Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Worst 10 things to eat

Viruz has a post on the 10 worst things to eat. I've copied the list here to add WW points where I can. These are American items, so I've given both US and UK points.

1 Pepperidge Farm Original Flaky Crust Roasted Chicken Pot Pie (1,000 calories and 18 grams of sat fat). UK=19 points, US=21.5
2 McDonald’s Chicken Selects Premium Breast Strips (1,550 mg of sodium)
3 The Cheesecake Factory’s 6 Carb Cheesecake (29 grams of saturated fat, 1½ days’ supply.)
4 Dove Ice Cream (300 calories and 8 to 13 grams of saturated fat, half cup). That's less than 100mls, and up to 7.5points.
5 Mrs. Fields Milk Chocolate & Walnuts cookie (300 calories and as much saturated fat as a 12-ounce sirloin steak)
6 Starbucks Venti (20 oz.) Caffè Mocha (Think of it as a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in a cup.)
7 Burger King Quad Stacker (4 hamburger patties, 4 slices of cheese, 8 strips of bacon)
8 Campbell’s Chunky, Select, and red-and-white-label condensed soups (Half a can averages more than half of a person’s daily quota of salt)
9 Chipotle Chicken Burrito (1,180 calories and 19 grams of saturated fat) (UK=21.5, US=25).
10 Mint Chip Dazzler (1,270 calories and 38 grams of saturated fat) (UK=27.5 points, US=28.5).

Ouch. That last one, washed down with a couple of beers is an entire days points for me, and I'm on a pretty large allowance of 33 points. But it all tastes sooooo nice to so many people.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Food on the Interweb-thingy

There's lots of fantastic food sites out there. Most of them, though, have one of two failings. They’re either very US centric (great if you live in the US, but most of them don’t even pay lip service to the fact that you might measure ingredients by weight, not volume) or aiming at one of the “extremes” of eating. There’s plenty of places for gourmet food, plenty of places for super-healthy food, but nowhere that discusses everyday food - the stuff you can eat and enjoy with minimal effort and is sensibly healthy. Or have I just given away the niche in the market I’ve discovered?

Anyone want to come and help me write a new website on eating sensibly in the UK?

On daily weighing

One of the common bits of advice to people losing weight that I see over and over again is to only weigh once a week. And I'm starting to see why. This is looking to be the third week in a row that I've put on weight on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings (so, from what I've eaten the day before).

Should I

a) give up the diet because I'm obviously destined to stay fat and ugly if I put on weight on the weekend
b) stop enjoying weekends because they're slowing my weight loss and I'd be happier if I was losing weight faster or
c) try to tame the weekends a little just to make sure the losses continue.

Let me see.....

Monday, January 29, 2007

What to eat to make you sleep

Yahoo! Food has a post on what to eat to help you sleep. Now, not sleeping isn't something I suffer from, but it's worth posting a mention here.

Most of these are no more than a few points as well, so can be a worth bearing in mind as a snack if you have a few points left at the end of the day.


The scales went up a little this morning; I guess Saturday's excesses caught up with me, and that any drop yesterday was down to dehydration this morning. Back on the wagon today.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

These seven words sum up everything you need to know about healthy eating. They're the tag line in this New York Times article by Michael Pollan that takes an in-depth look at food and nutrition.

There's some hidden depth to those words - after all, the article runs to several thousand words. Mine will be rather shorter, but one of the points he makes is that there are so many contradictory studies out there on what does and doesn't cause cancer in rats, that it's almost impossible to apply that advice to everyday eating.

In a nutshell, though, I can dissect that advice into something I mostly agree with. Eat food. Not vitamin supplements, or omega-3 tables, or whatever the fad du jour is. Not processed stuff. Not artifical flavourings and chemicals.

Not too much. Yeah, right. There's a few odd-ball results out there that suggest that eating an extremely restricted diet will lead to a longer life. But overeating is definitely bad for you - and more importantly, if you follow the advice and eat healthy food, eating too much becomes rather difficult.

Mostly plants. When I first read this, my first reaction was to object: "but I like meat". Yet when I look at my diet so far today, it has been mostly plants. In fact, with the exception of an ounce of ham in a lunch time sandwich, it's been plants all the way, and dinner looks to be fairly low in meat content too. Yesterday was similar - 200g of meat all day.

So, all in all, it seems like good advice to me.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Lifehacker on diets

One of my favourite websites, has an excellent diet post from Kyle Pott with some "unconventional" tips.

I'm not sure how unconventional they really are, though.

First off, Kyle recommends getting a digital scales. Makes sense to me: more accurate than a mechanical one, and ours has a feature where the weight stays on display for a few seconds after you step off. Perfect if you're tall, short sighted and bleary eyed in the morning!

He also recommend daily weighing, which most diet plans don't. You need a very positive attitude for this to work, but I'm in favour of it as well. In fact, his only tip that I don't already follow to some extent is to drink lots of water and exercise.

I hate exercise. I always have. I don't get this endorphin thing, I just get out of breath. I don't mind a walk if the weather is nice, I don't mind snorkeling since I don't have to work too hard. I can't think of anything more boring than pushing some machine around for an hour!

And as far as the water is concerned, I think the important thing is to drink lots of liquid. It doesn't have to be pure water. I drink mostly coffee, fizzy flavoured water, and beer. None of these will cause you to lose more liquid (from their dieuretic effects) than they provide, so I'm not out to change those habits.

I seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment. Staying under 40 points (thats 2800 calories or so) seems to be the way to go for me. 18st 11¼ this morning. Certainly hitting 18st 7 before the end of Feb is looking easy at this point, even with a week in the States coming up. And that allows me to put on a few lbs on holiday!

Friday, January 26, 2007

End of month report

Back at the end of December, I decided that rather than trying to Do A Proper Diet, I was going to try and make some habit changes.So, it's almost the end of January - how's it going so far?

Change No 1: Reduce sugar in coffee by ½. Instant coffee is fine with the reduced sugar. I'm still getting used to proper filter coffee with less sugar in it, but its getting to me more acceptable. In some ways I'm finding it's taking longer to adjust to the taste than I expected, but it's also not proving too difficult. Score: 10/10

Change No 2: Limit alcohol intake. With the exception of the last week, this is working pretty well. Again, I haven't tried to cut things out completely, so I'm not feeling I'm missing things. I'm usually grabbing some fizzy water to drink instead in the evenings, since it's zero points, and coffee isn't really a help. The last week has been a bit of a challenge - very stressful long days at work, so I've bent the rules a little, but still kept points totals down to an acceptable level. Score: 7/10.

Change No 3: Healthier snacks. Sell your shared in Cadburys, ladies and gentlemen. I haven't bought a bar of chcolate all year. I finished up the Christmas goodies, and have been eating WW toffee bars, special K bars, and Jordans' cereal bars instead. Score: 10/10

Change No 4: Limit pub lunches and takeaways. I think the guys at work are also trying to be good, since there's less of a "oh, let's go down the pub" mentality, which is helping. With one exception I've had stuff with rice instead of chips. I also made the discovery that I can have two King Prawn Chown Meins for the same points as a tuna baguette! Score: 10/10.

I've been pretty generous with the scores, because I've been keeping track of my intake using the WW points system. This is easy for me since my wife has been doing the diet for a while, and both of us can look at a plate of food -- especially the stuff we eat a lot -- and tell you pretty much how many points are in it.

The official WW diet says I should have been on 33 points a day. You're not supposed to go more than 4 points under that on a given day, or to go too much over. I've been tracking the AVERAGE points over a week: 44½, 43, 39½, 40. More than WW says.

So the real question, then, is "is this working?" Am I losing weight?


I started out saying I'd be happy if that was enought that I lost 1lb a week. In fact, I've lost 8lbs so far. And a little bit of maths suggests that as long as I stay below 46points a week, I should keep losing weight. Not cutting right down to the minimum points has meant that I'm not encouraging my body to slow it's metabolism right down.

There are a few rocks ahead in the road: a week in the US on business next month, and a holiday at the end of the month. But as long as I steer away from too many sticky desserts and watch the alcohol a little, I don't forsee too much of a setback.

One of the things that a I see a lot of people struggling with on the WW message boards is that they've been good all week, but have still put on a pound - or haven't been good and still lost 2lbs. Well, I've been weighing every day, and I've put a graph together of the results.

The blue line is my actual weight each morning. Almost the same time, after a cup of coffee, and any (ahem) natural needs have been taken care of. Look at the variation, though. The big drop early in Jan that recovered the next day was a hangover: I awoke feeling very dehydrated and thirsty, and felt much better after a couple of pints of liquid. The spike at the end was a couple of higher point days (40, 51 and 40) over the weekend. But I can't explain most of the ups and downs - just variation in water intake, probably.

Weighing every day is WW heresy. You have to be very careful about not attaching too much importance to any one day. That's where the purple line comes in. It's a logarithmic average of the last 10 days weight. You don't need to understand the maths degree, drop me a line and I'll send a spreadsheet that'll work it out. And this is the line I've been looking at. When it's started to level out, I've tried a bit harder to find low point options for the next few days. When it's been dropping steadily I've been quietly congratulating myself and keeping at it. At NO TIME have I used this as an excuse to go on an eating binge. The two options are "carry on" or "try harder".

Another important difference between my approach and "Pure WW" is shown up by the reactions when I dropped below 19st. My wife asked "aren't you excited?" No, I wasn't. Now that I've seen a few consecutive days below 19st, I'm more excited about it, and I fully expect to sneak back over 19st before the middle of next week.

As I said, February will be more of a challenge. Let's see if I can continue to be this optimistic with a few challenges ahead.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hello UK LadyLuck

UKLadyLuck, another regular on the WW Message boards has a useful website, which also has some more information on the Wendie Plan.

Today has been the first day I've been actually feeling hungry for any length of time. I've had a couple of very low days, so I'm letting up a bit today and not letting it get to me. Tomorrow is the official weekly weigh-in day, so it might not look as good on the weekly figures, but hey, I don't really care. It's all going down hill, in the best possible way.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

My pal in New York....

Viruz in NY is complaining about the media diet plans. I agree. This plan is crap. Too much time, too much effort. I posted a comment there that's the basis for this blog entry.

I think the secret to success at losing weight is to think about your lifestyle. Then think about the fattening bits. Yesterday, for me, was a good example.

I had a coffee in bed (thank you, dear wife). 1 sugar, no milk. Half the sugar I used to have.

Physio appointment, still in work by 9:45 am. Hungry but decided to wait until I got to work instead of scoffing empty calories of chocolate on the way.

Get to work. Bowl of cereal, 2 mugs of coffee. Sorted until 1pm. Saved another 2 points on the sugar.

Hmmm... What's for lunch. It's cold out there... Chinese takeaway anyone? ... mmm.....

Chicken curry and chips? No, too bad. I know, chow mein is good. Seafood is healthy and tasty. "I'll have a prawn chow mein please".

Work until 9pm. OK, a couple of cereal bars for sustenance, but I avoid the vending machine.

On the way home, I stop for another takeaway. Chicken kebab - grilled chicken, salad, pitta. Tasty, delicious. Low calories.

Even with a couple of beers, I ended up eating the least calories I've eaten during a day all year.

Why? Simple. Try to place yourself where you have good choices, and pick the best you can.

That's it.

I'm using the (UK) Weight Watchers system to track my eating, but I'm not strictly following The WW Plan.

So, yesterday I ate 27 points. If I'd taken the same amount of time, with bad choices. Hmmm... lets see.....

Breakfast: danish pastry - extra 4 points
Snacks: 2 bars of chocolate instead of WW snacks. +8 points.
Lunch: chicken curry and fries. Extra 10 points.
Dinner. Lamb instead of chicken. Add friess. Extra 7 points.
Drinks: 2 sugars per mug instead of 1. +5 points.

That's an extra 35 points. 2450 calories. Just from making the right choices. I more than halved my calorie intake by stopping to think for a few seconds.

That's all it takes. You can always trade a few second thinking, time to cook instead of eat out, or time to exercise instead of watch TV. Don't obsess about targets. Just stop for a second, and think about how you can be in the right place to make a good choice, and how you can make a good choice from the available ones.

I've lost 8lbs in 3 weeks doing nothing more.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Great WW quotes

From the Weight Watcher's Message Boards:

"Forget love, I'd rather fall in chocolate. " -- Candy-Girl

"Typical Libra...always on the scales. " -- 50Plus

If you've got any more, please leave a comment below....

Today was one of the most challenging days I've had. I was in work at 8 am this morning, and still there at 8pm. Having had a fairly early lunch to fit in around other commitments, by the time I got home I felt like I could have eaten a horse, and had the saddle with custard for pudding. This was after having to stop myself from walking to the vending machine. Twice.

I've had my dinner, and didn't feel the need to defrost a bread roll to go with it. I feel sated now. And even a couple of beers will bring me to 37 points, which seems to be sufficiently few for me to lose weight so far.

Final update: just the one beer, and a cup of coffee. 34.5. Excuse me while I polish my halo.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Curvy Girls Do It Better

Or so says WeightWatchers Community member Kelinda on her new website.

Couldn't resist a third beer this evening, but points totals are reasonable, so that's OK.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Cheese of Death, and KFC

I've mentioned Alan Lights WW Tips before, but this is another one that's worth mentioing:

"Cheese has lots of points and in my opinion, is basically just a flavoring. So go ahead and have that turkey or roast beef sandwich, but hold the cheese."

He does have a point. It's probably nicer to have a turkey and cheese sandwich, but the turkey alone will be filling enough. Add some chutney if you want some flavour.

Viewed in strict WW terms, yesterday was a really bad day. But thinking strictly in terms of changing habits, it was within the rules. The team went for KFC for lunch. Admittedly, it was the second takeaway that week, but the prawn chow mein earlier in the week was one of the lowest pointed lunches I've had. So I think I'm still within my rule of trying to have a better lunch, excepting one day a week when I Don't Care.

The scales show a small gain this morning - next weekend is close to the end of the month. Certainly if I were to cut right down to my 33 points I'd lose weight pretty quickly. But I want this to be sustainable, and I don't want the weight to come back on if I let up a bit at the end. So I'm sticking with my good habits for now, and will continue to do so as long as they're working. If I keep losing 4lbs a month, it's working. I'll easily lose the 40 I want to lose by the end of the year, and I'm ahead of that so far.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Friday Weigh In

I didn't post a weigh-in result last week, but since I've only got three comments on here so far I don't think anyone will complain.... More comments, please. Let me know someone is reading this!

Last week was 19st 4, 1 ½lbs lost. All in the right direction; if I can lose a steady 1lb a week I'll hit my goal within a year.

Today's was very encouraging: 19st, 0¾. SWMBO got a good result last night as well, so we're both happy today.

I'd have been happy to get below 19st before going on holiday. If this keeps up I'll have some leeway to aim to be below 19st when I get back. Whay-hay!

Mental note: do not go home and get pissed to celebrate. That's kind of counter-productive!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Weight Wachters: Points Targets and UK vs US numbers

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Weight Watchers plan, a short explanation is, perhaps, in order.

The diet is based around a system of points scores for food, ranging from zero for all the veggies you can eat (with a few exceptions), to 20 points for 200g bar of chocolate. Your daily allowance is calculated from a quiz that takes into account height, weight, activity level, and whether or not you're trying to lose weight or just maintain your current weight.

The points values themselves are calculated from a formula which is protected by patents in the US, UK and many other countries. However, the actual formula is published in those patents, so there's nothing to stop you finding it out for yourself if you want to work the numbers out yourself. I'm not publishing them here, Google is your friend. Basically, the more calories, and the more saturated fat, the higher the points.

WW have modified the system slightly over the years, and tailored it for different countries. US points are higher for the same item of food, and are also lowered for food high in fibre. Because of the way the formula works, you can't convert one to 'tother without knowing either the calorie or fat content of the food.

SWMBO is on a might stricter rein than I am at around 22 points a day. I'm on 33 (though would be on 36 if I used the "old rules" to calculate my allowance). Those numbers drop by 1 when I get below 19 stone. I'm going over that most days at the moment. But I've said before, this is about habit changes, not following the WW diet asbolutely, and the points are just a convenient way to track the effectiveness of those changes in reducing calorie intake.

A pre-2007 day would have typically been between 50 and 60 points, possibly higher, and I'm hoping the habit changes will keep me below 40. That's the maintenance level for me, so it should work.

A final note for any non-UK readers. Most Brits think of their weight in stones and lbs, or kilos if they're younger. A stone is 14 lbs, so 19 stone 7 is (19*14)+7=273. A kilo is 2.2lbs, so the same wieght is 273/2.2 = 124.1 kilos.

Of course, the big question for me is how are these changes working out? Well, I'm not finding it too hard. I've generally been able to make consistently healthier choices than I would have done before Christmas, and I'm pretty good at stopping and thinking "which one should I have?" (instead of "which one do I want?") . The danger with trying to change habits is that it's easy to start with when it's all in the front of your mind, but as it becomes less conscious, it's easier to fall back to the old routine. As to the results, all I'm saying for now is that they're encouraging. There's be a more detailed post at the end of the month.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hello Minnie Mynx

Minnie Mynx is a regular on the Weight Watchers message boards, and her website has some useful lists of WW points values once you get past the ads. Added to my links list!

I made a rather startling discovery today - we were going out for lunch when someone suggested the Chinese takeaway. Uh oh! I had a vestigial memory of chow mein being a pretty good option, so ordered a king prawn chow mein. 5½ points!

5½ points! I can have two of those for the same points as a tuna mayo baguette. This is the first time I've come home from work having consumed less than about 20 points since I started.

I've said before that (as long as it works) I'm more into changing habits than really trying to "do Weight Watchers", and this kind of reinforces that (at least with relatively large numbers of points to play with) that you can find good choices pretty much anywhere with some thought and research. Though possibly not in the chippy!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Dilbert's Pointy-Haired Boss

Dilbert's pointy-haired boss is on a diet, and he's not doing well. Check out the archives.

I'm doing rather better than the PHB. I made some good choices today:
  • No butter on my baked potato. Ideally it would have been a non-mayo filling, but the limited choices are basically chilli (which I've eaten about 3 times a week so far), beans (boring unless with cheese), or things stuck together with mayo. 2 points for a tablespoon isn't bad, but it does make a difference between an 8 point lunch and a 10 point lunch.
  • Raided the tuck box in my desk for a cereal bar instead of a bar of chocolate.
  • Raided the office fruit basket for a banana instead of another bar of chocolate. No, that's not "I still wanted a bar of chocolate", that's "I'd have eaten two if I hadn't been trying. The only chocolate I've eaten so far this year has been the leftovers from Christmas. If you have shares in Cadbury's: sell!
I guess I'll finish the day on about 35 points. It's scary how much the points add up in a day; a total of 3½ on coffee (half what I used to have, but not feasible on 22 points a day!), 4 on fruit, and 10 on lunch.

I think the biggest difference I'm noticing is that I'm actually ready for breakfast in the mornings. When I started this I'd eventually grab a cereal bar around 10am and call that breakfast. Now I'm first at the cereal bowls in the morning!

Friday, January 12, 2007


Yesterday was almost as bad as the pre-diet day when I counted the points. 51 points. And it showed on the scales this morning, too: I'd put on a pound and a quarter. And while you can't really take day-to-day variations into account, it seems to be following prety accurately.

40 points or 2800 cals = losing weight
50 points or 3500 cals = gaining weight

If you think in calories, a point is roughly worth 70 calories. It's a bit more complicated than that, because 70 calories of saturated fat is more points than 70 calories of starch, but you get the idea.

It makes an interesting comparison with the figures from this calorie calculator, which says I need 2666 calories for maintenance and 2160 to lose weight.

The only reason that I think the day-to-day numbers are working is that I tend to drink a fairly constant quantity of liquid, and I'm careful about weighing at the same time, and in the same state (after the toilet, before the shower) every day. The one day I definitely felt dehydrated when I woke up showed as a big (downwards) spike in the chart.

The calculator also suggest a variable calorie intake to "trick" your metabolism into working at a higher rate. Taking the weighting of fat into account, these are close enough.

The variable intake plan is known to Weight Watchers forum regulars as the "Wendie Plan" - more on that in a later post.

Today was rather better, under 40 points again. Official Weekly Weigh-in, 19st 4lbs, 3lbs lost to date. The trend graph shows a rather better result, since my weight seems to vary by a couple of pounds from day to day, and the days either side were over a pound lower.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Instilling new habits.

Successful wieght loss is really about changing habits, and it's amazing how easy it is to "fall off the wagon" when you're first doing this. As soon as something happens to disrupt your routine, and you stop concentrating on the goal, you suddenly realise it's been a bit of a rollercoaster:
  • Good: Someone's birthday and there were doughnuts in the office. Even though there were loads left over after lunch, I refrained from taking a second (or third!).
  • Bad: Stopped for dinner en-route to visit family. I really should have ordered the 8oz steak - and a baked potato for bonus goodness. No, I went for the 12oz, with fries and onion rings.
  • Good: on the way home, we stopped at Nandos. I had a chicken pitta (all white meat, no skin, a bit of mayo is the worst bit) and spicy rice.
  • Bad: I couldn't resist the chocolate cake on offer in the office today - another birthday being celebrated.
We got home Tuesday night, and I forgot to weigh myself Wednesday morning. Wednesday was actually a spectacularly good day: if I'd not had some chocolate I would have been vastly under; as it was I finished on about 30 points for the day ("official" target should be 33).

Today has been more of a challenge - as a team we like to do a pub lunch once in a while, and there wasn't anything really good on the menu (it was either tasty or low in points, but not both). The tuna melt and fries wasn't as bad as it could have been, but it was probably still 14 points or so on it's own. And then I couldn't resist the cake, either, which is what will really scupper my score today.

Assuming today hasn't done too much damage, I'm well on my way to losing the first half a stone (7lbs) - 19st. 2¾lbs this morning.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Why the hacker diet works.....

I wrote earlier about the Hacker's Diet, and I'm beginning to understand why it's effective. I'm not following the full plan, but I am using the notion of weighing daily and using the trend, rather than the actual weight, to monitor your progress.

Today I'd put on a pound, but the trendline is still going down because of the catching up from previous days, so that's OK.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

WW Tips

Over on his website, Alan Light has some good Weight Watchers Tips. I'm going to plagiarise a few of them here, at least to add my own thoughts and comments on them.

Don’t cheat: You don’t need to cheat. Track your points carefully, and if you find something that you really must eat; then eat it and fully count its points.

This is really fundamental. You're only cheating yourself. Initially, when I started out I was tempted to skip a few things that I shouldn't really have eaten in the first place. But if I hadn't included them, how would I know if my "experimental approach" is working, and what to try and cut out next. So I included the 6½ points of chocolate I ate yesterday.

Don’t eat anything until you find out the point count: That “fat free muffin” that you see at the bakery probably has twice the points that you think it does. Do your research before eating it.

This one is kind of easier said than done. Unless you carry a points calculator with you, or a book of points values, it can be hard. Sometimes all you can do is to make the best choice from what's available. This is particularly true if you don't want to advertise you're dieting (us guys can be a bit shy about things like that).

Don’t waste points on non-filling items: Things like orange juice; non-diet soda, etc. use up a lot of points, but don’t really fill you up or satisfy your hunger very much. I also recommend that you not use points strictly for “flavor” (i.e. sauces, full-fat dressings, etc.) Save your points for items that will be filling and satisfying.

This one is also true in some respects. If you use a quarter or more of your points on stuff that's fun but high in points, it's going to be very difficult to eat properly on what you have left. On the other hand, using some points to flavour food and make it more interesting is a good thing. A point's worth of basil oil over some vegetables makes them a one point pile of tasty veg instead of a zero point pile of not-so-tasty veg. And that was a worthwhile point; I enjoyed eating it.

If you absolutely, really must have some chocolate, then you really need to make one meal very low in points. Two great ideas for doing this: first of all is Zero Point Veggie Soup: you can eat as much as you like for no points at all. We pretty much have some in the freezer all the time. The second is a sauce I concocted the other night to make vegetables more interesting. A tin of chopped tomatoes, a touch of chili powder, and some mixed herbs. Let it all simmer while the veggies are cooking, and pour over them on the plate. You can vary the herbs based on the rest of the meal, or use it instead of a gravy to make a meat dish more interesting.

Today ended up on 41 points, but the weight trend is in the right direction.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Good on ya!

SWMBO participates in Weight Watcher's message boards, and occasionally reports interesting anecdotes from dieters there. A superb post yesterday, entitled "Is is rude to point?" is worth repeating here.

Standing in the superstore, our heroine is reading labels and figuring out the points scores in something she's considering buying. An extremely large lady blunders up the aisle, bumps into her, and says "I don't know why you bother with that crap, it doesn't work".

Our heroine replies, "I bother with this crap because I don't want to end up looking like you!"

Drum roll and round of applause, please. That kind of random rudeness deserves a good put-down.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Friday Weigh In

As part of this "experiment", I'm comparing the scores from the Hacker Diet with those from a weekly weigh-in, to see which is the most useful feedback.

So, today's score was 19st. 5½ lbs, or 1lb lost this week.

The Hacker diet trend is downwards, which is all I care about; the rate of decline is irrelevant as long as it looks like a downhill slope and not an up-hill one.

Having got off to a flying start, the points score for the day wasn't good - around 55 points after the boss bought pizza for lunch. At this stage, for me it's more about changing bad habits than immediately trying to lose weight. I'll decide based on the weight loss through January if it's sufficient, or if I actually need to make more progress. I did stick to my other changes, and I made a point of only taking two slices of pizza to start with so that I'd have time to digest them a little and start feeling full before going back for me. The end result was that I ate about 3/4 of a pizza, instead of a whole one like I would have done. And that, for me, counts as a victory.

The Hacker's Diet

I've been looking over John Walker's Hacker's Diet in the last few days. What's interesting about this isn't the diet, but the approach to measuring weight.

The stuff on the website is a little mathematical - but don't let that put you off.

Traditional advice is to weigh yourself once a week, at the same time on the same day. But for many people, this doesn't give enough feedback. But your weight can vary hugely during a day as the amount of water and food (in all it's stages!) in your body varies, and weekday/weekend changes in routine have an effect too.

So John's approach it to create a table:


The important thing is that the trend figure will match your real weight movement over time.

So how do you calculate it?

On day 1, it's the same as your weight figure. On each subsequent day:

  1. Difference = Today's Weight - Yesterday's Trend
  2. Divide the Difference by 10, and round to one decimal place.
  3. Add this to the trend.

So, for my example above, the difference between the 1st and 2nd is -2, divide by 10 is 0.2, and add to the trend above is 272.8. (273 + (-0.2) = 273 - 0.2 = 272.8). Do it on the calculator if you need to.

I've been weighing myself daily for the last few days, and it will be interesting to see how much the weekly figures (1lb down, 39 to go) compare with the trend average. Let's see.

Since getting weighed, the rest of the day went downhill. How many points in a slice of pizza, anyone?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Weight Watchers Magazine and BMI

There's an article in the Weightwatchers magazine this week, yet again trying to make out that you can simplify "is this person healthy" into a single number - BMI.

I really don't think it's that simple. At least this article acknowledges that BMI may be wrong for very muscular men - or conversely for very sedentary people. But I think it runs deeper than that. People have vastly different shapes and sizes: I can't believe the numbers cover that much of a range.

Today's about 40 points again. Weigh-in tomorrow. I'm not expecting there to be much change in the first week, so let's see.

200 calories?

Wisegeek has a post on what 200 calories looks like in various different foods.

I've had two un-pointable days due to travelling to a family funeral. 2 days of not watching food intake is irrelevant in the face of that, but I'm back on target today - in fact, I'm way under my points today, so I think the last bit of my Christmas chocolate might be in order.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Blood Pressure and Weight Loss

This study shows a fairly clear correlation between weight loss and dropping blood pressure. Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and the studies show the expected improvement is 1mmHg for each kilo lost. So if I lose 40lbs, I should expect to see an improvement from 140/90 to something more like the healthy figure of 120/80.

Incidentally, it's the bottom figure to watch out for. This (diastolic pressure) is the resting pressure between heartbeats, and it's this number increasing that causes arteries to harden as they resist the increased pressure.

Today's score is looking like about 40 points again. I was on 24 1/2 when I got home from work, and that was with an 8 point dinner. Or I might just scoff some more chocolate. This is likely to become tedious pretty soon if I don't.

The other bit of interesting news today is that I have been recommended, medically speaking, to not take up jogging. Suits me.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

I'll spare the reconstruction of today's diet.

37 1/2 points today, against a target of 33 (or 36 under the old rules).

Oh, and I scoffed some chcolate as well. Probably more like 40. OK 45. 10g of chocolate is a point. Yow!

Still better than 52 though. And this is supposed to be about habit changes, not about actually being on a diet.

3 beers (one at lunchtime).

Monday, January 01, 2007

First Day, a good(ish) start

OK, maybe I shouldn't have scoffed half a chocolate orange.

Coffees: 6 cups, 1 sugar in each: 3 points

Brunch: Light Cranberry Juice, 300ml. 1.5pts. Some left over Orange Juice - doesn't really count, but I'll be pessimistic and call it 1/2 point for that. 2 muffins, 2 eggs, scrambled, no butter, and a smidgen of skimmed milk. 9 points.

Mid Afternoon: The Terry's Chocolate Orange. 10 points.
Large glass Ribena: 3 points (I could have had a beer for that!)

Dinner: Veggie Risotto, followed by yoghurt, and a beer. 9 points.

That's 36 points for today, which would be my allowance under the previous version of the WW scheme. Considering that 12 points (fruit juice and chocolate) were on hangover-curing indulgences, that's not bad.

First habit change going well...

Well, I seem to have adjusted pretty quickly to enjoying coffee with less sugar. I'm not sure I could reduce it further just yet - filter coffee in particular still tastes rather too bitter still.

I can't say the same for the healthy snacking - I scoffed half a Terry's Chocolate Orange while watching T.V. this afternoon.

As for the alcohol, well, I'm just about to get myself a glass of fizzy water. Let's see how that goes down.