Returning from the deadliest place on the planet

I love Australia. I really do. I lived there for about six months in 1993. I met my wife there. I’ve returned three times since my initial visit, most recently visiting last week.

In the airport, there was a sign that reminded me of my very first day in Australia. Both were warnings about the dangers of the island continent. As I’ve come to learn, Australia is the most inhospitable place on Earth for people. Oh, I don’t mean inhospitable like Mount Everest or the bottom of the ocean. I mean in terms of mother nature very clearly telling people to “GET OUT.”

Virtually everything in Australia will kill you. Here’s a partial list:

  • The box jellyfish (described as one of the most lethal animals in the world)
  • The taipan snake (can strike multiple times per attack)
  • The saltwater crocodile (which grows to 18 feet or more and can take down a water buffalo)
  • The great white shark (uh, Jaws, anyone?)
  • The blue ring octopus (no known antidote)
  • The stone fish (camouflaged as a stone, it is the world’s most poisonous fish)
  • The red back spider (bites thousands of people per year)
  • The brown snake (can kill a small child with one bite)
  • The tiger snake (kills about half its victims)
  • The funnel web spider (can bite through shoes)
  • Wildfires (can spread at 60 miles per hour)
  • Weather (tsunamis,¬†cyclones, droughts, floods)
  • The sun (Australia has the largest incidence of skin cancer in the world)
  • The gum tree (known as “The Widowmaker,” for it’s propensity to drop huge branches on campers and hikers)
  • Dingos (been known to eat babies)
  • The giant Gippsland earthworm (ok, not deadly, but it is freakin’ huge)
  • Vegemite.

What else did I miss?

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.