just going with it. I've spent a little bit of time thinking about "What comes after", and I think a longer-term diet plan might look less slow carb and a little more paleo. One thing it won't be is full of white carbs like it has been; I feel so much better eating this way. My breathing isn't labored, I don't get tired during the day, and generally have more energy. As a random aside: I wrote a fair bit of code this week, and it's the best code I've ever written, and my thinking has felt clearer, but it could be placebo.
I've also been toying with the idea of going ketogenic, just to see what it's like (but I probably won't).
In honor of Thanksgiving…
1) The Internet
I know, I know, it sounds terribly trite, and I would have laughed at the idea of including it on this list, except my mom pointed something that I hadn't realized, but is absolutely true over the last year: I have access to huge stores of raw information and distilled knowledge that I've only begun tapping into.
Specifically I'm thinking of podcasts, especially from UChannel. The London School of Economics, The Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, etc. (I mentioned it the other day, too.) TED talks (HD) are also great. I've also been reading many of the reports from the New America Foundation and the Brookings Institute — all of their materials are freely available. Some of it I agree with, some of it I don't, much of it I don't understand as well as I should like, but all of it informs my understanding of the world in a real, meaningful way.
Entertaining myself is easier with sites like Hulu as well. So while I'm online no more than I used to be, I'm using the web differently than I once did.
2) The economic downturn
This is a mixed bag for me because I'm not exactly cheerleading here for the economy to consider its slide. In reality, this is just me looking for a silver lining in a bad situation. As a student of economics, the downturn caused me to start asking questions about the nature of the world and the economy, and I never really stopped. I never reached a level of knowledge where I said "Okay! I'm good now." Each question is like a hydra: answer it and two more spring to take its place. Aside from my regular schoolwork, I'm spending anywhere from 2-4 hours a day just reading. Reading economists, the newspaper, in-depth publications from the aforementioned Brookings and New America, etc.
This, in turn, has allowed me to understand things we learn about in school at a deeper level. As a senior, it was ironic that I knew nothing about economics but somehow had senior status. That seemed wrong, but I worked hard before the financial turmoil hit to build some baseline associative learning pegs to build off of, and it's paid off in spades.
I'm a full time student again for the first time in a long time. I actually drive to school and sit in class, something I've not done since 2005. I actually go to classes, which is amazing. I have a good rapport with my professors, and my grades are good enough that I can skip the graduate application process and proceed right on to my Masters. This is truly an amazing accomplishment given just how abysmal my grades were in pharmacy school.
In addition, the Masters program has a study abroad option for a semester, which I will very likely take advantage of. The options are Mexico (meh) and Denmark (much more interesting). I would take a full load of classes while there, but the main appeal is spending a whole semester abroad.
I haven't known what I've wanted to do with my life for a while now, which has contributed in a real way to the lack of professional accomplishment in the last three years. I know what I want to do now, and I'm working to get there. I want to finish my BA this spring, which is going to happen. From there I want to finish my Masters right off, which will also happen, and spend some time abroad while doing so. This is also likely. From there I want to go to an Ivy League business school, preferably abroad. From there I want to make some significant money in either technology or working in the sustainable development industries. After that, I think I want to be a Senator.
Crazy? Maybe. We'll see. I haven't felt this energized in a long time, though.
- onthepharm.net: INTJ
- rianjs.net: INTP
- blatantconsumerist.com: ESTP
- polyscience.org: ISTJ
I ran a couple of queries on specific writing I've done, and again, it's all over the map. What I consider my "best" writing seems to go back and forth between INTJ, INTP, and ISTP. So again, no conclusions to be drawn. :p
Fun way to waste a few minutes.
(FWIW, actually doing a personality test tells me I'm an ENTJ; this is probably accurate, except that I know from reading the description that I waffle between Intuition and Extroversion in my thought processes.)
It's 12.01am on Mother's Day where you are, and I'd like to take a few minutes to share with you (and the rest of the world) why I think you're the best, despite the fact that we butt heads on a pretty regular basis. (Though maybe not quite as much as we used to.)
Given that you're in China right now on business, I can't exactly say "Good morning, happy mothers day!" when you wake up. I sent you a card, but I don't know if you got it. 7 seems like just as good an arbitrary number as 10 or 5, so here are my 7 reasons why I think you're the best. This is an entry that I've thought about doing, well since last Mother's Day. Neither of us knew then that you would be away at the time, so it seems somewhat fitting that I post this here now, since everyone says the Internet brings the world closer together.
I'm gonna do this David Letterman style:
7. You always finish what you start
I wish this was something that I made a habit of, but I don't, though I'm trying to get better at it. We both know that I battle with being consistent even now, but I think I'm getting better. You finished college even though you had me to take care of, and finances were very tight. You always make yourself do things, even though they might suck. Like the back yard. You got out of your comfort zone and climbed on that excavator last summer even though you didn't want to, and you taught yourself how to use it, because I was lazy and wanted to sleep for another hour. I'm sorry I didn't help you, that was pretty crappy of me.
6. You fought to get me a computer
You fought John to get me a computer, and a nasty fight it was. You fought for it because you knew I wanted one so badly, and because you thought it was important. This is one of the reasons I have the skills that I have today when it comes to software and technology in general. While I think that I would have developed these skills later, I developed them much younger than most. I could probably get a job just with what I know off the top of my head should everything else in my life fall to pieces, thanks in no small part to your doing something unpleasant.
5. You taught me the value of money
You always gave me an allowance, even when money was tight. You were downright stingy by most people's standards, for which I am also grateful. It was through this that I learned to save for what I wanted. Because of these early lessons, I didn't dig myself into massive amounts of debt like so many people my age do when they get credit cards. Beyond that, you sowed the very first seeds of what (I like to think) is my prodigious knowledge of money, the market, and the interconnectedness of the world today.
4. You pulled me out of private school
I disagreed with your decision then, but I am grateful for it today. I'm glad you decided to pull me out of the small private school when you did. It allowed me to see a much bigger world, and I am a better person today for it.
3. Because you push me even though I push back
You have the strength to tackle tough conversations about my academic progress and the debt I am accruing, even though I have a tendency to make these talks unpleasant because they mirror my own thoughts all too well. Don't stop; it helps having someone else come alongside you so you can lean on them a little bit.
2. You never let me watch TV
Except for that hour every week on Saturday morning where I could watch cartoons, I wasn't allowed to watch television. I hated it then, but I am grateful for it now. Instead of the tube, you made me read books instead. And read them I did. I can point to that specifically and say that that is what gives me my gift of writing today, and I am so very grateful for it.
1. For adopting me
Because without you, I probably wouldn't be here today.
I hope I have the strength and the wisdom to make the kinds of decisions for my children that you have made for me through the years.
Thank You. I love you.
Heh, I was out to lunch with my dad today, and a car pulled into the parking lot as we were about to leave. I informed the driver that his license plate was probably the coolest plate I'd ever seen. He was like "Thanks. It's nice you know what it means."
Heh. I snapped this pic with my camera phone: (Click for larger image.)
If you're a fan of classical music or choral music, you must listen to this piece of music from the Hannibal soundtrack. It's stunningly beautiful and unexpected.
Go on; I'll wait. You won't be disappointed. Except maybe when it ends.