Eat to Live Before and After Pictures


Here is some photographic example of what I’ve been talking about with Eat To Live. The left picture was taken the day I started, the one on the right this week. There is about a 34 pound difference between the two. I note that I don’t look that radically different, but I’m more generally concave in the before and convex in the after. Although “After” is a misnomer because I’m not stopping anytime soon. “Late Middle” might be a better way to refer to it.

Also, I was not deliberately making a miserable face in the first picture. I am actually smiling in every photo I took except the first day. This isn’t some kind of late night commercial thing, where I am trying to make the before as putzlike as possible. It just worked out that way.

5 Weeks on Eat to Live


This will be the last of these weekly updates, as I go from the first phase of Eat to Live to the sustaining part. I’m doing it a week early because of several life occasions in the next few days for which I want to consume some calories that aren’t leafy greens.

The goal I set in fall of 2013 was to get from 225 pounds to 185 pounds. I effectively did that this week. Although I was 185.2 yesterday and 185.6 today, I’m declaring that close enough to claim victory. I celebrated by getting a checkup and blood work done today. I will know next week if I have incurred any ill effects from the last five weeks, no tests done today showed any problem. I can tell you that in April my blood pressure was 155/93 and today it was 128/83 so that was a clear victory.

I will check back in via the blog around early September to report what a month on the sustaining leg of the program did for me. I hope to not be back in the 200s. I’d love to be in the low 180s or even the 170s. I’d consider even being exactly 185 good enough for celebration. We shall see. What I know now is that I am going to have some beer tomorrow and Monday will let myself go completely crazy for a full day. I have a pint of Penn Jillette’s Magic Swyrtle ice cream that was to be my reward for getting under 195 pounds. It’s been in my freezer for over a year and I’m eating that son of a bitch next week. Go me.

Punkin Sings

Last night as she was trying to not fall asleep, Punkin was singing this song:

“If I don’t see you every day
My heart will burst away
My heart will burst away”

That last line repeated about 20 times.

Eat to Live

Weight graph

I started a serious push to get my weight under control in spring of 2014. I focused then on mostly avoiding processed sweets and eating mostly high protein, low carb foods for two meals of the day. I would have eggs for breakfast and sausage for lunch then a fairly normal dinner with the family. This worked for a while, and I got from around 225 pounds to 195 pounds in about six months.

After that, I had a very hard time maintaining that, even though I was exercising the whole time. The first three months of weight loss were without any additional exercise, but the last 15 included multiple trips to the gym on most weeks. I spent that year in a band of 203 poounds, plus or minus 7. I wasn’t gaining too much, but I wasn’t losing any.

In early spring as a listener of Penn’s Sunday School and a backer of Director’s Cut I started noticing and hearing about Penn Jillette’s weight loss. Although he is working with a guy named Ray Cronise as his weight loss guru, he mentioned on the show that the core of his eating regimen is from a book by Joel Fuhrman called Eat to Live. I figured, “what the hell do I have to lose but weight?” I bought the book, read to the key parts. Like all similar books, there is only one or two chapters that really matter and the rest is filler to make it salable at book length. Once I read the best start, I hopped on the plan with very little planning or foresight.

From the beginning, I lost weight. The sleight of hand of any regimen that restricts salty food is that coming from a standard American diet, you will lose water weight almost immediately. I have lost 18 pounds in 19 days, but 7 of that happened the first two days. It is a neat trick, because from the very beginning it helps with the motivation to watch weight disappearing quickly.

Here is the real high level summary of what I am doing. I highly recommend the book for anyone interested in this. I predict a high level of success for anyone following this plan.

For the first six weeks:

Unlimited: cooked and raw leafy greens; fresh fruits; cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, etc), beans

Desirable but limited to a serving a day: Avocado; raw and unsalted seeds and nuts; flax seed

Allowable but limited to a serving a day: Grains and grain products

Prohibited: Sugary foods; prepared foods; meat; dairy; salty foods; canned fruits; white breads; oils

After six weeks and for the rest of your life:

Follow the recommendations above but you have 200 calories a day you can splurge on any prohibited items. Whether that is meat, cheese or a cupcake you can have them and every day as long as 90% of your food intake follows the recommendations. Unlike having a cheat day, you can cheat every day but you have very clear boundaries.

At this point, I’m 2.5 weeks in. I will probably not go the entirety of the recommended 6 week initial period because my birthday is in there. For the day itself, I will allow myself one full day of eating whatever I want that day. After that, is is back on the plan but with the 200 calorie allowance.

As of last weekend, I fell under the lowest weights I had achieved in the previous 18 months of watching what I ate and exercising. It took right at two weeks for this to occur. I really haven’t considered what I am shooting for on the low end of this. I had 185 as my long term goal initially, and now I am 8 pounds from that with a long time left on this initial chunk. I hesitate to dream too big and bum myself out, but 180 seems quite possible. Is 175 too much (little) to ask?

One of the fun things I am doing is walking backwards in time. I have weight stamps associated with periods in my life. I spent much of the last decade around 240. After I quit drinking sodas, I almost immediately went to 225 and stayed there. In Chicago in the mid 2000s I was 240 and dropped to 225 when I started biking to the train station every day. In Atlanta, I was struggling to get under 220. In Portland, I was trying to lose from 209. In grad school in Louisiana, I was 190 at the low point. Prior to that, during my fitness kick in college I was more like a muscular and fit 165. As I lose weight, I get myself back to these timestamps. If I drop under 190, that will be a 20 year low. If I get into the 160s it will be a 25 year low.

These are still the early days of this plan, and I have given back this lost weight before. I will report back in periodically with my progress or lack thereof. For now, I am optimistic and not at all hungry. Have you ever tried to eat a pound of kale and romaine lettuce a day? It’s a lot of food, so not getting enough is never a problem. I hope to see lower blood pressure, which was getting problematic and maybe a host of other side benefits.

Wish me luck and less of myself.

Wit and Wisdom of Punkin


Here are some witticisms I have recently heard from a 4 year old. Background for those unfamiliar, there is a page in the book Everyone Poops that says “A one hump camel has a one hump poop. A two hump camel has a two hump poop. Only kidding!”

Punkin: “A two hump camel has a two hump poop. Only kidding! There is no such creature as a two hump camel!”

Playing Dr. Panda’s Restaurant on her tablet in the backseat:

Punkin: “Daddy, Dr. Panda makes me do all the work!”

During breakfast:

Me: “Eat your bacon, it makes you grow strong.”
Punkin: “No it doesn’t.”
Me: “What does it do?”
Punkin: “It makes you wiggle your butt!”

My New Routine

This is my new daily routine. After day care drop off, I go to Subproto, the Myrtle Beach hackerspace. I set up my laptop and then play a game of Joust on the MAME console in the corner. I work for a few hours and when it is time to leave, I play another one on the way out. So far, it is a pretty pleasant way to spend a morning.

Meteorite In My Junk

I don’t know if this is the entirety of my problem, but this little son of a bitch shot out my pee hole this afternoon. I was expecting it, in general, and I wasn’t expecting that. It’s a weird experience watching particulate matter emerging from where it usually doesn’t.

Vegas Conversation

This is an actual conversation from my Vegas trip. I had met a guy playing Pai Gow poker and finally left after the dealer scolded me for playing my hand wrong. I played some roulette and talked to him on my way out. I was talking about my strategy for playing which is really a strategy for stopping. I’ll call him Stranger A. Sitting next to him is a dude I’ve never seen before, Stranger B.

Me: “I play a very boring roulette style. It’s less riverboat gambler and more insurance company actuary.”
Stranger A: “Thats funny.”
Stranger B: “Yes, actuaries!”
Me: “Are you an actuary?”
Stranger B: “I sure am. Look!” He turns to face me, and his shirt says in a fancy font “Actuary”.
Me: “Right on, actuary guy!” We high five.
Stranger A: “You two are stone cold nerds.”

Lunch with Punkin

A water tower shaped like a ketchup bottle is seen in the town of Belleville, Illinois

Today Punkin had her 4 year old vaccinations and I ended up watching her. I gave her the choice of lunch anywhere she wanted and she chose Wendy’s. Most likely, it’s because our local one has a Coke Freestyle machine and she likes playing with that more than eating.

We had this conversation during lunch:

Punkin: The airplanes leave trails of ketchup in the sky! And french fries fall down like rain?
Me: Really?
Punkin: Yes, and the ground is made out of hamburgers and cheeseburgers. You can pick one up and eat it whenever you want.
Me: And how about drinks?
Punkin: The rivers are Sprite and the creeks are cherry. You cvan scoop it out and drink whenever you want. Isn’t that cool?
Me: Yes, it sounds wonderful. What do you call such a place?
Punkin: Ketchup World!

Wholly Rolling

I’m generally pretty hapless with quad roller skates, doing much better with inline. However, I managed to skate for 20 or 30 minutes at this birthday party, sometimes helping a small child who was very unsteady, without once falling down. I had a few close calls, particularly in the late going when I got tired but 100% upright. I’ll take it.

Ed Martin, RIP

Photo by Mary Champeny
Photo by Mary Champeny

At the end of last week I was dealing with a sick child and a busy work week, so I barely looked at Facebook. Thus, I missed the news that Ed Martin passed away last Thursday.

Although I had met Ed prior, I really spent most of my time with him in my 2000 to 2003 stint back in Atlanta. There was a period of really intense work there when a small set of people, mostly but not exclusively alumni, helped transition WREK from an unreliable, frequently off-the-air lovable train wreck to a station you could actually set your clock radio to. Part of this project coincided with being laid off from my job, and as I wanted to put Oracle on my resume I used this project to do that. I spent a lot of time in the station and Ed was frequently there.

As I recall, Ed took some courses at Georgia Tech which game him student status to work at WREK. Once you do that it’s not that hard to hang on forever (or it wasn’t back then.) WREK of that era was a difficult place to get people to show up. Ed was a person who always showed up. I saw him on weekday mornings, Saturday nights, dropping by for a moment or an hour if his itinerary took him anywhere near the station.

Ed always talked to you as if you understood everything he was saying. Maybe I’m the dumbest person he knew but I didn’t. I struggled to catch the references he threw out as he seemingly knew more about rock, jazz, hip-hop and world music than I do. That’s not to mention politics, city planning, the law, literature, cinema and geography. I think possibly I might have known more than him about early Vertigo comics but I wouldn’t have bet cash on that prospect.

I have seen some remembrances, like Chris Campbell’s eulogy for Ed. Many many more are on his Facebook page. People stress what a kind person and how generous with his time he was. I too literally never heard him say a bad word about anyone. Just his attendance at events was enough to tire me thinking about them and I am a guy 18 years younger than him. He was helpful to a fault, kind, funny, smart, generous. When I think of my failings as a person, Ed was the kind of person I was failing to be.