Thursday, November 17, 2016

trimming my sails

I told you about my walking regimen in
the sun will come out mañana. How I am walking about 11 miles each day in an attempt to get rid of some unwanted pounds.

"Some unwanted pounds." That is about the same thing as referring to the American fiscal deficit as "a little spending problem."

I am not on a diet. I have done that before. Especially, in the Air Force where we had to maintain weight standards. Of course, like all such governmental regulations, everyone rushed to shave off pounds for the annual weigh-in. The rest of the year, many of us wallowed happily in our porkitude.

As a result, once the top-down standard was lifted in 1999 with my Air Force retirement, I blossomed into the being I have been for the past 17 years.

The standard equation for losing weight is to either decrease the number of intake calories or to increase the calories burned -- or, preferably both. The old saw is that weight will be lost if more calories are burned than consumed.

It turns out our bodies are not that simple. A fellow blogger sent me a link to the works of a Canadian doctor who believes that obesity is caused by insulin. I will not go into the details, but it is an interesting theory.

He started one YouTube with the assertion that less calories and more exercise are simply a formula for failure. My ears perked up. He then claimed insulin is the culprit -- that fat people bear no responsibility for their condition. It sounded like the American Dream in a banana split bowl.

Of course, most of that was simply a come-on. Before the video ended, he made clear that strenuous exercise and fewer calories were still part of his weight loss regimen. His shtick was that it matters what type of calories are consumed. Anyone who has read any diet book knows that. The trick is which of the denominations you want to join in the religion of the Great Nutrition Church.

And, let's not fool ourselves. Nutrition and diet books are every bit a matter of faith as is the Bible and the Koran. You pick what suits your taste, and then defend it.

So, what I am about to tell you is what I am doing. My particular faith. You may have another belief system. If you do, I say fine. It probably works for you.

With that in mind, I do not need any lectures how I am going to Nutrition Hell for my choices. What I do know is I am losing weight. And when I get where I want to be, I am going to continue eating in the same manner as I am now. And exercising -- until my body fails to keep up with my desires.

When I started restricting my foods, I fell back on some old diet rules I learned long ago. But, I decided if I am really changing the way I eat, I do not want to simply restrict calories -- only to end up weighing more than when I started.

I also decided to avoid the fad diets, even though I cannibalized some of their concepts. Anything that started with "no more" was not going to be on my list. Thus, I scratched all of the faddy "Look at me" restrictions.

You know what I mean. No gluten. No legumes. No dairy. No beans. No fruit. No vegetables (unless they begin with the letter "k"). No cooked meats.

Here is what I have been trying to follow.

Restrict carbohydrates. That meant divesting myself of the snacks I love. And that has not been very difficult. For snacks, I eat sliced jicama drenched in either lime juice and ghost pepper chili powder (a snack that will dissolve sinuses) or mint and lemon juice (far more refreshing).

I am not a fanatic about this restriction. I still eat tomatoes and carrots. Lots of them in my cabbage soup (another handy snack). But bread is generally out -- along with one of my favorite foods: pasta. Even though I do eat the occasional sandwich for variety.

Lots of vegetables. I have never been a salad fan. That is changing. Through the wonders of international trade, kale, arugula, and leafy lettuces are readily available. If not in our little villages, always at Walmart in Manzanillo.

I have had fun creating variations of Greek salads. All of them quite good, especially now that I have a regular supplier of lemons.

And then there are soups. There is no end to the number of vegetable soups that can be created from the produce available at local markets. The heat here reduces the shelf life of most vegetables. If they are too soft for stir fry, they are still perfect for soup.

Speaking of stir fry, I love the process. Surprisingly, I have not been cooking many stir fry dishes lately. And there is no good reason -- other than the fact that I have been having fun cooking my vegetables in other ways.

Breakfast is a perfect example. I will sautée whatever vegetables are available in the refrigerator along with a handful or two of greens. And then scramble in two eggs topped with herbs. It makes a very filling breakfast.

3. Cut back on fruit. Because of my high triglycerides, my doctor has restricted me to no more than one cup of a fruit a day -- and no mangoes or bananas. That is fine with me, I have never eaten much fruit.

When I was a pre-teen, I loved grapes. For some reason, that desire has returned. I eat strawberries on my morning cereal, and I make a mean watermelon salad with goat cheese, arugula, and an Israeli seed mix I crush here.

4. Watch my meats. This is where I turn agnostic.

When I was young, our family ate steaks for a lot of our meals. As a result, I am not very fond of large slabs of meat on my plate. I prefer to have it cut up and mixed in with my vegetables or rice. (Of course, there is no more rice on my plate, either.)

The fact that the pork and chicken here are incredibly tasty makes it easy to make them an integrated part of my vegetables. As in stir fry. The local beef is so tough, I do not even bother to attempt to redeem it.

Now and then, I will eat shrimp if I am dining out. But seldom fish. I find no pleasure in it. And, most of the sauces people claim makes fish palatable is so thick in carbohydrates, I just do not bother.

I even rely on the Atkins diet to justify slipping a bit of pepperoni into my food.

5. Avoid sweets. I have never been a lover of sweets. That is partly explained by my distaste for chocolate, cheese cake, creamed cheese, and cakes (of almost all kinds). I will even throw doughnuts into that category.

Because that list describes about 90% of the dessert menus in most restaurants, I have had little trouble in avoiding calories in that form. I will admit I have a weakness for fruit pies. But they are so rare in these parts, the temptation almost never arises.

There you have it. My dining goals. So far, between the walking and my new permanent diet, I have lost enough weight that my legs no longer jiggle when I walk. Muscle has reclaimed the fat borders. I could now bounce a quarter off of my butt. (I am certain you wanted to know that.)

But I am in this for the long haul. Small gains (such as the loss of over 2 inches from my waist) give me inspiration. Maybe in 2018, I will be where I want to be.

Or, in the grave. Either way, I will be happy.

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