Wednesday, January 7, 2009

One thin mint? It's wafer thin

I haven’t quite reached the dimensions of the infamous Mr. Creosote from “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life,” but I’m headed in that direction. As a result, in the next couple of days, I will be embarking on a diet. My publicly stated goal (which will no doubt doom me to failure) is to lose 50 pounds by Memorial Day. If you’re gonna dream, dream big. Right? My advantage is the fact that I’m not some 120-pound woman trying to lop off the last three or four pounds she needs to drop in order to be “bikini-ready” by spring. I’m a big old fat guy with lots of pounds to be discarded. Traditional diets have never worked for me, mainly because I don’t do well with structure. My general framework for the diet is to avoid carbs and shift my eating habits more toward fish and fresh vegetables. I’m going to give myself one “day off” from the diet each week to cut down on the drudgery. I’m not going to gorge on that day, but if I want a Twinkie, I’ll have one. Over the years, I’ve seen and taken part in some strange diets. I recall my mother going on a diet that had, as its centerpiece, a huge pot of this revolting cabbage soup that she kept taking out of the fridge and reheating. I think the aim of that diet was to kill one’s will to eat. I’d be more than happy to hear any tips you folks might have for me, and to hear about some of the wacky diet approaches you’re encountered. If you’ll excuse me now, it’s time for a tearful farewell to my good, good friends, white bread, sweet tea and Hellmann’s mayonnaise.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should come to our Weight Watchers at Work program. You might like it.
The last I heard ... it's healthy to lose about 2 pounds a week ... more than that is just losing water or muscle.
Good luck!

January 7, 2009 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Appreciate the offer, but I don't function well with structured programs. And if I can lose three pounds a week, I don't care if it's muscle, bone, teeth or liver. Wait, I need the liver. Cheers, and best of luck with your diet. Maybe we'll all be in spandex by summer. That ought to keep the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons off my property.

January 7, 2009 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Murphy's Cats said...

Hi Brant!
Simply put - eat less, exercise more! Although it's not working for me yet...must be the M&Ms...
Good luck!
Pam Murphy

January 7, 2009 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Good to hear from you, Pam. It really is as simple as that. Take in fewer calories and burn more off. The devil is in the details.

January 7, 2009 at 1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have an exercise bike? They're great ways to burn off calories, stress, etc.

--Brad Hundt

January 7, 2009 at 1:53 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

As a fellow man of ample girth, I've been on a diet off and on since I was about 20 years old. I've probably gained and lost 1,000 pounds over the years, I'm ashamed to say. I know that twice in my life, I lost more than 80 pounds and kept it off for several years. I'm on a diet now, as a matter of fact. (I should note that the only reasons for gaining back any of the weight is my own lack of discipline.)

So, here are some tips that have worked well for me:

1. Watch your fat intake. I've had success with consuming fewer than 50 grams in a day. It's not as hard as it sounds. The new labels are easy to understand.
2. Steamed veggies are fantastic, and a great way to add "volume" to your portions without eating a load of stuff you shouldn't have. I like them tender-crisp. I find that steaming them (or putting them in boiling water) for just a few minutes - maybe two or three at most - and then dousing them in ice water to stop the cooking keeps them just the right texture, and steaming them preserves the nutrients much better.
3. You need a little bit of fat in your diet for your body to function. So, if you're going to eat a fat, make it a good one. Use real, unsalted butter and extra virgin olive oil. Great taste and they're natural, not like margarine (which is rumored to be among the two other things that can survive a nuclear attack). Just use it in moderation. One tbs. of either is plenty.
4. Buy some low-salt, fat-free chicken broth or stock. Use it instead of water to make rice. It also helps to augment the volume of liquid when cooking with olive oil or butter.
5. Salmon rocks!
6. Season your food well; use fresh herbs.
7. Easy tip to discern good and bad carbs, or "simple" and complex." Good carbs: ask yourself, "Can I go to the garden and pick it off the vine?" If yes, it's a good carb (complex), if not, it's a bad carb (simple). So, can you pick a pretzel off the vine? No. Broccoli? Yes.
8. My BIGGEST downfall: ease the wine consumption. Alcohol is nothing but empty calories...sadly. Wine is both one of the joys of my life and the bane of my dietary existence.

Read the first 70 or so pages of the South Beach Diet. It explains in very clear terms how the body digests food. I really, really recommend reading it.

I'd be happy to send you some of my recipes if you like. Good luck, fellow porker, and don't forget to increase your activity level just a bit. And drink water. Yuck! But it helps.

January 7, 2009 at 2:11 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

One more thing...

Free registration, no harassing e-mails, nothing but good information. I've used this site for years. You can find information on any kind of food, from celery to Big Macs and Hardee's burgers. You can adjust the quantity that you're checking on (1 egg or a dozen, yolk only, scrambled, etc.) and it automatically updates the information. I use this site any time I'm trying something new.

January 7, 2009 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Roger said...

Diets are half of the problem, probably even less than half of the problem. The missing element from your essay is exercise. Do something that burns up the calories. One example is to walk 4-6 miles per day, at least 10,000 steps of exercise. This is simple, at no cost (except good shoes). You need no memberships, no books, no personal trainers, ... just put one foot in front of the other. It sounds pretty simple, huh?

Since you don't like anything structured, then walk a different path every day.

Oh, you might wish to invest in a heart rate monitor. Take 220-(your age), to find the maximum heart rate. Work at the task so that you achieve 70-80% of the maximum heart rate. Maybe this means a treadmill, but that depends upon you. Do the 70-80% heart rate over an hour every day, seven days per week. That may not help you to loose weight, if all you do is eat it back on with bad habits.

Kick all the junk food aside. Kick all alcohol aside too, beer, wine, and hard stuff. Kick the deserts aside also. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit. Drink lots of water, right out of the tap (no need to look chic carrying around a water bottle -- does not help).

Even if you opt out of any dietary restrictions, get with the exercise program, every day!!!

January 7, 2009 at 2:31 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Thanks for all the good advice. It's appreciated. I did, at one time, have an exercise bike. It made a great clothes rack. Roger, I do, indeed, have plenty of good areas for walking out my way, and I think I'll add that to the regimen. However, the day I give up wine is the day they close the casket. Medicinal reasons, don't you know.

January 7, 2009 at 3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would also like to publicly state my goal of losing 40 pounds.

January 7, 2009 at 5:04 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

We're gonna hold you to it. ;-)

January 7, 2009 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

But we don't even know who you are, anon!

Brant, notice that I didn't say that I gave up my beloved red wine. I'm like you, as you know. I just cut back on it. Some. But not too much.

January 7, 2009 at 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is life possible without sweet tea?

January 7, 2009 at 7:56 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

No, it's the red wine of caffeinated beverages.

January 8, 2009 at 6:31 AM  
Blogger Ellipses said...

Brant... these two words will provide you with guaranteed and consistent weight loss: Poop More.

If you can double your output and simply maintain your input, you're set!

I fell into the same trap that I have for the past 5 years... I tried to quit smoking and whip myself back into my college weight at the same time... It's like playing tennis with a wall... those things are RELENTLESS!

January 8, 2009 at 7:11 AM  
Anonymous Joe Tuscano said...

Brant, I lost 22 pounds over 1 1/2 years by staying away from fast food restaurants of all types, making a determined effort to work out each day, and walking a lot.

Fortunately, I happened to meet a woman who lost 80 pounds in two years and she is a compulsive walker. I put in more than 700 miles last year because of her.

I didn't put any time lines on my diet/exercise routine, just tried to be more active.

Good luck.

January 8, 2009 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger Murphy's Cats said...

Actually she lost 80 pounds in 4 months...quite incredible and definitely unusual.

January 8, 2009 at 10:27 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I'm going to try adding some walking into my daily routine. Strolling around the mall isn't my cup of tea (I generally hate being around people), but once the weather clears a bit, I'm going to hit the country roads around my house. Just hoping my crappy, old-man knees hold up. Thanks for the encouragement. And if I lose 80 pounds in four months, I might walk to work wearing nothing but a thong. Let's hope that doesn't happen. I might need to tone things up a bit first.

January 8, 2009 at 10:45 AM  
Blogger Murphy's Cats said...

Woo hoo!

January 8, 2009 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Roger said...

"... once the weather clears a bit ..." This is the path of procrastination and avoidance. There are many places to walk. One example is Tanger Outlets. It is about a half mile around the circle (outside edge of the mall area). Eight laps is about four miles. Maybe there is a path around the outside perimeter of the whole complex, I don't know.

That lane is always cleared. With the very sparse crowds up there these days, there is plenty of room to hike out at 4 mph -- all you need is one hour at Tanger to put in four miles (15 min per two laps).

January 8, 2009 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Amanda Gillooly said...

Pick up a bottle of Glucomannan. The fiber is sold in caplets and the directions tell you to take two pills before eating to promote fullness. But don't follow the directions. A great story in Womens Health said to instead sprinkle and stir the tasteless powder in soups, condiments, etc. and it will thicken the stuff, making it more filling. It helps you cut back on portions automatically.
It's a little tricky at first because it clumps a bit, but it might be worth a try.
Do you still smoke? Take a walking smoke break and sneak in steps (wearing a pedometer makes you uber aware of how much or little activity you get...).
And finally: Press Up!!

January 8, 2009 at 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

avoiding two things that American food processing companies seem to find a way to get into every food out there not only will help you with the diet, but your overall health:

Partially Hydrogenated Oils
High Fructose Corn Syrup

THESE THINGS ARE TERRIBLE for your body and they are in everything for one reason: MONEY: hydrogenated oils are used to preserve shelf life. corn syrup is used as an alternative to sugar or other sweeteners because USA loves the corn industry - why? its a huge money maker. so of course, they have figured out how to make almost anything out of corn. just eat REAL butter, not margerine, use real maple syrup instead of aunt jemimas etc, the key is to just go back to the real stuff.

and a MUST read if you havent already: Michael Pollan's (SP?) In Defense of Food.

January 17, 2009 at 3:47 PM  

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