I Am NOT On A Diet!

Let me start by saying, I’m not on a diet anymore. I will stop calling Keto my diet. It’s the way I’m eating. Using the word ‘Diet’ is like a punishment. I’ve been bad, so now I’m on a diet. Boo Hoo. Poor Me. It is psychologically damaging.

Keto is the way I’m eating. And frankly, I like it. There are some of the foods I don’t ever want to go back to. Processed sugar is done. White flour. Outta here. Pasta and White Rice. Bye Bye. I don’t miss them.

There are some things I will work slowly back in. I’ve already done that with potatoes. I have three new potatoes about every 10 days. I leave the skin on, cut them into 4 pieces, soak them for an hour, and roast them. New potatoes have a fraction of the starch of full grown potatoes. That means fewer carbs. Soaking them for an hour means even more starch is removed. Leaving the skin on means I get all the nutrients. What a treat.

Eventually, I’ll bring back most other vegetables I’m currently not eating, like winter squash. I will also eventually bring back local honey. Especially with Greek Style Yogurt. I do miss that.

But I have a lot of weight to lose and I’m losing it. My clothes are too big. My wife got me three pairs of trousers that fit. My belt is too big now. I’m trying to decide whether to buy a new one, or punch some hole in this one. I am leaning that way, because the belt is fairly new and I hate spending money when there is a lot of leather that only needs a hole or two.

My shirts are mostly too big. Some of them shrank after we moved to Scotland and started using a tumble dryer. I hung my clothes out on the line for 5 years and they lasted great. Dryers are hard on clothes. Very hard. All that lint you have to clean out, that’s your clothes breaking down. I hate them, but we have no clothes line here in the apartment so dryer it is.

My sweaters are way too big. I’m wearing one today. I look like a street urchin. My jeans are too big, and my sweater is too big. But I’m still in them. It’s not like my pepper plants are offended when I go to my greenhouse to work.

Last week I was 5 lbs from my first goal of 50 lbs. I think I’ll be there in a week or so. Once I hit that target I will really be excited. I haven’t been below 250 lbs in about 18 years. I was last under 200 lbs in 1997. I have a while to go for that. Patience is a virtue.

I will go to the gym starting next week. I feel like I’m ready to try. It’s not particularly easy at my age, but I’ve got to give it a go.

Anyway, that’s my story for now. I’m eating great. I’m losing weight. I’m just not on a diet.

First Anniversary Of My Open Heart Surgery. Let’s Celebrate

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Image result for Celebrate images public domainSpeaking of it being June, it was one year ago today, that I received triple bypass surgery. Between January 2107 and June 4, 2018, I had a heart attack and 4 strokes. The last stroke was during my heart surgery. That’s pretty scary. The only after effects of all those attacks on my body, are scars on my chest and legs, loss of vision in half of my left eye, and trouble remembering names and names of places. My speech is not slurred. My long term and short term memory are good. I’m not as quick remembering things. I used to be really good at quizzes and memory games. I could think of things quickly. I’m not as quick as I used to be. It’s kind of like the way you lose a step in football or tennis when you get older. But this is with my mind. I can still recall things, it just might take me a minute to process the question. But all things considered, I’ll take it. The heart specialist told me that it’s not uncommon for a patient to die if they have a stroke during heart surgery. Ok, I’ll take a bit of blindness and a slower recall of historical information. And, with the names, it’s not like I don’t recognize people. It’s just embarrassing, when I’ve known someone for years and suddenly their name is gone. Still, what’s a little embarrassment in the great scheme of things.

For a year and a half, I was so sick. I tell people all the time, that it’s like I was asleep. I have very few memories of what happened during my sick time. I remember being a lot of trouble for my wife, if we went places to sight see, or shop. I was always having to stop and rest, and often spraying my heart meds. Poor lass, couldn’t have had much fun.

We live two or three blocks from the Church of Christ, where I’m the minister, and I couldn’t even walk it without stopping to rest. I remember that Sundays took a lot out of me. Preaching in the morning and at night was almost more than I could do. I had to start taking Mondays off, because I couldn’t get out of bed.

But now, a year on, I feel great. I still need to do some work to get seriously fit. I need to lose some more weight, but I’m losing it. Last week, I walked down to Buckpool harbor and back with my grandchildren. There were no problems. I’ve walked up and down all the stairs over at Brodie Castle. And, I’m awake. I feel like I was asleep, and I’m awake. So today, I’m celebrating. Life is not to be taken for granted. We live in a beautiful world. Especially up here in Moray. From the Sea to the Mountains, and every mile in between. We are surrounded by some amazing views of nature. And let’s not forget all the wonderful people we meet. Life really is a blessing.

But what about after. What would have happened to me, if my stroke during surgery had been fatal. Sure there would have been a sense of shock for some of my friends, and all the folk at church. Probably my wife would have been pretty upset at me. And I hope, a little sad. But what about me?

I am 100% confident of what would have happened to me. I would have awakened with no pain, in a place even more beautiful than Moray. I would never know a moment of sadness or illness, or pain ever again. Not because we all go to a better place, but because Jesus promised a forever of joy for ever single person who would put their Faith in Him. He is the creator of the world we live in. He died on a cross because we sinned, and he didn’t want to be separated from us. And he rose again, to conquer death. Not just once, in his case. But for all of us. And I made the choice many years ago, to give my life into his care. For that reason I know what will happen to me when I die. I know I’m not perfect. I’m not even close. Just ask my wife. But I am forgiven. Like the apostle Paul, For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

And what about you? On this anniversary of my surgery I have to ask. There is a funeral going on right now in Buckie. I saw the cars. There have been quite a few recently. Yikes. What if one of them next week is yours? What if your family and friends dress all in black and weep at losing you. What happens to you? Have you made preparations? Do you have a will? Do you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt what your future will be? You can. Seriously. I’m not joking. You can hand the keys over to Jesus right now. You can say, Jesus, I need you. I surrender. You drive from now on. And I can tell you, from experience, that new life with and from Jesus is even better that waking up after surgery. I’m glad I’m alive. I love my life. I love this town. I even love all the rain. And it’s much easier to love it all, because I know that even after it’s all behind me, life gets even better.

We’d love to have you visit us at Church sometime. We talk about things like this. You don’t have to dress up. Wear something. Otherwise you might get arrested. But you don’t have to get all dressed up. Sometimes people think you have to put on fancy duds to come to church. No Way. You can. Some people do. Heck sometimes even I do. But not always. Come as you are. We meet at 11 a.m. At the intersection of West Church and Pringle streets. We also have a meeting at 6:20 sunday evenings. You’d be welcome at either…or both. If you have a church home, I encourage you to go there. But if you don’t you are more that welcome to visit with us.

That’s all I’ve got for now. We’ll talk again soon. But for the rest of this week…..I’m out.

Weigh In Day…Sigh!

Image result for bathroom scales images public domainIt’s been about 6 weeks since I started the Keto lifestyle. That’s pretty impressive for me. So far, I’m not craving bread at all, or sugar, for that matter. But I’ve only lost 8 pounds. That’s rough on the ego. It’s rather discouraging to work as hard as I have, and to see such a small weight loss.

To be fair, I’ve found out part of the reason. My medication. One of my pills causes fluid retention. And another actually has significant weight gain as the number one side effect. Fortunately, I ran out of those pills a week ago, and I have an appointment next week to get the medicine changed. The fact is, I’m not going to take it anymore. I’m not prepared to trade one health issue for another. That dog don’t hunt.

As far as the fluid retention goes, that comes from my blood pressure medication. I’m less than a year removed from a heart attack, 4 strokes, and triple bypass heart surgery. I need that medicine until I get the weight under control. My blood pressure is phenomenal right now. It’s better than it’s been in 15 years, at least. I’m not going to mess with what’s working. My goal is to be able to get off the blood pressure meds, but I’m a ways away from that. In the meantime, I can take a diuretic pill once in a while.

Another problem I’m having is exhaustion. I have no energy at all. I’m getting plenty of sleep, but I don’t have the energy to go to the gym. When I go to the greenhouse, I can put in an hour of hard work, sometimes two. Then I have to quit. It’s so weird.

Looking over my macro tracking, I see that I’m cheating myself on Carbohydrates. Most days I only get 10 or 15 total carbs. I know that people on the Carnivore Diet think that sounds normal, but for me it isn’t. I believe I need to raise my Carbs to about 25 to 30 grams a day and see how that works. I’m not going to raise my calorie limit, so will bring down my fat intake a bit.

I’m not going to add in bread, pasta, or sugar. I’m trying to get those out of my life forever. But I am going to raise the amount of vegetables I eat. And I’m going to add in new potatoes, once or twice a week. I will slice and soak them in water to reduce the starch. I’m also going to add small portions of other root vegetables, like parsnips, and some carrots. Since I track all my food, I’m not worried about overdoing it. And by adding them one at a time, I can see what works and what doesn’t.

My hope is, that this will provide me with the energy to work out. I’m starting that change tonight. I’ll keep you posted. I wonder if others out there have had similar issues, and how you addressed them.

Oh, let me add that all the fat has seriously given me stomach issues. If I have a meal or a snack that’s too high in fat, I’ll have a stomach ache and cramps. Every. Single. Time. I document everything, that’s how I know. The worst offender is heavy whipping cream (AKA double cream to you Brits). Melted cheese and pepperoni can also cause it. Oh, and back bacon, if I have more than two slices. It’s delicious, but dangerous.

That’s why I think I’m on the right plan by tweaking both my fat, and my carbohydrate intake. Stay tuned.

That’s about it for this week’s update. Thanks to all of you who’ve begun following this weekly rambling session. You make me smile.

One Month Keto Update? Kinda Boring.

Image result for keto diet images public domainToday, I’ve completed one month on the Ketogenic Diet. Frankly, I don’t know what to think yet. I’m just being honest.

When it comes to processed foods, I genuinely feel I haven’t missed them at all. They are everywhere, though. And they’re so easy to grab and go. And my life is all about grab and go. If I had my way, that’s the way I’d eat two meals a day. So I’m trying to figure ways to make that happen. For example, This week I boiled up a dozen eggs so that I could just grab a couple for breakfast or lunch. I’ve also tried to keep meat sticks to have with them. I dip those in a whipped cream cheese spread. And I now have a couple cans of sardines in the cupboard.

I usually do the cooking for supper, as my wife is finishing here bachelors degree and has to study. We bought a grill a couple weeks ago and it changed everything. We had been missing that since we moved here from the states. A year and a half in Scotland without a grill and we were going insane. I’ve grilled pretty much every day but two for the last couple weeks. For us, it has made dinners enjoyable again rather than just something we had to do.

My days begin with a bulletproof coffee followed by a regular cup of coffee. For me, bulletproof means real cream, with a tablespoon of CMT or coconut oil, and a teaspoon of butter. Regular means just cream and maybe a shot of sugar free coffee flavoring. I like french vanilla and white chocolate. It gets my day off to a great start.

To be honest, though, the big energy boost I was expecting has not appeared. It popped up the first couple of mornings I had bulletproof coffee, but since then I feel pretty much of energy. My brain works fine, but there is no energy at all. I can’t figure it out, unless it has something to do with electrolytes. I may be short on magnesium and potassium. I’ve started supplementing with an electrolyte tablet, so we’ll see how that goes.

As far as weight loss is concerned, that’s the biggest area of confusion. I’ve only lost 5 pounds. And that’s after losing over 6 pounds the first week. I put it all back on the second week, stayed the same for a week, and this week 5 pounds are gone. That’s been a hard pill to swallow. On the plus side, and trust me I am a plus size, I have gone in a full notch of my belt and most of my shirts are beginning to fit a bit better.

I had hoped for better weight loss, and much more energy. I began to track everything I eat a couple weeks ago, to see what was happening. I am also counting calories now. One thing is certain, when you’re eating Keto for weight loss, counting your calories is very important. The foods are tremendously calorie dense. I need to stay under 2200 calories a day, and it’s easy to go over that if you don’t write down everything you eat.

I have not been hungry. At all. Maybe I get snackish, but never hungry. And I haven’t suffered from bread or sugar cravings, which I really thought I would do. I miss pizza crust, but I’ve got some recipes for fathead pizza crust, which is keto approved. I may try that next week.

Oh, I almost forgot, I have to make sure I don’t eat anything after 7 pm or I suffer terribly from acid reflux. I haven’t had that for years, and I’ve suffered badly the last week. I’ve got to get that figured out. I think I have a handle on it, but I won’t be sure for a couple more days.

I know this has not been a thrill a minute update, but it’s honest. I think I have a couple more weeks before I’m ‘totally’ fat adapted. I’m not in a panic. I just want to lose weight. I’m not a young man anymore. Time is of the essence. 🙂

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NIGHT OF THE ROUGAROU

It’s Halloween in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but unbeknownst to the residents of a small community on the outskirts of Iron Mountain, an unstoppable evil has appeared to ruin their holiday. The U.S. Army has arrived, and with the help of Doc Stone and his Mastiff, Tuck, they try and hunt the beast. Terror and death meet them. In the end, the only hope for Iron Mountain is a famous ancient sword, Doc’s ability to wield it, and Tuck’s courage. Welcome to fear. This is The Night of the Rougarou!

Is Easter Critical to Christianity?

Related imageI should be outside, enjoying this beautiful Easter Monday. Instead, here I am, typing away. Sometimes, I question my priorities. On the other hand, I simply had to write and process some things I read this morning.

In yesterday’s New York Times, an opinion writer, Nicholas Kristof, had a rather interesting, and disturbing interview published. His interviewee was, Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, in New York.

First, I think I’ll Link the article. You’ll Find it HERE. That way, no one can accuse me of taking anything out of context.

I have nothing against Dr. Jones. She seems like a decent person. I have no intentions of slandering her or the school. It’s merely the thesis of her interview that bothers me to my core. The short version is, she does not believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus from the dead, in his virgin birth, the necessity of the cross, or even in the efficacy of prayer. And she still calls herself a Christian Minister.

She has every right to believe, or disbelieve, anything she likes. The U.S. Constitution grants her that. I will fight for her right to believe, stand for, and even proclaim her beliefs publicly. My problem is this: you cannot deny the fundamental core of Christianity, and still call your theology, Christian. That is simply not fair to either Christians, or non Christians.

Even a cursory glance at the New Testament, will demonstrate that the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth, was the central doctrine of the early Church. It is the cornerstone of all four Gospels, including Mark, which she says doesn’t have it. In all 4 of them, and in the Book of Acts, the resurrection of Jesus is central to the very being of Christianity. In Acts, for example, the Resurrection is the core teaching of every gospel sermon recorded. In I Corinthians 15, Paul says it is of “first importance”, and that if Jesus is not raised “we are of all men, most miserable.”

It is Jesus resurrection that gives meaning to the Cross. Without it, its merely the story of a murder, or a public execution. It gives validity to the Christmas story of the virgin birth. Otherwise, it’s just a tragic tale of a pregnant woman giving birth in a stable.

The Resurrection, gives meaning to all of Jesus teaching. It validates every thing he said. In short, there simply is no Christianity, if Jesus did not rise from the dead.

You don’t have to believe it. Although I encourage you to do your homework and read about it. I would encourage you to read the Gospel of John, to begin, then investigate the claims.

You you can’t call yourself a Christian, yet deny every central claim of it’s belief system. I’m sorry. Neither Christianity nor logic will allow it. I stand by my initial arguments; Dr. Jones is entitled to every jot and tittle of her beliefs. But she cannot call it Christianity.

I was hoping I’d feel better, getting that off my chest, but I don’t. I feel absolutely rotten because of the many people who will read the article in the NYT and come away confused. Please, read the New Testament for yourself. You may not believe it, though I hope you do. But you’ll see with absolute clarity that Dr. Jones does not align with Christianity as taught in it’s pages.

That was a dare. Let me say it more clearly. Read it. I dare you. At least read the Gospel of John, and the Book of Acts.

Oops! My First Keto Mistake

pink saltI made a mistake with my keto program, and it really messed with me for several hours today. Stay tuned and I’ll explain it here in a moment.

First, We’ve (my wife and I) been keto for two weeks. My bride has not lost much weight. It’s a girl thing. Ladies have more problems than men dieting in general, but it’s especially true with keto. Some women don’t lose, or they even gain weight, during the first 6 weeks of the program. Yikes.

As I understand it, when we switch to a keto diet, we’re asking our bodies to do something dramatic. We’re asking it to change the fuel it uses to burn energy (calories). On a typical diet, we use carbs to provide that fuel. When we switch to keto, we tell our bodies to switch to burning fat as our primary source. That doesn’t happen overnight. Think about switching your car from petrol (gasoline) to diesel. Probably you’re going to have to change cars, you can’t just switch.

That’s one of the ways the human body is different. God made us so we can run on either fuel base. I think that’s incredible. But it takes time to become fat adapted. Some people switch easier. Some people take longer to adapt. We can do it, we just need to be patient.

In my case, I lost 5 pounds the first week. That was awesome and I’ll take it. But I’m 62 now rather than 32, and my metabolism is not what it used to be. Of course the 5 pounds was water weight, not fat loss.

The second week, I lost another 3 pounds. I was disappointed at first. When I was 30, I could lose 20 pounds the first two weeks of a diet. Then I remembered, I’m not 30 any more. I’m more than twice that. Sigh. Anyway, I’ll take the 8 pounds and be happy.

Ok, let’s get back to my mistake. Yesterday, I decided to go to the gym. I was feeling more energetic than I have in two years. I went a couple times in January, but the experience was awful. I used to be a guy who worked out 5 or 6 days a week. I trained with WWE wrestlers and professional body builders. I know my way around a gym, even though I look like I only know my way around a Golden Corral buffet.

I walked to the gym rather than take the car. It’s only about half a mile, so the walk would be a good stretch before the workout. When I got to the gym, it was really crowded. Mostly with children and teenagers. Children in the pool, teens in the gym area.

I managed to get a few minutes on a treadmill, and a fairly decent upper body workout with some of the machines. I couldn’t get near any free weights.

I decided, while doing my workout, to go to the sauna and steam rooms. Those are my favorite parts of the gym. I have loved saunas since the late 80s. I can sit and think. I can pray and meditate. It’s a real selfish, me time. Especially when the sauna is empty, like it was last night.

I did a full 20 minutes in the sauna, which is all my doctor recommends right now. After that I hit the steam room. I only managed three minutes in there. All the steam gets to me pretty quickly, so I didn’t push it.

After I got home, I had a cup of tea, talked for a while with my wife, then went to bed. That was my mistake. I didn’t re-hydrate. I had lost a lot of electrolytes sweating away in the gym and sauna and I didn’t replace them. So when I got up this morning, I was severely tired. I had my coffee, but it didn’t do it’s usual job. Honestly, it was 9:30 before I figured out what was wrong. I had a cup of tea and took some iced tea upstairs to the office. By 10:30 I thought I was going to pass out. I was really weak.

I went to the kitchen and ate a handful of Pink Himalayan salt. Then I had another. I was instantly revived, just like if I’d had a chocolate bar. The electrolyte boost was almost instantaneous. At lunch I put extra salt on my meal. And had some more before going back to work. I’ve been drinking iced tea all afternoon. As a result, I’m starting to feel better. Not as good as recent days, but certainly I’m getting hydrated and getting the electrolytes back in balance.

I’ve never been one to take electrolyte concoctions to the gym, or to have a pre workout shake, or a post workout one. A glass of water, yes. Any thing else seemed weak. I’m going to have to rethink my options. I’m not the man I used to be. It’s now obvious to me that after a workout, especially if I go to the sauna, I will require electrolytes when I get home.

Take my advice. If you’re trying a keto lifestyle, be patient. It takes a while to become fat adapted. You’re asking your body to adjust to a new fuel. And, don’t neglect your electrolytes. If you’re losing water weight anyway, you’re flushing them down the toilet. So if you go to the gym and sauna and sweat a lot, your body will need the replacements.

Finally, if you’re over 40, or if like me, you’re over 60. Take it slow. Don’t have the expectations of a 30 year old. We can do this. It just takes time.