Articles tagged:


Goals and Motivations

Thu 13 September 2018

So here it is, the middle of a weight-drop sprint week, with another one planned for sometime in the next month. This isn't easy right now, eating toast all day. What are the reasons I am putting myself through this process? What is the end goal? What is going to happen once I drop that fifteenth pound?


In general, I want to be in better health. After getting married a few years ago, many life changes took place similar to when I graduated college. Back then, I went from walking multiple miles a day from class to class, with barely any money for food, to sitting deskbound all day, with more than enough money for all the food I could want (not to mention the free soda). That did not turn out so well.

This time around, I moved from a walk city with the ocean and multiple parks nearby to a suburban house where I need a car to get anywhere other than my front lawn. Oh, and also sitting deskbound all day with all the food I could want. After a year or two of that, I wasn't feeling so great. Then, of course, the baby came along. That changed my life even more.

So now, I want to reset myself, get back to a reasonable weight, and continue on from there.

Specific Motivations

But general motivations usually aren't enough. I also came up with specific reasons that I can shoot out at the people around me to get them on board my good health wagon.

The first specific reason: cheaper life insurance. Some may say that BMI is an outdated metric, but it's still considered a useful, inexpensive, and easy way of measuring obesity. (This is probably for good reason. How many of us are football players with so much muscle that our BMI gets distorted upwards?) So I'm working my way down to the next BMI level (from “overweight” to “normal”).

(How much do I truly care about the cheaper premium? Not much, really. I don't even know what the actual savings would be. I do know that it's an easy thing to tell people when they ask me why I'm losing weight. Apparently, better health is not a good reason, but saving a few bucks a month is.)

The second specific reason: I want to maximize the amount of time I spend with my kid. She's about one year old right now, and lots of fun. I'm sure there will be hard times, but I want to be there for the good times as long as possible.

Finally, the third specific reason: I want quality life time. I enjoy eating a good meal as much as the next guy (probably much more than the next guy). But eating is not the only thing I enjoy. Many things require that I eat less to be able to participate. (e.g. surfing and hiking) So I'm getting my body in shape for the things I enjoy doing.

And there you go, my three reasons for dropping fifteen pounds in fifteen weeks. I'm sure I can come up with a longer list, but this is enough to keep me on track for now.

Future Goals

What am I going to do once I drop the fifteen? After all, one needs to punch through the wall, right?

1 — Create a Weight “Buffer Zone”

One plan is to maintain the weight. Given my lifestyle, this will require planning and diligence. As I mentioned above, I am now getting my BMI into the “normal” range. Dropping the fifteen is just the first step. The step after that is to create a bigger weight buffer zone. This means dropping an additional three to four pounds sometime after the first fifteen. This buffer zone will allow me to let loose once in a while (see: Vegas Trips) and still be within my target weight range. I expect that I will be continually moving up and down in weight, within the buffer zone. If I ever get above the buffer zone, then I'll be in red alert mode.

2 — Build it Up

The second plan is to build up my muscles. This blog is, of course, very much about the superfluousness of exercise - but that only applies to losing weight. Exercise is very important for general health. So once I drop the weight from my body, I will be building it back up the right way. I intend to get lean and strong as opposed to big and bulky.

3 — Eat Less, Eat Well

As goal-oriented as my approach has been for this project, I have more of a natural affinity towards process-oriented techniques. One thing I've discovered during the course of the last several weeks is that I can probably continue forward with an “eat less, eat better” philosophy. In other words: make the calories count.

Like most people, I find it too easy to fall into the trap of eating for eating's sake. Much of the time, I'm not even enjoying (much less needing) the food I'm eating. What I will do from now on is to only eat if I know I'm going to enjoy the food. (Or if I'm super hungry.) I won't waste the calories I'm ingesting on mediocrity.

Another Tactic

Here's another tactic for staying away from the dinner table, by the way: write a super long blog post. Another few days on the toast diet...

Tactic: Maintain Accountability

Thu 23 August 2018

This one is a little meta...

A great tactic I use to keep myself on track is to make myself accountable to someone. Last year, I wanted to drop ten pounds (pretty much the same ten pounds I dropped earlier this year). I started texting my weight to a group of friends every weekend. I didn't ask them nor did they offer to take part. I just started doing it. And being my friends, they were very supportive. I managed to drop around six pounds before my daughter was born. At that point, I had to do a life reset and my weight loss plan had to be postponed.

This time around, I decided not to bother my friends again. Instead, I started this blog. So here I am writing about why I am writing. It's worked so far. This blog has been especially helpful during this sprint week. Just thinking of what to write each night helps me to avoid eating too much during the day.

So there's the tip: promise yourself and make it public to one or more people. It's just a little psychological trick, but it works very well.

Tactic: Embrace the Hunger

Wed 22 August 2018

The US Marines have a saying: “Pain is weakness leaving the body.”

I thought it was a weightlifter thing. Regardless, it can be right some of the time. I have my own version of this for dropping weight:

“Hunger is weight leaving the body.”

A lot of the time, dropping weight is about hunger management. There are lots of tips on how to stave off hunger (e.g. by snacking on nuts), or how to avoid it altogther (e.g. eat a big breakfast). This absolutely helps. If you prevent the hunger from coming, then you can keep yourself from overeating.

But sometimes, hunger is unavoidable. Eating less will make you hungry. And when hunger does strike, you'll have two choices: give in and eat something, or embrace the hunger.

Embracing the Hunger

People who lift weights talk about “the burn”. The burn is a sensation in the muscles caused by lactic acid buildup. This buildup is the result of the muscle workout. In moderate amounts, “the burn” can be a pleasant feeling, likely because you know it means your muscles are getting better and stronger because of it.

For people dropping weight, hunger is the equivalent of the burn. In moderate amounts, it can be a pleasurable sensation as well. (At least, that's what I tell myself.) When I am hungry, I know it means that I will be dropping some weight. I enjoy knowing this, and therefore I embrace it.

Case in point: I am super hungry right now. I've barely eaten anything all day. But as uncomfortable as it is, I'm happy to feel this way because I know that I'm dropping weight. I also know that I'll be able to eat happily tomorrow morning (or maybe the day after).

Hunger Can be Good

Most have probably heard of the line that Steve Jobs used in a commencement speech he gave at Stanford: “stay hungry, stay foolish”. He was talking about ambition and idealism.

I think the line can also be applied literally: stay hungry. When you're hungry, food tastes better. When you're hungry, you are losing weight. The world today is mostly designed to make people overweight. Stay hungry to keep an edge and stay healthy.

Tactic: Eat Just One Thing

Tue 21 August 2018

A couple of years ago, Penn Jillette, the magician, dropped over a hundred pounds. For the first two weeks of his regimen, he ate only potatoes and lost about fourteen pounds. It's called a mono diet and it's something I sometimes do for a day or two. (I don't have as much weight to lose as he did and it's not healthy for long periods.)

Penn didn't have to choose potatoes. He could have picked almost any other food. As he explains it, he did this in order to break a lot of his bad eating habits. Like most of us, he was dependent on salty, sweet, and fatty foods. After two weeks of only potatoes, he lost the craving for all the bad stuff and was able to manage his appetite a lot better.

For me, this method is mostly about hunger management. I keep a stash of bread at home (I use a specific kind of bread that they make at Sprouts.) When I get hungry, I eat a little bit of the bread and then drink some water. This fills me up, and then I'm able to not eat for a little while longer. I never do this for more than a day or two.

As I write this, I'm on a mostly bread diet for the day (I ate some leftover corn a little while ago. I also had a banana.) I butter my bread, for flavor. I'll probably do this tomorrow as well. Then I'll have to figure something else out.

Penn Jillette and the One Rule

One detail that needs more examination is that Jillette did not exercise. Specifically, he avoided exercise. More specifically, he suggests to first lose the weight, and only after the weight is lost to begin an exercise routine:

“this is important – I also didn’t exercise while I was losing the weight. Exercising is body building. It’s a different thing. Wait until you hit the target weight, then you exercise.”

Penn Jillette

This is exactly what I am saying with my one rule. And it's not just him and me, science backs up the theory as well.

Tactic: Stop Eating At Night

Mon 20 August 2018

Here's one way to eat less that I personally don't use, but which works well for some people:

stop eating at night.

The idea is that you can eat anything you want and as much as you want during the day. Once the witching hour arrives, stop eating. It's common to set the time an hour or two before bedtime.

This is a great tactic because it's simple and straightforward. It's literally the One Rule embodied. For those who don't mind missing out on nighttime gatherings, this works very well.

I know someone who uses this trick every couple of years to lose anywhere from thirty to fifty pounds. (It's not a very healthy situation to gain and lose that much weight so often, but that's another story.)

When he decides it's time to lose weight again, he stops eating at six o'clock every night. He typically wakes up at around five in the morning to go to work, so that's about eleven to twelve hours of not eating every day. Breakfast becomes the most enjoyable meal of the day in this situation.

Personally, I don't use this tactic very often because it can get awkward socially. I usually end up making exceptions for certain occasions. Afterwards, I have trouble getting caught up with the missed night. I find that working with a week long timeframe gives me the flexibility to plan ahead or cram from behind as needed.

Page 1 / 1