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Sunday, 26 September 2010


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Mike, can you confirm my order? I sent email and paypal'ed. Thanks.
// richard

>In Paris, Voja is printing at full speed, which must be an awesome sight.

He moves so fast you can't see what's happening, which actually makes it rather uninteresting. I've seen him, really, he works so fast I couldn't figure out what he was doing.

Don't eat anything your grandfather or grandmother wouldn't recognise. It's a good way to stay safe and relatively healthy.

Voltz (who has spent today planting vegetables in the garden)

Talking of the rubbish that goes into modern processed food, do a search on 'aspartame' sometime and I can guarantee you'll never drink another 'diet' soft drink again....

That snap looks decidedly 6x7ish, I'll assume this is with the Mamiya? How are you finding it?

Do please keep up the off-topic posts. You are a beacon of hope in a wilderness of fat! Meanwhile: that is a super portrait. Thanks.

Well done, Mike. As someone who was 240 and has now managed to drop to around 215, I know how hard it can be.
And you are absolutely right: high time someone exposes what passes for "food", not only in the US but Australia as well!

Mike -

I should hope that most of us are at least mildly interested in anything you have to say with regard to your health and well-being and I for one, am happy to hear that your diet and your quest for better health is meeting with great success. They say these kinds of things are a lot more than just a few changes to your schedule and menu for a typical day. It's a complete overhaul of what you think, eat and do every day and it looks like you are happily and well into it.

There are many folks out there for whom losing some weight, or making any major lifestyle changes for the better, is simply more than they are capable of. I thought that about myself with the cigarettes, but my wife and I both are now going on 4 weeks tobacco free. And now that the hardest part of parting with tobacco has passed, I like it too! A lot. And I am - ahem, WAS a 30 year smoker. So I can relate at least a little to what you must have been thinking about when faced with the prospect of a major habit change and the challenges it might pose. In my case, the possibility (based on experience) of utter and painful failure made making the first steps tough, but I found out that with a little commitment and some healthy "self-speak" about how good this was going to be for me, got me and spouse through the worst part.

I'm just saying I can probly relate a little to what you're going through and how you're feeling and want to wish you the best.

I was more than a little concerned at the outset of your entry today. It really did sound like you were getting ready to set out some bad news or something. Thank goodness it was to the contrary!

Well, it's almost 7am where I am. Think I'll go into my darkroom and print some of those negs from my last road trip. I've been looking forward to seeing what I can do with them. Maybe I will send you a print from this promising bunch.

Best Regards,

I just hope you can KEEP it off. The only thing that worked for me was a full year of "sensible," less eating, and the elimination of probably 80% of the sweets (I can't give up the soda pop or the occasional piece of pie when I visit my sister), to go from a 42" to 38" and still going. Diets worked for me in the past, but I would always gain it back over time, which is what I'd always been told, but thought that once it was off I could surely keep it off.


As an expat living in Germany, your food tales are interesting: German supermarkets are terrible and make it difficult to be pretty much anything besides a meat-and-potatoes guy without having to spend an inordinate amount of time shopping.

I'm fully convinced that if people would actually bother to learn how to cook basics, we'd all eat healthier and for a lot less money. When I was poor and struggling (a lot longer than I wanted to be) back in the 1970s I lived on something like $80 a month for food: lots of rice and grains, veggies, and some cheese and eggs for protein. And beans. Never went hungry, but did have to eat some epic fail recipes when things went wrong (like substituting hot peppers for bell peppers because they were cheaper).

You can cook, eat well and be healthier on a limited budget: it just takes some effort. The food-processing industry lives on people being collectively lazy and not wanting to be bothered...

Good luck with the diet Mike. I too am overweight and could do with some inspiration to loose a couple of stones (a couple of dozen or so pounds in the US).


Mike - re the diet. Well done. I need to do something similar, but work forces me into 2 half hour meals breaks a day in a 12 hr shift. Which makes eating even normal healthy food a chore. Glad you're sticking to it and that it's working.

As for 'the American food supply', I get the feeling that it's been that way for a long time, and we here in the Antipodes are heading rapidly down the same slippery slope to glutinous sugary pap. Thank the Good Lord that we have fresh fruit and veg of all sorts in abundance, and small local shops that still sell local produce. (And also, praise be to Him for mangoes...)

As for the Paris prints... I was hot to get the set, but when I looked again at them before committing to an actual order, I realised that not one of them would ever be hung on my wall, photographer's and printer's credentials regardless. It was a heart rending choice, because I REALLY wanted to like them, but in the end they just didn't grab me. But then, Paris has never been on my list of 'must visit' places (Parisians and Francophiles in general need not revolt - New York isn't on my list of places to see either; ditto most of the big cities of the world, excepting London. England, not Canadia ;) ).

I'm glad the sale went well, and I hope for more in 2011, hopefully of images I'll want to have and hold.

The more physically active I get, the more I realize that while it's easy to get calories in the United States, it's not as easy to get "good" calories.

I did three consecutive 100 mile bike rides over the Labor Day weekend. I wound up eating in Burger King, ordering a Whopper with their "Go Large" size.

It would have taken a lot more work to get those same 2000 calories in a more healthy form.

Great job, Mike. And congratulations on the success of the Paris print project.


Not sure if commenting on the diet is allowed, but......are you doing any long walks or other basic cardio as well?

Firstly, congratulations!

Secondly, wait! Tell me about the spreadsheets! What was in them?!? Don't tease us!

Thirdly, and slightly more seriously, I've been eating "Stoneyfield Organic Whole Milk French Vanilla Yogurt." Which is seriously good stuff. I think Pollan would even qualify it as "real food". (Also, more different kinds of bacteria in it than Activa, the last time I checked.) It's amazing how incredibly rich and filling real, full fat, foods are. Yes, I've been reading Pollan too, though I started with "In Defense of Food".


From someone with experience, I can tell you that all diets work if you stay on them. I've tried them all in the last 30 years and lost weight on all of them. I'm down now from a high of 249 to 180lbs. I've been around 180 for over 2 years and have no problem staying at this weight. I don't do any special exercise program and do not count calories. My wife and I went to a health clinic in Minn. for 7 weeks and then to another on in Calif. We watch a lot of videos and attended a lot of programs at these clinics and came away convinced that processed food was killing everyone. We eat only RAW food for 6 Months and now live a Vegan lifestyle eating only plant based food. Google youTube "Dave the raw food truck driver" He went from 450lbs to under 200 lbs in 12 months and got off of over 20 Meds.
The big plus for me is not my weight loss. I'm off all my prescription Meds, I have twice the energy I used to have and haven't gotten sick (not even a cold) in two years.

Lilian looks nice,..is she your 'signifcant other'?

I'm not only breaking the Pinker rule here, I'm mocking it by providing the name of a book I haven't even begun to read but I once heard a long and very interesting interview with one Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and was really taken with his point, which is close to your own.

BTW, the headline of this post gave me the frights. I looked a few times for a joke, failed to find one, and read on unhappily. So it was a joke… that was a relief. :) Well done on losing the weight.

Thanks for sharing. But I do have a caveat. Devil's advocate if you care.

Starvation diets do make you loose weight. That's their objective. When you starve yourself, you lose water, fat, muscle and if you keep at it long enough, you start to lose bone mass.

But then, one day you'll have to stop starving and eat more. But you'll never be the same. Your metabolism will have changed. And your muscle to mass weight will have diminished. Your body will now want to keep more fat in case you go through another starvation period even though your body weight has diminished.

This has been well documented with nomad tribes that go through periods of starvation.

The trick to weight control is to lower your calory intake to a level that you'll be able to maintain for the rest of your life while still eating healthy. It will be slower but healthier.

Mike, it's great and healthy to lose fat but don't let yourself become too "small"; heck, I'm always trying to gain weight (get bigger) and I'm 5'8" 230 pounds with a small waist. If you lifted weights along with a low-fat diet with adequate protein (1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight) you could easily be a solid 235 pounds at your height. I know that weight lifting isn't for everyone, but maybe it's something to consider. I've always seemed to lose confidence when I dieted down (got smaller). I want my enemies to have to think twice before messing with me haha. No matter what age or lot in life you are there's always someone who wants to mess with you. Why empower your enemies by being small? :-)

Anyway, despite my intrusive opinion, that wasn't solicited, congrats on a healthier you!

I'm on a "reversal" diet, not meant to cut my weight (200, 6'2") as much as attempt to reverse my somewhat clogged heart. Same diet Bill Clinton is on. The diet essentially has one component: no fat. Almost *none.* No added oils. No meat, no fish, no dairy. Nothing but plant-based food. Over the space of a few years, the diet has been shown to help consolidate and even clear fatty deposits from heart arteries. The biggest problem is travel -- as you say, America is addicted to crap. I'm on a book tour, in Pittsburgh at this very moment, at a big hotel, and last night I could get one (1) thing on the menu -- a Vegetarian Reuben. When it arrived, it had all kinds of good veggies...if you could find them under the half-inch of cheese, and butter-soaked toast.

A few years back, there was a famous "scientific" finding that low-fat diets prevented heart attacks no better than regular diets. As it turned out, the devil was in the definition -- low fat was defined as less than a third of your daily diet in fats. In many countries, like Japan, a third of your calories in fat would be ridiculously high-fat...In other words, here in the US, we can't escape the crap even in our scientific definitions.

Other than the problem of travel, I haven't found the diet too hard. I've lost a bit of weight, but haven't been hungry at all.

Your (Mike's) diet reminds me of the diets I'd go on when I was working as a newspaper reporter...you simply ate so much crap during the day trying to keep your mental-energy levels up, that you inevitably starting getting fat. So then you'd go off on some fairly extreme diet, and lose a lot of weight, but you'd never get around to curing the lifestyle problem. You know the real cure for the mental-energy, crap oroblem? Cigarettes. I never had a problem with diet when I was smoking. Cigarettes are the perfect cure for the crap-eating problem, as long as you're not troubled by the probability of lung cancer.


Don't worry... And yes it is still your blog!
I like that because to shows this place is personal and not built for marketing/ads.

Good luck for your goals

I seem to have skipped the sentence and the footnote in which you actually mentioned Pollan. [Sigh.] Haste/speed.

About the diet from a fellow phluffy fotographer: Congratulations on your success so far but as someone who has already been this route be aware that when you hit your goal you can't stop counting calories. You can increase you intake to maintain your desired weight of course but don't assume that you are now any better intuitive judge of how much is enough. The counting needs to go on forever. This is the voice of experience speaking. 'Nuf said.

I like the adage of 'Eat food, not too much, mostly plants'. The first part refers, of course, to not eating processed things - if your greatgrandmother wouldn't have recognized it as food, don't eat it.

I also heard one nice way to get off pseudo-food: Try to eat it slowly, savoring the taste and texture of every bite. Soon you'll notice how awful it is.

"my wife and I both are now going on 4 weeks tobacco free"

That's wonderful, and CONGRATULATIONS! Quitting smoking is much harder than losing weight, and MUCH more important for your health. Strength and fortitude, strength and fortitude.


Friday's New York Times: "Told to Eat Their Vegetables, America Orders Fries."


"are you doing any long walks or other basic cardio as well?"

Not as much as I should. It's funny, I used to love to walk, but since I became a father I've gotten out of the habit.

I'm going to have to deal with the exercise problem at some point. I like walking and bike riding, but both are dependent (for me, and really, they are) on good weather. And I live in a place where it's winter half the year. I need to work out some way to get routine exercise without heroic measures when the weather's bad, and that task is still in the future for me.


Lillian is my friends' daughter. Jim was showing me a favorite picture of her on his laptop when I happened to notice the real Lillian sitting at the table just beyond the computer. I think she was sort of paying attention to the fact that we were talking about her, in that sort of half-conscious way people have when their names are mentioned.

The pic was taken with the GF1 and 20mm lens.


I don't think I'm on a starvation diet. I'm getting a good 1600-1700 calories a day, and to maintain my current weight I would need about 2200 calories a day. So that's not so much less.

Curiously, though--to demonstrate the correctness of what you're saying--when I was on the "straight" Optifast plan--getting 960 calories a day--I *wasn't* losing much weight. My body had gone into "starvation mode" and was conserving calories by slowing my metabolism. It was only when I *added* calories that I started losing weight. Strange thing to experience, but absolutely true.


How tall are you? Just wondering.

Congratulations Mike! Keep up the good work.

I know how it goes... But you seem to be taking of the pounds the right way.

I live in Japan and I was back in the States this summer visiting friends and family (including in Milwaukee). The first thing shocked me was how fat so many Americans are. (I know the word "fat" isn't supposed to be used) Really, it is shocking. I am not Mr. Skinny myself -- I've got a more than a few pounds to lose -- but seeing so many extremely huge people was shocking.

The portion sizes at the restaurants are astounding. Seriously, an average meal in one American restaurant would seriously be shared by 2 or 3 Japanese people. No joke. And they would be stuffed.

On the other hand, you can get really good fruits and veggies really cheap at the supermarkets in the US. Food is cheap.

I am not saying this to mock Americans. It really is a serious social problem. I think your idea about a photo story about food is a great idea.

Whilst people do need to take responsibility for their own actions, there is a chunk of the responsibility that needs to be given to the food industry that sucks people into addiction. (I need another fix of high fructose corn syrup!).

How many times have you seen a TV commercial that just said: "Eat an apple"?

Just my 2 yens worth.

Again, good on ya for making positive changes in your life! Keep it up!

Paul Crouse
Kyoto, Japan

Yes, I've come to the conclusion that I have to count calories. It's the only way for me. It really does dictate many other aspects of food choice--for instance, mustard instead of mayonnaise on a ham and turkey sandwich. And you realize that you just can't afford certain things, like 400-calorie muffins, if you are going to feed yourself adequately and not die of hunger.

(I was at the supermarket the other day and they had a whole table of huge chocolate-chip encrusted "muffins" on sale, in 4-packs. EACH MUFFIN had 400 calories, which is almost half of the solid food I'm allowed in a day!)


'Mindless eating', by Brian Wansink. Real science about how much we eat, why we do and how to 'trick' ourselves into eating less.

If you haven't read it yet, it might prove insightful for you.

Nice snap, Mike. To my eye, that looks like a high-degree-of-difficulty exposure, maybe even hot-dogging. (Please don't say it was a jpeg shot in auto mode.)

"And they're madly lacing pretty much the entire food supply with sucralose before adequate studies have even been conducted."

Not that it would make a difference--they laced the food supply with aspartame after adequate studies, and the FDA, deemed it unsafe.

Off topic or on, I read this blog because the writing is excellent and you have something to say. Congratulations on the diet, and the thoughts.

It's one thing to say "eat more vegetables," it's another to find good ones to eat. The fresh produce cart locally is only open a few months out of the year, and my supermarket's store-brand frozen spinach is so atrocious that I now drive many miles out of my way to get Bird's Eye C&W spinach, which I buy eight at a time when I go, enough to last me a few weeks. I grew some of my own vegetables this year but my tiny box garden only produced a few meals' worth. I at least make sure I always have a supply of the frozen veggies I eat on hand, so I have something to turn to when I haven't found something fresh.

Another problem is that I've grown up accustomed to eating some vegetables with unhealthy additives. I've always eaten broccoli with melted butter, for instance, and I can't seem to get used to it without. What I'm doing when I eat good food with unhealthy dressings is to eat at least a few bites at first with nothing on it and try to savor the taste. I'm hoping I'll start to get used to the taste of the food without butter on it. And I've also been eating a lot more of the veggies which I customarily season with things like vinegar (spinach) and lemon juice (zucchini) that are low-cal.


Outstanding news. I'm down about 35 myself and have never felt in better control. Keep up the good work.


Mike, Amazing progress. Keep it up. Losing weight's better than buying a new lens...... Well, maybe not. But close.

"How tall are you? Just wondering."

A touch less than 6'2" (188 cm).


"The first thing shocked me was how fat so many Americans are...Really, it is shocking. I am not Mr. Skinny myself -- I've got a more than a few pounds to lose -- but seeing so many extremely huge people was shocking."

It's quite sad. Overweight children are common, and so many people are so overweight that even some relatively un-fat people are probably technically obese. At least one study has indicated that you're more likely to be overweight if people around you are overweight. It becomes the norm. I was talking to some friends who wondered why I was going on a diet, because to them I "looked normal."


"Week Eight of which has just concluded. I'm happy to report that I saw 234 on the scale yesterday, down from a mid-winter high last year of 264. In other words: I'm still a load, but less of a load than I was a short time ago."

These figures; kilograms, stones, or pounds???

Isuspect the latter but hey, what do I know?

The unsafe eating habits of the developed world is well documented and its effects on many long-term chronic health issues has been well-known for a while now. But we're easily seduced by phoney claims of convenience.

I watched a news hour documentary a few years ago about a program for welfare recipients in an eastern Canadian city (Halifax, I think) where they were teaching people how to cook vegetables. They interviewed some of the folks. Some of them did not know that it was possible to cook your own carrots at home from scratch. They thought you could only buy pre-cooked and pre-packaged in a store.

Mike -- Congratulations on the diet, but who is Lillian??? Bob

Re: evening meal
Suggestion from a family physician: eat that at breakfast, but better spread the 1000 calories between breakfast and lunch.

RE: Lillian

Very nice! And after the Fuji announcement I had written micro 4/3 off.


Yeah! 30 lbs is fantastic. Get that cardio going asap Mike. Walking is easy in the winter, and much better than a treadmill or Gym.

Walking = Photo opportunity.

Nice work.

I hope you are keeping a photo documentary of your diet.

I like Bill Brysons one hour a day diet. Put it simply, you are allowed to eat for only one hour in the day, but during that hour you can eat what you like.

Mr Bryson likes to simplify it by breaking the hour up in to three twenty minute segments. One in the morning, one at mid-day and one at night.

"And now about the diet, which is possibly as off-topic as it's possible to get for a photography site."

Not if you post a photo of yourself along with it. Why not make it a photo project...

"By the way, I think we should now consider the American food supply officially unsafe."

Ummm...where have you been? People who understand food have been saying this for over 30 years. I heard on the radio last week that "scientists have discovered" that something or other (I forget what) is bad for us...whatever it was. I remember thinking "it's about time, I heard 'health food nuts' saying that back in 1973", which was when I first began to learn about food and health. It really all began in the early 1960's with "Silent Spring" (1962, Rachel Carson) and "Diet For A Small Planet" (1971, Francis Moore Lappe), seminal books which began the wake up process for the masses - those who would listen. Better late than never, so welcome to the party. Here's a good article to check out...another example of a "recent discovery" that has been common knowledge for years, except that vested interests didn't want anyone to believe it:


Don't sausages and cheese grow on trees in Wisconsin? That would make them fruits correct?

Grab a copy of the "Vegan Mediteranean Kitchen":


it's not a diet book, but full of authentic recipes without meat or animal fat.

I am not a vegan (not even a vegetarian) but the recipes in this book are really helpful to learn the basics about cooking with vegetables.

Regarding your statements about the safety of sucralose, please keep in mind that sucralose and all other non-nutritive sweeteners are regulated as food additives by FDA. Extensive safety testing is required for them to be present in food. This link provides more information about food additives and the FDA approval process - http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodIngredientsPackaging/ucm094211.htm

The myth that products such as sucralose, aspartame, etc. cause adverse health effects is commonly perpetuated but it is just that - a myth.

Frankly, Mike, what do you think is more of a threat to your health - an extra 90lbs or a food additive that's been extensively studied and undergone numerous safety reviews? The boogie man is fun to imagine but the hard truth is our own poor decision making is a greater threat than any food additive.


>...I live in a place where it's winter half the year. I need to work out some way to get routine exercise without heroic measures when the weather's bad, and that task is still in the future for me.

What about snow shoes? I'm strictly a Florida boy so I wouldn't know, but I've heard northerners say that bundling up and going for a walk with snowshoes can be a glorious outdoor experience, and no reason why a camera couldn't go along, of course. Maybe you could catch that albino squirrel in winter colors...


Good luck Mike: I can also suggest perhaps considering exercise in addition to a diet.

I'm in IT and I sit a lot at a computer. It all came to a head about 3 years in, working long hours, drinking too much, and I piled it on.

I went to a gym and got a trainer. It was the best thing I've ever paid for: all I needed was about 5-6 lessons to set some targets and learn how to work out safely and efficiently. I never realised that I would actually enjoy exercise (never went to a gym before that). Also, you can measure learn a lot about yourself whilst exercising (e.g. heart rate vs. workout rate) -- which what really appealed to me.

I still try and run once or twice a week and now watch my enemy: snacking.


Congrats on the weight loss. That's awesome!

Mike, a great way to walk in the wintertime is a treadmill. You can get a like new/ used one pretty cheap: lots of people buy 'em, don't use 'em, and end up selling 'em. You could even put in twenty minutes while you're processing a roll of film.

Congratulations, Mike! If this ends up not working for you (though I have my fingers crossed), then try low-carb. I've been doing it for 3 years, lost 35 pounds in about 4 months, and haven't counted calories since. Today I'm eating eggs, bacon, Texas-style chili, and London Broil. Eat veggies when I want. No fruit. No bread. No potatoes or rice. As much fat as I want. Healthy as a horse and not hungry but haven't gained a pound since. No exercise needed for weight loss; it doesn't help. I play basketball and lift weights because it makes me feel better and helps me sleep at night. (Read the link from my name in this post.)

It works for me. You should do what works for you. I wish you all the luck you need, and maybe a bit more!

You already know I'm cheering your health initiatives.

To Phil and others who are contemplating, or in the process of, divesting themselves from tobacco I offer a loud, hearty CHEER OF ENCOURAGEMENT from the finish line. It is frighteningly difficult and can involve a variety of temporary side-effects that are rarely publicized. (For me it was nasty nightmares and deep-night anxiety attacks.) But as a 25+ year pack-a-day guy who ditched the habit years ago I can testify that it can be done once and for all. Life becomes so much simpler, so much freer, so much better-feeling. Please, please, just do it.

Regarding obesity in America, it's been interesting to see the ad business tacitly condone, and even encourage, obesity. Television models for non-fashion products and services are now far more pear-shaped, particularly middle-aged models. I recently saw a television ad for state-minimum car insurance feature a morbidly obese woman doing a boogie dance, as though it would be cute. This is completely analogous to featuring tobacco smoking on shows. It tells young people that it's ok to be a fat-ass. I find it sad.

A wonderful portrait of Lilian, Mike - thanks for sharing.

And yes, please keep up the personal stuff here.


Mike -- if you have a wok, try this with your broccoli: briefly steam it in the microwave (~3 min on high), then toss it in the wok with a small amount of vegetable oil and an even smaller about of toasted sesame oil. After a minute, add some soy sauce. After another minute, take it out and serve it. You really get the taste of the broccoli, because it isn't cooked to death. So you don't need a ton of oil.

Hmm, maybe I'll do this tonight.

I like walking and bike riding, but both are dependent (for me, and really, they are) on good weather. And I live in a place where it's winter half the year. I need to work out some way to get routine exercise without heroic measures when the weather's bad, and that task is still in the future for me.
I'm faced with a similar problem - except here, 3 months of the year are too hot* for much outside, and two are ice season. I chose to get a used elliptical trainer off of Cragislist. (Exercise equipment on Craigslist tends to be massively discounted due to owner guilt.) When I use it, I watch favorite movies or episodes in a language I'm studying to keep my mind engaged. Ellipticals do have one advantage over treadmills for me: less impact on my joints, given that I weigh as much as I do.

Wishing you the best of luck,

*high humidity plus poor air quality due to smog.

Spreadsheet tutorials?

go mike i'm sure most of us could use a little weight loss (i know i could) on the print front did you get that email from me on where to find my paypal payment? i just haven't recieved confirmation from you and thought if my e-mail's not working than sending another wont help.


Keep at it, Mike. I went from 260 to 170 some years ago. Gained fair bit back but I'm ok with how I look and feel. I never weight myself and when I see a picture of me I just chalk it up to lens distortion.

Look at all the sculptures of Buddha... He wasn't slim. And he has so many followers... I don't know if I have to shed some of my kilos. I am just confused. (Ha, ha...) Not to say that I envy you on your weightloss success. Maybe a bit...

Not so off topic for me, Mike. I am myself in a diet, more or less: Went to see my doctor at the NHS to consult on a different matter and she insisted on weighting and measuring me. She entered the data on her computer and the result was my body mass index (don't know if that's the correct name in English) is 29, so technically I have an obesity on the 1st degree... Her first reccomendation was do not diet, rather change your eating habits. Second was never eat when watching tv, and then the usual suggestions about low fat, calorie counting followed. I am 1,82 cm and weight 100 kilos. I always knew I was overweight, never thought about it as a serious issue, my only worry being what would happen if I did never stop gaining weight. But then, you know, that was something that would happen in the future, no need to worry about it now.
So I reduced the intake of food, slightly. A friend, a chemistry doctor, told me that digesting food tales 200 calories, so if you eat every two hours someting with less than those calories, you´ll lose fat.I lost 7 kilos in a little over two months, the hardest part being avoiding sugar. I love buns, croissants, muffins, chocolate, pastries, etc.
Here in Spain we are lucky to have good supermarkets with produce, fruit, fresh vegetables, meat and fish in every neighbourhood. We still cook. In fact, we love to cook. Processed food suppliers are concentrating on children mostly, then young couples. There is an alarm about the growth of obesity among the pre teens, so a law has been passed recently forbidding the sale of sugary drinks and high calorie sweets and snacks in schools.
I am happy with my new habits, I eat better and much less. Still I long for my sugar dose and sometimes I feel the withdrawal pains... Never realized how much of a junkie I was...

I'm getting your emails, you just aren't getting mine. I've received your order and payment and you're all set. No worries!


Good on you Mike. Medical advice to me long ago was that it is best to eat 5-6 small meals a day than 2-3 large ones: "We were probably all intended to eat that way" were the surgeons words in fact.

Congratulations to you anyway Mike on your program.

Mike - re: your weight loss - good on ya! Best regards, SteveR

Great work bro!

Losing is difficult. Keeping it off is harder. This is yet another voice of experience.

I recently found STIKK, a site that promotes social contracts. It is based on research that says that people who have someone else monitor their goals have a much higher liklihood of successfully reaching them.

This isn't a pitch or commercial and I have no connection other than as a satisfied user. That's why I didn't include a link.

Thanks for a site with consistently good info.

re: Print Sale


I am one of the people that ordered two prints for delivery to Australian, but actually live in Indonesia. I am trying to get a personal check to you via a bank, so hope that i am not too late. This week, Sir.

BTW, good luck with the diet. I think in combination with some moderate aerobic exercise this is all good. A friend of mine recently died way too young (35yo) from diabetes and bodyweight related issues.

Peter Lenz

I haven't read Pollan's book yet, but his TED talk is all kinds of interesting.



In this case, less will be more. Keep it up. Then find something athletic to do. I took up karate at 50. I think I feel better now than I did 10 years ago!

Mike, I'd like to encourage you not to be discouraged to write off-topic: your blog is read by many people on its literary merits, and because what you do say is seen by many as a worthwhile, thought-inducing (-provoking isn't quite it) and quite intelligent.

I found your blog via mia fotografika pursuits, but if you started to write about current state of coal mining in Inner Mongolia I'd still continue to follow what you have to say :)

As a side remark: Eliminating food's sidekick that made it more palatable, i.e. broccoli's butter doesn't mean you have to eat it raw. Steam it and add spices - this helps me eat way more broccoli, etc. I ever though imaginable.

Great work and continued good luck on your diet!

Congrats on the diet Mike! And as for the 'edible food products' you mention, my advice is that when you go to the grocery store stick as much as possible to the periphery of the store and avoid the middle aisles as much as possible. Not my idea, but a good one.


This is such a terrible diet, it's a tragedy that anybody would think otherwise. Really, it saddens me to see somebody who seems smart in other regards so horribly misinformed.

First of all is that dietary fat is essential to your health. An easy example is that Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble and will not be absorbed without sufficient fat. You should definitely be eating "oil and mayonnaise and grease" and things that you think are terrible but are actually essential to your health. Another example is fish oil, which has numerous health benefits.

Also, how can one possibly criticize the American food industry, and then drink 6 Optifasts a day? Getting half of your nutrition from Optifast is (I must say) stupid. It's basically sugar, water, and Soy Protein, with vitamins added, with no fiber and very little fat.

But if losing weight, you shouldn't be eating any sugar/candy at all, really, unless it's accompanying heavy exercise. Soy protein is fine in small amounts, but men should absolutely not be getting most of their protein from soy, due to its habit of imitating estrogen in the body. It's been clinically demonstrated to encourage gyno and shrink the testes, and that's just the outward effects. And vitamins should be supplemental to your diet. You should be getting them from eating actual foods, particularly fruits and vegetables, not out of a pop-top can.

You're inevitably going to gain the weight back, if only because starving yourself with poor nutrition is not a permanent solution, the body is smart and will recover from all the torture you're giving it. Next time, consider that if it all it took was eating totally unnatural, sugary soy-protein shakes six times a day, everybody would be in great shape!

Hi Mike - I hope your progress continues, and that you get round to the exercise. Remember the old adage "There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing". Actually it might not be an old adage, maybe an old bit of marketing hype from a sports garment manufacturer.....

You paint a depressing picture of the food and nutrition situation in the US. I won't pretend to offer advice as I'm a bit of a bad example, but healthy, nutritious eating should be reasonably easy in any developed country. I can't believe there isn't a year round supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, doesn't need to be exotic stuff. Wholegrains and pulses are easily stored and easy to cook, and with the addition of a little protein preparing your own food shouldn't be such an issue.

Whatever - good luck!

Mike, what would you give for proper open air markets? :-) Basically, all of the markets around here are open air, with grannies selling their own produce along with... what do you call them, the people who buy produce wholesale and then sell it to the "end users"?

The problem is, as you said, vegetables and fruits are seasonal. It's only the big chains and big wholesalers who can get the flora out of the season. And then they buy the typical supermarket stuff -- plasticky, tasteless, hard...

I tend to avoid the supermarket stuff completely. The meat is bloodless, vegetables plastic, they usually don't have proper cheeses, everything is sterile. Still, the grannies succumb to buying suspicious seeds. for instance, I don't know where you can find the juicy red tomatoes, the ones good for salsa.

BTW, I succeeded in going from 38" jeans waist to 36" or even smaller. didn't measure, really.

Hi Mike.
Big congratulations - for both the Paris prints and the wieght loss! Please keep the speed adequate (i.e. a new print sale soon and weight loss slowly but without a yo-yo at the end).
How about this for exercise: Walk and bike to take photographs when it's ok weather and when the weather is not ok, then spend time in the darkroom and at art galleries, etc. I personally never do "exercise": I only go biking, hiking, climbing, snowshoing etc. as an excuse to spend time with good friends. I'd never be able to convince myself to go jogging alone...

Anyone serious about health should read this ebook. Free, no-gimick, common sense advice on a range of topics from how to eat, how to exercise, breath, sleep, etc. I'm somewhat of a fitness nut (being 190cm and 80kg and hit the gym 3x a week for full body lifting) and I still learned a ton about basic every day fitness and health.


You left out the fact that the Optifast "shakes" probably contain an appetite suppressant....

I can't prove that but my lack of hunger points in that direction.

I'm actually not drinking 6 shakes a day...it's one meal, three shakes, and one "protein bar," which, I grant you, is essentially a gussied-up candy bar. It's far from perfect. That's life. Oh, and I'm taking fish oil, too.

When evaluating the diet I'm eating now, you have to take into account the diet I was eating before, which was considerably worse--roughly 3000 calories a day including incessant snacking as I worked and a lot of sweets and string cheese. The *most* unhealthy thing is being 70 pounds overweight and rising. When I get a jump on that, I'll deal with my other problems.


That description of our modern food supply was spot on. Although I'm not afraid to consume aspartame and sucralose in moderation, it's true that we are overly obsessed with making everything taste comfortable, no matter what it does to our health.

Bruce Campbell (yes, the actor) once wrote that "at some point we stopped eating real food" and look around: not only diabetes, but digestive problems everywhere. I have multiple friends in their 20s with ulcerative colitis. It takes enormous effort to eat natural and healthful food.

You can now get ice cream sweetened with sucralose, but honestly, why does it need to be sweetened? Doesn't ice cream taste good without any added sugar?

By the way, these issues go back a lot further than we think - people were fussing about natural, whole foods even in the 20s and 30s.


Me too I started at 264lb (is that a magic number?) on April 6th, 2009 (yes, I do remember the day). I am now 195lb, and I eat (with moderation) everything I love.

Get on that bike more frequently. That will speed up your metabolism and help shed the extra weight.

In the end, it is pretty simple: either eat less that you exercise, exercise more than you eat or (as in my case) do both...


"Mike, Me too I started at 264lb (is that a magic number?) on April 6th, 2009 (yes, I do remember the day). I am now 195lb"

You're my hero! [g]

Or at least my inspiration. I've been told I shouldn't hope for better than 205 to 220, but I'm really aiming at 195.


@John Camp (and other herbivores),

There are a number of websites that assist traveling vegans/vegetarians, including restaurant and hotel guides and language assistance. A fairly comprehensive list of such resources here: http://circleourearth.com/vegan-travel/

P.S. Googling "how to travel as a vegan" will turn up stuff, too. Obviously, these sites are also useful for sources close to home that one may not know about.

This post was fortuitously timed for me. I started on a calorie-counting regime just a few weeks ago, starting at 6'2" and 270 pounds. 7 pounds down, 53 left to go.

Losing weight is incredibly difficult - the most frustrating thing is that I've done it once before, but gained it all back over the course of about 10 years of not paying close attention.

Sorry Mike, I can't buy that. Unless
there's a blizzard outside with howling
winds, you can always walk with the
right clothing and shoes. I've got a
recumbent trike that I can ride just
about all year in Grosse Pointe Park
in Michigan. My second trike has
rollers under the rear wheel. It's
in front of the 50" Panasonic plasma
TV in my living room. I 'ride' it
while watching my beloved Detroit Lions
lose another football game.

I think the subject of losing weight is right on topic As a photographer, the most interesting photographs don't happen while you are sitting in a living room. This year I started walking for fitness which led to hiking in the mountains this summer. Although I haven't lost much weight, the added fitness does extend the range of photo making opportunities.

Combining the themes of photography and diet, you might be interested in a recent book by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio called "Hungry Planet". It has photos of what different families eat during a week from around the world. Pretty eye opening.


Some samples: http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1626519,00.html

I could stand to lose about 20lbs and am in the process of trying to do so. Here in the SF Bay Area it's thankfully easy to find lots of fresh, organic foods, we're really quite spoiled (thanks to a lot of hard work and persistence by many people over the decades in the face of resistance). I don't shop at the local Safeway, but if I did there are whole aisles I would avoid like the plague.

Back in the 1970s a photographer, Bob Adelman, I think, dropped about 100 lbs. Bob set up white seamless and lighting, then photographed himself in profile, nude, same pose every day. He made a flip book out of the photos. It was hilarious, inspiring and a little disgusting all at the same time.

Good Luck Mike with the weight loss.
I've never yet had to diet but I do try to run and I find the hardest part of keeping to a training plan is getting back to it after a break. If you ever have to stop or slow down make sure you have a plan to restart.
All the best


Mike, good news about your sweet tooth, ADM has renamed Corn Syrup "Corn Sugar" so now it's healthy and we can gorge ourselves on Cinnabons!

Good luck! It's worth the effort!

Speaking of Cinnabon, there are 730 calories in a single standard Cinnabon. A normal, full-sized adult male could have three a day and use up ALL the calories he's supposed to consume in the entire day.

It's amazing these things even exist. The healthy rate of consumption of Cinnabons is probably one a year, on a very special occasion.


It turns out you can eat a really formidably huge dinner for 800 calories if you just eat actual food and forego things like butter and mayo and oil and anything cooked in grease.

But you're in America. Where do you find such healthful ingredients?!!!

A friend recently wrote of his experience eating in a US diner whilst on holiday: "to simulate the experience, cut a block of lard in half, pack with bacon and cover in mayonaise".

Hi John Camp,
As a smoker meself, if you´re not too digestive system sensitive, the best solution is chewing gum, sugarfree [but watch out for the amount of xylitol on them, as it can cause constipation].

Although, the very best solution is to have a water bottle with you at all times.

Then the answer is clear: Cinnabons should be shipped to North Korea to relieve famine and perk up their grim attitudes! America saves the world!

I'm with you, weight-wise. My eight-yr. old is starting to offer up, lets say, 'constructive' criticism of my physique and how it compares to the other dads at school! Time to lose it.

I like the idea mentioned above (the flip book showing the disappearing body). I can think of some other.. ummmm... even less flattering poses for that project. :-)

By the way, another way to lose serious poundage might be to take up landscape photography with an 8x10. :-)


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