Fatblogging: I Follow the Zawodny Hacker Diet

Diet MeasurementsJason Calacanis, entrepreneur and tech dude, who incites Internet riots, started a trend a little over a month ago called “fatblogging.” This was at a time when I was in the middle of a diet but didn’t want to call attention to it, since most of my diets have never been quite successful. Now, with some newfound success that I will share in this blog post, I’ll announce that I have joined the fatbloggies. I won’t be fatblogging in the true sense of the word, because Calacanis actually wants us to post our weights (every day!), and well, that’s a secret, my friends. 🙂

Regardless, the fatblogging trend has been extremely powerful and has seriously been a big hit in the blogosphere. People are writing about it, and it’s catching on. I’m going to jump on the bandwagon for a brief period to announce that since I started my “diet” on January 8th, a diet that was inspired by Jeremy Zawodny (I keep that spreadsheet open on my desktop all the time), I’ve lost about 20 pounds. This was an incredible thing for me. After all, about a year ago, I had a pretty major surgery and never got active thereafter to lose that dead weight that I accumulated, nor did I have any intention to (though I did set a goal to exercise, but I simply never did). The Hacker Diet variation by Jeremy was a real simple thing for me, and the results have made me quite happy.

So, what did/do I do? I took the “hacker diet” and made it my own: it was realistic within the confines of a “real” diet. I also read a ton of great tips on weight loss, some of which I integrated into my own routine. Here are some of my tips:

  • I recognized that I needed to change my eating habits. I’m not that tall (5’1″), and I had a goal to lose a good amount of weight. Consequently, my eating habits really needed to change. Instead of eating much different, I just started eating better. I’d get a turkey wrap instead of a burger and fries if I ate out.
  • I keep track of what I eat — all of it. In the Jeremy spreadsheet, I carefully document what I eat in calorie measurements only, not obsessing over the grams of fat which might plague the minds of other dieters. I used to be bewildered that my weight would go up, rather than down, when all I had for breakfast was a soy protein bar, especially since I usually skipped lunch. The few snacks that I subconsciously consumed contributed to my weight gain. Instead of snacking, I generally passed, but if I did eat on those rare occasions, I wrote it down and counted it toward a daily flexible quota. It is great to have a PDA or Treo on hand to write down what you have when the spreadsheet is not available to you.
  • Beyond keeping track, I tried to control my calorie count. In the most literal sense, it has been about keeping track of my calorie intake as accurately as possible. If I am eating a prepared dish where exact calorie count is not available, I search the Internet for “calories in [name of dish]”. Based on the ingredients and calories, I estimate how much I believe I have eaten. For my desired weight goal, I actually eat about 800-900 calories on a weekday and I go higher on weekends (not more than 1400 calories). For what it’s worth, it has been good for me.
  • Lose the extra carbs. My own variation of the Jeremy Hacker Diet was that I reduced my carbohydrate intake. When I eat bread, it’s whole wheat. I used to get my husband to bring home my favorite burgers from Manhattan for dinner, but I’ve since scratched that habit until I reach my goal, at which point I’ll reintroduce it as a treat. If you can avoid pasta, do it. A salad or tuna would be even better for you. Remember, it’s about eating better.
  • Humans have to eat, so this isn’t as much as an imposition as a brand new exercise routine. Don’t set goals that are unrealistic or that you’re not super motivated to achieve. If you’re going to set a goal to exercise, you actually need to make time to exercise. Many people give up because such goals require changing habits from a status quo, and exercise goal-setting begins to feel more like “extra weight.” However, humans have to eat. Therefore, changing eating habits should seem more doable.
  • Eat when you’re hungry (and during meals). This was the key for me: knowing the difference between “not hungry” and “full”. I didn’t realize how many times I’d eat a snack simply because it looked appealing, even though I wasn’t particularly hungry. This is a conscious decision that any new dieter needs to make.
  • A little plate is better than a big one. Portion control is important too. As you get used to a more controlled routine, you’ll notice that you’ll be satiated when you finish eating from a smaller plate rather than from a bigger one.
  • Drink lots of water. Buy a clear water bottle with printed measurement gradations on the side. Drink frequently. Often times, humans don’t know the difference between hunger or thirst. Therefore, drink a glass of water first. Then wait. Only eat something small you’re still hungry after you had an adequate amount of water — or wait until your next meal. Don’t make a habit of snacking!
  • Don’t eat before you call it a night. Eat a sensible meal at a sensitive time. That way, the food is not sitting in your stomach as you lay idle. I try to eat my last bit of food at least three hours before I go to bed.
  • Invest in a good scale. The problem with me being unable to provide the exact amount of weight that I lost so far is because I switched mid-diet from an inaccurate scale to an electronic scale. It is a good ego-booster to see consistent results from the start, rather than getting confused when you switch to different equipment.
  • Don’t obsess! I approached this diet cautiously. I never really believed in any diets where you’d have to sit and measure your food. I wanted a diet that was based on decision-making without the sacrifice of time, and measuring food takes time. This is not so much about worrying about portions but rather about thinking of what you’re eating as you are consuming it. If you can’t be exact, estimate. Be in control, but also have fun. There is wiggle room in this for you!

With these tips, I lose about 2 pounds a week, and I have a few months to go before I reach my end goal if all works out well. I can’t say I regret this; it’s been real good to me. I don’t think it would be possible to do or to admit to if it weren’t for the blogosphere. This is what I mean about community.

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7 replies on “Fatblogging: I Follow the Zawodny Hacker Diet”
  1. Thanks. I would do it right away. The blogging community is more supportive — socially, it’s been a better experience for me! And you can get that community support in the comfort of your own home unlike any other diet plan.

  2. says: Lex

    Hi Tamar — congratulations on your weight loss! I want to mention to you the same site I mentioned to Jeremy when he first posted about his weight loss: The Daily Plate. It gives you your spreadsheet, without the spreadsheet. I work for the site, but I’m also a client; it’s through TDP that I lost and maintain my weight.

  3. says: Judah


    Some great points.

    I’ve lost a ton of weight in my life too.

    I am 28 and a father of 3 (one on the way..;-)
    When I came back from Israel to find a wife at 22, I was grossly overweight.
    In fact, I looked like a blimp..;-)Of course, it took me a bit to realize..that I wasn’t simply “too short for my weight”…;-)

    You know, they say “da-Nile aint just a river in Egypt…”

    My pride and vanity was ultimately the driving force and my impetus to lose significant poundage..;-)

    From my experiences, I will share the following:

    1. Drink a ton of water every day.
    2. Never eat two hours before you go to bed.
    3. Eat 3 square meals a day and don’t skip a meal.
    4. If you can walk don’t drive.
    5. You don’t have to eat everything that isn’t bolted down to the floor (my big problem..back then…;-)
    6. If you cheat, don’t sweat it. We are all human. Pick up the pieces and move on. Don’t go on an eating binge just beacuse you let yourself down.

    Finally, get yourself the book “unlimeted power” by Tony Robbins (motivational speaker and expert).

    Awesome book!

    I wish you every success in this undertaking!

  4. Lex, thanks for the tip! I think I might have bookmarked it — there was a ton of useful information to go from there and I had actually been prepping the diet from my honeymoon the preceding week (I was in London when I first read about Jeremy’s tips in great length). I’ll take a look.

    Judah — thanks for all the blog comments 😉 Your tips are also useful, and #6 is extremely valuable. I’ve seen people give up on diets simply because they had a bad day. Once, I actually topped my desired calorie intake and was a bit dissatisfied, but I kept it going, and well, it’s still going!

  5. says: marek

    Thanks Tamar… You just saved me from triple bypass surgery in 10 years… 😉 I will give it a try, but will not post my progress on the blog. No need for that… ;o)

    Marek (jazyfko)

    PS. Twitter rulez…

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