En Garde(n)

Among the many reasons we moved out to the country — space, quiet, nature, workshop — perhaps the top consideration was plenty of space for a garden. Or, better yet, multiple gardens.

We got that, for sure, including lots of existing garden beds that were already well established. So over the summer we’ve been working to expand what was in place and create new space for veggies, flowers and more.

I’ve already written about our wildflower projects. Those meadows are well underway and beginning to pop with color. And I’ve also written about the greenhouse we put up last fall. But those are just the beginnings of our efforts.

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A Dog’s Breakfast

It was a little over 13 years ago that our family brought a little chocolate bundle of joy into our lives. Milo joined our family as a palm-sized pup, but being a Labrador Retriever, he displayed an unflinching devotion to his food bowl and quickly ate his way into adulthood. I like to think he loves us, as we love him, but we also know that when the chips are down, Milo will absolutely snarf up those chips — and plead for more.

Recently, though, his food fixation has become increasingly disruptive. So much so, we’ve had to take action. And, I’m pleased to say, that required a trip to the woodshop.

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Bad blogger, worse dieter

Well, my two-week entry to the “South Beach Diet” was minimally successful, even if my promise to consistently blog about it wasn’t.

By the end of the two-week period, I had lost about 8 pounds. That was about half of my intended goal, but that’s okay. I definitely found that my cravings for bread and other carbs diminished, with the exception of pasta. One recent evening I boiled up a pot of rotini with some salt and olive oil and after Sammy had her share, I found myself hovering over the colander stuffing handfuls of pasta into my mouth.

Still, I can see a path forward for continued weight loss and improved diet. No more snack foods. Only the rare soda. Ice cream just once a week or so. More salad.

It’s nothing revolutionary, but it does require commitment. We’ll see how it goes.

One step back, two steps forward on the diet

Clearly my experience with the South Beach Diet has proved one thing to me: I’m not a hard-core dieter. Over the past several days, I’ve succumbed to the temptation of rice (usually brown rice), some fruit, and even a little ice cream. A couple days ago, for the first time since starting the diet, my morning weigh-in showed me higher than the previous day. The good news is, that prompted me to be ever more vigilant thereafter, and this morning, I had made up for the lost ground and was continuing the overall weight decline.

So far, I’ve been pretty pleased with myself, the diet and its effects. I can even say that my pants fit a little better — that is, I don’t have to suck it in as much each morning. Yet, I fear where my cholesterol might be these days.

Nonetheless, I’ve been better about eating salads and other veggies, and avoiding cookies and other high-carb snacks. The goal now (or, starting in a couple of days) is to cut more of the meat out and return whole-grain foods back in. Hopefully that will keep me on the glide path to sub 200 and half that in cholesterol.

Diet Day 7

I realize these entries are probably not of interest to most people, but that’s okay. I’m doing it more as a way to pay closer attention to what I’m eating and the effects of food on my body.

Anyway, yesterday was day 7. The morning started out well, if cholesterolic. I made Cynthia and myself a giant omelette with mushrooms, tomatoes, habanero cheese and smoked salmon. It was quite good, if I say so myself.

Then it was time to work in the yard. Getting out in the sun, sweating, cleaning things up felt good. So, after showering, I quaffed some club soda and took a nap.

For the evening, we had friends over for dinner, so we threw together some chicken and steak kabobs, replete with mushrooms, green peppers and cherry tomatoes, and made some brown rice. (The brown rice was for the guests, but it wasn’t ready in time.) While that was cooking, we plated some salmon and crackers. The crackers beckoned and I caved. What can I say?

Post dinner, we broke out the ice cream. Only the guests and Sammy enjoyed the Häagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s. Cyn and I stuck with sugar-free, fat-free fudgisicles and ice cream bars.

Add in a few handfuls of peanuts and it was a decent diet day. By this morning, I was down 7 pounds from my start. I’m at 208 and falling.

Kinda sick of the diet

So, yesterday was day 6 of the diet. I have to admit, it was the first day I didn’t do so well. First, I ate some leftover French bread pizza. Then, later in the evening I had a few Doritos and some dark chocolates (which are supposed to be allowed in Phase 2, though I’m still a week away from that.

But, in between I did well. For lunch, we went to Elevation Burger. For those who’ve never been (or never heard of it), it’s an excellent organic hamburger shop. The best thing is, they allow you to replace the buns with a big ol’ lettuce leaf.

Now, you might be thinking, “ugh.” But, I’m hear to tell you, even if I wasn’t on a diet, I might go with the lettuce wrap again. It was awesome. I actually splurged for the double patty, but before you castigate me for being dieting in name only, the second patty was a veggie patty, and it, too, was excellent. Though, I do have to wonder if I was following my diet, since the patty had carrots in it.

Anyway, we didn’t order any fries and I drank water. (Though later, I did have several glasses of lemonade, which, I’m sure, was verboten.

Later in the night, I played (and lost at) poker. There were the obligatory cheese puffs and Doritos. I was good, caving in only at the end, but even then still limiting myself.

When it was time for bed, I tested the scales and found I weighed in at 212 pounds. Sigh.

South Beach diet or (gut) bust

Mirror mirror on the wall

Not long ago I was getting ready in the morning and I caught a glimpse of myself in the full-length mirror in my bathroom. “Who the Hell is that?” I wondered, seeing my pale gut sticking out far beyond where I’d ever seen it extend it before.

My daughter, who was brushing her teeth, said, “I don’t like your stomach.” Neither did I. It was time to do something. It was past time to do something.

String bean teen

When I graduated high school, I was 6’6″ (ish) and 165 pounds. When I played basketball (badly) I was easily pushed out of the box. I was simply too light for my height. Over the years, I slowly added weight, but even by the early 21st century, I was still only 185 pounds or so.

In the last couple years, though, the weight has come and come fast. I’ve packed on nearly 30 pounds. On the one hand, I like being bigger. On the other hand, I’d prefer it wasn’t in my gut and my second chin.

It’s not that I was all that overweight, really, but let me put it this way: When I played Wii Fit Plus, my nice lean avatar got a little paunch after I went through the fitness test. Just like me. D’oh!

Taking charge

It’s one thing to have a preference, it’s another thing to do something about. So, when my neighbor said she lost 16 pounds on the South Beach diet, I thought, “well, Hell, maybe I should give it a shot and jump start an improved lifestyle.”

So, that’s just what I’ve been doing for the last few days. Basically, the South Beach diet is a three-phase low-carb, low-sugar, low-fat diet. The first phase, which lasts two weeks, essentially bans dairy, pasta, rice, bread, fruit, juice and lots of other stuff I like. The second phase brings back a smattering of those things, and phase three, which is meant to be indefinite, brings back a few more in moderation.

Here’s how it’s gone:

Day 1:
Boy, all day I really wanted to drink a glass of milk. And a cookie. Or a sandwich. But, what was I going to do, bail on day 1? Of course not. So, I stuck to my guns. For breakfast, I had a couple hard-boiled eggs.

For lunch, I enjoyed a piece of salmon and a salad. It was filling. For a while. In the early afternoon, when I would have gone cookie, I grabbed a bag of pistachios instead. Yay me!

Dinner consisted of pork chops and salad.

Honestly, I was hungry pretty much all day. despite the fact the diet says you shouldn’t be. That’s because it allows you to have snacks, like a small number of nuts, or a bit of low-fat cheese. I had forgotten that bit and despite really wanting a cookie all day, I stayed away. (Ok, I did have a bite of illicit brie.)

Day 2:
In the morning, I ordered up an omelette with mushrooms, cheese and tomato, which kept me full for most of the morning.

For lunch, I filled a salad with chick peas, red beans, tuna and other veggies. That lasted a while, too.

Dinner was fairly lame. I had a can of tuna fish and some scrambled eggs with spinach and mushrooms.

In all honesty, I was already feeling pleased with my healthier eating (cholesterol notwithstanding).

Day 3:
Wednesday began with a repeat of Tuesday’s omelette order. Lunch, again, was a salad stacked with beans and tuna.

For dinner, Cyn and I had a nice big plate of grilled salmon.

Sammy left behind a small bit of chocolate milk, so I quaffed that and immediately regretted it. Not only did I feel guilty, but I even felt a touch ill. It was rich.

Nonetheless, when I weighed myself, I was a couple pounds lighter. Maybe the diet’s working?

Day 4:
Nothing to say. I ate better, but I was still hungry.

Day 5:
Here’s the thing: I was doing great until dinner. Cyn (who is doing the diet with me) and I decided we need to eat something different. We were thinking Indian, since we could still meet our diet needs while eating something other than grilled fish, chick peas and eggs.

Sadly, the Indian restaurant we intended to visit was closed, so we went a Lebanese Taverna instead. What did we find when we sat down? A bowl of bread. Crap.

We tried to avoid it, but couldn’t. After one bit, we switched to whole wheat, about which we felt better. And we tried to order food that stayed within the rules. But, I’m sure we strayed more than we should have.

Oh well. Tomorrow’s another day.