Tag: Food

Why Is Diet So Confusing?

I will confess that I have been known to get sucked into drinking the Kool-Aid from time to time. Beliefs, approaches, or fads that I was convinced was the one true path. I talked ’em up and spoke with authority about them. I even had a bit of condescension towards people who didn’t know, understand, or believe in the new great thing. Fools who still bought into the old school set of beliefs. Here’s a few of the things that I’ve thought were the end-all-be-all in the past. I’m not suggesting any of them are bad – just that as thinking evolves, they’re not the magic bullets I once believed them to be at the time.

  • Barefoot shoes and running.
  • Crossfit.
  • Keto.
  • Intermittent fasting.
  • Primal/caveman
  • Body For Life
  • Zone diet
  • 5/6 small meals per day
  • Foam rolling
  • Apple cider vinegar (I have no idea why I thought this was a magical thing)

And on, and on, and on. Even though I think I’m being a rebel and cutting edge, I realize I’m just as much of a lemming as anyone else following the latest fitness and diet fad. Meanwhile, I was happily making fun of people eating the cabbage soup diet, doing juice cleanses, or the Whole 30 diet. Why is it so damn hard to know what you’re supposed to be doing to lose or maintain weight?

Meanwhile, my trainer wants me eating more calories because my BMR is too low, and I need a massive increase in the amount of protein I consume. Zone 2 is best for aerobic improvements, and carbohydrates are now good.

Sigh. I don’t know what to think anymore. My body fat percentage is getting worse, but my muscle mass is the best it’s been in a very long time. I feel stronger and better balanced now, but I can’t button the waistband on most of my pants. Why is this so hard? I just want someone to give me a weekly menu with exact portion sizes that’s easy to make/prepare. And yes, I’ve Googled that exact thing. A billion results come up, all with conflicting information, or promise to be the perfect diet plan… for $29.99 a month.

Why is diet so difficult? Why can’t I find a way of eating that gives me enough of a routine to keep calories in control, yet lets me eat out from time to time? I clearly don’t have the discipline to eat “strict” all the time or count calories daily. So, does that mean my only choice is to constantly keep up a crazy amount of workout/cardio activity to balance it? At my age, I don’t know that I have that in me anymore.

Our grandparents did not calculate out their daily macros, walk around all day with giant BPA free water flasks, or worry about zone 2 training. Yet on whole, their generation did not have the obesity problem we have today. Maybe that’s the book I should write – “The WWII Generations Guide to Diet and Exercise”. I’ll make a fortune!

But then again, my grandfather’s favorite exercise machine was a vibrating belt you’d put around your waist. I have no idea what its actual purpose was. To jiggle the fat away? To be fair, we have kinesio tape today. Maybe we haven’t evolved as far as we think?

The Struggle Is Real

Who knew that the hardest part of being an adult is figuring out what to cook for dinner every single night for the rest of your life until you die

Today, I stepped on the scale for the first time in a month. Why so long? Because I knew what the number would be. I’ve been going to the gym faithfully and am seeing significant gains. The range of motion in my chronically injured shoulder is hugely improved. Flexibility and proprioception are better than they’ve been in a very long time. Overall, I feel much better. But… I can tell that my waistline hasn’t changed, so I’ve intentionally ignored the scale. Oh, I look at it every morning. I tell myself that tomorrow I’ll step on it for sure. But I don’t really want to know the number because it’ll force me to accept reality. So I put it off for another day. And then another. And another.

I do see some positive physical changes with all the gym work. Shoulders seem a little more defined. I can tell the abs and trunk are stronger. The legs feel stronger from all the squats I’ve been doing. I tell myself that if the number on the scale went up, it’s probably because I’ve added muscle mass. I optimistically told myself that the bodyweight number won’t have changed, but muscle mass will go up and bodyfat will have gone down. So, I took a deep breath and stepped on the scale.

I gained a pound, muscle mass went down and bodyfat went up. Shit. How is that even possible?

I really am tired of thinking about food. The worst part is that my diet isn’t horrible. It’s not like I’m eating at McDonalds and Taco Bell every day. I’m not snacking on chips, doughnuts, or eating pizza every night. I don’t drink soda. I usually eat two meals a day. Mid-day I have a few pieces of cheese or some popcorn. Dinner is a protein and a vegetable. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a dessert. We eat out maybe once a week.

Now don’t get me wrong, I know exactly why I don’t lose weight. The biggest culprit is the volume of food. I may only eat two meals a day, but they’re 50% bigger than they need to be. I don’t just put a little sauce, dressing, or butter on something, I put a LOT on. There are too many empty calories from alcohol consumed. The snacking, while not bad foods, happens more times during the day than I want to admit.

So, I know exactly how to fix the problem. The issue is that I’m sick of thinking about food. I’m tired of thinking about calories, eating something and then feeling guilty and mad at myself afterwards. I’m tired of having to plug every morsel into a food calculator to see where I am on calories. I hate the feeling of going out to eat and having the internal struggle with the menu. I should order a salad or plain fish, but a burger and fries are what I really want. I restrict and starve, then eat too big a portion, do a bunch of cardio and then have three beers that night. I resolve to eat something really healthy and then make a salad the size of my head and add a full cup of dressing, cheese and bacon. I eat dinner every night like clockwork, even though I ate three chicken pieces a few hours earlier and I’m not really hungry. I’m just tired of agonizing over food.

I wish I understood why food is such a struggle. I resent having to obsess over the almighty calorie. I’m pissed that I’ve basically written some version of this same post probably a dozen times over the last few years and yet, here I am again. I fear I’m starting to sound like a teenage girl with an eating disorder.

Sigh. Ok, end of rant. Back to figuring out some sort of sustainable meal plan. And cardio. Need more cardio. The struggle is real.

I Did A Bad Thing

I’m still not sure how it happened. Mrs Troutdog was out of town. God, this is so hard to say. I was, (chokes up a little), I was… hungry. Like, haven’t eaten in three days hungry. And I went to (takes deep breath)… Costco. You NEVER go to Costco when you’re hungry. That’s like rule number one. Like the very first thing they teach you as a new diet recruit at diet bootcamp. I’m so ashamed.

Now, fortunately there weren’t any blowouts with a 72-count case of doughnuts or anything. I’m not going to say I didn’t think about it, but I had at least a tiny bit of self-control. But there was bread. Oh god, so much bread. I honestly intended to simply get something to make a sandwich. I was hungry, it was lunchtime, and I was craving a sandwich. Having bread in the house is a bit of a forbidden thing, so standing in the Costco bread aisle felt very… naughty. Because you can’t get a small amount of anything at Costco, I put two giant loaves of sourdough bread in the cart. Enough bread for approximately 62 sandwiches (not including the heels). I almost abandoned the bread for giant tortillas, but they came in packages of about 120 and that a bit much even for me.

And then I saw the bagels. Oh my, I haven’t had a bagel in forever. I mean, I guess as long as I’m already having a sandwich, I may as well have a bagel for breakfast in the morning. But wait, we don’t even own a toaster (I wasn’t kidding, we don’t eat bread). So off to the appliance aisle to pick up a toaster. And then, as always happens when you get into a self-destructive mode, I thought – you know what, you can’t have a sandwich without potato chips. I’m already blowing it, fuck it, I’m getting chips. I did make a half-hearted attempt to find some kind of low-cal chips, but it didn’t last long. One ginormous bag of greasy chips into the cart. And what else do they have in the chip aisle? Popcorn. Oh my, I love popcorn. I looked at the calorie count and justified to myself that it’s not a horrible number as long as I don’t have it every night, right? (ignoring the fact that the calorie count is per serving and there’s like 20 servings in each bag). The 50-count case of Kirkland brand popcorn went into the cart.

I got home unpacked and made my sandwich. It was glorious. Toasted sourdough in my new toaster. Avocado. Sharp cheddar cheese. Bacon. Turkey. And a giant pile of potato chips. Oh my. If I was a smoker, I probably would have had a cigarette afterwards. And then the guilt set in. What have I done? Why am I so weak? I don’t understand why I do this to myself.

I walked into the kitchen and surveyed the wreckage of my frenetic sandwich making. Now if I was a smart man, I would have simply thrown everything away. Yep, had a moment of weakness and got it out of my system. Don’t beat yourself up. Dump it all, go for a run and eat clean tomorrow. Right?

Nope. I committed the other cardinal sin of dieting. The dreaded, “I already blew it, it’s the end of the week, I’ll start clean on Monday” justification. So, I’ve eaten it all. Day after day of sandwiches, chips, bagels, and popcorn. Sometimes twice a day. Mowed my way through a nearly 100% carbohydrate diet for days.

So now I sit here feeling bloated. My stomach’s a bit upset. I tried to go for a run but felt like crap. Mad at myself. Guilty. Ashamed. Vowing never to do it again. Mrs Troutdog is mad at me because she partook in the carb-binging as well. It was an end-to-end failure. Why do we do this to ourselves? Normal people, how do you resist these urges?

Sigh… Never go to Costco when you’re hungry.

It’s easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.

Margaret Mead

How’s Your Mood?

A month ago, I made the commitment to start going to a strength and conditioning coach. I tried to join the military to get that free bootcamp training, but the recruiters couldn’t stop laughing. I think that was a no. I wanted two things out of my training – someone who would promise to make me look like Daniel Craig in six weeks and someone who would come to my house and yell at me at 05:30 AM every day to get my ass up, put down the doughnut, and drop and give me twenty. I did find a trainer. Even though he ignored my first two requests he had all the right certs and degrees, so I decided to give him a chance.

Week one was pretty humbling. I was sure we’d start out with deadlifts, tire flips, and kipping pull ups. After doing an assessment, he said “uh, well, I think we should get a little foundation work in first”. Which is secret trainer code for “my eighth-grade girl clients are stronger than this guy”. It’s an absolute miracle that I’ve made it this long skiing without blowing out my knees. The stabilizing muscles for my knees are so weak, a few lunge type movements have my legs quivering like Jell-o and unable to maintain any balance or coordination. My core was mush. Planks, dead bugs, and bird dogs leave me shaking and lightheaded in just a few minutes. This is all a good thing. We’re making progress.

The best part though has been the motivation. I can get motivated to do anything for a short time. But being human my attention span drifts, and I find reasons to stop. Take this morning for example. I had a particularly hard shift yesterday and got home late. I was still tired this morning and had zero motivation. Left to my own devices I definitely would have bailed on any sort of workout. But I’d scheduled the trainer already, so I’m paying for it regardless. I would have felt guilty making up some excuse to not go… so I went.

And surprise, I felt great afterwards. I always do. The endorphin surge you get after a workout, a bike ride, a run, a ski, or any sort of exercise makes you feel good. It’s a natural mood enhancer. Every single time. I know that, yet still find reasons to be lazy. We humans are strange creatures. The amount of resistance and energy we put into avoiding something that will make us feel better is ridiculous. A little sun and a little exercise are probably the only prescriptions the vast majority of the population need to be happy. Screw big pharma, right?

Now, if I can just find a service that will come to the house and slap that doughnut out of my hands, I’ll be golden.

Never Miss Twice

I stumbled upon another piece of advice a few weeks ago that I really like. It applies to diet, exercise, and being a secret agent ninja sniper. Nobody has perfect discipline. At some point you’re going to go over on your calorie count because you accidently fell into a plate of nachos. Or you’ll miss a workout because you left your muddy shoes on the porch and didn’t feel like putting on cold shoes in the morning. It happens. That’s ok. You’re human. The key is to not let it happen twice in a row.

Unless you’ve inadvertently joined the military and a drill instructor is yelling at you 24/7, it’s hard to be strict. Life happens. You travel, the folks in the office invite you out for drinks, someone has a birthday, holidays… there’s plenty of reasons you fall off the diet and exercise wagon. I’ve been having a love/hate relationship with keto for that very reason. For me, it works. I also hate how strict it is and rebel constantly with a burger, and then berate myself and struggle to get going again. The key is to not beat yourself up. You ate half a bag of Fritos and skipped going to the gym to binge watch all 103 seasons of Beverly Hills 90210. That’s bad, but not fatal. Just don’t repeat it tomorrow.

The habit killer is to do it twice in a row. My favorite justification is “starting on Monday”. It’s obviously ridiculous to start a gym routine or diet on a Wednesday. Who does that? You start on Monday. Everyone knows that. It’s now Thursday and I just ate Taco Bell, so this week is clearly ruined. Since there’s no point in starting now, I’m just going to eat bad through the weekend to get it out of my system. After all, I’m starting my workout and diet on Monday. Sound familiar?

You’ve blown it. Either by accident or by choice. Just don’t do it twice. A pretty smart guy I follow advocates what he calls “Fat Loss Sprints”. He acknowledges that very few people have the discipline to eat at caloric deficit every day for three or six months. But that’s what we set ourselves up for – I’m going to lose this much weight by summer. And several weeks into it you look ahead at four more months of restricted eating and get discouraged. What he likes instead is creating diet “sprints”. Be super strict for three weeks for example. Hit that goal and then take several weeks off and eat at a maintenance level (which doesn’t mean nachos every day). Then do another diet sprint. Several weeks is doable. Months are too overwhelming. Sure, the weight loss may be slightly slower, but it will be a sustainable lifestyle.

Always forward. You’re going to trip. You’re going to stumble. But you keep putting one foot in front of the other. The cumulative effect of diet and exercise over the long term is more important than any one day or meal. Had a moment of weakness? Just don’t repeat it with the next meal. Skipped the gym in the morning? Go for a walk after dinner, and don’t skip tomorrow.

Never miss twice.

I Don’t Care About Weight

Last night Mrs Troutdog told me that she thinks I’m obsessed with my weight and is convinced I’m trying to get back to what I weighed in high school. Ouch. I probably got a little defensive at that, but there is some truth to what she said. Just not in the way she thinks. (Like most males, communication is not my strong point)

I don’t care what I weigh. Honest. What I do care about is body fat percentage and BMI. Healthy numbers are around the low 20’s for both categories. But nobody talks about those numbers. (Hey girl, that BMI is looking mighty fine. wink, wink) We tend to incorrectly use weight as a proxy for “health”. I want to get to a sustainable body fat/BMI level that’s considered to be just barely in the fitness category. Having achieved it before, I know what number on the scale corresponds to a healthy body fat percentage for my body frame and current muscle mass. So therefore, it’s easiest when talking about goals to simply say that I’m trying to get to a certain weight.

If I could put on 20 pounds of muscle, the number on the scale would be much higher when I reached my body fat/BMI goal (but very unrealistic without the aid of HGH, T, and possibly steroids). I don’t care what the number on the scale is – I’d be perfectly happy to walk around at 220 pounds as long as my body fat was 18%. Is there some vanity associated with this? Sure. I’m human. Who doesn’t want to look great strolling down the beach? But at my age that’s a much, much smaller motivation than it was when I was younger. What I do care about is health and longevity. And I’m more and more scared about it.

At my hospital the overwhelming majority of the people I see are there as a result of weight and a lack of strength and balance. People in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s who can’t lift themselves off the toilet. Folks who can’t wipe themselves, trim their toenails, or tie shoelaces due to a lack of flexibility and obesity. They are so deconditioned and weak that navigating steps, reaching for something in the cupboard, or bending down to pick something up is a dangerous minefield. They fall and break hips or suffer brain bleeds when their head hits the floor. And when that happens, more often than not it’s the beginning of the end. They get placed in a rehab facility, then a skilled nursing home. And within six months to a year… they’re done.

I don’t want that. I want to be active and participating in sports as long as I can. I don’t want someone to have to tie my shoes for me when I’m 80. And I’m scared. This is the first year that I really noticed my balance is diminishing. Strength is less than it was. I became aerobically deconditioned incredibly fast during these last two years of covid-induced inactivity. And yes, the weight poured on faster than it ever has. My body fat percentage increased 6% and my BMI ballooned into the overweight category. That’s why I seem obsessed with weight at the moment.

I am determined to not let sloth get the better of me. I desperately need to develop health habits that are sustainable. But the truth of aging is that you are going to decline no matter what. You have to push harder at my age, just to maintain what you have, than you did in your twenties. The longer you wait to make a change, the harder it’s going to be. Personally, I’ve reached that tipping point of concern. All joking about giving up and just wearing velour tracksuits aside… I’m genuinely worried. It’s time to right this ship before it’s really too late.

I’ve hired personal trainer to help build back strength and mobility. I started running again. And I’m desperately trying to find an eating plan that is sustainable. Sorry to disappoint all the Keto fanatics, but zero carb full time isn’t it. Life is too short to banish tacos for the rest of my life. And by taco, I mean a real taco. Don’t give me one of those weird zero carb tortillas and fake cauliflower-based rice. I don’t know what the right eating plan is yet, but we’re working on it. None of this is easy. I don’t particularly enjoy it. But I want to be mountain biking into my 70’s and there’s only one way to achieve that.

What I care about are my blood pressure, resting heart rate, lactate threshold, A1C, strength, mobility, body fat percentage, and BMI.

I don’t care what I weigh.



	

I’m Sick Of Diet And Food

I’m frustrated. I’m depressed. I’m angry. I’m absolutely sick and tired of thinking about diet and food. Here’s why…

In the last 7 days my activities have been as follows:

  • 3.7 mile run
  • Initial meeting with personal trainer, mobility, and strength assessment
  • A day of alpine skiing, 13 runs, 9.7 miles
  • A day of cross-country skate skiing, hills, 4.2 miles
  • Two 13-hour workdays, on my feet, walking an ungodly number of steps

My diet during this time:

  • Only two meals a day
  • One meal a day on the workdays
  • Out to dinner with friends but had only a salad
  • Had a burger one night but did salad instead of fries
  • Three total beers during the week
  • My only snacks were almonds and parmesan crips

Not bad, right? I jumped on the scale this morning and… I gained a pound and a half. Fuck!

It’s so demoralizing. Don’t get me wrong, I know exactly why. The meals were pretty high calorie. I ate a LOT of the snacks. Salad is not low calorie when you add gobs of blue cheese dressing. Beer is 200+ calories each. I know I ate too many calories. But I thought for sure that amount of activity I did would at least keep me at break-even. It’s a horrible feeling to be thinking about calories non-stop, to worry all week about getting enough activity in – and still gain weight. I’m tired of thinking about and dwelling over the number on the scale. It’s enough to want to just give up and eat whatever the hell I want. I’m getting old. It’s not like I’m trying to be on the cover of Vogue magazine or become a competitive cyclist. Why should I care anymore?

I’m so sick of thinking and stressing over food. I’m tired of keto. I want to be able to have a beer from time to time. Or a burger. Not every day, but once in a while without feeling guilty about it. I want to be active and exercise so I feel good about my long-term health. I want to maintain my balance and mobility so that I’m not afraid to stand on a stepstool when I’m in my 70’s. But constant worrying about exercise in terms of “did I burn enough calories today?”, is making it a chore that I have to do – not something I want to do.

Having to maintain a diet is not enjoyable. Having to move to the XL side of the clothing rack and skipping fun water activities with friends because you’re embarrassed at how you look isn’t fun either. Both things suck. I keep telling myself, a bit of short-term pain to get to someplace I’m comfortable is worth the effort. Then I can work on a maintenance level of calories rather than a constant deficit. But the daily grind and internal analysis just gets old.

At my age it’s clear that the only way to lose weight is extremely strict calorie restriction. There are no “cheat meals” allowed. I need to track every bit of food I consume. I can ramp up my activity a bit more, but not enough to compensate for the calories I ate this week. Every single thing I put in my mouth has to be weighed, measured, and counted against the daily and weekly calorie budget. I know this. And it pisses me off. Like the national debt clock, I need a continually running calorie clock so I can make appropriate decisions about food intake. I need to stop ruining reasonable food choices by tripling the portion sizes.

I know myself. I struggle with choice. When forced to choose, I often make bad decisions. I’m the type of person that needs to eat the same thing every day. The same breakfast, the same snacks, the same dinner. A known set of calories that doesn’t waver. And once in a while when out with friends, have a burger. But eat only half. I don’t need to consume the entire two pounds of burger, bun, and condiments. Eat enough to satisfy the taste craving and be done. And yes, I can up the activity intensity a bit. I know I’m capable of more than I actually do.

I know what the answer is. I know how this week happened. I know what to do. I just needed to vent a bit. To have a bit of a pity party. Now I need to pick myself up off the floor, dust myself off, and get back after it. I will keep the XXL velour track suit with the elastic waistband and the “all you can eat” buffet at bay.

Headed Off To Bootcamp

How’z those New Year resolutions going? I’m pretty sure in the fitness industry they’re now reaching peak “new year, new me!” frenzy. Somewhere in the next few weeks the new gym membership attendance begins to wane. By late February the committed gym rats have their empty weight rooms again and gym owners can rejoice – all those oversold introductory one-year memberships are now free money. Diets are being broken, and people are realizing they’re stuck with three more months of Jenny Craig meals they won’t eat. That Peloton bike investment and pre-paid 1 year subscription is looking shaky, although it does make a handy spot to dry sweaters.

In Troutdog land, we’re still on the path. Been about 80% good with diet and mostly in ketosis. Zero alcohol for the month. I was really good until I got taken out by the virus which we shall not name. I got hit with the full dump truck of symptoms. Everything except loss of taste and smell. Apparently for me, full fevers and body aches is a license to eat everything I can find in the pantry. I put back a couple of the pounds I’d lost. I’ve now re-lost those pounds, but my end of January weight goal is 1.5 pounds away with three days to go. I’ll probably get close, but no cigar. I blame China.

Workouts have been spotty, but I’m doing it. Again, the damn virus put a damper on things. When you’re newly lifting weights, it’s hard to tell if that head-to-toe body ache is because of DOMS, or Covid fever? The biggest accomplishment is that I started running again. And by running, I mean a lumbering walk-jog with occasional bouts of wild flailing around in an attempt to not slip on the ice. People my age break hips falling on the ice, so I’m extra careful.

All of this, combined with days and days of contemplating my navel while waiting to pass quarantine, prompted me to make a rash decision. I committed to something I’ve never done before. I hired a personal trainer. Gasp! It was either that or join the military so I can go through bootcamp. With tensions mounting in the Ukraine and South China Sea, I figured a local fitness expert was a safer choice.

I’m not sure what to expect. I don’t see him until next week. I told him I was looking for help putting together a program that incorporates strength training with improving aerobic endurance. I started putting together an extensive resume of past fitness and sport achievements, a list of gear and equipment in my home gym, daily nutrition data, and then a proposed schedule of workout times that correspond with my circadian rhythms. I then realized that he’ll probably throw that in the trash and say, “Uh, can you lift that weight? No? Ok how about that one? Still no? Can you lift that pink one? Hmmm. Maybe this isn’t the best fit…”

I’m starting to realize that what I really need is someone to simply hold me accountable. To yell at me to stop complaining and just get it done. To ask me what the hell I’ve been eating that my weight went back up three pounds in a day. To slap that 2,000 calorie Starbucks Frappuccino out of my pudgy little fingers. In short, I need to go to bootcamp.

Maybe there’s a military branch for middle aged dudes with poor eyesight and more computer skills than physical attributes. Weekends only would be a bonus. I’m thinking that I’m a walking recruiting poster boy for… The UNITED STATES SPACEFORCE!

So, if you don’t hear from me for a while I’m either binge watching Bill Murry in Stripes or I got called up to report for duty. I wonder if they’ll make me get a haircut?

Diet Secret Unlocked: Stay Busy

I should probably put this on my wildly successful, subscription substack – but because I like you guys, I’ll give you this tip for free. I don’t know why it didn’t dawn on me until recently, but I’m a little slow sometimes. Anyway, here goes. Are you ready? The secret to losing weight – stay busy. That’s it. It’s that simple. Let me explain…

I don’t have a problem working out. I don’t have a problem committing to a particular eating plan. I don’t have a problem tracking macros, calories, or a hundred other stats. What I do have a problem with is stringing those things together for more than a few days. The difference between the times I’ve been successful with weight loss and, ahem, now? Constant activity.

My last go-round with fitness happened when I was still working full-time. I was so crazy busy at work it was easy to fast all day (I ate one meal a day, when I got home). There simply wasn’t time to eat and no time to think about being hungry. So that was three days a week of at least a 1000 calorie deficit per day. (hospital work is three twelve-hour shifts) I was left with a compressed week to fit all my activities in. So even though I probably exceeded my calorie goal many of those remaining days, I was active enough to balance it out. And the weight melted off. About 30 pounds in four months. Activity fosters more activity. As I started losing weight it motivated me to work out even harder and watch my diet even closer. It’s a positive self-reinforcing cycle. Eight months later I came close to hitting my high school weight.

And then at the end of that summer, after summiting the highest peak in the lower 48, I “took a break”. It was only going to be for a short time. After all, I’d earned it. During that break period, I went part-time at work. Then the pandemic hit. Sloth set in and my activity level plummeted. Suddenly I had more time on my hands than I knew what to do with. I spent too many hours just surfing the web and watching non-stop YouTube. And what happens when you have idle hands? Grazing in the pantry and fridge every two hours.

Even though I’d “restart” the diet each morning with a vow to be strict… by 3pm I’d have already hit my calorie budget. Sitting around so much just made me tired and my motivation to be active simply faded more and more each day. This a negative self-reinforcing cycle. And the pounds came back with a vengeance.

With a new year, we’re here at reset #432. Two weeks in and doing good so far. Back in ketosis. No alcohol since the New Year. Winter finally gave us a ski season, so I’m back outside again. The scale is slowly moving in the right direction.

But I still have plenty of time on my hands. And I find myself standing in front of the fridge far too often. I’m not actually hungry. Keto is great for limiting choices and calories, and the daily blood checks keep me honest… but I can still blow my food budget by consuming 400 calories in nuts and stay in ketosis. Right now, I’m on that razor edge of continued success or falling off the wagon again.

Having time on your hands is dangerous in so many ways. It saps productivity. It’s a conduit for a ridiculous amount of screen-time. It’s a recipe for sloth. I’ve written before about wanting to find more purpose, to focus on my hobbies and actually get good at something, to make plans and follow through with them. All things worth focusing on. But more than anything – I need to keep myself occupied so I’m not thinking about food and finding myself standing in front of the refrigerator a dozen times a day. Oh, how I envy the apathetic eaters who simply don’t care about food.

So, the secret to losing weight? Keep yourself so busy you don’t have time to food graze. And the bonus reward is going to bed each night tired and fulfilled with a day full of productivity towards something. Its’ a win-win.

Of course, the other option is to completely empty out the pantry and fridge of all food. Restock them with only the EXACT number of calories allotted for each day. Heck, you could go so far as to partition all your shelves and label them Mon, Tues, Wed, etc… Trust me, I’ve thought about it.

While I’m getting desperate enough for that degree of obsessiveness, I’m not quite ready for that level of extreme. For now, it’s time to ramp up the daily activities to ludicrous levels. So, if you start seeing three posts a day about mountain biking to a lake to go ice fishing, followed by running the dog and then walking downtown to take photographs, and then evening workout sessions… just know it’s not my overachieving, Ritalin fueled personality – I’m desperately trying to distract myself from standing in front of the fridge.

Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.

Benjaman Franklin

What Kind Of Eater Are You?

As we inch towards the new year, approximately two thirds of the United States is planning a new diet come Jan 1. (cough cough, myself included) In the US the portion sizes are 3x what they should be, we snack constantly, eat convenient processed food, and rarely exercise. The result is a steady 2-5 pounds a year of weight gain until you reach the “oh shit” stage whereupon you realize your scheduled beach vacation is three months away and you look like a bloated Steven Seagal with an all-you-can-eat card for the local Krispy Kreme. You don’t dare wear that fancy speedo you bought for fear of being mistaken for a beached whale. (yes, this is a true story minus the speedo part. Unless you’re an Olympic swimmer, under no circumstances should men rock the banana hammock. Sorry, those are just the rules)

Given this, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share some insights into my PhD research. I’m planning on a doctorate in applied bio-electrical nutrition and chemical manipulation of the ribosome. It’s an at-home study course. Given the costs of education these days, this one seemed pretty reasonable. Only 10 payments of $899 and you can call me Dr Troutdog! Anyway, as part of my thesis work, I’ve identified the five primary eating genotypes in the United States. They are as follows:

  • The Apathetic Eater – These people are freaks and should be shunned. They generally don’t care about food. They eat only because they have to. They pick at salads and eat half a bowl of cereal in the morning. That’s it. They’ve been thin their entire lives and don’t understand how people get fat. A large percentage of them are vegetarian or some weird fruitarian thing. They don’t exercise and often get blown over in storms. Usually, they’re cat people because they lack the strength to hold on to a dog leash without getting pulled down the street like an out-of-control dog sled.

  • The Disciplined Eater – Also freaks of nature. These eaters count calories, macronutrients, and usually meal plan and prep a week at a time. Very often they’re athletes. Or at the very least, crossfitters (don’t worry, they’ll tell you). They follow very strict diets – Keto, Paleo, IIFYM, etc… These freaks have goals for each week, quarter, and year. They track everything in journals. Be careful with conversations with these folks because they’ll overwhelm you with acronyms about total energy expenditures, insulin and glycemic to fat burning ratios. Their idea of a cheat meal is indulging in a light beer and an extra portion of sweet potatoes on Thanksgiving. When around these people you’ll generally feel bad about yourself for not wanting to wake up at 04:30 to work out or join them in the polar bear plunge on New Year’s Day.

  • The Guilty Eater – This is probably the average eater in the US. They’ve put on weight, know it, and desperately want to “get healthy”. They join, or re-join, a gym every year and go for about a month. Once a quarter they start a new diet they heard about from Dr Oz (senator?) and Oprah. The cabbage soup and raw lemon-rind snack diet works for a week or so and then fails due to consumption of three-quarters of a meat lovers pizza in a fit of near-cannibalistic hunger. These folks don’t eat breakfast, order a salad with no dressing when out to lunch with co-workers, and then binge three doughnuts in the breakroom at work. There’s a secret stash of candy and chips in the car and on the back shelf of the pantry. Dieting is just so hard when you have to make a ginormous lasagna, bread, and desert to feed the three kids. These poor souls know they need to lose weight and hate themselves every time they sneak some Taco Bell on the way home.

  • The Gluttonous Eater – Often found in the south, these folks either truly don’t understand the concept of a calorie, or just don’t care. They eat with abandon. Anything and everything. If it’s not deep fried, what’s the point? They tend to see themselves as just “big boned”. Usually they’re very happy folks, hard workers, and often great cooks. They’re plagued with health issues and are puzzled at how they “caught the diabetes”. Their grandparents and parents ate this way, and so do they. They don’t see the need to “diet” other than switch to diet Coke occasionally. The other side of the coin in this category are the folks who have some mental health issues and eat as some sort of coping mechanism. Probably the saddest group of all. The morbidly obese who’ve simply given up.

  • The Balanced Eater – The unicorn (at least in the United States). The eater who exercises regularly, but not compulsively. They enjoy food, but somehow manage to keep their calories in check. They’ll enjoy a good meal but have figured out the whole moderation thing. They’re happy and balanced. They are a rare find. They are subjects of a great deal of research. We all strive to find that magic pill or diet that gives us what they have – a healthy outlook on food, exercise and the willpower to maintain those habits without guilt, obsession, or overthinking it. They are hated by most of the population.

So, what kind of eater are you? If you’ve been reading any of my previous ramblings, you’ll recognize I’m clearly in the Guilty Eater category. I had a few brief flirtations with the Disciplined Eater, but it flamed out fairly quickly. I go through weird food compulsions (croutons, rice, pretzels, Pirates Booty (it’s gluten free!) chips, cheese, etc…) Why is it so hard to just eat normally and get some exercise? We really are a ridiculous population in this country. Laziness and sloth have taken root and I fear are here to stay. Like the Roman Empire, we became fat and complacent, living for our entertainment and pleasures. And when the zombie apocalypse comes, very few of us will have the cardio to survive*.

I wish you luck with your diet plans in the New Year. I have three months to drop approximately thirty pounds before I can stroll down the beach in my leopard print banana hammock. I have full confidence I will achieve my goals. Starting tomorrow. Wait, you can’t start on a weekend. Starting on Monday. For sure.

* Rule #1 of the 32 rules of Zombieland