Bad Habits #19 – Various Brain Melting Diet Fads I’ve Found on The Internet

Anyone who’s vaguely online knows that the Internet is a stunning achievement allowing billions of humans access to all sorts of information, from the latest news of the world, information on scientific and technological developments, online finance, or just the ability to stay connected with friends and family across the world.  And we also know that the Internet is a great place to turn your brain into tapioca with mind melting misinformation, from bizarre 4Chan conspiracy theories to loud mouthed loonies yelling into a camera on YouTube.

And the same way someone can’t turn away from an impending trainwreck, I occasionally find myself unable to turn away from that shadier portion of cyberspace. I’m occasionally lured (usually by links on Twitter from people who I should ignore) into these neuron killing corners of the Interweb machine. Because even my selected amateur area of study, diet and fitness, has a dark side. Although not so dark as 4Chan conspiracies. Those usually involve Hitler and/or pedophiles. But it is dark in the sense that you walk away demoralized, realizing you may have vastly overestimated the average intelligence of the human race.

So, I’ve compiled a list of the dumbest diets I’ve found on the Internet. First, the Baby Food Diet. You read that right. There are a lot of things about today’s society that are infantilizing, but this one literally requires you to behave like an infant by consuming jars of baby food. Now, in fairness, it seems like it could work to help you lose weight. A jar of baby food only has 20 to 120 calories. And they tend to have various vitamins and minerals. But since you’re not eating a ton of protein and fiber, it’s hard to stay full. This can result in binging when the hunger gets to you. Also, it’s gross. And expensive, since baby food can be pricey.

Next up is the Military Diet. Which has nothing to do with the military. This involves eating simple and random things like a meal consisting of one cup of cheese, one egg, a few crackers, one cup of tuna, one banana, etc. This seems more like the “Guy Approaching Bankruptcy Diet” where you only have a loose assortment of things left in the pantry because you can’t afford groceries. Or it could be the “London Under Siege Diet”, because it reminds me of the rationing the UK had to put up with during the blitz, when they survived WWII on Spam and powdered eggs that we sent them. You’re welcome, limeys.

Another one is the Tapeworm Diet, where you literally eat a tapeworm. This basically proves how we live in a post scarcity world in the West. Because only someone who took food availability for granted would think this is a good idea. The idea is to eat a tapeworm in the hopes that it will eat the food in your stomach before you can digest it. So rather than just, say, eating less (or eating more high-volume, low-calorie foods), people continue to practice shameless gluttony and then put an animal in their bodies to eat away the excess.

It’s almost as dumb as Roman elites engorging themselves and then vomiting their meals up to start eating again (a literal thing that happened), except eating tapeworms is probably more dangerous. These things can get stuck in your digestive tract. Or migrate to other parts of your body. As a rule, if you notice people in less prosperous countries going out of their way to avoid something (like worms and parasites, since they can cause death and stuff), you should not eat it on purpose. Also, you should never eat something that considers you to be food, no matter how small. Unless it’s already dead.

One of the stranger things I found is the Cookie Diet. I seriously thought this one was a prank by 4Chan trolls. Apparently, some joker thought he would make special protein and fiber laden cookies to provide nutrition to the unwashed masses. So, in other words, completely ruining the whole point of cookies. If there’s no guilt (or taste) involved in eating the cookies, why bother? The idea behind this diet is to eat one of these cookies (which has been desecrated to the point of being little more than a protein bar) every couple of hours, then have one normal meal a day. According to what I’ve seen amongst the critic’s reviews, though, it’s not clear if this diet results in weight loss at all. It appears, like many fad diets, to only be effective at lining the pockets of quacks and charlatans.

But there are even stranger things on the Internet. Although I feel sort of stupid saying that, since nary a day goes past when I don’t find stranger things on the Internet. There are always stranger things on the Internet. The Chinese government has even found a way to fund their military industrial complex by introducing people to these stranger things. It’s called TikTok.

But I digress. One of those stranger things I’ve seen is the Master Cleanse. People seriously try to survive on water, lemon, syrup, and cayenne for a week. This might as well be called the “Leningrad Under Siege Diet”, where besieged Russians ate paste and other non-nutritious things so they could pretend to be full. This diet has very little in the way of calories or nutrition and seems like a waste of time. If you want to lose weight by barely even eating anything, you might as well just eat nothing and fast. Fasting isn’t just a recent fad. Fasting is something people have been doing for thousands of years, although not always voluntarily. And although many online fasters are often annoying and weird bro virtue signalers, they’re less annoying and weird than the Master Cleanse.

I also found references to the Cabbage Soup Diet. Which I’m pretty sure is the “Normal North Korean Diet” (unless you’re Kim Jong-Un), except that you can eat cabbage soup three times a day instead of three times every week or month or so as one does in any North Korean city or town not named Pyong Yang. And although cabbage, along with other leafy greens, is healthy, it’s not enough to keep most people going. Which explains why North Koreans are often emaciated. Except Kim Jong-Un, who, from the looks of him, eats all of the meat in the country himself. Fortunately, most of us live in a place where beef, chicken, pork, and other meats are readily available. As well as vegetables apart from mere cabbage. So do yourself a favor and pass on this one.

So those are the bad diets I found, and I advise passing on all of them. Given that many of these diets require you to take up habits of someone being invaded, someone living in an oppressive country, or someone living in a place where the food and water are full of all sorts of creepy-crawlies, none of these is a good idea.  Here’s a crazy thought.  Just get used to the fact that we increasingly live in a world where obesity is more likely to kill you than starvation.  Food is plentiful, so you’re just going to have to develop habits that keep you thin.  

The good news is that all of the necessary nutrition is available, so you probably won’t die of scurvy or any of the things people died of back when men wore wigs. But this also presents opportunity to eat entirely too much. But doing occasional dumb things which could qualify you for a Darwin award is not how to avoid eating too much. Take the time to actually figure out the types and quantities of food you need to stay healthy and then eat those things. And get off of your overly voluminous posterior and move around a bit. And stay out of the more absurd quarters of the Internet. Some information just makes you dumber.

Good Habits #19 – Casseroles: How To Eat Well By Turning Into Your Mother. Or Your Aunt. Or Your Grandmother

One of the most common June Cleaveresque stereotypes I encountered growing up, in real life and on TV, was a fifties housewife serving a casserole.  Well okay, the baking cookies and brownies thing is a bigger stereotype, but the casserole thing was still a thing.  I know this, because many of my relatives, like my grandmother who was an actual fifties housewife, used to do stuff like this all of the time.  And my mother and aunts and female cousins (once they came of age) did this on a regular basis.

And I’ve discovered that there was method to their madness.  Because casseroles are really easy to make.  Even someone of mediocre skill (me) can put together a passable casserole.  And they can be incredibly healthy, if you put the right ingredients in it.  And of course, if one puts the wrong ingredients in it, it can just be a culinary myocardial infarction in a Corningware dish.

Anyone who peruses sites like Allrecipes to find new things to cook has noticed one irritating fact.  Well, two really.  One, in order to get to the actual recipe, one must scroll through an interminable story about this person’s great-grandmother umpteen times removed developed this recipe in 19th century India or Italy or whatever and brought it here.  Secondly, when one gets to the recipe, we find that there are annoyingly complicated instructions.  The kind that require one to marinate these things and stir fry those things while brining these other things and whatever.  The kind of thing no one has time for unless they’re a chef for a living.

Casseroles don’t have this problem.  It’s literally just about dumping ingredients in a dish with an appropriate amount of seasoning (a good way to add both flavor and nutrition, I’ve discovered) and letting the oven do the rest of the work.  If you find one on a recipe site, you still have to scroll through the endless story of some European or South Asian matriarch, but at least when you get to the end of the mundanity of their family history, you get a simple set of instructions.

Prep time for the ingredients is rarely more than five minutes, and cooking time is usually an hour or less.  Which makes this great for people who don’t have a lot of time to prepare meals.  Pop it in the oven, spend that hour doing literally anything else, then serve.  One casserole is probably 4-6 meals.  It’s good for a family one night, or a bachelor for half a week.  Assuming the bachelor doesn’t get tempted by the leftovers in the fridge and eat them all at once.  Or get blitzed on beer/bourbon/whatever and use the leftover casserole to cure munchies.  Which is one of many ways alcohol can ruin a diet.

There are a million varieties, so I’ll only cover a few basic ones.  Breakfast casserole or Frittata (which is a fancy name for breakfast casserole for people who have an overly high opinion of themselves and want to distinguish themselves from the hoi polloi) is one of my favorites.   There are many ways to make it, but the ones I like just involve the basics.  Scramble some eggs, chop some onions, mushrooms, sausage, cheese, spinach and bacon, and toss them in a dish.  And I know, that list of ingredients probably just sent every Keto bro reading this into orgasmic bliss.  I will pause briefly while they go and clean any ejaculatory indiscretions that may have just been unleashed into their pants.

I start most days with something like this. Of course, sometimes I just cook it up in a frying pan, if I don’t feel like chopping up ingredients for a casserole. I’ve also learned that I can literally just bake these ingredients as is for 15 minutes each morning. But whatever way I do it, this the breakfast of champions. It has about 600 calories (which isn’t bad for one meal) and provides over a third or more of the various vitamins and minerals. Except for vitamin E and C, which it’s a little light on.

If neither of these quite suit your fancy, but you still want eggs, there’s the French thing which is very similar to breakfast casserole but isn’t eaten by “real men”.  And yes, I know that that is a very dated, boomer joke.  Here is a link to the balding Bond Villain’s website that explains that reference to those who don’t get it.  I’m talking about quiche.

Quiche is the French equivalent of Frittata, except it’s for people who want to be bougie in a Western European way instead of a Southern European way.  It has all of the Keto ingredients (eggs, dairy, meat), but sadly, has one of the things that tries Ketovore’s souls: bread, typically in the form of pie crust.  But the preparation is basically the same.  You pour the stuff into the crust, season, and bake for 40-50 minutes.  

A slice of this stuff that no real man should eat is a little lighter than the breakfast casserole, at about 250 – 400 calories.  And it’s a little lighter on nutrition, although it does provide a healthy dose of calcium, selenium, phosphorus, and various B vitamins.

But one need not only have casserole for breakfast. There are plenty of dinnertime options. Such as the casserole that’s probably the most common stereotype of the 1950’s housewife: Tuna casserole.  I know some people roll their eyes at this, since it’s usually the thing produced by people with no real cooking skill.  And so mundane comedian Bill Burr seems to think it leads to domestic abuse.

Usually involving noodles, cream of mushroom soup, peas, and, of course, tuna, tuna casserole is simple and always tastes good. Even if it is kind of a “normie food”. It kind of is the casserole equivalent of a PB&J. But despite this, it’s actually very healthy.  Two cups of this will only have about 500 calories, provide you with all of the B vitamins, and plenty of iron and selenium.

But by far the most loved casserole-esque food is probably that thing the Italians brought us over a hundred years ago.  Shortly before they started shooting everyone in major cities and smuggling in alcohol.  This is, of course, lasagna.  The layers of pasta, meat, and cheese are loved by any self-respecting foodie.  It’s not the most healthy thing, though.  One helping will be 400-600 calories.  It provides lots of calcium, iron, phosphorus, selenium, and B vitamins, but also may explain why the Italians struggled so much in both World Wars.  Obesity is bad for combat readiness.

Another common one that is much loved in my home state of Georgia is green bean casserole.  Consumption of this is almost a religious experience in the South.  And this is also healthy, since it’s a vegetarian dish.  It’s usually just made with cream of mushroom soup, beans, milk, and French-fried onions.  It’s a little light on nutrition, providing 25-33% of most, but also light on calories, with only 400 for two cups. Of course, we usually ruin that by eating it with ribs and fried chicken, which is why we tend to be a bit portly.

So casserole is kind of like pizza and sandwiches.  I know, you’re thinking “Triple-D (nobody calls me that), it’s not even a little bit like pizza and sandwiches.”  Except, it is.  The same way you can put almost anything on pizza (except for pineapple and anchovies, which are only enjoyed by heathens) or anything on sandwiches (unless you put barbecue and coleslaw in the same sandwich, which only an inbred Cajun does) you can put almost anything into a casserole dish.  

So if your cooking skills are lame, or you have limited time but would rather not eat fast food, processed food, and everything else that makes you die younger than Lou Gehrig or F. Scott Fitzgerald, casserole is a good way to remedy this.  The prep time is short, and the cook time is not bad.  You can pop it into the oven shortly after getting home from work, and probably have a full meal before you’re hungry. And if you’re smart about what you put into it, you can stay healthy.

Exercise #19 – Strange Workouts People Do In The Suburbs

One habit I’ve taken up of late is to review the latest trends in the fitness world.  Not that I’m a particularly trendy guy.  I’m a CPA, which is as far from swanky and fashionable as professions can get.  But I like to see what people are doing on the off chance that I might find something to add to my exercise regimen, especially if it’s something I can fit in with minimal effort.

But sadly, this can cause one to lose faith in humanity.  Because people do some weird stuff.  Especially people who inhabit the suburbs.  And not any suburbs.  The type of suburbs inhabited by people who take their Shih-Tzus to Starbucks and write screenplays no one will ever use while downing lattes and scones.  In other words, yuppies.  At least, that’s what they were called in the eighties and nineties.  Who knows what Zoomers call these overly trendy Tesla owners these days. 

Anyway, I found a variety of exercise trends. This includes silly stuff that appears to have been created by fancy folk who had one too many mimosas with brunch, some stuff that actually appears dangerous, and maybe one or two things that is actually sensible. So I figured I’d document these here and share my unwanted opinions on them.

One that I see repeatedly is “Reverse Running”.  And, no, that’s not a clever play on words.  That’s literally what you think it is.  Also known as “Running Backwards.”  Also known as, “Hilarious YouTube Videos Waiting to Happen.”  In fairness, there are benefits to running backwards.  Apparently, it’s good for your posture and balance and burns more calories than running forward.  And apparently, it’s easier on your knees than normal running, so you can even do it while injured.  Or just generally suffering from old man/woman knees.  But there’s a problem.

I can’t think of a single place where this would be safe. The only place where you wouldn’t run into other people would be an isolated place in the Rockies where you’re likely to fall off a cliff. Or an isolated place in the Everglades where you’re likely to get eaten by an alligator. And it’s not even safe to do this inside. You’ll probably bump into furniture. You’ll definitely knock over the china. And your wife’s Highly Trained Psycho Assassin Capable of Unbelievable Feats of Agility (cat) will almost certainly step behind you. I’ve noticed they like to jump right in front of people when they’re moving around the house. Especially if they have a plate of food or something breakable in their hands. Tripping their human oppressors is a pastime of theirs.

So, this exercise, combined with inevitable feline mischief, will likely cause you to trip and break your neck.  And the cat, being a cat, will then eat what’s left of you.  So even though running like this is a way to go easy on your knees if you’re injured, it’s also an excellent way to obtain new injuries.  Or death.  And possibly the kind of death where an animal eats the evidence off your passing.

Another thing I came across is Stroller Fitness.  And no, it isn’t something posh English people do while strolling around London with bowler hats and canes.  It involves having your baby in a stroller and somehow including this in an exercise regimen.  This sounds like something that I’ll see in a Progressive insurance commercial in the future about things people do when they’re becoming their parents. Assuming their parents are weirdo, new agey, yoga pants wearing types.

Exercising with babies in tow isn’t that new.  We’ve all seen new moms jogging with their strollers.  And occasionally forcing their husbands to do it with them.  But it’s not just about jogging with a stroller. It also involves things like doing lunges or squats or stretches or things while holding on to the stroller.  All of these things are good for you, but I’m not sure the baby should be involved. Adherents of this craze say you’re “engaging” with your infants.  Which is true, if by “engaging” they mean “confusing the hell out of them”. 

I’ve also discovered that there’s a new type of gym membership that is apparently the result of the Neo-Captain Trips virus that emerged into the world two years ago.  These are called “Hybrid Gym Memberships”.  This is the result of increasing demand for gym memberships that give us the option of working out online instead of showing up in person.  Which seems a bit strange to me, since the whole point of the gym membership is having access to all of the fancy fitness gear that you can’t afford if you’re not a Silicon Valley wannabe cyborg (Zuckerburg) or wannabe space traveler (Musk) or a neo-robber baron fund manager (basically anyone who works at Blackrock or Vanguard).

But apparently, some people want the option of putzing around their house when they exercise.  This is the direct result of people being afraid of planting their posteriors on a sweaty bench that might have been occupied previously by a carrier of the Darkness That Came From Wuhan.  Which I find a little strange, since there are probably plenty of other nasty things that you could obtain by sitting on someone else’s sweaty grossness, but we only just now started worrying about this.

Anyway, weightlifting and so forth at a gym is good for you, but don’t bother spending money if you’re not going to go there.  I did the “hybrid” part of hybrid gym memberships for a full year in 2020, and it cost me bupkis.  It doesn’t make sense to pay for it.  Why ruin your workout by making a Zoom call to a gym, when you can just do the workout while catching up on the latest season of Peaky Blinders?  This is an abomination, one of many cultural trends that are apparently just knock-on effects of gain of function research gone wrong.

Another peculiar thing I’ve found is Mini-Workouts.  These are (ostensibly) for people who can’t spare 30 minutes to an hour for a workout or don’t want to commit to a more intensive regimen. So instead, people will slot in a five-to-ten-minute weightlifting or cardio regime at random times during the day.  Seems like a great way to squeeze exercise into the schedule, right?

Wrong.  This whole thing is crap.  Pretty much everybody can make time for a full workout.  The truth is, most people have four hours or so of leisure time available each day, so the idea that they can’t spare the time (barring highly unusual circumstances) is laughable.  And if you’re not willing to commit to a more intensive workout, just get used to being fat.  A mini workout isn’t an innovation in fitness.  This is how the ADHD TikTok generation gets their exercise.  But if they lack the commitment to do a normal workout, this won’t end well.  If this becomes a general thing, the Zoomers will inevitably slide into obesity, and we’ll all be living in Wall-E soon.

But not all trendy workouts are nonsensical.  One that I see a lot of is high-intensity interval training (HIIT). This involves short bursts of activity with periods of rest.  These consist of various bodyweight exercises (although you can use weights) and include a variety of options.  And the technology addicted younger people can easily adopt these, since there are apps that will let them design a workout.  Which is fortunate, since we all know that everyone under thirty needs their phone to tell them what to do next.

This type of workout is championed by Jillian Michaels.  You know, the fitness instructor who looks like a real-life version of Sarah Connor.  And not the original Sarah Connor, the super buff one in Terminator 2.  And since she looks like she could easily take on Robert Patrick or Arnold Schwarzenegger, it clearly is a highly effective workout.

The last thing I saw was Mind-Body exercising.  Of course this is a thing, since there always has to be something involving “feels” in the early twenty-first century.  Assorted suburbanites are focusing on “holistic” programs which focus on fitness and easing stress and anxiety.  One would think focusing on mental health is good.  But it’s not, because it’s superfluous.

All exercise is mind-body.  All exercise helps with stress and anxiety and improves overall mental health.  Also, something tells me that the people involved in these mind-body workouts are going to be the insufferable types with fluffy and useless dogs in their purses who spend the entire workout chattering about their last visit to the country club.  I think your mental health might be better if you avoid these types of people altogether.

So, with the exception of HIIT, which will probably prepare you for the robot apocalypse that Zuckerberg and Musk will cause (or the zombie apocalypse caused by the next thing to come from Wuhan) these things are…ridiculous.  I mean, I get how new moms might want to work in exercise around childcare, but there should be a way to do so without giving newborns PTSD.  And I admire coming up with innovative new ways to exercise but running backwards seems like a good way to get run over by a bus.  As for the things involving Zoom fitness and mini-workouts, one of the biggest benefits of a workout is the opportunity to unplug from the world.  This should be a way to reduce attention disorders amongst young people, but hybrid gym memberships and mini-workouts probably do the opposite.  And the Mind-Body focus is unnecessary.  If you focus on the body workout, the mind will settle itself down.  

So I guess the main thing here is that if you want to get in shape, maybe you shouldn’t follow trends.  Sure, occasionally a good one (HIIT) will pop up, but for the most part, these are the exercise equivalent of the Tide Pod challenge.  A stupid trend that may, in some cases, hurt you, and will probably vanish in a year or so.

Bad Habits #18 – 24 Other People’s Bad Habits, A Blatantly Clickbaity Listicle

So, I’ve been writing this blog off and on for roughly two and a half years.  Or is it three and a half years?  Sometimes I lose track because that year where we all hid under the bed feels like it doesn’t count. You know the one I mean. The one dominated by the All-Powerful Scourge of Wuhan. The Hubei Horror. The Darkness That Came From A Lab Or Bats Or Pangolins Or Whatever.  But anyway, I’ve been sharing the exercise habits I’ve acquired, the good eating habits I’ve acquired, and the bad habits I’ve desperately tried to do away with for some time now.

And now it’s time to discuss more bad habits, but nothing comes to mind.  I’m sure I have bad habits left, but the ones I haven’t covered are probably so minor and obscure that they’d not be worth sharing.  Having said that, I could always ask my wife to list some of my bad habits.  She’d probably come up with a thousand or so.  But I’ll save that particular act of masochism for a later date.

Since nothing comes to mind right now, I wondered, what bad habits do other people struggle with?  What are the most common bad habits other people have?  Fortunately (or unfortunately) I have access to Skynet in its gestational form (Google) and can find out fairly quickly what other people are talking about.

So here are a few things I’ve found from popular articles spewed forth by the search engine that will be our future overlord.  And yes, I’m a little ashamed that this post is now basically a “listicle”.  Based on what I’ve discerned from the more Internet savvy younger generations, listicles are the product of “BuzzFeed soyboys”.  And I’m not entirely sure what that is, but it sounds like I’m risking my man card by doing this.  But here goes anyway.  A list of common bad habits that cause people to put on pounds.

1. Keeping Tempting Foods Around – This is an obvious one.  The temptation of junk food and sweets is that they’re already ready to eat and loaded with excess calories.  I’ve already mentioned that there is temptation at my office in the form of a snack shelf, which can contribute to weight gain.  So I make a point of not having the equivalent in my house.  One way to avoid giving in to cravings is to only have food that requires preparation in the house.  The prospect of having to wait ten minutes at least to prepare food may make me decide that I’m not really that hungry.  But allowing yourself to go hungry can result in excess eating later though.  So the better option is to only have healthy things (broccoli, carrots, etc.) that will fill you up without fattening you up.

2. Skipping Breakfast — This one I see all over the Interweb machine, but I don’t buy it. Obviously, skipping a meal can help you lose weight, since it means you literally eat zero calories. But the rationale behind this is that skipping a meal can make you so hungry that you overeat at the next meal. Maybe. If you’re an undisciplined weakling. The truth is, there are plenty of people that skip meals. Intermittent fasting is a thing that works, even though the people who do it are often irritating. People have been fasting for thousands of years, although much of that was involuntary in the first few thousand years. And on Naked and Afraid. Obesity is a recent phenomenon, though, so it’s not clear how fasting would be a major cause. So the real advice here is that it’s okay to skip breakfast, just don’t go nuts at lunch. Have some self-control.

3. Eating Straight Out of the Bag – It’s true if you get a bag of potato chips or crackers or whatever and you eat straight out of the container there’s a temptation to just keep munching away. So this one’s a good point.  One simple solution to this problem is to just take some out of the bag and put it in a bowl or something. But the easier way to keep the weight off is…just avoid food from bags. The stuff in bags is probably processed crap that isn’t that good for you.

4. Eating on the Run – I did this throughout my twenties and was fine.  It was quite normal for me to down a breakfast sandwich while weaving in and out of traffic, because I was perennially late when I was a young man.  The reason the various Internet articles advise against it is because it’s “distracted eating” which can apparently cause one to overeat.  Here’s a crazy idea: Just don’t eat a crazy portion.  It won’t matter how distracted you are if what you made (or bought) is a sensible amount.  You can eat on the run all you want.  Just don’t do it while actually running.  You’ll choke.

5. Nighttime noshing — “noshing”, or “snacking” if you’re an unsophisticated person who’s married to their cousin (I.E. are from Alabama or South Carolina), is kind of an obvious diet fail. Snacking is something you should keep to a minimum. And nighttime noshing can be a particular problem. Especially if you just got back from the bar, have serious munchies, felt the urge to order a Domino’s Pizza, and ate the whole thing. This is seriously high on calories. And gross because Domino’s is a disgrace. And, no, this opinion has nothing to do with the fact that I once worked at a Papa John’s. Still, a little snacking is fine. I don’t like going to bed hungry, it makes it hard to sleep. So, I just make a point of getting something small.

6. Emotional Eating — This is also known as “Don’t eat a tub of ice cream when your boyfriend breaks up with you using Facebook Messenger”. The sheer emotional turbulence resulting from a breakup, combined with the sheer insult caused by the use of the BoomerBook messaging system to do it, can cause unwise dietary decisions. Other unhappy events can cause us to use food as a coping mechanism as well. But the solution is simple: Eat something healthy when emotional. If you obeyed rule one, you shouldn’t have ice cream in the house. Nowhere is it written that eating vegetables can’t cure a bad mood. Unless you eat okra. It’s nasty and it’ll make you suicidal.

7. Eating Too Quickly – This is something I’ve done since I was about five years old.  Resulting in multiple raised eyebrows from my mother.  Inhaling food is something I’ve done for a long time.  Now the diet freaks will tell you that this is bad because your body won’t tell you you’re full until twenty minutes later.  But there are ways around this.  The first option only applies to people who live in Hyannisport.  You can eat your meal in three courses.  By the time the third course rolls around, your body’s “full” signals will have kicked in.   But for people who aren’t named Kennedy, there’s a simpler solution.  Just have a little discipline.  If you eat too fast and you still feel hungry, just wait a bit.  Maybe have some water while you’re waiting.  You’ll feel full eventually.

8. Not Getting Enough Sleep — This causes us all sorts of problems. I recently made a post talking about how zombification is a problem. Not getting enough sleep can do things like slow down your metabolism and also stress you out causing you to emotionally overeat. Even if your boyfriend didn’t break up with you over Facebook messenger. Or over Instagram, which is what the Zoomers would do. Facebook is a much older crowd, so the Zoomers aren’t breaking up over it. Facebook Messenger is how your grandfather would break up with his 20-year-old girlfriend. Anyway, just make sure you’re getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night.

9. Eating Junk Food – This one’s a little obvious. I pointed out recently that junk food, which I call adult baby food (because it’s so processed it’s almost predigested), has been a term since the Truman administration.  We’ve known for a long time that this is not good for you.  If it comes in a box or in a bag you probably shouldn’t eat it.

10. Too Many Meals Away From Home — There’s a lot of truth to this because many restaurants spray your food down with oil and add lots of unhealthy stuff. But there are some restaurants that have healthy options. But even if you are munching on McDonald’s, you can still be smart. It’s fine if you have the quarter pounder with a diet soda and small fry. But if you have the double quarter pounder with the large fry and the huge size super sugary hyperactivity drink, you’re going to get fat.

11. Not Eating Together – I think some mom who’s upset that her family would rather eat while watching football or the Kardashians or whatever rather than talking to each other about the very mundane things that happened during their days thinks this is a problem.  The idea here is that eating together makes you slow down so you avoid the problems associated with eating too quickly.  But this is crap.  First, my family ate together constantly while I was growing up, and I can confirm (as can my mom) that it in no way slowed me down.  But more importantly, it doesn’t matter.  As long as you eat sensible portions, you’ll be fine.

12. Too Many Liquid Calories – This can be a problem since liquid calories like the super sugary hyperactivity drinks (soda pop) will fill you up.  And the fruit drinks, even though healthier, usually still have a large number of calories. Although I’m a bit surprised by one thing.  I’ve seen many articles pushing this advice, but they don’t mention fermented liquids.  I’ve noted before that these can add a lot of calories.  But maybe the reason alcohol is not as dangerous is because the regret from drinking too much alcohol sets in the next day. The regret from drinking too many sugary drinks sets in five years and fifty pounds later.

13. You eat dinner after 9:00 PM. — This is basically just hate speech against people who don’t work from 9 to 5. I’m horrified by this. I used to work a 3:00 PM to 2:00 AM shift in Atlanta so I had no choice but to eat after 9:00 PM. But it’s not completely crazy. The idea is that people who wait until after 9:00 PM. to eat are starving themselves if the last time they ate was at noon. This results in them eating too much. Waiting too long between meals can be a problem and spacing meals out evenly is a good idea. Having said that, you can skip meals if you’re disciplined about it, as I noted above. And when you do eat, just eat a sensible portion.

14. You eat at your desk – This is one of those ridiculous things people claim forces you to eat distractedly and therefore eat too much.  I work as a CPA therefore I eat every lunch in front of the computer at the desk.  But I also control the portion and I know exactly what I’m going to eat before I eat it.  So it doesn’t matter that I’m focused on tiresome accounting things like accumulated depreciation (don’t ask), I know that I’m not going to overeat before I even start eating.

15. You eat while watching T.V. — I feel like I just said this, but portion control is the key here. The various articles that say this are claiming that this results in “distracted eating” (that phrase is starting to annoy me) but if you determine your portion in advance it’s not going to matter. So eat as often as you want while watching Game of Thrones. Or eat as often as you want while being forced by your wife to watch Downton Abbey. As long as you only prepare only as much as you should have, you’re not going to have a problem.

16. You stand while you eat – This is another one of those “distracted eating” nonsense things. Eating while standing is something people do at lunch when they’re in a hurry.  But it doesn’t matter how distracted you are, you can’t eat more than you bought or prepared.  So if you have a sensible portion, this doesn’t matter.  And the truth is eating and drinking while standing, if you do this over the course of thirty minutes to an hour, burns calories.  An hour of standing can burn 100 – 200 calories, depending on how large you are.  So maybe you should eat or and drink while standing.

17. You eat off large plates – Somebody out there seems to think that a large plate is capable of mind control and can force you to fill it up.  Here’s the trick: Just don’t put a large helping on it.  It’s very possible.  There’s literally a gourmet chef I follow who puts really small portions on huge plates.  Although portions do look sort of…lonely. Anyway, the point is the plate can’t force you to put food on it. 

18. You serve yourself from the table – This is basically the “don’t pig out at Thanksgiving or potluck dinners” rule.  Whenever one eats “family style”, it’s possible to go overboard.  But, as I’m repeating ad nauseam in this post, portion control is always an option.  But even if you do splurge, the truth is we don’t have these sorts of meals very often.  The reality is, even if you pig out at these types of events, it probably happens rarely enough that you can make up for it on all of the other days of the week.  If it’s normal for you to behave yourself, an occasional “cheat” day won’t kill you.

19. You always polish off your plate – If you get fat polishing off your plate, there was too much on your plate.  This is not a problem if the amount you put on your plate is not extreme.  

20. You eat free restaurant food — This should be known as the “Never eat at the Olive Garden” rule. Not because the Olive Garden is disgusting. It’s actually not bad. Even though I know it gets constantly panned by every food critic ever and every douchebag on the Internet. It’s basically the Nickelback of restaurants that everybody loves to hate, but I disagree. Having said that, the free salad and breadsticks are an easy way to overdo things. And then the main course comes, which involves lots of carbs and pasta and cheese. So take it easy when there’s free stuff. And as noted above, it’s probably best not to eat out too much anyway.

21. You order lunch when you’re hungry – This is not wrong.  Don’t make any food decision while hungry.  If you order lunch or go to the grocery store while hungry you will probably end up obtaining roughly half of a ruminant mammal as your meal.  Like I was saying earlier in rule 13, space out your meals carefully so that by the time you eat the next meal you’re not so famished that you want to eat a species into extinction.

22. You eat in your bedroom – Normally, you should not do this.  Except for after sex, which is fine.  Although if you’re eating during sex, stop reading and talk to someone about your weird fetish.  That’s not what bananas and whipped cream are for.  Having said all of that, I don’t think this matters for the diet.  It’s not about where you eat, it’s about how much you eat.

23. You always have a nightcap — One nightcap is fine. Especially if you’re James Bond because you’re going to work it off by doinking a femme fatale. But six night caps are not fine. Not only does alcohol have lots of empty calories, but it messes with your sleep.

24. You beeline to the add-in station at your coffee shop — The Blessed Brown Water of Life is great, but too much sugar and creamer add a lot of calories. But not all add-ins are bad. Sweetener is generally zero calories, and even though some are gross, there’s at least one that you’ll like. And certain spices, such as cinnamon, are fine to add. Adding spice to anything is a low calorie, high nutrition move. So just don’t add too much of the wrong thing and you’re fine.

So there are 24 bad habits to avoid, according to the Internet.com. And I just realized why I never bothered reading too many of those articles. They are really overthinking it. All of those could be boiled down to much simpler good habits. It’s really just the normie, old school diet advice that you need to follow. Exercise self-control and portion control. Don’t eat crap and don’t add in things unnecessarily. Also, don’t eat out too much, don’t go nuts at parties, and don’t be an alcoholic. Do these seven things and you won’t have to waste your time reading diet listicles by BuzzFeed soyboys.

Good Habits #18 – Why Cavemen Were Rarely Obese

I’ve occasionally researched the various diet fads out there, including the Keto diet (whose acolytes I regularly pan, just to be irritating), the Carnivore diet (who get the same mistreatment as the Keto types, for the same reason), and the Vegan diet (a diet that is a total non-starter for me). My own diet is sort of Ket-ish, but not quite. No true Southerner like myself can completely eliminate fried food (even though that’s not great for me), I occasionally find that adding some grain as a base is good, and I don’t completely eliminate bread. Especially if it’s part of a sandwich.

But one diet I’ve heard of but not really looked into (until recently) is the Paleo diet. Referencing the period of time where all humans were a bunch of cavemen and cavewomen. The Stone Age, in other words. And the diet mimics what people in that time would have eaten. In other words, you return to your inner hunter/gatherer.

So what did cavemen eat?  Basically everything that people eat on Naked and Afraid.  Stuff that isn’t the product of agriculture or soulless food processing plants that produce boxes full of future heart attacks.  This includes certain things that Ketovores and Vegans agree on, like vegetables.  But most of the other things on the Paleo diet are things that one or the other finds horrifying.

For example, fruits and nuts are perfectly fine on the Paleo diet.  And fruits are generally good for you, as are nuts.  But Ketovores have a weird aversion to the first of these two.  Fruits have (gasp) sugar.  The quasi-religious followers of Keto Almighty don’t appear to fully grasp the difference between natural sugars and processed sugars and have appear to be repulsed by either.  An apple is to a Ketovore as, say, a crucifix is to Dracula.  Nuts on the other hand are fine for them, in moderation.  Although given the size of some of the porterhouses I see Ketovores posting on Instagram, I’m not convinced they know what “moderation” means.

The Paleo diet also allows you to eat lots of fish.  Which Ketovores also love to post pictures of on their Instagram.  Especially salmon, which they fetishize almost to the point of liver.  The latter of which you should never eat, because offal is awful.  But the diet also involves lean meats, which are anathema to a Keto adherent.  Based on those steak pictures they like to post, they seem to prefer cuts from the most morbidly obese cows they could find.  Fat is something that gives the Keto types near sexual pleasure.  But this is out of bounds in Paleo world.  And for me too.  I’ve noticed leaner cuts reduce the calories in a cut of meat by as much as 40%.

Meanwhile, there are certain things the cavemen avoid.  Such as grains.  Of course.  No caveman living in a pre-agriculture world would eat…the product of agriculture.  It defies the laws of physics.  To do so would cause a temporal contradiction which would likely destroy the universe.  Well, maybe not.  But eating too much of these things could potentially lead to, say, insulin resistance, which is almost as bad.  This means no wheat, no oats and no barley.  And sadly, it means the liquid products of barley are off limits too.  Although it’s good to avoid that anyway.

But this avoidance of agricultural products also means that certain products of animal husbandry are off limits as well, such as dairy.  Vegans love this, but Ketovores would be numb with horror at the thought of no dairy.  Piling cheese on top of eggs and beef is one of their most sacred rituals.  Although, as I’ve noted before, it’s generally not good to pile too much stuff (cheese included) on anything.  Having said that, if I have no dairy in a day, I have a hard time getting enough calcium.  So this is a part of the Paleo diet I have to pass on. I’m totally with my Keto bros on this one.

And another reason I have to pass on Paleo is because Paleo is heretical to certain of my Celtic ancestors.  Because another thing Paleo types avoid are potatoes, the center of Irish cuisine.  Not that Irish cuisine is particularly impressive or anything.  Both Irish and their Celtic cousins the Scottish are great at making whiskey, but terrible at making food.  Paleo and Keto types have a weird aversion to potatoes, though.  But personally, I’m with the Vegans on this one.  I think they’re fine.  A good baked potato is a good, light meal.  Especially with sour cream and cheese and bacon, although I probably lose the Vegans at that point.

But the most important thing about the Paleo diet (and probably what makes the diet effective) is that the diet avoids highly processed foods with refined sugars.  Processed foods are probably the source of the excess calories we get.  Although it’s not just about the sugars, it’s also about the added fats and oils.

Most of the foods on the Paleo diet are healthy, as explained by the numerous shameless, self-referential links to other posts of mine. In general, like Keto, Paleo is low-carb and high-protein, which can make it a good way to lose weight.  This is probably why cavemen only wore loincloths.  They were super sexy and ripped and wanted to show it off.  Although they were probably a bit hairy.  But I guess some people are into that.

So this is a good diet to lose weight and stay healthy, like any whole foods diet. Personally, I don’t bother, since I find that just by tracking micronutrients and calories, I can eat anything I want as long as I keep the portions reasonable. But for someone who doesn’t want to bother with that, you could avoid all of the measurement work and just behave like a caveman. Sure, you won’t get the same level of cardio a caveman got by hunting wooly mammoths or running away from saber-toothed tigers. But you will get the benefits of the diet, because it forces you to avoid the pitfalls of eating too much processed food. Pitfalls like obesity and heart disease. So go ahead and act like a caveman. Except, don’t walk around in a loincloth. Unless you’re super sexy, in which case you should send pics on Instagram.

Exercise #18 – Leg Warmers and Raving Lunatics

I used to have a dim view of “fitness culture”.  Not because of the weird tendency by “body positive” types to trash anyone trying to be healthy as “fatphobic”.  It was because it had a strangely shallow and silly image when I was growing up.  It usually consisted of a room full of brainless, big-haired blondes in leotards and leg-warmers, alongside their Ken doll looking boyfriends, dancing to electronic music while being exhorted to push themselves to the edge of collapse by a frenzied instructor at the head of the class.

The aerobics studios of old seemed to be a place people went to trade brains for beauty.  Sure, they’d look like Greek gods by the time they were done with their workouts.  But they always seemed to be dumber than bricks.  Then they’d lie down in tanning beds and get a dose of future cancer in return for darkly tanned skin.  It all seemed to produce people who were dim-witted, insipid, and vain.

But maybe that perception was a bit uncharitable.  I mean, I wasn’t wrong that many of the fitness freaks of the late 20th century were vapid, dull-eyed ignoramuses in tight-fitting jumpsuits.  But not all of them were.  Some of them were on to something.  Because I’ve learned many of these programs are quite good for you.

Take the fitness craze that seems to be all the rage with every suburban mom: Pilates.  Something that I for some reason thought (given how many people complain of how brutal it can be) must have been based heavily on certain Roman punishments involving starvation and excess exposure to the elements.  But no, even though crucifixion is a good way to lose weight (with certain downsides), Pilates isn’t that.  It isn’t even Roman.  It was developed by Joseph Pilates of Mönchengladbach, Germany.  A town name that proves yet again that Germans lack the ability to be succinct or use words that don’t require us to dislocate our jaws.

Pilates is a series of workouts involving balance and some resistance training.  This could involve things like various stretching activities, bodyweight moves like leg lifts, or certain rowing movements involving small weights or those little stretchy strap things that I’m too lazy to look up the name for.  It’s a pretty decent way to stay healthy.  Someone my size will burn about 200 calories per hour doing this.

Then there’s the most common form of cultural appropriation used by bourgeois women in the suburbs:  Yoga.  Which is similar to Pilates, except with a greater focus on stretching and less of the resistance training and weights.  And there are variants like “hot” yoga.  And no, “hot yoga” isn’t a description of the people doing it (it can be, but not necessarily).  It means there are a bunch of lunatics stretching in sauna-like conditions.  Or, as it’s known here in Florida, “outside”.  And for the eccentrics, there’s even “goat” yoga.  Which apparently involves doing yoga while there are goats wandering around, for some reason, and occasionally randomly walking on the humans while they’re in a plank or child’s pose.  

I’m not sure how the goat got involved or what purpose it serves.  But the goat isn’t really necessary.  Any form of yoga can burn 100-300 calories per hour.  Although I guess goat yoga can burn more if the little farm animals knock someone unconscious with their hooves and send them to the hospital for weeks.  I’m sure the hapless victims of goat hooves lose a lot more weight during their convalescence.  

Sadly, there’s a major drawback to yoga.  Farting.  Apparently, all of that stretching can cause various gasses in your body to release at exactly the wrong moments (such as during “downward dog” where your rear end is poised for maximum flatulence dispersal).  This is why Yoga is the last place you should go to pick up chicks.  If you want to get healthy by farting, try eating beans instead.  

But I’ve discovered recently that this isn’t the most boogie suburban fitness routine there is.  Nor the most culturally appropriative.  Zumba is another fancy exercise form, based on Latin dance.  It’s from Columbia, so we probably stole it from them to pay them back for all of that cocaine they send us.  

At first blush (at least to my South Georgia eyes) it looks vaguely like country line dancing.  Except its being performed by people who are sober and dressed in fitness gear instead of chaps and cowboy hats.  And performed while listening to high-energy music (Latin) not music primarily about heartbreak and industrial accidents (Country).  But it is pretty good exercise.  Like most dancing, it will burn 300-500 calories per hour.  

All of the things I’ve mentioned so far are things that seem to be most popular with women.  Or husbands who are henpecked into it by their wives.  But there’s an even more girly fitness fad than these.  It’s called Barre and was literally created by a ballerina.  It involves…doing ballerina things.  On a “Barre” which is the wooden bar that ballerinas use to learn contortionism.  And it can burn about 300-400 calories per hour.  So any ladies feeling nostalgic for their youthful ballet classes might be into it.  And may also drag in their husbands into it too, after they shred their man cards. 

But not everything is for the ladies.  “Spin” is fairly gender neutral.  Although the name was confusing.  It doesn’t involve stuff like spinning in a circle until you’re dizzy, as I originally assumed.  I mean, that was great exercise when I was five but I’m a little old for that.  And vertigo isn’t nearly as fun as it used to be.  Fortunately, “Spin” is really just a new name for what Boomers used to call “riding an exercise bike.”  Except there’s an overly ebullient instructor involved, who yells at you to “power up a hill” or “crush the flats” even though you’re not actually moving.  But like a bike ride where you actually go places, it’ll burn 500-600 calories per hour.  And perhaps way more if the instructor is a raving lunatic pushing you to the limits of human endurance.

Then there’s kickboxing exercise classes.  This is not a real martial art.  Anyone who knows a real martial art will probably drop/pin/knockout/kill you in five seconds if you try to fight them using what you learned in a Tae Bo class.  But it does involve lots of punching and kicking and things.  Which can still burn off 400 calories per hour or so.  And it’s probably really good for people with anger issues.

But if you’re a dude and you want to be a proper giga-chad, I’d go with circuit training.  This is just weightlifting, something I’ve recently gotten into.  Except, instead of just doing endless benchpressing and deadlifting, you mix it up and do multiple exercises in an attempt to work every muscle.  And instead of resting between sets, circuit training adds in a little cardio (like high knees or jumping jacks) between sets while your muscles recover.  This is properly manly, so I can do it, burn 400-600 calories per hour, and not sacrifice gender identity.  And I don’t necessarily need a gym membership.  A good training app like FitBod can create a workout for you that you can do with just a few dumbbells and a mat in your living room.

I was wrong about the aerobic exercise world.  No longer is it dumb blondes in leg warmers with crimped hair or eighties Madonna bangs gyrating to eighties techno music.  Not entirely, anyway. Nor is it necessarily some class where manic instructors yell at you to exert yourself into unconsciousness.  Well, sometimes it is, but you can find a non-crazy instructor.  You don’t even need a gym membership.  There are streaming apps where somewhat less excitable instructors will talk you through a routine, as well as plenty of free YouTube videos, and also exercise apps that allow you to do things yourself. Your fitness class doesn’t require an instructor who appears to be overdosing on Adderall.

So if I can’t go outside for a run or bike ride (a common circumstance during a Florida hurricane season), some of these things are a good way to stay in shape.  Any gym will have classes like this.  But for the misanthropic or agoraphobic amongst us, there are options that don’t even require us to leave the house.  There are DIY versions of Pilates, Yoga, Barre, and all of the others. Although I think I’ll stick to circuit training, kickboxing, and spin.  My wife can do the girly stuff.

Bad Habits #17 – We’re Already In a Zombie Apocalypse, And It’s Making Us Fatter

When I was growing up, I was the guy who fell asleep in the back of the class.  This started as early as thirteen years old or so.  And it wasn’t the result of narcolepsy or any other sleep condition.  It was initially because I would often stay up late reading and would go to school in a barely lucid state.  And later in my college years, it was because I would at times be up a bit too late partying.  The introduction of alcohol is probably why I gained a few pounds in college.  And those late nights resulted in a lot of sleep deprivation.  

One particular morning when I emerged from the dorm bleary-eyed and a little worse for wear (perhaps more than a little), some of my classmates derided me as the “Walking Dead Guy”. I spent a few too many days in college half-awake like this, staggering around campus. And the lack of sleep that causes this sort of zombified behavior has been a constant challenge in my life.

Now that I’m a CPA, I’ve discovered that copious quantities of the brown water of life can compensate for this.  But I recently discovered something more horrible than the specter of nuclear war from the shirtless neo-czar causing trouble in Eastern Europe.  Worse than the real-life Captain Trips virus that mutates so often we may run out of Greek letters.  Worse than the planet gaining so much CO2 that it develops Venusian atmosphere and burns/crushes us.  Or at least has more serious hurricanes.  And that is…too much coffee may be causing me to gain weight.

I know, you’re thinking “Triple-D (nobody calls me that), how does coffee cause you to gain weight. One cup has maybe three calories. Unless it’s one of those Sugar-Laden Diabetes Festivals you get at Starbucks!” And you’d have a good point. It’s not really the coffee that’s causing this. It’s the fact that the coffee, even though it keeps me awake after a night of lost sleep, tends to disrupt my sleep the next night.

According to what I’ve seen, it takes your body about six hours to process the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Which is probably why scientists suggest stopping coffee after 2 or 3 o’clock, if you’re one of those types who goes to sleep by 9 o’clock or so. Also known as farmers or losers. But I have a hunch that if you’re someone who drinks large cups and more than say, eight, (not naming names, mostly to avoid incriminating myself), it may take longer to shake off the effects. At least, that’s my personal experience. Everybody’s body works a little differently, and mine seems to struggle going to sleep if I downed more than 6 to 8 cups of the stuff in a day. Which is almost every day.

There are a lot of ways insufficient sleep can make you gain weight.  Lack of sleep slows your metabolism.  So your resting caloric burn is lower.  It also affects the hormones that affect your appetite.  These include Leptin, which tells you you’re full, and Ghrelin, which tells you you’re hungry and, appropriately, sounds vaguely like the sound a ravenous animal would make.  Lack of sleep also stresses you out and stressed out people often eat to cope. Usually the wrong things, like dessert or other sugary things.  So in addition to the direct metabolic effects, the indirect effects of stress eating can cause you to blow up like a balloon.

And there’s another thing men must worry about.  It affects our testosterone levels.  A great deal of testosterone is released when we sleep and losing a couple of hours per night can seriously affect that.  And low testosterone is something that makes it harder to lose weight.  Sure, I can increase T-levels by lifting heavy things, but it’s so much easier to just sleep a full 7 or 8 hours every night.

But that’s not the real thing guys are worried about when we hear “low-T”.  There’s a much more important reason I’m focused on getting more sleep.  One that’s fueled by a far greater force than the need for good health: Vanity.  Low-T makes us timid little creatures instead of hardcore go-getters.  Insufficient sleep can make us the Sleep-Deprived Virgin as opposed to the Well-Rested Chad.  And we all want to be Chads.

So I’m tapering off the coffee.  I briefly thought that switching to decaf would help, until I realized that this is an act of apostasy. It’s best to just stop drinking coffee altogether after 3.  Naturally, I’m now falling asleep on my desk every day at approximately 3:30.  But naps are actually not bad, as long as they don’t last more than 20 minutes or so. Still, I’m hoping this is a temporary problem that will pass.

And another thing I discovered was that alcohol wasn’t just causing me to lose sleep because I was staying up all night.  It can seriously disrupt sleep.  This is apparently because it’s a sedative, meaning it doesn’t put you to sleep so much as it knocks you out.  And that type of sleep isn’t great.  Any more than two can ruin sleep.  So no more night caps for me.  Well, maybe occasionally with the missus, but I try to keep it to a minimum.

Season two of my “Weight Loss Journey” started recently when I noticed a slight gain of weight.  I explained how I fell off of the wagon a bit with the diet, and figured out ways to improve my exercise.  But this year I’m getting the sleep under control.  I’ve gone too many nights with six hours or less, especially during tax season.

For now, it’s an experience.  I literally came home and crashed for an hour today.  And I’ve noticed that some nights are a little turbulent, causing me to wake up at odd hours.  But I have a hunch that this is just an adjustment period.  As with the afternoon napping, I hope this is temporary.  After a week or two, I’m told this will sort itself out.

And I’m not sure I can go the rest of my life without alcohol (I can, but don’t want to), and I’ve been a constant coffee drinker for over 20 years.  But I’m starting to realize that sleep deprivation (a national problem) is likely related to these.  So I’m going to behave and see if that helps.  It occurs to me I’ve never really behaved in my life, so maybe the novelty of being a good boy will be sufficiently diverting to make the lack of alcohol and caffeine no big deal.

An actual zombie apocalypse probably won’t happen.  Unless some nutjob in a lab out there thinks turning the human race into ravening, deathless cannibals is “gain of function.”  But apart from that, probably not.  But a form of zombie apocalypse has already happened.  Resulting in low-T, tired, and increasingly fat people shambling about the United States.


We’re Already In a Zombie Apocalypse, And It’s Making Us Fatter

When I was growing up, I was the guy who fell asleep in the back of the class. This started as early as thirteen years old or so. And it wasn’t the result of narcolepsy or any other sleep condition. It was initially because I would often stay up late reading and would go to school in a barely lucid state. And later in my college years, it was because I would at times be up a bit too late partying. The introduction of alcohol is probably why I gained a few pounds in college. And those late nights resulted in a lot of sleep deprivation.

One particular morning when I emerged from the dorm bleary-eyed and a little worse for wear (perhaps more than a little), some of my classmates derided me as the “Walking Dead Guy”. I spent a few too many days in college half-awake like this, staggering around campus. And the lack of sleep that causes this sort of zombified behavior has been a constant challenge in my life.

Now that I’m a CPA, I’ve discovered that copious quantities of the brown water of life can compensate for this. But I recently discovered something more horrible than the specter of nuclear war from the shirtless neo-czar causing trouble in Eastern Europe. Worse than the real-life Captain Trips virus that mutates so often we may run out of Greek letters. Worse than the planet gaining so much CO2 that it develops Venusian atmosphere and burns/crushes us. Or at least has more serious hurricanes. And that is…too much coffee may be causing me to gain weight.

I know, you’re thinking “Triple-D (nobody calls me that), how does coffee cause you to gain weight. One cup has maybe three calories. Unless it’s one of those Sugar-Laden Diabetes Festivals you get at Starbucks!” And you’d have a good point. It’s not really the coffee that’s causing this. It’s the fact that the coffee, even though it keeps me awake after a night of lost sleep, tends to disrupt my sleep the next night.

According to what I’ve seen, it takes your body about six hours to process the caffeine in a cup of coffee. Which is probably why scientists suggest stopping coffee after 2 or 3 o’clock, if you’re one of those types who goes to sleep by 9 o’clock or so. Also known as farmers or losers. But I have a hunch that if you’re someone who drinks large cups and more than say, eight, (not naming names, mostly to avoid incriminating myself), it may take longer to shake off the effects. At least, that’s my personal experience. Everybody’s body works a little differently, and mine seems to struggle going to sleep if I downed more than 6 to 8 cups of the stuff in a day. Which is almost every day.

There are a lot of ways insufficient sleep can make you gain weight. Lack of sleep slows your metabolism. So your resting caloric burn is lower. It also affects the hormones that affect your appetite. These include Leptin, which tells you you’re full, and Ghrelin, which tells you you’re hungry and, appropriately, sounds vaguely like the sound a ravenous animal would make. Lack of sleep also stresses you out and stressed out people often eat to cope. Usually the wrong things, like dessert or other sugary things. So in addition to the direct metabolic effects, the indirect effects of stress eating can cause you to blow up like a balloon.

And there’s another thing men must worry about. It affects our testosterone levels. A great deal of testosterone is released when we sleep and losing a couple of hours per night can seriously affect that. And low testosterone is something that makes it harder to lose weight. Sure, I can increase T-levels by lifting heavy things, but it’s so much easier to just sleep a full 7 or 8 hours every night.

But that’s not the real thing guys are worried about when we hear “low-T”. There’s a much more important reason I’m focused on getting more sleep. One that’s fueled by a far greater force than the need for good health: Vanity. Low-T makes us timid little creatures instead of hardcore go-getters. Insufficient sleep can make us the Sleep-Deprived Virgin as opposed to the Well-Rested Chad. And we all want to be Chads.

So I’m tapering off the coffee. I briefly thought that switching to decaf would help, until I realized that this is an act of apostasy. It’s best to just stop drinking coffee altogether after 3. Naturally, I’m now falling asleep on my desk every day at approximately 3:30. But naps are actually not bad, as long as they don’t last more than 20 minutes or so. Still, I’m hoping this is a temporary problem that will pass.

And another thing I discovered was that alcohol wasn’t just causing me to lose sleep because I was staying up all night. It can seriously disrupt sleep. This is apparently because it’s a sedative, meaning it doesn’t put you to sleep so much as it knocks you out. And that type of sleep isn’t great. Any more than two can ruin sleep. So no more night caps for me. Well, maybe occasionally with the missus, but I try to keep it to a minimum.

Season two of my “Weight Loss Journey” started recently when I noticed a slight gain of weight. I explained how I fell off of the wagon a bit with the diet, and figured out ways to improve my exercise. But this year I’m getting the sleep under control. I’ve gone too many nights with six hours or less, especially during tax season.

For now, it’s an experience. I literally came home and crashed for an hour today. And I’ve noticed that some nights are a little turbulent, causing me to wake up at odd hours. But I have a hunch that this is just an adjustment period. As with the afternoon napping, I hope this is temporary. After a week or two, I’m told this will sort itself out.

And I’m not sure I can go the rest of my life without alcohol (I can, but don’t want to), and I’ve been a constant coffee drinker for over 20 years. But I’m starting to realize that sleep deprivation (a national problem) is likely related to these. So I’m going to behave and see if that helps. It occurs to me I’ve never really behaved in my life, so maybe the novelty of being a good boy will be sufficiently diverting to make the lack of alcohol and caffeine no big deal.

An actual zombie apocalypse probably won’t happen. Unless some nutjob in a lab out there thinks turning the human race into ravening, deathless cannibals is “gain of function.” But apart from that, probably not. But a form of zombie apocalypse has already happened. Resulting in low-T, tired, and increasingly fat people shambling about the United States.

Getting enough sleep shouldn’t be that hard. It requires you to lie in bed until you fall asleep, which requires literally no effort. I mean, if you have insomnia, that’s a separate thing. But the rest of us need to go to bed at a decent hour and get seven or eight hours of sleep. If you get into the habit of turning in early, limiting the coffee and alcohol, and getting a full night’s rest, a lot of your other problems will disappear. The cure for this zombie apocalypse isn’t going to be some screwy concoction devised by a mad scientist in an underground lab. The cure is just the rest of us turning off the television, computers, and phones at a decent hour and hitting the sack.


Good Habits #17 – Clean Food For People Who Don’t Like To Bathe

Ever go into a restaurant and see that the guy seated at the table next to you has more body hair than all the people at your table combined?  And that’s just on his face and under his arms?  The type of place where everyone seems to have a dog under the table, tattoos in uncomfortable places, body piercings in really uncomfortable places (Places so bizarre I assume they must have done it on a dare), and everything smells vaguely of cannabis?

These sorts of establishments are not uncommon in St. Petersburg, Florida, where I live.  There’s a particular part of town called the Edge district which can be, well, edgy.  And since my weekend attire is more normal Florida chic (I.E. Polo shirts, cargo shorts, and flip-flops), the edgy denizens of these establishments frequently sneer at my normie presence.  The ones who aren’t high on something, anyway.

And the oddballs in these places are frequently of all generations.  I’ll see Hippies (see: 1960s) who’ve retired to Florida, Grunge Rockers (see: 1990s) who appear to have not bathed since the 1990s (or at least not washed their plaid shirts since then) and Hipsters (see: whoever is behind the counter at Starbucks) having brunch while downing Pabst Blue Ribbons like they’re going out of style.

I frequently notice when I enter a restaurant occupied by these sorts of eccentric types that they frequently have a very particular menu. I mean, every place has a few things in common (even the Chinese buffets serve hot wings), but aside from those few commonplace items, there are foods that are a bit trendy. Or perhaps just sort of…esoteric. The kind of things most normal people would have never heard of. The kind of things the atypical inhabitants of these places like to eat to set them apart from the mainstream of society. And by mainstream I mean people who wear Polo shirts, flip-flops, and cargo shorts.

Fortunately, I’ve found that these strange foods can actually be quite good for you. So it turns out that it’s actually healthy to be surrounded by potheads. Well, maybe not for my lungs. And the wife gets a bit testy when I come home with clothes smelling like wacky tabacky. To the point where she might be thinking about stabbing me in my sleep, which is not an ideal health outcome. But the food in these places is pretty good for me.

One thing I see on these menus is farro. And I found out why the avant-garde types are into it: it’s really old. A version of wheat that dates back to ancient Mesopotamia. I mean, it looks more or less like brown rice to my eyes. But as far as these folks are concerned, eating it makes them better than the rest of us because they’re eating the food of the Pharoahs. Or stuff people used to eat in Sumeria in the celebration immediately after they sacrificed a virgin to the Sun God. Meanwhile, us ordinary folks are just eating stuff grown in Arkansas.

Anyway, a cup of farro has only 170 calories, which is a little lighter than rice. It also has a smattering of B vitamins, nearly all of my manganese RDA, two-thirds of the selenium I need, and a decent amount of copper, iron, and phosphorus. So it’s a good base for almost any meal (although other options exist for this) and not too heavy. Although there’s a problem with these more unusual foods. If you want some, you probably can only find it by paying through the nose at Whole Foods or Fresh Market.

Another thing I often see is taro.  Which rhymes with farro and has literally nothing else in common with it.  I would say it was like a potato, but I know that angry hipsters would hunt me down for daring to belittle it by comparing it to a mere potato.  Not that I’m scared of being hunted by hipsters.  What are they going to do, pelt me with their skullcaps and fedoras?  

Besides it is kind of like a potato. Taro is a root, originally from Southeast Asia.  Americans would know it as the thing Hawaiians make Poi out of. And for anyone who doesn’t know what poi is, it’s the part of Hawaiian meals that mainlanders don’t eat because they’re normies and/or racist.  Anyway, a cup of taro has 200-250 calories, which is actually a little heavier than a potato.  It also has 40% of my B6 requirements, 30% of the manganese and vitamin E (which is hard to come by without eating nuts), and a decent chunk of copper and potassium.

Another trendy thing I see in these places is dishes involving quinoa.  Quinoa is apparently the greatest thing ever to come from South American mountains, at least according to the bohemian types in these joints.  They’re wrong of course.  The greatest thing from South American mountains is the bean used to make the Blessed Brown Water of Life

Having said that, a cup of the second greatest thing from South America is still pretty great. It has 200-250 calories, various B vitamins, and large portions of copper, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and manganese.  It’s a lot healthier than something like rice.  Sadly, though, it has a weakness.  It’s bland.  I mean, really bland.  Ground up cardboard bland.  So you need to spice it up a bit if you want to eat it.  Fortunately, spicing up dishes is a good way to add nutrition without a lot of extra calories.

Another “ancient grain” (although it’s not really a grain) that these free-spirited types eat so that they can act like they’re better than us is flax seeds.  Ages ago flax was used to make linen, but it’s also useful as food because the seeds are quite nutritious. A quarter cup, a fairly normal helping for nuts, has 200-250 calories and lots of thiamine, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and phosphorus.  But its biggest advantage is that it’s super heavy on Omega-3 fatty acids.  A single helping will more than fulfill your daily requirements.  The only food I’ve found that has more is salmon.  So if you’re a vegan who wants to be heart healthy, flax seeds are the way to go.

Then there’s that Japanese import that became oh so trendy in the 1980s:0 Tofu. It’s soybean curd, which is why I usually avoid eating it. “Curd” pretty much by definition means you’re eating food after it went bad. Of course, you could say the same thing about cheese, I guess. Anyway, a cup’s worth of tofu has lots of vitamin B5, all of the calcium and manganese you need in a day, almost all of the copper and iron, and big chunks of magnesium and phosphorus. And the cost in calories is 300 calories, which isn’t bad. Sadly, though, the taste fairly bland. This is the equivalent of eating grits or rice cakes. If you don’t doctor it up, it’s unimpressive.

That’s not the only Asian soybean thing one finds in these avant-garde places.  Tempeh is also on the menu.  Tempeh is from Indonesia, and its fermented soybeans kind of crammed together into a bread-like substance.  Like tofu, it’s really healthy, containing all of the copper and manganese one needs in a day, and healthy portions of potassium, phosphorus, iron, and magnesium, as well as some B vitamins.  And also like tofu, it has little to no taste as well.

And for people more interested in west Asian cuisine, we frequently see Mediterranean-ish items on the menu. Such as, falafel, hummus, and flatbread.  Falafel and hummus are not much more than chickpeas, though, so see this to see how beans are good for you.  As for flatbread…it’s bread.  See this to find out how that’s good for you.

Lastly, there’s the trendiest thing we ever brought in from Japan: Sushi.  Typical sushi (or California roll, which I’m told is different, but I don’t see how) with some kind of raw fish in it has lots of B12 and vitamin A, and good portions of other B vitamins, manganese, iron, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and selenium.  And if you get a fairly normal portion (8-12 pieces) it only has about 300-400 calories, which is not bad for the main course.

So this is what the nonconformist fringe of society who don’t bathe eat.  Stuff from around the world that the walking dead of normal society don’t know about. The irony here is that these guys often fancy themselves progressive, but are engaged in blatant cultural appropriation.  Still, if you can stand the smell of cannabis in a restaurant, and generally hirsute smelly people around, these things are pretty healthy.  So healthy that it’s probably worth it to have hippies, grunge rockers, and hipsters judge you for your Polo shirts, flip-flops, and cargo shorts.

Exercise #17 – I Will Be Your Beast of Burden

When I got married, it was a happy time for both my wife and me.  But I didn’t realize that she was happy for another reason.  My ego was telling me that she’d found the man of her dreams, her soulmate.  I complete her, or whatever.  But the real truth is that she was happy because she’d acquired a pack mule.  A beast of burden.  Men have twice the upper body strength of women, and the ladies know that.  So when they’ve managed to entice a man into a life of servitude (marriage), they very quickly put them to work.

I noticed this early, since my wife has the rather peculiar tendency to rearrange furniture every month or so. Her excuse for this involves something called “Feng Shui”, which apparently is all about making sure the room is in harmony with itself. Unfortunately, this frequently produces the opposite of harmony because each time she moves things around, we inevitably lose the TV remote. There is no harmony in the room if I can’t find the remote.

Still, she continues to do so and inevitably drafts me for the work.  Or uses bribery.  I’ve come to learn that when she goes to the store and comes back with epically marbled ribeyes which she grills to perfection and serves with exquisitely prepared mixed vegetables and a baked potato, this is a prelude to manual labor.  In short order, I will be required to move the sofa, the recliner, the beds, the end tables, and so forth.  So it’s not a soulmate thing.  She clearly wanted me for my body, and not in the way I would have preferred.

Fortunately, any resentment went away when I started tracking calories.  It turns out, an hour of moving furniture around can burn 400 – 600 calories.  That’s not bad.  It’s enough to burn off the six pack I drink after I’m done, like any working man does.  Although it would have to be weak, watery, light beer, otherwise I’d be gaining weight.  Stronger alcohol can break a diet.  

I’ve also learned that keeping the “Man” parts of the house in order (the back porch, the shed, and the garage) has the same benefit.  So I do that regularly.  Normally, these types of places are disaster areas when men are responsible, but now that I know keeping it tidy actually helps with the waistline, I’m all in.

This is why I didn’t object at all when my sister-in-law asked me to help move things out of her apartment in DC.  She was going to be occupied overseas on family business but had to be out by the end of the month.  As far as I was concerned, this was an excuse to travel and spend some time out of the house, and also would be decent exercise.  Also, she was giving us her big screen TV, a smaller TV, a microwave, a toaster, some small furniture, and assorted other goodies.  I mean the exercise part is good, but I was mostly in it for the free loot.

I flew up on a Friday and got to spend the weekend in DC, mostly walking around the Washington mall.  As I’ve noted before, this sort of thing can make vacationing a good way to lose weight.  Then I spent Monday and Tuesday helping with the move.  Once the movers were done and carried the remaining stuff down the three flights of stairs.  It took over an hour, and I probably burned nearly 1,000 calories.

And I don’t get this benefit just from one-time events. Opportunities for this sort of workout repeat annually at Christmas and Thanksgiving, when my aging parents almost always need help moving furniture up and down the stairs.  Even ten minutes of this can burn over 100 calories.  Probably more since there’s a lot of struggling and cursing involved.  Although only the struggling burns calories.  The cursing doesn’t.  I checked.

Being encumbered in general is good for the calorie burn.  An easy way to add a few calories to another task.  I mentioned before, in a piece about commuting to work, how it was easy to keep weight off while toting around a backpack filled with books.  So now I do it with groceries.

If I’m only buying a few things, I’ll ride my bike to the store, then load up the backpack and ride home. The twenty-minute trip there burns 200 calories but coming back encumbered burns about 15–20% more. It works when I walk down to the corner store for some beer as well. The fifteen-minute walk there burns 75 calories, while the walk back (encumbered with a twelve pack of…something) burns 86.

And now that I’ve broed out and started lifting weights, I’ve learned that there are ways to add some encumbrance to regular exercise.  Such as doing Supermans or arm rolls or lunges with weights in your hands.  There are ways to add weights to situps, pushups, squats, and various other things which are normally just body weight exercises.  Only I don’t use those pansy ankle weights.  I’m guessing that would cause permanent man-card cancellation.

Moving heavy things around, whether it be from house chores, errands, or just a cleverly altered exercise routine, is a healthy practice. So, I’m glad I agreed to help my wife with these things.  It introduced me to an easy trick to help keep the weight off.  I suppose I could’ve told her I wouldn’t be her beast of burden, like the old Rolling Stones song.  But that would’ve cost me the opportunity to lose a lot of weight while keeping the house looking nice.  And resulted in noticeably less sex.  Which would be a shame, because that’s pretty good cardio.

How Game of Thrones Made Me Start Losing Weight

Like many people, my wife and I were fond of Game of Thrones.  Well, I was fond of it.  My wife … was full fangirl.  The “searching the internet and watching all of the YouTube videos describing the history of Westeros” type of fangirl.  The “if Kit Harrington stopped by and proposed marriage, she would leave me immediately” type of fangirl.  And for the last season, our little group of friends would have watch parties, with each of us taking turns hosting.

These were mostly standard house parties with beer and wine and hors d’oeuvres. But one couple got even more into it and served us a spread of GoT themed dishes.  They included things like Sansa’s Lemon Cakes or Red Wedding Dip (I don’t want to think about what was in that) or Ramsay’s Minced Sandwiches (I really don’t want to think about what was in that) and of course, Theon’s Favorite Toy, which was plateful of Vienna sausages and peanuts.  And now I can never eat Vienna sausages again.  Not that that’s a huge loss.

But one of the offerings was a bowl of green punch called Cersei’s Wildfire Punch, named after the green, fire-starting substance from the show.  You know, the stuff that Cersei used to commit an act of genocide and blasphemy by blowing the temple and half of her rivals to roasted, green, crispy bits.

I couldn’t resist partaking in a couple of these, but I needed to stop drinking at 9 o’clock.  I had a doctor’s appointment the next morning and needed to fast for 12 hours in order to not screw up the test results.  I had my last piece of Theon’s Favorite Toy (something I regret to this day) and sat down and watched the show.  It was hard to not eat while surrounded by carousing friends dosing themselves with food and beer.  Now I know what a Mormon feels like at a party.  But I behaved and woke up the next morning for my appointment.

So days later when the results came in, I was surprised when the triglycerides came back high. Like really high. Drinking a lot can cause those to spike, and when my doctor called with the results he asked if I’d had anything to drink rather pointedly. I explained to him that I’d only had a couple of drinks and stopped at 9 o’clock. So he figured the sudden spike was something else, possibly genetic. I needed to immediately go on a diet and try to bring this down.

So I did that.  That’s the moment I began my “weight loss journey”.  A phrase which makes me gag every time I type it. It’s annoyingly trendy. Anyway, I’d been planning to get healthy ever since a friend told me about various apps one can use to lose weight (MyFitnessPal, Cronometer, etc) and this incident provided me with the impetus to stop procrastinating and finally do it.

A month later at my follow-up appointment, the numbers were back down and I’d lost five pounds.  Apparently, the whole thing was a false alarm.  Brought on by my somewhat mischievous friends and Cersei’s Wildfire.  I discovered that the drink my pals put together was almost as dangerous as the green incendiary device it was named for.  The couple had just emptied their liquor cabinet into a bowl, including some high powered stuff like Everclear, and added green coloring and some ginger ale to cancel out the alcohol taste.  So even two drinks were probably the equivalent of five or six.  No wonder the triglyceride reading was high.

Later that week, my weight loss motivation was reinforced by an incident with my father.  When he and my mother came to visit, I took a nap in the recliner.  My wife and mother were getting dressed, so I had about one to three hours to kill (sigh, women) and decided to catch up on lost sleep.  Which is a common affliction for CPAs, especially only about three weeks after the end of tax season.  It was May 5, 2019.  Yes, I remember the date.

Anyway, I began snoring obnoxiously.  I was roused from my slumber by Colonel Dad’s “order-giving voice” which is a startling combination of George Patton and R. Lee Ermey.  He was loud.  He’s ex-military, so he bellows a lot.  I mean, a lot.  And that day he bellowed “You’re snoring like a damned animal!  You need to lose weight.”  And so I did.  I mean, I already was, but this bit of fat shaming added to my motivation.  Don’t let anyone tell you fat shaming doesn’t work.  When friends and family do it, especially when they can bark orders in an ominous voice that sounds like it emanates from the ninth circle of Hell, it does work.

But the harsh language from Dad wasn’t the primary reason, although it probably did help.  The real reason was that I had a health scare.  In my case, it was a false alarm brought on by a noxious Game of Thrones themed brew, but for some people it’s not.  This happened to Bill Clinton and Simon Cowell, just to name two famous examples.  Sometimes a health scare is what it takes to set you on the right path.  The same way hitting bottom can cause an addict to straighten up, a health scare can get us to start eating right and exercising regularly.  If you’re wiser than me, you’ll be proactive and start developing these good habits now.  But if you do have a health scare, take that as a sign, and start taking better care of yourself.  

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