I lost weight using two simple tricks (and you can too)

I lost 15 pounds in six weeks. I went from 190 pounds to 175, and have stayed at 175 for two months. All I changed is what I ate and how much.

The first trick is what to avoid eating: Avoid simple carbohydrates, and absolutely no sugary food! Before this experiment I had a very carb-heavy diet (i.e., one built around cereals, rice, pasta, potatoes), and I never abstained from desserts. In my experience, eating simple carbohydrates – especially sugars – leads to blood-sugar crashes that make me extremely hungry after a few hours. When I cut out sugar I never experience hunger like that. So I stick to vegetables and protein. (My go-to snack now is a Pure Protein bar.)

The second trick is to eat less. Before this experiment I didn’t have any portion control: I would whatever was served, and at a shared meal I would volunteer to finish anything that was left. Now the question became how little can I eat? I could eat two hamburgers, but I can also eat just one. Where before I would pour a full bowl of cereal, now I pour half a bowl. Less also means avoiding extra fats when possible. So no adding butter or mayonnaise to things. No fatty/starchy snack foods. Nothing deep-fried.

Eating less actually reduced my stomach capacity. I get full on less food, and I can’t eat as much in a sitting as I used to.

Neither of these tricks completely eliminates hunger or cravings, but not being fully satisfied at all times is part of life. The only thing I allow myself to eat outside of mealtimes are protein bars, carrots, or diet soda. That’s it. A simple rule, so there’s no thinking, no bargaining, no calorie counting. And no way to not lose weight!

(NB: Some cravings might be driven by nutritional deficits, so I take a daily multi-vitamin. As long as I have body fat I don’t have a calorie deficit.)

Huckleberries

It’s huckleberry season! Huckleberries ripen beginning in late July. And since huckleberries resist cultivation, they have to be picked in the wild from bushes that grow on mountain slopes.

In Idaho and Montana, huckleberry foraging locations are traditionally family secrets. I was permitted to accompany one expedition to a patch just off a dirt road deep in Forest Service land at 6,600 feet elevation.

Wild Huckleberries in late July at 6,600 feet ASL

Picking huckleberries is not easy: The bushes are low to the ground, the sparse berries tend to form under the leaves, and even when fully ripe the small berries do not easily detach. An hour of concerted picking yields dark purple fingertips and only about three cups of huckleberries (which reduce to just two cups when crushed).

It took an hour to pick these three cups of huckleberries

What’s the attraction? Huckleberries have a taste along the same axis as blueberries, and blackberries, but the flavor is far more intense than that of similar fruit.

Blueberries and Huckleberries

Huckleberries are often canned as jam and syrup. I helped can a traditional jam recipe that cooks equal parts berries and sugar, plus some pectin. The result was a precious product that we canned in 4-ounce jars. Given the strength of the huckleberry’s flavor I thought that recipe was excessively concentrated. So for a second batch I added crushed cultivated (i.e., large and relatively flavorless) blueberries in equal part to huckleberries; reduced the sugar by 20%, and canned the jam in 8-ounce jars. Informal blind taste tests concluded that my modification did not diminish the product.

Canned Huckleberry Jam

Cookie Currency

Cookies and Tea
Keep Calm – David Will Fix It

These chocolate chip cookies are a so good that I honor them as payment for home repairs.

Yum … delicious, grey-market barter. Not dependent on fiat currencies, and beyond the reach of all but the most tyrannical governments. You can even have the recipe for free:

Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies (High Altitude Recipe)

  • 1 C. + 2 T.  unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 T. butter, melted
  • 1/2 C. brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. minus 1 T. white sugar
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 C. chocolate chips
  • 1/3 C. coconut
  • 1/3 C. chopped, toasted pecans (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cool the melted butter slightly.  Beat melted butter and sugars together.
  3. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla.  Beat until blended.
  4. Add salt and baking soda, beat or mix well.
  5. Stir in flour by hand until just incorporated.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips, coconut, and pecans until just incorporated.  Do not overmix.
  7. Form into balls 2 tablespoons each.
  8. Bake 12-15 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn golden.
  9. Let cool on baking sheets for about 10 minutes before removing.