My 22-Hour Raw Foodism Experiment

During my junior year of college, I inexplicably lost 30 pounds. I was working 80 hours per week at the student newspaper, taking 15 credits and still managed to play pick-up basketball about four days per week. I was also taking Hydroxycut, the weight-loss pill that was yanked from shelves no so long ago over health concerns. (They’ve since changed their formula.)

I played my senior season of high school football at 219 pounds. Since then, I’ve never weighed more than 230 and never less than 207, which is pretty miraculous considering I spent the better part of six years on a college campus. Right now, I weigh 225, give or take a few.

After 19 hours, I started noticing changes to my physical appearance. I grew concerned.

The other night I stumbled upon the raw food diet. Fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, nothing heated above 110 degrees. I thought I’d give it a try because I read nothing about portion control and raw foodism still allows for trail mix. And I love trail mix.

For 22 hours, I dabbled in raw foodism. I went to Trader Joe’s Saturday and dropped $47.34 on produce. I ate bananas, blackberries, raisins, a salad, carrots, oranges, trail mix and drank almond milk and water. I worked out and felt fine. The raw food diet relies on natural energy found in foods with enzymes that promote more effective digestion. They say after two weeks, you can almost completely detox your body of all those Taco Bell quesadillas and Whoppers from Burger King. (I’ll spare you the details, but said detox also leads to some pretty epic trips to the men’s room. Which is nice.)

Twenty-two hours. What went wrong? Why did I stop?

Coffee. Then beer. Oh, and Chipotle. Lemonheads. After 22 hours, I caved to the fact I love me some processed, genetically-modified foods. I love cheap drive-thru fast food. I love milk … from a cow … not milk … from an almond. And coffee — sweet, succulent bean juice of the gods. If I’m obese to the point of immobility someday, remind me how lucky I am to have coffee in my life. I’d take a sedentary lifestyle as long as I had Sumatra.

Fortunately, right now, I’m just obese. According to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, my body mass index (BMI) is 30.5. My recommended body weight is no higher than 183 points. (Pfff … I remember 7th grade.) The BMI has its limitations, of course, not taking into account muscle mass. Look, as long as I can run a few miles, play some basketball, walk stadium stairs — I’m not overly concerned about my weight.

But people like me — once active, now employed — often become too busy to keep in shape. The way my work schedule goes now, I’m either at the gym at 6 a.m. or 7 p.m., neither of which are the most desirable time slots, but that’s my reality. That’s why I (briefly) considered raw foodism. Silly boy.

I may never know a size 30 waistline or “abs,” but at least I have coffee. And beer. And Chipotle. And Lemonheads …

But

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Pizza Diet? Wait, Isn’t That Called College?

Here we go again.

First, it was Jared and the Subway diet. Then it was Taco Bell and their batty Fresco Menu. Now, the pizza diet.

I’m both skeptical and emotional at once. If what the gentleman in the video says is true, I’m so on board. I’ve been sitting at 220-230 pounds for the past year, and I know I need to get under 200 pounds if I want to be here when the aliens land.

I’m willing to try this. Maybe blog about it for a month. (Not everyday, just weekly.) Your thoughts?

Someone Please Feed 50 Cent!

I’ll admit, I’ve been downing Slim Fast for lunch for the past few days. I’d like to get back down to 205 pounds or so. Maybe I should try the 50 Cent diet:

According to ThisIs50.com, Curtis Jackson a.k.a. 50 Cent went from 214 pounds to 160 for his upcoming role in Things Fall Apart, where he plays a football player with cancer. For nien weeks, 50 went on a liquid diet while walking three hours per day on a treadmill.

This has got to be the most shocking weight loss for a movie role we’ve seen since Christian Bale in The Machinist:

For his part, Bale went from 182 pounds to 120 by consuming nothing but a can of tuna and an apple each day for several months. When shooting wrapped, Bale put on 85 pounds for his role in Batman Begins. On his major weight loss, Bale said:

“I wouldn’t want to take it to that extreme again, because firstly, it was necessary to lose weight for that role – not as much as I did – but it was a challenge mentally to see if I was capable of doing such a thing.”

You know what I find mentally challenging? Not eating a square of Portland Coffee Cake from Starbucks every morning. Looks like I’m about to lose that one, again. I  leave you with this one question: If for some reason your job required sudden major weight loss, would you be willing to go through with it or would you move on to the next opportunity?

The Fuss Over Food in Portland

A vegan Thanksgiving meal at a Portland church? Please, tell me the wine is non-alcoholic!

This morning, loyal TMT reader Joe Ashmore sent me a link today of Portland-area cuisine recommended by the good folks at Panic, a local firm that develops Mac software.

The recommendations included: pizza tartufo bianco from Apizza Scholls, gnocchi at Nostrana and the sardine sandwich from Best Baguette. I’ve never tried these things. I’ll never try these things. No matter how long I live here, I’ll hold fast to the three characteristics that define a meal for we Midwesterners: a meat, a vegetable, a starch. Of course, that should be washed down with a big glass of milk, too.

I’m just not a foodie. I tried. My palate seems to have severe limitations, probably from the 5,000 Totino’s Party Pizzas I consumed in college. I understand and even appreciate an intricate, exotic meal. I’m just not willing to pay for it when I’d be perfectly content with a Hot Pocket.

My girlfriend and I spent countless hours researching Portland about this time last year. We learned this was utopia for sushi and salmon lovers, considering the coastal location. I wanted so badly for this to matter to me. Sushi and salmon get pooled in with U2, Nintendo Wii and hockey among things I want to like, but can’t will myself to enjoy.

We were also told this is the place to be for vegetarians and vegans. I agree with that concept, because I believe there’s a place vegetarians and vegans should be confined to. As previously stated, in the Midwest, meat makes a meal. It’s happened where we’ve ended up at a restaurant where there was not a single animal on the menu. I thought that only happened in Hell. Then again, it has been warmer here lately.

The locals get uppity about gluten-free, too, but I understand that’s a national trend. I don’t know a damn thing about gluten and it’s allegedly harmful affects. I see it’s not on the Department of Homeland Security’s watch list, so that’s good. I tried to look it up on Wikipedia, but a few links later, I was busy reading about how Wilford Brimley actively opposed the banning of cockfighting in New Mexico in 2008. (For the record, the Wiki hop went as such: Gluten-free>Oats>Quaker Oats Company>Wilford Brimley.)

I operate in two modes: Hungry and Full. I don’t have the capacity for food ethics or proclivities that require my food lack gluten or animal products or fun. I make no apologies for my diet, either.

Out here, people like to be considerate of dietary demands. Just yesterday, I heard a co-worker talking about ordering pizza for six people. Two people were gluten-free, one was a vegetarian and the other three were normal. (And yes, I use “normal” to assert the other three people are not.) In the end, my co-workers ordered three pizzas. One was gluten-free. One was without meat. The other — I kid you not — had a young calf and bread crumbs on it.

I feel for my co-worker who had to go to such great lengths to satisfy everyone. My nihilist diet goes out to people like her. I make things as easy as possible by eating without discrimination. In that way, I’m like a goat: Sure, I’ll eat a tin can. It’s not high up on my list, but if I’m hungry…

If you come to Portland, I do recommend the list assembled by the dudes at Panic. It’ll give you a better glimpse of local food culture than I ever could. Although our neighboring Taco Bell is one of the finest I’ve ever dined at.

School Lunch Changes a Long Time Coming

The more I read about First Lady Michelle Obama’s efforts to curb childhood obesity, the more I’m horrified by what passed for school lunch when I was kid.

A couple years ago, I heard about a new school board superintendent in my hometown who was demanding soda vending machines be taken out of schools. I thought that idea was a travesty and almost insulting. Diet Mountain Dew had, after all, kept me awake for most of my high school years. I couldn’t accept anything was wrong with school dining options and it felt, if anything, like an attack on students.

Now, I’m looking back on the way I ate during my thirteen-year run in the public schools, and it’s no wonder I’m carrying a little extra poundage these days.

I vividly remember lunch at my elementary school, with its massive slices of pizza and footlong hot dogs. We were served rice with cinnamon on top, a side dish of strawberries and bananas floating in a sugary, syrupy goo. We had chicken nuggets, corn dogs, spaghetti with a slice of garlic bread the size of a fedora. Sometimes, we had waffles or pancakes flooded in maple syrup. Tater tots and french fries were mainstays. On some days, lunch was followed by fruit-flavored ice treats.

Strangely, I can’t recall a single meal during middle school. I was too consumed by puberty, salacious rumors about who’d gotten to second base and quoting lines from Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison.

If I ate a thousand meals in high school, 989 of them had to consist of nachos and nothing else. (By nachos, I mean heavily salted tortilla chips dipped in nacho cheese.) Vegetables and fruits were but a rumor. At this time, we were on a credit system. My mom would write me a $30 check once every few weeks. Two dollars would’ve been enough to cover what then passed for well-balanced lunch, but I would use my school lunch credit to buy nachos, cookies and soda.

I would love to go back and compare my high school grades in classes immediately following lunch compared to the rest. There’s no way I didn’t bonk by fifth or sixth period. It’s a wonder how I made it to football practice on a gut full of salt and cheese. Maybe things would’ve been different had my school only offered healthy options. Maybe I would’ve pulled better grades and gotten into my school of choice. Maybe I could’ve been a fit tight end instead of an undersized left tackle. Maybe, at age 25, I wouldn’t be at the gym every day trying to make up for years of bad eating habits.

Maybe not. But still.

I’m 100 percent behind efforts to improve school lunch options. The fact is healthy food is expensive, and for too many underprivileged kids, school lunch is the only opportunity they have to eat a balanced meal. A sound body does create the foundation for a sound mind. I can’t imagine one disadvantage or drawback to eliminating, say, nachos and cookies from school lunch.

What are your thoughts? What do you recall eating as a kid in school? What changes do you think should be made?

A Caffeind’s Bout With Dehydration

For Christmas, my parents gave me a Stanley coffee thermos because that’s exactly what I asked for. I’ve become increasingly reliant on coffee working the 8 a.m.-5 p.m. five days per week. Coffee has been my coping mechanism. My Stanley, it holds up to a 1.1 quarts of coffee and keeps the brew piping hot all day. Not to mention, it keeps me alive all day. It’s become my favorite Stanley, in fact:

Andrew’s Favorite Stanleys

  1. Stanley coffee thermos.
  2. Stanley Hudson
  3. Stan Musial
  4. Stanley Kubrick
  5. Stanley Cup

I finally realized after putting down more than a quart of Starbucks Sumatra each day for the past month that maybe I’ve got a problem. Maybe I’m doing something wrong. I’ve successfully given up pop/soda, but replaced it with nothing but coffee and the occasional Sugar Free Rock Star. Add to the fact I’m working out six days per week with aide of a highly caffeinated pre-workout mix and I’m drinking a glass (or three) of shiraz every night (for heart health), it’s easy to see why I’ve been feeling like crap lately: I’m dehydrated.

It should be noted I make roughly 60 phone calls each day at work, and since that can mean up to three hours on the phone, I don’t have time to get refill after refill of water. Not to mention, I don’t have the time to relieve myself every 15 minutes. My beverage intake is strategic in that it keeps me awake, alert, and dehydrated so that I don’t need no stinkin’ bathroom breaks.

Well, that’s changing today. I normally sweat like an oversaturated sponge, but I noticed that wasn’t happening yesterday while working out. I felt lightheaded, a little disoriented, and actually thought I might pass out. I think I was experiencing what publicists describe when the Lindsay Lohans and Britney Spearses of the world pass out, only my dehydration is legitimate and not related to cocaine. At all.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s Web site, men should consume roughly three liters of water per day, and an additional 12-20 ounces on days of rigorous exercise. So apparently I’m going to have to wear swim trunks and a catheter to work today. I’m going for it though, because the way I’ve felt the past couple nights actually scared me. I’m drinking this cup of coffee to my left and one more at work, but then, its nothing but the clear stuff.

Oh, but caffeine. Sweet, sweet caffeine. However do I cope without you? The reality is I drink so much caffeine lately, I’ve become impervious to it. Maybe even immune. This is extremely boring for you, but a major lifestyle change for me. My belief is if caffeine is ineffectual at the point, my body shouldn’t notice its absence, right?

I’m curious, fellow members of the workforce, how you get your daily water intake each day. Any tips or tricks? How can I make this work in place of my coffee? Will it help if I fill my Stanley coffee thermos with water and food coloring and hope for a placebo effect?