Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Why I Cook, A Story In 1600 Calories

     I've been seriously cooking for a bit over four years now. I really enjoy cooking, but it wasn't a critical part of my life. It was just something I did to put food on the table. Most of the time it was crap food. We ordered out a lot. We ate out a lot. When you see my entries for Nutritionally Irresponsible Cooking, this is the sort of thing I was regularly putting on the table. Which leads to a doctor's appointment I had.
     I was just getting a routine physical for work. The doctor took my blood pressure. He asked me if my head hurt. He asked me if my vision was impaired. He asked me if I had any chest pain. I told him no on all accounts. He waited a bit and took my blood pressure again. He then asked the same questions. I told him if he kept asking me, I was likely to eventually develop a headache or chest pain. He arranged for me to have an echo-cardiogram. He was worried about edema,  high blood pressure, thickening of the heart. I went in and had the echo.
     In the end, it was nothing. I had mildly elevated blood pressure and was retaining water. My heart was fine. I was put on blood pressure medication and diuretics. The doctor told me I needed to drop weight. The doctor had successfully scared the hell out of me.  I was a shade over 320lbs. I asked his advice for weight loss. His advice was this:

  • Limit intake to 1600 calories a day
  • Most non-starchy fruits and vegetables can be counted as zero calories
  • Take in the calories however you want. If you want to take your daily calories in ice cream, have at it.
  • Once a week, you can double your caloric intake if desired
     That was it. And that was the genius of it. If I wanted to eat sweets, I could. I'd just run out of calories fast. If I wanted a big-ass salad, basically all I paid for in calories was for dressing and non-veggie toppings like cheese, eggs and meat. I found a good calorie counter for my iPod. I entered everything diligently. Every meal. Every day. I started carefully considering what I ate. If I kept to lower calorie foods, I naturally gravitated to healthier items. 
     That's where I realized I needed to cook more. If I cooked from scratch, I had total control of the calories in the meal. I could tweak recipes. I found 300 calorie cookbooks. I fell in love with cooking. I enjoyed making something that didn't at all taste like it was lo-cal, but actually was. The weight started coming off. To date, I've lost about 65 pounds with no notable exercise. I've been stuck at about 255-260 for the past two years. This speaks volumes for the diet. It creates weight loss, then maintains that weight loss. Now I've started to add regular exercise to the mix, and little by little, the weight is coming off again. My goal is 235. We'll see what happens. In the meantime, I will continue doing what I enjoy, and that is putting good food on the table.

Good times!


  1. I am right there with ya brother. However, my story doesn't start with a Doctor, it starts with an airplane seat belt and a rude flight attendant. I too loved to "cook." I go see a Doctor for the first time in 3 years, but I started a journey of lower calorie, daily food log inputs, and changing my lifestyle. In 20 days, just from a dietary intake of around 1600 calories and eating more fruits, vegetables, and reading labels I am down about 18 exercise whatsoever. I support you and follow you on Facebook. I applaud you.

    1. Thanks so much for your support and great job on the weight loss! It's amazing how fast it peels off at the start with nothing but a change in diet. Like I said, I have to add exercise now, as I think I've plateaued. I think my favorite triumph was buying a pair of jeans at the Walmart and not having to pay the fat guy surcharge.