Monday, September 24, 2007

Erica's 100% Guaranteed Weight Loss Plan

Hooray for me!

I finally remembered that I bought a fairly expensive scale (it even tells you if you need to drink more water, and can kill you if you have a pacemaker), and went and stood on it yesterday.

Lo and behold, I have lost 20 pounds since this time last year. And all with the very bare minimum in going to the gym or exercising or doing any other activity that would cause me to break a sweat. I had some very bad habits back in the day, and relied entirely on cigarettes and caffeine to preserve my figure. When my husband and I quit smoking together I put on about 30lbs in a few months, and another 5-10 trying to figure out what was going on.

I topped out the climb on my wedding day, when I weighed in at 160lbs, not that anyone believed me. I’m from a Germanic family and inherited a bigger frame, but I’m well-proportioned and can carry more mass than most without really showing it. If I get down below 125 I start looking like a malnourished lollipop-head.

I have discovered a foolproof weight loss plan that anyone can use. It won’t take off ten pounds this week or make your boobs bigger, but it will work and you will get thinner continuously over a fairly long period of time, and you’ll be able to keep it off automatically when you get there.

Here’s the deal: There is only ONE way to lose weight.

All those ads about supplements and diets and special weird exercise programs are a pile of crap and they’re lying to you. (Note 04/19/08: Exercise is good, really good. I'm referring to "exercise" like trying to target fat areas, which doesn't work, or doing other strange things that try to convince you you're exercising without actually sweating, etc.)

The only way to lose weight is to take in less calories than you need. That’s it. Period.

Of course this is the point where people start to whine “but I have a thyroid disorder” or “I have a slow metabolism” or “obesity runs in my family” or “I have some esoteric medical disorder that gives me a good excuse for stuffing my face with Twinkies and becoming a whalebeast.”

Ok fantastic, I’m sure your insurance carrier loves you, but no. You have no excuse. There is no medical disorder or genetic condition that will magically suck calories out of the aether and paste them to your ass. You have to put them in the piehole to get them to the ass. It doesn’t matter if everyone else in your family has their own gravitational well, they got there by putting it in their mouth, and you certainly could too, if you’re not careful.

Don’t cry to me about your metabolism whilst stuffing an entire Domino’s pizza in your face in one sitting. No metabolism in the world could keep up with that kind of abuse. I have zero sympathy. All part of being an evil conservative.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step One: Set Up Your Goal:

1. Identify your goal weight. Make sure it’s reasonable. If you’ve got a figure like me anything under 120 is just simply ludicrous. My skeletal system probably weighs 110 pounds just on it’s own, and my brain weighs another 6 pounds. Under 120 and I wouldn’t have any weight left for my lungs and guts and other necessary things. If you’re 6’10 being 160 pounds is stupid, don’t try it. Like I said, be reasonable. My goal weight is in the mid 130’s. That’s where I’ll feel good and be happy, and it’s attainable without getting unhealthy.

2. Go over to and calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate. This is how many calories you need every day just to maintain your current weight at your height. If you eat more calories than that you’ll gain weight, less, and you’ll lose weight. Simple! Physics! Dude, it’s like conservation of energy, man. It’s not totally accurate, but the next best thing is a bunch of testing that costs lots of money, and I’d prefer to spend my cash on video games and guns. It will give you a good number to start with. My target weight BMR is about 1,300 calories per day, and after being on my plan for 12 months I have to actually work to eat that many calories.

3. Now calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate for your goal weight. This is the maximum number of calories you need to eat each day to reach the weight you want to be at. I suggest that if you want to lose more than 30 pounds you pick a goal weight right at the halfway mark and start with the BMR for that so you don’t put yourself into a coma trying to get your calories down.

4. Ok, so now you know exactly how much you can eat. On to food.

Step Two: Write it Down:

5. First, make an excel spreadsheet or some other grid or place where you can record everything you eat every day. I started with a little cheapo day planner thing and just made a list. You are going to start recording EVERYTHING that passes your lips. And I’m not kidding about the everything. If you eat one Skittle, you have to write it down. If you have one potato chip, you have to write it down. Liquids count too, and you need to make sure you can figure out how much liquid you’re drinking, so brush up on your weights and measures. You have to be real serious with yourself about it, and it’s a real pain in the ass, but it’s worth it. Each meal you’re going to need to figure out how much of everything went onto the plate, including butter and condiments, and other materials used in cooking. DO NOT LIE TO YOURSELF. No one else will see your list, so be honest. If that “just a spoonful” of ice cream was more like a bowl and a half, climb on up in that there saddle and ride that thing.

6. For everything you write down, you’re going to calculate how many calories it equaled. Fat doesn’t matter, cholesterol doesn’t matter, what “kind” of calories they were doesn’t matter, I don’t care if was a starch or a protein, all that matters is the calories in it. There are lots of web sites out there that will tell you the calorie count in everything, use them, but make sure your weights and measures are correct. One oz. of something might look good, but it won’t mean anything if you just ate 10oz. Writing everything down and calculating your calories will most likely have two effects:

7. I found that it was just too much hassle to write down every piece of everything I put in my mouth, but I was really dedicated to keeping an organized list, so I found myself just not eating so much. It would have taken more time and energy to go and figure out how many calories there were in one Skittle than just not eating it. So I didn’t. Also, on the first day you’ll probably have one look at the bottom line at the end of the night and go “Holy flapping cellulite Batman!” You can eat a whole lot more than you intend to if you’re not paying attention. The next thing this leads to is:

8. Learn to read labels. It’s much easier to eat something prepackaged with a set calorie count than try to figure out how many calories are in 3.25oz of asparagus. Make absolutely sure you look at the serving size. I have a can of soup here that says 150 calories. However, that’s just one serving, there are two in the can. So soup for lunch will be 300 calories. That means I’m just having soup, not soup and bread and salad and sandwiches and crisps and pickles and a beer. I work office jobs, and I like to eat at work and surf the internet at my desk and be around to answer calls, so I get the Healthy Choice frozen meals. They have a set calorie count, and have enough variation with the main dish and some veggies and a dessert, that I’m not hungry after eating one, like I am with Lean Cuisine. That’s just one more meal of the day I don’t have to worry about calculating out laboriously. Packaged foods are your friend.

9. You will need to do this for at least 3 months solid. Yes, it’s time consuming, yes it’s a drag, it’s totally not fun at all. Go try on bathing suits for a few hours if you feel yourself running out of motivation. Nothing gets me back on the plan like dressing room mirrors. And this is easy and entirely free, all you have to do is pay attention and write stuff down. You don’t have to go to the gym and feel like Our Lady of the Giant Bobbling Ass in front of a bunch of 18 year olds built like Japanese schoolgirls, you don’t have to break a sweat, or eat weird things. Just eat what you want, and become conscious of how many calories are in it. If you eat out, do your best to remember all the pieces of your meal, so you can calculate it out when you get home. I was brazen enough to pull out my little notepad and scribble it down at the table, but I’m a bit shameless.

10. After three months or so you’ll have seen enough labels and done enough calculations to start to just have a sense of how what you’re eating fits in your daily caloric maximum. For instance, take your average homemade turkey sandwich: two slices of bread at 120 calories each, the meat is another 100, so is one slice of cheese, I’ll throw in 80 calories for mayo and condiments, and say 20 for lettuce. That sandwich alone is 520 calories, so I’ll stick with my 300 calorie soup, which will fill me up just as much, and I’ll be able to eat a bigger dinner. When you start looking at it that way it gets really easy to start making deals with yourself, like “Hey there myself, my favorite person in all the world, you know that slice of cake the coworker brought in is half of what you’re allowed to eat today, hows about we skip it for now, and you can have that big-ass flank steak in the fridge for dinner.” Of course, I always say, “Hells yeah baby, I’m all about the steak!”

11. Cheating’s is allowed. And is hard to do really, since you get to eat whatever you want. Maybe one day you just absolutely MUST have Kraft macaroni in the blue box, and you want to eat the whole damn box yourself because it’s been a rotten day. Go ahead. Just make sure the next day you know how many calories over limit you just ate, and short yourself that many over the next few days. You could even eat a whole box of macaroni yourself every day if you wanted, there just wouldn’t be much room in your diet for much of anything else.

Step Three: Making it Work:

• Clean house. Temptation is easiest to avoid when it’s not there. Throw out all the cookies and candy and chips and crap food that’s not good for you and encourages you to snack. Be ruthless, pretend they’re terrorists. Little evil fat terrorists. Bags of candy make great plinking targets by the way, just a suggestion. Now that you’ve thrown them out, don’t buy any more. Seriously. There will be rows and rows in the grocery store that you can just ignore now, and you’ll have money left over to buy the good steaks. The coolest thing is that if you avoid sweets and junk food for long enough you’ll lose your taste for them, and will find them somewhat disgusting in the future.

• It’s going to suck. For the first couple weeks you will be miserable. You’ll get headaches, and feel hungry constantly, and be a big grump. I also felt lightheaded every so often. Deal with it, it’s worth it. Just drink plenty of water and give your body time to get used to it. After a month or so you just won’t be able to eat as much as you used to, and you won’t feel as hungry at all.

• Beware of liquids. I adore Guinness. A pint of Guinness is like drinking a pureed loaf of bread. Be aware of it and adjust accordingly. Fruit juices are terrible. Just read the label and be shocked. I have here a bottle of Ocean Spray CranAppley fruit drink stuff. Healthy, right? Noooooooo, not really. It’s got 140 calories per 8 fl oz serving, about as many calories as a can of Coke. 8 fl oz is not hardly the glass of juice you’d consider drinking, so a real glass of juice would be about a quarter of my daily calorie allowance. That shit adds up quick, since it’s not really filling, and you can drink a lot of it while pretending you’re doing something healthy. Fruit juice is as bad as soda, and we all know how bad soda is, right, right? It freaks me out that parents are being encouraged to substitute juice for soda fairly arbitrarily. There’s nothing better about calories in juice, and you can turn your kid into the Hindenburg just as easily with it.

• Enlist your friends. Tell everyone what you are doing and encourage them to get on your case if they see you misbehaving, and give you lots of support when you succeed. Hook up with someone who you really respect, and ask them to be your lookout. You’ll feel ashamed if you let them down.

• Keep your thin clothes, throw away your fat clothes. I just now fit back into pants I’ve been stubbornly hanging on to for three years. I fit back in my high school prom dress. I fit in my husband’s cammies that he last squeezed into when he was 18 and in boot camp. As soon as something’s too big it goes in the Goodwill box. I don’t allow myself the option of going up a size. When clothes start to get uncomfortably snug use it as a sign that you’re miscalculating and eating too much (or you’re pregnant, congratulations).

• Diet soda saved me. Yeah it will probably give me cancer, but I can drink it all day long and it’s got nothing in it. It satisfies any cravings for sweets I might have, so I usually have a diet soda for dessert.

• Watch out for the evil salad. You know the one I mean. You think you’re all healthy having a salad, since it’s got all that lettucey rabbit food in it. Rubio’s has the amazing 1,200 calorie salad, which means that if I have one, I can have like three peanuts and an ice cube for the rest of the day, and that’s just not fun.

• Look for quantity. So I’ve got 1,300 calories to spend, what am I going to eat? Well, I could have a bag of chips, and that would eliminate one of my meals, or I could have a nice grilled peppered flank steak with roasted asparagus and mashed potatoes with garlic butter. See where I’m going with this? I could have a teeny bowl of ice cream or a whole pile of strawberries and mango. I could have that serving of Kraft macaroni, or three times as much volume of food in vegetables. You do not have to starve, you do not have to eat little ridiculous micro-portions, and you do not have to eat abnormal foods that taste like alfalfa hay, and you do not have to spend any money, less actually, as most staple foods are much cheaper than “junk” foods.

• You have to have willpower. If you don’t, I’m sorry, I can’t help you, you’re kinda doomed. Of course, you could always set up situations where you don’t have to have willpower. If I were having a major weight problem and was considering gastric bypass or something, I’d take that cash and hire someone to hang out with me all day and make sure I didn’t eat too much. I’d lock down the fridge and cabinets and give someone who actually has willpower the key. If you want it bad enough you can get it done. If I see people out there whining about their weight and not doing anything, I’m going to look at them and assume they didn’t want it that bad and they actually want to be fat. I’m of the opinion that having your feelings hurt may be a really good incentive to fix your problems. I will judge you all day long on perpetuating habits that you claim to want to stop, and eating too much is nothing but an ugly habit.

Mandatory Disclaimer: I'm not a doctor. If you have some crazy condition where you'll die if you restrict your diet you should know about it and be smarter than to do what someone on the internet says. Don't go give yourself a heart attack.

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At 22/9/08 4:06 PM , Anonymous Pam said...

Thanks for posting over at my blog.

I've finally had it with being overweight and am working hard to break some bad habits (like M&Ms).

I'll be stopping by regularly!



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