Disclaimer: IANAD: I AM NOT A DOCTOR. Please consult one prior to engaging in any attempt at weight loss. I provide no recommendation you do things my way and take no responsibility for your health.
Disclaimer 2: I am not affiliated with, have never given money to, and have no relationship at all with the Unnamed Diet System I have based my diet plan upon. I do not recommend for or against their system, I am just sharing the fact that I my own variation of it and have had success.
Since my birthday this year, I’ve been working to lose a little extra weight. I now weigh around what I did when I was in high school and am still losing. I did this to show solidarity with my wife who wanted to lose a bit, but I needed to do this for myself as well.
Wanting to lose weight presented a few problems for me. First, I can not stand to do what somebody else tells me to do. My wife calls that being “obstinate-defiant.” Depending on my mood I usually either say I’m just selfish or I have a built-in distrust of the crowd. In any case, it was clear that unless I could tweak my plan a bit, I wasn’t going to be be happy with it. I’ve ended up tweaking less than I thought I would, but I still can, so there.
My next problem is that I refuse to do cruel or unusual dieting. I’m not going in for any fad or diet that drastically changes things. I’m not giving up cookies or eating grapefruit or doing Adkins. Regardless of what science there is or is not backing these things up, anything that changes what I eat is going to make me grumpy. I love food and there is no shame in that. The shame comes in consistently eating more than I need. I also find the idea of using a pill or surgery repulsive (no offense to those who do such, I won’t). For me, this process is about developing self-control, which means I need to learn to do it and my wife provides enough accountability to that end.
While metabolism and other factors adjust a person’s dietary needs, failure to consume enough calories to maintain a person’s current weight will cause a reduction. (Unless, which I suppose is possible, a person’s body is somehow capable of storing fat, but incapable of using it. I don’t know if any such disease exists, but I don’t have it if it does, so it’s not my problem.) Therefore, my diet plan would have to be something as mundane as journaling what I eat.
Which brings up my next problem, counting calories is too easy and not really addressing the full magnitude of the problem. Because not only should I eat less, but I should encourage myself to eat healthier. The system ought to take other factors into account.
My final problem is that whatever it is I do must be something I can do on a computer. I sit in front of one for around 8-12 hours per day. I can set my computer to remind of things, I can share things between myself and my wife to provide accountability on my computer, and while I like writing down notes, particularly when I’m brainstorming, I really don’t want to do all the math we’re talking about in my head all the time. It’s too tedious.
Fortunately, my wife previously went on and successfully completed a plan using Unnamed Diet System for which you may have seen ads. This system met all my basic requirements. Yet, other than they way they count points, they don’t provide any value to me, at least none I would pay for. Fortunately, everything I needed was published at various places on the Internet and I built myself a Google Docs spreadsheet to do it.
I provide a link to a version of it here for anyone interested in weight loss on similar terms. Go re-read the disclaimers again now. I’ll wait… Done? Okay, I don’t recommend this plan to you, but if you find the spreadsheet useful, great. I’m providing it under a Creative Commons 3.0 license.
If you have a Google account, you can create a copy of the spreadsheet to use it or you can download it in another format to use with Excel or OpenOffice (I think, haven’t tried that).
To use it, I first scroll right until I fill in some information about myself. This sets up the basic tolerances for my diet plan based upon sex, age, current weight, height, daily activity, etc. Then scroll back left and log my consumption. Under each meal, the wide column is for a description of the item eaten and the narrow for recording the points. Once I have “0” points left for the day, I stop eating. The spreadsheet does have a weekly allowance of extra points that I can use as well to indulge in something or just allow me to consume all the points for a day without worrying about going over by a couple. I use all the points I have for a day unless I’m really not hungry. This is not a starvation diet, so I try to use up as many of my daily points as possible. I do not worry too much about using or not using the weekly points. I often consume most of them.
The formula for calculating this points is simple, but elegant in that it encourages me to get more fiber and avoid fatty foods, while consuming fewer calories than I need to maintain my weight:
Points = Calories / 50 + Fat (g) / 12 + MIN(Fiber (g) / 5, 1)
I’ve been told that Unnamed Diet System actually divides Fiber by 4, but whatever. I have embedded a couple calculators in the spreadsheet for the times when I’m too lazy to do the math in my head.
I weigh myself once a week to track my progress (on a separate spreadsheet).Every 10 pounds, I adjust the chart to the right since the spreadsheet gives one less point per day for each 10 pounds I lose. I also copy the spreadsheet (actually, Terri manages this part) each week and blank it out to use the next week.
Eventually, I should reach my goal weight (I haven’t really decided what that is). When that happens, I’ll need to adjust the spreadsheet to deal with maintenance. When that happens, I will give myself more points until my weight stabilizes. I plan to continue recording points for the foreseeable future this way.