This is why I’m fat

Because my weight was gradually creeping up, I put myself on a diet at the end of April: no chocolate, no alcohol, no food between meals, and smaller portions. I am sticking to the first three prongs, but this is what I made myself for lunch last Friday:


I know … I’m not helping myself.



17 responses to “This is why I’m fat

  1. The problem with this meal is the amount of rice in it. The fish and seaweed wrappers? Not so much, calorie-wise. Try cutting down on the amount of rice, and use brown rice instead of white. Not so much different in calories, but better from a nutritional standpoint.

  2. That said, this is a very nicely presented lunch – for 2! :-)

  3. What makes me mad about the whole ‘losing weight’ and ‘improving health’ thing is that its bloody annoying for a few reasons..

    I’ve decided I’d like ot cut down intake a bit, but increase burn; together, that should work right? I used to knock back a large bottle of cola or diet cola every day (or two or three, when babies born..), so I stopped that; now I drink 1-2L of water or more every day, maybe a can of diet pop (soda to the USians :) every few days. Thats a fair calorie reduction.

    Then we picked up a decent gym-class elliptical machine (70% on sale, woowoo!), and its great; so I try to hit the machine for 35-40 mins 3-4 times a week (say 2 nights in a row, then a night off, repeat; maybe every other night if I get busied up.) The machine makes a big fudgey estimate, but it suggests I’m burning 500-650 calories in a shot of this, with the particualr up/down challenge level programme I enjoy.


    – “distracted exercise” is apparently less exercise value; your brain has to be into it. Maybe msuic can work, but apparently watching TV reduces calorie burn. Annoying! Free time is hard to get, so if I’m going to burn 45mins of it, I’ll watch a show.. its the only show time I get :) (Veronica Mars and Person of Interest right now.)

    – the body is annoyingly clever — if you do the same sort of exercise every day, it gets good at it *fast* – a couple weeks, and you’re geting limited value back; your body is too damned efficient, making it hard to burn. Apparently you need to alternate.. ellipitical one day, maybe kettle-bell weights the next, .. maybe a third? or just toggle the two?

    – its hard work; burning 45mins of good run on the elliptical is say 600 or more cals.. but a pound of fat is apparently 3500 or somesuch; they also suggest you need 150mins of exercise a week just to be in the game. Likewise, the first 10 or so mins of exervise is no value, since it just burns the easy burn stuff in your bloodstream.. you need to do 10-15mins to burn that, then actually burn some real calories. Work really hard for 2 weeks, maybe you’ll burn _1 pound_.

    So, all this advice about it being 80% diet, 20% exercise .. seems to have some ‘weight’ (har) behind it. I’m working pretty hard, working out more than most, and it doens’t take off any weight.
    – mind you, it probably is very good for the old ticker, and general improvement in health is good
    – the routine keeps you in a mindset; it is a drag to do, and boring, and boring is the ultiamte challeng for me when theres projects to do :) .. but it does feel good in its own sick way; and keeping the routine helps reinforce the ‘cvutting back’ intake, when you trhink about how much work you’ll have to do to pay for that bag of popcorn…

    Its rather demoralizing; I’ve been doing this routine for 6mo; I have very little free time, and have plenty of things I’d liek to do instead, so its hard to focvus on the routine; and more, it doesn’t seem to work very well. The body is so efficient it beats the system.

    So, maybe a harder diet is the way to go; but that just sucks.

    You can’t win :(

  4. rubberman says:

    very nicely presented lunch – for 2! :-)


    Jeff says:

    [Exercise] is a drag to do, and boring, and boring is the ultiamte challeng for me when theres projects to do :)

    That is exactly right. I’ve made three or four separate attempts to get into a routine of running. And each time (so far, anyway) I have been defeated by sheer boredom. I just hate it.

  5. I’d say that losing weight is pretty much entirely about calorie restriction- keeping it off seems to benefit from exercise. But it takes a lot of time to create a significant calorie deficit through exercise, and exercise tends to make you hungrier.

    I’ve been a bit unhappy about how portly I’ve been getting for a couple of years now. Last year I started doing strength training again after a hiatus of some years. I was a bit too fat when I started, and I was eating a lot to support the lifting I was doing. I did get a lot stronger over a few months, but I also went from 200 lbs to around 215. A fair bit of that was muscle, but a fair bit of it was not.

    Between some hip problems and the fact that work has been pretty insane for me for a while I haven’t been lifting for the last few months. But I did decide a little while ago that I needed to lose some weight. What I did has been pretty successful for me, though I’m not sure it would be for everyone.

    I basically started having X number of days per week where I ate almost entirely protein, but about 800 calories worth. On top of that I had a hundred or so calories from the half-and-half I put in my coffee- I didn’t feel like giving that up. I also ate large amounts of green vegetables with a lot of fiber, like broccoli. And I took about 4-6 fish oil capsules a day to make sure I got my essential fatty acids. And on some of those X days I would have a beer or two in the evening. So I was getting between 1000 and 1500 calories a day on those days. I think my caloric needs are close to 3000 a day, so that’s a pretty big deficit.

    Exactly what X was varied from week to week, from two to five, based on my social obligations and what I felt like doing. But I never had more than three low calorie days in a row- on the other days I ate as I wanted, though I didn’t gorge. And I never felt all that deprived- I am generally not hungry in the morning anyway, and 800 calories of chicken breast or lean beef along with a head of broccoli or a lot of snow peas is actually a lot of food. Protein blunts hunger, and fibrous green vegetables fill you up.

    I don’t own a scale, and I didn’t bother weighing myself at any point- it would have been pointless anyway as my level of water retention varied a great deal. But I moved two notches on my belt (need a smaller one now, I guess, which is unfortunate as I recently sprang for a nice one) and went from having a significant belly to seeing the vague outlines of my abs in around three weeks. This is ideal if you have my personality type- I like to see results quickly, and I could see changes almost on a day-to-day basis. While still eating whatever I wanted a few days a week.

    One thing I will say is that I should have been lifting while doing this. I actually look more muscular now, because I am leaner. But I know I lost some lean mass and some strength while doing this. And I would have lost more fat if I had better discouraged my body from burning some muscle for energy (though not much more, as muscle contains much less energy than adipose tissue.)

  6. Lionel Hutz

    Hurray! I haven’t seen a plate of delicious sushi on your blog for ages!
    What are your favourite sushi fillings?

    P.S. Have you ever watched “Twin Peaks” ?

  7. Favourite sushi fillings: the very best thing I’ve ever eaten (as part of sushi or otherwise) is toro, the fatty part of the tuna belly. But that is hard to get (impossible where I live) and I’ve rarely had it. Outside of that, you just can’t beat boring old salmon, which can be really sensationally good and is never bad. And I admit I also have a weakness for tempura rolls: for example, spider roll, which is filled with soft-shell crab tempura.

    Never seen Twin Peaks, no. Often wondered whether I ought to.

  8. “ve decided I’d like ot cut down intake a bit, but increase burn; together, that should work right?”

    Except, of course, for a lot of people, it doesn’t. Long-term success rates in scientific studies on weight loss through increased exercise and calorie restriction run about 5%.

    “I’d say that losing weight is pretty much entirely about calorie restriction- keeping it off seems to benefit from exercise.”

    That’s what people kept telling me, and what I kept trying, and what, for me, never worked.

    Until last June someone suggested I read Gary Taubes’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories: Fats, Carbs, and the Controversial Science of Diet and Health”. Which convinced me to give a low-carb, whole foods diet a try.

    And for me, it worked. Yes, I lost weight. Quite rapidly. I was at 295 pounds in June. I was at 220 pounds by December. But the energy change was what was truly remarkable. I went from not being able to walk more than half-a-mile without developing crippling back pains to being able to hike ten miles of hillside without even noticing. And rather than exercise being something that I had to force myself to do, it became something I had to do, to burn off excess energy.

    I don’t claim that low-carb is the solution to everyone’s problems. But if you’re showing the typical signs of metabolic syndrome – overweight, significant abdominal fat, high blood pressure, high fasting glucose, insulin resistance, etc., then it may very well be.

  9. Yeah, I think what Taubes is saying is interesting, and there are pretty good reasons to think that for a lot of people low-carb is the thing that will work best. I still think it does come down to calorie restriction though, and though Taubes dances around the issue I think it’s clear that he doesn’t entirely disagree.

    The thing is that people pretty naturally eat less calories when they don’t eat carbs. And in fact on my low-calorie days the only carbs I get come from half and half and vegetables (and sometimes beer, which does indeed have a lot of carbs.) And I’m not all that hungry, because protein blunts hunger.

  10. All of this is interesting, but the bottom line is: I am fat because when I make a 24-piece sushi lunch, I eat it all, rather than (say) eating half and finding someone else to give the other half to. I don’t think there’s a problem with what I eat at all — only with how much.

  11. If you were to eat less, would you be hungry? If so, you may want to look at what you eat, rather than how much.

    Have you ever had a glucose tolerance test? Do you know how you respond to carbohydrate loads? Ideally, you’d be able to ask your doctor to schedule one that includes measurements of both glucose and insulin levels. But of course, with your free government health care, that may not be an option.

    Still, you can perform the test yourself, measuring just glucose, using an over-the-counter glucometer, which you can get nearly anywhere.

    I tested myself back in July, and my blood sugar peaked at 177mg/dL – where 140 is considered the cutoff for normal and 200 full-fledged diabetes. I tested again in January, after six months of eating low-carb, I peaked at 131. And my HbA1c dropped from 5.8 to 4.9.

    As I said, this was clearly the right intervention for me. I don’t recommend it blindly for everyone. But I do think a DIY glucose tolerance test is something everyone should do. If you wait until your doctors pick up on the problem – until your fasting glucose levels are in the diabetic range – you’ll have accumulated damage that cannot be reversed.

  12. Mike Taylor said: “All of this is interesting, but the bottom line is: I am fat because when I make a 24-piece sushi lunch, I eat it all, rather than (say) eating half and finding someone else to give the other half to. I don’t think there’s a problem with what I eat at all — only with how much.”

    Yeah, well this is kind of the point behind what I’ve been doing. I know myself well enough to know that on some days I am going to sit down and have an extra-large burrito washed down by half a bottle of wine, and I guarantee you that is more calories than your sushi platter (which looks delicious, by the way.) And I wouldn’t want to give that up, tbh. I enjoy it.

    But I am also pretty fine with not eating very much at all for a day or three here and there. And that creates a calorie deficit that would be really hard for me to overcome quickly unless I set out to gorge myself.

    The issue with losing weight or keeping weight off is pretty much compliance. We know that if we actually do create a significant calorie deficit we will lose tissue (hopefully fat.) That’s the simple part. Figuring out what regimen that creates that deficit we can comply with is the hard part, and I suspect it varies a great deal from person to person, and doesn’t really exist at all for some people.

  13. Pingback: Breakfast | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  14. (haven’t read any other comments yet)

    My wife loves sushi. I guess I still don’t really know, understand, or “get” sushi yet. Of course I always used to think it was just raw fish, but it’s apparent that it’s much more complicated–lots of rice and rolls and sometimes sushi not containing fish or not containing meat.

    I would not have thought that it would be fattening. The dish you made doesn’t *look* (to my naive eye) fattening. Which parts are rich? What makes it fattening?


    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  15. Wyrdwyrd, it’s fattening mostly just because it’s a big lunch.

    For details, see this comment on the followup post.

  16. That makes sense.


  17. Pingback: Time for lunch! | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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