Stories and examples of geeks who've lost weight and gotten fit.
Like many geeks out there, Kotaku writer and game player Kirk Hamilton found that working at a desk all day was making him sit a lot. In the year since he started as a full-time employee, he estimates that between working and playing games at home after work, he went from being pretty active to sitting 12 hours a day. Or more.
He also noticed that he was generally feeling worse and worse the more he sat. Then he started reading articles like this one about how bad sitting all day is for your body, so he decided to try making a DIY standing desk to see if it that could help him out:
I started homemade; I took a shelf off the bookshelf in my kitchen and placed it on two coffee cans, upon which I placed my monitor. I put another piece of wood on top of two cardboard boxes, and put my keyboard on that. Before long, I had a desk at which I could stand and work.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that, yes, this was something I was interested in. After a couple of days working while standing up (only working, mind you – playing video games didn’t come until later), I already felt better, stronger, and healthier. My legs were sore (in a good way), my posture was good all day, and I felt more focused as I worked. I decided to invest in a standing desk.
It wasn’t long before he went from using a DIY standing desk to this Ergotron model (that’s it in the picture above) and added gaming into the equation . Not only did he find it was easy to do, he realized it actually made playing games better:
Saturday morning, I got up, logged on, and started playing. Standing. And it was great. A lot of times MMO-style PC games can make me tune out a bit after a while—it’s probably due to years of console controller usage, but I don’t always feel as engaged at the mouse and keyboard as I did when I was a kid. The moment I stood up, that went away entirely. I felt present and connected to the game in a way I hadn’t in a while, alert and easily able to manipulate the game to do my bidding.
Now he’s a total convert and suggests that other gamers and desk jockeys try a standing desk. And I agree. In fact, I’m writing this post at a standing desk, and of course I’ve also gone further by creating a treadmill desk too. So, weighthackers, if you like playing games, give standing a try. I think you’ll like it.
Instead of focusing on any one specific diet, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center wanted to determine what kinds of simple behaviors people could do to help them lose weight. Their ultimate goal was to get people to reduce the number of calories they’re consuming regardless of what types of food they’re actually eating.
They came up with three specific things that you can do to lose weight, all of which are Weighthacker approved:
1) Keep a food journal.
2) Try not to eat out too much.
3) Don’t skip any meals.
I’ve found No. 1 to be one of the most effective ways for people to lose weight since it’s actually hard for your brain to keep track of your food intake (we simply weren’t built for that). Research team leader Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., put it this way:
“For individuals who are trying to lose weight, the No. 1 piece of advice based on these study results would be to keep a food journal to help meet daily calorie goals. It is difficult to make changes to your diet when you are not paying close attention to what you are eating.”
Skipping meals was actually associated with eating more calories according to McTiernan:
“The mechanism is not completely clear, but we think that skipping meals or fasting might cause you to respond more favorably to high-calorie foods and therefore take in more calories overall.
We also think skipping meals might cluster together with other behaviors. For instance, the lack of time and effort spent on planning and preparing meals may lead a person to skip meals and/or eat out more.”
Eating out is problematic because finding healthy options can be harder, you have little control over what ingredients are in your food, and you don’t control the portion sizes. With restaurants prone to serving massive portions, your’e practically bound to eat more than you intend to.
(from the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics via MNT)
Computer Hacker: “A person who devises clever solutions to programming problems.”
Weight Hacker: “A person who devises clever solutions to losing weight.”
Welcome to Weighthacker, a site that provides smart strategies and tips for geeks who want to lose weight and get healthier. The content here reflects the ideas and research I’m working on for an upcoming book cunningly called: Weight Hacking: A Guide for Geeks Who Want to Lose Weight and Get Fit.
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The National Weight Loss Registry has been conducting a long running study comprised of more than 10,000 voluntarily enrolled people who have lost at least 30lbs and kept it off for at least a year. They ask members to fill out an annual survey about their weight, diet, exercise habits and their strategies for keeping their weight off (i.e. maintenance).
From the surveys the Registry has compiled fascinating statistics about how people lost their weight and what they do to avoid gaining it back. That last part is key because around 80% of people who lose weight will put most of it back on, according to a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
A major finding of the study is that “nearly all registry members indicated that weight loss led to improvements in their level of energy, physical mobility, general mood, self-confidence, and physical health.” Which reinforces what Weighthackers already know: losing weight isn’t just good for your waist, it’s good for everything.
Here are some of the numbers from the National Weight Loss Registry around losing weight:
- 45% of members lost weight on their own
- 55% lost weight with the help of some type of program
- 98% modified their food intake in some way
- 94% increased their physical activity, most frequently by walking
To keep the weight off, most report keeping their diets low in calories and fat, and getting more physical activity, as well as:
- 78% eat breakfast every day
- 75% weigh themselves at least once a week
- 62% watch less than 10 hours of TV a week
- 90% exercise, on average, about 1 hour a day