Non-Scale Victories, the Been There, Done That, Got the T-Shirt Edition

Continuing the non-scale victory discussion, I've heard one suggestion for tracking your progress that does not involve a scale: try on an article of clothing on periodically to see how well it fits. Specifically, an article of clothing that is too small.

Given that my team is ordering t-shirts for our upcoming Check Point Experience event, it seems like a good opportunity to acquire some. These shirts were ordered from an outfit in Israel that often makes their shirts small by American standards. That makes these shirts excellent candidates to track non-scale victories.


The good news is that the largest shirt they ordered fits, but is a little small for my tastes. About what I expected given the equivalent size of a typical American shirt fits just about right.

Non-Scale Victories


While I've had plenty of victories on the scale, such as managing to lose four pounds on my most recent trip to the New York and Philly area, as the above picture will attest to, I've had my share of victories that don't show up on the scale, but are the result of attempting to lose weight.

One such non-scale victory is the comments I've been getting from people. My current job has me in public a lot more than I used to be and people that saw me even six months ago are noticing that I've dropped a significant amount of weight--about 75 pounds (or 32 kilos) worth!

Another is something that people don't realize is an issue for people of size when traveling on an airplane--seat belt length. On just about every flight I've taken in the last 15 years, I've had to ask a flight attendant for a seat belt extension. As there is quite a bit of variance when it comes to equipment on airplanes, I still have to ask for one occasionally, but it's not an every flight occurrence anymore.

Yesterday, I tried on the one pair of pants I still have with a 44 inch waist--and they fit well. Granted, these have stretchy sides, since I got them from a big and tall store, but they aren't a tight fit, which means: they'll work. I tried on a few shirts from my "skinny drawer" and discovered they fit well enough to wash them and hang them up on my closet. Meanwhile, there's two shirts I left in my "skinny" drawer that, after I lose some more weight, will be a better fit.

Meanwhile, all but one pair of pants I own are now too big for me. Some of the pairs of pants I can still wear with a belt, but I suspect even they will be too big before too long. The ones that were much too loose were put in place of the shirts I pulled out, making it more of a "fat drawer" than a skinny drawer now.

My blood sugar, meanwhile, had a minor setback with my time in New York, both because of some good beer and some good sushi! That said, it's a blip in the short-term average, with my longer term average still excellent. Hopefully I get a much better idea with a proper blood test, which I need to do in the near future so I can schedule an annual physical with my doctor.

A non-scale victory to come will be when I can purchase clothes for myself in a non "big and tall" store. That would imply getting down to maybe a 38 inch waist. Even when I managed to lose weight with Atkins more than 15 years ago, I never quite managed to achieve that goal. This time, I'm more determined to get there!

Intermittent Fasting, 6 Months Later

It’s been roughly 6 months since I began Intermittent Fasting, which I began after reading The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. Within the last month or so, a research journal called Obesity published an article entitled Flipping the Metabolic Switch: Understanding and Applying the Health Benefits of Fasting that discusses the health benefits of adopting intermittent fasting, complete with citations to other medical journals.

With that as a background, it seems like as good a time as any to document my progress. First, my stats from May 2017:

  • Weight: 311 pounds or 141 kilos, which is about 15 pounds below my high water mark from 2016
  • Blood Glucose (30-day average): 137 mg/dL or 8 mmol/L
  • A1C (based on a blood test): 7.1

The desire to try intermittent fasting got further spurred on by the basic message I got from my doctor in May of 2017, which was that I wasn’t making any progress in terms of controlling my diabetes. The doctor was, of course, correct. When I was diagnosed back in October 2014, my A1C was a 7.9. In May of 2015, I had gotten my A1C down to a 6.1. Clearly things were trending in the wrong direction.

With this as a backdrop, I made a number of changes to my eating habits gradually over the last six months:

  • Went from 3 meals a day plus snacks to 2 meals a day to 1 meal a day to 1 meal every other day. The step to every other day just happened in the last 2-3 weeks or so.
  • When I do eat, I try to pick things that are ketogenic friendly (i.e. high in fat, moderate in protein, low in carbs).
  • When I travel by airplane, I do not eat in the airport or on the airplane, eating dinner at my destination. This helps reset my circadian rhythm and provides an excellent opportunity to fast.
  • I went from drinking coffee with heavy cream to black coffee and espresso shots. When I get my free drink at Starbucks, I will get a Latte with Heavy Cream. I will sometimes also have vanilla herbal tea with heavy cream after dinner sometimes also.
  • Once or twice a day, I will have a cup of broth for the electrolytes

Note the above guidelines are not adhered to strictly. They are varied based on life circumstances and social obligations. Which, honestly, is a key to long-term success with any major change you make in your life.

My stats as of right now?

  • Weight: 256 pounds or 116 kilos, about 70 pounds or 32 kilos under my high water mark
  • Blood glucose (30-day average): 99 mg/dL or about 5.6 mmol/L
  • A1C (estimated based on 90-day average, will do a blood test in a few weeks): 5.4

All of those stats are definitely trending the right direction.

For Those Asking What I’m Doing To Lose Weight

It’s pretty simple:

  • One meal a day (personally I strive for a low carb, high fat meal, but this isn’t strictly required)
  • During fasting periods, I drink water, black coffee/espresso, tea, and/or broth
  • I mostly avoid artificial sweeteners
  • For long flights, I fast the entire time in transit and eat dinner at the normal time for destination (or skip entirely)
  • I also pick a day during the week (usually Sunday) where I consume less than 500 calories for my “meal” (or skip it entirely)
  • Get enough sleep (for me, about 7-8 hours)

I did not just jump into above “cold turkey” but gradually worked my way up to these guidelines. I expect they will further evolve over time.

For those who think fasting is hard, there is some initial difficulty as your body adapts. Some refer to this process as “keto flu.” It does get much easier.

I do make allowances for “life events” and will occasionally vary from these guidelines. For example, when I was in Ireland, you can bet I drank Guinness outside of a normal meal period. I plan for these events and adjust accordingly.

The benefits I’ve derived from the above include, but are not limited to:

  • Weight loss (averaging 1-2 pounds a week, but it varies from week to week)
  • Lower blood glucose readings (a good thing as a Type 2 diabetic)
  • Food cravings are mostly gone
  • Little to no jet lag (even when I jump 9-10 time zones)
  • More time during the day (because meals take time to have)
  • Lower grocery bills
  • Better sleep

The above appears to be working for me and may or may not work for anyone else. Do your own research and come to your own conclusions by typing the following terms into your search engine of choice:

  • Intermittent fasting
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Dr. Jason Fung
  • The Obesity Code

Happy to answer questions through all the usual channels.

Pulling from the Skinny Drawer!

A couple years ago, I had done a post about my skinny drawer, i.e. a drawer full of clothes that I don’t wear because I had outgrown them or was never properly sized to wear to begin with.

With my current weight being better than it has been in 10 years, and with my currently clothing getting a little too baggy, I decided to have a look in there to see if I could bring some clothing out of retirement.

To my joy, I found a pair of jeans and a pair of khakis that are now “just right.” I was also able to pull out a couple of t-shirts that are not too tight to wear. I also checked a couple shirts in my closet I haven’t worn in a while and they are now appropriately sized!

A few articles of clothing in the drawers will be wearable after I lose another 10 pounds or so. A few other articles, I will have to get a bit closer to my best weight as an adult.

Either way, it’s a definite sign of weight loss progress.

Intermittent Fasting Is Great (For Me, At Least)

This article entitled Intermittent Fasting Is Insane is an excellent example of modern journalism. It's sad that semi-respectable mastheads like the LA Times run articles that are little more than a copyedited version of a Facebook screed. However, given many of the other articles I've read recently, particularly on matters of current events, it's sadly the norm.

Many hours or days between meals has been the norm since humans first walked the earth. We wouldn't be here as a species if we weren't built for this reality. It's only in the last several decades that many of us had access to three meals a day plus snacks, not to mention a constant barrage of advertising that tells us the kinds of foods we should be eating.

So to call intermittent fasting "insane" shows tremendous ignorance of:

  • What intermittent fasting actually is
  • Human history

The first reason the author gives:

It sounds extremely uncomfortable.

Normal eating and normal hunger cues tell us to eat every three to four hours. This is what most people do. For example, they might eat a breakfast around 8 a.m., lunch around noon, some snacks before dinner, and a nice evening meal. When I put it like that it sounds obvious. That's because it's balanced. It's intuitive. It works.

Anytime you try to make a change to your habits, it's bound to be uncomfortable. For example, exercise is definitely uncomfortable if you're out of shape. And yet, you don't see too many articles suggesting you shouldn't exercise. And yes, the first few days of doing this were a little rough, no question. That said, it did not take long to adapt to eating one meal a day.

Also, what this clearly very thin woman doesn't realize is that for some of us, those natural cues that tell us when to eat are completely out of whack. Prior to changing to intermittent fasting, I could and would eat ridiculous amounts of food multiple times a day, plus snacks. Now? I still probably eat a little more than the average person eats at a meal, but I do it only once a day. I've also made other dietary changes that have surely reduced the amount of calories I consume in a day.

She continues:

During periods of fasting, black coffee, calorie-free sweeteners, diet soda, and sugar-free gum are permitted. I'm going to take this opportunity to point out that these calorie-free "hunger remedies" are flagged as warning signs of anorexia by the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

First of all, she links to an article on Livestrong, which does not provide a link to this research. Based on what they're talking about, I'm guessing it's Artificial Sweetener Use among Individuals with Eating Disorders. I can't read the full article without paying for it, but I have no doubt this is definitely true. I know from my own experience that artificial sweeteners, particularly in gum, are bad news and should be avoided, whether or not you have an eating disorder.

Second, she's clearly labeling intermittent fasting as an eating disorder by associating artificial sweetener use and anorexia, which I'm sure exists. Anorexia is defined as:

  • Abnormally low body weight
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • A distorted perception of body weight

Considering my doctor has given me an official diagnosis of morbidly obese and telling me to lose weight, anorexia is the farthest thing from my mind.

Black coffee has no sweeteners in it. Neither do espresso shots. And yes, one should be careful about overconsumption.

There are a few different iterations of the plan

One is to alternate days of eating. Eat whatever you want one day, fast for the entirety of the next. I've practiced Yom Kippur, the Jewish holiday where we communally fast for one whole day, and I can tell you from experience that that s--- is not fun. For the holiday, it's not meant to be. You're lethargic and sorrowful, and you spend the day in religious services atoning for sin. But to do that to your body every other day in the name of weight loss? No, thank you.

She's basing her entire opinion of fasting on a single day where she fasted for Yom Kippur. Yes, if you've never fasted, it's tough. However, if she tried it herself more than once or, I don't know, asked someone who fasts regularly, she'd find out it gets a lot easier with practice. Or maybe it wouldn't for her, who knows. But there's no evidence to suggest she tried it for more than one day.

Also, the people who do alternate day fasting don't necessary eat whatever you want the next day, they may only eat a single meal, or maybe two.

Such an extreme dietary regimen is unsettling. Prioritizing a diet over the usual practices of everyday life is a cause for alarm and concern for the mental health of the dieter.

Actually, this diet is surprisingly easy to fit in with the rest of your life. The meal I specifically choose to eat every day is dinner, because it's one of the only meals I eat with my family. The fact I don't eat the rest of the time? They don't notice. When I travel? Same thing: I will eat certain meals (usually dinner) with other people. I might also have lunch with them. For long times in transit, I fast.

Imagine sitting through a workday without having eaten in 30 hours. Imagine skipping dinner with friends because you'd eaten your day's worth of calories at 2 p.m. These are some very plausible realities of intermittent fasting - and I haven't even dared to think about the digestive nightmare it could cause.

I don't have to imagine as I just did a 48 hour fast! It's not difficult at all. If she'd bother to talk to someone who's actually done intermittent fasting for any length of time, she'd know this. Also, if I know I am going to dinner with my friends, I plan around it and move my eating window accordingly (either fasting more or have an extra meal).

And digestive issues? What digestive issues? If anything, my digestion has been much better since I started eating less food. I definitely spend less time on the toilet as well!

"Skipping meals ramps up your stress hormone cortisol, which I consider a dark lord of metabolism," Sara Gottfried, M.D., told the Huffington Post. Essentially, it messes with your system. Who knows what happens to your metabolism when you practice this diet in the long-term?

Everything linked in the linked article was "could" or "may". And yes, if you're stressed, and you're already predisposed to eat, you'll want to eat more. What I've found is by practicing intermittent fasting, I am stressed far less, particularly when traveling. It's one less thing I have to stress about.

As for how this diet works long-term? The whole of human history tells us that, in moderation, fasting will not harm us. Muslims fast during daylight hours during the month of Ramadan, which acts as a variant of One Meal a Day. This has been part of the Muslim tradition since the 7th Century, and they still do it today. Do you hear of health problems as a result of this fasting from the Muslim population? I certainly don't.

And of course, then she quotes a study that supposedly shows that intermittent fasting is no better than a conventional diet. The study is described as follows:

Participants were randomized to 1 of 3 groups for 1 year: alternate-day fasting (25% of energy needs on fast days; 125% of energy needs on alternating “feast days”), calorie restriction (75% of energy needs every day), or a no-intervention control. The trial involved a 6-month weight-loss phase followed by a 6-month weight-maintenance phase.

Which is not how I've read most people intermittently fast. Also, the study has an interesting caveat that I was able to find thanks to a Reddit thread:

It’s worth noting that adherence was a problem in this study, especially with the alternate-day fasting group. This made it harder for the authors to draw good statistical conclusions and likely affected the outcome.

Which tells me, the "official" science is far from settled. That said, I've done my own "N of 1 Trial" of intermittent fasting, and the results speak for themselves:

  • Best weight in 10 years, and dropping
  • Lower average blood glucose readings and lower A1c

I'm not going to claim intermittent fasting is for everyone, but I'm pretty sure she had made up her mind long before she wrote the article, only doing minimal research to back up her claims that took me minimal research and my own personal experience to debunk.

See also this comment thread on Reddit

Best Weight in 10 Years

I've struggled with my weight pretty much my whole life. As I got older, this lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes (of the second type), and the other things that result from these conditions being present and prolonged. I have been going to the doctor pretty regularly the last few years to try and get a handle on my diabetes, but had not been very successful at maintaining any sort of positive momentum.

Earlier this year, I was introduced to 1( and The Obesity Code. I can basically summarize his theory as follows: most weight gain can be explained by having too much insulin in your system. Reduce the insulin, the weight will come off on it's own.

It just so happens that Type 2 Diabetes is primarily about insulin resistance. What Dr. Fung says is that the insulin resistance is caused by the continued presence of elevated levels of insulin in the body. You know, in much the same way an alcoholic requires more and more alcohol to get drunk. Because they keep drinking.

Most doctors, of course, don't know where the insulin resistance comes from, or can't make the logical connection that seems about as obvious as minimizing your carb intake when you have high blood sugar--the exact opposite of what my diabetic "education" told me. The different macronutrients impact blood sugar levels quite differently:


The other thing I didn't learn from my doctor is that eating anything, even something low-carb or proven to be low glycemic index, will cause an insulin spike. Which, if you have an abundance of insulin in your system already, doesn't seem like a good idea. And, as far as I know, there are no drugs around that actually reduce insulin in the system.

Enter fasting. We would not have survived as a species if we truly required three meals a day plus snacks. Fasting has been practiced for centuries for medical or spiritual purposes. Jews fast on Yom Kippur, Muslims don't eat during the day during the entire month of Ramadan. Needless to say, if it were truly bad for us, we wouldn't be here having this debate.

The kind of fasting I'm talking about is more like what Muslims do on Ramadan, which is basically have one meal a day. Another term for this is intermittent fasting. I usually have dinner but occasionally I will have lunch or even breakfast. While Muslim's don't even drink water while fasting, I drink black coffee. I may also have a cup or two of broth mid-day (not two cups at once). And yes, I've backed off on the heavy cream, except for in my post-dinner tea, even though some say that a little bit of cream is ok.

I started intermittent fasting back in May, almost on accident. I had just came back from Italy, where I, of course, pigged out on carbs, and ate shit food on the airplane. The next day, I basically fasted until dinner because, well, my blood sugar was at 179 mg/dL (definitely elevated), and I wasn't hungry. I saw the impact on my blood sugar and I just kept on doing it.

I noticed another interesting side effect of fasting, which a friend of mine had told me about: it's a pretty good cure for jet lag. Considering I have a habit of jumping 8-10 timezones, this is a very handy feature. Basically, don't eat until you get to your destination, then eat at the normal dinner time. I did this coming back from Israel in June, and it was amazing!

The results so far have been pretty amazing, both for my blood glucose:

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-10 at 10.11.35 PM.jpeg

And my weight:

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-10 at 9.36.35 PM.jpeg

My doctor showed me my weight from a visit I did to the clinic back in 2007. I'm still about 10 pounds above that mark, but I'm a lot closer than I've been to that mark in the last 10 years. Things are definitely trending the right direction.

For sure, I am eating less food now than I was just a few months ago. In fact, I was kinda surprised when I realized just how much I'm not eating. I'm also surprised how easy it is to not eat. When it's not time to eat, I certainly notice food, but it doesn't bother me. As such, there's no willpower involved. A lot of my previous "cravings" don't exist anymore.

Further, when I do eat, I am a lot more picky about what I eat. This does mean making (overall) healthier choices, but I can also occasionally eat something off the diet. Even if I do make a mistake, I know what I need to do to get things going the right direction.

People ask me if this is sustainable. I certainly think so. In many ways, it's less restrictive because if I go somewhere that has the wrong kind of food, or even something I don't like, I can just decide not to eat. Which, as I'm finding out, is a good thing to do occasionally.

I am continuing to monitor my blood glucose. I'm doing it a little more frequently than my doctor prescribed to make sure my blood sugar doesn't get dangerously low, which is also bad. So far, that hasn't happened.

  1. Jason Fung

Workflows for 10Centuries and

As is shutting down, a number of people are moving onto other social networks. Two members created their own, one being 10 Centuries, which also includes a blogging/podcasting platform, the other being, which has a very similar API to ADN. Both are currently invite only, and I'm happy to share with you if you're interested.

The problem with these smaller social networks is the integrations you might find in iOS or third party services simply don't exist. The good news is: both have documented APIs. Also, apps like Workflow exist that make it easy for non-programmers to actually leverage those APIs.

The end result? I've built a few workflows in the Workflow app that will allow me to utilize both services in whatever way I can get Workflow to allow me to use them. I'm sharing them in case anyone else finds them useful. I may also update them in the future.

10C Auth
10C Blog — used to post this very blog post!
10C Blurb
10C Image Upload and Blurb
10C and Pnut Blurb/Post
10C and Pnut Image Post using Imgur

Hopefully these are self-explanatory. Comments are included in the workflows. Reach out if you have questions.

First 10C Blog Post Written From and Posted via Workflow

Ok, it's not really my first blog post written this way. I had to test it, after all. But it's the first semi-real one.

It's been a while since I've played with Workflow, though I use it all the time. It wouldn't be as easy to post my podcasts without it, as I use some automation that Workflow enables.

Apparently, one of the things it can do is send HTTP POST requests complete with user-specified headers. The upshot of this? It can make API calls and parse the output from those calls.

That means you can pretty much do anything you want with Workflow in terms of interacting with external services. Sure, you have to be able to craft the API calls accordingly, but modern REST APIs, provided they are adequately documented, are pretty easy to work with.

I suspect this new-found discovery will enable me to interact better with some of these "smaller" services that may not have ready-made clients for them.

At the very least, I can write and post blog posts from my iPhone on 10Centuries without waiting for a "proper" client to support the API.

Has The Internet Become The Tower of Babel?


​In my last blog post, I wrote the following:

​It saddens me that in an age where we have more ways to connect with more people than ever before, people are choosing to isolate themselves.

When I was fleshing out that post, I had hit on an idea that I ultimately removed from that post, but want to explore a bit more here. Namely, that what seems to be happening today with the Internet reminds me of a story of The Tower of Babel, a story from The Torah, or the Old Testament of The Bible.

From Genesis 11:1-4

1: And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

2: And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

3: And they said one to another: 'Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.' And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

4: And they said: 'Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.'

The Internet allows us to communicate across vast distances with anyone and everyone, regardless of physical location, bringing us all to the same virtual location. While there are a lot of languages still spoken on the Internet, the predominant one used is English. It has taken a lot of metaphorical bricks and mortar, and several decades to build, but build it we have, and people have gathered on the Internet.

It's not just the network, of course, as the network we now refer to as the Internet has been around since the end of 1969. It's the fact that we now carry access to it in our pockets, thanks to our smartphones. Our incessant use of social media ensures we are constantly reminded of the other people out there, and interaction is merely a few taps away.

From Genesis 11:5-9

5: And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

6: And the LORD said: 'Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do.

7: Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.'

8: So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.

9: Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

The United States just experienced the most contentious Presidential election in the United States in many people's lifetimes, during which people shared countless political memes, articles, and statements. Many of the resulting threads were contentious and argumentative. Not only that, but our exposure to this was constant, between social media and the more traditional forms of media.

What are people doing as a result of all this? They are unfriending people, blocking them, muting them, refusing to discuss certain issues, or simply logging off the Internet. They're unable, or maybe unwilling to communicate with someone who voted differently than they did, posting messages much like this Daily Kos article on their social media of choice. You know, just in case anyone tries to engage them with a differing point of view.

It's not exactly the same as "the LORD" being responsible for confounding our language so "that they may not understand one another's speech," but it has much the same effect. It doesn't take a Rabbi or a Priest to see the parallels.