Sunday, December 28, 2014

Three Years Without Eating Grains

Disclaimer: This is my experience by removing grains from my diet and the positives on my health as a result. My genetics and body chemistry is a result of genetic "crap shoot" at my conception. Readers will have different genetics and experiences.

Three years ago I eliminated all grains from my diet. Grains includes any item made of wheat flour or any whole grain items with the husk. That includes brown rice or wild rice. That meant the diet no longer included pasta, breads, cookies and cinnamon rolls. I had given up on cinnamon rolls a couple of years earlier since it was not possible to find snack sized cinnamon rolls. I didn't want an over sweet dessert big enough for four. But I digress.

Less than four years ago, I had read several books about cholesterol and saturated fats. Those readings lead me to paleo/primal readings and web sites. That new way of eating didn't sound like all that much fun (no bread slathered with butter), but I was willing to give it a try for thirty days. Two weeks into the diet I was eating meats, healthy fats, vegetables and fruits. That was when I realized I had not been hitting the antacids after most every meal. I also had not experienced a recent attack of acid reflux.

There might be something to this way of eating. I continued to eat food without grains for the remainder of the thirty days. Then it was time to test whether there was any validity to the issue of grains and whole grains in the diet. I don't recall what I ate, but within less than an hour I located the antacids to ease the discomfort. That was followed with more tests with grains. Wow. Each time I had the usual heart burn and acid reflux.

I was convinced this new way of eating without grains would be for the rest of my life. I had always read labels avoiding added sugars and industrial abused food products containing ingredients I could not pronounce. When I started the new way of eating, I became fanatical. Even more items were eliminated from the diet. Sugar is the item that is added to many foods by agri-business. Anything ending is "ose" is a sugar. (When I found sugar in sour cream, I started to read ingredients of every item.)

The new way of eating eliminated sugar from my diet as there were no longer products made with flour. (i.e. bread, pastries, cookies, etc.) The sweets now are fruits with a dollop of plain whole fat yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon or some other home made spice concoction. On the rare occasion when I desire something sweetened, the choice is either maple syrup or honey. An occasional special treat is 85% or better dark chocolate.

Doctors measure human health with blood tests and other body measurements. Doctoring by the numbers means that my primary doctor had been hectoring me to take statins for elevated cholesterol for about ten years. I always declined. Here are the results of blood and body tests before and after:

December 2011: Before starting the no grains diet.
Weight: 155 lbs.
Height: 5-9
Total cholesterol: 285
HDL: 70
Triglycerides: 74
LDL: 198
Blood Pressure: 136/70

October 2014: After three years with no grains.
Weight: 143 lbs.
Height: 5-9
Total cholesterol: 220
HDL: 65
Triglycerides: 71
LDL: 150
Blood Pressure: 130/65

After three years of no grains, the positives are:
  • The LDLs went down by almost fifty points while eating more meat and saturated fats.
  • Rather than putting the butter on bread, I mainline Kerrygold butter.
  • That industrial sized container of antacids from three years ago is still about half full.
  • There have been no acid reflux episodes.
  • The weight loss was a welcome side effect; the pants fit better.
  • I feel better.
  • I sleep better.
I don't miss the grain products. Pain is a good incentive.

The most amazing thing is that my body was able to handle the assault for seventy years before the body's owner checked out some other way of living.

Living without grains means no acid indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux. It is a wonderful life.

Note: In the standard American food pyramid, the bottom layer is grain products. There are no grains or grain in the paleo/primal food pyramid: (Food Pyramid Graphic from Marks Daily Apple)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Friday Photo

Gilbert Ray Campground

Moonlit night

Tucson Mountains

From Wandrin archives -- March 2007

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

About a week ago, snow fell on the Catalina Mountains. See the white stuff atop the distant mountains to the left of the saguaro. Seeing it from this distance is fine with me. I know what snow feels like.

The original intent was to take a selfie with the Santa Claus stocking cap. However, I decided that the cap looked much better on the saguaro.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or Happy Hanukkah or Frohe Weihnachten or
Feliz Navidad or Seasons Greetings -- or -- have a nice day!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Ready For Christmas

Yesterday afternoon, I retrieved a box from my storage shed. I opened the box and carefully lifted out the Christmas Tree. The decorations were already in place.  The branches needed some realigning from the long storage. I removed the vase of plastic flowers from the table and replaced it with the Christmas Tree.

Christmas decorating was complete. I was no longer the Grinch of the neighborhood. Whew!

The tree was a gift from the Gard family of Boulder Colorado. It was given to me when I quit working at the end of 2000 and began 13 years of nomadic wandering in a 200 square foot home on wheels. That 18 inch tree was a perfectly sized Christmas Tree to decorate my home every year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Right Place Right Time

This morning, neighbors Cheryl and Ted joined me for a short hike. We were on the Cactus Forest Trail for about a tenth of a mile when we saw javelinas off the trail in the desert scrub. The group of about a dozen slowly crossed the trail in front of us. The sun behind the javelinas made for poor photos.

Once they crossed the trail in front of us, we proceeded on our hike. There was no more wild life meetings for the rest of the hike. Rats. Not even a jack rabbit.

That is the first time I have met up with javelinas on a hike. Wonderful experience.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Photo

Blue Lake Pass

Near Ouray, Colorado

Hike with Bobbie and Mark

From Wandrin archives 2009

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Mini Book Review -- The Boys In The Boat

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
by Daniel James Brown

In the course of the book I learned about crew rowing. Brown writes an adventure that is more than the race or the rowing. There is the training, the trainers, the boat, the boat builder and -- The Boys In The Boat. The author weaves the tale around Joe Rantz -- one of that crew of freshman at the University of Washington in 1932.  That freshman crew goes on to compete in the 1936 Olympics and win against Hitler's German team.

The book at times almost reads like historic fiction as Rantz and team mates struggle to stay in school during the depression and then succeed to compete at Hitler's Olympics in Germany.

It is a book that will have you hooked from the first page and through the epilogue about the lives of the crew after the victory at the Olympics.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Only six days after Round Two of chemo travails, this morning I was joined by park neighbors Cheryl and Ted for a three mile desert walk at Saguaro East. The photo is a backlit cholla with drops of moisture (from yesterday's rain) on the spines.

Some of my blog readers and lurkers have been following posts of my 13 year nomadic travels as I lived full time on the road.

That was my travel years. Today in late 2014 and into 2015, it is travails. According to some linguists, the two words share a common etymology. From Wikipedia:
"The origin of the word "travel" is most likely lost to history. The term "travel" may originate from the Old French word travail.[3] According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, the first known use of the word travel was in the 14th century. It also states that the word comes from Middle English travailen, travelen (which means to torment, labor, strive, journey) and earlier from Old French travailler (which means to work strenuously, toil). In English we still occasionally use the words travail and travails, which mean struggle. According to Simon Winchester in his book The Best Travelers' Tales (2004), the words travel and travail both share an even more ancient root: a Roman instrument of torture called the tripalium (in Latin it means "three stakes", as in to impale)."
Maybe there is no impaling for today's travelers. However, an instrument of torture would be sitting in coach for 14 hours headed to Australia.

My 13 years of nomadic travel does not qualify for the travail category. However, travails are part of my daily life at the end of 2014 and far into 2015 as I undergo the every three week chemotherapy treatments.

Before the chemo infusion of Round 2 last Monday, there was a visit with the oncologist as he read the blood test results. I passed that test. Damn. Since the last chemo treatment, there was an ECG (Electro Cardio Gram) to make sure the heart is capable of handling the drug onslaught. I also passed that test. Damn again.

Yes. I know. This chemotherapy is elective on my part. After the original lymphoma diagnosis, I pondered and researched what to do. One of the options was to do nothing. In the end there are no guarantees after the therapy. I may have one year. I may have ten before the lymphoma returns. The other possibility I may die of something else. That might include being hit by an errant semi truck.

Then there are the side effects of the treatments. It seems to be a much older man in the mirror. Could that be a change in the elasticity of the skin. For comparison, I regret not taking a selfie before I started the therapy.

The upside to this is that I haven't shaved in a week. The hair follicles have stopped creating hair. Actually, it isn't an upside. Given the choice I would rather shave than put up with the torment to my body.

The real upside is that my life's travails haven't kept me from getting out for a hike this morning.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The General Store

In the 1940s there was a general store in the farming village of Morrison. The proprietors were the Falck family. That general store was one of a half dozen businesses in that small farming village -- less than 300 inhabitants.

As a small child in the 1940's, I have flashes of remembrance at each of those businesses. The general store had most everything from hardware to clothing to groceries. If the store didn't have it, you probably didn't need it.

Farmers brought in excess eggs to sell to the store for resale. To make sure those eggs were good, the store had a "candling nook" where one of the store employees viewed each egg in front of a bright light. This was to ensure that it was a good egg -- no embryo or had blood spots.

There were always chickens on the home farm. Most likely my folks also sold excess eggs to the store. No doubt we couldn't consume all the egg production even though we had eggs for every breakfast and frequent custard for dessert. Sometimes those old laying hens became a meal or chicken soup.

With the prosperity following World War II, the country general store was in decline. De Pere was about a twelve mile trip where there was greater selection in a variety of specialty stores.

Fast forward many decades. There is no general store in Morrison in 2014. Today the general store is fifteen miles distant. The general store is Walmart.

The photo of Falck's store dates to 1906. I was unable to locate anything more recent.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Friday Photo

Before Walk comes Hang Loose

Pacific Beach, California

From the 2009 Wandrin archives