Ben’s 14 Dieting Tips

Like you, I have my own eating strengths and weaknesses. These are what worked for me; your own mileage may vary. Perhaps the most important thing to take away from this list is that your approach should be unique and dynamic. Some of these are even contradictory. Go with what works for you. It is my hope that you’ll find at least one tip below that helps you. Good luck.

  1. Get what you measure. Buy a BMI scale and use it every morning. Record the results (date, weight and BMI) on a piece of paper taped to the back of your bathroom door. You will immediately begin to see the results of your efforts, and the cost of falling off the wagon. Costco sells the one I bought for $30, so you no longer have the excuse of “they’re too expensive.” Also, keep a diary of everything you eat, and add up the calories every day. Once you get in a groove, you’ll know the calorie value of almost everything you eat.
  2. In minus out. It’s simple, and axiomatic: the calories you burn, through exercise and just by being alive, minus the calories you eat, equals your weight loss or gain. If you really can’t live without your favorite calorie bomb, then ratchet up your daily exercise so you can literally have your cake and lose weight too. That’s what I did in the beginning, before my appetite returned to “normal” from “XL”. (For example, I used to eat four or five slices of regular pizza. Now I usually have one (Costco slice) or two (regular slices)).
  3. One day at a time. Develop daily routines of low-cal eating and exercise. I’ve had several favorite foods that I ate daily for weeks or months to lose weight:
    • beef jerky (the only food sold in a convenience store that’s not bad for you),
    • Slim Jims
    • nuts (Get the individual portions, not the huge container. Also, I found eating two 2 oz. packages of nuts a day (like those sold at Costco) will stall weight loss. Get 1 oz. packages.)
    • rice crisps
    • etamames (cooked soy beans), and
    • veggie crisps.
    For exercise, I walked 4-6 miles every weekday when I was losing weight, and 0-4 miles now that I’m at my goal.
  4. Waste your money. My wife had a brilliant insight that’s saved me countless pounds: when it comes to food, suspend your normal impulse to get the most bang for your buck. What does she mean? Well, if you go to Walmart, you can buy a pound of Reese’s Pieces for $2.50. Instead, go to the snack machine and pay nearly a dollar for one ounce. Hey, if it helps you lose weight or keeps you from getting fat, it’s an excellent waste of money!
  5. Get a good wife. If your wife is on the “eat healthy” page with you, and she does the grocery shopping and cooking, then you’re going to have an easier time of it. If she’s not, and she’s bringing home potato chips and ice cream, and cooking with a deep fryer, then you’re gonna have a hard time. Losing weight is a lot like quitting smoking. It’s much harder to do if your spouse isn’t doing it too. God bless my wife.
  6. Atkins wisdom:
    • “There are five things that make Americans fat:
      1. alcohol
      2. rice
      3. pasta
      4. bread, and
      5. potatoes.”
      Of course, there’s sweets and steak too, but the list is still a powerful distillation of wisdom. When I approach a smorgasbord, I try to stay away from those five things.
  7. Weight Watchers wisdom:
    • “Just because you were brought up to always clean your plate doesn’t mean you have to. If you’re full, ignore your upbringing and leave the remainder on the plate.” Especially if it’s one of the five items above. (A corrolary is not to load your plate with too much food to begin with).
    • “You aren’t here at Weight Watchers because you’ve got a problem with fruit. So eat as much fruit as you want.” Ditto for unadorned veggies.
  8. Booze = cookies. Alcohol is the densest form of calories in the world. But that’s not why it makes you fat. Alcohol makes you fat because you lose self control after a few drinks and, in my case, dive into the chocolate chip cookies (i.e., eat a dozen or more). If you’re going to drink, make sure the cupboard is bare and someone sober has your car keys.
  9. It’s Biblical. Know your weaknesses and avoid temptations. Mine are chocolate chip cookies, Hershey’s chocolate bars with almonds, and Deborah Ann’s English Toffee. I have two ways home from work. One takes me by Deborah Ann’s Sweet Shoppe, the other doesn’t. I usually take the latter.
  10. Surrender. Do not deprive yourself of your favorite food. I have some form of chocolate nearly every day. Some days I may eat two Hershey bars. They’re only 240 calories, which I can scrimp from other meals on a good day.
  11. Get back on that horse. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall off your horse. If losing weight were easy, the US wouldn’t have an obesity epedemic. It’s hard. So don’t berate yourself for not being perfect. No matter how fat you are, there are likely millions of Americans who are fatter that you are. If you fall off, tell yourself (truthfully) you have more self control than they do, and get back on that horse.
  12. Never. Always. Never eat “unconsciously.” For example, if you’re parked in front of the TV with a big bag of Doritos, you’re not really paying attention to the Doritos. You’ll probably kill the whole bag, because you’re eating unconsciously. Always eat consciously. I try not to eat when I’m driving or doing something else. I focus on the food and the flavor, especially if it’s chocolate.
  13. Six feet away. Studies show that you consume less than half of whatever you’re eating if the source of it is at least six feet away. So, don’t take the carton of ice cream to the couch. Take two scoops in a bowl. Make yourself get up and go back to the freezer to get more. That’s why I keep my beef jerky in the trunk of my car. I take three ounces out for breakfast, and eat it on the way to work. In order to have a second helping, I have to pull over and open the trunk. It hasn’t happened once.
  14. 600 feet away. When I was losing weight, I would park at the farthest corner of the mall parking lot. My kids hated it, but at least they got to go to the mall. The key is to find some way to make exercise a family activity. Everything’s easier with family.
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