Month: February 2023

Keto Fixes Everything

A quick update on going back to keto. Ten days ago I wrote about being forced to return to the diet I have a love/hate relationship with. Because I have a medical reason to stay motivated, the transition has been relatively easy. It took two days to get back into ketosis (the body does remember, even after several years). I’ve been maintaining 1.2-1.4 mmol/L every day, with spikes to 1.9 mmol/L following exercise. I’ve dropped 11 pounds. All-in-all, a good start.

So that’s it, keto fixes everything right?

Ah… no. The stomach issues I’m dealing with are slightly better, but certainly not gone. I probably feel better because I’m not binge-eating chips, cheese, bread, and I’ve lost some weight. I’m not convinced food has been the source of my woes.

But, but, you lost weight with keto. Isn’t that reason enough to stay on it? Sorry, but keto didn’t cause my weight loss. You dump a bunch of water weight initially when you first get into ketosis. And… the magic of a caloric deficit. We went out to eat with friends and I had a burger, no bun, a small salad instead of fries, and iced tea instead of a beer. I’ve been eating breakfast and then skiing all day (every day) and not eating again until dinner. I’ve had a huge calorie deficit combined with daily high intensity exercise. It’s not rocket science.

So why bother? Just go back to eating carbs.

A few reasons. I made a commitment to stick with this for a month so I can legitimately tell my doctor if foods are contributing to my symptoms. Second, keto makes maintaining a calorie deficit easy. Independent of my gut issue, I need to drop another 20 pounds. At this point I’ll do what it takes to achieve that. If keto keeps me on track, so be it. The other big reason is that when in ketosis, I don’t have the major hunger pangs if I don’t eat. I can ski all day and not get that bonk feeling I would on a heavy carb-based diet.

But it’s hard, I admit. I turned down going to pizza with friends last night. I honestly didn’t think I’d have the willpower to sit in front of a steaming hot pizza and not indulge. I feel bad because friends and family are offering to change the food they serve to something I can eat. I appreciate it, but I don’t want others to have to change their eating habits for me.

I wish I knew why food discipline is so hard. We have an unopened bag of chips in the pantry, along with pretzels, and popcorn. I probably walked into that pantry ten times last night and stared at those forbidden items. Fortunately, I held out and opted for drinking a crapload of water. If I wasn’t worried about dropping out of ketosis… I guarantee I would have splurged.

So, keto it is. At least for a month. I have no idea what happens after that.

Keto, Again?

I honestly didn’t think I’d be back here. I rode the keto train for a year and a half. I was strict, lost a ton of weight, and generally felt pretty good. Probably not coincidentally, I was also more active during that period than I’d been since my twenties. I know shocking, isn’t it? Low body fat and active every day… and you feel great. But I finally burnt out on keto. I was sick of paying attention to everything food related. I constantly craved mashed potatoes, fries, and pasta. I wanted to enjoy a beer once in a while.

So, I decided to “take a short break” from keto. And here we are almost three years later. I put back all the weight I’d lost, plus some. Fatigued all the time. Lost all the cardio I’d had and struggle to mountain bike and can’t run. And I’m now dealing with some serious gut issues. So now what?

My gastroenterologist wants me on a low fodmap diet for a minimum of a month, while we do some other testing. Looking at the foods you can’t have I realized that keto with some changes to veggies I’d normally eat, covers the fodmap diet. I know keto well. I know that I can make keto stick. So the words I never thought I’d say again came out of my mouth – It’s time to go back to keto.

I do not believe all the hype about keto. You don’t burn any more fat than you would with a carb based diet. I don’t think, for most people, it addresses insulin resistance magically. Studies show that you get the same impact simply losing weight, improving blood pressure, and exercising – regardless of which diet you choose.

Keto worked for me because it is restrictive. The act of counting carbs and daily blood tests forced me to pay attention to calories. As I started losing weight I exercised more. The more I exercised, the better I felt. Before long I was burning so many calories running and cycling, I struggled to consume enough food. Eventually, I was dropping 2-3 pounds a week. This was not a miracle of ketosis. There’s only so much steak, chicken, and broccoli a guy can eat. It was a calorie deficit, made easy by the lack of food choices.

Don’t get me wrong, I think there are some benefits to keto for the average person. The big one for me was becoming fat adapted. Moving easily into ketosis when glycogen stores are low, prevented the massive hunger pangs and cravings I’d have when my fuel was primarily carbs. It enabled me to exercise in a fasted state and avoid the “bonk” when glycogen ran out.

For whatever reason, I lack the willpower to maintain a calorie deficit with carbs. There are too many things to eat, and the hidden calories keep adding up. I find myself constantly hungry and snacking. Some people have the willpower to simply count calories and lose weight. That’s clearly not me.

So here we are. Back to keto. Back to my love/hate relationship with the diet. Unfortunately, I don’t feel that I have a choice at this point. It will be interesting to see what I think about it this go-round, since I’m doing it for a different reason. My strength trainer is going to hate me. He’s not a fan. But on the plus side, I’ll finally be eating the amount of protein he wants me to consume.

Today is day one. Ketones were 0.3 mmol/L this morning. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes me to get back into ketosis. Will my body remember fat adaptation? Or am I starting from scratch with a week-plus of keto flu before dropping into ketosis?

It’s only been a few hours and I’m already craving pesto sauce pasta and nachos. The struggle is real.

Get Off The Main Road

Are you someone who sticks to the main road, always following the route Google Maps gives you? Or are you willing to wing it and explore the backroads? A few weeks ago, I wrote a bit about pushing my limits skiing. One of the things I’ve noticed about myself, when it comes to skiing, is that I mostly stick to the main runs. I tend not to venture into unknown territory unless I’m with someone who’s been there before. I like the security of knowing exactly what type of run it is and where it leads to.

But as I said in that previous post, I’ve made a vow this year to push my limits and explore more. I’ve started going in and out of the trees and venturing into terrain I wouldn’t normally try. I’m loving it. It’s also scary. I’m not that great of a skier, so the possibility of getting myself into trouble is high. Even though my confidence is rapidly improving, I still question myself.

Yesterday was one of those days when I decided I was going to explore an area of the resort I’d never been to. I spent a couple of runs skirting the area and scouting it out from the chairlift. The terrain was hard to see, so I couldn’t judge if it was above my skill level. Was I going to end up down in some gulley, or would I inadvertently ski out of bounds?

I wrestled with those thoughts and the asked myself, what’s the worst thing that could happen? And the answer was that I’d have to take my skis off and hike a bit. So off I went. You can already guess the outcome. It was awesome! I now have a whole new area to explore. Why in the world didn’t I do this before? And suddenly, as I skied other areas of the resort, I started seeing new trails and areas I’d never noticed before.

There’s nothing wrong with using Google maps to get you from point A to point B. But if you never get off the main road, you’ll never know what you might be missing.

You’re only here once, so you might as well explore.

Facing A Challenge

Did you ever wonder how you’d manage if you faced true adversity? I always liked reading and watching inspirational stories of people struggling with seemingly insurmountable odds, battling the inner demons, and overcoming the challenge. The classic tale of the protagonist who suffers a terrible woodchipper accident. The montage of scenes showing the struggle of learning to walk again. Fighting a corrupt system that won’t give him the fancy new titanium prosthetic legs. The triumphant comeback to kick the winning field goal in the Super Bowl. Who doesn’t love a feel-good story like that?

How do you think you’d do in that situation? Would you be the hero or would you end up in a wheelchair, addicted to opiates, and yelling at all the nurses in your skilled nursing facility? I don’t know why, but I think about that. Knock on wood, I’ve never faced true adversity, so I don’t know how I’d react. But lately, I’m not sure I’d be the hero.

Health-wise, I’ve been pretty damn lucky. Not through any skill or effort on my part – just dumb luck and good genes. I’ve never really been injured. I didn’t seriously “exercise” when I was younger but managed to stay active enough to remain functional over the years. My weight and fitness fluctuated over time, but never horribly. Blood pressure, blood work, and general health markers have always been good. It’s rare that I get sick. I’ve been pretty fortunate. Until this last year.

I’m not sure what happened. Suddenly my weight ballooned up. Normally I’ve been able to tweak the diet, ride the bike a bit more and I’d be back to normal. It hasn’t worked this time. My balance and fitness level noticeably declined. Then I hurt my back this summer. That was a wake-up call. If you’ve been reading this blog for any time, you’ll know that I hired a trainer and worked hard to rehab. That’s gone great, and the back is stronger than it was before. So semi-protagonist-hero-mode. But it definitely made me grumpy being injured. I never thought I was a complainer, but that side of me suddenly appeared.

And now… I’ve been hit with a new health challenge. It’s been creeping up for a while and finally hit with a vengeance. Last week, for the first time, I had to pass on skiing with friends and hiking the dog. Several days were spent curled up on the couch, feeling sorry for myself. We’re still working through the process, but most likely we’re looking at some permanent lifestyle changes. In the long run it will probably be for the best anyway. But at the moment, it kind of sucks.

I’m left asking myself, how will I manage this pseudo-adversity? I haven’t done terribly well so far. Mrs Troutdog has been super supportive, but I know I’ve been quiet and grumpy. I thought I’d be the person that would be chipper and positive every day as we work through things, but I’ve trended more towards frustration and slightly depressed. So much for the hero protagonist.

In the grand scheme of things, this won’t stack up to be that big of a deal. Certainly not compared to woodchipper accidents. But I’ll admit, I was caught off-guard at how hard mentally it can be to deal with a slightly negative situation. I was sure I’d morph into hero mode when faced with making some minor changes. Instead, I sat on the couch for a week. I can’t imagine the strength it takes for people who face down truly serious adverse scenarios.

There’s a quote I like – “Life gives you what you settle for”. I can take something that ultimately will end up being a minor annoyance and turn it into a healthier lifestyle, or I can resent it and use it as an excuse not to do things.

I choose the former.

It’s A Lie

They are lying to us. No, not about Chinese spy balloons/UFO’s. (Klaatu Barada Nikto. If you know, you know) Although they may be lying about that as well, that is not the focus of today’s rant. This will be my annual post about Social Security. During the State of the Union, there was a bit of a dust-up about cuts to social security. Apparently evil republicans want to eviscerate social security, leaving seniors to die on the street. No we don’t! Yes you do! No we don’t! Yes you do! Sigh. Same old tired argument.

Both sides get away with this ridiculous charade because most folks don’t understand how social security works/worked. Here’s the simplistic overview. You pay 12.4% of your annual wages into social security. 6.2% by you, 6.2% by your employer. Social security was intended to be a “pay as you go” system – collect just enough money each year to cover outlays. But those sneaky devils have been collecting more than they need from the very beginning.

Each year the government collects more in social security taxes than they need to cover payouts. That extra money is “loaned” back to the government (at varying interest rates). This is the Trust Fund (made up of both social security and disability insurance). Also known as the “Lock Box of IOU’s” that Al Gore famously referred to. The Trust Fund currently has roughly $2.9 trillion in assets. Somewhere between this year and about 5 years from now, depending on what figures you use, we will no longer be collecting a surplus in social security taxes. When that happens, we’ll have to start cashing in those notes we loaned to the government’s general fund.

All good, right? Well don’t be shocked, but those rascals in congress gobbled up that extra revenue and spent it as fast as they could go. We’ve been spending like drunken sailors on a three-day-leave for year, after year, after year… so now when the Trust Fund needs its money back – surprise, surprise, surprise! We don’t have it. So now, we’ll have borrow a second time to repay what we already borrowed.

It’s worse than a Madoff/SBF Ponzi scheme. Since we’re already spending (borrowing) about $1.3 trillion more than we take in each year, the odds of reducing federal spending enough to cover payments to social security are pretty slim. Fun times!

So let’s recap. Politicians happily collected $2.9 trillion of your dollars they didn’t need so they could spend it on whatever boondoggle they fancied. Then they kept spending billions and trillions more than they took in every year, adding up to current debt of $31.5 trillion.

Folks, to borrow the quote from the movie Full Metal Jacket – “It’s a huge shit sandwich, and we’re all going to have to take a bite”.

The point of all this to highlight what scum these politicians are. I don’t care what side of the argument they try to make. They can say “we’ll always keep our social security commitments (we’ll just borrow more). The other side might say “we’ll need to reduce benefits to keep the fund solvent”. Either way, they’re not being honest. They spent us into oblivion. They blew through the Trust Fund. They knew they were doing it and ignored the problem for years. Now you lowly peasants get to pay more (either in debt/inflation) or get less (in reduced benefits). Probably both.

The odds of my receiving much in the way of social security benefits is slim. This is despite my paying (by force) into the system my entire adult life. So, excuse me if I have nothing but vile things to say about our elected representatives. If any proposal these folks make don’t also include in the same sentence, massive cuts to discretionary spending…

Well, you can fill in the expletive yourself.

Contrarian Thoughts

I had a few thoughts that were slightly contrarian to close out the week:

  • Apparently, we have a Chinese spy balloon drifting over Montana. How is it that we don’t have some sort of air defense that detects these things before they drift over the country? This seems like an issue.
  • Do you think we’ll ever see Senator Fetterman giving speeches on the floor of the Senate or asking questions during committee hearings?
  • The Covid virus has killed what, almost 7 million people? Don’t you think it’s odd that we don’t seem to have any real interest in figuring out where it came from?
  • Where did all the service industry workers go? It’s like they all disappeared overnight. I can’t find any reasonable explanation as to why an entire low/minimum wage group vanished. It’s not like they all learned to code during the shutdown and are now working high-tech.
  • I love watching hockey, but the penalties are still mostly a mystery to me.
  • I added up our fuel costs for 2021/2022. The same number of miles cost $1,000 more in 2022. That’s real-world financial pain for a lot of folks in this country. It gets glossed over by most politicians. Seems like the Keystone pipeline would’a been nice to have coming on-line right about now.
  • I wrote an email to one of my senators a few weeks ago. I was surprised when I received what appeared to be a personal reply that was well thought out. Maybe they’re not all dumb as a box of rocks.
  • Ukraine has lost 150,000 men, with 35,000 more MIA. Ukraine is running out of fighting age males. They’re outnumbered by at least 5:1, with 300,000+ Russian troops massed at the border. The math does not look good for Ukraine.
  • Russia is the number one supplier of fertilizer in the world. We’ve shut that down with sanctions. Does anyone else think this might impact global food supply and prices in the next year or so?
  • I haven’t watched an NFL game for at least two years now. I recently got sucked into watching the playoff games the last few weeks. Not sure how I feel about that.
  • Rep Matt Gaetz was on Tim Pool’s podcast. It was an eye-opening insight to how congress actually works, even for a cynic like me. Worth a watch/listen.
  • I thought this online app was a fun time sink. It displays 5 photos, and you have to guess what year they’re from.
  • With the advent of retirement and winter, my book budget has significantly increased. I guess that’s a good thing? I need non-fiction suggestions. What are you reading?
  • I skied with someone in their early 70’s last week. He blows by me like I’m standing still. Clearly, age is what you make of it.

Speaking of skiing, we’ve got two days of good powder forecast in a few days. I’m off to see what sort of trouble I can get in. Enjoy your weekend!

No More News

Decade after decade without a natural predator to trim the deadwood has turned Americans into herd animals. All they want to do is chew their cud and watch television.

Clay Martin, Wrath of the Wendigo

It used to be a routine. Read the paper in the morning. Sundays were the best. A full three pounds of newsprint (I still remember delivering those big boys on my bike as a little kid). Hours of reading. Plenty of longer form content, opinion pieces, the comics, Parade magazine, sports. Evenings was a half hour of local news (mostly watched for the weather), followed by an hour of a “serious” evening news program so you’d know what happened in the world. If you were a real news junkie, you’d subscribe to at least a few other national newspapers as well as some monthly magazines. Throw in a few publications like Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Powder Magazine (Ski Magazine wasn’t cool enough) so you could be hip, and boom – you’re reasonably in touch with the world.

Then came CNN. 24 hours of news? Who in the world would watch that? I distinctly remember watching Bernard Shaw reporting from Iraq at the start of the first gulf war. Wow. We were seeing war in real-time. What the news industry could morph into was mind-blowing and exciting. Fast forward to today and 95% of all news media, video and print, is now basically a news version of the early Maury Povich or Morton Downey Jr. trash TV shows.

The point of “news” today is to generate clicks, likes, and engagement. Like Maury Povich’s “who’s the daddy” segments, the point is to get that gasp or cheer from the audience. It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not as long as you capture the eyeballs. Turn on any of the alphabet news channels and you’ll see one of two formats. The most popular is to give a twenty second intro, to a hopefully controversial topic, and then turn to a panel of media personalities that yell at each other. Your other option is a thirty second description of a story, then bring on an “expert” calling in via Zoom from their living room and give them twenty seconds to babble before cutting them off. Whoo hoo, journalism bitches!

It is becoming exceedingly rare for me to watch any sort of news channel. It’s pointless. Not only for the aforementioned trash TV format, but because I’ve already read or watched anything news related that day via Twitter. Twitter, as Elon has said, truly has become the public square for information. Anything that happens in the world shows up on Twitter long before the mainstream media outlets begin reporting on it. Want long form opinion? It seems everyone with a pulse now has a Substack or podcast. I can read opinions on any subject under the sun.

The beauty of Twitter? I get to curate what I see and have the freedom to decide what I think is truth, opinion, or tin-foil-hat conspiracy. If you are sad enough to only consume CNN… you get a slick used car salesman, Joy Behar version of the news.

So, here’s the million-dollar question. Is the media doing it because that’s what they think we want, or have we truly become that dumb? Have we reached the start of the Idiocracy era? I’m not naive enough to think the early versions of the news I grew up with didn’t have an agenda. Government absolutely attempted to influence the nightly narrative we were fed by Walter Cronkrite. But at least back then, they had to tread somewhat lightly… people still practiced journalism from time to time. Today, the government has an actual private pipeline to all the social media platforms (as revealed by the Twitter file dumps).

My gut feeling? We (the US) have become that dumb. We all want nothing more than to be Instagram influencers, buy cheap shit from Amazon, and binge the latest celebrity expose series on Netflix. If the government tells us we all need to subscribe to a national digital ID, well super! It will make everyday life so much easier. Just make sure I know what the latest thing is, so I can post my solidarity flag on Facebook.

Clearly, I’m feeling a bit cynical today. But for good reason. The crash is coming. Deglobalization is happening, and the Ukraine conflict will produce ripple effects in oil prices, energy scarcity, fertilizer supply, and food prices that are going to hurt. Very quickly, everything that comes from someplace else… is going to be harder to get and more expensive. Oh, Don Lemon isn’t talking about this on CNN? Hmm. The gap between the haves and have-nots in this country is going to accelerate rapidly. Throw in a non-stop media barrage of racial division and, well, you get unrest. People who can’t afford to buy eggs or fill up their cars will want to vent their anger towards someone. And when you split the country like we are now… whoever the other side is a perfect target.

Or maybe not. Maybe we’ll defeat Putin (whatever that means). Everyone will have an electric vehicle. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion rules will solve all those pesky social issues. We’ll tax the rich enough to solve our budget and inflation problems. We’ll finally get around to replacing the police with conflict therapists. AI will free us from the mundane of day-to-day jobs. Peace. Love. Harmony.


Or, become a Contrarian. Question everything. Become ungovernable. Oh, and prepare. You’ve been forewarned.