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charlie, computer cat

November 2018



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So, back on the weight loss trail again now that I am feeling well enough to cook and Glastonbury is out of the way. I'm trying to decide how systematic to be about it this time around. I've had sucess and failures both ways before so I could go either way.

In principle I like having a counter or target to use. I like online food planners and trackers but I also find them frustrating. Because I cook for myself so much I have to enter all the ingredients and some of the sites I've tried are not so good on generics either - looking for chicken breast can get you a lot of Breaded Chicken Breast meals but not always the straight forward ingredient. If the site has a recipies feature then that's pretty good because I do have a core of tried and trusteds that cut down on this problem but it's still not nearly as easy as it would be if I just ate ready meals.

Also, close though it may be, I'm not actually on the computer all the time. Ideally I'd like to be able to update the tracker thing through my mobile phone but surprisingly few places I've looked at offer this. I did trial one but it had the problem with not having many generics in it's food list (although it did have a lookup by barcode for products, which I thought was pretty neat). At the very least, it would be nice if the website was light weight enough to use on the go - that was where Weightwatchers online fell down for me - it was a pretty poorly designed site, which was unfortunate because otherwise it was offering a good service. The other problem with most of the tracker sites I've tried is that they tend to have quite inflexible targets. Again, the weightwatchers one was good here but most of the others I tried wouldn't even let you carry over between days.

Then there's the clubs. Now this is fine in principle. I can quite agree that weightloss is easier if you've got someone to do it with - you can support each other, share good ideas, even police each other if that's what works for you. In practice however, I have never managed to meet anyone even remotely like me at a slimming club. I used to go to a lunchtime weight watchers meeting and it was full of old women and young mums with young babies. All nice enough but facing completely different weight loss challenges to me. As a support group it just didn't really work for me, although I did get some good ideas from the hand outs. Still, I am drawn to the idea of a support group. Anyone know any good ones? Want to form one perhaps even?

Overall, having written this, I think I like the idea of having a structure, but I don't know where to get one that'll work long term for me. Any recommendations? I only actually tried out a couple of online systems before getting discouraged and moving on so there's probably loads out there I haven't seen.


Well, topicaltim and I used Weight Loss Resources with a fair amount of success, and he's just signed up again (annoyingly, his calorie allowance to lose weight is more than I should have to maintain mine!). You do have to create recipes, but they have plenty of generic ingredients and I found that after a few weeks most of the things I cooked regularly were in there and just needed tweaking each time. And it gives you weekly or fortnightly reports so you can carry your allowance over if you want.
So far, not too bad, actually. I just need to figure out how much mushrooms weigh and so on - and a tablespoon of honey. I need a conversion site :)

You can convert *ANYTHING* there.
Not tablespoons to grams as far as I can see though :( The problem is that it depends on what the tablespoon is full of.
There are secret tables for this sort of thing. Some are on the internet. None to hand, though.

Honey has a density of ~1.4 g/ml, FWIW.

-- tom
Or scales?
But that's so old fashioned :) Yeah, I'll just have to weigh it next time I make it.
Mind you, mushrooms have almost no calories anyway.
True, but I tend to get obsessive when using these things :)
I always find that the tendency to obsess is one of the things that puts me off trying it again, but if I had a lot of weight to lose again, rather than maybe a few pounds, it would probably be a good thing...
I tend to find that I start off being very obsessive and entering every little thing and then it tails off so whether a tool is going to work for me depends on how slowly that tail off happens - what it's staying power is. Which is, unfortunatly, quite difficult to evaluate in a short free trial :)
Yes, this is what my sister-in-law used recently when she lost a lot of weight last year (she always looked good, she's just narrower now and I think, though I never asked, she's gone from a possibly not healthy weight to a healthy one).

For the record I used Slimming World to help (and I apologize in advance for this phrase... here it comes...) "achieve my slimming targets". Which were
1) reach a BMI under 25
2) stay there!
and then, later on,
3) lose a few extra chunks at 7lb a go.
Sadly you do have to stay and attend The Group for the first four weeks, which I did under sufferance. I called it the Seventh Circle Of Hell. God the human misery there (I suppose it did make me feel relatively fortunate! :D ). But thereafter I just turned up to queue, to pay, and to weigh.
This worked for me as an added discipline - basically if you commit to something in front of strangers you are less likely to cop out... er or summat.
The filling in food diary & points also helped remind me what a healthy diet should be (which, obviously, wasn't what I was eating, duh).
Lastly, and the most valuable thing, was once you have reached the target weight you set, you can be weighed and monitored at any SW group for free. This helped me with the hardest part, which is of course keeping the weight off. Also, it means that you can set a pretty achievable target (I think there's a minimum of 7lb or something), get there, and then once (after a few months) you have managed to stay there, you can set a new target (maybe another 7lb) and aim for that. This means you don't have to be forever trying to lose weight, and you get practice at the vital, oh so vital, keeping-weight-stable thing.

I actually haven't been back in a year, but that's because my weight fell below the last target more than the allowed 3lb, because of my running. (It always stayed at a healthy BMI though, I made sure of that).

For me what it took really was a lot of changes in perspective, a lot of learning about all sorts of things to do with nutrition and appetite and psychology and lifestyle, and the bottom line is? I am not the same person I was, and I suspect you'll find that's true of anyone who's lost a reasonable amount of weight and kept it off. It can be done, it bloody well is worth it, by by Gum it does not come free!
This woman (2 blogs one woman) says it better than I ever can:
(and there are a whole load of good links from her blogroll too! :D )
Yes, the trick is to find something that helps you make a permanent change. Which does mean learning about nutrition, and finding a healthy balance point of food and exercise. And it does mean learning to eat less, permanently, and probably also drink less (halfway through my time doing WLR, during which I lost three stone, I switched from drinking pints to drinking halves, and I haven't gone back), and to try to break the links between eating and emotions.

I've mostly kept the weight off, although I've put about half a stone on in the last six months or so because I got out of the habit of exercising. I'm now walking 3.5 miles home several days a week and making a conscious effort not to scarf cheese when I get there, which I hope will be enough to help me lose that over the next couple of months...
Yes, the trick is to find something that helps you make a permanent change.

This is what I've always found difficult. I can do fine for a certain amount of time but then I start to miss the cheese board and resent the exercise (the fact that I can never find an exercise I like has been a big stumbling block for me).

The other problem is that when I get lazy or sick we tend to switch over to takeout - this is where the fact that Alex is not a cook is a bit of a shame. That and the fact that when I go to parties or roleplaying and there's pringles and pizza right there and everyone's having them I find it very difficult to resist. I guess I'll just have to try my best at Jennis BBQ tomorrow and see how it goes.
I don't think it's about not eating cheese, or not having takeaways. I think doing that is where a lot of people go wrong, because denying yourself things you like just makes you resent what you're doing and eventually you'll get fed up and go back to what you were doing before. It has to be a *permanent* change, and if you aren't happy with the idea of spending the rest of your life without cheese (and who would be?) then you need to make cheese part of your eating plan, and you need to allow for the occasional takeaway or party or meal out where you don't get to control what you have.
Yeah, that's definitely something I need to work on. I can do moderate for most of the time but then I still tend to splurge out every now and then. I'm still not really sure what triggers it, unfortunately - it doesn't seem to be comfort eating (which I do also do sometimes but that's got a different pattern) but there must be something which causes me to decide that I really want a cheese lunch, buy 5 cheeses and a baguette and eat a reasonable chunk of each of them in one sitting.
That sounds like something which would be worth tracking against hormonal cycles, and also against your previous patterns of eating. Does it happen after you've been avoiding cheese for a while, or when you've had a lot of alcohol over the previous days? Do you eat other dairy products regularly? I would suspect a shortage of calcium might be to blame.

(I find I have far fewer food cravings, and much less need to snack, when I take multivitamins every day. I suspect that this may be because my IBS stops me absorbing nutrients properly so I end up having to eat more to make up for it.)
a lot of learning about all sorts of things to do with nutrition and appetite and psychology and lifestyle

Yeah, to start with, I'm not making a lot of changes - I'm just going to cook what I think of as healthy meals, enter all the details into WLR and see what the nutritional profiles look like then hopefully that'll give me some good ideas of where to cut down.
Interestingly what you didn't say here is why you, personally, want to lose weight now (as opposed to at some other time), and, indeed, if you want to at all (rather than "thinking you should" which is quite different).
Nor do you mention why you think you will keep the weight off after it has been lost.
Weight loss (and more importantly weight maintenance) does involve a good deal of planning and thinking. Unless it is truly important to someone, what very often happens is that they don't prioritize their time so that the planning and thinking gets done, and then they don't succeed.
It is very much a thing done for the "future you", like saving.

Best thing I can say: until you find yourself putting pretty much everything to #2 on the list, and saying, "I'll do that *after* I've sorted out my menu and exercise for next week and given away the crackers", the best thing you can do is forget about weight loss. Really !
I have wanted to lose weight consistantly for at least the last 6 months if not longer. Mostly for vanity reasons, with side of energy and health reasons.

Now, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I've finally come off hormonal contraceptives. That should mean that weight that I've found it difficult to shift in the past will be more easy to get moving. Secondly, for the last couple of months, I've found that starting off has been either practially difficult (because I'm about to be away and won't have control of my eating so much) or I've been lacking the emotional energy I think will be needed to change habits. Now I have a bit of a clear period in my diary I feel like I have enough spare focus to devote to this that I might have a chance of establishing a good routine.

Keeping it off is something I do have a plan for, which is basically that in getting it off I should establish new eating habits (this is why I'm not a fan of diets like the cabbage soup diet) and then once I'm at the weight I want, I'll try to stick pretty much to the same thing but will be able to treat myself slightly more often.

until you find yourself putting pretty much everything to #2 on the list

That's pretty much never going to happen because I'm involved in so many things for other people (like Brownies) that are always going to be up there on my priority list. I think right now though, the schedules are clear enough that I think I can devote a reasonable amount of energy/focus and I hope that once I can establish some good patterns that will be a start.
Well, one reason you may be seeing grannies and young mothers at the group is that you're going at lunchtime! There's probably going to be an evening or weekend group that'll have a better balance of young professionals in it-- people who have to work all day and can't get to meetings, but who are more in their 20s and 30s and trying to drop the pounds they've had for years. Maybe that cuts into your friends or family time, but if it's a priority, you can make the time.

You can carry a small notebook, write everything down, and then enter it later on. Sometimes just having to write it down can deter you from snacking on crappy stuff.

Set a goal of eating healthy snacks-- more fruits and veggies during the day between meals-- so that you aren't as hungry at the meals.

With bigger meals, cut it in half and set half aside right away as leftovers. That way you aren't tempted to go back for one more spoonful or to try to clean a really big plate.

Ooh! And exercise. 40 minutes a day is best (that way you get your warmup and cooldown with about 20-30 mins of aerobic exercise), but if you can't do that, just do *anything*. Get used to a 15-minute walk around the block or a local building. Do the stairs a couple of times. Do a small number of situps every morning, and add more as you get used to doing them. Start tiny, set patterns, and build from there.

Those are some of the things that have worked for me in the past, and which I'm trying to do now.
Exercise is really difficult for me because I just don't enjoy it at all so I find it hard. If it wasn't for the fact that it's so rainy, I'd be cycling to work, which is quite good but the chances of being rained on are so high, I haven't been. I'm trying out catching the bus in and then walking home today - at least then I can be under an umbrella :)
I can't recommend targetty stuff, but I do love the chapter on low fat eating in Nigella Lawson's How to Eat. It's inherently flawed because it's predicated on an eat-oh god I'm fat-diet-Hurrah, Thin - eat-oh god I'm fat-diet- cycle, but the recipes and thoughts are really interesting (however that chapter's probably not enough to justify buying the book - borrow it from someone).
I can lend, if tinyjo likes. I definitely agree with everything she says about the way strong flavours will make you feel more satisfied even when you've eaten less...
Yeah it would be interesting to give it a read.
More good diety recipies are always useful though, so probably worth a look