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Hacker's Diet 125

MrSpock writes "John Walker, founder of AutoCAD's holding companay Autodesk, has written a 200 page weight loss guide called The Hacker's Diet: How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition that takes a very hacker-friendly perspective on weight loss (and god knows many of us hackers need to lose weight). If your Geek Code includes "s:+>:", then you might want to look into the book. It's not a dry read, and seems to be pretty well-reasoned. " I especially liked Walker's "Eat Watch" concept. It's funny, yes, but it also makes good sense. I heartily recommend this online book to any Slashdot reader who is starting to think about entering Michelin Tire Man lookalike contests.
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Hacker's Diet

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  • Actually, the book will work fine for you. It's more about weight maintenance and control than weight loss.

    The basic idea of the book is that improper weight (too much, usually) is caused by malfunctioning feedback mechanisms. The part of the body that says "eat" or "stop eating" doesn't register when it should.

    So substitute an external feedback mechanism: carefully monitor your weight (using statistically sound smoothing methods), and adjust your eating to match the weight loss/gain/maintenance you want. Smoothing the weight measurements is necessary because the natural swings caused by daily activity is much greater than the baseline changes. There is a low signal/noise ratio, so it's necessary to filter out the noise.

    The basic technique should work fine for weight gain as well as weight loss.
  • There was a fascinating "Frontline" documentary on PBS a few months ago on obesity among Americans and its causes. Yes, laziness (automobile addiction) contributes to it, but the main thing was, as one doctor put it, "a toxic diet". It's junk food, which is relentlessly marketed to Americans starting at childhood, combined with some people's lack of willpower, and in a few cases, yes, genetic factors, that causes most obesity.

    What's disturbing is that American junk food, along with crappy music and all the rest of American pop culture, is what people in developing coutries crave, and the mega-corporations are only too glad to sell it to them.
  • I think a HOWTO would be great. I used advice from the book and lost 15 kg on 6 month. It was great. The problem is a book is static or have long reprint cyckles.

    A HOWTO could be fast and often updated with new tips and tricks from a lot of people.

    Give it a try!

  • Hmm. From looking around the site, I get the impression he has nothing to do with the operation of Autodesk anymore.

    Also, somewhere in there he specifically says he won't program for Windows any more since it's gotten to be such a PITA to do so.

  • That's basially the same thing that happened to me. I moved out and I lost 10 pounds simply because whenever I finished eating I didn't have someone always saying "you havn't had enough to eat, here's some more"..
  • For these people who are in favor of the Atkins diet - I am sure it works beautifully with them. But dieting means, by definition, inflicting some painful restraint on oneself. I found it much less painful to eat less of everything (and exercise) than to deny myself sweet foods completely (yes I had tried Atkins too). What would life be without a cheesecake, even if you eat it only once a month? After 2 weeks of Atkins, I even felt like I would kill for simple bread.

    In fact I support John's diet, but think he did not put enough emphasis on exercise and building muscles along as you shed fat. By all means, maintain a 500cals deficit. But let it be a 2500 intake and 3000 expense, as you go to the gym or swimming pool and indulge in a solid chicken breast (with a small icecream wafer) afterwards, instead of 1500 out of 2000 if you sit all day and burn cals just to heat yourself.
  • For these people who are in favor of the Atkins diet - I am sure it works beautifully with them. But dieting means, by definition, inflicting some painful restraint on oneself. I found it much less painful to eat less of everything (and exercise) than to deny myself sweet foods completely (yes I had tried Atkins too). What would life be without a cheesecake, even if you eat it only once a month? After 2 weeks of Atkins, I even felt like I would kill for simple bread.

    In fact I support John's diet, but think he did not put enough emphasis on exercise and building muscles along as you shed fat. By all means, maintain a 500cals deficit as the book recommends. But let it be a 2500 intake and 3000 expense, as you go to the gym or swimming pool and indulge in a solid chicken breast (with a small icecream wafer) afterwards, instead of 1500 out of 2000 if you sit all day and burn cals just to heat yourself.
  • Perhaps this post is only pseudo-on-topic, but I feel it's relevent....

    I think what happened to us is we got desk jobs. I'm 5' 11", and for the longest time, I was 125-130 lbs. with a 28 in. waist. I used to have boundless energy and ate like a horse. It has been about 1 1/2 years since I took this desk job, and it has taken that time for me to gain 2 inches and go up to 150 lbs. I don't get enough exercise, I don't eat right and I drink too much beer; most of my new weight is clinging to the "beltline" region of my body. I really don't want to end up looking like Homer Simpson.

    I was the typical skinny guy you know who couldn't hold still and ate uncontrolably (until recently, that is). I'm also borderline hypoglycemic (it sound's like several of the "hackers" posting here are) so if I miss a meal or try to cheat by using sugar as a "pick me up", I wind up tired, shakey, lethargic, dazed and with a headache. (IIRC, part of hypoglycemia is your body being unable to tap into your fat reserves after your bloodsugar has depleted.) My habit of skipping breakfast and eating crap at odd hours only aggravate the above problems.

    Something interesting happened to me this weekend; I spent Saturday cutting the grass and de-thatching the yard with an old rake (trust me, it sucks) and a good portion of Sunday rollerblading. I got more exercise this weekend than the last two weeks combined. The interesting thing is, for dinner yesterday (Sunday), I had a Coke, a large order of fries, a Quarter pounder, a fish sandwich and some icecream. This may sound like a lot, but for a large portion of my life, anything less would have been abnormal. The point of all this is that after just one weekend of decent exercise, I feel much better and (for today so far) I feel like I've been a little more resistant to the wild energy level swings that accompany my usual bloodsugar level rollercoaster ride.

    If we took the time a few days a week to get out and use the muscles we were born to use, we'd feel much better and would be more productive in the long run. I fear that we the "hacker" generation are going to have serious medical problems in the coming years if we don't take better care of ourselves. I'm 26 now and already I have a massive patch of grey, my eyes are being ruined my this damn CRT and I lack the physical stamina I had 2 years ago; it just isn't normal. At this rate, by the time I'm able to retire, I'll have to move directly into a nursing home!

    I don't think anybody wants a fate like this.

    Slashdot dudes--- How 'bout moving the "preview" and "Submit" buttons away from eachother; it's much to easy to hit the wrong one.
  • I'm underweight (60kg at 173cm), but I get enough exercise (lots of bicycling) and have a very healthy diet (mostly vegetarian). I shudder at the sight of co-workers who start off the morning with a Coke or eat McDonald's every day.

    Anyway, I had a minor epiphany the other day about the stereotypical hacker's (bad) diet. I was installing TurboLinux 3.0J on my Toshiba laptop, it was about 10 in the evening, and I still hadn't eaten dinner (which isn't that unusual). I was really getting hungry, but I was too absorbed with the computer to do anything about it (also not unusual). But the thing is, I rarely consume junk food, and _never_ buy any or have any sort of snacks in my kitchen. When I make dinner, it usually takes almost an hour, since I enjoy cooking and don't have a microwave oven, so it involves cooking rice or boiling pasta and preparing the rest of the stuff too.

    I was getting really hungry, and I thought, "what do all those other hackers do in a situation like this", and I realized that most of them would open a bag of potato chips or drive down to McDonald's and call it dinner, and get on with the hacking.

    I realized that I could never become a true uber-wizard hacker as long as I valued my health. (Hunger always wins.) Or at least until I got a wife/live-in GF who would either a) cook for me, or b) yell at me to pull myself away from the damn computer and start cooking dinner or else!

    I actually prefer b).
  • Here are my 2 cents about cows.

    First thing is that plants do have all amino-acids, just some of them are in proteins which can not be digested by humans and thus not available in required quantities.

    Cows on the other hand have special germs in their stomachs and intestines which can break those proteins to amino-acids. When they chew grass, they mix it with their stomach fluids containing those germs and wait until grass is basically fermented.

    Vegeterians rely on the fact that body changes metabolism trying to re-use 'animal' amino-acids instead of throwing them away and replacing with 'new' ones from the food. And that small quantity which is available directly from vegetables is enough to compensate natural loss of them.
  • Amen to that.. It works for other things than code also. Women, money, family problems, just about all problems can be solved by lifting a ton or too or working out until exhaustion.

    Problems get solved and you feel 10 times better.

  • Just to give another testimonial, let me agree that the information in this book is invaluable. I went from 270 to 185 over the course of about 9 or 10 months.

    I think this diet is really well suited towards computer types because it frames weight loss as a math problem. In the past I had trouble sticking to any weight loss plan not because I did not know what to do but because I really did not know how much to do and what to expect. We all know that to lose weight one must east less and exercise. But, how much less do should one eat? How much exercise? How much weight should I lose after a week? After a month?

    The Hacker's Diet explains all of this in ways that we can understand. When you view your weight as a mathematical formula that you can manipulate, weight loss becomes quite easy. When you know exactly what effect that those couple of sodas have or that the late night pizza run has, then it becomes much easier to manage. You know when to stop but you also know when not to feel guilty about what to have. For some people, the Hacker's Diet approach of meticulously counting calories and calculating your metabolic rate is a nightmare. But if you want to have as much control over your body as you do over your computer and don't mind doing the math, then the Hacker's Diet is the perfect plan.

    In addition to websites like Tackhead posted, I would also recommend a program called "Fitness Record" for the palm pilot. I used that to keep track of caloric intake and output and chart my weight loss.

    What you eat doesn't matter, only how many calories you consume and how many calories you burn.

    This is is probably the most important insight from this book. Low fat, high fat, low carb, etc... From a weight loss perspective - it is all the same. Anyone who tells you otherwise is uninformed. Now, there is a difference from a health perspective and it may be easier for a person to adjust their food intake on a certain type of diet - but for weight loss itself to occur it does not matter what you eat.

    Good luck to any fellow hackers who are still struggling with weight loss. I hope this book proves as helpful to you as it did to me.

  • It's kind of funny reading a lot of comments here where people say they were thin when they were young, then got a computer job and slowly started getting fat and out-of-shape. The same thing happened to me, I guess 3 1/2 years ago was when I was waist size 34" (I'm 6'4) and around 140-150 pounds, Joshua Quittner once described me as "gawky-tall". Anyway, the same thing happened, I got a computer desk job, my physical activeness kind of stopped and I started eating a lot more fatty foods like Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream, one every day actually, Hot Pockets, Rolling Rock beer and so forth. Well several years later I found myself no more physically active and now a size 38" waist. I didn't mind while it was happening since I'd always been thin, and earlier this year when I decided to start working out, it was less because I had a beer belly and more because I wanted upper body strength so I could look good and be able to kick people's asses. But I also may have started at the right time because I am 210 lbs. and may have been headed for a size 40" waist if I didn't start getting cardiovascular exercise and stop eating overly fatty foods.

    I think this book/web site is a great idea. A lot of this stuff is more about how you approach it that makes the difference between being something you don't want to do and something you look forward too. The three areas I think of are cardiovascular exercise, food intake and muscle exercise. As far as cardiovascular exercise, I do it twice a week, which isn't really enough to lose a lot of weight but I am busy as there seems to be a world shortage of UNIX administrators. As far as food intake I now read the labels on food, and am conscious of how dairy foods are heavy in fat and saturated fat so I've cut down on eating high calorie foods to some degree - it's not a big deal, I still eat them, just not as much as before, and I eat different things in stead. Just minor adjustments to my diet. As far as muscular development, I enjoy being able to go into the gym and bench press 5-10 more pounds than I did last time, and I look better now too. I don't know about the rest of my life, but for now I want to become very muscular and have a small stomach. If you look on this as a project, like a cool program you're writing for fun, or a web site you're setting up for enjoyment, it will be better, and you can map your progress as you go as well. The diet/muscle/cardiovascular stuff is all based in biological science - you learn stuff like muscles are actually built up stronger by tearing them down with exercise and, or that muscles weigh more than fat so you get thinner just walking around with more muscles because you're walking around with more weight to carry. It doesn't take a lot to lose weight - just skip that high-calorie ice cream once in a while, do some exercise a few times a week.
  • I say put all the technical information that you want into it. We're all geeks, so what we don't understand we'll ignore untill we do. Just have tags that go around the chemistry/biology stuff, so that I'll know which parts I do and don't need to read.
  • I think I sorta left the impression from that last message that I am a die hard vegetarian. I'm not. Last night I ate shrimp and steak, and I just now finished a spaghetti dinner with meatballs. But I balance that out with a lotta greens. I am not under any dissolusionment that I am doing anything for my health eating meat, I just like it. And when I'm training for a sporting event, I adjust accordingly: little or no meat and right before the event, nothing but fruit and plenty of water.

    That brings me to the other thing I forgot to say. There are groups of people that are justified in writing down numbers and crunching them for health reasons: Incredibly obese people (we're talking like 500 pounds and up, all fat) who need liquid diets and/or have some kind of disease/syndrome that got them there. The other is very competitive athletes who use training schedules and diets. Anywhere in between, there is simply no need.

    And sorry everybody for the errors, I am just too lazy to proofread, or something.
  • I've got one, and only one thing to say on this subject: don't control the wrong parameter. Being in good shape doesn't mean losing weight (it might mean gaining weight). It might make more sense to
    think about increasing your body density (you may want to reduce fat and gain muscle). Lacking a large tank of water, it isn't all that easy to measure your body's volume, but this doesn't justify the endless obession about "weight" just because that's easy to measure.

    You'd be better off throwing away the scale, and using a tape measure. Or even better, measure the number of miles you can walk/run/bike (and preferably do it about three times a week).

    Or even simpler: kill your automobile.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    We use cars too much in America. I know I started to gain wait soo after I got a car. In some ways it is necessary in some places to use a car since everything is far apart. But last time I was at the mall, I've seen people wait a bit just so they can get a parking space a couple stalls closer when could have parked a bit farther and walked into the mall quicker!
  • Think about what you just said.. We are meat, but we can't produce those 8 ameino acids. Other animals are meat, but they can? That doesn't make much sense. I'd be willing to bet that your right about the 8 ameino acids that we can't produce, but I'd also bet that those acids come from plants, of which animals also have simply because they eat plants, or eat animals who have eatten plants. (I'm not expert on the matter just using common sense, as I know vegitarians (who don't eat eggs or drink milk) can survive, they just have to have a good balanced diet.
  • Just drink a nice homebrew to get your Vitamin B12!
  • In 6 months I lost 54 pounds. For exercise I did (and continue to do) a program I found in Outside magazine, and the diet portion was inspired from "The Hacker's Diet". What I found most helpful about it was that he told you what was going to happen, and how you'd feel. Being forewarned, it made it tons easier to deal with the negative aspects of it. I actually found losing the weight to be fairly easy!

    In any case, I heartily recommend "The Hacker's Diet" to anyone who needs to lose weight.
  • Try the Atkins diet..
    No Carbohydrates allowed. (well at least for the first week or two)

    It works for me, and it's pretty easy, no counting or measuring. You dont eat any starchy foods like potatos or corn, no sugar, no bread, just meat and green veggies. It dropped my cholesterol from 370 to 190, triglycerides are nearly zero.
    It's a steak and eggs diet, in central Texas where BBQ is king, I'm doing fine.
    The theory is that you store excess carbs as fat, but you dont store excess fat or protein. If you dont have carbs in your diet, your body will be forced to metabolize fat to get the sugar needed to run cellular machinery. Once you switch over to fat burning mode, you'll start using your fat cell reserves since there arent any easy carbs to metabolize. While you are reducing, you do need some supplements, like A,C and E, but a daily multivitamin has all you need, then add an anti-oxidant combo to deal with the ketones and you're set.
    And as a plus, any exercise will really show results since you are eating so much protein.
    Check out alt.support.diet.low-carb for more info
  • I wouldn't call the book simplistic, but a reflection of the time it was written.

    Today, any weight loss guide should include three things:

    1. The UDSA encouragement that people get more of their calories from carbohydrates... and the subsequent bloating of the population, and
    2. The profound effects of moderate protein diets (e.g., Zone, Paleo, Atkins) on many (not all) people.
    3. The observation that some "thin" people still have an astonishingly high body fat level... and the related health effects. You don't necessarily need to be able to see abdominal muscles, but you *do* need to exercise regularly.

    Not everyone gains weight on high carbohydrate diets. Not everyone quickly drops weight on a 40/30/30 diet. But it happens to enough people that no discussion of nutrition is complete without it. (And for the critics of the Zone diet out there, I tried it on the recommendation of a dietitian I consulted after gaining weight on a 1000 cal/day high carb, very low fat diet.)

    Also, his monitoring techniques work even better with a Tanita scale. For those unfamiliar with them, they measure both weight and body fat.
  • We usually spell it oorah or urh, as in urh-kill. There is a whole history behind this but it is boring unless you're a devildog. I'm sure that we could all count well into the double digits but we have a real hard time counting things into the double digits. I don't know how many times I've heard some ass say "we're going on a 25 mile hump" then we hump for 30 miles and the same ass goes "only five miles left". Being an 03 is good for warping your mind.

  • Think about what you just said.. We are meat, but we can't produce those 8 ameino acids.

    Other animals are meat, but they can? That doesn't make much sense

    Yes, well it's kinda funny that a gorilla can turn into a 500lb creature that can pick up your car and throw it on a strict diet of twigs and berries .. oh wait - they have a different physiology :-)

  • Would your "How To" work for a person with knee related mobility problems?
  • Strange that Rob posted the european site, when a north american mirror was available (and most people here are in NA).

  • I remember going for lunch to a "Fresh Choice" (a salad bar chain in California) and standing behind two grossly fat woman in line. They each nearly filled their plates with iceberg lettuce (least nutricious of the lettuce choices) and then drenched the lettuce with about a cup of bleu cheese dressing and topped that with croutons. This was their entire meal. No broccoli, no corn, no peas, no beets, no sprouts, nothing with any nutritive value.

    I think they were proud of themselves for eating a healthy salad, and were probably looking forward to a "reward" at dinner time for being so good at lunch.
  • Yes I have the same problem. I used to be quite fat (about 225# and 5'8") but got down to a very slim (for my build) 165#. Mainly from running, a lot (8-10 miles), every day.

    I have always been strict about no junk food, and all my co workers think I am a health food freak, but the truth is I'm a food snob. I love to cook and I love to eat.

    Since I started using linux I think I put on 15 pounds and have gone long streches without running. I need to cut this shit out.
  • I have Office 97, downloaded the zip file, unpacked them, fired up the Weigtemp.xls file, and started getting a series of macro errors.

    I know nothing about Excel macros, and really don't have a clue about where to start. It gives me the willies to think about learning a scripting "language" created in Redmond.

    So I'm hoping that it's something simple that someone can tell me that instantly presto-change-o solves all my worries and allows me to get the cool exponentially smoothed weight graph.

    Anyone else had/solved this problem?

    -- Ryan Waldron
  • You can make bread out of a "nut flour" and still stick to the diet.

  • It's amusing to find an Anti-Microsoft Rant [fourmilab.ch] in the middle of a book on weightloss. Can you find similar monologues in other books, hopefully in the Introduction rather than the middle of a chapter. Is this kind of thing even appropraite in a book like this, no matter how true?

  • Whilst the diet and semi-exercise plan recommended by the authour have merit, he overlooks the fact that, over time, those of us who are of a more corporeal nature tend to develop this particularly insidious disease. In what was an admittedly fast scan of the material, I failed to notice any mention of Type-II diabetes, and am somewhat curious about this.

    In most cases, this disease is directly related to one's diet being too high in fats, and that one is not doing enough exercise to raise the met rate over minimum. It is interesting to note tht a perfectly healthy person will test as being strongly diabetic (-very- elevated blood glucose) after ingesting a high-fat, low-sugar meal. The clinical trial that was done on this actually used serum lipids, but one is as indicative as the other.

    If (the collective and individual) you have any of the classic symptoms of this disease, PLEASE do see a physician. Having waited a bit too long myself, I would prefer for no-one else to have go the same route I have.

    be well....

  • http://www.erols.com/gww6e/draft-HOWTO-v0.1.html

    Feedback is welcome.

  • The book encourages you to weigh daily in order to determine an overall gain/loss trend, and emphasises that you should ignore the day-to-day fluctuations. It also calls for picking a rational target weight and using the data to adjust your caloric intake to prevent wandering off of that weight.

    One of the key points of the book is that for some of us the "Stop eating, I've had enough" switch is calibrated too high, so we have to implement some manual control.

    If making rational decisions based on hard data to make minor adjustments to my diet constitutes an eating disorder, then consider me disorderly.

    Perhaps daily weighings are a symptom of eating disorders, rather than a cause?

  • This is probably old news but if you are having problems with the site try:



  • Do you know, I've known about this ever since Internet Underground (used to be a great magazine about the web, but I don't know what's happened to it now) did a report on fourmilab (his site)? I'm surprised that this hadn't already been posted...
  • Being a musicicen *and* a programer, I think this might just mean I can run up the stairs without getting out of breath...
  • Strange that American hackers seem to have problems with being overweight, I, and many of my friends, are underweight if anything! How do you guys drag your fingers away from the keyboard long enough to eat? I know I can't!

    Being serious though, I think being underweight is also a serious problem for hackers. It can lead to bad health, and lack of concentration. I visited my aunt recently (who has a phd in nutrition) re: my eating habits and I am slightly below the minimum healthy weight for someone my height. The fact that I don't eat meat probably doesn't help, but it is possible to have a perfectly healthy diet without meat. My aunt told me loads of interesting stuff - for example, did you know that iron (something we all need) will not be absorbed if you consume it with dairy products? This means that when Cornflakes claims that it is full of Iron, it may be right, but very little of that iron will be absorbed. Further, if you don't eat meat as I do, protein is also something that you need to think about. There are actually two types, and most non-meat foods only have one of those types, where as both are needed.

    Perhaps someone who knows about these things will post an Eating HOWTO for hackers to /.


  • I agree. I'm 6', about 78kg. I used to be about 70, never did any exercise, spent 10s of hours a day stuck infront of a terminal, never got sick ... but i've put that extra 8-10 on in the last 2-3 years, basically from riding a pushbike 100's of km/week, and not from the stress and rich food I now eat :) I still never get sick, and seem to bounce off cars and roads with astounding luck ...

    Although work stress (and beer!) does seem to be getting me a beer gut and too much grey!

    PS I dont think i'm underweight at all, but many seem to think i am.

    __// `Thinking is an exercise to which all too few brains
  • thank god!!
    I thought I was going to have to be surgically removed from my chair!! I have been sitting at my PC so long that my fat has curled around the posts on my chair and I can't get out. Hopefully this will help!
  • IIRC, if you do not each meat, you will need an animal byproduct such as eggs or milk.

    Now I am going completely from memory, (and I have no built-in error chcking). There are 28 protiens that you body needs to function properly. (Or is that 28 ameino acids?) With a number of them, your body can produce the rest, so you do not actually need to consume all 28. However, 8 of them come from animals, and cannot be manufactured otherwise (by your body).
  • Former biochemist speaks:

    1) It's amino acids
    2) All the amino acids we can't synthesize from scratch are also found in plants, so you don't actually need to get them from animals.
    3) You need to eat certain combinations of plant-based foods (e.g. grains and legumes) to ensure you're getting enough of the vital amino acids.

    I'm not vegetarian, but I typically don't eat meat more than once or twice a week, so I watch what I eat to make sure I get enough of the right amino acids.
  • I'm 5'6" and weigh about 100lb. I'm very lightly built. I think my bones have negative mass.

    I'm healthy, hardly ever get ill, and when I went for a medical a few months ago the nurse said it wasn't a problem. I don't think I'm underweight. I think I'm supposed to weigh this little.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    A -1 on the last post? I thought it was pretty funny.

    Please make it so there is a rule for moderators which says "You have to stay off crack while moderating posts on Slashdot".
  • Being 5 1/2 feet tall, ya, 100 pounds is alright. For the record I'm half a foot taller, 70. lbs heavier, and I usually feel alright, even though I could gain a little weight and it wouldn't hurt anything. I used to be in the 180-190 range before I stopped screwing around and started staying active (i.e. stopped being a lazy bum, especially in the summer time where it was like, get up, walk to computer, use computer, eat, go to the bathroom, repeat until bedtime and do it all again the next day..that shit's over with. Not only are you going to gain weight doing that, you're going to constantly feel like shit.

    But who knows, maybe I'm being full of shit. ;)

  • Internet Underground was bought out by Ziff-Davis and killed shortly afterwards.

    It's a darn shame, since it was one of the most interesting Internet magazines around. I was thinking about subscribing to it, since getting it around here was rather hard, and then boom, it was gone :(

    If anybody can suggest any magazines like it I would really appreciate it. Shift seems to be the closest thing to it (kinda).
  • The three most expensive things I own are my Car, Computers, and my Squat Rack. There's nothing better than throwing some iron around when you get good and pissed because you can't figure out a problem in your code.

    Just throw a few wagon wheels on a straight bar and lift till you figure out the answer.


  • Most of this book is concentrated on weight loss by caloric deficit. While this can have great effects for someone seriously overweight, there's a limit to which you can shed weight in this way. In the end, you'll look thin, but still have too much fat. The difference will be visible when you take your clothes off :-)

    Remember, the only way to look like a man again (i.e. have some visible musculature) after you shed all except those difficult last 10 kilos is to exercise.

    //Mr. Experienced :-)
  • you guys slashdotted the "tools" section already.... guess I'll have to try after lunch :)
  • At the risk of sounding like a Jenny Craig commercial...

    I stumbled across this page a few months ago (somebody had linked to his definition of "hacker"), decided to give it a whirl and have been losing weight easily for three months now. Two more months to target weight.

    I think his key tip is that you should continue weighing yourself every day AFTER you reach your target weight, so you can go on a mini-diet if required before things get out of hand.

  • People who don't eat eggs or drink milk or, for that matter, consume anything that came from an animal (a loose and subjective distinction at best) are known as vegans. Vegetarians, for the most part, simply do not eat meat. Again, a subjective definition, but one worth making...

  • This is wierd, but I know people who try eagerly to find parking spaces just a little bit closer to the hiking trail.
  • Aha.. well I used to play more guitar and now my weight's gone up a bit too. I wonder... :)

    Actually, I'm not that unhappy with it really... slows me down a bit, I'm sure, but I think maybe eating more clementines might help by staving off the hunger a bit... we shall see :)
  • Me too. :-)*

    Sorry, had to do that, I miss the good ol' days of usenet...

    Seriously though, I believe that if you have information and don't mind compiling it, there will always be an audience.

    And for some reason, HOWTOs are often better than FAQs, they're straight, simple, and to the point just because it's called a HOWTO rather than FAQ. The author's writing style reflects that. FAQs just answer questions while HOWTOs tell specifically how to do something. It's still just text, but it seems to work.

    If it weren't for HOWTOs, I'd know nothing about Linux.

    I know lots of people who'd love to read it.
  • Weighing yourself everyday is a quick ticket to eating disorders.

    Eat healthy and exercise -- your body will come to equilibrium around the right weight for you.

    -- chart
  • It's not a casual anti-MS rant for the sake of ranting. The book comes with some Excel spreadsheets. Because MS breaks .xls compatibility with every version of Excel, the author had to release multiple versions of his spreadsheets. The rant was on-topic for the chapter.

    I haven't bothered trying to import the older spreadsheets into Excel 97 or StarOffice. If that works, then perhaps the rant is a bit less deserved.
  • > not some camels public hair

    ITYM "pubic hair" :) :) :) - and aside of that any hary Perl modules outhere? :)

  • Think about what you just said.. We are meat, but we can't produce those 8 ameino acids. Other animals are meat, but they can? That doesn't make much sense.

    It doesn't make much sense if you assume that all animals' metabolisms are the same. However, by that logic we should be able to digest grass since cows seem to manage it. Rule #1: food for other animals, even other mammals, is not necessarily food for humans.

    I'm not expert on the matter just using common sense, as I know vegitarians (who don't eat eggs or drink milk) can survive

    Rule #2: nature doesn't necessarily follow "common sense"; it is what it is. As for vegans, yes, they can survive and even be healthy without eating meat or animal products. However, they do so by planning their diets very carefully to make sure that they get their nutritional requirements. Assuming that everything you need is "in there somewhere" is a good way to get very sick; I've seen it happen to naive would-be vegans.

    Bottom line: if you're thinking about cutting meat (or any of the other traditional components of a "balanced diet", for that matter) out of your diet, make sure you get advice from someone who knows (really knows) what s/he's talking about. If you just make something up and call it "common sense" you're asking for trouble.


  • Hmm... dunno what that means for me...

    I just moved out recently (a couple weeks ago). Except that my mom was never the "you haven't had enough to eat" type, but rather the "you've had way too much already! No more!" type.

    I'm already 50lbs or so overweight, and now, without that element of control...
    - Sean
  • Just for the record, Linus is a man of about normal body weight (correct me if I'm wrong). Tux is the fat penguin who we all know and love.
  • When I was in high school, and for a while thereafter, I hardly weighed anything - I was 5'9" and weighed ~150 pounds. After HS, I came to Phoenix (AZ) to go to a tech school (boy, there was a waste of money), and I rode a bike everywhere (didn't have a car or a license). I would eat basically frozen burittos and frozen box (Banquet) fried chicken, and drink Coke exclusively (except when I found some Jolt). But I never gained weight.

    I stayed about the same weight until I was 21 - I finally found a girlfriend, and rather than eating the crap I was eating and biking everywhere, she cooked me meals and drove me work. Soon thereafter I got a car and a license, and the pounds began to pile on...

    Earlier this year (January or so) I weighed 247 lbs - same height. It seemed every year I not only needed new pants but a new belt as well. My girlfriend was also overweight, and decided to go on a diet, supervised by a dietician. The dietician put her on what was basically a low carb/low fat diet, with minor exercise (30 minutes of walking). She also told my girlfriend to try to get me to do it as well - for support. I agreed to (note: If you have a girlfriend trying to diet, diet with her - she will love you for the support). Within three months I lost 23 lbs - and two pant sizes. I knew I had done good when I had to make a new hole on my belt to cinch my pants tighter!

    Low carb, low fight - minor exercise. It was hard finding the foods that met that plan. Lay's WOW brand chips were good - so were Hershey's Sweet Escapes. Mostly, just eating right was the way to go (we used to go to Jack in the Crack or Mickey D's every night) - and the exercise was no problem at all. Always found a parking place, too - just parked in the back! I am not saying it was easy - the first two weeks we were starving, but we kept at it. Also, I stopped drinking as much Coke, and drank water only (I was doing 3-4 Cokes a day, with one of those being a 32-48 ouncer from the fast food place). The last thing we did was on the weekend, allowing ourselves to "splurge" - eating a normal sized meal, but it could be whatever we wanted wherever we wanted - JITB, MickyD's, Fried Food Night, Steak - whatever. A reward for doing good during the week (this is more for the psychological reasons than anything else).

    How am I doing now? Well - here is the funny thing: For about three months now I haven't been doing much of anything - I don't have "second helpings" anymore, we don't have fast food every night, we drink a ton more water. We eat good meals at home and when we eat out. We haven't exercised since it got hot, but in the winter we will go back to it. I haven't gained any more weight, but I haven't lost anymore, either. While I am not rail thin - I still think I acomplished something. I haven't reached my goal weight yet (180 lbs), but I did reach my interim goal weight (225 lbs) - which is OK with me.

    Some of my pants are baggy now - and many of my shirts fit me again! I still think if I was riding my bike and walking everywhere I could get my size down more - but I would reek of sweat whereever I went, so to me it isn't worth it.

  • Please... do hammer one out.

    As for technical detail, I would prefer (dunno about anyone else) it to be detailed enough that nothing is lost in the "dumbing down". More than that, if you think it provides a useful insight, include it, but I don't want to wade through too much that I really don't have much applicable use for. If anything starts getting really technical, still include it, if you think appropriate, but perhaps a URL pointing to a site that might help a layman (me) to decipher it, would be appropriate.

    Again, I only speak for myself :-)
    - Sean
  • Umm... it's not possible for you to buy stuff at the supermarket, or whatever, and bring it in to work?

    That's what I do...
    - Sean
  • They're not-but there's no excuse. If you can talk about the most obscure points of C++ vs java then you can read a decent book on nutrition to fully understand what bad food does to the body and the mind. If you can spend hours in front of computer fixing bugs every night then surely you can walk for 30 minutes a day. Otherwise what's the difference between a supposedly educated person and some fat dummy who watches football or soap operas all day if both wolf down beer and chips
  • The fat I have.

    Being turned into a penguin, on the other hand...

    Where's Erwin when you need him? ( http://www.userfriendly.org/static/ [userfriendly.org] )
    - Sean
  • The most basic assumption of the book seems
    to be that calories are interchangeable and
    that only the total matters.

    Wrong! For those of us who are insulin-resistant,
    it's not the *amount* of calories that matters
    so much as the *form*: it's *carbohydrate* that
    drives the fat-deposition mechanism, and by
    reducing carbohydrate consumption (drastically,
    at first, anyway), you effectively shut down the
    mechanism and shift your metabolism to burn fat.

    This is the basic idea behind low-carb "diets"
    such as Atkins, Protein Power, etc.

    For those of you who have sincerely tried the
    FDA-recommended low-fat methodologies without
    success: at least READ about the studies
    behind lowcarbing and talk about it with your
    doctor (assuming s/he is open minded, or at least

    Suggested sites:

    (I started lowcarbing in February and have
    lost 52 lbs since then... all with no change
    in exercise or total caloric consumption)
  • Hunh.

    I'm glad you think getting shot at is a joke!

    - Sean
  • It's worth remembering that it's not just your calorie intake/output that needs to be watched. There's all the vitamins, too - If you're doing all the exercise and reducing your calories and drinking *loads* of water (the body requires large amounts of water to metabolise fats) it should make you thinner - but if in reducing your calories, you also reduce the vitamins, minerals etc, then you may be heading for trouble.

    It's always a good idea to check with a doctor before anything designed to take your weight down cos you could do yourself some harm.

    Good luck to you though!

    Athletes row: everyone else just plays games

  • I didn't expect all the recent comment about
    The Hackers' Diet, but I'd like to mention
    that I'm in the final stages of debugging a
    version of the computer tools associated with
    the book which runs on the Palm Computing platform,
    with backup to the PC, Mac, or any other
    platform supporting full HotSync functionality.

    Why did you go and implement another proprietary
    platform? you shriek. Because it was *cool*,
    I reply. Is there not a geek who uses his or her
    Palm as an alarm clock? Is there not a better
    time to capture weight for The Hackers' Diet than
    just after the alarm goes off?

    As they are released complete source code for
    all components of the Hackers's Diet Palm tools for
    both the handheld and desktop components will be
    placed into the public domain.

    I hope the desktop code should be portable
    to any system which supports CURSES.
  • I can vouch that eating right definately has a lot to do with it. I am 6'2" and out of high school I was a huge weighing in between 290 and 300lbs on any given week. I decided enough of that so I changed my eating habits slightly. The main thing I did was quit having second helpings. During a period of 12 months I shed 100lbs. For the past 6 months I have stayed more or less constant at 190 I also lost 10 inches around my waste. A pain because I had to buy all new clothes but I like what I see a lot more now. The only thing I noticed when I quit eating less is that I wasn't full. Before I always ate until I was full. I started to eat a sensible amount and then quit. Never paid attention to what I ate, just the quantity. Instead of having 2 or more steaks for supper I'd stick with one. It was hard not having the next one because I new it would taste really good. Now I occasionally do try to have seconds of an incredible meal and I can't finish it. My stomach has physically shrunk. It is easy, and I did it without any excercising besided my normal walking to the vending machines...
  • Maybe said shopper was buying Weight Loss Formula for herself, and chips for someone back home.

    Was said shopper overweight? Maybe the Weight Loss Formula was for someone at home, and the chips were for herself.

    While most of us probably live alone and buy provisions only for ourselves, some people have to shop for others. This may mean taking into account different dietary needs and preferences. Like Weight Loss Formula and bags and bags of chips.

    Yeah right. She probably glutted out on the chips, and then tried to undo the damage w/ the weight-loss stuff.

    Oh well.
  • Slightly off topic: Most of the geekish girls I know are a little overweight, and the geekish guys are skinny. Why is this? ;]

    Anyway...I'm a geek chick still in high school now, so this is pretty recent memory for me: When I was in 8th grade, I looked horrible. About 5'8", almost 245 lbs. Yuck!

    Well, about that time, our family got a Gateway P5-133, which quickly became my best friend. I spent *FAR* more time playing with technology than stuffing my face (although I occasionally did both at once.) Although I was fairly inert, not doing much more than going to school, coming home, and pounding on keys, I was eating much, much less.

    I began to exercise--do SOMETHING--for about 30 minutes a day. It could be just pacing about in my basement (When I got a skateboard, I lost some weight too.) By the time I was a sophomore, I was about 5'9", 175 lbs. Now, were I a guy, that wouldn't be so terribly bad, but keep in mind, I'm not.

    I started to really watch my calories. 1400-1500 a day. I watched my serving sizes and didn't go for seconds.

    Caffiene, though I'm not sure it's that good for you, helped quite a bit. It quells hunger and speeds metabolism. I admit, I drink 3 or 4 Diet Coke / Diet Mountain Dews / cups of coffee a day.

    Now I'm nearly exactly in the middle of my weight range for my height (I'm 5'10" now, 149 lbs) slightly hyperactive, getting carpal tunnel from typing at 110wpm, run on the treadmill for at least 20min a day.

    Sometimes I swim, but I've discovered it's generally much, much too cold. (There IS an advantage to being fat. You 1)float better and 2) don't get cold.)

    Like I said, most of my calories come from high-sugar carbos. I eat a lot of rice, pasta, cereal. I don't eat that much meat. And I like to keep it under 1400 calories a day.

    I dunno. It might not be best for everyone, but I'm losing weight and keeping it off.
  • Ah, but that is texas, where the state would just as soon execute you as tax you.
  • WoW! I love /. State what you heard in a nice way, and knowledgeable people will respond. Open Source Comments. :-) Thanx guys.
  • That's funny, I can sit here and tag away all day and not feel hungry. Before I used to have a bag of pretzels, nuts, whatever, and I noticed a real gain in weight...then I moved out of my parents :-) and suddenly, I'm not hungry anymore. There's barely anything in my fridge. I still make nutritious meals, it's just that w/o a mom around, I don't have an inclination to cook anything more elaborate than grill cheese :-)
  • I've seen John post-diet - several times over several years - and he managed to come out of it with permanent weight loss, no visible excess fat, no skin wrinkles, and no other debilitating symptoms (other than male pattern baldness, which was probably a coincidence from his heredity and the timing of his diet).

    I must admit that I did NOT see him with his clothes off. But there wasn't room under there to hide any significant fat - not even a bicycle-sized spare tire. Neither emaciation nor excess rounding.

    (Sigh. Reminds me of the figure I had in my late teens - right up until I got my first car and stopped jogging everywhere I went.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I'd be willing to write a HOWTO on getting in shape and eating if there is enough interest.

    I've been there and done that, going from desperately out of shape to a 235 lb tank.

    Yes, it took a while, 18 months and counting to be exact, but I did it all without:

    1. surgery or drugs
    2. starving myself or even "dieting"
    3. hurting myself

    I'm so in love with my lifestyle now that I'm just weeks away from getting my certification from the American College of Sports Medicine in Health Fitness Instruction.

    So, I'm willing to share what honestly works. Its actually very easy, all it takes is dedication (and a little help from your friends).
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you want a great book on health/weight/diet/etc from a scientific standpoint, check out the book from Dean Edell [amazon.com]. It contains loads of useful info on what works, what doesn't, and the marginal benefits of different routes. A really useful book.
  • I remember when the UK Govt. decided all school children were overweight, and attempted to have the provided school meals massively reduced. As someone who has always been majorly underweight, that kind of sweeping generalisation honestly scares me.

    Yes, it's probably true, in a lot of cases. Yes, there are probably a lot of people who could do with learning to eat less. On the other hand, there are people like me who's ribs aren't so much visible as major extrusions.

    "Yes", you might say, "well, the book's clearly not meant for you." That's true, but it's not me reading it that worries me. It's the pointy-hair types, who's common sense quotient can only be expressed in imaginary numbers. All it would take is for someone like that to turn fitness-fanatic and remove all the high-calorie foods from the vending machine, and there goes my largest source of energy.

  • Pain is a signal that something is wrong.

    The amount of exercise that it takes to get and stay healthy is not large, and it doesn't have to be hard.

    Just need to get up and do something physical - take a walk, ride a bike, build a deck, whatever. If you sweat a little and it isn't from the heat, or if you have to breath hard, and you keep doing what you were doing for 20 minutes or half an hour, and don't skip it more than one day in a row, that's all it takes. You will feel better, look better, be smarter. And you will easily make up the half hour in increased efficiency for the rest of the day.

    Fear my wrath, please, fear my wrath?
  • I bet if you didn't do that stuff, you'd be huger, and feel cruddy, limp, and stupid all the time. That's what happens to me when I don't stay active.

    But my point is that being active is much, much better than being inactive, while exercize to the point of pain is not much better, maybe worse, than being active.

    I don't know what to tell you on the weight - it's not as simple as people used to think. I'd like to think my relative lightness (for an American) is due to clean, active living and avoiding gluttony except on special occasions, but I strongly suspect I just plain got lucky on the genetics and early childhood developement. I know people who exercise more than I do and eat less, and have weight problems.

    Fear my wrath, please, fear my wrath?
  • I'm such a bone head, I just realized I posted that orginal without my nick and what not.

    I'll go ahead and hammer out a HOWTO, but just as a point of reference, how detailed would you prefer the science of it all to be? I think its very important you understand the fundamentals, then you can make up your own mind when it comes to your situation. I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, so hey, we can go as far as you people would like. :)

    If you'd like to contact me, email works great:


  • There are also a vitamin or two that are short in veggies. B12 in particular: It's almost impossible to become B12 deficient - the requirement is in micrograms. But you can do it with an ill-chosen strict vegitarian diet.

    (That's why Folic Acid supliments are limited by FDA regulations: Folic Acid masks the early symptoms of B12 deficiency, so a vegitarian taking them can acquire serious and irreparable neurological damage before the other symptoms show up. Stupid on the FDA's part: It condems a lot of pregnant women to morning sickness - which is largely a Folic Acid deficiency resulting from the Foetus' rapid cell replication and the resulting Folic Acid uptake. If they must protect vegitarians from themselves, they should instead require a trace of B12 in high-dose Folic Acid supliments.)

    Of course a strict cooked-meat diet can also lead to deficiencies - notably some heat-sensitive vitamins such as C and E.

    People are omnivores, and cursorial hunters. We can survive for quite a while, and even prosper, on just veggies or just meat. But we do best on a mix.
  • Reminds me of Douglas Coupland's concept in "Microserfs." One programmer on a coding binge locked himself in his office, so his pals went to the store and bought only foods they could slip under the door: toaster pastries, fruit roll-ups, individually wrapped cheese slices, etc.

    World New York
  • though i have always been on the extreme skinny side, i know a lot of people who neglect themselves just to get in another hour or so of their hacking or games a couple times a week. for heavens sake, people need to get up and move sometimes, and add a few years to their life: just think of the new technologies you will miss if you die earlier than you have to!
  • Posted by planders:

    Like I said, most of my calories come from high-sugar carbos. I eat a lot of rice, pasta, cereal. I don't eat that much meat. And I like to keep it under 1400 calories a day.

    Hello friend,

    I'm not a dietary expert or a nutritionist or anything, but I think you might see better results if you switch from 1400 calories of high-sugar carbs to the same or more number of calories of protiens.

    Sugar is just absolute junk for your body. Even stuff like rice and pasta is not especially nutritious; it's mostly empty energy. Plus eating lots of proteins like meats or nuts simply *satisfies* you more than a big helping of pasta, you feel more full and want to eat less.

    Eating dietary fat (like in meat) is not what makes you fat; for most people, that's eating sugar and other carbohydrates. Besides just gaining weight, it can cause other problems related to hypoglycemia; poor concentration, fatigue, etc.

    Low-carb diets like the Atkin's Diet are not for everyone, but I've had great success with them. Lost 20+ lbs in the last month, and I'm never hungry.

  • If only it were that easy. I play Ultimate 2-3 times a week (damn, that's a LOT of running and sweating), softball once a week, walk the dog, ride my bike, and generally stay very active. I only hit the gym in the winter since I don't do a lot of sports other than snowboarding then.

    Yet here I am, 6'2" tall and 270 pounds. I'm freaking huge! And it's definately not all muscle :-)

    I've never been able to find a diet that will give me the energy I need to stay active, yet allow me to lose any amount of weight. I had luck with a bodybuilding diet years ago (CyberTrim I think it was called), but it just left me to tired all the time to enjoy the 30 pounds that I lost.

  • First, are you sure HooRah is the way the Marines spell it?
    Second, I just got to play in one of their helicopter trainer/simulator's (unfortunately the Osprey one was too busy being used for what they told the taxpayers it would be so I had to go with the 53)and I feel quite sure that not only can they count above 4, many can probably do double digits. (Have heard unconfirmed rumors about a few who even can do binary and hex)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Grow the hair on your back and in your ears out and then comb it over your head.
  • Propecia or Rogaine. They're both targeted androgen suppressants. Fun!
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Monday July 12, 1999 @05:54AM (#1807820)
    Anyone who feels they could stand to lose a few pounds, but who has ignored dieting because of a perception that it'll turn them into "some kind of crazy hippy health food freak" should stop reading my ramblings and start reading this book now. IMHO The Hacker's Diet should be the unofficial weightloss-HOWTO for the geek set.

    I used to be a fat slob myself - 210ish. I'm now just a somewhat-chunky slob at 165. Total time, 5 months since reading The Hacker's Diet. 10 pounds a month, consistently and reliably, with negligible hunger.

    What impressed me about The Hacker's Diet was its lack of touchy-feeley new-agey "it's all in your mind" crap as well as its lack of what I call the "magic bullet syndrome". I'd studiously avoided dieting, gaining about 10 pounds a year over the past 5-6 years, because I couldn't be bothered to exercise or change my entire life around for the sake of some book from some quack who obviously had no idea what he was talking about in the first place. 99% of the "diet books" are basically about how to lose 10 pounds of water the first week, and maybe 5 pounds of muscle in the second week. Feh. The rest of the industry - diet programs - are basically "come here for touchy-feely-crap and pay a fortune to the overpriced proprietary food we sell"; little more than glorified brainwashing centres. Come in, get hooked on our One True Plan, and pay us for the rest of your life whether you lose weight or not. No thanks.

    Written by a geek for geeks, The Hacker's Diet cut through the crap, explaining the physiological processes involved in weight gain/maintenance/loss in the simple language of thermodynamics, which totally blew me away. "Hey, no crap, just numbers! Nothing to buy, just data on how the body works! Here's something I can understand and follow!" What you eat doesn't matter, only how many calories you consume and how many calories you burn. In retrospect, yeah, that's a "duh" kind of insight - I have newfound grudging respect to the diet industry for its ability to keep such an obvious thing "secret" for so many years.

    Anyways, I've been living on 1200 calories per day for the past six months - the rest of my requirements come from burning fat. I still can't be bothered to exercise, but I'm able to wear clothes I haven't been able to fit in for 2-3 years, and can walk about twice as far as I used to be able to before getting winded - no more carrying around the 50-pound laser printer for me - and feel all-around better than I used to. In a month or two, I start running out of fat and get to start eating again, building my caloric intake up to a maintenance level where I'll be able to sit for the forseeable future. (Do you have any idea how much pasta you can make with an extra 500-1000 calories to work with? Every night will be all-you-can-eat spaghetti night! :-)

    Another site that will be useful - http://www.dietitian.org" [dietitian.org]. This is a site run by a dietitian (duh :) who is equally unafraid to explain human physiology in technical terms. No BS, no pseudo-scientific crap, and relatively little dumbing-down of the relevant biology.

    So, if you're of the globular persuasion, if you can't stand the thought of turning your life over to someone who'll tell you never to eat your favority brand of burnt cow flesh again, if you "don't have the time" to spend hours at the gym (since you'd rather be reading /. anyway), and you still wanna lose a few pounds, check out The Hacker's Diet and the dietitian site I mentioned above.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak