Wednesday, December 31, 2008

An Update

Sorry for not posting much recently. I've been extremely busy, working long hours and traveling most of the time. I thought I'd have two weeks at home over the holidays but due to a death in the family, I've been on the road and away from the Internet. Next week, I'll be in Mexico, working long hours. I'll try to post when I find time.

Regardless of the turmoil, I've managed to stay on my plan for the most part. I had planned on taking off Christmas Eve and Christmas but started off the diet the day before Christmas Eve. But, I've now stuck with it even though I've been visiting family and eating meals (or portions of meals) that I had no control over the content. This evening, after a funeral, my Grandparents ordered Kentucky Fried Chicken and I went out instead. There was enough people there that I don't think they were put off by my leaving early.

I'm spending New Years Even with my brother's family at a hotel. We're calling it a New Years Eve swim party because all of our kids are currently playing in the pool (I'm in the lobby typing this). My wife just called asking where the heck I'm at... so I guess I need to wrap this up.

Anyhow, around Christmas, I weighed myself and had lost 18 pounds. I'm at a sickening 293, far above what I weighed a year ago. This time I'll need to focus on establishing a workable maintenance plan.

Regardless, I'd like to wish all of my readers a happy new year! And, I look forward to meeting all of the new folks who's new years resolution is to lose weight.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Eggnog - 8 net carbs per serving

The holiday season is here. One of my family's traditions was always to have eggnog on Christmas Eve. I mixed up a batch last night to try my hand at making a low-carb version. I must say that I like it as much as the high-carb version.

5 servings @ 8 net carbs each.

Ingredients:
4 cups Hood Calorie Countdown Dairy Beverage
1 cup heavy whipping cream (not whipped)
1 cup equivalent to sugar (I used 1/4 t. Sweetzfree)
7 large egg yokes
1 T. vanilla
Nutmeg (optional)

Instructions:
Add all ingredients to saucepan on medium high. Whisk (or use beaters) while cooking, making sure to keep it moving so as to not scorch the bottom for 7 to 10 minutes until thickened. To see if it is done, insert a spoon and if a thin film sticks to the spoon, it is ready. Remove from heat and continue whisking occasionally as it cools. Then chill in refrigerator for 8 hours or more. If desired, after cooling, add alcohol. Serve with a little nutmeg sprinkled on top.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pumpkin Soup - 8 net carbs per serving

This recipe for Pumpkin Soup was pulled from "Winsor Pilates Low-Carb Cookbook". My wife and I made it for dinner tonight and it was great.


4 servings @ 8 net carbs each.

Ingredients:
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chilies
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cilantro
1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin
1 can (14 oz) chicken broth (I used water & bullion)
1/2 cup water
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. chili powder
1/4 t. garlic powder (I used diced garlic)
1/8 t. ground red pepper
Additional sour cream (optional)

Instructions:
In food processor or blender process green chilies, cilantro, and sour cream.
In sauce pan, combine all other ingredients and bring to boil. Add 1/2 the sour cream and green chili mixture. Reduce heat to medium and simmer at least five minutes. Stir occasionally.
Pour into bowls and top each with small dollops of remaining green chilies and additional sour cream.

Coconut Battered Shrimp - 0 net carbs


Lightly battered coconut shrimp is easy and has virtually no net carbs.







Ingredients:
Aloha Nu Coconut Flour
Egg
Raw shrimp, pealed and de-veined
Salt
Vegetable Oil (or other)

Instructions:
Heat oil in fryer or sauce pan (Med. High). In a bowl, beat egg. Put coconut flour in another bowl. Dip shrimp in egg then into coconut flour. Fry until golden brown. Salt to taste.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Dining Out on Low Carb

Eating on the road seems to be one of my major themes. At least for the next year it will be mostly U.S. domestic travel rather than international. I'm spending about 75% of my time right now living in a hotel in Nashville, Tennessee. As such, I eat out most of the time. Lunch is extremely difficult as most of my co-workers would be happy at Taco Bell or McDonalds. So, I wind up being the difficult one with only about 3 local options that are guaranteed not to talk long. Option 1 is Chicago Gyros which has an incredible amount of mystery meat on top of a salad. Option 2 is a Chinese buffet where I tend toward the broccoli and meat stir-fry the carb count of which I haven't got a clue. And Option 3 is Bar-B-Cutie which has an awesome selection and is fast. I'd like to see Bar-B-Cutie franchises spread as it's economical and filling even on low-carb. I think it'd go over in just about any part of the country.

Dinner presents many more options. The only annoying part is that I have to look picky and negotiate lots of substitutions. For example, asking "what can I substitute for my bread, and potato?". Whenever you ask for substitutions, expect either the waiter or the cook to screw it up.

More than anything, after being on low-carb again for just under two weeks, I am already getting really sick and tired of salads. Argh! But there are often no other options at some restaurants.

Another peeve is company functions where I have very limited choices. 2 nights ago, I was at such an event. We had apostatizes including fried cheese, nachos, fried mushrooms, etc. This was followed by a variety of sandwiches with fresh fried potato chips. And that was followed by dessert. So, I had to hang around all evening immediately following work pretending not to be starving watching everyone else eat and guzzle beer as I slowly picked the breading off my cheese sticks and then ate a slice of lunch meat off my sandwich and finally watched everyone eat the decedent desserts.

On the bright side... Last night, upon returning to Lexington, my wife and I went to a pizza and pasta place called Puccinni's Smiling Teeth. Puccinni's has a small low-carb section on their menu with two dishes that are so incredibly delicious and filling that I could go back and eat there every day.

chicken torino chicken breasts with pesto, bubbling Monterrey jack, toasted pecans &
bacon, sautéed mushrooms 10.95

baked roman holiday two chicken breasts capped
with thin canadian ham, alfredo sauce, provolone & bacon 11.50


Locations are in Indianapolis, West Lafayette Indiana, Lexington Kentucky, Louisville Kentucky, and Bucceto's in Bloomington Indiana.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sausage and Sauerkraut - 5 net carbs per serving

Tonight for dinner, I fixed up a batch of sausage and sauerkraut. It's extremely easy to make and also low carb. The actual carb counts will vary depending on the brand of sausage and sauerkraut that you choose. Proportions are up to you.

Ingredients:
kielbasa sausage
sauerkraut

Instructions:
Cut up sausage into slices no more than one inch thick. Brown in a skillet on medium high, turning as necessary. Once sausage is browned on both sides, add sauerkraut. Turn heat down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until heated through.

Progress Report

Well, it's only day six of being back to low-carb. When I started, I was up to 311.6 pounds... This morning, I weighed only 301. I'm sure that some but not all is water weight. Either way, it's a good ego boost that will help keep me going. As long as I see progress, it's easy to stick with the low-carb life. It's after six months or so when the weight loss slows down that it becomes very frustrating.

I'm so angry with myself for having gained back so much of the 85 pounds that I lost (now over a year ago). While eating carbs, I was keeping it off pretty good while walking around Paris, France. But when I returned home in July the pounds started adding up really fast. My diet was horrendous. The more carbs that I ate, the more carbs that I craved. The funny thing is that if I keep my carbs extremely low for at least a few days then all of the carb cravings go away.

My wife made some excellent spinach & feta quiche the other day. She started with a base recipe from a diet book and made it better. I'll try to post her recipe and maybe some pictures within the next few weeks.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

I'm back!

During the year plus that I've been off track, I have gained quite a bit of weight back. A couple of weeks ago, I had to break out the box of fat clothes. I've not been on a scale recently but suspect that I've gained back 50 of the 85 pounds that I had lost. I'll weigh in the morning so that I have a good morning weight to baseline my progress against.

I'm determined to stick the low-carb lifestyle until I reach my ideal body fat percentage. I did extremely well when I first began my blog, a couple of years ago. I lost eighty five pounds in about a year. And, like so many other people, I failed to stick with a good maintenance plan. The longer I was off of the low-carb bandwagon, the more carbs I let creep back into my diet. And, the more carbs that I eat the more carbs I crave. It's a vicious cycle that I need to break.

I've been wanting to start back for a few weeks but waited until after returning from visiting extended family. During our trip, we stayed at my 85 year old grandparents' house. It seemed too difficult to explain my special dietary needs.

Now that I'm back, I'm as determined as ever to lose the pounds. I'm not sure if I'm going to go back to carb-cycling or if to just allow 2 floating days off as I did at first, last time. Right now, I think I'll take two days off in December (Christmas Eve and Christmas day).

I think my wife may join me in the diet. And, if she does, I'm wondering what to do with all of the high-carb foods that have found their way back into our kitchen cabinets. Do we give it to charity or keep it for "diet vacations" or scheduled carb-up days?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sleeping my way thin...

A few months ago, I went in for a routine doctor's visit. I mentioned that my wife said I sometimes stop breathing in my sleep. He suggested that I do a sleep study. I did the study a few weeks ago. Today, I went to the neurologist so that she could tell me about the findings. I stopped breathing for more than 10 seconds 82 times per hour and I had virtually no REM sleep. This is a condition called sleep apnea. The neurologist suggested that my sleep apnea might be a contributing factor to my weight problem. She says that the body only releases certain hormones during REM sleep. The lack of some of these hormones she says could cause weight gain.

After a quick search on the Internet, I've learned the following:

  1. Obesity is a major factor in sleep apnea. But, while significant weight loss may improve obstructive sleep apnea, it usually won't eliminate it completely. It is more likely that sleep apnea contributes to obesity which then makes the sleeping disorder worse.
  2. Sleep deprivation results in lower activity levels.
  3. Low energy causes cravings for high energy foods.
  4. Sleep deprivation causes lower levels of the hormone leptin which suppresses appetite. It also causes higher levels of grehlin which causes cravings for more food intake.

See these articles:

Article: Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated
Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index
)

About.com article: a recent study from Turkey now indicates that people suffering from sleep apnea have a higher level of leptin than is considered normal. This may cause an inability to
control appetite and weight.

And to think, all along, I had thought I simply wasn't a morning person. I had no idea that the quality of my sleep was so bad. Nor did I associate poor sleep with weight gain. But, it makes sense. When I feel low on energy during the day, that is when I reach for an energy boosting high-carb snack! And, since I feel somewhat tired all of the time, my metabolism is likely much slower than other people's. I can't say that sleep apnea is absolutely what made me fat, but I can now see that it was a contributing factor.

So what can be done about it? Treatment of sleep apnea usually involves the following:

  1. Medications to stimulate the respiratory center of the brain to keep you breathing while asleep.
  2. Masks (CPAP) that force your airway to stay open, thereby allowing you to breath.
  3. Mandible (jaw) positioning devices that help reposition the tongue to help prevent the airway obstruction.
  4. Surgery to relieve any obstructions. My doctor says that 9 out of 10 patients she has seen who tried surgery still had symptoms afterwards.
  5. Weight reduction (over 95% of individuals suffering from sleep apnea are obese). Weight may contribute but likely is not the root cause.

I'm opting for #2 (CPAP mask) & #5 (weight loss). Not only am I going to sleep my way thin, but I'm also going back on low-carb after Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Home Made Soda Pop Results

It's been almost two weeks since I mixed up some old fashioned ginger ale. There has now been ample time for the yeast to eat up the sugar which causes natural carbonation. I made 2 batches. One with a full load of sugar and one with just barely enough sugar for the yeast to eat plus some sucralose. The sugar one was in a two liter bottle. The low sugar version was split into two one liter bottles. And here's the results....

The control with a full load of sugar did not carbonate. The bottle is still flimsy.

However, one of the two low-sugar bottles did carbonate. The bottle felt hard and when pouring it into a glass, it had fizz. The other low-sugar bottle is still flat. The fizzy one tastes a little off. I'm thinking it might be mildly alcoholic. I'm not sure if it's a healthy drink so I'll probably not consume any more than a swallow.

I had suspected that if anything carbonated it would have been the full sugar version. I can't figure out why one low-sugar bottle became carbonated and the other did not. When funneling the mixtures into bottles, I filtered it. I did this so that I wouldn't have lemon pulp and ginger shavings in the beverage. But, I wonder if the filter didn't take out some of the yeast. This might explain the inconsistent results.

So, in short the experiment failed. If I want to make my own low-carb carbonated beverages, I think that I should stick with the modern method of using a soda fountain or soda siphon. The modern method of forcing carbon into the drink seems much safer than fermenting.

If any of you have made your own diet soda pop, I'd love to hear your stories and get some advice.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Soda Pop Fermentation & Carbs

I am experimenting with making my own old fashioned diet soda pop. I have not tried my first batch yet. So, if you duplicate my experiment, I can't be held responsible if it bombs. I'm sharing the experimental recipe in hopes of getting help calculating the net carbs.

Old fashioned soda pop is carbonated naturally via fermenting sugars rather than carbon infusion. To cause carbonation, my experimental base recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of white granular sugar (about 24 carbohydrates), just enough to allow the yeast to work. Carbonation happens as the yeast breaks down the sugars. So, I can't help but wonder, how many of the carbohydrates will be consumed by the fermenting yeast? Any science buffs out there want to tackle this for me?

Here the recipe I am going to try:

1/2 gallon water (zero carbs)
1/2 teaspoon concentrated liquid sucralose (equiv. to 2 cups sugar, zero carbs)
2 tablespoons white granulated sugar (24 carbs from sugar, needed for fermentation)
4 tablespoons ginger (4 carbs from sugar)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon (2 carbs from sugar)

Boil the ingredients above. Then mix in the following:

1/2 gallon water, room temp. (zero carbs)
1/8 t. active dry yeast (0.1 carbs from sugar)

Bottle (in plastic) and let sit at room temperature for one week.

The total recipe has about 30 carbs from sugar. But after fermenting, the carb count should be much lower. I suspect it may be near zero but am not sure how to verify this hypothesis. Is there any one out there who is good at chemistry and wouldn't mind tackling this question for me?

Of course, I could get my pop down to nearly zero carbs by forgetting about fermenting yeast and going out to buy an expensive soda siphon with expensive carbon chargers. But where's the fun and money savings in that?

Note added Oct. 11, 2008: The experiment failed. Read the results by clicking this link.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A year off track...

In August of 2006, I started doing the low-carb thing. And, I was quite successful. I stuck with it for a year and lost 85 pounds. However, the longer I was on the diet, the slower the progress seemed. For a while, I tried carb cycling. It too worked well at first but then my metabolism adjusted and progress slowed to a halt again. I wasn't gaining weight, but I wasn't losing any either. Being that I felt pretty good physically, it was oh-so easy to slide farther and farther away from a healthy lifestyle. It has been about a year since I basically gave up low-carb.


Statistics:



On 08/13/2006, I weighed: 336
On 07/08/2007 my weight was: 251
In 329 days, I lost: 85
My goal is to weigh: 236 (top of healthy % body fat range)
At a low weight, I was 15 pounds from my goal weight.


During the first few months off of the diet, I gained a whopping 20 pounds. However, I then began working 50% of my time in Paris, France. In Paris, I ate everything that looked good but I was forced to walk 4 to 10 miles a day. Each 2 week trip, I'd lose 5 to 10 pounds. Then, I'd come back home to Kentucky for a couple of weeks and gain it all back. As of July, my business travel to France has ended. And, I have since been gaining at an alarming rate. I'm now up to 288 pounds, 37 more pounds than I weighed a year ago.

My feet are now starting to hurt sometimes. Yesterday, I realized that the clothing purchased this year is starting to get snug. I'm horrified by the idea of pulling a box of my "fat clothes" out of the attic. It'd almost be easier to just buy more clothes. Buying new clothes would be a form of denial. I could do so due to things wearing out and lie to myself about getting fat again.


It sounds so simple to just go back on the diet. But, why is it so hard? I can think of a hundred pathetic reasons to wait before getting back on a diet. For example:

  1. I should wait until after the holidays.
  2. I should eat all of the carby foods in my house so that they don't go to waste.
  3. I need my wife to go on the diet with me or else I'll be too tempted to cheat.
  4. I like sweet things.
  5. I like baking breads and preparing carby foods.
  6. Carby foods are so much easier to make.
  7. Carby foods are so much cheaper.
  8. ....

I could keep going but the reasons get more pathetic as the list grows. I realize that I have a problem. I know that I am addicted to carbs. The more carbs I eat, the more I crave. The more I crave, the more I eat. It's a vicious cycle. The irony is that I know when I remove virtually all carbs from my diet that the cravings mostly go away. So, why is it so hard to make the leap?

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Best of June

This month, I have been traveling extensively. I worked a few days in Nashville and three weeks in France. I brought my family to France with me. So, during the day I worked and during the evenings I was a tour guide. As a result, I've not read all of the posts on each of my favorite low-carb blogs. Of what I have read, my favorite posts for June were...

  1. All About Carbohydrate and Calorie Cycling & A Few Abs Articles To Boot on Kudos for Low Carb. Carol pulls together numerous articles on carb-cycling.
  2. Country Biscuits w/ White Gravy .... MLBF heads South on Mr. Low Body Fat's Blog. MLBF discusses travel issues ranging from airplane seatbelts to sampling regional foods.
  3. The American Way on The Bionic Broad's Low-Carb Blog. Ever notice how unhealthy everyone looks during their rush-hour commute?
  4. Reasons Dieters Get Stuck & Solutions - Number 2: Low Carb Verses Low Fat, Part 2 on Kudos for Low-Carb. Carol says, "I really cannot help but notice that the majority of low carbohydrate dieters I come in contact with say that they rarely or never reach goal." She discusses some potential causes and solutions.
  5. Is Your Low-Carb Honeymoon Over? on The Lighter Side of Low-Carb. Cleochatra discusses the frustration of long term low-carbing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Best of May

Here's a list of blog posts that I enjoyed reading in May....

  1. Low-carb and calories on Health and Nutrition by Michael R. Eades, M.D. Dr. Mike explains why we often plateau after several months of successful low-carbing.
  2. Is it the Carbs... Or the Calories on Kickin' Carb Clutter. Vickie comments on Dr. Mike Eades' blog post on low-carb and calories. Do calories really make all the difference or does the metabolism's "adaptation" kick in or both?
  3. Nothing is Certain - Of This I am Sure on Low Carb Confidential. We low carbers might feel a bit alone in the world, but maybe it’s because we know we have to question everything - we have to think, and thinking is something most people avoid as much as possible.
  4. Sugar Addiction on Johnny Bowden's blog. This article discusses the reality of sugar addiction.
  5. I Found Gold on The Divine Low Carb. PJ says, "I have learned so, so much from low-carbing. Ironically, only some of the things I've learned have much to do with the carb count of foods."
  6. Zucchini Quiche... on Oh.2.B.Fit. Niki gives us a great summer recipe. I always plant zucchini in my garden and am anticipating another huge crop this year! I'm always looking for more recipes! You can't beat this low-carb veggie.
  7. Coca-Cola and Cargill Announce New All-Natural Sweetener on Healthy Low-Carb Living. Carol discusses a new breed of sweeteners: stevia, truvia, and rebiana.
  8. Another 33 Fabulously Fun Low-Carb Blogs on Livin' La Vida Low-Carb. Jimmy tells us about several low-carb blogs. Most appear to be fairly new.
  9. Who says Low Carb Doesn't Work? on Low Carb Lollygagging. Another success story.
  10. No Sweets for the Sweet from The Bionic Broad's Low-Carb Blog. A brief discussion on her personal experience regarding the lack of sugar cravings while low-carbing.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Jicama Hash Browns - 5 net carbs

My wife and I both love jicama hashbrowns! These taste a bit sweeter than potato hashbrowns but are equally good if not better.

Makes two servings at 5 net carbs per serving.

Ingredients:

Splash of oil
2 cups coarsely grated jicama
1 t. dried onion flakes (optional, add one net carb)
Salt to taste

Instructions:

Grate jicama on a coarse cheese shredder. Heat oil in skillet on medium high. Add jicama and optional onion flakes. When brown, put them on paper towels then sprinkled with salt. Perfect side item for breakfast or dinner.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Living Comfortably

As I said in my last post, I decided to take a few days away from my diet until I was over my illness. And, after a few days, I got over my illness. But, I didn't return to my l0w-carb diet. Hopefully, I'll be on track again soon.

The first year of doing low-carb, I stayed very focused and lost 85 pounds. For the last six months or so, I've been alternating on and off plan. I gained some weight back. And, I lost most of it, again. But, I find it increasingly hard to stick with a plan. Why? I think it's because I am comfortable with my size. When I was 85 pounds heavier, I had back and foot pains and would tire very quickly. Now, I feel pretty good. Without weight related health problems, I have a hard time staying loyal to my diet plan. I don't think that there is anything wrong with the way I have conducted myself over the last six months. I just have to be very careful not to slide too far down the slippery slope of gluttony that resulted in my gaining so much in the first place. The real goal was to feel better. And, I do feel much better. Yes, I'm still obese. But, I'm no longer morbidly obese! I'm at a point where my body is happy.

So... this week, I'm off plan. But, I don't plan on straying too far away. I'm not sure when I'll be back on track. While off plan, I continue reading about low-carb and will keep posting. Even off plan, I'm conscious of what I consume and continue to eat some of my favorite low-carb dishes. I will likely return to the full blown low-carb lifestyle when my weight pops up another ten pounds, or I start feeling fat, or when my wife decides to diet again.

I have also picked up a couple books on glacemic load diets. All low carb diets are low glacemic diets but not all low glacemic diets are necessarily low-carb. As far as I can tell, a low glacemic load diets (such as the popular nutrisystem) will prevent fat storage but might not result in rapid fat loss. I'm not one to jump into something until I have studied it thoroughly and come up with a plan. After I finish studying this subject, I may give it a whirl. If nothing else, it might be a good maintenance plan. Perhaps beginning in August?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Sick

I've been sick for a few days. And, I thought that perhaps it would help to allow some carbs back into my diet as they are quick to digest and provide lots of energy. I'm not going hog wild. Breakfast is sugar-free oatmeal. Other recent meals were steak w/ sweet potato, cheeseburger w/ fries, and chicken noodle soup. I'm really not sure what is best when your feeling ill... I suspect that the body will tell you what it needs in times like this. I'll probably go back to low-carb in a few more days once I am back to feeling myself again.

Also, just as an FYI -- I arrived in France yesterday. The weather is great here. I will be here two weeks followed by two weeks at home. Then, I return for almost three weeks in June. However, in June I will bring my 2 year old son, my wife, and my wife's 15 year old sister. That should be my last trip to France for a while. From July onward, I'll likely be spending a few days a week in Nashville, Tennessee instead. I can't wait! It will be so nice to once again have every weekend with my family! It will also be much easier to stick with low-carb when I can read every word on the menus and communicate requests for substitutions...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Low-Carb Cookbooks

I am always looking for good low-carb recipes. I thought it would be interesting to find out what cookbooks my readers like best. So, please comment! My personal favorite low-carb cookbook is The Low-Carb Cookbook: The Complete Guide to the Healthy Low-Carbohydrate Lifestyle by Fran Mccullough. Most of the foods are quite easy to prepare. The book was published over ten years ago, so there are now better sweeteners that you can substitute. While I've not tried every recipe, I've yet to find one that I didn't like.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Gardening

My garden space is very small. I have one patch that is 10 ft. x 20 ft. And another small flowerbed that is about 6 ft. x 6ft.

Last night, I planted most of my garden. I still haven't done my spinach, radishes, nor cucumbers. I'll hopefully get these down today or tomorrow. What I have planted to far is the following:

  • 1 Stevia
  • 8 varieties of tomatoes... 3 better boys, 2 lemon boys (my favorite), 1 brandywine, 1 100-cherry, 1 roma, 1 rainbow, 1 Cherokee purple, 1 mariglobe (unsure what this is).
  • 10 different pepper plants ranging from sweet to extra hot.
  • 2 basil plants. 1 mound of zucchini
  • 9 broccoli plants.
  • Parsley (came back from last year).

In addition, I have some mystery squash that came up on their own. These are either pumpkins or cushaws resulting from my dumping last fall's yard decorations.

And, I also have several fruit trees and some grapes in my back yard. Sadly, these aren't low-carb.

The spinach, stevia, and broccoli are an experiment. I've never tried to grow any of these before. I'm especially curious about the stevia. I'm not sure what it's like fresh nor exactly what to do with it afterwards. I planted just one but am not sure if it will be enough. If anyone knows of any recipes for fresh stevia, please let me know!

The basil is a companion crop to the tomatoes. Once the basil begins flowering, it'll drive off most of the insects that eat tomatoes. This means I will most likely not have to use any pesticides! I' also putting down newspapers on the ground throughout the garden. This will hold in moisture and keep out the weeds. To make it look nicer, I'll put straw on top of the newspaper.

And, because I'm traveling so much this year, I bought a twenty dollar timer for the water hoses... Hopefully I can keep everything alive even though I'll be gone several two week stretches.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Best of April

What do you do when you run out of ideas for your blog? Well, you can always comment on everyone else's. So, I have decided to start compiling a monthly list of my favorite posts (or podcasts) from other people's weight loss blogs. My choices are based on my personal whims and interests. Hopefully some of you will find them equally interesting.

The best of April:

  1. Unforseen Consequences of a Low Carb Diet from Wifezilla's Way -- Social and marital issues related to dining with friends and family.
  2. Crazy Uncle Larry from Low Carb Confidential. Do you think of yourself as a crackpot? As crackpots go, we low carbers ... do stand out in a crowd, especially if we are at an event where food is being served - then it’s hard to hide.
  3. What Does Your Body Fat Percentage Mean? from Kudos for Low Carb. Knowing your body fat percentage is an important key to health.
  4. Stepping Into the Pasture, My First Encounter with Graze Anatomy from Low Carb Confidential. Apparently grass fed livestock has more nutrients than grain fed. I'd always grown up hearing how much better grain fed was. Once again, what we "know" is turned upside down.
  5. Cheat Day #2 from Kudos for Low Carb. Carol discusses her attempt at the "Cheat to Lose Diet". I really need to read this book. It reminds me a bit of the carb cycling experiments that my wife and I did last summer.
  6. Week#44: Down by another -2 lbs. for a total of -100 lbs. from Brian Cormier's LowcarbDude.com (that's 45 kilograms to you non-Americans). Does low carb work? Enough said! Congratulations dude.
  7. What Should We Change? from Hold the Toast Press. Dana discusses how critics often call low-carb a "fad diet".
  8. The Drinking Man's Diet from Low Carb Confidential. Discussion about a low carb diet book that pre-dates Atkins.
  9. Stop this Crazy Merry-Go-Round or Hold My Hair Back from The Lighter Side of Low-Carb. This is a huge hodge-podge post. The best parts begin at the title "I am saying Goodbye to Atkins". Cleochatra describes Dr. Thompson's Low Glycemic Plan. She peaked my interest... So, I went right out and bought Dr. Thompson's book. Now, she recants in another post and goes back to Atkins! But really, doesn't low-carb imply a low glycemic load anyway?
  10. Drs. Mike and Mary Dan Eades Podcast Interview Part 1 (Episode 133) from The Livin La Vida Low-Carb Show. Topics include the Drs. Eades new book, middle age weight loss, fat vs. protein, and resistance training.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lowrey's Bacon Curls Microwave Pork Rinds

I like to share with my readers whenever I find an exceptional product that fits well in a low-carb lifestyle. And, I feel that Lowrey's Bacon Curls Microwave Pork Rinds are simply fabulous.

Have you ever had fresh pork rinds right out of the fryer? Microwave pork rinds are pretty close. They are substantially better than anything you'll find in your grocery store next to the potato chips.

These are packaged much like microwave popcorn. When you cook it, they puff up and the bag inflates. I'm not a huge pork rind fan, but I love these. They simply taste so much better freshly cooked. If you like pork rinds, you'll love these. If you don't like pork rinds, I think there is a good chance that you will like these anyway. There are two kinds, original and spicy. I like the spicy best.

Nutrition Info:

Amount Per Serving:
Serving Size: 1/2 oz (14g), Servings Per Container: 3.5

Total Calories 60
Calories From Fat 15

Total Fat 2 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g

Cholesterol 5 mg
Sodium 350 mg

Total Carbohydrates less than 1 g



The following are links to these products on Netrition.com. Netrition is my favorite place to buy low-carb products. The shipping is fast and inexpensive. In my state (Kentucky), I don't have to pay sales tax on most mail orders. The money that I save on taxes is always more than enough to cover the shipping. I have been extremely pleased with their customer service and total order lead time.


If you have tried these, please post comments to share your opinion.

Status Update

During my first three weeks back on the plan, I lost ten pounds. Both my waist and hips now measure one inch less. However, I'm still about twenty pounds more than I was before I went off the plan six months ago.

Now, when I say "back on plan", it isn't totally true. I have had a few days off plan during these three weeks. I went off for three days in Munich and again for my son's 2nd birthday party. Special occasions are my weakness. I tell myself that if I'm in it for the long hall and that if it is truly a lifestyle change then special occasions must have a place. It's far too easy to label a day as special and throw the plan out the window. Obviously, the days off haven't hurt too much. I'm ecstatic about my recent success and am glad that these "days off" didn't result in falling entirely off the wagon. But it's always difficult to snap back.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Eating & Drinking in Germany

This last weekend, I was in Munich, Germany. Compared to France, Germany is low-carb heaven! The Germans have very large meat portions and many low carb veggies to choose from. On Friday night, we had crispy roasted suckling pig with sauerkraut. It tasted even better than it sounds.

Unfortunately, my will was weak. My suckling pig came with a side of two large potato dumplings. I'd never seen dumplings like these. They weren't at all like gnocchi as they were about four inches long. And, I gave in. Not only did I eat the dumplings but allowed my co-workers to talk me into trying some authentic Bavarian apple strudle.

Saturday, I had a single slice of pizza, a small portion of speitzl, and way too many huge beers along with a few shots of jegermeister. I don't think I've had that much to drink since I was in college.

Sunday, I had pizza, a sandwich, and ice cream. So, from a diet perspective, this weekend was a total bust. But, today I'm back on the wagon here in Paris. Next weekend I'll be home and we're having my son's second birthday party. I plan to take off that day and enjoy some cake and ice cream with our guests.

Regardless, I will have been on-plan all but 3 days during a 3 week period. Plus we've been doing an insane amount of walking. So, I am almost certain that I will have experienced decent weight loss. We'll find out Saturday morning during my next weigh in.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What have I been eating?

I've been in Paris and back on my diet now for one and a half weeks. I didn't bring ketostix with me but know I am losing weight as I have that nasty ketosis breath and stinky piss. I know it's hard to believe, but I even feel like my pants are already looser and my stomach doesn't seem to look as big. It will be very interesting to weigh-in and measure when I get home.

Doing low-carb on the road is hard. Doing it in France, on the road, is even harder. Some of you may be wondering what I've found to eat.... and whether I've been exercising.

Breakfast:

Most mornings, I use the hotel microwave to make scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon. I brought some low-carb wraps from home that I occasionally use to make quesadillas.

Lunch:

On weekdays, I eat in the company cafeteria. It's not too hard because you can see what you are getting before you put it on the tray. They usually have extremely large portions of green beans, cauliflower, and other veggies. Typically I also have a side salad and/or strawberries. Meats are often way undercooked, even cold in the middle. I'm starting to get used to eating things extremely rare, something I never do at home. The portions are also typically quite small. Often, I ask them to double it. The meat selection changes daily but usually consists steak, veal, fish, and duck. I indulge in the rich sauces but not in the potatoes, breads, and desserts. So, regardless of what happens at dinner, I've had at least one really hearty meal about 1:00 in the afternoon.

Dinner:

Dinner is difficult. Most meals have a small meat portion and large sides mostly of french fries, potatoes, or pasta. I don't speak French yet so I am unable to ask for substitutions. But, I have found a few really good dishes at an Italian restaurant. My favorite is veal topped with ham & cheese in a brothy sauce with a side of the best dang green beans I've ever eaten. It seems that the veal portions are usually larger than (adult) beef portions. About 2 miles away (30 minute walk), there is a restaurant with German sausages and sour kraut. This week, I have had fish about every other day. There's also many shwarma (chawarma, gyros, donar kabob) shops around. I like the shwarmas even though most are bit gristly and fatty. I know of only one that has really good quality lean meat but I can't eat half the meal as it is accompanied with french fries and couscous. Last night, I had veal smothered in cheese ontop a bed of pan fried potatoes and mushrooms (I ate around potatoes). I've drunk some beer and wine, but not gone way overboard.

Snacks:

I brought from home beef jerky and slimjims. From a local grocery, I bought some small individually wrapped cheese (babybell) and various salted nuts. And, I bought some (almost bitter) dark chocolate (3-6 net carbs per square). I munch on the snacks in-between meals throughout the day. Having low carb snacks on hand really makes it easier as I don't allow myself to get hungry.

Exercise:

I don't go out of my way to exercise. But in Paris walking is an essential means of transportation. This week, I've been wearing my pedometer. I have ranged between 4 and 7 miles of walking per day. But, I'm sure that I've done much more on some previous stays here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

France and the Super-Thin Body Image

Yesterday's news had two interesting articles about body image in France. As my regular readers know, I have been working 50% of my time in France and 50% at home in the United States. While working in France, I have noticed how extremely thin the average French person is and how being overweight comes with far greater stigma than at home.

The first article describes how the French government is trying to pass a new law to punish those people or organizations that help to propagate unhealthy body images, .i.e. encouraging anorexia (Telegraph.co.uk). And, the second is that top organizations representing the French fashion industry and media outlets have signed a "charter of good conduct" about the use of top model body images to stave off growing concerns about anorexia (ABC news).

The new law:

The draft law, to be debated next week, proposes up to three years in jail and a ... fine if the incitement provoked the death of an anorexia sufferer. Incitement alone would carry two years in jail.


While not seeking to target bona fide dieting, the law would punish any encouragement to make "people deprive themselves of food in order to get excessively thin", or that constituted an "open apology of anorexia".


The fashion industry & Media "Charter of Good Conduct":

The signers pledge "not to accept using pictures of people, in particular youth, which could contribute to [or] promote a model of extreme thinness." Those who signed the charter commit to "heighten public awareness about the acceptance of physical diversity.


While I do encourage achieving a healthy weight, I am often flabbergasted by overly thin people starving themselves to get thinner. Anorexia is a real problem. I suggest that my readers calculate their body fat percentage and only diet if they are within or above a healthy range for their gender. Instructions for calculating percentage of body fat can be found here:

http://lowcarbohydrate.blogspot.com/2007/01/calculating-percent-body-fat.html

Regardless of the health implications of the above articles, I am very pleased to see the fashion industry and media moving away from the typical over-thin standard for models. To me, most female supermodels look bony and unattractive. I like women with nice curves and who are at least a little soft to the touch. And, I sincerely hope that both the French legislation and the "charter of good conduct" successfully change our global society sees as beautiful.

Almost Planting Time

Spring is here and it's almost time to start planting our vegetable gardens! I wanted to get this post up a month before planting so that I might stir up some discussion. I'm looking for some ideas as to what I should grow this summer. Especially of interest are low to semi-low carb veggies that taste substantially better home grown, are expensive to buy at the grocery store, or are extremely prolific.

I usually grow a variety of tomatoes. My favorites are better boys and lemon boys. These are not very low-carb but can be eaten in moderation. Typically, we also plant various peppers, zucchini, cucumbers, and asparagus.

Last year, we grew tomatillos which were very tasty. Another year, we tried brussell sprouts with great success. But what do you do with a bumper crop of brussel sprouts?!?!

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. I live in Kentucky so most things will grow okay but not Jicamas nor tropical plants.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Oh the Horror! Andouillette Sausage

I have arrived in Paris on business and am determined to do low-carb even while abroad. Today, in the office cafeteria, I carefully selected a low-carb meal consisting of a large salad, green & yellow wax beans, and two plump sausages. The sausages looked like good 'ol German brats. But, when I cut into one, it crumbled into a pile of greasy, gristly chunks. I didn't know that this, andouillette sausage, was made of pig stomachs and colons. I ate two bites and couldn't handle any more of it. I simply ate my beans and salad while trying not to breath the sausage's feces aroma. Yes, that's right, it literally smells like shit. I suppose this is because it is made out of intestines. I just hope that it doesn' t make me sick. Apparently this dish is very popular in France and considered a local specialty. Lesson learned: don't eat sausage in France!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Back on Track and Going to Paris

I just got home from a Caribbean cruise during which time, I gained back additional weight. Tomorrow, I return to Paris. I'll be there three weeks this month. When I get there on Monday, I will also go back to a low carb lifestyle. I know it will be tough as I am not always certain what I am ordering in restaurants. But, I'm going to give it a shot. This time, I'm bringing some food with me. I've got several packages of pre-cooked bacon that I can quickly nuke. I'm also bringing some flat-out wraps to make quesadillas out of. For an evening snack, I've got a can of boiled peanuts. And, I've got slim jims and jerky for mid-afternoon snacks.

Because we eat a late lunch, a good low-carb breakfast will be critical. Unlike at home, I can't make low-carb cheesecake. My hotel has a small fridge and microwave. So, upon arrival, I plan to hit the local franpree market and buy some eggs, cheese, and Pepsi max. I'll be nuking up some pre-cooked bacon and omelets. It shouldn't take very long to whip up this breakfast.

Lunch on work days won't be too rough as it is a cafeteria and you simply put what you want to eat on your lunch tray. Dinner is my main concern. I know the basic food words but typically don't know enough French to understand how the food will be prepared. But, I think I'll be able to manage.

My weight is now up to 284 pounds. This means that while off the diet plan, I have gained back 33 pounds of the 85 that I had lost. As soon as I get some time, I'll create a new spreadsheet for sharing my progress. However, unlike before, I will not be able to post my weight and measurements at regular intervals. Tonight before I go to bed, I'll measure my waste & hips (a much better indicator of progress than weight loss).

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

French Crepes - 0.5 net carbs each

It has been a while since I have posted a recipe. Having been working a great deal in France lately, I am learning to appreciate different styles of cooking. The French tend to add flavor with fats and rich sauces rather than spices. I've really come to enjoy these sauces. Their desserts have amazing textures but are typically not very sweet. And their version of fast food is often a filled crepe.

In France, there are many crepe restaurants and street vendors. It is amazing how many different kinds of desserts and sandwiches the French make with crepes. Before spending time in France, I had thought of crepes as a breakfast food to be eaten like a pancake. I have come to find that crepes are not just for breakfast and are not always sweet. Some toppings are added after the crepes are cooked, some are added just after flipping the crepe. For example, after flipping, they sometimes spread a thin layer of raw egg topped with cheese and ham. The toppings heat as the second side of the crepe cooks. The filled crepes are then usually folded in half and then the corners brought in making a triangular "sandwich" that is easy to carry. Unlike the French crepes, mine are made with protein powder and therefore very low in carbs.

Servings: 8 crepes at 0.5 net carbs each. Be sure to add carbs for fillings.


Ingredients:

4 eggs
2 egg whites
1 T. water
4 oz. cream cheese (nuke 1 min. to soften)
3 T. soy protein powder (plain)
1/2 t. baking powder
Butter for pan.


Instructions:

  1. Whisk the eggs and water by hand. Add cream cheese. Whisk. It may have little clumps, this is okay. Add soy protein powder and baking powder. Whisk until well blended. Using an electric mixer or over whisking may produce foam that is undesirable.
  2. Heat skillet on medium low setting. Add butter and swirl around until melted and coating the pan evenly.
  3. For my carb count, each crepe consists of 3 T. of batter. Pour into pan in a spiral motion, starting from the middle, working your way out. If necessary, use a spoon, spatula or squeegee to spread out more evenly. The entire crepe should be 8 inches in diameter. You can use more batter to make larger just be sure to adjust the carb count accordingly.
  4. Cook until edges start looking dry and crepe is firm enough to flip. If desired, toppings can be added now. Cook on other side for a few seconds then remove from pan.
  5. Repeat steps 3 to 4 until all batter is used up.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Airplane Food

Recently, I have been flying across the Atlantic Ocean two times per month. I thought that I'd be smart and request diabetic meals. My expectation was that these meals would be low carb. I was wrong. In fact, I'm not even convinced that the "diabetic" meals are lower in sugar than the regular meals. These meals typically come with a very small portion of meat on top of rice. On the side is bread, crackers, cheese, salad, and fruit. One time the fruit was strawberries and blueberries which is good. But more often it is grapes and cantaloupe which is bad. My last "diabetic" breakfast consisted of a bagel, "low sugar" jelly, cantaloupe, and orange juice. The "normal" breakfast would have been almost the same except with a croissant and regular jelly.

Status Update, Nutrisystem, & Low Carb on the Go

Status Update: During my one year of sticking with low carb, I lost 85 pounds. I was down to 251 pounds, only 15 pounds away from my original goal. I have been off of the "diet" now for nearly six months. And, I have re-gained 24 pounds. I still feel so much better than I did prior to the weight loss. But, something must be done before I get too fat and start feeling pains associated with severe obesity.

When I went off of the "diet", I promised myself that I'd return to it when I gained more than 25 pounds back. And, I am now only one pound away from this "upper limit". So, here's the plan... When I return from my cruise in early April, I will go back to watching what I eat. I am committing to stick with a dietary plan at least until I am within my ideal weight range based on my gender and percentage of body fat. This will likely mean a minimum of six more months of dieting. I am not yet sure what I will do for maintenance once the goal is reached.

Nutrisystem: My wife is considering trying Nutrisystem. From what I have read, I think it looks like a very good diet. Nutrisystem is based on the glycemic index which measures how fast carbohydrates enter the bloodstream. The basic idea is to avoid insulin spikes. In this way, it is very similar to low carb diets. However, this is much more complex than simply counting net carbs. And, there is no extensive guide book in which to look up the glycemic index for most foods. Therefore, to follow the Nutrisystem diet, you must purchase Nutrisystem meals. And, we're not sure what to expect in the quality, taste, and size of these meals. If my wife goes onto Nutrisystem, I am hoping to try it with her when I am in town. Unfortunately, I will be working in Paris, France 50-75% over the next several months. This makes doing straight Nutrisystem nearly impossible.

Low Carb on the Go: On travel days, I plan to stick with the Protein Power Plan. During this time, I will be staying in a hotel which has a small dorm style fridge and a microwave. This presents a challenge. I need to find low carb breakfast foods that I can be eat cold or cook in a microwave. The ingredients must also be easy to buy in France. Short of cold cheese and poached eggs, I have no ideas. Another challenge will be that I dine out with co-workers in the evening. But, since I don't speak French, I often don't know exactly what I am ordering. And, it's hard to ask for substitutions when you can't communicate well. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Still too fat...

I was looking through a list of excursions for our upcoming cruise. The side trip that caught my eye was horse back riding on the beach. At the end of the excursion description it lists weight requirements. You must be under 240 pounds to ride the horses. Crap! Even after shedding all of this weight, I'm still too fat to ride a horse. I know that I am still a bit overweight, but I feel great. This is just one more sign that I need to get my act together and get back to a healthy lifestyle.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Still off of the Band Wagon, in Paris Again

I'm in Paris again this week and next. I've been ill the last couple of days. I slept for nearly 18 hours last night, skipping work today. I hope I'm better tomorrow as I'd hate to be ill on the weekend. I've started a travel blog (thepangeaproject.blogspot.com) if anyone is interested. If I make it downtown this weekend, I'll post some more pictures.

I'm still off of the band wagon. Last time I was in Paris, I walked so much that I lost a few pounds even while eating poorly. I'd hoped to do the same this time. In the 3 weeks between trips however, I gained back those three pounds and then some. This while walking 2 to 4 miles per day. I just don't think 2 to 4 miles compares to what I must be walking in Europe. I brought a pedometer this time but keep forgetting to wear it.

And, to my disappointment, I've got a swollen spot now where a stretch mark is growing again! How the heck can my skin be stretching so soon after shedding 85 pounds. I feel like my skin is loose, it shouldn't be growing new stretch marks even if I put back on a few pounds. Oh well. Maybe this will open my eyes and get me motivated again. But, I can think of 1000 reasons not to go back on the diet (er lifestyle?). Top of the list is that I'm taking my wife on a Caribbean cruise at the end of March. She's thinking about dieting to look better at the beach and I'm thinking about not dieting as I'd be too tempted to break it when they offer me an all you can eat midnight buffet. Am I terrible or what?

I have a year plus of being loyal to the low carb lifestyle. I've come up with some exceptional recipes. I've found that low carb while dining in France is do-able. But, now that I no longer feel aches and pains in my body I find it so hard to get back on plan. The goal was to be healthier not to be skinny. But if I don't get back on plan, I risk sliding...

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Something to exercise?

I got sent home from France one week early. During my two weeks working in Paris, I was bad and ate dessert at both lunch and dinner. Yet, I still managed to lose a few pounds. What's the deal? I suspect it is due to excessive walking. European cities are set up for pedestrians. In America, we drive everywhere and walk very little. I think that this may be a very significant cause of obesity in America. I attribute this walking to my weight loss. Since I will be in Paris for 2 to 3 weeks per month for the next six months or so, I think that I may try doing low-carb at home but not in Europe (starting in February).

Another bright note: Two years ago, the airplane seat belts were too short and I always had to ask for an extender. Now, not only do the belts fit but there is some slack length to spare. This kind of reminder is nice because it's easy to forget just how fat I was before doing low carb. Without such reminders, I might grow too complacent and slide back into plumpness.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Food Pyramid

At dinner last night, one of my co-workers made an interesting comment. He said that the U.S. food pyramid was exactly the diet that we feed to livestock to make them fat....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In Paris

I have been in Paris for a week now. With all the walking I am doing, I'm likely to be losing weight even without dieting. I've kept a keen eye on available foods and menus. It looks like doing low carb here would be easier than eating out at home. Meats and veggies are plentiful. The only down side is that you constantly pass little bakeries that display fantastic looking pastries in their store windows. But even the desserts are not as sweet as at home.

Since arriving, I have also noticed that there seem to be almost no fat Parisians. Everyone's extremely thin. I'm not yet sure if it is because they eat a big lunch and small dinner, their overall diet, or that they do much more walking than we Americans. I went shopping the other day and couldn't find any shirts big enough to fit me. At home, I wear mostly 2XL but sometimes now XL's are big enough. But here, a 2XL seems to be the size of an XL and most are a bit snug on me.


But, it's not just the Parisians that are thin. I am here on business accompanied by about 100 fellow travelers from all corners of the world. Of the 100 probably only three of us are overweight and these three are, you guessed it, Americans. Even most of the people with just a few extra pounds are Americans. I wonder why Americans are so fat? Is it mostly due to diet or lifestyle? Oh well. I'm going to continue observing and see what I can learn.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Junk Food Junkies

A few days ago, my wife and I were watching a show on MTV about people going to drug rehab. Two junkies in a row were getting high "one last time" on their way to rehab. My wife commented on how they were doomed to fail because they didn't have the right attitude from the beginning... They all wanted one last binge before giving up their vice.

My wife and I aren't much better. We too are "junkies" but with an addiction to junk food. More than once, we have begun a diet by binging "on last time". We love our vices so much that we try to get in as much pleasure as possible before finally letting go. And, doing so does in fact mean that we are not necessarily serious and committed to our goal.

It's extremely difficult to quit being a junk food "junkie" when you are surrounded by temptation. Even though it is hard, with drugs you can move to a new town and surround yourself by new acquaintances thereby avoiding temptations. But with foods, it's always there, an arm's length away. You can empty your house of junk food but you are still bombarded with advertisements and cleverly located comfort foods next to just about every cash register anywhere. There's no getting away from the temptation. Perhaps we need a rehab established for junk food addicts? This would be a controlled environment free of all temptation... a "fat camp" for adults... And, if only insurance would pay the bill as they sometimes do for other forms of rehabilitation....