• Will my pants fit this fall?

    Making public my ambition to have an email-free week of vacation worked so well, I thought I’d try it with my weight-loss plan. If I tell you my goal and promise to report if I met it, maybe I’ll stick to it, just as I did with my email moratorium.

    Here it is: I want to drop at least five pounds — ten would be even better — by the time I need to wear long pants this fall. I am blessed with a job to which I can wear shorts, weather permitting. That’s usually May-October. So, I need to shed the weight by the end of September, give or take.

    Why this long pants angle? Well, this weight loss has very little to do with actually being “overweight”. (I’m really not). It’s got almost nothing to do with vanity. (I am a little vain, just like you!) It has mostly to do with the fact that I’m cheap, and I hate to shop. I don’t want to buy new pants. But if I don’t shrink my 40-year-old gut, I won’t fit in my long pants, which means trips to the store to replace a perfectly good, cool-weather wardrobe. I’m wincing in pain at the thought. (My shorts are roomier, so no trouble fitting into them this summer.)

    I know I can achieve this goal because I’ve been 15 pounds lighter at the same height (though at a much younger age), and I’m only trying to drop 1/3 to 2/3 of that amount. Totally doable, right? And yet, I’ve been trying to get back to my ideal pants-fitting weight for several years as the pounds have slowly accumulated. I’ve been failing.

    Think I’ll make my goal this time? Place your bets in the comments. Care to make it interesting? By what date will I be five pounds lighter? What about ten?

    (I now await Aaron’s suggestion of Weight Watchers. … Maybe. But not yet. I’ll try this first. Remember, I’m cheap.)


    • I’d like to encourage you to do this… it really isn’t as hard as you might expect once you focus on the goal and you will feel better.
      Like you, I didn’t consider myself overweight but at 5′ 10″ and 176 pounds but I was 20 pounds over my weight in college. After the Christmas season feasts I decided to get back to my college weight. I set a goal of 70 kg (154 pounds) which was the “standard reference male” weight way back when I was in medical school.
      I had considered my omnivorous diet “healthy” so I started just by eating less of everything and was able to drop the extra 22 pounds in six months. I found it actually felt good to feel hungry before my next meal. My waist is back to 34″ and I feel great. I get regular exercise but haven’t really changed the amount of exercise.
      Lately, after considering the documented health problems with animal fat I have decided to cut out all meat and dairy. My diet is now all fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and fish. I’ve been able to find good recipes on vegan websites. Indian and Asian food (which I love) are natural fits for this diet. It’s not a problem to maintain my weight at 70 kg.
      I’ve posted some of my recipes at:

    • We need to know your physical activity level to make a better prediction. Actually, it’ll still be an educated guess at best, which is somewhat ironic given that this is an evidence-based blog. However, running is cheap. You do not need to run marathons, you just need to run enough. Or swim, or whatever.

      For the record, I cycle. It’s an expensive sport. But it’s fun for me, and that and a good diet keep the weight off (albeit I am slim to begin with).

    • I outed myself via facebook on May 1st this year with a starting weight of 262.8. Since then, with the help of myfitnesspal.com, I’ve began an exercise program of cycling 13-20 miles 4-5 times a week and walking 2-3 times per week.

      I’m tracking calories and myfitnesspal has a large database of almost any food (grocery or restaurant) in its database so you simply enter it into the proper meal period, MFP crunches the nutritional data and keeps a running tally throughout the day. My initial caloric goal was 1850 calories a day, they recently bumped me down to 1600 per day.

      Has it worked?

      Today I weighed 237 which means I’m about 26 pounds lighter than when I began.

      Healthy weight loss isn’t about “behaving” for a month or two…its the willingness to seriously change how you eat. The more you exercise, the more you can eat…I found by eliminating all fast foods and exercising, the weight has come off pretty fast.

      Good luck, Austin…

    • Here’s a very simple diet that has always worked for me: avoid anything white! (sole exceptions being fish & cauliflower)

      Practically, that means no dairy, no white sugar, no white bread, no white rice, no pasta.

      It’s really easy to turn the focus instead to what you can eat: fruits, veggies, proteins and so on.

      Good luck!

    • Read Gary Taubes and cut out carbs. Works like magic. The low fat, low calorie diet just results in hunger and misery. High fat, moderate protein, and low carb results in eating until satisfied and pants that don’t fit.

    • FWIW, Stephan Guyenet, an obesity researcher at the University of Washington, has a thoughtful, evidence based blog where he has discussed the causes of obesity and healthy eating.


    • I recommend counting calories. Three reasons:
      -Every diet is just trying to reduce calories with some “hack.” it’s easier just to limit your calories and let your own dietary choices determine your calories within your budget.
      -Calorie counting apps and websites are widely available, making calorie counting easier than before.
      -Calorie counting will increase knowledge of high-calorie foods (cookie dough… Holy moly!) that can be used to maintain weight after your weight loss goal has been reached. Knowledge can drive behavior change.

      Also, try it in three phases.
      1. Do an initial diet survey, without making major modifications, and figure out how you’re eating and exercising at baseline. Then you can target strategies to reduce calories better (e.g. reduce butter and oils, eat only half portions at restaurants, eliminate caloric beverages, no cheese please, etc…).
      2. Start loosing slowly (1/2 lb per week), but once you’re regularly meeting your goals, increase your goals (1 to 1.5 lb per week.) Then when you’re reaching your target weight, slow down weight loss again.
      3. Make weight maintenance your goal, so you don’t go back to old eating habits and put weight back on.