Monday, March 26, 2012


March 26th, 2012

I feel smaller today. The mirror is telling me I look a little trimmer in the middle, and I think my face looks thinner. It’s possible that my ever expanding goatee is making my face look smaller; in fact my goatee is getting big enough that it may make even make my torso look smaller.

I’m sticking with my less coffee/more water plan today. Interestingly enough, I have not turned into a newt or fallen over in a feint having had only half a pot so far today, and it’s 5:00 P.M. already! Yep, there’s still half a pot left in the kitchen…oh, then again I did have a tall coffee at Starbucks this afternoon. That counts? Oh okay well yeah I suppose it does. When I was at Starbucks I checked the snack case for anything I could munch but the closest contenders I found were packages of mixed fruit. Every single one of them contained some kind of melon, which I find to be quite foul, thank you very much.

Last Friday I called my doctor’s office to say that I was switching up my eating habits instead of getting the prescription filled, and that I would like to come in for a blood test after 30 days, instead of after 90 days like the doctor recommended. I’ve read that dietary changes can significantly impact cholesterol levels in even just two weeks, so I figured a month would be good, just to either give myself some peace of mind, or if there is no change then to hurry up and get some meds. When I made my request, the gal at the doctor’s office said, ‘oh sure you can certainly try reducing your levels first without the meds’ and proceeded to tell about her boyfriend in a ‘similar’ situation. Apparently, boyfriend had a total cholesterol right about 1000. That absolutely made me choke on my bean sprouts, so when I recovered my composure I asked her to repeat that, and she said ‘oh I know that doesn’t sound like a real number for cholesterol, but in rare cases it can be.’ Of course I had to ask how on earth a person’s cholesterol level gets that high, figuring (hoping?) that it was genetics. Her answer? “Well he ate lunch at Taco Bueno every day, or had cheeseburgers, but now that he only eats at Taco Bueno once a week his cholesterol is all the way down to 300.” Then I asked her for her boyfriend’s address, drove to his house, grabbed him by the front of the shirt and screamed “JUST PUT THE GREASY SACK DOWN, TACO BOY!!!!” Or maybe I just thought that in my head, and instead murmured a polite, ‘mmm, uh huh I see…’

The doctor’s office called back today after checking with the doctor, and he had said ‘tell bean boy to just come back in 90 days, then we’ll strap him down and riddle him with pills!!! Why, we’ll shoot pills at him with a bazooka until he’s covered in painful welts!’ Or maybe they said the doctor still wanted to just see me in 90 days. Anyway, the lady did sound a bit condescending when they said ‘good job trying it on your own.’ Can you really blame them though? My guess is a lot of people just take the meds. I can’t find fault with that either; does everyone even know there are alternatives?

How’s your cholesterol anyway? If it’s high, what are you doing for it? Some feedback and discussion here would be great!

March 25, 2012
medium bowl of cereal
a few almonds
potatoes with veggies, salad with avocado
a few more almonds, some carrots
pasta and marinara sauce, broccoli, salad, bread
hmm, just a couple short blocks of walking, unless going up the stairs at home counts?

oh coffee my coffee

March 25th, 2012

Easter is coming! You know what the means? Mostly it means Christ is risen, so we have the possibility of salvation and eternal life. Along with that, it also means HAM. I just can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the ultimate sacrifice of Christ then to consume a big chunk of meat that Jews won’t touch. Weird. Anyway, what to eat for Easter dinner now? There is the whole realm of vegan friendly meat substitutes to consider I suppose. If tofu bacon, or, fake bacon, is contracted as ‘Facon,’ then what do you call tofu or some other fakery of ham? ‘Fam?’ ‘Toe-Ham?’(eww) ‘Ham-Fu?’(funny). Really I think we should avoid any facsimile of ham. Some things are just too disparate to try and bring together; we’ll not likely to ever see any iAmish products, Kosher heroin, Parisian bluegrass music, kitty wading pools, etc. No, we need to let tofu be tofu and let ham be ham. My vote for Easter dinner is vegetable Panini sandwiches with roast potatoes and broccoli. I can totally see making it a tradition, the Easter Panini Feast. Imagine my kids growing up with that, and then someday getting married, having Easter dinner with the in-laws, and being utterly mystified by the lack of flattened sandwiches. They may try to compensate by putting some of their ham on a roll and squishing it under a table leg, or the piano, in which case would the sandwich be a Pianini?

Here’s the revelation I had today, that was for me, earth shattering – I could stand to drink less coffee and more water. I tried that today and lived to tell the tale! NO, I will not be giving up coffee all together.

March 24, 2012
French toast (made with banana instead of egg), blackberries
a few almonds
Panini with loads of veggies, potatoes with sautéed veggies, salad
whole wheat crackers
Panini with loads of veggies, lentil chili
stroll around the neighborhood

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Part 1: Panic and Discontent. Part 2: A defense of ads.

March 24th, 2012

Part 1: Today my family and I participated in the Make a Wish 5K run. Though I actually did the ‘fun run,’ which was not 5K. It was 1 mile. Also, I walked it. After this strenuous exercise we walked over to the snack area and found an array of Chic-Fil-A, grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, bagels, cookies, chips, and fruit. I had a banana. Notably absent from my plate were the grilled items, and anything else really – just had the banana. I had the strangest jumble of thoughts and emotions when I looked at the burgers and dogs; on one hand I wanted it, but on the other….it sorta didn’t look like food. Then this evening, the kids went with gramma to get pizza and brought it back to the house. Again I felt the same; had a glimmer of wanting to eat it, but then it didn’t look like food. Does that make sense? The pizza honestly looked like some foreign substance. Honestly it was a very surreal experience.

Having had some time now to think about my no burger, hot dog, or pizza day, I’ve realized what was missing – panic and discontent. In the past, I often had these overwhelming feelings that I would just never get enough of those particular crappy foods. I would continue to eat, beyond the point of being full, as if I WOULD NEVER SEE ANOTHER SLICE. Did I realize this was problematic? Well, yes. Jesus and I would talk about it, and sometimes I would feel okay around pizza or whatever going uneaten by me, but often I would not. It appears that for some reason, in His timing, Jesus took the panic and weirdness away. There is no prescription that does that, that quickly, that thoroughly. All that discontent is just a ghost now, and I don’t plan to be the haunted man.

Part 2: Ads will now begin cropping up in my little ol’ blog here, via Google Ad Sense. Don’t be hatin’ y’all, my family is expecting baby number five and we already know she’s going to have major medical issues, so if I can make a couple dollars here I’m gonna.

And today’s menu and such was…

March 24, 2012
medium bowl of cereal, strawberries, pineapple, blackberry
banana, raisins
Panini with loads of veggies
half a soft pretzel at the Stars game. It was shiny. Chances are good I ate some oil, or butter substitute. If I don't lose weight this week, I'm totally going to blame it on water retention due to the 4 pounds of coarse salt on that pretzel.
Panini with loads of veggies, potato, salad
5K Make a Wish Run - though I actually did the fun run, which was not 5K. It was 1 mile. Also, I walked. Later I walked a few blocks each way from a parking lot to the AAC for the Stars game.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Little Miss Muffett

March 23rd, 2012 (continued)

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Well, just call me Miss Muffet today, getting scared off by a big ol’ cholesterol spider. Here’s what happened – before the Big Diet Switch (“BDS”) of March 2012, I drank whey protein shakes after I went to the gym. After the BDS, I assumed that the whey protein shakes were fattening, since I made them with RAW WHOLE MILK (you may recall I mentioned that a new jug always had little yellow nuggets of fat floating in it), and switched to having half an almond butter sandwich, on Ezekiel 4:9 bread after the gym. After a few days of this, it occurred to me that I could make the whey protein shakes with almond milk to eliminate the dairy, and started wondering which had more fat, the whey protein or the almond butter. Turns out my little sandwich had 16 grams of fat, whereas my whey protein shake with almond milk had 3.5. That’s better, right? Also, I chuck a couple scoops of blueberries in that shake and blammo! Instant health! I think I read somewhere that blueberries are the miracle berry, staving off cancers, heart disease, etc. The Wikipedia entry on blueberries had some great pics of blueberries rescuing kittens from burning trees, and healing clubbed baby seals.

Alas, my whey protein bliss was blown asunder by a lass – Alert Reader Kassia noted the whey protein shake on my daily intake log, and commented ‘whey protein…that’s a milk product, right?’ And so it is. I had not read quite enough of the label on the whey protein container. It is in fact a dairy product, containing, of course, cholesterol. I think somehow I thought that since I bought the whey at Sprouts it was made from plants? Now I’m not sure what protein source to consume after the gym – suggestions? Snide remarks?

Here’s what I ingested today;

March 23, 2012
big bowl of cereal, with strawberries and unsweetened almond milk
very small non-dairy banana chocolate chip muffin
black bean burger with sautéed spinach and red pepper, two small seedless oranges, one Barbara's Whole Wheat Fig Bars
nachos, rice, beans
sitting, walking room to room, breathing, chewing….

no no, it's not like that

March 23rd, 2012

I’d like to clear up a few misconceptions;

1.      Radically changing my diet was not my wife’s idea. It was me that got the test results, and, not being an idiot, I realized that my cholesterol needed to be lower. I started looking at labels and cutting back on my meat and cheese. After a few days, the wife and I decided to watch some Netflix one evening, and it was my choice to watch ‘Forks Over Knives.’ As the closing credits rolled, Jen looked at me and asked what I thought of it, and I told her I was going without meat and dairy, starting right then – didn’t even have one last hurrah with my customary pastrami, bacon, and Swiss before bed.

2.      I have not gone Vegan. I know I’ve used the term Vegan at times to describe my new eating habits, so I apologize for any confusion. My focus is on eating a plant based diet, and eliminating animal sources of food, and also oil. What’s the difference? Excellent question! If my goal was to be Vegan  (at least as far as I understand that ideal), then any time I had some incidental dairy in my food, such as some small amount of milk fat and/or egg in a restaurant hamburger bun, I would be committing a small amount of murder or animal extortion. Instead, if I have the occasional bit of animal product by mistake, because I am not willing to ruthlessly interrogate a waiter/waitress or counter help, I won’t freak out. Instead I’ll focus on controlling the controllable, such as the food in my own kitchen.

3.      This is not forever. My hope is that at some point my cholesterol will be low enough that I can withstand the occasional animal treat. Pizza with real cheese looks fabulous, and I can’t fathom never smoking and eating a brisket again, it’s just too tasty. I know myself, so I know that I will have to be very on purpose about what ‘occasional’ looks like, and plan for it - otherwise, 'occasional' will be all days ending in a 'y.' Yes, my brisket is worth planning for, absolutely.

Okay, I’ll be back later with my normal blog content, but I wanted to clear those things up first. Have a fantastic day!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sick Crazy Credentials

March 22nd, 2012

Lest any of you think that I have not really been that poor of an eater, or been really sick and crazy enough that this dietary change of mine is significant, let me share these little vignettes;

Brisket/Bratwurst Dog – I have in the past taken great delight in wrapping a bratwurst with a big slice of brisket and then putting in on the bun.  If I thought about it at all in terms of fat and calories, I would think, ‘well I’m already eating the bratwurst, so adding brisket is just adding more meat, so, no difference really.’ If someone else had tried that rationale on me I would have said, ‘no, fool, it is different – it’s TWICE AS MUCH fat and calories.’

Brisket Blanket Turkey – When you think of Thanksgiving dinner and all the glorious fat therein, the turkey isn’t always the first thing you think of, right? Dark meat and skin aside, turkey CAN be low fat, low cholesterol. Oh but wait! If you really work at it, you can also make the white meat really horrible for you! Here’s how – smoke a nice big brisket the day before you are going to cook your turkey, then put it in the fridge whole, after it cools. The next day, before cooking the turkey, slice the whole big layer of smoked and seasoned fat off the brisket and lay it over the breast of the turkey like a cold greasy blanket. As the turkey cooks, all that brisket fat will soak down through the turkey breast. Yep, I came up with that a few years ago. And no, I will not give you detailed instructions, you sick freak.

Roller Grill – Have you had the roller grill? It’s most commonly found in gas stations, that area in the attached zippy marts where the hot dogs and other foods shaped into logs turn slowly on the heated metal tubes. Ah, the roller grill…taquitos, hot dogs, sausage loaf, and my favorite – the mixed meat log, usually called the Big Bite or some such it’s ‘beef’ mixed with ‘cheese’ and something spicy. Often there is a dispenser for chili and cheese sauce! Yummo! And just to make it healthy, there are some fresh vegetables (jalapeno and onion) to add on, plus mustard, which you should know, has no fat. Yep, I’ve knocked back plenty of roller grill in my day. It’s best with a glazed donut chaser and a Dr Pepper.

On a happier note, we’ve found a fantastic lentil chili recipe, that make a bunch, so it can be eaten for many meals over the course of a few days. It goes like this;

·         1 onion, chopped
·         1 tsp cumin
·         10 cups water
·         1 ½ pounds lentils
·         2 tsp salt
·         2 cups salsa (we use the Costco brand Kirkland Organic Medium, it rocks)
·         29 oz canned tomatoes, crushed (the tomatoes, not the can)
·         1 tsp chili powder

Brown the onion in a pan, add lentils and water. Simmer 1 ½ hours. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 15 minutes. That’s it! Chili is done! If you enjoy cooking at all, I’m sure you can see that this can be altered a hundred ways. On the other hand, it is REALLY fantastic, as is.

Pictured above is my bowl full for lunch, with some sautéed spinach, and red pepper flakes on top. Don’t the chili and salad together make a lovely looking combo? This way of eating is so not dull. As my 6 year old, Canon, would say, ‘It is too not!!’

Here's what I put through my head hole today;

March 22, 2012
French toast (made with banana instead of egg), blackberries
whey protein shake made with unsweetened almond milk, and frozen blueberries
lentil chili with spinach added, salad with tomato, 1/4 avocado, and tomato hot sauce, 2 Barbara's Whole Wheat Fig Bars
small handful of dried banana chips
tacos and beans
20 minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes with the dumbbells

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

to carb or not to carb

March 21st, 2012

Starting today, I’ll be posting a daily log of what I’m eating and what exercise I’m doing. That way, we can all see whether or not someone can lose weight by eating loads of carbs. Seems like a lot of folks are saying carbs should be skipped, but I’ve lost 7 pounds eating lots of carbs. Then again, maybe those 7 pounds were a fluke, right? So, by tracking what I eat, I’ll either 1) show that carbs are not the enemy of weight loss, or 2) have some data to review to reevaluate my diet if I don’t lose any more weight. Sound good? By the way, my daily log won’t include my count of cups of black coffee – let’s just go with ‘lots’ for every day. Some cups will be just black, others will include a little hazelnut or other syrup added, just a drop really. REALLY.

Pictured here is what I’ve started eating for breakfast. Yes, that is a MEGA bowl of cereal, and has about 23 grams of fiber. Conventional medical information says you should get about 30 grams a day, but the Engine 2 Diet says you should get 50 or more. You know what you have to do to cram that much fiber in your gullet? Yep, you gotta eat, homey!! High fiber foods make you feel more full than low fiber foods, per calorie ingested, so trust me – eating this way will NOT leave you feeling hungry or deprived.

Here is my cereal recipe;

·         ½ cup of dry oats
·         ¾ cup of Uncle Sam, Original
·         ¼ cup Ezekiel 4:9, Original
·         1/3 cup Nature’s Path Smart Bran with Psyllium & Oat bran
·         5 strawberries, cut up small
·         Unsweetened almond milk – enough to wet it down some (the cereal and fruit is way tasty, but dear      Lord there is just no way to ingest all of that if it’s bone dry)

March 21, 2012
big bowl of cereal, with strawberries and unsweetened almond milk
half almond butter sandwich on Ezekiel 4:9 bread (after the gym)
brown rice with mushrooms and jalapenos, sautéed spinach and tofu, tomato hot sauce, half an apple, one non-dairy homemade cookie
small handful of dried banana chips
lentil chili, spelt bread, salad with avocado, tomato hot sauce for dressing, non-dairy banana chocolate chip muffin for dessert

30 minutes on the ol' elliptical machine

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

like an East German Swimmer

March 20th, 2012
Tuesdays are my weigh in day – down another 3 today, to 220! I feel really good about that. The weight limit on our trampoline is 225 pounds, so I’m getting closer to being able to jump on it WITH one of the kids. That was kind of a sad and sobering moment for me this past Christmas when I set up the trampoline and saw that I was a few pounds over the maximum weight limit, and that my four kids together weighed less than me. My four year old, Jonah, weighs 35 pounds, so…let’s see…my math isn’t very good…okay when I get to 190 he and I can go on the trampoline together. Of course depending on how much weight he gains, I’ll have to go lower than 190. Not that I want to have to get way below 190 TOO quick, but really that little boy should be eating all the butter and cheese that I’m not having – he’s just so little!

Oh my, my sister just asked what we’re using now for coffee creamer, and I had this little revelation – up until we started this eating plan, I used raw whole milk on my cereal in the morning. Yes, raw whole milk….whenever we opened a new jug, there were little yellowy bits of fat floating in the top no matter how much we shook it. How did I not see that as a problem? I reasoned that it was an organic, natural fat, so my body would be able to digest it okay. Similarly, a standard lunch for me was a grilled cheese sandwich made with quality butter, and a salad with some good healthy organic ranch. I suppose it’s laudable that I wasn’t ingesting high fructose corn syrup in my dairy products, but that didn’t make me feel any better when I snapped one of the rungs off my kid’s bunk bed ladder just by putting one foot on it.

I have liked nearly all the new foods I’ve tried with this new way of eating. Nearly. Dried figs are a no go for me, it was like having the East German swimmer version of a raisin. An uber raisin.

man card

March 19th, 2012

Lots of people talk about guys ‘losing their man card’ if they do certain things, like watch a chic flick, get a manicure or pedicure, have anything waxed, etc. Really I don’t ever worry about that kind of thing, being quite secure in my masculinity, thank you very much, so much so that I don’t mind telling anyone at all that I’m really fond of women’s purses and shoes. They really can be quite beautiful, don’t you think? Also, the man card thing is basically a pride issue, and I lost most of that along with being a father of four, carting diaper bags, shopping for pink stuff for the girl child and carting it around the store, etc.

Some guys would call eating nothing but plants grounds for losing their man card, but, even aside from my afore mentioned security in my masculinity, I don’t see it that way. The way I look at it, I’ve taken charge of my body and my diet instead of relying on some sissy pill. Some folks might just have to rely on a pill no matter what they eat, and the jury is still out on whether I will need to take pills for my cholesterol, but I’m the one firing the next shot in this battle.

Monday, March 19, 2012

new day, new cheese, new life

March 18th, 2012

Hooray! I’m home from FL and back with my family! This plant based diet gets more fun all the time – we went to Whole Foods today after church, and while Jen shopped, the kids and I got some lunch. The kids wanted pizza, and were angling for some pepperoni or sausage, but I ordered a plain cheese pizza for them; I just felt like it would be lame to let them eat organ meats while Jen and I abstain from ALL meat. While we were waiting for the pizza to be ready, I notice that in the section of pizza for sale by the slice, they had a ‘Vegan Pizza of the Day.’ It had a bunch of veggies on top, and something that certainly looked like cheese. The guy behind the counter said it was non-dairy cheese made from tofu, and informed me that it was really bland and rubbery. Despite the non-sales pitch, I ordered a slice. When we sat down to eat it was easy to notice that the kids’ cheese pizza was very limp and drooping over their hands, while my vegan pizza had a perfectly stiff crust. It had more of a crunch than I am used to, and the ‘cheese’ did not have the same taste and texture as mozzarella, but it was very satisfying! The kids’ cheese pizza looked good to me still, but I didn’t so much as nibble a little of the saucy cheese out of the bottom of the box. Normally, I would have been jealous if the kids were having pizza and I wasn’t, but I experienced none of that emotion today – victory!

Many fun things were in the grocery sacks when we got home – cereals with 10 grams of fiber per serving (I do need more fiber, it’s been really bothering me that I evidently have not been eating enough of it), a sack of nutritional yeast (oh yeah, it’s a party in a bag), a big ol’ Portobello mushroom (because my wife loves me like that), two textures of tofu, and many other lovely things. It is FANTASTIC to have food that is so tasty and so fun, but without all the gunk! I mean, that monster mushroom makes me giddy like I would have been at the prospect of bacon wrapped meatballs.

If you’re wondering what any of this strange stuff like tofu, nutritional yeast, non-dairy cheese, etc tastes like, I’m here to tell you; it tastes like freedom.