A close up shot of an orange.  Why?  I just don't know...

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All articles from the Diet And Exercise category



A New Workout

1. Step-Ups - with a dumbbell in each hand, arms straight down, step up onto a bench starting with the left foot, then step down with the left foot. 15 reps. 15 more reps starting with the right foot. 3 sets. (2x15 pounds)

2. Clean & Press - Using a deadlift pose, pick up the barbell and immediately clean it to the chest, then press it up military style. 3 sets. 15 reps. (40 pounds)

3. Lunges - with a dumbbell in each hand, do 3 sets of 15 reps leading with the left leg, keeping ankle in front of knee and not letting knee touch the ground. 3 more sets of 15 reps leading with the right leg. (2x10 pounds)

4. Bent Over Row - pick up a bar and while bent over - way over, with back straight and using an underhanded grip, row the bar clenching shoulder blades at end of each pull. 3 sets. 15 reps. (40 pounds)

5. Chest Press on Ball - using a ball as a bench, sit on ball and slide down until ball is under upper back and neck. Dumbell in each hand. 3 sets. 15 reps. (20 pounds)

6. Shoulder Press on Ball - again on the wobbly ball, sitting straight up, do 3 sets of 15 reps of Military Press. (20 pounds)

7. High Pulls - Using cable machine with cable at eye level and two stirrups attached to the carabiner; with arms horizontal, face the cable, grab the handles, and pull towards your face. Nice posterior delt exercise. 3 sets of 12 reps. (40 pounds)

8. Tricep (Hammer) Curls - Using cable machine and rope attachment, pull down. Forearms start horizontal, end vertical. 3 x 12. (40 pounds)

9. Bicep Curls - With rope using same cable machine and rope attachment, or with barbell. 3 x 12 curls. (40 pounds)

A. Reverse Crunch - Lie on bench and grab the top. Lift up legs (bent) finishing with shins roughly vertical and bit coming off the bench.

B. Back Extension on Ball - Lie face-down with sternum on ball. Feet against the wall. Arms crossed over chest. Round back so you are draped over ball. Now extend back until chest is off the ball.

C. Bosu Leg Raise - grab handles and lift legs until thighs are horizontal.

I don't know how to put this but I'm kind of a big deal.

I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.

statue of fat David

On the suggestion of my family doctor, I am taking part in the Comprehensive Vascular Disease Prevention and Management Inititiative currently being conducted in my backwoods town of Podunk, Ontario.

As per the offical propaganda:

"The...program...is set to change the way in which the disease is identified and treated in patients across the local area."
"By focusing on prevention, early detection and disease management, the program aims to reduce the number of events such as heart attacks and stroke."
"The program is currently being piloted in nine Family Health Team practices but will eventually be rolled out to other municipalities across Ontario in the next few years."

Locally, there are 1500 other men and women involved in this study - what makes it appealing to me is that not only are my "statistics" going to be used in the study, but I get all sorts of benefits by participating, like full bloodwork, stress test, ECG, and nutritional and lifestyle counselling, etc. Yesterday, I met with a nurse-practioner and was very flattered to discover that I am in great shape and am doing most things right. Today, I had a 2 hour class with a dietitian where I learned to eat right - and that's what this blog post is going to be about.

The first thing I was struck by was the general lack of knowledge in my group (of about 9 people) about diet and nutrition. I mean, it was not so long ago that I was in the exact same position but man, considering the subject is about how best to live and stay alive, I'm amazed at the lack of knowedge, is all I'm sayin'...is all...

Now, the class dietitian was sweet girl and by her own admission she was an intern, "almost a full dietitian", and she wasn't an experienced speaker, so I had to hand it to her - it takes guts to get up in front of a room full of (unqualified) strangers and speak with authority. Since she was in the process of graduating, I was hoping she'd have the cutting edge education and therefore the exact information I need to hear more about. But some of what she said was just plain wrong. So she is going to be part of the outdated nutrional orthodoxy that I was hoping was disappearing by now.

Now, before I go into the details of what was wrong, it does bring up an interesting idea. Based on the things she said that I know are wrong, how should I treat the things I'm not sure of? I can't discount everything she said, but by the same token, now that I've caught her making errors, how can I now tell what's right and what's wrong? Anyway, it's an interesting idea.

OK, so she made three big errors. Here they are:

1. Wants us to consume unsaturated fats over saturated fats.

Says to avoid fats that are solid at room temperature. You know what another word for "solid" is? Stable. I like my fats to be stable at room temperature, so that they don't go rancid. And the more unsaturated a fat is, the less solid and stable it is.

She got turned around telling us to avoid sat fats when she subsequently recommended foods high in sat fats. For example, she said to eat yogurt and milk even though they are mostly saturated fats, because they are "good saturated" fats.

Here's my take. Saturated fats in the "bad" meats (like my red-meat faves: cold cuts, sausage, and steaks) make up only 20% - 50% of the total fat content of the meat. That "Bad" meat is high in protein, iron, B vitamins, zinc, choline, and selenium - a mineral implicated in preventing cancer and improving cardiovascular health. Ounce for ounce beef has twice the thiamine and riboflavin, three times the iron, five times the zinc, and seven times the B12 of chicken. Beef also contains conjugated linoleic acid, (CLA), which has inhibited cancer growth in laboratory animals. Half of the fat in beef is monosaturated fat, (like olive oil), which has been hailed as having many health benefits. Less than half of the total fat in beef is saturated fat and one third of it is stearic acid, a particular saturated fat that has no effect on cholesterol.

2. Says we should worry about fat and sodium, instead of sugar.

Frankly, this blew me away. And I could see that people in the class were confused by the introduction of the sodium issue. He's my take on sodium. The body has an amazing abilitiy to regulate sodium in the body and shed excess sodium where necessary. If you are not showing signs of "sodium sensitivity" in the form of high blood pressure and hypertension, then what's the point of reducing sodium intake?! Is it to get under some arbitrary number that attempts to cover everybody? Using that logic, then you should cut your peanut intake even though you don't get anaphylaxis, and you should stop drinking milk even though you are not lactose intolerant. I'll say it again, if you don't have high-blood pressure and/or hypertension - then ignore your salt consumption. If you ever get high-blood pressure, then revisit my strategy.

And here's my take on sugar. If you didn't not get one milligram of sugar for the rest of your life, you would be just fine. In fact, you would be doing terrific. But if you didn't get another gram of fat, you would DIE. And it wouldn't be nice and quick either. You'd probably go insane first. Sugar is the devil. If you're even half ways normal and you did nothing but cut your sugar intake as far as you could take it, everything else for you would probably automatically click right into place.

She didn' t even mention watching sugar intake.

3. Any exercise is good exercise.

It's just not true. You have a resting heart rate and you have a maximum heart rate where if you go any harder your heart will explode right out of your chest. (Don't laugh, it really happened to a friend of a friend of mine.) And somewhere in between, you have a target heart rate. And believe me, there is a big difference between your resting heart rate and your target heart rate. Jesus Christ, why do you think that Olympic athletes train the way they do? Do you think they wouldn't rather go mall-walking if they could get a similar effect? Sure, if you're completely out of shape, then you start by taking the stairs to the bathroom in your office tower, but then you progress until you are doing real exercise. Not this stupid walk around the block after dinner.

Now, for me as much as for you, I will restate:

Exercise strenously for a minimum of 2.5 hours per week, preferably spread out. (Not the whole 2.5 hours at one time)

Eliminate all processed crap from your diet. And don't try the argument that everything is processed. "Milk is pasteurized and therefore processed..." If you can't tell the difference between a glass of milk and a Mountain Dew then you are just plain stupid.

For what's left, try to scale way back on added or concentrated sugars. Added sugars are anything you would put sugar, honey, or molasses on. Concentrated sugars are dried fruits, raisins, etc. Eat all the sugar you want outside of that - like fruit. Now I'll never be able to completley eliminate the added or concentrated sugars from my diet, I do have a sweet tooth after all. But I am at least aware.

From what's left of that, have as much as you want of everything else up to the caloric limit for your gender and weight. For me that's 3000 calories per day. Because I work out, I try to get at least 150g of protein per day, and I let the fat and carb levels work themselves out. Usually the process of getting that much protein brings with it all the fat I need, (any kind of fat - I don't care) and the rest becomes complex carbs in the form of vegetables.

Not so complicated, eh?

It's my first birthday

...marking one year of my lifestyle change

fat Steph to skinny Steph

It's hard for me to believe now that just about two years ago, I was an overweight, pack-a-day chain-smoker. I had sleep apnea, a CPAP machine, and I took a variety of prescription drugs for my health-related ailments, like heartburn. Oh, I used to have killer heartburn. My wife actually endured a year of the head of our bed being elevated, because my heartburn would have me waking up at night gasping and choking. Often we'd just slide right off the bed in the middle of the night, due to the fact that I need plastic sheets and all, but that's another story...

And speaking of the middle of the night, my snoring used to be legendary. I have to laugh as I recall the night of my stag - 11 years ago. After a long night of terrifically heavy drinking, my buddies had previously had the presence of mind to rent a hotel room for us to crash in. And at around 3 or 4 in the morning we all did just that - crashed in the room. The next morning my soon-to-be best man and I woke up at roughly the same moment as I, both of us with crushing hangovers. He said to me, "Man, did you ever snore last night! If I was marrying you and had to listen to that, I think I would slit your throat!" And my snoring only got worse after that :-)

I also had high cholesterol. My number was eleven, which is just insane. My doctor put me on Lipitor and Crestor and told me that I would be on it for the rest of my life. That meant I would be enjoying drug side-effects for the rest of my life as well.

And though everything described above is no longer an issue for me now, remembering serves as a nice motivation for me to keep it up.

My Current Weekly Workout - 2010

Steph's Custom Split Modified Push/Pull Full Body Workout

This workout took me roughly four months to figure out. I've been fumbling around with weights at the gym for more that 8 months without really knowing what I was doing. Sure, I made gains but not efficiently and that has always driven me nuts. I mean, the gym is OK, but I don't want to spend all day there if I can get away with just 60 or 90 minutes. So I studied up (love that Internet) and finally as of 4 weeks ago, I think I've got this thing figured out. I can't see any problem with it. As far as I'm concerned it's the perfect full-body workout for the unemployed 40 plus male, who loves cardio and belongs to a gym...

Mondays and Thursdays (push)

Pectorals and Triceps - The rotary machine I use is slightly different than what's pictured in the link. Whatever. Using a machine pretty much isolates the exercise to the pecs and triceps, which is exactly what I want because I don't want to be working out any of the muscles that I'll be working the following day. (biceps, back, etc...) Rotary Chest Press - 1 set, 8-12 reps @ 115 lbs.

Anterior Deltoid - I have a history of shoulder problems, so any military style presses are out for me. I have worked hard to come up with decent front, side, and rear delt exercises that don't aggravate my troublesome shoulders. This one has worked wonders for me. I can play squash again! Dumbbell Front Raise - 1 set, 8-12 reps @ 15 lbs per dumbbell.

Triceps - I do an isolation exercise here. I'm not sure if I'm overdoing the triceps or not. Considering I am only doing one set, that's got to be unlikely. In three months, I'll decide. Tricep Extensions - 1 set, 8-12 reps @ 70 lbs.

Lateral Deltoid - I've recently added this isolation exercise so that there is more time elapsed between the chest press and the pushups. It's also obviously great for working the side delts :-) Lever Lateral Raise - 1 set, 8-12 reps @ 80 lbs.

Rectus Abdominis - The crunches I like to do are only similar to the ones pictured in the link. With mine, I lie on my back and stick my legs up in the air crossed at the ankles and knees only slightly bent, so I am like the letter "L". Then I lightly touch my ears with my hands and I perform a crunch, hunching my back. When I straighten my back to get ready for the next one, I dip my legs towards the floor. So it's sort of like a crunch plus a leg raise. Crunches - 1 set, 50 reps. (at 60 reps I'll start adding plates behind my head so I'm not doing crunches all day long.)

Pectorals and Triceps - my all time favourite exercise. Such exquisite agony. The pecs are a big muscle so I start and finish my workout with them. Pushups - 2 sets, 30/20 reps

This weight training only takes somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes. So I'll finish the workout with 30 minutes on the elliptical.

Wednesdays (cardio)

On this day I am supposed to be resting everything I worked on Monday and Tuesday, so that pretty much confines me to leg-based cardio which luckily is almost all of the cardio machines in the gym. Typically I'll do 30 minutes of elliptical, 15 minutes of stairclimber, and 15 minutes of treadmill. Or if I can get a decent bike ride in on Wednesdays, I'll skip the gym altogether. Interestingly (to me,) though I love riding my bicycle, I can't stand riding stationary bikes in the gym.

My goal in cardio is to get between my target heart rate (144) and my maximum heart rate (177) and stay there for 30 minutes. I don't worry about all that "cardio zone", "fat burn zone" stuff. Those of you who have seen me at the gym can vouch for me as to whether or not I'm getting there, because I know I look pretty scary when I do cardio. I'm always red as hell in the face and sweating buckets. Then I forget where I am and start belting out the lyrics to NIN's Closer as I listen to it on my iPod...I guess that's my trademark. I'm sure it drives the ladies crazy with desire...

Tuesdays and Fridays (pull)

Lats and Biceps - Again, I'm using a Paramount PL model rotary machine but the motion is laregly the same as in the picture. This is a lot of weight for me so form is really important. It's a good exercise. I can usually feel it the next day. Rotary Upper Back - 1 set, 8-12 reps @ 130 lbs.

Posterior Deltoid - This is one of two unusual exercises I got from a physiotherapist to aid in my shoulder rehabilitation. There are other exercises for the rear delt but I do this one because it's what the physio told me to do. Besides, it's pretty easy. My way involves grabbing a cable and sticking my arm straight out in front of me. I then pull my arm straight out to my side (like I am signalling a left turn on my bike) and then return that arm so that it's straight out in front of me again. It's the same as a Dumbbell Rear Lateral Raise, but I am using a cable machine instead of a dumbbell, I am standing up straight, and I am alternating arms... Cable Rear Delt Pull - 1 set, 8-12 reps @ plate #4 (which I think is about 8.5 pounds? It's got to be more!)

Infraspinatus - Teres Minor - Another weird one from the physiotherapist, but it feels like it's doing some good. The way I do it, I'm standing. My elbow is tight against my side and my forearm is sticking straight out in front of me, holding a horizontal cable. I swing my forearm out (not as far as the person in the link photo) and back again, always keeping that elbow tight to my side. After I do this, I feel it under my arm at the back of my rib cage? It's another easy exercise I don't mind doing. - Lateral Shoulder Rotation - 1 set, 8-12 reps @ plate #4.

Trapezius - Man, shrugs are pure agony. What I do is 10 reps and hold each shrug for 10 seconds, with a five second rest in between each shrug. That in itself makes this exercise one of my most difficult, but an even bigger issue is that my "grip" is so tired by the time I'm half way through the shrug, my hands are in agony for the last half of the exercise. Every time. So much so that I've asked some trainers what to do and, since we don't have a shrug machine at my gym, I'm going to have to buy some straps and use them instead. These inexpensive straps wrap around your wrist and the bar and offload the stress of holding the dumbbell to your forearm. I'm looking forward to getting a set...Shrugs -1 set, 8-12 reps @ 50 lbs. per dumbbell.

Lats and Biceps - For this exercise I am using the oldest machine in the gym. It's this ancient plate machine. I'm not particular on what kind of bar I use either. I prefer a just more than shoulder width grip and pull down to my sternum - It's heavy weight so I watch my form closely... Cable Pulldown - 1 set, 8-12 reps @ 110 lbs.

Biceps - Ah, the classic newbie exercise. I say this because so many people want big biceps and figure the concentration curl is the best way to get there. My motives are a little different. I know I've already worked the crap out of my biceps by the time I get to this point in my workout; I just want to make sure those biceps are good and wrecked before I leave. I could drop this exercise and it would probably be to my benefit in terms of overtraining and recovery...Concentration Curls - 1 set, (barely) 8 reps @ 25 lbs. per dumbbell.

This weight training only takes somewhere between 30 and 40 minutes. So I'll finish the workout with 30 minutes on the rowing machine.


  • I'm a big proponent of Low-Volume, Progressive-Intensity Training. I do just one set of each exercise. Well, actually I do two: a warmup set at 1/2 the weight of my real set, then I do the real set. I do 10 reps on the warmup to warm up of course, but also to check my form.
  • I'm old, so I need to rest more. I used to do a three-day-a-week full-body training. I trained my entire upper body on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The problem I encountered was that with just one day off between the workouts, I was never fully recovered. Ideally, an old fart like me should have two or even three days rest between workouts. So, I've achieved this by working certain muscles on Mondays and Thursdays and their "opposites" on Tuesdays and Fridays.
  • Each rep is very slow. Take my curl. I typically do 3 seconds on the concentric (the curl), then I pause for 1 second, then 4 seconds on the eccentric (the let-down), then another 1 second pause. During the pause I take care to ensure that I am not in a resting position (like if my arm was fully extended.) In this way, the muscles are under constant load throughout the set. I also take care to ensure good form and eliminate "bounce" from my motion. It's called the "perfect rep" and I'm constantly surprised at how difficult it is to do. You'd think a bicep curl would be just about the easiest thing in the world to do, but on any given day I'll do only 7 or 8 decent curls out of 10...
  • I don't workout my legs. Honestly, this is probably a mistake. But I do ride my bicycle a lot and most of the cardio machines at my gym work the legs exclusively. So my legs look pretty good although I'm sure my hip abductors and rotators could use some attention...maybe in 3 months I'll integrate a little leg work in twice per week.
  • I keep a log. Man, that's so important if you are at all interested in making efficient use of your time at the gym. Plus, the act of recording in your log gives you something to do between the warmup set and the actual set. If you don't keep a log and you use too much weight, your form may suffer and you'll get injured. If you use little weight, your body does not have to adapt to an overload and you don't make gains. Plus, I'm a big believer that it's not the aches or fatigue that's the measure of a good workout, it's what you can see in your log. I use this shorthand log which make recording a snap. Some days, I don't have to write anything - but I've still kept the log!
  • Lastly, I know. Those weights are embarassingly low especially since it's only one set of each exercise. I don't know what to say except the slow motion really takes it's toll by the 7th rep. It could also be because I've been exercising for only about 10 months now. I had never really set foot in a gym until last May, so I didn't really have a lot of muscle to begin with, and gaining mass after forty is pretty hard to do. I console myself with the fact that I rate excellent for my age on the pushups calculator, so I can't be that weak...

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

Sugar may be bad, but High Fructose Corn Syrup is the devil!

Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology, explores the damage caused by sugary foods. He argues that fructose and lack of fiber appear to be cornerstones of the obesity epidemic through their effects on insulin.

It's a fascinating 90 minutes, but here is a link to the very best part at the 1 hour, 9 minutes, 46 seconds mark. Still, feel free to rewind and play from the beginning.

I love his comparison of sugar to alcohol (it's the same thing,) but one of his examples that really resonated with me is how he illustrates the importance of a fiber accompaniment when ingesting sugar: he uses the example of a teaspoon of sugar against an apple. Both contain the same amount of sugar but you can consume a whole hell of a lot more teaspoons of sugar, and much, much faster too, than you can apples. That's really simple and it makes sense to me.

And then there is a whole bunch of bad chemical stuff that happens in your body when you ingest sugar without the fiber along with it...but watch the video - he is a little more eloquent than me.

Lose weight by NOT dieting

Calorie-restricted diets are not the way to go.

Good Calories, Bad Calories - the book

It used to be thought that ulcers were caused by excess acid in the stomach. This excess acid would essentially burn holes in the stomach lining. In the past, ulcers were a chronic affliction and symptoms were treated with expensive prescription bismuth solutions like Maalox and Pepcid AC. The companies that made those very profitable products were understandably not impressed when an Australian scientist discovered that, in the vast majority of cases, ulcers are actually caused by a simple bacteria (h. pylori) and can be completely cured with a round of anti-biotics. If I remember correctly, the entire medical community, no doubt aided by the pharmas, jumped all over this poor guy who made the discovery. The guy must have endured some pretty intense vilification until public preception shifted...Now Maalox can be bought over the counter - like Tums. And ulcers have pretty much become a non-issue for most people.

Now consider cholesterol and the low-fat movement. Public perception is gradually shifting away from the idea that fat is bad, fat causes obesity, that saturated fats are somehow worse than polyunsaturated fats, and that dietary cholesterol really has any effect on blood cholesterol, or even that elevated blood cholesterol is reliable indicator of coronary heart disease. It's seem to me to be a pretty slow shift, but maybe that's only because I happen to be living through it. On a personal level, I have been able to unequivocally prove to myself that the reverse is true. In 2009, 60 pounds overweight and with a cholesterol level of nine, I spent 6 month eschewing polyunsaturated fats, eating very little monounsaturated fats, yet I drastically increased my intake of saturated fats. Among other things, I ate tons of red meat (I'm not a big chicken fan) and eggs, I enjoyed cold cuts often, and I would save my bacon fat and use it to fry up my veggies; all habits I still maintain. Lo and behold, I lost those 60 pounds and my cholesterol number dropped to 5.6, not that the number particularly means anything to me anyway. So, I can say I lost 60 pounds and got in shape with the Hoppe Hi-Fat Diet. (Send $$$ for details.)

With great humility I lay the previous two examples before you to simply to illustrate that just because wisdom may be conventional (conventional wisdom) doesn't mean that it's correct. People used to think that the earth was flat before they realized it was oblong... Now consider this - the point of this whole post. It is a popular misconception that weight-gain and obesity are caused by the simple formula of calories-in vs. calories out. Many people subcribe to the mistaken notion that if you are fat, you need only reduce your calories-in until you are thin. They say that the only reason fat people are fat is because they eat too much. Until recently, I believed this myself, but I've done the required and several minutes of Internet research it and have now come to a different conclusion. I'm going to tell you instead, that

it is possible to take in only starvation calories and stay fat.

That's right, I am saying that for some (and who knows? maybe most?) people, no amount of calorie restriction or dieting is going to change their weight. They will die of malnutrition before they lose weight. It's just not as simple as calories-in, calories-out. Check this guy Gary Taubes out, and if you have the time, especially check out the talk he gave at Dartmouth in 2009. He says everything far more eloquently than I ever could...

So, if that's the case, then what is the secret to losing weight? I'm not entirely sure; I know that the solution doesn't lie with just one simple change, but again drawing on personal experience, I suspect the answer lies with a combination of moderate calorie restriction, quality nutrition, active lifestyle, and good mental health. That's hardly revolutionary and it sounds easy enough, but in today's society what with the intense pressures and the sedentary habits and the ingenious marketing and advertising bombarding us daily, it's a lot tougher than it seems.

And if anybody has a copy of Good Calories, Bad Calories, could I borrow it?

I Recall...

Central Park in fall, how you tore your dress, what a mess, I confess...

cartoon of a fat kid eathing french fries

Looking back at my childhood in the late 60's and early 70's, this was a time in which not I, not anyone in my family, not anyone I knew, and none of my schooolmates were at all overweight. You just didn't see very many hugely obese people anywhere. The grossly bloated and obese people you see so commonly today were a total rarity at that time. The cause of so much of today's obesity is only now fairly obvious to me; you have only to take a walk through your local grocery store, pay attention to the products at the fast food restaurants (can you find anything that isn't fried/breaded/carb loaded??), and look at the typical modern diet: grains grains grains at every meal, high carbs at every meal, loads of sugar and high fructose corn syrup (in virtually everything processed), yet little protein, few vegetables (french fries don't count as a vegetable!), not enough fat, and not enough fruit. We are overloading ourselves with pure junk food from morning to night, most of it almost totally deficient in nutrients. My diet growing up was not like this.

Growing up, my mother cooked meat and fairly minimal amounts of simple carbs such as potatoes or rice, but lots of vegetables and fruits. We rarely had pop (occasional treat only), and desserts such as cakes or pies were both homemade and infrequent. We didn't have snack foods such as chips, crackers, or cookies in the house therefore we couldn't munch on junk between meals. If we whined for a snack we'd get an apple. Or cheese. There were a lot fewer breakfast cereals, just Corn Flakes, Weet-A-Bix, Rice Krispies, etc., but they were consumed in small amounts and not so full of sugar and chemicals. (though I loved Cap'n Crunch; I think that my parents let me have it twice in ten years.) Take a good look at the cereal aisle of today's grocery store: dozens and dozens of cereals, (very heavily-marketed-to-children and very profitable by the way) most of them pure junk and chock full of sugar and chemicals. And now they are not only eaten for breakfast, they are also "anytime-of-day" snack foods.

So now at age 43, I can recall how I used to eat as a kid and teen, but my kids have never had the contrast and they think the foods they eat today are as it has always been and how it should be. They are nutritionally illiterate, and it is shameful that I am doing such a terrible job as a parent to educate them.

More Info:

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food "The adults of the last four generations have blessed our children with the destiny of a shorter lifespan that their own parents."

All the Health Risks of Processed Foods -- In Just a Few Quick, Convenient Bites "...you'd want to make healthful foods widely available, inexpensive, and convenient, and unhealthful foods relatively less so. Instead, we've done the opposite..."

Obesity in America (thank dog Canada doesn't have a problem...) "Instead of eating a diet of pure, wholesome foods coming directly from the land, Americans eat a diet of packaged, processed, and refined foods."

The Science of Refined Food Addiction "Most of our food supply has been processed and refined to point that it has become more a drug and less a nutrient."

Whole vs. Processed Foods  "Refined foods are turning us into an overweight, sick people."


Cabbage Soup Diet - Post Diet

After the Diet.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 1
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 2
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 3
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 4
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 5
Cabbage Soup Diet - 6 (Last Day)
Cabbage Soup Diet - Post Diet

family Xmas fastfood dinner a la Norman Rockwell.

So, I lasted until the morning of the 6th day. A couple of things conspired against me. The first was that I lost too much weight too fast. The second thing was Xmas parties and dinners. Man, I feasted two nights ago on the evening of Day 6 (after I had already shamefully quit the CSD...)

As expected, there was a bit of a rebound effect after going off the CSD. I am aware of it and am going to try to keep my weight around the 210 mark now. I appreicate the Cabbage Soup Diet's role in enabling me to permanently break through the 215 mark, a place I languished in for many weeks...

December 09 - 217.5 lbs.
December 10 - 215.5 lbs.
December 11 - 217 lbs.

December 12 - 217.5 lbs.
December 13 - 217 lbs.
December 14 - 215.5 lbs.
Before the Diet
December 15 - 217 lbs.
December 16 - 212 lbs.
December 17 - 211 lbs.

December 18 - 208.5 lbs.
December 19 - 205.5 lbs.
December 20 - 208.5 lbs.
Cabbage Soup Diet
December 21 - 210 lbs.
December 22 - 209.5 lbs.
December 23 - 211 lbs.
December 24 - 211 lbs.
December 25 - 210.5 lbs.
December 26 - 210.5 lbs.

After the Diet


So! It seems that I am able to hold steady around the 210 pounds mark after going on the Cabbage Soup Diet for 6 days. Prior to going on the diet, I was pretty stuck at 215-217 pounds. So I consider the CSD a complete success. When I originally did it seven months ago I was able to kickstart a major lifestyle change, and this time I was successful using the Cabbage Soup Diet to break through my plateau. I heartily recommend this diet to anyone who wants to lose weight quickly.

Now one thing I did before and during my time on the Cabbage Soup Diet was to gather information on it from the Internet. Keeping in mind that the Internet tends to be populated by 14-year-old one-handed typists trying to pass themselves off as university professors; as such I read many concerns and declarations as to how "dangerous" the Cabbage Soup Diet is. Here are some of my favourites.

"There is not enough protein in this diet./You will become protein deficient." Or similarly, "The diet is too unbalanced. Not enough of the proper nutrients."

To the first point, there is plenty of protein starting on Day 4 (with the milk) and if you become protein deficient after only four days you got some serious problems and maybe your weight isn't the worst of them. As for the diet lacking proper nutrients, I'll bet you haven't eaten this good in YEARS! With the Cabbage Soup Diet, what you are essentially eating is vitamins, minerals, fiber, complex carbs, and protein, with very little fat and sugar. Just what your doctor has been telling you to eat all along. Do you really think your diet of Pizza and Big Macs is better than the Cabbage Soup Diet?

"You'll get dehydrated. You only lose water weight."

Jesus Christ. The diet consists almost totally of water. Anyone who says the word "dehydrated" in the same breath as "Cabbage Soup Diet" clearly hasn't tried it. A better word combination would be "Cabbage Soup Diet" and "piss like a racehorse." You've never been safer from the effects of dehydration as when you are on the Cabbage Soup Diet...

As for losing only water weight, I can actually see why people would think this because of the dramatic weight loss combined with the (sometimes severe) "weight-rebounding" afterwards. There are two parts to this: first, the reason you lose so much water on the CSD is because of the almost total absence of salt in your diet during the entire thing. And then when you go off depending on how much salt you then ingest, your body automatically starts retaining water again. It's no biggie, but the fact of the matter is that there is plenty of blubber lost along with that water, because, well...math is math. 3000 calories equals one pound. If you eat 600 calories in one day (like you do on Day 2) and burn 3600 calories going about your daily business, then you will lose one pound of weight in that day, simple as that. You may also lose four pounds of water as well, but you'll still lose that pound of weight.

If you take my lowest pre-diet number from my highest post-diet number, the result is 4.5 pounds in 6 days. Acknowledging that all of the other numbers may simply reflect the influence of water, then is 4.5 pounds in 6 days is the real wight loss number, and it 'aint water.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Part 6 (Last Day)

Day 6.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 1
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 2
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 3
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 4
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 5
Cabbage Soup Diet - 6 (Last Day)
Cabbage Soup Diet - Post Diet

Steph's tricep

It is the morning of Day 6. Yesterday started off well enough, but I ate way too little, did too much, and I forgot to drink water. All I had in the morning was one bowl of cabbage soup. By 3PM I felt like something was a little wrong. I was pretty dizzy and I felt like I was having slight heart palpitations. As a quasi-emergency measure, I stopped at a McDonalds and pulled the meat and cheese out of a McDouble and ate that (and threw the rest away. As I picked that buger apart I had the uneasy feeling that this behaviour could be the beginnings of an eating disorder...) What a mistake that burger meat was because Holy Cow, is McDonald's meat ever salty! It's definitely not 100% beef. I'll bet it's only 75% beef and 25% salt. Then I continued home with my groceries and had my 10oz steak and 3 tomatoes. I felt much better after that. My wife had a good point on the dizziness though. I take a huge cocktail of vitamins each day including some pretty stimulating stuff like Gingko Biloba and Ginger, which together with my empty stomach may have contributed to my problems. And overall I think I should have taken it more easy. I shouldn't have worked out the day before. I mean, it's one thing if you are on this diet while sitting in a hospital bed waiting for surgery, quite another if you are running around town and exercising at the gym.

And then later in the day disaster struck in the form of an Xmas party at a friend's place. I had two kickers and about 6oz of super-salty hors d'ouvres. Man, I tried to resist but there was a spread of tasty food and everybody was telling me to eat. I got home later in the evening and had one more tomato before bed.

Earlier this morning I woke up and I could immediately tell I was retaining water. I think that's the secret of the CSD. Because there is absolutely no salt in it, you end up shedding retained water until you start eating salt again, as I did yesterday afternoon and last night. As I feared, the scale this morning showed a 3 pound gain. I'm now back up to 208.5.

OK, so here's the thing. There's another Xmas party tonight at my in-laws. One thing I can say about them is that they can cook! I can't bear the thought of fasting in a corner all night trying to ignore what promises to be a HUGE banquet-y feast...so...I'm quitting the CSD. Actually I already quit about 45 minutes ago, I just scrambled up three eggs, topped them with Tabasco and plopped them on top of a piece of a rye bread with a chunk of cheese on the side. And I can't tell you how good real food tasted after 6 days; let me just say the orgasm wasn't entirely unexpected...

December 15 - 217 lbs.
December 16 - 212 lbs.
December 17 - 211 lbs.

December 18 - 208.5 lbs.
December 19 - 205.5 lbs.
December 20 - 208.5 lbs.

Total Weight lost in 6 days: 8.5 pounds

I'm going to continue to track my weight here for the next few days or so, so you can see my "rebound weight" as I add real food back into my diet again. I'll also give you my overall impressions of the diet this second time around as well as my final recommendation. Thanks for reading.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Part 5

Day 5.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 1
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 2
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 3
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 4
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 5
Cabbage Soup Diet - 6 (Last Day)
Cabbage Soup Diet - Post Diet

Stephan Hoppe on his wedding day...

I should take a moment here to tell you a little bit about myself. I am a 6 foot 4 inch tall, super-handsome and über-masculine 43-year-old male. Seven months ago, I tipped the scales at 271 pounds - I decided that enough was enough, there was no use in denying it, for the first time in my life I would have to diet and exercise. I picked as my goal the weight I was at when I met my wife 11 years earlier - 232 pounds. I wanted to fit into my fancy and frilly powder-blue wedding tux one more time! So I went on the Cabbage Soup Diet in order to kick-start the whole process and I lost 9.5 pounds in 6 days. Encouraged by this, I continued with a sensible diet and some pretty frequent and intensive exercising until I hit my goal weight a little over 3 months later. I looked and felt great (and the tux was loose on me!) but I wanted to see if losing a few more pounds would be even better for me because according to my BMI, a guy my height should be no more than 204 pounds.

Over the next few months, using the same "secret" formula of sensible eating and moderate exercise, I continued to gently move down, stopping at 225 and again at 215, looking and feeling better and better each time. But I still had a little belly and 204 pounds was calling out to me: "Stephan! Steeeeppphannnn!" With effort, I ignored the call until last week. I had plateaued at 215, and could feel myself creeping upwards again. I didn't want to pull any further away from 204 now that I was so close, so I decided to do the Cabbage Soup Diet just one more time.

This morning I looked in the mirror and I think I'm actually getting a little gaunt! Awesome! My stomach is almost completely flat, I can't even push it out that far. To tell you the truth, 204 might just be a little low for me, but at least I know that fact now and I also have the luxury of putting back on a few pounds if necessary. Can't wait for the morning of day 8!

40 Creek Double Barrel Reserve

Yesterday I ate little, but I had lots of *ahem* liquids. I had one bowl of cabbage soup, five bananas, one and a half litres of skim milk, two black coffees, a bunch of water and tea, two beers, a Grand Marnier, a straight up shot of the best whiskey on the planet, and a Hoppe's Own Special 6oz Manhattan.

I am feeling a little weak, and I did have a couple of dizzy spells yesterday but nothing worrying. I worked out yesterday for the first time in a week and had a fantastic session. I'm also a little irritable but that happens even when I don't diet...

Today I can have between 10 and 20 ounces of beef (so for me that means - twenty ounces of beef,) 6 tomatoes, and the soup. The bloody soup.

December 15 - 217 lbs.
December 16 - 212 lbs.
December 17 - 211 lbs.

December 18 - 208.5 lbs.
December 19 - 205.5 lbs.

Oooh, that's getting a little scary. 12 pounds in 5 days? If I lose anything between today and tomorrow, I may just have to stop.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Part 4

Day Four.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 1
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 2
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 3
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 4
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 5
Cabbage Soup Diet - 6 (Last Day)
Cabbage Soup Diet - Post Diet

baby food

Yesterday (Day 3) was the hardest day yet. We're in a bit of a cold snap here and I didn't feel like putting my car through minus 15 degree starts to go to the store for fruit, so all I ended up eating for the entire day was some rutabaga/carrot mash, a little sweet potato, a big bowl of cold raw veg, a few apples, and one bowl of that evil soup. Plus tons of water and herbal tea...ummm if I had to guess, I'd say I drank about 3 litres of water and tea. My favourite tea is Country Peach Passion by Celestial Seasonings.

Oh and I ate one other thing. A while ago, my daughter was having a sleepover and I thought it would be funny to walk up to her in front of her friends and embarass her with a baby spoon and a jar of baby food and say something like: "OK, honey, it's time for your usual snack!" So I bought a jar of baby food and did the joke and Elle rolled her eyes at her like totally square dad (like totally L7 man!) and we had this baby food sitting around in the cupboard after that. So yesterday I spotted it while I was looking longingly through my food cupboards at all the food I cannot have. It was "Mixed Fruit" and I checked the ingredients and Yay! it actually had nothing but fruit in it! Apples, Pear, Apricot, and Pineapple. It was offically an "allowed" food today! And it turned out to be 100 calories, 4.5 ounces of pure heaven. I'm sure that's partially because I'm starving to death, but honestly I was blown away at how good it tasted. I found myself wondering how you could use this baby food in baking, I mean it tasted just like a fruit compote. It was very sweet, probably because the pineapple juice was concentrated...I think it only cost me 59 cents which makes it a better value than an actual apple...I could go on and on but now I am wondering how I can incorporate baby food into my new lifestyle and it will be all I can do not to buy 30 jars of this stuff when I go to the store today to buy bananas and milk...

Ok, so for today I can have up to 8 bananas, unlimited amounts of skim milk and unlimited cabbage soup which for me means exactly one bowl of cabbage soup. I love bananas and skim milk so it should be an interesting day.

This morning's scale reading exceeded my wildest expectations. It makes the lack of energy and the misery of yesterday totally worth it!

December 15 - 217 lbs.
December 16 - 212 lbs.
December 17 - 211 lbs.

December 18 - 208.5 lbs.


Cabbage Soup Diet - Part 3

Day Three.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 1
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 2
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 3
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 4
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 5
Cabbage Soup Diet - 6 (Last Day)
Cabbage Soup Diet - Post Diet

Steph's workplace.

Yesterday was definitely tougher than Day 1. Eating vegetables for breakfast was not the greatest and I can't believe I am already sick of the soup. I only managed to choke down two bowls yesterday. But like I said before, it's mostly mind over matter and this morning's scale reading shows another pound lost. If I can just make it to 208 or 209 by the end of day six then I will consider the whole thing a complete success.

Today, I can have unlimited soup and unlimited vegetables but no potatoes, beans, peas, or corn. I can also have unlimited fruit except for bananas. Thank goodness for that. It means I can have a couple of apples for breakfast instead of sweet potatoes. I don't know why the order of what you eat from day to day is the way it is - I suspect that a lot of it has to do with the fact that people like to have rigid formulas to follow. The more inflexible the rules, the less likely people are to stray from them. Because I can't see any reason to force vegetables one day and fruit the next except for perhaps to "break the sweet tooth." I have an evil sweet tooth. I can take or leave chips and pretzels, but I have a hard time walking away from anything with sugar in it. When I was a kid I was putting white sugar on my Kraft Dinner when other kids were slathering on the ketchup (which is also almost pure sugar, but that's for another day...) I am ashamed to say that I STILL sometimes put sugar on my KD. So the first time I did the Cabbage Soup Diet I was surprised to notice my sweet tooth (and my starch tooth for that matter) kind of "fall out." Like I said before, I think the Cabbage Soup Diet is a great kick-start to a longer-term lifestyle change.

I also wonder: why so much cabbage? Maybe there is something special in cabbage beside whatever it is that gives you the explosive gas.

Me at work: Hey, everybody, I'm on the Cabbage Soup Diet!

Everybody else at work: Oh, we know...

December 15 - 217 lbs.
December 16 - 212 lbs.
December 17 - 211 lbs.


Cabbage Soup Diet - Part 2

Day Two.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 1
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 2
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 3
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 4
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 5
Cabbage Soup Diet - 6 (Last Day)
Cabbage Soup Diet - Post Diet

A picture of the veggies I am going to eat today.

Today I start Day 2 of the Cabbage Soup Diet. I won't say that Day 1 was particularly difficult but it was no walk in the park either. Though I was "hungry" at times throughout the day yesterday, I feel that for North Americans hunger is more a state of mind than an actual physiological condition. Most have us have never experienced real hunger or else it's been so long that we've completely lost touch with what true hunger feels like. When I was hungry yesterday, I simply tried to put it out of my mind because hell, this whole thing lasts only 7 days anyway.

For a couple of reasons, I didn't eat all that much yesterday. Something like 4 or 5 apples, 4 clementines, a pear, and three big bowls of my cabbage soup, plus about 1.5 litres of water, 2 black coffees and maybe three herbal teas. One reason I didn't eat a lot was there's not a lot of fruit I felt like eating yesterday. Bananas are my favourite fruit but yesterday they were off limits. And I didn't feel like spending money on blueberries and raspberries so I just stuck with what we had in the house. The second reason I didn't eat a lot was that I guess I am still sick of cabbage soup from the first time I did this diet. I mean, this recipe (with the Lipton Soup) is FAR superior to the original recipe I ate in May, but just the smell of it this time around kind of killed my appetite. Whatever, I still choked down three bowls. It's all short-term pain for long-term gain.

So, this morning I got the scale and whoa! - 212 lbs.! A 5 pound drop in one day! Now, I am fully aware of the realities of this reading. There is no way I could have lost that much in 24 hours, but to paraphrase the Hacker's Diet: "the amount of solids passing through your body in a given day is positively dwarfed by the water that moves through - almost 12 pounds of water moves in and out of your body each day." That explains much of my daily variance in weight. That, and the fact that it turns out that the weight of a live human body is a notoriously difficult thing for a home scale to measure. Apparently, the fact that we move, wiggle, and sway while on the scale, coupled with the fact that the scale may not be on a level or rigid surface, means that on even a good home scale the weight readings can be off by as much as three pounds plus or minus. So all that said, I could have lost 2 pounds of water yesterday (due to my markedly reduced salt intake) plus there could have been a 3 pounds scale error. Whatever! 212 is still 212. That's a powerful motivator for me as I move into Day 2.

Today, I can have unlimited soup and unlimited vegetables including potatoes, but no beans, peas, or corn. No fruit. This will be an easier day for me than yesterday was because I like most vegetables. As you can see from the picture, today I plan on eating 1 to 3 bowls of the soup, plus I happen to have a carrot and rutabaga mash, some sweet potato, some raw celery and carrot and cauli and and broc, plus some barbecued eggplant. (I'm trying to stay on the complex side of the carbohydrates as much as possible.) Can't wait to see what scale reading tomorrow brings!

December 15 - 217 lbs.
December 16 - 212 lbs.


Cabbage Soup Diet - Part 1

Day One.

Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 1
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 2
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 3
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 4
Cabbage Soup Diet - Day 5
Cabbage Soup Diet - 6 (Last Day)
Cabbage Soup Diet - Post Diet

a cabbage (it's a symbol.)

My ultimate weight goal is 204 lbs. which is the absolute most I can weigh and not have a BMI reading of "overweight", but despite my moderate intentions over the last couple of months, here I am today at 217 lbs. up from an all-time low of 213 lbs. from about a week ago. I know that the fluctuation is mostly water and salt, but I weigh myself every day and I can see that I'm definitely trending upwards. I was going to wait until spring before losing my last 10 pounds for good but I've got nothing going on these days, so I thought I'd just do the Cabbage Soup Diet again and knock the pounds off a little early. I say "again" because when I started dieting back in May, I led off with this very same 7-day diet. It was tough to follow but I considered it a great kick-start to my overall lifestyle change.

So, last night I chopped up an ungoldy amount of vegetables into a stock pot and made my soup. This time I chose the Lipton Onion Soup version of the soup, hoping it will be a little more palatable than the original recipe was, and now here I am on Day 1.

Today, I can have unlimited soup and unlimited fruit, but no bananas. I will also drink my usual two black coffees and a bunch of glasses of water. I am also going to continue taking my vitamin supplements, but I will skip the Vegegreens (because it's a total scam. I'm just finishing the container.) and skip the OJ...

And I'll post my weight each day for seven days here:

December 15 - 217 lbs.



So what. You're all thinking it.


This is from 344pounds.com, which is a guy who went from disgustingly obese to almost normal and now thinks that his experience is unique and that he's got some divine knowledge he's going to share with the world. I've got two inches and 20 years on him and I still weigh less than he does...though technically both of us are still sadly out of shape...

I mean, if he were some exceptional physical specimen then I could see the reason for all of the self-congratulation, but he isn't even average yet! And since when did being average become an accomplishment?

I use this site to remind me that though I've lost a lot of weight, I shouldn't let it go to my head because all I've done is get back into the physical shape I should have been in all along...

Muscle Tone

I weep for the future.

Young, fit, and healthy in 1922...

One of the sites I visit daily is the Shorpy Historic Photo Archive, which is nothing but hi-res old photos. I like to pick whatever is on offer that day, view it in original size and wonder what it must have been like to live back then. I can honestly stare at a photo for a half an hour, poring over every detail and just wondering...

One of my favourite photo genres are street scenes because there is just so much to see. You can see the people walking on the sidewalks, the fashions of the day, the storefronts, the cars, and sometimes even the sewage running along the gutters.

I also like pictures of employees, often shockingly young kids, standing outside of mills. Man, it is very moving looking at the hardened faces of children barely 6 years old!

Today's picture was of young guys in the water. Maybe a summer camp? What struck me was how lean and muscular all of the guys were. No obesity here. All had well-developed arms and legs. You can bet that in 1922 the diet was simple yet robust because processed crap hadn't been invented yet. These young guys are the picture of health. You can bet the water was clean too. (But I won't even begin to theorize why the big guy is tied up on the platform...)

I wonder if I went down to the local YMCA and snapped a similar picture, if after the police were done processing me and I got out of jail, how similar would the body types of the kids in my picture be to the kids in this one?

Daily Diet Update

...or "Hupdate" as they say in Quebec...

A picture of Niagara Falls as it pertains to me peeing more.

This morning I weighed in at a new low - 213.5 lbs. The last time I weighed this little there was still a Czechoslovakia, Kim Campbell was Prime Minister of Canada, and Whitney Houston was at the top of the charts. I was surprised to see I had dropped so low because I thought I was adhering to my "dietary maintenance mode." But a lot of water moved through me yesterday, maybe that is the reason. Still, this is a good opportunity to examine my daily diet by looking at what I ate and drank yesterday:

6AM: One scoop of VegeGreens (equivalent to 12 servings of vegetables!) in 6oz of Bolthouse "Green Goodness" juice. I'll tell you that juice is like a liquid version of the VegeGreens powder so I figure I'm getting a double-dose. It's super thick going down. Not a bad sensation, but not great either. Also two Progressives "Prostate Armour" multi-vitamins, and (now I've added) one Ginkgo-Biloba tablet, one teaspoon of Omega-3 fish oil; two black coffees.

8:00AM: 4 oz of "hi-fat" Astro Balkan style yogurt with a handful of dried raisins, another of craisins, some whole almonds, and a little brown sugar.

9:30AM: An apple, and an herbal tea (Apple-Mango I think.) A wedge of home-made pan-baked cornbread leftover from the weekend. I'm putting the recipe up here because man, it turned out pretty awesome.

12:00PM: A salad with Italian dressing, a container of fruit from the local grocery deli - strawberries and kiwi, a scoop of protein whey powder in 8oz. of water, plus another 500 ml of water, and three fig newtons. I find I need to be careful here and eat lunch slowly because I get full faster now and I find that if I eat too fast I get over-full and feel bloated for the rest of the day...Another Ginkgo-Biloba.

1:00PM: a container of fresh pineapple chunks I brought from home.

4:00PM: Got home feeling really hungry, and I think I see why now. It's because I missed my 2:30PM snack. So I ended up dangerously grazing - a few slices of genoa salami, a few dates, a handful wasabi peas, a beer. This type of eating and drinkng can quickly get out of hand, so I try to avoid it.

6:00PM: Patti made a terrific ground beef, rice, and cabbage thing. Out of respect for my need for a smaller dinner than lunch, she gave me a nice and small portion. I dumped some Tabasco on it and devoured it. It was so good, I had a hard time refusing seconds, but I will get to have it again today for lunch.. Yay! I also had a large glass of water. And one more Progressive multi-vitamin, two garlic pills, and a magnesium pill, and my third (and last for the day) Gingko-Biloba.

8:00PM: It was not a workout day today which was good because I was feeling slightly worn out from working out. I had two herbal teas.

12:00AM: The dreaded insomnia. After lying in bed for an hour trying to fall asleep, I got up and made myself a chamomille tea. I swear, there is something to drinking chamomille if you can't sleep...I ended up fast asleep by 1AM.

I must have gotten up three times throughout the night to pee, which is part of aging I guess and also from my unusually high liquid intake for the day. I weighed myself at my usual time this morning around 5:30AM and came in at the aforementioned 213.5. Today, I will try to make sure to have something between 2:30PM and 3PM.

Satisfying Daily Dietary Needs

Wow, upon review I think my diet has gotten pretty darn good lately!

Every time I have a piece of fruit at work, if there is a sticker, I save it.

As you know, I am currently in "weight maintenance" mode, trying to hover around the 215 pound mark over the winter with plans to possibly drop another 5 pounds come spring when I can get the bicycle back out and the weight loss comes more easily.

For daily food intake, I find that it's more difficult to achieve balance when I am taking in almost a third less calories per day than I was historically. I have to be careful about my food selections because I have first hand experience as to what happen when you miss on some basic element of nutrition - hair loss, fatugue, depression are all consequences of ignoring my need for a well-balanced diet each and every day. At least watching my diet this closely means I can fall off the wagon on occasion (mostly by boozing it up with friends) without suffering any ill effects. Here's my daily diet regimen as of November 10th.

6AM: One scoop of VegeGreens (equivalent to 12 servings of vegetables!) in 8oz of orange juice; two Progressives "Prostate Armour" multi-vitamins with no iron and tons of B; one teaspoon of Omega-3 fish oil; one black coffee, plus one more black coffee with a teaspoon of Organic Cocoa Powder (brain stimluating)

8:30AM: 4 oz of "hi-fat" home-made yogurt with a handful of dried fruit and nuts. (I often alternate the yogurt with oatmeal, weetabix, raisin bran, etc. And often I substitute dal mix for fruit, and seeds for nuts - for variety.)

10:30AM: One scoop of protein whey powder in 8oz. of water (25 grams of protein) plus an apple.

12 Noon: A normal lunch entree, usually leftovers from the previous nights dinner. This is my biggest meal of the day. I try to keep the simple carbs down and ensure that all fats present are natural. I also try to make sure there is some vegetable present. Lunch is always accompanied with at least 500 ml of water, plus a couple of pieces of various fruit. And If I am going to satisfy my sweet tooth, I do it now.

2:30PM: Another scoop of protein whey powder in 8oz. of water.

5:30PM: A normal family dinner like pizza or meat- potato and veg, stew with bread, etc. I keep the portion size smaller than it was at lunch. I accompany the meal with lots of water. (> 500ml) I skip dessert. I take one more Progressive multi-vitamin.

8:00PM: If it is a workout day, I have a third scoop of protein whey powder in 8oz. of water immediately post-workout, otherwise I defer it until bedtime, but I often forget at bedtime. Workout day or not, I always have a decaffeinated herbal tea, but lately I have been trying green tea (matcha tea actually. It's supposed to be a brain stimulant but it's super expensive) and snack on a handful of wasabi peas, or dark chocolate or something else small - maybe 2oz. max.

This diet has come gradually to me over the last six months. Upon review, I've decided that I am hitting everything pretty well! If I remember to add a glass of water here and there, then I can't really see see any place for imrprovement. I think that with rare exceptions I have pretty well trained myself not to eat or even desire to eat outside of this plan. I can tell you with authority that I now have excellent energy levels in the morning, and am able to maintain them pretty well throughout the day.

I do remember what I donut tastes like though. I kind of miss them...

I did not lose weight that rapidly...

...but rapidly enough that I started losing my hair!

Hacker's Diet trend chart showing weight loss.

Since May 12, I've lost 55 pounds. That's 138 days or just about 20 weeks. That works out to just 2.75 pounds per week. Hardly revolutionary. Seems like a nice rate of weight loss to me. If I go further and remove my first and last week of dieting from this equation (because I've always been bothered that the scale shows I lost 8.5 pounds in the first week - how is that even possible?) then I've gone from 263 to 223, which is 2.2 pounds per week. And I do believe that is the perfect healthy level of weight loss advocated by diet experts.

But I have noticed (and others have noticed too) that I have lost a lot of hair in the last 8 weeks. After panicking for a while, I investigated and discovered that I am not getting enought protein in my diet, especially since I am working out pretty intensively several times per week now. Related to this - I didn't realize it right away but in addition to the weight loss I have also been experiencing some muscle catabolism. I've been working out harder and actually losing muscle; my body is burning the muscle since I'm not getting anough protein. It's a vicious circle really because I responded to the muscle loss by working out even harder without adjusting my diet to cope. Other indicators of protein deficiency that I didn't see at the time but are plain to me now are that my knees suddenly started making crunchy sounds after a hard workout, as well as generalized fatigue all of the time. Plus I haven't made any real training gains in several weeks, especially with my push ups.

Initially, the cornerstone of my diet plan was that everything I eat was to be all natural. I wasn't going to take any supplements. But I have realized that this is simply impossible. The general consensus is that a person needs 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. So for me, I need greater than 200 grams of protein per day. Luckily, I have been tracking my calories eaten per day and I can see that I have been lucky if I eat 80 g of protein per day, despite the fact that I have doubled my intake of fish, sardines, and red meat.

So now I have added three scoops per day of whey protein to my diet (one of those scoops immediately post-workout,) as well as a big, fat, stinky, multivitamin three times per day, plus a teaspoon of Norwegian fish oil once per day. It's been only two days so far, but the difference has already been amazing! I'm already feeling such a boost in energy that I know I'm on the right track.

I'm really looking forward to the return of the lost hair too.

DIY Yogurt

Make your own yogurt at home in just 20 minutes

Lately, I've been making my own yogurt. Over the last couple of weeks I've made a couple of batches and I may just never go back to store bought yogurt ever again. Home-made yogurt tastes amazing, is fast and easy to make, and is really cheap! - less than a third of the cost of store bought yogurt.

Here is the equipment I use:

  • Pot
  • Measuring cup
  • Candy thermometer
  • 1 quart/liter mason jar plus cap and ring
  • tea towel
  • 2 rubber bands

Here are the ingredients:

  • milk
  • 2 tablespoons or so of yogurt from your last batch.

It goes without saying that everything should be clean. To me, clean is a relative term. Washed in soapy water is clean enough for me. I don't boil containers in advance or run them through the dishwasher. If a pot or jar has been washed and put away into the cupboard, then it's clean. Here's how I do it.   ...read more...

  1. Pour roughly 1 liter of milk into the pot.
  2. Heat it up until it just hits 190 degrees.
  3. Let it cool down until somewhere between 115 and 120 degrees.
  4. Pour roughly a cup of milk into the measuring cup and stir in the two tablespoons or so of yogurt.
  5. Mix it together and then pour that back into the pot.
  6. Mix the pot contents gently and then pour it into the jar.
  7. Put the cap on the jar.
  8. Wrap the jar with the tea towel. Use the rubber bands to hold the tea towel around the jar.
  9. Turn on the oven light (just the light, not the oven itself) Put the jar in the oven and leave it there, undisturbed, for exactly 5 hours.
  10. Remove the jar from the oven. Remove the tea towel from the jar, screw the ring on the jar, and place the jar in the fridge.

In 8 more hours, your yogurt will be set and ready to enjoy.

Something I have not yet done, but will be trying the next time I make yogurt will be, once the 8 hour setting period has passed, I will rubber band a coffee filter over the mouth of the jar and invert the jar over some other container in the fridge letting the water and the whey strain out. This makes a firmer "Greek-style" yogurt. And I hear the leftover whey is excellent for use in cooking or as a refreshing drink with a little sugar or salt added.

Of course, the yogurt itself is great in cooking, but I make some pretty incredible fruity yogurt concoctions as well. But it doesn't have to be complicated. To illustrate how incredibly tasty your homemade yogurt can be simply do this:

  • 1 cup serving of yogurt.
  • 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar.

...Man that's good. A rule of thumb I've always lived by is that if something tastes really good, then it can't possibly be good for you. Homemade yogurt is the exception to that rule.

UPDATE: Wow. What are blogs good for? Well, while writing this out I had a great idea on how to rig up container to make the greek-style yogurt:

  1. Cut a nice sized hole in the bottom of a large sour-cream container.
  2. Put that container into a coffee filter.
  3. Put that into a large yogurt container.
  4. Dump the yogurt into the top.
  5. Put the lid on and put in the fridge.

Don't you see?! the yogurt in the upper chamber slowly drips out it's water and whey into the lower compartment! It has a nice small form factor and is a great no mess method!

UPDATE 2: I made the Greek Yogurt variation and didn't care for it. So I'll be sticking to the simpler, better-tasting method.


OK, here's the pomposity.

You didn't ask for it, so here it is...

How I lost more than 40 pounds in 15 weeks.

  • I followed a fad diet - For the first 6 days, I followed the cabbage soup diet. Strictly. It was a great way to kick-start things and break my sweet-tooth/starch-tooth. (By day 6, I was pretty sick of cabbage though.)
  • I calculated - 1 pound equals 3500 calories therefore to lose 2 pounds per week I needed to cut 1000 calories per day from my diet. Using the Interweb, I calculated how much a sedentary person my size needs for "maintenance" calories in a day, and from that deducted 1000 calories so I could achieve that magical 2lbs. of lost weight per week. Instead of eating again calories spent during exercise, I treated that as bonus weight loss.
  • I ate no "processed foods" - nothing with "enriched" in the title. Almost no breads, and certainly no white bread, cookies, chips, pastries or baked treats. Nothing with "high-fructose" in the ingredient list. Nothing with aspartame. As little white sugar as possible.   ...read more...
  • I ate very few simple carbs and grains - I treated starches as a garnish rather than a side-dish or a staple. That meant little to no potatoes or rice, etc. and no grains except for the occasional oatmeal. My hard-to-follow rule of thumb was: "if it's filling, don't eat it."
  • I ate no unsaturated fats - whether mono or poly. That means little olive oil, no canola oil, and certainly no margarine.
  • I added saturated fats back to my diet - Contrary to the conventional (and wrong) wisdom, I raised my daily percentage intake of saturated fat and protein at the expense of simple carbs - while still keeping within my calorie goals for each day. Stable, nutritive saturated fat is required for good health.
  • I now like my coffee like I like my women - ground up and in the freezer. No seriously, I started drinking my coffee black. Almost no calories and possibly some health benefits. Besides, it's easy to go overboard drink 5 medium regulars in a day while one or two black coffees is more than enough for me...
  • I virtually eliminated sauces - Instead I used lots of dry spices, mustard, and hot sauces with my food to make it more interesting. I eliminated ketchup, mayo and most other sauces because I feel they tend to have too much sugar and unhealthy, fattening oils, chemicals, etc.
  • I promised myself a reward - for when I achieved my goal (of losing 36.5 pounds by Labour Day.) I promised myself a gorge-fest at a local Chinese buffet restaurant. It was great to cash in on my goal but for hours afterwards I was pretty sick. Perhaps if there is ever a next time, I will not choose a food related goal!
  • I competed with a friend - A friend and I had a bet. Whomever lost the most weight as a percentage of their total starting weight in 6 months would have to treat the other to a decadent steak dinner. Now, I am very poor and the person I made the bet with happens to live in the culinary capital of Canada so I really couldn't afford to lose the bet. So, by thinking (often) about that bet, I was able to offset many painful moments during the three months of diet and exercise. Funny thing is that by the end of the three months I had realized so many ancillary gains from my lifestyle change that it wouldn't really have mattered to me if I lost the bet. The results would have been worth the cost. As it stands, I won. :-)
  • I took pictures - I took "before" pictures of myself in my underwear at 263 and 245, and 233. I wish I had also taken a picture right at the start - at 271.5 lbs. Also, I only took frontal pictures. I should have also taken profile shots as well as pics with my biceps flexed. Still, it was very encouraging to refer back to the pictures. My kids also got a kick out of them.
  • I exercised - A minimum of 1 hour of strenuous exercise per day - I employed variety to ensure that the exercise stayed strenuous. Among other things, I rode an elliptical and a treadmill and I rode my bike to work a lot. When colleagues began to notice my weight loss they would ask if it was because of the bike riding? No. It was because of the one hour of various and strenuous exercise per day. Weekdays and weekends. Rain or shine. The days I rode my bike were simply days I wasn't doing something else strenuous. No matter what I did for that hour, if I wasn't really spent by the end of it I considered it a wasted hour for that day. I should mention that despite my best intentions "every day" did turn out to mean "4 to 5 times per week." Also I started with just 20-30 minutes and worked my way up to one hour.
  • I did both cardio and weight-training - For a while I did just cardio, reasoning as many do that cardio is better for weight loss than lifting weights is. But my weight only really started dropping fast when I started weight training too. I think the reason is that an ounce of muscle burn calories for you all day and all night long. So the more muscle you have the faster you lose weight. I started out by fumbling around the weight room 3 times per week, but now I find it easier (and more rewarding) to do push ups and sit ups instead. Push ups and sit ups are a better all around body strengthening exercise anyway. And they don't require special equipment.

I weighed myself every day

  • I weighed myself every day - I weighed myself at the same time (right after my morning "administrations") and always wearing the same thing (a pair of underwear and a scowl.) And I recorded my weight daily using the Hacker's Diet online. Applying the 10-day-weighted-moving-average to my weight readings, I can more easily identify subtle weight trends caused by my food intake. This is especially important on the days where my weight goes up instead of down!
  • I took vitamins - I really wanted to do everything as naturally (read: cheaply) as possible, but I succumbed to the hype and settled on a "heart-healthy" daily regimen of garlic pills, co-enzyme Q-10, fish oil (DHA/DHT), magnesium, and an iron-free multi-vitamin (being a man, iron supplementation is not a good thing.) To this day I can't tell if the vitamins did anything for me aside from lighten my wallet (a lot) I've decided to skip them from now on and only go back on if I notice a deleterious effect. Still, I include the fact here in case they helped and I just don't know it. (postscript: I think they help. I'm going back on.)
  • I didn't eat too little - This is actually the second time in my life I've lost a lot of weight. The first time I cut too many calories from my diet; I really starved myself, especially at the beginning. I ended up becoming so tired I was going to bed at 7PM and would freeze my butt off when it was 21 degrees outside. I know now that cutting a thousand calories a day will cause me to inexorably lose weight at the rate of roughly 2 to 3 pounds per week. If I cut more I am in danger of going into "preservation mode" and, while I won't gain weight I certainly won't lose it efficiently - and who wants to diet any longer than they have to? Now (and this almost never happens) if I am getting towards the end of the day and I am short on calories, I will just eat a little more red meat or nuts, which tend to be higher in (good quality so that's a double-bonus) calories.