Emerald Reverie

Gwmngilfen's blog - Tech, cooking, walking and other randomness from the heart of Scotland

Expanding My Cooking Horizons, Not My Waistline

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I’m overweight. There’s no getting away from this fact, I have the data to prove it.

The problem here is not (mainly) one of excercise. I have a standing desk. I like walking. I have a small child. These (especially the last) make for a fairly active lifestyle - I have no shortage of opportunites to get my heart rate up. Nor do I eat (very) unhealthily - we cook every night, so there’s not an abundance of bad food in the house.

No the issue here is one of pleasure. I love food. I love to cook, and I love to eat, and so when I cook, I make too much, and then I eat anyway. While calories fell out of fashion in the dieting fad world, they still matter. Whether it’s too many calories of healthy food, or too many of high-salt, high-sugar bad food - either way, it’s still too many.

So this year, I plan to fix it. Weight loss is a notoriously hard-to-keep New Year’s resolution, but… I have a plan! Like all good plans, it has several parts

Consumption

The first part, and it’s obvious, is what I eat, and how much. I’ve already said we eat fairly healthily, but there’s room for improvement, especially in terms of pure calorie count.

For christmas this year, I was given a copy of Thug Kitchen[probably NSFW!], which is a vegan cookbook like no other. Let’s be clear - I have no intention of going vegan, or even vegetarian. I love meat entirely too much for that, I mean, bacon alone, c’mon… But we do all consume far more meat than we used to - what’s missing is interesting ways to cook veggie dishes. On this point, this book is a godsend.

I’m already sticking to making at least one evening meal a week from this book (I was particularly blown away with the Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas), but it also has a great section on quick food and munchies. Now, given that I really struggle to eat well at lunch time (working from home with a bakery 3 doors away is bad for that…), this is huge. Things like Spiced Chickpea and Tahini Wraps can be made in 20min, and is a filling hot lunch that is way less bad for me than a sausage roll and a fudge doughnut.

I’ve never been a breakfast person, and now that we can finally consign the “eat breakfast to lose weight” thing to the bin, I don’t need to be piling on the calories there.

So that’s effectively a “5-2” kind of thing for evenings, decently healthy lunches, and no breakfast (well, maybe a slice of granary toast, on occaison). A good start.

Tracking

Of course, there’s no use in setting a goal with no way to know if you’ve reached it. I’ve actually been tracking weight loss for some years via a Google Docs speadsheet, but that got tiresome. So, I hacked up a quick Sinatra tracking app to help me out.

The basic idea is simple. The front page has a handy input box for me to put in my weight from my phone whenever I have time in a morning to weigh myself. Clearly, this isn’t every day, but so long as it’s at least a couple of times a week, we can extract trends.

From there, I store the data in a small sqlite3 db, and calculate moving 7-day and 30-day averages. The 7-day is useful to indicate early shifts in trends, so I can catch myself if I start to slip, but the 30-day is the real measure of the goal. If that is trending down, then that’s good. If not, then I’ve been at least slightly naughty for at least a month.

The app also includes a predicted completion date based on the moving averages. These are very crudely calculated, but again, it’s just an indicator - if that date starts to get significantly further away, I need to reign myself in. It’s also a way to ensure I’m not too drastic - as drastic changes to lifestyle rarely stick. That completion date doesn’t need to be next month…

Attitude

I think you have to keep a light attitude to weight, or it becomes a risk of crushing despair when it doesn’t work. I’ve been steadily losing weight since 2013, but recently I hit a plateau, and would like to shift the last 10kg. That’s all it is. No big deal, no drama, just something to keep an eye on.

The 30 day average and completion dates help me turn a blind eye to the occaisonal takeaway or large slab of cake - these things are part of life, and should be enjoyed from time to time.

In other words - everything in moderation, including moderation itself.

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