My Quantified Diet Project

quantified-dietThe holidays are almost upon us and soon people will start to gorge on food. Then they’ll start a new years resolution to try and lose all that excess weight…it’s a vicious cycle and I’ve been there. For the past 2 months I’ve been running an experiment that is strictly based on numbers – I’ve been tracking EVERYTHING that that goes into my body (food) or gets burned (exercise). This experiment is part of a bigger movement called the quantified self – which is using technology to track all the various numbers and bring some science to the idea of losing weight.

Step 1: The first thing I had to figure out is how much I weigh and how overweight I was. The standard that most clinicians use is the body mass index (BMI) or Quetelet index, which is a measure of my mass and height. You can use this calculator to find your BMI. Now you have your BMI number and number of pounds/kilos you are overweight by. (My BMI was 26.6, which puts me in the overweight category)

Step 2: Next, I needed to figure out how many calories my body typically needs which is known as the basal metabolic rate (BMR). This calculator can help (another one – calorie intake and BMI). I’ve found that the online calculators have a wide variance, so you’ll have to average it out or just pick one and go with it. (My calorie consumption is around 2,400 per day).

Step 3:  Figure out your target BMI. People will take drugs to lower their cholesterol number so they can be in the healthy range but for some reason people just don’t care about the BMI. For me it was not only about losing weight but also getting into the healthy range of the BMI index. I decided to shoot for 23.5. That works out to about 173 lbs. which means I have a goal to shed 23 lbs.

Step 4: How many pounds do you want to lose per week? It’s easy to say I want to lose a pound a week but when you look at it mathematically it’s not so easy. As a rule of thumb, 1 pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. So to lose 1 pound you would need to cut 500 calories per day either from your diet or increase your exercise. For me to lose 1 pound a week, I needed cut my calories to around 2,200 and also ran 20 minutes a day…everyday.

Step 5: Track your calories and exercise. For calories I used the MyFitnessPal app, it’s got a massive database of food that you can select from to track your calories consumed. Since I run, I used the Nike+ running app and then would add the calories burned into MyFitnessPal.

Implementing the above system, I was very surprised of the preliminary results. I was able to drop about 15 lbs. in 10 weeks which is more than I expected. As always, your mileage will vary and the real test will be for me to sustain this level of heightened awareness and determination in the long run.

Also, I would suggest reading Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. It’s eye opening to see how the food we eat is actually created by big companies.

[November 10, 2014 – 3 month update]

  • Started at 89 kg (195.8 lbs.)
  • Now at 80.9 kg (177.98 lbs.)
  • Shed 8.1 kg (17.82 lbs.)
  • 1 sugar packet = 1 suger cube = 4 grams of sugar = 16 calories (a 20 oz bottle of Coke has 65 grams of sugar or about 16 sugar packets)
  • Ran 20 minutes a day (87 out of 90 days)
  • I’ve come to realize 80% of the weight loss was from reducing my calorie intake and the other 20% was from physical activity

[December 10, 2014 – 4 month update]

  • Now at 79.0 kg (173.8 lbs.)
  • Shed 10.0 kg (22.0 lbs.)
  • Ran 20 minutes a day (118 out of 122 days)
  • portion control, portion control, portion control…did I mention portion control?

[March 10, 2015 – 7 month update]

  • Now at 78.0 kg (171.6 lbs.)
  • Shed 11.0 kg (24.2 lbs.)

[May 12, 2015 – 9 month update]

  • Now at 77.2 kg (169.8 lbs.)
  • Shed 11.8 kg (26 lbs.)

UPDATEMy 1 year update and some thoughts about the process.

Half-Marathon Training Starts Now

2010_mumbai_marathon_200It’s that time of year where I start to train for the Bombay half-marathon.  I’m going to start training this week but with the Indian holidays the real training will start from the first week of November.

In the past I’ve run for fun, but this time I wanted to work towards a certain time.  So I’m going on record with my goals and looking to achieve them.

My Goals:

  1. Finish the half in under 2 hours.  My previous times for the Bombay half-marathon were 2:15 (2006), 2:15 (2008) and 2:07 (2009). In order to achieve my goal I need to run 9:10 min/mile (5:41 min/km).
  2. 100 push-ups in one stretch by January 17
  3. Drop to 176 lbs. (80 kg)

Currently:

  1. My pace is around 9:41 min/mile (6:01 min/km)
  2. 64 push-ups
  3. 187 lbs. (85 kg). This time a year ago, I was around 200 lbs. Due to yoga, diet and nutritional changes I was able to shed the pounds.  I’ve been able to maintain it for a year and reached a plateau at 184 lbs. and need to break through it.

260 Weeks of Talking Smack

260_monthsFor all you math geeks, today marks the 5th anniversary of this blog. A lot has changed with blogging and many things have not.  I decided I would take this opportunity to talk about several things: brief history of my blog, the future of blogging, general observations and blog analytics.

Brief history of my blog & the future of blogging
I never meant to setup a blog, instead I wanted a way to share photos with family members and back in 1999, I created a static homepage at homepage.com. Then about 5 years back I wanted something more dynamic and not just static HTML files, so I started to look around and came across b2 which turned into WordPress. I started to blog and didn’t really know where it would lead, but it turned into a mechanism for me to improve my writing skills, focus on topics and interact with folks from all over the world.  The main driver for setting up a blog no longer holds true, all my photos are now residing at my Facebook account. Which leads me to the next topic – the future of blogging. 3 years back it was all about setting up a blog and publishing your content. Today, there are several options and for most beginners they will end up housing their content on a social networking site since it’s easy to setup . It’s not the end of blogging but I do think standalone platforms like WordPress have a hugh challenge battling Facebook and Twitter. As for this blog, I will continue to blog but I can’t say where it will be 5 years from now, I just hope it will be as entertaining and fulfilling as the last 5.

General Observations
People always ask me about blogging and ask what the secret is. I’ve realized original quality content is what it’s all about. If you have original content or thought provoking topics you will get traffic to your blog.  Initially, I would blog about events from Apple just like 5 million other bloggers. I soon realized there is no point in talking about the new Apple widget, let someone like Engadget or Gizmodo break it down for people. I found my niche when I moved to India, I realized I had a hugh audience that could live vicariously through me.  The posts with the heaviest traffic are the ones about my experiences in India. My number one post is about the November 26 attacks in Bombay, 15% of my traffic still views that content even though it’s 8 months old. If you are looking to start a blog I would highly recommend topics that you are passionate about which will automatically lead to original content. If you don’t generate the type of traffic you were looking for at least you got to brush up on your grammar skillz!

Blog Analytics

  • 338 posts, ~ 1.3 posts per week
  • 9,000 pageviews was the peak for a single day (November 26 attacks)
  • 36.11% of my traffic comes from Google
  • 52.44% use Internet Explorer, 33.85% use Firefox
  • Top 3 keywords: apple, store, mumbai (I really need to contact Apple India and get some love)
  • Top 3 countries: India, US and UK

Cheers to another 260 weeks of random BS!!! Having lived in Maryland I’m pretty sure I’ve traveled on Route 260 before.

Creating a Website?

godaddy_logoAs part of my back to basics series, I’m going to walk you through a quick and cheap way to create a web presence for under USD 55 a year.  I hear people all the time tell me they are going to hire a web developer to create a website for thousands of dollars, my first reaction is to cringe. 80% of the time you can get away with a website that I’m going to describe. Then if you really want to hire a graphics designer and not a web developer. You can create a website in 3 easy steps:

1. Register a name with a domain register.  The one I recommend and have been using for years is GoDaddy.com, if you want a .in address for India then head to registry.in. The domain name should cost around USD 10 a year. Update: GoDaddy can now can register .IN addresses for about USD 5/year.

2. Select a hosting provider.  I’ve been using GoDaddy.com for the past 4 years and have had no issues. But there are others such as Rackspace or 1and1. A yearly GoDaddy plan can be had for USD 45 a year.

3. Install WordPress. This is the critical step and the secret sauce. WordPress is an open source blogging package but also a content management system.  Thousands of companies use it for their corporate website not to mention the millions that use it for blogging.  As you can imagine this blog uses WordPress and has been for the past 5 years. Once you install WordPress you no longer have to deal with the technical details of a website from this point forward you use the WordPress GUI dashboard.

4. Pick a theme for WordPress.  A theme is what sets your website apart from others.  The beauty of WordPress is the community of developers that are creating tons on themes. Most are free and some can cost USD 100 which is cheap for a corporate website. Below are two places that have a ton of themes to pick from:

WordPress.org Themes Directory
Weblog Tools Collection

So who can benefit from this quick and cheap tutorial? Doctors, consultants, architects, jewelry stores, media professional, ad agencies, etc…the list goes on and on.

So there you have it, a quick and cheap web presence that should work for more then 80% of the people looking to create a website.

Happy Holidays

christmas-treeA bit delayed – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. I’m sure many of you are ready to put 2008 behind us, it’s been one helluva ride. My recap: financial crisis, home values melting, car sales plummeting, wealth erosion, Beijing olympics, President Elect Obama but most tragic was the Mumbai terror attack on Nov 26. I’m really looking forward to 2009 and hope things get better, but from all the data that is coming out the financial outlook is even gloomier then 2008. My plan for 2009: more vacations, getting in shape and getting back to basics!!

On a side note this is my 300th blog post…thanks again!