Holiday Weight & What To Do About It: Honesty, Scales, & Chewing Gum

How does chewing gum fit into my weight loss routine? Read on to find out!

On Saturday I tweeted an agonizing confession: I ended the week 15 pounds north of my “all time low,” registering as my heaviest weight in over a year. This was the result of multiple factors: a trip to Savannah, two weddings, Thanksgiving, my 30th birthday, and a variety of office snacks. To say it plainly: I lost sight of my goals and slid into a state of complacency for an extended period of time. The rare treat turned into a weekly, or even daily, occurrence. I told myself I’d make up for things the next day but didn’t follow through. I got lazy. 

I would be a hypocrite if, despite all of my successes, I didn’t admit to this. Plenty of people in the weight loss space very commonly present an identity online that never wavers from center, never struggles with cravings, and never raids the office candy bowl when they’re having a shit day. However effortless weight loss has at times been for me, it has been a challenge equally as many times. Passing on a dessert at Thanksgiving when I was new to the scene in 2016 was a challenge. Making those same choices consistently for three consecutive years has been ever harder. Doing so for the next 40-50 years will be harder still. 

Fortunately, I’m not alone… Plenty of people struggle with these challenges this time of year. Between work parties, “Friends-giving” get togethers, family dinners, and the like…it’s incredible easy to slip back into bad habits. So what can be done? As this is my first prolonged battle with regressing into my old ways I’m, well, not necessarily an expert on how to switch out of this funk. But I do have some thoughts… 

The single biggest mistake we can make at times like these, and on this point there is near unanimous agreement in the weight loss community, is to put off “fixing” your habits until after the holidays, your exams, busy season at work, after pay day, or any other time. When is the BEST time to start better habits? Yesterday. But today is all we’ve got, and that’s good enough. I get it though… you step on the scale eleven days before Christmas and you’re eight pounds heavier than you were two weeks ago. The urge to resign to “I’ll get back on track on the 26th” can be so tantalizing. But how will you feel when, on the 26th of New Years Day, eight pounds has turned into fifteen or twenty? Will you keep putting it off then too? Plus, not for nothing, addressing the problem as soon as you discover it can be a great hedge against less than stellar choices during the holidays. 

“When is the BEST time to start better habits? Yesterday. But today is all we’ve got, and that’s good enough.”

Another thing worth considering is how often and when you’re stepping on the scale. I don’t subscribe to a hard and fast rule on this, some swear by every day, others once a week. Switching from one of these to the other could be a quick, simple change in your routine to mix things up and change your way of thinking. Further…if you just step on the scale whenever you feel like it…stop. Pick a routine, whatever it is, and do everything you can to weight in at the same time of day. Personally, I started my journey weighing myself only on Wednesdays; I switched to daily as the bulk of my weight came off and my margins got a little slimmer. My regression, weight wise, has coincided with complacency regarding a “weigh in routine,” take that for what you will. 

A little trick that has helped me fight cravings is simple and cheap…gum. Want to know what tastes good after some seriously minty gum? Jack shit, that’s what. Try keeping gum handy wherever cravings tend to hit you: at your desk, in the car, in your purse or backpack…wherever. 

Whatever you do, don’t beat yourself up…this won’t get you anywhere. Commend yourself, instead, for realizing there is a problem at all. Quit feeling down. Quit sulking. Start finding solutions. 

Thirty Years And The Five Books That Defined Them

They See Me Reading’, They Hatin…

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For all 30 years of my life I’ve been a pretty avid reader, a calling card in my social circles. I get asked for book recommendations fairly regularly, especially this time of year as the weather gets cooler and folks start taking a little time for R and R. 

Are these THE books that changed my life? As in, the only ones? Not really. Charting every single work that had an impact on my life seems like a pretty futile exercise, plus the time it would take to read an article that long is time better spent reading…well…a book. Anyway… in no particular order, here are the books that made the biggest impact on the first 30 years of my life… 

1) Why We Get Fat (And What To Do About It), Gary Taubes 

The majority of Americans, especially those my age, are prepared to accept the idea that government influence warps what we believe to be the “truth.” In this abbreviated version of “Good Calories, Bad Calories,” Taubes shines light on 50+ years of Federal influence in dietary theory and policy. This influence, he argues, has lead to a focus on fat and calories as the harbinger of obesity and heart disease…despite the evidence that these may not be the culprit at all. There’s lots of great detail in here and the book reads like a piece of long form, investigative journalism. If I had to pick a single book that changed my life, I couldn’t. I could pick two though, this one is the first. 

2) 1984, George Orwell

The second book to change my life is this Orwellian classic. I read it first in 2007…the themes were true then and truer now: government surveillance, federal attempts to modify “the narrative,” endless wars of flip-flopping alliances. The book has received renewed interest during the Trump administration but its staying power is proof that all administrations are guilty of similar sins against the truth, in some form or another. 

3) The Obesity Code, Dr. Jason Fung

While the yarn that Fung weaves is similar to that of Taubes in “Why We Get Fat,” this is still must-see reading for those interested in weight loss. This book lead me to intermittent fasting, a life changing shift that, though I was less than optimistic, was surprisingly easy to adopt. Fung argues that we’ve spent decades asking “what” we should eat forgoing the question of “when” we should eat. Fung, a doctor specializing in diabetes, packs this tome full of detail, but it’s a fairly easy read…for the better.

4) A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James

I stumbled upon this title in a Rolling Stone Magazine review and it’s just so…unique. Clocking in just south of 700 pages that flip and flop between characters, (some that speak traditional Jamaican Patois, some that are ghosts) locations, and years, “Seven Killings” is a marathon in the truest sense of the word. The book, which has a backdrop of a failed assassination attempt on Bob Marley, could very easily mean different things to different people. A challenging, long read, the narrative speaks to anyone familiar with trying to make something of themselves.

5) The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11, Lawrence Wright

I came of age in the shadow of 9/11 and the, now, nearly two decade war on terror. “Tower” was an education, for me, in a myriad of history and issues I was too young to be well read on when the towers fell as a 6th grader. This book serves as an education, for everyone, on the straight line relationships between the origins of “muslim extremism” in the 1940’s all the way through to 9/11. Wright outlines, painfully, the steps…intentional and accidental alike…taken by the CIA and FBI that blundered attempts to prevent the attack. This isn’t conspiracy laden, “Loose Change” type stuff, “Tower” is the result of years of fact driven research. A Hulu Original miniseries by the same name covers about the last third of the book…it’s a good adaptation…but an adaptation all the same. This book is a must read.


36 months in, 95 pounds down

A while back I launched a well intentioned blog and Facebook page which, together, operated under a “brand” I hoped to launch, I called it Practically Paleo. I had dreams of being perceived in the low carb weight loss space as an “expert” and longed to make a little side hustle out of product reviews and maybe the occasional speaking engagement or podcast appearance.

A major problem presented itself in my efforts towards achieving this goal: I wasn’t very consistent. My desire to be seen as an expert put me, creatively, in a box where I was afraid to be honest, admit setbacks, and so on. Further, I created a narrative in my head that ALL of the content on my blog HAD to be about diet/weight loss…there was no room, I told myself, for rambling about life’s adventures, or wedding planning, or Baby Yoda.

Somewhere thereafter I started a new twitter profile, @slimredcobb. I set out to use this account, primarily, to engage in conversations about the low carb lifestyle, but also to riff about whatever else I wanted. A balance that leans abut %80 towards #lchf topics has generated just over 450 followers so far which, for me, is an accomplishment. My twitter handle has freed me creatively and its a medium I thoroughly enjoy.

Today — on the eve of my 30th birthday — with the goal of harnessing and amplifying the success and enjoyment I’ve had with my twitter profile so far, I’m shedding the old “Practically Paleo” moniker and consolidating everything under @slimredcobb and Low carb eating will still be the primary focus of my content but I’ll expand my writing to include my thoughts on adventures in marriage, travel, starting a family, a healthy dose of Baby Yoda love, and more. My goal is to be witty and not take myself too seriously. The website will be minimalist and unpretentious. It will be genuinely me, and I’m so happy to have you along for the ride.

Welcome to