After a year-and-a-half of blogging out of the comfort of my apartment, I was out of shape and overweight. I’m 5’11” and I weighed 220 lbs. Pants weren’t fitting. I learned that buttons popping off pants didn’t just happen in the cartoons. My family noticed my doublechins, my dad worried I had diabetes.
Something had to be done, and I was going to use what made me fat, computers and the internet, to help me do it.
I decided to put all my diet and workouts online to make me feel publicly accountable. I also figured that the idea that I was doing an internet project makes it seem less of a chore.
I figured it would make a good Consumerist post because there’s no better way to cut down on future health care costs, and never have to do battle with the insurance company in the first place, than if you are fit and healthy. Not to mention, considering how bombarded we are with ads and marketing for weight loss programs, pills, videos, bizzare equipment, etc, it’s nice to know the path to loosing fat can be simple and inexpensive.
Cameraphone & Flickr
I took pictures of what I ate, when I worked out, and my weight scale results and uploaded them to Flickr, a free photo sharing site.
I entered my weight and workouts into Traineo, a free diet and fitness social networking site. Check out my profile here.
I implemented the principles of the Shangri-la Diet, which mainly involves supplementing your diet with oil and sugar water. Reduced appetite is the result.
Scale (the Tanita BF679W Duo Scale Plus Body Fat Monitor with Body Water)
Drink 1 tablespoon of canola oil around 11am
Drink 4-6 glasses of water with 1 tablespoon of dissolved pure sugar
Throw in some playing with the soccerball on in-between days
Eat meals as normal
Workout every other day. My workout includes 20 min stationary cycle, walking to and from the gym, and the following weight machines (3 sets of 10 reps each):
- dual action chest press
- seated leg curl
- rotary calf
- arm curl
- leg extension
- prone leg curl
- leg press
In two months, I went from 218 lbs to 205.4 lbs, and from 25.5% to 20% body fat.
The Shangri la Diet (SLD) actually does reduce my appetite. I used to always clean my plate. Now I have leftovers and doggie bags. I will always have the ability to be a great eater, to scarf everything down, but now I feel full a lot earlier. The key is to listen to my stomach and stop eating. SLD takes care of the physiology, some of it is still up to me and my brain.
The taking and uploading of photos helps keep me honest. I know that if I fall behind, I have to announce it. Not many people are watching it but just seeing a few views here and there helps reinforce the idea that I’m being monitored. Uploading has an additional benefit: by looking at my “sent” cellphone messages I can see when I last ate and what.
Traineo is pretty and user friendly and provides good ways to track progress. I’m not really using the social aspect of it at this point. Frankly, watching strangers try to lose weight is kind of an odd idea to me, even though I’m putting myself on display so that others might do the same. Guess you’ve got your exhibitionists and your voyeurs.
LITTLE THINGS THAT HELP MAKE IT WORK FOR ME
- I mentioned the workout program and website addresses in emails and IMs with friends and family to help gather a few supporters.
- Save your Flickr upload email address (located under account/upload by email) as the first contact in your cellphone. Preface its name with @ symbols (or any symbol) to make it show up first. Not having to scroll through contacts makes doing the cameraphone thing a lot easier.
- I take a picture during my workout, but only upload it after I leave the gym. This gives me something to look forward to and amplifies the sense of completion.
- My gym has a bowl of candy by the front door. I eat one peppermint hard candy on the way in, and one on the way out, as a little reward.
- Don’t pose your food or pose with it. Just whip out the cam and snap a quick shot and upload it. Otherwise it ends up being a pain in the ass and will undermine your will to keep taking pictures.
- I take a photo of the weight scale right after I get out of the shower after a workout. Keeping the “feedback reward” as close to the completion of the task help motivate me.
- For the same reason, I enter the data for the workout right after I get out of the shower and get dressed.
The single best way to reduce future health care costs is to be fit, healthy, and not overweight. Using a mix of calorie control, increased exercise, and a few tools on the internet, you lose weight, get fit, have fun and not starve.
By diligently identifying and amplifying the little things that motivate, and identifying and mitigating or eliminating the things that demotivate, it’s possible for to significantly alter one’s behavior in a new, positive direction.