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March 31, 2008

Why Diets Fail....part II

Not eating enough - This is a common theme and probably the hardest to get dieters to understand.  While it is true that to lose weight you need to consume fewer calories than you burn, dieters take tend to take it farther than they should.

Over restricting your caloric intake has a number of effects, not the least of which is that it will slow metabolism.  This is sometimes called starvation mode.  I don't like the term because it implies that there is a switch in your body that gets flipped.  This isn't really what happens.  The body simply slows down to protect itself....registering the drastic reduction of food as a famine.  While fat stores are burned for energy, so is muscle mass.....and that is where the real problem comes from.

If a person over restricts their calories, they will burn not just fat...but a combination of fat and muscle.  So while they come off the diet, they now have less muscle than they started with...so they burn less calories than they did before starting the diet.  Before the diet, they might have been able to eat 2000 calories a day and maintain their weight....but now that they lost some muscle, they will gain weight on that same 2000 calories a day. 

This is of course oversimplifying.  Most everyone that loses weight also loses some muscle in the process.  That is why weight lifting is pushed so much by fitness professionals.  Constantly rebuilding lost muscle while you diet will keep you burning calories at a high rate.  But if you are over restricting calories, then no amount of weight lifting is going to keep you from burning off your muscle while you go deeper into the hole.

I had this happen to me a couple of times before I got a good grasp on what I was doing.  The last time I had restricted my calories down to about 1400 a day.  While I was still losing weight, it was starting to seriously slow down.

I was in a panic.  I couldn't eat any less...and I didn't see how I could exercise more.  I was already working out twice a day.

I had the good fortune to have a friend that set me straight on how much I should be eating.  Around the same time, I got my Body Bugg...so I was able to track how many calories my body was burning.  The first three months I had the Bugg, I increased my caloric intake to 2000/day and watched as my muscles slowly built back up.  And I was still losing weight at the same time....slowly...but it was still coming off.

The interesting part of this happened while I slept.CantSleep2  The Body Bugg reported that I burned about 50 calories per hour.  After I increased my calories, my burn rate increased immediately.  It settled down at about 100 calories per hour.  This makes the point more than anything else.  When I was over restricting, I would only burn about 400 calories during those 8 hours.  But when I properly fueled my body, I could burn about 800 calories in the same amount of time.

I could burn an extra 400 calories a night....and all I had to do was eat more.

Progress Report

Went clothes shopping last weekend.  Picked up two XL shirts and two size 33 pants.  Just to see if I could do it, I tried on the size 32s.  I could squeeze into them...but they weren't really comfortable enough to wear.


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Now get lost!  Oh...and Spark People that want your zombie and stick figure fix, be sure to check out the front page.... www.TokenFatGuy.com

Now get lost for real!

March 24, 2008

Why do diets fail (part 1)?

After reading some of the posts from the members of Spark People, I've decided to a do a mini series of posts on why diets fails.  So here we go with part one.... 

Unrealistic Expectations - I fell victim to this one myself.  We all want to believe that we can lose a pound a day, but it is just not going to happen.  So many times I've seen people get all enthusiastic with their plans and they have carefully made out some chart that shows how much they want to lose every week....and they have some unattainable goals.  The problem with setting a goal like '10 pounds a month' is that if you don't make your goal you feel demoralized because you failed....and it is a cascade affect that in your head sounds like this....

"Okay, I'm all fired up about this weight loss thing!  I'm really going to do it this time.  I've got my end of month weigh-in...and...oh, I missed the mark.  Instead of dropping 10 pounds, I only dropped 5.  hmmm...that's not too good.  But that cool....my weight is going in the right direction.  I can catch up next month....just need to work harder...eat less.  Yeah...I'm fired up about this weight loss thing....here we go!  Got my second end of month weigh-in....and....oh only dropped 2 pounds.  I'm supposed to be down 20 pounds at this point and I've only lost 7 stinking pounds?!  What gives?!  I can't workout any harder...I can't eat any less....or can I?  I could lower my calories a bit more...maybe increase my gym time.  I'll give that a try....yeah...that's probably all I need...I'll make it up next month...Okay, I'm all fired up about this weight loss thing!  I've got my end of month weigh-in....and.....oh...NOTHING!?  I LOST NOTHING?!  Seriously, what is wrong with me?!  I'm supposed to be at 30 pounds and I'm doing everything right....I'm so tired...I've worked so very hard....I give up....I can't do this....<cry><eat>."

Sound familiar?  This is a great example of how some one can use their own goals to CRUSH their spirit.  And if you are wondering....that was me a few years ago before I figured out what I was doing. 

The human body is an amazing thing.  Your ability to store energy in the form of fat is there to keep your alive.  So the body is greedy about its fat stores and doesn't like to give them up too easily.  I know you've seen it before...and I've posted it so many times but the average, normal, SAFE, max for weight loss is....

1 - 2 pounds a week for men

.5 - 1 pound a week for women

And those are maximums people...you are NOT going to hit that every week...and every now and then you will go over it. 

I once went a whole month once without dropping a pound.  Sure, I went back and checked my diet and workout plan to make sure I wasn't doing anything wrong.  But when I saw that I was doing everything I was supposed to, I just kept at it and eventually the plateau broke. 

The point is, I didn't go crazy and start over restricting my calories or increasing my workout times so I could make some goal.  I had a good plan....so I kept at it.  I didn't let my goal become so important that it derailed my plan.  At least not this time.

Where do unrealistic expectations come from?  All over the place....

  • Commericals
  • TV Shows
  • Other People
  • Yourself

....just to name a few. 

One of my favorate places for unrealistic expectations comes from one of my favorate TV shows, The Biggest Loser.

While I love this show for its motivational value, I get concerned that people are watching this thing thinking to themselves that they could do that on their own.  They could lose 10+ in a single week....and then do it every week.  It is just not going to happen.

Weight loss is a slow process.  Once you accept that, then you are a step closer to success.  Because all you are going to get from beating your self over the head with unattainable goals is demoralized....and that's a big step toward failure.


Progress Report

Dropped a couple more pounds....down to 215 now.  For a total loss of 77 pounds.

My lovely wife, Heather and I bought a new freezer.  Actually we got it about a month ago...but I keep forgetting to mention it.  I make up over a week of meals and freeze them, so I don't have to think about it on days that I'm working.  The problem was that all that prepared food didn't leave much room for anything else.  So we got a small chest freezer so we had a place to put unprepared frozen items.  And after a month it has made life on the dieting front so much easier.  Anyone out there that is doing the 5-6 meals a day thing and needs to freeze stuff to take to work, I highly recommend you get a second freezer.

Still staying off the treadmill and using elliptical and bike to fill the gap in my cardio.  But I had to make a tweak.  I was doing 30 minutes of bike, then another 15 minutes on the elliptical.  Then after reviewing my Body Bugg read out, I saw that I was actually getting a better caloric burn with the elliptical.  So I switched them around.  I like it this way....the bike bores me to tears.

I hoped you all enjoyed last week's link to Power Thirst.  If you did...you will love BRAWNDO!

SuperPug NOTE:  Super Pug says that readers from Spark People need to be sure to check out the front page since you likely skipped it on the way in. 


March 17, 2008

I Almost Quit

It started one day when I was trying to sort out how I was going to keep myself honest while dieting.  This was back before I came up with the idea of TokenFatGuy.  I was just browsing the web...jumping from one dieting site to the next.  That's when I found a guy that was blogging his progress. 

I knew what blogging was of course.  I read a number of blogs.  But the idea of using one to track my diet hadn't occurred to me.  So I read this blog from beginning to end.  It was amazing to watch some one else's day-to-day progress.  But what sealed the deal for me was the encouraging comments left by family and friends.  I thought if I had that kind of support, I could do this...I could really do this.

So the first site was born.  www.StrangeDOS.com  I went back to my old domain name, dusted it off, and re-registered it.  I got some free web hosting from work.  And my blog was started.  It was pretty rough.  I didn't know about blogging services at the time....so I was coding everything by hand.  A real pain in the neck.  And the hosting that work provided wasn't that stable.  It was down more often than I liked.  I guess you gets what you pays for.

So I contacted Yahoo and moved everything over to them.  I purchased a small business account that gave me everything I needed at a small cost.  It took a few days to move everything over to Yahoo Site Builder, but after that the administration was much easier. 

Then I discovered Blogger.com!  A great blogging service that handled all my blogging needs without me having to do a bit of HTML coding.  Adding new entries was a breeze.  So I converted everything over to their format and the blog has been going ever since.

There have been a few changes since then.  When I wanted to add the TokenFatGuy.com domain to my account, Yahoo wouldn't let me do it....told me I'd have to buy a whole new package and that I couldn't link the two domains.  Which is stupid...all I wanted was a second DNS entry with a pointer to the first one.  So I moved again.  This time to Network Solutions.  They cost just a couple dollars more and have lots more functionality. 

Then I changed the whole format of the site so it didn't look like it was put together by Yahoo Site Builder.

All things considered, I think I did okay with the site.  But around the first of the year, I considered throwing in the towel.  I didn't really need the site to keep me honest anymore...and my readers were starting to drop off.  What's the sense in blogging if no one is going to read it?

One person convinced me to stay with it a little longer...that they were still benefiting from what I was writing.  So I decided to keep it going until March, when my yearly subscription ran out....then I'd see what I felt like.

In the mean time I discovered a wonderful place...Spark People!  So much like MySpace...but for people that are dieting.  Not only was I able to make new friends but by linking my weekly blog post to my page on Spark People, all my new friends...and LOADS of people that that I don't know were now accessing my site just to see what I had to say.

Let's have a look at the difference in my readership....


And to think...I almost quit blogging...

I'm hoping to hit 1000 unique visitors this month....

One of my friends that came to me for help getting started actually started his own blog recently.  Check it out...


Progress Report

Well, I hit a major milestone this past week.  I went down another pound (almost lost 2 pounds...but not quite).  That's a total loss of 75 pounds!

Not really sure if this will post on time this week or not.  We had a pretty bad storm yesterday....lost power...lost cable (including Internet).  For once Duke Power got there act together pretty quickly but lousy Time Warner Cable hasn't sorted themselves out yet.  So I'm sitting here watching my cable modem 'not connecting', wondering if I'm going to need to take my blog to work so I can post it.

Other Stuff

There has been some debate on some of the Spark People teams over 'cheat days' and 'cheat meals'.  The idea behind the 'cheat' is that if you are running at a reduced caloric intake for a long period of time, your body is eventually going to figure out that you are burning up your energy stores (FAT) and start slowing down your metabolism....so you have a day that you just go crazy and eat the stuff you don't normally get to.

This is said to have two affects....

  • The body registers this as 'all clear' and doesn't slow down your metabolism.
  • It has a psychological benefit in that you don't have to deny yourself the foods you enjoy...you just have to wait until your 'cheat day' to have them.  Giving them up all together would eventually eat away at you and next thing you know...BAM!  You are completely off your diet.

I have been a big supporter of having a cheat day.  And despite the fact that I've lost a BUNCH of weight while using cheat days, I get lots of push back from nonbelievers that subscribe to the 'I can never EVER have cheesecake again' side of the argument.

This last week on 'The Biggest Loser' one of the trainers admitted that the contestants on the show use weekly cheat days to help keep their metabolism up...I feel so vindicated....

So BURN on those nonbelievers!  Yesterday, I had a big cheeseburger and fries....and next week I'll probably pig out on Mexican cuisine.

NOTE:  Use cheat days or cheat meals wisely.  They don't give you a licence to just lose your mind and binge on carbs.  Do some research first....see if cheats are right for you.  THEN you can hit the 'all you can eat' buffet at your favorite Indian eatery....or CiCi's Pizza...or whatever.

Power Thirst!

Special thanks to Will who found this on YouTube and brought it to my attention. 

NOTE:  Before I get a hundred emails telling me it is fake...I know its fake.  Its just funny.

March 10, 2008

Things and Stuff

Like many people in the United States, I struggle with obesity.  Once I actually started winning, I would stop every 10 pounds or so and get a little perspective on the amount of weight I'd lost.  I did this by looking at things that weighed as much as I lost.  Those of you that have followed my blog for awhile might remember the following postings....

Well now that I have lost a grand total  of 74 pounds, it is time once again to have a look at how much weight that really is....

According to a brief Google search, 74 pounds of uranium-235 would be sufficient to create two (perhaps three) atomic bombs.  Of course by posting this, I'm probably putting myself on some Home Land Security watch list.

Earlier this year, the 8th Service Squadron at the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea had their very own 'Biggest Loser' competition.  They divided up into groups of six members from teh same squadron.  After 2 months the winning team lost a total of 74 pounds.

The US Agricultural Research Service has found that the average American consumes about 74 pounds of 'added sugar' each year.   That's about 23 teaspoons a day...or 460 calories per day.

This 46-inch widesscreen projection HDTV from Samsung cost about $1000....and weighs 74 pounds!


Back in 1963 an average weight 10 year old girl weighed about 77 pounds.  Today the average is up to about 88. Also, the average weight for a 10 year old boy at the same time was about 74 pounds.  While today he weighs about 85 pounds.

This fancy garden party 10'x10' King Instant Pop Up Canopy has screened sides to keep the mosquitoes at bay and has a cover made of 100% polyester.  Check out the dimensions...

Width: 10'
Length: 10'
Side Height: 6'6"
Center Height: 9'3"
Weight: 74 pounds


I know it sounds backwards, but if you weigh 100 pounds, you would weigh about 74 pounds on Saturn.  This is due to the fact that while Saturn is about 95 times the size of the Earth, it is a big ball of gasses, while Earth is solid.  You couldn't actually 'stand' on the surface of Saturn, but if you COULD, then the 100 pound person would only weigh 74 pounds.

Meanwhile, a 200 pound man on Earth would only weigh 74 pounds on Mars.

The Space Heater Convective (SHC) is a 35K BTU thermoelectric heater that provides forced hot air circulation in military tentage without the need for an external power supply.

The SHC is 18"H × 14"W × 40"L and weighs 74 pounds. It is operational from -40° F to 60° F, and can be stored from -60° F to 160° F. The heater can be operated either inside or outside the tent and has the capability to burn multiple liquid fuels (DF-2, DF-1, DF-A, JP-5, & JP-8). The heater starts simply using a single switch, and operation is completely automatic due to built in diagnostics, safety and temperature controls. Accessories include remote temperature control box, cable, insulated air ducts, fuel hoses, gravity feed adapter, fuel can stand and spare parts.


This yellow Labrador retriever, named "Helm's Point Doctor", has appeared in the April 2004 edition of "Outdoor Life Magazine" and weighs 74 pounds.


While smaller than "Helm's Point Doctor" this bully named Ozone is the pride and joy of the Ohoopee River Kennels.  He also weighs in at 74 pounds.


Progress Report

Well, if you made it this far, you already know that I lost more weight and am down to 218 pounds. 

While lifting weights to day, I hit a new problem...a good kind of problem...but still a problem.  My weight lifting routine is a combination of using my Bowflex Ultimate and my Bowflex Selecttech dumbells....


Well, while doing my bench presses on the Bowflex today I pressed 155 pounds.  This is the maximum that the system can do.  There is an upgrade package I can get for the system but I've been holding off getting it since I didn't really  have a reason....now I have one.

While I was at the YMCA for my circuit training class, I was asked if I would be interested in appearing on their web site as one of the testimonials.  I don't know if anything will come of it...but it is really cool to be asked.

Anyway...that's about it.  Now go run around the block a few times and work off that fat!

March 02, 2008

And in the Darkness, Bind Them

This actually happened last month...and I keep forgetting to write about it.  Back when I made the smartest decision of my life and married my lovely wife, I started wearing a claddagh ring as my wedding band. 

For those of you that don't know what the claddagh is...


The hands, heart, and crown symbolize friendship, love, and loyalty, respectively.

About 5 years ago, I took my ring off for the last time....and it nearly didn't come off.  We thought we were going to have to cut it off.  You see, I'd gained so much weight that even my fingers were getting fat.  I kept hoping I would be able to wear it again...but I just got heavier and heavier....it wasn't going to happen.

So about 3 years ago we went out and found a replacement ring.  It was a different style but had the claddagh symbol on it all the way around the ring.

Then the weight loss started....

I was talking expressively one day and my new ring slid off my finger and made a loud PING when it collided with the floor.  I think I even wrote about it in the blog.

But I hadn't lost enough weight to be able to fit back into my old ring.  Again, I was ring-less. 

Time went on and I really stopped thinking about it.  Then I realized that I was down to the weight I was at when Heather and I first met.  I wondered...would it fit now?

The ring, now tarnished from years of just sitting on my desk, slid on effortlessly.  Later I wondered about the differences in sizes between the two rings.  On a whim I held them up together and found that the first ring could fit through the second....the sizes were that different....

Progress Report

I finally weighed in again.  And check it out... 219 pounds. 

I went to the doctor this morning about my shin.  The good news is that it does not seem to be a stress fracture.  The bad news is that I need to stay off the treadmill for while...about a month.  So biking is okay....elliptical is okay...swimming is okay.

But no running, walking, jumping jacks, jump rope...you get the idea.

I can work with that.  Unlike the other times I've had injuries...I'm NOT letting this derail me.  I know plenty of other exercises I can do to make up for what I'm temporally not allowed to do. 

NOTE:  The doctor I went to is REALLY good with sports injuries...but his bedside manner is a little harsh...


Glad he's not my urologist....