How to Lose 25 Pounds While Seeming Like a Complete Freak and Alienating Everyone Around You, Part 1

03.25.2013 | 1:18 pm

I’d like to tell you a story today. While it’s not a story that is quite over, it seems to be going well for the protagonist. 

But it’s also a cautionary tale.


You see, after a pretty successful race season last summer, I stopped racing. And more or less stopped training, too. But I kept eating as if I were still going full tilt.

By January of this year, I was up to 183 pounds. I took this picture, which I am now showing to you, with apologies.

Then, I started a contest with Adam Schwarz, who had the terrific misfortune of being the same height and weight as me, as well as having a goal of losing the same amount of weight as I.

You can read the details of the contest here, but basically, we each have ’til 3/30 to reach 158 pounds — a 25-pound loss in 90 days. If one of us fails, he has to buy the other a pair of Assos shorts. 

To keep ourselves accountable, we would tweet our weight loss progress daily (I have also kept track of my progress in the sidebar of my blog, as well as on Beeminder).

Wherein I Learn The Axioms of Dieting

There’s nothing quite like a diet to completely focus your attention, at all times, on food. As I took off the pounds — and as I would sometimes stall out and start putting the pounds back on — I began learning the following truths about dieting:

  • The scale rules your life. I am currently weighing myself every day. I do this because if I weigh myself only weekly, I am vigilant about my diet only when the next weigh-in approaches, and say to myself immediately after a weigh-in, “Well, now I have a little time to goof off before buckling down and getting serious about food again.” When I weigh myself every day, I never get to say that.
  • If you don’t want to weigh yourself, you absolutely must weigh yourself. Some days, I wake up thinking, “I just don’t want to weigh myself today.” On those days, it’s absolutely critical that I weigh myself. Because if I don’t want to weigh myself, it’s because I know I’ve done something that is going to show up on the scale. Which is to say, I’ve never led an error-free day on my diet and then not wanted to weigh myself. When I have screwed up, diet-wise, however, I rarely want to see what the consequences look like, because I generally have a pretty good idea that they won’t be good. And only by stepping on the scale and seeing the “effect” part of the whole cause-and-effect of cheating on your diet have I started to get better at not cheating. Or at least at not cheating as severely and often.
  • Scales are evil. Sometimes you’re doing everything right and you still don’t lose much weight. Or any weight. Or sometimes you even gain weight. This is because bathroom scales are evil, spiteful, hateful things that don’t take your feelings into account at all. That said, I’ve found that scales don’t hold a grudge forever. If I continue to hold my line, diet-wise, the scale will eventually — begrudgingly — yield up some positive results.
  • Your weight doesn’t always tell you how well you’re doing. No matter how hard you exercise, sometimes you don’t lose weight. And I’ve found in fact that sometimes if you exercise hard enough, your weight will spike sharply upward for the next few days. This is because of inflammation and water retention after a hard workout, and it will slope off after a couple days, revealing how much you’ve actually lost while it looked like you were gaining.
  • Backsliding isn’t worth it. I’ve discovered that when I abandon my diet for a day and eat whatever I want, it takes about four days for me to claw my way back to where I was before I lost control. That’s a lot of time and effort spent on getting to where I was…instead of on moving forward.
  • Backsliding is occasionally totally worth it. Nobody’s perfect. Once in a while I discombobulate and eat everything in the fridge, and then I go to the neighbor’s house and eat everything in their fridge too. And then I apologize and give them some money and advise them to improve the security of their premises. But here’s the thing: as I am eating, I know I’m screwing up and sabotaging myself, and I don’t care. I just want to eat. No, “want” is the wrong word. When I lose my dieting willpower, I lose it entirely. I don’t want to eat, I simply am eating. I must eat. There is nothing in the world but eating. Eventually I come back to my senses, and then assess the damage I have done, both to myself and to those around me (“Sorry I ate your hand”).
  • If you ever meet an expert, you will find you are dieting wrong. A couple of days ago, I tweeted what I considered (and continue to consider) to be a self evident truth: “There’s nothing quite as effective as a diet for making all your waking thoughts center around food.” Immediately a number of Very Smart Experts on diet jumped in, telling me what a bad job I must be doing on my diet. But you know what? Those people don’t know the way my mind works, they don’t know the way I publicly hold my feet to the fire in order to keep myself honest, they don’t know me. And they don’t know you, either. Experts generally love to share their expertise. But that doesn’t mean they are right. 
  • Your diet is super-interesting…to you. And you only. I wasn’t kidding when I said that my diet has consumed all my thinking. And I am afraid that I have subjected The Hammer to relentless speculation on my weight loss so far, why the working parts of my diet work, why the non-working parts have failed, my current trajectory of weight loss, colorful and protracted descriptions of my hunger, and much much more. Lucky her! Except I’ve noticed that her eyes have started glossing over when I talk about my diet chronicles. Which is…always

The Most Important Axioms of Dieting

You know what, though? That’s all the small stuff. Here are the real things I’ve learned. The things I’m hoping I can use to actually keep most of this weight off.

  1. Your diet probably works. My diet — lots of protein and fat via egg whites and avocados — is strange, but it works great for me. I don’t get tired of it, I’m very healthy, and it’s easy. But other diets would work, too. Really, any reasonably well-thought-out regimen would probably work…if you stick to it. It’s when you start slacking on diets that you stop losing weight. 
  2. When you screw up, don’t abandon the day. Sometimes you’re going to mess up. Fine, whatever. Just get back to it. Limit the damage of the day instead of saying, “I’ll start fresh tomorrow.” 
  3. When your diet isn’t working, there’s a reason. Sometimes you’re just going to plateau for a few days, sometimes your weight is going to spike because of inflammation, and sometimes your diet might stop working because you’ve stopped doing it right. This happened to me at one point during this diet. I had gone from occasionally putting yolks in my eggs to always putting yolks in my eggs. And more cheese. And I was snarfing a spoonful of peanut butter — which was supposed to be my safety net for when I was going to otherwise completely lose it — several times per day. Astonishingly (not), I was no longer losing weight. When I cut the yolks and peanut butter out — that is, when I started following the original rules of the diet — I started losing again.

But staying on your diet is easy — relatively — when you’re at home. When you’re traveling or stuck at a conference or a week-long meeting, it’s not so easy. 

Last week, though, I managed to drop two pounds in six days while traveling. Which is what I’ll talk about in my next post.

Warning: It’s not pretty.


  1. Comment by Anonymous | 03.25.2013 | 1:32 pm

    “There’s nothing quite as effective as a diet for making all your waking thoughts centre around food.”

    Truer words have never been spoken.

  2. Comment by 1speedlos | 03.25.2013 | 1:51 pm

    You’ve discovered the most important thing about nutrition- not everyone needs the same diet.
    We’re individuals, and have individual nutritional requirements.
    Congrats on the weight loss!


  3. Comment by Hamer | 03.25.2013 | 2:17 pm

    I totally agree with your “expert opinions” part. There are sooo many opinions about food in general, weight loss, training plans, etc. Sometimes I think the more I learn, the more I realized that I don’t know anything. Listen to your body, be consistent. That’s my fit-fat mantra.

  4. Comment by Skye | 03.25.2013 | 3:04 pm

    “This is because bathroom scales are evil, spiteful, hateful things that don’t take your feelings into account at all.”

    I am housesitting for some very nice former neighbor ladies and I was recently considering leaving them a note about the rudeness of their bathroom scale, because everytime I ask it how I’m doing, it says mean things. Probably they already know their scale is a bully though, so I’ll probably just compensate myself for emotional damages by eating some of the m&ms in their candy dish. And the cycle repeats….

  5. Comment by Jenni | 03.25.2013 | 3:06 pm

    Can you link back to the avocados and eggs post?

  6. Comment by Jenni | 03.25.2013 | 3:15 pm

    Never mind…

  7. Comment by Davidh-Marin,ca | 03.25.2013 | 3:21 pm

    The problem with superior ‘downhill muscle’ is that when you backslide it’s much harder to stop. I was reading this at DelTaco (macho combo, medium size, diet coke) and telling myself this must stop! Well, I was telling myself after reading your words of wisdom, but I was telling myself none the less.

    I’m curious about the timing of this diet, ending as it does before the Easter Bunny comes calling in Utah. Coincidence or plan? I think the twins might want to up their own security from domestic raiders come next weekend.

    Good job Fatty?

  8. Comment by randy | 03.25.2013 | 3:38 pm

    Funny, I am losing weight with egg yolks, lots of ‘em. But you are right, you are your own best doctor, so do what works for you. Then only thing I would add that while a diet “works” for weight loss, it may not be healthy. It doesn’t hurt to get a blood draw once or twice a year to ensure that you are getting proper nutrition and that your body is still insulin sensitive.

    keep up the good work.

  9. Comment by Davidh-Marin,ca | 03.25.2013 | 4:34 pm

    Who had to take the picture?

  10. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.25.2013 | 5:04 pm

    It all sounds so ephemeral when you say it.

    My diets just sound like sweating torture, and not the fun kind of sweating torture that involves bikes and hills.

  11. Comment by roan | 03.25.2013 | 7:24 pm

    Ah, have you been able to view Adam’s weight loss ?
    Sorry I’ve only skinned today’s post…kinda afraid I might gain too much knowledge…that has been a problem in the past.
    Hoping you DON’T have to order the cyclist shorts from ASSOS for Adam…also hoping for a ‘kissing your sister’ finish.
    If by ‘chance’ you lose this contest expect to pay triple damages for one pair of cycling shorts for all the advertising you have given gratis.

    Adam and I are both very solid bets for finishing at or below 158. He’s been as low as 156.6; I’ve been as low as 158.0. At this point it would be a huge surprise if either of us finished this week above 158. – FC

  12. Comment by Wife#1 | 03.25.2013 | 9:25 pm

    Too funny and yet… too damn true to be funny!

    Now picture yourself torturing everyone you know with your diet for 82 weeks and well hello there! Welcome to my world, wherein dwells my poor suffering family and friends. And I’m only on week 24 of 82, with just 77 of the 160 pounds targeted lost so far. (David notes that I’ll be losing myself a “skinny Fatty” by the time I’m done.

    Or maybe I’ll never be done! You see while 960 calories a day was working great when I was not really exercising, now that I am burning 450 to 700 extra calories every day between the gym, walking and cycling, somehow eating an extra 300-400 calories (all that exercise makes me hungry) seems to have totally s l o w e d my weight loss. In fact this week doing the most cycling yet, I managed to gain 2.6 pounds over a 5 day period, even eating under 1500 kcals every day. Though one of those new pounds was gone this morning.

    Inflammation? The deuce you say. I just want it gone, gone dammit. I was supposed to hit my 80 pound loss by March 30. *grumble, grumble*

    Oh and if you think ONE scale is evil (and it is, those thangs are satan encased in sleek, sexy digital hell-boxes), then try maintaining a relationship with TWO of them. I have to weigh in weekly at the doctor’s in addition to my own daily home weigh-ins. Like you I find that daily is a must do. The doctor’s, at night, with clothing on, after eating and drinking, with the lunar tides working against me… aaarrghh! Two scales!

    Hmmm, I think I may have burned a few kcals during this rant. Must go strip down, pee and jump on the scale in the event I am down another few ounces.

    But in all seriousness (oh wait, I was being serious), congrats on being away from home and still losing 2 pounds! Awesome. You have this thing nailed. Stick to your magic formula and you’re golden by this weekend.

  13. Comment by Tom in Albany | 03.26.2013 | 6:01 am

    Great job, Fatty. Can’t wait for the next post!

  14. Comment by Tom in Albany | 03.26.2013 | 6:19 am

    I just read the ‘egg man’ post. I have to say I LOVE the yolk. I go to great pains keeping it in tact. But, man, the cholesterol content…

    Maybe egg-whites with avocado – when in season – would be a lovely substitute!

  15. Comment by The Banter | 03.26.2013 | 7:38 am

    It’s a shame that there aren’t more places on the internet to find pictures of people topless.

  16. Comment by GenghisKhan | 03.26.2013 | 8:00 am

    @ The Banter – Ha! and LOL!

  17. Comment by Daddy style | 03.26.2013 | 8:19 am

    I can relate, Lost 20 lbs in a month, no one was interested in my efforts and I was was cranky. Got the job done though.

    As “they” say, “Eatin is cheatin”

  18. Comment by UpTheGrade SR,CA | 03.26.2013 | 9:03 am

    Fatty, you inspired me, and I am halfway to my goal of losing 30lbs. My biggest fear is that I’ll have to keep dieting permanently to keep it off and food craving will dominate my every waking thought, and some of my dreams, forevermore!

  19. Comment by JayZer | 03.26.2013 | 10:27 am

    Exactly my experiences. It feels great to not be uniquely abnormal. I recognize that photo.

    Down 20 and on a plateau now, but not gaining. Almost never pigging, but eating what I want. New and hopefully permanent habits. And when I choose to lose, I know exactly what to do, and that takes the focus FC describes.

    Trying to do this without a fixed goal, just to be healthy, keep improving and getting faster. For me, I would get to the goal and too likely to relapse. It is all working now. I am saying nice things to and about myself.

    How tall is the FC?

  20. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 03.26.2013 | 11:14 am

    @JayZer The claim is 5′-7″ But he is getting older, and we know what happens to the spine with age. We’ll need to find a scale for Davis where we can have “tons” of fun with it.

  21. Comment by Kiwi | 03.26.2013 | 3:29 pm

    Good on you on taking the pic and knowing one diet may work for one but not another.

    Here to you not having to buy those shorts!

    I’ve been cursing the inevitable between my mouth and stomach lately.
    I’ve been surrounded by such good food lately, I was finally under 250 for a week solid, and then food came in and I’m back up over 250 (which is still awesome cause I started at 310 4 years ago!).

    I need to lose more weight before my Tour de Cure Diabetes ride and before LIVESTRONG (link to both fundraisers on my webpage *hint, hint*). I would love to be under 240 for both of those! If so, my ride will be so much easier than last year, and make my longer routes that much easier!

    Go you, and go everyone else who is losing weight right now!

  22. Comment by VaLene Hulme | 03.26.2013 | 5:33 pm


    I can relate to ALL of those bullet points! I love how you’re not afraid to use the word “diet.” I’m tired of that word becoming taboo and replaced with “lifestyle change.” If I’m restricting breads, sugar, brownies and cookies, and going to bed with a slightly hungry tummy, it is a DIET. It’s just a word. Great job reaching your goal.

  23. Comment by the Putti | 03.27.2013 | 5:58 am

    Way to go Fatty.

    I myself am down 22 lbs since Janruary 1st. No exotic diets for me. I simply used myfitnesspal to track my calorie intake. Totally worked for me. It really helped my with portion control and decision making … “Should I eat the 1000 calroie burger with 4 lbs of bacon, 2 lbs of cheese, and 1 lb of mayo or the sensible salad for 500 calroies?”

  24. Comment by Leroy | 03.27.2013 | 7:09 am

    Your 3 last points are good ones. I had a similar challenge like yours starting January. Thought I’d be way ahead of you since I only needed to drop 15 lbs. That didn’t quite happen, but your weight listings kept me going. Just hit the 15 lb goal.

    Good luck on bet. I own one set of Assos bib shorts (bike store discounted its last pair). I have to admit they feel really nice.

    According to my dog, seeing an old fat guy in Lycra is unfortunate. Being the old fat guy in Lycra is worse.

  25. Comment by Fat Cathy | 03.27.2013 | 9:32 am

    I want to thank you for posting your topless picture, Fatty. I’m currently on my own weight loss regimen and was having a snack when I pulled up your blog. That picture totally made me lose my appetite. Thanks! I really didn’t need those extra calories.

  26. Comment by GenghisKhan | 03.27.2013 | 11:57 am

    Awesome effort. I forget, though, what happens if you both reach your weight loss goal?

  27. Comment by jon (a clyde from Chi-town) | 03.27.2013 | 1:21 pm

    A few more tidbits of wisdom learned the hard way…

    1) If you are interested in losing weight, but in a more casual way, and your wife says, let’s go all in, you need to be cautious about the success you experience… If, maybe, say, for the second time in your marriage, you happen to have more success than your spouse, be wary… Be very wary…

    2)… Screw it, just worry about number 1…

    Keep it up!

  28. Comment by Brad | 03.28.2013 | 3:42 pm

    Where is the after picture???

  29. Comment by Diane | 04.3.2013 | 3:43 am

    Loving the T-Shirt tan Fatty, Next time you go out go topless lol.

  30. Comment by Jenny | 04.5.2013 | 2:17 am

    nice pic Fatty – You are looking quite trim and nice now x

  31. Comment by Rick Travoni | 04.16.2013 | 11:58 pm

    Holy ketosis, well, that’s one way to get it done, albeit painfully and depravingly so. The fat you eat is the fat you wear. Nice job FC! CTFU

  32. Comment by | 05.1.2013 | 7:00 am

    It is perfect time to make some plans for the future and it’s time to be happy. I’ve read this post
    and if I could I desire to suggest you some interesting things or tips.

    Perhaps you could write next articles referring to this article.
    I want to read more things about it!

  33. Comment by Power Pump XL Review | 05.1.2013 | 3:49 pm

    As the name suggests, natural bodybuilding is naturally to build
    one’s body. If you only lift ten pounds routinely, your muscles will grow to meet that need and no more. One mistake that people who want to build muscles quickly but have no information is the lack of information regarding how much they should eat in order to grow muscles.

  34. Pingback by What Is A Good Weight Gainer Supplement For Women | best supplements for body builders | 05.14.2013 | 8:58 pm

    [...] these guys will match free shipping and give you the pricematch as well.Powered by Yahoo! AnswersSharon asks…which site is better to buy supplement from GNC or Gilliland…tent">which site is better to buy supplement from GNC or Gilliland [...]


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.