The Daniel Plan Diet – Holy Idea or Hoax?

I want to look at a very popular Diet Plan that’s sweeping Churches in America. I’m going to tell you what I like about it, and what I don’t like at all. Because that’s how I roll.

It’s called, The Daniel Plan. The name was my first red flag. I’ll tell you why later. So stay with me. Daniel Plan is supported and partially written by. Rick Warren, the Senior Pastor of Saddleback Church in California. I love him. Back in the early 90s, Rick’s early book, The Purpose Driven Church, was a genuine game changer for me. I went to seminars. I adjusted many of the ways we did ministry at Church, and I joined the Pastors Network online. It was so meaningful.

I did not enjoy, The Purpose Driven Life, nearly as much. Millions of other people did. And that’s awesome. I am so glad for the way that book ministered to people all around the world.

The Daniel Plan also has the backing of Dr. Mehmet Oz. That is less satisfying to me. I’m not a big fan of daytime TV at the best of times, but Dr. Oz comes across like a snake oil salesman. I don’t like preachers who come across that way, nor do I like doctors who do either. I’m just saying. He seems to promote every new diet plan. I have no doubt that he benefits financially from every plan he promotes.

I have no knowledge of the other two authors associated with The Daniel Plan, Daniel Amen, and Mark Hyman.

The Plan is put together kind of like Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, but not as entertaining. The idea is to get a group of people together in a Church setting and go through the program as a group. I really like the way they’ve brought in 5 categories, Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends. I also smile at the alliteration, because it’s so Rick Warren. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just that it has his fingerprint all over it.

I love the faith aspect. My book will be written from a Faith perspective. In fact, the working title is, Eating God’s Way. I don’t know whether or not that will be the final title, because I’m going for a bigger audience that just the Faith crowd. But a great deal of the foundation comes from the Bible.

The Daniel Plan takes into account the whole person, not merely his/her weight. I believe that’s essential. I like the way it’s packaged for group usage. It’s always better when we have a support network to help us make changes in our lifestyle.

My two major problems are 1. The name, and 2. The Food category.

Calling this, The Daniel Plan, is inaccurate and misleading. Daniel was an Old Testament prophet. He wrote one of the books of the Bible. He’s a true hero. He was taken to Babylon as a young man, to be raised in the Babylonian culture and educated as a Babylonian. But Nebuchadnezzar, the king, didn’t account for Daniel’s faith or the dietary restrictions of the Jewish law regarding eating meat. The Jews had very strict regulations about what kinds of meat they could eat, how that meat was slaughtered, and the meat could not be used in non Jewish rituals. It’s the forerunner of the concept we call Kosher today.

It order to be faithful to God, Daniel chose not to eat the Babylonian meat and to become vegetarian. The Daniel Plan is not vegetarian. So calling the program by that name is not correct. It actually has nothing to do with Daniel or the way he ate.

I know, they had to give the program a name. But this name is really a bust. And it kind of upsets me. I am really committed to sticking to accuracy when we incorporate the Bible into anything we do. There is so much falsehood sweeping through the Church, as it is, that we shouldn’t add to the confusion. This is NOT related to Daniel, in any way.

I said my second problem was the Food part of the program. In broad terms, it’s pretty darned good. Especially in the way they get people away from processed food and steer them towards whole foods. Processed sugar truly is our enemy, as are the ready made meals, and other boxed, and packaged processed food items staring at us from the shelves at our favorite grocery store.

I think that if we made that one single change in our diets, we’d all begin to become healthier. We’d lose a great deal of belly fat. But it’s a hard sell. Because most people want to spend as little as possible in the grocery store. And that’s odd, because we’ll spend a fortune on cars, or furniture, or clothes, but in regards to food, we just want it to taste good and be cheap. Yikes.

With that in mind, the Daniel Plan’s emphasis on organic, including grass fed meats, and cold water fish, puts such a strain on people that the program reeks of upper middle class to upper class elitism. People living paycheck to paycheck, or on a tight budget are going to be turned off from the get go. God’s plan for eating was designed for everyone, not just the California elite.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about organic, and grass fed. That’s why I became a farmer. It was the only way I could guarantee my food was all I wanted it to be. But most people will pass out from sticker shock after just one visit to the shops. There is a reason Whole Foods, is called, Whole Paycheck.

For me, the cheapest way to go organic, was to grow my own, and to raise my own meat. Sure it’s more work, but it fulfills some the the Plan’s emphasis on exercise.

There are some veggies that we really should work to get organic, like potatoes, and soft fruit. And we should make sure we rinse all our fruit and veggies when we get them home. But don’t wait to go totally organic before making the necessary changes to your diet.

Also the emphasis on cold water fish is another elitist move. Salmon, trout, and the like are awesome. They taste great. But most of us have easier access to warm water fish like, bass, catfish, bluegill, or even Tilapia. I know Tilapia can be a problem because of the way it’s raised, but there are workarounds.

The aversion to Dairy, really rumples my feathers, too. First of all, eating dairy was popular with people in the Bible. And if you’re going to base your plan on teachings of the Bible, be consistent. There is a problem with dairy these days. It is all the processing, including pasteurization and homogenization. There are those who are lactose intolerant. That is unfortunate. But milk,cheese, and butter are not bad for us. In fact, they are quite good for most of us.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. I like most of The Daniel Plan. I hate the name. And the Food section needs a major overhaul. But the idea of a holistic approach, combining elements of Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus, and Friends, is admirable.

I’d love to get your feedback. Have you tried The Daniel Plan? What did you like about it? What did you dislike? Is your Church or other group considering the plan? If so, what are the main selling points? Feel free to use the comments section, or send me an email: samburtonpresents@gmail.com.

Changes Coming

Image result for changes public domain images

First, I want to thank all of you who read this blog regularly. You rock. I want to tell you that I’m going to be making some changes in the near future. This is mainly to do with the fact that I have several blogs and can’t keep up with everything, so I’m moving everything here. The only downside is you might receive notices of posts that don’t interest you. I hope you’ll be patient with that inconvenience.

Beginning in September, I will be making posts regarding my Ketogenic Transformation, Dogs, Money Management, Farming, Gardening, and the Bible. I will also be posting occasionally about my books, including my adventures in fiction. I’ve written two Novellas, Isitoq’s Hound, and Night of the Rougarou. I have a couple more that I’m writing and will be updating readers here.

I am hoping that all my readers, where non fiction, or fiction lovers will be able to become one big family. I know this is a risk, but here’s hoping.

 

Oh Yeah, I’m At My First Weight Loss Goal!

Image result for hit the goal images public domainI did it! I reached my first goal. I’m below 250 lbs for the first time in a very long time. It took me longer to figure it out, because the battery went dead on our scales and I had to weight. Figures.

Next goal is 225. Now it’s time to kick up the exercise. That one scares me. I’m 62 years old. To regularly hit the gym is asking a lot of my old, out of shape body. I will probably do mostly body weight exercises for the first 2 months, then start adding weight machines. I will eventually go free weights, but not just yet. Correction, I’ll probably use dumbells for arm exercises. I fear I will have to get my biceps and triceps built up a bit to be able to do push ups. That’s a sad commentary, but a realistic one.

I really owe a big thanks to all the Keto people I’ve followed on FB and Instragram. And all the YouTube videos that have been so motivational.

For those who are new to  my blog, I am not practicing strict Keto. I have certainly curtailed my carbs, and raised my fat intake. That will probably always be true. But I have added new potatoes, parsnips, carrots, peas and corn, to name a few.

One of the reasons is simply because I love those vegetables. Also, they are good for you, and they grow very prolifically here in Scotland. New potatoes, are not nearly as starchy as mature ones, but are just as tasty roasted. The same with parsnips. Roasted parsnips are like manna from heaven.

I track my carbs carefully and try and stay below 30 grams maximum per day. The key is to track, faithfully, the food I eat. And if you want to really get a hold on your weight, you need to do that, too.

Think of it like budgeting. If you write down what you spend, and you write down your bills, you know exactly where your money is going and where it needs to go. I treat my eating the same way.

Oh, here’s another switch I made. I use paper and pencil rather than an app. I have two apps I used to use. I still have them for looking up food (calories and carbs). But using pencil and paper makes the exercise more personal. I don’t know why, it just does. I found that out when my wife and I were getting out of debt. Pencil and paper were so much better that using an app. I’ve seen on YouTube that there are lots of people who feel the same.  Try it with your food tracking and let me know what you think. I’m interested.

Just a couple of other quick notes. This is the easiest and the hardest program I’ve ever done. It’s the easiest because I’m never hungry. And when I am, I just eat. I don’t have to take any pills, or buy any shakes. I’m doing this naturally.

But it’s also the hardest, because sugar and flour are in everything. Spice mixes are full of sugar, so I have to pretty much make all my own. Yesterday, we had a taco and fajita night at Church. The taco and fajita seasoning all had sugar. I ate a little meat and cheese, but skipped the veggies because of the sugar in the seasoning. But watching all those flour and corn tortillas was a bit stressful. I didn’t feel deprived though, because I wasn’t starving and feeling jealous. I just miss bread.

I guess that’s enough for an update. I just wanted to share my good news. I love winning!

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.

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. 🙂

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.