Guest Post: Diet Decision Making when Tired

[Here’s the next post in the series of guest posts on healthy diet and lifestyle from Dave Banko.]

One of the interesting experiments performed on ‘What’s the Right Diet for You?‘ assessed the effect of being tired on the decisions you make about what to eat.

The participants were divided into 2 groups: one group was given a good night’s rest and the other was forced to stay up until early in the morning. The next morning, both were sent shopping and given identical lists of types of things to purchase, but not given specific items.

When the groups finished shopping, their shopping baskets were compared and the results were astounding! The well rested group made excellent choices: lots of fresh fruits and veg, whole foods, and lean meats. The tired group purchased a lot of sugary and high fat items with a calorie content more than double the amount of the rested group!

Why is this?

When we are tired and drained of energy, our natural preservation mechanism is to quickly boost our energy levels, so we crave sugary and fatty foods.

Making good choices in this state will take every ounce of will power to overcome this fundamental self-preservation instinct.

This also relates to the discussion in my previous blog post about how when we are drained after exercise we crave sugary and fatty foods, but eating them would wipe out the positive weight loss effects of the exercise.

How do we counteract this? First and foremost is to get enough rest. I’ll be writing another post about the additional benefits of a good night’s sleep, and this is certainly one of them.

We live busy lifestyles though, and can’t always get enough rest or do things when well rested. In this case, the best thing to do is make a plan while rested. If grocery shopping, make your list in advance while rested, then stick to it when shopping!

In the end, knowledge is power. Just knowing what our bodies want helps us to make better, healthy lifestyle decisions!

As always, please contact me at if you have any questions or comments. ūüôā ¬†[Crew Dog: Or comment below.]

Guest Post: Hydration and Weight Loss

[Here’s the next post in the guest post series on healthy diet and lifestyle from Dave Banko.]

There is a lot of content available regarding the importance¬†to weight loss of drinking plenty of fluids. I’m including this blog post for completeness, but won’t really spend a lot of time on it.

Below is a great diagram from a post called 11 Reasons Why Dehydration is Making You Fat and Sick.

Just remember to be drinking the right kinds of fluids:¬†plenty of water (perhaps with a squeeze of lemon or other fruit/veg infusion) and green/herbal/fruit teas and limit or eliminate sugary and/or caffeinated drinks. Check the labels and you’ll be surprised how many drinks contain sugar, fructose, and a chemical sweetener.

Please contact me at with any questions or comments.  [Crew Dog: Or comment below]

[Crew Dog NOTE: For more information on proper hydration, such as getting water from foods, times when you need to increase your fluid intake, and what can happen if you drink too much water (hyponatremia), see this Mayo Clinic post.]

Book Review: The Simple Path to Wealth

SPW cover finalAs a certain TV show used to say, “And now for something *completely* different!” ¬†Not only is this the first book review on this blog, but the book is about Money, not Health.

Rest assured, there is a method to my madness (at least, that’s what I tell Spousal Unit). ¬†Money is related to heath directly, such as when you can’t afford the healthcare you need, and indirectly. ¬†Indirect effects of money on health include the physical and emotional stress that comes from not having enough money to meet your needs, and the strain money problems can have on your relationships.

Therefore, I decided when I was a young lieutenant that understanding the world of finance and mastering my money was a critical life skill.

I started reading personal finance books in the early 90s: Your Money or Your Life, The Wealthy Barber, The Millionaire Next Door, The Tightwad Gazette, and the Bible of personal finance: Making the Most of Your Money, by Jane Bryant Quinn.  Over the years, I put what I learned into practice.  I started saving and investing.  I tried to fight the impulses to buy (too many) cool toys, and the peer pressure to live an affluent (some might say hedonistic) lifestyle.  I made a few mistakes, and I got smarter.  I kept reading books and articles about personal finance.  And then the internet happened.

In 2011, I started reading a personal finance blog ‚Äď Mr. Money Mustache. That lead to other personal finance blogs: Early Retirement Extreme, The Military Guide, Get Rich Slowly,¬†madFIentist, The Military Wallet, Root of Good, and many more.

And I noticed this guy, jlcollinsnh, in the comments section of many of these blogs. He was making comments that were insightful, with a wry sense of humor. I followed him back to his blog, jlcollinsnh, and I’ve been reading it ever since. In fact, it is my favorite personal finance blog (no offense, Nords!).

At the same time, and even prior to reading personal finance blogs, I was reading blogs about Simplicity and Minimalism.

I remember thinking, ‚ÄúIf only there were a way to simplify personal finance”…

“Why can‚Äôt there be a simpler way to invest than holding a diversified portfolio of growth and value stocks, small-cap, mid-cap, large-cap, international, and sector stocks, short-term bonds, intermediate-term bonds, long-term bonds, and cash, spread across retirement and non-retirement accounts?‚ÄĚ

JL Collins provided the answer: There *is* a simpler way to invest.

**Financial Independence is not incompatible with Simplicity.**

JL Collins gave me my financial freedom: I didn’t have to worry about asset allocation (Is this blended fund more growth or value? Do I have the right percentage of each asset class?). In fact, he blew my mind when he advised his daughter that she’d do quite well financially if all she ever did was live within her means and invest in just one fund. ONE fund??? Inconceivable!

But what I like best about JL is that he backs up his assertions with logic and data.

He ‚Äúshows his work.‚ÄĚ He doesn‚Äôt ask his readers to take his word for it. He explains how he reached his conclusions, and he welcomes challenges because he knows he‚Äôs not infallible and he just might learn something. He‚Äôs not the Oracle; he‚Äôs just a smart guy with a knack for explaining personal finance in a very accessible way, and he‚Äôs interested in having conversations with like-minded folks so that everyone can learn from each other and get smarter about our money.

That’s why I did a happy dance when I heard JL Collins was releasing his first book, The Simple Path to Wealth. ¬†[Disclaimer: I was sent an advanced copy of the manuscript in exchange for my honest review. ¬†JL doesn’t hustle his readers, and I don’t either.]

To be honest, I think it’s very difficult for authors to transition from a column/blog post format to a book format.

I loved Dave Barry’s newspaper columns, but was disappointed by a few of his books (although others were brilliant). I was slightly disappointed by Jenny Lawson (aka The Bloggess)’s first book, but feel she really hit her stride with her second book.  (Read it.  She talks candidly but humorously about health issues, including depression.)  I will admit I felt that slight prickle of disappointment initially with JL Collin’s book, The Simple Path to Wealth, as well.

The first section (Part One) felt a bit meandering ‚Äď not the usual tight, crisp prose I‚Äôm accustomed to on his blog. But perhaps this is because I am already well-acquainted with the financial fundamentals and philosophy he outlines in this section. If you are still learning the basics, and the whys and wherefores of personal finance, you may benefit from Part One much more than I did.

However, Part Two is classic Collins: the clear, no-nonsense financial advice that I recommend to others, because it is easy to understand and will get them to where they (presumably) want to be ‚Äď Financial Independence. And it will get them there with a minimum of hassle.

Collins speaks with the wisdom of someone who has spent a great deal of time thinking about personal finance, and has learned some lessons through trial-and-error. And he shares his hard-won wisdom so that, if you will listen, you can avoid his mistakes.

Furthermore, he understands that most people want to save for retirement, but don‚Äôt want to (or are so busy they cannot) spend a bunch of time figuring out how to do it. In Jim‚Äôs words, ‚ÄúFinancial geeks like me are the aberration. Sane people don‚Äôt want to be bothered. My daughter helped me understand this at about the same time I was finally understanding that the most effective investing is also the simplest” (p.111).

Collins continues, ‚ÄúComplex and expensive investments are not only unnecessary, they underperform. Fiddling with your investments almost always leads to worse results. Making a few sound choices and letting them run is the essence of success, and the soul of The Simple Path to Wealth” (p.111).

Read that again: “Making a few sound choices and letting them run is the essence of success, and the soul of The Simple Path to Wealth.”

You can simplify your life by simplifying your investments (including retirement accounts), and you’ll probably reach financial independence sooner than your peers with complicated investment strategies who spend a great deal of time, effort, and emotion fiddling with their finances.

Also in Part Two, Collins is one of the only non-military personal finance educators to actually cover the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) in his discussion of retirement accounts. ¬†He highlights the often-overlooked consideration that TSPs *not* be rolled over to IRAs after separation from the military/civil service because the fees are so low – often lower than industry-leader Vanguard’s IRA fund fees.

He also includes a case study in Part Two.  Case studies are always fun because you get to see the practical application of the theoretical.  In other words, what does this advice translate to in real life?  Go to Chapter 22 to find out.

Part Three contains more whys and wherefores. ¬†In Part Three, Mr. Collins discusses several hot topics and “shows his work”.

Finally, Part Four of The Simple Path to Wealth talks about what to do once you’ve reached financial independence. ¬†Many talk about how to save and invest to reach retirement/financial independence, but few explain what to do once you get there. ¬†This section talks about the nuts and bolts in such a way that you will feel confident you know what to do once you’ve “arrived”.

Afterword: Chapter 33 contains JL Collins’ blueprint for financial independence.

The Big Idea: “Over the years I‚Äôve come¬†across any number of people embracing life on their own terms. ¬†They are intent on breaking the shackles of debt, consumerism¬†and limiting mindsets, and living free. They are filled with ideas¬†and courage. ¬†This freedom, to me, is the single most valuable thing money¬†can buy and it‚Äôs why I offer you the strategies in this book” (p.138).

[NOTE: This book is written for a general audience, not a military one.  For military-specific financial advice, see these blogs: The Military Guide and The Military Wallet.  And this book: The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement.  These resources discuss topics such as military pensions, SBP, TSP, VGLI, and many other military finance alphabet soup words.  However, the basic information and the advice in The Simple Path to Wealth still apply to a military audience.]

Bottom Line: The Simple Path to Wealth is exactly what I hoped it would be: a solid financial reference book that I can confidently recommend to people who want to learn a simple, but effective, way to manage their money and to progress toward financial independence. I like the website,, because I still learn useful things about personal finance, despite having decades of experience. This is true of JL Collins’ book, The Simple Path to Wealth, as well.

Read this book. ¬†Get smart about your money. ¬†“Remember that nobody will care for your money better than¬†you” (p.101). ¬†The Simple Path to Wealth will show you how to manage your money simply and effectively.

Health Hack: Travel First Aid Kit

When I was much younger, I travelled the world without a care. ¬†I took for granted that I would always be healthy. ¬†Then came the time that I got food poisoning (salmonella) on a trip. ¬†I had no first aid kit with me, and I didn’t know how to get medications in another country.

I had a two-day layover in the UK and no way to get even an aspirin Рthe hotel staff said it was illegal for them to give me any, not that they had any in the hotel.  After a very miserable 48 hours (plus the interminable flight home), I decided to start taking some over-the-counter medications with me when I travel.

The list of remedies I pack has grown with subsequent experiences (an epic hangover in Russia led to the inclusion of an antacid, for example).

My travel first aid supplies currently include:

  • A pain reliever/fever reducer (aspirin/Tylenol)
  • A non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID; such as Ibuprofen/Alleve)
  • An antacid (Pepcid/Rolaids/Tums)
  • An anti-diarrheal (Imodium)
  • upset stomach medicine (Pepto-Bismol)
  • sleep aid/jet-lag remedy (Melatonin)
  • decongestant/expectorant
  • cough/sore throat lozenges (Cepacol)
  • a travel thermometer
  • tweezers
  • alcohol swabs
  • band aids

You could also include an anti-histamine (Benadryl).  [Update: having had my first allergic reaction, I am adding Benadryl to my kit.]

If you know you will be walking or hiking a lot, you might also want moleskin and an ace bandage.  Depending on local conditions, you may also want to include some travel toilet paper (think MRE TP, but commercially available).

[NOTE: Brand names are included for familiarity.  I buy bargain-sized generic versions of these drugs whenever possible.]

[NOTE: When possible, I buy these drugs in blister packs.  I can take a few sheets of the blister packs with me, instead of an entire bottle, to save weight in my bags.]

[NOTE:¬†I don’t include polysporin because of TSA liquid/gel restrictions. ¬†Soap and water and alcohol swabs are usually sufficient. ¬†You can include polysporin if you place it with your other liquids for screening, and if the container is 3 ounces or less.]

[CAUTION: Do not mix aspirin and NSAIDs.  It can cause stomach ulcers or other problems.]

[CAUTION: Medications which are over-the-counter (uncontrolled) at home may not be uncontrolled in other countries.  For example, Melatonin is only available by prescription in Australia.]

In addition to my travel first aid kit, I always take a bottle of Afrin nasal decongestant spray with me when I fly.

It is a very bad idea to fly with a head cold, but sometimes you don’t realize you’re coming down with a cold until you have trouble clearing your ears on descent. ¬†Afrin can help relieve congestion, which should make it possible for you to clear your ears (equalize the pressure). ¬†If you cannot equalize the pressure, you could rupture an eardrum. ¬†This is why I always carry a bottle of Afrin in my carry-on luggage, just in case.

Even better than having remedies with you when you travel is to avoid needing them in the first place.

I will talk about ways to maintain your health while traveling in another post.

[DISCLAIMER: All information is provided for educational purposes only.  I am not a trained healthcare provider or medical expert.  Use common sense, know what works for your body, and if you have any questions, consult with your healthcare provider.  Many medications, including over-the-counter medications, are contraindicated for patients with specific health conditions.  Do not take a medication if it is unsafe for you or may aggravate other health conditions you have.]

CALL TO ACTION:¬†If you currently do not travel with a first aid kit or over-the-counter remedies, I encourage you to assemble a kit before your next trip, TDY, or deployment. ¬†You don’t need a fancy container – I keep mine in my toiletries bag.

What do you pack in your travel first aid kit?

Guest Post: Eating to Lose Weight


[Here’s another guest post from Dave Banko on healthy diet and lifestyle.]

This may sound counter intuitive, but the worst thing you can do to lose weight, particularly to burn fat, is to starve yourself.

Your body has a primitive defense mechanism for self-preservation to protect fat reserves in the event of actual starvation, going back to days when the availability of food was cyclical. When no calories are coming in, your body slows the metabolism down to conserve energy (making you feel lethargic and moody) and consumes muscle and organ tissue along with the fat to protect reserves and supply the brain and red blood cells.

You will lose weight, but not all of it will be fat, and this method can have serious negative effects on your overall health.  As soon as you start eating again, most of the weight comes back on as your body rebuilds.

Consuming calories, even a small amount, stimulates the metabolism and releases fat reserves. ¬†This is also another reason breakfast is so important, as you haven’t been consuming calories for 8-12 hours overnight.

In ‘What’s the Right Diet for You?‘ scientists stress 80% of successful dieters start with breakfast.

A good breakfast including protein (eggs, fish, poultry, other lean meat or high protein legume) and complex carbohydrates in fruit and whole grains, and, of course, one or more glasses of water, is the perfect way to kick-start your metabolism and fat burning for the day.

Adding a cup of tea or coffee isn’t the end of world, unless you are also cutting down on caffeine.¬†ūüôā I would avoid fruit juice as it has a high concentration of sugar without the fiber naturally found in whole fruit to slow down its hit to your blood stream. ¬†Also be careful of hidden sugar in spreads, commercial cereals and even muesli.

However, you don’t need a lot of calories to trigger the fat burn which is why the 5 and 2 diet can keep the calorie content on the fasting days to 500-600 total calories. But even the 5 and 2 diet encourages breakfast on fast days to get you going, and¬†regular eating on non-fast days.

Be sure not to fast on consecutive days, and eat properly on the days in between fasts.

According to the National Institute of Health, women should consume a minimum of 1200 calories per day and men should consume a minimum of 1500 calories per day for a healthy metabolism, appropriate balance of protein, fat, fiber and carbohydrates, and avoidance of malnutrition.

If intermittently fasting (this should only be for 2, at the most 3, non-consecutive days per week and for no longer than 12 weeks) the minimum should be 500-600 calories per day on fasting days, and 1500-1800 calories on the non-fasting days.

When aiming to lose weight, average women should aim for a weekly total of 8,400 to 10,500 calories per week and men, 10,500 to 12,600.  If you are heavier or very active, this target should be higher.

When I started this new healthy eating lifestyle (I prefer not to call it a diet, because I will be eating this way for the rest of my life), I weighed 351 lbs (having peaked at 365 lbs) and consumed around 5,000 calories per day.

I tried and failed with numerous starvation and detox diets.

Eating to lose weight made absolutely no sense to me, but I tried it anyway, and my successful weight loss convinced me.

Eating the right foods, in the right combination and at the right time of the day made me feel better, gave me plenty of energy, and made it easier for me to eat less (you may not feel ‘full’ but you will feel ‘satisfied’ and for longer), and the weight melted off.

At the time of this writing (17 months after starting to change the way I ate), I’m down to 218 lbs and working to lose the last 8 lbs to get down to my military weight of 210 lbs.

Every now and then, I still have bad days where I blow the diet, and it shows on the scale the next morning. My natural inclination is still to stop eating to counter my binge from the day before, but I remind myself how¬†my body works, and then go cook¬†my 2 whole egg cheese & veg omelette to have with my morning fruit, full fat natural yogurt, whole grain toast, lemon water, and tea (no sugar), and I’m right back on the program. The weight keeps coming off.

For more information on eating to lose weight, here’s a good blog post from My Fitness Pal.

Feel free to contact me at with any questions or comments.  [Crew Dog: Or comment below.]

Medical Procedures: What It’s Like to Undergo a Sleep Study (Polysomnogram)

“So, why are you here?,” the technician asked me. ¬†“My spouse says my snoring is pretty bad,” I responded sheepishly. ¬†The technician laughed. “That’s the number one reason we see people here. ¬†If it weren’t for spouses, a lot of people wouldn’t realize they have a problem.”

Well, I didn’t think I *had* a problem, but Spousal Unit did not agree. ¬†A discussion with my PCM led to a consultation with a sleep doctor, who decided a sleep study was in order.

I arrived for my sleep study one evening after dinner.  I was told to bring my pajamas, toiletries, any medications I normally took, anything that was part of my normal night routine, and clothes for the next day.  I was also told that I could bring my own pillow if I wanted.

In preparation for the sleep study, I was told not to have any caffeine or alcohol after noon on the day of the study, since caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns.

[For more information on preparing for a sleep study, see this article from the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center.]

A technician showed me to my room, which was something between a hospital room and a hotel room.  It had a linoleum floor, industrial fluorescent overhead lighting, a double bed, nightstand with lamp, dresser, television, and private bathroom.

The technician explained the sleep study procedures and asked if I had any questions. ¬†Then he told me to change into my pajamas and do my evening routine to get ready for bed. ¬†He told me to open my bedroom door when I was done, and he’d be back to get me hooked up to the monitoring equipment.

When he returned, the technician placed electrodes on my face (including the corners of my eyes) and scalp.  The electrodes have sticky backs, and attach directly to your skin/scalp.  The electrodes are connected by a tangle of individual wires to a relay that sends electrical signals from your brain and muscles to a computer.  These electrodes monitor various aspects of your sleep.

Next, the technician fastened bands around my chest and abdomen to measure breathing. ¬†Then he attached a clip to my finger to measure the level of oxygen in my blood and monitor my heart rate. ¬†(You’ve probably seen this clip before at your doctor’s office or in a hospital room – I call it the E.T. finger because it glows at the tip.)

None of the monitoring equipment was painful or particularly uncomfortable – it was just incredibly awkward.

Two sleep study warriors wired up for their studies:

After the technician got me all wired up, he gave me a call button in case I needed to summon him and told me to get comfortable, watch a little TV or read, and try to go to sleep around my normal time.

If I needed to go to the bathroom, I was supposed to summon him, and he would come and unplug some wires so I could get to the bathroom.  Everything would remain attached to me (electrodes etc.), so it would be a fairly simple process to disconnect and reconnect a few connections.

After he left, I watched TV for a while, then turned off the TV and the lamp and tried to sleep.

I know veterans are supposed to be able to sleep anywhere, but I have never been able to sleep lying flat on my back.  I can sleep sitting straight up, I can sleep on top of a cargo pallet in the back of a C-130, and I even fell asleep standing up once, but I cannot sleep lying on my back.  This was a bit of a problem, since I had all of the monitoring equipment hooked up to me, which made it difficult to sleep on my side, and impossible to sleep on my stomach.

To make matters worse, I was hyper-alert because I was sleeping in a new place, with lots of unusual noises, and I knew I was being monitored via a video camera.  Try sleeping while someone is watching you.

At one point I heard some commotion in the hallway РI found out later that one of the other patients had been sleepwalking.  How they managed that with all the equipment hooked up to them, I do not know.

Several times during the night the technician came over the intercom and encouraged me to try to sleep.  I must have fallen asleep eventually, because he woke me up in the morning and said it was time to go.  I asked if I had had a long enough sleep-cycle for him to get sufficient data, and he said just barely.

The technician disconnected and detached all of the monitoring equipment and left the room.  I took a shower, got dressed, packed up my gear, and was shown out of the sleep center.

Once all of my data was processed, I had a follow-up appointment with the sleep doctor.  The sleep doctor informed me that I have sleep apnea, and that I needed to remedy that by sleeping with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.

This diagnosis meant that I had to return for a second night at the sleep center, to determine what CPAP machine air pressure settings would alleviate my sleep apnea.  Oh joy.

The second visit was pretty much like the first.  Because I had had trouble sleeping the first time, they gave me a room down a dead-end hallway, which had less traffic and was darker and quieter than my first room on the main hallway.

This time, in addition to all of the monitoring equipment, I also had to wear a CPAP machine mask.  The mask allows the machine to provide pressurized air through your passageways in order to keep your airway open and provide enough oxygen to your lungs while you sleep.

I had tried on several types and sizes of masks during my follow-up appointment with the sleep doctor, and we had settled on a specific type and size. ¬†The technician had this type and size mask ready for me to try the second night, as well as some others if the first mask didn’t work well for me during the second sleep study.

The technician adjusted the mask straps and fitted it for me, then showed me how the CPAP worked. ¬†Like many of the newer CPAP machines, the one I used that night had a “ramp” feature that lets the air come through the mask at a lower pressure, and then gradually increases the air pressure to your prescribed setting.

This gradual increase usually takes about 15 minutes, and is supposed to give you time to fall asleep as you gradually adjust to the pressure.  If you have not fallen asleep by the time the machine reaches full pressure, and it is uncomfortable for you, you can press the ramp button, which will drop the pressure and start the gradual increase again.

The purpose of this second night was to determine at what air pressure my sleep apnea symptoms would be alleviated.  This meant that the technician would try various settings, and then I was supposed to fall asleep and the technician would see if the setting worked.

I got even less sleep the second night than I had the first night.  In addition to the awkwardness of all of the monitoring equipment, I now also had a mask strapped to my face with straps that went across my cheeks and over the top of my head.  The mask forced air through my nostrils, and the air flowing through the hose made noise.  It was nearly impossible for me to sleep with all of this stimuli.

A few times I dozed off and then the machine reached full pressure, which startled me awake. ¬†By the end of the night, the technician was frustrated (although he wasn’t rude about it). ¬†He said he barely had enough data to be able to calibrate the machine, but called it good enough. ¬†None of us wanted to try that again on a third night.

As before, the technician removed all the equipment, and I got dressed and left. ¬†I was glad I didn’t have to work the day after the second sleep study, because I was wiped out.

Results:¬†As a result of my sleep study, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed a CPAP machine for home use. ¬†The mask was fitted for my head, the machine’s air pressure settings were adjusted for my required level, and I was told to sleep with this machine every night for the rest of my life.

Do you sleep with a CPAP machine?  Have you found a way to make peace with it?  Any hacks to make it less awkward?  Please share with us below.

Guest Post: Low Fat or Low Carb?

[Here’s the next in the guest post series on healthy diet and lifestyle from Dave Banko.]

One of the main debates in our Facebook weight loss group was whether we should focus on reducing carbs or fat. When focused on weight loss alone, studies have repeatedly shown a ‘low fat’ diet loses more body fat over the same period than a ‘low carb’ diet.

Having said that, there is more to consider for a healthy lifestyle than weight loss alone.

Let’s first separate carbs into complex carbohydrates, which tend to have a low glycemic index (GI), and simple carbohydrates like sugar, fructose and processed grains (skin, husks and other fiber removed), which have a higher glycemic index.

Take an apple for example. An average-sized apple is about 65 kcal and 14g of carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are complex because the natural sugars are locked with the cell structure. This naturally provides fiber so, when you eat an apple, it takes time for your digestive system to break down the cell walls and release the sugar. The cell walls also provide fiber and other nutrients to the body even after releasing the sugar.

When you drink apple juice, the sugar has been squeezed out of the cells of the apple.  There is no fiber to slow down the processing, so the apple sugars are immediately digested and hit the blood stream causing a spike in sugar levels and the need for insulin similar to drinking a commercial cola or other syrup-based drink. As a result, while I eat lots of whole fruits, I no longer drink fruit juice or syrupy drinks. Click on this link to read an excellent article illustrating the difference.

Fat, on the other hand, is dense and energy packed. It takes a lot longer to digest, so eating fat will not cause a spike in blood sugar. Dietary fat becomes an energy source in the blood stream, and any excess energy (no matter the source – whether fat, sugar, carbs or protein) will be converted and stored as body fat to use as an energy reserve for another time when you need it.

For me, I found fat in foods more satisfying in taste and the feeling of fullness than low or no-fat foods. I was satisfied with 1 150g pot of full fat natural yogurt where 2 150g pots of no-fat yogurt still left me longing for more.

In investigating low or no-fat products, I found that because removing the fat leaves the food tasting less satisfying, many manufacturers have compensated by increasing sugar or chemicals to fool your body.  The increase in sugar again leads to the blood sugar spikes which can lead to diabetes.

Since I have a family history of diabetes, I steer clear of anything that can serve as a precursor to becoming diabetic myself.

The negative to fat, of course, is the amount of calories it packs in a small amount of food. If you are satisfied and stay within your calorie targets, it’s fine – remember the French high fat diet is the 7th best in the world;¬†but overeat a little, and it adds a lot of calories.

My personal diet includes a balance of protein, complex carbohydrates (low GI) and full fat items. I’ve gone to more natural foods and avoid processed foods and chemicals wherever possible.

I am not a doctor, and you may have a medical history or condition which requires you to go a different direction with your diet. This is fine, because I’ve hopefully shown that while there are general principles to follow, there is not one diet that works for everyone. Please seek medical advice when putting together any program.

In an article by the BBC on Low Carb vs Low Fat debate, Prof Susan Jebb of Oxford University (and one of the ‘What’s the Right Diet for You?’ team) sums it up like this:

“The investigators rightly conclude that the best diet for weight loss is the diet you can stick to.¬†All diets ‘work’ if you stick to an eating plan that cuts calories, whether from fat or carbohydrate, but sticking to a diet is easier said than done, especially given the prolonged time it takes to lose weight.”

As always, feel free to contact me at if you have any questions or comments, and good luck!  [Crew Dog: Or comment below.]

Health Hack: How to Select Properly-Fitting Eyeglasses

Long ago, when I was young and had better than 20/20 vision, I sat in a briefing room for training day and the flight doc announced to us all that, despite our current acute vision, we would all need reading glasses someday – probably by the time we were forty. ¬†Most of us, including me, scoffed. ¬†“No way! ¬†My eyes are great. ¬†*I’ll* never need glasses!”

Sadly, the flight doc was right. ¬†Just before my 39th birthday (didn’t even make it to 40 – bogus!) I started needing longer arms to read things. ¬†Teenagers would bounce up and shove phones in my face to show me something, and I’d have to make them back up. ¬†Whippersnappers!

I didn’t want to start wearing glasses because I didn’t want the hassle. ¬†And I only needed them to read up close. ¬†Solution?

I remembered a Marine aviator from my impressionable youth who used to brag that he just bought “cheaters” at the drugstore.

So I went to my local superstore and tried on the sample glasses by the pharmacy to find the right magnification, and bought a multi-pack of those magnifying reading glasses. ¬†I don’t remember if they were one-size-fits-all, or if they came in small, medium, and large sizes. ¬†I just opened one of the (resealable) packages, tried them on, and decided the fit was ok.

I put a pair on my desk, a pair in my pocket, and a pair in my vehicle, and that solved my problem for several years. ¬†They didn’t look spectacular (ha!) but they did the trick. ¬†They tended to slide down my nose a bit when I was reading for an extended period of time, but they were cheap and easy.

The cheaters solved my problem for several years, but my near vision gradually got worse. ¬†Eventually people started to get blurry at conversational distances. ¬†They started to feel like “close-talkers.” ¬†I’d try to casually back up so they weren’t blurry any more, but they’d close the distance. ¬†Can’t do that dance for long without looking like a freak.

Since I now needed glasses for more than just reading, I decided it was time to start wearing glasses full-time. ¬†I went to the optometrist and got my prescription, but of course Tricare doesn’t cover eyeglasses. ¬†So I went to a local eyeglass store and got totally screwed. ¬†In the interest of blog length, I will spare you the gory details. ¬†Let’s just say I wound up several hundred dollars poorer with a pair of glasses that didn’t fit correctly, didn’t solve my vision problems to a satisfactory level, and, therefore, didn’t ever get worn. ¬†I went back to my cheaters.

My first pair of prescription eyeglasses are still rotting in a desk drawer.

Life went on, and I made due with the cheaters for a few more years. ¬†My near vision continued to deteriorate, but Tricare will only pay for an optometrist visit every two years so I had to wait. ¬†Two-plus years later, I got my new prescription and decided to buy new glasses from a membership warehouse. ¬†I figured the glasses would be cheaper there, and they wouldn’t try to pressure-sell expensive designer frames to me.

I went to the membership warehouse and was shown a couple of frames that were reasonably priced and looked decent.  My optometrist had suggested that, instead of trying to make one pair of glasses work for everything (a tri-focal progressive lens), I get two pairs of glasses Рone for computer work and reading, and one for everything else (both bi-focal progressive; one mid & near distance and one mid & far distance).  The salesperson suggested I get two different styles of frames, so I could easily tell them apart.

For less than I paid for my first pair of prescription eyeglasses at an eyeglass store, I got two pairs of prescription glasses from the membership warehouse. ¬†Unfortunately, neither of them fit. ¬†After several months of returning my glasses to the warehouse for adjustments, I spent a day researching eyeglasses fit (see previous post, How Many People’s Jobs Do I have to Know How to D0?). ¬†I learned quite a lot.

I had repeatedly told warehouse employees that my glasses felt too tight on my nose. ¬†They responded by adjusting the glasses’ arms/temples, repeatedly. Did you know that glasses come in different bridge sizes (as in, the width of the bridge of your nose)? ¬†I didn’t. ¬†Apparently they didn’t either.

I learned I had frames that were ~2-4mm too small across the bridge.  The temples, that I had repeatedly suggested were too short, were at least 5mm too short.

Armed with my newly acquired knowledge of frame fitting, I returned to the membership warehouse.  The pair of glasses that fit least-badly were finally adjusted to my satisfaction (more or less).  The other pair (with a smaller bridge size) were returned, and I selected a replacement pair with a wider bridge and longer temple pieces.  I would have preferred to return both, but that was the best compromise I could get.  (Initially they were refusing to replace either pair.)

How can you avoid my mistakes?  Knowledge!

Although I am not endorsing this company, this page provides a decent overview of eyeglasses frame measurements/fit. ¬†Unfortunately, none of the websites I could find had information on how to determine your eyeglasses size if you didn’t already have a pair of glasses. ¬†One recommended I use a ruler to determine the width between my temples, which would give me an idea of total frame width. ¬†Others recommended I just go to a store and try a bunch on.

It turns out, when Spousal Unit got glasses for the first time, the technician used calipers to measure Spousal Unit’s various facial dimensions. ¬†Spousal Unit’s first pair of glasses fit perfectly. ¬†Go figure.

Eyeglasses frames are typically labeled with their dimensions: the lens width, bridge size/width, and temple length (in that order). ¬†These dimensions look like this: 52 [symbol that looks like a hollow square] 18 140. ¬†The dimensions may be on the temple piece (arm) or the bridge. ¬†Sometimes the first two dimensions are on the bridge and the temple length is on the temple piece. ¬†They might even be on the ear piece! ¬†For examples of what you’re looking for, see here (again, not a product endorsement).

Lens width (aka eye size) is the horizontal width of the frame’s lens (in millimeters). ¬†Lens width typically ranges from 40-62mm. ¬†This dimension is given for one lens, so you must double this and add bridge size and end piece size to get total frame width. ¬†[The end piece is the part of the frame that connects the outer edge of the lens frame to the temple/arm.]

Bridge size is the distance between the closest points of the two lenses (in millimeters).  This is the space where your nose goes.  Bridge size typically ranges from 14-24mm.  Temple (arm) length is measured along the length of the temple from one end to the other and also includes the bend.  Temple length typically ranges from 120-150mm, but often only by multiples of five (130, 135, 140, etc.).  It is important to have enough length so the temple sits horizontally and does not tip up over the ear.

Lens height is often not labeled on eyeglasses frames, but may appear as the last number of the sequence.  It is the height measured vertically from the top to the bottom of the lens.  Lens height is important for bi-focal or progressive lenses as there needs to be enough area for the multiple parts of the prescription.

Once you get a pair of glasses that actually fits, write down the dimensions!  (The printing may wear off your frames over time.)

When you shop for your next pair of glasses, make sure you select a pair that is +/- 2mm for the lens width, +/- 1mm for the bridge size, and +/- 5mm for the temple length (different styles may fit a bit differently).

If you are concerned about your cosmetic appearance while wearing glasses, it is recommended that your eyes be nearly centered within the width of each lens.  This site (again, not a product endorsement) gives more information on fitting glasses for various types of faces (close-set eyes, wide face, etc.).  In particular, their information on bridge location was very useful to me.  You can also google information about face shape and corresponding frame shapes.

I’ve settled for a look I call “Goofy as hell, but at least I can see and I’m not in pain from glasses that are too small.” ¬†I think it’ll catch on. #trendsetter #form_follows_function

How to be attractive: I still don’t know. ¬†I think I’ll just hide Spousal Unit’s glasses.

Have you figured out how to procure glasses that fit, are attractive, and don’t cost an arm and a leg? ¬†Please share your knowledge with us. ¬†I need all the help I can get.