Occasional Semi-Fasting May Be Healthy

Here’s an excerpt from an article entitled, “5 Key Ways to Lose Weight After 50” by Hallie Levine, AARP, May 9, 2018, https://bit.ly/2ulWANV:

Try occasional fasting

We’re not talking juice cleanses. Rather, research now shows that a specific type of intermittent fasting, known as fasting-mimicking, can trigger weight loss as well as improve your overall health. People who followed this type of diet plan — where they consumed only 750 to 1,000 calories five days out of each month but otherwise ate normally — lost, on average, six pounds, shed one to two inches of their waistline, and saw both their blood pressure and levels of IGF-1 (a substance linked to increased cancer risk) drop significantly, according to a University of Southern California study published last year.

How might it work? “When you gain weight, the nerves in your hypothalamus that conduct signals from your fat cells to the rest of your brain become damaged,” says Louis Aronne, M.D., director of the Center for Weight Management and Metabolic Clinical Research at Weill Cornell Medical College. “As a result, your brain doesn’t realize that you’re full, so it keeps signaling you to eat.”

But when you take a day to not eat very much, he says, “you’re reducing stress on your hypothalamic nerves, so it gives them time to recuperate.” That day of rest for your nerves could be especially important for older people, he says, because of the damage that oxidative stress can further do to your weight-regulating system.

As for how to start, “I tell patients who want to try it to eat only about 800 calories twice a week, focusing mainly on vegetables, protein and healthy oils such as olive oil,” he says.

To help yourself feel fuller longer on days you’re not fasting, Aronne recommends following a low-carb diet in which about 30 percent of your calories come from protein and the rest from nonstarchy veggies, nuts and beans. Craving bread? “I tell patients that the best time to eat these types of starchy carbohydrates is at the very end of the meal, after they’ve had their veggies and protein,” he says. Aronne’s research shows that people who eat this way not only have lower levels of blood sugar and insulin after eating but also have bigger boosts in hormones like GLP 1, which help keep you feeling fuller for longer.

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Baby Boomer Kicks Ass

Hey fellow and wannabe L-Wackos,

Guess who made weight a few days ago. Yup, yours truly. So now you can call me Sir L-Wacko, or just Wacko for short, or just Sir if you prefer. And don’t forget, where there’s a Will, there’s a ner. Think I might be a bit punch drunk? I’m not. This is just my brain on eggs:

Okay, so most of this post is going to be totally irrelevant to L-Wackos who don’t wait until the last week to make their target weight. Also, it really has very little to do with the long term L-Wacko objective which is to get down to a healthy weight and stay there. My weight-loss/maintenance strategy is to make a target weight at least once a year without fail (and if I were to fail, the penalty is so unthinkable that I am able to apply my willpower to lose the requisite weight to make my target, which I have now done for 8 years running). The reason I like my particular weight-loss regimen, which is pretty much eat what I want for 10 months a year and then drop however much weight I must in order to hit my target weight) is that setting a target weight and knowing I must hit it by a certain date, keeps me from getting too fat during the year.

Okay, back to expounding on my final push. This year, I came in 1.8 lbs. under my target weight of 172 (that’s 170.2 for the math-challenged among you: target weight = 172; weigh-in weight = 170.2; 172 – 1.8 = 170.2). Unfortunately, most of that underage is water weight. You see, I weighed 173.2 at 2 PM on the day I made weight (1.2 over my target weight: 173.2 – 172 = 1.2) and I figured it was going to take about 2.5 days for me to lose 1.2 pounds if I semi-fasted (500 calories per day) without any workouts (I don’t do much traditional exercise — mostly yard work and walks). So, I figured instead, I would go out and do some yard work, lose about 1.5 lbs. (including water weight) and then I could make weight with a week to spare. But then I said to myself, “Mike, what if you go out and do some yard work, but still don’t make weight. Then you’re going to have to go to bed hungry and make weight tomorrow morning.” Yes, that’s how I talk to myself (not really — I’m usually more complimentary – “Mike, you stud, if you go out …”)

Just to make sure I would hit my target weight, I put on a rubber suit. If you have never worn a rubber suit while working out, it’s like exercising in a sauna, except your head doesn’t feel as hot. I must tell you, after about an hour of yard work in the sweltering heat, I was feeling weak. I had to take a lot of deep-breathing breaks because I was really taxing my body. But even while I was taking a break, I was sweating. When I finished, I rung out my t-shirt and shorts, jumped in the lake for an unbelievably refreshing dip (Indian Lake in R.I.) and checked my weight. And the rest, as they say, is history. And now for another math lesson – I ended up losing 3 pounds (173.2 – 170.2 = 3).

So, Scott (my L-Wacko partner for the past 8-years), I know you’re disappointed that I won’t be your slave for a day (that would have been my penalty if I did not make weight). You’re going to have to pour your own drinks, make your own sandwiches, clean your own boat, etc. But I will do one thing for you… you can have the “Before” and “After” pictures I took of myself so you can display them prominently in your office. I know, I know. You’re speechless. But that’s just the kind of guy Mike is.

Congrats again to everyone who made their weight, and to those who haven’t — better luck next year. FYI, my semi-break-fast meal was a house salad, chicken marsala with mashed potatoes and an awesome brownie for dessert from Carrabbas. Actually, my stomach has shrunken, so I could only eat half the meal (which means I get to have it again tomorrow — yay!).

P.S. – Though I am not going to commit to any penalty for failing, I would like to hit 167 by the end of August. I just don’t know if I can make it without a looming penalty. Only time will tell.

Sir Wacko… Out

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I’ll Start My Diet Tomorrow

Hey folks,

How’s it hangin’? My belly is hanging a little less than it was a month ago, about 10 pounds less, but I still have about 9.5 lbs to go to hit my target weight, which I have hit every July 4th for the past 7 years thanks to the annual LWACKO (Lose Weight and Keep It Off) Contest, and not too many days left to get there… YIKES!

I figure I have to lose an average of about 1/2 pound a day to make weight by the Fourth. Piece o’ cake (a very small piece). I was within 7.5 lbs. of my target weight about a week ago, but celebrated a bit too much for a bit too long…. it’s definitely time to get serious. Actually it’s past that time, but apparently I’m a last minute guy when it comes to making my annual weight. I’d say for at least the last three weigh-ins I’ve had to lose about the same amount, 10 pounds, in the same amount of time, 3 weeks.

You may not believe this, but I actually enjoy it (once I get the first 500-calorie day under my belt) and there are a number of studies that conclude that semi-fasting once in awhile is healthy (as you may have surmised, I’m pretty good at rationalizing my last-minute weight-loss “strategy” or lack thereof). Nevertheless, when I semi-fast, I DO feel mentally sharper (some would say that’s not very difficult considering my starting point) and I have more energy.

It’s funny how I have convinced myself that it is important to keep my weight down, but I can’t muster the willpower I need to hit my target weight without the annual LWACKO July 4th deadline. The real benefit of the LWACKO Contest (at least for me) is that having an annual goal keeps me from getting too fat during the year, i.e., the contest forces me to stay within striking distance of my target weight, which keeps me from becoming obese.

Without the LWACKO Contest I would just keep telling myself (as I do many, many times during the year), “I know I shouldn’t eat [fill in the blank], but I’ll be good tomorrow.” And then when tomorrow comes, I say the same thing. Fortunately, the LWACKO Contest forces me to confront my rationalizations and put my foot (actually my fork) down because the penalty of not making weight is unthinkable (Being a slave for a day, waiting on my friends hand and foot, cleaning the boat in preparation for a fishing trip, putting bait on everyone’s hooks, serving food and drink all day (but none for me), and then cleaning the boat when we get back to the dock.)

So, as Simon and Garfunkel sing in the Sound of Silence (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zLfCnGVeL4), “Hello fasting my old friend. I’ve come to starve with you again. Because a vision of the boat I’d be sweepin’, makes me see how much I’d be weepin’, if I fail to make my weight by the 4th of July… ohhhh my. I must put dowwwwwn…. the brownie.”

If you’re keeping your weight down, good job, if not, it’s time to apply your willpower.

Good luck and…


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Long-term versus Short-term Willpower

Happy New Year!

It’s five days into the new year – have you stuck with your resolution? I have, because I resolved not to re-start my weight-loss regimen until February 1st 🙂

Actually, I’m starting to get a little tired of all the chocolate I’ve been eating since I made my target weight (165) on December 30 (couldn’t resist those 50% off post-Christmas chocolate sales – that’s right – 50% off chocolate! What a country!!)

So I’ll probably start watching my calorie consumption any day now… honest… no really… well, maybe not any “day” now… maybe any “week” now… certainly before February 1st… well, probably before February 1st… honest… no really… well…

With that kind of thinking (and acting), it’s hard to believe I dropped 30 pounds 4 years ago, and have kept it off ever since. Technically, I only keep 20-25 of it off most of the year, and then I lose the other 5-10 for four quarterly weigh-ins each year. Thus, I balance “Keeping it Off” (20-25 pounds for eight months of the year) with “Losing Weight” four months of the year (5-10 more pounds every 3rd month).

Granted, this is a weird weight-loss regimen, but it works for me – and it works for Scott – although we make our weights in very different ways — Scott relies heavily on exercise, while I rely heavily on calorie restriction.

I believe it works for us because it combines the application of long-term willpower (staying within 5-10 pounds of my target weight eight months of the year) with short-term willpower (losing 5-10 pounds four months of the year).

You see, it is very hard for me to maintain my long-term willpower over the course of a year – I just get so much pleasure eating anything I want, anytime I want, that I don’t want to force myself to stick to a weight-loss regimen all year without any breaks. Fortunately, I get tired of overeating fairly quickly (it’s all relative – what’s “fairly quickly” to me, may be “ages” to you) and I actually enjoy applying my self-discipline after I’ve had a two-week foodfest.

But I digress (always)… I want to write about what was going through my mind from October to December last year. I started October at about 170. With three months to hit my target weight of 165, I wasn’t too careful about what I ate, so my weight crept up to about 175 by the first week in November (I had to get past Halloween, a chocoholic’s dream, but an L-Wacko’s nightmare, before getting serious about hitting my target weight. There are very few Trick or Treaters in my neck of the woods, but I have to have a few bags of chocolate candy on hand… just in case, right? Of course, right! And I’m not going to throw out any left over candy, i.e., all of it, because I want to be able to offer it to visitors the rest of the year, right? Of course, right!).

Mentally, November was my toughest month because with two months to go, I could rationalize that I had plenty of time to make my weight, but in reality, if I didn’t want to have too many 500-calorie days down the home stretch, I had to start saying “No” to my numerous urges to eat that which I shouldn’t (I ended up having four 500-calorie days and one 150-calorie day leading up to my weigh-in).  During the first half of November, I lost many of those mental arguments and gave in to the urges, but during the second half of November, when I could “see” my target date on the horizon, my willpower kicked in more often than not, even though I had not agreed to any penalty if I didn’t make my weight.

Thus, to push myself toward achieving my weight-loss objective I:

1. Focused on the embarrassment I would feel if I had to tell Scott I didn’t make my weight (knowing that he would definitely make his – Scott has Herculean willpower, is a man of his word, and actually enjoys self-sacrifice — although said enjoyment appears to be diminishing with age -– I’ve known him for almost 30 years and he has NEVER failed to keep a commitment);

2. Focused on the embarrassment I would feel if I had to write a blog post for my gazillion readers admitting that I failed to make my target weight;

(okay, those are two “negative” pressures to exercise my willpower; now for the “positive” pressures)

3. Reminding myself of all the great reasons why I want to maintain my target weight; and

4. Focusing on how much pleasure I would have eating that first meal after making my target weight (after fasting or semi-fasting for a week, a Big Mac tastes better than a Filet Mignon any other time of the year). Truly, one of the greatest pleasures in life is eating that first meal after a week of 500-calorie days.

And this brings me to the topic of Rationalizations. Commenting on my last blog post, where I described my encounter with a very persuasive Boston Cream donut, Elyse asked me how the donut got into the kitchen in the first place (this was December 6, just three weeks before my target weigh-in date). Here’s how:

I was visiting a friend and his family and I brought them a dozen donuts from the best donut shop I know, Allie’s, on Rt. 2 in North Kingstown, R.I. Just before I bought them I thought to myself, “Should I do this? I know I’m going to want one. Well, too bad for me. I know my friend, and especially his sons, will like these donuts, so I’m going to buy them. And if I end up eating one, I’ll just have to make up for it by eating a smaller dinner or going for a run.”

Pretty good rationalization, don’t you think? As it turned out, I was able to resist the urge to eat that Boston Cream donut, but even if I hadn’t, I would have made up for it because I HAD to make my Dec. 31 target weight.

Here’s my point – If a guy who is as susceptible to rationalizations as I am and has very little long-term willpower when it comes to denying myself good-tasting food, can be a successful L-Wacko, anyone can. Just analyze your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to applying your willpower to lose weight and keep it off, and try to tailor an L-Wacko regimen that plays to your strengths. For me, it’s establishing short-term goals which allow me to have major lapses in the application of my long-term, weight-maintenance willpower.

You see, I have been able to stay at, or close to, my target weight for four years now because I have established a series of short-term (quarterly) goals with psychic (and sometimes tangible) penalties for not achieving them. After I achieve each short-term goal I get to throw my willpower to the wind and eat anything I want, as much as I want, anytime I want – at least for a week or two – and that’s all I need to be able to apply my willpower for the next two and a half months until I hit my next quarterly goal, which, by the way, is 163.

Good luck this year! I hope you achieve your goals – weight-loss, weight maintenance, and otherwise.

Willna Out

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No More Mr. Fat Guy

Hola fellow L-Wackos (and wanna-be L-Wackos),

With 3 weeks to hit my target weight of 165, I’m about 7 pounds over. No problem! I could do that in 3 days if I had to and it would probably help me delay the onset of dementia, though it may be too late for that (see article, “Fasting at Least Twice-a-Week Seen as Alzheimer’s Hedge”: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-29/fasting-at-least-twice-a-week-seen-as-alzheimer-s-hedge.html).

Once again, I’m not nearly as proud of my ability to lose 7 pounds in 3 weeks (or 3 days if necessary), as I am of my success at staying within 10 pounds of my target weight since my last successful target date weigh-in (this past 4th of July).

I find it takes more willpower to stay within striking distance of my target weight for months at a time, than it takes to lose 5-10 pounds over a 3-4 week timeframe. “Why is that?” you may ask. It’s all in the timeframe.

When I think about hitting my target weight in 3 weeks, I can see my goal on the horizon. Which means, when I say “No” to an urge to eat “that which I shouldn’t,” I can appreciate the almost direct result of my decision, said result being the achievement of my weight-loss objective. The ability to “see” my goal, makes it easier for me to exert my willpower to take a step toward achieving it.

“What the “F” are you talking about?” you may ask. It’s best explained by example.

Right now, as I am writing this blog post, there is a Boston cream donut just a few steps away in the kitchen, singing its siren song, “Eat me… I taste so good. You have plenty of time to burn my calories – December 24 is such a long time from now. Come on. You only live once.”

But, I know that losing 7 pounds in three weeks is no picnic and if I don’t resist the urge to savor every scrumptious bite of that donut, I risk not making my target weight. And failing to hit my end-of-year target is UNACCEPTABLE.

So, I am saying, “No!” to the donut. And here’s the point (or at least 1/2 the point) — because I perceive Dec. 24 as being just around the corner from a “losing-7-pounds” perspective, I can appreciate the fact that refusing to listen to the donut’s mellifluous entreaties is helping me make my target weight. Or, viewed from the opposite angle, if I were to eat the donut, I know it will be that much tougher to achieve my “failure-is-not-an-option” objective.

Okay – now for the other 1/2 of the point I’m trying to make.  When I heard the “Call of the Donut” back in October, more than 2 months from my target date, I could easily accept the donut’s logic, i.e., that I had plenty of time to burn its calories because December 24 was a long ways away. So, saying, “No” to the donut back then took more willpower.

You may still be thinking, “What the “F” is he talking about?”

Okay… the rationalization back then was, “December 24 is such a long time from now, I will have plenty of time to diet and exercise enough to hit my target.” And guess what. That rationalization was a valid one (Aren’t they all? Yes, but some more than others.) — back in October I DID have plenty of time to burn those calories and make my end-of-year target. So I needed to rely on another argument, i.e., I can’t let myself get more than 10 pounds over my target because once I break through that barrier, the truck scale is the limit, and the chance that I don’t achieve my target weight by my target date becomes too great. Thus, saying “No” to the donut in October took more willpower than saying “No” today. Fortunately, I had already prepared for the onslaught of “eat-the-donut-now-and-burn-the-calories-later” rationalizations by convincing myself that not making my end-of-year target weight is UNACCEPTABLE. And, being 10 pounds over my target weight, increases the risk I may not achieve my weight-loss objective. Consequently, going over my 10-pound limit is UNACCEPTABLE (or, at a minimum, checking my weight and seeing that I am 10 pounds over my target and not getting below 10 ASAP, is UNACCEPTABLE).

And that’s why I believe the most important component of any weight-loss regimen is accepting the proposition that “failure-is-not-an-option” when it comes to achieving one’s objective. It is that commitment that helped me apply my willpower toward staying within 10 pounds of my objective over the past 6 months and it is that commitment that will power me past the donut without a bite later today.

Many of my friends tell me I should be committed, but I respond, “I already am.”  How about you?

Willna Out

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Gave the Paleo Diet a Try

Hello Fello L-Wackos,

How’s everyone doing on the fat front?  Scott’s been eating quite a bit o’ fish lately.


2013-05-20 20.06.33 - Scott Arnel caught seabass


Scott and I are doing pretty well, thanks to the Paleo Diet we followed for a month… and only a month… and I really didn’t follow it closely, though Scott did… and we’re not following it any more… never!

So here’s how it went down. Beginning of August, Scott calls me and says he has ballooned at least 15 pounds over his target weight since the July 4 weigh-in and he needs to take drastic measures, so he started the Paleo Diet and asked if I would join him for a month.


I, myself, had gained about 10 pounds since the July 4th weigh-in and was getting ready to start cutting down on my calorie intake as I normally do about 6 weeks before my quarterly weigh-in. Keep in mind that when I cut down on calories, I do so without regard to the “quality” of those calories. So, for example, if I want a slice of chocolate cake and have reached a point in the day where I can only consume 500 more calories for the day, then my only dinner would be a slice of chocolate cake. Most nutritionists would say that is not a healthy way to diet, but I rationalize my choice of calorie vehicle by referring to the study by a professor of nutrition at Kansas State who went on a Twinkie diet (supplemented with a daily salad and vitamins) and lost 27 pounds in two months, while his “bad” cholesterol level dropped by 20% and his “good” cholesterol level improved 20% (here’s a link to the article:  Twinkie Diet


Mark Haub_nutrition professor_Twinkie Diet


I was uninterested in going Paleo because I am not a believer in eating a lot of meat, primarily because I don’t like the idea of killing a living being who feels pain and especially if the species cares for its young. I believe that if Man can survive eating food other than meat, which he can, then he should. Unfortunately, I do not currently have the willpower to eliminate all meat from my diet (or, should I say, I have not yet chosen to apply my willpower to stop eating meat), but I have cut down over the years. And it makes little sense to me to eliminate beans from my diet as the Paleo Diet requires.

But, I thought Scott needed a Paleo buddy, and I figured that the part of the Paleo Diet that requires the elimination of bread and sweets would help me make my quarterly target weight, so I agreed. I told him, however, that I wasn’t going to strictly adhere to the diet, especially when it came to eating locally grown, organic, etc., etc. I didn’t want to invest the time and mental energy it would take to strictly follow the Paleo Diet. Basically, I would eliminate bread, sweets, and dairy. I also told him I would need to cheat on occasion by having something sweet about 3 times a day (Did I say “day?” I meant 3 times a week. 🙂 )

So we went on the diet. Scott was crying. He couldn’t believe how much willpower it took to strictly adhere to the Paleo Diet. I think cutting out bread, cereal, beer, and ice cream killed him. He counted down the days until the month-long diet was over. It was hard for me, but my cheats helped me get through it unscathed. One thing I realized, however, was that the quality of the calories I was consuming really did affect my health. Let me explain.

I’ve been pretty healthy the past three years that I have been on my Done for the Day Diet (by which I eat anything I want, but once I hit my pre-set daily calorie limit, which varies depending upon how far away my target weigh-in date is, I’m done consuming calories for the day). I find this reduces the amount of willpower I must expend to stick to my diet because instead of going cold turkey on brownies, for example, and having to exert my willpower for months at a time (until I give up and start eating brownies again), all I have to do is deny myself the pleasure of a brownie from the time of day at which I am “done,” until the next morning, when, if I still have a hankering for a brownie, it may very well be my breakfast. And most of the hours between the time I’m done for the day and the next morning, I’m sleeping, and it doesn’t take any willpower to resist the temptation to eat a brownie while I’m sleeping (I can just dream that I’m eating a brownie and I’m cool). Capish?

But, when I did my pseudo Paleo Diet, I found that my energy level was higher and my skin (I suffer from a mild case of eczema), was much better. And I don’t believe these improvements were due to eating more meat. I believe they were a result of reducing my consumption of bread and sweets (especially sweets that combine sugar with flour such as brownies, cakes, and cookies). So, now that I am off the Paleo Diet, I have cut way down on my consumption of bread and sweets (not counting dark chocolate – I actually eat more dark chocolate now than in the past to make up for my reduced consumption of other sweets). So, as much as I disliked the Paleo Diet, I must admit it has helped me realize that the quality of the calories one consumes is important.

Meanwhile, Scott and I exerted so much willpower sticking to the Paleo Diet, that we didn’t make our Sept. 30 quarterly weigh-in (though we were only about 3-5 pounds from it). I’ve done a pretty good job reducing my consumption of bread and brownies, cookies and cakes (still eating ice cream and chocolate), which has not only helped me stay within 5-7 pounds of my December target weight, but it has also improved my skin and increased my energy level. So thanks Paleo, but no thanks.

Anyone care to comment on how they are sticking to their diet (or not?). Be my guest.

Willna Out

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L-Wacko’s Keeping it Off

The day before our target weigh-in date, the 4th of July, I got an email from Lee:

“Out of the contest — my doctor told me it was too low a weight for me.”

Lee, that’s a good one. Nice to get this info from your doctor on your target weigh-in date. What do you weigh?

Lee started the L-Wacko Challenge at 195 and his target weight was 182. I think he’ll look nice in a pink dress with white pumps.

Another L-Wacko rookie, Eric S., doesn’t need no stinkin’ doctor. He made weight on the 1st of July (see attached photo of his scale showing 169.7 — his target weight was 170 and he began the Challenge at 183).   Eric S. making weight 7-1-2013   I asked Eric what he ate after he made his weight and he said he was suckin on ice cubes. I was shocked. I told him I thought that he would have gained 5 pounds by the time he sent me the email and he responded that he was changing his lifestyle. Awesome! I’m smellin Rookie of the Year.

I too am changing my lifestyle. I intend to stop eating so much that I get sick after my quarterly weigh-ins … but I’m not starting till next weigh-in (I’m hurtin from overeating the last two days since my weigh-in as I’m writing this wrap-up).

Scott worked hard to make his weight, relying heavily on tough workouts, including 6-mile runs and spinning. Rumor has it he was crying like a baby about having to starve himself leading up to the target date. But he came through, hitting 164.4 with Lori (his wife) as his witness – (no scale pic, hmmmm.) Scott started the Challenge in Dec. 2009 at 185 and has hit 165 at least twice a year for 4 years.

With the perfect combination of exercise and diet, Richard extended his 3-year L-Wacko Challenge winning streak, easily making his 190 target. In fact, he expected he would weigh-in at 187 after a round of golf.

Richard began his weight-loss journey tipping the scale at around 275 I believe. He started the Challenge when he had already made it down to 223. He hit his first L-Wacko target of 202 in July 2010, then 186 in Dec. 2010, and has maintained his weight since. As we all know, the “acko” part of L-Wacko, i.e., “and Keep it Off,” can be as difficult as achieving one’s optimum weight in the first instance, but Richard makes it look easy.

I recently heard from Sharon, another L-Wacko who lost the vast majority of her weight before joining the Challenge. She was feeling a bit down because she had crept up to 153 over the last six months, after hitting her last target weight of 140. I told her that hovering around 13 over her target weight in between target weigh-in days was no big deal – Scott and I do it all the time.

Sharon started her journey back in 1994 when she weighed 256. She got down to 215 in 2007 and began the next leg of her journey when she had a change of mindset (which I believe is the most important factor in successfully losing weight and keeping it off). Sharon was sitting in her doctor’s office for a physical and the doc was telling her that her Cholesterol was 247. Sharon figured the next shoe to drop is the doctor saying she is pre-diabetic. Sharon writes, “It was at that moment I knew I had to change – my health depended on it.”

Sharon says she had been eating like a “5-year-old” — most of her meals consisted of quick & easy to grab, tasty junk food. Her doctor suggested she join Weight Watchers and just try to lose 30 lbs by her next appt… “It was the kick in the ass I needed.” Sharon said.

“Believe me,” Sharon writes, “the transition did not happen overnight as I had to really learn to like fruits and veggies. I even went as far as making a New Year’s resolution that I would try new foods, which has really helped to expand my horizon. Who would have thought years ago that I would be eating spinach today.”

By the time Sharon joined the Challenge in 2012 she was down to 159 (see attached pic, where Sharon shows several large bags of rice, the weight of which represented how much Sharon had already lost.  sharon_rice_WW_2012

Sharon, determined to get back down to 140, just wrote that her half-marathon training will start in a few weeks, and she joined Orange Theory fitness, http://www.orangetheoryfitness.com/. She wrote, “As far as August and October, I need to get my weekends in check. I tend to eat very clean during the week and then all hell breaks loose during the weekend so all I have accomplished during the week is for naught… That is my biggest hurdle right now…”

I suggested she commit to hitting 149 by the end of August and 145 by the end of October and Sharon agreed.

I, myself, was only 1/2 a pound over on Wednesday morning the day before my target weigh-in date, and Scott complained that it would be too easy for me to lose the 1/2 by doing some house maintenance.

It wasn’t that easy, however, to set it up to be easy to make weight on Wednesday morning — I did 2 weeks worth of 1,000 calorie days (with a couple of cheat days) and then 500 calories on Monday, and 300 calories on Tuesday.

Scott suggested I put on rubber sweats and go for a run to get down to 157.

So, to make absolutely sure I could have made it on a doctor’s scale (because my scale may be a pound light), I consumed only 30 calories (a few grapes) on Wednesday, July 3, up until I weighed in at 5:00 p.m., I also did about 6 hours of heavy house maintenance, and then ran 3 miles (without rubber sweats), in 90+ degree, 90+ humidity down here in northern Virginia, and then sat in a car with the windows shut (a poor man’s sauna) for about 20 minutes.

It worked! I weighed in at 156.8, my lowest in more than 30 years (see attached pics).

Mike W. making weight 7-3-2013   Mike Willner - July 3, 2013 - 156.8 lbs     What a rush! I felt lightheaded the whole night and totally exhausted the next day. ( But don’t try this at home. You have to be certified or certifiable. I’m sure Lee’s doctor would not have approved.) After I made my weight, I drank so much fluid, I could barely eat any real food. And I couldn’t even get to the pastry until midnight at which time I passed out from exhaustion and my head dropped face first into a half consumed brownie (not really, but close enough).

My real L-Wacko accomplishment wasn’t dropping from 161.5 to 156.8 on the last day, however. The real accomplishment was keeping my weight down since my March 165 weigh-in, so that I would be in striking distance of my July 4th, 161 target. I don’t think I went over 172 in April and 170 in May before starting my descent to 161 in June. Having the “wearing-a-dress-to-a-crowded-restaurant” penalty hanging over my head ensured that I wouldn’t get too far over my target weight after my March weigh-in, or start my descent too late in the game. Even though I’ve convinced myself that it’s super important to keep my weight down, setting a penalty for not making my target weight certainly forces me to be disciplined and to shoot down any rationalizations to not making my weight by my target date.

On the other hand, if you’re not very bright, as is so often the case in my life, a hard, fast, failure-is-not-an-option target weight and date can be dangerous to your health if you wait too long before making the final push. I may have to change my weight-loss advice to take into account the possibility that one might wait too long to make the final push to achieve one’s weight-loss objective and then, be too dumb or stubborn to avoid hurting oneself in order to make weight. I think I came close to hurting myself this time around. I just can’t cut weight like I did back in my wrestling prime. I should note, however, that I made my 161 target without a last-minute starve and work-out push, it was getting 4 under my target just to show off that almost killed me. Hopefully, that was my last crazy sucking weight hurrah.

I’ve also heard from a few other L-Wackos:

Tommy P. has been staying around 180 since his last weigh-in, which is toward the high-end of his desired range (175-180), but acceptable. He’s been combining some Yoga with light exercise and eating sensibly to maintain his weight.

Meanwhile Elyse is feeling good hovering around 115, just 5 pounds over her usual target weight (and only 1 pound less than her L-Wacko Challenge starting weight of 116 – but with more muscle these days that’s reasonable).

Finally, rookie Jean A. (and her hubbie, Bear), look like they’ve each lost about 20 lbs. since starting the Challenge and are maintaining their weight until they can get mentally prepared to drop a few more. Looking good guys!

If anyone is interested in setting a target weigh-in date, shoot me an email at mike@thewilltolose.com or post a comment to this blog post with your target weight and date (FYI, October 31, 2013, will be the next official L-Wacko target date).

And that’s all she wrote.

Willna (with ice cream bar in hand) Out

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Commitment and the Lack Thereof

Commitment and the Lack Thereof

This past March, after hitting my adjusted target weight of 165, I told Scott and Eric that I was going to try to make 163 by the end of April, but I didn’t set a penalty for failure.

So, can you read the tea leaves in my “commitment?” I was going to “try” to make 163 and I didn’t establish a penalty for not achieving my objective. Is that a formula for failure or what?

As it turned out, I waited too long to get serious about getting down to my target weight of 163, and with 2 days to go I was still 5 pounds over. I didn’t want to fast those two days (even though I’ve actually enjoyed fasting in the past), so I said frack-it (who knows what TV show that comes from?), and didn’t make my target weight. Immediately upon telling Scott and Eric that I didn’t make it, I realized the error of my ways. They were merciless. The biggest blow was when Eric said he had lost respect for me. That hurt! Hopefully, I gained back some of that respect with a foot sweep: King of the Back Yard

So now I’m about two weeks away from my July 4th target date by which time I am “committed” to making my target weight of 161, the lowest I’ve been in 30 years. I still can only commit to “trying” to achieve my objective because I do not believe in saying I “WILL” achieve my goal, because you never know. So many things can happen that are out of my control, so the best I can do is “try” to make it. This time around, however, I’ve agreed to be penalized if I don’t achieve my goal — I will have to go out to a restaurant wearing a dress and a sign around my neck which reads, “I’m a Loser!”

I break into a cold sweat just thinking about how humiliating that would be, so clearly I will be trying much harder to make my target weight this time. In fact, I am already doing much better, as I am only 5 pounds over with two weeks to go. I agreed to accept the “dress & sign-wearing” penalty because I wanted to make sure I would do everything in my power to achieve my objective. Over the past three years, I’ve hit most of my quarterly target weight objectives without an onerous penalty dangling over my head like the Sword of Damocles, but after missing my April target and suffering abuse from my fellow L-Wackos, I didn’t want to take any chances.

Of course I am acutely aware of all the positive physical and psychological reasons why I should achieve my weight-loss objective — I’ll be healthier, live longer, look better, have more energy, be mentally sharper, feel good about exerting self-discipline, help others lose weight by example, to name a few — but sometimes, especially when I’m relatively close to my optimum weight, I need a little extra incentive to overcome my powerful desire to enjoy eating delicious food anytime I want. You see, even when I’m 10 pounds over my optimum weight, I still feel good and people tell me I look thin, so losing that 10 pounds doesn’t seem to be a really compelling goal. And when one’s goal is not compelling, it’s much more difficult to achieve it, especially when it means reducing the amount of pleasure I enjoy from eating.

That’s why, if you want to increase your chances of achieving your weight-loss objective, establish a compelling reward for achieving your goal (or penalty for not achieving it) to give you the extra incentive that could make the difference.

I heard through the grapevine that the newest addition to the L-Wacko clan, Lee S., had not yet begun to get serious about achieving his July 4th target weight of 182. Keep in mind that Lee has agreed to the “dress & sign-wearing” penalty mentioned above if he does not achieve his goal, so I am 99.9% certain he will make his weight one way or the other because Lee is probably the most self-disciplined person I’ve ever known. He worked out harder than anyone else on the University of Rhode Island wrestling team and for the past 10 years (or more) he’s been competing in triathlons. The only question is whether he is going to make his weight in a sensible, pound-a-day effort, or is he going to lose 15 pounds in 3 days by fasting and working-out like a madman. What’s it going to be Lee?

Another fairly recent participant in the L-Wacko Challenge, Eric S., achieved his target weight of 176 in March, and now he’s shooting for 170 by July 4. The “dress & sign-wearing” penalty is hanging over his head, so I’m confidant he’s going to make it. Scott says that even at 176, Eric is a porker — all he has to do is think about working out and he loses a couple of pounds.

Dr. K is committed to hitting 190 by July 4, with the d&s penalty waiting in the wings should he fail. How you doing Doc?

Scott, another d&s penalty boy, says he hasn’t checked his weight in awhile, but he’s been working out pretty hard for the past few weeks, so he’s probably within 5 pounds of his 165 target after a work-out. I don’t anticipate any problems there – Scott is in the same self-discipline ballpark as Lee.

Tom P. says he’s been under 180 (his target weight range is 175-180) for the past month or more, so he’s doing fine (even without the d&s penalty). Notice that the wrestlers and the Doc are doing fine. But I’m sure Elyse, Queen of the L-Wackos, is also staying slim, but I haven’t heard from the rest of the L-Wacko peanut gallery, so I’m not sure about everyone else.

I haven’t heard from Jean A. in awhile. She was on a 1,000 calorie-per-day diet (without exception) for at least a month last I heard. But I’m concerned that the lack of communication could mean the lack of continuing to apply her willpower to sticking to her weight-loss objective. I will get in touch with her soon to find out.

Anyone want to come clean? If so, the comment section awaits.

Good luck to all you L-Wackos trying to hit your July 4th targets.

Willna Out

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Flipping the Switch

I was talking to Wendi, who lost 25 pounds and has kept it off since January, about how it was easy for her to stick to her diet when she was committed, and how she hopes she can “flip the switch,” so to speak, to ignite her determination to get back on her diet and lose more weight.

We discussed what it would take to flip the switch. I believe it’s commitment. Losing weight must be very important to you in order for you to be willing to make the sacrifice of eating less, or healthier, or exercising more.

I think starting a diet, after being off one for awhile or never being on one before, is not as hard as trying to get back on the wagon when you only recently fell off. You are acutely aware of the sacrifice you must make to stick to your diet (you just did it), so you keep postponing the re-start hoping to build up your determination. All too often, however, the re-start never materializes.

Years ago, the longer and more often I had to exert my willpower to stay on a diet, the more difficult to re-start it once I got off for any significant period of time. But now that my diet allows frequent lapses, I am not dissuaded by the prospect of having to exert my willpower for months or years at a time when I am considering re-starting my diet. Now my diet allows me to splurge once or twice a week. I don’t have to be super disciplined for a long a stretch of time, which reduces my anxiety to re-start my diet. Of course, this may not work for everyone. To each his own. But this works for me and I especially like the fact that there’s a logical explanation as to why.

I must flip the switch 4 times a year to re-start my diet in order to get down to my target weight by my quarterly target date. Once I hit my target, I pig out for 2-3 weeks, then maintain for a month, and then start dieting to reach my next quarterly target. For my most recent target date, March 31, I had to hit 165 (originally my target was 163, but thanks to the 2-pound allowance Scott gave me, which I only accepted as a favor to him, I was able to hit my target without hurting myself).

2013-03-31 11.01.47


Holy Cow! 26 pounds under my target!!

Oops.  Wrong pic.  🙂




That’s more like it.

As it turns out,  Scott didn’t even use the 2-pound allowance I gave him. So there you go. I was trying to be a nice guy, yet I didn’t finish last. I was rewarded instead. Thanks again Scott! But even with that 2-pound allowance, I had a difficult pull to make 165 by March 31. You see, I waited too long to flip the switch and had too many lapses after I re-started my diet (I had an “Oh too wonderful!” calorie-filled 6 weeks after making my 165 target weight on Dec. 24, 2012), so I had to fast the last 2 days of March  (I even cut way down on fluids, which was not smart nor healthy). But I was determined to make my weight, despite the fact that I hadn’t agreed to a penalty  (such as going out to dinner wearing a dress), if I didn’t make it.

So why did I kill myself to make my quarterly weight. It wasn’t because I felt the 3 pounds I had to lose those last 2 days were critical to my long-term health, or would make me look thinner. No. The requisite commitment to achieve my goal arose from my fear of losing a “bet” against my opponent, Scott, and having to admit my failure to my fellow L-Wackos. And even then, I almost didn’t make it. That’s how hard it is to lose weight, sometimes.  You have to take it seriously or failure is lurking behind every corner (of a chocolate bar). At least for me, it is. Hopefully, I’ve learned my lesson and will re-start my diet sooner for my July 4th target. FYI, I have set an interim target of 163 by the end of April (although there is no penalty if I don’t make it). That will match the lowest I’ve been in 3 years. I’m planning on going to 161 by July 4, that would be my lowest in 25 years.

I also recently spoke to Laurie, who successfully competed in the L-Wacko Challenge for 6 months, but went off her diet about a year ago. We too discussed what it would take for her to re-start her diet. She said she thought about the guy I mentioned in my book who committed to lose weight when his doctor said he had to lose 75 pounds or he would likely die. Laurie said she didn’t want to wait until that happens to her, but her concern hadn’t been enough to get her to commit again. She talked about how she wanted to look better and suggested that putting up a full-length mirror in her bedroom might help. I agreed, saying that I often boost my determination to lose weight by commiserating with my mirror image over my too-big-to-see-my-you-know-what gut. I’m hoping Laurie buys the mirror and gets back on the Challenge.

For Donna, a new job and a strong desire to be thin for her first day at work was all it took for her to flip the switch. She did the SuperGlow Cleanse at least twice and lost over 10 pounds in less than 2 months. Now she’s relatively thin AND her skin is silky smooth to boot.

Meanwhile, I want to welcome the latest addition to our L-Wacko Siblinghood, Lee, a former NCAA Div. 1 All-American wrestler and, of late, an Iron Man tri-athlete. Lee wants to lose about 12 pounds by the Fourth of July (from 194 to 182), which will probably put him pretty close to his optimum weight. There is no question Lee has the willpower to achieve his objective. He loves to exert self-discipline like I love eating chocolate. He’s also extremely competitive. There is no way Lee will “lose” to any of us, especially Scott or me. It would be too embarrassing. So just signing up for the Challenge probably was enough to guarantee that Lee will achieve his weight-loss objective. But just to make it an absolute lock, he agreed to wear a dress out to dinner with the gang if he doesn’t make weight. I’ll tell you this, if Lee is wearing a dress in July, it’s because he’s been waiting his whole life for a good excuse to wear one in public, not because he didn’t make weight.

If anyone wants to commit to a target weight by the Fourth, just post it in the comment section.

Willna Out

Posted in Weigh In's, Weight Loss, Willpower | 4 Comments

Scott + Willpower = Weight Loss


As he was tipping the scales at 180, Scotty wasn’t too happy a few weeks ago when I reminded him that he had committed to hit 167 between March 24-31. Historically, Scott has been a twice-a-year kind of Wacko, hitting his target weight on July 4 and Dec. 24 (and hitting it EVERY time for the past three years).


And so, the crying began.


“What’s your target?” Scott asked.


“163,” I replied.


“Want an extra pound?” he asked.


“Why? Do you?”


“If YOU do.”


Okay, “I’ll do it for YOU,” I said (though I was thinking to myself, “It’s not worth it. Elyse will give me too much crap if I don’t hit my original target weight.”) But I knew Scott needed the psychological boost. And when, a week later, he asked if I wanted another pound (which he clearly wanted for himself as well), I took it, thinking he must really need it badly, and he went up to 169.


But I was “Wrong again, Buffalo Wings breath!” The porker de-porked all the way to his original 167 target, by combining a week of quasi-fasting with mucho miles.  Actually, it’s very fitting, considering he’s heading out to Iowa for the NCAA Div. I National Wrestling Championships, for which he, himself, had to cut weight a couple of times many butt drags ago (Google it).




The newest addition to the L-Wacko Challenge, Eric, with only 4 pounds to lose to hit his March target weight of 175, though waiting until the last minute to do so, didn’t have a problem achieving his objective. All it took was a slight reduction in calorie consumption and a daily work-out. Nice job, Eric! Next stop, 169 on July 4.


Meanwhile, I’ve been too scared to check my weight over the last few days, knowing I have miles to go before I rest (I’m not getting on the scale until I go from three holes to four on my belt).  Come March 30, I know I’m going to wish I could take those extra two pounds (but I’ll be cowed by Elyse’s voice in my head, “You committed to 163, so that’s that!”).


Back on Dec. 24, I hit my 165 target and didn’t look back until about a week ago. And what a couple of heavenly months they were. I genuflect to my favorite breakfast — a rotund bowl of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream with whipped cream (hold the cherry — I’m on a diet). But on March 13, with 18 days to go, I got L-Wacko religion and clocked the first of what has been, and will continue to be, quite a few 1,000/calorie days until I hit 163.  Getting that first 1,000/calorie day under my belt was big, but the 2nd consecutive day is magical. That’s when I actually start enjoying losing weight more than feasting on B & J’s.  It’s true. Not only do I start feeling good about myself for exerting the discipline to say NO to the myriad temptations bombarding my senses throughout the day, but I also feel more energetic, mentally sharper, and can anticipate the quasi-euphoric feeling of success I will enjoy on my target date. I honestly believe that conditioning my mind to replace the joy of eating with the joy of losing weight is, and will continue to be, the key to my ability to “Keep it Off.”


Meanwhile, up north, Donna, last I heard, had dropped 8 pounds by downing a week’s worth of some super-healthy smoothies (and only said smoothies), which put her just one pound away from her target. But once the smoothies stopped flowing did Donna drop that last pound? Stay tuned…


Also, I hope Sharon, who had 8 pounds to lose last time I checked, is on track to reach her objective.


I haven’t heard from our rookies, Wendi or Jean, and hope they are still Livin la Vida L-Wacko.


Anyone else care to share their data?


Willna Out

Posted in Weigh In's, Weight Loss, Willpower | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments