Wednesday, November 16, 2011

10 tips for successful dieting

*sigh*  I must be running out of material.  I'm sure some of you have said this several episodes ago.  I found a website that does top ten lists.  It's sad really.  I didn't think that I was the only one, but I thought that it was kind of unique with my own spin.  The site I found has many many top ten lists and most of them are pretty funny (the ones I read anyway).  I decided that I don't really do this for any other reason except to give myself a place to put my thoughts down, but thanks for reading!

Anyway, The sigh up there wasn't for that, it was for the fact that I'm on a diet.  yes, a diet.  Now before you run away, this particular blog entry is about my own anecdotal experience with dieting.  I don't mean to convert anyone to anything, I don't really want to do anything but tell everyone the things I realized in the course of my dieting.  I've got several weeks to go before I hit my 'target' weight, which in my opinion is way too light, but I'm trying to hit it so I can say that I'm not a part of the nation's obesity problem, which apparently I currently am.

10. Give up - You have to really give up when you go on a diet.  You have to stop dreaming about what you are going to do when you finally get out of this self imposed concentration camp.  I've got news for you.  You will never leave.  Not if you do it right.  You see, what got you to this place is what you where doing before.  Once you decide to go on a diet, you have to give up on your old eating life.  At least give up on it until you decide it's ok if you check out of life.  There are some people that will tell you things like 'I don't even like the taste of sugar or fat anymore, I can't stand it'.  Yeah right, that's great for that person.  I like all of my sweet foods as well as my fatty salty foods.  They are my friends and I miss them.

9. Give yourself a day off - Everyone needs a day off from whatever they do all the time.  Diets are no different. If you are solid on your diet and you are following it by the letter, you need to give yourself a break.  My own rule?  When I'm on vacation, I'm on vacation from everything.  Once every 2 weeks or so I give myself a day that I don't count and don't care.  Here is what I've found.  While I still like my crappy food, I actually like less of it.  I started to remember the difference between empty, full, and what I was doing.  It re-affirms that you are in fact going in the right direction.  I wouldn't start this until you are at least 1 month into your diet routine.

8. It's all about the calories - I'm trying to lose weight here.  That's my goal.  There is but 1 way to do this and ONLY one.  I'm sorry.  ALL of the other diets that have names or gimmicks or special devices or any other nonsense are exactly that nonsense.  The only way to lose weight without medical intervention is to take in fewer calories than you burn.  Fat?  Sugars?  Protein?  Starch?  WHAT?  It doesn't matter.  A calorie isn't made of anything, it's a measurement.  If you go to Europe they have kilo-calories, which sound like some kind of supervillian's way of terrorizing a fat farm.  A Kilo-calorie is the same as an American calorie.  So a calorie is the amount of energy it takes to raise one gram of water 1 degree C.  OR, it's 4.186 Joules.  Ok, I'm getting WAY off track.  My point is, it doesn't matter what you eat, it only matters that you eat less of it.  Yes I know that some foods are more healthy for you etc, and that's all fine and well, but calories from fat are the same as calories from anywhere else.   Here is the trick.  Types of foods will fill you up easier and probably be better for you.  Ok, that's cool.  Protein is really good about calories.  My personal favorite is a bowl of shrimp.  it's pretty cost effective on the calories and it fills you up.  Eat only shrimp and you will probably be in trouble.  So eat some greens as well.  Little bit of bread is yummy.  Just count the calories and stop when you should be done.  Individual results may vary.

7. Exercise, or don't - As I said before, it's about the calories, not about the exercise.  If you like exercising, knock yourself out, I hear it's good for you.  If you watch 5 minutes of that Biggest loser show, seems like that's all they do is beat themselves up and eat next to nothing.  Well, what I've found personally is that when I exercise, I tend to be more hungry and I will more than make up the calories I 'earned' during exercise because my body will tell me I'm hungry.  If I don't exercise, I don't have have that spike of hunger and I find it easier.  What I'm saying is, you don't need it to lose weight, but you might need it for good health.

6. Have a target in mind. - Don't beat yourself up for nothing.  Have a goal in mind.  My own goal is based on my BMI, which is horribly unfair to tall people.  Once I get there, my diet is not over, but I will start eating to maintain my weight not lose it.  I won't actually gain that many calories per day, but honestly, by the time I get to my goal weight, I will have been doing this for so long that I will feel like it's a great deal.

5. Say goodbye to your friends - When you diet, the first thing you start seeing is that your friends that you used to go to lunch with are still going to lunch;  without you.  They understand, and they don't hold it against you, but you are going to have to not go to lunch with them most of the time.  It's sad, I know, but it's a part of the problem.  You see, I love going out to lunch.  Not for the lunch really, but for the company.  I can test out some new jokes, I can get the latest on the insurance we all hate or the customer that we all have problems with.  It's a great time.  Oh, and I eat more food than I really wanted to, happens every time.  It doesn't help that some places we go have adopted Soup's penchant for calling one block of food from their menu 2 servings.  That sucks.  you get fooled into thinking that you are only eating x calories, when it is really x times 2.  I don't really think it's cool to go into a restaurant and not eat so instead I eat my soup at my desk.

4. Expect to be ripped off - There will be times when you have to go out to eat and unless you live in California, you will have no idea what the food you just ate is worth.  When I say worth I say worth in terms of calories not in terms of money.  Money means nothing to a dieter.  If we can find a healthy alternative to really good ice cream we will pay quite a bit more because it's 'cheap'.  So the calories you just ate?  yeah, you thought they were around, say, 600 calories.  nope, 1100.  That's right.  500 more kilo-cals than you thought.  I HATE that.  What a rip off.  if I would have known that, I would NEVER have eaten that.  Well, too bad.  you did, so lump it.  you got ripped off.  On the other hand, the meal was 2 for one on a coupon.  yay.

 3. Be ready for the love - By the love what I mean is people telling you things like 'You don't need to diet' and 'well you don't need to go this far' etc.  They are telling you how jealous they are of your will power.  It's the same reason they keep inviting you to lunch.  They would like to see you break character.  (once in a while is good though.  see number 9).  You will really know you are getting things done when people you don't even know that well in the office ask you your name and you've been there for 3 years.  sweeeeeet.

2. Patience!  For Cryin Out Loud! - if you are doing it right, it takes a LONG time.  1-2 lbs per week is pretty good.  that's what I'm trying to stick to.  From what I'm given to understand, that rate is enough to keep your body liking the idea.  if you crash diet and lose a ton, you are probably not losing that in the right places AND you are probably making some other tradeoff's that you won't like.  Slow and steady wins this race.  It took a while to put that extra weight on.  Unfortunately, it will take a while before you start seeing results.  We don't like that so much.  You'll feel like you are starving yourself and you still look about the same.  Well take heart, if you keep on it, you will lose weight.

1. Remember where you were.  -  Before you were dieting, you were living the good life.  You were mostly short of breath, clothes didn't fit right, and you preferred smaller mirrors, but you got to eat whatever you wanted to and it was GREAT.  Now you breathe easier because you aren't carrying around 40 lbs of luggage around with you, you fit into stuff you thought you'd never look at again and you look at yourself and think 'is that really me?'  BUT you don't quite eat like you used to all the time,  just once in a while.  Well, if you don't keep track and stay balanced, you may find yourself going back to where you were.  Just remember when you are eating that second helping of seconds of chocolate silk pie, there is other stuff that comes with it and maybe more.  Plan your eating and you'll do it for a long time!

I didn't tell you my technique for losing weight.  it's a website called and I just log my calories every day.  I do a few other things and if you're really interested, you can email me or whatever and I'll tell you.  I think it works for me, but I can't say what it will do for you.  I can confirm that it does not give you super powers, but you might feel pretty good about things.  See you in 15 days!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Top 10 tips for giving good gifts.

So the holidays are rounding the corner and everyone would like to tell you what to buy or where to go to find something to buy.  That's terrific.  It helps the economy and is fun to do.  How many of you, on the other hand, find that Christmas along with other gift giving holidays are more of a hassle than they are worth?  The real question is.  Do you give gifts outside of the holidays and birthdays?  If so, then you are fine ignoring them or paying a small token of attention towards them.  Otherwise, I'm afraid you are stuck.  These are a few tips for giving good gifts that will at least SEEM thoughtful.  If you are a cheap S.O.B. that doesn't give gifts because you are just too darn cheap, then read no further, there is nothing for you here.

 10.  Gift cards are for Grandparents and suckers - I'm not saying that Grandparents are suckers, I'm saying that it's ok for them to use gift cards.  It's easy and it's better than trying to measure every gift for value and appropriateness to what has probably become a pretty large family.  If you are not giving gift cards to grand-kids, then you had better be a manager giving them to employees because there is no other situation where a gift card is really appropriate unless the person you are giving it to is really in dire cash straits.  The reason that gift cards are not terrific gifts is that people will tend to use them for necessities and not for memorable items that they can link to you so they will forget very quickly that you gave them anything at all.

9.  Made by hand is made by heart - Why buy when you can make?  You say you have no creative talent?  You don't have the time?  I'm sorry, good gift giving is all about time.  This works particularly well if you are a child.  The things you create are priceless and will probably be enjoyed for a long time if you are giving them to your parents.  If you have a little skill in one area or another, why not exercise it?  I had a friend that used to hand watercolor his Christmas cards.  The card is lost, but I still remember it to this day.

8.  It's the thought that counts - People often say that in response to someone prematurely apologizing for a gift being cheap or inconsequential.  It really IS the thought that counts.  Think of the person you are getting a gift for.  Do you have a pet name or a common recurring joke that you share?  You can't find a gift that is a symbol of that common bond?  Or did you even think of it.  Given 5 minutes of thought, you can probably come up with many remembrances that can be commemorated in a gift.

7.  Get them something you would like - As a kid, this one irked me more than a little bit.  If I get my friends something I like, I may not get it myself.  You could hope vainly that maybe the kid wouldn't like what you got them and would graciously give it to you saying 'Thanks for the gift, but I want YOU to have it.'  Never happens that way.  This is a bit the opposite of number 8.  Instead of noting a shared experience, you are showing more of yourself.  So get them a book you love, or a movie that was very influential.  It will give you something to talk about later.  WARNING!  This gift idea had the largest chance of being a re-gift or unappreciated!  If you are way off the mark when it comes to your intended recipient, you may have the unfortunate effect of the gift being more memorable than who gave it.  Ideally, you want a little of both.

6.  What do you want? - This is a question often asked by parents of children to help them with the gift giving chore.  Unfortunately if this question is asked enough times, it reinforces in children the idea that Birthdays and Christmas are in fact some kind of grand payday.  It's not a time of thoughtfulness, it's a time of entitlement.  Instead of asking what they want.  Observe them in their natural habitat and figure it out.

5.  Nuts to you! - Food is an ok gift when you are buying something for the 'man that has everything'.  Perhaps he doesn't have a full stomach!  Food makes a good introductory gift to neighbors.  It's a pleasant exchange that does not require reciprocation but does not discourage it either. Alcohol is a step up from that, but make sure the intended recipients do in fact drink.  otherwise you are giving them a great gift to give to someone else.

4.  Oh, it's too much! - Unless you've won the lottery, it's probably not a great idea to give truly exorbitant gifts.  It makes people a bit uncomfortable, because they really are not at all planning on giving you anything in the same level.  Of course that's not the point, but still you want to be able to exchange gifts on even footing.  This is naturally not a hard and fast rule.  Especially if you are giving a gift to me ;)

3. Please...Be Generous -  I could just as easily have called this FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS.  Sometimes people get married later in life and decide that in lieu of gifts they have a favorite charity to donate to.  Don't think that you are getting the jump on anything by giving them the 'perfect' gift by any of the other points mentioned.  They have given YOU a gift and told you exactly what they want.  Some people will cross gifts off the list if you tell them exactly what you want because they want it to be a surprise.  for the most part, surprises are rarely good. 

2.  You should have seen the look on your face! - Gag gifts are a lot of fun IF they are given in the right spirit.  Lets take, for example, the fake lottery ticket that scratches to be a winner.  Funny stuff, if you give it to someone that doesn't need money.  Give it to someone that's fallen on hard times and thinks that their prayers have been answered and you have just given them false hope that you have to explain later.  That's no gift.

1.The Perfect Gift - What's the perfect gift?  Many times, it's something that strikes you at the wrong time but in the right place.  It's something that you KNOW is perfect for a particular person but there isn't an occasion around which to give this gift.  If it's someone you know and are close to, get it anyway and give it to them.  There really is nothing more shocking than a great gift out of the blue.  Especially if you aren't in the habit of doing so. Ultimately a perfect gift is something that someone wants but would never buy for themselves.  It takes some figuring out, but once you find it, you will find that it's more enjoyable being the giver than the receiver.

This blog has been posted early enough that none of you have any excuse now!  I'll be checking up on you in 15 days.