Good Morning to you—
Several people have asked about the fate of the skinny guy trapped inside me who's trying to get out, a subject I address from time to time. The bottom line is that I lost about 35 lbs. and have kept it off, but I've been stalled in the 230s for the longest time. My progress was greatly slowed by my illness in January, when I lost way too much weight too fast, then inevitably gained it back. Fast weight loss is not good.
Friend and TOP reader Michael McCaskey wisely called the score on my Gruelandgrass diet..."You need more variety," he said, and he was right. It worked while I stayed on it, but it's too hard to eat the same thing day in and day out. For short periods of time it works, but not for longer periods of time. You just get too sick of the same meal if you eat it too often.
Romantic longing helps dieting, I've found. There's a reason for that phrase "pining away."
Walking is good. Poor Lulu has arthritis, and we need to address the problem of pain management for her soon. She's gotten slower and slower. But Butters can go for energetic 1.5 to 2.5 mile walks and not be detectably less ebullient at the end of the walk than he was at the beginning. I'm much more tired by the end, though. Bottom line: he's exercising me.
My current favorite: fast diets. Reader Marek Fogiel sent me the book, and I'm afraid I rejected it out of hand at first, saying I was never going to do "torture diets." Well, I was wrong, and Marek was right. I read the book and took its advice and I actually like fasting. Know why? Because there are no decisions to make. You don't have to decide what to eat. You just eat nothing, so every decision all day is pre-made. That's nice. Decisions are difficult.
Another strange thing about fasting: It makes you feel better. I'm serious. It makes you feel more alert and somehow more clearheaded. From an evolutionary biological standpoint this makes perfect sense: if you have to secure your own food, when you're not getting any food is when you need to be most on your game—you need energy and clearheadedness to help you get out and find something to eat. I have to admit I really rather like the feeling. It's energizing and even a bit addictive.
Fasting for a day here and there isn't terribly difficult, either, because hunger isn't linear. What happens is that you get hungry for a little while, and then it goes away. And then it comes back, but then it goes away again. Once you know this, it's pretty easy to deal with it—you just wait.
Next up in the parade of dietary experiments: Soylent. I've got it on order, but they're way back-ordered following a popular New Yorker article. I'm going to try it, and I'll report back. And yes, I'm aware that it's kinda crazy. But I've been running experiments on myself for two and a half years now, so what's one more?
Absolute best diet: either be someone or marry someone who enjoys cooking and fixes healthy meals. My congenital and irremediable inability to cook impedes proper eating, no question.
Hope you have a great day today—eat healthy (but not too hearty).
"Morning Coffee" is auto-published weekdays at 3:30 a.m. Central Time today to be in time for morning coffee breaks in the UK and Europe. For those who rise later, it will be there. The feature is a month-long experiment to give people something to check in with while I'm busy moving.
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(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Dan Khong: "I can fully agree from experience that fasting even briefly can result in better concentration and clearmindedness."
John Krumm: "I think I mentioned trying and liking the FAST diet back when you started your own. It was easy for me to stop, just like it was easy to start. Alas, it's hard to start again, because while I know the hunger isn't horrible, it's still bad enough to make me not want to experience it. Certainly one of the joys of that diet is eating what you want on the regular days. But it was a great diet for a family guy since I could just eat much less a couple days a week and not worry so much about the regular dinner menu for everyone else."
Cateto Catetez: "Mike, posts like this in a big profile site like yours are of concern to me.
"For someone who has such a reasonable, sensible and enjoyable approach in the world of photography, it feels really weird to read your posts on a very serious issue for many people, such as is diet.
"I respect your wishes to follow fast diets (or slow ones, for that matter). But I have some background knowledge on the topic, and I can tell you one thing:
"The perfect diet exists and has been used by humans for many thousand of years: eat reasonable amounts of just about everything; avoid excess in any category of food; and do physical activity regularly.
"It really is that simple. And trust me, no magic diet will solve the wieght issues of anybody.
"I know that the simple 'diet' I outlined above (which I certainly did not invent) is not easy to follow in the modern Western world: it's all too easy to spend countless hours working in front of the computer (I know it well, as I do it often).
"But we have to make this clear: a magic diet with no physical activity is not going to work. You will get bored sooner rather than later. And your overweight will come back sooner rather than later.
"So we can keep on playing with magic diets forever, but the fact is that we are using the wrong strategy to solve a simple problem."
Mike replies: I really don't think that it is that simple. Delve a bit into the specifics of the obesity epidemic and see if you still believe there's not a very serious systemic problem.
But to your meta-point: I have a feel for photography. I've studied it and practiced it, thought about it, and I care about it; I have a strong visual aptitude by most means of measuring that (a very good visual memory, for instance). By contrast I don't like food, have little interest in it, no aptitude for preparing it, and know little about it. So that I would have a "a reasonable, sensible and enjoyable approach" to the one and not the other actually makes perfect sense!