Wednesday, February 15, 2017

At Times of Happiness

Joy, Tacuinum Sanitatis Casanatensis (14th century)

We are nested in our studio bedroom. Three quiet, lost in our private spaces, little Bo's Mario game, Diadem's iPhone Facebook, and this my iMac altar. My precious big son Zen safe asleep downstairs, back in his all-embracing motherland. My daughter Kai, hopefully fulfilled, finding herself in the wilds of the American dream. Here on our mountain, all is so very quiet, as a welcomed warming winter sun lights across my desktop.  

I am happy. Not the peaks and valleys of ecstasy and tragedy, the drama of previous life stages, but more a plain of gentle consistent pleasure. A sweet smile greets me in the morning and proceeds my dreams nightly. A soft life of mutual affection, wafting ashore waves of simple wonderment.

I find peace in marriage, my opportunity for paternal generosity, gainfully and gratefully employed, championing youthful vitality into simple life lessons. A hero happily of no great significance.

I am afraid to confess happiness. Afraid to invite the rage of jealous gods and goddesses. Yet there it is, I feel happy. I feel thankful. And I thought you should know before I complained again.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fun Fat Families, a loving world of Enablers...

Losing control is hard for us. We are an army of discontent, our weight unmanageable. Weighed down in that muck of self-doubt. In the all too familiar depths of despair, where sugary carbohydrates hold more sway than healthy resistance, we lauder in softheaded self-pity. Shitty and wasteful, tediously predictable, a transition, waiting for some liberating incentive, a 'wailing wall' of inspiration. Some logistical mental trick to bring us back into the game.

OK, so it isn't significant, in the greater scheme of things. Just complexity and turmoil born from simple choices done wrong. To lose weight, lean into the wind of self awareness and like yourself enough to be kind, patient, and pragmatic. It is that simple. Understand we, by nature, fail... and that is as it is.

Our little cross to carry, counterbalancing the first world fallout of seductive second choices. We languish in our luxury, all too aware of its discordance with righteous responsibility. Being good, truly full-conscious activism, is both impractical and fully necessary... So we bite off small bits and chew slow, letting grace supersede our blatant stupidity.

Growing out from our greed with better choices, we learn to be lean, resisting the blanket cover of whipping post waddling. Losing our schemes of self-justification, allowing us to love without poisoning the well with short-lived satisfactions. We are simple creatures, in need of simpler solutions, like break-fasting, slow walking, children laughing. We are seeing-sunrising, moon glowing, grass growing simpletons. Smiling softly, we submit to possibility.

There is no conclusion, only emphatic postulating to a persistent inner voice. Hush friend, your tummy talks of a lifetime of turmoil, let it rest a bit, by feeding us with nothing more than emptiness. Be kind and let it sit. Let life be free enough to settle and then sleep on soft pillows of content.

Amen to 2016.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Lost in the Wilderness of Options; Belly-aching Belly Bulge... Again.

I am not so much gaining weight as I am losing muscle tone. My metabolic disorder is ordering me to diet again. Parkinson's package of pain, and general loss of balance, restricts my motion. Yet motion is the prescription, coupled with low caloric intake... Zipping up the pie hole while wiggling the Wabash.

Unfortunately my favorite exercise in years past has always been long dream-walking, pilgrimages to new neighborhoods. Lost in a healthy happy mind set of imagines... adrift in a thought-rich walk, sightseeing the little details on all the back streets and riversides of my favorite cities.

Walking has always awakened my inner athlete, subduing my slothful tendencies, bringing me back to trim. Nowadays putting out the trash is a marathon-esque quest crippled in diagnosable discomforts. I just can't walk like I use to. Instead I do an exhausting zombie shuffle, an old man comical short step worthy of slapstick giggles. Though instead of laughing... I long for a place to sit, hidden from public scrutiny. Usually I just stay home.

My dietary regime, in days gone past, was predictably some fad scam of weight loss fanatically followed, creating inspirational success, until reality crept back in, lazy old binges of mind-soothing decadence. Classical roller-coasting in a recognizable inefficiency. All fatties know the dance.

Yet, fat fastened to the midriff is unequivocally unhealthy, ugly to be, and impossible to disguise. Sin shows in a world of selfies. And when coupled with failing teeth, balding head, and sagging skin, it is just best to get over whatever it is, and just do the damn diet... again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lost in the Wilderness of Prosperity

Today we are in cherry blossom abundance, when spring reluctantly nudges in, after a cold and wet Japanese winter. No other flowering better teases out the national sensual selfie. We are in the pink, religiously snapping away on one-hundred and twenty-five million cellular phones.

I take two Ibuprofen to augment the battery of medicine I consume for Parkinson's. Despite a blissful outside, I shutter within my perfected home of opulence. Lucky is an understatement. Sponsoring the vitality-rich adventures of my three children, now scattered geographically in a world of possibility... I live in the lap of luscious aloneness. My week sprinkled with delightful cerebral communion, quietly distanced from the hum of urban clatter in my mountain-high suburbia, Hieidaira.

I struggle to calm a dilapidated neurological rat's nest. I have the shakes, constipation, muscle rigidity and the anxiety prone mind melt of any self-absorbed PDer. In a life of a billion great adventures, it is only right I now must face one more challenge... one more dimension to the human web of contradictions.

Perhaps most mysterious now, in the simplest of daily steps, my making choices. I live in my head of indecisiveness. Swallowed by the symptoms of my descent...  I "enny, meeny, miny, moe" my day away. Sauntering sadly to the beat of ill at ease. Lost in a banquet of plausible options. In like a lion, out like a lamb.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Living with a Big Gut

Ed and Lou
My Dad, the oldest son, and his youngest brother Ed, had notoriously small waists in their youth. Both hard working (and, in the case of Uncle Ed, hard playing) men, they maintained their shape until retirement. Later the love of good living and persistent health issues allowed their guts to expand. Dad lived to his 90's, though getting around was tough towards the end. The gut becomes an inconvenient fact of life.

Parkinson's at 63 has disrupted my weight watcher's dance of roller coaster dieting. I have risen to my upper crest at 124 kilograms. And, despite a serious case of camera embarrassment, feel a futility in abstinence. Too much of my daily grace comes from consumption. Despite a Paleo prejudice, I covet carbohydrates. 

Physical movement has become so untenable, a zombie shuffle, leaning forward as if to bite the neck of some hapless imaginary victim. When once pilgrimage was my magic solvent, when walking was both a passion and a solution,  I now vegetate in the stagnent confines of online exploration. Brave steps out of the house to take the trash to the corner, or to wobble to the nearest vending machine, leaves me panting. Pain follows like a loving lap dog, a merciless reminder of better times.

A buddhistic solution, a middle way of moderation, is so obviously the cure... Yet the screaming child within wants my sugars. A sloth lifestyle seems more suitable to my dark inner spaces. But can I keep searching, in this Japanese sweet land of the petite, for sizes that fit? Or, do I finally talk myself into living fit... Take responsibility: eat less, move more.

It's hard to feel loveable when your magic mirror no longer answers the question 'Who is the fairest of them all?' Get real. In the age of Selfies, a positive self image is essential. With or without the big gut, get that mojo working.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Life as a Cherry Blossom Tattoo

It has been a year since my official diagnosis of Parkinson's. One distinguishing fact for senior citizens is 'negative anniversaries' grow in relevance, while the customary holidays of joy fade in glory. Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, no longer feel festive, while the anniversaries of my wife's suicide and other cruel recollections bare forth brutal recall, like an internal fountain of regret.

To rekindle the good vibes I need fresh verification of love, while sadness needs no fresh flame.

I am learning to be a man of disease. I am becoming comfortable, somewhat, in my discomfort. I allow time to wobble where once I sprang. I am almost adjusted to day and night long 'preoccupation' with bowel and urinary functions.

The endless twitching of hand and leg is now as much a member of my family of expressions, as my once wry smile and my charming lift of eyebrows. With Parkinson's my face will grow into an expressionless Noh mask, while muscle motor ticks will dance about my body in an improvisational ballet of freakish wiggles.

While I once measured my time in New York lost in sweet abandonment of dance, now in my beloved Kyoto I measure steps in pain, reaching for sturdy points of support, spacing relief with discomfort. I climb steps to my classroom as I once climbed mountains. My day is a pilgrimage from one rest stop to the next, my temple any chair where I can find reprieve.

It is at this point, in the conventional construct of such negative compositions, I usually find insightful power points to build in optimism and end with a cheerful uplifting pun. I could share how my new classes have begun in cheery pedagogy. I like my students and they seem to enjoy me. My children, friends, and coworkers smile support and affection.  I live well in my disease, and my symptoms seem so far quite manageable.

I am not dead, and in cherry blossom season there is much to be said for being alive.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Futility, the pros and cons of expressing defeat

One stage, quite consequential in dieting, is the inevitable feeling of futility. If one has a genetic 'psycho-physical' predisposition to be fat... And you know who you are... You will feel defeated, on the bathroom scale of self-awareness, each and every New Year's Eve.

In your mind's now tearing eyes, you will walk through a dozen cycles of enthusiastic new beginnings... the Paleo Diet, Raw-Vegan, Low Carb, High Carb... Eating as a Pleasure, Eating as a Sin, Fasting for Penance, Fasting as a New-Age feel-good remedy... spilling out in a tangled web of impressions... swimming, cycling, walking, a whirlpool of sacrificial moments on the quest for less.

And then that inevitable sinking confirmation of defeat.  I have been this high before, fought myself down to a new exhilarating low, and then reluctantly watched the 'all too easy' weight gain back up the rudy scale. The bear climbed over the mountain. The bear climbed over the mountain, and what do you think he saw? He saw another mountain. He saw another damn mountain.

You can just climb so many mountains before tedium turns into disgust. So you feel the feeling. Futility pours its wicked scent from your skin, vaporizes in a foggy steam of discontent, and you resolve yourself to do better next year.

You don't know how, but you pledge anyhow... to try again. You had let go of perseverance, to fall back into gleeful decadence, and so now drenched in self-contempt, you take a shower under the purifying waters of again letting go.

Let go of hopelessness. Who needs hope anyhow?  Let go of all expectations. Feel the freedom to be without goals, and settle on being settled on being who you are. Post-futility, past defeat, uncomfortably aware that you are a fuck-up when it comes to maintaining your weight. Yet... comfortably aware that the opposite of over-weight is no weight at all.

In the celestial cesspool of after death probabilities, in which death is steeped in post-mortal weightlessness... angels and devils have no weight issues, and recycled Buddhists and Hindu are inevitably thin... Body weight is an issue only for the living.

Alive we are emphatically engaged in eating. And what we eat determines, in a greater or lesser extent, how long we get to live. So, like it or not, to live is to be on a diet. To eat well is to live a bit longer. Feel futile, if that's being honest.

Then go have a salad.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Living in Paradise with Parkinson's

When you get diagnosed with Parkinson's it isn't a complete surprise. Chances are you have been living with unexplained symptoms for a very long time. Most likely there were many dismissive friends, doctors, and family members who took your complaining as just signs of getting old, an inability to keep up, or just more bitching. Nobody likes a complainer, so you live with your body, until the signs are so damn apparent it becomes a chronic condition with a name.

Being diagnosed doesn't change much. You still have the same damn aches, pains, and twitches, only now you have a convenient name for it. Doctors are still dismissive, because they can't really do all that much, and they get tired of saying that each time you are forced to see them to renew your medication. Friends and family continuously express concern, but there just isn't anything much they can say or do. Nobody but you can be proactive, and only you who knows how very little can be done.

I have a brutal stiff neck, like I always had when I slept wrong, had too much happening at work, etc. except now it won't go away. True too for the back pains, and innumerable other physical discomforts. Parkinson's means you live with it all. An endless loop of adjustment. You live with it, because you want to live, and the fact is you have no other viable choices. 

Parkinson's is a possessive proper noun, which owns your ass, and there ain't much more to it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Eating for Parkinson's

Despite living in Japan, I have been blessed with a qualified young doctor willing to carefully answer my questions and explain my options in English. I am new to this world called Parkinson's Syndrome and there is a great deal to learn.

The doctor's advice was 'to lose weight', and find an appropriate medicinal mix of L-DOPA + dopa agonist.  Japanese doctors are always amazed at my size and remind me with gleeful consistency to be less. And so, here I am again with a sense of impossibility, being less than me.

Hohen and Yahr Stage 2 is my official status. In Japan, stage 3 thru 5 moves you into handicap status, a statistical advantage I'd sooner delay. This doctor estimates two to three years of negotiating symptoms, for near normalcy. A bit less than the three to five years I had first heard at the initial assessment... perhaps with two years lost to improper diagnosis. No matter, there is only one option. Dealing with whatever happens, whenever it happens. 

Despite discomfort and a general lack of enthusiasm, I am officially on a diet, a kind of religious calling, to a die-in-the-wool atheist. In my twenties, a diet meant simply having no job or the natural result when recouping from a broken heart... Later I experimented with fasting and 'diet pills'. The ill-tempered emotional state from this foolishness guaranteed more the loss of friends than weight. Life was emotional and in motion, weight gain a sign of solvency.

Hard core walking in my thirties became a better solution. As a performance artist, in line with Richard Long, I joyfully tracked every street and avenue on the isle of Manhattan. And later in a flight of fancy, as a Buddhist pilgrim, I walked the arduous eighty-eight temples of Shikoku Japan. Manhattan provided a wondrous parade of characters, an on-foot living fantasy. Japan lifted me to new heights of experiential clarity, with muscle tone to match. When you are happy, challenging your physical perimeters, life and body fall together. Manifesting a masculine integrity so beautiful to be.

In my forties I made a family. In an endless task of busy-ness, life and body become entangled. Working hard becomes less physical perfection, more an acidic mix of anxiety and responsibility. Becoming a widowed dad of two young power houses, my fifties had me radicalising my diet in a desperate search for food as sacrament, a solution to the emptiness of soul. I dabbled deeply into raw food veganism, workshopping and wheat juice fasting with my children at the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico.

There was also success, then bounce back, with Atkins, and then success again, when Paleo allowed me my meat lust madness again. And now in my sixties I am an unbeliever, too jaded with verifiable inconsistencies, depleting the wisdom of both my meat eating no-carb brothers and high strung animal lover veg-kins. I eat these days on inspiration, an uninspiring hodgepodge of guilt ridden delicacies. 

While I'd love again the pure simple environment of a health food community, I am sure it would be more likely 'libido' opportunism than any honest appraisal. When I walk, even for only blocks, or simply stand to do the dishes, pain envelopes my being. And being in pain brings me down, undermining whatever will I had to diet. 

It is true, I'd love to be a believer. But believe in what? In need of a simply sense of what is best, a food faith for these sacred few remaining tears... a diet with teeth and heart. Man again in both body and spirit, wilful assuredness in what I do and how I do it. That would be sweet!

StageHoehn and Yahr ScaleModified Hoehn and Yahr Scale
1Unilateral involvement only usually with minimal or no functional disabilityUnilateral involvement only
1.5-Unilateral and axial involvement
2Bilateral or midline involvement without impairment of balanceBilateral involvement without impairment of balance
2.5-Mild bilateral disease with recovery on pull test
3Bilateral disease: mild to moderate disability with impaired postural reflexes; physically independentMild to moderate bilateral disease; some postural instability; physically independent
4Severely disabling disease; still able to walk or stand unassistedSevere disability; still able to walk or stand unassisted
5Confinement to bed or wheelchair unless aidedWheelchair bound or bedridden unless aided

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Boracay Bylines with Bo and D

Past sixty has been a bizarre entanglement, with an array of physical symptoms and serious self esteem issues. Basically my left arm has gone beyond "GoJuGata" (over 50 bum shoulder) and evolved into a bitter mix of muscle degradation, uncontrollable twitching, an arthritic clenching, tightened together in a general numbness. I have a left leg twitch for polar consistency, and back pain that prevents standing or walking in comfort. Down the tubes, at a remarkable rate, which makes even typing this awkward.

Yet I have my home, three great kids, and enough passionate love and friendship to fill all the bamboo bungalow here on Boracay. I am blessed, yet pursued by unfulfilled expectations. Remarkable how many bucket list resolution accompany a man into his sixties. Not the bungee jumping variety, but grand delusions of manly successes, great prestigious aspirations as impractical as they are unattainable.

Not that I haven't the time and resources to carve a small kingdom of prestige and an appreciative inkling of ego gratification, I just lack the fundamental belief, the necessary spark, a feeling of relevance. I imagine this wall of dull inefficiency is fairly common for my generation. There may even be books about this in my roof to floor library, or something I could listen to on audible. If my eyes were better I could take digital books on the subject to read here on the beach, or simply write one myself.

Lazy latitudes, fruit shakes on the shore of white sand perfection. I was told I would end up here, in a self fulfilling potpourri of half-happy pleasures... a leaky boat of unresolved emotions rocking close to shore. A rum and coke would work if it weren't for the hangover, so instead, I write to you, knowing you would understand.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Pragmatics of Paleo

Originally, dating back to the middle of the last century, diets were low calorie, carbohydrate-rich, and fat free. Nowadays, these assumptions have all been challenged. While calorie consumption is still to be casually monitored, the present belief is calorie 'quality' is much more significant than the arbitrary measuring of caloric-intake. 

Counting calories can be useful if one is fully aware of the differences between veggies and starches, natural and commercial, paleo and pathetic. All calories are not created equal. Some foods are better at satiating our appetite, like fat-rich foods, while some foods stimulate our addictions. In my case that would be sugar and sugar-substitute 'treats' dressed-up as tempting psychological substitutes, soft and creamy carbohydrates. As sexy to me, and as ineffective, as all addictions tend to be.

My low carb experiment has proven to me, there is a direct relationship between the amounts of carbohydrates consumed and weight gain. Surrender to my sweet tooth, impulse eating, means a two to four kilo gain within weeks. Meat and vegetables, with sufficient fat, in the form of coconut, butter, and avocado, works... with only an infrequent carbohydrate extravagance, as in the white rice of sushi. 

Shopping, diligently, in the green grocery, and preparing my own meals, makes a world of a difference when adjusting my belt buckle. This reality of domestic persistence, house and garden domesticity, has become a health essential. For as my weight goes, so does my blood pressure, vulnerability to diabetes, back pain, and a slew of other  old man symptoms too embarrassing to list here. Staying as trim as possible is a prerquisite to senior survival.  

The final foundational stone, to Paleo perfection, is exercise... Cross-fit disciplines, or for seniors, simply, counter balancing the stiff joints of maturity with habitual walking. Paleo is an abbreviation for Palaeolithic... a time when our ancestors ate what they could chase down or grab from the ground, a time of natural essentials. For contemporary hunters and gatherers, paleo makes dietary sense, a pragmatic game plan for staying alive. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cacao Magic and Raw rumination

Cacao Magic is a newly opened 'raw food' restaurant and chocolate shop here in Kyoto. My daughter Kai and I were reminded of the delicate flavors of raw cuisine. A few years earlier we had enjoyed a wheatgrass holiday at the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico. Feeling clean psychologically, one trusts dedicated foodies, compliments the subtle palate of vegetables and herbs. 
We were lucky to catch Chocolatier Sumire Matsuda open on a weekday expressly for the cherry blossom season, as her new shop is in the blossom viewing heart of Eastern Kyoto, near the Silver Pavilion. 

Sumire is a charming host, fluent in English, having spent years as a fashion buyer in London. There are shakes made of a concoction of healthy goodies too numerous to name. The menu changes every week and I feel I will be tempted to return often. This is not the nurturing stuff of American meat and potato, though it does fit comfortably in my Paleo camp of low carbohydrate and all natural. The Pièce de résistance is her desserts, chocolate of course. Dessert is not voluminous, but it needn't be, as our raw food lunch of dehydrated onion chips, salad with goji berry dressing, and avocado soup filled me to the brim. 
And filling me is never easy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Complexity of Eating

I have been experimenting with a low carbohydrate diet for one year now. Low Carb works, though at times can be near impossible to maintain. I do a lot of traveling, and when away from home 'low carbing' is tough. Fortunately, my increased awareness of what I am eating does help keep me about 20 kilo south of morbidly obese.

The actual formula for success though demands stricter proportion control, more selectivity, and a better exercise plan. Also, while I have improved my statistics, lower weight and lower blood pressure, I have never been able to feel truly healthy. I feel my sixty-years disproportionate to my peers.

In a large part, this is because of my lack of physical activity. In fact, now it has become severely punishing for me to stand for any length of time. I have become car dependent, and even simple tasks, like doing the dishes, creates lower back pain. Added to this, a string of symptoms makes it near impossible to answer 'How are you?' without a tedious litany of complaints.

I have, for example, leg and hand tremor, all on my left side, all too often... Also what the Japanese call 'goju-kata' fifty years old shoulder, or what might be described as bursitis. Most recently, a severe stomach condition, initiated in the Philippines, lingers after a month with daily cramping and enough gas to impact global warming. A simple day trip into Osaka, though spent joyfully with good friends, was plagued by an underpinning of pain.  I am just no fun anymore.

What to eat... what needs to be changed... what little rituals can I introduce into my life... to bring back vitality? I have learned much from a year researching nutrition, yet feel I know too little. Meanwhile my body flounders and I fear the worse. A spring equinox equaling equanimity, a calm appraisal, with an appropriate response, what can I do right now to fix this?

A fast can be a beginning. Perhaps by creating space, proper choices can find their way in.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One Year on a Low Carb Diet

The cycles of dieting parallel our patterns in Love. 

There is the initial 'Honeymoon' when a diet can do no wrong, complete submergence, utter infatuation, when pounds pour off your waist line. Then reality sets in... all those little sacrifices on your personal life-style. It is amazing how many little carbohydrate goodies are so essential to our maintaining an equalibrium. A diet can be damn demanding, and that wonder methodology of sacrificial devotion, sacrificing delectable carbs, begins to be more bitch than inspiration.

But... having lost weight, and enjoyed some of the many merits of a steady relationship to health and nutrition... A dieter will return to a successful process despite an 'occassional' affair with a chocolaty distraction. It is hard to be true to one dietary discipline, but, in the end, one good diet prevails over a string of fad distractions. Survival via fitness eventually wins over deluded self-abuse and I tend to stay true when a diet fulfills my fundamental hungers. Greens and meat suffice.

I began my diet at 134 kilo and after a year of loss, gain, and loss again, I presently weigh 114. Twenty kilo lost ain't much for a year, yet it beats the complete futility of overt obesity. Having some handle on a chronic problem, while no longer feeling blissful enthusiasm, I do want to keep trying.

So, as a new year begins, I resolve to give up sugar, and her substitutes, for Lent, on the hope of reaching Easter at 110. It has been about 45 years since my last Lent offering. Let's see if that ancient stratedgy can still move this crusty old sod to stay true.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Plateau verses Rebound; a Dieter's Choice

The inevitable flat lining of a dieter's weight-loss is a test. If we allow frustration and boredom to overcome our enthusiasm for our diet, we will rebound. We know this from past experience. I have documented several cycles of weight loss and my inevitable rebound, the pattern is always the same. 

When my weight loss is dynamic and steady, I am inspired and diligent. But when life gets in the way, when dieting conflicts with work and social activities, I face a choice. Buckle down and stick to my current dieting methodology, or slip into the dark side.

My pattern may be familiar to you. Quietly I seek solice in comfort foods, temporarily escaping the tedium into old soothing addictions, sweet creamy tummy stuffers. I forget to pay attention. Lost in the oblivion of oral orgies, my weight line rises, defeating months of success... confirming again my own self-contempt. This is crazy, yet this has happened too many times to ignore.

My advice to myself? Play with the variables, eliminate obvious leaks in the system, persevere. Plateaus are inevitable, even unavoidable as our bodies adjust to our current metabolical state. Let the plateaus happen. Don't panic. Don't run away into an old abusive relationship with food. Reconfirm diet fundamentals, the rules that have carried you this far, and stick to your guns. If only to preserve the new you, that was so reassuring, when the pounds were melting away. 

"This too will pass."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

133.4kg>115.8kg What's in a number...

I started a modest goal of descending from a crest of 134 kg (over 21 stones/near 300 pounds) to a weight of 115 kg (18 stones or about 250 pounds) and now, after 6 months, my goal is in reach. Of course, this present weight has me moved from Clinically Obese into merely Obese. Breaking the next goal of being under 100 kg (less than 16 stones and under 215 pounds) may well be another 6 months away... and still have me, squarely, within the Obese category... a wide trough of despair where most Americans live.

Considering some of the sacrifices, death by a thousand lost habitual oral gestures, one may question whether the journey is worthy of this extended footnote. Yet there has been so many small yet memorable moments, a small necklace of successes and learned lessons. In a life where progress is hard to detect, it is fun to feel progress... to learn more of the subtleties of cuisine, the addictive powers of common foods, the actual limits of my will power, and the humor of our human condition. Dieting is fun when it isn't outright miserable.

The Low-Carb experiment survived an American Southern States road trip, and now the next journey is more of the same, augmented by more actual exercise, in the Isles of the Philippines.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Texan BBQ Low-carb benefits

The fast food chains are just too tough to find a good option for the low-carb dieter. Fortunately, when traveling through Texas, and some of the neighboring States, there are fantastic barbecue restaurants. Texans know how to prepare meats to be tender and savory. The trick is to remember to put the sauce on the side for moderate dipping. The sauces are strong so you won't need much for seasoning. Sides (side dishes an option of two or three in most restaurants) have vegetable options to replace the ubiquitous breads and potatoes.

In the fast food chains, almost all the fish and meats are breaded and deep fried, and accompanied by massive buns and hills of potatoes. This makes any home-style BBQ truck stop, or family friendly diner, a blessing of delicious low carbohydrate options. Usually the staff are also more enthusiastic, and helpful, in these family owned and operated establishments. I love eating in Texas as long as I can find a good family owned BBQ and can avoid the more common chain eateries.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dieting on the road

Traditionally, when my Japanese friends visit the USA, they add on a few kilo. This is understandable, as most of us love to try the local cuisine when on the road. For a returning expat like myself, the temptation is more nostalgic, wanting to eat the favorite foods of my childhood.

Curiously, I've discovered these sentimental treats taste better as a memory, than in actuality. Very little of what I gobbled down as a child was all that special. What was special was being young and hungry and active, the perfect storm of delectability! Now at 60, I am mostly sedimentary, and I really do not need, nor even enjoy, the sugary carbohydrates of my youth. I deserve, and can afford, better.

I have discovered eating primarily a choice protein, a great well prepared steak, for example, or fresh un-breaded seafood, matched to a choice selection of well prepared vegetables, or a creative salad, beats the traditional poor boy grub of massive piles of breads, potatoes, grits and assorted greasy goop, designated to most of the American plate.

The trick to healthy eating while on the road is diligent scrutiny of grocery store labels, and restaurant options. Fail safe old habits, or following the suggestions of advertisements or fast food marketeers, is a formula for disappointment. There are great treasures in the American horn of plenty, it just takes scrutiny. Feeling satisfied beats being stuffed by bad choices. Too bad it took me so long to learn this lesson.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Staying Low Carb while holidaying in the USA

The very first challenge in my summer quest to keep my low-carb diet was high above the Pacific. Airplane food is laden with delicious but inappropriate goodies. The Chinese family seated nearby had the right idea. Take what you love to eat with you, when you fly. I immediately was forced to end my self-regulating restrictions, if I wanted to eat enough during the full day of multiple flights, from Osaka Japan to Albany New York.

The next blockade to Paleo perfection was the free continental breakfast at the Howard Johnson Motel, absolutely 100% CARBOHYDRATES, with stacks of bagels, loaves of bread, plates of donuts, bowls of cereal, and a splash of dairy or jugs of sweetened juice. In another time, on another diet, I would have been in pig heaven... but as a potential caveman in quest of bacon and eggs, I was plane out of luck.

The third obstacle to continued weight loss was lunch, having made breakfast with no 'break' but simply an unintential 'fast'. Lunch in an all American Shopping Mall FOOD COURT... every food stall was something potentially good wrapped in, covered in, stacked with gluten manifestations, soaked in sugary sauces. Only the pseudo-Japanese booths, owned and operated by competing Chinese chefs, allowed quasi-low-carb variables of meat and vegetables, laden with the obligatory MSG and sinister sauces.

Soon we will take to the road, after a family barbecue, and a day at the country fair. Doing America on a low-carb diet should prove a crash course in improvisational shopping. Thank God my medical statistics confirm why I prefer this style of eating.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Can't beat Success

My low-carb adventure, which I now more often refer to as Paleo, primarily because the sound is a bit more snazzy, has been a real plus in my life. I jokingly refer to it as age regression, as I started at 134 kg, quicky moved into the 20's (platforming for a while at 122), and most recently been in my teens (dancing betwen 118 and 119). I am striving for infancy, achieving a long held dietary goal of breaking below a 100 kg after too many years overweight.

No matter what variant, Low-Carb, Atkins, Paleo, et al. the basic formular works for my particular dietary needs and preferences. I imagine a great deal more of us unhappily oversized could benefit by experimenting with this 'eliminating carbohydrates' aesthetic.  Becoming aware of the sugar factor in our habitual over-eating, aware of the starch/sugar relationship to our body weight, reading food labels, and simply remaking old patterns... all play out well for apple body-shape types like me.

This direct assault, on my metabolic syndrome wasted waist line, has improved my medical statistics in under six months. This is the actual goal, to be further away from the threat of diabetes, heart disease, and all the many nasties of obesity. And though I am not yet in the green zone, I feel good getting out of the red hot danger zone. Perseverance furthers.

This summer I have scheduled a three week road trip with my dad and my son through the wilds of the USA, where delectable carbs wait in ambush at every diner dinner, fast-food courner, and family feast. I would love to continue to lose, but maintaining my present weight may be accomplishment enough.

My digestion of Paleo/low-carb literature, along with the ample informative podcasts available on the low-carb lifestyle, helps both to articulate my understanding and to keep me focused. There are many celebrates in this minority world of exotic nutritionists and fitness gurus, many are quite entertaining. It will take me months to work through my ever expanding book collection on this subject. But first... the challenge of traveling America and applying the lessons I have already learned, about avoiding those foods that make me fat, while enjoying the fats that satiate and satisfy... living the life... is key.

And... as an added bonus, playing with T'ai Chi & QiGong as my summer fascination, an exercise experiment as beautiful as it is enjoyable i.e. keeping cool by being cool!
Wish me luck.

A snapshot of Tai Chi instructor Roberto Paredes.