Things Change

Shawn is taking off tomorrow, and I have to say, I am the most relaxed and feel the best I have felt, physically and mentally, in, well, years. Just changing my eating to help him and I have so much more energy, and I just feel calmer and more relaxed having a brother around. It’s just been very relaxing, and teaching Shawn how to eat and reading all this literature for the last couple of days has been very informative- even though I don’t eat processed food very much, I had been making some mistakes about what is and what is not healthful. I guess when it really matters, I get motivated to learn about things I take for granted.

Shawn said something revealing- “I kind of just treated food as like putting gas into a car. It was fuel. I never thought about it since I was in shape and felt good.” Since I was only concerned with making things taste good, I never paid attention to all the unnecessary shit I was putting into food. Once he was around and I had to cook with a purpose (I actually do care more about my friends than myself, which is weird, but I am also better at giving advice than following it), I really noticed how many bad things I was doing. After just a few days of lean eating, I feel better and have learned a lot.

Here is the crazy thing- my shoulder, ankles, heel, fingers, and all the other shit I have broken in the past which usually bother me all day every day- they haven’t bothered me since Friday. My knuckles on my fingers look smaller and less swollen, too. I just hope I stick with this, although I have so much more energy I am not even remotely tired right now and gave up trying to sleep. I wake up with shoulder pain every fucking morning, or I did until a few days ago. I feel like everything is just feeling better.

Oh, and to the title of this post, I’m watching the epic USA/Russia game again from this morning. I think I am finally to the point where I think I can safely say my favorite professional sport is no longer the NFL. I get so much more pleasure out of the NHL and college hockey, which I can now get because of cable, and it’s just a better sport and while there are injury issues and still the fighting problem, it’s just got a great tempo and a lot of strategy, more fun to watch, much more like my beloved lacrosse, and it’s just a superior viewing experience, especially because Root Sports does such a good job making you feel like you know the Penguins players. It’s really just a better athletic event all the way around, for the players and the viewers.

And you know how I feel better- it may be partially the food or partially hanging out with a brother, but I feel more motivated to blog in the last few days than I have in a year. I feel good, my Army brother is doing better and will be coming back for another stay, my piglets are ok, and while shit is fucked up and bullshit and the rent is too damned high, otherwise, things are pretty fucking good.


Somewhat related- I honestly can not tell you how funny it is watching one of the toughest guys I have ever known, a guy who spent 12 years as a cav scout in various units, with his last in a light infantry division humping more in one night (let’s not mention the weight of the ruck) than any of you walk in a week and then ten years in force protection (translation, merc) in the world’s biggest shitholes, sitting here on the couch with Rosie loving on him, and he delicately takes his jacket off and uses it to cover her because he thinks she is chilly even though the house is 68 degrees. She just adores him and has spent the last four nights sneaking out of my room to try to sleep with him.

Going to have to check Shawn’s bags tomorrow, because both Steve and Rosie have taken to him like white on rice. Lily is still the top filly in my herd, though.

*** Update ***

I forgot to mention that Shawn has been the sous chef for all our dinners, and he actually has solid knife skills. For the record, I was reading the posts from the last few days and I want to say that Shawn is not stupid, it’s just that cooking is not in his wheelhouse, as in his line of work they generally provide the meals for you. He’s not clueless in the kitchen, he just never had to care. Much like many of you would never would be able to understand FPF or would bother to learn the five paragraphs of an op order. Because he is a visual learner and spent 20+ years in a tell/show/do/repeat until it is instinct teaching environment, what I am doing is when we cook, I set up a mise en place and take a picture, then show him how to do it, and all he needs is his visual and memory (which is honed to perfection after all those years) and the picture, and he can just pick out all the ingredients and replicate it. This is the picture I took earlier for him:


I forgot the garlic, but with that picture sent to his phone, he knows all the ingredients, and he saw me cook it once, and the guy has a memory like an elephant, so all he needs is that picture to get all the ingredients and a reminder to soak the brined artichoke for a couple hours to get rid of all the fucking sodium.

Gonna come up with a couple more cold salads, at least ten, that he can make on a Sunday while doing a meal schedule and eat for the week as a side. Then he will only have to choose his lean meat and vegetable sides. From what I have read, I just basically told him to treat anyone trying to give him pasta, rice, white potatoes, white bread, as an enemy combatant, and told him to stick with seafood and white meats and maybe red meat once a week. BTW- did you know that shrimp was a fucking cholesterol bomb?

59 replies
  1. 1
    gwangung says:

    Hanging with friends IS a healing behavior, dammit!

  2. 2
    xenos says:

    Inflammation. It happens and I, for one, do not understand it well. Getting into the late forties means your body does not work the way it used to and you have to get proactive about figuring out to be healthy for another 50 years. My 48th birthday present was finding out my liver looks like I have been drinking an order of magnitude more than I do. Time for a thorough lifestyle overhaul if I do not want to cut my remaining years by 50% or more.

  3. 3
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @xenos: My 48th birthday present, a year or so ago, was discovering gray hair. I finally have some. It is different for everyone.

  4. 4
    Anne Laurie says:

    You’re a sweetie, Mr. Cole.

    And it sounds like you should definitely look into the local Big Brother program, because there’s a kid out there who needs your attention almost as much as you need someone to nurture…

  5. 5
    Ian says:

    Figure skaters with an attitude problem.

    I might be influenced by my college level hockey playing cousins, who used to make me play goalie without any pads

  6. 6
    freelancer says:


    Delurking after spending a lot of time away, only to say I can see you smiling in this goddamned post, and that’s something that’s been missing for a while, even if it’s understandable. Take care of yourself. Hi, Juicers.

  7. 7
    Betty Cracker says:

    Glad you’re feeling better, JC, and have the brother on a healthier path.

    Things have been monumentally shitty in my neck of the woods. We thought we had my mom stable and were gearing up for her risky, lifesaving surgery early this week. Then she took a turn for the worse Friday night.

    I’m in the deserted hospital cafeteria now, drinking terrible coffee. I just woke up after I slept in my truck for three hours, so I feel more alert and human than I did all day. My sister is watching mom in ICU; we’re all taking shifts staying with mom, who is in a medically induced coma at the moment.

    I’m not ready to lose her. She’s 67, and her mother — my grandmother — is still around, so it doesn’t seem fair or even possible that she might leave us. But it appears I have to wrap my mind around that possibility, which is now more likely than not, they tell me.

    The thing about my mom is, she’s a real character– hilarious, sarcastic, brilliant, takes no shit from anyone. She’s a nurse and an excellent one, but she could have been anything, including a theoretical physicist, if she didn’t have kids to raise on her own, starting with me, her guinea pig child, as she calls me.

    She’s a great mom too: my siblings and I are very different people, and she understands what is special and unique in each of us and nourished that spark. She’s doing the same with her grandkids.

    She just retired a couple of years ago and was finally able to relax after a lifetime of busting ass. And now this. It’s unfair, and it’s bullshit and it makes me angry as hell. But mostly sad.

  8. 8
    cckids says:

    @Betty Cracker: Oh, I’m so sorry. We’ve been dealing with leukemia with my dad for 7 years now, it is long & dragged out, but the same sense of unfairness – he was 64 when diagnosed, seemingly healthy, strong, so much love & presence for his grandkids, then this disease that saps all his strength & will.

    Your mom sounds like a wonderful, fun, exceptional person. Hold on to all the great times you’ve had with her. How great that you & your family are there for her & for each other. Sending good thoughts your way.

  9. 9
    Anne Laurie says:

    @Betty Cracker: It is unfair, and bullshit, and you most certainly have the right to be angry, and sad. Will keep you & your family in my prayers. Hold your mom’s hand, and tell her she’s got a lot of total farking strangers sending best wishes her way…

  10. 10
    MattR says:

    Truly wonderful what you are doing for your friend, John. And nice that you are getting a personal health benefit as well. Now where do I sign up to spend 10 days at the Cole Dietary Rehabilitation center?

    @Betty Cracker: Not much I can think of to say other than to offer my best wishes to you and your entire family.

  11. 11
    sharl says:

    @Betty Cracker: Betty, my thoughts are with you and your Mom. <3

  12. 12
    Chris T. says:

    BTW- did you know that shrimp was a fucking cholesterol bomb?

    I don’t like shrimp and only eat it by accident, so, no. :-)

    The thing about cholesterol is, you need it. Your body makes its own. Dietary cholesterol is not really that big a deal.

    It’s like worrying about being fat so you stop eating fat (e.g., start using skim milk) and instead eat lots of sugar … which your body just turns into fat. You’d be better off just eating the fat.

    (Best evidence so far is that it’s more the mix of cholesterols—there’s HDLs and LDLs and MDLs and VLDLs, and (1) even that’s not a particularly useful set of classifications anyway, and (2) the lab results you get for a regular blood test don’t even distinguish those properly—in your blood, plus things like blood pressure and stressors and inflammation, that lead to problems.)

  13. 13
    Jane2 says:

    @Betty Cracker: it sucks…been where you are, and my thoughts are with you, your mom, and your family who love her.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    Those with gout or uremic acid issues should exercise caution with shrimp and shellfish, too.

    Cutting back on the salt, IMHO, is a strong contributing factor to your lessening of joint/muscle pain.

    And if using a lot of olive oil, do some reading up on brands. There’s a lot of adulterated or inferior stuff being passed off as the good stuff.

  15. 15
    Honus says:

    @NotMax: I think you mean Uric acid. And shrimp (and lobster) have always been very strong triggers for my gout.

  16. 16
    NotMax says:


    You are 100% right, and I appreciate the correction.

  17. 17
    Luci says:

    Awwwww… @Betty Cracker… I am SO sorry. I’ve lost people way too young too, and it just seems SO wrong and sad. It’s so shocking I think, but I will continue to strongly hope for the very best for you, your Mom, and everyone in your family. John… please keep on with what you are doing, please keep posting on what you are doing, and please keep telling us how well you are doing!! I need the encouragement myself, and it’s so helpful to hear what is going on with you. It gives me hope and I am trying myself to shape up my diet, but it’s hard. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration, thanks for the great pet pictures, and thanks for keeping us informed.

  18. 18
    WereBear says:

    It is so true: by helping others, we also help ourselves.

  19. 19
    Elizabelle says:

    John: could you post the ten plus cold salad recipes, once you’ve come up with them? Would love to try them.

    Glad to hear Shawn’s trip was so successful for both of you. Rosie is going to be bummed when he leaves.

  20. 20
    Elizabelle says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Thinking of you and yours and hoping for the best.

  21. 21
    Susanne says:

    Betty, sending good thoughts, hopes, wishes, and prayers (I believe to some extent and, even if they don’t work, they don’t hurt) to you, your family, and especially your mom. Sometimes, the doctors try to help prepare you for the worst, just in case. They sent my friend’s father to hospice three years ago. He’s fine and living on his own now and the whole episode has just become a story of “that time we had that scare with daddy.” I hope that this just becomes a family story of “that time we had that scare with mom.”

  22. 22

    @xenos: Yep, inflammation it is. Check out “Wheat Belly” for some interesting reading.

    John, you so desperately need someone to care for. And I love how it shows up with your beloved piglets and Steve, the fraternity brothers who visit and the friends whom you care for like they were your own children. It’s often so much easier to take care of others than ourselves, isn’t it? For you, it looks like taking care of others is, in some profound way, taking care of you.

    So glad you’re feeling better and Shawn is, too. Win/Win for everyone!

    (Your posts have been making me smile this whole week – the energy is light and happy. Give some thought about why that is, will ya?)

    She who just knows stuff

    PS: @Betty Cracker: Sending all of you love and wishes for healing on every level for your Mom. (HUG)

  23. 23
    HRA says:

    John, the ability to help a friend or relative get healthy energizes a person like almost nothing else. It’s actually hard to describe as well as I would like to do in print. I hope you will submit your recipes for the healthy meals here often.

    Betty, I wish all will go well for your Mom.

  24. 24
    xenos says:

    Best of thoughts, vibes, and prayers for your Mom, Betty.

  25. 25
    xenos says:

    Best of thoughts, vibes, and prayers for your Mom, Betty.

  26. 26
    Nicole says:

    I so agree about the “diabetes diet” being incredible for increasing energy levels. I developed gestational diabetes while I was pregnant and was able to control it through diet. The healthier diet gave me so much energy I was unaware of how sick I was getting from preeclampsia, because I felt great as I was hefting my bloated self around. I had every intention of continuing to eat the same way after childbirth, but I had such a tough time having the wee one that I was on IV nutrition for three days, and it really is emotionally tough not to eat anything, even though you’re not actually hungry. The second I was given the all clear to eat I was all, “Bring me frosted mini wheats! And a coke! And a chai tea from Starbucks!” It makes me really get how addictive sugar is- I felt better, I had more energy, and yet the stress of not eating for three days made me go right back to it.

    John’s post has inspired me. I think I’ll try to give the diabetes diet a go again for my own good. :)

    @Betty Cracker: I’m so sorry, and am thinking of you. You’re right; it’s terribly unfair.

  27. 27
    Gex says:

    Wish all these diabetes diet posts had a tag for easy recall. They are fantastic.

    It is touching to see the effort you will put into caring for others, be it the animals or your army buddies.

  28. 28
    Cheryl from Maryland says:

    So glad you and your friend are feeling better. Here’s some easy salad recipes:

    Cold Chicken for salad:

    In the evening before or in the morning, place a least three unskinned, deboned chicken breasts in a pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, turn off the heat, skim off the skum and place in the refridge until evening. You will have perfectly poached chicken breasts which you can cut up into small pieces. The breasts last for a couple of days once cooked.

    Possible uses:

    Chicken Cherry or Pomegranate salad — Combine chicken, pitted fresh cherries or fresh pomegranate seeds. Add black pepper (seriously). Mix with Canola Mayonnaise. Serve on top of greens (We prefer spring mix, baby romaine or baby spinach).

    Chicken Caesar Salad — Chicken, Romaine Lettuce, shredded assiago cheese, anchovies with capers, Cardini’s Caesar dressing. Not canon, but also cherry tomatoes sliced in two.

    Kim Chee Mexican Chicken — Replace salsa with Kim Chee. Add chicken, avocado, cooked onions and peppers, whatever takes your fancy and you have on hand. When cooking the onions and peppers, you can add the chicken and the Kim Chee if you want a hot dish. Serve over greens or on a flour tortilla (Doctor says those are okay in moderation). Side dish — black beans.

  29. 29
    imonlylurking says:

    “I kind of just treated food as like putting gas into a car. It was fuel. I never thought about it since I was in shape and felt good.”

    Eating Refined carbs is like sugar in your gas tank.

    Good for you, John Cole. I’ve been cleaning up my diet and I have seen the same thing happening. Cooking is a little intimidating when you don’t know where to start. There are probably lots of youtubes on it.

    Oh, and warn your friend to read labels in the grocery store. I was shocked at how many things had added sugar-like plain cans of diced tomatoes, I think I found one brand that didn’t add sugar. And my roommate came home with imitation vanilla the other day, which contains high fructose corn syrup. It really is everywhere.

  30. 30
    Kristine says:

    @Betty Cracker: ::best of wishes for your Mom and for you::

  31. 31
    imonlylurking says:

    Oh, and while we are talking about recipes, I’m looking for the best way to organize mine online. I’m tired of index cards and screen shots pasted into Word. Does anybody have any ideas?

  32. 32
    imonlylurking says:

    P.P.S.-I was out late last night so I’m catching up this morning (yes, I am a Balloon-Juice addict, why do you ask?) and you have definitely gotten your posting mojo back.

  33. 33
    WereBear says:

    @imonlylurking: I do recipes with Evernote, and I installed the web app Clearly on my Chrome Browser.

    I find an interesting recipe, and cut out the clutter with Clearly. It has a button to clip to Evernote, and is able to put it into the correct folder, Recipes, because it analyzes the content or something.

    Both free. Work together like an ice dancing team.

  34. 34

    @imonlylurking: Do it on a free WordPress blogge, posting ingredients, recipe instructions, and pictures. Then you can easily search on keywords to find whatever you want later. Click on my link and you’ll see how I do it.

  35. 35
    Dave says:

    Okay John,
    Quit worrying about cholesterol. Dietary cholesterol has almost no affect on blood cholesterol. As far as the less pain I found the same thing when I cut out grains, starchy vegetables, and sugar. I’ve come to think that those things will kill you. I started eating low carb/high fat/moderate protein to lose some weight and discovered I feel better, have less pain, have more energy, and I am never hungry between meals. I’m thinking this is a life changing thing. I’m losing the excess weight effortlessly (down 45 pounds since 8/20/13) only about 20 more to go so I’m upping carbs and calories a bit to slow the weight loss down. If this interests you at all you might like Dr. Peter Attia’s blog, or Vinnie Tortorich’s podcasts.

  36. 36
    SIA says:

    John, I wish you would do a post per menu with photos and let some of us cooking-challenged take advantage of Shawn’s lessons. I’ve been fascinated by your food posts the past several days and have read each one including every comment.

  37. 37
    Seth says:

    I just feel calmer and more relaxed having a brother around.

    Fuck you.


    Your actual brother.

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Betty Cracker: Oh, Christ, I am sorry. Good thoughts headed your way.

  39. 39
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Betty Cracker: I am so sorry Betty. White light for your whole family from mine.

  40. 40
    Mnemosyne says:


    If you’re an Apple guy, I really like Paprika — it comes in desktop, iPhone and iPad versions and you can save recipes from dozens of websites. (It’s available for Android, but I don’t know if the Android version is as tightly synchronized as the iOS version.)

  41. 41
    WaterGirl says:

    @Seth: I think you should show up at his door with enough stuff so you can stay for 2 weeks.

  42. 42
    Elizabelle says:

    @Cheryl from Maryland:

    Wow, those look good. And interesting way to poach chicken. Many thanks.

  43. 43
    Elizabelle says:


    Proof of Cole family genes.

    Tee hee.

  44. 44
    Seth says:

    @Watergirl (never figured out how to do the actual @ thingy)

    But then I might be expected to actually stay with him. I am not prepared to go to those lengths just to prove a point.

  45. 45
    Annamal says:

    Yay for the piglets getting their proper worship!

    Dude might like the budget bytes site then?

    The author takes pictures at every stage of cooking.

    There are a lot meals which would be unsuitable for diabetics but a lot of others ( like white bean dip or baked tilapia with tomatoes) which would be good.

  46. 46
    SIA says:

    @Seth: LOLOLOL

  47. 47
    WaterGirl says:

    @Seth: I figured you could call his bluff with the suitcase, but you made me laugh with your original brother comment, so either way works for me.

    (Just click on “Reply” in the lower right hand corner of the comment.)

  48. 48
    Luci says:

    This thread has gotten even better since I was gone and returned. I just wanted to say that there are some things that have a very low glycemic index, like black soybeans, that can be substituted for things that will jack your blood sugar higher. Beans are great for you, but they do have carbs. Black soybeans have been used in China for a long time, and they will not spike blood sugar nearly as fast as many other complex carbs do. I use them in soups and other highly spiced dishes, because I don’t think they have a lot of taste on their own, but YMMV. There are other foods too that can be helpful in keeping blood sugar stable. That’s one not a lot of people know about so far as I can tell. If anyone does know more about them, or has good recipes, I hope you will share. I’d appreciate it for sure.

  49. 49
    ellennelle says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    betty, my heart pours out to you and your family, but most of all to your mom.

    she deserves all the time we can throw her way.

  50. 50
    tybee says:

    BTW- did you know that shrimp was a fucking cholesterol bomb?

    i was under the impression that “fact” had been debunked years ago.

    and for me, it’s not the cholesterol, it’s where it was raised and what it has been “preserved” with that makes me nervous.

  51. 51
    Kerry Reid says:

    Keeping good thoughts, Betty. Family illness sucks and there is just no other way to describe it. I’m glad your mom has you in her corner.

  52. 52
    Raleigh Romine says:

    @Betty Cracker: R My thoughts are with you.

  53. 53
    Ivy says:

    I have found that my achy joints respond almost immediately to removing sugar and wheat from my diet. I spent two weeks in Paris recently, ate everything in sight, came home aching, and within a week of cleaning up the food was no longer miserable. My GP thinks it’s an inflammatory response FWIW.

  54. 54
    Jackie says:

    I’m sorry, but my dad – 95 yrs old – just spent the night in the hospital ‘for observation’ because his BP dropped dangerously when he stood up and was diagnosed as dehydrated and low on iron. We were ok with that. Then he was diagnosed with low iron – which is how he’s been diagnosed the past 8+ yrs – so added iron supplements to his diet plus the prune juice to counteract the iron supplements – had to spend extra night to get iron infusion and “will be released tomorrow.” Just pray that he can go home tomorrow. He has 3 cats he’s totally responsible for and worries about, plus, as long as he calls me daily between 8 and 9 a.m. and calls me when he showers and after, he also calls my son every evening plus calls me before and after anything out of the ordinary – he is fine. He no longer drives – he’ll do Dial A Ride for funerals and CCC meetings. He’s expected to go home tomorrow. I can only imagine how I’ll feel at 95 trying to live independently.

  55. 55
    Mary Brown says:

    @Betty Cracker: You and your family and especially your Mom are in our thoughts.

  56. 56
    Mary Brown says:

    Did the quinoa salad get posted anywhere? I would really like that recipe-sounded good. Actually John, all the things you made sounded good – you’ve inspired me. Really.

  57. 57
    Paul in KY says:

    @Betty Cracker: So sorry to read this, Betty. Hoping for best. Just tell her how much you love her.

  58. 58
    Paul in KY says:

    @Seth: You need to break something or get a disease.

  59. 59
    Paul in KY says:

    @Jackie: He’s a stud doing that at his age!

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