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Exercise #14 – Slackercising

One thing I realized when I started writing this blog is that not everyone has a job quite so flexible as mine.  Meaning they can’t easily fit things like exercise and healthy eating into their schedule.  The advantage of an otherwise dreary job like public accounting is that you don’t necessarily have to work nine to five.  Spreadsheets function about the same at night as they do during business hours, so if I need to take a break during the day and make it up later, it’s very doable.  And that means it’s easy to squeeze in some active time too.

Lots of people who aren’t so flexible complain that physician activity is a lot harder to fit in.  Now, for most of us, this is an excuse.  The journalistic outlet owned by our future space-faring billionaire (soon to be trillionaire) overlord reports that people, on average, spend almost as much time watching TV as they do working.  So, most of us just need to fit in a 30-minute workout and watch a little less.  

But some people, particularly those at the lower end of the earning spectrum, actually don’t have a lot of free time.  They may work multiple jobs.  I’ve met many such people, but the one I remember most clearly was a guy who worked at Blockbuster.  Which probably tells you how long ago this was and how old I am.

When I took the movies I was renting to the checkout counter (DVDs, not VHS.  I’m not that old) I recognized him.  “Didn’t I see you working at Staples yesterday?” I asked.  He nodded.  “Working two jobs,” I said with respect.  I was working two at the time as well.  At which time he made me feel inadequate, when he told me he worked five jobs.  

This guy was obviously working himself to the bone.  And I could forgive him for not finding time to work out, because…that’s a lot of jobs.  But I also noticed he wasn’t overweight at all.  And there’s a reason for that.  Because the types of jobs people have when they have more than one usually include at least one job that requires that you be on your feet.

This is why my wife wasn’t overweight when she worked at Popeyes chicken, despite the fact that she got all of the free fried chicken she wanted.  It’s also why I wasn’t overweight when I worked at Papa John’s, even though I got lots of free pizza.  Even though I’ve noted before that eating lots of fried things and lots of pizza can contribute to the waistline, we were burning it off as we worked.  Because when you spend the better part of an eight-hour shift on your feet, you burn 600 to 1,000 calories.  Even light work adds up over a long shift.

And not all work in a shift is light.  The drunks of the world can bear witness to this.  Because they see how bartenders work on the weekends.  They spend a shift rushing around like lunatics serving drinks to boozers and tourists.  This kind of hustle can burn over 200 to 400 calories per hour, depending on how many alcoholics you help circle the drain of life.  

And seriously active work is even better.  I once worked in a warehouse in my youth.  Loading and unloading trucks for eight hours can burn upwards of 1,500 calories.  Especially if you work for our spacefaring future global overlord.  Because you apparently don’t even get a bathroom break in those places.  You are moving constantly, so it’s easier to stay thin. As long as your bladder doesn’t burst, you’ll be really healthy.

But the United States has been moving away from active jobs for years.  The types of jobs we’ve moved to generally pay better, but they’re very sedentary.  So, it’s easy to pack on pounds.  Which is why it may be useful to find ways to add in little bits of activity to your day if you’re a desk jockey.

Fortunately, it is possible to work while standing these days.  The stand-up desks or the little things you can put under a computer to raise them up to chest level are readily available.  And standing while you work can burn 150 to 200 calories per hour.  This is also a useful tip after work, if you go to a bar with friends.  Drinking can ruin a diet, but if you stand at the bar the whole night, you’ll burn those calories off as quickly as you drink them.  Unless you really have a drinking problem.

Another thing that requires standing (and is also good for other reasons) is cooking for yourself.  Spending thirty minutes on your feet cooking a meal adds up over time.  And doing the dishes after the meal (or other things your wife/husband/whatever insists that you do) adds up too.  Finding excuses to stand up while working or performing chores is an easy way to keep in shape.

But what about our leisure time?  What about the excessive time we spend glued to the boob tube?  Well, there are things you can do about that.  Instead of lifting the remote constantly, you can lift a weight or two.  If you’re convinced you’ll absolutely die if you don’t binge watch The Crown or Game of Thrones or whatever, at least do a few arm curls while doing it.  Lifting weights is a pretty decent workout.

But this isn’t the only option.  There are actually little bike pedal thingies (seriously, all you have to do is google “pedal thingies” to find one) that you can pedal on while you’re watching TV.  And this will burn 600 calories or so per hour.  And they fit under your desk at work too.  There are even televisions that are powered by stationary bicycles.  This is a real thing.  But I think it’s a bit too risky.  Not for health hazards, obviously.  It’s more of a FOMO risk.  With my luck, I’d probably get tired just as Tom Brady throws another Super Bowl winning pass (Go Bucs) and miss it.

Of course, you could also just jog in place in front of the TV for an hour to burn 600 calories.  Or better yet, get an elliptical machine.  It’s easier on the knees.  Of course, you don’t have to buy an elliptical.  You could use one at a gym.  But trust me, watching Netflix at home while using the elliptical is better than watching the CNN ticker at the gym.  Even if my wife is forcing me to watch Downton Abbey.

The truth is, not having time isn’t an excuse to not be active.  Even if you have less time due to multiple jobs, you probably still have time.  Almost anyone can find thirty minutes a day to squeeze physical activity in their work or their leisure time.  Some people are fortunate enough to be able to walk or bike to work, and others have time to do a more active form of leisure.  But even if you don’t, you can combine exercise with that TV watching time or desk jockeying time. Just use a little imagination, and you can fit it into almost any schedule.

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Bad Habits #13 – How Liberating Italy From Fascism Made America Fat

Since my wife and I live about 30 minutes from the beach, we often spend a Saturday there in the Summer.  Assuming there are no hurricanes.  Or massive algae blooms killing all of the fish and causing them to wash up on the shore.  But assuming we’re not facing meteorological Armageddon or osteichthyan genocide, a trip to the beach can be a good way to keep active.  And an afternoon at the beach is a great way to chill out.  Well, chill isn’t the right word.  This is Florida.  Nothing ever chills here. It’s too damn hot.  But you know what I mean.

But we frequently blow whatever exercise we got on the way back, by stopping at Cappy’s Pizza, a local chain which serves both New York and Chicago style pizza.  Which you would think would be a problem, since having these two variants could cause controversy.  New Yorkers and Chicagoans might get into fights over which one is real pizza.  But fortunately, this being Florida, any New Yorkers and Chicagoans are likely to be octogenarians, well past their fighting years.  The worst they might do is settle their differences with a brutal shuffleboard contest.  

Anyway, pizza can be…not so good for people trying to lose or maintain their weight.  Particularly if they’re low-carb aficionados, who might consider the crust to be the product of the Antichrist.  I have no such concerns, though, since I know bread is generally fine.  But an entire pizza, along with several microbrews (Okay, usually more than several) from Cappy’s world famous beer fridge (It’s not really world famous) can ruin a week’s worth of good behavior.  I’ve noted before how alcohol is not great for diets.  But pizza, something Americans have been chowing down on for decades, is also not great. 

It’s a miracle we didn’t all get fatter sooner.  Pizza became popular in the U.S. after World War II, when a bunch of G.Is who were occupying Italy brought it back.  Defeating fascism caused all sorts of good things to happen.  And pizza is good, although the related obesity is not.  But I guess during the 50s and 60s we were still working real jobs and burning off all of the calories.  Now that we’re mostly desk jockeys or otherwise sedentary at work, eating pizza has consequences.

So how bad can pizza be?  Well, it varies.  Obviously, pizza can come with lots of toppings, some more dangerous than others.  But for now let’s just explore the health value of the basic cheese pizza.  Now, if you have self-respect and don’t still live with your mother, you have no business eating a pizza with just cheese on it.  But we’ll start with this and look at the other toppings later.

The pizza that’s named after the Big Apple, the largest city in the United States and the city with the largest port on the Atlantic coast, New York Style, thin crust pizza. I grew up eating the best New York style pizza in the world at a place called Vinnie Van GoGo’s which is, somewhat paradoxically, located in the city with the second largest port on the Atlantic coast, my hometown of Savannah, Georgia.  They make a pizza that is so large and flat that it’s actually a bit unnerving.  This is so that they can cram an obscene number of toppings on it.  

But these massive pizzas, even with only cheese and tomato sauce on them, pack in calories.  Two slices (about a quarter of the pizza) will have 500-600 calories.  That alone is almost an entire meal.  And that doesn’t include toppings or beer. 

More regular pizzas (like the ones you get delivered) really use the same amount of dough, but don’t stretch it so flat.  So a quarter of one of these, assuming you get the normal 14 inch size, also has 500-600 calories for two slices.  

And deep dish pizza, loved by Chicagoans and despised by New Yorkers, and probably confusing to actual Italians (They don’t make it like that) is actually way worse. One quarter of a 14” deep dish pizza has 800-900 calories.  And yes, that’s just a cheese pizza.

Since I live in a tourist town, we have to also offer pretentious stuff for the tourists.  Which is probably why flatbread pizza is a thing. And it’s actually a much healthier option.  A quarter of a 14 inch flatbread cheese pizza is only about 300 calories.  So it really is a better way to stay healthy, if you can live with yourself for eating all of the snooty ingredients they put on it.  I mean, they put stuff like goat cheese on it.  Goat.  Cheese.  

And lastly, for people who want something that appears fancy, but is actually considered lowbrow by hoity toity people, there is French bread pizza.  This is an American invention created by some guy in Ithaca, New York, and I’m convinced that the sole purpose behind its creation is to piss off both the Italians and the French.  But it is a bit healthier than normal pizza, with 300-400 calories per piece.

But since only an overaged Mama’s boy eats cheese pizza, we have to think about the health value of the various toppings too.  So, let’s start with the obvious one: Pepperoni.  One of many ways in which Italians made us fat.  They are not unhealthy, with a decent dose of B vitamins, iron, selenium, phosphorus, manganese, and zinc.  But there will be about 10-15 slices on two slices of pizza (more if you have obscenely large Vinnie Van Go-Go’s slices) which adds 100-150 calories.

And the same goes for ham, which is also made from dead pigs.  Or Canadian “Bacon” (which is just ham), or bacon or Italian sausage.  They all have the same nutrients, because they’re all dead pigs.  And the same number of calories.  Hamburger is pretty much the same too.  Dead cows aren’t all that different from dead pigs, although the calories may be slightly less if the hamburger is lean.  

And then there are the weirdos who put the food loved by basement dwelling incels on pizza.  And by that I mean chicken tenders.  Or “tendies” as the virgins call them.  The amount that would be on two slices will give you 300 calories.  It’s not without nutrition, with a bit of copper, vitamin E (probably because they’re fried in oil), potassium and copper.

There is one meat topping that isn’t so heavy on calories.  The one that we all love to hate: Anchovies.  The amount that would be on two slices of pizza probably only has 50 or so calories, and about the same nutrients as other meat, except with a dash of Vitamin D too.  But face it, eating these makes you a weirdo. It’s the pizza equivalent of being the smelly kid in class.

Of course, not all toppings are meat.  Some Italians put spinach on their pizza.  And as I’ve noted before, leafy greens can be quite good for you.  And various hot peppers, another common topping, are not bad either.  But these are a bit exotic.  What about the more common toppings?  Well, onions have very little nutrition, but very few calories.  But that’s not the case with other vegetable options.  Such as mushrooms, which have the various vitamins B, copper, iron, selenium, and only 7 calories, at least for the portion that would be on two slices of pizza.  And slightly fancier people might have green olives, which have a little dose of vitamin E, or black olives which have that plus a bit of iron and copper.  And the amount that fits on two slices of pizza only has about 20 calories.

And then there’s the ingredient loved by lunatics.  Pineapple.  What kind of degenerate puts pineapple on pizza?  Sweet stuff should not be on pizza.  Your argument is invalid.  I mean, it does have a bit of vitamin C, copper, and manganese.  But the price of eating this is the loss of your immortal soul.  Of course, my wife likes this on pizza.  Not sure what that means for her.  I hope she’s fire resistant.

So the news is not all bad with pizza.  The upside is that a piece of pizza, assuming at least some of the vegetables I mentioned above on it, is that it can be a balanced meal in terms of micronutrients.  As is the case with sandwiches, as I noted in my last piece.  But unlike a sandwich, a normal portion of pizza has a lot of calories.  And an obnoxiously large slice is worse.  Also unlike sandwiches, pizza tends to have a lot of extra oil.  Which, as I’ve mentioned previously, is one of the main reasons America is fat.  But the big problem for me is, I never feel full.  I could eat four slices and want more.  So eating pizza is a guaranteed diet breaker.

The keto bros may be onto something with this one.  This form of high carb meal is probably a bad idea.  Although I guess you could make pizza with almond flour which is keto friendly.  But that would just have more calories (although it would be more nutritious, because…nuts).  Also, it would be an act of heresy.  Using almond flour might make the Italians so angry they would turn fascist again.

Although if you are a Keto acolyte and the bread calories are a problem, I did once have pizza where the crust was meat.  I probably just gave keto guys and gals an orgasm.  I may get flooded by requests for that recipe from ardent keto followers.  But I’m pretty sure it was from one of my mother’s Better Homes and Gardens or Southern Living cookbooks.  Rifling through one of those would force me to cancel my man card.   Besides, using meat instead of bread is just…making a casserole.  Anyone can make one of those.  And it would not be much healthier than regular pizza. 

So pizza, although it can be a good source of overall nutrition, is also a good source of fat, obesity, loneliness, and early death.  If you eat it regularly.  So you shouldn’t.  Unless If you’re Italian and being fat makes you cool.  Otherwise, don’t eat it except for rare occasions.  Such as after a trip to the beach, where you’ve already burned off some calories.

Good Habits #13 – You Can Have A Healthy Lunch Thanks To An English Aristocrat With Bad Habits

So when one works as a CPA, sanity requires that we occasionally step out of the office to escape the mind numbing, soul crushing monotony of wading through things like accounting standards, SEC regulations, DOL regulations, or the dark, fetid morass that is USC Title 26.  Which is the internal revenue code.  Or merely the tax code, for the unwashed.

But since we bill by the hour, rapacious capitalism requires that we not stay out too long.  This necessitates a quick lunch.  But since we’re entirely too hoity toity for fast food joints (Boogieness is a requirement for anyone with a master’s degree or higher), we must go to a sandwich shop.  Apparently, the fact that the bread might be rye or the bun might be Kaiser or brioche is sufficiently fancy for us to retain our belief that we’re better than other people.

Now I realize that any keto or carno dieter just fainted.  I mentioned a food which involves bread.  Based on the assorted pieties the adherents of the Keto diet share on Twitter, there is a special place in Keto hell for consumers of baked grains.  But I’ve noted before, bread isn’t that bad for you.  And if eating sandwiches requires that I be a keto heretic, so be it.  Because they’re…awesome.

The sandwich is named for John Montagu, the Fourth Earl Of Sandwich, born in 1718.  Now, he didn’t invent it.  Humanity has been around for thousands of years, as has bread.  It’s not like it just occurred to us to put stuff on bread a mere 300 years ago.  But the Earl of Sandwich made it famous in the western world, and his name stuck to it. What act of providence made this happen?  Well, it’s mostly because he was a degenerate gambler.  He ate sandwiches so he didn’t have to stop playing cards and so he didn’t get grease on his hands and then transfer it to the cards.

This is probably the only thing John is remembered for, which is probably a good thing. His other main claim to fame was that Captain Cook named the Hawaiian islands after him.  They were literally the Sandwich Islands for a time.  This may explain why the natives killed Captain Cook a year or so later.  But that name was changed when the Hawaiians created their own constitution in 1840, borrowing heavily from the United States constitution.  So this is yet another reason to be happy for the American Revolution.

But I digress.  Sandwiches are wide and varied, so when exploring their health benefits it’s best to go through the things we can put on a sandwich individually.  So we’ll start with the original sandwich ingredient.  Meat.  The Earl of lunch food and definitely not Pacific island archipelagos originally just requested meat between bread.  That’s the O.G. sandwich: meat and bread.  And there are a lot of lunch meats to choose from these days.  And even though they vary widely in flavor, nutritionally they’re all very similar.  Lunch meats are generally a good source of B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium to varying degrees.

So let’s start with turkey, the basic beeyotch of sandwich meats.  Few things are quite as succulent as a slice of smoked turkey.  I mean, I have met a few people (particularly many international students I went to school with) who don’t like turkey, claiming that it “tastes funny”.  This is clearly because they hate America.  Turkey is awesome, and not too fattening.  A couple of slices of turkey (roughly two ounces) is full of flavor and only has 90 calories.

Of course, if you do hate America (Read: hate turkey), there’s always the bird that pretty much everyone can eat, regardless of cultural or religious backgrounds.  And by that I mean chicken.  This typically goes on sandwiches in grilled form for yuppies who have an exaggerated opinion of themselves (that’s probably redundant) or cold cuts for the ordinary droogs.  This normie bird, like turkey, also has about 90 calories for every two slices.

But if dead birds aren’t your thing, there are always dead pigs.  You might be wondering “Triple-D (nobody calls me that), isn’t pork kind of fattening?”.  This is normally true.  But the sandwich appropriate pork products are typically smoked for hours in a smokehouse, which actually causes a fair amount of fat to drip off.  So the preferred pork products, ham slices or bacon, really aren’t that heavy on calories.  Two one ounce slices of either have about 70-80 calories.

Then there’s the meat that ketogenic adherents pay homage to all over the internet.  And, no I don’t mean liver.  I mean, sure, keto types fetishize liver all over Twitter.  But only a lunatic would have a liver sandwich.  Don’t be a lunatic.  Also, liver, like most forms of offal, is awful.  What I’m talking about is beef.  Acolytes of the keto quasi-religion worship this.  Which is hilarious to me.  Ketovores are effectively just pagans who worship cows.

But regardless of whether you follow the One True Diet, a couple of slices of lean roast beef is a good addition to any sandwich.  And it’s believed that the original sandwich order by Johnny the Earl was a roast beef sandwich.  So by eating this you’re basically a sandwich purist.  And keeping it healthy, since two one ounce slices of this only have about 60-70 calories.  

Then there’s the special kind of beef eaten by alcoholics who regularly get into fights at weddings.  Obviously, I mean Irish people.  Well, that’s more Boston Irish than Irish Irish.  Anyway, their one and only significant contribution to cuisine is corned beef.  Which has slightly more calories than regular beef, with 80 in two one ounce slices.  I’m not entirely sure why.  Maybe the Irish need the extra calories to recover after they’re done beating up their cousins.

But these are the things that the common folk eat.  What about foods eaten by people for whom brunch is a major social event?  Well, the slightly pretentious Italian meats they eat with even more pretentious French cheese are also pretty good on sandwiches.  

These meats are a little higher in calories, though.  Two ounces of salami (about six slices) has about 200 calories.  It’s cousin prosciutto is about the same.  And pepperoni, the thing loved most by regular people (mostly on pizza), is more fattening, with about 300 calories for every two ounces.  So the moral of this story is, go easy on the fancy stuff.  Italians somehow take pork and make it more fattening.

And meat may be the primary thing that goes on sandwiches, but there’s another thing that causes vegans to cry that belongs on sandwiches.  I’m talking about cheese, of course.  One of those peculiar foods that we eat after it has technically spoiled.  Which explains why so many varieties are stinky.

But if you want non-stinky cheese, there are plenty of options.  You can have American cheese, if you want something that was so hyper-processed in the bowels of some agracorp’s food factory that it is technically considered “cheese product” and not cheese.  But if not, there are other varieties available for every personality type.  There’s Cheddar if you’re a boring person or Gouda if you’re excessively high falutin’, for example.  You can also engage in shameless cultural appropriation by eating Provolone, Mozzarella, Muenster, Swiss, or any number of other varieties.  Fortunately, you only need to choose based on taste, because they’re basically all the same health wise.  Cheese has decent quantities of various B vitamins, vitamin A, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, and zinc.  And it tends to have 60-80 calories or so per slice.

But even though meat and cheese are the primary toppings, no sandwich is complete without a few vegetables on it.  Fortunately, these add decent nutrition without adding too many calories. Such as a slice of tomato, which will add only five calories and a bit of vitamin A and C.  Or mushrooms, which add a few calories and a decent chunk of B vitamins.  And then there are pickles, which have a little bit of everything nutrition-wise, but a few slices of these barely have any calories at all.  You can also add onions which…have no significant nutrition, but kind of taste good.  And naturally, you should add a leafy thing.  Preferably not lettuce, though.  Something more nutritious.  Other leafy greens, like spinach, add a lot of nutrition.  And lastly, if you’re feeling daring, add some hot peppers.  These can be good for you, if you survive.

And although adding sauces can be unhealthy, no good sandwich should go without them. Add a little mustard for a little extra selenium, and only 10 calories per tablespoon. Or add fancy schmancy spicy mustard for some vitamin A, iron, manganese, and selenium and only 15 calories per tablespoon. And naturally, you can add mayo. But it’s…fattening. Two tablespoons add some vitamin E, lots of vitamin K, but also 200 calories. To avoid this excess, substitute Greek yogurt dressing. You’ll only get 40–60 calories and a decent chunk of calcium. And lastly, you can add ketchup which has 15 calories and..no significant nutritional value. I guess it only really adds flavor. But there is a better way to add flavor. Just sprinkle herbs and spices on your sandwich. These add all sorts of nutrition and few calories.

Put almost any combination of these meats, cheeses, and other toppings between two slices of bread, and you’ve got a little bit of every micronutrient.  And despite the fact that it has (gasp) carbs, bread has balanced nutrition.  It has just about every micronutrient, usually providing about 5-10% of your RDA in each.

So now that you have all of the ingredients figured out, how do you make the sandwich?  Well, the secret to making a good sandwich is…heresy.  Not the kind that gets you sent to actual Hell, though.  The kind that makes Ketovores, Carnivores, and Vegans wish you would go to Hell.  Double up on meat, cheese, and bread, in other words. Two slices of the twin vegan heresies of meat and cheese, two slices of keto heresy (bread), and one helping of things that aren’t heretical such as tomato, onion, and spinach.  Two tablespoons of mayonnaise (or Greek yogurt dressing) are necessary, since the vegans abhor dairy.  Then add one of tablespoon of one or more other sauces, such as ketchup or mustard.  And finally, you can either eat it cold, toast it, or put it in a sandwich press.  You end up with a great meal and even those of us with mediocre culinary skill can handle preparing it.  And the total calorie count is probably going to be around 500-700 calories, which is good for one meal.

But you’re not limited to just deli meats.  You can also have a tuna sandwich, or any other fish, which will give you a decent dose of the usual meat vitamins as well as a certain amount of vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids. Or if you’re feeling nostalgic for the sandwiches your mother made for you when you were a kid, you can have a grilled cheese sandwich.  Or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Or an egg salad sandwich if you miss what mom made and were the weird kid in class.

And if you still live in your mother’s basement you can put chicken tenders into a sandwich. Or “tendies” as these overgrown kids call them. But fried food isn’t the best move as I’ve noted before, so I avoid doing this.  Also, I don’t live in my mother’s basement.  And I don’t have a basement, because digging a basement in Florida would just cause it to fill up with water.  And alligators and snakes.

Another option is something I’ve discovered from the exile population here in Florida: Cuban sandwiches.  Half of a sub roll (or bread to that effect), loaded with pork, ham, pickles, and a decent dose of mustard.  And then pressed so flat it looks like it was crushed beneath Fidel Castro’s boot.  But this odd practice actually seals in flavors, making these sandwiches a delight.  

Cubans aren’t the only contributors to sandwich greatness, though.  Literally every ethnic group in America has a sandwich.  Such as paninis, which is basically Italian food in a roll and crushed as flat as the Cuban sandwich.  So I guess that’s more like a sandwich ground under Benito Mussolini’s boot.  Or you can have the sandwich of the Cajuns, who cram seafood into a roll and give it a blatantly classist name, a Po’ Boy.  But tread carefully.  Cajun food can be fattening.

And whatever you do, don’t eat the Cajun’s barbecue sandwiches.  They put coleslaw in the sandwich.  IN THE SANDWICH.  Only a degenerate puts coleslaw in a barbecue sandwich.  It makes the bread sloppy, causing it to fall apart.  No sandwich should have coleslaw, which is a thing that happens at some delis of ill-repute.  The whole point of a sandwich is to have a meal that you can eat while keeping one hand on the wheel.  Or the mouse, if you’re an office jockey like me. If it falls apart, it defeats this purpose.

So now that I’ve covered the basics of sandwiches, here are a few pointers about keeping it healthy.  First, control the portion size.  Never get a footlong sub.  A footlong is a life of obesity, sadness, loneliness, and early death.  Try not to have more than four to six ounces of meat.  Too much can tip the scales (pun intended) from healthy to unhealthy.

Also, go easy on the sides.  Many restaurants put so many French fries next to the sandwich that it’s entire meal unto itself.  Or tater tots, onion rings, potato chips, or whatever.  Remember, big sides give you big sides.  So be careful about what you pair with it.  Smart people pair a sandwich with only a pickle spear to cleanse the palate.  As noted above, these are healthy and have few calories.

And avoid the other disgraceful practice that turns a sandwich into a sloppy mess.  Don’t douse the sandwich in oil and vinegar the way some sandwich shops do.  Not only does this make the sandwich soggy, but the oil adds a lot of calories with limited nutritional benefits.  I’ve noted before that added fats and oils are a problem.

And lastly, never eat an “open faced sandwich”.  I don’t see the point of these.  You can’t eat it with your hands.  It’s effectively an oversized cracker.  And guaranteed to make a mess.  Unless you eat it with a knife and fork, which is an act of apostasy.  I mean, sure, these kinds of sandwiches are still healthy.  But they’re also a disgrace in the eyes of God and humanity.  Avoid these abominations.

But normal, well-made sandwiches made in reasonable sizes are a healthy lunch.  They have a little bit of everything from every food group.  And therefore have a good portion of every micronutrient you need.  This makes sandwiches one of the greatest innovations in culinary history.  So mad props to the Earl of Sandwich.  Who probably didn’t actually invent it.  And had all sorts of unpleasant personal habits (See: Hellfire Club).  And was probably a colonialist or whatever.  But despite all of that, good job Johnny.

Exercise #13 – If You Want A Friend (And Less Of A Waist) Get a Dog

One of the things Florida is renowned for (apart from crazy people) is it’s retired population.  And despite the fact that we normally get a bit plumper as we age, the aging Florida Men and Florida Women I see in my neighborhood really don’t appear to suffer from that.  I’ve often been curious how these seniors stay active.  Sometimes they engage in activities that don’t even seem like exercise, but actually do a lot to help them stay in shape.  But the most common thing I see in my neighborhood is that they’re frequently out walking a dog.

Sometimes it’s a bit absurd.  I’ve noticed a tendency for the dogs to get larger as the people get smaller.  One diminutive old lady walks a Great Dane that could best be described as Marmaduke after he’d been subjected to serious steroid treatments along with some sort of genetic modification so extreme that a comic book mad scientist would think it was going too far.  And despite the fact that she appears to be in her eighties, she’s as skinny as a rail, although not unhealthily so.  Keeping up with the hairy behemoth on walks appears to keep her fit.

This works for people who aren’t old enough for Social Security and Medicare as well. Walking a dog thirty minutes a day will burn 150 calories or so. In other words, the same amount you burn from…walking. And you may be thinking, “What do I need a dog for if I’m just going to go walking?” Simple. You have no choice but to take them out. They’ll either poop on the carpet, or they’ll whine so loudly that you’ll be driven insane. So they guarantee that you get some movement in your day.

And if you have a lunatic dog, it’s even better.  Psycho dogs make you move faster.  Thirty minutes of jogging along with an unhinged cur will burn 300 calories.  And you’ll also have to prevent the psycho dog from attacking every other dog, old lady, kid on a scooter, and automobile that crosses your path.  And also every policeman, mailman, or garbage man.  Dogs really hate public servants.  Who knew they were anarchists?  Or just libertarians?  Anyway, restraining a crazy canine will make you get some resistance training in as well.  Not as good as actual resistance training maybe, but I guess every little bit helps.

Jogging or running with the dog is also a great opportunity if you’re into preening peacockery. Every day, I see overly muscled shirtless bros jogging along with their mutts. This tends to get them a lot of attention from the ladies, both for the muscles and the cuteness of the dog. Including numerous whistles, which is totally sexist. Naturally, shirtless jogging is probably only an option for men. Women doing this would be…problematic. I wouldn’t stop them (#equality), but some cop might.

Anyway, it’s not just the walking and running that’ll keep you in shape.  Dogs like to play.  You can burn a decent amount of calories playing fetch with your furry friend.  Toss a frisbee or maybe even just a stick.  This may not seem like much, but it’s actually a little better than walking.  You’re not just standing around, you’re also throwing stuff.  As with other things that involve relatively light exertion (like golf) it doesn’t burn calories very quickly, but it adds up if you do it for a few hours.

Another thing the occasionally crazed denizens of the Sunshine State like to do with their dogs is go for a swim with them. Not at a local pool (the lifeguards don’t like fur collecting in the water), but in many of the freshwater lakes and streams in Florida. Swimming is a great full body workout for sapiens and canids alike. An hour in the water will burn over 400 calories. There are risks, though. Florida’s fresh water lakes have brain eating amoebas. Although these are rare. And also alligators, which are not so rare. Gators don’t eat brains, but they do eat limbs. And if you’re really unlucky, you might swim into a literal manatee orgy. Which is a thing that actually happens. But if you’re willing to brave the treacherous (and occasionally indecent) hazards of Florida’s waterways, you and your four-legged ball of fuzz will be in great shape.

And then there’s the favored pastime of the country boys of my native Georgia.  They play a different form of fetch, where the dogs round up dead things for them.  It’s quite normal for them to dress up in what looks like paramilitary gear and head into the woods to fight off incursions of deer and wild pigs.  And doves of course.  They must always make certain to lay waste to the bird that’s a…symbol of peace.  Hunting isn’t for everyone, but trudging through the woods with your canine companion while attempting to depopulate the natural world can burn 150-300 calories per hour.  

On the other hand, if you’re an overly citified type who likes wine spritzers and sushi and what not, you can engage in more trendy diversions with your dog.  A common thing these days amongst excessively comfortable suburbanites is to have a dog party.  Dozens of people in Polo shirts and flip-flops will bring their dogs to one house and let them just go nuts while the humans have lunch.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Triple-D (nobody calls me that), isn’t that just a barbecue?”  Well, sort of.  And that can tend to add to the waistline.  Drinking too much alcohol can ruin a diet, as can too many burgers (although they don’t have to be bad for you in small quantities), or fried things and barbecue, or dessert.  All things we have at cookouts.  But you can work it off.

Because dog parties frequently end in disaster as the furry creatures engage in a swirling melee across your backyard. So it takes tremendous exertion to prevent the ruthless predators from killing each other. And even small dogs can be trouble. I’ve noticed that a dog’s tendency towards psychotic behavior seems to be inversely related to its size. Meaning tiny dogs are absolute lunatics. So restraining a Bullmastiff is a good way to work up a sweat, but even corralling a ravening Yorkie can lead to noticeably less fat. This can also produce income by generating YouTube worthy videos. If you’re okay with sharing your misadventures with the gods of Silicon Valley. Or TikTok worthy videos, if you’re okay with sharing your misadventures with the Chinese Communist Party.

But this isn’t even the craziest dog-involved exercise I’ve heard of.  Some yuppie nuts do “Doga” (Dog Yoga) which is how overly bourgeois people introduce their best friends to cultural appropriation.  An hour of this, depending on intensity, can burn 150-300 calories.  And also likely produces a variety of confused (and therefore adorable) looks from said best friend.  These hilarious reactions are also good for uploading to the Anxiety Industrial Complex (Instagram) or the Chinese Military Industrial Complex (TikTok).

There’s even freestyle musical dance with dogs. You read that right. Somebody has this much time on their hands. Like many strange and bizarre things (such as hockey), it came from Canada. Dogs and their masters (are we still allowed to say “master” in the 21st century? Asking for a friend.) dance in elaborate routines. Now trying this in your backyard is likely to just cause chaos and destruction, but dancing does burn 300 to 600 calories per hour. This will also probably lead to people assuming that you are a little too close to your dog.

But if you are a real person with a job and limited time for these inanities, you can stay in shape just by roughhousing in the backyard. I learned how that works at an early age. My dad inherited a rather large mongrel from his dad named Gator. I was all of four when this happened. Dad insisted that the huge hound was just very amiable and liked to play, but the neighborhood kids (including me) were deathly afraid of the oversized beast. So dad pinned him up in a chicken wire fence in the backyard.

Much to our chagrin, though, Gator escaped and charged around to the front yard where we were playing. Dad insists to this day that he just wanted to play, but four year-old me and my pals didn’t see it that way. We scattered to the winds to get away from the fell monster. You would’ve too. If Cujo wants to play, you might be skeptical. But this episode in fleeing from vicious creatures probably explains why childhood obesity wasn’t a thing when I was a kid.

And it produced extra work for my Dad. Because we discovered how Gator escaped. He dug a huge hole under the fence. And by huge I mean maybe three feet in diameter. And he did this in a matter of minutes. If Gator had of been around during World War One, he could’ve tunneled under German trenches and ended the war in a matter of weeks. This only reinforced our belief that he was truly a hound of Hell, though. And Dad was stuck with the task of filling in the massive rift Gator tore into the Georgia clay.

That is a downside to having a dog.  They do occasionally…damage things.  But I’ve noted before that house and yard chores, including repairs and additions, can also be a way to stay in shape.  If you have a mutt that’s an infernal fiend, you’ll have no choice but to undo the havoc he wreaks, which will take a bit off the waistline.

Now, you may have read some articles claiming that dog owners aren’t necessarily in good shape. It’s true, but there’s a reason for that. If you’re fat and your dog is fat, it probably means your diet sucks and he’s eating your leftovers. A fat dog is a good indicator of whether or not you’re taking care of yourself. Because dogs will eat anything you leave behind. So make sure you’re eating healthy.


If You Want A Friend (And Less Of A Waist) Get a Dog

One of the things Florida is renowned for (apart from crazy people) is it’s retired population. And despite the fact that we normally get a bit plumper as we age, the aging Florida Men and Florida Women I see in my neighborhood really don’t appear to suffer from that. I’ve often been curious how these seniors stay active. Sometimes they engage in activities that don’t even seem like exercise, but actually do a lot to help them stay in shape. But the most common thing I see in my neighborhood is that they’re frequently out walking a dog.

Sometimes it’s a bit absurd. I’ve noticed a tendency for the dogs to get larger as the people get smaller. One diminutive old lady walks a Great Dane that could best be described as Marmaduke after he’d been subjected to serious steroid treatments along with some sort of genetic modification so extreme that a comic book mad scientist would think it was going too far. And despite the fact that she appears to be in her eighties, she’s as skinny as a rail, although not unhealthily so. Keeping up with the hairy behemoth on walks appears to keep her fit.

This works for people who aren’t old enough for Social Security and Medicare as well. Walking a dog thirty minutes a day will burn 150 calories or so. In other words, the same amount you burn from…walking. And you may be thinking, “What do I need a dog for if I’m just going to go walking?” Simple. You have no choice but to take them out. They’ll either poop on the carpet, or they’ll whine so loudly that you’ll be driven insane. So they guarantee that you get some movement in your day.

And if you have a lunatic dog, it’s even better. Psycho dogs make you move faster. Thirty minutes of jogging along with an unhinged cur will burn 300 calories. And you’ll also have to prevent the psycho dog from attacking every other dog, old lady, kid on a scooter, and automobile that crosses your path. And also every policeman, mailman, or garbage man. Dogs really hate public servants. Who knew they were anarchists? Or just libertarians? Anyway, restraining a crazy canine will make you get some resistance training in as well. Not as good as actual resistance training maybe, but I guess every little bit helps.

Jogging or running with the dog is also a great opportunity if you’re into preening peacockery. Every day, I see overly muscled shirtless bros jogging along with their mutts. This tends to get them a lot of attention from the ladies, both for the muscles and the cuteness of the dog. Including numerous whistles, which is totally sexist. Naturally, shirtless jogging is probably only an option for men. Women doing this would be…problematic. I wouldn’t stop them (#equality), but some cop might.

Anyway, it’s not just the walking and running that’ll keep you in shape. Dogs like to play. You can burn a decent amount of calories playing fetch with your furry friend. Toss a frisbee or maybe even just a stick. This may not seem like much, but it’s actually a little better than walking. You’re not just standing around, you’re also throwing stuff. As with other things that involve relatively light exertion (like golf) it doesn’t burn calories very quickly, but it adds up if you do it for a few hours.

Another thing the occasionally crazed denizens of the Sunshine State like to do with their dogs is go for a swim with them. Not at a local pool (the lifeguards don’t like fur collecting in the water), but in many of the freshwater lakes and streams in Florida. Swimming is a great full body workout for sapiens and canids alike. An hour in the water will burn over 400 calories. There are risks, though. Florida’s fresh water lakes have brain eating amoebas. Although these are rare. And also alligators, which are not so rare. Gators don’t eat brains, but they do eat limbs. And if you’re really unlucky, you might swim into a literal manatee orgy. Which is a thing that actually happens. But if you’re willing to brave the treacherous (and occasionally indecent) hazards of Florida’s waterways, you and your four-legged ball of fuzz will be in great shape.

And then there’s the favored pastime of the country boys of my native Georgia. They play a different form of fetch, where the dogs round up dead things for them. It’s quite normal for them to dress up in what looks like paramilitary gear and head into the woods to fight off incursions of deer and wild pigs. And doves of course. They must always make certain to lay waste to the bird that’s a…symbol of peace. Hunting isn’t for everyone, but trudging through the woods with your canine companion while attempting to depopulate the natural world can burn 150–300 calories per hour.

On the other hand, if you’re an overly citified type who likes wine spritzers and sushi and what not, you can engage in more trendy diversions with your dog. A common thing these days amongst excessively comfortable suburbanites is to have a dog party. Dozens of people in Polo shirts and flip-flops will bring their dogs to one house and let them just go nuts while the humans have lunch. I know what you’re thinking. “Triple-D (nobody calls me that), isn’t that just a barbecue?” Well, sort of. And that can tend to add to the waistline. Drinking too much alcohol can ruin a diet, as can too many burgers (although they don’t have to be bad for you in small quantities), or fried things and barbecue, or dessert. All things we have at cookouts. But you can work it off.

Because dog parties frequently end in disaster as the furry creatures engage in a swirling melee across your backyard. So it takes tremendous exertion to prevent the ruthless predators from killing each other. And even small dogs can be trouble. I’ve noticed that a dog’s tendency towards psychotic behavior seems to be inversely related to its size. Meaning tiny dogs are absolute lunatics. So restraining a Bullmastiff is a good way to work up a sweat, but even corralling a ravening Yorkie can lead to noticeably less fat. This can also produce income by generating YouTube worthy videos. If you’re okay with sharing your misadventures with the gods of Silicon Valley. Or TikTok worthy videos, if you’re okay with sharing your misadventures with the Chinese Communist Party.

But this isn’t even the craziest dog-involved exercise I’ve heard of. Some yuppie nuts do “Doga” (Dog Yoga) which is how overly bourgeois people introduce their best friends to cultural appropriation. An hour of this, depending on intensity, can burn 150–300 calories. And also likely produces a variety of confused (and therefore adorable) looks from said best friend. These hilarious reactions are also good for uploading to the Anxiety Industrial Complex (Instagram) or the Chinese Military Industrial Complex (TikTok).

There’s even freestyle musical dance with dogs. You read that right. Somebody has this much time on their hands. Like many strange and bizarre things (such as hockey), it came from Canada. Dogs and their masters (are we still allowed to say “master” in the 21st century? Asking for a friend.) dance in elaborate routines. Now trying this in your backyard is likely to just cause chaos and destruction, but dancing does burn 300 to 600 calories per hour. This will also probably lead to people assuming that you are a little too close to your dog.

But if you are a real person with a job and limited time for these inanities, you can stay in shape just by roughhousing in the backyard. I learned how that works at an early age. My dad inherited a rather large mongrel from his dad named Gator. I was all of four when this happened. Dad insisted that the huge hound was just very amiable and liked to play, but the neighborhood kids (including me) were deathly afraid of the oversized beast. So dad pinned him up in a chicken wire fence in the backyard. 

Much to our chagrin, though, Gator escaped and charged around to the front yard where we were playing. Dad insists to this day that he just wanted to play, but four year-old me and my pals didn’t see it that way. We scattered to the winds to get away from the fell monster. You would’ve too. If Cujo wants to play, you might be skeptical. But this episode in fleeing from vicious creatures probably explains why childhood obesity wasn’t a thing when I was a kid.

And it produced extra work for my Dad. Because we discovered how Gator escaped. He dug a huge hole under the fence. And by huge I mean maybe three feet in diameter. And he did this in a matter of minutes. If Gator had of been around during World War One, he could’ve tunneled under German trenches and ended the war in a matter of weeks. This only reinforced our belief that he was truly a hound of Hell, though. And Dad was stuck with the task of filling in the massive rift Gator tore into the Georgia clay.

That is a downside to having a dog. They do occasionally…damage things. But I’ve noted before that house and yard chores, including repairs and additions, can also be a way to stay in shape. If you have a mutt that’s an infernal fiend, you’ll have no choice but to undo the havoc he wreaks, which will take a bit off the waistline.

Now, you may have read some articles claiming that dog owners aren’t necessarily in good shape. It’s true, but there’s a reason for that. If you’re fat and your dog is fat, it probably means your diet sucks and he’s eating your leftovers. A fat dog is a good indicator of whether or not you’re taking care of yourself. Because dogs will eat anything you leave behind. So make sure you’re eating healthy.

But apart from people who abuse their dogs with the S.A.D. diet, having a dog produces opportunities to stay active. It’s also a good way for single guys to pick up chicks. Or meet new friends at the dog park. Although I’ve heard that doing it in New York can lead to awkward, viral confrontations. I think that only happens to women named Karen, though. I don’t follow the news that closely, so I may be off on the details. But in the rest of the world, it’s a good idea. And getting a dog generally makes you happier. But it doesn’t just make you happier. It can also make you slimmer. Which can…also make you happier.


Uncle Sam Wants to Remind You Why Being Healthy is Good For You And The Country

So during the ravages of the Darkness That Came From Hubei Province, the Creeping Doom of Wuhan, The Disease That May Or May Not Have Come From A Lab Or From Bats And Pangolins Getting Frisky, Americans got a lot fatter.  Over a third of us are obese now, and plenty more are overweight but not obese.  Meaning about 70% of us are at least a few sizes too big.

There’s no excuse for this.  Sure, many of us were forced to stay home and gyms were closed.  Even people going out for a jog were rounded up by cops, at least in the early days.  But there are plenty of exercises we can do without leaving the house.  And the healthy food options are still available at the grocery store, even when toilet paper isn’t.  I personally lost weight during COVID, even though I worked from home over a year.  Because we can still eat right and exercise without leaving the house.  And we’re screwing ourselves by not being in shape.  And I’m not just talking about the whole “early death” thing.  I’m talking about something central to the existence of any accountant, like myself.  Money.

According to one article I’ve read, being a giant blob of flesh can increase one’s personal health care costs by 29%. You may have heard that healthcare is a bit on the pricey side in the U.S. And by that I mean that health care costs in these United States are the highest per capita in the OECD, at a little over $10,000 per person. And these higher costs, due in part to obesity, mean higher health insurance premiums. And America being swole in the wrong way also means higher life insurance premiums, worker’s comp premiums, and disability premiums. And we also lose money because we miss work more often. All because we’re not taking care of ourselves.

Here’s what one article I found said: Between 2000 and 2010, the costliest disease with the fastest growth rate in cost was hyperlipidemia, which is high cholesterol and triglycerides.  This is a self-inflicted wound from eating the wrong things (and drinking the wrong things, which, in addition to being bad for your diet, can jack up triglycerides) and not getting enough exercise.

This is bad all around for the nation.  We’re fat and miserable. And this decline in mental and physical health translates into a general decline in the health of the nation.  If Uncle Sam were to call us to action today, it wouldn’t be to fight Nazis or Commies or some other external threat.  It would be to fight off our internal problem of poor health.  

Now, if our healthcare costs dropped 29% we would still have the second most expensive healthcare system on a per capita basis in the OECD. That strange land of chocolate and clockworks would be number one. But it would still knock down our expenses significantly, both out-of-pocket and for insurance companies and the government. And there would be less lost work and less time on disability, which helps us all financially. And if we all got in shape, the actuaries would notice, and we’d see insurance premiums, healthcare, life and disability, decline significantly.

I know the “lost work” is true in part due to personal experience.  Over the past two and a half years, since I started eating healthy, I’ve been truly sick one time, a rather ugly sinus infection that I actually needed a doctor for.  Previously, I would get a cold 2 to 4 times a year, and it would keep me out of work for 1-3 days each time.  Now, I’m not even sure I’m sick when I have a cold, because the symptoms are so mild.  I rarely miss work anymore, and when I do feel sick, it’s far less debilitating than it used to be.  Instead of missing a week or two of work per year, I rarely miss any, and the positive financial impact is noticeable.

And maybe part of the problem is that people don’t have access to a doctor, but ask yourself how much time does the typical person spend with a doctor each year. An hour? Two hours? Ten? Even if it was a hundred, that would be only slightly more than 1% of all of the hours each year. Your health is primarily about what you do with the other 99% of your time, not the precious few hours you may spend with a doctor.

You may be saying, yeah, Triple D (nobody calls me that), but we spent a quarter of that time just sleeping.  Yeah, you’re obviously not using that time to eat healthy or exercise.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.  Because we should be spending more like a third or so of our time sleeping.  Not getting enough sleep appears to be a factor in the obesity epidemic.  And getting enough sleep is one of those key health decisions that doesn’t really involve your doctor.

Most of us have no excuse for eating poorly, either.  For most people, the healthy options are available.  We spend too much time buying the pre-prepared crap or the junk in boxes in the aisles of the grocery store.  Instead, if we bought the fresh stuff and cooked for ourselves, we’d be in much better shape.  I noted before how cooking for myself helped reduce my waistline.  We can all do it, we’re just choosing not to.  Even in a year when we had all the time in the world to get it together, we made it worse.

You might be thinking, not everybody has these options.  What about people who live in “food deserts”?  Which, for those of you who don’t know, are places where people don’t have access to a grocery store.  That might be a part of it, but only 24 million people live in food deserts. We’ve got a lot more than 24 million fat people in the United States. 

And even though there are huge portions of the United States that are considered food deserts, that can be a little misleading. Because some of them are actual deserts. Most of Nevada is a food desert, because most of Nevada is also the Mojave desert. But nobody really lives there, except maybe Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner. Neither of whom are obese.

And there are broad swaths of Alaska that are food deserts, but almost nobody lives there either. That’s because those are vast areas of tundra, which really is just a frozen desert.  And the type of people who do live there don’t need a grocery store.  You see these people on the Discovery Channel.  They’re all rugged outdoorsy types with massive hobo beards. They are perfectly capable of killing and eating their own food. And their lifestyle rarely results in obesity. So the food desert thing isn’t much of an excuse.

Losing weight is not as difficult as people let on.  I’ve discovered several simple tricks to improve one’s health.  Losing weight only requires moderate discipline.  Thirty minutes of exercise a day isn’t a lot to ask, especially if you have an active job or can commute to work by foot or bicycle.  Cooking your own food isn’t as time consuming as you might think and is much healthier than fast food or processed, pre-made food.

Since I work as a CPA, I couldn’t help but notice how similar the process of going from unhealthy to healthy living is to the process of businesses going from unprofitability to profitability.  Usually, failing businesses are only doing a few things wrong.  If they take the time to analyze what they’re doing, and can identify these things, it suddenly becomes easy, and they wonder why they didn’t figure it out sooner.  

Healthy living is the same way.  Most Americans aren’t living healthy, but it’s not necessarily as bad as we think it is.  For most of us, making a few simple adjustments will take us from unhealthy and unhappy to healthy and happy in a relatively short time.  Even if it takes years to get to normal weight, you’ll start to notice the results in terms of energy levels, mental health, and wellness within a few weeks.

So it’s time for everyone to start thinking about eating better and exercising more.  It takes thirty days to break a bad habit or develop a good one.  So for thirty days, try only eating healthy food that you cook for yourself.  Or if you do go out, get healthy food, not fast food.  Make your snack foods fruits and vegetables, not chips and dip.  Make a point of getting thirty minutes of exercise everyday, even if you just do jumping jacks in front of the television.  If we all do it, we’ll all notice the waistline start to decline, and we’ll continue the habit.  

Like I said before, I personally noticed the results before a month was over.  I was more energetic, more confident, and more productive.  I missed less work, because I wasn’t sick so much, and made more money as a result.  I no longer needed the high blood pressure and high cholesterol medicines, which saved a pretty penny.  If everybody did this, we’d notice improvements not only in ourselves, but in society overall.  We wouldn’t spend so much on healthcare and we wouldn’t be so miserable.  If everybody did this, we’d be a healthier, happier, more prosperous nation.

Bad Habits #12 – It’s a Monk’s Life In The Online Heathbrosphere

I’ve noticed something while spending time on Twitter.  And I know that I should stop spending too much time on Twitter.  It appears to make you angrier, meaner, less happy, and dumber.  Tech geeks figured out Twitter’s impacts the hard way.  They tried to train an AI’s social interactions by putting it on Twitter.  It didn’t go well.  But in the relatively tame parts of Twitter where people discuss health and fitness, I’ve noticed a peculiar trend among some of the healthbros who tweet there.

Well, I’ve noticed more than one.  This includes generally positive things, like their willingness to lift and put down heavy objects.  And not so positive things, such as their peculiar phobia surrounding grain-based food and odd tendency to occasionally starve themselves and treat it as an act of manliness and virility.  

Somewhat related to that “dudes daring each other” mentality is the strange infatuation many of these healthbros have towards an austere lifestyle.  I mean, anyone who successfully loses weight and gets healthy knows that success requires permanent lifestyle changes.  But some of these guys take it to extremes.

Often, guys act like the process of obtaining good health requires that we exercise a level of superhuman self-denial that Buddhist monks would find excessive.  And also train with the lifting of heavy objects until your arms are larger than most people’s legs.  So, apparently good health requires you to become some highly trained warrior monk.

The whole point of writing this blog was to try to share ways I got in shape without having to completely upend my entire life. A few key changes will do for most people. So, to be helpful to the general public (and kind of a d*ck to the warrior monk elite on Twitter), I figured I’d go through some of their more common dictums on fitness and explain why you don’t have to go that far to be healthy.

One particular bugaboo that the overly muscled workout dudes of Twitter seem to have is…Netflix.  Yes, Netflix.  I mean, sure, being a couch potato can make you fat.  All sorts of sedentary lifestyles can be bad for you in excess.  I wrote a whole piece about how video games contribute to obesity.  But the bro-elite appear to treat indulging even slightly in streaming of movies and TV is a third rail of healthiness that must never be touched.  Trust me, it’s okay to occasionally Netflix and chill.

Especially since young people often mean the word “chill” euphemistically for a somewhat more active and…amorous form of exercise.  Which, amongst other things, is decent cardio.  Of course, I never understood what good having Netflix on would be while engaged in that form of “chilling”.  Einstein once said that anyone who can drive a car while kissing a pretty girl isn’t giving the kiss the attention it deserves.  Well if you can “chill” while watching the latest episodes of Bridgerton, you’re really not paying enough attention to the “chilling”.  Pay more attention to the bored look on your partner’s face.  It’ll focus you.  

The other downside of Netflixing while chilling is that you may confuse our future overlords.  If Alexa is plugged into your Smart TV, she might get confused by your verbal exhortations while “chilling” and start playing porn.  Or just do that weird evil laugh she used to do at random a few years ago.

But I digress. Occasionally streaming something isn’t the only thing the health obsessed denizens of Twitter like to lecture about.  I can’t turn around without seeing some health bro give out a lengthy lecture about the dangers of alcohol.  I mean, they’re not completely wrong.  I’ve written before on how too much alcohol is a problem for a diet.  And marriages, social lives, livers, etc.  But you don’t have to go full Mormon and drop it altogether.  Unless you’re a Mormon.  For the rest of us, a drink or two a day is fine.  And some drinks, like wine, actually contain essential nutrients.  So if I have a drink or two with the boys after work, or a nightcap or two with the wife before bed, it’s completely fine.

And don’t get me started about the endless lectures I see about “junk” food.  Don’t get me wrong, reducing consumption of food that is truly “junk” is a good idea.  Having said that, I’m a little leery of the phrase “junk food” since many of the foods we might consider “junk” (like burgers) aren’t that bad for you.  There are lots of foods out there that we think of as unhealthy, but they’re just fine in reasonable quantities, and often quite nutritious.  On the other hand, dessert and candy (especially Girl Scout cookies) can be really unhealthy.  But if these are occasional indulgences and not dietary staples for you, you’re fine.  You don’t need to spend the rest of your life only eating tofu and kale to be healthy.  A cookie or two won’t kill you.

The health fascists also like to insist on the habit of “early to bed and early to rise”.  They routinely brag that they get up at ungodly hours in the morning.  Screw that.  I’m not a farmer.  I don’t have to get up hours before dawn to plow the northern forty.  I can sleep in a little bit.  I mean, getting enough sleep is essential.  Lack of sleep can slow your metabolism and stress you out, leading to stress eating, which is more dangerous for a diet than being hungry at the grocery store.  But all that really matters is that you sleep seven or eight hours.  You don’t have to be some stud who gets up at four in the morning.  As long as you slept long enough (and aren’t late for work), when you wake up isn’t that important.

Healthbros also like to lecture us about having too much inactivity.  This is somewhat tangentially related to the Netflix phobia they have.  Obviously, not enough exercise is a problem.  But the bros appear to only take time out from activity to post on social media.  Usually, this means posting self-aggrandizing pictures of the superhuman exercise feats they just finished.  But you really don’t have to kill yourself like this.  If you exercise thirty minutes to an hour a day, go ahead and be inactive a bit.  You’ve earned it.  Read a book, lie down near the pool, or take a nap in the hammock.  Or, Netflix and actual chill, not the euphemistic, salacious “chilling”.  You don’t have to be a perpetual motion machine to stay healthy.  A moderate amount of activity is all that’s necessary to be healthy.

And in the final irony, the fitness referees of the Internet constantly finger wag about too much social media time.  Perhaps you see the incongruity of a bunch of guys on Twitter lecturing you about spending too time on Twitter.  Sure, too much is a problem.  We recently found out, for example, that Instagram is a particular problem for girls.  And Twitter may seem like a cesspool, but if we focus on that part of Twitter where things apart from politics are discussed (fitness, food, cats, etc.) it’s not so bad.  As with anything else, as long as this is an occasional thing and not an obsession, you’ll be fine.

Maybe you’re seeing a pattern.  We don’t have to completely cut these things off.  Use in moderation.  Live a little.  I mean, you can try to be one of those badass warrior monks.  But your life would suck.  The key to staying in shape is healthy eating and getting at least thirty minutes of exercise each day.  Once you’ve done that, you can afford to goof off a bit.  The key to losing weight (and life in general) is to handle your responsibilities first, then enjoy yourself.  If you do that, the leisure time feels good, like you’ve earned it.  You don’t feel like a lazy bum.

In fact, I’ve often felt that too much austerity is a problem for healthy living.  Restricting yourself too much produces the risk that you’ll just get sick of the whole thing and go back to your bad habits.  I mentioned before that the whole point of this blog is to introduce people to simple ways to stay healthy without too much disruption to their lives.  This is the reason why. Too much disruption increases the risk of failure. If healthy living makes your life boring, then you’re destined to fail.

You’re getting in shape.  You’re not joining the SEAL teams.  Well, maybe you are.  And if you are, you might listen to actual SEALs who talk about health and fitness and not some Twitter broscientist.  You’re also not some monk seeking enlightenment, sequestered in some cell high in the Himalayas.  I know you’re not, because clearly you have Internet access if you’re reading this.  If you’re someone interested in getting in shape to slim down and live longer, there’s no need to pursue the ascetic virtues pushed by some of the more extreme health bloggers.  The diets that work are the ones that don’t require you to give up your entire life.  You can be healthy and still live a little.  You don’t have to live like a monk to do it.

Good Habits #12 – Spice Up Things In The Kitchen. No, Not Like That.

A while back, I posted a piece about how cooking for yourself can be helpful when losing weight.  But one of the dangers of cooking for yourself is…mediocrity.  My cooking skills have improved, but even now that I can manage to cook things that don’t qualify as Category 1 Toxic Materials on the EPA’s toxicity rating scale (most of what I cook is no more than Category 4 now), there is still a risk of making something bland.

One could always put cheese on things or sauce or whatever to avoid blandness. But I’ve noted in the past that this can be a problem. More than once. Fortunately, there is a way to add flavor to food without adding tons of calories. Put herbs and spices on it. Now, this can be a bit intimidating. Spices that go well on one thing are horrible on others. This does require you to learn expert, or at least intermediate, levels of cooking skill. But what I’ve discovered is that spices add lots of flavor when used correctly. And more importantly, they add nutrition while adding few calories.

So let’s start with the one that’s ubiquitous in Italian food, oregano.  Unlike many things the Italians use (like pasta and pepperoncini) oregano actually comes from the Mediterranean.  It’s a form of mint, although more bitter than sweet, and can add flavor to almost any dish, from meats to salads to mac and cheese.  And a teaspoon of this has only three calories.  This small amount will give you 5% or your iron and vitamin K Recommended Daily Allowance, and 2% or your calcium and manganese. As well as bits of various other nutrients.  This may not seem like much, but when we consider the calorie cost, it’s really good.

Another thing you might try is the herb that sounds like it was named after someone’s grandmother: Rosemary.  Another Mediterranean herb, it was rumored to have medicinal properties so medieval type people used to carry it around to ward off the Black Death.  Spoiler alert: That didn’t work very well.  But it is really good on food.  It has a slightly lemony taste and goes well on many things, although I really like it on fish. And it also adds a smidgeon of nutrition.  A teaspoon of this has 4 calories and 4% of my iron RDA.

Another possibility is the one that sounds like it was named after a smart guy, or at least some navel gazing guru.  I’m talking about sage, something the Romans thought was a holy plant.  They believed, amongst other things, that it could ward off evil.  It doesn’t, by the way.  I tried this.  I once put sage on a piece of liver.  If sage wards off evil, it would immediately cause the diabolical substance to shrivel into nothingness (Innards aren’t good for you, y’all).  It didn’t work, unsurprisingly.  Sage is good for eating, though.  It goes well on pretty much anything oregano is good on.  And for the price of one calorie per teaspoon, it’ll provide 10% of the vitamin K I need, 2% of the iron, and small bits of various other nutrients.

Then there’s that other herb you can find at Scarborough Fair: Thyme.  Another thing from the Med.  Which the Egyptians used to embalm mummies.  Which is gross.  But also something Romans used to season cheese and liqueurs.  Which is awesome.  Thyme is a little sweet, a little peppery, and a little lemony.  So, it goes well on just about anything.  Although it takes a while for its full flavor to emerge, so it works best in a slow-cooked stew or on a roast.  And at a cost of two calories, a teaspoon will provide 13% of the vitamin K I need each day, 14% of the iron, 3% of the manganese, 2% of the calcium, and bits of various other nutrients.

Another thing I like to season my food with is the cousin of oregano, which also has a slightly sweet, slightly bitter taste.  And also sounds vaguely like an old lady name: Marjoram.  Another Southern European spice, it has a sweet, piney flavor and goes well on vegetables and salads.  The Greeks used to use it to treat various ailments (which didn’t go well) and the English used to use it in beer (which did go well).  It may not be great as medicine, but it does add some nutrition to your food.  A teaspoon of this gives you 2% of your vitamin A, 3% of your vitamin K, 6% of your iron, and assorted other bits of nutrients.  All for only two calories per teaspoon.

I also like the Italian herb with the most British name: Basil.  Except that it’s not Italian.  It probably came from India.  And the Egyptians were using it before the Romans existed in order to make mummies.  Which is gross.  Again, it’s best use is in food.  I’m not sure why so many doctors and undertakers used to use these things, but it’s best left to chefs.  But I guess that’s beside the point.  Basil is a sweet and buttery herb that goes well on meat.  For two calories in each teaspoon, you get 10% of your vitamin K, 8% of your iron, 3% of your manganese, and 2% of your calcium and copper. Just don’t waste it on human meat that you’re going to put in the ground. 

There’s also a popular savory herb with an unoriginal name.  Savory.  Apparently, the Europeans ran out of ideas.  They figured they’d used all of the cool names and just called it “savory”.  The Romans called it the herb of love, so you’d think the people for whom the word “romance” is literally named for could come up with a sexier name.  I’m very disappointed with the Romans.  For a lot of reasons.  Throwing Christians to lions, mass slaughter in the Colosseum, brutal conquest of most of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East, lame names for herbs, the list of crimes is endless.  Anyway, savory is another Mediterranean herb with a slightly peppery taste that pairs well with meat.  And for only four calories per teaspoon it provides 7% of the iron RDA, 3% of the vitamin A and calcium, 2% of the vitamin B6, and bits of various others.

Of course, you might be getting dizzy keeping track of all of these spices I’ve listed so far.  But there’s an easy way around that. They are sold as a mix called Italian seasoning at any store.  Since you’ve probably noticed that just about all of them go well with all of the same foods, it’s convenient to just get this.  Italian seasoning goes well on my eggs at breakfast, my sandwiches at lunch, and meats at dinner.

There’s another reason I brought Italian seasoning up.  Because you can use it to make my famous Best Steak Ever(™).  A trademark which no court would ever recognize.  To make this steak, preheat an oven on broil at maximum temperature.  Season the steak with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Then pan fry it for two minutes on each side until the outside is crusty. Then put the entire frying pan in the oven and cook for three minutes on each side. 

What you’ll get is a steak that’s perfectly medium rare.  And absolutely delicious. Of course you could cook it for only two minutes on each side in the oven. If you’re an animal and want beef so rare that it’s practically still mooing. Or you could cook it for four, five, or six minutes on each side for medium, medium well, or well done respectively. If you’re a degenerate who likes overcooked steaks.  

All of this discussion of my greatest culinary achievement reminds me of something.  I haven’t yet discussed that normiest of normie spices that’s a key ingredient in the Greatest Steak Ever(™).  Pepper.  The thing that’s on every table.  The thing that your father would surreptitiously add to your mother’s bland food when she wasn’t looking.  That thing that always made Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd sneeze, but for some reason didn’t work so well when you put it on your own nose.  And don’t lie to me.  I know you tried that at least once.

Black pepper comes from India.  Which makes me wonder what European husbands did with their wives’ bland food before it was brought to Europe.  Fortunately, that happened fairly early, when the Romans would, surprisingly, trade with the Indians, as opposed to just conquering and taking it.  Anyway, I don’t feel the need to educate you on what you can put pepper on or what it tastes like.  It goes on literally anything.  And it’s not just for flavor.  A teaspoon of pepper will get you 13% of your daily allowance of manganese and 3% of your calcium and copper and vitamin K.  All of that comes at a price of only six calories.

And there are certain types of pepper in ground form that can set your brain on fire.  Such as cayenne pepper.  I mentioned in a previous piece that this is a Cajun spice that is in no way Cajun because it comes from French Guiana.  This is good to spice up breakfast but also any piece of meat.  A teaspoon of this contains an astounding 25% of your vitamin A, 4% of the vitamin E (something can be hard to come by, unless you eat lots of nuts) and 3% of the vitamin B6 requirement.  And it only has six calories.

Another good seasoning is the one that’s renowned as a vampire repellent. Except there’s no evidence that actually repels vampires. Which may have something to do with the fact that vampires don’t actually exist.  I hate to disappoint any teenage girls reading this (there aren’t any), but Twilight is fiction.  Anyway, I’m talking about garlic.  Although kind of gross and pungent by itself, when cooked it goes well with anything.  Seriously, try getting any mixed seasoning at the grocery store.  They all have garlic in them.  It’s in everything.  Sadly, though, it’s actually not as nutritious as the other things I’ve listed here.  A teaspoon of this has 3% of your daily allowance of vitamin B6, 2% of your manganese, and four calories.

Another bitter and pungent herb is turmeric.  Another thing from India, this is apparently what they use to dye the Hindu and Buddhist holy men’s robes.  Personally I prefer it in food.  My wife does great things by adding this to noodles. A teaspoon of this only has 10 calories and gives you 27% of your manganese RDA, 23% of your iron, and 5% of your copper.

I should also mention that peculiar red substance that Mom always put on every piece of chicken I ever had.  Paprika.  Which originated in North America and is apparently just ground up red peppers.  Depending on which kind of peppers, it can be mild or slightly hot.  And goes on almost anything.  Which explains why Mom used it so liberally.  A teaspoon of this will give you 4% of your daily allowance of vitamin E and vitamin B6, 6% of your daily allowance of iron and only has 6 calories.

Another popular herb is the one that was also a juvenile insult in the 1980s: Dill weed.  Another herb from the Med, it tastes slightly sweet and slightly grassy.  A teaspoon of this will give you 16% of your daily allowance of vitamin K, 3% of your vitamin A and iron and only three calories.  Personally I think it goes well on fish along with a little lemon juice.  And if any one reading this is some weirdo keto bro who thinks fruits are bad for you and scoffed at the notion of adding lemon juice, get over yourself.  Fruits are fine.  I wrote about that a while back.

Next up is cumin. Yet another herb from the Med with a slightly sharp and bitter taste, I find that it goes really well with rice. It also is quite nutritious. A teaspoon has 17% of your iron RDA and 3% of your manganese, with bits and pieces of all the other ones. Save for vitamin B12, which pretty much only comes from eating dead animals. It also only has seven calories.

And let’s not forget that strange thing my wife likes to put in her rice dishes that she always tells me not to eat.  Because apparently she’s been told it’s bad for you.  But I always end up doing it because it’s buried in the rice and I don’t see it until it’s too late. I’m talking about bay leaves. Another Med herb, these are extremely pungent if eaten raw.  But if you cook them into a rice dish or stew, a sort of minty and bitter flavor will come out. These provide 3% of your manganese RDA, 2% of your iron, and bits and pieces of all the other ones (except B12) in only two calories.  Of course, you’re thinking, that’s only if you eat the leaf right?  I don’t know.  But go ahead and eat the leaf.  It won’t hurt you.  The wives’ tales are all wrong.  They’re not poisonous.  My wife, bless her, doesn’t know what she’s talking about

Most of these spices are things that go well with the main course.  But what about dessert?  I mean, I’ve noted before that desserts are something you should be careful eating too much of. But if you want sweet things with a little nutrient value in them, adding a little cinnamon is the way to go.  Cinnamon is another thing that dates back to antiquity and probably another thing the Egyptians used to make mummies with.  It’s very sweet, and goes well with almost any sweet thing.  A teaspoon provides 3% of your iron and calcium RDA, 20% of your manganese and only has 6 calories per teaspoon. But if you want to pass on dessert, there is another way to enjoy it.  Add it to the Blessed Brown Water of Life. This is a low-cal way to add nutrients to something which is already low in calories. 

There’s other good news.  Many of these things are also antioxidants and anti-microbial thingies.  How does that help?  I don’t have a clue.  I’m an accountant, not a doctor.  But it’s yet another reason to not have bland food and spice it up.  

All this research into herbs and spices caused me to realize something.  Our carnivore pals are not actually carnivores.  They eat plant-based stuff all the time and they get all the nutrients one would get from plant-based stuff.  Because they routinely douse their steaks and eggs in the herbs and spices I mentioned above. So if you are on a meat diet, don’t forget to spice it up a little bit.  It’ll give you some of the things that meat normally doesn’t give you.

But even if you’re not a carnivore, you should learn how to use all of these herbs and spices as well as the myriad others that I haven’t discussed here.  I mean, the quantities of nutrients I discussed above might not seem too impressive, but keep in mind that this is what you get from a single teaspoon.  Adding a teaspoon or two of various spices to your meals can add a lot of extra nutrients to the food, as well as a lot of extra flavor, without adding a lot of calories.

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Exercise #12 – Weight Loss By Risking Hypothermia

Growing up mostly in Georgia, and now living in Florida, seeing the snow is a rare occurrence.  It might have snowed once every five to ten years in Savannah, and usually only barely.  And snow in Florida would probably drive the Florida Men insane, as they would be convinced that the end of days had arrived and fling themselves madly into apocalyptic acts of destruction and mischief.  More so than they do already, I mean.

But when I was young, I did, for a time, get to spend time playing in the snow.  This is because we spent three years in Heidelberg, Germany.  It took a while to get used to the cold.  Central Europe is barely even habitable by the standards of southern gentlemen like me, and acclimating to the near glacial temperatures in the land of the Teutons took time.  The upside was that there was a fair amount of snow.  The things one can do in the snow make the cold more tolerable.  

My goofy friends and I could pummel each other with snowballs.  We could sled down hills, which was impossible back home.  Florida has no hills and the parts of Georgia where they do are the parts we always steered clear of.  Because those are the parts where people who are married to their cousins demand that you squeal like a pig and do unholy things.  As anyone who has seen Deliverance knows.  

But I digress.  In addition to the normal backyard fun, we would also take occasional trips to the Austrian Alps for ski trips.  Skiing is the hardest thing you only have to learn once, my first ski instructor told me.  The first few hours tend to result in embarrassing spills and a lot of unintentional consumption of snow when you faceplant.  But once you get the hang of it, it’s something you never forget, like riding a bike.  The last time I went skiing was after a ten year hiatus, and it came back to me right away.

Skiing is, unsurprisingly, good exercise.  You can burn about 400 calories per hour on the slopes.  And you can burn about the same if you prefer snowboarding.  But I always found snowboarders to be weirdly obnoxious, like their skateboarding cousins.  They seem to spend their entire time engaged in acts of folly that are likely to break something or result in some injury that’s likely to cause sterility.

Of course if you’re really coordinated, you can try slalom skiing.  For those uninitiated in such things, this is the event where you ski down a hill at breakneck speed while trying to get between pairs of flags.  This sport is doable by only the chaddest of all skiers.  Yes, I learned a new word from the young people of the Internet.  I should stop.  Adopting young people speak makes me come off like Steve Buscemi in 30 Rock.  Anyway, slalom skiing burns 650 calories per hour.  But I’m not really coordinated enough to pull that off.  I’m not a klutz, but that level of control is beyond me.  A man’s got to know his limitations.

Of course, one doesn’t need mountains to lose weight in the snow.  Cross country skiing burns about 500 calories or so per hour.  And if you don’t have snow at all, you can still lose weight this way.  But you’d have to buy one of those goofy Nordictrack skiing machines.  You should only do this if you have too much money and no self respect.

And if you have gun-loving buddies, you could always do the biathlon, which is cross country skiing combined with target shooting.  This allows you to burn about 500 calories per hour while dealing with pent up angst by destroying inanimate objects. Of course, my gun-loving buddies, all hardcore southerners, would probably turn their nose up at the quaint bolt action rifles biathletes use.  They would instead bring something fully automatic with enough lead to cause deforestation and temporary deafness.  Or a shotgun that could fell a tree.  This sort of outing might result in an arrest, an international incident, or the latest in a long line of Florida Man stories.

Skiing isn’t the only option, though.  Sledding down a hill can burn 500 or so calories per hour.  Now, I know, you’re skeptical.  If you’re just sledding down some minor incline, it will probably not burn anywhere near that much.  But if you’re actually sledding down a large mountain and steering around tight turns and avoiding trees, that does burn a lot.   Just don’t do unwise sledding, such as steering through a forest or a ravine.  Or riding something silly like a piano or a bathtub.  Which is a thing people do.  Most of your weight loss from this “hold my beer” stuff will be weight you lose recovering in the hospital.  Or from getting things amputated.

Then there’s that activity I never quite got the hang of, ice skating.  I never figured out how to turn on the ice without collapsing into a heap.  That strange motion skaters make crossing one leg over the other always ended in disaster. But if you can figure it out, this will burn 400 calories per hour. 

And if you can manage to turn and you’re hardcore, you can try speed skating. You’ll burn 1,100 per hour doing this.  Of course, if you crash into a wall while doing this, that will probably result in more of the “hospital recovery” type weight loss.  Also, possible death.  So know your limitations.

Or, if you’re super coordinated and don’t mind wearing frilly outfits, figure skating is another option. This burns 1,200 per hour.  But only if you have epic levels of balance. If not, it’ll result in faceplants into the ice, and likely more hospital weight loss.  And also possible death.  Although you’ll be a very fancily dressed corpse.

And if you’re a person with rage issues, ice hockey is another way to burn calories. This is paradoxically a very impolite sport created by the most polite of all humans: Canadians. I honestly never saw an angry Canadian until I saw a Hockey match. I didn’t realize they had it in them. Anyway, this elaborate form of ice brawling burns about 650 calories per hour. This explains why the angry Canadians (along with some angry Russians, which is a far more common phenomenon) we imported to Tampa Bay are so skinny. Also, go Bolts. Two years in a row and you brought the Stanley Cup to a state where ice is not a naturally occurring substance. Immigration can make the U.S. a better place.

Of course, it’s possible to lose weight in the miserable cold even without going too far from home.  A good snowball fight is something you can do in your backyard and will burn about 250-400 per hour.  And even the relatively mundane act of building a snowman will burn a decent amount.  I’ve noted before that any building or repair work can be a decent workout.

So if you do venture into the more frigid climes of the world, there are a lot of good ways to stay in shape.  But it’s important not to ruin the gains after a day in the cold.  Sometimes the onset of hypothermia makes us want to consume things.  There is a tendency to drink copious amounts of hot chocolate with marshmallows when doing these things.  And if you’re at a ski lodge, there is frequently a collection of unhealthy things at the bottom of the hill.  Like chocolates and truffles and other dessert type things, which, as I’ve noted before, aren’t so good for you.  

Also, the Germans and Austrians I used to ski with drank rather alarming amounts of beer.  I didn’t, because I was five years old when I moved there (that would’ve been weird), but it may explain why so many of their skiers were a bit…portly.  Drinking can ruin a diet, and the fact that I once knew a bunch of fat guys named Hans and Fritz proves this.  So, there is a risk that you undo all of the work you did by drinking liquid calories to try to stay warm.  Also, drunk skiing increases the likelihood of faceplanting and hospital related weight loss. And death. Fortunately, I prefer the Blessed Brown Water of Life, which has very little in the way of calories.

But if you can avoid those temptations, these activities are really good ways to keep the weight off. Sadly, I haven’t been able to participate in these wintry sports recently.  Winter in Florida lasts approximately two weeks in January and is characterized by temperatures that might be slightly below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  Which is about 15 degrees Celsius for the furriners.  Or 288 degrees Kelvin for the nerds.  These temperatures don’t come close to producing snow.  But one of these days I’ll go to the Rockies.  I’ll ski down those snow crested peaks and get skinnier and then ruin it with beer and hot chocolate.  Although, I should be careful.  Those mountains have some steep cliffs.  I might take a wrong turn off of a cliff and accidentally go skydiving instead.  I mean, crazy stuff like that is good exercise, but kind of a bummer with no parachute.

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Bad Habits #11 – Short-Term Bro Anorexia

I’ve been living healthy for just over two years. I’m down sixty pounds and holding at the low to mid 190 pound range. It would be lower, but as I’ve mentioned before (on two separate occasions, really), I’ve added weightlifting to the regimen. So instead of losing fat, I now replace it with muscle which strengthens my arms, legs, mental well being, and vanity.

But there’s one thing I see on the Internet and on Twitter and other bits of the online Health-o-sphere (A word that only I ever use.  And should probably stop using) that I have not tried.  And probably won’t.  It’s a method that one could call the diet of the Middle Ages or the Great Depression.  Because there’s a lot of hunger involved.  And that is…intermittent fasting.

Every now and then I’ll see some Keto-bro dare his Twitter followers to go on a fast with him, aiming for some ungodly number of hours, frequently in excess of a day or two.  I’ve also noticed that this happens one day after the same bro posted a lurid food porn pic of the 32 ounce porterhouse he had for dinner.  Perhaps there’s a connection.

I fail to see the necessity.  It’s not like these guys are Cuban prisoners going on hunger strike to protest their treatment. The only oppression these guys might have is the indigestion that oversized porterhouse gave them.  Personally, I have no interest in doing on purpose what the Ethiopians did by accident during the eighties.  Okay, it wasn’t really an accident.  It appears to be one of the normal famines that occur in the wake of socialist/communist revolutions of the 20th century.  But the main point is, I don’t feel like going hungry on purpose.

I have another reason to avoid being hungry: My extensive use of (read: total addiction to) of the Blessed Brown Water of Life. Any good coffee addict knows that consumption of large quantities of coffee on an empty stomach can result in the shakes. This is apparently the substance overloading your nervous system or something. I tried to read up on the medical stuff, but got bored. I don’t feel any urge to translate all of that medicalese. To paraphrase the late, great DeForest Kelley, “Damn it, Jim, I’m an accountant, not a doctor.”.

Anyway, the only real cure to the shakes is to chow down on stuff until it goes away.  In other words, the opposite of fasting. And completely eschewing coffee is anathema to any office worker.  One needs a pick me up when one’s job is dull.  So fasting and work efficiency are at cross purposes for me.

Another problem for me is that I suffer from hanger.  Many of you are familiar with this.  Hunger from not eating leads to rage so intense it’s a wonder I don’t get large and turn green.  Although I was never exposed to heavy gamma radiation, so maybe that’s why I’ve never hulked out.  Anyway, this level of rage can make me insufferable.  As my wife has reminded frequently and at great length.

And then there’s the risk of hungry or hangry grocery store visits.  Anyone who has done their own shopping knows what this is.  Satiated individuals carefully selected from the produce and meat section, and maybe a bit of dairy.  Hungry or hangry grocery shoppers clean out the potato chip aisle and the ice cream and then rush home to feed their faces.

And I discovered that this isn’t just my perception.  A quick perusal of various health related sites shows that the downside of fasting is possible irritability and possible binge eating.  And also fatigue, which I don’t need.  The public accounting work I do during the day is enough to put anyone to sleep.  Adding fatigue to that could be disastrous.

I really try to avoid hunger. I understand the rationale behind fasting when one overdoes things, like outsized porterhouses, but it’s possible to stay slim without going that far. If I notice that I went a bit overboard early in a day, I may just have a light meal or snack to avoid exceeding the calorie limit. Such as a potato. Even if I top it with bacon, it’s still fairly light. Or I could have fruits. I’ve noted before that these are good for curbing appetite. But even if I occasionally have a day or two where I go over the calorie limit, it’s not the end of the world. It’s better than going hungry.

Fasting is perplexing to me.  I mean, I suppose it’s one thing to fast if you’re a monk trying to achieve enlightenment.  But bros doing it on a dare is unnecessary.  And a little weird.  But I try not to judge too hard.  If it works for you, knock yourself out.  Actually, poor choice of words.  If at any time you feel woozy, stop fasting immediately.  But apart from that, go ahead and fast a little.  

But I never will.  I’ll never succumb to the strange dares posed by fasters online.  I’ll just hope and pray it works for them.  And remain thankful that they’re choosing short-term bro anorexia and not short-term bro bulimia.  That would be a travesty that produces bros with teeth so rotten they look like meth heads.  And also possibly kill them.

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Good Habits #11 – How to Obtain Good Health By Setting Your Brain On Fire

Back in 1996 (I’m giving away how old I am again), I was at a friend’s house watching the opening ceremony of the Olympic games.  At some point during the night, one of her vixen girlfriends tricked me into eating a hot pepper.  Since I was always willing to show off (read: make a fool of myself) for the young ladies in my younger years, I stuffed the thing into my mouth.  I’d been known to scarf Jalapenos.  How bad could it be?

That night, I learned the hard way what a Ghost pepper is.  The thing was so hot I nearly vomited.  I didn’t swallow it, obviously.  I spat it out and then I spent several hours eating huge hunks of bread, drinking milk, and doing anything I could to get the horrible burning out of my mouth.  

Despite this early life scarring, I’ve nevertheless learned that it can be good to incorporate hot things into my diet.  I’ve discovered that not only does the flavor often cover up for my mediocre cooking skills, it’s also a good way to add some nutrition without too many calories.  Far better than, say, dousing food in sauce or cheese.

So let’s start with the normie, basic beeyotch of peppers.  The thing drunks and college students (but I repeat myself) like to fill full of cheese and fry and then wolf down while inhaling vast quantities of alcohol.  The latter of which is a habit you should try to avoid if you’re losing weight.  The spicy green pepper originally from Vera Cruz, one of the most scenic cities on the Gulf of Mexico.  And that is…the aforementioned Jalapeno pepper.  

A single Jalapeno will provide about 20% of the vitamin C recommended daily allowance, along with a bit of vitamins B6 and A.  This may not seem like much, but it only has 4 calories.  So you’re getting bang for your buck.  Now, obviously, with peppers the “bang” part can be a problem. 

Fortunately, there is a method for measuring the heat:  The Scoville scale.  I have no idea who Scoville is (or where, for all I know it’s a city somewhere) and don’t really care.  I mean, when’s the last time you cared who Fahrenheit was?

What you need to know is that the Scoville scale is a scale which shows how unwise it is to eat a particular pepper, ranging between “No Problem” and “Hold My Beer” in terms of how foolish of a risk you’re about to take.   Jalapenos rate between 2,500 and 8,000 Scoville.  Which isn’t bad relative to most other peppers.

Another common pepper eaten by drunks and college students (I know.  Redundant) is the Pepperoncini.  The thing we used to get with every Papa John’s pizza we ordered.  The pepper so Italian that it’s…actually from Asia.  Just like pasta, I guess.  Somebody really needs to tell the Italian imperialists to stop culturally appropriating.

Anyway, these have a small chunk of vitamins A and C, along with a bit of calcium and iron as well.  And like the Jalapeno, only a handful of calories.  And the Scoville rating for these is only about 300 to 500.  Which is a joke.  Anyone can handle that.

Then there are Cayenne peppers, the Cajun pepper that’s in no way Cajun.  Because it’s actually from French Guiana.  Although I guess it’s not surprising that the French would have sent a few to New Orleans.  Before we bought it, I mean.  Honestly, we have to admit that colonization did produce a few side benefits.

One of these peppers will provide about 5% of the RDA of vitamin A, and also carries only a pittance in terms of calories.  But there is a somewhat higher cost in terms of foodie self-harm.  The suicide (Scoville) rating is between 30,000 and 50,000.

Next, we have the pepper from Africa, from a country neighboring my wife’s home of Zimbabwe.  The Peri Peri pepper, which has spread around the world as the result of both Portuguese and British colonization.  It’s awesome.  I’m convinced that the number of European empires that were involved in obtaining a pepper increases it’s awesomeness. 

Peri Peri also has a little bite to it. This twice colonized hot pepper that’s originally from Mozambique rates between 50,000 and 75,000 Scoville.  So it’s a bit more dangerous than the not-at-all-Cajun Cayenne pepper.  Sadly, though, I couldn’t find nutritional information for the pepper itself.

Fortunately, there is another way to ingest this pepper, originating from another country bordering my wife’s home country: South Africa.  The sauce made by the South African chicken chain, Nando’s.  A restaurant which, sadly, is only available in certain limited markets in the U.S. (like D.C. and Chicago) but whose epic Peri Peri sauce is available in various grocery chains throughout the country.  And on Spaceman Skeletor‘s website.  A mere two tablespoons of Nando’s sauce will add considerable flavor to even the blandest of dishes (like most of mine), and also has 10% of my vitamin A, C, and D requirements for the day.  At a cost of only 30 calories.  There are a lot of reasons I’m thankful I met my wife, and exposure to this is high on the list.

All of these peppers are relatively mild, though. The next one on my list requires a bit more foodie heroism (or foodie folly) to attempt to eat: the Habanero pepper. This one comes from Cuba, the land of mojitos and cigars and political oppression. Fortunately, we were able to liberate many of them from Cuba before the communists took over, so they’re readily available in countries where you have the freedom doing stuff like wasting your time saying stupid nonsense on the Internet. As I do. On this blog.

The pepper that we libred from Cuba will give you 7% of the RDA of vitamin C, and only contains 5 calories.  Heatwise, it’s fairly dangerous, with a 125K to 325K Scoville rating.  For the orange kind.  Other variants, such as red, are apparently deadlier.  By eating those kinds you’re just letting Che Guevara and Fidel Castro get revenge on the free world from beyond the grave.  So I’d steer clear of those.

Next on the list is the Scotch Bonnet pepper.  Which is from Jamaica.  Not sure how the Scots got involved in the equation.  It’s not even remotely Scottish.  My distant Scottish kin and ancestors created many great things (the telephone, the steam engine, the television, penicillin, the United States Navy, etc.), but they’re not known for great innovations in the area of cuisine. 

This non-Scottish pepper is a bit more nutritious than many of the others I’ve covered.  It provides 10% of the vitamin A RDA, and over 100% of the vitamin C.  At a cost of 20 calories, which is higher than the others so far, but still barely worth mentioning.  Sadly, the Scoville rating is high.  It’s about the same as Habanero, with a 125K to 325K rating.  So I guess this pepper is more like Edward the Longshanks getting his revenge on William Wallace from beyond the grave.

And last on my list of hot peppers is the pepper that ruined my night during the 1996 Olympics, the Ghost Pepper. Which is from India.  Where it’s called Bhut Jolokia.  Which is an appropriate name, because it’s an approximation of the sounds your digestive tract makes when you eat too many of them.  These are relatively heavy on nutrition.  They’ll provide all of your Vitamin C and A requirements for a day, and only contain 20 calories.  There is a downside, which you should have figured out from the anecdote at the beginning of this piece.  The Scoville rating is over a million.  That little minx from my college days tricked me into eating something with a rating over two hundred times higher than a Jalapeno.

But peppers aren’t the only way to turn your brain into tapioca with excessive heat.  There are a couple of other ingredients that provide food-induced masochism that I can think of.  Such as that plant that dates as far back as ancient Greece.  The horseradish.  It’s not a pepper, so it doesn’t have a Scoville rating.  But it’s still pretty intense.

Horseradish is one of those things that people assumed had medicinal value, presumably because eating it can be a painful process so therefore it must have healing properties.  Wisdom of the ancients, I suppose. I guess we’ve always assumed that medicine has to be horrible in some way. But it kind of does have healing properties.  It has small bits of folate and vitamin C.  I guess the latter bit explains how the native Americans were able to use it to stave off scurvy.  And a tablespoon of this only has 7 calories, which is not bad at all.  

And lastly, I have to mention the thing I was exposed to when my overly bourgeois friends force me to eat sushi. Wasabi. The green paste, not the root it draws its name from. The one thing that I ever ate that actually made my feel like my brain was on fire. This green substance (made from a hyper-potent Japanese variant of horseradish) seems to be what you get when you combine cuisine with the ancient Bushido ritual of Seppuku. It’s beyond “Hold My Beer” levels of risk taking. It’s more like foodie kamikaze. But, it has a variety of nutrients. So if you’re feeling daring, or have grown tired of living, this is a reasonably healthy way to spice up a meal.

Of course, I don’t want to leave my friends of lesser palates (I.E. lightweights who are scared of spicy food) out in the cold.  There is a pepper for you if you don’t like taste and flavor and other nonsense.  Bell peppers.  They have decent nutrition, although it appears to vary depending on the color.  They have 5-20% of the RDA of vitamins A and C in a small serving, say, a tablespoon.  So for those of you needing the nutrition without the hardcore gumption to dare the dizzying heights of the Scoville cliffs, these are an option.

It’s good to add some hot stuff to your meals. Particularly for me, since my Scottish ancestors imbued me with genes that produce inherently bland food. Hardly surprising from a group known for making gross food from entrails. Adding some peppers or other hot things can make otherwise inedible things edible. And add some much needed micronutrient type thingies.

There is a potential downside though. Too much hotness can have…digestive consequences. Eating overly hot food tonight can cause you to spend a disproportionate amount of time on the toilet the next day. Which can be embarrassing when you’re at work, since all of your pals will walk in and smell (or worse, hear) the results of your spicy food adventurism.

But, overall, it’s good to explore the treacherous, craggy reaches of the high Scoville foods.  They’ll add some useful nutrition to your diet, and make the food noticeably less bland.  So go ahead and climb these spicy mountains.  Just maybe not the equivalent of Mount Everest.  That might have you stinking up the office bathroom the following day.  And getting you publicly humiliated in front of your colleagues.  And maybe fired.  Justifiably.

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