The Dirty Truths about Losing Weight

Weight-Loss involves a lot of Math and Discipline. Notice that these two factors are what most Americans lack/fear. And with this in mind, think of all of the celebrity endorsements of equipment that will more likely gather dust in your house or of those milk-shakes/prepared meals that will make you spend more money on than actual groceries! Keep in mind that they are getting paid to lose the weight (with huge amounts of money!) whereas all you have is well…none of that. But it can be done on the cheap as long as you can keep in mind how much work it really takes.

The First Part of Discipline: Math and A lot of Digging!

There is no way around it. After loosing 5 lbs so far (no..not in water weight!) I found out why the Dieting Industry is filled with pills, juices, powers, canned foods, prepared meals and support groups. The cheapest way to loose weight lies in your own damn kitchen, but it involves using A LOT OF MATH:

Food Scale: shows how much you can really put on your plate before eating it.

Food Scale: shows how much you can really put on your plate before eating it.

If you are lucky enough to use the FitBit basic free program, you can enter all kinds of common brand-name foods and ingredients you can find in your local supermarket or even at a fast food place. And depending on your weight loss goals, your jaw will drop as you find out how much one “serving” of your favorite food is versus how much you think you can eat. Hence, the use of a food scale that easily converts to ounces, grams, and milliliters will have you cutting your burgers into quarters or tacos in halves before eating any of them.  In short, eating out is a pain when restaurants can’t be honest about how much food they serve you or not willing to post their nutritional value. Which is why eating out became sporadic and almost none-existent to us. The hardest part (when away from home) is resisting temptation. This is especially true when you are focused on mentally-draining tasks and you can’t really gauge accurately between wanting to snack or needing to eat due to real hunger. 😦 So you have to resort to more home cooked meals instead of buying those prepared frozen meals that have more sodium than a bottle of soy sauce.

Reminds me of airplane food while being stuck in an 8-hour flight.

Reminds me of airplane food while being stuck in an 8-hour flight.

Home cooked meals are your best aid to healthier eating and weight loss, but once again, it involves A LOT OF MATH and DISCIPLINE!  Hell, my cooking has changed from healthy, flavor-heavy cooking to healthy/portion controlled cooking to minimize caloric intake:

Food Science in a nut shell :(

Food Science in a nut shell 😦

It is still daunting for me because I can’t be as liberal with oils or other flavor enhancers unless they have ZERO calories (like spices and vinegar). And once a home cooked meal is made, it has to weighted to know exactly how much of a serving really is, calorie-wise.  Writing down every single ingredient of the meal also helps with this tedious process. I call it tedious because after a long-exhausting day, you just want to give into instinct and grab a bowl-full or a plate-full of food, damned the consequences.

The Second Part of Discipline: A Condescending Pedometer

My pedometer, which counts steps, shows how many calories I burn based on age and weight, also likes to remind me when I need to be more active:

Discretion is key to show you how lazy you really are..

Discretion is key to show you how lazy you really are..

If I am standing or sitting too long, the display screen will show the above image within the 2-3 hour period. If more time passes, it will show the image of a dead spider or what looks like a digital turd/rock/bean/whatever it really is.  It changes to a happy face after 2 hours in the gym or long-walk on the nearby trail. But the little thing is only happy for about 15 minutes until it goes back to its condescending nature.

The Third Part: Avoid suffering alone!

Since weight loss is mentally and physically taxing, it takes a lot of will power and determination to stay on track and not to cheat (or cheat too much!). This is why paid support groups/weight-loss programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers make a lot of money while offering people help/encouragement/reminders to avoid temptation and re-program one’s eating habits. If you have ever tried dieting alone, one thing that always happens is trying to eat a tiny salad while the person sitting next to you eats a plate full of Chicken Alfredo. The feelings of resentment/temptation can urge you to quit! This is why I am lucky to have Cutie on board with this: if you or your partner wants/needs to loose weight, the only way to succeed is to do so as a team. He helps me with the cooking while I help him stay more active because this journey is hard as hell, which brings to another discovery…

On your least active days, you WILL go hungry else you will go over your caloric consumption.

On days when I hit the gym, then go walking 3-4 miles with Cutie, I can indulge on either more than one serving of dinner or a freaking desert (our favorite has become ice cream sandwiches because they are satisfying and low-caloric). Reason being is that your body works like a furnace: the more it works, the more fuel it needs. If that furnace is not working that hard, that left-over fuel will just sit there, insulating you or be stored for reserves. So in order for Cutie and I not to feel famished, we walk as often as daylight is present, damned the weather.  With that being said, you will notice the difference in the weirdest of ways:

When a man looses weight: “Hey my belt is getting looser!”

When a woman looses weight: “Oh crap my boobs just got smaller. Other parts of body are still the same.” 😦

Fourth Part: Being realistic

Vanity is not my reason to refrain myself from living towards a healthier lifestyle. It’s being more genetically cursed than anything else. Fear, perhaps is the biggest factor, although illness cannot truly be prevented. Maybe the goal is to have the odds in my favor. But, so what? When you are surrounded by loved ones who are getting closer to death what can you do? Or when you know you will need to be physically able to take care of loved ones when that time comes. Will you be able to handle it well or will you drop dead from a heart attack when life throws an unexpected surprise at you? I want to be able, as anyone should, to respond to a fight/flight response and survive what life throws at me. Because you never really know…

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The D&D Approach to Career Planning

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I can’t sleep. I have been surfing the web, doing research on how to become a computer programmer (and working conditions as a female programmer). The results are not promising: story after story of sexism, double-standards and proliferate abuse of the H1 Visa programs soured my mood. I had to prepare for my Career Development Appointment due this Friday and all I can come up with are reasons why I want to major in Computer Science:

– I like working with computers instead of in my old field. (And maybe less contact with large quantities of people?)

-I was tired of my old career getting ridiculously automated to the point of layoffs and did not want to continue.

-There is potential to work as an individual contractor as a programmer if I could not find full-time employment after graduating.

Not exactly a well-thought out game plan. I looked at my degree plan from my academic advisor and saw that if I were a character in a game, I would be at level 0. Not even at level 1 (Calculus is not under my belt yet). Then the idea hit me: I could make a D&D style character sheet out based on what I want to major.

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It sounds crazy and ridiculous, but upon further inspection of my old D&D character sheets, the parallels between a student and a starting character are very similar:

-You have a back story, starting your journey with  little to no possessions and your current location is a super-somewhat safe central location. You end up in a party no bigger than 6 and there is no guarantee all of you will finish your campaign.

This sounds a lot like going to the student food court for orientation the first time as a freshman.

-You start with traits that are the bare minimum in order to be the fighting class you want to be. If you didn’t have those traits (Intelligence, Dexterity, Strength) you had to switch classes. Some of those traits can be linked to your past and race.

This is very similar to having X amount of scores on entrance exams, AP Class grades just to get into the program of your choice. And if you were from a wealthy family or were lucky enough to get scholarships, you could probably afford to do a double major! From my standpoint, my chances are better if all I had to do was roll dice and add or subtract traits I didn’t need.

-Before you choose a class, you look in the Player’s Handbook at all of classes before making a choice (Fighter, Wizard, Bard, etc). Each level details what abilities you can gain as you progress in the game.

I honestly wish it were this easy to see what I would/could be 10-20 years from now following a chosen career path. Why can’t it be this way? Maybe it can be done from an academic perspective but I am not a traditional student (experienced in a full-time work environment, not a first-time college graduate).

I guess that is where the similarities end. You really can’t predict at which level you will those new skills you will need once you graduate. The best bet would be joining a professional organization that offers Credit Education Equivalencies in order to stay current with “trends”. But even that becomes murky: from past experience, after spending hundreds of dollars on classes and certifications-none were viewed as credible enough to get hired somewhere  or to help get promoted.

So I am back to square one. But at least with this method, I can organize my goals better and not waste anyone’s time at that office. (I hope!)

I want to become this! How do I become THIS?!!

I want to become this! How do I become THIS?!!