Truth is, I may have a SHOW UP license plate on my car, but I’m just a big talker. I show up for some things, but not others. No matter what comes and goes from my list of Things I Don’t Show Up For, the #1 thing that is always on that list is taking care of my body. I know I am the only person who is letting this slide.
The problem is, my body likes to show up for everything food- and beverage-related, and since I am no longer 25, this kind of showing up means there’s a price to be paid.
I was no longer feeling better about myself when I went to Walmart. I was wondering if I was going to have to buy my clothes at Chico’s from now on (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s just not me). But damn it, I’m just not ready to give up and buy four-season muumuus (even Pinterest doesn’t include any polar fleece versions).
So, instead, I started a Biggest Loser weight-loss contest at the office. When you sign up for one of these contests, you have certain decisions to make. Having participated in several of them over the last five years, mostly with success, I have a little bit of knowledge to share. We just started our latest contest last Monday, so this important information is top of mind…
Are you a calorie counter or a protein junkie? Will you burn off calories by exercising or will you continue to linger on the sofa with your air-popped Styrofoam popcorn with fake butter on it? Are you willing to go the extra mile and consider minor surgery or a mysterious Chinese laxative herb tea as weight-loss options during a tough week, in order to meet your goal?
In other words, do you really want to lose 1% of your starting body weight a week, for six weeks, or are you willing to hand over $20 to your successful colleagues (that they will, no doubt, spend on either brownies or potato chips on the day the contest ends)?
In the past, I’ve tried the calorie-counting thing and found that I have to log in at under 900 calories a day to have a chance of reaching my goal. This tends to make me weak, cranky, and a little light-headed, according to the people I work and live with. This also means that I have to spend a lot of time entering whatever I ate into a weight-loss software program, which I find boring, terrifying, and enlightening, depending on what I enter. The process is fraught with endless negotiation…crackers versus wine…scotch versus popcorn…bacon versus toast.
So this time, I’m going to be a protein junkie. My body loves protein and runs well on it. So, with a copy of “Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog” in hand, I’m going for it. Don’t laugh, it’s a real thing:
Breakfast is hard for me because I don’t get hungry until mid-morning, when I’m already at work, so whatever I eat has to be portable and super-easy. After just a few days, I’ve already tired of hardboiled eggs and bacon. But I remembered this morning, that I have a recipe from a friend from years ago, that combines the potentially heart-stopping attributes of a ketosis-producing food, plus relative tastiness.
It’s called Mary’s Eggs, named after a landlord that my friend, Jim E., had in San Francisco, decades ago. Mary apparently invented this dish and probably did not live a long life, as it includes the following:
- 6 eggs
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 pound of Monterey Jack cheese
- 12 oz of Philadelpha Cream Cheese
- ½ pint of full-fat, large-curd, cottage cheese
- (I leave out the additional 1 t sugar and salt, and ½ cup flour, which gives it a little bit of a crust on the top)
You just cube the butter and cheeses, mix it all up with the eggs, pour it into a lasagna pan, and bake it. Just TRY to eat more than 4 square inches of the stuff. It’s impossible.
It’s like eating a cheese-covered hockey puck.
So, I decided to calculate the calories, carbs, and protein in this dish to see how it would fare. In total, there will be 4,322 calories in one dish of the stuff. I figure I can get 24 portions of out of it, so that will be 180 calories per serving, with 8 grams of protein and 1.25 grams of carbs. Grams of fat? We don’t care about such things on the Eat Bacon diet; the more, the merrier.
This whole protein-centric, ketosis thing is certainly controversial, but the Eat Bacon guy makes a pretty good case. As much as I would love to return to a vegetarian lifestyle, after seven years of it, I got tired of being hungry all the time and eating way too many carbs. How I wish I could lose weight on brown rice and veges. But for whatever reason, carbs just lead to more carbs for me, and then it’s a slippery slope to new jeans from Walmart. Enough of that.
I even came up with a way to mimic pizza. Heat up a layer of high-quality salami in a skillet, top it with mushrooms, olives, green peppers, parm, a little tomato sauce, and mozzarella and then throw it in the broiler to bubble the cheese. Not bad!
Now, another important decision you need to make is regarding alcohol. When the contest began, the first conversation in our office kitchen, was how we are going to deal with this deeply popular and caloric subject. And this was at 8:15 am. Don’t judge us.
This is where it gets tough and where our lifelong skills of dietary negotiation really kick in. What do I have to give up in order to enjoy a glass of wine? What alcohol is semi-acceptable on a protein-based diet? And, while we’re talking about it, who actually thinks a glass of wine is 4 ounces? Not anyone I know. For grins, I just took out one of our typical wine glasses, filled it with water to the usual level that I pour, and measured it. Guess what: It’s 7 ounces, people. Those calories add up fast, along with the possibility of having my way with a bag of cheddar, whole wheat Goldfish crackers, once the hangries kick in. One more diet shot to hell…
So, the alcohol thing is tricky. “Oh, just don’t drink,” you say. And you are right and very smart and I’d like to be just like you when I grow up. I have even done that, for years at a time. But not this time. We compared notes and found that red wine has less carbs than white wine, but the carb-free option is hard liquor, such as vodka, bourbon, gin, and scotch (now there’s some good news, right there)…
Some people in the contest will be saints all week and then have one “splurge day,” which seems like a good idea, but I’m sure wouldn’t work for me. So I’ve settled on a very modest option of a small glass of vodka most nights, but it’s not enough to send me ripping the pantry apart for the damn Goldfish crackers.
So, it’s Sunday and our first week weigh-in is tomorrow morning. The numbers don’t lie. I just jumped on the scale and saw that I have met my goal for next week too! It’s a miracle! If I drink the Chinese laxative tea right after dinner tonight, maybe I’ll make my goal for next week too. Nah, that sounds like a lousy way to spend the evening. I’ll save that miserable option for a week when I’ve hit a plateau and am starting to drool over the Costco bag of salt water taffy that someone-who-shall-remain-nameless brought to the office.
Being a complete chip-o-holic, I have to admit that I got a little desperate for something crunchy the other day, so I bought a bag of kale chips. Dear god, they were really pretty awful. One of them fell on the floor and my dog, Henry, wouldn’t eat it.
Anyway, wish me luck. If you need to get in touch with me, I’ll either be at the meat counter or at my cardiologist’s office.
Thanks for reading. I know how busy you are.