Saturday, 25 February 2012

Weekly Weigh In 8: Um, Wow

Weight after seven weeks of dieting:

22stones 12lbs/320lbs/145kg



Need I say more? Well, maybe. I could talk about how last week I got a fairly high Saturday reading and the rest of the week I was reading about 23 2 so this is only a real drop of fourish pounds in real terms but my tea (jackets with tuna sweetcorn, salad and cheese) is ready so I'll leave on a high.

See you all soon for more dieting antics.

Diet Report 6: Don't Screw Up The Data

I think since I achieved my first milestone weight of 23 stones and 7 lbs I've definitely found the going more of a challenge. The actual mechanics of the diet have been working out well. I'm eating enough to keep me happy, often staying below my threshold, getting at least two bouts of exercise a week and all is golden and rosy. The chemistry of my metabolic processes, however, are having a harder time.

I suppose that the clues are there in the fact that Weight Watchers and similar operate on a "monthly subscription" basis. People have to diet for a long time to see serious results. It's taken me about half my life to get this fat. Getting unfat was never going to be easy.

The problem is that after that initial "thank goodness" as your body dumps fat even it knows it didn't need the numbers spiral slowly down instead of showing an inexorable downward spike. It's like counting from 10 to 1 by going: 10 9 8 7 9 10 9 8 7 6 7 8 6 9 7 6 5 7 7 7 8 6 5 7 7 5 6 5 4 6 6 5 7 6 5 4 3 5 5 6 5 5 4 4 5 4 3 2 5 4 4 3 2 2 1.

The actual firm pieces of downward motion are fleeting and incremental, sometimes the numbers swoop back upwards alarmingly but there always comes a point at which you've left certain data points behind, the first time you see a new low is nice but it's no guarantee you're going to see it again for a while.

For example, at this stage I've left 23 7 behind. I haven't seen it in weeks. I've seen 23 0 once but mostly I've ping ponged around between the two with little seeming progress in either direction.

This, then is that plateau we've been warned about. Except, it's not a plateau, it's like the last few revolutions of a large ball bearing in a giant metal cone before it plops out of the hole in the centre. It's swooping up and down it looks like its stuck to the side of the cone but at some point it has to drop.

The hard part about this would have to be motivation. Recording a spiralling carousel of figures that dance up and down and round and round is somewhat bizarre and not very interesting. I will often say "bah" at my daily weigh in because the point is one I've seen before and not as low as I might have liked. This is the point at which a dieter needs something else to keep them in the game.

One of the things that will keep them at it, I suppose, is the weekly flag points. At that point the trend will out and it should never stay stable or increase two weeks on the trot (as long as we're being good). However, the problem with that is a week is a long time to wait for news.

In my case, and everyone else's mileage may vary, I am fascinated by the observational process of it all. And so I daren't say sod it and reach for the cream buns because I do not want to sully my data!

It's a strange motivation but what I guess I am saying is that everyone must have their own day-to-day reason for sticking with a programme of calorie-restricted weight loss. I have two, I love my data and I love my new foods.

I think having reasons like this are key. As I haven't mentioned it for a while I shall say now, go eat some cheese, or spread some butter on something. Fat is very important and 65g isn't going to magically appear in your daily food intake unless you take action now!

See you later for the weigh in.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Weekly Weigh in 7: Underwhelming

Weight after six weeks of dieting:

23stones 5lbs/327lbs/149kg



Actually I've been lower this week, but Saturday's weigh in is the only one that counts. I would write more but right now myself and the Mrs should be enjoying the end of "The Woman In Black" before watching "The Muppets". This has not happened because the people of Britain are inconsiderate ignorant idiots who talked and rustled and got up and walked around through the first twenty minutes of the movie. We are now considering cancelling the cinema cards we have owned for many years because we just find the business of visiting the cinema grotty and depressing.

Will stop now as this is supposed to be an upbeat dieting blog.

Cinema Day

Myself and the Mrs are going to the cinema today so the weekly weigh in will be late.

See you later.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Weekly Weigh In 6: Nice

Weight after five weeks of dieting:

23stones 6lbs/328lbs/149kg


If you have been paying close attention you will know that this is not as spectacular as it seems because most of the weight actually came off the day after the last weigh in so in the last 6 days I have actually only seen a loss of 1lb/0.5kg still I am not one to look a gift loss in the mouth.

Weekly Goals

Generally I did well and myself and the Mrs got a bonus walk in the park in today, pictures to follow. We didn't get to check out the gym but that was due to circumstances beyond and all that. As the weather up here is so terrible my goals next week are not to allow my focus to slip, at least one walk, try to keep my head down and keep on plugging. The Mrs is also having a tough time at the moment due to various natural factors.

The Man Diet

I once heard a "man diet" described as a man making the very tiniest of changes to their diet and walking an extra 100-200 yards every day all the while dropping weight like nobody's business. It has to be said I have found my weight loss process to be relatively stable and quite easy to map. I have never put weight back up more than two days in a row and the longest plateau I've had so far has been four days.

Women have several disadvantages in dieting as a frantic Google has told us this evening. Women have a monthly cycle, if women consume too much salt they have a tendency to retain water. Men do not have to put up with arbitrary "bloating". This is a shame because men like to diet in that it makes them feel better about life and improves their health. Maybe a thinner man does feel proud and more confident as a by-product but it's not more of a triumph than, for example, watching a favourite sports team win a convincing victory (so I have heard).

Women, on the other hand, do inherit a moral component with dieting, and being thinner and less heavy is seen as virtuous. It is not the healthiest relationship to have with bodily mass but it is entrenched. Why it is that to women the issue of dieting and weight loss is a carnival merry-go-round of judgement and disapproval dependent, in many cases, on a circuitous and confusing number of factors, many of which are hormonal, is one of the great mysteries of life.

Diet Report 5: The Everyday Diet

Thought I'd begin this week's main entry with an image of a delicious omelette, fries and side salad made in our very kitchen last Sunday brunch time. This truly is the brunch of champions containing every nutritious thing you need to go until tea time with no more than a couple of cups of coffee. You may think it looks appetising, hell I am craving that exact meal all over again right now but here's the thing. All the time I was piling on weight and eating crap I never felt motivated to take a photograph of any meal. The riot of colour and variety of texture on display in my meals of late means sometimes you have to pause to lay down some megapixels.

Moving on.

Flat Week

You may remember from last weekend's ups and downs, and my midweek mini-update that after apparently losing nothing in the fourth week of the diet the very next day I dropped a massive four pounds in my daily weigh in and then experienced no fluctuations at all by Wednesday. Well, on Thursday evening I recorded the shifting of another three pounds and then yesterday it all came back again. So what will tonight's recorded weight be?

I certainly hope it won't be more than 23 7, that would be rubbish, but I also think it's more than likely going to stick at 23 7 which will look like a loss on the official week by week chart but is actually six days of nothing. On the other hand if I come in any lighter than 23 7 it will look like I'm dropping weight at a massive rate when any change at this point will be a much smaller departure from 23 7 than it looks.

In other words if you are not measuring your weight daily, and there are many good reasons not to, then you may find in your milestone weighing session that things look bleak, or look worrying when the overall pattern would give you a much clearer indication of exactly when the body is dumping unnecessary fat reserves.

Coupled with the snowy conditions and cold weather over this week the freeze in my weight has reminded me of the Nordic Rune Isa:

Not the most exciting sigil ever but eerily the one that seems to resonate most when I encounter its symbol in action. Isa directly means ice and represents blockage, a literal freezing up of the things in your life. When it's too cold to go outside, it takes longer to drive to work and the weight you've been losing seems to stop dead it just appears as if someone's hit the pause button on the world.

On which note the one goal I really wanted to achieve this week, to visit the gym with a view to joining my company's gym programme went by the wall due to snow and freezing conditions. Which annoyed me a bit as well.

Hunger Pangs

This week was also the first time I've actually felt hungry during the diet. Not anything dramatic just a much clearer feeling of peckishness at meal times. Personally I think it's quite a healthy thing. In fact, in retrospect, it's a bit worrying that properly hungry isn't something I've felt for years. Mildly more interested in food, sure, but actually hungry, I can't say that it was familiar as feelings go.

The nice thing about hunger is when you do eat things taste better and the experience is just generally more rewarding. Eating when you've got plenty of your own fat to live on is just an altogether more compulsive action.

Son of Salad: Revenge of the Schooner

By request this week I will be providing a step-by step guide to building salads such as yours truly, the salad monster, likes to make for sustenance, tantalising tastes and rockin' good times. I was actually asked for a recipe but salad doesn't really have a recipe it's a "bung it in a bucket" kind of experience. So without further ado I present, the bucket:

Actually, I like to refer to it as a "schooner". It's really just a bowl. Like someone miniaturised a large salad server but not too miniature. It's bigger than a pasta bowl and shallower than a soup bowl. We bought these specially and I think it does provide an eye guide to the perfect salad size.

Next, just a gander at the ingredients. From left to right on the front row, we have sliced cucumbers, grated carrots (at this point I ran out of colour coded plastic hoppers), green pepper and red onion. On the back row gherkins, jalapenos, sweetcorn and olives (the gherkins are part of Mrs Monkey's salad and will feature no further part in this salad how to, you may like vinegary, wrinkly freak cucumber foetuses but I am not a fan). I have not included the lettuce in this line up because it's freakin' lettuce, you buy it in a plastic bag and just pop it into a bowl like this:

See, already we're looking like we've got some salad-y goodness going on and we've only done one ingredient. Don't diss the lettuce it is the foundation of the salad and who would build a house without solid foundations, only someone who enjoys living in rubble.

Cucumbers are where the salad begins to look like a real salad, cucumbers add a slight peppery nuance to the bowl but mostly they're there for the crunch. If you have some slices left over you could use them on your eyes because apparently that is a thing.

Really I should have used red pepper on this part for a dash of colour contrast but I didn't so far, so green salad, right?

And then BAM grated carrot haymaker right in the face, suddenly we have an explosion of exuberantly sweet orange to go with the slightly spiced flavours of the green vegetables added so far.

I am having red onion on my salad Mrs Monkey says it is horrible and shuns it in favour of alien pods coated in acid and then sliced into things that look like nose goblins. And she says I like disgusting foods because I like a smattering of fiery spicyness on my salad... bah.

Finally, on the proper vegetable front I add a nice yellow touch to the bowl delicious sweetcorn, another taste contrast.

I love olives and a couple of jalapenos are all but mandated by law. Enjoy this riot of colour and flavour because we're about to reach for the deli meats which does cover up the visually attractive vegetables so far assembled.

The joy of this is that as you slice through the meat you expose the colourful layers underneath. Plus sliced deli meats are delicious. I have plumped for chicken in this instance. The one thing I have found quite frustrating is that supermarkets don't really sell wafer thin turkey slices, and in fact the turkey selection as a whole is quite poor. I prefer turkey as a salad white meat it just seems to compliment the bowl better. Never mind let's skip to the cheese:

That's 50g of mature cheddar right there homeslices. It's the most fattening thing on the plate at 202 kcal but it tastes of pure cheesy goodness. As a final touch a quick swirl of dressing:

Today I have gone for mayonaisse with a hint of chilli the choice of dressing is key to the ultimate salad experience. In this case there was a pleasant extra heat to my salad which made myself and my tastebuds very happy indeed.

Hope that's helpful in pointing you in the direction of your own salad behemoth, now I am tending towards getting myself some eggs and tearing up a righteous omelette in the hizouse. I'll see all of you here after six for the weigh in. Have a good Saturday!

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Two Interesting Things

  1. Since I have attained 23 7 I have not left 23 7 in either direction
  2. I have photographs for a step-by-step how to on the salads (by request) expect it later this week.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Is That A Kit Kat In Your Mouth Or...

Yes. Yes it is.

Today's weight point 23 7 on the nose.

Ithengyew see you next week.

Diet Report 4: Salad Days

I'm worried that this particular entry may come off as being a little underwhelming now after the news of my technical non-loss this week. Worse, it could even seem depressing. For which reason if I see my expected loss in tonight's weigh point I will say what it is so that you can see the trend of my weight loss in action.

The Gateway

It started, innocently enough, with a choice of meal that Mrs Monkey had learned the ways of during a brief stint working for a chain of popular high street sandwich merchants. These particular merchants like to boast of the different combinations of stuff you can have in your sandwich and by stuff I mean vegetables, cheese and dressings. They also like to boast about their 12 inches. Am I making myself plain?

Anyhow, in addition to their distinctly bread-heavy menu these chaps also offer their menu selection as a salad bowl. This option is not pushed much in their advertisements and is less popular than the offerings that don't require pi to quantify (mmm, pi).

While Mrs Monkey was engaged in their employ, however, she had a chance to switch from bread to bowl and found the experience to be a rewarding one. When we came to diet it was suggested we try out this option as an alternative to more calorific fast food offerings. The construction of the salad bowl differs only slightly from the construction of one of their sandwiches. The assistant starts, obviously with the vegetables and layers the cheese, dressings and other meatier refinements on top of those.

I have never been much for a salad meal. I think mostly because almost all commercially prepared salads are either incredibly leafy or come with mandatory tomatoes. Neither my self nor the Mrs really go for raw tomatoes. As such, watching the assistant assemble the vegetably treat was something of a revelation.

First, a layer of the leafy stuff, there are enough varieties of lettuce you can buy in the supermarkets these days, you don't need me to paint you a picture. On top of this a mixture, in my case cucumber, red onions and peppers. Then the little tasty bits, sweetcorn and olives. After that you're ready for a small but satisfying portion of cold cuts, sprinkle with grated cheese and top with a dressing (don't feel guilty, it will help towards your pure fat quota for the day). All done:

Let me tell you, that bad boy is a lot more filling than a large Big MacDaddy with fries on the side. Note also that I went for the most unhealthy meat option: the sliced porky fat monster from Hell.

One of the big problems of salad is that in this society it has been co-opted by the kind of weirdo who will tell you that taking a bucket of fresh, raw vegetables, layering them, and then slathering them with cheese, spicy mayo and pork death is an insult and not worthy of one who quests for health. Okay, we think, then it all seems too tedious. If adding a little of what I fancy is out of the question pass the Bacon Double Chee and put me some fresh BBQ sauce with those crispy fries, oh, yeah and onion rings too my good fellow.

That's right, in order to prevent you from eating a small amount of questionably nutritious pleasure food health nuts have actively driven people away from huge, healthy and satisfying bowls of healthy raw vegetables. Or at least, that's been my problem. In the last month I have discovered an amazing truth. Putting a small portion of unhealthy fat and meat on top of a large bowl of raw vegetables makes the whole thing taste delicious and has no perceivable effect on the healthiness of the raw veg whatsoever! That's right! The vegetables are completely unaffected by putting cheese, mayo and meat on top of them! I know, staggering.

Hardcore Salad Munching

The sandwich chain experience is good but it left me hungry for more (well, after I'd digested the current bowl, at the time it's incredibly filling). Not only that but watching the sandwich chain drone make the salad was like a green and leafy epiphany. It's not hard to make a tasty salad, I realised, in fact, it's dead easy. Quickly posh salad "schooners" were purchased  along with the necessary refinements and we were away.

The salad you're about to see featured not only all the ingredients found at the sandwich chain but also grated carrots, red cabbage and some jalapenos for bite. Yum.

I had to include this initial picture just to show you how good the vegetables look ungarnished. In the spirit of full salad disclosure the next thing I did was this:

After that I put two thin slices of corned beef (bully beef American friends) over the top that effectively obscured the whole thing from view, so I chose not to photograph what looks, essentially, like a bowl filled with meat. The red blobs are a tangy tomato relish, because although the raw tomato is not to our tastes the chopped up and essentially turned to jam version goes great with meat.

The salad schooner allows the containment of probably between 30% and 40% more raw vegetables and the overall experience was tasty but I think I maxed out Mrs Monkey who could not finish the vegetable behemoth. That bowl, incidentally, including two thin slices of corned beef comes to about 350 calories including a single buttered granary roll on the side. Not only that it's a taste sensation.

The Birth of a Salad Monster

Friends, I must confess, I have become obsessed with salad. Just having a delicious salad at least four times a week isn't enough for the likes of me. Oh no. I've taken to garnishing other meals with side salads that generally restaurants would probably serve up as main salads.

This leads to my final point. In the outside world salad, generally speaking, is seen as the poor man's choice. It is often presented and dismissed as such by the kitchen hands of popular restaurant chains. How can something that you basically throw at a plate and douse in creamy goodness be competition for a perfectly grilled tuna steak or a painstakingly prepared slice of beef Wellington? It's nature's blessing, honestly I believe culinary professionals are jealous of the salad.

This, people, is why side salads in the normal world consist of three slices of drying out cucumber, two wilting iceberg lettuce leaves, a tiny portion of raw white onion, two lonely cherry tomatoes and a few stalks of cress dismissively given a tiny ghetto in the corner of the plate (and that's a particularly good example of the genre). I ate an excellent omelette for brunch yesterday and I got one lettuce leaf two slices of cucumber,  a tomato wedge, all covered in something mayonaisse-y and a tomato relish that basically drowned the whole thing. This is most people's experience of the side salad.

This is the side salad I put with a meal of cheeseburger and fries grilled at home last week:

Note, particularly, that this melon-farmer takes up half of the plate. The only foodstuff that could be said to be given a food ghetto on that plate were the 100g of crispy fries which was sufficient to add a little je ne sais quois to the rest of the meal.

Let me tell you, alternating bites of grease-dripping meaty cheese burger with mouthfuls of red cabbage, pepper and cucumber makes both foods taste amazing, it's like a vivid chiaroscuro of taste sensation. These two bad boys were born to tag team your mouth with an elbow drop of soaring flavour.

Did I mention I've become kind of a salad zealot of late?

Anyhow, it's been grand but I have some tuna mayo to whip up because this lunchtime, guess what this monkey's chowing down on. Why don't you join me? You won't regret it.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Weekly Weigh in 5: Duck Egg?

Weight after four weeks of dieting:

23stones 11lbs/333lbs/151kg



Obviously this looks like a bit of a rubbish result as I've been maintaining the diet in its usual mode and haven't suddenly made a dash for a BK bacon double cheese or anything. There are, however, two things that I believe have affected this result.

  1. I ate lunch quite late due to the car being in for its MOT
  2. My weight loss seems to take a swing pattern of down, down lots, up lots, up a bit, back down, down, down lots, up lots, up a bit, back down etc. Sort of a swirly spiral pattern. Last Saturday you happened to catch me on a down lots day and the following two days saw me scale back up to 24 briefly before sinking to 23 8 on Thursday this week and now I am due an up a bit day after being up lots yesterday from 23 8 to 23 10. So I expect we're just seeing the back end of 23 11 before I sink to the milestone weight south of 23 7 at some point in the coming week.
So I'm not really disheartened by this. It would be nice to lose convincingly every Saturday but some people's bodies just don't work like that.

Weekly Goals

Obviously I now have the goal of being back here next Saturday with a tangible loss, which should be a foregone conclusion if I am right about the weight swing phenomenon. I would like to be furthering my adventures with salad. I wanted to try out the company gym for size last week and it never happened, it would be good if I could look into that this week. Aside from that I am expecting to record one step at my weight milestone of 23 7 or below this week. So that's plenty to be going on with.

No diet report today because of having the car MOTed but I will endeavour to write it up tomorrow and if there is good news at the weigh in I shall possibly indicate that this has happened because I imagine if you have been following the diet you find this weekly weight report slightly disappointing.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Midweek Check In - Dieting In Winter

It's been nearly a month since I began my diet. So on Saturday I will include not only my weight loss for the past week but also a summary of dieting progress made in the month of January. This month begins the first full month of weight loss.

Obviously, many people begin diets in January, but in our case it didn't have much to do with Christmas, it was more to do with it being a new year. We hadn't eaten that much over the festive period and we felt no more bloated than usual (our New Year buffet, though, was a calorie fest, and we did eat quite a lot of Chinese duck and pancakes, not traditional Christmas fare but the fat doesn't care). What I don't think we were expecting, I certainly wasn't, was how much better our respective diets would make us feel.

If I'm honest so far I'd say that the Cronometer diet is seeming to work out a little better because I have not only dials measuring how many calories I'm eating but also dials measuring how much of all the major nutrients I'm supposed to eat which seems to have the effect of a psychological buttress. When you've eaten over 130% of the necessary protein, carbs and fat for the day you feel reassured that you have done well and you don't need the 300 calories you have left in your calorie budget for anything. I have not gone to bed hungry during this diet, or felt pangs of regret for cake or ice-cream.

The one problem of the Weight Watchers approach is the fact it boils everything down to a simple variety of points. They changed their system a short while ago to make fruit and vegetables point free, the fruit, in particular is controversial. The apparent reasoning behind it was that people were skipping a one point banana to save points for a seven point chocolate bar and in the end it would have been better if people had eaten the fruit and the chocolate bar.

The new problem is that people are now eating twelve bunches of grapes in a week and wondering where the sugar pounds are coming from.

Even so, as I have to remind myself I like dials, numbers and statistics and a lot of people find them tedious in the extreme so the main heading has to be "everybody's shrinking over here".

There's light in the mornings now, just a little, and light in the evenings. The seasons are slowly shifting just as the weight is slowly melting away. I think once you've entered the third or fourth week of a process like this you can start to feel in tune with these natural processes as your weight decreases and it appears to be in tune with the waking world. You can look forward to spring and summer, months away and consider how many pounds you might be lighter by the time its shorts and t-shirt weather. It's a more poetic kind of motivator.

For now, back to cold mornings and hot porridge. See you for the weigh in!