Sunday, April 21, 2013

Weight Loss Update: 04/21/13 - Back In The Saddle Again!

 The past month and a half have been rough!   My poor aching back and hernia surgery conspired against me.  It was a depressing time.  However, I've been through much worse trials in life and I knew what lay before me and I made some intentional decisions to help me cope.  Those decisions were:

  •   I would allow myself to seek comfort in food.
  •   I would not worry too much about the scale.
  •   I would not allow myself to stray too far.

 Comfort Foods

We all know what they're about.  Food comforts us and in stressful times it is a normal human behavior to seek such comfort.  Many of us abuse this, and I have been guilty in the past of such behavior.  But it is my firm belief that if I am to reach and maintain a normal healthy human weight that I must learn to eat like a normal healthy human and that means I must learn to take comfort in food, when it is appropriate, but not abuse such behavior.   So I allowed myself to seek comfort in food.   I did this by allowing myself to eat more food, specifically more of the foods that I usually limit.  Foods like dried fruit, nuts, nut butters, and chocolate.   All can be part of a normal healthy diet, in small quantities.  But I ate a lot more than small quantities!   In addition to these foods, I allowed myself to eat more food in general.
 What I did not allow myself to do was to take comfort in foods that I know are unhealthy for me.  I did not eat meat.  I did not eat dairy.  I did not drown my food in oil.  I did not go berserk on refined sugars.

The Scale: Part One - The Way Up

 The above mentioned behavior, coupled with a significant decrease in exercise, predictably caused my weight to go up.  Between March 8th and March 30th I gained about 7.5 pounds.  Post-Surgery my weight shot up another 10 pounds, though most or all of that was caused by inflammation from surgery and anesthesia induced constipation.   This left me weighing 221 pounds after surgery, 17.5 pounds heavier than I was on March 8th. 

Post-Surgery Comeback

 The struggle to get back on track wasn't easy, but it was manageable.   It is amazing how quickly habits change.  I did not want to go back to eating less, even though I was quite content with the levels of food I ate prior.   I did not want to cut back on the dried fruit and nuts, and I most definitely did not want to cut back on the chocolate.   But I had to. 
 From Day One of my journey I have focussed on a strategy of making small but meaningful changes instead of larger, more drastic changes.   It is a strategy that has worked well for me.  Yet it has been the subject of considerable controversy with my friends over at the Mcdougall Forums, who mostly favor an "all-in right-now" approach, which is the one that many there claim is the only one that has been "proven" to show long-term results.   My remarkable success with a different approach has yet to sway any of the naysayers enough for them to acknowledge my approach as a valid one.  I mention all this because after surgery, when it was time to put myself "back on track", I attempted to do so all at once.   I figured that I had come so far, that I had learned so much, and that in comparison to what I've been through already getting back on track involved fairly small changes.  I honestly thought I could do it all at once.  Just do it.

 It didn't work out that way.

 I couldn't do it.  The anxiety of trying was worse than the stress I faced that drove me to seek comfort in food in the first place.  I had no choice but to fall back to my tried and true incremental approach, and once I did that the anxiety lifted and I started to make progress.   First I started to reduce the overall volume of my food to more manageable levels, and started a process of weaning myself off the dried fruits and nuts.  It's taken me three weeks but my food volumes are now back to normal and I no longer eat dried fruit or nuts except in my morning oats, which is the practice I've been in prior to all of this.  The last battle has been with the chocolate.   I am still eating way too much chocolate but I am getting there, and WILL get there.

The Scale:  Part Two - The Way Back Down

My weight peaked at 221 pounds right after surgery.  My Ten Day Average was 216.55 pounds two weeks ago at my last weigh-in.  My Ten Day Average peaked the following day at 217.0 pounds and then started coming back down.  Today my Ten Day Average is 209.45 pounds, down 7.1 pounds from two weeks ago.   Here is a graph showing my 1/10/20/30 day averages for the past 90 days.

Click Graph To View Full Sized

 Two things are significant about this graph and about today.  First, my daily weight this morning was 204.5 pounds, matching my lowest weight back on March 8th.  Second, for the first time in over a month and a half my 1/10/20/30 day averages are in the correct order, all headed downwards.  That is, my 1 day weight is lower than my 10 day aveage, my 10 day average is lower than my 20 day average, and my 20 day average is lower than my 30 day average.  This means to me that I am OVER THE HUMP and trending in the correct direction.    I'm knocking on the door of that 200 pound barrier and will bust it off it's hinges soon enough!

 This is the end of my weight loss report.  But I wanted to comment further on my "incremental" approach to dietary change versus the "all-in right-now" approach.

 Am I REALLY the oddball?   Am I REALLY the only one who just can't make all the changes needed at once?   I don't think so.   The all-in right-now approach seems to be the preferred method for some folks, but the real-life people I have met and helped have had good success making incremental changes towards their goals.   On the other hand, I have seen far too many people come and go through those forums who have attempted the all-in right-now approach and failed.  I have been of the belief that I must be the oddball and that my approach is not the preferred approach.  That it is only for those of us who aren't strong enough to jump in all the way from the start.  This last experience is the final straw that has me changing my tune.  It, coupled with my observation of people who have tried it my way,  now have me believing that my approach is the preferred approach for most people and that most people will find it easier and less painful to make small changes over time rather than huge changes all at once.   The obvious exception to this being those people who, for acute health issues, need the quickest results fast.  Those people, obviously, should attempt to make the needed changes as quickly as possible, and hopefully the immediacy of their need will provide enough motivation to actually succeed with that difficult approach. 
 It saddens me that my evolution in this direction will distance me even further from the group of people who have followed my journey closer than any other.   But it is what it is.   I must be about the business of helping people in the way that I believe will do the most good.  My approach works.  It works for me and it's worked for everyone I know who's tried it.  I will no longer recommend it as an alternative to "all-in, right-now" for those who are too weak for that approach.  I will present it as the preferred approach for most people and will make no apologies for doing so.

 Happy Eating!

 -Norm  aka John Smith

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Sunday Musings

 This morning at church our pastor mentioned briefly on our attitudes we should have at mealtime.   How we should be thankful.  How we should be humbled.  How we should be ever mindful that in order for us to eat, something had to die.

I applaud his sentiment, because so few people take the time to feel this connection to the food they eat.   But while I applaud his sentiment, I cannot share in it.  I cannot share in it because when I sit down to eat, none of God's creatures had to die.  Instead of a sadness that something died so I could eat, every mealtime for me is filled with a gladness that I am fed, as God intended, without the sacrifice of any animal.   

I can see the spiritual benefit of being mindful of where our food comes from.  If we eat any of God's creatures, we SHOULD be mindful of the fact that something died, and we should feel a sadness over that fact.   But if this is true, and I believe that it is, shouldn't we be mindful when the opposite happens?  That is, if we sit down to eat and no animals had to give their life for our meal, shouldn't we be mindful of that fact as well?  And shouldn't we be spiritually lifted by such a meal, and such a mindness?  

 YES!!    A thousand times, YES!

In all of my flesh eating days there was an underlying belief I had that it was natural for man to eat animals.  We are taught this and accept it from the first day our parents put animal flesh on our plates.   We are taught that it is part of the natural order of things and that the proper spiritual mindset is to be reverent and aware of the animals sacrifice for our sustenance.   Only when one has this belief can they consume animal flesh, yet retain a humble reverence and sadness for it's sacrifice.   But these beliefs are based on false assumptions.   That is, the assumption that human health requires the consumption of animial flesh, and this assumption simply is not true.

 God did not create man to eat the flesh of animals.   You can read my article on the subject:

    Were Adam And Even Vegetarians?

 Here are some observations:

  • Human health does not require the consumption of animals.
  • Our ever growing list of chronic diseases is directly linked to the overconsumption of animal products.
  • We can be happier, healthier, both physically and spiritually, by abstaining from the consumption of the creatures God entrusted to our care.

The false assumption that human health requires the consumption of animals leads us to make sense out of the statement "Something had to die so that we could eat".    But when we come to understand that human health does NOT require the consumption of animal flesh, then only if we are starving and have no other choice for survival can we have a true humbleness, reverence, or sadness that one of God's creature died so that we could eat.  This is because only after we come to terms with these facts do we realize that the animal didn't need to die so we could eat.  It died so we could indulge in our appetite for animal flesh, and once we understand this there can be nothing spiritually uplifting about this practice, or the mindset that permits it.

 I am reminded of the article Thirty Nine Reasons Why I Am A Vegetarian written by the Reverend Henry S. Clubb 110 years ago in 1903.

I particularly like reasons 14, 15, and 16, which are:

   14. The consumption of flesh as food has, like the use of tobacco and alcoholic liquors, a tendency to deaden the moral and intellectual faculties so as to blind the perceptions to the danger of the practice.
  15. The only way to obtain a clear perception and an unbiassed judgment on the subject is to abstain long enough to get clear of this blinding influence. "If any man will do his will he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God." (John 7:17.)
  16. Those only who have personally abstained from the flesh of animals for a considerable period can render an intelligent judgment on the subject.

 I know, these three points wreak of "holier than thou" and a condescending superiority complex.  But think on this point.  Pick any addiction that you are not consumed by.  Alcoholism, heroin, cocaine, whatever.  We all know that people consumed by these addictions do not see clearly the entirety of the harm they are doing to their body, mind, and soul, and that only after a period of abstinence can they truly come to understand the negative effects the practice had on them.   Those words were written over a hundred years ago, and I can reaffirm them now through my own experience.  Only after abstaining from animal flesh for a long enough time did I come to terms with the true detriment it had on my body, mind, and soul.

 Do I condemn my pastor for his statements?   No.   I shared his beliefs for decades.   Although I no longer eat the flesh of animals, in the 47 years that I did I consumed far more than most people do in their entire lifetime.  So there can be no casting of stones from me.  Only a gentle plea to consider another viewpoint!

And so I say don't be sad at mealtime because one of God's creatures died so you could eat it.   Experience the joy of satisfying your appetite in a manner which does not cause suffering or death.  Not to one of God's creatures, not to your own health and spirituality.

Happy Eating!

-Norm   aka  John Smith  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blog/Life/Weight-Loss/Surgery Update

It's been way too long since an update!  There are some good reasons for this, and several good excuses too!  The top two being:

  1.   I've been recovering from surgery
  2.   I don't know the password to my blog


I had laproscopic hernia repair surgery.  They repaired two inguinal and one umbilical hernia all in one procedure.   It has not been fun but it needed to be done.   Weight has shot through the roof!


 Seriously?  Is that an excuse?   No!  It's a reason!  :)  My browser takes care of my passwords.  I enter in long random passwords and let my computer take it from there.  Very secure, but I can only access things from the one browser on the one computer.  The problem with this is that the one computer is at my stand-up only computer desk, which I haven't been able to use much due to my back issues, and not at all for a period of time after my hernia surgery.   Once I settle on an Operating System to run on my computer at my sit-down desk I'll transfer over my passwords and will be fine.

Weight Loss:

There hasn't been any.  Between surgery, lack of exercise due to my back/hernias/surgery recovery, post-surgery inflammation, and an all around pity-party feeding frenzy, I'm up quite a bit of weight.  Look at the numbers for yourself:

Click Graph To View Full Sized

You can tell when my surgery was on the graph.  Look for the BIG spike in the purple line.  That was mostly caused by post-surgery inflammation and constipation.  Oh the joys!

 Where I'm at:

A new beginning!   I feel like I'm starting over in so many ways.  I feel like I have a rough road ahead of me.   I feel like it is going to be more work than all I've done up to this point.  But I feel like I can do this if I just stick to it.

And I will.

Happy Eating!

-Norm   aka  John Smith