Friday, April 06, 2007

a modest goal?

For most people, 250 pounds (113.4kg) is heavy. For me, it's a weight loss goal, as I now stand at a staggering 280 pounds.

I think that losing thirty pounds by early June is possible, even likely, but it's going to take more willpower than I normally summon up in this area of my life.

While I've been walking up Namsan again for the past two or so weeks, the time has come to ratchet up the intensity. This will mean graduating from the wussified route I currently take up the mountain to the one-staircase route, soon to be followed by the two- and three-staircase route, the latter of which is the hardest route I've ever tried.

Getting down to 250 pounds will mean still being fat, but this will nonetheless be an improvement.

I plan to document the following eight weeks, beginning with a weigh-in on Monday the 9th and a weekly weigh-in every Monday thereafter. I'll also be blogging other indicators, such as resting heart rate (seated) and the fit of my clothes (no, I won't assault your senses with gratuitous ass shots).

This weekend, along with getting my Seiko re-repaired (bastards did a poor job and the watch stopped again), I have to buy a bathroom scale-- something I probably should have bought years ago. Photos of the weigh-ins will be taken, though we might have to subtract a pound for the heavy camera I now own.

I'll have to lose approximately 4 pounds per week. That's extreme, but doable. As the great and wise George Clooney said with regard to weight loss, the key is: "Don't eat." By this I'm pretty sure he means, "Don't overeat."

My students' absences and the Gandhi Diet will probably help the process along. We'll see. The next two months are going to be interesting.



corsair the rational pirate said...

Good luck, dude! Cut back on the food blogging, get the heart rate up, and maybe chase some of those students of yours around a desk a time or two to burn some calories.

We'll all (all six of us, anyway) be watching!

Anonymous said...

Hey Kevin,

I'm curious as to the details of this "Gandhi Diet" you're on.

It's funny that you mentioned willpower, because when I think about how to lose weight, the first two words that spring to mind are willpower and know-how. And in that order. Because it doesn't matter how much you know if you're not going to put it into practice.

As for weighing yourself, try to do it at the same time of day, for consistency's sake. I believe that water retention is lower in the morning.

Since you are preparing yourself for an extreme plan of attack, I recommend this multi-pronged strategy to help sear the fat off your body.


- Do cardio and weight training, as combined they burn fat better than cardio alone. Push-ups and Hindu squats are two resistance exercises that require no equipment.
- The best time to do cardio is first thing in the morning (whatever that is for a nocturnal creature like you). Doing cardio first thing after you get up burns fat like no tomorrow. What you do is wake up, drink a couple big glasses of water, and go straight into your cardio--and then get home and eat your first meal of the day.


I would have recommended a phased approach, but you said you wanted to go extreme.

Here are some tactics I have used with success. I don't know if they will work for you, but they did for me.

- Eliminate most carbohydrates from your diet, especially the fast digesting carbs. No grains (no rice, no bread, no noodles), no fruit juices, no sugars. Low-glycemic fruits are OK (e.g. berries). Avoid starchy/sugary veggies like carrots, tomatoes, Korean turnips, and potatoes. They're healthy but they don't help you lose weight. Emphasize green vegetables (green salads).

- Drink lots of green tea and oolong tea to help with fat burning; spicy peppers are also thermogenic.

- Eat small but frequent meals. This boosts your metabolism. For example, instead of eating 3 meals at 600 calories each, eat 6 meals at 300 calories each.

- Keep protein high and fats low to moderate. Many people go low fat but moderate fat worked for me as long as I cut out the carbs.

Sample Meal Plan (my own)

Meal #1
- Three scrambled eggs fried in a nonstick pan, topped with salsa; side dish of tofu

Meal #2
- Whey protein shake and some walnuts

Meal #3
- Chicken/steak, kimchi, and green salad with olive oil dressing

Meal #4
- Whey protein shake and some strawberries

Meal #5
- Stir fried beef with garlic, green peppers, and onions

Meal #6
- Bowlful of lowfat cottage cheese
- Meat/fish and salad

(Can you get cottage cheese in Korea yet? I know you can get whey protein.)

There is plenty of good free info on how to burn off the fat on

Good luck!


Anonymous said...

Oh nOOOOooNONONOONONNoonnononoo!

Decrease velocity! Decrease velocity!

You're comin' in too hot! Hot! Comin' in too hot!

Kevin Kim said...


Thanks. I've stopped foodblogging since my previous promise to do so, and am going to try to behave myself with food from here on in.


The Gandhi Diet is one I've mentioned on the blog a couple times, in which my food intake is linked to student attendance. If the number of students in any given class falls below a certain threshold, then I don't eat that day. I think of it as penance.

Thanks, by the way, for all the useful tips. I'm mulling over waking up at 5am (gag) and hitting Namsan then. I can be back by 6:45, showered, and ready to lumber off to class well before 7:40 rolls around.

David (aka, Little Brother trying to be anonymous),

Too hot! Hot! HOT!!


Sperwer said...

Welcome to the game; your new handle in this post-300 world is Kevin Agonistes. As one of the previous commenters noted, half the battle is know-how. So here goes (again):

1. It takes about 12 calories per pound to maintain one's current weight. At 280, that means your base caloric intake is 3360.

2. The caloric equivalent of one pound of fat is about 3500.

3. That means that in order to lose, say, one pound a week, you would need to eat 500 calories a day less than your maintenance dose, i.e., about 2860.

4. If you want to lose 30 pounds in the next eight weeks, that's nearly 3.74 pounds a week - which means you've got to reduce caloric intake (based on your present weight) by 1,870/day. In other words, you've got to your consumption by more than half to a total of about 1490.

This IS pretty ambitious - not to say extreme - and you know that I'm Mr. Over-the-top himself - although I semi-planned out my program to lose fifty pounds of fat in 16 weeks, while also adding 15 pounds of muscle (both of which I achieved). Even the most extreme weightlifting weight loss programs call for a floor of at least 1500 cals a day; (of course, that's related to the fact that they also are doing serious weight resistance training).

Of course, we haven't figured in the effect of walking. Your target of caloric reduction can be reduced by the amount of calories burned in exercise. Best numbers that I've been able to come up with on short notice are 212.28 calories per mile walked at a rate of 2.0 mph. These numbers are probably on the light side, considering that you're planning to scale Namsan.

But it's still pretty extreme, particularly if you don't have a plan for dealing with the physiological shock of the first several weeks of such a drastic reduction in caloric intake. [I'm not going to get into the concomitant psychological impact.]

In order to cope with that, I recommend:

1. You eat at least six, and preferably eight, small meals a day to maintain a steady state of energy and avoid insulin spikes and crashes (and the resultant craving for more high cal carbs).

2. You move to a diet heavily weighted toward protein with a significant input of fat and a very low % of carbs. Protein in relatively modest amounts will make you feel sated with fairly low caloric input; a healthy dose of fat - preferably the good polyunsaturated sorts - will help you feel better; and low carbs - especially if you stick with the low glycemic value stuff (as previously recommended by a commenter) - will break the high cal carb addiction (and that's what it is) and set up your system to start metabolizing fat. The most efficient way of getting the protein is to make some sort of protein shake the mainstay of your diet. By mixing it with 2% milk you can make it more palatable and get the needed fat.

3. Get a physical. I'm not saying this because I think you need it or because the doctors may discover something. You probably already have a good idea of what your vulnerabilities are. Instead, I think you need it simply as a benchmark against which to measure your progress. Short of a full medical work-up at least get one of the body mass composition tests that gives you weight broken down by fat, lean body mass, minerals, fluid, etc.; body fat percentage and physical and strength measures for various body parts (no, they don't test for that one.

4. Keep records. This is a pain in the ass; and it's taken me months to get myself to do it. But it makes a huge difference in terms of taking control of your program and driving it to get results. You should track both your exercise - work done (e.g. miles walked; cals burned, etc.) - and your food consumption (e.g., foods eaten and calories per meal).

That's it for now; don't be shy about asking about anything else you think I can help with.

Unknown said...

You and I are in about the same boat. I weighed in at 117.2 kg tonight. My goal is 105 by July for a trip home. Then I'm planning a trip to Vietnam at Chuseok, so I will keep going... perhaps even into the sub 100 area. My wife's goal for me is 95. That would be nice... but... it has been a long time since I was down to that weight.

gordsellar said...

One other thing is that you should watch out for exhaustion. You know, I lost that much weight in around that much time, during my second year in Korea when I took a swimming class. Some of it was being too busy to eat big dinners, and some of it was the psychotic, masochistic daily practice schedule I (mostly) adhered to.

But then I spent 3 or 4 months totally exhausted. I kept swimming, mind you, but I was physically tired a lot. It's livable, but it might hit. (I suspect also that some toxins that had accumulated in my body fat were quickly released, creating another drain on my system.)

But like you, I'm thinking weight loss would be a good thing right now. I'm going to try work my way down to 95 kilos from where I am now, which I'd guess is 105 or so.