Are We What We Eat?

So, I went on a diet recently. I don’t do that lightly. In fact, I don’t think I ever admitted to doing it before. But, as the Barenaked Ladies song goes, “I’m gaining pounds / at the precipice of too late…”. I’ve felt like I needed to do something for a while, and I’d done some reading about the science around healthy eating, and never really come away with anything that felt like reality to me.

Oddly enough, I got a nudge in the right direction by Paul Thurrott on his “Windows Weekly" podcast over on the TWiT network. He happened to mention that one of his new year’s resolutions was to lose weight. And he said it with the confidence of a practiced gunslinger facing down a kid with a spud gun.

What was his secret? He mentioned a book called “Why We Get Fat and What To Do About It” by a science writer named Gary Taubes. Since I’m addicted to the Kindle and eBooks now, and it was available there, I picked it up.


The book absolutely fascinated me for Taubes’ ability to tell the health establishment to go flip itself like a pancake. The food pyramid is wrong. The calories in/calories out method of maintaining weight is wrong. A lot of the advice we’re given about how to control cholesterol is wrong. I left the book trying to decide if it could be correct.

Thing is, this is actually the second book Taubes has written on the subject. His initial 500+ page treatise, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” was a book aimed squarely at the establishment, to challenge them with detailed science. “Why We Get Fat…” is the populist version. So it seemed like the science was really there, and it rang true to me, despite there being a lot of misunderstanding and misinformation about what Taubes’ point is. (It mostly has to do with carbs and insulin.)

Not having much to lose (or maybe too much to lose) I decided to give the science a try.

One of the appendixes in the book is the handout Duke University gives people that are embarking on their low starch / low sugar diet. So I’m following that plan now. In the first two weeks, I dropped 10 pounds (at least half of which is probably related to water retention). I’m just into the third week, so I’ll try to occasionally update about how things are going.

Definitely take a look at the book if you’re interested in the science of nutrition. It’s an interesting, challenging read. And let me know if you have any favorite ways of losing weight.

Too Lazy For Web Design, Not Too Lazy For Exercise

I’ve really been wanting to get back to blog posting, but I’ve been spending too many weekends doing everything BUT updating the template on this site. I actually did some work on it a while ago, but I haven’t gotten around to putting the design work I did together with the code in WordPress that makes the site run.

So….I downloaded a template, just so I could get away from the default look, and also so I could take a look under the hood and see how the templates were designed, which might make the rest of my design work go quicker. This one is called Cutline 3-Column Split 1.1 by Chris Pearson.

It’s a nice three-column design, which is something I was going for.

Eventually, I will get around to building my own. I could use the holidays as an excuse, but really they’ve been pretty stress free since Natasha and I did our shopping online mostly, and we haven’t had a lot of people to buy for.

What *has* been taking up my time is exercise. Ever since my last trip to the doctor, I’ve been a bit concerned about my weight and a number of bothersome little things that have come along with getting older. I really felt, as the Barenaked Ladies song “Too Little, Too Late” puts it, that I was “gaining pounds, at the precipice of too late”. I made a commitment after that doctor visit that I was going to improve myself, and I was going to start by exercising every day possible and changing my diet so I would lose some weight.

So, seven weeks or so later, I’m pretty happy that I have managed to lose 12 pounds. That’s pretty significant, since I don’t think I have ever managed to do that before in my entire life. Well, except for when I was a kid and I took up biking so I could bike over to this park where this girl I liked hung out. ;P That was when I lost my “baby fat”, which wasn’t actually “baby” fat at all, but was really more “Twinkie and cheese sandwich with extra-mayo” fat.

Keith With Baby Fat Keith Without Baby Fat
Keith With Baby Fat Keith Without Baby Fat

It does take up a lot of time though, which has left me less time for other things. I haven’t played “World of Warcraft” in over a month, and I’m really not missing it.

I’ve also taken up a bunch of hobbies — just things I wanted to do that I never got around to. Like playing the guitar. And painting, just because I wanted to try it. I don’t think I really expect to be very good at any of these things. They say it takes ten years to sort of master the basic skills in anything. But they were things I always thought, “I should do that.” I’m happy to say I’m actually sticking with them, instead of giving up in frustration as soon as I stumble. I tended to do that as a kid, which is why I never learned the accordion.

But now, I have a site template I can work with, and more energy from working out, so expect to see more posts here.

So what kinds of things are you doing to improve yourself? Got any good tips for learning the guitar? (Barre chords are killing me!) Are they really all “happy little trees” when you paint them? Drop me a comment and let me know.