Skip to main content

Losing Weight and Loving Beer


I wish I could share a secret technique to losing 40+ lbs in the span of three months, while drinking no less than 7 beers a week.  I'd feel a lot better about having put myself in the position to make this claim, if the only way out was to become a joyless obsessive and eat nothing but kale between shifts on the treadmill.  It hasn't been that hard at all.  I've eaten cake and ice cream on both of my kids’ birthdays, and basically lived what I would have labeled a good life before I committed to dropping a few pant sizes.  I don't feel like I've given anything up.  Maybe french fries…  Those could come back in moderation later.  I'm just doing a better job of applying the simple guides to weight loss we've all heard before.  I'm eating less and exercising more.  There's still room in my nutritionist approved diet beer.

The exercise part isn't entirely new.  I liked to run about half an hour on weekday mornings, unless it rained, or the snow was fresh, or my little kids decided to join me and we'd have a splendid time going about 5 houses down the street to a koi pond.  In theory, I used a rowing machine to make up for cancelled runs.  I'm busy.   It didn't always pan out. I also do occasional long bike rides, including riding centuries for charity.  I'd take some grief from buddies spending hundreds or thousands to trim a few ounces from their bike's weight, simply because I could make my ride so much easier by just shedding 10-20 lbs from my body.  The thing is being a weekend warrior doesn't really trim the waist line.  It's one high impact day, typically followed by a high impact celebration.  Balance is great.  It just doesn't promote change.

My change here is that I've ditched the excuses and try to total 60 minutes of exercise a few days a week in addition to consistently hitting my 30.  The thing I'm really doing differently this time, and evidently doing reasonably well, is focusing on eating less.  I've recently read that weight loss is at best 20% exercise, and 80% calorie restriction.  Prior fruitless efforts had been largely exercised based with, a soft “better behavior” goal on the food front.  Now I’m all about smaller portions and more rabbit food.  Nothing I hadn't heard a million times before.  I wasn't missing the mark by much, but I was a bit of a mullet dieter.  After 10 years enjoying the party in the back, I'd put on enough weight to buy a nice suit and not need to have alterations to the pants waist.  Horrifying.

After one meeting with a nutritionist, I made a few simple changes.

1) I started counting calories with an app.  The recommended app was MyFitnessPal.  It's popular, and has a sizeable database filled with calories.  I haven't tried any others, and really stopped using this after I formed my new habits.  I don't need more excuses to play with my phone.  I was encouraged to aim for ~1800 calories a day.  Being an overachiever, I shot for 1200-1500 cal, noting that a beer would be 2-300 calories of that goal.  Basically, instead of eating half a delivery pizza splitting with my wife, I'd eat 2 slices now.  Similarly, I shrunk the non-vegetable portions of my meals.  When eating out, I started ordering salads or something with a side of greens instead of fries.  I haven't completely given up the burger.  I guess I haven't done everything my nutritionist suggested, but I do make a point of trying more of the menu.

2) I switched my yogurt brand from Chobani to Siggi's.  I also stopped adding granola, and started dropping chia seeds to give it some crunch.  The philosophy here is that added sugars and sweeteners a problematic both behaviorally and metabolically.  If we spend too much time nurturing our sweet tooth, we won't really develop a broad and nutritious diet.  The other piece, is that the body won't burn fat if it has easy access to sugar.  Carbs count as sugar too.  I'm saving them for my beer.  Granola is sweet and fatty and is thus out of my life.  Chia seeds are fiber and protein.  The fact that my 3 year old doesn’t raid the chia seed bag and spill it all over the kitchen floor is only a bonus, I swear.

3) Lunch transitioned from leftovers or a meal out with coworkers to salads with some protein usually an egg.  My blue cheese dressing brand shifted from full-fat Ken's to the nutritionist recommended Bolt-house Farms yogurt based dressing.  Most of my calorie cutting occurred at my noon meal.

So here's a sample meal plan

Breakfast: Yogurt, 1 tsp of chia seeds.  black coffee
Mid Morning: black coffee
Lunch: Salad (spring mix, cucumber, tomato, egg, blue cheese dressing)
Snack: (try to skip, sometimes nuts.  I try to go for things with shells to slow myself down)
Dinner: grilled salmon, grilled asparagus, side of pasta or chick peas.
Desert: Usually skipped, sometimes a bit of cheese.
After the kids go to bed: 12-16 oz of delicious beer, including hazy stuff with added sugars.

Comments

Greatest Hits

Nostalgia and New Ideas: Craft Beer Luminaries Find Ways To Stay Relevant

I'm not envious of the youngsters starting out in an era when good beer is available on every street corner.   Yes, things have never been more exciting in US Micro brewing but I feel the grip of  nostalgia.  New breweries are opening almost weekly.  New taprooms draw crowds to taste new, photogenic beers.  Novelty, at times, seems to surpass quality in importance to today's promiscuous drinkers.  Which isn't to say that we didn't get around in my day.  It's just that we didn't make such an effort to make an obvious trail, or tally our conquests.  Which were, admittedly, somewhat smaller in number.  Might today's craft drinkers missing some great beers from great breweries, in a quest for the next big thing, and a desire to avoid drinking one of dad's many microbrews?  The good news is that many are doing cool things to stay interesting, and remain in conversation. So many brewing luminaries of my youth are now ancient.  Great Lakes Brewing is 30. 

The Post-Malt Era of American Craft Brewing

Once seen as a key differentiation between better and mass marketed beer, the 2-row barley malt may now be the least important ingredient in a brewery.  Malt has disappeared from our beer conversations.  There are still palettes stacked high with 50 lb bags, and fork lifts. By weight, it's still beer's second largest ingredient, after water of course.  However it's lost our attention, and its contributions intentionally minimized to better showcase on the other players - most typically hops and Yeast (or other microflora). The mighty hop has always been a lead character in American craft beer.  There's something in our soil that makes hops express pungent aromas and aggressive flavors.  European brewers traditionally considered these hops too vulgar to feature prominently in a beer's finish.  They kept quiet about cost savings from the use of american hops to bitter.  American craft brewers found ways to feature these piney, resinous flavors as virtues and birthe

Holiday Gift Ideas for The Beer Lover

The gift of beer itself may seem obvious, but it is fraught with pitfalls. Especially if the gift giver is not as knowledgeable, experienced, or perhaps as jaded as the intended recipient. Craft beer lovers tend to have promiscuous taste buds. They crave new and exciting, and occasionally hard to find beers. How can anyone hope to keep track of another person's sense of new. You may have an advantage if you live a few states away and distribution agreements give you unique access to a hot new Nano, or even a New Belgium scale microbrewery. That's a great in if you have a little guidance. A beer lover that's a bit of a hoarder may enjoy an annual gift of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout, or Sierra Nevada Bigfoot for their cellar. However, the safest bet for a beer gift is t he somewhat corny Beer of the Month Club. Has the beer lover on your list has neglected to drop any good hints for gift ideas? Are you looking to surprise? Here are some ideas to consider.