Weight Loss Without a Gallbladder?

Dum Aloo or Dum Paul!?!

Despite being fat, unfit, a smoker, & generally an excellent candidate for all the diseases of western civilization, I’ve done pretty well. Short of an unusual incident, or an occasional accident, I have managed to avoid hospitals for most of my life. It was a little cruel that I found myself curled up, on the ground, in the parking lot in one of Canada’s favourite coffee shops, during the first day of me enjoying a couple of vacation days with the family. Fortunately, these coffee shops are well located in the heart of things, so there was a walk-in medical clinic on one side. And an EMS station on the other.

With some assistance, I made it to the walk-in clinic & immediately assumed the fetal position again. On the floor again. That disrupted things a little but one look & the doctor put out the call for the ambulance. The EMS team arrived in minutes & I was on my way to hospital shortly after. Under less painful circumstances, I might have enjoyed the Code 1 ride, lights flashing & sirens a wailing. Not so much this time. Thanks & kudos to those folk who do the ambulance thing for us, by the way. They were great.

Despite how much I know about what my pancreas does for me, from a dietary perspective, I don’t always treat it well. And while I’d certainly heard of this condition: pancreatitis, along the way, I never paused to learn much about it. After all, it didn’t apply to me, did it? It did now. And it hurt. A lot!

Long story short, after 8 days in hospital, I went home, leaving my gallbladder behind in some garbage can. I’m not sure I made the right call in going ahead with the surgery. And though there were people there with far more serious conditions than mine, I still felt sorry for myself. I’m sad that I lost my gallbladder. I miss it!

But how is the lack of a gallbladder going to impact my way of eating? My diet? My weight loss efforts?

There are varying reports on the impact that this very common (too common?) procedure can have on our lives. Most reports seem pretty benign. From a cursory look, it seems like the recommendations for what to eat after the surgery are as confused as the “best diet” recommendations for our general health & well-being. My biggest fears were that I would no longer be able to tolerate hot & spicy foods. And worse, I might not be able to tolerate fatty meals.

Never one to shirk a challenge, I begged for my first home-cooked meal to be hot & spicy … a seasoned-to-kill Dum Aloo! It crossed my mind that it was a little unusual for me to avoid meat, but that’s what I wanted.

And the result?

I survived! Since then, I’ve tried a few high fat meals. Including bacon & eggs, with cheesy home fries … mmmmm! I’m very conscious of not having that big shot of bile available to attack the fat but otherwise, I seemed to tolerate it reasonably well. There are some weird little aches & pains hanging around my midriff but I’m not sure if that’s just the physical healing after surgery. Or if I’m inducing them with my crazy food choices. I also decided to do a big bread day. There was no logical reason why, but I was hoping that I was miraculously cured of my typically poor reaction to eating bread. I wasn’t. And that was a really bad idea!

So now, I’d like things to carry on healing. I hope they didn’t leave a tea spoon inside me. And, maybe in a couple or so days, I’ll get back to the grind of weight loss … without a gallbladder! Fingers crossed, all will be well.

If you are living life without a gallbladder, let me know how it’s going for you.

Results … Month #11

I don’t have a result for this month yet because I can’t get to my scale. I’m writing this from my hospital bed!

My book wasn’t on the used books rack! Might have to sneak back in & donate!

Instead of writing up this month’s results, I’m worried about how my upcoming surgery will impact my weight-loss strategies. My superstitious Celtic nature prevents me from talking about the surgery now (in case I hex things!) but I will cover it later. Along with whatever new challenges that it might impose on my diet. But please, God, let me still be able to eat lots of fat. And hot & spicy stuff!

The dietary component of this week’s post is about the food provided by, what I believe is our best medical facility on the east coast. I’ve been in the Halifax Infirmary, part of the QE II medical complex in downtown Halifax, all week. Up until a few days ago, they fed me salty water in a bag. They they finally served me breakfast. They shouldn’t have bothered!

A low-fat yogurt, with added sugar. A lighter-than-air bread roll, that might as well be sugar. Accompanied by an industrial seed oil margarine. A refined grain cereal, ‘nuf said. And to wash it all down with? A wan-looking 1% milk. Who drinks this stuff!?! Even baby cows would be repulsed!

Now I have spotted better leftovers down the hall so, after a little chat with my favourite catering services person, I’m hoping things will fatten up for me going forward! 😁

Meantime, you can’t help but wonder how menu planning advances happen in the medical world. Most of the folk working here know all about keto, low-carb, whole food, paleo, and so on. And I see them sneaking off to their break room with real food under their arm! Okay, a big chocolate chocolate chip muffin is a bit dubious. But if you’re gonna be bad, then be really bad. One day they’ll rise up & help us powerless patients get some real food too. I can only hope it’s before my next visit!

Talking of the people, they’re something special here. I’m sure everyone says that about their favourite local hospitals. But I think these guys have pushed the curve far to the right. I am almost ready to bawl my eyes out witnessing the patience, the perseverance, and pure kindness so many of these good folk bring to their job. And for the people who depend on them. Broken and distressed, as we patients can sometimes find ourselves.

Thanks a bunch, all you guys at the 4.2 & downstairs, I truly luv y’all. Even those cruel few who take just a little too much pleasure in taking my “vitals” at 4 in the morning!

But I hope the next time I see any of you again is in a pub. And when that happens, the beer’s on me!

THE Best Exercise for Fat Burning

My favorite part of gardening?
Watching plants grow!

Just what you need, exercise advice from a fat guy, eh! But hang with me for a minute.

If you subscribe to the notion that you can burn off the fat with exercise, good luck with that. Trust me. Or even if you don’t, it doesn’t matter, you likely still can’t. But … and this is big … there are so many more reasons to do exercise that we can’t afford not do it. No matter how poorly the scale tells me I’m doing, I try to do something physical every now & again. Ideally, we probably all need to move about an hour or so a day. For a fit person, that may be pounding a bicycle up a mountainside. For someone like me, who previously considered thumbing the remote control exercise, it may be a leisurely walk around the mall. Though I will skip past the donut counter, of course!

I like to find a nice natural place, with trees & water. I called it water therapy ’til I heard about Shinrin-yoku. That sounded so cool, I started calling my walks by that name! From Japanese, it means forest bathing. Doesn’t that sound so anciently mystical? It’s not, it was “developed” in the 80s. But it’s something we all know instinctively. We are meant to be one with nature. Every now & again, I need to walk, ramble, amble, shamble my way through a forest path. Or by a lake. Better yet, a little saunter along an ocean beach. Even a park, or my back yard, will do in a pinch. No need to think of burning calories. No headphones glued to my ears. I don’t worry about what my heart rate is. No thoughts of how many steps I’m taking. I just like to take in a little of nature’s music every now & again.

So how does that help with weight loss?

For starters, I simply feel better. Feeling well is a positive contagion that helps me make better choices throughout the day. Maybe even through tomorrow. It’s easier to make better food choices when I feel well. I’m a little nicer to people after a walk. I’m even a little nicer to myself! I find myself going to bed happier. And sleeping better. I don’t even mind a little muscle ache every now & again. That just proves that I did something good. All of those effects can reset our stress hormones too.

If you can already ride your bicycle for miles, lift a 50 pound sacks of spuds over your head with one hand, & do 100 one-arm push-ups, just keep on doing all that. If, on the other hand, the remote control & the couch is your gym, make just a little change. Get up, slowly, & sneak outside. Amble, shamble & ramble awhile. Take an umbrella & enjoy the rain. Leave the electronics behind. Try a little Shinrin-yoku every day & let me know what happens. It can works wonders … for mind, body & soul.

Now if only I could follow my own advice more often! 🙂

5 Ways to Prevent Weight Rebound

5 Ways to Prevent Weight Rebound

Vanilla Cinnamon Pancake made with eggs & cream cheese!

If you just can’t take another day of dieting, try these 5 things see if they help avoid a rebound. And that horrible feeling that comes when we step on that lying, cheating scale the morning after falling off the wagon!

I’ve been struggling the past couple of months & these little tricks have helped keep me treading water. I hope they continue to work ’til spring finally decides to arrive.

  1. Eat more fat. I tend to choose fattier cuts of meat & add more pan-fried foods to my diet. Topping my greens with butter helps too. Keto & low-carb adherents will know the value of a fat bomb. Little treats that we can stuff into our faces without fear of disrupting that venerable state of ketosis. Who cares if fat has the most calories. If it stops us going through another self-destruct phase, it’s worth it. And we just might be lucky enough to carry on losing a little while we seek comfort in eating more fat. If that doesn’t work, and …
  2. When I feel like I just can’t carry on … then I don’t! Whatever diet I’m on, I try doing the opposite. On a low-carb diet? Go all carbs for a day. Or three. Sounds like heresy but it can work. If I feel guilty about it, I can make healthy choices, like broccoli, sprouts, or cabbage. Flavorful additions like garlic & onion don’t even count, right! I stir-fry these in my favorite fat. And eat ’til I’m ready to burst. This is my “Vaguely Vegetarian” routine. I try not to eat a slab of meat on such days. Maybe a tiny few bacon bits. Just for the flavor! Sometimes, I go all starch with my choices, like home-fried potatoes. A day or two eating nothing but fried potatoes or fried rice (but, sadly, not bread for me) can soothe the soul. Yes, I may see a blip on the scale next morning but likely not on subsequent mornings. Once the liver & muscle tissue is loaded with the stored form of glucose, & the necessary water that accompanies that, it’s difficult to add much more. And it usually flies off again, once I go back to low-carb. If the first two suggestions are scary, why not …
  3. Go with the creep. But cautiously. Dessert can often be a lure for those of us on a low-carb or keto regimen. And those fat bombs don’t always work for us. In fact, they’re sickening sometimes. But adding some berries doesn’t add a huge amount to the glycemic load. So I make my own ice cream! I add heavy whipping cream to a cup of frozen berries & blend. I mostly add some dark chocolate (70% is about as dark as I can tolerate & still enjoy) for chocolate chip ice cream. Very delicious & quite addictive but it can keep me going during difficult times.
  4. Pattern disruption can help too. My problem time is in the evening. On the couch. Can you relate? Skinny people tell me to just get off the couch but this is not always easy to do. Sometimes, I need help from the nuttier parts of my mind. Early in the day, when I’m most motivated & strong, I’ll place something on the couch. Maybe a suitcase, to remind me of an upcoming trip that I want to look good for. Or simply to take up all the room on the seat so I can’t sit! When it gets near my crash & relax time, that suitcase reminds me of how enthusiastic I felt that morning. And it helps me focus on finding something else to do. Somewhere else to be. Leaving a suitcase on my couch isn’t a long-term solution, but it can help me do some different things. And pattern disruption, even when not directly related to food, can often help develop some new, sometimes more positive, patterns. A new pattern might include …
  5. Going for therapy! While it may well help, I’m not suggesting that we all go book an appointment with our favorite therapist. Instead, I try shinrin-yoku! This is “forest bathing”, Japanese style. It sounds like a mystical thing but it was only studied & given this name in the 80s. It is a practice of communing with nature, gently ambling through the forest. Regardless of diet & weight loss challenges, it proved to be of great benefit for our general health & well-being. I like water therapy too. I like to spend a little time by the ocean, a lake, or a stream. Though at this time of year, in my neck of the woods, the blackflies & noseeums do their best to suggest I go elsewhere! And that’s okay too. Because I might visit my favorite coffee shop (for coffee only!), the local library, or take a walk in the mall. I may even just sit on the porch & say hello to the neighbors. And their dogs. I just added riding a loop of the local transit system to my list. It doesn’t matter what we do, just getting up & going out is the thing. Interacting with nature & humanity, even just a little, can do wonders for the soul. And we can but hope that the body comes along for the ride!

If you have any suggestions on strategies that have worked for you, & that might help keep me on the straight & narrow … please pass them along in the comments section. The comments link is just under the post title.

ActiFry, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?

ActiFry, Instant Pot or Slow Cooker?

One Big Pot!

Dieting is tough. If I don’t have the right food on hand, I’m going to eat the wrong food, right!?! Bulk cooking is a way to ensure that we always have a meal in a container. And if we’re lucky, it’s a meal that meets the dietary requirements for our current regimen. When it comes to bulk cooking, I want to make the maximum amount of food, with the minimum of fuss. And as little mess as possible. That usually means that I pull out my big 50 gallon pot. Or one of my one-pot wonders … the ActiFry, my Instant Pot, or my most recent acquisition, the slow cooker.

The benefit is that we can toss a bunch of stuff into any one of these things & hit go. Depending on which one gets fired up, we’re eating half an hour later. Or maybe we get to enjoy the cooking smells for 6 or 8 hours before we dig in. It’s our choice.

If speed is important, you just can’t beat the Instant Pot. It is fast, clean & efficient. The only drawback, & the failing in mine not the Pot’s, is browning. I don’t want to dirty another pan, so I brown my meat in the Instant Pot. I never deglaze properly &, as often than not, I get that burn warning when I close the lid. Forcing me to open it up, scrape the bottom of the Pot, & restart. For that very same reason, thickeners are better added at the end. That aside, this thing will turn old boots into melt-in-your-mouth food in double quick time. Depending on which model you go for, it does all sorts of other tricks. One of my favorites is the yogurt button. I like high fat yogurt & this thing does an amazing job with a no-boil yogurt. Though the cost for my preferred ingredients means that store-bought is probably still cheaper on sale. Since the pot liner is removable, cleanup is a breeze. This is a great little cooker.

Having ignored slow-cookers most of my life, I recently succumbed to peer pressure! With all day cooking times, having to think this far ahead was a little alien for me. But I found it surprisingly easy to get into the rhythm. Turns out that, as a morning person, it suits me. Toss a bunch of the appropriate foods into the crock, hit go, & come back later. Much later. I’m tired by the end of the day &, rather than cook, I tend to make poor choices with whatever is more readily available. If this baby is doing its thing all day, the cooking smells have me drooling by dinner time. And then it delivers! There were a couple of surprises here. The evaporative losses are minimal. So you wind up with almost the same amount of liquid at the end, as you started out with. This requires a little post processing if you want to thicken the sauce. The other surprise is that meat is tenderized to the point of falling apart. Yet the potatoes remain whole. How does that happen!?! Like the Instant Pot, browning may improve results. But you’ve got to do it on another pan. And that’s really the only downside. You don’t have to brown, but it does make the dish taste better. And look better.

The T-fal ActiFry is a well-used machine in our house! Diet or not, I like fried food. The first thing I did when I got this little beauty was toss out the little green spoon! You know the one? The instruction book tells you to limit yourself to two little spoonfuls of “heart-healthy” fat to make your French fries. Forget that! Hide that spoon & you will feel no guilt! I’ve tried everything in this. With & without the paddle. With & without the optional rotating basket. If you put enough fat in there, they all taste great. I generally use coconut oil or olive oil. But I’ve done bacon in the thing. And then used the bacon fat to cook French fries! Or mushrooms. Mmmmmmm! If you can stop fish sticking to the basket, that’s a great meal too. Other than the power cord getting a little hot during cooking, this little beast is great. I really like the flavor of the food coming from it.

My big pot! The good old fashioned saucepan. It’s a big thing with a small handle on either side, like little ears. You can beat this thing with a hammer, stir & scrape it with a metal spatula, or toss it outside the back door when the sink is full. The only downside is that you do need to sit it on the stove. For speed, it falls between the Instant Pot & the Slow Cooker. And, whether you need to or not, you’re going to come by to stir the contents every now & again. You can brown in it, but it too requires deglazing. Though it’s not as fussy as a lidded device. Its one big advantage is that liquids evaporate & the sauce thickens. Because you’re stopping by every now & again, it gets stirred & tasted. For a cook-by-feel person, that’s a plus. The other big plus of a plain old pot is its ability to release the flavors from spices. For me, that is mostly done by cooking the spices in hot oil for a few minutes, ahead of dumping in the major ingredients. By the time the cooking is done, this makes for a better blending of flavor than when you just add spices to the liquid in the pot.

So which one is best?

With the lidded-pots, you have to work a little harder to match the flavor of the regular old pot. But for convenience, you can’t beat these set-it-and-forget-it style pots. Fast or slow? Really depends on the day. The ActiFry is a totally different beast to the others. And it can be used by the low-fat & high-fat folk. Each one wins in a different way. But if you were to strand me on a desert island with just one, I’d probably have to stick with the trusty old pot.

Thankfully, I don’t have to choose. And they all have their place & space in my kitchen.

What’s your favorite?