As promised yesterday in Diet Tips or How To Lose Weight with a Spreadsheet and a Web Site I said that I'd start explaining how I lost 50 pounds last year. This is the high-level view of how the plan works.


I was inspired to do this after reading The Hacker's Diet, which is packed full of useful information. But it's also fairly complex and requires a lot of reading. So I simplified it a bit, taking away only the most important points.

I did this partly because I wasn't sure it was going to work, so why invest a lot of effort up front? But I also realized that there was something about the core ideas that seemed irresistible. Everything else was icing on the cake.

Yesterday I mentioned that you'd need three new habits, one of which would be difficult. Here they are...

Eat Fewer Calories and Monitor Your Intake

I hate to make this sound simple but it is. There are 3,500 calories in every pound of fat. So if you eat an "extra" 250 calories every day (meaning 250 more than you use), you'll gain 2 pounds every month. That's 20 pounds a year. If you eat an extra 125 calories every day (a large banana or apple), that's 10 pounds per year. If you eat an extra 50 calories per day (half a tablespoon of creamy peanut butter), that's still 5 pounds you'll gain in a year.

Like I said yesterday, small changes have a big impact over time.

You can, as many people do, exercise to combat the effect of extra calories. But, honestly, that's a lot of work and takes a lot of time. For example, you'd need to spend an hour walking to burn off those 250 calories. Every day.

I'm not arguing against walking (I do it myself in the morning), but consider how much easier it is to simply not eat the ice cream bar in the first place. Spend a minute or two looking at the list of calories in various foods from the Hacker's Diet. Just give yourself an idea of how easy it is gobble down a bit too many.

Habit #1 is to record what you eat every day. For each meal, jot down the foods and their calorie counts. Then total them at the end of the day. Bonus points for keeping a running total throughout the day. We'll use this both for historical purposes and to help develop your sense of how much to eat every day.

In addition to reading your food packaging (pay special attention to the serving sizes), you can use any number of web sites to figure how roughly how many calories are in various foods. I've found that Calorie King is the best. You simply type the name of the food into their search box and click on the result that best matches. Then pick the quantity and they'll tell you how many calories you ate.

Record everything you eat. Even the little snacks and scraps. It all counts.

After you're comfortable doing this, it'll take you less than five minutes per day. The sooner you start, the sooner you'll know what your daily intake is.

More on that tomorrow.

Weigh Yourself Daily but Don't Obsess Over It

The other thing you need to do is weigh yourself every day. It's best to do this using the same scale and at the same time of day. I do it first thing in the morning, after I roll out of bed and hit the restroom.

You need to record this in the spreadsheet too. This is habit #2 and takes about 1 minute per day. We'll look at how to set this up tomorrow, but there is one important thing you need to know early on:

You must not judge your weight from day to day. Don't worry if it's a bit higher than yesterday, and don't get too excited of it's gone down by two pounds. The reality is that your weight will fluctuate by as much as 2-3 pounds from day to day for various reasons. We'll factor that out mathematically and focus on the long-term trend: loss, gain, or neutral.

Again, we'll look at the spreadsheet tomorrow. I'll provide a copy of mine from early on in my weight loss cycle.

Learn the Difference Between "Not Hungry" and "Full"

After thinking about why I always ate a bit too much, I finally realized it was a problem with my physiological empty/full gauge. If I eat until I feel "full" I've probably eaten too much. And, worse yet, I end up feeling sluggish for an hour or so after eating. You know, the "food coma."

Habit #3 is about resetting your notion of when to eat (or stop eating). The easiest way to say it is "eat when you're hungry, stop when you're not." Notice that this says nothing about feeling full.

This is the single most difficult thing to do. If you're like me, it means breaking 30 years worth of training your body. But after the first few weeks, you'll start to find that the "not hungry and not full" feeling starts to seem normal. If you keep a running tally of your food intake during the day (habit #1), that'll make it a lot easier to know when you should stop.

Once it starts to take hold, you'll be amazed at how powerful this is. You'll be able to look at the ice cream bar and say to yourself "that looks good, but I'm not hungry and... heck, it'd take over an hour of exercise to burn it off. It's just not worth it."

Closing Thoughts

Note that there's nothing in here about eating healthy. It's not necessary at all. You can get 1/4 of your daily calories from "junk food" if you'd like, but it will probably make this harder for a variety of reasons.

The first thing to focus on is how much you eat, not what you eat. Trying to change too many things at once is a recipe for failure. Once you have a handle on that, you can worry about tweaking what you eat. It can wait.

Another thing you'll find (as I did) is that the mere act of tracking what you eat and how much you weigh each day will make you much more aware of your eating habits. That alone will put you on the right track. You'll be far more conscious of those extra snacks you grab when you're not really hungry.

Once you've done it long enough, much of this becomes intuitive--especially the act of figuring out how many calories are in a meal. You'll find that you can glance at a plate of food and guesstimate to within 10% or so much of the time. That's a skill that'll serve you well when you go out to eat.

Next Up


For more recent diet and health tips, see our new blog: How To Eat And Live

Posted by jzawodn at June 05, 2006 07:46 AM

Reader Comments
# Will Mahoney said:

Nice, I'm really psyched to see what's coming up next. Weight has always been an issue...

on June 5, 2006 08:34 AM
# Matt Griffith said:

I agree that Habit #3 is correct and critical. But I think it could be simplified. Learning the difference between Not Hungry and Full is the goal. But I'm not sure many people who are overweight will have much luck learning that feeling on their own. I think the process can be sped up by detaching the emotion from it the same way watching your weight trend detaches you from your daily weigh-in.

I'd replace Habit #3 with a more concrete habit. Something you can measure. Something you can check a box and say, yes I did that today, or no I didn't.

My Habit #3: Plan your meals for the next 24 hours at the same time you weigh yourself. Plan what you are going to eat and when you are going to eat it. Know exactly how many calories each meal will have. Log each meal in your food log at the time you plan it rather than when you eat it. Plan at least 3 meals per day (5 - 6 meals is better). Then stick to the plan. Before every meal you should know exactly how many calories you are about to eat. You should know exactly what foods you are going to eat. And you should know exactly how long it will be before your next meal.

Do that for 30 days and you will be much closer to understanding the difference between Not Hungry and Full. The act of planning each meal beforehand will help you detach the emotions from eating. You don't have to worry about whether the meal is going to fill you up or whether you will be satisfied. And you don't have to worry about when your next meal will be coming. You'll know ahead of time exactly when you will eat next.

Eventually you will develop the intuitive sense that Jeremy talks about.

Matt Griffith

on June 5, 2006 08:50 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


I'm planning to talk more about that on Wednesday and Thursday. Whether or not you plan the day in advance is a personal preference. If you don't, it's very important to keep a running total for the day so that you know exactly where you stand.

on June 5, 2006 09:04 AM
# Lex said:

Intriguing start, and great description of the attitude/commitment required to take control of your eating and your weight. I\'m looking forward to your next posts...

I had some success with The Hacker\'s Diet, losing about 15 pounds a few years ago. Over time, once my weight was in control, I stopped paying attention and the habits with 20 years backing overtook the one that lasted just a year.

More recently, the infamous Shangri-La Diet has been working for me.

Wanted to mention that there are oodles of sites to track the calories you\'re eating, in addition to just looking them up. I work for one, but this isn\'t an ad. The point is, if you (like me!) can\'t be bothered to maintain a running total by hand or spreadsheet, use any of the free services online that let you keep tabs on your caloric intake.

on June 5, 2006 09:25 AM
# grumpY! said:

obsessing over food is not the answer. of course you have to eat healthy, but the key is regular rigorous exercise.

if you exercise regularly and rigorously, you can eat pretty much whatever you want. yesterday for example, after trailrunning up a mountain, i followed it up with two beers and a full pint of ben and jerry's. i can eat like this every day (and most days i do) and my weight has not moved more than two pounds in five years.

on June 5, 2006 10:34 AM
# Lynn said:

Jeremy, I've never met you, and from your headshot at the top of this page I can't imagine you not being thin. Do you have any Before shots you're willing to post? (And this isn't because I don't trust you -- it's just that before and after pics are so motivating!)

on June 5, 2006 10:52 AM
# Jeremy Zawodny said:


Sure, if you can keep your calorie burn rate high enough, you can get away with eating nearly anything. But many, many folks are far less active than that--me included.

on June 5, 2006 11:27 AM
# Matt Griffith said:

Jeremy: I agree. It is personal preference. Habits #1 & #2 are more than enough to get you started losing weight. Habit #3 is more of a intermediate level habit in my mind ;-)

Some background:

When I started my diet last fall I didn't plan. In fact I didn't even log my food intake. I just kept a running total in my head. And I ate more randomly throughout the day. That worked. I lost 60 pounds in 3 months.

But I was still dealing with hunger on a daily basis. And when I got hungry I felt anxious about what I was going to eat. I knew I wouldn't be full after a meal (I was only eating about 1000 calories per day at that time), but I worried if I'd enjoy the meal or not.

Then this spring I started planning my meals. I still wasn't logging calories at this point. In fact I even stopped looking at calorie counts. I just counted portions. I did this for about 3 weeks. I continued to lose weight, but I noticed that because I was planning my meals I was no longer anxious about whether each meal would satisfy me.

Then I combined counting and logging calories with planning my meals. I originally resisted logging calories because I thought it would be too tedious. But with the right software it is much easier than I feared. And like Lex said, there are lots of good free solutions for tracking calories.

After I'd been logging my calories for a while I just gradually shifted to pre-logging my meals. At first I did it just to help me distribute the correct number of calories throughout the day. But I noticed that this was really helping me psychologically. I was never worried about whether I'd enjoy my meals. I started treating meal time like any other bodily function. And this was a huge breakthrough for me.

Before I started my diet I led a sedentary lifestyle where most of my discretionary pleasure came from eating food that I enjoy. Now I exercise regularly. And since I don't enjoy exercising for the sake of exercising I look for fun activities that burn calories. Gradually I shifted from craving the pleasure of a good meal to craving the pleasure of fun bike ride. Or a vigorous game of soccer with my kids. Or a hike through the woods. Or a refreshing swim.

I didn't expect any of this to happen. I just started out by educating myself about basic nutrition and paying attention to what I was eating and what effect that had on my average weight. But by experimenting with my diet I was able to completely reprogram myself.

Lex: Seth Roberts' posts on the Freakanomics blog last fall inspired me to start tracking the results of my self-expirements in a meaningful way. I can't wait for his book about self-experimentation. I tried the Shangri-La Diet for a couple of weeks before I started The Hacker's Diet. It didn't do much for me except it made me pay more attention to what I was eating overall. I've never bought the set-point theory so that could be why I didn't stick with it for long. But like Jeremy said, maybe just the act of increasing your awareness is enough for a lot of people to start losing weight. And once you start losing weight it is easier to continue what you are doing. The real question is how do you plan to maintain a healthy weight for the rest of your life? What is the long term plan? I don't mean to suggest that you can't follow the Shangri-La diet forever. But is that the long term plan? If not, what is?

grumpY!: You are right. I could have lost all the weight I needed to lose by just walking an extra 30 minutes per day. But it would've taken me almost 8 years to lose 124 pounds. And that assumes I would not have increased the number of calories I ate per day. To lose a lot of weight in a relatively short period of time I think most people will have to pay very close attention to what they eat. But I also think most people can maintain a healthy weight by just watching their average weight every day and exercising a reasonable amount per week. That is exactly what The Hacker's Diet recommends by the way.

Jeremy: Thanks again for some great thought provoking posts. I can't wait to see what's next.

Matt Griffith

on June 5, 2006 11:48 AM
# Michael Harrison said:

A cool website for those interested in tracking their calories (spreadsheets are great, but it's nice to have something web-based, with a built-in calorie database) is It's free and seems to work pretty well. Some of the calorie counts seem a little low to me, but they're all customizable...

on June 5, 2006 12:00 PM
# Lex said:

Matt --

Re: Whether the Shangri-La Diet is sustainable for life... That\'s a great question, and one I\'ve wondered myself. I can easily demonstrate for myself that two weeks off the diet means a gain of around 2 to 3 pounds, and 2 weeks back on the diet loses those pounds again. Overall, I\'m down from 198 to 191 after three months mostly on the diet, but I can\'t imagine downing oil every single day until forever.

I have a morning exercise routine which seems great at helping me maintain (with or without the oil). But I haven\'t yet achieved either the necessary fitness levels to exercise *more* to lose wait through exercise alone, or the discipline to exercise and just eat less w/o some crutch -- in this case, the oil.

Ideally, I could control my full/hungry/not-hungry impulse without Shangri-La, as Jeremy describes. It\'s a great goal, and probably less greasy than the olive oil approach ;)


on June 5, 2006 12:46 PM
# Tim Converse said:

Interesting. I've lost about 20 lbs with a very similar approach - I tried to eat less, tracked weight on a spreadsheet (one weigh-in at the same time every day, 2-3 lb variations common). I also had a pretty Atkinsy diet (low carbs, lots of salads and lots of meat).

This worked much better for me than previous attempts to lose weight by exercising.

on June 5, 2006 12:55 PM
# grumpY! said:

the only hard part of rigorous regular exercise is in the starup phase. once a pattern is established i don't think it takes much time or physical pain to keep things going. most days i do not dedicate more than 30mins, but they are an intense 30mins. for example, 30 mins at 32 strokes/min on the rowing machine. 30 mins at 8.2 miles an hour on the treadmill.

practically anyone in good health can do this given time, we all have the potential. i make no claim to be physically gifted. quite the contrary.

if people out there want the absolute maximal workout you can get in 30 mins, i would recommend the rowing machine. i would also say stay away from the stairmaster, its just a treadmill for wimps (it does the leg-up for you).

emphasize cardio over weights but keep the workouts balanced. don't skip workouts. don't read magazines at the gym. go at the same time every day.

and eat whatever you want!

on June 5, 2006 12:59 PM
# Katfive said:

I agree that the crux of it is calories, but I believe that I must say my piece about eating "healthy" and exercise. These are bigger, more life-altering and time-consuming habit changes, and they are a pain in the arse for a lot of people. But IMO, the health benefits of a well-balanced diet and moderate exercise are equal to, if not greater than the benefits of simply losing weight. I think changing habits to facilitate weight loss is an excellent plan... I just think that one should go for the gold. Plus, you know, if I run three miles in the morning, then I get to have my healthy dinner AND that ice cream bar afterwards. ;)

on June 5, 2006 06:26 PM
# Joe Zawodny said:

Well this is interesting and timely. In the past 3 months I have been losing 2.5 pounds per week. Your points are pretty much spot on to what I have been doing. I did a little reading about exercise and how much (little) calories they burned. The thing that convinced me that exercise was not the solution was when I calculated that I burned as much calories sleeping as I did at work sitting behind a desk in front of a computer. Being a physicist it was obvious to me that simply reducing calories was required. I bought one of those cool digital scales that weighs to the 0.1 lb level and promptly started weighing myself dialy in the morning. Charting my weight in excel and comparing it to my goal, I cut back a little and watched my weight drop ... a little and then rebound. Depressed that after 4 months I was basically where I started, I figured that my body was altering its metabolism to compensate for the intake. So, I went on to stage two. Monday through Friday I try to eat 1200 calories per day. On weekends I eat more normally. It seems that this fools my body into not altering the burn rate in response to the change in diet. A typical day would have me starting off with a glass of orange juice. For lunch I'd have a couple of granola bars and a cup of lowfat yogurt. Dinner would be small protions of whatever was planned and I tried to avoid breads and pasta. A small snack in the evening was not a problem. Since I started that pounds and inches have been falling off of me at a reasonably constant rate of 2.5 pounds/week. I started at 225 and am now at 194. I would hope that anyone readin this realizes that 1200 calories/day is quite low and you should probably consult a doctor about the wisdodm of this for your particular situation. 2.5 pounds/week is also rather agressive. It is good to see that simple application of physics still works effectively in this day where fad diets and wonder drugs seem to be what people think is what they need. Bottom line is that if you are going to lose weight you have to really want to lose weight and do what it takes to do it. I feel totally bloated when I have a day where I eat 2500 calories. I also cannot imagine going to a fast food place and getting a burger, fries, & a shake. The first two weeks were the toughest.

on June 5, 2006 06:26 PM
# Ernie said:

I've seen Jeremy pre-weight loss. There's definately a noticeable difference. (And you SHOULD scan a photo; I KNOW you have them, I have my photos when I went to China in 2000 and was 40 pounds heavier.)

Regarding exercise, I'm kinda halfway between Jeremy's mindset and grumpY's mindset - personally, I'm a stress eater, and as I have had a *TON* of stress over the pass year and a half, I'm prone to binge eating. Nowadays, when I hit the gym, I do it less as a mindset of "I need to lose weight, so I'll work out" as much as it is a mindset of "OMG, I'm stressed and I'm going to toss someone off the balcony, so I'll work out."

Otherwise, good post. I've lost 35-40 pounds so far from my max weight, only 15-20 more pounds to go...

on June 5, 2006 10:31 PM
# Ariel said:

These tips are great. Interestingly they're many of the core tennets of Weight Watchers, which furthers proves my theory that Weight Watchers is really just a pay-for-play structured program of common sense dieting.

on June 6, 2006 06:19 AM
# Tom Foremski said:

When I broke up with my wife 6+ years ago my body dropped more than 20 pounds in a matter of weeks. I guess it had realised it was in the market for a new mate :-) The breakup diet works pretty well!

Otherwise, I've found the Zone approach works great. You eat a bit more protein and a bit less carbo. It serves to reset your body's weight gradually and if you fall off the nutrition plan it doesn;t matter because the goal is to maintain steady blood sugar levels.

All biological/chemical systems try to maintain a balance, and in our bodies that seeks to maintain a specific weight level. The Zone manages to reset that balance point, lower and lower until it reaches a natural level, so if you eat more calories, or less, the body adjusts its metabolism to maintain a set weight. Extra calories don't add up to extra pounds, neccessarily...

on June 6, 2006 10:08 AM
# Baf said:

grumpY! says of his exercize-but-no-dieting regimen: "[M]y weight has not moved more than two pounds in five years".

If that's true, it's not a very good weight loss plan, is it? It seems like grumpY!'s advice is not so much a way to lose weight as a way to avoid gaining it. This isn't really adequate when you're already overweight.

on June 7, 2006 08:23 AM
# kris said:

I have followed a similar policy (at least with regard to tracking food, weight, and also activity) for several years. It at first met with great success and I (very quickly) lost over 30 lbs. I have found that it is another matter entirely to maintain your weight once you've lost it. You can see what I mean here -- pretty dramatic weight loss followed by slow but steady gain:

The slow creep back up has been very hard for me to defeat. Partly I think this is due to the fact that once I lost "enough" weight I realized I had to change my diet somewhat to hold the weight steady -- and I was a bit too lax with the changes.

I'm curious to know what you've done to hold your weight steady. (Or are you still in the process of losing?) Certainly, dropping the pounds initially is an important step, but keeping them off is just as important.

on June 7, 2006 08:40 AM
# antinous said:

FYI - the "food coma" is medically referred to as "postprandial stupor". It's interesting to go to a Thanksgiving party and be the only person in the room who's alert and conscious after dinner. Once you lose the stuff-until-you-feel-sick habit, it seems really repulsive.

on June 7, 2006 08:43 AM
# Erik Kastner said:

I made a site based on these principals:
It will be going through a re-write, but I'm keeping all exisiting data.

on June 7, 2006 08:50 AM
# Kirk said:

I think 3 isn't so much Full vs Not Hungry... it's up to each person to figure out why their eating.

I wasn't eating 'cause I wasn't full, or 'cause I was in a bad mood, or whatever... I was eating because I was craving distraction. And food is very distracting to me, if I being in tasty leftovers to work for lunch they're lucky to make it to 11AM...

on June 7, 2006 08:53 AM
# Kevin Burton said:

Also.... RE hungry and not full.

Try to eat slower and anticipate that in 15 minutes you'll feel MORE full. It takes a while for your brain to register that you've eaten enough food.

Also...... if you're on Atkins you'll realize that fat makes you feel very full.

Its amazing how LITTLE I eat every day. I have a super small breakfast in the morning (maybe 2 eggs and some bacon) and I'm not hungry at all for 4 hours later.

Pretty crazy... but good :)

on June 7, 2006 08:58 AM
# Mike said:

This process works. I have been tracking my weight for the last ten weeks by using a combination of calorie king and a spreadsheet to track weight. I am down about 17 pds and it is becoming fairly easy to stay on the plan.

I have found it useful to create a graph in excel that plots a seven day rolling average weight. Weight fluctuates day to day, but if you stay on track the seven day average will show a steady decline.


on June 7, 2006 09:05 AM
# Jonathan said:

I'd suggest looking at the McDougall diet:

I detox on it 1month a year in the spring , and tend to drop about 20lbs ( ~175 -> ~155 or 'winter weight' )

It's all about eating the right foods - there's no meat/dairy so obviously no cholestorol. The first 10days are oil free, which is hard, but then the next 20 are fine with moderate amounts of olive oil. I've done it at-most for 7weeks just because I felt amazing on it -- but the tempations of nyc pizza killed me and i caved in.

Unlike a lot of other diets, you can eat until full -- but you really only eat starchy items. For the first week or so you'll put on about 5 pounds as your body adjusts to the intake, but after that there tends to be a steady drop of 'unhealthy' weight.

on June 7, 2006 09:12 AM
# John said:

For me, keeping the records is the hardest part. I've tried the Hacker's Diet twice, and I always fall off the record-keeping wagon.

For starters, 5 minutes a day is total BS. Maybe if you're just keeping track of your daily weight you're down to 2 or 3 minutes, but if you are keeping record of what you eat every day, it's much longer. Second, it's easy to forget to record your weight once a day, and if you *ever* spend time away from home, you're missing record keeping unless you're totaly anal. This wrecks your statistics.

When it comes down to it, losing weight is all about eating healthier and exercising. And all these 'ways to do it' are training wheels to aid in the shedding of your bad habits.

One last thing. The idea that every 3500 calories you don't eat is a pound of fat you don't have is *totally bogus* if you're not exercising. Your body will shed muscle before it sheds fat. You *need* to do enough excercise to maintain your current level of muscle or you will *feel like crap* while you diet and you'll be a weakling at the end.

on June 7, 2006 09:20 AM
# Cibbuano said:

I love how deadly simple this all seems... and the Calorie King - great link!

on June 7, 2006 04:03 PM
# Randy Blue said:

Thankyou for your great commentry.

As A doctor I am constantly being asked on how to loose weight and the looks that I get when I state : "eat less and more more" that is the secret!

Keeping records is great to help people keep honest!

Great work.


on June 10, 2006 12:33 AM
# Ian Bramwell said:

Nice article that you wrote there full of good tips about it is more important to manage what you eat than to worry about what you eat.
Worry only causes stress levels to rise and as anyone knows dieting can be stressful enough with out added pressures.
I totally agree that good management is the key to weight loss. The only thing that I would alter is that a great many people tend to yo-yo wit their weight. As a result of this the method that you described above regardless of diet being used should be described as a WEIGHT MANAGEMENT system. This definition allows people to understand that the program will assist them in losing weight and more importantly keeping it off.
I think that your writng was a good article that was intelligently delivered.
Thank you for it, I enjoyed it.

on June 17, 2006 06:50 AM
# Carol said:

I really like what you have to say. I'm about 35 pounds heavier than I care to be. I didn't have any trouble gaining it for sure. I like pasta toooooo much. I have, however, lost 10 pounds recently but gained back 5. :( The weight I lost was in part due to cutting out sugar; meaning unnecessary sugar like candy, cookies, cake, ice cream, etc. Tons of calories!! Your ideas are very encouraging. Thanks.

on July 25, 2006 12:10 PM
# victoria said:

I love this post and I read every comment. I also wanna say that with alot of salads and meat combinations you will loose weight. BUT you have to work out everyday start slow like 10 or 15 minutes a day until you get yourself up to half an hour then an hour. You will be so strong before long. Also building a little muscle goes along way. REMEMBER muscle has memory and muscle burns fat. Fat cannot burn muscle. remember to walk daily try for at leaste 45 minutes if you cannot do an hour. Combine all this with 3 times a week weight training and you will be where you wanna be. When I started a former boyfriend of mine was a body builder he told me give your self one year and he was right. I am in great shape now. Also I wanna add do not combine carbs with protein or fruit with your meals. Have salad with meat. Or if you want carbs eat them with your salad. Never eat them together. Its easier on the body and it works. A great book for more knowledge is"FIT FOFR LIFE" I swear by it. You will absoulty love it. Thank you again for the great post and I hope I was helpfull to you all. God Bless and Good Luck! Victoria

on August 26, 2006 10:47 PM
# diaondprincess said:

hey i will try this cause im trying to lose 45 pounds in three months write me back let me know if its possiable

on October 25, 2006 04:54 PM
# juice said:

I think it should be pointed out that eating too few calories each day will make it very difficult to lose weight, as the body goes into 'starvation mode' and stores every calorie it gets as energy (ie fat) as it doesn't expect to be fed properly. (Because it's not.)

Also, it's unrealistic to expect to lose weight and be healthy without a decent amount of exercise. Yes, you may get down to a particular weight, but is it a healthy body composition?

But yes, keeping a record of your calorie intake (and preferably the breakdown of that intake into carbs, protein, fat, etc) andf drinking lots of water are very important. But so is exercise.

on November 2, 2006 05:25 PM
# Health and wellness lifestyle said:

I recently lost a lot of weight through changing my diet and starting yoga. I found by reducing the amount of wheat and diary and balancing more towards a vegetarian diet. Small changes like eating breakfast which is one meal a lot of people skip. Small changes often lead to big balance tips on the scales. Doing it as a group is a great way to support each other and when you are dieting that is what is definetly needed.

on November 21, 2006 05:28 AM
# pense said:

Help me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

I am 1m70 tall and my weight is 63kg. I want to lose another 6kg before X'mas. What should I do?

Thank you!


on December 4, 2006 11:48 PM
# Cathy said:

Hi, Jeremy -
Came across your site and waskind of surprised in the similarities of our attack on dieting! I have lost 40 lbs. since last January. I also set up a record keeping workbook - in excel - and I couldn't be happier with it! (I'm a little alarmed at the similarities, though - and that I, too may be an "ubergeek"...of a lesser god, of course.) Anyway - I think a sheet like this can be an excellent tool. I keep mine on my work computer and plan out my meals a few days in advance. That way I know what to anticipate, and I use it as a shopping list as well. Whe the weeken comes, I cimply print out the days for the weekend and fill them in manually for those days. When I get back to the office, I fill them in on Monday. I also kep a worksheet in the book for my commonly used foods so I have a ready reference for things,like my homemade chili, and soups, etc.
Thanks for your inspiration and good going!

on January 11, 2007 08:36 AM
# said:

I think this will work!

on January 20, 2007 05:39 AM
# Pablo said:

I like the concept of calorie in a pound of fat translated to healthy eating (banana, apple) and the resulting weight gain at the end of the year...I have always strive to gain the healthy weight.

on February 22, 2007 01:50 AM
# Anastasia Morgan said:


I am 1.5m Tall and weigh 57kg. I have to lose 7 and don't know how. Please help me. I would like to know how many calories I should consue daily and what foods to eat to obtain my goal weight. Do you have an eating plan?

God Bless

Thanks a million


on May 16, 2007 09:57 PM
# anonymous said:

Does anyone know which calories we're writing down and keeping track of over each day? When I went to CalorieKing to start recording my calories and keeping track, I wasn't sure if I should be doing the "fat calories" or "carb calories".

thanks for the help.....

on June 1, 2007 06:43 AM
# Caroline said:

Hi! THANK YOU so much for such a simple explanation to America's largest problem! I gained 30 pounds over 3 months about 1 1/2 years ago due to a medical problem and the medicine. The doctors never informed me that the same medicine was also used to put weight onto cancer patients, so I continued my same diet, and gained the weight. I felt angry because it wasn't my fault, and stayed at that weight for about a year, unhappy with myself. About 6 months ago, I decided to get serious once I went hiking in Yellowstone National Park and had to stop every few feet. I tried to go it alone with the diet and exercise and couldn't do it. After reading this guide, I have now lost about 17 of those 30 pounds and feel great. I track my intake daily and it takes about 5 minutes, but it has also taught me how to seek foods that I know make me FEEL better. I am now at 145 and want to be at 136 by October 31! Let's see if I can do it!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!

on September 29, 2007 10:00 AM
# Cathy2 said:

Caroline, way to go, your story is inspirational. I too lost weight (22 lbs) by tracking my food intake on a spreadsheet in 2002, about 3 lbs per month. Jeremy's spreadsheet is more sophisticated than the one I came up with, and now that I've put the weight back on, largely due to two medications I take that make me gain weight, I am motivated by this site to lose it again. I am going to use the two spreadsheets Jeremy used and give it a go. I eat a large breakfast (whole grain Familia muesli and lowfat milk) which holds me for 4-6 hours then when my blood sugar drops and I'm hungry I eat a burger from In'N'Out, which holds me for many more hours. By that time I've had around 1100 calories, so I have a very small dinner, a small portion of what my family is eating, which is 300-400 calories. At this rate I will lose about 2 lbs per month, not great, but when I lose it more quickly it exacerbates a health condition I have. Unfortunately I am unable to exercise so cutting calories is my only option.

I am thinking that I am really eating more calories than I think I am, so I bought a food scale and will be weighing my food. Wish me well -- Cathy too

on September 30, 2007 02:13 PM
# Donna said:

Hey! this is some very interesting info I just read--it's basically common sense that I never thought of! haha. Well, I just have a question that most medium/small frame people may ask themselves. I am about 5'2" or 5'3" I believe, and 120 lbs. I know that this isn't anything to be concerned about, but after taking some oriental herbal medicine I started to gain weight. Within 4 days of taking those, I went from about 114-120. For this reason I stopped taking them because as much as it was supposed to make me healthier and help me with some things in my body, there seemed to be no point in gaining weight throughout a whole month "while becoming healthy". So, is it really really tough for someone my size to lose any fat while following these suggestions? I always wondered because most of the time, diets or anything being advertised seems to be directed toward people who claim themselves to be "overweight". I know I am average, but just in case for future reference. Thanks guys! And have a great one. :D

on October 6, 2007 06:07 PM
# Frank Penkala said:

Just reading "Good calories, bad calories" by Gary Taubes. For a book on nutrition it's real page turner. We have been sold a bill of goods for so many years...

Highly recommend the book to anyone willing to challenge conventional wisdom and'expert' advice.

on February 13, 2008 10:14 AM
# James said:

Very informative entry. The distinction between not hungry and full is a new idea that I've never thought about before. Often times I'd eat, and plan to eat more, but I'd stop because I just didn't feel hungry. I have felt that this allows me to eat less over time. I think this also goes hand-in-hand with specific meal sizes.

on February 26, 2008 11:20 PM
# Gerald said:

You'r so right about the importance of habits (in general, and these 3 in specific). The first 30 days of living with a new habit are crucial, after that they are judt that: a habit we are doing automatically.

on October 17, 2008 03:38 PM
# Elle said:


Are you sure you gained weight as in fat... and aren't just retaining some water? Sometimes you need to drink more water so that your body doesn't hold on to it, pretty common with a lot of herbal things.

on November 5, 2008 02:40 PM
# J.... said:

hi im 13 years old iand i weigh over 10 stone and i am realy upset about it as i am one of the biggest in my form i al going to try and stick to your diet tips but do you think it will help me get down to atleast 8 stone ???

on January 5, 2009 02:32 PM
# Bea Hive said:

This is a really old blog but I found it with a simple search. I've been fighting with my weight for a couple of years now. After a broken clavicle and a torn plantar plate, my physical exercise level has decreased ALOT. I find your methods are easy and I'm going to try it.

on December 7, 2009 01:34 PM
# Hailey said:

Good post! I have been in the same position as you. I find it hard to eat more than i am use to or feel comfortable with. When you train a lot you need to amp up the amount you eat.

on June 20, 2010 07:03 PM
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