a diet for the ages

(1 comment)
January 9, 2001
Since so many of you have written to ask me what my secret to weight loss is (yeah right... if I had a nickel for every one who reads this page, I could probably buy a stamp or two) I decided to share with you all:

Kirk's No Frills Mad-Cow-Free Diet
Breakfast: Have some OJ before work. Then buy a large Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee with milk and sugar. Yes, Iced Coffee, even though it's dead winter. This is a huge honkin' thing of coffee. Not only is it tasty, but it puts your stomach on edge so you're less hungry and can postpone lunch. Get cream if you're feeling luxurious, skip the sugar if you're feeling masochistic or really don't want to eat for a while.
Lunch: Actually, the trick is to make this a very late lunch, like 1 or 2 or even 3. (More of a "linner". Or "dunch". "Lupper"? I dunno.) Anyway, Au Bon Pain has a good hearty salad. Plus, they have really good English Toffee cookies. Of which you may have one, heck, you're not a monk. Or if you're in the neighborhood, get a Grande Burrito from Boca Grande. Preferably Vegetarian, but my old favorite was the Lemon Chicken. Get some sour cream on that, otherwise it's too dry.
Evening: Not much. If you're hungry for something bulky, have one or two frosted shredded miniwheats dry. If you're craving something sweet, have a medium spoonful of Ben + Jerry's Low-Fat Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt.
General: Drink a lot of water. Between half a gallon and a full gallon. (2 1/2 to 5 of Kirk's Work Water Cup.) This will also give you a bit of exercise if the water bubbler or restroom is far away from your desk.
Exercise: Stairmaster 25-35 minutes on a medium setting every day. Well, not every every day, you don't have to be a fascist about it, but most days.

Simple, huh? Not sure how nutritionally sound it is in the long run. I'm a bit of a nutrition moron. So I don't recommend this for everyone. Maybe not even myself.

Quote of the Moment:

gleasoae@purdue.edu wrote:
>Well, one can technically say that "genetically" 
>we're very similar to chimps.  It depends on what 
>your frame of reference is...

"Genetically" we are nearly identical to fruit flies.  
On the other hand, as a species we write better string quartets.
--rhc@world.std.com in alt.fan.cecil-adams (via alt.humor.best-of-usenet)

the hacker's diet

June 2, 2006
So, at Max's suggestion, I've started following The Hacker's Diet ("How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition").

Its core metaphor is the "Eat Watch", a hypothetical wrist-based gadget that tells you when to start and when to stop eating, an artifact to help people with a poor internal "Eat Watch", much in the same way eyeglasses are an artifact to help people with poor vision.

It's a back to basics program with the following ideas: In some ways, this program resembles my previous homemade routine that was reasonably successful, especially the "daily-weigh-in" bit. And I think I was ok at maintaining for a while, which raises the question, why did that stop? I've drunk the kool-aid that says it needs to be a WOE/WOL (Way of Eating/Life) change, not a diet, but I think the WOL I constructed was kind of dependent on the particulars of my married life.

So I'm thinking that daily recording of weight should be a permanent part of my life. Which isn't so hard, both with the "Eat Clock" Palm application that makes cool little weighted charts, and my proven ability to keep a private diary and log of my media consumed.

Actually, I've been weighing myself semiregularly so I wasn't startled by the numbers I was at, but I kept blowing past my "if I reach weight X, then I'll start getting serious about doing something" triggerpoints 'til now I'm 15 lbs above my previous all-time high. (Hmm, actually in the comments on this kisrael entry, I give a pretty good summary of my weight history...and I guess I'm like 15-20 lbs more than I was at that point, ugh!)

The program recommended calorie counting and exercise before diving into the hardcore diet, but it turns out a strict calorie counting regimen is a huge diet aid by itself (the whole, "damn, if I eat that I have to record it, and maybe even look up or calculate the calories) so I guess I'm on the program. Its gone well for the few days I've been on it, but I haven't had to deal with any social eating, either in restaurants or with Ksenia's family. I'm not sure how to deal with the guesstimation that will entail. I do feel better already, though I guess that must be largely psychosomatic.

A doodle from 5 years ago... I think the joke was no matter how skinny I got, I'd still have the cherub cheeks.
Calorie counting can be very freeing if that's your primary concern, because if you've really got a handle on your intake, it's ok if a certain portion of that intake is absolute crap. At least that's the attitude the program implies. The author even suggests pre-packaged meals as an easier route to calorie counting, if your culinary standards aren't too high, and mine aren't. The Hacker's Diet doesn't totally reject the need for good nutrition, but it does say "we're omnivores, and we're eating too much"

I look at it like this. I'm fighting a war that has three fronts: my weight, my nutrition, my exercise. If I tried to pursue my ideals in all three at once, lose weight, eat terrific and fresh stuff, get into a more strenuous and time-consuming weight training and aerobic exercise program, I'm likely to lose. I'm going to focus on the weight loss and fight a holding action on the other fronts: picking what seem like decently balanced frozen and prepacked meals for my nutrition, following the currently - laughable - but - scalable exercise program of the Hacker's Diet. If and when I make my weight loss goals, or at least have clearly modified my WOL, then I might look into doing better on the other fronts, but in terms of bang for the effort buck, I think weight loss should be my main focus.

Funny of the Moment
The first entry in Lore's new project Bad Gods made me laugh. Funny stuff and its good a return to some of the Slumbering Lungfish multimedia form.

Article of the Moment
Heh, vaguely related to today's ramble: a surprising link among the villains of several large-scale terrorist attacks: they're all a big part of gym/workout culture. Kind of disturbing on a few levels.

gain 23 pounds in 14 months!

June 18, 2006
In a fit of diet geekness and introversion, I went over all the records I could think of, journal entries, Usenet posts, old diet logs, to get as many data points about my weight over the last past decade or so. After failing to figure out how to get a chart in OpenOffice's knockoff of Excel (I hate Excel) I put together some Perl, which was good because I might be making some online tools for shorter term weighted averages, so it was useful experience. What I came up with was this:

The real shocker was how I put on 20 pounds in about a year! I had a reading of 204 from April 6, 2005, and then at the end of this May I was at 227. That's pretty dang quick, and I didn't have an indication that I was stabilizing at some weight up there, so I don't know how high it would have gone. "Recent" low is 179, in late 2001. I'll wait 'til I get around there again and then consult with my doctor and see what my goal weight should be. Might take a while though, easily not until the winter holidays.

Dorky self-cheering of the moment... after looking at these charts, my advice to any investors in Kirk Being So Fat should SELL! SELL!

Culinary Delight of the Moment
Speaking of eating, Daniel Gross wrote
John Snow will have a replacement, and he may very well come from the corporate world. But if it's an A-list Wall Street CEO, I'll buy a copy of Dow 36,000 and eat the first chapter.
and that's exactly what happened. Yum! I like how they prepared it as a salad.

diet: die with a t

July 22, 2012
6 years ago I gathered up all the old personal weight data that I could and made a program to graph it... this is the updated version.

Since my last weight loss in 2010, my weight has been surprising stable (it looks extra jagged here because I have more data points to plug in)

I had kind of forgotten that I had been as low as 180 as recently as 2001. That's both encouraging and discouraging... encouraging that it's not the super-distant-past (though I was younger then), discouraging that it puts my recent loss in perspective, and without a coherent exercise plan it's kind of a dicey proposition.
http://kirkdev.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-alleyoop-ignite-hackathon.html My company Alleyoop's "Hackathon", and the fun search engine me and my team came up with!

W.O.E. is me

August 24, 2012
Wow. This morning my weight was below 200 for the first time in 8 years or so.

It feels like a validation of my lax variant of South Beach, and props to those folks: they really have a feel for what it takes to suppress cravings that sabotage so many good intentions about eating well.

The cornerstone of my new "Way of Eating" (that term being a hangover from my days on Usenet's alt.support.diet meant to encourage thinking in terms of a permanent shift in "W.O.E." rather than a temporary "diet") is my daily lunch of a Wendy's Baja Salad (no tortilla chips, no dressing) and all the sugarfree gum I want -- mostly those weirdly awesome Wrigley's "Dessert Delights". I used to have a sweet tooth that was notorious in the office, but now-- I'm not even tempted. It's weird; it's not willpower, it's not needing willpower.

So in trying to figure out what's really at work here (in part because even though I don't mind the same lunch every day, I don't love that it's (low grade) red meat chili, and I might not always work near a Wendy's) -- I think the most likely suspect is the beans in the chili. Reading about them, they're thought to be a good source of protein, and slow to digest, so they keep blood sugar levels stable and thus less craving-riffic.

So between that slow digesting beans and the tasty gum, the cynical summary of that is this: the main way for me to achieve weight loss that doesn't tap into my finite reserves of willpower is to fool my body into thinking it's CONSTANTLY snacking all afternoon long.

Ah well. Whatever works, right?

January 24, 2014

My weight, over the past 15 years:

I'm nearing the 190 milestone. I did this a year and a half ago, and I admire my optimism from 2006... oh, I'll just lose 40 lbs then, talk to my doctor.

So I'm proud of myself for reigning this in-- and over the past 3 or 4 months (including the holidays) I've lost 10 lbs, which isn't that impressive but the 5:2 fasting that powered it feels like a sustainable plan.. (It's always social eating that gets me; when I'm in hermit mode, my laziness helps me make better decisions.) Still, even though I'm 35 lbs less than my all time high... somehow it doesn't feel all that different. I can't swear that I feel that much better, or look all that different... it feels like more of a numbers game.

September 28, 2014

My weight since 1999:
I made a new diet graph tool and put it online at kirk.is/diet, in part because I was sick of always hunting for the raw data when it was time to update it. I crudely made it a continuous curve - I like the look of it, though of course if read literally it implies my weight sometimes goes back in time. (Generally, time periods I don't have much data for get a little wonky, but I'm ok that graph visually reflects that uncertainty)

(I used to laugh when the marketing guys would use the catchphrase "up, and to the right" for what they wanted to see on their number charts, but now I get it!)
Applaud your neighbor; admire his style
That grates upon you like a sawtooth file.
His trespasses resemble yours in kind;
He too is being crowded from behind.
Don't kill; or if you must, while killing, grieve.
Doubt not; that is, until you can't believe.
Don't covet Mrs. X; or if you do,
Make sure, before you leap, she covets you.
--John Updike, from "V. Conclusion"
Next giant need for Siri: a sophisticated way to correct the speech-to-text mistranscriptions, but also via voice. Getting her to understand the word "rum" is nuts. Rama? Rob? Walmart? such an infuriating almost-there technology.

September 2, 2015

I kind of hate Google's new logo (looks too much like a kid's toy) but I think I prefer the "Capital G of many colors" mini-version...

That's a "closeup" of the last 5 years or so of my weight monitoring. (It avoids the tragedy/triumph of my mid- and late-aughts foray into 220 land, but the data is a lot cleaner) An annual pattern has emerged! Spring and summer, I tend to put on some pounds (this year some of my easiest dieting times happened during the blizzards, living on microwave popcorn and canned soup actually ain't so bad.)

I've been thinking about my inner-eater; the part of me that apparently wants me to bulk up in case there's a famine or something, or just likes to eat tasty things. He's gotten *really* devious: my favorite bit is where I consciously figure out "so, I'm not really hungry, and there's not even anything super tasty temping me, so I'm ok with not eating now" and he comes up with "Aha! Right! So now is a good time to enjoy the pleasure of eating because you don't really need/want it!!!" -- the rest of me totally falls for that sometimes.

Radiolab had a bit about ways we can motivate ourselves; in particular, how to wrestle the immediate-gratification parts of ourselves. The examples given was the socially-consciously lady who quit smoking by vowing that if she had another cigarette she'd donate $5,000 to the KKK, and that disgust caused her to recoil from the cigs. In an even more extreme case Oliver Sacks gave himself ten days to write the book he was stalled on or kill himself. (!!!)

The point of those were that you might need something really visceral to counteract the promise of pleasure in the moment. To quote the "Procrastination" demotivators -- "Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now." Life is so uncertain, that sometimes I think our tendency to overvalue immediate payout is not as irrational as we assume!

But still, I'm convinced I'm more content at a lower weight, ideally around 180. Unlike smoking, folks gotta eat to SOME level, so it's not like I can say, I Don't Eat or I Give $1,000 to the NRA. I'm thinking maybe I can bribe myself? Like if I hit 185 (which is where I'd need to be to stay below 190) I can get that cheap Windows laptop I've been thinking of, or maybe some exhilarating experience like skydiving or bungee.

Come to think of it Liz does dietbets, which is along the same idea of the KKK donation wager -- lose X% of your body weight by a certain time or lose money. I guess I'm blessed with enough financial cushion, or feel that enough factors go into weight loss (especially against a deadline) that I don't want to go that route- it doesn't feel quite visceral enough, I think.

Wow, this got longer than I planned. Guess I'm still an old blogger at heart.
I love logos and mascots

May 24, 2016

Been back on the diet path, starting a few weeks ago, having coming dangerously near the "200" mark that's my self-appointed trigger for action.

So the plan is what tends to work for me: nerdy calorie counting (See: The Hacker's Diet, the book "Chubster"), carefully monitored yet still almost daily small indulgences (Hello, free Good Humor freezer at work! Talk about a "Frenemy"), lots of salads, gum and atomic fireballs. If I have an early enough lunch, I'm ok with just having iced coffee for breakfast, and that gives me another 200-400 calories to play with.

Also, semidaily weigh-ins are crucial for me. I know they aren't for everyone, but I find it much easier to cope with the frustration of the noisy data, spikes and dips and all, than to be rudely awakened when a week hasn't been nearly as close to plan as I had imagined; it's SO much tougher to claw back from that week than it is to buckle down for a day or two.

So it's going well, albeit slowly, one 1900-calorie day at a time. I guess some social event days become inadvertent "cheat days", but I try to be more strict in the daytime when an uncountable meal is coming in the evening. (And a few times I really impressed myself with sticking to a single slice of pizza...)

diet.kirk.is/ is my 16 year graph - Actually I'm proud that I haven't been above 200 since mid-2013; its taken mindfulness to keep me there.

I've been wondering what could keep me in the 180-190 range (or even sub-180, though that might be a pipedream) - I'm starting to wonder if I should be calorie counting every day, like forever, except again on those social days when I don't. I've actually come up with a kind of stupid mantra, "Every Day I'm Dietin'" (sung in the stile of LMFAO's shuffling refrain )

At the moment the "Every Day (Forever)" seems encouraging and empowering, rather than miserable, I suppose in a kind of "eating disorder / sense of control" way, but (I'm trusting) significantly less intense / problematic.
"Yarr.... kids, remember: the sea is a cruel mistress. But Medford is worse, so you'll be fine."
--The Old Sea Captain from the Simpsons...Tufts had Hank Azaria as its 2016 commencement speaker, he ended channelling advice from some of his better known Simpsons voices.

"[The Copernican Principle is] sometimes badly stated. A lot of history and philosophy of science covering the Middle Ages gets the Middle Ages very wrong. For instance, you'll find most astronomy books stating that before Copernicus, people thought the Earth was the center of the universe; then Copernicus showed it was just another planet, as if this was a demotion. And that's completely wrong. In Middle Age cosmology, the Earth wasn't the center; it was the bottom, the worst place. All the other planets were exalted above it. So when Copernicus said it was just another planet, this was in fact a promotion."
--Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Vatican astronomer.

October 7, 2016

First, the good news, that I'm at the lowest weight I've been for around 14 years. (Admittedly only half a pound below my lowpoint in 2014, and then I gained back about a pound a month for a year.)

Then the bad news, courtesy the NY Times: This Is Probably the Least You'll Weigh All Year. Sorry.

Still, with a bit of an exception in 2013, I've been under 200 since 2012. Which is pretty good considering 2005-2010 was above 210. (http://diet.kirk.is/ for the graph)

For 2014 and 2015 I see the cycle the NY Times describes, but 2013 I kept losing weight through the holidays and winter, so there's hope. And I've switched to seeing nerdy but not obsessive calorie counting (the only weight loss program that's worked for me over the past decades) as something I'll have to do even when I'm at a weight I like.

March 6, 2017

New diet mandate, posted her for accountability reasons... "CAW-1". 1 meal a day (usually the catered lunch my job tends to bring in), Coffee, Apples, Water. (And Gum. But "CAWG" looks a little weird.)
Mardi Gras celebration the other week by School of Honk - "We Got That Fire!"

SNAKISMS - lil' playable philosophical jokes, fun to explore til you get the idea.

March 7, 2017

On the second day of my goofy diet "plan", CAW -- one somwhat unrestricted meal (lunch, usually) combined with a more spartan array of apples (and other handfruit, I've decided) and zero or low calorie beverages, and sugarless gum, is meant to limit my body's perception of available tasty snacks. The body is kind of your frenemy when it comes to dieting, right? It really wants to keep you nice and round as a hedge against and presumption of future scarcity. Some bodies respond to a lack of diversity by sulking and making the person miserable, mine seems able to accept it as discipline and doesn't play a lot of games with cravings.

For me, any diet plan not based on my current food availability environment (meaning both a plan for declining the glorious abundance of tasty snacks at work as well as my total laziness in getting or preparing food) is at extreme risk and will likely fail. Conversely, a customized "way of eating" CAN leverage the way I'm not super hungry in the morning (but will otherwise gladly cram my gullet with tasty, carby entries from DD) or, oddly, in the evening, where sometimes just a few bites of something here and there will suffice 'til I go to bed.

Overall CAW-1 is probably not as good as what worked so well last year, a Sweetgreen salad for lunch and rigid calorie counting, and if there was a great salad place near the Galleria (some place that featured premade mixes (so I don't have to decide so much) of known calorie counts (so I don't have to weigh and guestimate and add so much) I might even disregard the catered lunch at work. But I don't think I have that, so CAW-1 feels like the most realistic workable option for now. "Trying to be good" in my new food environment alone has had me gain about eight pounds in three months, and I don't want to consider that acceptable.

October 11, 2017

On "Shower Thoughts" I saw "Trailers would be so much more appreciated if they didn't reveal most of the plot of movies/series..." Also last night Liz and Melissa and I watched "The I.T. Crowd" including the episode where Roy is trying to find a nice big screen to watch a "Tarantino South Korean zombie movie" but frustrated because his would-be watching companion keeps trying to guess or spoil that there will be a twist at the end.

There's probably a spectrum - and possibly a bathtub-shape curve with most people on one side or the other- of how much people care about plots being "spoiled" by trailers or online discussion. I know I'm at the far end of not caring, at all - maybe even liking them.... the slow reveal is absolutely not what I'm watching the movie for.

Being the indefatigable naval gazer I am, I'm trying to figure how and if that fits into other things I know about how I tend to view with the world -

It sort of ties into how I'm a shallow/skimmer. If I think about I realize I don't closely watch most movies, don't have much facility for keeping labyrinthine plots in my head, and when I really lose track, I just let go and enjoy the ride. (This happened a bit during the new Blade Runner.)

Also I probably have a preference for knowing where a story is going rather than being in suspense, because I like paying attention to how they do what they do, and not what they do. Maybe that suggests a new descriptor for that interactionalist and anti-essentialist vibe I've talked about before, where I care about how something is interacting now and now what you think it is: I'm a Why and How person, now a What or Who person.

Or- I'm very much about transparency, and err on the side of too much information (like this post, say!) I don't want to keep something to myself in case it turns out keeping it withheld was a mistake, and I'm solely on the moral hook for acting on that information. And I hate, hate, hate not knowing - almost any bit of not knowing feels potentially more threatening than any known issue. Hell, in some of my breakups, it wasn't the infidelity so much as the secrecy that killed me. So I like knowing things, like spoilers, but I also enjoy seeing how they make their broad strokes happen along the way.

How about you - do you hate spoilers, or don't mind them, or like them? And do you think the reason why someone is on that spectrum is an interesting question?

Latest diet thought (proven effective for at least one day...) -

I should eat so that a casual spy on my life, like someone reviewing a video of my day but no special insight to my intentions and inner-monologue - would know that I was dieting / trying to eat well. Or at least not be surprised to hear about it after!

Appearances are important - even appearances to ourselves.

Religions know this, and a lot of religious education I've seen emphasizes how God Is Watching. The Islamic salat has a part that acknowledges ever-present angels recording every deed.

For people who have their doubts about supernatural witnesses, everpresent or otherwise, maybe we can be our own witness.

In fact there's psychological research that says a displayed image of a pair of watching eyes can lead to better behavior... so this might all represent a kind of self-hack to take us out of the maelstrom of id and let the super-ego hold more sway in a way that is good for our longer term goals.
Dance like there's nobody watching, but diet like there is.