Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The search for Truth

This is what makes me really crazy about all the nutrition stuff. No one really knows what the truth is. The real absolute single sole truth that works for everyone. Here are some examples:

1. Resistant starch
So we've been eating a little bit of beans lately, which, on the whole, seems to be making us feel better. So, beans and legumes... bad on a low carb diet or not? Well, one opinion would be here, from Laura Dolson on, who seems to do an excellent job of summarizing low carb info. Her take? Beans are the least-glycemic carb source plus they have this magical resistant starch, which is supposedly good for you for a pile of reasons (you can read them; I'm too lazy to summarize. On the other hand, you can read Dr. Mike Eades' take on this here. I have absolutely nothing but huge amounts of respect for Dr. Eades, and his take is basically that this is all nonsense. So do you believe one and dismiss the other? Which one?

2. Yeast/Candida
Something I heard the other day made me put a few things together and start wondering if Michael's odd tongue irritation lately might be thrush, which is a yeast-related infection. And researching that made me also remember a few things that I once read about yeast infections and this notion that some people may suffer from candida overgrowth... essentially a systemic yeast infection. Well, Michael has a few things going on... chronic skin infections that just won't clear and the dermatologist said were yeast, some toe fungus stuff, etc.... plus a host of symptoms that seem to fit right in with the list for this. Of course, this is a vague enough list that you could make yourself fit a lot of these things, but still... Anyway, I did a bunch of reading about this, and this seems to be another one of those two diametrically opposed opinions things. Some people (including Dr. Jonny Bowden, who seems to me to be a credible source) seem to buy into it (he talks about it in his natural cures book, which is a very good book in my opinion). Others think it the worst kind of junk science, and that opinion is reinforced in my mind by the fact that there are billion sites out there that would be really happy to sell you a lot of VERY expensive stuff to take care of this problem. I'm always suspicious when there's a big money connection, and this thing is packed with this sort of site... in fact, thus far it's been hard to find much of anything that isn't riddled with ads that look like snake oil sales. But most of the stuff that you're supposed to take for this, if you believe the alternate medicine guys, is pretty innocuous. Probiotics... hard to argue with that. Garlic... good for a host of things. Oil of oregano... how bad could that be? And so on. So I figured, what the hell, we could spend a month trying a super cocktail of these things and see what happens. Worst, we're out about $50 in supplements (some of which we would have taken anyway). Best case, we feel better.

So... Friday (I think!) we started taking the additional probiotics and garlic, and Monday, some of the other stuff. Result... well, thus far kind of hard to determine, but oddly, Michael's skin and feet look better than they have in ages. And there are odd subtle changes in things like sense of taste and so on. I sort of find this whole notion a little... not incredible, but I suppose that things that explain too many symptoms make me kind of suspicious, too. But one of the things that supposedly happens is that you get something called die-off, which is sort of the release of various dead yeast gunk into your body, and it's supposed to make you feel terrible for a while. And, kind of like clockwork, we both started feeling awful yesterday. Grumpy as hell mostly, but also achy and lethargic and, ok, kind of flu-like, which is one of the terms often used. So... conclusion of all of this? I don't know. The jury is out. Way out. But I figure it's worth a month or so to figure out whether there's a real effect.

Now, if this blinding headache would just go away....

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Wake up and smell the tea

Welcome to Tuesday morning. Here I am, with my cup of Yorkshire Gold tea (possibly the best commercial tea in the universe but a true nuisance to get in the U.S.), a tiny breakfast of melon and a cold hamburger (weird but it works), and husband that most closely resembles a large breathing white tent (he's sitting in the next chair covered with a fluffy quilt, snoring lightly), and bored out of my skull. I already read the local paper and the Wall St Journal, I checked all the blogs on my list plus a few that I don't have bookmarked because they're not really low carb... and you know, people... you really don't write often enough! The world is supposed to be entertaining me better.

It's my long school day... three statistics labs to teach in a row, oh joy... and I should be getting going and showering and so on, but I'm really sitting here musing about the magic of beans. No, not magic beans, that's another story!

Three days ago we started doing three things differently. First we adjusted some things that has meant that Michael sleeps better, which means that I sleep better, too... details not really important. Secondly, we started really taking a lot of probiotics and other anti-yeast related supplements on the theory that one thing that may be going on is some sort of yeast overgrowth problem.... more on that in some other post. And the third thing... we started eating legumes again. Chickpeas. Red beans. Lentils. Not a lot. About 1/4 cup with lunch and 1/2 cup with dinner. I don't know whether it's one or all of these things, but the difference in energy levels and mood around here over the last few days has been extraordinary.

Beans have a big thing going for them, as far as I can tell... they are essentially carbs, but they are high fiber and low glycemic, so they don't promote a big insulin response, and so are far less likely to kick in the evils of physical response to carbs. And they're a protein source, too. I don't know. I'm finding this all quite magical... and my weight was a fraction lower this morning, too, as it has been every day for the last three days. So... I think this means that I need to spend some more time researching glycemic indices and glycemic load... arcane mysteries at this point... and figuring out the implications of all this.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday again... and an ok week.

On an irrelevant note, I am thinking that my font size is really too small. Let's try this one. Maybe it's just that I'm squinting at everything these days... really time for a prescription recheck, I think! (On my top ten list of obnoxious things you notice as you get older.... yes, your eyes start getting noticeably worse.)

So, for the week, Michael is down 2.5 lbs., and I am down 1.5, and you have to consider that good. Not as fast as he'd like (these days, I don't even think about how fast I'd like; I'm just happy if I lose something), but he's felt better the last few days, too, and if he can get some kind of energy back, then I think that maybe he'll lose a little faster. Not that 2.5 is bad, anyway! It's just hard to be slow and steady when you need to lose hundreds of pounds. But slow and steady gets you there, and impatience usually doesn't.

I think that's the biggest problem... we were talking about this yesterday... even if you're totally committed to losing weight, how many hours of the day can you devote to "losing weight activities." I mean, a decade ago when I was on kind of a manic tear about trying to lose weight (and I did, about 100 lbs... of which I gained back 60, although it took me about 8 years to do that), I worked out at the gym and went to aerobics class and played racquetball and took a karate class and walked most mornings. I probably spent 3-4 hours every day on some form of exercise. But that still leaves you with 20 hours not devoted to losing weight, in some sense. 20 hours (yes, I know, some of that is sleep etc.) in which it's more about trying not to screw it up. And for Michael right now, he can't even put those hours in... maybe the half hour or so we spend on the seated workout. As he gets more fit, he can spend more time on these sort of activities... but the bottom line is, so much of losing weight is a passive waiting game (I mistyped and wrote "weighting" two times!), trying not to lose hope or patience while you wait.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sunday musings

Let's face it, not very much is happening here. It's a lazy Sunday (so far anyway), a cool and beautiful spring morning, and I have my tea. So I'm just going to babble about some things on my mind.

1. Ads on blogsites... just how much money is in these things?

I hate ads. I hate the prevalence of ads on the internet. Yes, I'm an economist, and I understand the economics of why, and I also know that people have to earn a living. Which makes ads on sites like Jimmy Moore's a lot more acceptable to me (although, could we not have ALL the banners on the top? Makes it hard to see if there's a new post without scrolling down, and hey, I'm lazy.) But why does the Protein Power blog have Google ad feeds for things that are clearly snake oil? Diet pills and weird diets and things like that which the authors of the blog would never endorse. Is this really necessary to support the blog, and if it is, wouldn't a few well-chosen sponsors be more credible? Maybe I'm wrong, and maybe the cost of this is a lot higher than I think or the revenues are a lot higher than I think, but I'm just so tired of looking at this stuff. And so many of the sites that do advertise have so MUCH of it that it obscures the content. And as long as I'm complaining, things (not just ads) that flash and pop and swirl and move around make it very hard to actually read things. Like that trend on eBay for a while (fortunately mostly absent these days) for flashy cursors and flashing stuff. Just annoying, and distracts from what you want to read.

2. Blood glucose meters-- what use are these things if they're not accurate?

We have an Ultra Touch 2 ( I think) blood glucose meter. This is supposed to be a good meter, one of the better ones on the market, and, ok , it's the one the doctor gave us. I'm sure that the doctor gets them free from the manufacturer, because the big money in blood glucose testing isn't in the meters; it's in the $1 per strip test strips... which are unique to the meter, so if you get someone using your meter, bingo, huge profits on something that doesn't cost even close to that to manufacture. It's all part of the huge diabetes industry ripoff, but that's another rant. Anyway, I'd sort of assumed that these things were reasonably accurate, but then I read a review that someone had written on Amazon, talking about inaccuracy of results, and that the company says that its error range is +/- 30 points. If you have really high blood sugar, that might marginally be acceptable, but if your blood sugar is close to the normal range, that 30 points... 60 point range really... is all of your readings, which in theory makes every reading meaningless. I checked this out yesterday when we got a weirdly high reading... 146. Tested again... 116. Tested again... 120. The last two seem to be to be in an acceptable range, but since you'd only think to retest if you got a goofy reading, the results are by definition both biased and pretty meaningless. I don't know what to do about this. It is not necessary to test his blood sugar all the time, but certainly it's desirable some of the time, especially in relation to certain foods. I read some other reviews... but of course, they're biased to the bad, to people who've had trouble with them, and so how do you find one that's accurate? (Thoughts appreciated if anyone has any experience.)

3. Return of the Legumes

Michael has been having serious issues with fatigue for some time now, and part of it is disturbed sleep, but... I think on the whole, it's lack of carbohydrates. Ok, low carb fans, I know perfectly well that there is no dietary NEED for carbs, that you can survive just fine on no carbs (or close to that), but carbs are energy. I've seen him go, over the last four months, from someone who I would call energetic to this lethargic dishrag thing. It got a little better when he returned to eating a little fruit, mostly berries and melons plus the occasional apple. That seemed to give him enough quick energy to move around. But he has still been fatigued and low, and I've had to admit that it correlates with diet. So I've been searching for a way of adding more carbs without adding things like rice and wheat and potatoes... all of which are not good for blood sugar and not things that I think one should really be eating much of at all. And it finally dawned on me... legumes. The wonderful world of beans. Varied. Low-glycemic. High fiber. And maybe enough extra energy to solve some of the lethargy problem. We're giving it a try.

Friday, April 25, 2008

2 years, Part II

Today is our 2nd anniversary. I think that's the cotton anniversary... maybe we should go buy some new sheets! We had planned originally to go away at least for a day, but everybody's leg problems pretty much ended that idea. So the plan of the moment is to go to the city for Japanese food, our favorite... heavy on the sashimi, very light on the rice, still pretty low carb... but we'll see. At the moment I'm more interested in weight loss than anything to do with food. We do have a lovely bottle of ice wine that one of my students brought me, though!

The thing about birthdays and anniversaries and holidays is that they force you to think back over time and what's happened. And what hasn't, I suppose. It's been a hell of a couple of years. Michael's lost a total of 114 lbs., but his knees are much worse, so it's kind of a mixed bag, because he's actually less mobile than he was two years ago. But I think we're on the road to changing that. I weigh about the same as I did two years ago, which is a little frustrating really. But I feel better. And what else? One severe auto accident and its lasting effects. A year of worrying about my mother, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer right about this time last year... but seems to have come through everything well; it's been a far worse year for her than for us, unfortunately. Bouts of cholesterol medications that made everything about life worse. And discovering low carb. And a whole lot of time together, most of it good, some of it stressful, all of it learning how to be together.

And so, I was reading Roy's blog yesterday and thinking about lists. Of course, he's funny and I'm mostly, well, depressed I think, but still.... I have two lists. Things I've Learned About Low Carb, and Things I've Learned About Marriage and Dieting. I think I'll start with the second one.

Things I've Learned About Marriage And Dieting
1. Don't ever believe anyone who says, "really, honey, I want you to keep me from eating ." Encouragement is fine, but when you get put in the Food Police role, it's only going to cause problems.
2. It's way better to be married to someone who has the same food issues that you do than someone who doesn't. (My ex was rail-thin and mostly never understood the concept of, "it really does not help me to stock the house with Doritos and ice cream.")
3. This has more to do with marriage in general, but... just about everything is about how you frame the problem. You can look on things with love, or you can look on them with irritation, and if you want to stay in love, it's best to work very hard at the first option.

Things I've Learned About Low Carb (and, I suppose, food stuff in general)

1. It is mostly just asking for trouble to tell your friends that you're on a low carb diet. They don't really want to hear the explanation, they will mostly tell you stories about how someone they knew ate nothing but, say, bacon, lost weight and then died. Or gained it back. Or couldn't stay on it. And then they will say, protein is bad for your kidneys, eggs are bad for your cholesterol... and if you point out the lack of science behind these claims, they will not believe you. So unless you have a strong evangelist desire, shut up and save yourself a lot of annoyance.

2. Possibly the biggest mistake you can make is thinking about low carb as something that you will do for a while and then stop. It's a lifestyle change. If you made a lifestyle change like quitting smoking, no one would ask you when you planned to start again. No one would say, oh, fine, but you'll gain all the nicotine back once you go off it. (See Dana Carpenter talking about this kind of thing, too., here.) But in fact, that's what a lot of people do, think about this as a temporary thing that they will be able to stop one day. And that's why they regain weight. The science behind the logic of low carb doesn't go away because you hit your ideal weight.

3. There's a lot more to life than what you weigh. One big thing is how you feel. I have to say, I haven't lost a ton of weight lately. But I feel better, look better, have more energy... and all of those things are as much the point of losing weight as whether I can get into a smaller pair of jeans (which would be nice, too, but still...).

4. You always have to give up something. On a low fat diet, you give up fat (obviously). On a low carb diet, you give up carbs. On diet, you give up . If you could lose weight eating what you've always eaten, you wouldn't be fat, would you? So get over it, stop thinking of the missing thing as some fabulous and desirable item, accept that it's only food, and move on. If you lament for it like a lost love, you will never get anywhere.

5. And that brings me to my real epiphany of the last few days... every single choice you make matters. Michael and I were talking the other night, and I said something like, when you get to the weight that you want to be, the good thing is that on a low-carb diet you're unlikely to gain weight, so we can have loads more of this lovely Brie. He said, I'd happily give up cheese forever if it would mean being thin. Well, sure. Right at this moment, if the fat fairy came down with her magic wand and said, "your call, no cheese forever and you get to be thin forever", everybody would say, sure. But it's not like that. It's the choice not to have cheese today (or whatever), and the next day and the next day; it's the sum of all the small choices. And that's what wears you down, having to make the right choice again and again. So you have to practice making those good choices until they become automatic.

6. And in my opinion, anyway... the greatest misconception about about Atkins and other low-carb diets by those who are actually on them is that portion size doesn't matter. It probably doesn't matter that much if you're trying to maintain weight... that's the joy of a low-carb diet... but if you're trying to lose weight, at some point, you absolutely have to pay some kind of attention to what quantity you're eating. Everyone's metabolism is different, and what that quantity must be will vary... but you must pay attention to it. A diet of "more fat and more protein" does not mean "all the fat and all the protein" that you can eat. Moderation is hard; it's a hard habit to get into after a lifetime of big portions; it's probably the thing that I struggle with most. But you know, I don't actually need the quantity of food that I like. And the sooner I can get that through my head, the better.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Yay! (Michael says, I'll be happy in another 50 lbs, and, sure, fine... but you've got to be happy along the way. If not, you're putting your life on hold until that magic moment, and what's the point in that? The road to the weight you want to be runs through all these higher weights.)

And on the more icky side... I seem to have pulled some muscles I didn't know I had in my thigh/hip playing racquetball yesterday. This is such an annoying thing; besides being painful, I've been playing so much better yesterday, and I am just furious at the idea that this might put me out for a while. But hopefully a day or two of ice will make things better.

Monday, April 21, 2008


Up early this morning after a wretched night of sleep all around.

Michael's down 2 lbs. for the week, lower but not as low as I'd hoped. Probably in the week sometime. I'm up 2/3 lb. for the week, disappointing but probably cyclical as much as anything else. I don't feel like I had a good food week... hard to say why exactly, except just hungry a lot. Something to think about, this pattern of hungry/not hungry, and what causes it. Michael, on the other hand, is eating mostly liquid things due to some weird tongue irritation.

And I am just starving this morning, but no time to really eat, have to run out for a meeting and then back later, hopefully...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mostly good things...

Michael is just fractionally over 500 today. If we're very lucky, maybe he'll be below that tomorrow. That would be such good news. He's fretting, as usual, because now that he's really interested in losing weight, it can't be fast enough... and that's, of course, partly because he's in a lot of pain with his knees and everything else. But I can't see that it's possible to average more than a 3-4 lb weight loss weekly, even in his weight range... and trying is more likely to make your body shut down on the whole thing than anything else.

We spent a lazy, warm day mostly watching Property Ladder and marveling that it's possible for people who do everything wrong to make money flipping houses... but of course, these shows were mostly filmed at the height of the market, when you really could be an idiot and still have it all come out ok. And I cooked a lot... roast beef, and a beef stew for later in the week, and one for the freezer. It's going to be a busy week, and those always seem to be the worst here... I'm not home enough to keep things stable. But we'll hope for the best, I guess.

Anyway, in addition to the "I'm not losing enough weight" fretting, he's worrying about not getting enough exercise... and this is just absolutely true in some sense, although we have been doing the seated workout most days. That's really a great thing if you have restricted mobility, and it's a surprisingly good workout (there's a link to that back in March somewhere). But mostly he's not moving a lot... and really, what should he be doing? Everyone says, walk. But walk is hard right now, to say the least. Bike maybe, but that tends to aggravate his knees, too. I think a trip to the doctor is necessary before he does anything else, but really, what can you do under these circumstances? Swim would be good, but a public pool is out of the question, and it will be June before it's warm enough for our pool... plus if his knee doesn't get stronger, I don't know how he's going to get up and down the steps. It's a puzzle, and a depressing one. I keep looking on the low-carb forums for ideas, but no luck so far. (Suggestions, anyone?)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Sluggish Saturday

In a pretty typical "spring" move here, it's turned from frigid to 80 degrees today... which would be a little easier to deal with if it wasn't nearly overnight. The lilac bushes are leafing out, my perennials and herbs are coming up... and I'm unbelievably lethargic, mostly due to the abrupt change of weather, I think.

I sort of felt like I should post something, since I hate clicking on blogs and seeing the same thing again and again, but there's not a lot to report other than, I think this is going to be a slow weight week. I've been bloated and unbelievably hungry half the week, for no reason that I can think of other than typical female cyclical stuff... and the timing seems off. Michael's leg and mood are fractionally better, I think... but his weight isn't moving much, either. Probably not a surprise after last week's big loss, but still. Next Friday is our anniversary... and it would be lovely to have some good weight numbers to celebrate with. But that's a full week away, so it's certainly possible.

I think I'm just bored. I'm thinking about food because I have nothing better to think about, and a wise person would stick an audio book on the iPod and go outside and plant some stuff. Or clean the house. Or something.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Low Carb for Idiots, plus weekly stuff

One of the things that keeps happening since we've been doing the low carb thing is that somehow, inevitably, it comes up in conversation. And then, to get past the "all you eat is bacon" comments and the "that's so unhealthy" comments, you have to have a stab at explaining the whys and wherefores. Now, I am an economics babe, not a science babe, and I am just terrible at explaining anything that involves cells and blood and metabolic functions. Doesn't stick in my head well. So I decided to write myself a cheat sheet, and in the process I had to look at things that other people have written... which is a long way of saying that I think that THIS is a great way of explaining all the important stuff in few words.

Yesterday was a totally lousy day... Michael was sort of ok in the morning but by the time I got home was just depressed to the point of nearly comatose. Not a good thing for either one of us. And as a result of that, I didn't get a chance to post this week's weight results, which were pretty damn good. I haven't worked is out exactly, because my hard drive crash destroyed most of my carefully kept records for the last two months, but I seem to be down about 3 lbs. for the week, and Michael's down about 7. Yay! Sort of inaccurate because both of us were bloaty last Monday, but great nonetheless. Magic 500 approaches.

The single biggest issue of the moment is the continued pain in Michael's right leg, and I both don't quite know what to do about it, and am very concerned. About a month ago, he did something unknown and started getting major pain down the outside of his leg. I searched around a lot and finally concluded that it's most probably an ITB injury... the band of muscles on the outside of your thigh/knee. Common in runners but also fairly common if you do a lot of squats... and getting up and down is pretty much a squat, if you're heavy. If I'm right, it's a slow injury to heal, and there's not that much you can do in the meantime (and if anyone knows anything else, please tell me). We're going to go to the doctor, but it's pretty hard to do that until mid-May... and what's he going to do anyway? Best case is probably just confirm that I'm right about what it is, and that we're treating it right (rest/ice/compression). But I'm very worried about this, in part because it's the big thing that really getting him down and totally restricting his mobility, and partly because if it doesn't clear up, we're not going to be able to get into the pool this summer... or go to Maine, for that matter. The pool is my big hope for exercise, and I was so hoping to be able to go home this summer. We'll see. But I wish I has some really better ideas. Keep searching, I guess.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Snow Day

Remember those spring in upstate NY pics I posted a while ago? It's snowing this morning. Typical.

I have a lot to do today, most of it things that I should have done weeks ago, like file for a tax extension (no way in hell will we get taxes done by the 15th). Plus the usual stuff, made more annoying by yesterday's hard drive crash. Ok, I only lost 2 months of things, and really, that's not a lot, and it could be just so much worse... and I've had it be much worse; years ago I lost a totally not backed up hard drive with years of data on it... traumatic, but really it's kind of amazing what you can do without if it's just gone. It still seems sometimes, though, that a huge chunk of my past is missing. I'd like to go back and remember who I was then... or, I suppose, maybe I wouldn't. Not really.

Anyway, all of that means that I somehow have to push through this lethargy that's been just consuming me lately. I'm up, and I've made the tea, and nibbled on a yummy chicken sausage, and now I need to get some things done, just DO them. I'm a all or nothing person really; that's the problem... only two speed, zoom and slug. Lately I've been set on sub-slug, reluctant-slug, something like that. I need to get some motivation back somehow.

But my weight is fractionally lower again for today... and so if we can just have a decent food day today, it might look pretty good for the week. And maybe... just maybe... Michael will be below 500. It's a stretch; he'd have to be 5 lbs lighter than he was mid-week, the last time he weighed himself, and he hasn't been losing at that rate. But it could happen. Next week if not this week, right?

This is a lonely thing sometimes. Michael, who is far from a morning person, is sitting in the next chair snoring lightly and looking like a reject zombie. And I sit here and write... to whoever will read. Hi, everyone. How are you this Sunday morning? What are you doing today? Will it be fun? Sometimes you feel the spider-thread connections to everyone else in the world, and sometimes you just feel alone and like there's no one you can say that to.

Anyway. Sometimes you just have to believe. And keep going with things, right or wrong.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The great surgery debate

I'm trying to get some perspective on this, but I'm still finding myself seethingly angry about what my friend said yesterday. I should say that she's a lovely person, and I'm guessing that she'd be horrified to know exactly how angry I am (and I don't get angry easily). And I know that part of what she says is because I think I offended her, too.

So let me say this right off. I think that bariatric surgery is a wonderful thing. I think it's a lifesaver for a great number of people. I think that it works for some number of people where nothing else can. I think it's a hugely difficult and frightening choice, as any voluntary surgery is, and most people who do this should be applauded and supported.

But I also don't think it's a band-aid solution that can be applied to everyone, and I don't think it should be. It's a last resort, as any surgery should be. And especially the gastric bypass, which is both greatly invasive and permanent, should be used with the greatest of care. But I don't think that's the way that the U.S. medical establishment is using it. I think in many cases, it's a moneymaker, and so it's pushed for people who haven't reached that "last alternative" point. In one of the only stories I know personally, a 24 year old semi-relative of mine in California had this operation, despite being not really all that overweight and certainly before trying anything like, say, working on learning something about nutrition. I think that's inappropriate at best. I was pushed to have this surgery years ago, when I was probably in the best shape of my life and maybe 40 lbs. overweight (and very fit). I don't think that's appropriate, either. I have an internet friend who just went through this surgery, and has had about every complication in the book plus mostly has not lost weight... and you only have to look at what she's gone through to recognize what a courageous choice this is for some people.

But I don't want to do it, not now; I don't want Michael to do it, not now, and I believe that we can do this together and without surgery. And I am angry as hell at the idea that it might not be true, that I'm naive to think that. I am so angry. We have come so far in the last two years, and I know that no one knows that, no one can see it the way that we can, but still. Everything has changed. Well, ok, not everything... but enough things, enough so the whole "relationship with food" thing feels different. Enough that I can see down the road to this being different. Enough that I'm not willing to give up on being able to do this, not yet. Enough that I resent like hell having someone tell me that her way is the only way, or that I'm being a fool to think something else.

Sigh. I know, get over it, move on. And life just does that... today I managed to pull my laptop onto the floor and kill the hard drive; I'm working from the last backup, in early February. Not too much loss really, mostly annoying rather than a huge disaster, but the thing I am really sorry to lose? The detailed weight statistics I've kept since the beginning of the year... months of data, just gone. Oh, well. There's nothing really to do except shrug, be glad there was a February backup, and be sorry that you didn't back up more frequently.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Two years, Part 1

Today is the two year anniversary of Michael coming to the U.S. (from the U.K.). It's about two weeks to our second wedding anniversary.

It's hard to know what to think today. It's a pretty human impulse to want to mark milestones, years passing, progress. And it's hard here to know how to measure progress. The good parts... well, we're together. The best part. Some things have gotten easier. Although Michael's overall physical condition is a mixed bag, his blood sugar is fine, he's over 100 lbs. lighter, and I think we've finally found a way of eating that works, plus a number of the psychological things have gotten at lot better. The bad parts... ok, I do think that we thought that this would be easier than it has been. It has not been easy, not for either one of us, and some days, it's simply beyond hard. I'm angry about wasting a year and a half on the food pyramid, basically. And I wonder all the time if things would have been better if we hadn't had that car accident last spring. And some days, it's really hard to be the cheerful person.

Today, one friend, an old student of mine, said, wow, you must be really militant about this low carb thing (I was talking about not eating bread and drinking beer). No, not really. But I believe in it, and I do what I think I'm supposed to do. And it matters, so I do it.

And another friend really hurt me. Maybe because she misunderstood me, but I read what she said as, you're kidding yourself if you think that you can win this battle. Love and faith are less important than surgery. Maybe they are, but I'm not willing to make that choice yet. Neither of us want that. Not yet. Not that it's a bad choice, but it's not the right choice for us, right now.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Better news

Since Monday, Michael's down about 5 lbs, and I'm down about 1 lb. Not a lot for me, but these days, I take pretty much anything as good. The secret of the moment? Trying really hard to focus on smaller portion sizes, less fatty meat, and so on. So far, so good. Monday we had curry with shirataki noodes, and both of us only ate about half (the dog was happy!). Yesterday I made a vat of low-carb fish chowder and we had a couple of cups for dinner. I'm thinking salmon and salad tonight; we've been a little light on the vegetables. We've had big omelets mid-morning instead of a real breakfast; this has been pretty good, plus a little nibbling on ham or whatever. Only problem was a big blood sugar dip for Michael yesterday afternoon that didn't really seem to even itself out until we had some slightly sugary fruit after dinner. It's necessary, I think, that he eat some kind of fruit... or something anyway... mid afternoon, or everything dips too much.

But that magic 500 milestone is not so far away for him, and that would be such a boost for both of us. He's been very low lately, back pain, leg pain that I think is turning out to be an ITB problem... usually associated with runners and people doing squats, but at his weight, every time he gets up, it's like doing too many squats. And the main remedy is just rest, and that's the thing he does worst. It's been a terribly discouraging few months for him; one minor injury after another, and none of them are really minor for him. It wears us both down. Every time things get better, there's another setback.

I am so determined that after this leg gets better, we are going to work like hell to strengthen his leg muscles somehow, so this kind of thing doesn't keep happening. I know that the real answer is "lose weight"... but that's what we're trying like hell to do. There have to be things to do in the meantime, until they figure out how you can lose hundreds of pound overnight. I just wish we could find a doctor or a physical therapist who could really help, but as I've said before, it's just about impossible, I think. With this kind of weight problems, all they want to do is push you into surgery or shuffle you out of the way. It's heartbreaking.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Monday stuff

Not good news on the weight front. Me, up 3/4 lb., Michael up 2.5 lbs. I don't take it too seriously for a number of reasons, but it's not a happy weigh-in. See what happens in a day or two, I guess. Our goals for the week: watch portion size more carefully. Stop eating when full. Eat more fish and chicken and less meat.

On the total irritation front, lots of general jerk stuff at work. Not interesting or worth telling here, but the result is that I'm in a foul mood, and trying to snap out of it. All I ever post here is gloom, I think, and it's not exactly something that someone would want to read, even me.

The weather here continues to lighten, which is a good thing, and the really good thing is that with eliminating cream from my tea (and, not so great, going back to regular milk), the persistent nausea that's been an issue has suddenly gone away. I know that milk is a no-no, or at least a lot more carb-packed than cream, but I think I can't tolerate it in tea.... and so far, I can't give up the tea, either. So I think that I just need to be careful and moderate with the milk and see what happens. No nausea is a VERY good thing.

Friday, April 4, 2008


I am not a happy bunny lately. First of all, my weight has taken another up fluctuation... about 2 lbs., and ok, I know that this is nothing; it's menstrual bloat (too much info probably) plus yesterday I had to take a bunch of my students to an event, and on the way home, I took them out for sushi. I had mostly sashimi, but I hadn't eat most of the day, and I was just starving, so I had about a cup of rice... and soy sauce always makes me retain water, too. It's nothing, really.

But it doesn't change the "I am sure not losing a lot of weight" equation. I try not to get frustrated about this, but let's face it... for nearly the last two years, the scale has hovered around 290, and now, on the whole, it's more like 286. If I could even get down into the 270s, I'd at least feel like something had actually changed. Yes, I feel better. Yes, my body looks better. But somewhere along the line, I have to actually LOSE some weight.

And I hate to say it, but I think that the answer is calories. You start on an Atkins-type diet, and everyone says, oh, you don't have to count calories; you can eat what you want. And I think that there are people who are like this... and I think that if I just wanted to maintain my weight, I really could eat more or less what I want as long as it's low carb. But calories DO count as some point. At some point, metabolic advantage or not, you are eating too many calories.

Of course, I say that, and the next thing I think is, well, maybe it's something else... maybe it's cortisol, maybe it's my metabolism, maybe I need to be eating more carbs not less, maybe....

But I have read so many things lately... including Jimmy Moore's blog this morning... talking about this kind of problem, maintaining but not losing and the need to pay attention to calories. I don't know. I just wish sometimes that someone would simply tell me what to do, what exactly would work for ME. And I can't seem to find that answer. Also, it's not like I'm eating a ton. Maybe 2000-2300 calories/day, and I am not a petite babe, and I am not generally stuffed by any means. But I think I have to try cutting it down, which means paying attention and recording, and that does not make me happy because I have a hard time doing it in a rational way.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


It's just one of those days. Slept horribly last night, woke up exhausted and miserable and depressed out of my skull. Phone rings first thing in the morning, more news about the apartments that we own, tenant running out on the rent, leaving tons of damage, after we had been nothing but kind, let this family live there for months until they got their money situation sorted out... you know, it's not really fair to crap on people who have bent over backwards to help you. One more thing that Michael will stress over.

And then got a call from a collection agent trying to get payment for a bill that I didn't even know that we owed! A leftover medical bill from last May's awful car accident that State Farm apparently neglected to pay... or maybe they did but it wasn't recorded properly at the doctor's office... or something. Only $130, but I really don't want to pay something that's not my liability and that I suspect was paid months ago. The person on the phone was just horrible, too. I know that these people have to deal with all sort of people lying to them and so on, but I wasn't, and it doesn't really help to both be rude and uninformative. So I'm envisioning weeks of trying to get this straightened out, plus more delightful conversations with these people.

Then sitting in my office this afternoon, waiting for my class time to roll around, and continuing to work my way through this blog list. Added a few good ones to my list... but also have been sitting here wondering again why SO many people fail. Why it is so hard to do this thing. Why our bodies and our brains don't work better to clear this problem. Why it's such a fight.

Probably not the best things to think about when you're stressed and exhausted anyway.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Weight loss is hard. Lifestyle change is hard. Nowhere is this more evident than when you look at the rolls of dead blogs.

Having nothing better to do (ha!), I've been leafing through the bloglist on Jimmy Moore's site. He's got a looooong list which looks to me like every blog that has ever been tangentially related to weight loss, mostly low carb. And if you click through these links, you rapidly discover two things. 1. A lot of them are dead. No longer a blog. 2. A lot of the blogs that still exist have the most recent post at about a year ago, or so.

Where does everyone go? It's almost heartbreaking to read the words of so many people who start out with bright shiny hopes, hope that THIS time will be different. This will be the magic time, the time that will work. But it doesn't, I guess. Or you get tired of blogging, which to some extent is a bizarre and self-absorbed activity, I guess. Or life gets in the way.

I have to also say, though, that if you're trying to eat low carb, it is NOT a good idea to wax enthusiastic about how delicious the pizza you ate last night was. Lifestyle change is about learning not to long for the forbidden fruit... because, eventually, all will power fades, and if you think of this thing as desirable and just out of reach, one way or another, you're doomed to fail... either because you quit before you get to your destination or you revert to original eating habits and gain it all back. Yes, very preachy of me. But, I think, true.

Some people make it. I want to be one of them.