Tag Archives: Weight loss

I can’t believe its butter

My brother told me a telling story about the last days of his mother-in-law’s life. She was dying from cancer at much too young of an age. My brother went into her refrigerator and saw she was still eating a strange product called “I can’t believe it’s not butter.”

“You can have real butter,” he told her.

But that’s how we viewed such things for far too long as it turns out. We thought food scientists could make better, healthier food than the stuff God had sustained life on this planet with since its first global turn. We thought things like butter were death to us and for years we made it a pariah of food. We thought that eating butter was a treat that a dying woman could afford but the rest of us… not unless we wanted to join her.

We thought wrong, way wrong as it turns out.

For decades we’ve been sold a bill of goods that has cost us billions annually and ruined our health. It’s been one of the worst scams ever perpetuated on the American people.

A new all-encompassing study by the reputable National Institutes of Heath found that a high-fat, low-carb diet “improves nearly every health measurement, from reducing our waistlines to keeping our arteries clear, more than the low-fat diets that have been recommended for generations,” a new story in Men’s Journal reported.

“The medical establishment got it wrong,” a cardiologist said in the article. “Their belief system didn’t pan out.”

Indeed, the results were so sweeping it took everything we’ve ever been told about eating a “low-fat diet,” which often centers on food scientist-created products to artificially remove fat from stuff we now call food, and turned it on its ear.

Another physician said the evidence that saturated fat is bad for your heart has “disintegrated.”

“In fact, a new Annals of Internal Medicine review of 72 studies and hundreds of thousands of subjects found no strong evidence that saturated fat causes heart disease,” the story reports. An NIH researcher said in 25 years of clinical trials there has been virtually no opposition to this finding.

The study is truly a game-changer because not only does it explode the billion-dollar, low-fat, processed-food economy and the artificial weight-loss economy that has directly contributed to the epidemic of obesity our country suffers, but it directly challenges the calorie-counting shibboleth that has stubbornly refused to go away.

Because high-fat foods, i.e. natural foods like avocado, nuts, lean meats and yes, the deliciously extravagant culinary delight we call butter, are high in calories, those treating the human body like a calculator have long said simple math would bring weight loss. For the millions who have tried it, and failed, we know how defeating it can be to watch those calories and reduce the joy of food to a computerized intake system only to see our bellies continue to bulge.

The definite word on this is in: “We no longer think low-fat diets are the answer,” says American Heart Association nutritional committee member, Dr. Linda Van Horn.

The practical application is the millions of dollars that went into funding and researching low-fat, contrived diets are finally flowing toward healthier, organic, local, non-processed and yes, high-fat diets.

It turns out, I had it right when I wrote the secret of how I lost 100 pounds: eat right (which means eat real food) and exercise. No, I didn’t make that up. I’m not Al Gore. But after years and years of never-ending diets when I finally said “EFF That!” and just started eating what I knew was good for me and working out with discipline, the weight came off (helped I’m sure by sobriety for the first time in my life).

But you know who knew it? My Nonie.  Until the day she died at the ripe old age of 95 she never went to a hospital for an illness and refused to eat the crap that everyone around her touted as healthy. She loved butter. She insisted on it. I remember when my Aunt came over and made Pasta de Pesto and refused to put in butter because it was unhealthy. Nonie groused. She didn’t eat it much when the food came. Later she was still grousing.

“It needs butter,” she mumbled.

She was right, in so many ways!

I leave you now with my new favorite recipe that I’ve used a couple of times a week recently to combat the trend toward carbs and sugar in breakfast (like in my favorite granolas or English muffins or even many fruit and yogurt smoothies). I call it Butter Bomb Coffee! But really, it’s no more my invention than eat right and exercise. I got it from an earlier story in Men’s Journal, which made the compelling argument that butter in my morning coffee would quell cravings and give me an energy boost. The Bride and I both tried it and felt the immediate impact! Enjoy!

Butter Bomb Coffee



  • 12 oz cup of hot coffee
  • 2 pats of butter
  • 1 spoonful of coconut oil
  • dash of cinnamon
  • splash of half and half

Put all ingredients except the coffee in a mug then pour hot coffee over it swirling until its mixed. It’s da bomb!



Busting the hype of ‘fat busting’ Garcinia Cambogia

I confess, I like Dr. Oz.

Frankly, among smart people, that makes me an idiot. For a positive guy who really seems to enjoy helping people stay healthy, he takes a lot of heat. Most of the ire stems from the face that the Harvard trained heart surgeon with impeccable credentials tends to to hype less than established ideas on his widely popular talk show. Unlike most of the upper crust medical community from which he hails, Oz talks “everyman” as well as any one on TV and is more than willing to steer his show onto unscientific grounds if it makes for good TV.

That pisses people off, who dislike his influence and disdain his authority that he unquestionably wields at times for ratings first and foremost.

I’m smart enough to get all that. I understand well reality TV shows are anything but and talk shows are rarely the best source of information, especially medical information.

But I like him. He’s positive. He’s mentally nimble. And he’s willing to leave the rails of American medicine to explore all types of ideas far beyond the narrow parallel lines.

In a 2012 New Yorker article, Oz said, “Western medicine has a firm belief that studying human beings is like studying bacteria in petri dishes. Doctors do not want questions from their patients; it’s easier to tell them what to do than to listen to what they say. But people are on a serpentine path through life, and that is the way it is supposed to be. All I am trying to do is put a couple of road signs out there. I sit on that set every day, and that is what I am focusing on. The road signs.”

That is why I like him.

But liking him and adoring him are different things and I’m the first to admit that some of what he over-hypes on his show is just that hype, with plenty of hype on top.

I don’t disagree with the article taking Oz to task for a variety of hyped statements on his show and his willingness to tout things that haven’t been empirically verified. But it’s just not so cut and dried and while I take what Oz says with the grain of salt (I confess too, I don’t watch the show. Most of what I get from Oz I read) I still find him a helpful voice for open ideas of health.

All of which is to say I have no problem saying when it comes to Garcinia Cambogia, Oz was all wrong.

If I sold ads on this site, I’d have just lost a lot of revenue, because ever since Oz called this weird little supplement taken from a fruit a fat-busting miracle, the ads have become more dominant than Nairobian princes wanting to send me $80 million bucks.

Trust me on this: the pill does not help you lose weight. It flat out doesn’t work. Oz got it all wrong.

Don’t believe me: Check this out.

Of all the things I read about this product — there are seemingly millions of articles these days — I couldn’t find a normal, rational blog about someone who took it. It seems everyone writing about it was on the take. But I like Dr. Oz, he sure seemed to swear by it and The Bride wanted a boost in her final push to tighten her tummy.

So I decided to buy some (yep, I sure did).

I read a lot about this product before I bought it. I did all the research. We read all the ups and down and calls of quackery. After a good bit of research we bought a version of the supplement that met all the requirements by Dr. Oz and most of those writing on the topic.

I set out to provide the normal, rational blog about the supplement I couldn’t find.

Since Christmas we’ve been doing major tuneups to what we eat and how we work out and how we approach healthy living. Neither of us are “fat” I would say — though we’ve both been there — but we both have a little muffin top that we’d like to lose. We eat very well overall. We work out consistently. Yet neither of us would complain if we could take a naturally made supplement that would help burn the last fat that stubbornly clings to our body.

As part of an overall emphasis on shedding a few pounds, reducing our sugar intake, eliminating as many processed foods as we can and dramatically ramping up our vegetable intake, we added the Garcinia Cambogia supplement, taking it faithfully as directed for eight weeks.

Neither of us lost a single pound.

Is a study with an n of 2 the definitive word on this complex, controversial study? Of course not. There are countless studies that show placebos just as effective in weight loss. There is a litany of research saying this hype is just that. And who knows what other variables are at play with my wife and I. All I know is I lost 100 pounds over nearly two years and kept most of it off. I know how to lose weight and get healthy and stay that way. I know my body well, and have charted this process for a long time. I have seen some things work well and others not so well.

Rarely have I seen anything have absolutely no impact like I did of eight weeks of taking this “miracle” supplement. And I did it while doing a lot of others things that normally would shed a couple of pounds. I could argue that it actually stalled our weight loss.

My wife had the exact same experience.

I didn’t take Garcinia Cambogia for a miracle. I thought it might give a little added boost. It didn’t even do that.

Now I get to see if the money-back guarantee is also just hype (I suspect we know the answer to that right?)

As my confidence started to wane, imagine my surprise when I caught a Dr. Oz show in passing where he explained the critical things people needed to do to burn fat. In that show his miracle supplement of Garcinia Cambogia was… replaced with something else, which really made my case.

I still like Dr. Oz, but its plain to see why people don’t.

Love handles a bit too lovely

I finished my inelegant attempt to make Super Bowl cupcakes…(the taste far surpassed my football frosting attempt… I didn’t want to waste a full piping bag, and of course, the baggie broke… sometimes my obsession with waste bites me on the arse. This was one of those times, but ALAS, I digress):

2014-02-02 14.05.21

and noticed myself in the screen of the TV. I noticed just too much of me to be honest. Those dastardly love handles seemed to attract way too much attention. They were a bit too lovely.

I tied up the shoes and hit the pavement. The whole run I thought about love handles. I planned the next several Test Kitchen weeks, sans sugar completely! I decided to quash this creep dead in its tracks.

St. Paul had his thorn in the flesh. I have my pound of flesh, but it vexes me similarly. A couple of years ago when I finished losing 100 pounds I was at my skinniest since high school. One of my daughters greeted me by saying, “Dad, you look like you need a cheeseburger.”

I was pretty thin, but that night I took a look at myself in the mirror and those godforsaken love handles were still there, only more prominent now, perched on bony hips, the last bastion of the Tony Soprano-look-alike I had shed over eighteen long months. It disappointed me because who would have thought after all that, they’d still be there. Now they were just more prominent: Two bags of heft on an otherwise lean frame. They stuck out all the more, like President Obama’s ears on his otherwise lean frame.

I swear I could be one of those death camp survivors, nothing but skin on a stack of bones, but I’d still have my love handles. They are like camels humps and simply averse to change.

Our DNA just got an extra heap of love handles. Hell, my brother’s a triathlete, even finished an Iron Man, and he still has our family love handles. That seems profoundly unfair, but he seems OK with it. They look better on him to be honest — more in the flow of his overall body. Mine look like chubby little aliens that globbed onto my otherwise healthy body. You know how some really blessed physical specimens look like an hour-glass? Well, I look like a pastry bag, tied too tight on both ends, poofed out in the middle. If you take the top 30 inches of my body, I look strong. The bottom 30 inches actually have muscle striation. It’s that 10 inches in the dead center that resemble the Stay Puff Marshmallow man.

By the time I hit my fifth mile, I began to challenge my negative thinking. I had maintained my respectable-codger pace of 10-minute miles despite an undulating terrain. I knew I was fit. My core is strong. I tell The Bride all the time I have steel-belted radial abs; she just can’t see them because of all the tread over the top of them. At some point you just have to admit you are what you are and you can’t beat Mother Nature. As my yoga teacher likes to say, “You can’t stretch your brown eyes blue.”

And as I made my final turn up our hill headed home, it dawned on me that a big part of life is acceptance, learning what you can change and what you can’t and, as they say at the end of every A.A. meeting, “the wisdom to know the difference.”

I can’t really change my love handles. I can watch the diet a bit more carefully so I don’t put on extra weight. I can maintain my physical fitness so I am healthy and active. I can be mindful of excess.

I can also recognize I am not alone. Some other rounded body actually figured out how to make lemonade from their DNA, coming up with the phrase “love handles” in the first place. Handles for my lover to hold on to me better… that’s nice.

As I came back inside, the negative energy had been sweated out. My love handles remained, but recognizing that I’m still lovely to the only person that matters — The Bride — is far more than enough for me.

Embracing the beauty outside my door

Some days I wake up feeling lucky for the beauty that awaits outside my door. Despite the overcast, cool temperatures, I layer clothes, slip on sturdy hiking boots and step outside. 

The temperature at this moment is a cool 43 degrees, but I quickly warm up with each steep climb up Morton Street. Getting the hard part out-of-the-way first is challenging but energizing at the same time.

Knowing the beauty of the landscape where I live is my reward at the top of this grade helps to keep me moving and motivated.


This picture does not do justice to how STEEP this hill was, but believe me, it was ALL that and a bag of chips. (Speaking of chips… I’m craving some right now! “Honey, didn’t we earn chips today?…” “Uh,  kind of defeats the purpose doesn’t it?” … I pout. He doesn’t notice. Spoil sport.)

Mile 1- We earned this view with a steep climb.


Mile 2- For me, the first mile is always the hardest. During this tough beginning, my thoughts are consumed with my inner voice telling me it’s too hard.
“This is only the first mile, you have five more to go… you’re not going to be able to do this.”

It’s hard to ignore her at the beginning. I gave up my warm, cozy bed inside my home where the fire blazes for this? Despite her, I keep going. After the first mile, I’ve put a muzzle on my annoying negative inner voice. She has been replaced with this Super Hero engaged in the activity, finally connecting with the outside world and the beauty surrounding her. At this moment I’m noticing the trailhead in front of me. The beautiful trees that line each side of me.


Mile 3- I consider mile 3 to be the best mile. For starters, the view is incredible. The tops of the trees have opened up, and I can feel how far we’ve gone. Breathing is a steady pace, and what’s this? I actually feel the most energized?? Might I be able to jog on this hike??? I won’t take things that far. The last time that I tried jogging on a trail I actually twisted my ankle. Bad idea.


Mile 4- Mile 4 arrives quickly. I didn’t even notice it creeping up, but here it is. More than halfway done and we’re making a fast descent into a beautiful grove of firs, pines and Effin Artist Madrones (as Hubby likes to call them). We empty out on a wide trail headed home.


Mile 5- At mile 5 I’m rewarded with this beautiful stream. Might want to jump in it were it not for the double-layered clothing and 40-degree temperature outside. I pass, but I linger at this stop as I listen to the stream.


Mile FINISHED- A STARBUCKS REWARD! The end is near, and with the exception of sore feet I probably could keep going. Not so fast, I will gladly stop for a cappuccino at my local Starbucks. This is the greatest reward of all. I love to sit with my husband and sip our coffees and, what is it exactly…? I’m not sure but I like just being out together and doing nothing and soaking in the day. I even tolerate my husband’s grousing about Starbucks. We debate the many coffee houses in town. We agree next time to choose one above an indy bookstore that is more comfortable and local. Fair enough, I think, still enjoying my coffee here, at this time. This day. I feel we made the most of it, which is really all you can ask for, right?

I hope that wherever you live that you take the time to find the beauty of the outdoors somewhere close. Take a walk, hike, jog whatever activity interests you and explore. I guarantee you will not be disappointed.

News From the Test Kitchen: Peanut Butter

If I made resolutions, which I don’t  (see resolutions, suck) I would have resolved to back off the whole sugary addiction I’ve been nursing under the guise of holiday cheer since, oh… November 1.

I mean, I got a serious problem here. I love coffee and love chocolate. Love for me quickly can teeter into obsession.

So the test kitchen this week backed off of sugar and sought a purer ingredient, with far more healthy possibilities: Peanut Butter.

I’ve always thought homemade peanut butter should be one of those things I do because it’s expensive and I eat a lot of it. Yes, yes, I know, peanut butter is full of fat, but the whole low-fat thing is such a fraud I eat it likely because of the reaction it gets. Eat healthy food. Be active. You’ll be fine. That’s my diet plan anyway. Peanut butter fits in nicely. By the way, you are welcome to join me in a winter work-out schedule that I love: outside, active, all-body, and beneficial — commercial over, back to the show:

So I made peanut butter and as soon as I made it I wondered what the hell took me so long.

I researched and read and watched a video on you tube and soon I discovered that the people touting how easy it was to make still took longer to explain it than to make it. If it’s so easy why do you need a video and a long recipe and all that noise, I wondered? Truth is you don’t. I edited out the noise for you. Here’s the simple, to the point facts about how to make peanut butter:

Get some peanuts. Bang the bejeesus out of them. Done.

Got it?

Really, that’s it. If you have a food processor just turn it on for about six minutes and you’ll end up with peanut butter. Being the test kitchen, I of course bumbled around a bit and modified a bit and came up with “my” recipe, which is this:

Get some peanuts. Bang the beejesus out of them. Open the food processor and dump in a glug of grapeseed oil, a splash of vanilla, a smoosh of cinnamon and some salt and bang the beejesus out of them some more. Done.

So there you have it. Peanut Butter, home made. If you buy the not-so-fancy bulk peanuts at a normal, not fancy dancy store you likely end up paying about half the jar of a quality peanut butter. And that doesn’t suck (see Peanut Butter, doesn’t suck).

I even put mine through a taste test with my two other favorite peanut butters. It was a blind taste test (actually, that’s not true at all… I was looking at the jars the whole time) and wouldn’t you know it, I WON!

Who did you really think would win with me as the only judge and the whole blind taste test thing a baldface lie?

Go ahead. Bang some peanuts. You’ll like them.

Today, I’m finishing the test kitchen week with four peanut butter recipes:

1) Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy bars

2) High energy pre-run energy bars

3) Chinese noodles and vegetables

4) Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake (the addiction lives!)

Putting that Peanut Butter in action today!

Effin Artist out.

To unsubscribe to these emails take your complaint letter and instead of mailing it to me, slip it in your food processors after you’re done with the peanuts and give it a whirl. I suspect that one just might work.

New revisions for new year– free of resolutions

I don’t do resolutions for the New Year. I do revisions.

For years I did the whole resolution thing. It’s a tired topic by now. We are split into two groups: those that try every year and those who know better. I’m in the latter.

If I lacked the discipline to fix up my life on Dec. 29, I likely don’t suddenly have it on Jan. 1. Only when I started living with daily intent did I find the discipline I badly needed to fix my life. I think it started in July a few years back. All I know is by January that year I was slimmer, sober and for the first time in my life disciplined. I didn’t need a resolution. I was living it and that has lasted now for several more years.

That doesn’t mean the effort doesn’t need tweaking now and again. I often stop and pause and refocus. I call these revisions. I take what I’m doing and tweak it, like tuning up an engine I’d imagine (since I have no idea how to tune an engine). I try to recapture a clearer sense of balance and better use of my time. I revise my plan for life to make sure its humming along with peak performance.

This new year I am aware of how many changes have come these last few months. I know my routines are out of whack and some practices are slipping through the cracks. I accept that it won’t always be the same. I resolve to  let some of it go, and refocus my energies on what I don’t want to see diminish. These are the revisions I’m making today for the months to come. From hoof to head I know I still have plenty of work to do, which I welcome. But I also celebrate the me I am now, rather than being absorbed on some fictional future me that will likely never emerge, no matter how many resolutions I muster.

I am free to be me, to revise as needed, to grow and most of all to celebrate in this moment. I am not besieged by my inadequacies and guilt that fuel most resolutions. It’s a relative small shift of thought, but on these first few days of the new year, I believe the focus is vital to starting the year off right.

Screw resolutions that make you feel bad. Instead revise and feel great.

Happy New Year.

Breakfast: all that it’s cracked up to be

I love breakfast.

The thought occurs having just finished it, which I do virtually every day and never grow tired of doing, nor do I grow tired of thinking how much I love it. Breakfast is the gift that keeps on giving.

My bride knows this, which is why she took me out recently for my birthday breakfast — not dinner.Her, coffee, the San Francisco Chronicle and a big breakfast equals WHALLA! Perfecto.

Think about it. Breakfast usually costs half of dinner. You can take your time, read the newspaper, drink copious amounts of coffee and nobody complains. You also don’t have to worry about the cocktail menu or the wine list seductively vying for your attention.You don’t have to worry about some jackass wanting your table. Even the wait staff are more laid back, like “take all the time you need…” instead of “eh hem.. will you need anything else this eeeveening…” Only at breakfast do servers call me “honey.” I like that.

And of course, unlike most any other nutrition and diet advice that has the shelf life of a slab of tuna, breakfast has staying power as the best meal of the day. Think about it… again: Calorie counting has risen and fallen from favor and risen and fallen again, as have low-fat diets, protien-diets, fasting diets, superstar diets, and on and on and on. But most every diet says eat breakfast. What’s not to love about these:

2013-12-14 10.32.51

I lost 100 pounds and have kept it off (eh… most of it) for more than two years. I learned a lot about weight control and read enough to test out of graduate degree program. I treated myself like a human lab rat, and still do to find what works for me. I’ve tried most everything. But there are only two things I’d cement into any other thing I do to stay healthy and they are this: 1) Eat right and exercise. 2) Eat breakfast.

Now listen to me, because have you ever noticed all the people talking about diets and stuff look like my buddy Ed here:


I love Ed, but he really isn’t the best guy to empathize with a fat guy, you know. I am. I’m a fat guy… its in my Italian DNA even if I’ve got the belly beat back. So listen when I tell you, we’ve been conned.

Think about it…really this time… We spend billions a year on weight loss and we are fatter than we’ve ever been. My entire life span has seen diet and fitness dominate the conversation since my Italian mother went “healthy” on us and rid our house of Hostess and General Foods (the memory lurks from a dark place… shudder…). The only cereal we could have that wasn’t like eating bark off a tree was Honey Combs because we convinced Mom it was made of honey, not sugar.

This was nearly forty years ago. And the diet and fitness craze just keeps on coming with no tangible results to show for it. We spend billions and its a fraud. Weather forecasters do a better job. So does Congress, and that’s saying something.

Still thinking? Think about this: Food permeates every culture… even a place where food is terrible, like this book talks about. In our culture, we get it all wrong almost all of the time. For all we know, we haven’t learned a thing.

You don’t need to spend billions of dollars. Everything you need to know I just said — see rules 1 and 2 — and I’m living proof because I’m the rare breed that lost the weight and kept it off.

I still work at it everyday I watch it everyday. I blow it everyday. But overall, it works, because I keep it simple. Eat right and exercise… and eat breakfast.

Now, one final thought on breakfast (think… think… think). Stop giving breakfast short thrift. It seems tough at first because there doesn’t seem to be as much variety as dinner, nor do we make time like we do for dinner. But change your thinking. If you plan breakfast like you plan dinner, it will come alive. Get up a bit earlier… enjoy it!

Also, you can reduce carbs and sugar and still keep a lot of flavor. I’ll write a lot more about this in days to come because after all, I love breakfast. (And please reply below with any questions you’d love to see address in future posts) But here’s a simple example:

Yogurt and granola are not great for you. They are loaded with sugar and high on the GCI. So too are bagels and donuts (of course… doesn’t mean I still don’t love em) and cereals in general and toast and pancakes and waffles and… you get my point. But you can eat more carbs in the morning than you can later in the day, so you have some flexibility built in. More importantly you don’t have to eat like Ed, who thinks breakfast is chicken and rice. Ed, that’s not breakfast. That’s Sunday dinner in the state pen.

Also, with a little creativity you can redress those issues and still enjoy it. For my granola and yogurt, I don’t eat it more than a couple of times a week. When I do, I eat plain instead of flavored yogurt, add a scoop of vanilla protein instead of sugar, use a small amount of fruit instead of a whole piece of fruit, and use whole grain and fiber granola. Add a piece of oat bran toast and non-hydrogenated peanut butter, and whalla! Breakfast of champions!

2013-12-14 10.35.55

Of course, my omelette’s rule too, but that’s another topic for another day… speaking of another topic for another day, I just figured out what next week’s test kitchen ingredient is! Oooh…. that will be a good one, but I digress.

Think about it: Love your breakfast. Or as the old adage says, “Eat like a Republican for breakfast, a Democrat for lunch and a green part member for dinner….” or something like that.

Take a this poll… why not?