Category Archives: Dieting

The Long Awaited Day

This picture has absolutely nothing to do with the post. I just think it looks cool


As you may have heard from the scores of media outlets reporting on the story, today is a very important day to many of the inhabitants of the western hemisphere, sure to accompanied by a celebration of epic proportions.  Today is the day my blog turns 100 posts old.

Also, there’s something about a new year?  I mean I guess if you’re hung up on that whole Gregorian Calendar thing it’s a big deal, but if you ask me, saying “Happy New Year” is prejudiced against cultures who don’t observe the passage of years in the same way we do.  If you want to be politically correct you should really say “Happy Blogcentennial.”  It’s a far more universal greeting.

But all kidding aside, I love New Year’s.  It’s not so much a time of festivity for me, but I treasure the chance to take a look back on a span of time and measure what I’ve accomplished against what I want to accomplish in a future span of time.  And while talking about New Year’s resolutions might not be the most original topic in the blogosphere today, it is one that is very near and dear to my heart.

For me the holiday is less about celebration, and more about introspection.  What did I do wrong?  What did I do right? What can I do better next year?  The New Year’s Resolution is a cliché, but like most clichés it got that way for a reason.  Because, if done right, the New Year’s Resolution can be a powerful and formative tool for you this year.  If you want to succeed with your resolutions the following principles can help make your them as effective as you can.

1. Make your resolutions as concrete as possible.

This is important.  I think a lot of people say, “I’m going to lose weight this year,” or “I’m going to exercise more,” but they don’t set a specific achievable goal for themselves.  For instance, instead of saying, “I’m going to exercise more,” it would be better to say, “I am going to exercise a total of one hour per week.”  That way you’ll know whether or not you’re accomplishing your goal.

2. Make sure your resolutions have some flexibility or room for forgiveness.

This is important because it’s almost inevitable that at some point you’re going to fail at one of your resolutions if you set the boundaries too rigidly. For instance, last year I made the resolution that I would read an average of one book every week. If instead, I had said I would read exactly one book every week by the time I got to The Terror, a 700 page colossus of a story, I might have been tempted to give up entirely.  But because I set myself a more flexible goal I was able to take longer on some books, knowing I could catch up later with others.

3. Make some kind of notation of your progress.

This was a big one I discovered for myself last year, and I’m really looking forward to ramping it up to the next level this year.  Again, I’ll use my reading resolution as an example.  At the beginning of the year, I started making a list in a small notebook I have of every book that I read and the date of completion.  As I went through the year, I realized how satisfying it was to go to my book and note the most recent completion.  If you want to accomplish anything big you’re going to have to do it a little at a time.  The end of your resolution may be 365 days away, and if you’re anything like me, it can be hard to stay motivated for that span of time.  But if you keep a log of your progress, you can split one very large objective into a number of much smaller objectives.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.


The following are my resolutions for 2011.  I’m listing them here for two reasons.  First, I’m an incurable egotist that loves to talk about himself.  Second, by posting them here, I’m making myself accountable to someone other than myself.  When I feel like giving up, I’ll be able to say to myself, “Yes, but what would all of those people who read your blog think?” and that might give me the motivation I need to keep going.

1. Write an average of one blog post every day.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m getting myself into with this one.  I know that lately I’ve been really getting into writing this blog, to the point that nearly every morning I’ll wake up around 5:30 with an idea buzzing around in my head that I know would make a great post.  However I don’t want to kill myself with this thing either, and not every post has to be a 1,000 word essay.  It just has to be interesting.

2. Write an average of 1,000 words per day.

This one is a lot bigger.  See, I usually write at least this much when I’m in the middle of writing a rough draft, but then I move on to the editing stage my word count falls off since I’m working with an already finished manuscript.  I’ve got a whole lineup of stories I want to work on this year so I shouldn’t have any shortage of material, but keeping at it week after week and month after month will be a real test of endurance for me.  Still, if I can do it, by this time next year I will have written over 365,000 words.  I went by the store to pick up a wall calendar today, and I’ll be writing my total word count in the square for each day.  In addition to that, I’m toying with tweeting my daily year-to-date word count as well, thus adding another layer of accountability for myself.

3. Finish editing/rewriting/polishing The Mulch Pile.

This is the big one for me.  The Mulch Pile is my novel from NaNoWriMo year before last.  It’s gone through a lot of editing, and rewrites, and I’ve gone so far as to post quite of bit of it on the internet as a serial, but there are things about the story that just keep nagging at me that need to be fixed.  It’s so close to being right I can taste it, but if it’s going to be right, I want it to be really right.  Because if all goes as planned I’ll be releasing the story as an eBook some time near the middle of the year.  Stay tuned for that.

And that’s all for me.  What about you?  What do you hope to accomplish in 2011?  I’d love to hear about it.  Leave a comment, and let me know.

Weight Loss Secrets of the Poor and Obscure

Sometimes, all you really need is a good kick in the pants to get you going in the right direction.  You can struggle and struggle with something, and then one day something will happen that will change the way you look at the problem and help you to reach the solution.  At least that’s how it is with me.   See, one of my new years resolutions for this past year was a promise to myself that I was going to lose weight.  For a while I exercised on and off and ate healthy every once in a while, but none of it seemed to help.  In fact I was gaining weight rather than losing it.  I was getting frustrated with the whole thing, and I was nearly ready to throw in the towel and resign myself to a life of being overweight.  And then, one day, my wife said something that changed everything.

She said, “You could probably get by on two corn dogs instead of four.”  (We were eating corn dogs when she said this.)

She wasn’t trying to be profound.  She wasn’t trying the alter the way I looked at the world.  But she did.  That moment was the tipping point for me.  I can’t tell you exactly why those particular words in that particular situation were so effective, but somehow they were.  Those words made me really realize what a slave I had been to my past.

When I was growing up my parents didn’t have a lot of money.  I wouldn’t say we were poor, but we certainly weren’t rich, and while the home cooked food at the table was frequently delicious it always seemed like there was never quite enough of it for my tastes.  I would always leave the table wishing I could have had just one more helping.

Fast forward a few years, and now I’m an adult.  I’m still not rich, but if I want to eat until I can’t possibly eat any more, then I can afford to do that.  I can retroactively indulge that little kid at my parents table with everything his heart desires.  And that is exactly what I was doing.  Maybe not all the time, but more often than I’d like to admit, I’d eat and eat until I was stuffed full; I was eating four corn dogs when I could just have easily gotten by on two.  And it was starting to show.

So when my wife made her world-changing corn dog observation, I started thinking about food in a new way.  I didn’t start counting calories, or staying away from donuts, at least not altogether.  But I did start to pay more attention to my portion sizes.  Before, when I got full, and there was food left on my plate, I would stuff myself to make sure there was no waste.  Now, I do my best to stop eating when I’m full.  I don’t always succeed, but I’m doing better.

I’ve cut back a few other places too.  I drink a lot less Mountain Dew than I used to, instead substituting it with Coke Zero, which has the caffeine I like every once in a while without the calories.  I’ve also taken to eating the Caesar Salads they have pre-made at the deli at work, though I’m not entirely certain how much difference that makes given the chicken and Caesar dressing.

But something is certainly working.  Sometime in September I weighed 248 pounds (I’m 6″ 4′ so this isn’t quite as bad as it might sound at first.)  As of the last time I weighed myself I was down to 228.

The verdict?  I can say emphatically that the You Can Probably Get By On Two Corn Dogs Instead of Four diet has worked for me.  Maybe it will work for you.  Maybe not.  It’s possible you’ve been eating nothing but plain leaf salads for four years and you’re still gaining weight.  But if you’re like me, maybe all you need is a perspective shift.

Dieting doesn’t have to be extreme.  In fact I would argue that extreme dieting is ultimately counterproductive given how unpleasant it is.  The secret I’ve learned is found in consistency.  Find something you can handle for the long haul and stick with it.  You may just surprise yourself with what is possible.


And now, since I didn’t say anything about writing in this post, here is a link to a post from Amala’s blog about where story ideas come from.

It was extremely helpful to me, because now I can tell people something besides, “The Mantis Men bring them down in their Saucers of Stone and drop them off in the mail box.”  The Mantis Men don’t like publicity; also they almost got in deep legal trouble with the Post Office for unlawful use of a mailbox.