Sayonara Sumitomo Gold Visa Card

I realize it is dumb to feel wistful and nostalgic about a credit card. And I’m sure Sumitomo doesn’t feel the same way about me. But I decided today to cancel my Sumitomo Gold Visa Card.

The reason I feel nostalgic about it is because it’s the first credit card I got in Japan, and I’ve had it for about 30 years!

But… I just got the membership renewal bill, and it’s ¥10,800 yen for the year. So I was thinking, is it worth it?

Since getting that card I have other Japanese credit cards, all with no membership fees. And a few months ago I even got another Sumitomo card – an Amazon MasterCard. If I use that I get points on Amazon Japan, good towards purchases, just like with my U.S. Amazon credit card.

So I called the “Gold Desk” and talked it over with them. They said if I used the card even just one time during the membership year that the member fee goes down by half. However, looking over the records it seems I didn’t use the card even one time all year. In fact, my last payment was a year ago – for last year’s membership fee. Hmm…

So I decided it was a waste and canceled it. The only practical change is that my credit limit with Sumitomo will drop from ¥4,000,000 to ¥800,000 on my remaining Amazon card, because it’s not “Gold,” but that’s more than enough for me.

Still, I feel nostalgic about it because I remember how excited I was about it when I first got it – my first Japanese credit card! And boy, have we been through a lot together over the years…

But financially it’s a waste. So, as per their instructions, I’m cutting it in half and tossing it. Sayonara Sumitomo Gold Visa Card. It’s been an adventure.


5 weeks on John McDougall’s “Starch Solution” – report so far

Well, I finished week 5. This week I lost just a little bit – like 1/2 lb. But since last week’s loss was large I’m ok with that.

After 5 weeks I’ve now lost exactly 6 kg = 13.2 lb.

Also, today was my regular visit to the hospital for blood tests. Some of the results I was very impressed with. Other results less impressed. But I’m not sure how much change I should expect in just 5 weeks.

Also, there was a period “in between” diets and I’m not sure how much the values might have changed during that time frame.

The way the schedule worked was this. I went on Dr. David Ludwig’s “Always Hungry?” low-carb diet starting 2/8/2016. On that date I also had blood tests. I stayed on that diet for exactly 10 weeks and had blood tests at the end, on 4/18/2016. So I know exactly what happened on Ludwig’s diet, and it wasn’t good, including gaining weight and never solving my hunger problems.

Between 4/19/2016 and 5/22/2016 I wasn’t on any particular diet. My weight stayed pretty much the same during this period, but I was definitely not vegan/no-oil and would sometimes overeat and I don’t have any blood test data for those in-between 5 weeks.

On 5/23/2016 – exactly 5 weeks ago – I started Dr. McDougall’s “Starch Solution” diet.

While on the Ludwig low-carb diet I gained weight over 10 weeks and my blood tests were not improved at all. In many ways they got worse.

On Dr. McDougall’s diet I’ve lost a good amount of weight in 5 weeks. The question for me, in addition to that, is what changed and what did not in my blood test results, and how can I interpret the results considering I did not take blood tests at the very start of the diet, like I did with Ludwig’s diet.

I think the answer to that question is I really can’t be sure and I just need to continue on Starch Solution for another 10 weeks and compare the results with today’s results.

In any case, these are the results of the blood values I’m most concerned with:

(1) HbA1c (blood sugar)

2/8 (start of “Always Hungry?”) – 7.9
4/18 (after 10 weeks on “Always Hungry?”) – 8.0
6/27 (after 5 weeks on “Starch Solution”) – 7.9

Given the provisos mentioned above, all I can say is that neither diet seems to have affected my blood sugar for good or bad so far. Lowering carbs did not lower my blood sugar at all. If anything it went up just a tad. And dramatically increasing high glycemic carbs did not increase my blood sugar at all – they went down just a tad. But nothing really statistically significant overall.

I think, from past experience, my HbA1c will come down as I lose more weight. I’ve just lost 13 lb so far. I think after another 10 weeks I should see better results.

(2) Total cholesterol and LDL (bad cholesterol)

These results were dramatic. I was pretty surprised by this because I thought, according to recent research, that the cholesterol you eat doesn’t really directly affect blood cholesterol. Well, that wasn’t true in my case at all as you can see from these numbers:

2/8 (start of “Always Hungry?”) – Total cholesterol 175, LDL 95
4/18 (after 10 weeks on “Always Hungry?”) – Total 177, LDL 101
6/27 (after 5 weeks on “Starch Solution”) – Total 130, LDL 67

Wow. That’s a dramatic drop in total and bad cholesterol in a short amount of time by giving up animal products. So I’m pleased about that.

(3) Triglycerides (TG)

This particularly surprised, and disappointed me because there was no improvement, at least not yet, on Starch Solution. The normal range for this is 30-150 mg/dl.

2/8 (start of “Always Hungry?”) – 113, normal range
4/18 (after 10 weeks on “Always Hungry?”) – 159, way up
6/27 (after 5 weeks on “Starch Solution”) – 164, still a bit up

But, like I said, there were those “5 weeks between diets” so for all I know maybe my triglycerides actually went up even more during that time and have come down over the last 5 weeks. I just don’t know for sure.

Everything else is normal. My blood pressure remains good. Actually great. It was like 105 / 62 with a pulse rate of 66 today!

As for what I’m eating, I’m keeping it simple. Lots of baked potatoes, moistened with a bit of soy milk. Lots of salads topped with garbanzo beans or red kidney beans. Lots of brown rice. Some sweet potatoes. Some frozen veggies (corn, peas, carrot mix or a lower starch broccoli, cauliflower and green bean mix), sometimes some soba, sometimes some udon, sometimes some edamame. My total calorie input has gone down quite a lot compared to “Always Hungry?” because unlike that diet, on “Starch Solution” I really am usually not hungry between meals.

And I’ve increased my exercise a bit so I am cycling along the nearby river most days.

Anyway, I see lots of reasons to continue on Starch Solution and see what happens over the next 10 weeks, and no reasons to modify anything yet. I’m still psychologically “in diet mode” and happy about that.

Dream job!

From today’s New York Times:

“The Times’s cosmic affairs correspondent doesn’t know what happens at a black hole’s center, but he did answer other questions submitted by hundreds of readers.”

Wouldn’t you love to be a “cosmic affairs correspondent”?