All posts by Abaxial

Day 4 | Spudded Leather – Potato Skins are like Leather when Baked

Last night I had trouble sleeping.  I think my body has depleted it’s glycogen stores.  Was less thirsty.  In the mornings I find I’m a little dehydrated, will need to load more water into me in the evening.

I’m feeling alright today, a little physically tired.

Glad to be going into the weekend now.

That is all, really. Today I found I thought a lot less about food in general.  A little craving this morning as I made my wife and son some toast and eggs.  But I ate some potatoes and am finding I *am* really looking forward to expanding my vegetable options, I’m not hungry.  I don’t find myself being very hungry.  It’s rather interesting, breaking the habbit parts of eating.  Eating only when hungry, not as a ritual, just as a necessity.

Peace,

Shane

Day 3 | Spuddy, I long for the sweet sweet taste of sweet

It’s 8AM and all’s well.

The water weight loss that always happens at the outset of a diet is in full swing.  8lbs lost so far.  I’m still expecting to nestle in to about .5 lbs lost a day once this acclimatization period is completed.

One thing I noticed end of yesterday and this morning, I am actually craving sweet.  Not really to fill my belly, but for the taste.  It’s the taste of sweet I’m craving.  I feel like that means I’m hitting sugar withdrawal (raw sugar) as I do get to eat potatoes and do so during the day when I feel the urge to fill my belly.

I thought I was going to wake up with a headache this morning, but it faded before I actually got out of bed, which is nice.

I can feel my body operating on a different mode now.  I feel like I can taste the ketones in my saliva.  I’m needing more water through the day than before also.  That means my body is likely beginning to eat the fat I stored in the ‘summer’ of my life.  The best part is, I don’t really (yet) have to hibernate to feel the benefit.

My mind feels sharp today, not foggy, my energy is normal, and my hunger is minimal.

Will check in again tomorrow to let you know how today goes, but on the advent of the day, I’m optimistic.  Lets see what the afternoon brings in the way of fatigue.  Fortunately, lunch can bring a nap if needs be.

Day 3 is supposed to be when you first hit a wall.  I hope, due to having done a ketogenic diet in the last few years, that my body is a bit more tuned into getting in to and out of such a phase.

The only thing I think about, though, is the sodium.  As I understand it, potatoes and sweet potatoes will be giving me the electrolytes I need in the way of Potassium and Magnesium, but Sodium is not really represented and is relatively important.

If I notice myself feeling the effects of a sodium imbalance (dizziness, heart palpitations) I’ll be adding a little sodium to my diet in some form.  I’ll try not to let it be associated with food, and maybe I can put some in a capsule so it doesn’t affect my taste buds.

Going forward, after this induction phase, I’ll be able to get it from other sources.

Ciao for now,

Shane

Day 2 | This Spud’s for You

I didn’t mind eating a potato this morning along with my supplements.  I think I’ll make a widget to surface my current regimen of supplements on the right.

I’ve looked into it and  I could get almost all of what I need from potatoes if I ate a full compliment in a day to maximize my caloric intake, but I’m running a deficit right now and for the foreseeable future.  After that, I’ll be running with a mostly plant-based diet.  About 90-05% of my caloric intake from plants.  That kind of a diet would also need supplements.  Though I may transition fully to the Eat to Live methodology which includes some things that fill in those gaps.

This is a drastic shift for me.  Previously I’ve had great success with the Keto diet in shedding weight and feeling great, but over time it just wasn’t sitting well with me.

All this talk of diets and something I really know is that for me it’s in my head.  It’s a mind game.  Right now I’m updating this blog frequently, I’m in the zone, it’s in my centre lane.  It’s not on the back-burner.

Heading into a parental leave in August, I was going to wait until then to start this change of routine.  Then I got to thinking that my reasoning is bullshit.  Start now while I’m in my work routine.  Then, when I get to mid-august, I’ll have even more control over my daily routine and it will be a kind of boost which I may need in a month and a half.

So far day 2 is relatively easy.  I have eaten, but not much, to gather fullness, and am working with a functional brain.  I’ve taken an advil, though, as I’m dealing with a low grade headache that I know to be capable of growing in size to be not very nice.

From what I’m reading, the resistant starch in the potato is great for your gut bacteria.  I feel like I’m slowly taking control of my gut bacteria as well.

I guess all in all, I feel good today.  It’s mid-day, and only now am I starting to feel a little physically tired.  It’s likely that my glycogen stores are being tapped into to make up for my dietary caloric deficit at the moment.  While I feel full and happy, my body will still transition through to dealing with being short on daily calories and weight loss will continue.

Have lost 4lbs so far in 2 days.  It’s not something to be excited about.  The first quick loss in any initial weight loss plan tends to come from water weight.  It takes water to store glycogen.  As the glycogen is tapped in your body, the water is released into your system and flushed out.

The thing is, this action is often what makes a person begin to feel good about losing weight.  That initial bump is a nice hit and tends to have immediate physical outcomes that you feel good about.  That being said, when the glycogen stores are drained, the real work begins for the body.  Day 3 and 4 of any initiated caloric restriction can be the worst days.  They are ahead of me now.

I hope it’s not too bad.  Today has been pretty good so far and I’d like to be in relatively good shape tomorrow at work.  It’s Demo day!

Also, this weekend, on Sunday, I’m reading at a poetry competition as I’m one of 10 finalists this year.  Excited to do so, will share the poem here after.

Peace,

Shane

Day 1 | Send in the Spuds

It’s absurd.  I know it’s absurd.  Eating only potatoes for 2 weeks sounds like a stupid idea.  Most certainly a fad concept of a fad diet fad fad fad fad fad.

Here’s the thing.  I already said it, but I’m 275 lbs.  I’ve tried several methods in the past.  I’m still 275.  So far, I’ve come up short and wide.

I’m a fan of grand gestures.  I used to shoot the moon in hearts quite a lot.  I wouldn’t always make it, but it sure was a fun challenge, and it was fantastic to make it when it worked!

I also often ‘go out on a limb’ in Euchre; much to my partner’s chagrin.

I love making predictions, just out of the blue.  I love when they pan out.

I guess what I’m saying is that I still want to be the main character in the story of my life, and grand gestures are better for the plot.  I just hope they’re okay for the outcome as well.

At 275 I’m way off the right side of the BMI charts.  That’s not heartening.  I’ve been fortunate to have perfect blood pressure, and cholesterol levels during annual physicals so far.  I’m certain that wouldn’t be the case in 10 more years at this weight.

So today is day 1 of just eating potatoes.  The food isn’t the point.  For some it could be a fast.  For others it could be just rice.  The point is to bore your taste buds.  The point is to not be really so much looking forward to the next time you put food in your belly.

With just one meal of potatoes so far today, I can confirm I am not looking forward to the next time I eat a potato.

In any case, lets see what happens.

Peace,

Shane

Before the Breaking Point

I want to live

Okay, mission accomplished.  I’m alive. I’m sitting here writing these words, inhaling air, drinking liquids, and eating food.  I have a job I love, a family I love, and friends I love, and I have hobbies I love too. 
 
Heck, it doesn’t sound like I’m living, it sounds like I’m living large!  But that’s where we get to the crux of the problem.
 
It’s hard to say if, when I was 7 years old, I would have taken the marshmallow or waited for two. It’s accurate to say now, however, that I want what I want when I want it; and that at least for the better part of my life I tend to grab the marshmallow immediately knowing another one will come along before too much longer.  The internet age has been kind to my desire for instant gratification.  Instant knowledge, instant conversations, instant everything just a click away. 
 
Ingrained in me, somehow, is a connection to food that runs deep to emotional support, killing time, entertainment, socializing, and  just plain decadence.  I love food.  All foods, fortunately, but love them I do, and to excess.  As with most things, it’s all relative, but what is excess for many has become normalized for me and I’m looking to undergo a rather intense paradigm shift in order to jog myself outside of my well fortified trenches.

Living *too* Large

At 38, I currently weigh 275 lbs.  For my particular height, 5’7″ I think I ‘carry it well’ in that it probably doesn’t look like I weight that much in excess of what I should for my height, but it certainly looks like I weight too much and perhaps ‘I carry it well’ is something that is more true in my mind than it is in reality.
 
I’m 38 now, and I have 2 children, a wife, and an intense series of emotions around the ultimate eventuality that waits for all of us (as far as I know) at the end of our mortal adventure on this earth.  On one hand, there’s a part of me that thinks along the lines of:
 
“What’s the point of trying to fight for 10 more years of life if it all ends in the same vacuum?” 
 
And there’s a part of me that will:
 
“Rage against the dying of the light” until the light no longer responds to my fight.
 
I’m fortunate, that at present at least, the part of me that is desirous of raging against the light is the larger portion of my being and I’m now driven to action by a hope to make at first a short-term unsustainable change followed by a gradual transition into a sustainable pattern of eating and behaviour that lends itself to more optimal nutrition and health.
 
When I get an interest in something, I tend to dive in over my head.  I either learn to swim, or end up being carried to the shores of possibilities by the tide to ultimately end up trying something else more suited to my interests In this case, it’s a sea of eating and social habits that I hope to change before they carry me to the shores of, hopefully, some other distant shore with lessons internalized and perspectives shifted.

Largely Just Living without Meat Products

So how to go about breaking my habits that need to be broken, and changing the habits that need to be changed I’ve tried many things over the years at various times, but I like a good drastic shift and challenge from time to time to shake things up.  In this I’ve found a way to combine wanting to challenge myself with living a healthier life.
 
The first step is to reset my system to baser levels by cutting out everything for a while.  Nearly everything.  For an induction period of several days the idea is to bore your taste buds by eating only one food daily, as much as you want Ultimately this triggers your taste-buds and mind to eventually be bored and subsequently you end up eating much less than you normally would of your single type of food By the end of such a process, you’re ready for anything other than what you’ve just been eating for 2 weeks, and are more open to change.  Your ingrained habits are now more malleable.  You are more liquid and mutable.
 
I intend to use that liquid state of being to transition to a nearly all plant based diet.  I am allowing for some elements of foods that I normally would not eat after a couple of week intervals, provided such deviations from my path are infrequent and special.  Not normalized, and not rationalized.  Enjoyed, but acknowledged as an exception to my new normal.
 
For those who know me, to be contemplating a mostly plant-based diet akin to Vegan mentality is a difficult process I’m heartened by many others who have gone through similar paths to find their brain becomes rewired ultimately due to the rewiring of their gut (second brain).
 
My target is 170lbs.  Unreasonable in my mind, but a target for which I’m shooting.  Once reached, I’ll let myself grow by expansion of muscle mass and exercise.
 
I don’t exactly know what to expect here.  I expect that some elements of the diet will be relatively easy for me.  I have a lot of fat on my frame.  My body will most certainly find itself near ketosis and burning fat for fuel as a main energy source.  I’m okay with that.
 
I know that a drastic reduction or diet shift is often touted to be unmaintainable and it may very well be.  What I do know is that I am overweight and have struggled all my life as such. For now losing the weight from my frame and shedding my fat fast as I can will benefit my health.
 
I’ll likely be continuing to share progress and thoughts as I move forward.  I’m a sharer.  I’ll try to be fair an honest with what I’m feeling.  I’ll try and document exact details where I can.
 
I need to reshape my eating paradigm.

Peace,

Shane Fera

 
TL;DR; I am 275lbs.  I have a goal of reaching 170lbs followed by a desire to then begin working out and building back my muscle mass. I plan to do this by switching to mostly a plant based diet. This scares me because I love meat.  I am relying on the idea that the gut bacteria used to eating meat are making me love it.  My hope is that my new gut bacteria are more desirous of not eating meat.

 

001 | Withheld

withheld, the rain,
now torrents scatter ants, and sate thirst

where plants, in hopes of garden hose, had wept
now weeps the sky to see their need so fierce

not punctual, but present now
too soon departing, bellies full,
to seek out drier climes
and frustrated fields

+++

SDF

The Next Door

Well, here I sit, 5 years almost to the day of having starting working in a new career at a new company.  It’s been a wild ride, and in that time so much more has happened in my life even outside of the career shift.  Marriage, children, and a house purchase.  All the trappings of a great life vector.

So why do I feel, 5 years into this career, that I’m still behind the 8-ball?  I don’t think it’s from a lack of capability in my current role or position with my company.  Software Developer, Scrum Master, Tech Lead, all things I’m doing with varying degrees of skill joined with continued growth and learning.

So how about it?  Why does the 8-ball still seem ahead of me?  I’ve decided it has to do with vocabulary.  Not actual linguistics, but a vocabulary of knowledge that I lack that many in this line of work achieve through University, or year and years of various types of coding work on various projects.

I feel like I’m behind the 8-ball because when it comes to software engineering, I actually *am* behind the 8-ball.  I’ve cultivated a great deal of soft skills around problem solving, quick self-education when necessary, interdepartmental communication, interpersonal communication, time management, and even some software development and engineering concepts as well.  My problem is that I often fall short in knowledge that would lead me to being able to solve a problem more quickly, or have a greater understanding of a better path without having to do a whole lot of digging first.  I’ve been okay with making up for it by being able to figure shit out time and again, but I’ve been feeling a calling to educate myself again on the fundamentals.  To cultivate my software engineering vocabulary and toolbox further in advance.

Now that the whirlwind of family changes and learning on the job these past 5 years are behind me, and I find myself with some relative stability from which to grow again outside of work, professionally, I’ve decided to start tackling some University level courses.

I work remotely, and am in a fairly remote part of Ontario, at least when it comes to being easily able to actually show up at a University regularly, so I investigated several official sounding online options.  Open University, Athabasca University, a few others out there that can get you an official degree at the end of the journey.

I signed up for Athabasca, albeit in the wee hours of the morning, and went to sleep.  The next day I realized what I wanted wasn’t a piece of paper for validation.  I’ve got the career, I’ve got the fantastic workplace.  What I needed was the self-confidence in my belt of tools and books of knowledge to be able to speak on deeper levels when it comes to systems architecture, algorithms, and software engineering in general.

Enter, several University level courses available online for free, but for no accreditation.  So be it.  That’s what I need and want.  It would be lovely to get an official Computer Science degree, but that’s not what I’m looking for right now.  What I’m really looking for is a growth of fundamental knowledge and a larger toolbox from which to draw for problem solving.

Up first is Linear Algebra which I’m taking through edx.  I missed the boat on actually following along live with the class of 2018, but it’s set up for auditing and self-paced learning outside of the normal window.  I’m looking to document my progress through the course, and subsequent courses by trying to distill what I’m learning down a little bit.  Maybe some haiku would be good?  Force me to thoroughly process my learnings to be able to take it down so far for various concepts… who knows?

In any case, it’s time to pass out, my brain needs to digest the day, and my mind needs the sleep.

Peace,

Shane

On Life and Death, and Poetry : A tribute to Michel Dallaire

Life

I haven’t really written in a vey long time. I’ve instead been painting with decisions, and actions, and the joys and sorrows of a new routine sought and earned.

A man died this week; a man I once called uncle, then mentor, friend… and now since his departure from this place where we are bound in the physical I’ve just been calling memories of him to mind as often as possible.

Michel Dallaire. A cherished French Canadian poet and author. A brother. A son. A mentor. So many titles are laid at his feet by those that had the good fortune to have crossed paths with him and have been inspired by that crossing.

His crossing of my path happened at the most opportune of times for me at least. In the middle of my teenage angst. I met an uncle, a poet.

A family reunion full of aunts and uncles and cousins so far removed they may as well be in a neighbouring province or country. Me, in this crowd, extremely uncomfortable. Michel. A side room, door cracked open. He’s playing piano. We talk. And talk. Exploring the canvas of thoughts and ideas.

During those teen years, I was thankful to be able to interact with someone who I felt understood the thoughts that raced through my mind late at night. We corresponded, for a while, back and forth in a poetic chain through which we self published a little booklet of poetry. His and mine. I was euphoric to have gone through that process with him. For him to help me step from the constraint of rhyme to which I had bound myself prior. Free verse. Free.

I’m ever grateful for his influence, and also for the messages and conversations from time to time over the years since his leaving my immediate family.

Death

I learned of his death online through Facebook, as one does these days. Suddenly the world did not have a Michel in it any longer. It hit me rather hard.

Through the day, in waves, I came to think about what gets me most of death. It’s the culling of possible paths. It’s the removal of possibilities. My future no longer contains any direction in which our paths will cross again. His thread, cut short too soon, has ended and I have only the memories I have of him to sift through.

It’s the same reason I have trouble being decisive at times. Deciding and acting removes possibility, and while I know full well the flaw in this thinking when it comes to refraining from decision, in the moment it almost always feels better to leave all future possibilities on the table.

Yet we cannot, and truly live. We must act and decide and grow and cull and foster and tend.

And Death

I haven’t written in a long time, and the guilt of that hit me hard when I learned of Michel’s passing. A man who inspired me so fully towards writing I thought for sure all paths of my own would continue that writing no matter what.

Since 2013 I have been deciding and acting and growing my path towards a destination that I have achieved. A job I love, a wife I love, a son I love, a home I can afford (and love), and a countryside to explore.

All of those decisions led me away from my frequent writing. They led me far away from the comfort one has in such frequency of writing. No confidence have I had in my writing for some time now.

Out of practice. In a community of software developers in a job that I love, I’ve feared opening myself up to my old ease of vulnerability in writing. I’d killed that free spirit, to some extent, in favour of the certainty that vulnerability not presented can not harm.

And death.

Michel. Thank you. I know I’ve expressed in words over time how much your presence in my life at that time so many years ago and since has meant to me. It doesn’t change the fact that I had planned to continue thanking you for many years to come.

I will miss you. I will miss the possibility of seeing you again. I will miss the possibility of introducing my family to you.

I want to make a bold statement now, that I will wake up to the muses and daemons when they call late at night with words whispered in my ear. That the wind will give me pause again, the moon, the sun, the waves on the bay. I would have, once, made such a statement.

Unfortunately, I do not know if I will answer those calls or not, when they come visiting. I cannot make such a statement.

Life Again

I will post this, though. These words. Mostly unedited and raw. A little vulnerability in my sharing of your impact on a large part of my core. It’s how you found me in the beginning.

Maybe more words will come to me. More poetry beyond the laughter I can sometimes evoke from my son and wife and others around me. The kind forged of emotion and words and hopefully some of the echoes of your imprint on my spirit.

Thank you, always. Thank you.

Your friend.

Shane