My Current First World Problems

Weight this week – 232lbs

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With weight loss success comes a variety of problems, or shall we say, challenges. I call them first world problems because this whole diet topic is totally moot in many parts of the world. And this is a fact we need to keep in the front of our minds, and hearts. There are millions of people, including small children, who can’t even imagine these things. They are facing this day, hoping for a meal. Even as I type these words I can see an image in my mind of a small child in the throes of starvation, covered in flies, with his or her mama hovering over the child, praying for a miracle. My challenges are a by-product of the fact that I was born in the USA. A fact for which I am eternally grateful. But I digress.

I told you all recently that I got into my new jeans. It felt great. Well this week, they started slipping down, because I need a new notch in my belt. For a few minutes I was worried that I was going to lose them in the supermarket. How embarrassing would that be? My wife would have laughed all day.

Jeans present a unique challenge, because when they are freshly washed, they fit more snugly. But after a few hours they stretch out quite a bit. I only have two pair that fit. I prefer wearing jeans most of the year. The are comfy. I like them. Since I work from home most of the time, it’s quite convenient. And that way my other trousers don’t get worn out too quickly.

Right now, I’m between sizes. I don’t want to buy new clothes every time I shrink a little bit. I don’t have that kind of money. So what I do as a workaround, is adjust my belt. I have two belts. One dress belt and one casual. Both are reversible. I’m cheap and practical. My dress belt is smaller than my casual one. But oddly they are exactly the same length. It’s all about the number and spacing of the holes in the crazy thing. Since I have a hole punch tool, I periodically punch a new hole in my belt. That way my trousers stay up, and my wife doesn’t laugh at me.

So far, I’ve punched four new holes in my casual belt, and it’s time to punch a 5th. I will do that later today. Some of my clothes are looking rather bulky. My wife has already gone through hers to get rid of the ones that are too big. I haven’t done that yet. I have it on my project list for this week.

I hate being in between sizes. But I can’t afford all the clothes I would need in order to avoid this dilemma. So I will keep punching holes, and wearing shirts that are too big. Fortunately, it’s winter right now, and nobody really cares about sweaters that are too big.

Another challenge I’m facing, is that my shoes are getting too big. My feet have shrunk considerably. Now my sneakers, both pair, and my slippers are too big. My dress shoes are, too, but I only wear them once, or at the most, twice a week. I’ve put insoles in my shoes to help. I don’t trim the insoles, so they kind of fold up in the toes and heels. The the shoes fit ok that way. For my hiking boots, two pair of thick socks does the trick. I just don’t know how much more my feet might shrink, so I don’t want to get any new shoes yet.

These are things we all need to think about before beginning a weight loss journey. They are real challenges, and cause real financial inconvenience.

Let me address one more first world problem before I end this update. This one is very topical. And could be very controversial. But we’ll face it head on.

In the media, and in certain parts of society in general, the whole ‘love yourself the way you are’ movement had gotten out of control. I have no problem with plus size models. I have no problem with people being overweight. I am still obese, despite having lost over 50 pounds the last year. I have no problem with people saying they don’t want to lose weight. That choice is personal. The thing is, that now magazines and YouTube are starting to fill up with articles saying that diet programs, and people feeling great about their weight loss, is wrong, and that they are fat shaming people around them.

I’m saying, get over it. If you are that sensitive, then don’t read about weight loss. Don’t watch videos from people who are successfully losing weight and getting fit. It’s not all about vanity. In my case, it has been about life and death. I have nasty scars on my chest and on my legs from the surgeon who had to cut me open and perform triple bypass surgery to save my life. The only reason it wasn’t quadruple bypass is because my heart is deformed and I only have three actual arteries leaving my heart. The fourth is attached to one of the others. I’ve had 4 strokes and a heart attack. I’m partially blind in my left eye because of the 4th stroke. That one, by the way, happened during the surgery to save my life.

So don’t tell me it’s about fat shaming. I’m on a life saving mission. As is my wife. She has broken her back twice in her life. She has been in serious pain. The doctors can’t do any surgery to relieve the pain. They’ve investigated everything. Weight loss and skin removal surgery, including breast reduction is her only relief option.

She loves the way she’s starting to look. She loves the improvement in her health. I love the fact that last week, I went for a three mile walk. I haven’t been able to do that in years. And, my heart didn’t hurt when I was done. My legs did, but that’s a whole other matter.

When you hear the negative talk, change the channel. Stop reading the article. You don’t need to see, hear, or read that kind of negativity. You need to be you.

And for those of you who are fussing about being fat shamed, tell it to a starving child in Burkina Faso. Just like my problem with my belt, you’ve got nothing but first world problems.

Speaking of my belt. I’ll talk to you next week. Right now I’ve got to go punch a new hole in some leather.

I HATE Dieting in Winter. There I Said It.

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Do you have times of year when eating right is particularly hard? I know I do. Winter is one of them. And it’s not because of the Holidays. It’s because it’s cold and dark, and I want to eat to feel better. I want loads of Carbs. I want good burgers with buns. I want mashed potatoes or loaded baked ones. I want acres of Macaroni and cheese and cheesy potatoes. Many people want soup in winter. It makes them feel warm and cozy. I am not one of those. Unless it’s New England Clam Chowder or Lobster Bisque, I’m not interested in soup at all. For my whole life, soup has felt like a punishment.

Anyway, for the moment, Keto and South Beach, are a bummer. I’m being honest. You need honesty. The only bright spot is I’m now at 240 lbs. even. That means I am 5 pounds from uncharted territory. That’s exciting. For those who are new to this blog, I started originally, at 305. But this Keto/South Beach program I started at 280. It has been years since I was over 300 lbs. But I’ve been stuck at 175 to 280 for nearly a decade. I had given up. My health gave me jolt back to reality. I have to focus on the progress. Last night I was so hungry I was whining like a 6 year old. I didn’t give in, but I sure wanted to. This morning when I got on the scales, I was pleasantly surprised.

The simple truth is, dieting isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s really hard. You have to decide what’s important to you. For years, I ate my way to poor health, simply because food tasted good. In the end, I had my heart attack and strokes. I wear the scars of that mistake for the rest of my life.

I have made the decision to change. I can honestly say, there is no vanity in my motivation. I’m 64 years old. The idea of egotistical reasons for weight loss is honestly, laughable. I just want the last quarter of my life to be healthy. I owe that as a legacy to those who follow.

Some Dietary Confessions to Clear the Air

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I try not to burden you with too many of my thoughts on dieting. Even when there’s a lot of research behind them. Part of that is because, there’s enough talk and not enough doing. I want to do the weight loss and earn the right to be heard. And partly it’s because dieting is personal, and different diets work better with certain personality types.

Keto/SouthBeach works for me. I love it. I am rarely hungry. Sometimes, my wife or I go through a few days where we’re really hungry for a few days. Fortunately, it hardly happens at the same time, or we might be in trouble. And for the record, I weighed in at 243.8 lbs. That’s down from a high of 305. But to be fair, I restarted Keto/South Beach at 280. I told people it was 275. I was embarrassed.

The reason for today’s post is to talk about my adjustments to Keto due to my health concerns, and my core values. So get ready. You might be disappointed. I could even lose a few followers, but I’m not going to hide anything from you.

The first thing is, I had open heart surgery 2.5 years ago. I had triple bypass. It would have been quadruple, but the 4th line is deformed and comes off one of the other three, and wasn’t blocked. The valve it came off of was blocked after this one. It looks really weird when I see pictures of it. I have had heart challenges for several years and had lots of pictures taken yet this deformity was never discovered. Anyway, I essentially have three, rather than 4 actual valves attached directly to my heart.

Because of that surgery and my years of poor diet, I am currently on a number of medications. My goal is to lose enough weight and get fit enough to lose the medication, but that time has not yet come.

My other problem comes from abuse I gave my body by racing sled dogs for over 30 years. I was fat, yet ran speed mushing races. I ran up and down a lot of hills. It did damage to my knees and ultimately to my back. Then after retiring from racing, I took up farming. Trust me when I tell you that farming a small farm can be a lot of work. But I loved every day of it. The only problem was, eventually my body broke down. Now I suffer from bad knees and some very serious sciatic issues.

As a result, I have to take pain meds that create bowel challenges. The Keto diet doesn’t help resolve those problems. I need fiber. Its as simple as that. About every other week, I will have oatmeal, and some root vegetables like new potatoes, fresh carrots, and some parsnips. I also have plenty of broccoli and cauliflower.

On days when I’m having those foods, I watch my calories very closely. I’m not going to have a bunch of carbs AND calories. I simply have to do it.

The results are, it slows down my weight loss, but does not eliminate it. I am very fat adapted and some weeks I don’t even go out of ketosis. When I do, I get back in very quickly. I don’t eat tons of this non keto food, but it does work better than meds for the bowel issues. And I’d rather treat myself with food that with chemicals.

Also, to be fair, I’m not against root vegetables and oatmeal. Those have been staple foods that have kept whole nations alive for hundreds of year. Scotland, where I live, is an example. Here, potatoes, rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, barley and oatmeal have been dietary staples and have kept people alive and thriving. Especially during cold winters. Scotland did not start having health issues until really the 1980s when fast food, and processed food became big parts of the diet.

I’m a Christian. That affects every decision I make. I believe that if it comes from God it’s safe if taken in context and in moderation. If an ungulate eats it, so can I. And I can eat the ungulate. Here sheep and cattle, eat rutabagas, potatoes, barley and oatmeal all the time. They will eat beans and peas too, if they get in the fields. Those are whole foods, and we shouldn’t be afraid of them.

The reason I am on Keto, is because I abused myself and drastic action is required. It is not because high carb whole foods are bad. Keto works for me because fat is filling, and I need to feel full.

I only eat new potatoes. And only a few, about once every other week. New potatoes are lower in starch. I fix them with the skin on. I cut them, and soak them just like you would to remove starch from older potatoes. Then I boil or bake them. They are full of vitamins and minerals and are not terrible in carbohydrates.

The vegetable I have to watch are Parsnips. Those things are delicious, especially after a frost, and they look so innocent, but they are absolutely packed with carbohydrates. So is oatmeal. It is a carb monster. It has lots of fiber, but the carbs are outrageous even with the fiber.

But the problem is not really with the carbs, it is simple and processed carbs that will do you in. Sugar, is a killer. It just is. White flour has had all the benefits removed. A loaf of bread from the supermarket will be loaded with both. It’s an evil, almost like no other. Sure it tastes good. But it’s poison. There are no nutritional benefits. Sure some have had vitamins and minerals added. That’s because they’ve taken them out of the whole grains to begin with.

I do my best to avoid all processed sugar, and white flour. I don’t drink fruit juice, even a small glass, if there in no pulp in it. Even then, it’s pretty rare.

Donuts are absolutely delicious. Delicious poison. And that makes me sad. I don’t eat them, because I’m an addict. I’m addicted to flour and sugar. I can’t have a small portion and then leave them. I will binge for days. So, I don’t eat them. Sigh.

I’m starting to ramble, so it’s time to bring this to a close. I felt honesty was the best policy. I’m just not going to hide either my health issues, or my dietary habits, and pretend I’m doing something else. Let me just end with this. I pretty much always watch my calories. I believe that ultimately, calorie control is the key to weight loss. If you want to learn more about that, I recommend you watch videos from Ally McWowie on YouTube. She’s awesome, and really honest.

The Ketogenic Diet and My Problems With Aging.

meI’m Fat! There I said it. Sadly, not for the first time. But I want you to really understand what I’m saying. I’m not overweight. I’m not portly. I’m not big boned. I’m Michelin Man, fat. Obese. No, Morbidly Obese. It’s the kind of fat, that makes it easy for me to be self deprecating, and use it as a part of public speaking as a great source of humor.

Here’s the deal. It works. I’m funny. I can make a crowd chuckle, giggle, and roar with laughter. I love that. It feeds me. I truly enjoy making people happy. You can get people to swallow a great deal of truth while their mouths are open laughing. And I love sharing truth with people.

While it works, it’s easy. It may even be the shallowest form of humor. Very little thinking or creativity needs to be put in to one’s humor when you’re using self deprecating abuse as your method and target.

Because I love to make people laugh, and hear their laughter, I’ve been able to avoid the actual fact that I’m unhealthy. I just bury it in the back of my mind and go on. I can make jokes about buying larger clothing, breaking chairs, or causing fear in the eyes of the person who has to sit next to me on an airplane. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been able to joke about getting a bus seat all to myself. People will laugh. I will cry a little in private. Then swallow it with a cheeseburger, and go on.

Two years ago, things got serious. I was having trouble breathing when I walked any distance. My chest hurt. I didn’t know what was wrong, until I had a heart attack. I’d had a small stroke in January of 2017, but didn’t tell anyone. I was raising money to become a missionary, and didn’t want anything to stop me. For a while, my wife had to do everything because I couldn’t think straight, or write. I am so grateful for her.

Then in late August, or early September, I had a heart attack. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital. It was kind of embarrassing. I had two strokes, small ones, but real, in the hospital. I remember them both quite profoundly.

After about a week, I went home. Things were somewhat better. I was now on all kinds of medications and I had to carry a spray in my pocket in case of heart issues. But I carried on.

In November, my wife and I took a trip down to Edinburgh for our anniversary. For those who don’t know, “The Royal Mile” is one of Edinburgh’s more famous shopping and tourist areas. Walking back up the Mile, my heart began to hurt like it hadn’t since my attack. I used my spray several times, but I was scared. Eventually, we made it back to our bus stop and went to our hotel. The short version is, I ruined the anniversary. My wife was so scared. And to be honest, angry. When we got home however, I used it to make people laugh.

In June of 2018, I was finally taken in to hospital for triple bypass surgery. It was a terrifying time. I was stone cold scared of the thought that someone was going to stop my heart, take veins form my leg as replacement for the blocked ones, then try and get my heart going again.

When I awoke, I felt better. Two days later something went wrong and I had a bad reaction. I genuinely thought I was going to die. I remember hallucinating during the event. Later, as I began to heal, I noticed a blind spot in my vision. My left eye was distinctly missing part of it’s sight. Eventually, after several visits to doctors, and having many tests, I was told that I’d had a stroke during surgery. Many people die from that. I only lost part of the vision in one eye.

When I got better, it all became the source of much laughter. That’s the way I do things. I’m not proud of it, I’m just telling you how I operate.

Finally, came the pain from sciatica in my back. I’d had it for years, but the pain became excruciating in 2018. I can’t even describe it. I’ve had many scans and doctor visits and tried multiple medications. It is awful, and sometimes debilitating.

I’m 62 years old. I’m not a kid anymore. Something has to give. I have to take action, or give up, fall apart, and, die.

I tried counting calories. But honestly, the discipline required in that, was too much for me. I lost a few pounds, but it was so much work I just lost interest. I gained the weight back.

Recently, two things happened that clicked my brain. The first was my pain was so bad that I would have to lay down for at least a couple hours a day for relief. My wife would take walks and go to the gym with her friends leaving me alone. I felt lonely, and I got jealous. Seriously. I’m not proud of it, I’m just saying.

The second thing is, all my clothes became uncomfortably tight. My entire wardrobe is too small. Every day, I wrestle with what I’m going to wear. Fortunately, I have a few large sweaters. I can put them over a too tight shirt, or just wear the sweater. For trousers, I have two pair of jeans, 1 dress pair of suit trousers, and one ratty old pair of casual trousers that are fraying at the cuffs.

I couldn’t bear it. I was literally dying, plus hurting, plus looking like a homeless man each time I left the house. I wept. I tried watching YouTube videos for fitness ideas, but those are all young studs and beautiful women, and frankly, I couldn’t relate to any of them.

It was at that point, I discovered, or I should say, I started paying attention to, the Ketogenic Diet. My wife had been talking about it for a while, and had even played with it off and one. I might add, she played successfully.

I headed straight for Google. I read everything I could about the eating plan, both pro and con. I watched dozens, maybe over a hundred videos on YouTube. I got the basic understanding of eating high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrates. I loved and hated the idea of cutting out refined sugar and flour from my diet.

I hated it because I love bread like I love my heartbeat. And I loved it for the same reason. I knew, and have known for at least 5 years, that I am addicted to bread. I don’t understand all of the reasons, but I know it’s true. Bread, donuts, pizza crust, pie crust, rolls, hamburger buns, cupcakes, you name them, I’m an addict. Give me a toaster, a loaf of bread, some butter, and honey or jam, and I’ll clean it all up and ask for more.

I’m not here to discuss the reasons for it, but I know it’s true. Simple carbs, especially highly processed ones are a huge source of weakness for me, candy bars, potato chips, fries, onion rings, you name it. They are all a part of the problem. My mouth is watering, just thinking about all these yummy goodies.

Anyway, 10 days ago, we made the jump. I haven’t had any bread, sugar, potatoes, rice, pasta, or highly processed carbs. The first week I lost 5 pounds. That was all water weight, I’m sure. But it’s still encouraging.

At the moment, I do not believe potatoes will be gone forever. They are really tasty and healthy, but for now they are totally out. I believe the junk is gone forever. I’m not convinced that after 10 days, I’ve broken my addictions, but I’m doing pretty well.

I’m not yet able to exercise. My pain is still inhibiting me. Soon I will go to the gym. I have no expectations, but I’ve got to do it. Whatever that means. Treadmill, weights, stationary bike, I’m not sure. The thought of my leg and back hurting turns me into a whimpering 3 year old. I want to cry, fuss, and beg mommy to take me home.

The only appealing thing about the gym is the sauna. When I’m warm, my leg doesn’t hurt. I’m relaxed and in a good mood. Maybe I could start in the sauna, get loosened up, do my workout, then go back to the sauna to finish up. I don’t know. I’ll let you know what happens.

It’s tough sledding for a man my age, to admit he’s past his peak, but determined to do something about it. It would be easier just to let myself go, and enjoy myself. But enjoyment has brought me little joy. I’ve got to stretch myself and see what happens. Here I stand.

I made my goals for 2019 back in November. I’ve still got time to meet them. Stay tuned. I’ll keep you posted on this whole Keto experiment. TTFN (ta ta for now).