Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sugar Free Dinner

Look what I made!

I'll call this Southwest Chicken Salad.  It's pulled chicken, jalepenos, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and some other stuff.  It's supposed to be wrapped in romain lettuce and served with avacados, but I didn't have any ripe avacados at the time, so I served it over spring mix. 

It was so good!  So good.  Claire said it was better than Chipotle.

It took a lot of time to get everything together.  The recipe said 15 minutes of prep and 15 minutes cooking.  It took me about an hour.  I'm sure part of it was I hadn't done it before and didn't time it right, but I know to double whatever times my cookbooks give in the future. 

The recipe called for homemade mayonaise, but I just subbed regular mayo (yeah, I know there's not great stuff in there, but I'm not a purist).  The one mistake I made is the recipe called for two jalepenos.  I had giant jalepenos.  I should have just used one.  But I used two, and while delicious, it sure made our eyes water.  The next day the flavors mingled a little more and it lost a lot of its heat.  This also made a lot.  We got two days of lunches out of this in addition to dinner, so six meals isn't bad.  I may double or triple this and freeze it in the future.

One word of warning:  Wear gloves when cutting jalepenos!  My fingers stung for a full day after making this.

Update: I added cayenne pepper instead of cumin.  That's why it burned my face off.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Weigh-In: The Birthday Edition

I'm 32 today.  I'm glad to be 32.  31 was an amazing, and tough, year.  I saw the first seven months of my daughter's life.  I learned what it was like to live without sleep.  I also learned what it was like to have your heart cracked open and filled with love you didn't know you were capable of.  Work was particularly grueling this year.  In part, due to the lack of sleep, but also because it was just a challenging school-year.  To cope with all this stress, I ate.  And ate.  And ate...

31 also saw me gain about ten pounds.  Before H was born, I weighed in at a svelte 302 (or thereabouts).  My peak was 313. 

So let's see what the scale has in store for me on my birthday.


I've officially lost my baby weight.   I weigh about what I did before my daughter was born.  Thank you, scale.  That was a nice birthday present.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Things That Have Sugar In Them That Shouldn't - Volume 1

Sriracha Sauce

This delicious rooster sauce has been a staple in my fridge for the last decade or so.  A glance at the label shows sugar is the second ingredient.  Each 1 tsp (5 grams) serving has 1 gram of sugar. 1 gram doesn't seem like a lot, but that's 20%.  For reference, Coca Cola is about 10% sugar.

I know you only need a little, but cripes.  Guess I won't be eating this until I'm done with my sugar detox.

Lemon Pepper

McCormick makes an amazing tasting lemon pepper grinder.  It's so tasty.  But the nutrition on their website shows brown sugar as an ingredient.  Why McCormick, why?

Pasta Sauce

Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce has 10.1 grams of sugar in a half-cup serving.  That's ludicrous.  What's more ludicrous is that gave it an A- for nutrition.  A- with that much sugar in it?  Are you kidding?  It's the fourth ingredient after tomato paste, water, and diced tomatoes.  I guarantee they could make something that tastes just as good -if not better- if they cut the sugar either way down or completely out.  A half-cup of Coke has about 13 grams of sugar in it.  So we may as well just start carbonating our spaghetti sauce and drinking it right out of the jar.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Foot Update

Last week I was complaining a lot about my feet.  They hurt all the time and I can barely stand when I get up in the morning.  Well, I made a leap and finally bought insoles to try to correct the problem.

I went to a CVS nearby that has one of those kiosks where a bunch of sensors and there's a big computer thing that tells you your fortune.

Just kidding.  It tells you which expensive insole you should buy.  Turns out I'm a CF 440.  I have low arches and I'm fat, so that's the one need.

I slipped them into my shoes on Saturday.  Since then I have to say I've felt a noticeable change in my feet.  They feel a little stretched out sometimes because there's a lot of arch support and my feet aren't used to it.  But overall, the pain I feel has gone way down.  I was wearing a knee brace last week because my knee really started bothering me, probably due to how I was walking.  But now I only wear it as a precaution when I'm doing physical activity.

My feet are nowhere near 100% yet.  But they feel a lot better.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Flat Tire Adventure

Tuesday was the first day I bike commuted in a long time.  I was worried I was going to be a lot more sore than I was, so that was good.

That's where my luck ran out.

My phone died on me at work.  Because I'm teaching summer school at a different school than I teach the rest of the year, I didn't have a charger.  Slight inconvenience.  Not really an issue.

As I was packing up I noticed my bike had a flat tire.  Crap.  How am I going to deal with this?

I locked up, used my land line to call my wife to let her know what was going on and why I'd be late and unreachable.  In the parking lot I decided to pull out my iPad and use the school's WiFi.  

My keys should be in here too.  Where are my keys?

Back up to my classroom with a bike with a flat tire.  

There they are.  

Alright, it was time to fish out my iPad. 

I was in luck.  There was a Bike Fixtation a few blocks away.

What's a Bike Fixtation?

It's a set of tools for bike repair available to the public.  I got my flat tire filled, picked up a new inner tube in the vending machine, and I was on my way.  I'm really lucky since there are only two of these in Minneapolis.

I knew I was on borrowed time so I pedaled home as fast as I could before my tire went flat again.  I made it, and, as of this morning, has stayed full.  Hmm...

Overall, it wasn't a terrible experience and I handled it pretty well.  Way to go, me!

I think it might be time for a new bike though...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Ten Day Sugar Detox

A week or so ago I ordered the Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet Cookbook.  The idea is I spend ten days not taking in any sugar at all.  In addition, I shouldn't be eating dairy, gluten, beans, or anything that's not organic to try to clear out my system.

I'm using the recipes, but I'm not cutting dairy or non-organic veggies out of my diet.  I'll try to minimize them, but I don't have the means to buy all organic fruits and veggies.

Bottom line, I'm going to avoid sugar as much as possible over the next ten days.  I'm trying to get my sweets from fresh fruit.  Including the strawberries in my garden.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Weigh In Results

So I weighed myself again.  I'll just get right to it.

310.3.  Hey!  I actually lost weight!

I'm psyched.  I don't know if it came from me weighing myself at a different time or what, but I'd like to think I'm making better choices in smaller ways.

I started using the sugar detox cookbook.  I'll talk more about that later though.

For now I'm going to celebrate with... How do you celebrate without food?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Fed Up

I just watched the documentary Fed Up.  It was really good.  You should go watch it on Netflix.  I got a lot of insight into my own relationship with food and to why I'm hungry all the time.

They talked about responsibility for weight.  Fat people are perceived as slow or lazy.  All we have to do  to lose weight is take in fewer calories than we burn.  What's so hard about that?  Turns out everything is hard about that.  

The problem lies in sugar.  We put sugar in everything.  According to the movie, sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine.  We're marketed foods with sugar from a very young age.  Here's one from my childhood.

This is an example of flavored sugar water being portrayed as a health drink.  An 8 oz glass of Sunny D contains 63 calories and 13.8 grams of sugar.  The top two ingredients are water and high fructose corn syrup. The label then says contains less than 2% of the following: Concentrated Juices: (Orange, Tangerine, Apple, Lime, Grapefruit).  Less than 2% juice?  That's ridiculous.  It's no better for you than the purple stuff.

This kind of advertising is being directed at us ALL THE TIME.  I switched over to TV and in the first commercial break saw two commercials that directly benefit from us being addicted to shitty food.  The first was a cholesterol drug and the second was a fast food commercial.  I've been socialized to be addicted to sugar since I was a kid.

They talked about different foods affect you differently.  For instance, if I eat 100 calories of almonds, the fiber slows the digestion and I absorb the nutrients more slowly.  If I have a 100 calorie glass of soda (or purple stuff), it goes straight to my liver.  My pancreas sends insulin over to help deal with the spiking blood sugar.  My body needs to store all this energy, and how does the body store energy?  Fat.  All that energy is stored, so I'm hungry again.  The more sugar I eat, the worse my body gets at processing that sugar.  And bam, I've got diabetes.

The food companies are interested in making money.  We're bombarded by their marketing all the time.  Every time I check out at ANY STORE, seriously any store there's a bunch of candy I can buy.  IKEA and Aldi are two places I will never be able to resist the checkout aisle candy.  I hate those places.

This movie really made me worried for my daughter.  She's only six months old now, but I don't want her to have the same twisted relationship with food I do.  

So what can I do?

I ordered The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Cookbook today.  It's a little bit fad-diet-esque and trips up my bullshit detector a little, but the alternative is to sit on my fat ass and blame food companies for my weight (which I am doing by writing this post, by the way).

I'll be going through this book and figuring out exactly how to cut the sugar out of my diet.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Point of No Return

Last night I left work insatiably hungry.  I tried to tide myself over until dinner with a meal bar.  That made me hungrier.  I'm pretty sure those things are designed to make you want to eat the whole box.  Granola bars are just candy bars that disguise themselves as being healthy.

"Hey let's mix some fiber powder in with this candy bar, we'll call it healthy!"

After that, I ate and ate and didn't feel full.  It wasn't until I stuffed myself at dinner that the voice in my head telling myself I was hungry shut up.  Stupid voice.

At this point I was overstuffed, but I still wanted to eat more.  My wife, who stopped when she was full like a sane person, asked me how I could even want to eat when I was uncomfortably full.

I thought about it for a while.  I wanted more of the feeling I had when I was eating.  It was so satisfying to shovel food in my face after being hungry for so long.  I just wanted to keep going.

THIS IS MY PROBLEM.  I don't know how to start teaching myself to stop eating when I'm full.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Junk Food

I just listened to an excellent podcast from Stuff You Should Know on junk food.

Everyone needs to listen to it.  Like right now.

Seriously, here's a link.

Here are my takeaways from the podcast.

Junk food has never been as cheap and plentiful as it is right now.
At no other time in human history, has it been as easy to get calorie-dense food as it is right now.  We've been making cookies and chocolate for a long time, but now it's easily packaged, stored, and sold to us for dirt cheap.

We get addicted to junk food.
In the same way our bodies react to drugs, we become addicted to the dopamine rush we get when we eat junk food.  At first it's a great rush.  After that though, our bodies tell us we need it more and more and we get less of a benefit from it.

Junk food companies are using science to hijack our bodies.
There's a ton of science that goes into making a junk food.  What that science focuses on is how to get us to cram more of their product into our gullets.  They do this by mixing flavors because the body tells you to stop eating after a while of just one flavor.  They do this by tricking our bodies not to feel full.  They're jerks.

So junk food is so pervasive that I can't just avoid it.  I can, however, understand what junk food does to my body.  In the podcast they talked about how Type II Diabetes is preventable, but not necessarily reversible.  I recently talked about having a window of time before my choices irrevocably mess up my health.  Cutting out as much junk as possible will go a long way toward going through that window.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Last Day Of School!

Happy last day of the 2014-15 school year in Minneapolis Public Schools everyone!

That is all.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

So Hungry...

I am so hungry.  Right now I'm starving.  Absolutely starving.  I want to eat.  I want to fill my fat face.  I want to shovel food into my mouth until I can barely breathe.

I'm not going to do that.  And why not?  Because I don't eat lunch until 1:50.  That's right, I don't eat until 10 minutes to 2:00.  It's not a diet thing.  It's a work thing.  I'm a teacher and I don't get my lunch break until 1:50.

It's not a big deal.  The school year is almost over.  Plus next year I get to eat lunch at 10:45.  Like a normal person... wait.

Okay.  No more complaining.  For now.

Note: I sometimes write these ahead of time when I have a couple minutes.  This one was not actually written at 9am.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

I Weighed Myself

So Sunday night I stepped on the scale.  Sigh...

My weight was 312.9.  Do not like.

I know, this isn't a journey that's going to be traveled in a week, but I was hoping I'd be able to chip away a little at my weight just by making smarter choices.

I could beat myself up and tell myself nothing I do will change that number, which I know isn't true.  I am beating myself up though, so I need to redirect.

Here are a couple reasons why the scale said what it did. 
  • I didn't take a before weight.  I was going on memory from a couple weeks ago when I said I weighed 312.  I could have weighed 315 pounds last week for all I know.
  • I weighed myself without consideration for what time of day it was and when I ate.
  • I was wearing a lot of heavy clothes, which I may not have the last weigh-in.
These aren't excuses.  They're variables I need to get better at.  The scale is a cruel, inconsistent bitch.  If I minimize some variation, I can make things a little more consistent so I'm not torturing myself.

I'd like to focus on a non-scale victory.  I feel good.  I'm not bogged down by heavier foods and I'm getting my baggage out of my brain and onto the internet.  For now, things are pretty good.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

My Feet

Since I was about 14, I've had problems with my feet.  First off, they smell terrible.  Much worse than average.  My armpits only smell bad when I've gone a few days without a shower, but make sure you aren't around when I take my shoes off.

I had a lot of trouble with ingrown toenails in high school.  They hurt, they got infected, and they made my gross feet even grosser.  I had four or five surgeries to fix the problem, all of which ended with a prescription for Tylenol 3, which is a little heavier duty than the over the counter stuff.  My left big toenail is permanently jacked up from the podiatrist killing the nailed on the borders.  It kinda looks like a claw now.

My feet are also abnormally wide.  On some shoes, I can squeak I to a size 12 EEEE.  I hate how hard it is to find shoes.  It's so hard.

I'm pretty sure being overweight is what turned my feet into pancakes.  I'm also pretty sure they're always going to be wide and gross, and I'm okay with that.

What I'm not okay with is how much pain they've been in lately.  Seriously, they ache all the time.  When I wake up in the morning they are screaming at me not to put weight on them.  It gets better after I stretch them out for a little bit, but it totally sucks.  Totally sucks.

So I switched shoes, I'm trying to stay off my feet whenever I can, I'm using a little foot massaging robot I got for Claire when she was pregnant.  Nothing seems to be working.  I know the answer is lose weight, but it's kind of a catch-22 because I need to be really careful about how my exercise is impacting my tootsies.

I've suspected for a while that I have a short window before my weight starts seriously impacting my quality of life.  Right now (for the most part) I can do anything someone half my weight can do.  I may have to slow down for some of it, but overall, I'm pretty healthy.  This is going to change and it's going to be bad unless I can get my house in order.

Feet, I promise to treat you better from here on out.

Monday, June 1, 2015


On Friday we packed up the car and headed north to Duluth, Minnesota. 

My friend Nolan was getting married and the wife and I took the day off work to go to the wedding.  We had a great time.  The ceremony was up on a hillside and had an amazing view of the harbor.  As both the bride and groom are finishing masters programs in music, there was really great music at ceremony and the reception.  I played name that tune with some friends while the jazz trio played.  Nothing like a bunch of music teachers trying to out-music each other.  Overall, it was a really great night and I couldn't be happier for the bride and groom.

Some highlights of the night:
I never once felt stuffed
I passed on seconds at the buffet, though the food was AMAZING!
I only had one beer.

Some things that could have gone better:
I forgot a belt and my pants kept falling down.  Luckily the reception venue was very close to the Duluth Trading Company where I paid way too much for a belt.  So for the rest of the evening, instead of being preoccupied with my pants falling down, I was preoccupied with how much I paid for that damn belt.
They had a sweet and salty bar.  I probably ate too much candy.

I really tried to eat healthier on this trip.  We went to Subway over Culvers or DQ on the ride up.  I purposely let myself be hungry a couple times.  I just kept reminding myself it was okay to feel hungry.  The rest of my body felt fine, but that hunger really bothered me.  I had a burger and fries on Saturday for lunch, but I'm not concerned about one meal.  My problem is EVERY meal (and between meals, come to think of it).

Bottom line, I'm proud of the choices I made on the trip.  I'm also proud of this little cutie who traveled amazingly well.
Here are some other pictures from the trip.