Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thankfulness Amid Difficulty

Yesterday, I got a great lesson in finding thankfulness amid difficulty.  It seemed like everything went wrong... or did it?
  • I got to the office in time for the tour related to my new job, which I was looking forward to.  I'm thankful the traffic wasn't that bad, and I was on time.  I'm thankful I have a new job about which I am very excited.  I am thankful there are peers who work in the same city, and while I love working from home, it's going to be nice to go into the office and see other team members.
  • I couldn't dial into my own conference number because I didn't have the right passcode.  I was very embarrassed.  I am thankful I have a job and was needed on a conference call.  
  • Because of this, I missed the tour.  I am thankful the touring hostess said she would give me a tour on another day.  
  • I rescheduled the call that went wrong.  I am thankful it worked out later in the day, and the problems we were meeting about got resolved.  
  • I got a text from Lori that her car wouldn't start.  I am thankful we have mobile phones and can keep in touch at all times.  I am thankful we have a neighbor who tried to help her, even though the new battery did not work.  
  • She needed to go to the school to take something Caleb and Luke needed.  I am thankful we have kids.  I am thankful I have a wife and my kids have a mom who takes care of their day-to-day emergencies like forgotten gym clothes.  I am thankful we have another neighbor who loaned her a car for that chore.
  •  I called Nationwide and had the car towed.  I am thankful towing is covered under our car insurance.  I am thankful there is a Toyota repair place in town we trust.  I am thankful we have 2 cars.
  • I worked from home the rest of the day.  I am thankful I can work from home.
  • I couldn't visit my dad in the hospital at UNC yesterday because I had so many work activities in the afternoon.  I am thankful he has good care at UNC.  I am thankful my friend Tom visited him yesterday and took him a Frosty.  I am thankful my friend and UNC Hospital VP Glen visited my dad every day he was there.  I am thankful Dad gets to go home today.  I am thankful my Dad has my Mom to go home to, who loves him very much. 
  • I got a call from the car repair place about the $450+ bill to replace the starter.  I am thankful it wasn't anything more and that somehow we will pay for this repair.
  • Seth got invited to a Cross Country meet on the other side of Raleigh.  I'm thankful he is healthy and athletic.  I'm thankful Lori got to go attend that event with him.
  • Luke had soccer practice at the same time.  I'm thankful we have a friend and fellow team parent, Lee, who gave Luke and me a lift to practice.  I'm thankful Luke has a good team and coach he likes.  
  • I had to sit there for an hour while Luke practiced.  I'm thankful to talk to Lee, text with Lori, and read my Kindle Paperwhite and enjoy the beautiful weather during that hour - along with watching a little soccer practice.
  • After a quick dinner, I prepared to head to meet for our Fantasy Football draft.  I am thankful that I checked and found that it could be done remotely from the comfort of our kitchen.  I am thankful I got Calvin Johnson, the #1 rated Wide Receiver.  I am thankful that the draft only took 50 minutes, which was a new record for brevity!
  • I'm thankful for a wife and friend and partner who helped us both get through this crazy day.

After all was said and done, it was a long day, and not everything went perfectly.  But I am blessed with a great family, great friends and neighbors, a great job, and a comfortable bed upon which to lay my head at the end of that day, and... ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz.....

Friday, August 15, 2014

Slow Going

After 11 days of avoiding wheat, I have lost about 3.5 pounds.   Seriously?  Yes.  I lost that in the first 3 days and have been stuck ever since.  Ugh.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Wheat Belly, Bagel Butt, Pasta Face, etc.

As I've done with other failed diets, I decided to blog about this one.  One thing I learned a few years ago, while recounting past diets, is that I typically diet when there is a significant change in my life.  This time around it is a job change, as I start in the IBM Watson Group in one more week.  For some reason, the stress of continuity (or maybe it is boredom) results in me eating poorly and eating often.  When I am enduring change, I guess my energy is focused more on the change and I am more ready to eat better.  Weird, huh?

So, a few weeks ago, after landing the new job, I was seeking a new audio book to listen to while walking.  Wheat Belly came up near the top of my search, and so I gave it a shot.  Yada Yada yada, I started a wheat-free diet last Monday, finished the book yesterday, then I wrote the review you see in my prior blog post

Here are the bottom line points I learned from the book, which I probably should have just added to my book review:
  1. Wheat used to be generally good or OK for people, back in the old days 50-5000 years ago.
  2. Ask yourself, or look at old family photos from the 1940's - 1950's...  How many people back then had big guts and lard butts like they do now?  How many more people exercise regularly (run, work out, etc) now versus 30-50 years ago?  Back in the 50's and 60's, very few people were joining a gym or running or walking, for the sole purpose of EXERCISE, but they were generally not nearly as overweight as they are now. Something happened.   
  3. Due to efforts to genetically improve wheat to yield more, cure world hunger, and reap more profits for those evil capitalists at "Big Food" (just kidding... I've always said I can make anything political) What I meant was...

    Due to efforts to genetically improve wheat to yield more and cure world hunger, the wheat we eat now is not the same as the wheat of our ancestors.  There are many more chromosomes or (insert genetic engineering science term here) that has made today's wheat different than the wheat of yesteryear.
  4. An unintended side effect of that is that wheat products are highly addictive, even though we don't really even notice that (until we try to stop eating it).  The book compared it it some ways to morphine and other hard core drugs.  
  5. Wheat makes you hungry.  Related to being addictive, a few hours after eating wheat, you are hungry again.
  6. Another consequence of wheat, or the sugar converted from wheat when we eat it, is that it causes - or seems to cause or influence or impacts - cancer, hair loss, acne, celiac disease, upset stomach, brain disfunction, weakness, sleepiness, lack of good sleep, and I don't know what all.  Oh yea.. It causes you to be fat, or fatter, or fattest.  (Remember The Freshman Twenty, or Thirty, or Forty, in my case... The weight you put on from eating mostly pizza during the first year of college?  It's not just the FAT from the cheese and pepperoni!)
  7. Wheat is more than just bread, bagels, pasta, tortillas, flour, and pizza.  A LOT more.  It's used as a thickening agent or taste enhancer in many many sauces and other recipes.  As the author said, "Removing wheat from your diet is like removing sand from your bathing suit."
  8. Foods labeled gluten-free may or may not be, but more importantly, they usually replace the gluten with other stuff not good for you (such as other starches), so don't go all crazy buying and eating "gluten-free" foods.
  9. Red wine is a wheat-free alternative to beer.  
So, I started this past Monday.  I cut out breads, cereals, and all the other obvious wheat-like foods.  I also cut out breaded fried food like the Chick-fil-A nuggets on a salad.  I did have some gluten free cereal (Rice Chex, and some other Chex product), gluten free pizza from Zpizza, gluten free bun with Banzai Burger at Red Robin, and a little bit of some GF quinoa pasta with spaghetti sauce.  I had that fajita burrito (without the tortilla) that Lori always gets from Salsa Fresh. I've eaten more nuts (even salted ones), more cheese, more eggs, more bacon, and more yogurt than usual.  I ate fries as usual, popcorn at the movie as usual, and I haven't thrown out any beer.  A man has his limits.

I felt like after only about 2-3 days, I was losing the craving for wheat (breads) and was not as hungry throughout the day.  This was one of the promises in the book I was counting on.  It's a good thing, because wheat temptations were everywhere.  I stared down a huge box of Dunkin Donuts someone left on the counter this week.  Then, someone left the final lone donut out strategically tempting me from the very middle of our large kitchen bar.  I also stared down a half loaf of double buttered garlic Texas Toast that was prepared last night with the family's spaghetti and meat sauce dinner.  (My son Seth commented it was the best Texas Toast he had ever eaten.  Thanks for that unsolicited food review, son.)  I stepped into a Red Robin, and ordered the GF bun, which for some reason made my $10 Banzai look as pitiful as a single McDonald's cheeseburger.   I passed on taking a bite of leftover boneless wings and nuggets from my kids on a few occasions.  I skipped the homemade French toast yesterday morning and the Green Hope Cross Country pancake breakfast this morning.

So overall, I'm making good progress.  BUT, I do need to do more meal planning, before meal boredom sets in, and the Oreos beckon me from their hiding place in the cupboard.  I've lost about 3 pounds after 6 days.  But that could just be water weight.

I'll leave you with a quote from the book author, Dr. William Davis: 
“Aside from some extra fiber, eating two slices of whole wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.”

My Book Review of Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD

Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to HealthWheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health by William Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had way too many medical terms for my taste, pun intended. I listened to this book on audio while walking, as I would have never been able to get through it by reading it. However, I learned enough about the effects of modern wheat to change my diet.

I have typically been a skeptic of organic and all the hype around gluten-free. However, this author explains very well how the genetic transformation of wheat in order to increase yield has resulted in adverse effects as proven by the large bellies of wheat consuming nations over the last 40 years. There is enough empirical evidence of people who have lost weight by avoiding wheat that encourages me to give this a try even though I will miss the thousands of foods that have wheat in them. Wheat is in more things than just cereal and pizza dough and bread. You would not believe how widespread the use of wheat is in most all of our foods.

It looks like wheat avoidance has worked even for LeBron James, so why not me? Today is day 5 of my wheat free - or nearly wheat free - experience. I'm going to give it a try for a while, and see what the results are. Back to the book...

The author does explain a lot of the medical implications of wheat - some proven, some implied - ranging from brain health to cancer to hair loss to skin conditions such as acne to celiac disease, and so on. I think it is worthwhile to give this a shot, and so I will update this review later if I have any results to report, pro or con.

View all my reviews