Tag Archives: Weight

Really? More Than a Year Since I Wrote Anything?

Here we are, at the beginning of another year. My birthday is right around the corner, and I’m celebrating another year of feeling like crap every single day. Another year of weighing and measuring nearly every bit of food that enters my body. Another year of watching my weight bounce up and down, even though I’ve been dieting for five years straight. (By the numbers, I should have lost so much weight that I ceased to exist. Instead, I’m almost back to the same weight I was at this time last year, despite being 25 pounds lighter at one point.) Another year of specialists, procedures, and therapies that haven’t helped.

It’s also just about time for another annual physical. So, here’s my dilemma:

Do I go see the same doctor again? Do I look for a new physician? My current doctor is a big fan of “eat less, exercise more, all your problems will go away.” But, he does have a few years of history with me, so maybe he’ll finally consider another explanation. A new doctor might be hesitant to do much of anything based on a lack of history. Neither is likely to believe a word I say, as the truth doesn’t make any sense. Most doctors I’ve seen treat me like I’m A) lying, B) exaggerating, C) confused, D) drug-seeking, and/or E) stupid.

I’ve scoured the internet in an effort to diagnose myself. All signs point to a thyroid issue (or a related pituitary issue, or an autoimmune disorder that presents like, and can lead to, a thyroid issue.) Unfortunately, everything I’ve read says that most doctors fail to order the tests that would actually help define any of these conditions. Instead, they rely on a single test (TSH). If that test comes back in the “normal” range (which mine did), it’s the end of the story. Never mind that there is very little agreement on what normal is. Never mind that there are a wide array of thyroid, pituitary, and autoimmune issues that don’t show up on that test. Never mind that I’ve identified more than thirty symptoms commonly associated with thyroid issues. Never mind that even if my thyroid IS fine, I am still experiencing all these symptoms, and maybe “eat less, exercise more” isn’t quite enough.

Yes, I’m aware that self-diagnosis is an imperfect approach. Yes, I’m aware that the internet is not always a reliable source of information. I’m also aware that I walked around for more than a decade with a hernia, and couldn’t get a doctor to diagnose it until after I had diagnosed myself. I’m also aware that when I got a second hernia and told the doctor I had a second hernia, I still had to see two more doctors before being diagnosed with a second hernia. I’m also aware that I spent years with crippling back pain before I could get a doctor to order an X-ray and an MRI to discover two bad disks. I’m also aware that basically, I have spent my entire adult life in pain, and not once has a doctor acted BEFORE I diagnosed myself.

So, what, am I writing this just to complain? Maybe. But it’s also to help me clarify my own thinking. It’s also because I want to get back to writing more. It’s also because maybe, if I throw this out there on the internet, someone will read it and relate to it and have some helpful advice. All I know for sure is that I can’t do this much longer.

Surly Destination Brewery

Well, lucky me, I had the chance to take part in Surly’s soft opening today for lunch. So, my two little munchkins and I braved the 50° weather and journeyed all the way over the river.

I should say right off the bat that I am fully aware that this was a soft opening, and that problems are to be expected. In fact, one of the main purposes of a soft opening is to help unearth these problems before opening to the public.

The building and location definitely fit the Surly image and style. It’s tucked back into a small industrial area, just like the original brewery. Although it’s a brand-new multi-jillion dollar facility, it’s not flashy, and it sits well with the surrounding warehouses and loading docks.

The parking lot was pretty decent, but I think it will be full most of the time. There is a HUGE line of bike racks out front, and it’s just a block or two from the light rail, so hopefully that’ll cut down on car traffic. The parking lot is not yet painted, so cars were a little jumbled. I’m guessing that may not change until spring.

There’s a nice, big patio out front with a huge fire pit. I don’t know if they’ll be able to serve beer out there, but it will be great if they can. (I could totally see a small cigar bar out there, too.)

Inside, the space is nice and understated. Everything is black, grey, and metal with wooden tables. Lighting levels are nice; not too bright, not too dim. One wall is all glass and faces the brewery.

The hostesses were very friendly. Clearly, they were still working out a system for seating and tracking open seats, but they made it their problem, not ours. Each kid got a nice lunch box full of games and crayons to take to the table.

The main dining room is set up beer hall style: lots of long tables and benches. There were a couple of round tables for larger groups, and plenty of spots to split (or join) the long tables as needed. Squeezing a high chair in was tricky, as the benches prevented putting one on the side of the table, and it was really tight to put it in between tables.

OK, the important part: beer. Surly is promising more than a dozen beers for the official opening on Friday, but today there were only 8 (if I recall correctly: Furious, Bender, Coffee Bender, Cacao Bender, Hell, Cynic, Overrated, and Doomtree.) Glassware was nice and clean, and the beer was good. I would hope they get a little more experimental with the offerings, and have at least one beer engine going most of the time. Again, this was a soft opening, so I wasn’t expecting them to pull out the big guns or anything.

The menu is ambitious. Charcuterie, apps, a couple salads, a few meals, a few sandwiches, some sausages, and some sides. Pretty much everything was rich and heavy. If you like your food smoked, stuffed with fat, and swimming in a sauce or three, you’ll probably dig the menu. If you are vegetarian or have any dietary restrictions, your options will be limited. If you are vegan, you can probably stay home. The menus were disposable, so I assume they will change periodically.

The kids menu was less than ideal. The basic concept was great: pick one drink, one main course, one side, and one dessert. The main courses were good: cheeseburger, pizza, mac & cheese, and I forget what else. Since my kids are vegetarians, it came down to cheese pizza or mac & cheese. The sides were not so great: roasted potatoes, roasted cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and a few others. Fries, applesauce, fruit cup, carrot sticks, something like that would be a welcome addition. [Side note, fries came with a couple of the sandwiches, but weren’t available on their own on the regular menu or the kids’ menu.]

So, I got the Surly burger and a side of Brussels sprouts, my daughter got mac & cheese with roasted potatoes, and my son got a cheese pizza with cauliflower. (Surly is apparently another word for cheese, because a Surly burger is a burger with cheese on it.)

While we waited for food, we checked out the restroom facilities. In addition to a men’s and women’s room, there were two family/wheelchair rooms, which is awesome. The one we went in was spacious with a changing table, which is awesome. I assume the other was the same. The sink was a little high for children, but not bad. I didn’t get the chance to check out the men’s room.

Our food was being delivered right as we left for the restroom, so we had our food waiting when we returned.

Our table filled up fast. We had two lunch boxes full of toys, three waters, a beer, two juices, and our sippy cups from home before the food came. The pizza came on a large tray with a basket for cauliflower. The mac & cheese was in a small casserole served on a big plate to hold the potatoes.  My burger and fries also came on a tray, and the Brussels sprouts were in a mini cast-iron skillet on a hot pad. And a big wheel o’ condiments. Even with the toys packed up for eating, there was NO extra space on the table. A few adults ordering a decent variety of foods would have trouble getting everything on the table.

Oh, here’s something awesome: cloth napkins. I know, there are plenty of restaurants that use cloth napkins; it’s not like Surly invented them. I’m just saying I REALLY like that at a restaurant.

The food was pretty good. My kids both ate more than they have in a long time. My daughter wasn’t thrilled with the roasted potatoes, so I traded her for my fries. (I pretty much knew that was coming.) The potatoes were way underdone; hard and starchy. The cauliflower was good, but not terribly kid-friendly, being topped, sauced, and drizzled, but they each ate a little. The mac & cheese was gone, and a good chunk of the pizza went, too. My burger was fairly basic, but good, with a nice meat-to-bun ratio. The Brussels sprouts were really good: sweet, salty, and nicely browned.

The condiment wheel was nothing to get excited about: ketchup, mustard, two BBQ sauces (one sugary midwestern, one sugary midwestern with smoke), and a hot sauce. I would have expected something a little more special: house-made relish, brown mustard, some super-flaming-death Surly hot sauce, etc.

Then dessert. The kids each got a little ice cream sundae with their meals: Izzy’s vanilla ice cream with some fruity sauce and a dollop of whipped cream on top. I got an 8-layer cake that was pretty amazing.

The service was awful. I’m chalking this up to it being a soft opening, but they’re going to need to do a lot better with the volume I’m assuming they’ll have to handle. If there hadn’t been a platoon of bussers on hand to help our server, I don’t know that we would have even gotten our food. We were there for two hours, and I barely saw him. I would have liked a Coffee Bender with my cake, but I didn’t get the chance to order one. I don’t think he was even aware they had a kids’ menu before we ordered.

About halfway through our lunch, the background music came on. Of the $30 million spent on the brewery, I don’t think much was put into the acoustics. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, and it seems especially bad in all the taprooms and breweries going for an industrial look. A big open room with lots of hard surfaces is going to be noisy. Add a bunch of people drinking, and it’s going to get loud. Background music just makes everything louder. No one can hear the music, no one is enjoying the music, all it does is make everyone talk louder. There are professionals who can help you treat your space for acoustics. Anyone opening a new restaurant or bar should include that in their budget. Fortunately, these professionals can still help after the fact.

Prices were OK, but it can add up on you. A burger, a side, a dessert, two kids’ meals, and 1 1/2 beers came to $60. Dinner and drinks for adults could easily top $50/head, which is outside my comfort zone for casual dining. The kids’ meals were definitely the best deal on the menu. I would totally order one for myself next time if they let me.

So, overall, it was about what I expected. Personally, I’d like to see a couple of lighter options on the menu. I’m not talking Weight Watchers, but maybe a little less duck fat and pork. I had assumed the menu would be meat-heavy and painfully hip, and it was. (It’s not sauce, it’s jus. Or coulis. Or emulsion. Never sauce.) Prices were a touch higher than I’d hoped  for food, but not bad for beer ($5 pints/ $3 half-pints). The service was disappointing, considering  they probably had no shortage of applicants to choose from, but that’s fixable. Also, I’ll be curious to see how they’re staffed under normal circumstances. (They were staffed out the wazoo today, and I assume they will be for the first couple of weeks while they figure out how to handle volume.) This whole write-up may sound pretty critical, but none of the problems I saw today were outside the realm of “normal” for a soft opening, and all are fixable.

I’m glad we went today, because quite frankly, the place will probably be way too busy for me to bother with for a while.

Gilded Lilies, Volume II

A couple years ago, I posted my pumpkin pie recipes. Every year I tweak them ever so slightly in the quest for the perfect recipe. Plus, I like to play around with variations. Unlike George Lucas, my revisions tend to involve removing or reducing ingredients.

I’m now prepared to declare my “standard” pumpkin pie recipe finished. I’ll always continue to fine-tune it depending on the pumpkin itself, but that’s half the fun of using fresh pumpkin. Anyway, here’s my finished recipe:

Pumpkin Pie

800 grams fresh roasted pumpkin
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
20 grams peeled fresh ginger

Combine all ingredients except ginger in a large bowl and mix well. Run the ginger through a garlic press, into the pie batter. (Whatever makes it through the press goes in, but the stringy bits left inside the press should be discarded. Squeeze hard, you want all that juice.) Stir a little more to distribute the ginger. Pour into uncooked pie crust and bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325° and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 1 10″ pie (or a fairly deep 9″).

Here’s one of my favorite variations:

Espresso Pumpkin Pie

800 grams fresh roasted pumpkin
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp finely ground espresso beans
1/2 tsp black pepper (freshly ground if possible)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Pour into uncooked pie crust and bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325° and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup (the darker, the better). Makes 1 10″ pie (or a fairly deep 9″).

Here’s my latest variation. It definitely needs some work, but it’s very promising. Part of the problem is that most chocolate chips are too sweet for this flavor. The other part is that the gritty, raw mouth feel of Mexican chocolate is sadly absent. I’m also thinking that a Kahlua whipped cream would be a nice addition.

Mexican Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Pie

800 grams fresh roasted pumpkin
1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp cayenne
100 grams chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl except chocolate chips and mix well. Fold chocolate chips into the batter. Pour into uncooked pie crust and bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 325° and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, approximately 40 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with whipped cream. Makes 1 10″ pie (or a fairly deep 9″).

General Pumpkin pie tips:

  • The easiest way to make the pie batter is in a blender. It’s easy to mix and easy to pour. It’s also easy to overdo it, and make a really light, fluffy pie batter, which tends to crack more while baking. One way to avoid this is to add the eggs last and blend it just enough to combine them with the batter.
  • Slide the oven rack out and place the empty pie crust on the rack before you fill it. That way, you can avoid trying to lower a really full pie into the oven.
  • A vegetable peeler works great on fresh ginger.
  • It’s really hard to overbake a pumpkin pie, so if you’re not sure, go a few minutes longer. Or, when you’re pretty sure the pie is done, just turn the oven off but leave the pie inside. It’ll continue to bake a little, and it will cool more slowly, which will help minimize cracking.
  • If you want to make multiple pies at the same time, I’d suggest making the ginger first, then the espresso, then the Mexican chocolate. You can skip washing the bowl in between.

Deodorant

OK, I’ve had trouble with deodorant for years. Most “mainstream” commercial brands irritate my skin to the point of cracking, and most “natural” brands aren’t very effective. I finally found one that is completely non-irritating and nearly as effective as the chemical stuff. I found it on passionatehomemaking.com, so they get the credit. I just wanted to share it, ’cause I like it so much.

45g Coconut Oil
60g Baking Soda
60g Arrowroot Powder
6–8 drops Tea Tree Oil

Mix it together. Wipe some on your armpits. You can play around with a little more or a little less coconut oil to find a consistency you like.

UPDATE: I adjusted the recipe for measuring by weight, which should make it a lot easier to get a good consistency on the first try.

Ugh.

[This was a post I started writing back in June. For some reason, I didn’t finish it, and now I have lost my train of thought. So, I just published it as-is.]

Look, I get it. Obesity is a big deal, no pun intended. I have been overweight or obese pretty much my entire adult life, and a fair bit of my childhood, too. I’ve spent the last several years making a very conscious effort to lose weight, and since my daughter was born, I’ve really gotten serious about it.

Really. Serious.

I’ve been exercising. I’ve been dieting. I’ve been on Weight Watchers. I’ve been seeing my doctor(s) regularly.  I’m tired all the time. I’m hungry all the time. I feel like crap all the time.

All. The. Time.

Oh, Andy, you’re exaggerating. You don’t really feel that way ALL the time. Seriously, how do you usually feel?

OK, fine, you’re right. I suppose that for the handful of hours that I sleep at night, I feel pretty decent. Occasionally, in the middle of a meal, I don’t actually feel hungry. Now that I’ve had two surgeries on my crotch, there’s very little pain there, and my back is generally much better than it was a few years ago.

Every once in a while, the back pain, the nausea, the hunger, the exhaustion, the headaches, the plantar fasciitis, the depression, and everything else all hit their low point at the same time. During those precious moments, I could probably say I don’t feel terrible. Of course, I couldn’t say when the last time that happened was.

Anyway, I’m rambling off topic. What I really came here to document was the current state of my struggle with weight loss. I’m really not looking for sympathy, but I do want to track my state of mind at various points in this journey.

Over the last four years, since I began regularly tracking my weight, I have lost 62 pounds. Yes, that’s wonderful. But, that’s averaging less than five ounces a week, and I am absolutely torturing myself for that. If I actually allow myself to eat enough to feel decent for a day or two, it takes me weeks to recover.

But Andy, something’s not right. You should see a doctor! There’s no way anyone could gain weight eating the way you do!

Yeah, you’re telling me. Unfortunately, I can’t find a doctor who believes anyone who is overweight can have anything else wrong with them. ALL my problems are a result of being fat and lazy. All they tell me is that if I lose the weight, I will feel better, so I just need to try harder. I write this today at 214 pounds, a new low for me since I began tracking my weight. I can say with certainty that this is the least I’ve weighed since my daughter was born (and probably for quite a while before that.) And you know what? I still feel terrible. Technically, I am no longer obese, but simply overweight. Goody. When does the feeling better part start? I have another 20 pounds to go before I have a BMI under 25. Will I magically feel like a million bucks on that day, or at some point, will I start gradually feeling better? I would expect the latter, but from talking to medical professionals, it will be more like the former. (Side note: Don’t even get me started on every doctor’s adherence to the magical BMI. It’s a vague reference point at best, and takes absolutely no variables into consideration.)I know, I should focus less on my weight and more on being healthy. But, the fact is, I believe that I am not well. I’d like to talk to a doctor about that, but until I have a BMI of 24.9, there is no point.

Day Fourteen, Part II

OK, I split day fourteen into two posts. I received a few questions that I’d like to answer, but I want to be very clear that perhaps this post is not for everyone. So, here’s your warning:

This post deals with the digestive effects of ABC, specifically, elimination. There will be no other topics discussed here, so if you don’t want to read about it, don’t read any further.

Really.

I’m going to write about poop now, so you’ve had your warning.

One thing no one tells you about becoming a parent is how much time you spend talking about poop. Did she? Didn’t she? Quantity? Texture? Any gas? Well, the same holds true when starting a drastically different diet. Will I? Won’t I? Quantity? Texture? Any gas?

The first couple of days, I didn’t notice much difference. My urine turned fluorescent yellow from all the extra B vitamins, but that’s no surprise. Around day three or four, quantity started to taper off, and things got harder. I changed the recipe a little, adding a bit more fiber.

Unfortunately, that didn’t seem to help. That’s when I started thinking about the benefits of roughage over powdered fiber. I also kept a close eye on the iron content of my recipe, as I was getting about 300% of the RDA at that point. I made some changes and got that under 200%, which should be a fairly safe level.

One big advantage I can see to a manufactured Soylent would be the elimination of so many extra micronutrients. Yes, I could probably make a much more complex recipe and take care of some of that, but frankly, my recipe is already more complex than I want it to be. I’m pushing the limits of convenience as it is.

The only thing that really helped was adding a little food. When I had my first “meal” on day seven, things were much improved on day eight. The same was true a couple days later when I didn’t get my ABC and got Chinese carry out instead.

I don’t think the constipation was too severe, as a single meal was enough to set things right pretty quickly. Quite frankly, I really wouldn’t want it to get much worse than it did. To stick with Futurama, I felt like Nibbler generating dark matter: dark, hard, and just big enough to be uncomfortable.

So, long story short, my ABC recipe led to moderate constipation. I would guess that the longer I stayed on this recipe exclusively, the worse it would get. I would not recommend more than a week on this recipe without some leafy green vegetables.

Many users have reported gas problems, too. It seems the oats are the main culprit, but I personally did not have that problem. If anything, I was less gassy than usual while on ABC.

So, there you have it.

Day Fourteen

An internal monologue that will never happen in my world:

“I’m hungry. I think I’ll have a cup of soup, and maybe a slice of bread.” [Eat soup and bread.] “Wow, that was so fulfilling. I doubt I’ll have any desire to eat again for 4–6 hours.”

I guess that’s how some people function most of the time, and how they maintain a healthy weight. That’s probably how I should function, but I cannot envision an existence in which that is true.

I’m starting to rethink my entire attitude toward weight loss. It’s not easy. I’ve always thought of weight loss as a destination, and upon arrival, I’d just have to be cautious not to gain back too much weight. As long as I remained vigilant, I could catch the weight gain early, when I had five extra pounds instead of 80.

Then I read this article, and it tied in perfectly with what I’ve been contemplating the last few days: What No One Tells You.

As I made my way through this two-week experiment with ABC, I kept bumping the calories down a little further and a little further. I became more aware of the ‘extra’ calories I was getting from a cup of coffee here and a cracker there. I kept an eye on the scale, assuming that my weight must be dropping, because I was eating next to nothing. Gradually, I started to realize that this isn’t about making healthier food choices or cutting a few calories, this is about a complete lifestyle change.

There is no diet plan that will allow me to feel full while achieving a healthy weight. It will never happen. I will either be hungry or overweight pretty much the rest of my life. Sure, there will be brief moments in which I eat something and feel completely fulfilled afterwards, but they will be few and far between.

Maybe this is short-sighted of me. How can I predict the rest of my life with such certainty? Well, I can’t. But I can tell you that after 25 years of chronic pain, I feel pretty confident that I will continue to be in pain for the rest of my life. If, by some chance, that pain were to stop, I honestly don’t know that I’d even recognize the sensation. After fighting a never-ending battle with my weight, I feel pretty confident that will continue, too.

Maybe I’m being shallow. How can I complain about my weight when others are starving? Well, I can. I can complain, because my weight has been literally crushing me for years. I can complain, because every time I try to talk to a doctor about it, I’m branded fat, lazy, and too stupid to even be believed. I can complain, because I’ve spent countless hours and dollars on this problem, and I have yet to find a solution.

Maybe I am being lazy. Why don’t I just get off my ass and get some exercise once in a while? Well, I’ve tried. I joined a gym and went swimming every day. I went running, I went biking, I went walking. I’ve done yoga, I’ve done sit-ups, I’ve done aerobics. Now, I chase two small kids around the house all day. In my spare time, I’ve ripped out pavement and built retaining walls and installed windows. I’ve done these things on three hours of sleep; I’ve done these things when it’s below freezing outside. Oh, and not to toot my own horn too much, but I’ve done all of these things while in pain. Some days it’s mild pain, some days I want to cry just from getting out of bed, but it’s all day, every day. I’m not lazy, but I am still fat.

The question remains, what am I to do about it? Well, keep trying, I guess. The alternative is to learn to be happy with things the way they are, and I’m not. My clothes don’t fit, I’m tired all the time, and I generally feel lousy. I’m also not thrilled about the way I look. Maybe that’s vanity, but there it is.

I also don’t feel safe. I’m not getting any younger, and it’s not unreasonable to think I could have some health problems. In my experience, no doctor will even consider the possibility of any illness, condition, or injury in an obese patient. Everything that could ever go wrong is linked solely to my weight. If I ever want to be taken seriously by a medical professional, I have to be thin.

So, I guess I need to be hungry. I need to keep scaling back the calories until my weight starts to drop, and stay there. I need to wrap my head around the idea that if I ever reach a healthy weight, I will still have to battle every day to stay there. I will never be done.

On the positive side, I do think that ABC can help. It’s relatively easily to monitor my exact caloric intake on ABC, so hopefully I can find a number that works for me. I’m still optimistic that ABC can help me learn what an appropriate portion size is, even if it leaves me hungry. It can also help me get balanced nutrition, which was often lacking on other diet plans.

I don’t think I’ll be on ABC all day every day, but I can see me continuing this a few days a week to help maintain balance. I guess I didn’t get the answers I expected from this experiment, but maybe I got one or two that I needed.

Day Thirteen

Not much to report today. I tweaked the recipe again, as I ran out of whey protein and switched to soy. I do expect to be pretty hungry later, as I had a pretty active morning, tearing out more asphalt and cleaning the garage.

Tomorrow will be the end of my initial two-week run. I’m pretty curious to get on the scale again, and see where my weight is at. I’m also planning to do a small portion of ABC in the morning and have a meal at night. Right now, I’m leaning towards a taco salad. I’ve been missing burritos, but I also really want/need a serious dose of lettuce, so that seemed like a good compromise.

I’m also planning to continue this on Monday. I’m thinking every other day, maybe? We’ll see how it goes. There’s a good chance we’ll have enough junk out of the basement that I can get a little exercise, too.

So, yeah, there you have it. I’m not feeling terribly inspired at the moment, but that’s OK. I think I’ll turn off the computer and play with my kids now.

Days Eleven and Twelve

Well, we’re nearing the end of week two. Yesterday was the first day I really felt hungry while on the ABC. I had nothing yesterday but ABC and coffee, so that may be a part of it. I’m still not feeling enthusiastic about the weight loss (or lack thereof) I’m experiencing. I bumped the recipe down again, this time to 1700 calories, and I’d like to add a piece of fruit or something for ‘dessert’ at the end of the day. Even with a piece of fruit and a couple cups of coffee, I should be solidly under 2000 calories a day at this point.

I’m planning to keep nudging the calories down until I see a pretty consistent loss of two pounds a week. If things go really well, I could be under 220 by New Year’s, which would be a new low for me. That would be a nice way to start 2014.

I still feel pretty good about the nutrition levels. The only thing I really feel that I’m missing at this point is roughage. I think lettuce provides something to the body that no powder can. I would definitely suggest swapping a glass of ABC for a salad a couple times a week.

I’m also having a hard time separating the effects of ABC from the effects of extreme sleep deprivation and the effects of stress. I haven’t slept more than a few hours a night in a while. I’m still trying to keep pressure on the contractors to finish repairs, I’m still living in a slowly shrinking house, I have a three-year-old who refuses to sleep, and a one-year-old who is still recovering from a couple of brutal months of teething. The only exercise I’m getting is trips up and down the stairs with a laundry basket.

Still, I’m trying desperately to remain positive. We have a new roof, and it looks fantastic. The new roof looks so much more natural and appropriate, I can hardly remember what the old roof looked like. The front steps are all that is left of the old color scheme, and they look extra terrible now. That project will definitely be higher on the list come Spring. (There’s also one section of fence and the garage to deal with, but those are at least separate from the house.)

I’m also cashing in on the free dumpster that’s still outside to get a head start on ripping out some of the pavement. I’ve stalled on that project for a while, as the cost of hauling off the debris was prohibitive, but with that eliminated, I’m hoping to get as much done as possible before snow flies again. With a little luck, that’ll be done tomorrow. (Actually, I’d love to rip out the whole driveway and start over, but there’s no way I’ll get a new one poured this Autumn. I’ll have to settle for just removing the excess at this point.)

The concrete I poured last weekend looks OK. I poured two new squares, and those turned out pretty well. One got stepped on while wet, so there’s a goofy patch that may or may not set correctly, but I think they’ll both be structurally pretty solid. I also did some repair and resurface work on the apron into the garage, and that didn’t turn out so well. Sadly, it’s a repair of a repair of a repair of a piece that wasn’t done very well the first time. At this point, I’m hoping to buy about 18 more months, at which point I’ll see about ripping out the apron along with the rest of the driveway and doing it right.

So, I’m getting a surprising amount of work done on the house considering it’s already November and we’ve had one small snowfall. I had resigned myself to small indoor projects at this point, but I keep getting a little more done outside.

All I really need right now is a few more hours of sleep each night and a chance to socialize once in a while. Sure, a sack of money and a housekeeper would be great, but I’m trying to stay within the realm of the possible.

What I’m getting at here is that life could be better, but it’s going OK. The ABC is taking care of my physical need for fuel, and it’s really highlighting how much I eat out of stress, exhaustion, and loneliness, and how little I eat out of need. I am a long way from getting that under control, but this experiment seems to be helping.

Days Nine and Ten

So, I’ve definitely had to get a little more flexible with this whole thing. Yesterday was not a good day at our house, and as such, I was not able to stick to close to my plan. I whipped up a batch of ABC, took a sip, then my son flung it across the room. I spent the next hour cleaning ABC off the table, floor, Legos, stuffed monkey, crib, my pants, shoes, socks, and of course, my son. By the time that was done, it was time to leave for school with a quick stop to vote on the way. From school, I went directly to a neighboring polling place to work as an election judge for the rest of the day. By the time I was done with that, it was almost 10:00 and I’d had exactly one sip of ABC to sustain me throughout the day. Call me weak, but after a visit to the grocery store for child-feeding supplies, I stopped for some mu shu pork on the way home.

Today, I still have about 2/3 of a batch waiting for me in the fridge. Rather than try to figure out what to add to make it a full batch, I just tossed in a banana and called it good. Yes, I’ll probably be a little low today, but that’s alright. I’ll probably drink a little more coffee anyway.

Fortunately, this should be the end of my five crazy days. My wife will be home a little later than usual, but otherwise, this is looking to be a ‘normal’ day. Plus, my son got another new tooth (his third in six days) which SHOULD signal the end of teething until the two-year molars come around.

I also revised the recipe again. I know, I know, I keep saying I’m not going to do that, but I actually bumped it down to 1800 calories. I’m still not losing weight, and may have actually gained a little, which is not very inspiring. I still need to do more research into how many calories I should be getting each day. So far, I’m getting estimates from 1,500 to 3,300. Hurray for an overabundance of questionable information on the internets!

I’ll probably change the recipe again here in a couple days, as I’m almost out of whey protein and am going to try soy instead. The protein is the most expensive ingredient, soy is about half the price of whey, and the subtle differences in nutritional quality seem to be applicable only for aggressive bodybuilding. I’d also like to switch to a more natural sweetener, probably honey.

So, I’m not even going to pretend that I’m done fine-tuning the recipe. All these tweaks are pretty subtle, so it’s not like I’m completely changing things daily. I’m just trying to find what works for me.