Wednesday, 17 September 2008

The Hacker's Diet - an enhanced Google 15

John Walker, author of The Hacker's Diet:-
"From grade school in the 1950's until 1988 I was fat—anywhere from 30 to 80 pounds overweight. This is a diet book by somebody who spent most of his life fat.The absurdity of my situation finally struck home in 1987. “Look,” I said to myself, “you founded one of the five biggest software companies in the world, Autodesk. You wrote large pieces of AutoCAD, the world standard for computer aided design. You've made in excess of fifty million dollars without dropping dead, going crazy, or winding up in jail. You've succeeded at some pretty difficult things, and you can't control your flippin' weight?”"
Through all the years of struggling with my weight, the fad diets, the tedious and depressing history most fat people share, I had never, even once, approached controlling my weight the way I'd work on any other problem: a malfunctioning circuit, a buggy program, an ineffective department in my company.As an engineer, I was trained to solve problems. As a software developer, I designed tools to help others solve their problems. As a businessman I survived and succeeded by managing problems. And yet, all that time, I hadn't looked at my own health as something to be investigated, managed, and eventually solved in the same way. I decided to do just that.

This book is a compilation of what I learned. Six months after I decided being fat was a problem to be solved, not a burden to be endured, I was no longer overweight. Since then, my weight hasn't varied by more than a few pounds. I'm hungry less often at 145 pounds than I was at 215. I look better, feel great, and have more energy for the things I enjoy. I spend only a few minutes a day maintaining this happy situation. And I know I'll be able to control my weight from now on, because I have the tools I need, the will to use them, and the experience to know they work.
The tools are now in your hands.
Live long and prosper.
John Walker Neuchâtel, Switzerland, November, 2005

At 52 years and 5' 7" I've been overweight (BMI 25-30) but fortunately never obese (BMI more than 30) most of my adult life.

Over twenty years ago when my weight was 12st 7 pounds I went on a strict calorie controlled diet. Working in London, away from home during the week I was adding up the calories in the food and maintaining a 1500 calorie per day diet for 2-3 months. So I slimmed to 9st 13 pounds (BMI 21) for a holiday in Corfu in mid eighties. My wife said I looked emaciated! Within a couple of years I'd put all the weight back on!

My last slimming attempt was in 2006/7 when I reduced my weight from 13st 10 pounds (BMI 29.9) to 12st 1 pounds using Google 15 to monitor weight loss. Then in May 2007, after a holiday to Turkey, I stopped weighing myself daily and over the next year by June 2008 I was back to 13st 7 pounds.

Google 15 had given me the tools to maintain weight loss but I gave up monitoring and so the weight pilled back on. My working hypothesis is that I need, like John Walker, the daily motivation of recording my weight.

Since July 2008 I've been on another Google 15 diet. A week ago I heard about The Hackers Diet. This free online book has reinspired me to lose weight. I think The Hackers Diet is a better online tool than Google 15 for loosing weight and keeping weight off. I'll explain why I think this is the case later when I've had more time to experiment with it.

More from John Walkers The Hackers Diet:-

…lose weight… Lose weight rapidly, and keep it off permanently. Losing weight isn't pleasant, and it's far better to get it over with quickly, and never have to do it again.

…and poor nutrition. There is one, simple, unavoidable fact of dieting. To lose weight you have to eat less food than your body needs. Only by doing so can you cause your body to burn its reserves of fat and thereby shed excess weight. If nutrition is about meeting your body's needs, losing weight involves deliberately shortchanging those needs—in a word, starving. This isn't a pleasant or inherently healthy process, but it's better than carrying around all that extra weight. You'll see how to reduce your food intake intelligently, so you don't end up with scurvy or something else unpleasant or embarrassing.

This is precisely what losing weight involves. If you're successful in the things that matter to you but overweight, all you need to lose that weight is to make accomplishing your weight and health goals matter just as much, then approach weight loss and control just like any other important project: by developing and carrying out a rational plan for success based on an understanding of what's involved in achieving it.

So, there was nothing for it but to shed all those pounds I'd packed on through the stressful years of starting, growing, and running a company. “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” I'm an engineer. I decided to approach weight loss as an engineering problem.

I studied the human body the way I'd tackle a misbehaving electronic circuit or computer program: develop a model of how it works, identify the controls that affect it, and finally adjust those controls to set things aright.

It worked. In less than a year, totally under my own direction and without any drugs or gimmicks, I went from 215 pounds to 145 and achieved physical fitness. Since then, I've kept my weight right where I want it with none of the yoyo swings I'd suffered in the past. All of this was accomplished in less than 15 minutes a day, and without any significant changes in the way I choose to live my life.

What's more, I came to understand the game of weight control. Confidence, founded in understanding and confirmed by success, makes maintaining an ideal weight far more likely. What I discovered was so simple, so obvious, yet so profound and useful I decided to make the tools that worked for me available to everybody. So I wrote this book.

My interim goal is to reduce my weight to less than BMI 25. For me this means a weight of 155 pounds (11st 1 pound). At 175 pounds now I need to lose 20 pounds. At a pound a week loss I should loose the weight in 20 weeks - next February 2009. But that includes Xmas and New Year. If I want to loose weight before end 2008 I need to loose 20 pounds in 12 weeks or about 1.75 pounds a week. Thats a deficit of 1.75 x 3500 calories per week or 6125 calories or 875 calories per day. For now thats an unrealistic target. It would mean reducing calories from approx. 1700 - 2500 per day to 825 - 1625 calories per day.

So I'll target consistently 1 pound a week for the next month and then increase loss to 1.25 pounds in November.

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