What is going on here?

Paramount/Courtesy Everett Collection

Duuuuuuuuuuuuude… [takes a humungculous bong rip] It’s all a big F’ing conspiracy maan. Like… From like, I don’t know, like… even that Quaker Oat guy. That smug F’er and his rosy cheeks might be the F’ing king pin for all I know.  It’s all lies! It’s all F’ing lies! What is going on here? [drinks bong water] I’m freakin’ out. 

Hold me?

I recently realized that I had been lied to my entire life. I spent 31 years blindly worshiping the nutrition and wellness advice from the conventional wisdom gods. I desperately counted calories. I ate a low-fat-whole-grain diet. I eliminated all red meat from my diet. I committed to a life of chronic cardiovascular exercise. I honestly don’t know anyone else who worked as hard as I did to be “healthy”, and still, STILL I gained weight and had high cholesterol. Was there something physically wrong with me?  Did I really just have a slow metabolism? Was I simply suffering from lack of willpower? Conventional wisdom would say “yes”.  It’s no wonder that I, and countless others, have just thrown in the towel with their diet plan when getting fit and maintaining good health seems to takes the discipline of an Olympian. Is it really that complicated? Is health a delicate art form of hitting that sweet spot between calories-in vs. calories-out or face sudden diet disaster and failure?

I call bullshit.

About three months ago I fell down the rabbit hole when I stumbled upon a diet movement that looks to the evolutionary clues of our past to determine the optimal human diet. This type of diet is often referred to as “paleo”, “primal”, “ancestral”, or “caveman”. For the time being I am just going to refer to my diet as “paleo” because it is short (I’m still a lazy typist) and is general enough to encompass many flavors of the diet.  Paleo looks to eating as we humans did before the advent of agriculture. In short, the paleo diet isn’t so much about what you eat, but what you do not eat– grains or processed foods. We can’t say for sure what our caveman ancestors ate, but it’s safe to say they didn’t nosh on bagels and guzzle Diet Coke.

What do you eat on a paleo diet? A lot actually, but mostly high quality meats, a wide assortment of vegetables, a little fruit, and some nuts. I know this sounds limiting, but here is the pay off. You will not be hungry. You actually get to eat on a paleo diet. Forget counting up every last calorie. Forget your fear of eating fats. Just put down the loaf of whole grain “heart healthy” bread and watch your life change for the better. Seriously.

Most anyone who asks about the diet changes I have made want to know how I deal with the sacrifice of giving up bread and beer. The thing is, giving up bread and beer doesn’t seem like a sacrifice at all in comparison to the benefits I have received, and the benefits came almost instantly. I lost over 30 pounds within three months without counting calories or worrying about getting enough intense cardio. For the first time in my entire life managing my weight was not an epic struggle, and for the first time it was truly easy. The benefits of this new diet didn’t stop at weight loss. My skin and scalp cleared, my mood stabilized, and my energy levels are more constant throughout the day.  It’s amazing how much impact food choices can have on one’s overall wellbeing. The way I feel and look  today is night and day from the guy I was three months ago. I’m excited about continuing down this road to see where I will be and who I will become.

And yes. One of my goals is to look good naked. Be on the watch for an adult version of “Not in Moderation” in the near future where I will be sharing heath tips and recipes all while bare-ass-naked. Ladies?


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Turning Off and Tuning In

I’ve been making radical changes to my walk into work. That’s right, baby-cakes. My walk is now Xtreme!  It’s in 3D! It’s wrapped in chocolate covered deep fried bacon! It’s… quite.

I’ve made the decision to unplug from my I-Pod and face the hour plus walk with naked ears and only my inner monologue for entertainment. Letting the mind wander without the distraction of music or podcasts during exercise helps me sort out my thoughts, tap into my imagination, and brainstorm solutions to problems.

Tuning into my thoughts was particularly useful when I was preparing for a job interview recently. I was able to imagine tough questions and work out my responses. I didn’t have to force myself to focus on this either, the interview was looming and my mind went there naturally. Being able to free-form think through my responses ahead of time enabled me to enter the interview lucid and confident.

I love exercising with tunes, but that experience doesn’t compare to what I get from exercising my ability to think. I arrive to work charged up and inspired, and I come home without  taking work with me. I hope I’m not coming off like I think I am enlightened or have reached nirvana or anything. My inner monologue is filled with just as much garbage as it is with useful thoughts.  This morning I spent the better part of my walk thinking about cereal mascots from my youth and trying to remember all of the words to Sugar Bear’s little ditty. “Can’t get enough of that Golden Crisp. It’s… something something something.” Crap. I’ll figure out the missing lyrics on my walk home.


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You Eat Like a Girl!

UPDATE: This post was written prior to my discovery of a paleo type diet. My opinions on how to achieve optimal nutrition and wellness have changed.  

I am 6′ 7”, ripped, and training for the Lumberjack World Championships. I can also do that trick where I bounce my titanic pectoral muscles up and down at will. Ladies?

Lies. I’m 5′ 6” and I live in a cubicle, but I do usually wear flannel and grow a beard come fall.

One of the dieting hurtles I need to clear is coming to terms with the fact that I am not a brawny lumberjack and I can’t eat like one.  Maybe I’m coming to this realization now that I am in my thirties and have become more comfortable in my skin and aware of my limitations. I’ve come to a juncture where I need to leave the Paul Bunyan diet behind and learn a thing or two from the twee ladies in my life. You know the women I’m talking about. The ones like my lovely wife who order the entrée salad at the brew pub, are satisfied after a 210 calorie Lean Cuisine, find beer too “filling”, and prefer snacks meant for hamsters. Should I be eating more like a thin girl?

I don’t know if I can ever embrace Lean Cuisine as a viable lunch option, but I am willing to try some of the other tricks the skinny girl employs, like lots of teensy healthy snacks throughout the day and smaller portions at meals. I’ve been trying this out this week and I hate it. I still feel a little hunger after I snack and I’m never really satisfied. This has got me thinking about my eating behaviors in general.  How often do I eat when I’m not hungry but just because I feel like it? Is comfort food the only way I have learned to feel satisfied when eating? The answers to the last questions are “all the time” and “yes”.

So I’ll learn the way of the thin gal, but I have serious concerns about being judged by the librarian when I check out a copy of Skinny Bitch today. She has an impeccable fashion sense and my skirt totally clashes with my shoes.

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Sabotaging Greatness

I did not achieve most of what I set out to accomplish last week. I blew my diet completely, I didn’t write a single blog post, and I only got two (out of the four) job applications out.  I consider myself a fairly self aware person,  and I can easily identify the main things I do that lead to self-sabotage. “Things” is really a poor word to describe what I am doing. These are habits and choices that lead to self-sabotage, not things, and like all habits they are not easy to break. I’ve tried to come up with my top three sabotaging habits. They are:

  1. Surfing the Internet: I could have wrote a novel in the last six months with the amount of time I’ve spent aimlessly clicking around the net. In fact, I checked a few of my favorite technology blogs while writing this post, and I’ll most likely check them again in a minute. It’s information-heroin.
  2. Beer: I love geeking out with quality beer. I also love relaxing with a beer after work. If only I could resist ordering the large fries to compliment my pint. Oh, and I get lazy and unproductive when I have a beer- please refer to habits #1 and #3 for a point of reference.
  3. Television: What a bunch of garbage. Except for you, Snooki.

There is nothing inherently “bad” about these activities. They are fine (everybody say it now) in moderation, which we all know is not one of my strengths. It is crazy to imagine all of the time I could spend on rewarding activities, and the benefits I would get from doing so, if I could just break from these habits. The feeling of accomplishment I get when I’ve sent off a kick-ass cover letter.  The enjoyment I get from writing for pleasure. The boost of confidence and energy I get from living an active and healthy lifestyle. All of this could easily be mine. WTF, man! Get your act together.

Breaking these habits is going to be painfully hard. I’m not even sure if I can do it to be quite honest, especially giving up surfing the internet.  Here is my experiment- can I commit to one week of breaking  or modifying these habits? I’ve come up with a set of rules to keep me honest.

  • Net surfing only happens with my morning coffee.
  • No beer at home.
  • No television before 10pm.

I’m hating these rules, already.

What effect will following them have on my week? Will I really be more productive and healthy or will I just find new ways to sabotage? Why am I asking so many questions? And where is the remote control? This experiment doesn’t start until tomorrow.

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Juiced Commute

Why can’t I drum up a few stalkers? There is nothing like being watched and followed to spice up dog walking in the neigh-neigh.  Please stalk me so I can justify  my purchase of a getaway Segway. So stalker, I humbly present to you one of my bicycle routes, along with the rough coordinates of where I live and work. I’m looking forward to seeing you out of the corner of my eye (soon?).

I try to think of my morning commute like getting up and going to the gym, so I typically don’t ride the 4 mile straight shot unless I’ve overslept. My go-to ride is a 10 mile leg along the Willamette river. This commute takes me about an hour if I factor in the time it takes to lock up the bike and change.  One of my goals has been to work in two hours of commuting time to provide greater riding options and a more vigorous workout. This morning I went on variation of one my favourite loops, a 23 mile ride that books it north on the I-205 bike path, along the scenic Columbia river, through north Portland, and ends in the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. I’ll be riding it again tomorrow. You be there too, but be dressed like a Douglas-fir or something so I don’t know you are there.

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Getting There Eventually

Monday Morning Commute

The shoelace knot is my favorite knot. This is why I refuse to learn about any other (lesser) knots.

The morning began for me like most mornings with an insatiable craving for happy ladybug cake and a plump wiener. I enjoyed the feeling of superiority over everyone else as I indulged in this culinary delight. “Nobody can top me,” I thought out loud, “unless there are versions of me in alternate dimensions that have a large bushy mustache doing the same thing.”

When I die do not desire to be stuffed and on display like this fox and turkey-parrot.

Unless I get mounted on top of another animal like I’m riding a pony. That’s OK.

Sometimes I wish I was in a film noir movie when walking around the city. I wouldn’t want to be the leading man though. I could see myself as one of the “extras” that get paid $100 to hang around in a trench coat and eat macaroni salad at the break table.

Distance: 4 Miles

Time: 1 Hour
Continue reading

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Making Oats and Keeping the Peace

UPDATE: This post was written prior to my discovery of a paleo type diet. My opinions on how to achieve optimal nutrition and wellness have changed.

My lady doesn’t watch what she eats, is skinny, and in great health. Hate her? It’s ok. Those feelings are natural. Don’t worry, when the next ice age hits and she dies of frost bite, we can use her long body as a spear to hunt woolly mammoths.

In the meantime, we have a difference of opinion on how to doctor oats. My Lady wants to eat her oats like a bowl of funnel cake- covered in butter, milk, and brown sugar. I have gone the other extreme. Au #%$^@ naturale. Here is my heart friendly version of oats that does not taste like paste (you’ve tried it).

Ryan Wilder’s Nursing Home Oats

1. Ingredients: 1/2 cup oats, diced apple, pinch of raisins and almonds.

2. Start with one cup water in medium pan. Add apple, raisins, and almonds. Bring to a hot and steamy boil.

3. Add oats and continue to boil uncovered for 8 minutes.

4. Cover those oats and let them mellow for about five minutes.

5. Make your lady her greasy fried eggs and buttered toast to keep her happy.

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I’m a Homicidal Maniac

Confession time. I killed my diet the other night. I was walking home when I received a call from a beautiful dame. She asked me if we could go to the food carts in our neighborhood for dinner. I knew then and there it was time to kill. I put on my rubber gloves and took out my preferred instrument of death, a bottle of Heinz 57.

A gruesome spectacle. Greasy German food and beer splattered everywhere. I’m an animal.

I’ve started a scrap-book of the crime scene.

Exhibit A

A bottle of fancy pants beer.

Exhibit B

A chicken schnitzle sandwich and fries. Flash marinated in ketchup.

Exhibit C

Spaetzle. Spaetzle  is some sort of pan-fried pasta covered in mushroom gravy. It should be obvious by now that this was a hate crime.

Exhibit D

German Cucumber Salad?  Even a cold-hearted killer has a soft side. Just don’t call it a feminine side. I still have half a bottle of ketchup and I’m not afraid to splurt it.

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Working to Walk

It looks like this is the last dry day we are having for a while in Portland and I wanted to take advantage of it with a walk to work.

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[Update] Spark People Reports

UPDATE: This post was written prior to my discovery of a paleo type diet. My opinions on how to achieve optimal nutrition and wellness have changed.

Calorie counting is not an exact science, even with a great diet tracker like Spark People. I did not sit down to lunch yesterday over a cup of Del Monte Petite Cut Diced Tomatoes with a scoop of Lentils. It was home cooked lentil soup, and I was too lazy to to enter the grams of onions, carrots, spices, and bullion I used to make it. Sure, Spark People has several options for Lentil soup, but these are either canned products or chain restaurant versions of it. So my best bet for the lentil soup I made? A scoop of tomatoes and lentils. Done. As you can see below, I’m looking for a just rough idea on how close I am to my target each day.

Next is my calorie differential report. Spark people does not recommended using this as a diet tool because calorie intake vs burned in a healthy diet should be measured over the long haul and not day by day. But I do find this report useful at keeping the relationship between my diet and exercise in perspective. I’ve had many days where the calorie intake bar is far above the calories burned bar. Talk about putting it into perspective.

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So Pedestrain

I like getting my daily cardio exercise in by tacking on a few extra miles to my  bike commute and calling it good. I promise to bore you to death about this on a regular basis in future posts. Today I decided to spice it up by leaving behind the wheels and  lacing up my New Balance sneakers for a brisk walk to work. Please don’t call it a power-walk, my ego is far to fragile for you to confuse me for a fanny-pack wearing blaze of arm swinging fury.

Morning Commute

The weather has been unseasonable cold and dry for Portland over the past few days. I love this weather and I wanted to spend as much time outside today as possible.  The commute is about 4 miles each direction and takes roughly an hour.

It was still dark when I left the house at 7am this morning. Darkness is great for weight loss. I recommend walking down alleys in sketchy parts of town while counting your cash out loud. This activity can be a calorie torcher if you are chased by a mugger or sold heroine (also good for weight loss).

Evening Commute

Everyone who rides the bus either has the flu virus or is trying to obtain it from the rotting zombie next to them. I only ride the bus if I am deathly ill because I feel the pressure to step up and contribute to the bus family.

I got down here by foot. I know how I’m getting home.

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