Boycott Halloween?

Len Penzo posted a tongue-in-cheek list of thirteen yucky Halloween treats that kids hate.

My (semi) tongue-in-cheek response was that the solution to make sure that kids don't get any treats that they don't like was easy:

Don't take the kids trick or treating.

Following that, I said this:

“Besides, most of that stuff is nearly [as] addicting as any hardcore drug that you can take. Predisposing kids for a lifetime of obesity isn’t being kind to them.”

Studies have indeed shown that sugar is as addictive as some pretty hard drugs.  Further, one of the most respected homeschooling curricula out there recommends that refined sugar be taken out of the children's diet.  From the article:

“Be kind to any new babes, don't let them have that first taste and they won't have to break a bad habit, dare I say .. an addiction. I wish I had had this resolve when our children were very young. ”

Having been terribly addicted to carbs for most of my life, and seeing how my wife has dropped close to fifty pounds by cutting out the carbs (she had cut out refined sugar a while back) I can see the wisdom in not indulging in sweets, and not allowing children to indulge in them, either.

Low-carb substitute for rice

I really adore my rice and beans because it's something that I can eat day-in, day-out, cheaply, without getting sick of it.

Unfortunately, rice — even the somewhat lower glycemic index brown rice — is really high in carbohydrates.

My wife has gone really low-carb (as in around 40 grams per day) and she's lost about 20 pounds over the past few months without even needing to count calories.  It's really quite amazing.

So my wife did an experiment tonight.  She made some shrimp curry, but instead of putting the curry over rice, she put it over grated fried cauliflower — also known as cauliflower rice.  Instead of nearly 40 grams of carbs (net) per cup, the cauliflower rice only about 2.5 grams net carbs per cup.

She first grated the white part of a head of cauliflower into rice-sized chunks, and then fried it up with some oil and a little bit of seasoning.  One trick that she found was to not use extra water, because it makes the cauliflower rice mushy.  The water in the cauliflower is enough.

I was pleasantly surprised how good it tasted.  I hardly would have known the difference between the cauliflower rice and a small grain.

What’s the other half of the battle?

It's likely that you've heard the phrase, “Well now you know, and knowing's half the battle.”

OK, knowing is half the battle, but what's the other half?

I asked this question over at

How do you combat the late-night munchies?

User “robulus” (who runs a website came up with this response.  Here's an excerpt, with my emphasis:

I am constantly hungry, and I eat constantly. I snack in between my snacks. But I know that I don't need to, that my body is designed to go longer periods without solid food. Water is of course a continual necessity. So, when it's late at night, I do not let myself eat. To be honest, it doesn't always work, but it is a process of mind over body. The battle is won in the mind. […] Knowing is half the battle… the other half is deciding. 🙂

Late at night, I can choose to throw down a bowl of mac and cheese, or I can have a glass of water, or some tea, to stave off the hunger.  It's a decision. Each decision not to pig out at night makes the next decision not to pig out a little bit easier.  The last few nights I've managed to either drink water (with some sugar-free flavoring) or have low-calorie snacks like a fruitsicle or a few corn cakes (like rice cakes, but corn).

Here's to battling and deciding!

Extreme weight loss is possible, apparently

Tough Money Love was kind enough to stop by with a comment on my last post to tell me that I was making things too hard on myself.

He provided a lead to a guest post he did over at Lazy Man and Health. He lost 52 pounds in 136 days, and has kept them off for almost a year and a half. That's over 2 1/2 pounds per week for almost twenty weeks.

How did he do it?  He limited himself to 1,500 calories a day by eating several smallish meals spread throughout the day, and did moderate exercise in the morning.

His free website of choice for calorie-counting and was  I went over there to sign up for an account, and by their calculations (using my height, weight, gender, and activity level) they said I was burning about 2,800 calories per day.  Since my weight has been relatively constant over the past few months, one could assume that I'm taking in that amount per day.

Taking in only 1,500 calories per day would mean cutting my intake nearly in half, but I'd be losing weight at about the same rate that Mr. Tough Money Love did.  These kinds of results would support the notion that the amount you eat is far more important than how much you exercise.  It's hard to argue with the results it can bring.

It gives me hope that I can achieve my weight loss goal, and also that NCN can hit his, too.

(But I'll still keep exercising, though:  I got my gold Wii Fit Bank for working out a total of 40 hours! 😉 )

Some more Wii Fit, but need to avoid candy

Work is pretty evil as far as candy goes. I don't have to look very far for free, bottomless supplies of sweets. There are at least three places — no, make that four — at work that I can pick up some Sourheads®, some bite-sized chocolate bars, Twizzlers®, whatever. Forget the healthy stuff on my desk — sugar is what gets me going.

I'm going to postulate for a second here.  I eat pretty much whatever's available to me.  If I have a box of Stroopwafels, a pack of gum, a 2-liter of soda, or a six-pack of Saranac, I just consume it until it's gone.  (Well, the beer I'll stop at three or so per day.  Thank goodness my wife hides the beer and doles it out to me.)

Much like what NCN found, stuff that's just there gets eaten.  No really good reason beyond that.

But on the bright side, I did do another 31 minutes on Wii Fit tonight, and got another perfect score on the soccer ball heading game.  I found last night that I slept better after some exercise.  Hopefully that will repeat tonight. 🙂

Is the key to weight loss exercise or eating less?

Jim and I read this Time article at about the same time:

Why exercise won't make you thin

(A friend on Facebook pointed me to it.)  The article suggests that exercise has comparatively little to do with weight loss. What does make the difference is simply eating less.  The calorie-burning effect of exercise is marginalized or negated by a few things:

  • Replacing 10 pounds of fat with muscle only results in an extra 40 calories per day burned.
  • Exercising doesn't burn as many calories as you might think.
  • People tend to eat more than they should after exercise, and there are a number of reason why they do.

The article does not state that exercise is unimportant.  There are other health benefits to exercise, such as enhanced cognitive ability and cardiovascular health.

Just don't expect to get skinny without eating less, too.

I hate fundraisers

Well, maybe I should be a little more specific:  I hate fundraisers at work where they just leave a box of candy bars and an envelope in a high-traffic area.

I fell off the wagon over the past week or so and became a really, really good customer of this particular fundraiser.  As in I bought a couple dozen candy bars and practically bought the whole softball team new uniforms.

Food, food, food.  Buy some food.  It's for the kids.  BAH!  "Apply directly to hips" is more like it.

I pray that I can resist temptation for sweets more.  It's something I know that I won't be able to do with my own power.  A 5% success rate for keeping weight off five years or more says that it's difficult even with His help.

Here's a question for you folks who aren't as tempted by sweets:  How do you say no when your taste buds are screaming yes?

My biggest health or fitness vice

Nickel at Fit36 tagged me to post on my biggest health or fitness vice.

I just plurked on this:

I love beer, but beer doesn't love me back.

Beer might have some health benefits but for the most part it's empty calories, and any health benefits I might have gotten from it are offset by the extra pounds.

One thing that helps is my wife plays “beer fairy” and hides them where I can't find them, thereby allowing her to ration them a little more. (I play along and don't look for the beers.) That, and it is a bit fun to summon the beer fairy, I must admit.

Hmmm, who to tag next? How about:

(Rules of the Meme: 1) Post on your biggest health/fitness vice; 2) link back to the person who tagged you; 3) tag some more people and let them know they've been tagged! Oh, and have fun!)

The killer hidden cost of weight-loss programs had this article on MSN Moneycentral:

What does it cost to drop 30 pounds?

The article runs down the costs associated with well-known diet programs like Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Weight Watchers, and The Zone Diet. These programs aren't cheap. The cheapest of the four for losing 30 pounds is under $100 (for online registration at Weight Watchers, not including food) to over $5,000 for daily food delivery in some cities for The Zone Diet.

A former member of our church went on one of these programs (his was $10 per day including food) and lost the weight initially, but then it came back.

I can see the plans being pretty difficult to stick to, and I can see it being pretty easy to cheat (eat food outside of what's allowed). And that's the killer cost.

I'm sure the added external structure of these programs is worth the money, but let's face it: It's not in the best interest of these companies to get you to a point where you don't need them. They make money by selling controlled portions of food and other services. And they also make money when you fail and come back.

So though these programs may be good at kick-starting a diet, the dieter should look for a way to maintain the eating habits without that company. Also, if one of these programs doesn't seem to be working or is just too painful to follow for whatever reason, get out. That's not failing; that's just being pragmatic. Try something else after figuring out why that particular plan didn't work. There's no real reason to pay a premium for food if it's not serving its intended purpose.

Easy hack for really thin pats of butter

Once in a great, great, great while I'll do something and my wife will laugh and say, “That was smart!”

I cooked up some tortellini and vegetables for dinner a couple of weekends ago, and asked my wife what she wanted on it. “A little butter,” she said. We store our butter in the refrigerator because we don't really use a whole lot of it, so it's pretty hard when it comes out. This makes it a little more difficult to cut than if the butter's at room temperature.

So I just got out a cheese slicerthis one in particular — and sliced off a few pats, maybe a couple of millimeters thick. Way easier than trying to mess with a butter knife or stirring the meal to melt and coat a couple of big pats.

This is also a good way to enjoy a little butter and control the portion carefully.