Ten years of losing it

I was taking a break this morning and updating my WordPress install (as one does), and noticed a couple of posts in my “on this day” sidebar: Losing It and Five years of losing it. So, if my math is right, that means it’s been about ten years since I started trying to lose weight.

I started out (in 2013) at around 230 pounds. And, as of five years ago, I had hit 135. Somewhere during 2020, I started going back up again, and I’m now around 155. I’ve been trying to stop going up and maybe course-correct to get myself back down to 150. And then I want to see if I can stay there. I think that would be a nice healthy weight.

But I’ve been having some trouble with discipline. I’ve been snacking a lot, often on stuff that I know has more calories than I want to acknowledge. (For instance, the nice peanut butter cookies from the coffee shop across the street from my apartment…)

I may continue to have trouble with snacking, given that there’s a fancy French bakery opening up on just downstairs from my apartment soon. But maybe being back in the office three days a week will help me out. There’s no good coffee shop or bakery near enough to the office to tempt me, so my afternoon snack when I’m in the office is usually just an office coffee and a granola bar.

Well, either way, here’s my weight graph over the last ten years. If nothing else, I’ve stayed consistent about weighing myself every day and recording all of my meals and snacks.

a graph of my weight over the last ten years
a graph of my weight over the last ten years

Five years of losing it

I just realized today that I’ve recently hit the five-year mark since I decided to start losing weight. Here’s a blog post from five years ago today where I discuss my initial progress. (I didn’t mention my starting weight in that post, but it was 230 pounds.)

I’m still tracking all of my meals with Lose It, and I still subscribe to their premium version. I’m including a graph of my weight over the last five years here. So far this year, I’ve basically maintained my weight at 135 (+/- 2 pounds). I’m pretty comfortable at this weight, so that’s fine. (Though I’d kind of like to get down to 130, just so that I can say I lost an even 100 pounds. But that’s probably not a good idea.)

The green line on the graph is from the last time I set an actual goal weight in Lose It: 160 pounds. Once I hit that weight, I stopped actively trying to lose weight, and just kind of let things go until I bottomed out at a stable weight, which, for me, is apparently 135. I’m sticking with a goal of about 2100 calories per day, and I’m usually right around there (+/- 200).

I’ve also done well on the exercise front, at least in terms of step count. I almost always hit at least 7500 steps a day and often go over 10,000. I never really did adopt any other exercise habits though. I never joined a gym or anything like that.

I don’t really have any profound weight loss insights to share here. If you’re looking to lose weight, different things are going to work for different people. For me, I think this is the stuff that was key:

  • Tracking all of my calories. Anything less than that makes it too easy to trick yourself into thinking you’re doing well, when it fact you’re still eating way too much.
  • Packing my own lunch every day and not going out for lunch anymore. (I still go out occasionally, but maybe just once or twice a month.) It’s not hard to do, if you can figure out a few things you like to eat that stay within your calorie budget and aren’t hard to prepare and toss in a bag every day.
  • Drinking mostly water. I’ve just about stopped drinking juice, beer, soda, and sweetened iced tea. (I still drink a lot of coffee, but there aren’t many calories in that, if you don’t load it up with milk and sugar.)
  • In addition to the Lose It book I mentioned in the original post, this book on Volumetrics was pretty useful too.

The Carnegie Deli

I haven’t been to the Carnegie Deli in quite some time, but I’ll sure miss it. I wanted to go back one more time before they closed, but I never got around to it. Here’s a letter to the Times from the owner of Katz’s. (Speaking of which, I’m not sure I’ve ever been to Katz’s. I should fix that.) And here’s some last photos from the Carnegie from Gothamist. My current calorie budget doesn’t really allow for frequent pastrami sandwiches and cheesecake, but once in a while, I can make an exception.

Conlin’s Cafe

There’s a new cafe/bakery in Somerville, across the street from my apartment. It’s in a storefront that’s been vacant for a few years, and had previously been used for a succession of three or four bagel shops. These were all traditional NJ bagel shops, and all of them were pretty good. Since the last one closed, there really hasn’t been a good place in Somerville to get a fresh bagel. (This may have actually helped quite a bit with my weight loss over the last few years.) Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks have bagels, of course, but they’re not really bagels, if you know what I mean.

I’ve been to the new place once, and had a sandwich and cappuccino. They were both OK, but not amazing or anything. I need to try their bagels and see if they’re any good.

There are now three places in town that could reasonably be described as “coffee shops”: Starbucks, Dragonfly, and Conlin’s (the new place). There was an interesting article in The Guardian recently about how coffee shops have become a signifier of urban change. Something does seem to be happening to Somerville, with new, expensive, apartment buildings going up, and fancier stores on Main Street. I guess I can’t complain about any change that allows me access to better coffee. But I hope my rent remains affordable.

losing it

I decided recently that I really need to lose some weight. So I started using Lose It about two weeks ago, to track my calories. I also bought (and read) their book. I’m not sure if my scale is accurate enough to say whether or not I’ve really lost any weight yet, but, if it is, then I’ve lost a couple of pounds. My goal is one pound a week, until I’ve lost 30 pounds, so, if that works, I should hit my goal in mid-March 2014. Assuming that Lose It is giving me correct numbers about my calorie budget, then I don’t think I’ll have a huge problem sticking with the program. I’ve stayed within my calorie budget every day so far, though I’ve had to make some guesses about calories recently, so I don’t know if I’ve *really* stayed within the budget.

The last several days have been a bit rough.  I went out to dinner with a friend on Wednesday, and had a meatball parm sandwich, which was definitely a bad idea. Then, we had a department lunch on Thursday at an Italian restaurant. We had three entree choices, and I ordered the one that seemed likely to have the fewest calories, but it probably still had more calories than I wanted. Then, on Friday, we had a department barbeque, which I just skipped out on. But another friend wanted to go out for dinner Friday night, so I did that, and had a small steak. Saturday was fine; I only ate good stuff that I knew the calorie count on. But today, I went downhill a bit again, since I went out to brunch with my brother (banana pancakes), then picked up a couple of empanadas at the Somerville Jazz Festival this afternoon. (They were from a restaurant here on Main St that makes *great* empanadas!) If I guessed right on calorie counts, then I’m still within my budget. But who knows, really?

I should be able to do reasonably well in this coming week. We’ve got no work events that should cause me to deviate from eating relatively low-calorie lunches. I don’t have any particular plans for going out to dinner, but I probably will once or twice. I’ll just have to be careful.

On the exercise front, I’m just trying to get in a lot of walking. The weather has been pretty good, so it hasn’t been a problem to do a fair amount of walking. I’m worried about keeping that up once it gets cold out though. I’ve been looking around at cheap treadmills that would fit in my apartment, or a local gym that’s got treadmills. (We have a gym at work, but I’m not that enthusiastic about it, for several reasons.) The treadmill thing is actually turning into a challenge. I haven’t found a local store that actually carries manual treadmills, which is what I’d need to buy if I want a reasonably-priced, compact, folding, model. I can just order one from Amazon, but I’d really like to check one out first. And, on the gym front, there’s a new fitness place opening on Main St, but they only have exercise bikes, no treadmills. I also tried the local YMCA, but I had trouble finding anyone to talk to there, so I have no idea if they have treadmills or not. I may have to try calling them during the week.

I don’t want to turn my blog into a diet and fitness blog, but I thought there would be some value in writing this up, for future reference. If I meet my goal in March, then I can look back and see where I started. And, if I don’t, maybe I can look back and figure out what I did wrong!


A friend gave me some zucchini from his garden, so I’ve decided to try making some ratatouille. I’ve never even eaten ratatouille, never mind cooked it, but it seems like something I should try. There are quite a few recipes out there on the internet: the weird one from the Pixar film, an interesting, but time-consuming, one here, one with mushrooms over here, and what I’m guessing is a tradional French version here. I think I’m going to go with something that’s kind of a combination of recipes from two cookbooks I’ve got here at home.


I took a shot at making risotto tonight. It turned out OK, but not great. The rice wasn’t quite the right consistency, but it tasted good. I’m not sure if I screwed something up, or if the rice I was using just wasn’t good. Either way, I’m definitely going to try again at some point.
I basically made up my own recipe, using this random recipe and this Alton Brown recipe as a basis, along with this very useful page of general information. I saw the Good Eats episode on risotto quite some time ago, and I’ve been meaning to try it since then.
Just for future reference, I used mushrooms, asparagus, vegetable stock, Pinot Grigio, and fontina cheese, along with the other obvious ingredients (rice, onion, etc).