Bestselling author Joe Konrath goes on a beer fast for thirty days to lose weight.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Day 13 and 14 - Part 1

It's day 14, and I woke up at 3am in pain. Been up since, and I'm considering going to the ER.

But first here's some backstory.

On the morning of the 13th I got a deep tissue massage. It was my first massage ever, and parts of it hurt like hell, but afterward I felt great.

Then I went to a beer tasting event at a local liquor store, tried some great brews, and interviewed some cool people.

The rest of the day was uneventful. Did some writing. Answered some email. Went to bed at 11pm.

My kidney woke me in. My right one.

Over a decade ago, I awoke in the middle of a dream, thinking that someone had stabbed me in the back. But waking up didn't make the pain go away. I knew about kidney stones because my father had them, and he described it as the worst pain ever.

Dad was right. I've had a root canal. I broke my leg. I've gotten kicked in the junk. But my kidney stone took the gold medal in the pain Olympics.

Because I knew what it was, I knew there was really nothing I could do about it. Doctors don't give you a magic pill to make kidney stones go away. I had to pass it on my own.

These were also my salad days, and we were poor. I didn't have medical insurance, and a $2500 trip to the ER would have hurt us badly.

So I toughed it out.

After four hours, I began vomiting. Not because I was sick to my stomach, but because it hurt so much.

After eight hours, I was curled up in a fetal position on the bathroom floor, weeping.

After nine hours I finally went to the ER... and was stuck in the waiting room for two more hours.

When the doctor finally saw me and hooked me up with morphine, I had a CT and my kidney stone was confirmed. I was also told I had several others in the same kidney.

So when I woke up this morning, I recognized the pain. Right now it's about a 4 out of 10 (my previous stone was 11 out of 10.)  I've been drinking glass after glass of water, but the pain isn't going away. It's strong enough that I can't get back to sleep. My pee looks like weak brewed iced tea.

Earlier this week, my blood work revealed high uric acid levels in my blood. That troubled me, because some kidney stones are made of uric acid.

Kidney stones suck. And I now have health insurance. But for the moment the pain is manageable. No fever, no chills, no vomiting.

Now, contrary to what many may think, I'm not a complete idiot. No diet is worth having another kidney stone.

But so far the pain isn't nearly as bad as the pain from years ago. And this could be just a coincidence that I'm having kidney pain now. After all, I was told there were more stones in there. So this diet may have nothing to do with it.

That seems to be stretch credulity, though.

I've been putting up with the pain for five hours. My wife wants to take me to the hospital. But if I go, that's pretty much the end of the Beer Diet. I promised her that she can end the diet any time if she thinks I'm hurting myself.

That said, I've lost 18 pounds so far, and I'm a man who finishes what he starts. I really want to do the whole 30 days.

I'll blog later today when I figure out what I'm going to do.


  1. I’ve had kidney stones, too; worse, far worse, than childbirth.

    Take some ibuprofen if you can handle it.

    God bless (and I’m not even religious).

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  3. Ugh, sorry to hear this. Does the hospital serve beer jello?

    There's no shame in reversing course when one is headed in the wrong direction. Get to the hospital... When it's over, eat some protein and book a Hawaii vacation with those December earnings.

  4. I'm sorry to hear this. If in doubt... Go to the hospital.


  5. Joe, honey, from a friend: LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE. SHE TALKS SENSE.

    TK Kenyon

  6. Just read this latest entry. I am sorry to hear this. I admire your tenacity and your determination to see this thing through. But like a previous comment stated, "There's no shame in reversing course when one is headed in the wrong direction." Whatever you decide to do, I wish you the best ... and a speedy recovery from your pain.

  7. Better go to the ER. It might or might not be a stone causing the pain. The tea color is obviously cause for concern. Better to be safe, Joe. Go see the doc.

  8. Don't they blast those wee buggers with ultrasonic sound waves these days?
    Whatever you decide to do, kudos for taking it this far. I think we all know at this point that you would've gone the full 9 yards if it were not for this.
    Dog be with you!

  9. Go. To. The. ER. You might have an easily treatable stone -- and yes, they can blast some of them. Or it might be a jagged one that will require surgery. But you aren't going to find that out while curled up in a fetal position at home.

    Besides, there's a good chance you're gonna need morphine. Because there is nothing that hurts worse than a stone.

    Hard to say if this is related to the beer diet, since you already had the predisposition to stones. But the high uric acid is troubling -- I can't remember if it showed up in your blood test before you started this diet.

  10. Sorry to read about this and I hope you feel better quickly.

    In general, beer can actually help prevent kidney stones in a lot of people. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem you're one of those people, because on the contrary if you're susceptible to uric acid stones, beer (due to purines) can help bring them on.

    Best of luck, Joe.

  11. Joe, I hope you're not reading this anytime soon because you're at the ER! Better to be safe.

    My husband is a massage therapist who does deep tissue. I asked him if your stone could have been made active by the massage. His answer was "I suppose anything is possible, but it would not be very likely." And the stone's movement could be coincidental to your beer diet, but maybe not.

    Whatever. Let your wife take you the hospital. You can also have them check you for that Venezualan Swearing Flu while you're there.

  12. Pain is generally a signal to pay attention to something in your body. I have had high uric acid levels and it is genetic in my case. That said, injuries or extreme changes can exacerbate an underlying problem.

    I guess the only way to be sure is to check it out. What about calling your monitoring DC? Get his opinion. My guess is you will be off to the ER.

    The other thing to take heart in is this: The whole project is to document what happens during the 30 Day Beer Diet. I say roll with it and just document what happens. If you go to the ER show it. If you have to stop, keep the footage rolling. If things take a turn for the worst... have your wife carry on.

    CLOSING SCENE: [Camera pulls back to reveal a black clad Maria on a wind swept meadow looking at the setting sun]

    MARIA [Raising a bottle of Westvleteren 12 to the sky - eyes glistening] Here's to you Joe, here's to you.



  13. Joe,
    I'm not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. But I used to work with a guy who'd had 14 kidney stones. Yes, 14. Finally, someone told him to begin drinking lemon juice, as it would help prevent kidney stones. A side benefit is that it detoxifies the liver, especially if you have some on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. So, lemon juice is juice, not food, so it won't be cheating if you add it to your diet.

    As for the ER, that's your call. Maybe they can use ultrasound on it, maybe not. Maybe you'll have to stop the diet, maybe not. But I hopefully don't need to tell you that if you want to lose your beer gut, this beer diet is not the way to go about it. You're losing weight because of a calorie deficit you've created through calorie restriction (not eating) and calorie expenditure (exercise). Jenny Craig does the same thing. P90X does as well. And there are a million options in between the two. As a bodybuilder and former certified personal trainer, I advocate resistance training a minimum of 4 days a week, followed each day by 30 minutes of light to medium cardio, and plenty of healthy, small to medium meals throughout the day (about 6). Think of your body/metabolism like a little campfire, you want to just keep adding kindling, adding kindling, smallish meals all throughout the day. Do 8-12 weeks of muscle-building, eating plenty of rice and oatmeal and sweet potatoes and spaghetti for ENERGY. You MUST have energy to EXERCISE. Then, do 8-12 weeks of fat cutting, removing some of the carbs from your diet and continuing to exercise regularly. Bodybuilders routinely lose upwards of 30 pounds when they want to shed weight for a contest. And no it's not because of steroids; it's because of hard work, dedication, and discipline. You wrote 9 novels in 10 years. How much beer did you drink in those 10 years? How much exercise did you do? We don't get fat overnight; don't expect to get un-fat overnight (or in 30 days). Fitness and weight management is about daily choices and lifestyle, not about 10 years of partying followed by 30 days of extreme dieting.

  14. Okay, Joe, you have my attention. Please come back and tell us how you are.

    It would be really sad if this ends in something tragic... and some part of me is wishing that this blog is all fiction; a publicity scheme you dreamed up to keep the books selling. THAT would be brilliant, and better for your body.

    But you're such a forthright guy that I'm sure you're really doing it.

    Mr. Rocky Cole, above, will feel terrible and have to delete his comment if something seriously bad happens to you. And I'll feel bad because I mentioned you and your beer diet in a whimsical way in a guest post that will show up on David Gaughran's "Let's Get Digital" blog on Monday. So don't screw up, Joe!

    Plus, we want to read your future books, and I KNOW you want to sell them to us.

    One question I keep wondering about... Aren't you drunk all the time? Beer and nothing else?? My husband and I shared a "Chimay," a Belgian beer from the Trappist Monks, last night. We both got a buzz from that huge d*mn beer... f*ck, I think I've got that Venezuelan Swearing Flu!

    Patrice Fitzgerald

  15. Thirty years or so ago, when I was little I remember a doctor telling my grandfather to drink beer to pass stones. So yes, the beer drinking and stones suddenly "moving" may be connected.

    I do hope you feel better and listen to your wife. It's medically proven females have an instinct better than males.

    Hope to hear from you soon!