Saturday, 27 August 2011

28 days later: Zombie or Vegan, or both? Carol Vorderman's Detox for Life: The 28 Day Detox Diet and Beyond

I just lost three quarters of a stone in 4 weeks. I was 13 and a quarter stone and now I am 12 and a half. Though I have to say our weighing machine is rubbish and can vary a quarter of a stone depending on where you put it and how you stand on it! Leaning back while still being able to see the dial is worth a couple of pounds.

It was a Sunday and Nikki said she was starting Carol Vorderman's Detox for Life: The 28 Day Detox Diet and Beyond the next day – did I want to do it too? I said OK.

I am not sure if I have ever been on an official diet before, so this is probably a first. And, it was pretty easy.

What I gave up
I think this diet is pretty hard-core vegan, vegan++, or perhaps vegan+gm-free. Enough name calling. What I didn't eat was:

  • meat and fish
  • dairy – cow or any other
  • high gluten  foods, aka the white stuff – wheat, sugar, potatoes, white rice
  • booze
  • caffeine – tea, coffee

As my favourite meal would be (french) bread, wine and cheese and probably grapes, I would have thought this diet would be pretty difficult. Caffeine-wise I don't drink tea very often and I grind one cup of coffee a day. But we quite often end up in cafes, especially the Butterfly cafe at St Giles (cheap but great and roomy – a place children can run riot indoors when it rains ((and in scotland that's most of the time)) otherwise its the Pavilion in the Meadows – cheapish, very organic and outdoors so children can run riot – there's a theme there isn't there).

What I ate
Chickpeas. Actually it was much better then that, though maybe not really. Here goes:

Breakfast: porridge with raisons and flax seeds, soya milk instead of milk – not much change there. Almond milk though is even better, expensive but lovely (very mild almond flavour)
Lunch: on the whole, salads plus ryvita and Nairns (rough) oat biscuits (so many, especially the expensive thick handmade oat cakes/biscuits are disgusting – it seems because they have wheat in them, which I find inexplicable), various types of hummus (laterly home made) falafels (shop bought). Sometimes a vegetable and bean fry up.
Supper: sometimes a return to lunch and at others a proper cooked vegan meal. It turns out that a lot of mediteranean, indian, morroccan, mexican stuff fit the bill. 
Nibbles: bombay mix (its all chickpeas and nuts), maize/corn tortillas (you may think Dorittos wouldn't be able to achieve this but actually they have plain tortillas that are just corn, oil and salt. The only problem being that they are not as nice as other plain tortillas we discovered in an organic food shop.) nuts, dried fruits and fruit.

I ate a flapjack that I thought was ok but turned out to have a lot of sugar in it. I also went to my sisters 50th birthday party - I drank, I ate a lot of lovely food – crisps, potatoes, meat, fish, cake, and the following morning coffee bread and salami and cheese. I weighed myself the monday after that weekend an I had still lost weight the same as the first week ( a quarter of a stone).

There were times, making tuna mayonnaise for the children, throwing out an uneaten sausage, seeing if the pasta was cooked – that off-menu food almost made it to my lips, but mainly by accident, though the tuna was very tempting. On the whole it was pretty easy – going to cafes was a bit dull – so we went a lot less.

Side effects?
The first side effect was very bad aching calf muscles. I never really worked out why this was. I ate a couple of bananas in case it was potassium, but it had no effect. It got really painful at night, but not actual cramps. I suspect it was milk – lactic acid build up?? Not even Google could help me here. Luckily it went away after four days.

The worst side-effect, that seems to get played down on vegetarian and vegan forums is wind. Terrible constant solid walls of noxious farts. Loud and dangerous. Shopping was nightmare of carefully chosen emergency dumping grounds in empty aisles followed by gentle yet swift ( as the fumes seem to stick to you of you move away too fast – suctions and void theory?) escape before some luckless assistant walks into the cloud.

The only way of dealing with this was to always be near, or carrying at least one child, as naturally they are the default blamee. One day I will apologise to my children for this.

I think we spent much less money. Less on meat (the children ate normally throughout this), less dairy, far fewer visits to cafes (and therefore less spent on coffee and cakey-breads), and no alcohol.

Yearnings – Dreams
I did have a dream, my Breakfast with Mogwai dream, where I ate a croissant. But I didn't have any major yearnings. On the fourth saturday I really felt like having a drink. But the main one was looking forward to having a coffee again.

Maybe my sister's party made it all too easy – only two fortnight sections to get through.


  • Almond milk – i'll let you know how the coffee goes later, 
  • PureSoya spread – much nicer than any margerine – sort of cool cold and tasteless, and you can fry with it. 
  • Chickpea in general actually. I mean frying up some veg and pouring in a tin of checkpeas and adding a few herb and spices, it was lovely and less than 5 minutes to make 
  • bombay mix, 
  • hummus - i can make great Moroccan Hummus now!
  • falafels (cant make them yet - some packet mixes are better than others)
  • gram flower for onion bhajis and I suspect popadoms (yet to explore this theory but I think I can see how that works)
Exercise - did I take any?
Well, I do. This will come as a surprise to almost everyone I know. But maybe less so when I say that its not much. It is, to be exact: 100 sit ups, 25 press ups and a 1 mile run, 3 times a week. This seems to last about 9 or 10 months a year – christmas and summer holidays being a bit problematic. This has gone on for nearly 3 years (though it began as twice a week and 25 sit ups with a ¾ mile run). I don't think it had any effect on my weight loss as it hadn't for the previous 2 years (!?@*&^!5!$ to quote Captain Haddock).

Will i continue it?
After my sister's birthday I began to suspect that you can eat the 'good stuff' without putting on wieght, or even feeling bad, as long as you dont have it every day, or maybe not even every week.

So yes, I will. I'll probably eat meat and fish on occasion, but less than once a week. I certainly will drink. But I wont eat bread or butter or cheese or milk, or dairy at all really. And just see how it goes.

This all happened over a month ago now. More to follow. I have now lost a stone.

This was not a diet about eating less. I ate loads and felt very full.
What kind of veganism is this – faux-vegan? Vegan + (as there is no wheat or potatoes or white rice) or Vegan +- as there is meat?? Or maybe just eating like a european? What do you think?

Monday, 22 August 2011

Museum of Scotland Reopens £47m later

Well we finally got round to going  to the refurbished Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street, Edinburgh. I was looking  forward to it. I like the big steps up  the front door that open into the Grand Hall, and unlike any other museum (ok, other than A Night At The Museum) it actually has something  alive in it - the fish ponds - and they aren't deep so you  can actually see the ugly fish. Apart from, obviously, the fish that was too ugly and got a face lift paid for by the coins in  the pond. And the crazy clock.

So, what do you  get for £47m?

Well the lovely steps are a waste of time as they have locked the doors (presumably opening for corporate functions only, us proles go in  the lower entrance).

So you  don't go into the Grand Hall. You  go into an area with a cafe thats for meals only. Which is great for mobility and access and people who are hungry, but they could have left the front doors open as well couldn't they?

And then it seems the ponds have gone too! I like this quote from The Scotsman: 'The ponds ... get in the way of corporate functions."  "We know people will miss the fish ponds, but for children who like animals, there will be a lot of exhibitions of stuffed animals..."

And the clocks moved.

It  seems that all the exciting opening  shots have all been removed to make way for corporate events and cafes. Which i understand - they have to make a buck one way or another. I guess. Thats the way everyone thinks now anyway. And, to be fair there are big numbers like 16 new galleries, millions of new items. Lots of stuff floating  in  the air and up  walls. And the broken stuff has all gone. And in  a few years time no one will notice the missing  ponds (they only appeared it seemed in  the '70's anyway - and i bet to outrage). So i am probably talking  rubbish, having  a moan for the sake of it really.

Weren't allowed in  the cafe though - maybe i should have looked more corporate.

Note to self: its Edinburgh, i should really provide a picture or two.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Trying Regaine / Rogaine Foamwith Minoxidil - an attempt to regrow my hair

This what the top of my head looks like. It does seem to be getting worse slowly. And you are right, it is very shiny.


Here is a silly photo of me and another of me with my brother's hair. Its true he brushes his hair, and maybe thats where i went wrong, but it doesn't improve things much for me does it? Still i can have dreams can't i? This could be me. With Rogaine!

With this in mind i went and bought some Regaine, online. Though actually its now called Rogaine. Name changes always annoy me but thats another story. In fact i bought Rogaine/Regaine for Men Extra Strength Scalp Foam 5% w/w Cutaneous Foam - 3 months supply. The three small tubes of foam that i have to rub into my head twice a day.

Regaine used to be a liquid  but, so the PR goes, that only worked for 3 in 10 people. This foam stuff is said to work for 9 out of 10. In which case why are any stars of film and TV bald? But they are bald stars so i suspect this will not work. Oh and being the super-effetive foam it costs more: this lot cost me £46 from Home Naturals Inc. On the Regaine site ( its recommended price is £70.

The Rogaine site says:
9 out of 10 men say the kept or regrew their hair with New Regaine Extra Strength Foam

So i guess that means that in  the study most people are unable to notice any hairloss over a 3 or 4 month period and but that a small (otherwise they would have said!) number did notice that their hair regrew a bit. Thats enough of a chance for me!

It also says:

Minoxidil is the only over the counter medicinal treatment clinically proven to regrow hair

According  to Wikipedia Minoxidil is:

Minoxidil (trade names Rogaine, Regaine, Avacor, Loniten (orally), and Mintop among others ) is an antihypertensive vasodilator medication which also slows or stops hair loss and promotes hair regrowth. Now off-patent, it is available over the counter for treatment of androgenic alopecia, among other baldness treatments. However, measurable changes, if experienced, disappear within months after discontinuation of treatment...

Minoxidil was first used exclusively as an oral drug (trade name Loniten) to treat high blood pressure. However, it was discovered to have an interesting side-effect:Minoxidil may cause increased growth or darkening of fine body hairs, or in some cases, significant hair growth. When the medication is discontinued, the hair loss will return to normal rate within 30 to 60 days. ...

In addition, its effectiveness has largely been demonstrated in younger men (18 to 41 years of age). Minoxidil use is indicated for central (vertex), or top of head, balding only.
 So, as a 47 year old with a huge area of baldness things are not looking  good.

I particularly like, in Side Effects:

Ironically, hair loss is a common side effect of minoxidil treatment. Manufacturers note that minoxidil-induced hair loss is a common side effect and describe the process as 'shedding'. Although this phenomenon demonstrates that minoxidil is indeed affecting hair follicles, manufacturers offer no guarantee that the new hair loss will be replaced with hair growth.

The speculated reason for this "shedding" is the encouragement of hairs already in the telogen phase to shed early, before often beginning a fresh, healthier anagen phase...

Minoxidil is highly toxic to cats and rats and may cause death.
Though i have many curious genes, and i have been accused on  occasion of being  a rat, though sadly never a cat, i pretend to be not too bothered by that last side effect. But i am a bit depressed by the possible 'shedding'.

So, here is a film of me applying Regaine to my head.

I will, in a month maybe, revisit my head and see how its been going and whether there is any visible difference yet.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Did APPLE just claim it invented rounded corners and remove Samsung Galaxy from EU?

As you  may have read on  the BBC site Apple have got an injunction banning  sales of the Galaxy Tab in  the EU, though not yet in  the Netherlands. They have already managed this in  Australia.
They have managed this in  the EU with a Design Patent:
Community Design 000181607-0001
As you can see on page three, it looks like they invented The Rounded Corner. Which is lucky as my desk my chair, my mug, my dvd box, my book, none of these have rounded corners.
Star Trek fans may remember this (from slipperybrick):

Though i have to say i like this most of all: Steve Jobs saying in  1996  'we have always been shameless at stealing  good ideas':

Its good to know we have Apple fighting  for whats right: intellectual monopolies.

UPDATE: The ban has been temporarily lifted (via BBC) apart from in  Germany.

I like this quote: "'Apple is also facing accusations that the document that helped it gain the original injunction on sales of the Galaxy Tab in Europe appears to misrepresent the device's similarity to the iPad. A side-by-side comparison of the two tablets features a "squashed" picture of the Galaxy Tab, making it look identical in size and shape. "

So they maybe faked the images to make it look more similar?

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Panic on the streets of Birmingham...

I do find it curious that when the underclasses, unemployed, young and uneducated revolt around the world its all 'Springtime' and 'how dare the Leaders cut off their communication (mobile networks etc..)' but when it happens here we use the same words to describe these bands of 'mindless criminals, robbers and looters' as these 'evil governments' and start discussing how to cut the Blackberry network.

Will Gaddafi recognise the new Brixton government? An independent Pimlico?

I suspect its all to do with the same problem: crap governments ruled by lobbyists and big money, who are just not interested helping the lesser folk (unless its to make them riot which is useful to push through even more extreme laws removing freedoms).

But then i am a deeply paranoid person.

Maybe, and this thought came about while trying  to find the Smiths, we should all do what Amazon  want and toolup: look a Smith and Wesson!

It seems only Norway knows how to react to these calamities. We have brought these things on  ourselves through greed (bankers lose the money, into their back pockets presumably), Governments make cut backs that affect the poor the most: the poor riot.