Monday, July 9, 2012

A Perfect Diet

This morning I hit the bathroom scales at 168 pounds, so now the story is safe to tell. This diet really does work, and faster and easier than any diet I ever designed before. No doubt part of the reason for the better pace is that at least one of the principle ingredients was not due to my input, but Marianne's, via Dr. Christopher the herbalist. And even that was something of an accident, because the two little capsules of cayenne pepper turning up at the dinner table for me before each meal were not chosen initially because anyone had any ideas about them helping weight loss. They were there because of the threat of high blood pressure.
And I speak of diets that I have designed only because my previous compilations of calories out versus calories in always featured a significant degree of exercise. In the summer of 2006, for example, I was logging 35 miles a week along the Nelson waterfront walkway. And of course ripping off the fat, in spite of my then intention to create a programme actors would like, which means that I was not especially stinting on the booze. But I hurt my knee, as I have related, and then turned to solo dancing, as I've also related, and that was also very efficient, without any damage to the joints. So I felt very happy with myself, grateful for some of the great groups there are to dance to, and the technology of walkmans and earphones. Life was good.
But there was not just an obligation to health, there was also the obligation to researching music instruction, and the conditions for this were a definite enemy to fat watch. The little rubber keyboard and the earphones that went with it were definitely a Godsend, because I could hammer away, for an hour every morning, at not only my ignorance, but also that of the teaching and publishing industry - which since the Renaissance seems to have lost touch with some of the most important pedagogical fundamentals - in the sacred privacy of my own head. But anyone who has to get out of bed at four in the morning simply to face into his own stupidity needs a little comfort, and also a little stimulation from legitimate pleasure. It's dark, it's cold, it's lonely, especially with a cat who thinks the only good that can come out of the only man in the house is food. It wouldn't be lonely, the mystic must insist, if I were just there to read John of the Cross, but that was not the mission statement. So a sensible red blooded male does the sensible thing: he opens a bottle of beer, or pours himself a good shot of sweet vermouth. But you must not drink on an empty tummy, so a stout piece of homemade bread also joins the mini feast. Calories? Oh yeah.
So for two or three years, it was an elevator ride with the weight scale. It was at Christmas, eighteen months ago that I peaked at 183.5 pounds. As I graduated from high school at 150, you can imagine the profile. But I still "had miles to go," as Robert Frost said, and no sooner did I realize another secret of sound piano fundamentals than a further problem turned up. I did get down to 170 or so last September, with the walking, dancing, rowing, but then I was still miles from the core of the musical earth. I said to hell with the weight scales, and dedicated the months up to Christmas to a bare knuckle, no holds barred, assault on some remaining conundrums. Thus by the festive season of six months ago, I had sufficient final clues to abandon that schedule of consumption, but I was back up to 180.5
Now at that point I definitely got the grace to stick with the change in the game plan. At this moment I do not actually recall what the great secret of music analysis it was that freed me up, and I'm not going to look in my journals at this point to find it. It may have been a key discovery regarding analytical structure, it may have been something about reading music - always my bugbear. Whatever it was turned Tim McDaniel, as well as myself, in a further right direction, and that's the important thing. So it was time to return to the weight question.
I made modest progress with my current methods, and looked forward to the spring, when some lengthy jogs would up the progress.
But then I got sick. At the end of March I came down with a bronchial problem, preceded by a spiritual event of some six days that was at the beginning incredibly painful, then for the latter half of the schedule most consoling. I was sick enough that I had to miss three consecutive Sunday masses, and of course the household was attentively concerned. From my studies of nasal breathing I could calculate that the invasion of my bronchial tubes had cut my oxygen supply faculties by a third, and I thought that my exercise opportunities were thus totally trashed. Until the affliction passed, therefore, weight loss would be impossible.
But at the same time as the bronchial problem, more or less, Marianne came upon Dr. Christopher's thought on blood pressure and cayenne and introduced a pair of little capsules before each meal. Concerned about the blow from my illness, I consulted the scales frequently, and happily realized that I was not gaining weight, but still losing it, although I was aware that the lack of exercise had also diminished my appetite. This pleasant situation continued, making my curious, and one day I was inspired to some research of my own, Googling for the connection between cayenne and weight loss. And there it was: there was no herb known that was more effective than cayenne for raising the metabolism, thus aiding digestion. And the history of my recent weeks was proof positive.
Of course, it must be said, the cayenne is not entirely the magic bullet. MT runs a model kitchen, not totally vegetarian, but as vegetarian as most well-organized convents, so mindless fat sources don't have a chance to screw things up. And for years we have done the Ayurvedic daily schedule, with the big meal at noon, so the afternoon activities can burn the calories, and a light supper, so the calories unburned by little or no activity can't resolve themselves into unwanted lard.
My target? At least 160. And at that point, perhaps some other issues the Ranger has discussed will be resolved as well.