My quest to become overweight

I am 1.81 meters tall — I know this, because I got the nurse to measure me at my annual health-check a few days ago. For the last decade or so, my weight (or mass, if you’re scientifically inclined and pedantic) has hovered between 100 and 105 kg. At the bottom end of that range, 100 kg and 1.81 m gives me a body mass index of 100 / 1.812 = 30.5. According to the standard categories, that makes me obese — only just, as the threshhold is 30.

So reaching a target mass of 98.283 kg will give me a BMI of dead on 30, the obesity threshold. That’s been my target weight for a while: I want to get out of the obese category and into overweight.


I am delighted to report that I’ve succeeded. This morning I weighed in at 97.8 kg, which gives me a BMI of 29.85. Hurrah! I am overweight!

Now I know perfectly well that BMI is a profoundly flawed measurement. It’s a crude tool that takes no account of the difference between muscle and fat, nor of people’s natural build. But that’s OK. Its value here is that it gives me concrete targets. More than targets: ratchet-points. Having successfully got below the “obese” threshold, I’ll be very aware now if I ever cross above it, and that should motivate me to get straight back down below.

Since “overweight” goes from BMI 25 to 30, I suppose my next goal should be to hit the middle of the overweight range, which is 27.5. That would mean getting my weight down to 90.1 kg, which to be honest feels like a reach. Hmm. Not sure how realistic that is. Maybe I’ll aim for 95 kg, just because it’s a roundish number, and see how it goes from there.


“But Mike”, you ask, “How did you lose the weight you’ve lost so far?”

By using a diet of my own invention that I call the “eat less food” diet. I will share it with the world. It consists a few simple rules, all based on a principle that Jeff (in a comment below) made explicit for me: eat good food, but less of it.

  1. Before you start, have a superb meal and eat way too much. The goal is to feel bloated enough that you find yourself wanting to lose weight, not merely feeling that you ought to.
  2. Don’t eat between meals.
  3. Eat smaller portions of your meals.
  4. Don’t have seconds.
  5. When you’re hungry, have a beer instead. (This rule may be controversial. It’s working for me, because although beer is fattening, it’s much less so than an equivalent volume of food.)
  6. When you break one of these rules, break it hard.

Rule 6 may need a bit of explanation. The idea is that if you slightly break a rule, it’s easy to let the next state become the New Normal. For example, if I let myself eat a Mars bar one day, it would feel natural to have one the next day, too, and pretty soon you’re eating a Mars bar every day. Instead, I prefer to pig out. When we visited Fiona’s parents around Easter, they gave me an Easter egg, two Wispa bars and a chocolate orange. I ate all that chocolate in the two days we were there — indulgence so extreme that I couldn’t possibly make myself think it was normal or healthy — and then returned to the rules the next day, when we came home.

Maybe I should have spun that out to 180 pages, and made it into an international best-selling diet book. Oh well.

10 responses to “My quest to become overweight

  1. I’ve been losing weight since October; similar set of rules to start with, though I’ve branched them out more..

    – be happy
    – be consistent (not focused, but stick to your rules

    Being happy pretty much kills off most diets. Weight Watchers sounds liek the most sensible one, but its really just calorie counting with some gaming of the calcs going on, plus team guilt if you go to meetings. So.. if you don’t need other peopel chanting at you, you can skip WW. Stuff like Jenny Craig etc, are bad – the ones that charge you piles of money for little boxes of food .. you will end up hating yourself and your life, and really.. thats no good way to live, or build a new lifestyle.

    Instead, I decided, build a diet around being able to eat whatever I want, but less of it; diets that you suddenly cannot have a cheeseburger or slice of pizza anymore.. you will not succeed :)

    I had a acquaintance who lost a pile of weight; that helped show me it could be done. He was hardcore though, and I have been determined not to be.

    + play the long game (and I ended up getting more hardcore than I thought, after successes started piling up
    implication: if you gain one day, so what? You want to go out to a movie, chose the smaller bag of popcorn, but have the damned popcorn; you want to hit up the pub with some chunms, ahvea pint or some snack .. dont’ go all out, or go out _hard_.. but don;t’ feel bad. Fine. A day up is no big deal. Dont’ trend up — trend _down_, but if its not at peak loss.. so what?

    + lose weight, then get healthy
    implication: I did 8mo or so of increased burn (Elliptical mostly), with only slight reduction (gave up cola pop .. I dont’ do coffee, but caffeine from cola); that sucked – exercise is hard, but more.. its _boring_. Everything is against you – they say distracted exercise is less valuable than focused exercise; having small kids or a busy job etc, means exercising at all is at weird hours, hard on your body, or getting up really early (which is not what some of us do.. I’m a night owl all my life.) So exercise at midnight while babies slept.. that was hell. I did it anyway. But you gain weight with good exercise – muscle mass etc.
    So separate it – theres _weight loss_ and there is _increasing health_; most peopel conflate the two, but I’ve decided to separate; reducing weight makes you healthier, and your’e fighting one wall at a time .. if you’re also exercising, you lose some weight, but gain more.. so its sel fdefeating, feels bad. You lose inches, and strongher heart, but its not satisfying. So, skip it for now ;)

    + eat less dense good
    implication: chocolate bars, cheese, etc, are all dense — you eat them, and a huge pile of calories, for small volume; not satisfying, so you overdo it. But look at opposite is popcorn – not much cals, and much larger; or a better example.. vegetables.. you can fill up all day, and be full before the calories mount up.

    – time of day? Old wisdom says breakfast is important, etc
    Well, little science here — all these old tales created this; you can eat one big meal, many small grazing.. _whatever makes you happy is better. I tended for long time to make a omellete with a pile of hotsauce and vaggies .. or just skip breakfast now, and have huge dinner!

    – hotsauce is generally 0 cal! or curry powder, etc..

    – calories only, is the main rule; cals in versus cals out; a professor lived on Doritos and Twinkies for 3 months, and his blood showed great LDL etc. So conclusion was.. either we measure the wrong things (do not know wha t’healthy’ looks like to the body), or the body is complex and turns garbage in, into sueful stuff anyway. At least, we do not understand well.. hence while all these nutritionists and diet fads change direction ervery other year.
    –> so count calories, dont’ sweat the makeup

    + calculate your basal metabolic rate (age, sex, height, weight) to find out how much burn you need to not starve, and maintain your system
    + calculate your maintenanvce weight – the calories requierd to stay same weight; there are online sites for all this stuff, but maint calss is easy.. its what you’ve been eating for awhile.

    So .. cals in >= basal rate, <= maint rate == weight loss.

    Thats it. Thats your rule

    Find foods that make you happy; eat the right calorie count. Be happy.

    Piece of cake.

    45 poudns down since October :)

  2. I weighed in at just on 104 kg, slightly taller at 1.86, around 2 years ago. I turned to regular yoga and an attempt to “stick to the rules” on weekdays (breakfast is some kind of all-in-one porridge; lunch is 3 eggs, a banana, some nuts and lately a pair of little apples (and 2-3 slices of bread, when I’m ravenous); dinner is a salad made of freshly-chopped ingredients like broccoli, red cabbage, tomato, perhaps spinach, some cheese and a vienna (proteins!)). Weekends I can have whatever, whenever. What I found is that the weekend consumption dropped slowly of its own accord. Also, I got more into yoga and upped from twice a week to 2-7 times a week, depending on how much I can motivate myself in the morning.
    The result: I originally dropped 20 kg and have come up a little since then, putting on some muscle weight and gaining strength as I’ve fortified my breakfast with two scoops of protein shake.

    So yes, you can get down below 90 (: I’m currently at 85 (: It just takes time and patience and will. All of which I’m sure you can muster (:

  3. Great, encouraging stories, Jeff and dafux0r — thank for sharing!

    Stupidly, I actually omitted my underlying principle from this article — I guess it’s so ingrained that I don’t even think of it explicitly — so my thanks to Jeff for bringing it up. It’s this: I would much rather eat a little of something that I love, than a lot of something that I merely like (or don’t like very much at all). So when dafux0r says “dinner is a salad made of freshly-chopped ingredients like broccoli, red cabbage, tomato, perhaps spinach, some cheese and a vienna”, that’s not for me. Jeff’s “be happy” principle rules!

  4. I hear and agree with both of you — you can’t hate your food! I quite like the salad, to be honest. There are small changes that you can make without going totally in a direction that you don’t like — more fresh stuff (veggies and so on), reduce carbs at night (since you’re just going to store them), increase protein (makes you feel fuller too, so there’s a win). My dinner isn’t small, and I am also quite liberal with the olive oil and spices on it (:
    Of course, to each, their own (:

  5. eh, apparently I have two WordPress logins; soz about that.

  6. I found it interesting that .. I ‘gamed’ my rules a bit, since I know how I work; ie: I’m not a fan of too much variety.. or vaggies; I tend to find things I like, then harp on them. So while veggies do have a caloric cost, I consider it zero .. saves data entry, and makes encourages me to have more of them for ‘free’; I know I gamed the rules, but after awhile I forget such gamed elements and just go with the quick calcs.. and so it worked, I eat more veggies.

    I’ve come up with a stupidly large variety of methods to reshape the same reliable low cal ingrediants; a dozen ways to prepare eggs and veggies to be tasty breakfasts.. or just skip the breaky and go for a big old burger later :O

    Lunch today was leftover pan fried potatos and some chunks of ham roast; ham and chicken are miracle meats .. low cal, and chicken especially is easy to flavour up. Anyway, diced up a couple whole red peppers (the long ones, not the round ball ones.. so not so much material in them, so yes, a couple big ones!), some onion, some mushrooms, some green peppers, some spicy peppers .. and fried it all up; tossed over some yellow curry for flavor, and some thai red curry for spice.. I find yellow + red curry makes a reat mix; a hint of water so the curry powder could turn a bit more into sauce. I know _nothing_ of curries, but I do love it.. so just tossing curry powder over scrambled eggs or whatever, is great.. anyway, this enormous lunch was a handfull of potato and cubed ham, plus a pile of veggies, and turned into a giant scary sized bowl of food.. and about 280 calories. Kids and work are busy so I’d actually missed breakfast entirely by accident (I’d intended all those veggies for that..) .. so here I am, dinner time coming around and I’ve only done <300 cals, leaving me with some 1500 or so to burn. I could get some szechuan or noodles at a greasy pit, or grab a burger and fries or whatever, and no problem.. still calories left over, and still losing weight. (singapore noodles is a fav of mine .. and its actually low cal due to mostly being rice noodles.)

    Coke zero or diet coka is a big win for me.

    So I often end up stuffing myself, and losing weight. Most days. Some days I even go low .. if I'm not careful, if I do another veggie stiryfry as it was so good at lunch, I could easily end up <1000 cals for the day, and still be full.

    Funny thing to me is.. I look forward to the veggies now; I've been a tubby boy a long time, and I like to eat; I like my lasagne and burgers you know? I dont' consider myself a healthy eater, but now .. here I am talking diets with people all the time, and digging into bowls of diced onions and so on.. and loving it.

    But as I said.. you have to be happy, enjoy your life, or its going nowhere.. you'll be unhappy, and fall off the side. Stay happy, and lose as fast or slow as you like.. you'll get there. Just don't gain, or for any length of time; if you blow a day or two, so what, be happy; just dont' do that often or you'l lset yourself back and be sad :)

  7. I really like the idea of ‘being overweight’; thats a good demarcation. I think I’ll try for that as well ..

  8. I love Singapore fried noodles! As it happens, I made them for lunch today, then had them again this evening (from a takeaway this time). There’s something magical about them.

  9. Singapore noodles are ‘low cal’ .. at least for takeaway asian noodles :) One of those enormous containers of what, 4 or 5 cups of the stuff, ends up being like 1200 or so calories. You can havea light breakfast or lunch, and put away that whole container, and still lose weight for the day. Or at least break even.

    By contrast, a General Tao Chicken or the like, is all sauce and sugar, and will set you back a bit :)

  10. Pingback: How much does a cup of tea cost? | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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