Diary of a Lazy Man - I'm Definitely Not Dieting

As I mentioned previously, I've been visiting my personal trainer, Rachelle, twice a week for 30 minutes at the LA Fitness down the road from the office. I started training in mid-May, and in that time I've grown from having to halt training to lay on a yoga mat and quietly pray for death 3-4 times per session to completing each workout without any near death experiences. Moving from "almost dying" to "not almost dying" is a big step for me.

I still collapse in the locker room, though. Imagine those leaves are dirty socks and you get the idea.1

That's all well and good, but if you see advertisements for pharmaceuticals designed to treat conditions like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you'll hear the phrase "diet and exercise". And is a crucial word there; if I could choose diet or exercise, I'd definitely choose exercise, but it doesn't work like that for me. Paint a map of the Pacific Rim on my belly, tap it somewhere in the vicinity of the Kidney of Japan, and you'd cause a blubber tsunami and a series of fatquakes that would wipe out the entire West Coast of the US.

Those poor people in Spleen Francisco never stood a chance.

With a goal of dropping 76 pounds in a year, my diet was going to have to change. The problem was that I had no idea what I was eating. Calories, fat, carbohydrates, and protein: If you asked me how much I was eating, I'd have paused between bites of burrito, made a sound like "muhmuhmuh", shrugged, and resumed chewing.

Fortunately for a lazy man like me, there are apps that make it easy to figure out how much you're eating. I tried both MyFitnessPal and Lose It! for 30 days or so, and eventually settled on Lose It! for reasons I'll write about another time.

For the first week or so, I didn't change what I ate at all. I still rolled into McDonald's each morning and grabbed a sausage biscuit, ate a pound of burritos from Taco Bell for lunch most days, and ate whatever for dinner, with values of "whatever" ranging from a hamburger and fries to an entire pizza. Every time I ate something, I entered all the nutritional information I could find into my apps, then tallied up the data.

If calories were a race of peaceful but tasty creatures living in the cool but dry land of My Icebox, my apps would have recorded their genocide, because as far as I can tell, I ate all of the calories. There might have been one or two stragglers hiding in the vegetable compartment, but otherwise I consumed them all.

This was all disturbing, but not much of a surprise to me. After all, I'd seen my weight, and had long been quietly trying to convince myself that someone was using a shrink ray on my pants when I wasn't around. I know me, though, and aside from the fact that I have some bizarre rules about what foods are and are not edible, I don't have the strength of will to suddenly up-end my entire way of life and become a vegetarian, vegan, or adopt some oddball diet like the Paleo diet, some low-carb diet, or whatever fad diet is in the public eye this year. "You know, weasels eat raw rodents all the time, and when do you ever see a fat weasel? The Weasel Diet will get you where you want to go!"

He's sexy and he knows it.

Rather than making some drastic change that I'd give up in a couple of weeks, I made some minor adjustments in my diet. First, I traded the breakfast sausage biscuit for a Greek yogurt and a Clif bar. I like it just as well, it's got a better nutritional balance, and I don't have to tell someone each morning that a biscuit is great, but what it really needs is a big slab of sausage shoved in there. I'm still a regular at Taco Bell, though I've cut my burrito intake in half, but I still feel full until dinner. When it comes to dinner and snacks, I still have them, but I just try and eat a little less of what I usually eat. I leave a sustainable population of calories in my icebox, and don't feel any hunger pangs.

I'm not entirely sure that this is what one of my trainers called a "lifestyle change", but it's an incremental change that's working for me and my level of laziness.

  1. Cover image by Moyan Brenn. Exhausted guy image by Farrukh. Tsunami image by Adam Stanhope. Weasel photo by Jana M. Cisar / USFWS. Images licensed under Creative Commons.