Roy Janik (zinereem) wrote,
Roy Janik

the year of restraint

Ordinarily I wouldn't talk about my weight issues on livejournal, but I find myself in a unique position. Not only is there no one I'm dating right now, but there's not even someone I've got a huge crush on. Oh sure, there are some likely candidates, but I'm not currently obsessing over them.

Right, so it should be no great shock to anyone that I'm a little overweight. I'm not as fat as I used to be (in good ole Alabama), thanks to losing 30 pounds a few years ago. It's taken some time, but my weight has finally crept back up again to unacceptable levels.

I think all in all I tend to wear my weight well. I've got a rather large, stocky frame, and extra weight just sort of fills that out. And I've managed to end up in wonderful, loving relationships (TM), even when I weighed more than I do now. But still, for better or for worse, I am constantly conscious of my weight. It severely impairs my ability to communicate and interact naturally with most everyone.

And so, I've decided to do something about it. Having re-read the Hacker's Diet, I've decided to take a no-nonsense approach to losing weight. The basic premise is that if you want to lose weight, you've got to take in less calories than you burn. If your calorie deficit reaches 3500, you've lost a pound.

So, a relatively sane way of losing weight is to shoot for losing 1 pound a week. This means that your calorie deficit should be 500 every day. Using a handy chart, I've determined that my body burns anywhere from 2000 to 2500 calories a day. Having as I do a pretty sedentary lifestyle, I'm going to err on the side of caution and start with the assumption that I burn 2000. So right now I should shoot for 1500 calories a day in order to lose a pound a week.

But where am I starting at, and what's my goal?
Well, a week ago I weighed in at a disturbing 206.5. By the way, I bought a new scale, so that's a reasonably accurate figure.

As for what I *should weigh*, that's a little trickier. Using another chart, I see that a healthy range might be anywhere from 151 to 180, depending on whether I have a medium or large frame (still not sure on that). I think the only way to tell is to lose weight until it feels right. So I'll set my goal low, to 155. Which means that I want to lose about 50 pounds, ultimately. Even 20 pounds, though, will make a world of difference.

So there's a handy weight loss calculator tool for the Palm Pilot, and plugging in the numbers says that at 1 pound a week, it’ll take (surprise) about a year to get 50 pounds off.

Now I'm a bit impatient, and a tad obsessive, so I'd like to have more impressive results than that. So if we double the calorie deficit, we half the time. So that's what I'm doing, initially... That means my daily goal is to consume around 1000 calories, and I should be done losing weight around mid October.

There are a couple of problems with this, that I'm sure you already thought of. One is that if you cut your calories too severely, your metabolism will slow down to compensate, and you won't lose quickly anyhow. There's some controversy on how big of a concern that is, but my personal experience tells me that it's not that big of a factor for me. The last time I lost weight, it was at a rate of something like 3.5 pounds a week, and I was basically consuming as little as possible (Randall's sushi and veggie subs, primarily). Second, there's a theory that if you cut your calories a lot, your body will just burn muscle instead of fat. Again, we'll see, but again my experience says otherwise.

The largest, and probably most valid concern is that if a person changes their eating habits too drastically, they'll never be able to keep the weight off when they're done, since they'll revert to their old habits. This is where the charts come in.

One of the coolest/most useful bits of "The Hacker's Diet" is the use of charts. Basically, your body takes in and expels a great deal of water each day. The amounts fluctuate all the time. The important thing to note is that this water weight variance greatly dwarfs the comparatively miniscule changes in your fat levels. So when you weigh yourself and notice that you've lost 2 pounds since yesterday, it's really effectively meaningless. The only way to get an accurate representation of what your weight is doing is to compute its trend over time.

So the tools (in Excel or for the Palm) do just that. You input your weight every day, and it makes a pretty little graph that shows the trend your weight is following. Your actual weight measurements are plotted above or below the line and act to pull the trend up or down. Like so (click on the image for the explanation). :

Note that this is not my chart, but just an example. So this serves two purposes. First, it's an extremely useful way to monitor how your diet plan is going. As long as the trend is falling, you're losing weight. The really cool thing is that once you've plotted enough data, you can go back and adjust your assumptions. So let's say that I continue to take in 1000 calories a day, but I find that I'm losing weight quicker than 2 pounds a week. This means that my body burns more than 2000 calories a day. Not only that, but I can figure out exactly how much more, and increase my calorie intake accordingly.

And the REALLY cool part is that once my goal weight has been reached, all I have to do is continue to plot out this chart. Except now my goal is to keep the trend line as flat as possible. If my diet starts to change (say for instance, that we start grilling beer brauts all the time), the trend line will begin to creep upward. If it gets too high, I'll know that an adjustment needs to be made.

So beginning on the 17th, I started weighing myself, and taking in 1000 calories a day. Here's my chart as it stands today:

The red line is the trend line, and the purple diamonds are my actual recorded weights. Green lines are drawn to show you at a glance how much they're affecting the trend. The longer the line, the greater the change. Oh, and you see that little bump? That was Easter.

So here's the actual point of this extremely long entry. From now until the foreseeable future, you'll be able to see the progress of my plans by going here:

The stats that appear below the chart on that page will begin to reflect reality as more data is generated. I may not update the page every day, since I can view the charts immediately on the palm pilot. But I'll eventually remember. If it suddenly disappears, that probably means that there's someone I want to hide it from. :)
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