Sunday, February 24, 2008

Misconceptions about diet and exercise

Most people I talk to about losing weight have two misconceptions about getting and keeping their weight under control:
  1. "Going on a diet" is a good way to lose weight.
  2. If only I could exercise more, I could lose weight.
"Going on a diet" is a bad way to lose weight. Why? Because of the tacit understanding that the diet is something you would never willingly follow for the rest of your life, some day you're already planning up-front to go off the diet. What's going to happen then? You'll eventually be right back where you were before you went on the diet. As for exercise...well, we all know we should be exercising, but that doesn't mean we always have time to exercise. In fact, many of my overweight friends are just waiting for themselves to have time to exercise. Let's face it. Sometimes you'll have time to exercise, and sometimes you won't. There is no need to wait for yourself to have time to exercise. You can change the way you eat and lose weight without exercising. On the other hand, you could start exercising today, eat more, and not lose a pound. Diet and exercise are two different things that are very important to your overall health, but exercising while ignoring your eating habits is self-defeating: When you don't have time to exercise, you'll start gaining back whatever weight you lost. I submit that the only way to lose weight is to take in fewer calories than you burn. So, if your weight is relatively stable, then all you have to do is be consistent about eating a little bit less at every meal, and with no changes at all to your exercise, you'll stabilize at a lower weight than you have today.

Why the French aren't as fat as Americans

Found this today...researchers are supporting what I've been telling people for a while: Cleaning your plate will make you fat! Actually, the article says something more interesting than that: it says that the French rely on internal cues such as feeling hungry and feeling full, while Americans rely on external cues like whether the plate is empty, whether they have remaining beverage, and whether the TV show is over. Furthermore, they say there's a correlation in both populations between relying on external cues and being overweight:
"Furthermore, we have found that the heavier a person is -- French or American -- the more they rely on external cues to tell them to stop eating and the less they rely on whether they felt full."
What does this have to LYSBYG? Everything! Your stomach tells you when to eat, and it tells you when to stop eating. In order to lose weight, you first need to start heeding your stomach. Stop eating immediately when you feel full. The second step is to consistently eat a little bit less, and drink a little bit less at meals, and your stomach will adapt itself to a lower intake level if you're consistent about it.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Go Club finally taking off at the Pasadena Central Library

For a couple of years now, I've been coordinating a Go program at the Pasadena Central Library. It's been tough, with many weeks having only 1 or 2 kids in attendance and others with no kids at all. I've lost a couple of my original volunteers, and I'm always on the lookout for more. At this point I have only two others and myself to cover the weekly Saturday sessions. Back in December, though, attendance started to pick up, and this Saturday I had 11 kids, one parent, and one adult who dropped in to learn the rules. This is very exciting! It proves my theory that you need 4-5 people weekly in order for new people to come to your club and decide to stick around, but more importantly, it means that we finally have a real club at the Pasadena Central Library. We meet every Saturday from 2-4 pm in the Teen Central room. You should come by sometime and check it out!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gaming Lunches at the LA Times

As a shameless promoter of the game of Go, I'm always trying to get my co-workers involved in the game. After talking to Reid, one of my co-workers, about various games that we enjoy playing, I decided to set up a weekly gaming lunch. The idea is pretty simple:
  1. Use Doodle to set up polls to choose a time and a game.
  2. Schedule a conference room for the weekly game.
  3. Order lunch for people.
  4. Have fun!
I'm proud to say that Go won the first week and consistently comes in second. The most popular game? Werewolf, introduced to our group by Giles Bowkett. It's apparently very popular at Ruby conferences, and our group has lots of fun with it too. Me? I like it because it excites people in a way that Go doesn't, and it keeps the lunches popular. And once in a while people decide to move on to something else, which means I get to introduce more people to Go. What can I say?

Saturday, February 16, 2008

LYSBYG: Let your stomach be your guide, and lose weight

I've lost weight by enlisting my stomach to help me in my quest for thinness. Since last June, I've gone from 248 pounds to 194 pounds, and for the first time in my adult life I'm under 200 pounds. People keep asking me how I lost the weight, and I've been trying to boil it down to some simple steps. The basic idea that I had was that I needed to make a permanent life change. Since I was pretty happy with the food I ate, I figured the permanent life change I needed was to reduce the volume of food that I eat. This worked amazingly well. I found that my stomach shrank, and I became physically unable to eat as much as I worked before. It's like getting your stomach altered to reduce the amount of food you can eat, only much, much healthier and cheaper! Here's what I did:
  1. Set a modest goal for myself, about 0.5% of my weight every week. (about 1 lb for me)
  2. I weighed myself every week at the same time, at least 1-2 hours after eating. (Sunday evening after dinner)
  3. I stopped cleaning my plate. Plate cleaning really is a habit that leads to overeating.
  4. I reduced my portions by a very small amount across every meal, every week I missed my goal, and increased my portions when I overshot my goal by losing 2 pounds or more.
  5. I stopped snacking except for when I felt physical, stomach-growling hunger. When I felt hungry like this, I would eat a small snack.
That's it! I know it sounds like something that takes an awful lot of will power, but it really didn't. Half a percent of your body weight isn't really all that much, and if you stick to that amount, you'll find that you're really not starving yourself. Plus, if you're really consistent about it, you'll find that your stomach actually shrinks, which means you'll feel satisfied with less food, and you'll feel physically full much faster.