The Fully Transparent Diet – Down 7lbs. After Seven Weeks

Last Thursday, I made my weight by the skin of my teeth.  I weighed 186.2, down exactly 7 pounds after seven weeks.  Still on pace.

Thumbs Up for Week Seven

I knew I was going to have problems, and I worked my tail off (almost literally) in the days before Wednesday night.  Wednesday night, I took my team out to Maggiano’s for a holiday dinner.  If you’ve been to Maggiano’s, you know what the food is.  You also know that the best deal at Maggiano’s is the all-you-can eat family style meal.  In short, with the family style, you pay a flat amount per person, select some appetizers, salads, entrees and desserts and then eat as much as  you want of each.  Wednesday morning, I weighed 185.2.  Great shape, right?  Well, Thursday morning I was a pound heavier.  Thank goodness for hard work in advance.

The diet, in general is going well.  I’m exercising a lot, and ran 5 miles in 46 minutes on the treadmill yesterday.  Tonight (Monday), I ran 4.4 miles in 44 minutes, but that includes a four-minute cool-down period.  I use the Nike+GPS application on my iPhone when running.  It measures pretty well, even indoors.  What I like, however, are the congratulations you get at the end from people like Lance Armstrong and Tracy Morgan.  Tonight, Tracy told me that I had run more miles this week than last and that he “was proud of me.”  That’s kind of neat.

I continue to believe that losing a pound per week is a perfect pace.  You can enjoy evenings out, not worry at parties, and still lose the weight.  I’m confident that I will hit the weight again this week.

The Fully Transparent Diet – Down 6.7lbs. After Six Weeks

Very good week this week.  I weighed at 186.5 pounds this week, beating my goal of 187.2 by .7 pounds.  I’m doing well.

Thumbs Up for Week Six

This also means that I lost 1.1 pounds this week.  That’s exactly what I want to do, and I’m in good shape, just 0.3 pounds away from my goal of 186.2 pounds this week.

Looking back on the week, it was somewhat uneventful.  No big meals out of the office.  No bat mitzvahs or bar mitzvahs over the weekend.

This week will be a bit more challenging.  I’m taking my team at work out to Maggiano’s for the holidays.   You know, the chain that serves Italian food family-style?  I’ll need to make sure my exercise is in order all week and need to be as careful as I can while out.

No photos this week.  I kept forgetting to take it.  But all is well.  Goal of 180.2 by end of January is well in sight.

The Fully Transparent Diet – Down 5.6lbs. After Five Weeks

This past Thursday, I weighed in at 187.6 pounds.  The bad news is that 187.6 pounds means that I gained 0.1 pounds in week five.  The good news is that I did it despite the fact that the week included Thanksgiving, two Hanukkah parties complete with homemade latkes, and a trip to an NHL game to see the Capitals play the Blues. It’s a bit of a moral victory to only gain 0.1 pounds. I worked hard on days where I could to achieve that.  In fact, on Wednesday morning, I weighed in at 186.5, my low water mark, but then promptly went to the Caps game that night and had chicken fingers and french fries.

Thumbs Up for Week Five

There continues to be very good news on the exercise front.  As promised, I varied the exercise and went over to our local JCC to swim last Tuesday.  As I should have known, the muscles used for swimming must be dramatically different than those used for running.  After 10 minutes of swimming at a slow pace, I was dog-tired. I was swimming so slow, that I thought I was going to drown, but I was still tired!  I haven’t gotten back out there yet, but I plan to on Tuesday.  I’m excited.

The running couldn’t be going better.  Today I ran for 40 minutes.  I ran the first 20 at a 6mph pace, the next 15 at 6.5mph and the final 5 at 7mph.  To make it even better, I wasn’t really gasping for breath at the end.

So, on to this week.  I need to be at 187.2 by Thursday morning, and I’m convinced I can get there.  I have three days of work, with no lunches out of the office, and we have nothing in the evenings.  If I get in three days of exercise, including swimming on Tuesday, and do well in the evenings, I will be fine.

We’ll see.  As always, if you wish to follow my progress, you can do so on Twitter @andymayer13.  You can view photo progress of my weight loss by clicking on the link above.

The Fully Transparent Diet – Down 5.7Lbs. After Four Weeks

Week four was a good week on the Fully Transparent Diet.  I weighed in yesterday (pre-Thanksgiving feast) at 187.5 pounds.  That’s down 1.5 pounds for the week and 5.7 pounds in four weeks.  I am just 7.3 pounds away from my goal with nine weeks left.

Thumbs Up for Week Four

There is nothing major to report this week.  When I don’t travel for work and don’t have a lot of work lunches, dieting is relatively straightforward.  I tend to eat the same things every day:

  • Honey Nut Cheerios or Special K w/ Berries for breakfast.
  • A Zone Bar mid morning
  • A Lean Cuisine or Smart Ones lunch with a 100 calories package of Nabisco cookies
  • An apple mid-afternoon.
  • For dinner and beyond, I try to stay below the 1,000 calories or more that I have left, next of exercise.

I’m definitely in the zone when it comes to exercise.  I’m making time and planning around the exercise, rather than skipping it.  Sometimes this means getting on the treadmill at 9pm, but I’m getting it done.  I’m running  4 miles at a 10 minutes/mile clip each time on the treadmill.  I plan to push it a bit through this weekend to maybe faster or steeper or longer.  If all goes well, and I can get out of bed at 5am, I plan to go swimming on Tuesday and Thursday this week.  Switching up exercise from time to time is reportedly important to keep the weight loss going.

I did remember to take pictures (click on “my weight loss progress” link in the masthead above), but I can’t yet really see a difference.  Clothes are a bit looser, but I shouldn’t expect much after only 5.7 pounds.

Have a great week.

The Fully Transparent Diet – Down 4.2Lbs. After Three Weeks

Thumbs Up for Week Three

I am really excited by the progress thus far on my diet.  I was at 189 pounds this past Thursday, three weeks after I started.  That’s 4.2 pounds in three weeks, nicely ahead of my one-pound-per-week pace.  As I write this two days later, I’m still at 189, heading into five calm days with no travel, no business dinner, no large family celebrations.  I’m targeting to be at 188 by Thanksgiving morning.

Last week was a relatively easy week for the diet.  I was in town the entire time, and the work life balance was relatively serene.  I exercised six out of seven days, although I am finding it challenging getting up early to run, as opposed to running in the evening.  We’ll see how that holds up.  I am up to 3.5 miles per run at a 10 minutes/mile pace.  I want to do one more week at this pace, and then start swimming instead of running at least two days a week.  I have read that changing up exercises is important to jump-start a diet.

I’m finding two challenges thus far.  First, my willpower isn’t exactly where I want it to be.  I’m good when I’m able to eat by myself, but not so good when I’m with others.  For example, I ate a catered lunch at work on Thursday, and the places were set with a cherry pie at each seat.  I hadn’t touched it until other did.  I said “what the heck” and ate it.  My justification was that it was the first day of the next week, and I’d have time to lose the weight. 

The second challenge is recording calories when eating out.  At this same lunch on Thursday, the main course was a pork tenderloin, stuffed with apples, dates, and sage.  I have no idea how large the piece was or what the ingredients were beyond what I just wrote, which was on the little stand next to the chafing dish.  All I can do is estimate, just as I did with the “saddle of elk” I ate in Chicago a few weeks back.

The key obviously is to eat in moderation, eat well when you can, and exercise.  That much I’m doing.

I will continue to tweet out my weight every morning and my food every few days.  So far so good.  Follow me on Twitter at @andymayer13.

(No photos this week.  Simply forgot to take them.)

The Fully Transparent Diet – Down 2.7Lbs. After Two Weeks

After two weeks, I continue ahead of my one-pound per week pace, but it was not without challenges.

From Sunday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon I was at a conference in Chicago, where the food and alcohol were flowing.  If you have ever been to a conference of this type, you know that food is everywhere, and it’s not generally low cal.  This conference was not large and did not offer dinner.  That meant that evening were spent will colleagues at restaurants – at good restaurants.

Thumbs Up for Week Two

On Monday night, we went to N9NE, a Chicago steakhouse.  The food was great, and willpower was non-existent.  I had a seafood ceviche with avocado, one of those wedge salads with bacon chunks and ranch dressing, and some scallops on top of a very cheesy risotto.  The night ended with a fruit/custard tart.  I should also mention that I had two vodka martinis with olives.

On Tuesday night, we went to The Gage, which had everything from chicken noodle soup to rabbit to cheeseburgers to foie gras on the menu.  I had some fried escargot and an elk steak.  It was tasty, but when the vodka is added in, not overwhelmingly healthy.

I did do well at breakfast and ok at lunch.  I also exercised each morning I was there.  Nervous about my weight, I actually exercised twice on Wednesday – once at 6:00am at the hotel and once at 9:45pm back at home.  I am not going to fall behind pace!!

I took my Withings scale with me to Chicago, although I didn’t connect it to the network.  This was a very smart move.  It gave me weight guidance each day and, on Wednesday, reminded me to exercise.  Security guards at Lambert and Midway didn’t know what to make of a scale going through security, but they passed it through.

I actually fell to 190 on Friday, only to move back up to 190.7 this morning after a charity event last night.  I’m getting back on the treadmill this afternoon, heading towards my goal weight this week of 190.2 on Thursday.

Don’t forget – you can follow my weight and daily food logs on Twitter @AndyMayer13.  You can view my weight chart here, and you can view week-by-week photos by clicking on the link in the menu bar above.

The Fully Transparent Diet – Down 2.3Lbs After One Week

So far, so good.  Thumbs up for week one.

Thumbs Up for Week One

Last Thursday, I weighed 193.2 pounds.  This morning I weighed 190.9 pounds.  That’s 2.3 pounds in the first week.

I’ve done everything I said I would in last week’s post.  I’ve been auto-tweeting my weight every morning on my Withings scale.  I’ve been tweeting out what I eat each day and tracking my food via LoseIt!.  I exercised six out of seven days.  I signed up for my commitment at Stickk.com.  I have posted pictures on this blog (via the menu bar above).

The only thing different this week, is that I have less clothes in the photos.  (That’s less clothes, not no clothes.)  If I’m going to be “fully transparent,” I might as well take my clothes off like the folks on Biggest Loser.  I hope, when I lose the weight, that these photos will sho the difference.

The key for me is getting into the “zone.”  I need to get to where I want to exercise and to where I’m able to decline food.  Over the weekend, as some of you read on Twitter, I took my 15-year-old son and two friends to Five Guys and only had a Diet Coke.  I didn’t have a single french fry.  I had a great feeling leaving the restaurant.  Being able to avoid that temptation is fantastic.

In fact, as I sit here now, there are three partially eaten Domino’s pizzas on my kitchen table.  No worries from my end.  Easy to resist.  I’m going to exercise in a bit anyway.

Next week’s goal is 191.2.  Technically I’m ahead, but no need to get cocky.  I’ve got a business trip to Chicago from Sunday through Wednesday.  Fingers crossed.

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My weight chart

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Back Down to 192.6. It’s Time to Begin Cooking

My weight has held steady over the past few weeks, which is good and bad.  It’s good, because I haven’t gained.  It’s bad, because I would like to see it decline.

My exercise has been very good.  I ran over 4 miles yesterday and am gradually increasing my speed.  I also downloaded the new Nike+ GPS application for my iPhone.  If you have an iPhone 4 and are a runner, I suggest you pay the $1.99 to get it.  The app measures speed and distance without the sensor you needed before.  With the exception of heart rate, it functions very similar to a Garmin “watch” I bought a few years back for $299.

As I’ve written before, my dieting challenges occur on the weekends and on weekday evenings.  I’m good from breakfast up to dinner on work days.  Perhaps the solution lies in preparing more food in advance?

As Mrs. Spidey can tell you, I’ve started watching a lot of cooking shows on TV:  Top Chef, Top Chef Just Desserts, The Next Iron Chef, Master Chef, and Hell’s Kitchen, just to name a few.  I know I can’t come close to these guys, but I’ve wondered whether I can cook beyond punching numbers on a microwave.

I trudged out to Border’s today and looked at cookbooks.  It was overwhelming.  (I smartly ate lunch just before going!)  I looked at Gordon Ramsey and at Rachel Ray and others.  While they made the processes simple, none of them listed out serving sizes or calories.  I ended up buying two cookbooks, including one from the American Heart Association, which listed out the serving sizes and nutritional values for each recipe.

So, I told Mrs. Spidey I was going to cook tonight.  And, as soon as I finish this post, I’m off to the kitchen.  I’m making Tex-Mex Mac ‘n’ Cheese, which is on page 113 of the American Heart Association’s book “Healthy Family Meals.”  I know it’s not gourmet, but I have to start somewhere.  (The other book I bought is the Cooking Light Complete Cookbook, although I didn’t get the one with the DVD.)

I will post next week to give an update as to how my cooking is going and whether my family is surviving.

Ian Ayres Hits Home with “Carrots and Sticks”

Back in July, I posted about the website Stickk.com.  Stickk.com uses the concept of commitment bonds to help people achieve goals.  Commitment bonds are an agreement to pay a fine if we don’t achieve a goal, such as weight loss or exercise or even walking the dog.  Commitment bonds rely on the premise of “loss aversion:”  people fill the sting of losses more than the elation of an identical gain.

I used Stickk.com in early 2009 to lose one pound a week for twenty weeks.  I agreed on Stickk.com to pay $75 to charity, if I didn’t stay on my pace of one pound per week.  Thus, for the 20 weeks timeframe, I put $1,500 at risk.  In the end, I achieved my weight loss goal and paid out only $75 over the course of the week.

After I lost the weight, I had an opportunity to talk with Ian Ayres, a professor at Yale Law School, and one of the founders of Stickk.com.  Now, 14 months later, my weight loss experience with Stickk.com is described in his new book Carrots and Sticks. The book is an expansion of his theories around commitments and how people make them and achieve them.

I’m proud to be an example of how commitment bonds can work.  But, as Ian describes in the book, making the commitment bond itself wasn’t enough for me.  I took the commitment one step further, and I told my parents, sisters, in-laws and co-workers about the commitment.  I invited all of them to register at Stickk.com and watch my weight loss.  Telling them was a lot harder than putting the $1,500 at risk.  Ian talks about this social aspect a bit in the book (see page 183), but I can’t underscore it enough.  Getting fined and getting embarrassed socially for missing a commitment is a powerful one-two combo.

My commitment actually took one step more than Ian documents in the book.  About three weeks into the diet, I presented on loss aversion and other aspects of behavioral economics at a meeting of my company’s top 120 executives.  During the Q&A session after the presentation, a colleague publicly “outed” me and my commitment in front of all these folks as an example.  In retrospect, I couldn’t have asked for a better incentive.

Ian writes in the book about how I was likely to gain back half the weight after a year, due to my unwillingness to enter into a “maintenance contract,” in which I would commit to keep my weight within a band or have to pay out a sum to charity.  After struggling to get through those last few pounds, I just had no energy to enter into a maintenance contract.  I remember telling Ian that I needed a few weeks off, that I was just too tired.  Ian accurately describes our conversation in the book.

Unfortunately, the good professor is correct on pages 105 and 106 of his book that I should have entered into that maintenance contract.  The 20th pound came off in May, 2009.  Now, in October, 2010, I have indeed gained back half the weight, exactly what Ian predicted.  And, you know what? I’m struggling to get the weight back off without making a commitment bond.

If I had a do-over, I would have entered into the maintenance contract.  I’ve gone from the shining example of how commitment bonds can be helpful to the example of how not using them can hurt.  Bummer.

I think that adding a commitment bond to weight loss goals is likely the answer for people who already have the social embarrassment, but still aren’t achieving their goals.  Many people use on-line communities, blogs, or support groups to help them.  I’ve written how Brian Stelter posts his eating diary and weight on Twitter with regularity and, just last week, about a scale that will tweet your weight every day.  Is publicity of your success or failure really enough incentive?  I’ve actually been posting about my diet once a week for nine weeks.  I wanted to lose one pound per week, but after nine weeks, I’m down only 4.4 pounds.

I’m glad that Stickk.com is a success, and I urge others to use it.  I wish Ian best wishes with his book.  It’s an honor to be cited in the book, for better and for worse.

With our daughter’s bat mitzvah coming up in early February, there could be another commitment bond on Stickk.com in my future.  I’m sure Ian would recommend it.

Week Seven – 191.4 lbs., Down 6 lbs. Is Momentum Building?

After the gain in week six, I wasn’t sure what to expect in week seven.  I’ve dropped 0.2 pounds below my previous low from week five.  Some of this loss may be because my weigh-in weight from last week was an anomaly.  Not sure.  Sometime the specific day matters.

This past week, I traveled again.  This time I went to a 2 1/2 day conference in Orlando, leaving Monday night and returning Thursday afternoon.  I also went through the Yom Kippur holiday, which includes a large dinner Friday and then a fast until a large dinner Saturday night.

Conferences and business trip in general are interesting for diets.  It seems that I have less control over what I eat, but that may be an excuse.  I can’t control what the conference sponsor puts out on the breakfast buffet and serves for lunch, nor can I really control where we go for dinner each night.  I can, however, control what I order and whether I exercise.  In addition, there is rarely an opening on trips to snack during the day or later at night.  It’s hard to tell how that balances out.  This week it balanced out pretty good.

The important thing for me is not to be lulled into a sense of over confidence.  I’m sure the Yom Kippur fast helped the weight loss.  Time to focus.