Dot said folks were asking about the books I write and asked me to post something. For years, I’ve tried not to shoehorn my side career into her “dot2trot” universe. Mainly because it isn’t about me — it’s about Dot, her passion for good food and great health, and you folks. But she asked nicely, so what can I say?
In the most general sense, my books usually fall into the spectrum of “speculative fiction.” Fantasy, sci-fi, etc. Of the titles in the link above, I’d say the books “Kick,” “Hell’s Children” and “Thief’s Odyssey” are the most accessible to a broad audience. The “Chronicles of Ethan” and my upcoming book “Underpowered Howard” were written in a genre called “LitRPG” — stories told from the perspective of someone living in a game universe governed by game rules (i.e., these stories are not for everyone).
Of them all, my first novel “Kick” has been optioned for a TV show — though with Covid going on, any movement on that has been put on hold.
Note of caution: if you read my books, understand they’re really just fiction — stories distilled from a lifetime of media and experience, then twisted, amplified through the lens of my personality. So no need to pity Dot for having a psychopath husband, kay? 🙂
Right now I’d describe my life as disorganized chaos punctuated with bouts of intense hip pain and many periods of extreme laziness. All of this has lead to some very poor dietary choices and a growing waistline.
In short, I do not like myself very much right now.
The last time I felt that way, I’d read a book that turned my life around (after a lot of hard work). Why We Get Fatby Gary Taubes set me on a path to putting my health first. It worked…for a while…until life kicked me in the tail.
After cancer, then an unstable hip, plus the efforts required to help my aging mom, life right now feels out of my control.
Now, once again, I’ve discovered a book that might just be the ticket to helping me gain back control over my life.
I know Peterson is a bit of a controversial figure. People either love him or hate him. Do I agree with everything he says? No. But I don’t even agree with myself half the time. Having said that, his book does make me think. And that is awesome. I don’t talk politics on this blog, except when it comes to our boneheaded nutrition guidelines. I will say that just because I agree with someone on a particular point, that doesn’t mean I think they are the next coming of Christ. Nor do I believe that if I disagree with someone, he’s Hitler. We’d be better off if more people go into a conversation with the idea that may be we’re wrong. It’s how we learn and grow.
Cleaning Up My Life
Titled Set Your House In Perfect Order Before You Criticize The World, chapter six really hammers home the idea that when things fall apart in our lives, we have two options:
Complain about the world and let bitterness and resentment drag us down, or;
Be invested in our own self-improvement.
Just the other day I was going on and on (for the 100th time) about how expensive it is to eat on the carnivore diet. My husband pointed out that it’s not a big deal if we stopped going out to eat three nights a week at a steakhouse.
I’d wasted so much time complaining that I didn’t stop and ask, “What can I do about this?”
The answer: stop eating out. This makes beef very affordable.
It’s easy to point a finger at our family, our job, our environment, the government, or other entities as to blame for our lot in life. What’s hard is to stop bitching, take a good look at the behaviors that got us here, and then act on those realizations.
In chapter 6, Peterson asks a simple question: “Have you cleaned up your life?”
Clearly, from my carnivore chat with my husband, the answer is a definite “NO.”
Time To Stop Neglecting Myself
I’m not really doing the chapter justice. There’s just so much in it, and I plan to reread it later today. I initially picked up the book to see if I could glean ideas to help me get back on track with eating keto. This chapter was surprisingly revealing and hit me harder than I could have hoped for. I’ve written before that weight loss is 95% food, 5% exercise and 100% mental. Well, it’s the mental side that I need to focus attention on, and Peterson’s observations have really helped me focus on the negative behaviors I need to change.
One behavior is actually a sort of non-behavior: I haven’t been as engaged. I used to do lots of challenges with the diet and exercise. I used to love reading up on the latest dietary research. The more videos I watched or articles I read, the more mindful I was of what I ate. I stayed active and closely tracked my progress. I was engaged and, most importantly, I was having fun.
Then, at some point, I began neglecting the mental component of fitness and health.
Starting Small: February Challenges
So where to start? Here, Peterson offers some guidance: the key is starting small.
How small? It can be as simple as making the bed every morning, or working harder at our jobs. We have to stop doing what we know is wrong, and start doing things we know are right.
I’m sticking with carnivore in February, and will be eating beef and eggs until my garden starts producing. To ease the financial challenge of carnivore, the hubby and I are eating-in all month, and prohibiting alcohol. No wine for me, no scotch in the evenings for him.
Next up: my mobility. Just a couple of years ago I’d go on a 6-mile walks or train for 5 and 10K races. Now I’m lucky if I can walk 15 minutes straight with no pain. From now on, each morning, I’ll spend 30 minutes stretching my hip. Every other day, I’ll add in 15-30 minutes of light yoga, and follow that with a nice walk outside. My goal is to hit 30 minutes of walking a day by month’s end.
Thank you Jordan Peterson, you’ve been a big help. The rest is up to me.
My typical carnivore dinner: 2 eggs over easy and a rib-eye steak. Yummy.
I’ve designated 2020 as an awesome year for my health. The husband and I went carnivore a week before we rang in the New Year. Although we hit a few snags – namely wine – we found our groove in time for World Carnivore Month (WCM).
Does this mean I’m no longer eating veggies and berries? Nope. I should be back to filming delicious keto (and carnivore) dishes soon. It’s just that my husband needs to get serious about his gut health and the Carnivore Diet is the ultimate elimination diet. I’m joining him for support and as a reset, and God knows I need one.
There are many ways you can do the carnivore diet – with limited diary, no dairy, lean meat with added fats, fatty meats only, grass-fed & free-range meats only, all beef, keto carnivore, 90% meats and 10% vegetables, etc.
I know there will be comments to proclaim what the one true carnivore diet is. Well I call “Shenanigans” on you. Like all healthy eating lifestyles, make it your own as far as what works for you.
Per my husband’s suggestion, we are going all-beef, with eggs. No spices, herbs or seasonings with the exception of salt (obviously!).
The only plants we’re consuming come in the form of coffee and tea. That means the only dairy is heavy cream for coffee, and that is limited.
Last night’s dinner – a lovely beef brisket.
How Much Meat Do I Eat In A Day?
I don’t usually measure my food on carnivore. I’m really focused on eating when hungry only. However, I have noticed a gradual increase in how much beef I’m eating. So I did some measuring.
Before carnivore, I typically ate about 14 ounces of meat in a day. The first week of carnivore I was eating roughly 20 ounces of beef/day. I’d say right now I eat between 24-36 ounces (1-1/2 to 2 pounds)/day. If I’m super busy doing physical work I can easily eat 2 pounds/day. But If it’s a lazy day, it’s a struggle to eat 24 ounces.
I’d guess that my husband is between 3-4 pounds of beef a day. But he too had to build up to that amount.
So Far I Feel Awesome…When We Don’t Mess Up
My energy level is up and I’m experiencing fewer aches and pains in my problem hip and knees when I stick to carnivore. But we’ve had some slips due to very poor planning and bad habits. Things like wine and very anti-keto snacks (popcorn is the devil!).
I don’t beat myself up for those slips…I don’t have to. My body punishes me with:
Low energy the following day
For me, slip-ups happen with boredom. If I’m not busy I’m my own worst enemy. Thanks to physical therapy and gardening my mobility improved. But once that first frost hit, I didn’t have a plan to stay as active.
Bad habits came back with abandon. And I’m feeling it in my hip. Not good.
We had to tear down our old shed last summer. Now we have a ton of work to do to get our backyard ready for the new shed.
Rather than waiting for spring (47 days away in case you were wondering), I’m focusing my efforts on some DYI projects around the house:
Painting the basement
Cleaning up the backyard
Finishing the raised beds
Redecorating the spare bedroom/office
Replacing plants in our landscape
Some of these projects, I kept putting off. Others are more urgent with spring fast approaching (like clearing out the space for our new shed).
What I love is all of these projects are needed, take time to get right, and keep me active physically and mentally. There is no reason to get bored and eat something I don’t want to eat.
We’ve been so busy this spring and summer. It looks like fall and winter are shaping up to be just as, if not more, hectic. Obviously posting and making cooking videos have taken a back seat. But my cameraman/editor husband and I are fine. We’re just super busy.
This spring we made the decision to put a hold on making new videos. A big work project landed on my husband’s lap that demanded all of his time spent on filming and editing our videos. The project’s end date was late August…but here we are in September and it is still rolling along. Now it’s looking like the end date is closer to November/December.
As for me, the one word to describe the past 8 months is “frustration.” My unstable hip dominates everything I do. For months on end sitting, standing, stretching, walking or rolling over in bed caused intense pain. It’s been difficult to do basic things like cooking, cleaning, walking to the mailbox, or grocery shopping. I found if I sat for more than 30 minutes I wouldn’t be able to walk more than a foot or two without risk of falling.
No matter the amount of physical therapy or stretching “3 times a day,” it just felt like my hip muscles were getting pulled into a tighter ball instead of lengthening. I know my orthopedic doctor warned me it would take about 18 months to stabilize the hip. But patience with one’s self goes out the window when you’re use to physically doing what you want when you want.
Rather than being patient with myself and having that laser-focus on my health, self-pity won out this summer. So rather than focusing my time on getting healthy I went back to my old bad eating habits.
To say my carb count “crept up” is putting it mildly. There were days (most) I ate like the old 300+ lbs. me, and days where I was strictly keto (far too few).
So this summer I added a lot more weight…and didn’t care. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself. I knew what I was doing was wrong and frankly, stupid. But as they say, you need to hit bottom before you turn your life around.
It wasn’t until August that my hip started really responding to therapy. I became more mobile and flexible. The pain isn’t constant. For now it feels like I’m over a hump. My trainer recently cleared me for biking and interval running. That’s huge!
And sure enough, around the same time that mental funk started lifting too. I’m starting to eat out less, cutting back on alcohol, and making better food choices. In September I decided to do another keto reset (for the zillionth time…but whose really counting) with a 30-day challenge.
Since I’m on a video hiatus, I decided to go back to where it all began for me…this blog. I’ll try to do 1-2 posts a week. The posts will focus on my reset — the successes and failures.
The carnivore challenge is wrapping up this week for my husband, but I stopped it for myself a little more than a week ago. I enjoyed carnivore, but my hip pain took a lot of my enthusiasm out of it. I honestly believe that you need to seriously work out while doing carnivore — something I can’t do right now. Anyway, I’ve already begun my next food challenge: a keto version of Paleo’s autoimmune protocol (AIP).
While some of the concepts are not necessarily new to me, I loved that he explains the science behind food, cravings, and appetite in easy to understand terms. I’ll have a full review of the book next week. Needless to say, it has me all fired up.
Originally, I’d planned to try Wolf’s 30-day reset as my January 30-Day Challenge. Wolf spends a lot of real estate in his book on gut health and IBS. His 30-day reset sounded perfect for my long-suffering husband. I also hoped the reset could help me rediscover my keto mojo.
But alas, the husband suggested we do Carnivore first, and I was so happy about his enthusiasm that I decided to wait a month and do carnivore instead.
With my hip pain and subsequent arthritis diagnosis, inflammation is my new enemy. I feel the AIP approach is just what I need.
Our Macros For This Challenge
I used a combo of the the KetoGains and Dr. Ted Naimen’s calculators to determine our macros for this challenge. We’re upping our protein and lowering our fat intake. We learned from the carnivore challenge that protein keeps us satiated way longer than fat. If you’re curious, this Robb Wolf video explains why I’ve been feeling hungry and snacking way too much (hint: not enough protein in my diet).
As for reducing our dietary fat, we want to burn our own fat rather than the dietary fat we eat. While most keto folks live by the 70% fat, 20% protein and 5% carb numbers, it just isn’t working for us.
Our dietary fat is coming from lean meats, offal, seafood, the healthy fats we use for cooking (just enough prevent food from sticking), and dressings.
So, no more extra pads of butter on meat. My hubby’s really bummed about that (lol).
Looking at the numbers, I’m sure you’re asking “Why is John eating 40g of carbs? What about ketosis?”
Remember: this challenge is about eating for health, not chasing a number. In John’s case, eliminating his IBS symptoms and healing his gut is of primary importance. The expected weight loss is a nice side benefit.
Food List: What We Can & Can’t Eat
Because we’re focused on foods targeting autoimmunity and inflammation, our menu seems restrictive (and it is), but I’m confident I can still make awesomely tasty meals.
Foods to Avoid List – Coffee & Chocolate Make the List
Nightshades – Tomatoes, potatoes, sweet & hot peppers, tomatillos, goji berries, and eggplants; spices from peppers (paprika, cayenne, red pepper, chili, black pepper, etc.). Also pimentos are verboten. So careful when eating olives. This is not an all-inclusive list.
Nut & Seeds – Includes all nut butters, flours and oils; coffee (!!!), cocoa (no chocolate!) and seed-based spices such as: allspice, anise seed, all peppers, caraway, cardamom, cayenne, celery seed, chili pepper flakes, chili powder, coriander seeds, curry, cumin seeds, dill seed, fennel seed, mustard seed, nutmeg, paprika, poppy seed, sesame seed, all peppercorns, star anise, vanilla bean.
NSAIDs – These are anti-inflammatory meds, such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil), diclofenac, diflunisal, etodolac, and maproxen (Aleve). It’s not a complete list so check you’re medicine cabinet.
Foods OK To Eat List – The Specifics
Lean Meats – It isn’t necessary to eat grass-fed, pasture raised, organic meats, but when budget allows, it is our first choice.
Fish & Shellfish – Wild-caught is preferred, but if budget only allows farmed, that’s OK. Our goal is 2-3 times per week.
Vegetables & Fruit –
Colorful vegetables & fruit (red, purple, blue, yellow, orange, white – the more color the better!)
Because my husband has a larger daily carb allowance, he can have up to 2 servings of fruit each day. As I am doing the ketogenic version, I can have fruit, but I need to stay within my daily carb allowance. Also, fruit fructose needs to stay below 20g.
February 1st is tomorrow, so I’m finalizing the first week menu this afternoon and hitting the grocery store tonight. We also need a plan to deal with Sunday’s Super Bowl party we’re attending. Yikes!!
This means I’m going simple for the first week menu: A giant salad for lunch, some protein and cooked veggies for dinner.
For Sunday I’m pulling a trick out of our carnivore diet: big-ass steaks a couple of hours before the party. There’s no way we’ll even look at the big spread of non-AIP food! However, my husband plans to drink a couple of beers. As for me, my goal is to drink a glass of wine early in the game and then stick with water…lots of water.
Hi all. I put together a list of the top “must have” tools in my low carb kitchen for a video on kitchen tools. Note that these are all affiliate links, which means that if you click on an item and buy something, a tiny portion comes my way automatically, at zero cost to you (and for that I thank you!).
Whatever bug I have kept me up most of the night coughing and sneezing. Although my energy is very low this morning, I had enough to pull myself out of bed and stumble onto the scale.
Weight wise I’m down, despite a couple of missteps last week. At the start of my reset I weighed 232.3. Today I’m at 230.8. Not to shabby.
No doubt my low appetite over the weekend (thanks bug!) contributed to my loss. So I look at the numbers with a very skeptical eye. Despite the lack of sleep I am feeling a little better today as my fever broke earlier this morning.
While convalescing in bed this weekend I made an effort to use my meditation app. Of course, it was easy since I was sick in bed…I mean how much stress is involved with that! Still, it’s good practice. Any time I felt frustrated that I couldn’t do anything, I reached for my phone and listened to some calming sound or music.
That put me right to sleep…almost as good as NightTime NyQuil.
Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Stuart Miles.
I’ve been away for a bit. I do love blogging. It’s just that the old, bad habit of being lazy really took hold for many months. Sure, I’m doing cooking videos and vlogging about “My Final 50.” However the idea was to keep a daily written “confessional” about how I’m doing. You know, the accountability thing.
Caution — Shoes are much, much more neon yellow than they appear! More steps a day just wear these puppies out sooner.
Here’s an interesting morning read about mail carriers in Glasgow, Scotland and heart health. Those who deliver the mail are far more heart healthy than their counter parts working a desk job. Why? Glaswegian mail carriers deliver the mail by foot! While TheNew York Times article is focused on whether we should target 15,000 steps a day vs. the current 10,000 step recommendation, I think they are missing another piece: strength.
If the Scots deliver the mail on foot, that means they are also doing a lot of weight training too. A mail bag loaded with bills, letters, flyers and Amazon boxes adds up in pounds/kilograms.
Yes walking is good for you. However, if most Americans can’t even get 10,000 steps in a day, what’s the point of upping the number of 15,000. Also the mail carriers in Scotland deliver by foot. That means they walk for nearly 8 hours a day, 5 days a week and get paid to do so. In the US, somewhere around 100 million employees are sitting at a desk.
Does your manager encourage you to get in a chunk of your 10,000 steps while you’re on the clock?
I’m curious if the study actually looked at their diet. If you had to walk every day for your paycheck wouldn’t you eat better too? Again walking is healthy, but you can’t out walk a bad diet.