How I Lost 16 Pounds

“How hard can it be to lose five pounds?”

That’s how it started.

For a very long time, I never gave much thought to managing my weight. Bit by bit over the years there was more of me, but I gained weight so gradually, and I carried it well enough, that it rarely bothered me how the pounds were adding up (although I didn’t like that my older clothes stopped fitting after a while). This spring though, I stopped liking what I saw in the mirror. I din’t like it one bit, in fact.

So right after I got back from visiting NY for Passover in April, I decided it was finally time to make some changes.

I don’t want to call it a diet. I’m skeptical of the entire concept, frankly. Especially the big branded ones. Too many of them seem designed to part the dieter with their cash (books, special food, memberships, supplements, and more) than with their extra weight. There’s too much junk science and too many claims I find hard to believe. And too many dieters seem to gain all the weight back once they end the diet. I wanted to do something a little more sustainable.

Instead, I based my plan on two guiding principles:

1) Don’t make sacrifices that you can’t live with over the long haul.
Example: I refuse to give up putting sugar in my coffee. I hate the taste of all the sugar substitutes, and I don’t see the point of putting a bunch of chemicals into your body that trick you into thinking you just ate something sweet. Might as well just make room for the calories and have the real thing.

2) Simple is always better.
I found a great Android app that made tracking my food intake and exercise simple: Noom. What I most like about it is that it tracks your intake in a way that works both at home and while eating out, and doesn’t take a lot of time. For example, if I have a salad for lunch, Noom doesn’t ask me to enter each type of vegetable separately or figure out how many ounces of chicken I put on top. I’d record it as “heaping handful of vegetables, half a handful of chicken, tablespoon of salad dressing”. Done. Yes, it’s not pinpoint accurate, but it’s close enough. And it worked.

So how did I lose the weight? I tracked everything I ate and kept to the daily calorie allocation Noom assigned me.

How? I dropped a lot of the carbs from my diet (although not all) and became much more aware of portion sizes. I ate a lot more beans and salad, and cut down the snacks and sweets. And on the days when I said “the hell with it” and ate steak frites for lunch because I couldn’t bear to eat another salad, I didn’t beat myself up or feel like a failure. I just started again the next day back on the plan.

And it worked. Four months later, I am 16 pounds lighter. That’s roughly a pound a week lost, and I did it during a time period when I took 2 vacations (including a cruise with a LOT of good food and wine). My BMI is nicely in the normal range for my height now, and I’ve lost a full dress size. I was afraid losing weight was going to be a titanic struggle, but aside from the occasional pasta craving, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. And once the scale started showing real results, sticking with the plan got even easier, because I knew it was working.

Oh yeah and that report about women needing to work out at least an hour a day to avoid gaining weight? It’s crap, at least for me. I exercised three times a week in May and June, but I’ve slacked off the exercise more recently (ok, I admit it, I haven’t worked out since mid-July). And I still lost weight in that time.

Maybe I got lucky? I don’t know. I do know lots of people struggle greatly with their weight and that my experience isn’t universal. Still, what I did worked for me, and that’s what matters.

To sum it all up: I lost a bunch of weight. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. And now I need to buy some pants that fit. 🙂

For Your Holiday Listening Pleasure: TechnoGirlTalk

This week sees the launch of a new technology website & podcast, run by my old college classmate Sunshine Mugrabi: TechnoGirlTalk.

Yours truly was one of the panelists on the initial podcast and it’s a doozy — we dive into the James Chartrand controversy, as well as dissect a controversial Droid vs iPhone ad and discuss what it’s like to be a woman in technology.

Recording the episode was a ton of fun and I hope you’ll take advantage of the slow holiday season to download it and listen.

This Makes Me Sad. And Angry

But frankly, not at all surprised.

In a perfect world, things wouldn’t be this way but (no surprise) we don’t live in a perfect world.

Updated (after reading the full comment thread over at Copyblogger): And to be clear I’m not at all angry at “James”. I admire her guts. I am angry that someone with talent and skills needed to become someone else in order to make a living in her chosen career. it’s a thoroughly sad commentary on how screwed up our society still is.

Who Would Jesus Shoot?

Dr. George Tiller was murdered this morning as he walked into his church to attend regular weekly services.

Killed at a church, of all places. How could his murderer miss the irony in that action? Did he think that it was somehow fitting? Or was it simply a place where he could more easily get close enough to Tiller to kill him?

Whatever you think of Dr Tiller’s work, he was a brave man who stood up for his principals in the face of decades of threats and violence. Reasonable people can disagree about abortion. But there’s simply no justification at all for killing someone that you disagree with.

He didn’t deserve this.

UPDATE: If you’re so inclined, I’d suggest making a donation to Medical Students for Choice in Dr Tiller’s memory.

Women's Work

Some things really do not change.

The most recent figures from the University of Wisconsin’s National Survey of Families and Households show that the average wife does 31 hours of housework a week while the average husband does 14 — a ratio of slightly more than two to one. If you break out couples in which wives stay home and husbands are the sole earners, the number of hours goes up for women, to 38 hours of housework a week, and down a bit for men, to 12, a ratio of more than three to one. That makes sense, because the couple have defined home as one partner’s work.

But then break out the couples in which both husband and wife have full-time paying jobs. There, the wife does 28 hours of housework and the husband, 16. Just shy of two to one, which makes no sense at all.

The lopsided ratio holds true however you construct and deconstruct a family. “Working class, middle class, upper class, it stays at two to one,” says Sampson Lee Blair, an associate professor of sociology at the University at Buffalo who studies the division of labor in families.


Rambling Thoughts on Feminism and Politics

Not to make this a “pile on Hillary” kind of weekend, but a quote I saw a week or so ago has been nagging at me.

To feminist writer Linda Hirshman, Clinton’s likely defeat signals a harsh reality that future female candidates will need to consider.

“It shows how fragile the loyalty and commitment of women to a female candidate is. That’s a pretty scary thing,” says Hirshman. “She can count on the female electorate to divide badly and not be reliable.”

That’s a definition of feminism that I don’t understand. In act, it sounds a lot more like essentialism. As a woman who has spent a good portion of her life making her way in male-dominated fields – and as a Jew, to boot – I have an extreme distaste for any ideology that assumes that group characteristics are identical and unalterable.

And yet …. it would make me happy to see a woman elected President, I can’t lie. It would also make me happy to see a Jewish President, although frankly I think that’s even less likely to happen in my lifetime. Still, that doesn’t mean I’m going to put gender or religious characteristics ahead of everything else on the table. Especially when it comes to something as important as a Presidential election.

I’m one of the first generation of American women to be born and raised in a world where women actually had the option to escape the constraints they’d previously been limited to. Is that why I do not feel the pull of identity politics? I consider myself a feminist. Does being a “good” feminist mean that I must vote for a woman candidate solely because of her gender? I don’t think so, but clearly some other women do.

How did things get to this place? And more important, can we fix it?