My Progress

Saturday, April 17, 2010

In The Beginning

A bit of background: I love to cook.  And I'm good at it!  No false modesty here.  I have friends over and they rave about my cooking.  My wife and I owned a catering company together that we did on the side for years and we got serious about it a couple years ago, but I didn't cook much at home, as she seemed to be angry with me every time I cooked, so I figured it was her "thing" and I didn't cook for years because I didn't want to compete with her (other than to make mac & cheese for the kids, or when we cooked for a wedding).  She asked me 2 years ago what I wanted to do when we retired, and I told her I'd always wanted to open my own restaurant.  She was angry with me, said she was tired of catering and she didn't want to open a restaurant.  I was stunned.  I said, "You asked me what I wanted to do, not what you wanted to do."  It's always been a dream of mine.  When I was in Grade 3, we were given the assignment to come up with a business that we wanted to create, complete with drawings and I made what I thought was the ultimate restaurant (according to a 9 year old) with kiosks with pizza, burgers, ice cream, fish and chips along the side with I think a bowling alley at the end (my memory is failing a bit here) and seating in the middle.  Back in 1977 in elementary school, I created the ubiquitous mall food court before it's time!  But... I have recently realized that starting a business without going into the business first to learn the business is a bit insane.  I was in the oilfield for 15 years in the wireline business.  Six years ago I was employed by a company to start up a new division and with a new product and build it from scratch.  We spent about 1.5 million to build the equipment and made over 3 million our first year in business.  But I knew what I was doing.  That was my specialty and I knew what I needed, who to buy from, who to hire, how to market it, etc.  If I was to start up a restaurant right now, it would be like some roughneck on the rigs who had helped rig up a couple of times thinking he could start up his own wireline company because "it doesn't look that hard!"  No wonder most mom and pop start-ups in the restaurant business fail.  They have no clue what they are doing.  And I'm getting off topic, but you get the idea, my whole life has been about food.

So I cook because I love it.  Mostly comfort food and things I've always wanted to try (like creme brulee, sauerbraten, chicken parmigiana, and chateaubriand).  My problem is like most North Americans, I come from a pioneer background in which our ancestors worked by "the sweat of their brow" and from "sun-up to sun-down".  They cut down trees, dug the stumps out by hand, plowed the ground walking behind the horse and plow, hoed, harvested, threshed, and gathered their food the hard way: by hand.  The Amish today follow a similar lifestyle and have less than 4% obesity rate, yet consume a high carb diet in the neighborhood of 4000 - 5000 calories a day.  I come from a Mormon background and our recipes that we cook go back generations, we largely (no pun intended) eat like our ancestors still, but instead of a physical 16 hour work-day, we go to the office in cars, take the elevator, sit at a desk, go home and sit in front of the TV or the computer and don't even have to get up to change the channels or get the phone.  No wonder over 60% of us are obese.  Especially me.

So what to do?  I've tried various diets ranging from Atkin's to Weight Watchers.  I always started off by losing 20 pounds in the first couple weeks and then stalled and after a month or so, I quit.  Then the weight comes right back.  I'm deathly afraid of the consequences of my weight gain.  My father died of complications due to diabetes at the age of 66.  My uncle died much younger, and had lost his eyesight, both legs and all of his fingers except for his thumbs by the time diabetes took him.  If I don't do something, I'm a dead man.  But the word diet is just die with a T added.  The bigger problem is not so much the losing of the weight, but keeping it off is a whole 'nother ballgame (I'm sure you all have your favorite yo-yoing celebrity you're thinking of... Kirstie Alley, Oprah, Britney Spears, the list is endless... and I'm not mocking Kirstie or Oprah.  Let's face it, anyone in MY weight category who can either laugh about it or can parlay her binging into millions has my respect).  I don't want to be living on nothing but celery the rest of my life, I have to find something that works for me, it's a lifestyle that I'm looking for.  Something that will allow me to get down near my wedding weight of 190 pounds.  And keep it there!  And still be able to enjoy the food that I love.  It's going to be tricky.

Mom has a friend who was bigger than I am and he recently lost 300 pounds and she asked him how he did it.  His nutritionist let him eat whatever he wanted but he could only eat two bites.  I don't have the will power for that one.  I'm one of those people who sits down with a box of whatever intending to eat a couple and all of a sudden the entire box is gone, and I'm goggling at the box asking myself where it all went.  How many calories per serving, times HOW many serving were in there?!  Forget it!  I don't even want to know the answer to that, pretty sure I just used up two days allotment of calories right there.  The only way I could do the "2 Bite" Diet is with those two foot long wooden spoons that used to hang on my parent's wall when I was a kid (What was up with those things, anyways?  What purpose did they ever serve, except to suggest the people that live here are gluttons?).

I had a buddy who lost 50 pounds in about 3 months and I asked how he pulled it off and he said he just cut out all pop and drank water instead.  I said, "That's it?"  Then he said, "Well, I quit eating after 7 PM and between the two things that did it."  I tried that for awhile and nothing seemed to happen.

Two weeks ago, my mom went in to talk to the internist who had a ultra-sound done.  Apparently she had some fat on her liver and he told her it wasn't too serious but she needed to lose some weight (How many times have all of us heard that?).  So she asked him what was the best diet to lose weight (probably with me in mind).  He said they are all the same.  The secret is just to eat less calories than your body needs to burn each day to maintain your weight.  Not really ground breaking.  I think we've all heard that a thousand times before.  He suggested that she drink Ensure 3 times a day as that gives you 750 calories for the day (3 x 250 Cal).  Then to supplement that twice a day with diet Jell-O as that has has almost no calories (a whole box has <10 Cal) and has some protein to make you feel full; and she could add a tiny dob from one of those whip cream in a can to give her just a little fat to slow down the digestion so that she would feel full longer.  Just stay under 1000 calories when you need, in our cases 1560 Cal for Mom and 3580 Cal for me to maintain our weights.  So IF I can stay at or under a 1000 calories, I should be burning off 2500 calories a day off my belly.  At least that's how they calculated out using the Harris-Benedict formula I found.

She asked him about exercise, wasn't that important?  "No",  he said, "It's always a good idea to excercise, but a lot of the time, you exercise and you burn some calories and then you are just hungrier and eat even more than you would have."

Now I'm paraphrasing information I'm getting third-hand.  I'm not a health care professional, a nutritionist or an expert in anyway and I'm not advocating anything that I'm trying necessarily.  I'm just sharing what I'm currently trying in the hopes it keeps me going (I have always worked better with a deadline looming) and perhaps in the hopes that it helps someone else out there, because I know just how frustrating and hopeless this whole dieting thing can be.

So we went out and bought a week's worth of Ensure and some diet Jell-O.  So that's the current plan.  Let me just say that Ensure is pretty good.  The Vanilla flavor is OK, Strawberry is a little better, and the Wild Berry and Chocolate are really good.  Mom picked up the first batch on sale at Superstore for $7.98 for a six pack ($1.33 each).  We should have bought a boat-load at that price but we didn't know they were on sale and we wanted to try the various flavors out.  So we bought the next bunch at $11.98 ($2.00 each) and checked out various stores and they all seem to be running the same price all over.  BUT, we encountered two other flavors at Wal-Mart.  Same price at $11.98, but in addition to Vanilla, Strawberry, Berry and Chocolate, they had Butter Pecan and Orange Cream.  Butter Pecan is easily as good as the Chocolate but Orange Cream is TO DIE FOR!  Are guys allowed to use that phrase?  Remember when you were a kid on a hot summer day and you took your allowance and wandered down the corner store in the sweltering heat and bought an Orange Creamsicle?  My mouth is drooling just thinking about it and that's what the Orange Cream tastes like.  Or if you've ever tried that Orange Cream pop that Stewart's puts out.  Same thing, just terribly nummy.  It's more like dessert than dieting.  Mmmmmmmm!

We also bought some Boost which is the same price as the Ensure ($11.98/6 or $2.00 ea.) and it tastes very much the same but only seems to come in Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry.

While we were at Wal-Mart we bought their house brand Exact meal replacements and took them on our trip down to see my kids.  They are GROSS!  Not completely inedible, but close.  They only cost $8.00 for a six pack ($1.33 ea.) but I would rather go hungry.  We are planning on trying Superstore's PC brand next to see if they are worth drinking but haven't yet.

While returning Thursday night, I was craving some solid food, so we stopped at a Subway's and bought a 12" Sweet Chicken Teriyaki Sub (we split it - 6" each) with all the veggie fixings except hot peppers and I got one of those pamphlets and was surprised just how stingy with the calories those things can be.  No wonder Jared could lose weight.  The Sweet Chicken Sub wasn't the lowest calorie-wise, but still came in at a respectable 350 calories for a 6", only 100 calories more than an Ensure.  So my daily for that day was only 850 Cal.  Cool!

So to bring this blog up to speed, yesterday I missed breakfast (definite no-no, but I was sleeping in from the trip), had an Ensure for lunch, an apple and a banana for snacks(74 and 110 Cal respectively) and made a whole-wheat tortilla wrap with one slice of turkey breast, spinach, romaine, sliced cucumber and pickles, a dab of miracle whip and a sprinkle of grated cheese.  I figure its about the same size, roughly the same content as the Subway sub, so around 350 Cal.  Total for yesterday: 784 calories.

Today I had an Ensure for breakfast, another turkey wrap for lunch and have been busy and skipped both snacks.  So I think I'm going to reward myself for being good all week by having a steak.  I bought some little 6 oz. Top Sirloin medallions, rubbed them with Montreal Steak spice last night, marinaded them overnight in Kraft Zesty Italian dressing (throw them in a Glad freezer bag and pour the dressing in and then shake and throw them in the drawer overnight).  The steaks themselves are 335 calories each and if I add a bit for the marinade/rub, I should be around 400 Cal? with a bit of salad.  So I should be about 1000 calories on the nose for the day.  Don't give me too much grief, I'm a guy and I'm still trying to figure this calorie counting stuff out!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm his mother and I am trying what he does. This way there is less temptation to skip the diet because there is no other food around and we are doing the same things. Besides, if it is difficult, "misery loves company", so the old saying goes.