Archive | August 2018

Daily Bread (Week 19)


Dinner!  This last week I had 3 square (real food) meals each day.  It is rather fun and a little crazy making at the same time.  I even got to eat actual dinner with my wife.  It is starting to work, but still hard.  Planning and cooking is something I got out of the habit of doing.  Then there is the weighing, measuring, and counting everything I eat.  I have an app on my phone that I can use to record everything  which is much easier than pen and ink, plus it does the math for me.  I used to be great at math, but as I age, I seem to make a few more mistakes when adding.  I am still compulsive.  I bake several large pans of veggies, one of cauliflower and two of zucchini.   I let Anne eat some of them, but I get jealous if she eats too much as I want them to last for several days.  Fighting over veggies rather than potstickers, oh my.  Slowly and surely I am getting into a routine, 3 real meals and 3 product snacks.  One challenge this week was been the temptation to snack.  We had some family over on Sunday and although I had hummus and red bell peppers out for me, they brought salami, cheese and crackers.  The cheese and crackers did not tempt me, but the salami was another matter.  I ate 3-4 slices, not horrible, just fine really, and I counted the calories, but it was really hard to stop with those few slices.  Better not to start.

It is definitely more stressful trying to manage my calorie intake while getting a good balance of nutrients.  The meal replacements did all that and I did not have to think while on them.  I am grumpy and short-tempered (more than usual!) and my dear wife puts up with a lot.  If anything would make me want to quit the program, being impossible to live with would be it.  Hopefully my emotions will even out once I have this meal thing figured out better.

This week in class, we did some simple strength building exercises.  I will try them on days I can’t swim.  The air quality hasn’t been great with all the fires and the smoke drifting into the bay area, and that has kept me indoors more.

We did go to Tiburon for a few hours last week and I put this pic up on Facebook.  Folks commented that I am looking good.  One even said I am melting!  Maybe so, maybe so,




(My stats for the last week – down 4.6 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for 220 minutes – I definitely made up for my 1.5 gain last week.  My total weight loss so far is 47.3 pounds.)

My Body Speaks A Prayer

My body speaks in code sometimes

A slight twinge

A subtle ache

A vague unease


Another issue

That must be addressed.

Aging is great

The wisdom

The lack of worry

About work; its stresses

And responsibilities.

But oh my old body weeps

It limps it shivers and it sweats.

Give us strength

Lend us courage

The trail is ever steeper

Progress only measured

By how far we fall

And how hard we land.

We don’t expect to reach the peak

But just grant us more time

To savor this journey

Help my body keep laughing

Along the way




Daily Bread (Week 18)


This real food thing is getting better I think.  My lunches this last week have been almost yummy.  I had shrimp/spinach salad for the first 3 days with red bell peppers and cucumbers @250 calories.  I switched to yogurt, blueberries or raspberries, peppered turkey, and cherry tomatoes for breakfast for 227 which is less boring than the hard boiled eggs and tomatoes I had last week.  Had an omelet for lunch one day.


What is really weird, however, is that I am struggling to get the right amount of calories in without overdoing the protein.  I added some whole grain bread to compensate for that.  I can only eat so many vegetables and they don’t give me the calories I need before I get full.   Last week I ranged from 1242-1317 calories, up from the 1200 per day I was doing while on 100% meal replacements.  That was the recommended increase.  Balance, it is all about balance, a very hard thing to accomplish.  We so easily tilt off, one way or the other.  I am also learning that the compulsiveness that I had about staying faithful to the meal replacement portion of this program may just help me carry on now that I am eating real food again.

What was weird this week was that I had a small weight gain (1.5 pounds) for the first time since I started this program.  It happens; it certainly has happened to others in my group.  Some of it was due to my body adjusting to real food again and some was likely due to the lack of exercise this week.  The smoky skies and my sore leg meant I did much less swimming the usual.

There are some physical changes, however,  as I have been going along.  And that feels good.


    May 16                        July 16                       August 22
More (or less) will be revealed as time goes on.
And as always my group has been super supportive.  We have a new theme song:
We are working on our dance routine.

(My stats for the last week – up 1.5 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for a only 155 minutes – there was a lot going on this week and I have a weird muscle pain in one leg.  My total weight loss so far is 42.7 pounds.)

Frankie in a Dream


It is odd

How sometimes

People from your past

Come to you in dreams.

Frankie died some years ago

Both her children too

Are gone now.

We worked together for years

In our good government jobs

(They were good back then

Long before I left to become

A minister

Long before I retired even from that

Second calling)

Frankie was my boss off and on

And I was hers once, briefly.

We always had

Each other’s backs

Fighting for the people

And what was right.

Frankie had heart.

I loved her

And she drove me crazy too


Last night she came to me

When I was in the midst

Of a preacher’s nightmare.

A big service in a big venue

(Like that is going to happen)

And I’d forgotten to prepare

The order of service.

Frankie came running up

“No worries”, she said

“It’s being printed now.”

A flash of stress.

Had she picked the right hymns

The readings that I needed?

(She was Lutheran after all)

Then a flash of memory

Of recognition.

She always had my back.

I am smiling up at you

My old, and very dear, friend.

Thank you for helping me

Even in my dreams.



Daily Bread (Week 17)



Breakfast and lunch both this week!  It feels like way too much work all of a sudden.  After almost 4 months of no thinking and no cooking, I now have to think about and prepare 2 meals everyday.  Hah!  I have gotten lazy I suppose.  Even peeling hard boiled eggs and weighing a few tomatoes for breakfast felt like too much effort last week.  I did  all that the night before, but it was still a pain.  It is hard to imagine how folks who are working or have kids they need to care for cope with this amount of change.  We really are a food-focused culture, but maybe all cultures all.  In that sense, the program has been very counter-cultural so far, with food becoming simply fuel.

Maybe I can use the metaphor of a plug-in hybrid automobile.  Most of the time, you run it on electric, but sometimes you need a little gas.  After our CRV was totaled at the end of June, we bought a Honda Clarity.  In a month and a half, we haven’t used any gas at all and the gas tank still reads full.  We are learning what the car needs, how often we have to plug it in so we can minimize our use of fossil fuels. Now I will need to learn what my body needs to be both efficient and healthy: how much protein, how many calories, what vitamins, and how much exercise.

This week I am going to try yogurt with a few blueberries for breakfast and a shrimp and spinach salad for lunch.   As always, we will see how it goes.  But in terms of the ever necessary need for self-motivation and confidence, I need to say, “I’ve got this!”  Zoom, zoom.





(My stats for the last week – down 2.2 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 280 minutes.  My total weight loss so far is 44.2 pounds.)

Daily Bread (Week 16)


Food, glorious food!  Breakfast = 215 calories.

I was so excited to eat some real food, but, wow, it was disappointing.  The hard boiled eggs were good enough and so were the baby heirloom tomatoes.  The sugar snap peas were tough and stringy, however, and they got stuck in my teeth.  The carrots were boring and a little slimy after being too long in the fridge.

Before I began this program, I tried to stop eating foods unless I liked them.  I was reasonably successful at that.  Slimy carrots (even when washed very well) never made the cut.  Stringy snap peas would be left on my plate.  I would not bother with bread if it wasn’t soft and tasty.   Stale chips were’t appealing.  The meal replacements I survived on for the last 16 weeks required a different approach. They taste OK I guess, but I think of them more as medicine or fuel than as actual food.  I would not say I “liked” them.  As I transition to eating real food again, I need to figure out what my new relationship to it will be.  Will food be merely fuel or will taste matter? I still don’t see the point of eating food I don’t like when there are other options available.  For breakfast tomorrow and the rest of the week, I am going to have the eggs, increase the tomatoes, and forget the stuff that did not taste good to me.  We will see how it all goes.

Last night we spent some time talking about what we do (or can do) when we are getting close to what we call the F___ -it moment, those times when we are tempted to hit the chips, the cookies, or the cheeseburgers; and throw moderation to the winds.  Some of the stories were moving and others were hilarious.  What I do, sometimes, when it is hard, is to think of someone I know who has done these kind of programs multiple times and then always goes back to old habits.  I am NOT going to be like “X” I say to myself.  It helps that “X” has many other qualities that I also don’t want to emulate.

I remembered a song this morning, which will also help me I think.  Woody Guthrie’s Union Maid has long been a favorite of mine.  Below is a video of the song, with Woody’s son Arlo, talking about when and why it was written.

Union Maid

With apologies to Woody and Arlo and stalwart union members everywhere, here’s my new theme song:

Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the program,
I’m sticking to the program, I’m sticking to the program.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the program,
I’m sticking to the program ’til the day I die.
There once was a program maid, she never was afraid
Of chips and dips and her sometimes slips, and the refrigerator she wanted to raid.
She went to the Kaiser hall when a meeting it was called,
And when temptation come ’round
She always stood her ground.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the program,
I’m sticking to the program, I’m sticking to the program.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the program,
I’m sticking to the program ’til the day I die.

(My stats for the last week – down 3.2 pounds, drank over 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 210 minutes.  My total weight loss so far is 42 pounds.)

Daily Bread (Week 15)


We are beginning our last week of full meal replacements.  15 weeks is a long time to go without any real food.  My body is starting to rebel I think, or maybe I am just compensating for the anxiety I feel about this phase of the program coming to an end.

It is a finish line and it isn’t. This is a marathon and it isn’t.  Maybe it is a triathlon.  The first part “products” only, the second “transition” adding real food slowly over several weeks, one meal at a time, and the third is what they label “lifestyle” which is for the rest of our lives, 6 small meals everyday, with 3 “products’ recommended.   Maybe the line “until death do you part” applies.  I am resistant to including these Optifast products in my diet for the rest of my life.  There are too many weird chemicals and Nestle really is an “evil corporation.”  I’ll try to keep a (relatively) open mind though.  I need to make this work.  Ignoring my health is no longer an option for me, so I will do whatever it takes.  I will ditch the picture of the products starting with next week’s blog, however, as one small act of resistance.

I only lost .3 pounds last week, my smallest weekly weight loss since I started the program.  I  felt kind of bloated all week, so it did not surprise me much.  I also didn’t get much exercise in last week as I had a cut on my arm that swimming wasn’t helping heal, so I skipped several days.  Life always happens.  We do the best we can.



(My stats for the last week – down  .3 pounds, drank 7 gallons of water and exercised for a total of 210 minutes.  My total weight loss so far is 40.7 pounds.)