Monday, January 2, 2012


Last year around this time, I resolved to lose some weight as many people do every year. I wasn't that much overweight and nobody had told me that I needed to, but my spouse was going to lose weight and I thought it would be good to help her by showing solidarity. My goal was to go for my college weight which was between 145 and 150 lbs (65 kg or so in real SI units instead of silly imperial units (how many ounce in a pound again?)). Amazingly I reached that goal around May exactly on schedule (see figure on the right) and have been maintaining it since. What's the secret? Very simple. I just restricted caloric intake and exercised regularly. In my case, I was always very active but simply ate too much and drank too much beer. The body is a pretty straightforward calculator in this respect. If you take in more calories than you burn, you'll gain. Take in less and you'll lose. Take in as much as you burn and you will be stable. Of course people differ in how many calories they burn just living so the equilibrium point is different for different people. You just need the discipline to actually do it and have ways of exercising that are effective for you. My two major ways of exercising are mountain biking and hiking with heavy backpacks (photo gear) in the mountains. Both extremely caloric. So if you are considering resolving to lose weight, realize that it can be done if you stick to it, be honest with yourself, and don't get tempted by silly diets. Just follow Pollan's excellent advice to eat food, and not too much. Food meaning something that our great grandparents would have recognized as food.

The screenshot on the right is from the excellent iPhone app Loseit. It is very effective and free. There are many tools like this to help you if you need it, but simply being aware of what you eat and not eating as much as you might normally works just fine too.

Now I just need new New Year's resolutions for next year.


  1. I had this cunning idea for a diet just the other day (keep in mind its summer in this hemisphere). The diet goes like this. Eat 1/2 a watermelon and then wait 10 min. Then you can eat as much of any food as you like

    easy :-)

  2. I usually only notice the next morning whether it was "too much" ;-)