Day 15 – Halloween!

Not a single piece of candy all day. The closest I came was a Larabar and a piece of fruit leather for dessert after dinner.

So I’m in Vegas for Halloween, right? Let’s just say, things got a little crazy. By which I mean my wife and I slept almost the entire day, and the rest of our time was spent reading and watching TV in the hotel room. Wild, we are. It was actually really nice to be able to relax so completely. We had nowhere to be and nothing to do, and that is never the case at home. Normally, as i think I’ve mentioned, I sleep about 6-7 hours a night. That’s enough to keep me functioning at a very good level all day, but it’s probably not ideal for health. Robb Wolf recommends sleeping “as much as you can without getting divorced or fired” for optimum health. Just how much did I sleep this weekend? I don’t know. Probably 24+ hours over the course of two nights and one day. We slept a lot. It’s not my normal idea of a good time, but I think after the stress of travel, it was exactly what I needed. My wife is still building a human, so she needs all the sleep she can get.

What about food, though? Well, for breakfast we went to the MGM Grand buffet and got some pretty tasty foods. I got bacon, sausage, eggs, and some kind of roast beef, and then followed it up with a plate of spinach salad that included boiled egg crumbles, ham crumbles and some Thousand Island dressing. I know, probably not good. Still, if I’m going to eat some nasty soybean oil dressing, I’d rather eat the one that I actually enjoy. I keep thinking that I need to spend some time at home learning to make paleo-friendly versions of various dressings and desserts. Speaking of desserts, I actually had some watermelon sorbet. I’m thinking that may be something I can make up at home, or at least something similar. I also have an idea for how to make paleo-friendly whipped cream. I just need to source some pastured heavy cream and I’m well on my way.

Breakfast happened late in the day since we slept so late, and “lunch” was actually dinner at In-N-Out. My wife is from southern California, so any time she gets a chance to have some In-N-Out burgers, she’s all over it. I got my Double Double “Protein Style” which basically means it’s wrapped in lettuce instead of bread. It worked out pretty well. That reminds me that some of my favorite sandwich shops also offer this option, and I may need to look into it.

That was about it for food, really. I slept so much I didn’t really get hungry at all. Not really the most exciting day ever, but very restful. Any day I get to spend interacting with nobody but my wife is a good day in my book, too. We have such a great time together.

Back home tomorrow! Can’t wait to see my dog and my grill and my fridge again. Vacation is nice, but I love home more than anything.

Day 14

Breakfast yesterday was a salad from the airport. It has boiled eggs, cheese, turkey and roast beef on it, and I got it with a packet of Ken’s Steakhouse vinaigrette. It wasn’t very good and it made me feel pretty gross. Not sure if it was too much cheese or what, but my stomach really bothered me for a while afterward.

That was a late breakfast, so I had a Larabar and some nuts for an early snack, and then a little more later to tide me over until dinner.

Dinner was at a wedding for some friends in Las Vegas. They had very tasty appetizers before the ceremony, including some mini burgers with chipotle mayo. Without the bun, it made for a reasonably paleo snack. They also had some dried cranberries and pecans on the cheese plate, so those were tasty. The actual meal was a caesar salad, filet mignon, roasted chicken, a forkful of garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. All of it was excellent, and except for the wedding cake (which I totally ate) it was pretty reasonable food. I did totally drink some ginger ale for the toast and maybe half of my wife’s shirley temple. Those were not reasonable drinks.

It also turns out that the bride lost a bunch of weight by eating a paleo-esque diet before the wedding. I talked to her a bit about it, and it sounds like she mainly ate chicken and fish along with a lot of veggies. It was cool to hear from yet another person for whom cutting gluten had worked so well. She even let me geek out at her about Omega 3/6 balance and hyperinsulinemia and whatnot.

I’m trying to be good while traveling, but it’s not super easy. You never know exactly what’s in anything, and there’s only so many choices you have available. I’m doing my best, but I understand now why the 80/20 rule is so big for paleo eaters. You do the best you can at home and do the best you can on the road, but it’s almost impossible to be perfect when you don’t know exactly what’s in the food you’re eating.

My weight and body fat are still higher than I’d like, according to my last checks. I’m thinking that I need to sort of reboot my numbers. My single-site testing gig doesn’t seem to jive with the other sources I have. When I get back home, I’m going to restart my charts with my weight and body fat based on the Omron, I’m thinking. I’ve done a little bit of futzing with it, and as long as I hold it consistently, it gives me consistent results. I’ve tried with and without a shirt, with and without shoes, before and after peeing, drinking, eating, etc. It’s not exact every time, but it’s very consistent overall. It’s not giving me the results I want to see, but it may be showing me a picture that’s closer to reality. Unfortunately, it’s pretty tough to compare to the measurements I was doing, since I have no way of knowing if those were even a little bit right. I followed the instructions to the best of my ability, but that’s no guarantee. I think the best bet is to assume that my scale is giving me accurate numbers, so I at least have one consistent means of comparison. We’ll see what that ends up meaning for me when I get back. It may mean that I’m at a much lower lean mass than I had thought. Since water is considered part of lean mass, a significant drop in lean mass is sort of expected. Mostly, I’m trying to make myself feel better. I don’t think I’ve been losing as much fat as I thought I was, or more accurately, I had more fat to lose than I originally thought. So I may have been losing fat, but I don’t think my body fat % is as low as I was thinking. So that’s disappointing, but I’d always rather know the truth. I just need to redouble my efforts to reach my goals. On the plus side, the gains I’ve made are still significant and encouraging,. My clothes still fit better and my face definitely looks thinner. I trimmed my beard down to a reasonable level for the wedding, and I look so much thinner in the face now. I hadn’t really seen it before, but now I really do. I feel like I look younger and leaner, so even though I know my body fat is much higher than I thought, I’m still making solid progress.

I’m also still reading “Primal Body, Primal Mind” by Nora Gedgaudas. It is seriously blowing my mind. It’s pretty dense and serious, so I don’t know if it would be the book I would suggest to someone who is just looking for more information on the paleo diet, but for someone who is a little skeptical, or for someone who is already mostly on board but wants more information, it’s awesome. She goes through all of the issues that gluten and soy can cause, and there are a lot of them. She also talks about how the gut is supposed to operate, which was very interesting. There’s so much about the operation of the body I just don’t know. I’m learning a lot more, though. The more I learn, the more I realize I just can’t go back to the Standard American Diet. I’m not going to be super religious about it, so at some point I may have some candy/cake/pizza, etc, but it is never going to be a major part of my diet again. It’s not perfect, but I can live with it, and that’s what matters.

Day 13

Continuing the tradition of one-post days on the weekend, I’ll try to cover everything in one post for Saturday.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs and bacon for me and the wife. I haven’t scrambled eggs in a while, but I’m thinking I’ll have to put them back in the mix. Hard boiled is super convenient, but mixing it up is always good.

My dad came over to help work on the garage shelves, so we did that most of the day. Lunch was kind of on the run, so we went through Wendy’s and got salads. I got the Apple Pecan Salad, which is one of my favorites. It has cranberries, apples, candied pecans, blue cheese crumbles, and a pomegranate vinaigrette. It’s not super paleo, as you probably guessed. There’s a bunch of soy and dairy in there, and some sugar in the candied pecans. So yeah, not ideal. But still tasty, and in the grand scheme it’s still better than a burger and fries. “Better” is one thing, and I should be aiming for “good” rather than just “not as bad as a pile of garbage food.” I’m working on it.

But not really all that well, apparently. Dinner was Wendy’s again, but this time I got a double cheeseburger and a side salad. No bun, of course. Still obviously not great, but we were working pretty late and had to grab something pretty quickly. Bad, lazy caveman.

I also got my new toys from Amazon. My Omron fat checker and the nice calipers. The Omron is saying I have a body fat  north of 22%, so it’s definitely closer to the scale than it is to my old calipers. I can’t do a great job of testing myself with the new calipers, so I don’t yet know what they’re saying. My scale also said my weight had gone up by more than a little. The whole thing is a bit confusing, and I’m not sure which numbers to trust now. I’ll be doing a post about it specifically before too long.

Anyway, that’s it for Saturday. Good day overall, but my food choices weren’t stellar. I’ll keep working.

Evening – Day 12

We went out to Saltgrass steakhouse with a friend, where I ate a lot of steak, veggies and shrimp. It was all very tasty. I still haven’t found any steak I like as much as my own, though. Maybe what I will eventually realize is that it costs me less money to treat my friends to steak at my house than it does to go to a restaurant and buy for me and my wife. That’s kind of a weird thought, isn’t it? But here, let’s lay it out.

Assuming we ignore the sunk costs of tools like the grill and the seasoning and the freezer and junk, let’s just do a cost comparison for the actual meat and veggies. I will drink water no matter where I go, so beverages don’t really enter into the mix.

Eating at a restaurant

  • 8 to 16 oz steak dinner – From $12-45 depending on the restaurant and the cut of meat.

Eating at home

  • 8 to 16 oz steak dinner – From $5-10 depending on the cut of meat. (Assuming I’m getting grassfed beef from my freezer at $8/lb. Buying grainfed ribeye from Costco is actually just a little cheaper.)

So if my wife and I both get steak dinners (we almost always do), we’re looking at a minimum bill of $30 plus tax and tip. With bigger, better cuts of meat, that can often go to about $40 plus tax and tip.

If I cooked at home, using the $8/lb total for meat, and maybe assuming a $2/person veggie allowance, I could provide and cook for 3-6 people for less money than it costs me and my wife to go get steak dinners somewhere else with our friends.

I doubt I’ll actually start feeding my friends steak on a regular basis, because that just feels like I’m being taken advantage of, but maybe it will inspire me to go with the hamburger no bun instead of the steak next time we go out. Or maybe I’ll institute an “I’m happy to feed you, but I’ll need $5 to help defray costs” rule or something. It costs them less, it costs me less, and we all end up with better steak. Not for friends who I see only rarely, or whose main purpose for coming over is dinner, but if we do a weekly game night at my house, that might be reasonable. This is sounding like a pretty decent plan, actually. Is it too mercenary, though? I don’t know. Socially speaking, charging friends to eat dinner at your house is probably a big no-no, but we hang out with a lot of friends on a very regular basis. If we establish the “free food at our place” precedent, we will quickly be eaten out of house and home, even at reduced cost. Unfortunately, since there’s not all that much I’m eating anymore, it’s not even like we can do it up pot luck style. What are they going to bring? Chips and soda? For non-paleo friends, asking them to cook up something gluten free is probably just going to get me blank stares.

So I don’t know. Mostly I’m just thinking that spending $40-50 at a restaurant once all is said and done seems a bit wasteful, especially since I can cook it all better at home than most restaurants. Not trying to brag, but I grill a very tasty steak. It probably helps that I’m buying better quality meat and cooking on a much smaller scale, so I’m not going to overinflate myself too much. There are a few restaurants that we go to that really do cook up an excellent quality steak, but they’re more in the $30+ per person range, and that’s just stupid amounts of money for a meal. Not saying we’ll never do it, especially for special occasions, but I’m thinking it will be less common for us for just a “hanging out with some friends” sort of deal. I just need to learn how to say no to people, or at least say “That’s a bit more money than we can spend on dinner. How about you come to our place and I’ll treat you to steaks and grilled asparagus.”

I like the sound of that. Everyone wins.

Anyway, I don’t even know how I got off on this topic. Totally unplanned when I started this post. I guess it’s just been kicking around my head and it finally found an escape. Maybe it’s a helpful thing for other paleo eaters, though? Heck if I know. Thanks for reading, even when I go off rambling.

Midday – Day 12

I actually didn’t eat lunch today. Just never really got hungry for some reason. I’m still not hungry. I had a few nuts and an apple sort of late morning, and that appears to be holding me pretty steady. Weird. I know I should eat something anyway, just to get my calories up, but I’m just not feeling it. Oh well. I’m headed out for dinner in a bit, and I’ll eat myself silly. That’ll show that stomach who’s boss.

Morning – Day 12

Got up and split out my bacon. No, that’s not a euphemism for…whatever that would be. No, I split my giant packs on bacon into smaller packs of bacon. I put enough in each freezer bag to pretty well fill a cookie sheet, since that’s how I cook my bacon. Oh, I didn’t tell you how i cook my bacon? let me do that.

I take a half-sheet pan and cover it in heavy duty foil. This just makes cleanup so much easier. Then, you have a choice. You can cook the bacon directly on the foil, so it kinda fries in its own juices, or you can use a cooling rack that fits inside the pan and cook the bacon on that. The fat will drip off (you’ll still have plenty of fat, don’t worry) onto the foil below. Either way works, really. My general rule of thumb is that I cook high quality bacon directly on the foil since the fat is good stuff, and I cook the lower quality bacon on the cooling rack, since the fat is less good. No idea whether that even makes any sense, but there you go.

So now you lay out your bacon onto the pan or rack, according to your desires (I’m pretty sure that desire is one of the creepiest words ever. Try to incorporate it into your daily conversation and you’ll see what I mean.) in a single layer. It can get crowded, depending on your pan and how much bacon you have,  so adjust the spacing accordingly. Preheat your oven to 400ºF. Now you can put the bacon in there. i usually check on it after 8-10 minutes, and flip them over with a pair of tongs. Once you flip, how much longer you cook it will depend entirely on how you like your bacon. Another 2 minutes will mean floppier bacon. Another 5 minutes will mean extra crispy. Just keep your eye on it. I tend to like my bacon a little less well done. I overcooked the Niman Ranch stuff I bought last week and it was still good, but it could have been much better.

There you go. Bacon. I had two strips of bacon and two boiled eggs. That’s quickly becoming my breakfast of choice. Not every day, but probably a couple times a week, anyway.

Oh hey, I almost forgot! Weighed in at 235 even today. The weight is still heading down, I’m still on my second belt hole, and the Webbers told me last night that my face is looking thinner. So those are all very good trends. I even did a little exercise last night. Not a ton, mind you, but a little. I carried ten 25-pound boxes of tile up the stairs. So that’s something. Definitely felt it in my wind, but my muscles weren’t complaining. I really need to get back to doing something more regularly, though. I don’t want to lose all my fat just to find out that I have no muscle underneath. That would be lame.

Evening – Day 11

We had a bit of a convenience meal this evening. We got two tubs from Costco, and our entire meal was cooked in the microwave. Definitely not the norm recently, but it was actually pretty good. I had some pot roast, a very small amount of mashed potatoes and a ton of broccoli. The pot roast had a little sugar in it somewhere, but it’s like one gram per serving or something. The mashed potatoes were obviously very starchy, but for pre-made food they had a surprisingly simple ingredient list. Potatoes, milk, butter, salt and “seasoning” was about it. Obviously not the best, and certainly not super paleo, but it was tasty and the wife was craving it.  The broccoli, however, was by far my most exciting portion.

I got a giant 5+ pound bag of broccoli from Costco last week and have been trying to eat it raw, sautee it, etc. So far my results have been okay, but not spectacular. Last night, however, I remembered our zip-loc (using as the generic term, I think they’re actually made by Glad) steam bags. I have to say: Big Win! 3-4 minutes in the microwave, with no added water or dirtying any dishes or anything. Pull it out, drop in some pastured butter, and while you dish everything else up, the butter melts. Shake the bag to distribute evenly, and voila. Delicious veggies with almost zero effort. Same thing works with frozen mixes and whatnot. I’m sure there’s some kind of non-specific infrastructure method of achieving the same result, but I don’t know what it is, and these things are pretty cheap. When we finally run out of those bags (we have like half a dozen boxes, somehow) I’ll look into something else, but for now they’re amazing. Highly recommended.

So there you go. Pretty easy, right? Can’t complain about simple, tasty dinner. It would be nice if the beef were grassfed, but that would be really hard to find. I’ll start looking, but it’s really rare to see grassfed beef in prepared foods, from what I’ve seen. Doesn’t mean it isn’t out there, just means I’ll have to start digging.

Also, I went over to the Webber’s house and tried their Tanita body fat measuring scale. It read me at 22.7% body fat and 240+ pounds, which I think is a little high. I was wearing heavy clothing and kinda had to use the bathroom (#3) so I can attribute a little bit of being off to those factors, for sure. I am also comfortable with the idea that my single-site, self-measured pinch tests may be underestimating my fat. So somewhere between 18 and 23% is probably my actual bodyfat. Could it be 20-21%? It’s certainly possible. That still seems high, just based on how I feel compared to how I felt at that level when the trainer was measuring me. I’m thinking that, in reality, I’m probably in the 19-20% range, maybe. Can’t say for sure, but when the heavy duty calipers and the handheld scanner thing come in, we’ll end up with a whole mess of data we can start crunching. I’m still going to try to compare like to like and use them to track trends instead of using any one of them as a definitive measure of actual body fat. It’s tough not to do the math and get excited about the pounds dropping, but I’ll try to maintain a semi-objective view of my numbers, at least.