The Slippery Slope

Several weeks ago, at the beginning of the diet-change process, a sudden craving struck our household. With elevated heart rates and embarrassed glances at each other, we headed to the local ice cream shop, and each got ourselves a sundae. After all, we rationalized, we had better do it now, right? It’s not like we could splurge after our surgeries.

But, after the forbidden ice cream treat I felt…disappointed. Empty, almost. It had not really satisfied my craving at all, and I felt no desire for more. I told Lor, “Well, I guess that does it for ice cream.” I felt not only relief, but a curious sense of pride in myself. These dietary changes must already be working if my cravings were changing, right? I departed from our mutual diet failure with a sense of progress and accomplishment.

Fast forward to last week. Lor got sick – a head cold that left her drained and listless for days. Since she is the person who is in charge of our menu planning, and she had no real interest in eating, this created some confusion in the household. Especially when she demanded her favorite comfort food for getting through a cold – Green Chile Stew. Oddly, the best Green Chile Stew in our neighborhood is available from a chicken and barbecue restaurant, so I was dispatched on a quest to gather up the magical, sinus-clearing elixir. I asked Lor if it was OK if I got a meal as well. She waved her hand in dismissal, not being interested in what I did, as long as the stew arrived quickly. On the way to the restaurant, I lectured myself on good choices, reduced carbs, and eating sensibly.

3 huge pieces of fried chicken, a side of mashed potatoes with gravy AND a side of Mac and Cheese later, I realized that maybe I wasn’t as far along with these dietary changes as I previously thought.

In retrospect, the things I did wrong are pretty easy to spot. I should have agreed on a menu for myself before I left the house (2 pieces of baked chicken, maybe, perhaps some steamed broccoli to go with it.). I should have written it down, so I had something in writing to hold myself to, since my accountability partner would be lying on the couch several miles away, trying to breathe. But, mainly what I should have done is not take her illness as license to cheat on¬†my diet. I should have gotten just the items that she asked for and then returned home, where we have tons of intelligent food choices already in place just waiting for me to prepare and eat them. It would’ve been cheaper, too.

I come out of the experience a little embarrassed and a little wiser. A single diet failure is not the end of the world by any means. But patting myself on the back for no longer wanting ice cream was a false achievement – there is no great accomplishment in giving up something I wasn’t all that crazy about to start with, and I gave myself a false sense of security. I have now identified a true weakness (starchy carbs with rich sauces), and can start to work on making that¬†change in my mental programming.

You don’t give a thief a job guarding your bank, you do not leave the family cat unsupervised while there is food on the kitchen counter, and you don’t send Hawkwind out to the fried chicken joint. It is not the course of wisdom.

Dreading The Weekly Weigh-In,

– Hawkwind

45 Grams to Deconstruction

One of the very first changes that was made in our household was institution of a new diet. Before either of us ever met a dietitian, we looked over the (intimidating) packets of information we were sent home with from our surgical consults, and decided there were changes we could make immediately. We amped up our fruit and vegetable intake via smoothie creation once a day, we got rid of all our sugared snacks (goodbye, Ghiradelli), and we immediately stopped drinking carbonated beverages. But things got a bit more complex after the first visit with a dietitian. We were sent home trying to: A) Increase our water intake to 64 ounces a day (but that is a WHOLE other article), and B) Reduce our three meals a day to 45 grams of Carbohydrates each.
Now, 45 grams is not much. 45 grams is equal to, say, 12 ounces of fruit juice. Or a Whole-Wheat Bagel. Or 3 whole Oreos. It was becoming clear that many favorite foods were going to be vanishing from our lives – not at the “2 weeks before surgery” point, but more like the “right now” point. We began our transition from bread, pasta, and cakes to Kale and cheese.
This is where the support of friends and family members can be HUGE. For example, in preparation for our Easter get-together this year, my Mother called me to ask what could we actually eat? This is going to be great training for our lives post-surgeries when options will be even more restricted. We decided to stick with our usual cookout menu of burgers and brats, just without the use of hamburger and hot dog buns. Add a mixed green salad, and a small amount of fresh fruit for dessert, and voila – Lor and I can participate without feeling like we are screwing up everyone else’s meal.
That type of compromise and cooperation is going to be important in the months to come, I think. Both of our families are food-centric, with family get-togethers all planned around who is going to be bringing what food item. As we begin to change our diets dramatically, it is hardly fair to expect every one else in the family to follow along – they didn’t require Gastric Sleeve surgery, after all. But this idea of component-based meals, where Lor and I are free to select items or portions that work within our diets while everyone else can eat as they choose, seems to be an excellent solution. We don’t want to lose out on the social interaction that comes along with preparing meals and sitting down with the family.
We just want to make sure that we are around for the next few decades, so we can continue to spend time with each other.
Already Plotting For Thanksgiving,
– Hawkwind
PS – Since there has been a little confusion, Misdirected is published Monday through Friday. Saturdays and Sundays are reserved for all the stuff I should’ve been doing while I was writing and reading other blogs!


I have been watching the level as it drops. Every day, I have kept an anxious eye on the contents of my coffee jar, knowing that the inevitable would come. And, yesterday, it arrived. The pot of coffee I brewed used the last of our caffeinated coffee grounds, meaning that I was going to have to replace the contents with…decaf. I had to restrain myself from licking the interior of the now dusty and empty coffee jar.
It has been difficult enough keeping up with the new, carbohydrate-light diet that was introduced into our household after Lor’s first visit with her dietitian. No more soft drinks, no problem – there is still half a case of Mountain Dew (“Code Monkey Fuel”) sitting in our pantry collecting dust waiting for a friend or family member to show up and take it off our hands. No more carbonation was a little trickier – Lor loves those Zero-Calorie carbonated waters and I, of course, was forced to give up my precious, precious beer. Somehow, we powered through.
But coffee! That’s a whole other ball game. I have been a caffeine addict since high school, and have always relied on coffee for my morning jump start. Days when fate or poor planning forced a start without coffee have always led to headaches, stomach upset, and general low-level nastiness on my part. And, in recent years, I have dragged Lor down the Coffee Road behind me, resulting in two caffeine addictions under the same roof. No, mornings are not going to be pleasant in the Hawkwind Habitat for the foreseeable future.
Following some advice from a fellow bariatric patient who was kind enough to visit us here on the blog, I did at least make sure that we got good decaf:
(Seriously, is there anything you can’t get on Amazon?)
It smells good enough going into the jar, but I know from previous experience that, like the main character in Dream Park, I just like the taste of caffeine. (And, sorry to sound like a shill for Amazon here, but if you are a Science Fiction fan who somehow missed out on reading Larry Niven’s Dream Park, stop what you are doing right now and go buy it. You can thank me later.)
I am assured by those that have gone before me that I will kick my addiction in a short period of time, and then all will be sunshine and roses again. But, I am not so sure. Even now, I can feel the tendrils of my desire for caffeine, wrapping like tentacles around my brain, preparing to squeeze all the life out of my ever-weakening form.
Maybe a little less Darkest Dungeon and H.P. Lovecraft while I am kicking coffee, eh?
Staring Into the Caffeine-Free Abyss,
– Hawkwind

Man Up And Eat Your Veggies

24 ounces of Spinachy Carroty Strawberryish Goodness

When Lor and I decided to start looking into more drastic weight loss solutions initially, she had me watch Joe Cross‘ excellent documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead”, chronicling his weight loss journey performing a 60-day “juice fast” and losing over 100 pounds in the process. While “juicing” didn’t really sound like my thing, I had to agree with the tons of nutritional advice in the documentary focusing on one major dietary problem in our lives: instead of a diet made up of 33% (or so) Fruits and Vegetables, our diet was nearly entirely made up of meats and processed foods. We made the decision that, when we could afford it, we would get a juicer or a blender and start making the necessary changes in our diets. Oddly enough, we found a normally $200 blender/food processor combination in the Clearance section of our local mega-mart for 75% off within 48 hours of making this decision. Almost instantly, fruit and vegetable smoothies entered our daily diet, taking the place of our normal lunch routine.
Yesterday, given all the pet-centric chaos and commotion around here, we skipped our daily smoothies. Lor had some canned fruit, I had some leftovers from dinner the night before. I felt completely drained of energy by 8 last night, and woke up this morning with all the symptoms of a good, old-fashioned hangover. The lack of plant-based nutrients yesterday had me paying a serious price today. I told Lor this morning: “I should’ve just manned up and made our smoothies yesterday.”
We both chuckled at the idea that “manning up” equated to eating plants. And I have been thinking about that laughter ever since. Why is it, I wonder, that we look at eating veggies as un-masculine? It can’t really have anything to do with the work involved in raising plant-based foods: any farmer will tell you that farming is anything but a weakling’s profession. It is work made up of days filled with long, arduous labor. We’ll have to look elsewhere for where meat = man.
There is an inherently combative element to the idea of eating meat, I suppose – “Nature, red in tooth and claw”, and all that. But talk to any professional athlete about the idea of eating an all-meat diet and you will be laughed out of the clubhouse. Whole, plant-based foods contain nearly all the nutrients a human needs to survive and thrive. (Some vitamins can be an exception.) What the heck is so manly about being nutrient-deficient?
But, the myth persists. We know a family where the wife attempted to start she and her husband on a daily regimen of plant-based smoothies, only to have the husband reject the idea. Why? Because it wasn’t “real food”. I, myself, have frequently mocked the people I know who prefer salads over steaks, calling them “tree-huggers”, and saying they are eating “bunny food.” Now, at 150 pounds overweight, I wish I had eaten more salads and otherwise kept my mouth shut.
There is nothing manly about gasping for air after a walk around the block. Embrace your inner bunny, and start making decisions based on what your body needs, instead of the foods that you think of as masculine. Your six-pack will never be visible if it is hidden beneath a beer keg, like mine.
Drinking My Lunch (And I Don’t Mean Budweiser).
– Hawkwind