Saturday, November 29, 2008

Weekly or Daily Weigh-Ins?

When on a weight loss program, one is often presented with the dilemma of whether or not to weigh-in daily.

Allow me to weigh-in on this issue.

I think that daily weigh-ins are a bad idea. Firstly, even if you are consistently losing weight every week you will not necessarily loose weight every single day. In fact you might have individual days where you actually gain weight.

If you weigh yourself daily, you will not really get a clear picture of the overall long-term trend, which is what really matters.

Secondly, I really like the idea of getting a weekly "reward" -- the good news that you get when you weigh-in at the end of the week. This gives a better idea of your overall weight-loss trend and after all, long term weight-loss is what you are seeking.

(Photo: Andreanna)

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Pizza Alternative

I was having lunch with my son in one of our regular pizzerias today, and I thought that instead of just ordering my usual corner-slice-sicilian, I would check out the menu.

One item caught my eye: The Vegetable Sandwich

I ordered it, and it was awesome.
Spinach, red and green peppers, broccoli, mushrooms and black olives, served hot on a roll.

No cheese and most likely much heather than a slice of pizza, and definitely more satisfying.

I'll be ordering it again for sure.
See if your local pizza joint has it on the menu, and if not I'm sure they can make you one.

(Photo: jslander)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

For those of us in the U.S., tomorrow is Thanksgiving day, traditionally one of the biggest (if not the biggest) days in the year for overeating.

For those of us trying to lose weight, I have one Thanksgiving wish for you:

Don't do it.
You don't need to.
Stay on your program, eat a nice healthy meal of moderate size and then move on to the next day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Photo: xybermatthew)

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Week's Results

After four weeks on the program, 3 more pounds of weight loss for a total of 12 pounds.

Again, I'm pleased with this week's results which which was the same amount of weight loss as the prior week. Given that I had very similar eating and exercise patterns to the week before, this should not have been a surprise.

I think the fact that the pounds are coming off relativity slowly (3 lbs./week average) is a good thing, and will hopefully allow me to maintain the weight loss once I hit my target weight.

(Photo: playingwithbrushes)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

On Being an Overweight Vegetarian

I've been a vegetarian for a few years, but it's certainly not resulted in any weight loss when compared to my meat-eating days.

There is a simple reason for this: Too many carbs, not enough actual vegetables. I suspect this might be a common explanation for those of us vegetarians who are overweight.

Many people assume that vegetarians eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. If only this was the case for me.

My diet contains much too much pizza, pasta, bread, etc.

The fact is, I love carbs. This is why, even at the height of its popularity, I never attempted the Atkins Diet. I would have been miserable and unsuccessful.

Since I've been on the SLD, I've been making a real effort to eat a lot more vegetables, and keep the carbs to a minimum. I still have pizza and pasta, but I'm also eating salads and stir-fried vegetables. Sometimes, I'll just have some fruit for lunch.

After being a vegetarian for years, it took the SLD to finally get me to eat healthy.

(Photo: Indigo Goat)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Connecticut Protects Me from Bad Olive Oil

As a long-time resident of the state of Connecticut, I've been the beneficiary of many of the advantages that the state has to offer: nice beaches, beautiful fall foliage, not being able to buy beer after 8:30pm, etc.

But now I enjoy a special protection of particular interest to those of us on the SLD: Connecticut is now the first state in the nation to impose quality standards for olive oil.

Even before the SLD, I would buy name-brand oil from reputable stores, so I've not had what I'm sure is the unpleasant experience of exposure to sub-standard oil. But, it's nice to know that going forward the state will be right there to protect me.

Way to go dudes in Hartford!

Link: Connecticut takes on slippery olive oil standards.

(Photo: prakhar)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More on "Ditto Foods", Processed Foods and Why Everything Tastes the Same

Here's a great article, Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good which is taken from Eric Schlosser's 2001 book Fast Food Nation.

In chapter 7 of the SLD book, Seth Roberts talks about how the fast-food and packaged food industry has some responsibility for the obesity epidemic, largely due to the creation of "ditto foods" -- foods that taste the same every time and everywhere.

In particular it explains how McDonald's got their fries to taste like they were still deep-friend in beef fat (yuck!) even after they switched to 100% vegetable oil a few years back.

This article explains how they are able to do this, and why.

It's a pretty good read, check it out.

P.S. There is also a movie version of Fast Food Nation (2006), that's very entertaining (it's a narrative film, not a documentary) and informative -- I highly recommend it.

Link: Why McDonald's Fries Taste So Good

(Photo: Darwin Bell)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Food preparation during the two-hour window can present problems for those who possess limited willpower like I do.

The other day I was slicing some vegetables during a two-hour window. I was planning on cooking and eating them later, but during the prep work I had to make a conscious effort to avoid the normal nibbling that would usually occur.

It occurred to me that this would also be a big problem if I was doing actual cooking during the two-hour window, as the "tasting" that is usually part of the process would have to be avoided.

So far this has not been a problem -- I've yet to do much real cooking during this period (I don't do that much cooking at all anyway). But I can easily see how this could be a real problem for those cooks out there.

Fortunately it's only the tastes that "count", not the smells. Otherwise maintaining the two-hour window would be pretty much impossible.

(Photo: René Ehrhardt)

Monday, November 17, 2008

This Week's Results

I lost 3 more pounds for a total of 9 pounds in 3 weeks.

I'm very pleased with this result, and it's pretty much what I was expecting as I had a "good" week -- where "good" in this case means eating well and getting plenty of exercise.

I think that 2-3 lbs. per week is about the most I would expect on a program such as this, and quite frankly if I can keep up at this rate I would definitely call my SLD experience a success.

(Photo: 1000pictures)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Exercise for Breakfast

I don't think it's a good idea to skip meals, but on the other hand if I'm really not hungry I'm not going to eat -- even though it's "mealtime."

This morning when I woke up, I was not particularly hungry. Instead of eating breakfast, I took my morning dose of ELOO and then did an hour of exercise. When I was done exercising, I was really not very hungry at all and it was almost time for lunch anyway.

Bottom line: I ended up skipping breakfast - which is not what I was planning to do, but between the oil and the exercise I really didn't have any appetite, and I was not about to "force" myself - that would negate the whole point of the AS that I'm trying to achieve.

(Photo Alana Elliott)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Too Much Joe?

I've been a heavy coffee drinker all my adult life (where heavy in this case refers both to me, and the amount of coffee I consume).

In fact, I'm drinking some right now as I'm writing this.

I've been on many weight-loss programs throughout the years (Scarsdale, Weight Watchers, etc.) and one thing I never did with any of those programs is moderate the amount of coffee I drank. When I was hungry, I would reach for a cup of coffee. After all, coffee is tasty, satisfying and by itself does not have any calories.

It's also bad for you.

While studies have shown that moderate coffee drinking can have some health benefits, I would definitely not classify my coffee drinking as "moderate."

Now, it's a different story. I've been drinking much less coffee since I've been on the SLD, and I have the two-hour window to thank for it.

On a typical weekday, I usually have one cup first thing in the morning and another with breakfast which I have to finish before 9:00am so I can take the oil around 10:00.

The resulting 9:00-11:00am coffee-free window falls right during what used to be my prime coffee drinking time when I would typically have 2-3 more cups.

The net result here is that I'm drinking less than half the coffee that I did prior to the SLD.

This can only be a good thing.

(Photo: sh0dan)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oil Drinking Method

There are about as many different methods for drinking the oil out there as there are people on the SLD.

Some like to "float" the oil on top of a glass of water (either plain water or sugar water) and then sip it.

Others try and mix the oil with other foods and then clip their nose while eating it.

Still others suggest holding a mouthful of water before drinking the oil down.

What I've been doing is measuring the oil in a small shot-glass-sized measuring cup and after making sure I have a nice tall glass of cold water at my side, I simply "shoot" it down as quickly as possible and then immediately chase it down with a full glass of water.

Drinking it fast and then following it down with water insures that I don't get much in the way of any residual oil taste or smell.

(Photo: David Sifry)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Exercise, Oil and the Two-Hour Window

Like many people who are trying to lose weight and get into shape (although technically I'm already in a shape, it's just not the shape I want to be), I've been trying to get in as much exercise as possible.

In addition to playing squash several times a week, I try and do an hour on the exercise bike whenever I can.

The two-hour window can come in handy when used in conjunction with an hour of exercise.
  • Since you really should not exercise after eating, I take the oil dose at least an hour after my most recent meal.
  • I do an hour of exercise on the bike, drinking plenty of water during that time.
  • When I'm done, the two-hour window is over and I can eat (but only if I'm hungry, of course)
I've not had any problems exercising right after taking the oil, but of course your mileage may vary.

(Photo: jcheng)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Feed a Cold...

When you come down with a cold or a case of the flu (and the associated nasal congestion), have you ever lost your appetite as well?

Most of us probably attribute that loss-of-appetite to simply "feeling sick."

Perhaps it can more easily be explained by the fact that since your sense of smell is diminished by the nasal congestion, your ability to taste is pretty much shot as well. Since your taste is gone...well you've just adopted the SLD without even knowing it!

Do you know anybody afflicted with anosmia (no sense of smell)?
If so, are they thin?
(Photo: JasonRogers)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Combining the Shangri-La Diet with Another Program

A problem with many conventional weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, etc. is that since they are based on reducing your calorie intake via portion control you quite likely will be hungry many times while you are on the plan. This can cause you to "cheat" and diminish the benefits of the program.

As Seth Roberts mentions in the book, you can use the SLD as a tool to help mitigate your hunger while on one of these other programs, thus decreasing your appetite and increasing your chances of success.

However, I think you do need to be careful about accounting for the caloric content of the oil.
For example 1tbs of ELOO contains 120 calories and 14 grams of fat. Using the Weight Watchers points formula, this would equate to 3.5 points per tablespoon, or in my case 14 points per day since I'm consuming 4 tbs. daily.

I would suspect that if you don't account for at least some of the points in the oil, and consume your full daily point allottment, you will actually end up overeating and not seeing much weight-loss.

(Photo: malias)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Week Two Results

Two more pounds lost for a total of six in two weeks.

This is particularly gratifying because I was on vacation and eating three meals a day in restaurants for the bulk of last week.

(Photo: rick)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Three Squares?

Many people have put forth that to assist in weight-loss, your food consumption should be broken down into many "mini-meals" over the course of the day. This is apposed to the traditional 3-meal-per-day-schedule that many (most?) of us are on. I've heard numbers like 5, 6 and 8 thrown-around as the optimum number of "meals" one should be consuming daily.

I also know a few people that have had lots of success losing weight by simply adopting a "never eat anything after 6:00pm" type of regimen. This would require you to either eat a big lunch and skip dinner altogether or to start eating your dinner at 5:00pm or thereabouts -- not very compatible with many of our work schedules.

I think that one would need to be careful about adopting either of these policies in conjunction with the SLD, as they both are somewhat at odds with a central tenant of the plan: eat when you are hungry, but only when you are hungry.

When on the SLD, I don't think that multiple mini-meals per-day are necessarily a bad thing but two points to keep in mind:
  1. Make sure you are actually hungry before eating any of these meals (mini or otherwise).
  2. 5 or more meals during a typical day would be pretty tough to schedule and still have one or two two-hour windows for ELOO consumption.
As for the evening-cutoff and the SLD - you may find yourself in a situation that the AS is sufficient and that you are not hungry after 6:00pm (or whatever your cutoff time is) but I think that if you are truly hungry in the evening, you should eat. That's kind of the whole point of the SLD.

(Photo: KB35)

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Diet Explained on Video

I found a pretty good video from Canadian television which explains the SLD pretty clearly. You even get to hear Seth Roberts himself discussing it.

Knowing When to Put the Fork Down

Many restaurants serve extremely large portions. Prior to the SLD, I almost always finished the entire portion that was served to me, regardless of size. Most likely not because I really needed to finish it all, but simply out of force of habit.

Lately, I've noticed I've been leaving some food behind. Not always, and sometimes not very much but there has on occasion been food still on my plate when I push it away.

I think that sometimes we feel we need to finish what we are served, no matter how big the portion is. Since I've been on the SLD, I've been eating slower and I've found I'm much more deliberative between bites. At some point in the meal, I'll often come to the realization that I'm not actually hungry anymore. That's the point at which I put the fork down and stop eating.

Another added benefit of the slower pace at which I'm consuming food it that I think I'm actually enjoying meals more, taking time to actually taste and savor what I'm eating.

(Photo: Ralph Hockens)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Total Daily Calorie Intake

The SLD can help you lose weight, but it's not a magic pill.
I think that it's important that before eating something (particularly a "bad" food, we all know what they are) you need to ask yourself a few questions:
  • Why am I eating this?
  • Do I really want this?
  • Am I really hungry?
These questions are very important because when you embark on the SLD program -- unlike most other weight-loss programs which are actual "diets" -- you are in this case not explicitly managing a reduction in your calorie intake. You are actually adding calories to your diet with the intention that the resulting AS will in fact result in a net reduction of calories.

This net reduction will not occur by magic. If you are eating because it's "time to eat" or because you have nothing better to do, then you are not leveraging the AS. Remember: you need to reduce your total calorie intake by at least enough to offset the additional calories you are consuming. In order to achieve the weight loss you are seeking, you of course would need to offset more than the additional calories which have been added -- perhaps considerably more if you want to achieve significant weight loss.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

On Snacks

Bottom line: I haven't been having any.

For nearly two weeks, I've eaten three meals daily....and that's pretty much been it.

This has not been difficult. In fact it's something I've barely noticed due to my decreased appetite.

I've been on many weight loss programs over the years, including a very successful experience with Weight Watchers about six years ago.
This is the first time that I've been able to eliminate between-meal snacks.

I suspect that this will become a key factor in any success that I have with this "diet."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Water Water Everywhere

Pretty much every weight loss program suggests you drink plenty of water.

I think that for the SLD, water consumption is particularly important for its palate-cleansing effects.

I've been drinking lots of water during the two-hour window and I think that this insures that residual food tastes are flushed away.
This is key since you can't brush your teeth during that time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The First Weigh-in

The first returns are in.
After one week, 4 pounds lost.
I went from 236 to 232.

For reference purposes, my weight in the past 10 years has ranged from a high of 254 to a low of 179.

My short-term goal is to get down to 199, after that I'm going to re-access and then set a new goal.

As of now, the SLD seems to be working.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Multiple Two-Hour Windows

I'm currently consuming ELOO twice daily. That means two two-hour windows per day.
During a normal workday, I'm usually taking the oil at 10:00am and again at about 3:00pm.

That's four solid hours during the day when I'm not eating anything. I think I'm fairly typical and that like many overweight people, I don't usually have four hours during the day that I'm food-free.

I wonder how much introducing four food-free hours into your day would, in and of itself contribute to weight loss?

I would think that it can certainly lead to a re-training of oneself, and help take the focus off of food.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

On Appetite Suppression

I've been doing some thinking as to how the AS manifests itself.
So far what I've experienced seems to come in at least two forms:
  • The type of classical loss of appetite that one experiences when one is upset or nervous. Of course the good part is that the AS is occurring without the accompanying emotional distress.
  • The other type is similar to (but still somewhat distinct from) a "motion-sickness" type of loss-of-appetite.
The unique part is that the AS is occurring by itself as a "stand-alone" sensation. This is a fairly new experience and I'm assuming it will take some time to get acclimated to this. Prior to the SLD the only ways I could lose my appetite would be either through eating food (too much of course, that's the whole problem!), some emotional distress, or getting car sick!

I believe I'm also experiencing some de-sensitivity to foods. I can look at someone else eating and not necessary feel like *I* need to eat as well.