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Tom C's Tips for Losing Weight

The Eat-Less Diet Plan

OK, here is Tom C’s “Eat Less” weight loss plan.  There is no need to write an entire book on it. 


Many "diets" involve eating very specific foods - I've seen the vinegar diet, the watermelon diet, as well as the Mediterranean diet and many, many more.   The problem with all these diets is that they involve eating new foods that you might well not wish to stick with after achieving your target weight.  Thus, they are an invitation for putting the weight back on.


The virtue of the "Eat Less" diet is that it is primarily a matter of degree.  You are not making major changes to the food you eat, but only relatively minor ones.  As a result, you should be able to stick with the diet easily enough after making your target: loosen it up a bit and if you start gaining again, tighten it again.


Avoid "What really happens" in the illustration.

I have two categories of tips: eating habits and other habits.

Eating Habits:

  • Drink less soda.  This includes diet soda.  Studies show that substituting diet soda for regular soda appears to have a slight negative effect.  I am limiting myself to an average of no more than one soda per day.

  • If you drink less soda, you need to drink something else instead.  Water is fine.  I am a big fan of V8, which has about half the calories of a soda and lots of nutritional value.  I spice it up with tabasco and Worcestershire since I am too cheap to pay extra for the spicy V8.  Find yourself a good substitute for soda and stock up on it.  Even Hawaiian Punch has lots less calories and some nutritional value.  Sports drinks (well, some of them) as well - fewer calories, more nutrition.  Find something you like!

  • Coffee or tea?  If you use a lot of sugar or cream, try to acquire a taste for less.  I used to be a two packet a cup man, but now a single packet can get me though 3 or 4 cups.  I no longer even like the sweeter stuff.  Changing acquired tastes takes time, but it can be done.

  • Stop (or reduce) snacking.  Or at least substitute healthy, low calorie snacks for high calorie ones.  I am doing a combination – eating fewer snacks, and when I do snack, go for the healthier ones (at least some of the time).  To be successful at this, you need to have fewer high calorie snacks available and more healthy ones on hand.  But don’t let the occasional foray into potato chips get you down – just don’t make a habit of it.  Also note that I am defining “dessert” to be a snack!

  • Relating to snacking: just because you are hungry doesn’t mean you need a snack.  Old habits die hard, and I typically head for the fridge or the pantry any time I feel hungry.  But now, even as I am reaching for something, I ask “Do I really need this?”  Sometimes the answer is “Yes, yes, yes.”  But most of the time the answer is “No!”   Obey the “No.”

  • Start off with less food on your plate and minimize having seconds.  I was raised to always clean my plate.  If you are like me, then starting with a less full plate reduces the damage.  Another one of my bad habits, from a weight loss perspective, is finishing off a leftover after a meal because it is easier to eat than pack it up and put it in the fridge. 

  • Avoid the “starving kids in Africa” syndrome.  If you throw away some food, you are not harming kids in Africa. If the choice is between eating it and throwing it away, toss it (or pack it into the fridge).  If you find you are discarding too much food, then you need to start cooking less.

  • Eat out less.  Speaking for myself, when I eat out I want to eat something I like, not something that is “good for me.”  Limit eating out if you really want to lose weight.  But if you must eat out, consider avoiding the "clean plate syndrome" mentioned above, and get a doggie bag (or whatever they call it nowadays) and take the extra home.

  • Eat nothing but celery.  Celery has fewer calories than the calories required to digest it.  OK, I’m kidding.  But as a rule, vegetables have lots less calories than other foods.  Larger servings of veggies, and smaller servings of other food, can make a significant difference.  Outside of sodas and snacks, this is the only food specific advise I’m including, except for the next item.

  • Eat Mor Chikin.  Chicken really does have a lot fewer calories than beef, and there are many great chicken recipes.  And chicken is a lot cheaper than beef, so you have a twofer.  

  • Do not starve yourself!  Even if it helps you lose, you cannot maintain it.  If you find yourself tiring out too easily or getting light-headed when getting exercise, you are probably eating too little.


Other Habits:

  • Weigh yourself daily and record it (there are many apps, or you can just write it down).  Since weight can easily vary a couple of pounds during the day, I always weigh myself first thing in the morning to be consistent.  I know that when I don’t feel I have been doing well on my plan, I really don’t want to step on the scale.  But the scale is the great motivator and you must not avoid it!

  • Exercise is good.  But unless you are an athlete, you will never lose weight on exercise alone.

  • Be accountable.  Up to a point, I can be accountable to myself and my weight tracking app.  But what if, in my weakness, I decide I don’t want to keep up the effort?  Who is going to help me get back on track?  No one unless there are other people I am accountable to.  Hence, the UnShackled Weight Loss Accountability Project.  This has other benefits such as personal testimonies on what works and doesn’t work, encouragement, and (dare I say it) giving a nudge to that competitive instinct that we all have.

  • Look in the mirror.  The mirror is a great motivator, whether negative (I had no idea I looked so bad) or positive (looking better, looking better).

  • Will-power and self-control.  This probably should be the number one item when it comes to weight loss.  And it has been referenced above – the ability to tell yourself “No!”  Good intentions are not enough.  You must follow through.  The good news is that early success breeds future success.  Once you know you can do because you have done it, you can keep doing it.

  • Once you have achieved your target weight, with care you can ease up on some of the habits.  But you must keep weighing yourself daily and go back to all the habits if you have slippage.  Ultimately, you will find the appropriate balance where you can maintain your desired weight.  I am setting for myself a “bounce” weight.  Once I meet my target, if I ever exceed my “bounce” weight, I’ll go back to all the habits until I am back down to my target.  I haven’t actually done this yet since I haven’t made my target.  But you get the idea.

  • Learn to cook.  If you eat out less, you must eat in more.  Being able to prepare good meals makes this a lot more tolerable – and saves you money.  If you are already a good cook, great.  If not, I have some simple rules to follow.  Note that in theory, anyone can follow a recipe.  But following these rules make it much more likely that your recipe will be a success.

    • Find recipes that you think you would like.  Google is your friend.  The web is full of recipes, and most are rated.  But don’t believe the preparation times.  Double them, at least.

    • Do not start a recipe until you know you have all the ingredients.  Experts can substitute.  You are not an expert.  And go ahead and get all those ingredients out before starting.  Why not go ahead and measure them out like they do on all the cooking shows?  If anything needs pre-preparation (like being chopped), go ahead and do it.  Be careful in your measurements – do NOT read tsp as tbsp!

    • Get out all the pots and pans and bowls you need.  This means reading through the recipe, not just the ingredients list, at least once before starting. 

    • Follow the instructions carefully.  Be confident, be bold.  At some point, you will find yourself confident enough to start tweaking your recipes to make them tastier and / or easier and / or less caloric (for example, I often find that one can get by on much less butter than some recipes call for).  Successful tweaks should be noted on the recipe.

    • Unless you take a timer with you, do not wander from the kitchen and get distracted while things are on the stove or in the oven!!!

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