Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain

It’s fair to say that I read a good number of books children’s books. Having kids of my own, I like to pilfer their shelves from time to time. In our house, we like to stock “the classics” as a sort of quality guarantee. Since children’s books became a genre there have been writers who have tried to cash in on the children’s market as a way to make a quick buck with little effort. Reading “the classics” means that you get the best books from every era without having to wade through the formulaic twaddle, most of which has mercifully been forgotten over the years.
It’s a different story with modern children’s books. Picking up a new children’s book means taking a chance on wasting your time, and the modern children’s book publishing machine loves tried and true formulas. After the success of Harry Potter we got books about schools for magical/mythological/specially talented kids who are sorted into groups based on their personalities. After The Hunger Games took off, we’ve have had m…


Well, I have succeeded in the first of my two New Years resolutions for 2013. I am now down to 160 pounds. That means that since I started logging on Dec. 12 of last year (182 days as of yesterday) I have lost 56.4 pounds. I suppose in keeping with the true American spirit, whereby anyone who achieves anything must drone on at length about "how they did it", I must now drone on at length about how I did it.

First, I tried to lose weight last year by forswearing all non-water beverages, eating no sweets or desserts whatever, and skipping lunch everyday. That was crazy. It lasted for about a month. This year I told myself that, as I normally sit at a desk and teach all day, I need to find something sustainable that can stay with me for the rest of my life. So my first requirement in deciding how to shed the extra pounds was that whatever plan I went with could not place any type of food off-limits. Goodbye Atkins, "South Beach", et al.*

Second, I knew that if I tried to throw myself into exercise and a change of diet at the same time, my weak resolve would crumble like the French army in a major war. (My apologies to the French.) So I had to be able to lose weight simply by changing what I ate.

Here's what I learned. Your body requires x calories to function. If you take in more than x calories, you will GAIN weight. If you take in fewer than x calories, you will LOSE weight. But surely it's more complicated than that! It all seems too simple. Well, no, it actually is that simple. Now it's true, as some pedants will point out, that depending on what you eat you may lose your weight in different ways. If you say "I can have 2000 calories daily? That means I can survive on 10 Hershey bars every day.", then don't be surprised if your body decides to lose weight by breaking down muscle instead of fat. However, I think if you're serious about sticking to a certain number of calories, this simply becomes intuitive. Candy bars don't make you feel full.

So here's the plan in a nutshell. Go to this website and calculate how many calories your body burns per day. If you want to stay the same weight, eat that many calories each day. If you want to lose weight, subtract 500 and eat THAT many calories each day. A pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories so holding back that 500 daily should make you lose a pound a week or more.

Here's an example of how this works from my day yesterday:

I was shooting for 1500 calorie

Honey Nut Cheerios with milk - 150 calories
Coffee - 0 Calories

Bean and Cheese burrito (homemade) - 431 calories
Latte (homemade) - 80 calories

Grilled Chicken Sandwich at Chick-fil-A with a side salad and honey mustard dressing - 570 calories
Diet Coke - 0 Calories
Ice Cream Sandwich - 170 calories

Total: 1401 calories

Some helpful tips for those who want to try this eating method.

1) Beef Jerky is your friend. (If you have no heart problems and can thus handle the massive amounts of sodium.)

2) So are eggs.

3) McDonald's and Taco Bell are the best fast food restaurants if you're counting calories.

4) Popcorn is a great snack. It's cheap, and has very few calories.

5) Don't be OCD. I've heard stories of people who annoy all their acquaintances by carrying around a notepad and demanding an ingredient list for everything. Don't be this person. has calorie info for all their recipes. If you're eating at a friend's house, wait till you get home and find a similar recipe to estimate the number of calories.

And that's how it works. Oh, I almost forgot. It's obligatory to include a before and after for a post like this. Here it is:

*Full disclosure: As I write this I'm sitting at McDonald's eating an egg McMuffin.


Mom said…
I've got such a smart & handsome son....even when he was a wee bit chunky! Love ya, buddy!
Chris said…
Rick, you are a big "loser." j/k Looking good, man!

We are hoping to attend Providence's family conference on Weds. nights this summer. Hope to see you there.