Digest [8/28/2013 to 9/20/2013]

This is going to be a semi-regular update where I share the articles I’ve come across over the past week or so that I thought were the most interesting. Please enjoy!

This first list is significantly longer than future lists will be since it contains over three weeks of links, so bear with me.

Share

My Weight Loss Journey [Phase 2 of ?]

Today marks the one-year anniversary since I started my crazy diet.

Starting weight: 223.2
Today’s weight:  181.8
Total Loss:       41.4 pounds

Screenshot of Graph

You can see the major drop starting in August of 2012. I hit my goal weight in October of 2012 and have been maintaining ever since then. My lowest weight was about 169 and I hit that shortly before Thanksgiving. Since then I’ve been hanging steady from 175-185.

Ideally I would like to lose about 15 pounds of fat and gain 15 pounds of muscle. Let’s see…that would put me at 181.8 pounds :-p

It’s been amazing how much better I feel physically and how much more energy I have. I pray that God will use my new body in awesome ways for His glory!

Share

Wonderful Pistachios: Should You Buy Them In The Shell?

Pistachios Bag

I’m a sucker for a good deal, so when I see delicious food at Sam’s Club, I have to resist the urge to stuff it into the already-packed shopping cart. But the last time we went to Sam’s, I saw that Wonderful Pistachios (the brand, although they are inherently wonderful) come in a 3-pound bag in the shell or a 1.5-pound bag already de-shelled.

The Question

Which bag has the lowest cost per unit of pistachio seeds? To clarify, a pistachio seed is what is inside the shell. So for our purposes moving forward, you should assume that when I say seed, I mean a shelled pistachio.

The Hypothesis

I hypothesize that the 3-pound bag of unshelled (shells on) pistachios will have a lower cost per unit of seeds than the 1.5-pound bag of shelled (shells pre-removed) pistachios.

  1. Removing shells takes additional processing at the factory.
  2. Additional processing requires additional engineering, factory workers, machinery, and maintenance.
  3. Those extras cost additional money.
  4. Companies pass extra costs on to consumers, especially when it makes the product more convenient for the consumer.
  5. Pistachios that come pre-shelled are more convenient for the consumer.
  6. Therefore, the cost per unit of seeds will be higher for a product that is more convenient for the consumer and takes more resources to produce for the company.

The Experiment

I decided to put an end to my curiosity by removing the shells from an entire 3-pound bag and weighing the resultant seeds. I was extremely careful to fully separate the seed from its shell and “husk” (the paper-like cover that surrounds many of the seeds after you remove the shell). I captured all of the shells and husks in one bin and all of the seeds in another. The entire process took about four solid hours which I completed over the course of two weeks as I watched TV. My thumbs were so sore from the combination of the salt and sharp edges of the shells that I had to take at least a day off between each session. Until…my new favorite tool arrived in the mail, after which I promptly finished off the bag and excitedly began the weighing process.

The Results

Turns out my hypothesis was totally wrong!

  3-pound bag
(in shell)
1.5-pound bag
(seeds only)
Cost $17.98 $14.98
Weight 1361 g 680 g
Weight of Shells 720 g N/A
Weight of Seeds 675 g 689 g*
Percent Yield 50% (of advertised)
48% (of actual)
101%*
Prep. Time 4 hours N/A
Cost Per Gram of Seeds 2.664 ¢/g 2.174 ¢/g
Winner  

*I assumed that the actual yield of seeds in the 1.5-pound bag was 10% (68 g) less than the advertised weight (680 g). This follows my typical experience with weights on consumer packaged goods. When my pistachios run out, I’ll buy the pre-shelled bag and weigh it so I have an actual figure. Update: I bought the pre-shelled pistachios. To my surprise, the weight of the seeds was actually more than they advertised on the bag. It was supposed to be 1.5 pounds (680 g) but turned out to be 689 g! So the cost is now even lower per gram of seeds than I had initially posted.

What should you do?

Buy the pre-shelled pistachios! You will save approximately four hours of your life and also spend less money. Win-win! So unless you are a glutton for punishment, just take the easy way out. For once, it’s the smart thing to do.

Glamor Shots

Shells from the 3-pound bag in a Krispy Kreme box.
Shells from the 3-pound bag in a Krispy Kreme box
All of the seeds from the 3-pound bag
All of the seeds from the 3-pound bag
Share

My Weight Loss Journey [Phase 1 of ?]


August 12, 2012: The day I decided my life needed a big change.

I came home from the beach on August 11th and I had just lived through a week of not feeling comfortable with my own body. I was surrounded by pools and the ocean but I never felt like I could take my shirt off and relax. So I didn’t. I kept my shirt on the whole time along with my goofy hat under the guise of not wanting to get a sunburn. I’m sure most people saw right through that nonsense.

Earlier in the summer, my church had a study for women based on the book from Lysa TerKeurst called Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food. I really wanted to take the study, but it wasn’t offered at a time that worked for me. So I went ahead and bought the book with the hope of reading it right then, but ended up forgetting about it.

The week before I left for the beach, there was an article on Lifehacker about a dude that had struggled with being overweight his whole life and had ended up losing 100 pounds. His tale fascinated me and I took several golden nuggets from his advice:

  • Motivation: without it, you will fail in the long-run.
  • Processed food: stop eating it. Seriously.
  • Exercise: he said it was not helpful for him. That’s fine and all, but the pure math behind a pound of fat being 3500 calories and exercise burning more calories than if you were not exercising kind of makes his point irrelevant. So needless to say, I have been exercising.
  • Portion control: by itself you are doomed to plateau.
  • Lower carb diet: only works long-term if you cut out things like bread, pasta, and sugar.
  • Eat to Live (the diet, not the mindset): no dairy, no sugar.

When I started my diet on Monday, August 13, 2012 at a weight of 223.2 pounds, I kept those nuggets in mind and also determined to read a chapter of the Made to Crave book each day. Based on the advice from the book and the article, I crafted a diet that I felt would work well and I would be able to stick to. Here’s what I came up with:

The “No” list.

  • No dairy
  • No added sugars of any kind other than honey
  • No grains (wheat, rice, oats, etc.)
  • No preservatives
  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No potatoes
  • Nothing heavily processed (if I can’t easily make it at home, I’m not eating it)

The “Yes” list.

  • Meats
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables (except potatoes)
  • Nuts/Seeds
  • Vegetable Oil

In retrospect, I ate a few things that did not strictly meet the above guidelines, but for the most part (like 99% most part) I stuck to it pretty well.

But dieting is only one-third of the equation.

Exercise

As I mentioned earlier, my takeaway from the Lifehacker article about the guy not exercising was that I totally disagree that it would not have helped him. Exercise is essential for making and keeping your body healthy. Even if you don’t need to lose any weight, if you’re not exercising at all, you’re probably in pretty bad shape.

One of Lysa’s success strategies involved her running 4 miles every morning to start the day. If she didn’t feel like running, she had a friend that would motivate her and vice versa. I am not quite that good at running yet, but I have been trying to run at least one 5k per week in addition to tennis at least once a week. This past week has been filled with two 5ks, tennis five times, and some weight lifting. I’m pretty exhausted…

And speaking of weight lifting, I got a membership to the YMCA. So I’ve been trying to go at least three times per week, but I think the most I’ve made it there is twice in a week so far because work is so hectic.

Part Three of the Equation

Earlier I mentioned that there are three parts to long-term weight loss.

  1. Dieting
  2. Exercise
  3. ???

So what’s the rest of the equation? To answer that question, we have to dive in to the true motivation behind me wanting to lose weight in the first place.

As a Christian, I was bought with a price: the Blood of Jesus. And therefore my body is not my own. But I had been living as if it was. I was worshipping food instead of God. I was living to eat instead of eating to live. My body was headed down a path of physical destruction, much like my own dad’s body, who passed away at age 56 from complications after his quintuple-bypass heart surgery. If I am to do everything I do for the glory of the One who made me, then I must also treat my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.

With that revelation in place, and a genuine desire to please God through the transformation of my body, the only thing left to do was pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Please transform my body into a worthy temple for Your Holy Spirit.
Please make me eat to live instead of living to eat.
Please make me to worship You instead of food.
Please guide me to make eating choices today that will glorify Your Name.
Please motivate me to exercise that I may lose weight so my body will be better able to serve You, O God.

In Jesus’ Name,
Amen!

Today Is a Wonderful Day!

Today, October 13, 2012, I am excited to announce that I have surpassed my goal weight of 185 with a weigh-in of 183.6 pounds! It has been exactly two months since I started my diet, and I have lost 39.6 pounds so far!

What’s next?

I decided that once I dropped below 185, I would reincorporate dairy into my diet. So this morning, I had a Raspberry Chobani Greek yogurt. It was quite delicious and has 28% of your daily protein. I ate yummy chili today and I was able to add a little bit of cheese and sour cream to that which was also really good.

Once I drop below 180, I will attempt to slowly reincorporate grains. And once I drop below 175, I will add very limited quantities of sugar. So my plan is to have that tiered structure in place so that if my weight starts to rise again (aside from muscle-building), I simply remove sugar if I go above 175, grains if I go above 180, and dairy if I go above 185. I hope that will mitigate any reversal of the progress I’ve made so far.

Thank You!

I want to give a big shout-out to my friends and family that have been so patient with me as I have been super-picky about where we can go to eat. Thank you for bearing with me!

Thanks to my lunch buddies at work (Derek, Patrick, Joe, Pete, Sean, and Dustin), my family who visited in the midst of phase 1 of my diet, and everyone who reads this.

A special thanks to God for opening my eyes to the damage I was doing to my body and for reversing it and giving me a new mindset:

  • Eat to live. Don’t live to eat.
  • Don’t eat until you’re full. Eat until you’re not hungry.

Do you have any weight-loss tips that you think would help me stay the course? Please share them in the comments.

Share

What have I been reading lately?

Since I became a Christian in 2009, my desire to read has really exploded. I used to loathe reading, but after spending time in God’s Word, I find that I really enjoy reading. Here’s what I’ve consumed recently*:

*Note: These are in order of when I purchased them, not necessarily when I read them.

I’m not going to rate these books individually. I have truly enjoyed every single one of them, and highly recommend all of them. You know yourself better than I do. Take a look at them and see what you think might interest you or be beneficial for you.

Enjoy!

What books have you read that you think would help me?

Share