The Fully Transparent, Completely Public Diet. Please Watch.

After all the posts here about tools to use to diet, I’ve decided to take the plunge.  My daughter’s bat mitzvah is in early February, and I like to take some weight off to look good in the family photos.  Unfortunately, I’ve hovered around the same weight for the past few months and need to find something else to help.

The bat mitzvah is roughly 14 weeks away.  So, I’ve decided to lose 13 pounds in the next 13 weeks – to go from 193.2 to 180.2.  I’m going to use all the tools I’ve cited on this blog, and I’m going to make everything public.

  • I am exercising often and, when I run, I’m tweeting and Facebooking my results using the Nike+ GPS app on the iPhone 4.  If you want more info, you can register at NikeOnline and “friend” me there to see my results.

So – a fully transparent diet.  Please watch. (For folks that follow me @STLSpidey, note that I’m using a different Twitter account for this – @AndyMayer13.)

Tell me how you are doing on your program and what works for you through comments or twitter responses.  Offer advice to others who follow me, and I’ll retweet them out.

We’ll see how it goes.  Next stop is 192.2 by next Thursday.

Down 3 Pounds After 2 Weeks: Ahead of Pace, But Disappointing Nonetheless

The scale this morning read 194.4, which is three pounds less than I weighed two weeks ago.  Given my target pace of 1 pound per week, I’m actually ahead.  However, I’m not satisfied with my performance and need to do better.

I Should Have Eaten This - the KFC Grilled Chicken

I’ll chalk up last week as another ramp-up week.  I think I’ve got the exercise where it should be.  I exercised six out of seven days, including an extra long run yesterday afternoon.  Traditionally, when training for a marathon, you have one “long run” a week.  I want to try to keep this up for Sundays going forward.  With my weigh-in on Monday mornings, it will make a big difference.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have made my weigh-in on Monday mornings.  It’s tough to be good over the weekend.  When I lost 20 pounds at the beginning of 2009, my weigh-in day was Thursdays.  Since it’s easier to diet at work, Thursday weigh-ins were an advantage.  However, I’m not going to switch. I’ll take on the challenge.

The week was disappointing, because I made a few poor choices that could have pushed the weight loss lower:

  • I had a taco salad for lunch on Friday, because the salad bar at our company’s cafeteria didn’t look good.  Instead of the taco salad, I could have gotten a chicken breast from the grill or a turkey sandwich without cheese.  I also might have jumped in the car and drove 1 mile to the McDonald’s to get a salad.
  • I had a cheeseburger and nacho cheese Doritos for lunch at home Saturday afternoon.  Obviously, I might have avoided the cheese and the Doritos entirely.  However, up to that point in the day, I had eaten only a bowl of cereal.  I could afford the calories.  In retrospect, I should have poured some Doritos into a bowl and limited myself to that.  Instead, I ate right out of the bag.

    and Not This - KFC Original Recipe Chicken

  • Out for dinner on Saturday night with Mrs. Spidey, I ordered poorly.  I ordered a salad with a lot of cheese and some cheese tortellini.  I certainly could have ordered a salad with no cheese and dressing on the side and a healthier dish such as salmon.
  • At my in-laws Sunday afternoon to celebrate my father-in-laws birthday, I could have eaten grilled chicken instead of fried and should have begged off the cake.

The chicken decision on Sunday was particularly poor.  According to KFC’s own  nutritional information, A KFC original recipe chicken breast has 320 calories and 15 grams of fat.  A KFC grilled chicken breast has 210 calories and 8 grams of fat.  I am much happier eating fried chicken, but I could have made it through grilled chicken and filled up.  That’s just a no-brainer. I knew it, and I still made the wrong decision.

This week is a great example of how individual decisions can go a long way towards diet success.  I wrote about this earlier.

Onward and upward to week three.  Fingers crossed for good decisions.

Our New Las Vegas Vacation Diet

Mrs. Spidey and I are finishing up a four-day vacation in Las Vegas. We’re staying at the new Aria hotel in City Center, and I’ll have more on that in Wednesday’s travel post.

We like Las Vegas. We’ve been here about once each year in the recent past, usually while our kids are off at summer camp.  Over the years, we’ve stayed at ten different hotels on the strip. We like sitting by the pool and relaxing. We like gambling a bit. We like the food, and we like the spas.

While we aren’t newbies and know our way around, I know we are more like the average tourist.  We aren’t high stakes gamblers, preferring slot machines over table games.  We aren’t in for the weekend from Southern California solely to party.  We don’t stay out often much past 1:00am, and, if we do, it’s because I’m in the casino playing lower denomination slots.

And, like most other average tourists, we’re watching both our bottom lines and our waist lines.  I think this year we may have figured out one easy way to do both and enjoy ourselves.

(As a quick side note – if you think you are overweight and want to feel good about yourself, come to Las Vegas.  I think all the stock footage the networks use when talking about obesity was shot here.  If you don’t think Americans, on average, needs to lose some pounds, come to Las Vegas.)

Not eating is not the answer to watching your finances and your calories.  On our trips, we have eaten at some very good and very expensive restaurants. We’ve eaten at Alex at the Wynn and Sinatra’s at the Encore. We’ve also eaten at both Capital Grille and Morton‘s here, and the restaurant up in the Eiffel Tower at Paris. We also ate at the now-closed Commander’s Palace in about 2005, when it was still at the Alladin, which has since morphed to Planet Hollywood.

Our new Las Vegas Vacation Diet has five parts:

  1. Eat a big breakfast at a buffet sometime after 9:30.  Take a few pieces of fruit or cookies with you for snacks later.
  2. Hit the hotel spa/gym in the afternoon for a workout.  (This may be the most critical step.)
  3. Snack on the free apples, oranges and drinks in the spa.
  4. Eat dinner at about 7:oo or so at a buffet.  Again, take a piece of fruit or two for later.
  5. Walk up and down the strip, avoid taxis where possible.  (For example, you can’t really walk to Rio, the Palms, or Hard Rock.)

No, I’m not nuts for including two buffets as part of a diet.  First, I’m not assuming you will lose weight in Las Vegas.  That’s stupid.  Of course you won’t. The challenge is to limit how much you gain.  Second, if you have willpower and stop when you are full, buffets at the better hotels do have good food and good variety.

Thanks to the good people at Harrah’s, there is also a great economical way to make this happen.  They’ve introduced something call the Buffet of Buffets.  For $40 (after joining their Total Rewards frequent player program – which is free), a person can eat at seven different buffets under the Harrah’s umbrella for 24 hours.  This isn’t three meals, this is legitimately unlimited.  You can slip in any time for a dish of ice cream or banana, although be wary of long lines to be seated, as you can’t avoid them.  You do not have to stay at one of their hotels to be eligible.

We went to Paris for brunch on Sunday morning and purchased our 24-hours worth there.  (We did pay $10 more per person to cut the ridiculously large line.)  We strategized to eat breakfast a bit later, so we’d have time on Monday morning to eat breakfast again within the 24 hours.  We later had dinner at Planet Hollywood and breakfast Monday at the Flamingo.  Of course, if you want to have lunch as well, you can.  We were still full from breakfast nearly to dinner time.

You need to factor the spa/gym cost into your equation.  Here at the Aria it’s $30 per day ($80 for three), but that includes the drinks and food noted above, plus sauna, steam room, whirlpools, towels, robes, etc.  We recommend a workout followed by at least 90 minutes of relaxation up in the spa.

That nets to $70 per person per day for food and exercise, not including tips.  We challenge you to eat three meals here for under $70 per day without going to McDonald’s or something else you can find back at home.

We didn’t follow this diet two days in a row because, honestly, we can’t take buffets that many times in a row for dinner.  As noted above, we do like good restaurants.  We also like breakfast buffets, which is why we chose to start our 24 hours in the morning.   However, if you can take buffets at every meal, then, thanks to Harrah’s, you can utilize this New Las Vegas Vacation Diet for your entire stay and watch your bottom line and your waistline.

No More “Skinny Jeans” or “Fat Jeans” For Me

Over the past week, I have been to Nordstrom twice to shop for clothes for myself.  Two visits in a week is well outside my comfort zone for clothes shopping frequency.  I am a “surgical shopper.”  I know what I want, go to the store, find it, and leave.  I’m sure the salespeople at Nordstrom call me “an easy mark.”  Fastest commissions they’ve ever made.

I visited Nordstrom in order to retool my wardrobe during their annual sale.  Timing of the sale was perfect for me.  Two pairs of my dress pants recently wore through in the wallet-pocket on my right rear, and my dress shirts are fading and ripping.  Given that items are roughly 33% off during the sale, and I had an opportunity to shop before the sale officially starts, this was the time to retool.  I had avoided shopping long enough.  I bought a sport coat, three pairs of dress slacks, two pairs of casual slacks, five dress shirts, three casual shirts, two belts, nine undershirts, and some dress socks.  I’m eagerly looking forward to the cathartic exercise of cleaning out my closet to make room.

In the process of buying all these clothes, I decided to remove the shackles of the “skinny jeans” and to end the specter of the “fat jeans.”  No longer would I worry about the waist size or the inseam or the collar size.  Instead, I bought clothes that were comfortable and looked good.  Nothing more.

Size Doesn’t Matter Anymore

As I write this, I’m admitting an ugly secret among many men.  Like many women, we have our “skinny jeans” – the pair we always want to fit into when we can finally lose those last five pounds.  I’m also admitting that we have our “fat jeans,” the jeans that are comfortable but that we never, ever want to wear, because wearing them means we desperately need a diet.  As long as the fat jeans are too big, our weight is o.k.

(My wife informed me this evening that “skinny jeans” are now a specific type of jeans.  Who knew?  I’m pushing forward with this posting anyway.)

The fact that men have skinny jeans and fat jeans probably isn’t that much of a revelation.  Remember the Seinfeld episode where Jerry so vainly transformed his 32″ Levi’s into 31″ Levi’s just to say he wore the same size as in college?

Any person whose weight fluctuates probably has a wardrobe that ranges in size.  But the desire to wear the skinny jeans and avoid the fat jeans often results in stuffing ourselves into clothes that are uncomfortable.  It results in bloated closet shelves with items we can’t and don’t wear.  I know I have been guilty of that.

I made the decision to eliminate my skinny and fat jeans for four reasons:

  1. I just had my annual physical and the blood tests came back with great results.  I may be heavier than I want, but I’m healthy.  I’m proud of being healthy.  It’s o.k. to be the clothes’ size I really am.
  2. Life is too short to worry about fitting into this or fitting into that.  I’m not obese, and I am not in health danger from my weight.  I want to be comfortable for the rest of my life.
  3. Having a closet that only has clothes that fit you and that you wear is something unique and special.  I’ll credit Gretchen Rubin and her Happiness Project for that revelation.
  4. It dawned on me that, no matter what I think, when I’m wearing stuff that is too small or too large, everyone knows.  Who am I fooling?

We’ll see how it goes.  I’m sure, if nothing else, I’ll enjoy the comfort.

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I weighed myself this morning for the first time in two weeks.  I was at 192.6, which is basically steady, despite seemingly eating too much and exercising too little.  It goes to show that, if you eat smartly, you can still eat a lot and maintain your weight.

Losing It with “Lose It”

In last week’s Diet and Exercise Monday post, I wrote about my theory that making good decisions in what amounts to a cumulative 15 minutes per day is the foundation of any diet.  Of course, this assumes that you’ve got the right food nearby to help you make that decision.  Choosing between a Snickers and a Three Musketeers isn’t going to cut it.

This week and next,  I want to introduce you to two tools that I use or have used during diets and explain why they work for me, and you can see if they work for you.  As I diet or try to stay in shape, simplicity and ease of use/understanding is important to me, and I’ve found tools that help me get there.

The first tool is an application for my iPhone called “Lose It.”  It is a free application made by a company called FitNow and has a solid 4-star rating across over 10,000 raters and over 9,000 reviews.  Lose It is a basic application that tracks your weight, exercise, calorie intake all towards a goal weight and goal date.  I won’t repeat the screen shots here, but their Web site has a good representation.

Lose It works for me because of the following features:

  1. Clear indication of your recommended daily calorie intake, based on your current weight, age, goal weight, and length of time you wish to get there.
  2. Easy entry of any weight entry and a graph showing your progress that automatically adjusts its scale as time goes on.
  3. Extensive database of grocery store and restaurant foods.
  4. Easy entry of any food from a nutritional label.
  5. Easy entry of exercise, either from its database or from a custom creation.
  6. Shows how many more calories you can eat per day based on what you’ve eaten and how much you’ve exercised.
  7. Shows the nutritional value each day in summary, including % of calories from fat, carbs and protein, which are important to those that follow the Zone Diet.
  8. It’s free.

Since I first downloaded it, Lose It has expanded to include an online community, where some of your goals and achievements are shared with others.  The web site also provides more data and more reports from what you’ve put in your iPhone.  I don’t use the site, but it does seem like a logical expansion point.

I know this sounds like an advertisement (and I wish they were paying me!).  I’m highlighting Lose It because of its simplicity.  Weight loss and exercise are challenging to begin with.  Weight loss sites and tools can be so complex.  This application isn’t complex.  It’s also mobile, meaning you don’t have to keep a written log to enter later when you don’t have access to an internet-connected computer.

The simpler weight loss and exercise can be, the more likelier it is that we’ll do it.  Lose It helps with the simplicity.

Next Monday, I’ll introduce you to a tool that helps with the psychology of weight loss by creating some interesting incentives.  See you then.

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This week was better than last week.  I hit my target and lost 1 pound.  I’m now 1.6 pounds down after two weeks, 0.4 pounds behind pace.  Perhaps if I hadn’t eated that scrambled eggs, bacon, hash browns and french toast IHOP combo last week, I would have made it.  Boy, did that taste good.

Lose Weight by Dieting for Just 15 Minutes a Day

Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, for just 4 payments of $99.99, you can learn the secrets of the 15 Minutes Per Day Diet.

Or – for the one-time, never-to-be-repeated special offer — it’s free for those who keep reading.

There are probably thousands if not tens of thousands diet plans available on the Internet. I searched Google for the phrase “diet plan” and it returned 4.5 million results. Phew! Some tell you what to eat. Some give you the food to eat. Some tell you when to eat. Other sites simply provide tools to help you track what you eat. In the “sponsored” area for my search were ediets.com, jennycraigathome.com, dietbymail.com, weightlossplans.net, bistromd.com, trimin4.com, sparkpeople.com, and shopperswebmart.net. Trimin4 has the most intriguing headline, suggesting it can help you “lost 18 pounds in four days.” That’s has to be healthy, right? I resisted and didn’t click on the link.

Searching Amazon for the word “diet” in book, yielded nearly 51,000 results and searching “diet books bestsellers” still yielded 165. That’s a lot to make your way through. Me – I need just 15 minutes a day.

Unfortunately, I’ve dieted too much in my life and have lost over 20 pounds on three separate occasions over a span of about 30 years. (That doesn’t include the 20 pounds I lost while an exchange student in Leningrad on the vodka-caviar-potato diet.) With these diets and many more failed attempts, I’ve learned what works for me, and I’m going to share it with you, not for 4 payments of $99.99, but for free.

Before going further, let’s stipulate that the way you lose weight is when you consume less calories than you burn over a long period of time. Let’s further stipulate that exercise, eating regularly, and eating healthy foods are very important. Consuming 1,500 calories a day in ice cream while burning 2,000, just isn’t a good way to go. I really don’t think

So – how do I diet?

I diet to lose 1 pound per week. That’s right – just one pound. Losing one pound a week is easy. There are many tools you can use to determine what calories you need, how many you can eat to lose 1 pound per week, and what calories each food has. But the beauty of 1 pound per week is that there is no pressure and you can cheat quite a bit. Last year, when I lost 20 pounds in 20 weeks, I had pizza and beer on more than once, but I always followed it up the next day with extra exercise and preceded it with some days that I cut back a bit more than normal. On a few occasions, towards the end, I exercised twice the day before weigh-in, but I was able to pull it off. Losing one pound per week is much healthier than having the weight drop off quickly. With one pound per week, your body adjusts along the way.

I lose 1 pound per week by dieting for only 15 minutes per day. Here’s what I mean. 15 minutes is my estimate of the cumulative time each day in which you decide what you are going to eat then or what you will pack to eat later.

I believe that you can get as full on a bacon cheeseburger and fries as you can on a chicken breast sandwich with vegetables. You just have to have the willpower to order the latter and not the former when the waitress comes over. When you stick your head in the pantry for cereal in the morning, do you grab the Lucky Charms or the Special K (both in our pantry right now)? Have the willpower to get a salad at lunch in the cafeteria – just pay and get out there. Once you do that, you’ll eat until you are full.

15 minutes per day is all it takes. Make the right decisions in the 15 minutes you choose what to eat. You won’t eat something you don’t like, but if you make the decision to grab an apple instead of a candy bar, you’re doing well, and that decision only takes about 30 seconds of those 15 minutes. This also creates a mindset that you really aren’t dieting all the time. You are only dieting when the decision what to eat has to be made.

That’s my dieting theory. Really quite simple. Easy weight loss goals achieved through 15 minutes of decisions each day. Good luck.

Next week, I’ll talk about the tool I use to track things.

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In the first week of my diet, I was undone by a) a Cardinals baseball game (bratwurst and beer), b) a charity Trivia night (bring your own crap), and c) an outing for Father’s Day (wings, pizza, chili). I lost 0.4 pounds, although I was down as much as 2.5 earlier in the week. I exercised five times last week, but not once over the weekend. I need to exercise six days per week. That would be better, as would better decisions and better planning for such challenging days in my 15 minutes per day.