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December 30, 2005

Resolution Assistance

I keep telling myself that I have big bones and lots of muscle mass (I hear that muscle weighs more than fat), but the bottom line is that I weigh 200 pounds. Unfortunately, I’d like to weigh 180 pounds.

Coincidentally, I’m drafting my New Year’s resolutions, and one of them is to lose weight. This is somewhat of an annual occurrence. Unfortunately, the abandonment of said resolution also happens with annual regularity—just a few weeks later. However, this year I have a Nobel prize winning professor on my side, so I am cautiously optimistic.

The source of this knowledge is an article by Virgina Postrel called “A Nobel Winner Can Help You Keep Your Resolutions.” It is in the 12/29/05 issue of the New York Times. The subject of this story is Professor Thomas Schelling, a professor emeritus at the University of Maryland. He is an expert in the study of conflict.

And conflict is exactly what I have. Luckily, Virginia provides his ideas for the maintenance of New Year’s resolutions, and I’m going to try some of them:

Precommitment. The theory is that if you burn the bridges behind an army, it will fight harder because it knows there is no way out. For dieting, the means that you precommit to not eating ice cream by simply not stocking your refrigerator with ice cream. At the very least, it forces me to get in the car to buy ice cream; surely ice cream (eg, chocolate chip cookie dough) isn’t that important.

Bright line rules. The intention of these rules is to simplify your life and prevent “slippage.” Personally, this would mean not eating any white rice as opposed to my past efforts to reduce white rice consumption to one bowl per meal or to mix white rice with brown rice because “brown rice is better for you.”

Delay. Who am I kidding? I can’t stop eating white rice. I’m Japanese-American. You might as well tell me to stop breathing. The delay strategy takes this type of inevitability into account: so at 10 pm when I get the white-rice munchies, I’ll wait until 10:30 before going to the kitchen. Who knows: I may fall asleep before 10:30 and wake up lighter.

I hope his rules will help you too. If they don’t, there’s always next year...

Written at Atherton, California

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My contributions :

1. Weigh yourself every day -- it reinforces good behaviour and warns off against bad behaviour.

2. Carb counting -- Less carbs = less chance to store fat and gain weight.

3. Go for clear soup and plenty of fibre (eg oatbran has plenty of that) -- good for filling you up.

4. Do NOT skip breakfast, snack less and eat even lesser for dinner.

5. Exercise

Good luck

Ah, the familiar "losing weight" resolution. I was able to finally stick it out last year with some proper motivation. What worked for me was reminding myself what I was losing weight for everytime I was thinking about reaching for something unhealthy. Just looking around the blogosphere I found newyearresolutionblog.blogspot.com , which has similar ideas posted. I struggled too many years with goals but no motivation. That was what was holding me back.

How about a diet of "my wife eats natto every morning and the microwave stinks all day". Works to keep my appetite in check.

Forget the weight. Focus on reducing percentage of body fat. Get one of the scales that measure body fat (or the handheld device) and focus on that.

Get a heart rate monitor and use it at least 5 times a week to get your heartrate to training level for 20 minutes.

Use smaller dishes.

I burned the bridges by commiting my 2006 new years resolutions on my blog. Sort of what you are doing. "This is what my year is about" I told my readers.

There is no way that im going to let them down.

My 2006?

The adventures of a 22 year old boy on a quest to becoming an movie-god!

André Hedetoft
Movie-god.
www.oddlife.se

To keep resolutions it is sometimes a good idea to put some pressure on oneself. One way to do that is to provide a chart where everyone can see (e.g. your blog).

I found that idea on Brian Maricks Blog http://www.testing.com/cgi-bin/blog/2005/04/02 and thought it was a really good idea.

I must disagree with ever going to bed hungry. If you start going hungry, your metabolism will slow down to adjust to your new habit which will just lead to more fat storage and less calorie burn (plus you'll feel horrible). In fact, eating several smaller meals throughout the day (7 instead of the traditional 3) could help you increase metabolism and not feel so hungry that you have to load up on carbs in one meal.

White rice is loaded with carbs (which is really not such a bad thing), but the carbs aren't sugar which means they digest much slower. I don't really see a problem with white rice as long as you eat it earlier in the day and eat it either boiled or steamed. The best situation would be for you to eat two or three bowls within about 30 minutes of completing a workout. The carbs would help your muscles heal and they would be absorbed rather quickly. Another good alternative would be to eat the rice in the morning for breakfast.

Even the ice cream shouldn't be a problem if you keep it to about once a week (though the cookie dough is pushing it a little). Because of the law of deminished returns, you would actually enjoy the ice cream more if you had it less often. Again, don't eat it before you go to bed. As with most things, timing is everything.

Great website for free fitness tips for guys is www.askmen.com. Most of their site is crap (more or less a Maxim knockoff), but the health section is pretty good (http://www.askmen.com/sports/index.html).

Good luck! You can do it!

Schelling is brilliant but "delay" is implausible alone. "Forestall-with distraction-aiming-to forget" is more like it, but having lost 80 pounds in 2005 on the Fat Actress plan, I find this more effective: "Abort Mission." When precommitted portion is complete, walk away from kitchen/scene of the crime...do not linger to clean up (risking meal #2) or scrounge, or whatever. Let brain (starved) catch up with stomach (full), which takes 10 or 15 minutes. "Kitchen is closed" -- to borrow from your earlier post -- must be your mantra.

I was gaining weight because I always had a second bowl of rice with dinner. One day I just decided that one bowl is enough (and no fair overstuffing that first bowl).

Sure, that second bowl is real tempting, but if I just wait a few minutes the first one settles in and a second bowl no longer seems necessary.

If you get hungry late at night, just go to sleep.

Hi Guy,

Congratulations on starting a blog , I will be a regular visitor. Reading your "Art of the Start" and its straight to the chase style is action-inspiring.

For burning fat and losing weight, one of the most eye opening advice I've found is : http://www.mikesfitness.com/article_howtolosefat.php

You might think weight training is only for Governators, but he makes same pretty good points most don't know about.

And guess what, the Founder of AutoDesk John Walker also wrote a gorilla of a book for hackers weight loss ( free ) : http://www.fourmilab.ch/hackdiet/www/hackdiet.html

If you got the patience, it makes some rare engineering perspective observations along with advice, which I found very useful for myself

Greetings from Detroit!
What a great start to your new blog. The title alone had me humming that tune :) I found the link to your site from a post over at Robert Scoble's blog. Although I live nowhere near the technological world that Robert lives in--I'm really just a regular (extremely basic in skills) home user, I still follow a few of the techie blogs, like Robert's, because I can always count on him to point me to a great site that I wouldn't have known about otherwise----like your site, for instances :)
Good luck with your New Year's Resolutions and I look forward to learning more about you and following your blog.

Hello Guy, I actually picked up your book "how to drive your competition crazy" a few years back while traveling in Asia. Great book and gave me a few laughs... anyways, try a system I have (and continue to) develop, myfoodcount.com, its free, anonymous and secure. It can be used no matter what diet you are on and you don't need to worry about a story getting out in the National Inquirer about your struggles with weight ;-)

We are still in heavy development and I won't know if you joined or not, but give it a try and let me know what you think.

Jon
Founder of myfoodcount.com
Free, anonymous & secure online health monitoring

Hi, Guy,

As usual you've produced another entertaining and informative resource.

I've written about your new blog at the blog I do aimed at librarians. Check it out at www.clioinstitute.info/blog/

Gail McGovern

Dear Guy,

Great start to your blog. I look forward to your continued insightful commentary and questioning of the status quo.

Best of luck!

Dear Guy:
We have met face to face once or twice in the past 20 years. Found your first comments interesting. Keep to your resolutions. Only post thoughts that others might find worth thinking about and your blog will be read.

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