Archive for January, 2017

Actually, it’s two brief progress reports.

After some initial feedback from our local expert on books for kids (our daughter Sara), Chareva and I put the book through another round of edits.  Chareva altered some graphics Sara thought might be a bit confusing, and I rewrote some sections to explain the same concepts in fewer or simpler words.  That’s why I haven’t written a post in nearly two weeks.

I’m pretty sure the book is about 95% ready at this point, but we still have to create the copyright page, the table of contents page, etc.

As I mentioned in my first post of the year, I managed to gain 12 pounds during the holiday season, thanks largely to indulging in too much good booze.  I weighed myself at the gym today (we don’t have a scale at home), and I’m happy to report five of those pounds are now gone.  I just had to get back to doing what I know works for me.

I’ll keep you posted.

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Millions of people swear every January they’re going to improve their health. I’ve assumed for years that achieving that goal requires paying careful attention to what we eat.

Apparently I was wrong about that. Turns out countless processed foods are actually good for you. I learned that glancing at a bunch of labels and packages recently in the cafeteria at the building where I work.

I usually bring lunch from home or skip eating lunch entirely, so it’s been years since I took a good look at what’s on the shelves.  Imagine my surprise when I saw healthy offerings like this:

Whodathunkit? Swiss Miss hot chocolate is actually good for you! After all, it provides as much calcium as an 8-ounce glass milk! And if we turn that package over …

… we see the calcium comes with sugar, corn syrup (in case the sugar isn’t sweet enough), and hydrogenated coconut oil. Small price to pay for the health benefits of all that calcium.

Moving along, I found chips that contain 30% Less Fat or even 65% Less Fat than the leading Potato Chips – and as we know, anything lower in fat will make you healthy.

Here are the healthy ingredients in those Oven-Baked Lays:

Awesome. Corn oil, corn starch, sugar and soybean oil. Good thing they contain 65% less fat than regular potato chips, or I’d almost wonder if they’re good for us after all.

Of course, as the overlords at the USDA have been reminding us for years, one of the keys to better health is to eat more whole grains. I found several foods that fit that bill, such as these Veggie Wheat Thins that provide 100% WHOLE GRAIN WHEAT.

And here are the ingredients:

Wheat flour, canola oil, sugar and cornstarch. So they’re not just low in fat; the bit of fat they do contain comes from heart-healthy canola oil! Man, if we all could develop the discipline to live on foods like this, the nation’s health bill would plummet.

If you prefer breakfast foods while eating more whole grains to improve your health, Raisin Bran is a Good Source of FIBER & Made with WHOLE GRAIN.

Best of all, there are only 68 carbs in that little serving of whole-grain goodness.

Froot Loops are also good for you because, as you can see, they provide WHOLE GRAIN 14 g or more per serving.

With all that whole-grain goodness, it probably doesn’t matter that the primary ingredient is sugar. Grab the skim milk, pour it on that whole-grain cereal, and let’s get healthy!

But wait .. what if we don’t have any skim milk? No problem. Kellogg’s makes a healthy cereal bar. I know it’s healthy because Nutri and Grain are both in the name.

And as you can see, there are only 12 grams of sugar and a whopping two grams of protein in one of these nutrition-packed powerhouses.

There’s also a wee bit of fruit. And since fruit in any form is good for us, I was totally jazzed to find these Fruit Medleys, which are Made With REAL FRUIT JUICE and have Colors From Natural Sources. Boy, that’s got to be good for you.

I even found the REAL FRUIT JUICE in the list of ingredients, right after corn syrup and sugar.

Fruit juice is great, but if you want to get really healthy, you need some whole fruit. Luckily, I found these Pop-Tarts, which are Baked with Real Fruit!

Along with the real fruit that’s baked in, you can power up with some wheat flour, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, sugar, and modified food starch. The real fruit that’s baked in is listed down there in the contains less than 10% or less section … but it’s real fruit, so it’s got to be good for you.

So there you have it. Accomplishing your New Year’s goal of becoming healthier has never been easier. Just grab some Froot Loops or Pop-Tarts for breakfast, and you’ll put some real fruit or those all-important whole grains into your body. If you feel like a snack a few hours later (a near-certainty if you eat cereal or pasty for breakfast), you can grab some Wheat Thins for a dose of 100% Whole Grain Wheat. Then wash ‘em down with a yummy cup of Swiss Miss hot chocolate, and you’ll strengthen your bones with as much calcium as an 8-ouce glass of milk.

With all these healthy choices sitting on the shelves in grocery stores and cafeterias all over America, I predict the nation’s diabetes crisis will soon be nothing but a bad memory.

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Yup, it’s that time again.  I went to the gym on Wednesday for the first time in three weeks, and it was swamped.  The treadmills are especially popular in January, as people attempt to walk their way towards whatever weight-loss number they chose as a New Year’s resolution.  It happens every January, then by around April or so, the gym population is back to normal.

I’ve also noticed the usual shift in lunch choices around the office.  Several women have been dutifully putting their Weight Watchers Smart Ones into the microwaves, then dutifully pretending to enjoy the pasta with fat-free sauce.   I saw one woman eat a Smart Ones meal, then chase it with a small bag of fat-free popcorn.  Good luck with that.

For the first time in years, I’ll be joining the ranks of people starting the new year with a determination to lose weight.  As to why, I’ll give the short version first:  I gained 12 pounds in three weeks.

Now for the longer version:  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the food.  Yeah, I enjoyed stuffing and potatoes and pumpkin pie on Christmas and the day after, but that’s par for the course.  Same goes for the pizza on New Year’s.

The big difference this year was booze consumption.  I just flat-out overdid it.  After months of being in near-constant work mode (the programming job, the book, the blog, etc.), I gave myself permission to be a slug over the holidays.  I binge-watched some Amazon and Netflix series I’ve wanted to see, often staying up until 2 or 3 AM to do so, and indulging in good beer, good wine, or good single-malt scotch for the entire viewing session.

Alcohol, of course, is remarkably efficient at shutting down fat-burning.  The liver also turns the stuff into fat if it’s not burned away … and I’m pretty sure I didn’t burn it away while sitting in my easy chair and watching four episodes of Mr. Robot in a row.

So I knew I’d gain some weight, but waved the thought away with yeah-yeah-yeah, I’m going to enjoy this holiday break, then worry about that later.  Even so, I have to admit I was a wee bit surprised when I stepped on the gym scale for the first time since mid-December.

Twelve pounds?!  Seriously?!

Yes, seriously.  It’s a reminder of how easily I can gain weight if I don’t watch what goes down the hatch.

But here’s the difference between my resolution now and the resolutions I made in my thirties and forties:  I know what to do, I know it will work, and I know it won’t be unpleasant.  No little bowls of Grape-Nuts with skim milk for breakfast, no Slim-Fast shakes instead of meals, no dry toast, no rice cakes, no Smart Ones low-fat meals, and no trying to ignore gnawing hunger while waiting for the next calorie-restricted, tasteless meal.  I just have to get back to what I was doing before:  regular workouts and high-protein, low-carb meals.  Sausage and eggs, here I come.

I also know not to set an arbitrary goal, such as I’m going to lose 30 pounds by March!  That’s how people set themselves up for failure.  The way to lose weight is to stick to a diet that enables weight loss, then let the number on the scale take care of itself.

While I was binge-watching and scotch-drinking myself into needing to loosen my belt, Chareva was banging away on the book, trying to beat a Christmas deadline for finishing all the drawings and page layouts.  She missed the deadline by a few days, and apologized for being tardy.

I told her I’d briefly considered filing for divorce, but thought better of it.  We set the Christmas deadline as a motivator, and she was clearly motivated.   We’ve gone over the book page-by-page several times, and I have to say, I’m delighted.  Her drawings are the perfect complement to the text.  Now we’ll get preview copies out to a few people and go from there.

There’s plenty more to do – such as the film version — but I’m expecting good things to come of this project, which means I’m already jazzed about 2017, even with the extra pounds to lose.

Happy New Year, everyone.

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