Weighty Issues

scaleFive and a half years ago, I realized I was fat.  Way too fat.  So I wrote about it on eGullet, and with the help of my fellow eG members, I managed to trim a few pounds.  In 2003 my weight had reached 228 pounds before I decided to change things.  Yesterday morning, I stepped on the scales and couldn’t see the numbers — my belly was too big — so I leaned forward and read aloud “TWO THREE EIGHT.”  Quite simply, 238 pounds is obese.

But as y’all know, I’m a bit obsessed with food.  So how do I fix things?  And believe you me, I need to fix things.  Both my parents have had bypass surgery.  All four of my grandparents developed heart disease (my paternal grandmother, who didn’t smoke a day in her life, dropped dead in her 50s).  All of my paternal aunts and uncles have had heart disease and one of my maternal uncles — a marathon runner — died of a heart attack while hiking in the Rockies.  He was in his mid 60s.

I take medicine to control my cholesterol.  I take medicine to control acid reflux.  My blood sugar levels are in the “pre-diabetic” stage.  I tried to go for a run yesterday and it was too hard on my knees.

I’m a mess.

And if I don’t take control of this, I won’t be around much longer.

And so, I ask you, my faithful readers, to help me with this process.  Ask me “How’s it going?”  Ask me about what I ate and how much I’ve exercised.   Go ahead and drop me an email at dmccord AT gmail DOT com.

I’m not going to change the focus of this blog, turning it into one of those annoying “look at how I’m taking control of my life” sites, but you’ll probably notice some minor changes.  And occasionally, I’ll post something on my progress.  And if you want more, just ask.  The only way I can succeed at this is to be transparent, to have you pressure me.  I’ve already proven that I can’t do it alone.  Your help is greatly appreciated.


27 Responses to Weighty Issues

  1. Nancy Heller says:

    You go, Dean! And best of luck to you.

  2. Dana says:

    You can do it! (running really is hard). What are the lap swim conditions up at the pool next to Martin? Do they have a bubble?

  3. Rafe says:

    Good luck! Losing weight is hard, especially when you love food. The upside is, of course, many more years of enjoyment.

  4. John says:

    Hey I finally got on the scale the other day and it was 240. Looks like we are in the same boat. Im trying to cut back on the chinese food. Let me know if you find something that works. Good luck!

  5. Megan says:

    A terrific cookbook/healthful eating strategy/etc is the “Sonoma Diet.” It really helped me to lose 30 lbs last year, WITHOUT feeling TOO deprived of delicious food. The recipes are low fat, esp low saturated fat, and are great – even my family who wasn’t on any kind of diet loved them – including my 2 year old. The “Sonoma Diet Cookbook” never leaves my kitchen counter. It’s worth a look.

  6. David Williams says:

    I hate to run, and have had good results lifting free weights and riding an exercise bike. I basically follow the Zone diet, and have kept about 40 pounds off for about 10 years. I also have traded quantity for quality.

  7. feistync says:

    good luck!!! do you have an iphone? i love the livestrong app (daily plate) on mine. it gives me no excuse not to track what i’m eating.

  8. Dave says:

    I imposed a “no fried food or alcohol on days when I haven’t exercised for at least 30 minutes” rule. As we get more into the year, I’ll increase the 30 to 45 to 60.

  9. Robert says:

    Hey Dean,
    I didn’t get that high but I did hit 40 and knew I had to start down that path.
    Here is what I have learned having gone from a fairly sedentary lifestyle.

    The book Body for Life
    is the answer.

    Very simple, short and it works.
    Simple math – less in and more out.
    My wife and I eat pretty much whatever we want just in smaller portions.
    We get 2 salads and split an entree.
    Grazing all day is key also so you don’t starve and then indulge.
    I got an elliptical machine which is GREAT for knees and such – and a good workout. I have it in the garage so I can jump on in the early am.
    Something else the book talks about is to exercise 1st thing in the morning.
    Your body burns carbs for energy 1st. If you exercise in the morning you have burned through most of the existing carbs during the night. Your body has to pull from your fat store to create carbs to use for the exercise. Much more bang for the exercise buck.
    Also exercise at varying stages or cycles.
    The book says that your body gets used to the same exertion.
    If you use the elliptical for 20 minutes 3 days per week and alternate upper and lower (dumbbells) it works.
    Been on the program for a year and works wonders.
    No easy way. Call it a Lifestyle change – not a diet.

  10. andrea says:

    Dean –

    Here is what Matt and I are doing lose weight. We are doing a weight bet. Whoever has the higher percentage weight loss after three months gets a prize. If Matt wins, I have to go see wrestling at the RBC center. If I win, he has to go see a musical. I’m thinking Legally Blonde – to torture him more.

    Good luck! If you want to go grab a salad for lunch some time, I’m in.


  11. Varmint says:

    After writing the entire front page of the food section, when do you have time for lunch anymore?

    Anyhow, I don’t want to do a bet like that, as that makes it look like it’s a short-term option. I can’t do that. I’ve got to make this a 24/7/365 plan for the next several decades (I hope).

  12. MB says:

    I have been going to http://www.cookinglight.com and trying their recipes. Most entrees are under 300 calories and the flavors have been delicious. I have lsot 4 pounds since before Christmas. The lamb dish I had on Friday night was as good as anything I would have chosen at a restaurant. Oh and the chicken lo mein – better than take out!

    Plus I’ve been eating egg whites for breakfast and two snacks a day consisting of fruit or yogurt.

    Good luck Dean. It is hard!

  13. Jeff says:

    Make exercise a priority in your life. Walk and lift. Realize that it’s a forever lifestyle change, not just a weight loss program. Exercise eventually feels really good, and it beats the hell out of the other forever lifestyle change. Find a good personal trainer to help you get started. Don’t quit eating good food, just eat less of it and eat raw veggies and fruit more. And drink more water.

    If you find that you have motivational problems, sit your kids down and tell them what you said above…that you won’t be around much longer. Take note of their faces. If that doesn’t strengthen your resolve, nothing will.

  14. Jeannette says:

    Weight Watchers is the only thing that works for me. All vegetables are a free pass, the best part is learning how to calculate and monitor the hidden culprits in cooking.: fat, sugar. I didn’t get this way by eating too many vegetables. If you sign up for a monthly pass, you are automatically subscribed to Weight Watchers Etools. Etools has an online recipe converter. You enter the recipe you are preparing, and it will automatically calculate how many “points” a serving is. Worth the price of admission. I was able to calculate how many “points” a serving of Raie au Berre Noir (Skate with browned butter) cost me. (11). You can eat anything you want, you just need to become aware and conscious of the points impact and eat accordingly. Knowing I can still eat a modest portion of my favorite recipes makes me appreciate being able to enjoy them so much more. One more thing, going to the meetings works best. Online-only membership has no weigh-in accountability.

  15. Jeannette says:

    Also, you can add exercise time to your Weight Watchers daily food allowance, which allows you to eat a little more.

  16. Erin says:

    Hey Varmint! Just a reminder that I am a certified personal trainer. Although I’m not meeting with any new clients at the moment, I am certainly here if you have any questions or want a “virtual” trainer -weekly workouts, tips, meal ideas, etc via e-mail.

    I like fitday.com for tracking calories in and out. It’s free online. One nice feature is it doesn’t just track calories, but also tracks your nutrition, so you can see what vitamins and minerals are missing from your diet. You can also log workouts and see your net calories for the day.

    No matter what method you choose, way to go on making the decision, it’s half the battle. Keep us posted!

  17. Varmint says:

    Thanks to everyone for their kind thoughts. I did start keeping a food journal and haven’t really found one that would work best for me, but fitday.com’s online option may be the best for me.

    Interestingly, I’ve lost 3 pounds since Monday, which really isn’t that hard. The first 10 are easy. The other 50 are a bitch. But when I keep this diary, and do it honestly, I know if I can actually have a snack and of what type. The other day I had a great morning workout and ate tons of fresh fruit and veggies. After I input my dinner into my diary, I had nearly 800 calories available for the day. My wife said, “So, what shall we do with those calories?” Dangerous thought, I know, but I had a brownie, without any guilt whatsoever, knowing I had earned it. And I still had 450 calories left, but I didn’t want anything more.

    My main thing from a diet perspective is to eat fresh, unprocessed foods whenever possible. Fruit and veggies rule! If I eat grains, try to make them brown grains. If I want a salty, high fat snack, make it almonds rather than Fritos or other chips. These, of course, are guidelines, not strict rules, but I know they’ll work for me.

    Now Erin, if you want to come to Raleigh once a week . . . .

  18. Ann says:

    What works best for me is to combine exercise with eating less, i.e. smaller portions. If you eat mindfully, you’ll notice you are satisfied with those smaller portions and you don’t need to eat the whole thing to enjoy some of it. The other thing that worked for me is to recognize that I won’t lose pounds per week, but steadily half a pound or so. It works, slowly adding up to weight loss. If you lose half a pound per week you could lose 25 pounds in a year. The exercise part is important and when done regularly adds significantly to the quality of your life and becomes a habit. I exercise first thing in the morning because then I get up and do it without thinking. If I wait till later in the day, I can always find an excuse not to do it. Also I belong to a gym, Duke’s Center for Living. There must be a similar gym in Raleigh. Good luck! You can do it!!

  19. Maura says:

    No advice from me, Varmint. Just want to let you know I’m rooting for you. Giving up bad food is probably as hard as giving up cigarettes. (I have yet to be entirely successful on either count.) Doing it this publicly takes a lot of guts. I give you lots of credit for that. Good luck.

  20. burgeoningfoodie says:

    My gf and I also do Weight Watchers in the Durham/Chapel Hill area and it has helped me to lose 30lbs in the last year. Plus you can more or less eat what you want. I like some of the other ideas too. Speaking of musical maybe they should do a musical revolving around food… actually nevermind.. that would lead to Disney doing a Ratatouille (sp?) musical and Broadway is already too much Disney (yay for Jersey Boys this summer).

  21. ac says:

    6 lbs, ey…..nice job :0) Maybe I need to jump on this diary thing. Keep it up!

  22. Bryan C. Andregg says:


    How are you doing? I only imagine that this is really hard for you; I know how much you love food. Moderation and enjoyment in all things my friend. And let yourself cheat once a month!


  23. Varmint says:

    I’ve lost 10 pounds, a nice, slow and appropriate 10 pounds. I wear my belt one notch tighter, so the weight is coming off at the right places!

  24. ac says:

    So is the trick really the journal?

  25. Varmint says:

    Yes. It keeps me honest and helps to make choices. For instance, I drank some wine last night, which I’ve cut back on quite a lot. But after dinner, I realized the calories from the wine precluded me from having dessert, which was a fair trade.

    The other thing the diary does is to remind me of how much food I’m really eating — a ton! Yes, it’s a fair amount of work to input the info, and there are some tricks to it, but it’s really making a difference. And it helps to prevent you from eating too few along with too many calories.

  26. VaNC says:

    I have started using the “Lose it” app on my iphone. The diary is a great tool. Most interesting is how much you can eat of veggies, grains, etc. and then you eat 2 tbsp. of mayo….KABOOM…the calorie count shoots sky high! Makes you really question your choices.

  27. ac says:

    Might have to go that route, Varmint. My biggest problem is that I don’t eat much during the day, often skipping lunch. Then when I do eat or snack, it is usually not healthy. Maybe if I do a journal I can prevent that as well. Thanks for the info.

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