Saturday, 28 January 2012

Weekly Weigh In 4: Bye bye 24?

Weight after three weeks of dieting:

23stones 11lbs/333lbs/151kg



Ahem, if I may. Wooohoooo! Now, with standard fluctuations on a weekly basis I am imagining I will see 24 as the initial number of stones a couple more times before it is a memory but this is the debut of 23 as the number of whole stones that I weigh. I should point out that being 23 stone and 11 pounds is more or less weighing 24 stones, not more or less weighing 23 stones. But the direction is the same and the trend, for such as worry about such things, has remained constant.

Weekly Goals

Well I'm going to have to keep an eye on my weight loss as 5lbs is possibly slightly a little more than I would have expected to see and if it keeps dropping like that I might find myself in trouble later on.

Having said that I've had a lot of similar readings this week and this dip into the waters of the 23 stone area is after a long patch of "umming" and "ahhing" around the 24 dead on point. Maintaining my regime is obviously important this week but I would like to explore further my new found relationship with salad items and also finding more things that I can enjoy so I get a good variety of foods in my diet.

On which note I'm off to chomp down on some steak and frites with a delicious side salad and the dieter's favourite fruit and cream. The peanut butter Kitkats have been secreted away from temptation lying dormant until goal points have been passed.

Diet Report 3: Trender Bender

This week I have discovered, the stubborn pound, how far a monkey can walk in an hour and the nature of milestones. But first...

Weekly Goals

Well, we're going to have to see about some of these, specifically the weight loss part. I did manage two walks this week. I didn't have an opportunity to just meet my nutritional needs and stop there but I stayed south of the dreaded red line on my Cronometer sometimes by a narrow margin but always acceptably... I blame the corned beef.

Trend Setter

Of all the pounds I've encountered so far, there's one that's giving me some trouble. It's in between 24 stones bang on and 23 stones 13. That bugger just doesn't want to shift. This is, of course, one of the features famous in the dieting process the "plateau".

It seems like a bit of an imponderable at first glance. I'm very much enjoying my diet and watching what I eat as intensely as I am is fun, well, fun for me anyway. I am regarding food in a completely different way than I have before and not just as a bunch of scores to be tabulated and organised. Balance in a diet is reflected in balance in a meal, balanced meals, I believe, taste better.

The Burger Digression

Thursday night we enjoyed a home made cheeseburger each with 100g of oven fries and a healthy side salad. Healthy in all senses. Pre-diet a side salad would have been, probably, lettuce, maybe with some red cabbage and a smattering of grated carrot. Thursday's effort was lettuce, half a red pepper each, half a grated carrot each, quarter of a sliced cucumber each and a tablespoon of caramelised onion salad cream each. The cheeseburger also came garnished with tomato relish. Oh, and they were Aberdeen Angus burgers, and mature sliced cheddar on the base of a granary bun. I could totally eat the whole thing again now.

The thing was the salad alone took up a third of a plate, the third of the plate usually reserved for the other burger I would usually have included because "one never seems like enough".

Well, on this occasion one was perfectly fine, also the salad made a delicious compliment to both the fries and the burger. Note the total lack of anything in the meal being "diet by design" the salad cream and relish were all filled with the usual refinements due to us both needing our daily allotment of pure fat. (Actually in the case of the fairly sugary tomato relish it was more because it wouldn't kill us and it tasted nice but hey.) The balance of the meal made all of it IMO taste better.

Also the meal was completely within my calorie control parameters. So everything's going brilliantly. Except for that one pound.

And Back On Topic

There seems to be no way around it. Day after day the scales my go up one pound or down one pound but never down that particular one pound you would like to see. It's the point most dieters have difficulty with and I must admit it is a little disheartening.

But it's not a dead loss, because of maths.

You see my point by point weight at 1800 every evening may seem to be circling round and round but one thing isn't. The trend.

For those of you not versed in the black arts of statistics I will offer an explanation by way of Wikipedia:
"[Trend measurement] may be useful to determine if measurements [recorded over time] exhibit an increasing or decreasing trend which is statistically distinguished from random behaviour."
Not only does my weight loss consist of a wobbling series of single points of data it also exhibits a trend. Here is the trend of my diet represented as a graph:

See a beautiful smooth line from left to right, always decreasing. My trend weight is always above my actual current weight e.g. when I first started to calorie restrict I lost four pounds in two days so my actual weight went from 24 12 to 24 10 to 24 8 but this trend only represented a weight change over the time from 24 12 to 24 11.8 to 24 11.4.

Whereas the actual weight that I am has always yo-yoed around a bit as you can see from the data points (the   little white blobs on the end of the green lines) the trend has remained reasonably steady even when the weight has seemed to fluctuate dramatically.

My current trend weight is 24 3.5, yesterday 24 3.8 the day before 24 4.3 even when my weight readings have bounced around more dramatically. Every day's trend number is lower than the reading of the previous day. Eventually the trend will fall low enough that the data point I record will have to be below 24 stones. Maybe that day will be today, I suppose, were I not using the Hacker's Diet Online to do all the heavy lifting for me I could reverse engineer what trend point would indicate that my weight would have to be below the 24 stone bar. But I am cheating, so I can't.

Regardless, mathematically my weight is decreasing daily and on a steady basis, even if on the surface it appears that I am stuck. I guess that's just the way it has to be so it sucks less because I get that little bit of good news from the trend even when the actual news from the data points isn't so newsworthy.

This Monkey's Made For Walkin'

Last Sunday Mrs Monkey and I both availed ourselves of cheap digital pedometers from a popular catalogue store. The reason is so we can have something on which to measure our distance walking. I would just like to be able to time my walks more accurately, Weightwatchers have told Mrs Monkey she needs to walk 10000 steps in a day before further activity earns her the hallowed "Exercise Points" she can use to turn back into eating points.

At the moment she really doesn't actually need any more eating points because she's got enough but when she's lost enough weight those exercise points will really be worth having.

As it's still early days on the exercise regime there's not much more to report except that a monkey like me can, apparently, walk around 9000 steps in an hour. That's walking. So 10000 steps would probably be a 40 minute jog or a 20 minute run. Not that I'm really contemplating jogging or running at the current time but I'll keep you posted.

The Peanut Butter Milestone

This week the KitKat chocolate bar brand has dealt a powerful blow for chocolatey foods in the form of reinstating the Peanut Butter KitKat, one of my all time favourite chocolate bars ever. At 250 useless kcal per bar, however, the consumption of such a treat is somewhat beyond my dietary means at the moment.

However, the chocolate devil has provided me with one more weapon in the arsenal of my motivation i.e. the promise of reward for work done. My eye is on the prize and the goal of the first milestone is 23 stones and 7lbs. Once I have recorded a single data point at that weight I will be consuming a Peanut Butter KitKat and moving my gaze onto the next goal, whatever that may be. It seems achievable at some point in the next 4 weeks or so and it keeps me motivated to keep up diarising, tracking and generally working towards the hallowed city of the midpoint between 15 and 16 stones.

As usual the weekly weigh in will be about 6ish until then, don't buck the trend!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Midweek Check In: I'm (Not) With The Band

Obesity Sounds Like An Illness Let's Go With That

Watched with some interest a local news article last night about how more people are turning to the knife to "beat obesity" and having themselves mutilated with gastric band surgery. A lengthy discussion with Mrs Monkey followed in which we were united in our decision that this seemed like lunacy on everyone's part.

The gastric band problem seems to be a classic Catch 22, if you would find it helpful in losing weight you probably didn't need it in the first place. The fact that this isn't a thought that crosses the mind of doctors is not a surprise, even though it should be. Doctors, unfortunately, live in a world where non-doctors, or, as they call them, patients, are uniformly weak, pathetic and stupid. They will hand out a gastric band because the condescendingly believe that fatty won't be able to pass by the pork pie without one.

Where there is a problem is that people seem to be more and more willing to assume the role of the weak, pathetic and stupid one in this relationship. Like an out of control youngster thinking they've put one over on an earnest child psychologist who offers them the suggestion that maybe they are "compelled" to shoplift, or throw stones through the windows of abandoned buildings, or drink under age.

I remember reading the words of American law enforcer John Douglas. He said that where insanity pleas often fall down is that serial murderers have an overpowering compulsion to kill before they get caught that seems to mysteriously become far less overpowering when they're surrounded by law enforcement officials.

This One Time, At Band Camp

Stepping back to our original theme you could paraphrase this as: "Offer a lazy fatty a gastric garter and they'll gratefully grab any excuse to prove that their fatness was entirely outside their control". As if that's somehow better if they "couldn't help it".

Another symptom of a failing in the human condition rears its ugly head. Never wanting to be in the wrong. This one has, I think, got way out of control because there is great liberation in being wrong and seeing it and talking about it, Catholics may have popularised it but why should they have the monopoly?

I fully admit that I now realise it was within my power to change my eating habits when I only had a 48-inch waist. Instead I grasped another couple of inches and kept on trucking. I fully admit that now I have taken control I feel better which means I've spent the better part of a decade pointlessly diet dodging for no real reason other than my own inherent sloth.

I don't need a gastric band, never have, never will. I needed to wake up and smell the coffee. I had a control problem with my eating that was actually making me feel worse on a day to day basis. Now I have seen another way to go I won't be going back and I feel much better.

Beware The Dietician When The Moon (or anything else) Is Fat

If there were mitigating circumstances they were these: Everyone who puts forth a pro-dieting stance seems to be a joyless, humourless scary disciplinarian. Dieting itself is seen as the modern equivalent of a hair shirt and a personal back lash. To be fair dieting the way that I am is a lot easier with a massive digital database of food stuffs hooked up to pretty metres and dials; an approach that wasn't possible until the last couple of years.

What people think of dieting "gurus".

Even so, going forward the final point, which is the only real one, isn't a barrier to anyone any more, it's just the psychological barriers of not wanting to be responsible and being scared off healthy eating by well-meaning but ultimately terrifying health "experts".

There's a lot of complexity to a truly healthy diet, but for pure weight loss, without unsightly folds of skin resulting from gastric band starvation you just need to control calories. I may one day worry about saturated fat and how much sodium I'm chugging but I need a firm lid on the weight loss first, I believe the phrase is something about running and walking.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Weekly Weigh In 3: Plateau?

Weight after two weeks of dieting:

24st 1lb/337lbs/153kg



Obviously the conversions are approximate, last week I weighed slightly more than 154kg and this week I weigh slightly less than 153kg but we don't do decimal points in this house, oh no.

What's totally brilliant is that I'm one lb away from the duck egg on 24 stone and therefore two away from not having to see 24 stone on the scales again. The first in what I hope will be a number of small victories, nine of them to be precise.

I went for a haircut today and the ever so lovely hairdresser promised me a free haircut when I hit the teens, so some free motivation there!

Weekly Goals

This week I'm looking to maintain my current loss. Another couple of pounds would be awesome. Another walk or two wouldn't go amiss either. One day, just as an experiment, I would like to meet all of my nutritional needs and stop there, that might be quite a tricky one.

So see you all here next week, same monkey time, same monkey channel!

This week's...

...official weigh-in will be later than usual as Mrs Monkey and myself have to nip out for a bit. Tune in after eightish to get your dosage of monkey shrinkage. Thanks.

Diet Report 2: In Which Sugar Is Useless And Salt Is Delivered By Ninjas

Weekly Goals

This week my daily variations have been up and down like a yo yo. So I'm not sure what's in store for the weekly weigh in, guess it just means we'll all have to wait and see.

Of my goals for the last week I did quite well. I went over two days out of seven but on both occasions I had been out for a brisk walk at 3.5 mph so my net calories were lower than my gross intake, on one occasion by a considerable amount. As you can tell from the last sentence I achieved my walking quota and doubled it. I failed miserably to polish off the last of the Christmas beer, however, a lonely bottle of ale is waiting for me to inhale it at some time when I feel such consumption would be a good idea.

Has week two been a time for the iron to set into my soul and for my dieting to take a knock back as I hanker after forbidden provender? Well, no, almost the exact opposite in fact. I am finding large amounts of food after meeting my dietary requirements for the day tiresome and unnecessary. I am deeply enjoying the occasional dessert of fruit and cream. If something has a large number of frivolous calories I am minded not to buy it again (Sainsbury's Frozen Sweet & Sour Chicken with Egg Fried Rice, I'm looking at you).

(Don't) Give Me Some Sugar, Baby

By far the most marked difference between now and the beginning of the diet is my view of sugar. Before looking at what sugar, you know, actually does for/to you I regarded it as an inevitable component of tasty foods. I didn't have the world's sweetest tooth but I didn't actively dislike the stuff. I'm also not one of those people who believes that sugar is the devil. It is, however, utterly useless.

As everything we eat is likely to be carb-o-riffic anyhow chucking down pure carbs is a bit pointless. Particularly so when they're so fast burning they are more than likely going to overload your metabolism and end up getting turned into fat your body "helpfully" stores for "later". Obviously such a material has its uses, mountaineers for example, probably find it invaluable, but for the rest of us it's irrelevant, however it tastes.

For this reason I have started to groan with frustration whenever something contains any sugar at all. It's not much use to me, just a bunch of calorific nonsense that I'm going to have to account for and not be able to make up in cheese or cream later. I have started to find sugar boring.

And as for salt...

Beware The Salty Ninjas!

It's not salt per se that I object to, and I'm concentrating on losing weight not avoiding salt; one dietary mission at a time thanks. The thing is that when you're taking account of how much sodium is in everything you can't help but notice how bloody much of it there is when there surely doesn't need to be. It's like some looney salt arms race.

What I discovered in my researches is that the human body has no way to manufacture salt, apparently. That's why we quite like salty things because our body tells us that it needs salt to do stuff and the only way we can get any is to consume it. The only problem is that on a daily basis we only need a tiny amount of salt and the amount we end up eating because food ninjas secrete it in everything to have the marketing edge is way way more than it needs to be from a nutritional stand point.

Not that the people who make our food should be confused with people who care about our nutritional well being, of course. If they were then pure fat would be more readily available in a variety of forms without the addition of unnecessary sugar. Everything wouldn't come packed with salt. And many pointless foods made entirely of salted carbohydrate just wouldn't bother even existing.

You might take from this that I'm in a bit of a bad mood. Which is actually not true. My tongue is somewhat in my cheek (and has been checked for both salt and sugar before being allowed there). The points I raise are more a sort of amused look at how we have been exploited by people using our own biology to slip us rubbish in our foods. No wonder loads of people are fat, only nut cases like me go to the effort of breaking down our food into nutrient groups in order to see how much of what we're eating on a daily basis. Unfortunately, without that information our brains are always going to tell us to eat too much of the wrong stuff.

I'm off to finish my coffee (oh yes, caffeine, favourite remaining allowable vice) and contemplate some nice Saturday morning cheese on toast (full of salt of course but what isn't?).

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A Question From My Mother

As you can see by looking over to your right my mother is following this blog keenly and has written about her own views on dieting. The post talks about my own exploits and concludes with the question of what motivated me.

I guess the question comes in two parts. What makes someone who's always eaten heartily draw the line, and what makes them want to blog about the process of losing the fat.

The first part is quite easy. My own weight may have had flutters but the trend has been upwards. My waistline has never significantly decreased, only significantly increased. So I must have been doing something wrong to add all the excess poundage in such a sneaky ninja-like fashion. I've never ballooned, always just got a little bigger and then a little bigger again. 40 inch waist, 42 inch waist, 48 inch waist, 50inch waist... am I just waiting on 52? I can't buy trousers in the supermarket any more I have to order them on line. It's a depressing state of affairs. One that I saw no reason not to stop.

In addition Mrs Monkey has similarly decided to take action against her own expanding waistline and it's better to diet together than apart.

As to why I'm blogging it...

Well, one of the problems I've always had with dieting is that I didn't see how it would work for me, I enjoy food and if I wanted to lose weight surely I could exercise... exercise seemed, somehow, more manly than a diet. Then I stumbled upon The Hacker's Diet. This book by John Walker details one hacker's notes from his own quest for weight losage and was my original inspiration for dieting. His explanation of how to control calories is the simplest and rawest I've encountered and definitely made me curious about what I would find if I did something similar.

So here I am doing something similar. One of the massive advantages I have over Mr. Walker is that time has moved on and now with the aid of my faithful CRON-O-Meter I can monitor what it is I am eating and what it is I need to eat far more easily.

I am a naturally resistant dieter for several reasons:
  • Dieting is presented as virtuous when it is a process of shedding unnecessary poundage, thin people who flaunt their thinness really get on my wick.
  • I like greasy foods.
  • I don't like to be told what to do and far too easily give up on self-imposed restrictions that appear to have no meaning.
  • Over the course of the past half decade it has become apparent that I am slightly hypoglycemic and I felt that to accomodate my need for blood sugar level maintenance with a low calorific intake would be "too fiddly".
  • I'm just a git
For all these reasons I felt that if I were to diet I would have to do it, in some way, remarkably i.e. some remarkable things would necessarily come out of it. So far I have been proven right. Many of my reasons for not dieting are, in retrospect, a bit silly... but only because I have access to a tool that tells me how much of what is in all my foods. That helps me control calorific intake but ensure I get my daily nutrients.

The fact that the fat quota is by far the most difficult to meet even when ramming foods that are liberally sprinkled with red traffic lights down my gob hole just goes to show that your diet expert doesn't always know what's best for you. The revelation of how easy it is to inhale carbs is also something I hadn't expected. More fat, less carbs, sounds like Atkins, except Atkins is more fat, NO carbs. which is a crucial and dangerous difference.

My mother has labelled my approach "low carb" and that's not exactly true. I am eschewing as many carbs as possible after meeting my daily requirements. So it's really more "adequate carb" it is a diet lower in carbs than that of most people in this society but that's because most of us are eating ridiculous amounts of unnecessary carbs.

My mother also kindly imagines that I have "abandon[ed] Big Mac bliss". Au Contraire, mother I snacked down on just that very burger last night, and it was blissful and also within my calorific allowance. This is a diet like no other... one with, er, remarkable properties.

Midweek Check In: The Long Road

I was showing off my food diary to one of my colleagues yesterday. "Dieting's a bit of a challenge for you though," he said. "After all you're going to have to stick to it for ages."

This is true. My eating habits have changed for a week and a half and I can't see them switching back in the near future. I will indeed have to stick to my diet. This brief analysis had put its finger on one thing but missed several other points.

Firstly, to me every stone is another milestone (to be celebrated with a jumbo ice cream and a quadruple bacon cheese burger - joke). When I am 23st 12lbs I will be one stone closer to 15st 7lbs and so it will go all the way down past twenty into the teens. It's a lot to drop but there are many places to feel good about myself upon my way.

Second it's not really a challenge, I macced down on a burger from a popular high street chain last night because I had earned the calories (but only just... medium fries only from now on, way too close to the ceiling). Besides as eny fule kno at this stage that particular food item contained the rest of my (up to that point) paltry fat intake for that day. There's a reason that an encounter with the golden arches can flatten your mood, oh yes.

Third the implication that I would one day come off the diet is somewhat premature. If you were doing something that made you feel terrific and helped you stay healthy would you go back? Thought not. I will certainly reach a time where I may not be as meticulous in diarising my food items. But I think once I've been at this for a month or two I'll be able to tell how much of what I'm eating by eye.

Leads to the question of the day. Which part of a diet is the diet? Is it the weighing? The diarising? Or the calorie controlling? If you calorie control but don't diarise or weigh are you dieting? Whatever a diet is I'm finding mine fascinating at the moment and the health benefits are making themselves felt too.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Weekly Weigh In 2: The First Milestone

Weight after one week of dieting:

24st 4lbs/340lbs/154kg



So a good first week all in all. Obviously the massive variation is due to the fact that I am obviously a bit of a porker to begin with. I'm not expecting the decrease to remain so dramatic week on week. After all there's a word for people who shed 4 kilos a week: ill.

So next week what am I hoping to achieve? I want to continue balancing my nutritional needs. I'd like to go for another brisk walk. I'd like to stay under my allowance six days out of seven. I'd like to finish my last two bottles of beer and cut the alcohol entirely for a bit.

There's not much more to say. If I can lose half what I lost this week next week it'll be a good shout as far as I'm concerned. Stay tuned for the further adventures of the amazing shrinking monkey!

Diet Report 1: Dials And Gizmos

I'm sitting here on Saturday morning enjoying the sunshine, coffee and a bowl of porridge. I feel better than I have in a long time and I'm pretty sure I haven't coincidentally caught a dose of anti-flu. When I decided it was time to draw a line in the sand I was expecting a long term benefit but so far I am also enjoying the short term benefits of rationalising and trying to consume a balanced diet. Here are my first observations.

Say Hello To My Little Friend

I've been recording my foods this week with the help of CRON-O-Meter an online diet tracker that has access to American and Canadian food databases.

The good things about using CRON-O-Meter are many. You can make your own foods, which will be essential if you live in the UK as none of the brand names match except for the most megalithic food titan of them all McDonald's. Foods also come in two main varieties, plain foods like oats, bananas, lettuce and you can blend them together into Recipes so you can list the ingredients and nutritional content of a meal once and then just drop it into your diary whenever you make it.

You can also record exercise in the diary at the same time. I'm not really using that feature at present as, in the first instance, I would like my weight loss to be relatively unsullied by conversion of lean mass. Once I'm under way, maybe after the first stone or so, I'll put up with the fluctuations that's bound to put into my weight but right now I'm just after shrinkage, not toning. However, I have been out for a couple of brisk walks this week thanks to the excellent weather and just because I wanted to see how the whole mechanics of that worked.

You feed your activity, in my case walking, 3.5 mph, brisk, into CRON-O-Meter, signal the duration, and it tells you how many calories you burned, in my case a quarter pounder with cheese one day and about half a sausage and egg mcmuffin the next (one day I did forty five minutes and the other I did about twenty five). Walking's not really going to have much of an effect on body shape but the burned calories were definitely a bonus. Obviously, given that the effect is to burn off about one fattening food item you still have to be sensible with your diet but every little helps.

The dash board of CRON-O-Meter by default is a bewildering array of metres telling you how much of each amino acid found in your protein intake, and what constituent parts of vitamin A you've managed to inhale. Thankfully you can switch these off if they mean nothing to you, I guess that the designers of the app figured it's better to have something and not need it than the reverse. Here;s a screenshot of how I've got my dials set up:

Obviously, it isn't 100% effective when it comes to things like Vitamins because I don't know the vitamin breakdowns of things I enter from the supermarket or whatever. The food databases do contain the breakdowns of these food elements for most generic foods from apples to canned tuna, although these are obviously weighed in US portion sizes or raw grams.

In using CRON-O-meter the gram will become your friend. Everything is measured in grams, even, bizarrely, measures of liquid although some conversion has been done with liquids into another arbitrary measure, the fluid oz. I'm finding it livable with but might be slightly overestimating measures at the moment.

I'm finding that the benefits of this fiddling far outweigh the drawbacks. I stated at the beginning of this blog that I was aiming to diet like a geek, treating food like a variable in a science experiment and that's exactly what I've done. My observations so far have been remarkable.

Chewing The Fat

The most amazing thing I've noticed is how difficult it seems to be to consume pure fat. In the first couple of days of the diet the Fats metre tended to leave the day at between 65-85% of my recommended daily intake whilst my Carbs went through the roof.

What people who recommend a balanced diet are not going to tell you is that it's really, really difficult to consume pure fat to the extent that three times this week I had to eat blocks of cheese before bed just to come within a whisper of the top end of the target (no nightmares subsequently I'm happy to report). Meanwhile as you can see from the screenshot above 27g of oats deliver a third of the necessary carbohydrates my body needs in a single day.

The problem would seem to be that almost every food item is largely composed of carbohydrates. If it's not meat and it's not butter then you can guess what you're eating is probably full of carbs. Not only that but if you eat a sausage that's 67% meat guaranteed what do you think they bulk it out with? Fat? No. Carbs.

To have started dieting and found that my old, unhealthy diet was probably too heavy on the carbs and often not heavy enough on fat is a massive shock. Not only that but I have observed a definite uplift in my mood and energy levels as I attempt to lose the carbs but meet the required fat levels.

It seems anathema to a diet but it would appear that avoiding fats and not taking the balanced amount could account for the bad moods and despair usually associated with dieting. Obviously, I've only been at this a week but as my mood has substantially increased in pleasantness so my appetite has substantially decreased. Knowing that a massive packet of snacks is adding nothing to my dietary needs for the day actually puts me off it, and knowing that my peckishness is probably caused by a lack of double cream is a happy discovery indeed!

Portion Control

I think portion control is something people do have difficulty with. I know I always have. The problem is exacerbated by the general feeling that eating too much means eating anything fatty, anything pleasant, anything that makes us feel better. A lovely, greasy lamb chop is the devil to dieters, bake don't fry, run away from lipids in all their forms!

What I'm beginning to realise is that doing that is what makes portion control so difficult. Your brain is craving fat, not carbohydrates, fat. But as most food is actually a bunch of carbs and salt and your conscious brain, uninformed, believes that a tube of posh crisps is full of fat you neck them and then you still feel hungry. If you'd gone for a nice bowl of peaches and thick cream you'd have had a little and actually, ironically, saved the conversion of those carbs to fat that your body then becomes keen to hold hostage.

Net result, you get fat, you feel awful and you keep eating.

Like I say I've only been at this a week so come back on Feb 14th and you may find me craving giant bags of crisps and massive trays of fried rice but so far I'm tending to think that won't be the case. I'll be back after six with my weekly weigh in.

Until then go and eat some cheese, you know you want to!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Midweek Check In

Everything's going well so far. The main surprise being the difficulty I seem to be having meeting my requirements for protein and fat. It does make me suspicious of trying to diet without using some kind of computerised aid. I'm actually very fortunate to be dieting at a time when a machine can advise me the foods I can choose, track my progress and when every food item more or less comes with a panel telling me its nutritional breakdown. Any one who doesn't diet with these little helpers must have it tough.

Mrs Monkey is also finding Weightwatchers to be a help. In week one she dropped five pounds. We're both well versed in the facts and know that spectacular early loss just indicates that there was a lot there to be lost, this we know. I have been weighing myself daily for my Hacker's Diet chart but I will only be counting the weekly weigh in as the authorised version so I won't be putting it on here.

Before I sign off, back, briefly, to the protein and fat issue. I have found about three days on the trot now that when I am getting to the last 200 calories of my daily intake the balanced nutrition components I am most sorely missing are these two items i.e. if I necked some bacon or fried chicken I'd probably be quickly up to the limit. I can understand why dieters might find this counter intuitive, I do. As a lack of essential fat is known to contribute to depression isn't it possible that people find dieting all the harder because of their strenuous efforts to avoid all fat all the time?

Sticking to "healthy" foods such as fruit, oatmeal and low-fat prepared meals leaves me with a whopping 40% fat intake deficit at the end of the day. I have been countering this by necking some cheese but often still fall short. Food for thought...

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Instant Control

I'm not very good at holding detailed information in my head long term or for instant access. But I am quite absorbed by it when I'm looking at it. I think most people are like that. I know vaguely how much money is in the bank but not exactly, for example. I love internet banking.

Already the knowledge of how many calories I'm taking in is starting to give me a map of specifically how much I'm eating. Bizarrely it's also helping me feel less hungry. Knowing the amount of calories I've taken on in the last few hours actually helps me say "Hey, I can't be hungry, look what I've eaten.", I am given to understand that the mileage of others may vary. I have had precisely no "cravings" except at meal times so far and even then carrots and peas are as good as sausages and bacon. This may alter over time.

I'm actually beginning to think that I may have managed to put on this weight through forgetfulness, a lack of knowledge and the wanton consumption of fried chicken. Who knew?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Weekly Weigh In 1: Starting Weight

Starting Weight: An Alarming...

24st 12lbs/348lbs/158kg

Hmmm. Not all one could have hoped for. Mind you. Having more weight means more to lose. To clarify I have set a target weight of 15st 7lbs/217lbs/98kg. This is not an advised weight from a doctor or anything, a doctor would probably want me to lose more like 13 stone, but I record that here purely to illustrate how ridiculous and depressing visiting the GP is likely to be for people wishing to diet.

From what I have so far observed of Mrs. Monkey's Weight Watchers diet week one the first week seems to be a bit of an easy ride, but perhaps that's intended to be. I am eating broadly the same sort of things as she is but with a few added refinements. As I am about four stone ahead of her that would seem to be about right.

The biggest challenges I see ahead of me in the upcoming weeks is that I have a lot of beer to finish off left over from Christmas. I'm not going to leave it to age so I'm wondering whether I'm actually going to lose anything in week one. We shall see.

As for my diet helper tools I shall review them in more depth when I've been using them a bit longer, but so far Cronometer seems to be fiddly but largely approachable whereas the Hacker's diet online is really no more than a log of weight.

Two Fat Monkeys

Here's how bad it is. I went out to get us some brunch this morning and, as we are both to be dieting, I picked up a nice set of electronic scales from a hardware store. I got our (sort of) calorie controlled food home and showed Mrs Monkey the scales.

"Will it weigh up to our weight?" she asked.

As it happens the scales are good till you're north of 27 stones (it stops at 180 kg or 28.25 stones if you're interested) and neither of us are in that much trouble. Still, the question had to be asked, and that's the disturbing part.

Monkey Shrinks

I've felt in need of a diet for a long time, a bit lethargic, out of sorts and unhappy with my available clothing options. When your trousers need a 52-inch waist it's not a happy time.

Let's be straight here, I've never been a small chap. Since I grew to adulthood I've never been comfortable in a tee shirt smaller than XL. The smallest waistband I've ever had is 36 inches and back then I was fifteen years of age.

For this reason I have always considered myself to be fat. Actually, when I look back at pictures of myself at about eighteen or nineteen I know that I was about as fat as... well, I wasn't fat. But I felt fat. For this reason I have never really bothered to diet or discipline myself because when you give a dog a fat name...

Actually, I believe that by all standard medical metrics not only am I now morbidly obese but I have always been obese. Pictures of me twenty years ago make the whole thing seem academic and silly and that's really one of my bones of contention with medical advice about ideal weight.

The length across my shoulders must be about two feet, I'm six feet tall. I'm a stocky guy. Regular weight metrics are not useful to me. Even so, the irregular weight metrics tell me that right now I am definitely way too fat.

Last year at this time I joined a gym and I really enjoyed it, I did make a token effort at watching my weight as well but mostly I gymmed and swum. The gymming actually seemed a bit better than the swimming because the gym would sometimes be quiet and swimming pools are always massively full. Anyhow the regime fell apart because Mrs Monkey works weekend nights and I work week days so it became increasingly difficult to find times to go.

The Tools To Do The Job

This year Mrs Monkey really wanted to diet and has joined UK Service Weight Watchers, meetings, recipe cards, points values, the works.

Personally it's not something that motivates me. I am a systems developer by trade and as such what motivates me is twiddling with things and exploring problems. Perhaps the best way to explain is to put into the words of another:

The Hacker's Diet by John Walker

That basically sums up my feelings on the whole topic. In short, I have a mentality which demands that I pick apart things, fiddle and tweak. I can't just be given a diet I need to customise it. I think that's a trait shared by those who love to work on cars, or paint model soldiers, or develop role playing characters. So I guess you could generalise out the Hacker's Diet to be a general geek's diet.

So what you can expect to see in this blog is a record of my attempts to triangulate out from reference points in Mrs Monkey's dietary advice versus my own information a real sense of what dieting means. To be plain Mrs Monkey doesn't care in the slightest about what dieting means, she just wants to lose weight. This blog here is strictly for people who want to get inside the mechanics of dieting for practical purposes.

For those same practical purposes I will be recording my own weekly weight and notes about interesting food items as well as comparisons of what various diet trackers tell me/us about our foods. I will not be discussing Mrs Monkey's progress by request as she is taking care of her own programme.

For my part in the beginning I will be using two online trackers the colourful and fairly friendly looking Cronometer and the terser Hacker's Diet Online. I'll see which one proves to be more useful in the long term. I'm also going to be looking at the Hacker's Diet Computer Expert Excel Computer Tools just to see what they add.

I'll be back later with my initial weigh in.