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Off my ASS for the SSA – Week 1

Alright, it’s time for the first report from my weight loss competition with JT Eberhard!

Starting weight: 186.4 lbs
Current weight: 181.8 lbs
Weight loss this week: 4.6 lbs

Yay! …Okay, before anyone pops in and says “JEN! That’s not less than 2 pounds! I thought you were going to be healthy!” let me explain. The first time I weighed myself was in the afternoon after eating a big lunch and while wearing jeans. Every subsequent weighing has been in the morning before breakfast while wearing lighter pajama pants. Weight fluctuates throughout the day, and when I weigh myself in the afternoon it’s higher. Next week my weight loss should be closer to 2 lbs.

The most helpful tool I’ve had so far is using LoseIt!, a calorie counter. I’m a data geek, so I love being able to see trends in my own eating habits. I feel motivated to keep using it because I want a larger sample size! I was quickly able to see how many calories pop, beer, and even juice add to my day. I’ve been drinking a lot more water because of that.

And even a half hour of DDR every day has been really helpful. I started getting Cs on standard mode, and I’m already back to getting As on heavy. And my legs no longer feel like they’re going to fall off after just a couple songs! EA Sports Active 2 should arrive Monday, so then I’ll start working on other parts of my body.

You should also know that the stakes are somewhat higher. Phil Ferguson of Skeptic Money wanted to get in on our little competition, even though we have a week’s head start. If either JT or I can lose more weight than Phil before the end of the contest, he’ll throw in $100 to the Secular Student Alliance. And if both JT and I lose more weight than Phil, he’ll throw in $250. Unfortunately for Phil, his wife is on “Team Jen,” so he’s a bit doomed if she does a lot of the cooking.

And unfortunately for JT, some of the SSA staff is on Team Jen. Jesse sent me a hilarious photo of him “sabotaging” JT’s sandwich with mayo. No where is safe, JT. Mwahahaha.

(Remember, you can pledge here!)

Comments

  1. says

    Hey isn’t that a little sneaky? Having the initial weighting when you *know* you’ll weigh more & then having every subsequent weighting when you’ll be lighter? Sneaky sneaky Jen :P

  2. says

    I swear I didn’t think about it back then. I bought my scale around 1pm and was starving when I came home, so I ate. Didn’t realize the time of day would make such a big difference, and totally didn’t think about my jeans.If it makes people feel better, I’ll make do my final final weight wearing jeans :P

  3. lomifeh says

    Nah better to do it in the morning not in jeans. No one will mention your initial weigh in scenario I am sure ;).

  4. says

    I never liked the two pounds per week goal, since two pounds is just such a small amount compared to what just water weight can do. But that sort of fluctuation is kind of the reason why you should weigh yourself at the same time every time. I’ve been weighing myself every morning before breakfast, and just to see I went and measured myself just now. I’ve gained 3.0 pounds in the past 5 and a half hours.

  5. Eric_Rom says

    I love video games as much as the next geek, BUT you’re living in a town composed ENTIRELY of hills. I think walking around would do just as well as DDR, and you wouldn’t be huffing “indoor air”.And I say this as a strident Anti-REI, “I never go hiking” dweeb.If you live near The U, I recommend the trail through Ravenna Park.http://preview.tinyurl.com/369

  6. Lodevijk says

    The human digestive system is highly non-linear and time-variant. Thus, it’s darned hard to control using simple straightforward methods. Counting calories is pretty ineffective from a control engineering standpoint.

  7. Alan says

    Which version of DDR do you se. I find myself in the same situation with only an outdated Konamix and want to upgrade to a recent game.

  8. says

    OK…why is it that when people want to lose weight, they swear off ALL pop, including diet? I don’t get it. What’s wrong with diet pop? Is it the evil artificial sweeteners? Is it the claims I’ve heard that it supposedly makes you hungrier or end up eating more in the long run? The research isn’t there to support those claims (and if it is, please enlighten me!).

  9. says

    Also it’s quite easy that you may have been retaining some water when you were first weighed and had less in your system on your next weigh-in. I know it makes a huge difference, as when I went on a program I lost 17lbs in the first week and most of that was from losing water.Now before anyone freaks out about how much I lost, 90% of that was at least water weight and came from me altering my diet to stop retaining water. I did the whole plan while being supervised, and the next week I lost nowhere near the same amount. The first week was mainly me getting a lot of the crap that was in my system out. Also I was mixing in flaxseed in some of my food and that helped get out a lot of the water I was retaining. And I’m a guy and weight loss is easier for us.Jen I recommend you wear the same thing and weigh yourself at the same time each week so you’ll have a better idea on how much you are actually losing. Also, if your exercising don’t be surprised if you have a week where you actually gain weight. That’s not a bad thing, it just means you put on some muscle and the next week you’ll do even better.

  10. Greta Christina says

    Weight loss this week: 4.6 lbsYay! …Okay, before anyone pops in and says “JEN! That’s not less than 2 pounds! I thought you were going to be healthy!” let me explain.

    As one of the panic- stricken concern trolls who’s been telling you “Don’t lose more than 2 pounds a week!”, let me reassure you. When I started losing weight, I lost 3-4 pounds my first week as well. There seems to be something about that first week. I don’t know what it is.

    I never liked the two pounds per week goal, since two pounds is just such a small amount compared to what just water weight can do.

    For any given week, this is true: random fluctuations can make you gain or lose 2 pounds. For the long term, though, if someone is losing a lot more than 2 pounds a week every single week, that’s not a random fluctuation: that’s a pattern. And it’s a pattern that should cause concern, since one of the most important factors in successful long-term weight management seems to be losing the weight slowly.

    The human digestive system is highly non-linear and time-variant. Thus, it’s darned hard to control using simple straightforward methods. Counting calories is pretty ineffective from a control engineering standpoint.

    ???Are you trying to argue that reducing caloric intake will not result in weight loss?It’s certainly true that, in any given day or week, one’s weight may fluctuate due to an assortment of more or less random factors (including variations in one’s digestion). But over the long haul, and even the medium haul, fewer calories (within reason — i.e., no crash diets) will mean less weight. Period. There’s pretty much nothing else that will do it: increasing your caloric output (i.e. exercise) will help somewhat, of course, but most people eating a standard American diet would have to exercise for hours every day to offset the caloric excess in their diet. It’s much, much easier to not consume the calories in the first place than it is to burn them off.And counting calories is one of the very few really effective methods of reducing caloric intake. I had NO idea how many calories I was eating every day until I started counting them. It came as a serious shock to me. And that’s extremely common: studies consistently show that most people wildly underestimate how many calories they’re eating.

  11. says

    Crap – I only lost 1.5 lbs. It was only 1/5 a week and I had to fight off pizza and some tasty girl scout cookies. I don’t think those mints were thin enough. Next week i will do better.Phil Ferguson

  12. Jenny says

    I’m not a weight-loss type of girl, but me and my husband have decided that 1. we’re too fat and out of shape and 2. we want to see the Burgess Shale. So since it’s a 10-hour guided hike at some altitude to get there and back from the road, maybe we’ll need a year or so to work up to it, but for nerds, what a great fitness goal!

  13. hippiefemme says

    If you get bored with your version of DDR, you can always play Dance Praise! As the DDR website proclaims, you can “choose from songs that praise God and bless His holy name.” Wouldn’t that be fun?

  14. Anna says

    People who have a lot of sugar frequently begin to release insulin when they taste something sweet, before any sugar is in their system. If a person switches over to artificial sweeteners, they will still be having that automatic reaction to that sweetener. This leads to blood sugar levels that are all over, because their is insulin being released without taking in sugar.

  15. says

    I think diet pop is disgusting, and rather drink water. That being said, I haven’t completely banned myself from drinking it – just at work or at home.

  16. says

    i’m curious jen if you’ve done a double blind test on it. I used to think it was discussing to and now absolutely love diet pop. In fact i can’t stand regular pop anymore.

  17. Lodevijk says

    ‘fairly well’ ? Try telling that to normal people trying to lose weight. There’s more than one kind of fat tissue, it can be located anywhere in the body, the complications are endless. Look back at the dietary magic tricks over the years, all tried and failed. People have been struggling to find better ways than not eating stuff.Months, years of self-restraint, meticulous calculations don’t seem ‘fairly well’ to me.

  18. Ramcda3 says

    “Are you trying to argue that reducing caloric intake will not result in weight loss?”Yes, they probably were. At least not all the time.Calories in does not equal calories out. Fats, proteins and grains/sugars are not processed the same way. Plus, all the weight loss is just as likely to be muscle as it is fat if you’re eating the standard American diet and only do cardio exercise .http://www.marksdailyapple.com

  19. says

    You probably lost a fair bit of water weight, which would account for some of what you lost. Congrats on the solid start! When I got back from my holiday trip I stopped drinking booze (which included Coke) and started eating dinner off smaller plates. That alone created a calorie deficit in the first week, enough to shed 2 pounds.I’ve come to the decision that diet soft drinks are evil. I’d rather suck up the extra calories with a regular Coke than ingest aspartame.

  20. Greta Christina says

    Crap – I only lost 1.5 lbs. It was only 1/5 a week and I had to fight off pizza and some tasty girl scout cookies. I don’t think those mints were thin enough. Next week i will do better.

    No no no no no no no no no!See, this is exactly why this whole “contest” thing makes me twitchy. Losing 1-2 pounds in a week is EXCELLENT, Phil. There is no “only” to it, and no need to “do better.” It’s exactly what weight control experts say is the maximum healthy rate for successful long- term maintenance of weight loss. And in any case, everyone loses weight at a different rate. Age, metabolism, how overweight you were when you started, and a whole barrel of other factors (probably including the tides and the position of Mercury relative to Jupiter) factor into it.If this competition is fun and entertaining and motivational for you, more power to you. Please just don’t let it inspire you to push your body harder than it wants to be pushed.

    “Are you trying to argue that reducing caloric intake will not result in weight loss?”Yes, they probably were. At least not all the time.Calories in does not equal calories out. Fats, proteins and grains/sugars are not processed the same way. Plus, all the weight loss is just as likely to be muscle as it is fat if you’re eating the standard American diet and only do cardio exercise .

    Funny. That’s not what the research from the National Weight Control Registry shows (a registry/ research project of people who have successfully lost at least 30 pounds for at least one year). According to them, the crucial factors are a low- calorie, low- fat diet combined with regular exercise, plus not skipping meals, losing weight slowly, weighing yourself regularly, and some other factors including getting social/ familial support and maintaining good mental health.Yes, it’s certainly good to have a balanced diet and to avoid the standard American diet like the plague — for reasons of general nutrition and health as well as weight management. But as far as weight management goes, as long as people aren’t crash dieting and are losing the weight slowly, limiting caloric intake and (to a lesser extent) increasing caloric output seem to be the main keys. Everything else, such as regular weigh-ins and so on, are pretty much in service to those goals.

  21. says

    To be fair, this could be a correlation-not-causation type of issue, where people who loose weight in the NWCR are doing so not necessarily because they are eating a low-fat diet per se, but because they are making other healthy choices that will often result in being lower fat by nature–or they are trying to eat a low fat diet, but that low fat diet includes healthy choices that are more important variables than whether or not the diet is low fat.For example, if someone is following the Michael Pollan diet of “eat food. not too much. Mostly plants”, their diet is going to come up as “low fat” even though Pollan specifically says that avoiding fat is not necessarily the way to go and that it is eating whole foods as opposed to processed ones that is important. But if you avoid eating processed foods, that will also mean avoiding eating refined sugars, which some doctors think are more harmful than fats, irrespective of their caloric content. Still, even though a sugary drink like soda or a smart ones low fat microwave meal may be “low fat”, they are not what most intelligent people are likely to think of as “healthy”, and people loosing weight and keeping it off are likely to avoid them for those reasons even if they technically “low fat.”I hope the way I wrote that made some kind of sense. -.- I’m having trouble articulating my thoughts.

  22. J. Mark says

    “JEN! That’s not less than 2 pounds! I thought you were going to be healthy!” Guess one can’t trust an atheist….$$$$ Uh-oh…this is gonna cost me, I can see it now!

  23. Gus Snarp says

    I decided to try to lose a few pounds too, thanks to yours and Greta’s posts. I’m using a different app to track calories, but I too am anxious to get more data. Having a larger sample size seems to be an effective motivator for me. I’m also working on taking a longer walk with the dog every day. And like you, I’ve lost about 4 pounds the first week, but I expect that the rate will fall.

  24. Ana says

    Greta (and Jen), forgive me if this is a noob question, but how do you know what is your caloric goal for the day? The apps you use calculate it for you, did you go to a doctor, or do you just guess-estimate it?

  25. Ana says

    I ask this because I’m worried about having a healthy balance yet losing wight. And LoseIt gives me a budget of 1147 cal/day, which i KNOW is not enough.

  26. Greta Christina says

    Ana: I got my initial calorie budget by going to my health care provider. I then tinkered with it as the process went on: as my weight went down, I had to keep dialing down my calorie budget (talk about cruel ironies — the less you weight, the fewer calories you need/ can eat to maintain your weight). And now that I’m on maintenance, I’m still tinkering with my budget so I don’t regain the weight but don’t keep losing, either. (In case you’re curious: At the start of this process, when I was 5’3″, 200 pounds, 47 years old, and got a fair amount of exercise every week, my daily calorie budget was 1800.)And I’m with you — I don’t like LoseIt’s, system for calculating a starting calorie budget, either. It’s the one thing I don’t like about them. I think they estimate way too low, and I don’t like their method of giving you a really low calorie budget which you can then add to by getting exercise. I’d personally rather just have a calorie budget that figures in how much exercise I usually get.

  27. Greta Christina says

    To be fair, this could be a correlation-not-causation type of issue, where people who loose weight in the NWCR are doing so not necessarily because they are eating a low-fat diet per se, but because they are making other healthy choices that will often result in being lower fat by nature–or they are trying to eat a low fat diet, but that low fat diet includes healthy choices that are more important variables than whether or not the diet is low fat.

    Katherine: I am totally with you on that. I don’t actually pay much attention to my fat intake. I did for a while, but found that if my calories were staying within budget, and I was mostly eating a Pollan-esque diet of fruits/ veggies/ whole grains/ whole-food proteins, my fat intake stayed well within the healthy range, without even trying. I think it’s very likely that it’s hard to maintain a healthy, low-calorie diet over the long haul without it automatically being fairly low-fat.

  28. Aardvark Cheeselog says

    My favorite explanation for the relatively large weight loss in the first week of a restricted-calorie diet has to do with glycogen. If you have been eating ad lib, you have a few hundred g of glycogen stored in your muscles and liver. When you go on a restricted-calorie diet, the glycogen is the first thing to go, and because each g is hydrated with several g of water, you lose that weight too. It can add up to several pounds.

  29. Desert Spoon says

    I strongly recommend reading Gary Taubes’ new book “Why We Get Fat.” It’s an easier, shorter version of “Good Calories, Bad Calories.” Taubes got a master’s in Applied Physics at Harvard and he has nothing but disdain for the calories in / calories out argument. “Why We Get Fat” includes a chapter called “Thermodynamics for Dummies.” His books are scientifically sound, carefully researched, and well-written. They ARE NOT diet books. They are about nutritional science and human metabolism. And he’s not selling supplements or “diet food” or exercise programs.

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