Monday, July 27, 2015

Vacation Post 1: A Controversial Video

I'm on vacation this week.  So I'll leave you with this video I saw on Reddit.


Friday, July 24, 2015


Tomorrow the family is piling into the car and heading north(west) for a vacation. 

We're going to Long Lake just outside of Park Rapids, MN.  We'll be taking it easy for a full week.  I'm so excited.

However, I'm a little worried about what vacation is going to do to the progress I've made so far.  We'll probably eat out a few times when we're there and I don't want to spend all my time cooking. 

My goal is to maintain my weight while I'm on vacation.  I'm not going to obsess about food or exercise.  I will be on vacation, after all, and I want to enjoy myself.  I need to make enough good choices that I don't backslide.

So how am I going to get there?  I have a couple ideas.
1. Establish a routine
I want to start each day with the following routine:
  • Light Cardio
  • Body Weight Exercises
  • Go Swimming
After I get those things out of the way, I can spend the rest of my day any way I want (well, any way that my daughter wants). 

I'm a little worried about my feet, however.  In years past I've done some jogging at the lake.  This year I don't want to further mess up my feet, so I'm going to go easy on the running.  I can't bring my bike with because we don't have the necessary rack to strap it on the car.  I don't know what kind of cardio I can do besides running and swimming though, so I'll have to do some researching.  Any suggestions?

2. Cook
I'm going to bring my sugar detox cookbook with.  I'm gonna make some amazing dinners!

3. Make good choices when eating out
I'm not going to be afraid to have salads for dinner.  Especially when they're delicious gormet salads.  I'll keep my sugars to a minimum.  I might have dessert a couple times, but it will be intentional.

4. Snack smart
I'm not going to be afraid to eat peanuts by the dock or some fresh fruit.  But the sugary snacks aren't going to have a place in the cabin this year.  No sweets for snacking.

5. Keep busy
I'm going to try to keep myself occupied so I won't want to eat all the time.  This shouldn't be too difficult with my wife and daughter along. 

I'm psyched.  Regardless of where my weight goes, I'm planning on having a great time.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Turning Down Food

It's my last day teaching summer school.  The director just came by with donuts.  They looked AMAZING.

I turned her down!  No sugar, flour, and more sugar for me.  I wanted it, and thinking back, I still want it.  But I said no thanks. 

Happy three weeks off to me!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

NSV: 2XL T-Shirts

Ever since shortly after H was born, I've felt like I've had to squeeze into a 2XL T-shirt.  This has been my T-shirt size since high school, and while I've been able to fit into XL shirts at a couple points, I've generally gone for the 2XL.  In February or March I picked up a 3XL shirt on Shirt Woot.  It felt so good not to have to squeeze into a shirt I bought a couple more. 

I've been wearing mostly 3XL shirts this summer, and every now and then squeezing into a 2XL.  I have a couple that I absolutely love.  Like this one.

I have to stretch it out when I put it on a lot and my belly usually hangs out the bottom. 

Something different happened recently.  I put on a 2XL shirt and it fit!  It's not loose by any means, but it's definitely a shirt I can wear out in public.

So look out world, Andrew as a new (old) wardrobe!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Weigh-In Results

It's weigh-in time.

The scale tells me I lost 1.7 pounds this week.  I've lost a grand total of 16.9 pounds and I passed a major threshold.  I've lost over 5% of my body weight.  One twentieth of me is gone.  5% of the weight on my knees and feet is gone. 5% of the weight that puts me at risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, and a whole host of other nasty stuff is gone!

I actually weighed myself a couple times last night.  This was the when I got home but before dinner weigh-in.  I stepped on the scale after dinner to weigh my daughter (she's not heavy enough for the scale to register her by herself yet) and I'd gained like 4 pounds.  I've been having a lot of water with my meals lately, so I don't think that's a bad thing.  How much does a Chipotle burrito bowl weigh by the way?

I don't necessarily feel I'm doing everything I can to lose weight right now, but I think if I plan carefully, this could be more sustainable than previous times I've lost weight.  I know yesterday I kind of ranted about how I'm worried I won't be able to manage in September, but I think I can make it work.

Before I forget.  There won't be a weigh-in next Tuesday.  I'll be on vacation.  Hopefully, I'll be able to maintain my weight while I'm at the lake.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I've got a weigh-in tonight.  I doubt it's going to go well.

I've been stuck in a place a couple times this week where I haven't wanted to spend two hours in the kitchen making dinner.  The meals I've been eating taste great and are healthy, but take a TON of work.

So I slip sometimes and order out.  I had a burger and fries twice this week.  I picked up a chicken salad sandwich on a croissant for lunch yesterday.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still avoiding sugar like the plague, but it's in ketchup, it's in bread, it's even in dried mangos.  Hell, the croissant I had yesterday may as well have been a piece of cake.  According to Google, a large croissant has 8 grams of sugar and 31 grams of carbs.  That's white flour.  It made me feel super jittery. 

There aren't a lot of good options for eating out for someone who doesn't want sugar in his diet.  Subway's bread is full of refined sugar and flour.  Panera's salads are pretty tasty, but I wonder about the dressings.  Plus they have bread to tempt me there.  Chipotle has been the best for me.  A bowl with brown rice is not only delicious, it's free of added sugars and the brown rice is a lot better than white.  But I don't have much luck convincing Claire to eat there every time we need to just grab something.

So here's the issue.  How do I live when I don't have the time to cook for two hours?  How do I sustain the healthy(er) diet I've been enjoying when life gets busy again in September?  How do I eat healthy when I don't have the energy to cook?  How am I going to stay motivated when I don't see the numbers on the scale change (or see them change in the wrong direction)?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Lemon Ginger Chicken

I've been spending a ton of time in the kitchen lately.  A TON of time.  If you want good, healthy food, it's kind of mandatory. 

I'm working on perfecting my execution of a recipe for a whole chicken.  I've never made a whole chicken before starting the whole sugar-free thing, so I was kind of nervous.  But I've made it three times now and it keeps getting better.

It's not plated or anything, and the image quality is kind of potato, but isn't this a nice looking bird?
Here's the recipe:
3 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
1 Chunk of Ginger (2-3 inches long)
2 Tbsp (maybe more like 1.5) Coarse Sea Salt (for the love of god, don't use anything fine!)
1 Whole Chicken
2 Lemons
Lots of Spinach
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Preheat your oven to 425.  That seems to be the temperature that's almost always used for chicken.

Peel and mince the ginger. The smaller pieces, the better.  In a small bowl add the salt and 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil.  Smash it up really good.  I use a pestle and a stonewear bowl and just go to town on it.

Take your chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel.  Get rid of the gibblets inside (if there are any).  Very gently get your fingers under the skin at the top and bottom of the breast.  Wiggle them around until you separate the skin from the meat.  Be really careful here.  You want to keep the skin intact so avoid tearing it even a little (though it's not ruined if you tear it). 

Stuff half your ginger-salt-oil smush under the skin you just loosened on the breasts.  Try to spread it evenly.  Again, be careful not to tear the skin.  Spread the other half of your smush in the cavity.

Slice one of your lemons into wedges for serving and the other into thin slices.  Shove the slices piece-by-piece into the cavity. 

If you can, tie the legs together with kitchen twine.  I keep forgetting to buy some, so my legs just stay in the air.  Tuck your wings underneath.  I can't figure out how to do this so they stay tucked.

Cook until it reaches an internal temp of 165.  It takes my oven about an hour 15 to get there.  If you don't have a meat thermometer, get one.  You don't want rare chicken.

Every 20 minutes or so, use a turkey baster to get the juices out of the pan and back on the chicken.  I was using a brush, but I bought a baster and it works so much better.

Once your chicken is at temp, set it on a cutting board and tent it with foil.  Leave it sitting for a few minutes while you work on your spinach.

Dump a whole bunch of spinach into the pan you roasted the chicken.  The recipe I used calls for nine ounces, but I'm going to dump a pound of it in next time.  Sprinkle some red pepper flakes on the top.  Stick it in your oven for 3 minutes.  You just want it to wilt.  Then mix it up with the delicious chicken juices in your pan. 

Carve up your chicken and serve with lemon wedges from the other lemon.  It's amazing.

I hope I made you hungry.  Do you have a healthy recipe that's amazing?  Let me know. 

And let me know if you try this recipe.  I'd love some feedback.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Weigh-In Results

I went into this weigh-in thinking I was going to have a gain or remain stagnant.  I ate out too many times this week, and while I made the best of a lot of situations (like getting brown rice with my Chinese food instead of white), I was still in those situations too much.  I had pizza for dinner on Sunday and lunch yesterday.  I had sugar a couple times (sometimes on purpose and sometimes by accident), and it totally messed me up.  I got all jittery and tingly.  And that's why I thought this week would be a bust.

So let's get to the numbers.

296.8.  I was wrong!  I lost 2.6 pounds this week for a total of 15.2 pounds.  I'm feeling really good about this number. 

To be honest, I weigh myself almost every day.  I know I shouldn't, and it drove me crazy when I used to do it.  I give myself permission to fluctuate now.  I don't let a slightly higher reading take the wind out of my sails.  I remind myself that the weekly weigh-in number is the important one.  The lowest weight I've hit recently is just a hair below this, but it was after a bike ride on a hot day when I didn't eat lunch.  This weigh-in is the real deal.  Normal time, normal activity.  This is official.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dried Mangoes

Yesterday I went to Aldi.

I really hate going to Aldi.  No one has any respect for anyone else's personal space, you can't find anything, and there's usually some feral kids running around I'm assuming just belong to the store.

I keep going back because their prices are outstanding.

I usually get myself something small as a treat to pick up my spirits afterward.  This time I happened to see some dried mango when I was picking up almonds.

I know dried fruit is more calorie and sugar dense than fresh fruit, but this was a splurge.  After packing all my groceries into my car, I ripped open the bag and had a handful of pieces.  It was probably about a serving.  I was planning on munching on the rest on the car ride home.

I decided to take a look at the nutrition panel.  I don't have the exact numbers with me writing this, but this one I found online is pretty close.

Serving size: 6 slices (40 grams).  Okay, that's reasonable.  Calories: 130.  Makes sense.  Dietary fiber: 1 gram.  I expected more, but whatever.  Sugars: 27 grams.  WHAT?

I checked the ingredients.  The top three were Mango, Sugar, and Powdered Sugar.  WTF?

In a similar sized (37 grams) serving of Haribo Gummy Bears, there are 130 calories and 19 grams of sugar. 

Why does an already sweet fruit need more sugar than candy that is essentially entirely sugar?

This just illustrates how food is marketed. I thought I was getting dried fruit and maybe some preservatives to improve shelf life. What I was really getting was candy.  

I know it's on me to read the label first.  I have control over what goes in my body.  But I can't help but feel a little betrayed.  I thought I was getting a snack that, while not the best thing for me, still had some nutritional benefit.  I thought I was doing better than getting a candy bar.  I was wrong.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Weigh-In Results

I've been writing these posts a few at a time, so my weigh-ins have been drifting.  I used to do Monday weigh-ins, but a scale reading on Monday may not show up until Wednesday.  So bear with me, please.

Alright, let's check the numbers.

I did it!  I broke into the 200s.  It's going to be a long time until I break out of the 200s, but I'm heading in the right direction.  I lost 1.2 pounds this week, which isn't huge, but I'm going to go with the idea that this is sustainable and, while not as exciting as losing ten pounds in a week, I got here just by cutting (most) sugar out of my diet.

If I have a loss this size every week, in a year I'll weigh 234.6.  That's huge!  That's about what I started college at (when I had even more insecurity with my weight, oddly enough).

So I'll keep on keeping on.  Try to eat healthier, and start moving my body more.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My New Bike!

I've been saving for a new bike for a couple years now.  I finally had enough.  Plus my old bike is falling apart.  So I pulled the trigger.

Behold!  My Surly Troll.  I was going to get a road touring bike, but after test riding a couple, I fell in love with how this bike fit.  It handles how I want it to handle, the bars are where I need them, and it's just plain fun to ride.  I was set on Surly's Long Haul Trucker, which is a road touring bike.  But after riding both, I settled on the Troll.  The biggest con is it's heavier, but I weigh just a hair over 300 lbs at am planning on attaching the Xtracycle, so realistically a few pounds of frame weight isn't going to make much difference.  I can lighten my bike by over 100 pounds by losing that weight.

A few adjustments need to be made.  I replaced the saddle with my trusty Brooks Flyer.  I cannot say enough good things about my Brooks saddle.  It looks rock hard.  And it is.  But now that it's broken in, it feels more like part of me than part of my bike.

I ordered a handlebar stem riser to get the handlebars high enough for me.  I'm kinda built funny.  I have a long torso, but short legs.  It makes things not fit well.  My knees also hit my tummy when I'm bent over too far, so there's that.  I'm looking forward to getting my handlebars where I need them.

Claire has given me a lot of shit for buying a bike without pedals.  I had the bike shop throw on a pair of Fyxation Gates pedals.  They're pretty okay.  They seem pretty sturdy.  I have big, gross feet, and they almost fit on these pedals.  I still would have preferred them to be a little wider, but these should be fine for a good, long time. 

Gates Pedal

I'm planning on putting my Xtracycle Free Radical on this bike.  I contacted Xtracycle to make sure it's possible and they assured me it is.  They even sent me this picture of someone who had done it.

I'm gonna hold off a little while on this one, but hopefully not too long.  I'll have to buy a larger disc for my brakes, longer cables for brakes and my derailleur, and another chain to splice in, but I have most of the tools I need already.

Somewhere down the line I'm going to get a trekking bar too.  I'd like to be able to have multiple hand positions and they're relatively inexpensive.  There's no hurry on this one either.

Nashbar Trekking Mountain Bike Handlebar

So there you have it.  My new bike.  I'll post more once I've gone on a few rides.   

Monday, July 6, 2015

Chocolate Chips

The other day I had a little bit of a breakdown.  I've been struggling recently with recharging my introvert batteries.  I love my wife and daughter more than I could ever say and really like work, but I'm always around people and I'm fried from interacting.  I needed time alone and I wasn't getting it and I had a little breakdown.

In these situations I normally eat.  I just wanted to eat the crappiest food I could find, and lots of it.  Suddenly this change of diet thing that I've been doing a pretty good job with seemed impossible.  I couldn't keep going.  I was never going to make it to a healthy weight.  I was going to struggle for a couple months and throw in the towel.

Claire saw me spiraling and gave me 8 chocolate chips.  8 little chocolate chips.  These were the mini chocolate chips too. 

It wasn't about the sugar, it was about the recognition and support.  Claire saw that I was in pain and helped.  I felt loved. 

I still need alone time, but I'm doing better than I was.  And I didn't eat the whole bag of chocolate chips.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Cheating (On My Diet)

I've had a few cheats in my diet this last week.  I'm going to put them all out in the open and maybe receive forgiveness from the diet gods (or myself).

On my birthday I had a burger, fries and a big ol' piece of cheesecake.  It was delicious and made me super jittery from all the sugar in it.

I was having a really rough night one night and my wife gave me eight chocolate chips.  I kid you not, she gave me eight chocolate chips and told me to eat them because I needed them.

A couple days ago some friends showed up at my door and we went out. I had a beer and three burgers.  I didn't have lunch that day, so I'm impressed with how little I ate.  I did go home and have a bowl of popcorn to myself that night.

Last night I got a burger and fries from a restaurant called The Anchor.  Sooooooooooo good and soooooooooooo greasy.  I also missed lunch yesterday. 

I also had a non-cheat last night.  Claire found an ice cream at Lunds called Arctic Zero.   I won't go into it too much, but it had minimal sugar and didn't hijack my brain's pleasure centers, which I really appreciate.

Overall I'm doing right a lot more than I'm doing wrong.  However, there's still plenty of room for improvement. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

I Didn't Disappear

So I haven't written anything in a week.  I've been busy, get off my back.  Just kidding.

It has been a pretty busy week so I haven't had time to write anything.  But I'm here now, so let's start with a weigh-in.

I lost 1.2 pounds this week.  It's not the massive weight loss I had last week, but it's something.  I feel like I've been slowing down now that I'm getting used to my new diet.  I still feel a whole lot better.  I've got more energy and I'm not hungry all the time.  But I've had a couple cheats since last week.

The 10-day sugar detox is officially over, but I'm definitely keeping the white stuff to a minimum in my diet from now on.