Food Habits

Tuesday, March 1, 2011
By Kevin McGowan

Mmmm...

Continuing the theme from our last post, this is a guest post by Beeminder beta user Kevin McGowan.

I am not an expert of any kind and I have no training. I’m just a guy who used to be pretty uncomfortable (5’10” 230lbs) and now is a much happier 175lbs. Danny thought the lifestyle changes I used to make this happen might be of general interest to the readers of this blog:

no eating after 8:00pm
This actually does two different things: (1) it means no eating an entire box of swiss cake rolls at 2:00am and (2) it forces me to space my meals out reasonably so I don’t kill and eat my wife Jen in her sleep — she frowns on this.

eat breakfast
This is necessitated by rule #1.

don’t drink calories
I know this sounds weird but think about it. 320 calories per large glass of Dr Pepper is completely insane. “Diet” soft drinks violate the next rule. I drink a LOT of water and some unsweetened iced tea.

eat food that is made of food
This is a lot harder than it sounds. It means things like: no cream horns filled with sweetened petroleum by-product, no Hostess anything, no fast food anything, no “diet” or un-naturally “low fat” foods. This single rule forced me to learn to cook when I lost a 3rd grader worth of me a few years back. On a related note:

eschew goo
This one I actually picked up from my wife’s normal eating habits; avoid condiments, dressings, spreads, cheese, etc. that aren’t an integral part of the thing you’re eating.

eat enough food (but no more)
This is the hardest one for me in both directions. I really want to be in better shape again NOW so the temptation is to lop 1000 calories off my required daily intake, suffer like a Jesuit in a spanking club, and up my daily exercise to Markus Nee-like levels without fueling it. This is madness — pure and simple. I’m also the guy who easily gets two refill baskets of fries at Red Robin if he’s not paying attention. This, in fact, is what the next rule is for.

track my progress
The simple act of tracking one’s progress improves that progress (emprically true, at least in some cases; this is also known as “you make what you measure”). So I weigh myself every morning, record the data, and, most importantly, IGNORE THE DAILY DATA. Daily weight measurements are inherently noisy and untrustworthy. This is why beeminder is so great. Yay, beeminder.

PS: Related reading: Rules to Eat By.

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