Category Archives: Eats

PopChips (A Love Affair With Food)

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the ‘Titanic’ who waved off the dessert cart.”
― Erma Bombeck

I thought I had already posted about Popchips. This food item is one of the go-to secrets in my arsenal of food choices. I know I’ve raved about them on social media. In the last year, I estimate that I’ve eaten 30 cases, more or less. It’s an addiction at this point, much like lemons and tajin seasoning. I’m almost a bit evangelical about how good these things have been for me, minus the sweaty on-television confession.

Locally, I can get a box of 30 bags for about $12-13 at Sam’s Club. The 30-pack includes barbeque, sour cream and onion, and sea salt in individual serving bags. Each bag is 100 calories. Not that I count calories – but I am generally aware of calorie consumption and use the information to initially decide if it a long-term food for me. For those who must count calories, I am sorry; that sort of thing would derail me quickly. Generally speaking, process derails me.

I’ve tried several other chip options. All of them fall short for either flavor, availability, or price. Given how volatile the food market can be, I await the day when Popchips disappear from Sam’s. It’s happened to several other healthy options for me. Lord forbid if I had to forego trickery and learn to cook small healthy portions!

If you visit the Popchips store on Amazon, you’ll see that other flavors and varieties are available. The cost is much higher than the Sam’s Club offering. While they are delicious, especially the bold & crunchy kind especially, part of my routine demands that cost and convenience be part of the equation.

For me, it is the texture that makes these so appealing. Don’t get me wrong, they are delicious. For those critics who describe them as bland, I simply point out that they are a hell of a lot more healthy than saltines and other crackers. IF you use them as crackers, you will absolutely get more bang for your buck with these compared to any cracker. Having said that, I get tickled when people say, “They don’t have a lot of flavor.” Mostly, they are referring to the sea salt flavor. When someone tells me that, I ask them how much flavor a boring saltine cracker has. Invariably, they don’t know what to say in response.

I used to eat a lot of saltines, especially ones I jazzed up with seasonings. I do sometimes miss making little individual cracker pizzas, usually with a modified version of olive tapenade on them. 70 calories for 5 little square crackers is a bit crazy, though. And especially so when I remember that I could easily eat 20 times that amount.

It’s true that Popchips aren’t stuffed with vitamins. Neither are saltines or most crackers. But they contain staggeringly fewer calories, without the fat. I already eat 100% of my daily fiber everyday through both food and supplements. Popchips are the filler workhorse for me, which satisfy my cravings for texture and flavor. I don’t eat them for their nutritional value. I eat them because they are considerably healthier than what I would otherwise eat. They mitigate my urge to eat a lot of potato chips. As for criticism that Popchips are made from potatoes… well, that’s the point. Potatoes aren’t the enemy, unless you prepare them to be unhealthy. I get tickled with the complex rules and “no” associated with some foods. People are ridiculous. (Which also applies to me, critics.)

When I eat at Mr. Taco Loco, a local Tex-Mex place, I order chicken tacos, prepared with onions, cilantro, and pico de gallo. I discard the tortillas with them and use the Popchips as little scoops for the taco contents. (After a liberal dose of Tajin seasoning on top of it all, of course.) Doing so, even while eating two bags of Popchips with the mix, results in a moderately healthy lunch or supper – while giving me texture, flavor, and a lot of food to satisfy me.

Confession: sometimes, I just eat a bag of chips if I’m on the go or need something to hold me over. The texture works in my brain exactly like Aim toothpaste does, which is difficult to explain to normal people. If I eat a bag of Popchips and drink water, I feel full.

I also eat Popchips like a cracker with tuna and dill relish, or as a filler with Olé healthy tortillas, the kind with a LOT of fiber and about 50 calories each.

Did mention that the texture and crunch are incredible with this chip?

If you’re lucky enough to have a supply of Popchips, give them a try. If you can get the more exotic flavors, I will be jealous.

I will be surprised if you don’t find them to be delicious. If you try them and hate them, feel free to curse me. (No black magic curses, though, please. I’m still growing hair in weird places thanks to the last curse.)

IF you’re looking for a snack that will help you stop eating unhealthy alternatives, Popchips can be the thing that helps you.

It’s Going Fadulous!

This picture amuses me!

“I would lose weight, but I hate losing.” – unknown

Regarding my weight management goals, my body is holding me hostage around 175 lbs. It doesn’t stress me because I expected a plateau. Maybe not at this weight, but it was inevitable. Among the factors at play are insufficient sleep, stress, and my body shifting to defensive mode. I’ve been overweight too long to expect my body to throw in the towel and let me get to my goal weight easily.

So far, I have to say that one of my biggest achievements is that amidst a lot of turmoil and upset, I’ve yet to feel like I’m a victim to my choice to be thinner for the rest of my life. Nothing calamitous has knocked me off course. I am surprised by that, given my history with stress, rough times, and food.

As for continuing to make healthy choices and eat much less, it is still a success. I’m taking the long-term view of the process anyway. Treating food like a heroin addiction helps remind me that I’m not eating healthy for a short-term goal. I’m just finally being the person I should have been my entire adult life.

While I’m getting used to being smaller, I still find ways to surprise myself. I laugh when I catch myself thinking, “Is this how a normal person is supposed to be able to move? What is this bone?” And so on. I don’t want to embarrass anyone, but it’s wildly interesting to be able to touch parts of my body without effort. (I didn’t write that sexually, although I am sure it went there for most people.)

Part of my simple system is an insistence that I wouldn’t do anything I might not be able to do the rest of my life. With that in mind, I had no interest in starving myself or letting junk ideas knock me off course. Now that we’ve made it to February, I’ve seen many people crash and burn with their resolutions. I try to take a minute to ask them to consider my way to lose weight. Most people think it has to be hard. It is not. It is math via reduced consumption. That’s it.

The worst consequence of a plateau, even one that lasts a few weeks, is that I will maintain a good weight. While it is not my goal weight, it’s good. I’m about 50 lbs lighter than I was in October. Try picking up and carrying around 6 gallons of milk – which is about the weight of what I’ve lost in that period.

“I’m not losing weight, I’m getting rid of it. I have no intention of finding it again.”  – unknown

I have yet to have a ‘bad’ day regarding eating. I haven’t binged on anything markedly unhealthy since October. Same with sugar, desserts, and other miscellaneous foods.

Most of the opportunities for me to fail have been exposure to foods and people not focusing on healthy choices. Pretzels, cheese slices, regular chips, etc. It’s not their fault. Making healthy choices is a personal choice and until they see the need or benefit, it’s a losing battle. If I look at those foods as heroin, they are always going to be around me. I will say that if all food where I live was chosen by me, the process would be ridiculously easy. It is an “If only” fantasy, though. I know I would be relentless if I were the only one bringing food where I live. Work gives me the structure to make choosing wisely easy.

I do rely on a routinized selection of foods. In my case, I have a wide variety that keep me full and without experiencing hunger found in almost all healthy eating systems. I’m not deprived. I ate Tex-Mex a couple of days ago, choosing as many better options as possible – not to mention a plate of pico de gallo. Yum! I eat at another Mexican place about once a week. When I do, I eat a delicious yet copious amount of healthy alternatives. That’s part of the danger of going somewhere new: you lose control of the unknowns.

“Successful weight loss takes programming, not willpower.” – Phil McGraw

In the last couple of weeks, I also decided to finally try plasma donation again. Not at the burdensome twice-a-week rate that many people choose. If you approach plasma donation correctly, it forces you to focus on eating well and drinking fluids appropriately. One of the wrinkles of donating plasma is that the donation amount is based on weight. My weight is slightly above the lower limit. Going through the process has given me a LOT of stories about the process and the people I’ve interacted with because of it. Because I wasn’t donating primarily for money, I didn’t have the anxiety that usually comes with donation. I could take it or leave it. That’s a privilege, one I recognize and appreciate. I helped a few people feel better about doing it, including one couple who stayed for their first donation because of me. They were using their donation money to buy groceries, which humbled me.

Going through the weight loss exposes me to a lot of crazy ideas, fad diets, and weird science. If it is interesting, I will look it up. So far, none fare well when compared to the known science of just eating healthy – and less.

I eat fiber. I don’t fry. In general, I don’t eat desserts. I eat a LOT of vegetables. I find things that I LOVE and that are also healthier – and then try to eat them as much as possible. I use a LOT of seasonings, sauces, and flavors. (More than you can imagine.)

In conclusion: the problem is that food is just damned good! That is not going to change, so you’re the problem until you recognize it. And reduce.

“He who indulges, bulges.” – unknown

Can You Handle The Truth Sauce?

Truth sauce is a product made right here in Arkansas by a proud Arkansan.

I didn’t hear about this product until yesterday. Miraculously, I ordered it, and it arrived today, just in time for lunch.

I heard about it through a social media friend. Something about it beckoned me to try it. Maybe it’s the halo-topped logo or the catchy product name. Whatever the impetus, I am glad I gave the product a try.

This isn’t a paid endorsement. I have never met the company’s owner.

The signature sauce is a subtle blend of flavors akin to barbeque sauce and Thai chili sauce, except that Truth Sauce tastes velvety and does not cross the line into excessive heat. For fans of barbeque sauce, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try.

If you need an excuse to try it, buy it for someone who loves good food and invite yourself over to try it.

The sauce can be used as a glaze, as a traditional bbq sauce, or as a dipping sauce. Though I have not tried it with egg rolls or rice, I am convinced it will be delicious. The fact that it tastes like a hybrid product in no way lessens the number of ways it can be enjoyed. The same cannot be said of sauces geared specifically toward one kind of food. Barbeque enthusiasts will insist it is the perfect glaze or sauce, while Asian fans will shake their heads in disbelief, knowing it is obviously for their type of eating.

The brown sugar, lime juice, and lemon oil in the sauce combine for something entirely different. Please trust me when I reiterate that the sauce isn’t designed to be hot. “Sweet Heat” is the perfect description, unless the owner wants to add “Sweet Velvety Heat” to the label, which I think more accurately describes the taste and texture.

The sauce and seasoning can be ordered online or picked up in a few locations around Little Rock.

The seasoning is 6.5 oz. The sauce can be ordered in 15oz or a gallon. You might as well save yourself some trouble if you’re an eater and buy the gallon jug. You’re going to need it.

After I ate Truth Sauce for the first time, I found myself in the kitchen, pouring a tablespoon of it and tasting it repeatedly to detect the flavors. You’ll be doing the same.

The seasoning can be used on anything: hamburgers, popcorn, french fries, fish, beans, and probably a hundred things I haven’t thought of.

Below are pictures for nutritional information and ingredients.

https://truthsauceinc.com/

Company Website

160: I’m Fading Away

I’m fading away.

A week ago, I admitted my goal shifted to reaching 168 lbs. I’m chunking that again. My new goal is 160. That is what success does: it stains other areas with the desire for more.

In the last week, I went to 175, a weight I always imagined as something wildly desirable but impossibly difficult. I haven’t weighed less than 175 since after high school.

Losing weight is supposed to be more challenging with age.

I guess it is. I just wouldn’t know.

In 3 months, I dropped over 50 lbs. It’s not the best way, but fighting from the middle ground would have been another failure for me. Lucky for me, this time followed an episode of realization. Absent that realization, and this wouldn’t have happened. I still don’t expect people to ‘get it.’ After explaining it a few dozen times, it’s this: I saw myself as thin and also pictured that it was ‘the’ me I should have been my entire adult life. I couldn’t see myself making poor decisions that led me away from the vision of that life. So far, it has been entirely sufficient. That ‘me’ in the indefinite future continues to free me from the pangs of willpower.

It was also in that moment that I realized that despite biting my nails for 50+ years, I didn’t do that anymore, either. It’s a shame I didn’t visualize being a millionaire in that moment.

I still can’t figure out how to write a book and make millions.

“Have an LSD trip without the LSD and just do it” would undoubtedly result in a lawsuit. “Don’t put stuff in your mouth” is another possible book title. (You have to appease the vulgar-minded, too.)

Today, I watched a naysayer’s eyes as he realized that I don’t possess superpowers or anything he doesn’t. Previously, he preferred to snark at me. Now, he is considering finding himself at my age and being overweight. “It’s all choices,” I told him. “For most of us,” I added, being reminded of what a friend reminded me of a couple of weeks ago. “So what if you fail. Each day that slides past is another day that you won’t know the answer.” And I offered to help him figure out a way to do it. “Choose your hard,” I challenged him. I don’t expect my system to work for everyone. But a modified version of it will work for a hell of a lot of people.

I might not have mentioned that the one thing I’ve tried all year is to ensure that I consume enough fiber, both in food and through supplements. Though you might not believe it, I get my RDA through eating. I take fiber supplements to ensure I do. While I can’t know with certainty, the fiber seems to have worked wonders for me. I mix both psyllium and gummy fibers. Find a mix and diet of high-fiber foods that work for you.

And because I mention this in every post, every bit of my huge weight loss came through diet. No gym visits, no costly supplements, no specialty drinks, and nothing outside of my usual scope of living. While my job is very physical, I would still have realized a significant weight loss if it weren’t. I’ve stuck to the idea that it is unwise to start a habit you can’t continue for as long as you live. If not, as soon as the practice stops, the benefits stop, too.

I like to imagine surviving the last few months at almost 230. I can’t. I’d be on statins, blood pressure medication, and almost certainly facing some calamity with my feet or knees. Taking 50+ lbs off of them rescued me. I don’t want to think about my cardiovascular system, especially against the backdrop of this pandemic. Stress? Forget about it?

I’m almost at my statistical weight. Soon, I will have to turn to my next goal: don’t be a jackass. That one’s going to take a lot of work.

It’s all lemons.

Choose your hard.

Whoever you are, if you want to do something like this under your control, please do. Start today, in the smallest way. Your life is sweeping past you. You are not trapped in the prison of your previous decisions. Those choices and those years cannot be recaptured. It’s gone. Stand up. Embrace. Try. And try again if you fail.

168

Note: writing these types of posts inevitably comes across as selfish. For that, I’m sorry. Anyone who can lose weight in this crazy world gets a little slack.

I started this healthy eating journey somewhere in the upper 220s less than 3 months ago. I should never be so overweight. It’s part of the reason that I look at my yo-yo eating in the same way someone else might look at heroin. I don’t deserve credit for trying to control something that should have never started.

In other words, this current success is also an accusation of my previous failures. “Look! I stopped doing this stupid thing I’ve been doing.”

A few years ago, in 2017, 2 of my co-workers joined me in an epic weight loss challenge. It contained several layered bets, some monetary, some hilarious. I started at 250, which is ridiculously large. I lost 30 lbs in less than 3 months to finish the challenge over 3 months early. It was a reminder that I’ve always believed that losing weight isn’t hard. It’s keeping it off that’s the terror. Over time, I’ve convinced myself that almost no diets work because people have to return to a sustainable way of eating. Otherwise, it’s a temporary cycle that will plague you for your entire adult life.

Since then, in 2017, I managed to mostly stay inside a range. Still fat. Just not as exaggerated.

In February of 2020, the pandemic gave me the motivation to try again to drop. For all the reasons you’d expect, I got derailed spectacularly. I was lucky! In October, I stopped toying with the idea. Though I’ve written about it before, this occasion was marked by something breaking inside of me. I just knew I was going to drop a lot of weight – and certainly below 200. It wasn’t willpower. It was a certainty. Seeing other people do it, regardless of ‘how,’ demonstrated that I would become one of the success stories.

As for entropy of the potential for eventual failure, it always lurks ahead. We are all complicated, and opposing forces muddy our lives. It doesn’t help that food is incredibly delicious.

I chose my hard. The truth is that it wasn’t hard to begin to eat like a healthy person. And that’s what I did. I had the idea in my head that I wasn’t fat anymore. Everything aligned with it. I melted away. For anyone who has struggled to do something similar, you know what I’m describing. Waking up and realizing I had a sternum, for example. Feeling a space between my thighs. Seeing my face and suddenly realizing part of it was gone. When the comments begin, you intimately understand that people notice that you’re different.

Now, I’m hovering around 180. I weigh 45-50 lbs less than 3 months ago. Yes, I lost weight too fast. Science tells me that losing weight more slowly tends to encourage the body to maintain long-term loss. I initially joked that I was trying the stomach staple diet without the surgery or mimicking a prison camp diet. It’s not inaccurate.

All along, people asked me what my goals were. “Eat healthily and effectively” sounds trite. “Be the person I know myself to be” sounds like a self-help guru has hypnotized me.

Well, here’s the next goal: 168 lbs. While I don’t subscribe to the BMI charts, 168 is the upper region of a healthy weight. (Not giving myself credit for my age.) 168 will put me at losing 1/4 of my total body weight. Can I do it? Yes. Will I? I’m not sure. The absurdity of being unable to make this goal after doing so much would be tragically stupid.

I owe it to myself to get to the weight even if I can’t hold at that weight or drop further. The BMI charts support the idea that my healthy weight range is an absurd 125 to slightly over 168. I don’t know how 125 would be possible. I’d be skeletal. And I don’t plan on running marathons.

I don’t know how long it will take to reach 168. I can calculate the number of calories. But I also recognize that my body is fighting back and resisting at this point, which makes it more interesting, given that I am almost a witness to myself at this point.

For anyone keeping track, I’ve added no exercise. My job is physically very demanding, with a huge range of motion, walking, and lifting. It was that way before, though, and I still got fatter. The only changes I’ve made have been diet, which is the single most significant factor to control for weight management. My insistence on saying so continues to draw criticism. Exercise is essential for a lot of reasons. But you get a bigger bang for the buck by focusing on learning new eating habits without succumbing to changes or diets you can’t maintain.

I’ll see you at 168.

Hell or high water, choose your hard, folks.

It’s all lemons.

Love, X

Choose Your Hard

One piece of obvious advice I would give to anyone wanting to diet, eat healthier, or change a habit: you have to lean into being uncomfortable or behaving differently than you previously did. You might have to request special menu items or (horror!) bringing your food with you at times.

If you aren’t ready to look odd, feel odd, or do things that draw attention to yourself, you’re not quite prepared. That’s okay. For a lot of people, attention is the last thing they want. It’s hard to get anything worthwhile done without drawing scrutiny. Even if you have the best intentions, people will ascribe motives to your actions. You have to practice tuning that out.

While you’re at it, just as you don’t listen to financial advice coming from people who’ve failed to follow it, don’t give naysayers who don’t live and eat healthy your time or attention. If they have a system that requires a membership, a pill, or investment, look elsewhere. The tools we need to eat healthier and be healthier are mostly available, no matter where we are. (Again, it’s important to note that this isn’t universally true.)

Another piece of advice, one most overlooked, is that being healthier isn’t complicated for most people. As always, I will throw out the disclaimer that many people DO have medical or other issues that might impede them; I’m writing for the middle crowd, not the fringes. Most of us in this vast middle owe our bad habits to our choices. Most of the time, it is no secret to us what those bad choices are. We KNOW. But we don’t act.

Everything hinges on choice. Will you choose to reduce how much you consume? Will those options be better choices?

Weight management expressed for an average person: do you consume less fuel than you use over the long-term? You can get weighed down in all manner of complicated diets that require tracking a ridiculous assortment of things. The truth, though: if you significantly reduce the amount you eat and continue to do so long-term, your weight will decrease proportionally.

It’s essential that whatever choices you make, you make the choices for the rest of your life. Not for six months or a year. Forever. That’s the part we tend to stumble with. It is not the dirty secret of eating healthier. Instead, it is the essential truth that explains why almost all dieting fails. Changes must be for the rest of your life. Anything that fails to address healthy eating at its core will not succeed long-term.

Every incremental change you make will cause consequences. There are no exceptions. Maintaining the changes will transform you over a long enough time frame. If you stack enough changes into your life, your goal will be easier to reach.

If you’re looking for massive and quick changes, you’re probably still not ready. But if you’re prepared to change small things to pursue a larger goal, you’re on the right track. Most of us spent decades doing it wrong. To expect a transformative change as the result of a pill, powder, or fad is going to get you into trouble. It might work for you for a while; you’ll have to continue doing whatever you chose forever, though. Otherwise, you’ll yo-yo and fight an endless battle that fails to address lifetime behaviors.

It might be hard for you to do it. A friend of mine beat the phrase “Choose your hard” into my head. Yes, it is hard changing your habits. But so, too, are the consequences of failing to do so. It’s easy to keep doing things wrong. Food is delicious.

I found an old quote of mine: “Old habits don’t die. You must murder them.”

If you have a goal that’s important to you, a little bit of insistence goes a long way. Being fanatical has its benefits. If your tendency to overeat were a heroin addiction, you wouldn’t easily allow someone to convince you to try just a little bit of heroin. So much of our behavior is based on equilibrium. The slightest thing can turn us upside down. Until it is the new normal, it is going to be weird and awkward for you.

If you’re looking to lose weight, you will get the biggest bang for your effort by focusing on your diet. Exercise is essential for many reasons; for weight maintenance, you will be better off learning to eat correctly. If not, you will succumb to the inherent drawbacks of intense exercise. Everyone tends to misquote this. I in no way deny the benefits of exercise. My entire point hinges on weight maintenance and learning new eating habits.

Additionally, unless you will continue your new exercise regimen for the rest of your life, I would advise learning the fundamentals of eating correctly. As for exercise, I recommend avoiding the gym. The best kinds of activity don’t require a location and certainly not an artificial one for the average person. For some, the gym may give you the focus to change long-term. For most of us, though? Probably not. It’s artificial. Most of us can skip the gym and use the travel time to and from to engage in practical activity and exercise.

I know I am oversimplifying, especially since I’m writing for the average person.

I could sell you a book or dress up my arguments.

Learn to eat healthily and track what you eat. You will be shocked.

No matter what you want to do, find a way to do it today, from where you are.

Love, x

Tofurky: Live Life On The Edge

tl;dr: violently unappetizing smell and appearance. Tastes great! (You’ll never see that juxtaposition of words again in your lifetime. Savor them in the same way you savor the door closing when the in-laws depart.)

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.” ―Orson Welles

Usually, if I say something smells a bit like wet cat food, it wouldn’t be something I’d put in my mouth. In this case, though, the Tofurky Plant-Based Deli Slices 100% smell a bit like wet cat food. Not the elegant kind featured on the tv commercials with well-groomed cats, either. The cats that would eat this type of smell are the ones you’d never stoop down to pet without wondering if you’d need a shot afterward. 

After picking up a packet and looking at it at least a dozen times over the last few months, I bought one today instead of throwing it back in the case. I’m a would-be lazy vegetarian, so this type of product catches my eye. The package claims that the contents are hickory smoked. I don’t see how that is possible, but it must be true; they spent a lot of money on the package’s extra wordage. Take note of the large print on the reverse that proclaims: “Taste Bud High Five!” It could just as easily said, “And Nose/Eye Slap In The Face.” They undoubtedly ran out of money to budget the extra printing.

Note to food manufacturers: brown-orange is not the go-to color I’d recommend for food. Sweet potatoes already have the market cornered on that aesthetic. 

“Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.” ―Erma Bombeck

I’m blaming covid for convincing me to try this. My logic is that if a pandemic can get me at any moment, I don’t have a lot to lose by trying something that might smell like cat food and/or taste like used cat litter. Everyone knows that my taste already leans toward “inhuman.” 

The picture I posted doesn’t do justice to the perplexing texture and color of this alternative deli slice. I can’t help but imagine that a team of scientists worked for years, hoping to develop the opposite of whatever appetizing might be. They succeeded. After a lot of thought, NASA engineers associated with the solid waste portion of space travel might have given them ideas. 

If you try this food, do not smell it before putting it on a sandwich, tortilla, or in the cat’s food bowl.

In my case, I used Olé tortillas, lettuce, and horseradish sauce. And another with Sriracha. They were delicious. 

These fake deli slices tasted amazing on them both. 

You might doubt me. I’m sure you doubt me, especially after my review of the alien autopsy fake bacon. (Which is even more amazing cooked on a cookie sheet in a stupidly hot oven.)

To recap: do NOT smell this before trying it. Just put it in your mouth.

“If you use a food app and it calls 911 for you when you input what you’ve eaten, you are at least taking risks, which the happiness experts claim makes a beautiful life out of the most mundane.” – X

Love, X

Weight Loss That Works

Everyone knows I’m not an expert regarding nutrition and fitness.

The yearly promise to work out is just about on us. If you want to build strength, that’s great. If you’re going to lose weight, I would ask you to read this first. Then, decide to focus on your food choices, where you will save yourself time, trouble, and money. Skip the gym if you want to lose weight. You can walk anywhere.

As an adult, I have yo-yoed a few times. The lesson I learned makes people skeptical: if you want to lose weight, stop stressing so much about exercise. Just keep food out of your mouth as much as possible. And when you eat, eat foods that fall in the Venn diagram of what you like and what is healthier. Over time, that change alone will work miracles for you.

It’s equally valid that most of us suffer from a misunderstanding regarding the role exercise plays in the realm of weight loss. Our metabolic rate is set already. Most of the energy we expend isn’t variable. Activity is, of course, a portion, but not as significant as most of us believe. Most of our culture is immersed in the ‘exercise more’ mantra. Science demonstrates that weight loss occurs more efficiently through healthier diet choices – even if you don’t increase your activity level. We should focus much more on our public and private food policies.

Note: exercise yields impressive benefits to us physically and psychologically. Stop reading into my point. Exercise isn’t as important as diet, though, in weight maintenance. It is one of the biggest fundamental flaws that plague us. (I imagine Rob reading this and already arguing.)

People of the same body composition, sex, and other factors have markedly different metabolisms, which results in the one using a lot more calories than the other. Despite what some will preach, no one definitively knows why this is the case. Those same two people can engage in the same diet and physical activity – and one of them will weigh less than the other.

https://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html

If you want to increase your basic metabolic rate, the science is settled: greater muscle mass requires much more energy to sustain. I’ll leave it to you to read the literature. Running will burn calories while building muscle mass will burn more calories even while you are resting. A word of caution, though: as you increase your muscle mass, your body will trick you into consuming more fuel to sustain it.

If you’ve tried diets, especially gimmicky ones, it’s not you who failed. They don’t address the science of human physiology and weight. Don’t start any program that you can’t do for the rest of your life! If you can’t imagine yourself making better food choices for the rest of your life, you will not succeed. All long-term weight management plans that work start and end with healthy food choices. It is that simple. Simple observation will remind you that it is EASY to lose weight. It is damn near impossible to keep it off.

We can all agree that our energy intake is based on the food we put into our mouths. If everything is equal, reducing how much you put into your mouth will inevitably cause you to lose. If you go on a starvation diet, you can expect your body to fight back by lowering your metabolic rate. You’ll need to adjust your plan of weight loss accordingly. Not that most people can do it, but the best way to lose weight is to do it on a very long, consistent schedule. I can’t say I didn’t fall victim to the all-or-nothing approach. It gives results. They don’t last, though. That is true for almost everyone who diets to lose weight.

You have to eat to lose weight.

This sounds ridiculously simple.

For a variety of reasons, people tend to eat more after intense exercise. They also tend to overestimate how many calories they’ve burned while exercising. Other behaviors undermine our exercise routines, as well. Regardless of how much you exercise, it takes a vastly disproportionate amount of activity to overcome overeating caloric intake.

I’m in no way saying that we shouldn’t exercise more. Exercise is vital for good health but not as crucial for weight loss and maintenance.

You can read the last paragraph as many times as you’d like.

Poor diet has a more significant impact on obesity and weight than exercise. Science says it. Not me.

I don’t remember where I read it, but someone said, “You can’t outrun a bad diet, no matter how much you run.”

I’ll remind you one more time that I am not saying exercise doesn’t offer benefits; they don’t compare to healthy eating where weight is involved.

This isn’t a justification for laziness. However, it is a bold statement to tell you that if you need to lose weight, whether for weight loss or better health, you will see a significantly greater result if you focus first on diet.

If you do it incrementally, you’ll have a greater chance to maintain the weight you achieve. Fighting your body’s set point comes with significant risk. Very few people can adapt to a new diet and regulate how they do it sufficiently to give their body time to adjust. The longer you were overweight, the greater this tendency will be. Our bodies don’t resist gaining weight nearly as much as they resist losing it, even to go to a normal weight naturally.

Less than 10% of people who commit to losing weight tend to keep it off long term. If you can think of obesity as a disease, you’ll likely adopt lifestyle changes that stick. Even though it isn’t rocket science, some of the changes include avoiding high-fat foods, avoiding needless sugar, some form of exercise, avoiding unnecessary snacking, regularly weighing, eating less for each meal, choosing more filling and healthy alternatives, and maintaining a record or awareness of what you’re eating.

Though it borders on stupidly obvious, most people do best when their activity is based on walking, free and always available. Everything that complicates your ability to exercise and eat healthily will be an impediment if you want to maintain your weight. For this reason, gyms, specialty exercises, and expensive supplements aren’t sustainable long-term for most people.

Please keep it simple.

Find healthy food. Eat it instead of the foods to which you are accustomed – as much as possible. Reduce snacking. If you can do that for six weeks, you will see a loss in weight. Find literature that is based on science, using some of the things I’ve mentioned here.

Here it is, for most people, boiled down to its essence: if you are overweight, you are overeating.

Nothing can change that.

Likewise, though, there is a way out if you are truly willing to look at what you eat and admit it’s a problem.

The Worst Best Thing In The World

A few days ago, I was at Aldi. That’s problematic enough. I have a love/hate relationship with Aldi. It used to be hate/hate, but I’ve softened a bit. I still leave the cart out in the wilderness of the parking lot, though – quarter be damned.

Immediately upon entering, I encountered a little section tucked up into the produce area. In it were several small vials of interesting liquids. Two of them were little vials of Vitalife Kick It In The Ginger / Turmeric. For whatever reason, it caught my attention. The Ginger shot contains cayenne pepper, lemon juice, ginger, and probably cat tears.

Vitalife is the sort of company that creeps me out. I can’t explain why, mainly due to the lawyers. I’m kidding.

This is the sort of thing I would never purchase habitually. But I am a connoisseur of foul-tasting substances; this seemed to be a prime candidate. That it contained lemon juice was the deciding factor. “Lemon anything” is my new go-to formula for happiness. I can’t get enough Lemon in my mouth no matter how I try.

I wanted to drink it then, but unfortunately, store personnel frown upon eating the merchandise before paying. Which, if you think about it, is both completely logical and also highly objectionable.

On the way home, I opened the vial and drank a bit of it. Yes, it tasted rank. Did I like it a lot? Also, yes.

I won’t say what it LOOKS like because everyone who knows me also knows that I am a perfect gentleman in every respect. It’s okay if you’re snarking already at this point.

I know people love spouting the benefits of drinking ginger. I don’t care what the benefits are. For me, the foul taste that I love is enough.

I won’t pay that much for a little vial of horrible taste. I can get that by eating a cricket or tasting anything at Wendy’s or Hardee’s.

If you need to try something that will make you reject your humanity, I highly recommend the Vitalife Kick It In The Ginger Shots.

Just don’t look at it!

Love, X

P.S. I really like it.

Jalapeños and Facts

This post is part recipe, part observation, and the result of intense thought, none of which was used in the making of said post.

I opened the oven, temporarily forgetting that the wall of hot, moist poisonous gas was about to hit me.

For a second, I felt myself start to faint. I wondered what it would sound like if I fell headfirst into a hot oven.

{Did you know that a lot of adults don’t know that chipotles are just smoke-dried jalapeño peppers?}

You’d think I was making a batch of meth, which is ridiculous. It’s cheaper to buy. Also, if you don’t know whether I’m being serious or not, assume I’m not. The police are tired of hearing my name and definitely tired of my picture.

It’s been YEARS since I made oven-roasted/dried jalapeño slices. Part of the reason is that I’m not a big fan of ‘hot.’ Given the amount of Sriracha and various crazy hot things I’ve eaten in the last couple of years, I might be mistaken. I don’t seek out heat. I’m too old to be playing Russian Roulette and too smart to ingest that kind of heat on purpose. Or so I thought.

{What did the jalapeño dress up as for Halloween? A Ghost Pepper.}

Using fresh jalapeño slices sounds better, but most of the time, the kind already in a jar turns out better. Feel free to cut up fresh peppers and remove the seeds. Don’t get wrong – they are delicious that way—just a bit more work. At Walmart right now, I can buy a 64 oz. jar of Mt. Olive sliced jalapeños for less than $4. That’s crazy.

I drain the juice off of the slices and put them on a piece of aluminum foil. While I can jazz it up, I rarely do. I put the foil sheet on the bottom rack and set the oven anywhere from 325 to 500. And then I wait. Depending on the temperature, it might take 15-25 minutes to dry the slices out or watch them darken.

That brings me to a warning: don’t open the oven without preparing yourself for a wall of fumes that will make you see Jesus on a skateboard. If you’ve ever got a whiff of chlorine gas or accidentally attended a political rally, it gets you close to the feeling that scorched jalapeño slices bring.

If you watch the slices as they dry and darken, you’ll figure out exactly what temperature and time work best for you. I was shocked to find out how much I loved the slices when they turn dark. It’s no surprise, though, given that I love burned food.

Why I stopped making these is a mystery. They ignite my taste buds and are very healthy. If harsh breath is a concern for you, you’ll have to take precautions. Even dogs curl away from roasted jalapeño smells, so I can imagine that your significant other won’t want to kiss you for a while, either.

Notes: {1} Zebras are black with white stripes. If you doubt me, go shave your zebra. If you don’t own a zebra, you’ve obviously made bad choices. {2.} I will never forget the first time I handled hot peppers without considering what and where I might be touching. That’s wisdom right there. {3} Most people don’t stop to think that New Year’s Day comes before New Year’s Eve each year. {4} A day on the planet Venus is longer than its year. {5} Bite your tongue and then imagine words with an “S” in them. You’ll find that the voice in your head has a lisp, too. {6} It’s almost impossible to hum while holding your nose closed. {7} Many baseball fans know that some pitchers have used jalapeños on their nostrils to produce the ‘slippery’ needed for curveballs. I thought you should know. {8} Most people breathe primarily from one nostril; more interestingly, most people don’t know that your nose has a 4-hour(ish) cycle. It’s complicated, and almost no one realizes it, much in the same way that we forget that we see our nose all the time – but that our brain processes it ‘out’ of our vision. {9} I googled “make meth in an oven” without thinking about the consequences. Tell the police I was joking. On the plus side, I think I could now make meth in a 2-liter soda bottle – which evidently is a ‘thing.’ {10} The perpetual contrast effect is a cognitive bias that distorts our perception of something when we compare it to something else by enhancing the differences between them. The easiest example for this is to mention that cold coffee and warm soda are at the same temperature. It is so obvious that you might have to read it twice. {11} The dot over a lower-case i and j is called a tittle. {12} Although it is no secret that the unicorn is Scotland’s national animal, people don’t believe me when I tell them. (13) Pringles are NOT potato chips. They are made from dehydrated potato flakes. Look on the can. They aren’t called chips, either. {14} Lemons have a staggering number of uses and health benefits. I won’t list them all because I like the element of surprise on this one! {15} The majority of laughter doesn’t happen as a result of jokes; instead, it follows social cues and bonding. {16} Newborns and kids have TWICE the number of tastebuds as adults.