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(August 10, 2002)

bet you never thought you'd see the day

I've been on a diet, I have. Now I know for normal people this just means trying to eat less fatty foods and more vegetables, but for me it means:

Buying a supersonic electronic weighing machine that measures not just weight but also body fat. It does this by sending an electric pulse up one leg and down the other (neither as painful nor as much fun as it sounds) and measuring the speed at which it returns, fat conducting the electricity measurably more slowly (or faster, or something). Or maybe it's the resistance ... anyway, the point is it's a new toy and it has fixed decimal places in it.

Wherever you get fixed decimal places there's an opportunity for a spreadsheet, and that's my other secret to weight loss. Combining my kitchen scales (electronic and set for metric, obviously), the calories per 100g figures given on packs and the Useful Little Book of Calories (thanks, Glenn), I can now keep track of my progress. My spreadsheet will record and chart calories consumed, profits and gains on the daily calorie allowance, and weight loss or gain. From this I can generate a ratio between the last two, which will be interesting to know. It does involve weighing everything I eat and recording the result, but you know how I enjoy that type of thing.

There is a genuine advantage to this approach, which is that it removes the possibility for self-delusion. If you eat a cake, or a tub of ice cream, or any of the other nice things, you can always kid yourself that it doesn't really matter. If it weighs 100g and has 400kcal/100g against it, then you have to have 400 calories added to your spreadsheet, so there's no avoiding the obvious.

Little calorie tips: peaches at 37 kcal/100g, nice yet safe. Have them with Yeo Valley organic yoghurts, which at 100kcal/100g are both low-gain and easy arithmetic, for all you innumerates out there (in other words everyone I know except Simon). Sugar free peanut butter at a whopping 592 kcal/100g - why is this stuff sold in health food shops? Worse still, tahini at 680 kcal/100g, actually higher than my margarine. Tahini actually makes you fatter than fat does.

Useful sites: the Calorie Control Council (I kid you not), actually very useful, and the Activity Calorie Calculator, useful for working out the calories you burn every time you do a thing.

Warning: hunger turns out to be a form of pain. The good news is, after a few days it becomes a lot easier. Try to cultivate a Klingon world view to get you through those few days.

Encouraging news: In the last 8 days, I have lost 1.6kg, which in Celtic measurements is 3 pounds eight ounces. At this rate I will reach my ideal weight on January 14th next year, leaving me a short but sweet girlfriend-finding period before I put it all back on again.

posted by Jon 15:40
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