Science and Weight Loss – Day 8: Crash and Burn

By Michael Edmonds 06/02/2012

A week ago I was 90.2 kg, now I’m 90.6 kg, how did that happen?

Fairly simple answer, I lost my resolve on Thursday, helping organise my partner’s work “shout” for morning tea for his birthday. This was followed by going out to dinner on Friday and then an afternoon tea for friends on the Saturday allowed all my weaknesses to chip away at my resolve.

However, if my training as a scientist has taught me anything, it is that failure has just shown you one more way not to do something. The best thing to do is to try again using a different approach and to learn from your mistakes. So it is time to do a strengths & weaknesses analysis and from this, construct a plan which will keep the motivation up to lose some weight.

My Strengths

  • I am reasonably fit and should therefore have a reasonable level of metabolic activity. Losing weight shouldn’t be too hard if I control what I eat
  • I have a fairly good knowledge of nutrition – what foods I should eat and what I shouldn’t
  • I’ve lost weight before using the Body for Life approach. (The “for Life” bit obviously hasn’t held up but what can I learn from this previous weight loss needs to be explored)
  • My partner’s next birthday is 362 days away 🙂

The last couple of days has provided ample information about my weaknesses, so I might as well use the information.

My Weaknesses

  • I like food – a lot. Especially the sweet and fatty stuff – not helpful!
  • I am a binge eater. A packet of biscuits does not last long in my presence.
  • I am a social eater. When I am eating with others around I lose track of what I have consumed and just keep going (perhaps growing up with two other siblings I am competitive around food? Might have to think about that some more
  • I can’t stand wasting food – I’ll eat it rather than have to throw it out. This is not a healthy approach, but it is a very strongly ingrained behaviour.
  • The leverage I thought I would get from blogging about it isn’t as strong as I thought.

The Plan

  1. As much as possible I have to make sure that only healthy food is within reach.
  2. At social events where food is being served I will have to monitor myself far more carefully.
  3. I need to apply psychological leverage to reinforce the advantages of losing weight (see below).
  4. I need to set some goals. Normally I prefer to take a more organic, adaptive approach to life but some firm goals can reinforce positive actions.
  5. Specific goal – to weigh 89.0 kg by next Monday.


  • coming from a family with a history of heart disease and diabetes, better nutrition seems prudent
  • after sugary/fatty treats I feel mentally and physically sluggish, to the extent where a nap is necessary. Not a good look.
  • an appeal to vanity – I’ll look better a few kg’s lighter.

So week one was a bust and I now have 0.4 more kg’s to lose. But that’s okay. A little adversity can be a good thing – a reminder that success requires effort AND planning.

0 Responses to “Science and Weight Loss – Day 8: Crash and Burn”

  • Hope you don’t mind—take this as meaning well—but I had a laugh at “The leverage I thought I would get from blogging about it isn’t as strong as I thought.” Looking for us as a crutch, huh? 🙂 As much as support helps, these things have to come from yourself in the end, eh?

    For me, I prefer regular exercise as a key element. In my case, the key element as fitness is the main goal for me. Thing I was going to say was that I find from past experience that I move to a better diet naturally when I’m doing a lot of regular exercise. But then I could be kidding myself! After all this was a guy who as a kid at boston buns at lunch but got away with it because of the long-distance running.

  • Dunkin donuts just opened in Hamilton, start your day with a doughnut.
    mmmmm Bavarian cream filled, (insert pic of Homer Simpson drooling here).

  • Hmmm dunkin donuts, just walked past a stand 10 minutes ago.

    Grant, it is a common recommendation for any resolution to mention it to others so theoretically that gives you some motivation to follow through, but you are correct of course the most powerful motivation comes from within.
    At least I managed to walk past the dunkin donuts without succumbing

  • Darcy – did they? Where??? (maple syrup & cream, mmmmm!)

    I have an actual slot actually marked in my actual diary for actually going to the gym. 4.30pm daily. Unfortunately I am often terrible about saying to people (colleagues & students) that I can’t help them just now as I’ve got another engagement 🙁 OTOH I do cycle about 60km in an average week (2 days to & from work, plus going in to the Sunday market). So I’m fitter than before I got the bike, & at least I’m no fatter!

  • At the risk of making you fatter, it’s on Victoria st a few shops south of Alma st. It’s actually fairly discreet, I drove past it twice without seeing it – and I was looking.

  • Well, I guess from an evolutionary perspective, you’re supposed to have these eating impulses. We didn’t evolve in an environment that had refrigeration, packaged food and supermarkets. If we saw food, it was eaten. And high kJ food- those loaded with fats and carbs would have been ideal.

    Removing some of the triggers for eating may help. You might notice that if food is on a table in plain sight, it gets eaten. Hidden in a pantry it’s easier to ignore. It’s basic biology. It’d be nuts to turn down the chance to eat food when we can see it right in front of us.

    There are some foods we still have drives to eat that are good options to exploit. The GULO pseudogene means we often have a preference for food loaded with vitamin C. This is a good time of the year to be replacing biscuits etc with fresh fruit instead.

    Paradoxically, a lot of food we do eat today is probably healthier than 30-40 yrs ago. The bigger shift has been in the increase in the sedentary lifestyle.

    Fwiw, I bike almost every day.

  • Darcy: You were looking? 🙂

    Chthoniid: Excuse my curiosity – do you mean the loss of the GULO gene drives a need to take in vitamin C? (Rather than a pseudogene actively doing something. Not criticising here, just making sure I have my own understanding right – haven’t all the hours in the day to chase up these interesting & distracting sidelines!)

  • A brown paper bag would’ve been handy this morning, bought a bunch of donuts for a meeting – didn’t want everyone else getting jealous.
    Grant, I’ve been waiting for the shop to open since I heard about it last November.

  • Yes, I mean the loss of this gene (via a nonsense mutation) means we need vitamin C in our diet (much like our ape relatives). With no ability to actually synthesise Vit C for the last few million years, we really need it in our diet. Hence, tastes for food with Vit C has been kind of been selected for as a compensation for the loss of this gene.

    (Another pesky dietary pesudogene is UOV, which means we can’t process uric acid properly and are liable for gout).

  • Parenthetically, my external motivation is crocodiles. I’ve noticed there’s no such thing as a fat, old crocodile expert. Probably some environmental selection pressure.

    (Albeit it’s shocking how much weight you can lose with an unforgiving tropical disease.)