Monday, January 31, 2011

Why So Salty?

ABC News reported today that the U.S. Agriculture and Human Health Services departments have come out with a new stance on how much salt intake is safe daily (

It's about time!  In our incredibly under-and-misinformed society, the government needs to help educate the population on food dangers and where these dangers hang out...

It's no surprise that the United States' life expectancy rate is ranked 28th in the world, despite the incredible advantages we have as far as resources are concerned.  The average American consumes over 5000 milligrams of sodium per day, more than TWICE the recommended daily amount, which itself is in question!  Where is this salt coming from, you might ask?

Easy.  As a population, we are obsessed with several dangerous habits.  1)  Eating away from home, in restaurants and fast food businesses, where essentially, as far as nutrition is concerned, all bets are off.  The ingredients used in their seemingly simple, and undeniably "fast" food are absolutely the photo caption link below to enlarge....if you dare!  The ingredients for TACO MEAT, of all things which seem simple enough, could be used as a filibuster in a session of Congress!  And here's the are all these ingredients preserved, refrigerated or frozen for quick reheating and serving?  SALT!

Exhibit A: Taco Bell's packaged pre-prepared taco meat.  Should be simple enough, right?  Think again...

2)  We are a culture obsessed with ease and convenience, hence, what food does much of the population choose to buy at the grocery store to make at home, when they're not dining on preservative and chemical-heavy at McDonalds and Applebee's?  Pre-packaged food at home!  Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, DiGiorno's frozen pizzas, hot dogs, and for snacks, chips, soda and cookies...if they're feeling really fancy, maybe a frozen dinner from Bertoli...  These foods are absolutely loaded with unhealthy preservatives and chemicals, not to mention how little nutritional value any of this actually has!  

And this is what we're eating.  It's not nutrition, it's attrition.  

That's why America is getting unhealthier by the cheese puff, and that's why it's time for the USDA to come down on "food" companies and restaurants who make a profit by selling the public what is essentially poison---food that will eventually kill us.  But for now, we need to take matters into our own hands.

- Dan -

Poll Results and First Weekly Monday Poll

Okay, well, the first poll I posted was just a warm-up. For the record, you all killed it, 85% of you chose brown rice, which is absolutely correct.  Why?

The FACTS:  It's really quite simple.  While there are plenty of healthy types of grain to eat, eating a grain in its whole form (unprocessed in any manner) is the most natural and health-safe way to take advantage of healthy proteins and carbohydrates in grain.  Wheat, oats, barley and rye, among others, contain a protein called gluten, to which a portion of the population is allergic, causing unhealthy inflammation in the body, and consequently, resistance to weight loss.  You can read a lot more on this subject in UltraMetabolism, where you can get a more in-depth explanation.  The majority of the carbohydrates in products containing gluten, come from gluten itself.

Brown rice, a fiber-rich, gluten-free whole grain
The bottom line is, all the foods in the poll besides brown rice will contain gluten, which is not an essential nutritional element when determining which kinds of carbs to eat and which to avoid.  The majority of the carbohydrates in brown rice, however, come from healthy fiber, making it the best option on that list based on the nutritional content and the fact that it's a whole grain.  The caloric differences between the options are negligible, and the quality of the calories in brown rice wins out.

If you disagree with my answer, please leave a comment!  I'd love to discuss, and maybe I'll learn something!

NEW POLL:  I'm going to post the weekly poll on Mondays from this point on, get your votes in!

- Dan -

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Blog Improvements and Expansion

Hello all!  Thanks for reading, your comments and readership participation keep me going…I’m very glad to be able to share all of this with you, and especially since I feel this information is all relevant to improving quality of life and health for everyone, not just those struggling with weight issues specifically, as I have. 

Blog update: I’m working on developing the site a bit, adding a menu bar which links to some additional pages I’m going to be adding over the next few weeks as I have time.  I’ve already completed the “Links” page where I’ll post links I find important or relevant for one reason or another.

Track My Progress: I’m going to keep posting my “stats” at the beginning of each blog post, but I’ll also be posting a weekly update on my newly completed “Track My Progress” page.  This is interesting for me to be able to look back at where I’ve been along this long journey, and I hope it will be for you as well!  I’m not going to pretend this is a process which will be 100% successful and forward-moving all the time, like any other permanent change, it has its ups and downs, and it’s important to keep a record of both the triumphs and the speed bumps!

- Dan -

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Getting Started

THE STATS: 6’6” (72 inches), 279.6 lbs (Goal: 240 lbs), BMI 32.3, Current month’s weight loss (January 2011): 10.2 lbs.

Introductory note: Whenever I use the word “diet” it is meant to be understood in the “food that you intake” sense, not to be confused with crash dieting or deprivation methods; my concept is one of balance, not elimination of any essential food elements.

The first step in “fixing” your diet, that is, eliminating any food that is not helpful to your body’s nutritional agenda, is a very simple one: get rid of everything you won’t be eating.  When we got home from our Christmas vacation a few weeks ago, we loaded up trash bags with food items we wouldn’t be using, simply because of the added sugars and hydrogenated (manufactured) oils.  We threw out mayonnaise, virtually every sauce we had around, coffee creamer, anything which had non-whole ingredients, that is, any product that didn’t come straight from a whole food product. 

Next, stock up on foods that will fill you up, and at the same time provide you with proper nutritional elements.  For us, the new food, as I mentioned last post, was beans.  If you buy dried beans, soak them overnight and cook them up.  Beans are incredibly high in fiber, which makes in a great detox food, it cleans out your system naturally, while providing the carbohydrates your body actually needs, as opposed to empty carbs you’ll find in white bread, potatoes and sugar.  You can also experiment with other whole grains, like quinoa, a new favorite of ours, which cooks similar to rice.  Frozen vegetables are quick and cheap, and we have a freezer-full. 

Some fresh vegetables which are cheap to buy in bulk and have around to add to just about anything: tomatoes (we buy Roma, they’re usually one of the cheaper varieties, and have a great fresh flavor), green pepper, cilantro, onions.  Frozen vegetables: broccoli, spinach, green beans, peas, carrots and corn.

I can’t sufficiently emphasize how helpful this next bit is: cook meal elements up ahead of time.  We’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and it’s pretty incredible, in terms of how easy it is to put together a healthy meal in minutes.  Storing containers of cooked beans, cooked and seasoned ground turkey and cooked brown rice in our refrigerator gives us lean protein and healthy carbs all set to go as a base for most of the meals we eat.  Throw a little of each in a bowl with some cooked vegetables and seasonings of your choice, or a few tablespoons of salsa, and you have a healthy, whole meal at your disposal with just a few minutes in the microwave.


This would suffice for a 5-day week’s worth of meals:

1 bag (uncooked) Garbanzo Beans
1 bag Black-Eyed Peas
5 cups Brown Rice
3 lbs. 93% lean Ground Turkey

The full amounts can be cooked at the same time and stored.
So, this week’s poll must have been way too easy, because you all seem to have a consensus!  I won’t go so easy on you all next week…be warned!

Next post: Some basic principles which make too much of the food our culture throws at us so dangerous.

Thanks for reading!  As always, please feel free to post questions in the comments section, I WILL answer them!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

With apologies to continuity….

Today's weight:  280.6 lbs. 103.2 lbs lost, 40.6 to go!

Well, it’s somewhat embarrassing to visit the blog today, and realize that my last post was 10 months ago!  I hope I can be excused, however, as I had some pretty significant things happen in that time.  For one, I got married!  A wonderful event, so much fun and so memorable, but incredibly time-consuming!  It’s the type of thing you only want to do once in your lif
May 28, 2010e, for various reasons, but I suppose probably the least of which is how much time it takes.  Married life is great, and it’s a wonderful advantage to be living with someone who is as health-conscious as I am—it just makes things that much easier, trying to lead a healthy lifestyle.  I can only imagine what life would be like if I were married to a junk food addict!  It’s hard enough to stay away from that stuff as it is!

It’s time to come clean, however.  As I look back to my last post, I see I had weighed in at 269, under 30 lbs away from my goal.  I was flying high, and it was hard to see what could get in my way.  Well, life got in the way, as it so easily can.  The amount of great food in the time surrounding our wedding was pretty astounding, and for a once-in-a-lifetime event life that, I felt like taking part in everything.  Then there was the honeymoon.  We were in Panama City Beach, FL, where there was a lot of lying on the beach and good eating!  Every meal was in a restaurant, and I can’t remember not finishing a plate the whole time we were there.  I’m not ashamed to say I’m a food lover, but I am ashamed to admit, as I have in previous posts, that I have a weakness in the area of controlling myself with a lot of good food surrounding me. 

To me, that was the beginning.  The indulgence, while I don’t regret it, as we were on a wonderful trip of which good food was a part, broke down the momentum I had been building for the previous 10 months, in which I had lost 90 lbs, and had kicked my metabolism into high gear.  We worked once again in upstate New York, where we were provided each meal.  While my weight stayed down, hovering around 270, a back injury I suffered limited my mobility, and I could feel that while my weight was staying steady, my body composition was changing, and my metabolism had slowed.  It’s quite amazing, actually, how incredibly different your body feels when it’s functioning correctly as opposed to when it’s just surviving whatever you choose to do with it. 

Returning to Pittsburgh in the fall, my motivation was pretty much gone, as my body just didn’t feel like going through the effort of getting back into gear.  I cruised through the fall, gaining anywhere from 5-10 lbs by the time the holidays came, weighing in near 280 by the time we left to spend two weeks in Nebraska.  A bad time to be on the upswing with your weight is heading into a holiday, because you know you’re going to come out a little heavier anyway.  Well, heavier I was indeed when we returned to Pittsburgh.  I weighed almost 290 by the time we got back on January 5, just three weeks ago. 

Laurelin and I listened to the UltraMetabolism book on CD during our two-day drive home, and picked up some much-needed inspiration.  In the past three weeks, we’ve gotten rid of all sugars and unhealthy fats from our cupboards, and added a few things to our pantry.  We’ve started eating a ton of beans, of all sorts: garbanzo beans, black-eyed peas, black beans, red beans, kidney beans…beans have an incredible amount of healthy fiber, and replacing some of your everyday gluten-heavy carbs such as pasta and bread, even of the whole wheat varieties!  Beans are very filling, too, and have been a great addition to our diet!

We’re now working our way through Phase 1 of the UltraMetabolism program.  After our detox period (eliminating bad fats and sugar of ALL kinds), the Phase 1 eliminates gluten (including pasta, bread, anything with wheat or gluten), eggs and all dairy, among other elements.  It’s a big adjustment, as I love to make eggs with just about every breakfast, but I have had one savior thus far…salsa.  It’s the one food I would consider an “indulgence” which is allowed in Phase 1, and I’ve been using it pretty much for breakfast, lunch and dinner with rice, beans, meat and vegetables. 

Here’s my current typical day of eating under Phase 1, so the reader can get an idea of what this looks like:

Breakfast: A serving of brown rice with some beans, maybe a little lean ground turkey, and salsa.  Laurelin has a sweet variation which is brown rice, flax seed, soy milk and cinnamon, which I have yet to warm up to, but I may yet.

Lunch: We try to eat our heavier meals at lunchtime, so lunch is brown rice, beans of some variety, ground turkey, and several servings of vegetables.  I’ve started trying different spice combinations with my vegetables, and I’ve found that mixing curry powder, garlic and chili powder works as a nice variation on your typical vegetable dish!

Dinner: We’ve been buying large bags of Romaine lettuce to speed up our salad preparation, as that is our typical evening meal.  Mine is a large salad, with a little ground turkey or shredded deli turkey, garbanzo beans, flax seed, corn, chopped Roma tomatoes and cilantro.  For a dressing, either we use salsa or a homemade recipe I really like, which is two parts olive oil, one part Balsamic vinegar and one part Dijon mustard, with whatever spices you feel like adding to the mix!

That’s it for now, please keep reading!

Next post: Tips on getting started…the great thing about eating healthy is that you can start at any time, all you need is determination!