New Year Resolutions: Half-time assessment and goal revision.


Murali did his undergraduate degree in molecular biology with a minor in biophysics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). He then changed direction and did his Masters in Philosophy also at NUS. Now, he is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Warwick.

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54 Responses

  1. greginak says:

    Congrats on the weight loss. You certainly touch on many hot button issues around weight loss. Most people can lose weight if they want although keeping it off is the real challenge. The lack of success people seem to have with keeping the weight they lost off is staggering but points to people trying quick fixes and temporary adjustments instead of long term/permanent life style changes.

    It isn’t wrong to be proud of your success. I wouldn’t really call that vanity or harmful. If you aren’t giving yourself pats on the back and getting positive feelings from your effort you wouldn’t keep doing it. Rewards, life feeling or looking good, are what you need to keep going. I’m happy when i pass people in running or xc ski races and i track my times. I’m still a middle of the pack racer but that doesn’t mean i don’t want to do a little better. Wherever I’m at I’m still doing something which is better than nothing. Same for you, so keep up the work.Report

  2. Kim says:

    I like “no pain, no gain”… but then I’m a walker, not a runner. For me, that’s six hours, and feeling it more the next day than the day of.Report

  3. Dave says:

    Great post.

    For the majority of people, initial changes in body composition are going to take place through diet rather exercise for the simple reason that it’s a lot easier to create a calorie deficit through reduction in food. Most untrained people aren’t going to burn off remotely enough calories to generate weight loss on their own. This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t exercise, but rather they’re making a mistake relying on it especially if there aren’t significant changes to the diet.

    Here’s a little free advice:

    The hardest part about losing weight is cutting down on how much I eat.

    The biggest challenge there is making sure you’re eating enough, and if you’re constantly hungry, you may not be eating enough. Make sure that you are and that protein is a substantial part of your diet if you can. Protein is not only satiating but it’s also muscle sparing. Ideally, you want to strive for fat loss not weight loss. There is a difference and a big one.

    Going down your list:

    1. Good for you.

    2. Being awesome is not a sin. Take it from an expert.

    3. I’m not judgmental about people that want to lose weight but can’t. I know it’s because many of them don’t want to make the changes necessary. I’m fine with that. To each his or her own. If you want to judge people in your own mind, again, I couldn’t care less. That’s not a major sticking point with me.

    4. I suppose that’s one way of thinking about it. I never thought of it that way before.

    5. I have no sympathy for fat activists because I’ve seen too many of them throw out the “real women have curves. dogs go for bones” meme. When fat activism becomes an attempt to throw legitimacy on skinny shaming, all I see is people subject to body shaming throwing it back at other people. It’s horseshit.

    Since the whole body acceptance/fat activism/love your body movement has done so well to advance the cause for women, men can now get in on the action with this “Dadbod” crap I keep reading about it (although the double standard is horrific).

    6. I already know I’m crazy so I don’t bother to judge people by their output. That something is better than nothing is good enough for me.

    7. Let me push back here:

    I think it is more important to get people into the habit of exercising than worrying about the particular efficacy of any given exercise session.

    Well, in theory this is good, but if the exercise your’e doing isn’t yielding results and your pursuing a goal through exercise, then the efficacy matters very much. Also, I’d argue that you’d need to do both because if you can’t demonstrate that people can get results, good luck having them stick to exercise. Anyway…

    Those videos are for people who are already mostly fit and want to lose 1-2kg they have picked up over a busy month. Expecting someone of my fitness level or for that matter, where I was in January to do those exercises seems ludicrous.

    Really? I beg to differ.

    You’ve been working on a little steady state cardio and improved. That’s awesome, but as you said, you saw your weight loss plateau while still running. That’s expected. Your body has adapted to the running and can do less work to achieve the same distances so it’s going to be less and less effective in that sense.

    If you think watching a video of Shaun T doing Insanity and thinking it’s ludicrous because you can’t execute it the same way, then you’re looking at it the wrong way. You can’t look at it as being told to do X exercise for 30 seconds and only being able to do it for 3 seconds on a given day. Bad bad bad bad bad.

    You need to look at that 30 second exercise that you can only do for 3 seconds today and know that in 30 to 60 days (or however long the program is), that 3 seconds may become 15 seconds or 20 seconds. Those improvements do happen in those kinds of programs and it’s the improvements that will lead to the drastic changes in body composition seen in people that get into things like Insanity or CrossFit. This applies even more to untrained or lightly trained individuals.

    While you may not be able to produce the same output during a high intensity workout, you can still do them and just do the best you can.

    In fact, I’d argue that programs like ones that you think you can’t do are the kinds of programs that you not only can do but will also get you to your goal. Given that some of them will also involve strength-based exercises, you’ll pack on a little muscle in the process.

    Don’t sell yourself short here. It won’t be easy but it’s not “No Pain No Gain” by a longshot. You can control that factor anyway.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Dave says:

      In addition to what @dave said regarding protein (to say nothing of his many other good points), the value of dietary fiber — particularly the naturally occurring kinds — cannot be overstated. Avoid things that advertise they are in high in fiber because they are usually heavily processed and include all sorts of nasty things that they can legally call fiber but which is not what your body is looking for (cough*cough wood bits cough*cough). Green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and high fiber fruits should be key parts of your diet. They are satiating and give you the sorts of carbs your body can effectively use for energy without all the downsides of highly processed carbs.Report

      • Dave in reply to Kazzy says:


        Quest bars have some kind of man made fiber in them. I have no idea where that stuff comes from but a Smores Quest Bar microwaved for 15 seconds is like eating smores.

        Now I’m hungry…Report

        • Kazzy in reply to Dave says:

          Heh… odds are that bar is healthier for you than a s’more so if you need that sort of fix, it is a good option. The problem is when people reach for the “high fiber” “granola” bar that is chock full of cellulose and chocolate chips and sugar and highly processed grains and think they’re eating healthy. Instead they should be reaching for an apple, some almonds, and a piece of cheese… even though none of those items can scream from the shelves how healthy they are and two of the three contain (*gasp*!) fat.Report

          • Kim in reply to Kazzy says:

            some indigestible fiber is necessary (it’s good for the colon).
            I recommend popcorn.
            (I do not recommend anything labeled “whole wheat” … it’s a vile product. If you must have healthy bread, eat some made with graham flour)Report

          • Dave in reply to Kazzy says:

            @kazzy ,

            I try to limit my fat intake to about 20% of calories max, especially on training days. I love cheeses and nuts, but my propensity to overeat them is enormous. That’s why I don’t keep peanut butter in the house.

            People with a less active lifestyle should be over that amount by far but my protein intake is very high and I prefer taking in lots of carbs to fuel training. Most of the time that comes in the form of steel cut oatmeal or sweet potatoes. Post workout, I’ll mix a dextrose powder in with my post workout supplement. That’s the best time for high glycemic carbs. If I don’t have the dextrose powder, any candy made from dextrose will do (Pixy Stix, bottle caps, smarties, haribo gummy bears).

            Yeah, I’d take my Quest bars over high fiber granola bars, if only for the 20 grams of protein from a quality protein source – whey protein isolate.Report

            • Kazzy in reply to Dave says:


              I’m similar with regards to limiting fat intake. My point is that many people still have an internalized mindset that fat = evil and will often choose less healthier options as a result.

              For a while, at my school, we were giving the kids “Light and Fit” yogurts for snack. This meant they were both low/non-fat AND loaded with artificial sweeteners. I pointed out that A) young children need healthy fats in their diet, B) artificial sweeteners have all sorts of downsides including recent research that ‘diet’ products lead to greater overall caloric intake, and C) recent research indicates full fat dairy products correlate with lower weight gain. I suggested full fat yogurts that rely on fruit or other mix-ins (e.g., honey) for their primary source of sweetness. So now we have Go-Gurts. Go figure.Report

              • Dave in reply to Kazzy says:


                I’m similar with regards to limiting fat intake. My point is that many people still have an internalized mindset that fat = evil and will often choose less healthier options as a result.

                Agreed. Since companies need to produce processed foods with flavor, sugars tend to get added. We know how well that’s worked out.Report

              • Kim in reply to Dave says:

                And since the rich folks have gone on a terrible crusade against salt!
                *eyeroll* Trader Joe’s is many things, but so much of their stuff needs more salt!Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    One of the things that I found, when I tried to lose weight, was that I needed to change how I thought about food and exercise to the point where I needed to impose some personality changes.

    The new personality, I found, was more unpleasant than the chubby one.Report

  5. Chelsey says:

    I see a lot of things on the internet about losing weight quickly and I just don’t think its healthy. Sure it might work in the short-term but it isn’t any good for your body and you end up binge eating…believe me I’ve been there and done that. The most important thing for people with limited amounts of time or people who need motivation is to either hire a coach (which is pricey) or follow some kind of program. I’m just getting started with yoga for the first time and just an hour or two a week, and I am seeing results. I found a review of a program on and it definitely beats paying for a coach or personal trainer. Having something to follow is motivating for me and makes it much easier.Report

    • Dave in reply to Chelsey says:

      A review that constitutes a sales pitch into the means to purchase it. It kind of reminds me of the way companies try to sell overpriced underdosed supplements.

      We’ve been spammed!!!Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to Dave says:

        Isn’t deleting the offending comment the traditional thing to do?Report

        • Dave in reply to Brandon Berg says:


          I’m surprised it wasn’t deleted already. I usually don’t delete comments. My form of traditionalism is selectively beating up liberal commenters while leaving libertarian miscreants like yourself alone. 😉Report

  6. Kazzy says:

    I like that you didn’t jump whole hog into an unrealistic diet-and-exercise regime that would have proven unsustainable. A key piece of advice I give people who are looking to make a big change is to focus on either diet OR exercise to start. If you go from eating 2500 calories a day with no exercise to 1500 calories a day with even moderate exercise, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Skim a few calories off, add a little exercise, and go from there. It is about making a lifestyle change, not a crash course.

    Anyway, kudos to you for the success thus far and keep on rockin’!Report

  7. Maribou says:

    It also harms no-one, so long as such judgment is kept to the boundaries of my head.

    So… posting it in public on the internet is harmful or not harmful, do you think? (I think it’s harmful, but like, mosquito harmful, not rampaging elephant harmful or anything.)

    I exercise every day, often twice a day – I have to or I become bedridden with pain – but the types of illnesses I have make it almost impossible to keep weight off, unless I were to say, quit my job and devote myself solely to my health. (One of many reasons for this is that my doctor has strictly warned me off of strenuous/intense exercise as counterproductive for said illnesses, so exercising “enough” to get back to my preferred weight range would take up most of my day, and most of my energy for the day.) You might try telling your inner judgmental self that you have no idea of the life situation of the people it is judging, and see if that changes your perspective. Or, you know, actually keep it in your own head.

    That said, I know from experience how very satisfying a significant weight loss can be. Congratulations, and good luck with your wedding ceremony!Report

    • Brandon Berg in reply to Maribou says:

      How much you weigh is none of my business, but I do want to correct a misconception you seem to have here: While exercise is beneficial for many reasons, you do not need high intensity exercise, or any exercise at all, to lose weight. Fat gain is always caused by consuming more calories than you expend; conversely, losing fat is purely a matter of consuming fewer calories than you expend.

      If you really want to lose weight, you can do so at any activity level by eating fewer calories.Report

      • Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        Not really. if you eat less than what you need, and don’t exercise, your body tends to conclude ‘must be starving’ and make rather unpleasant changes. While you still will lose weight, it’s not as good an idea as getting some exercise.Report

    • North in reply to Maribou says:

      Yeah, the ratio I’ve heard, Maribou, is that weight loss is 5% genetics, 15% activity level and 80% consumption. That’s a bleak prognosis from my pov where I’m much happier exercising more than I am trying to monitor what I eat round the clock. Goddamn biology.Report

      • trumwill in reply to North says:

        I’m not sure that genetics is entirely separable from the other two. The brain also being genetic and the brain affecting exercise and consumption. Unless you’re referring specifically to genetic metabolism, though metabolism is influenced by consumption over time.Report

        • North in reply to trumwill says:

          Genetics play into it all Will, but in addition to that people have a general genetic default body fat percentage that, given an ordinary unrestricted but not copious diet, they will default to. You go below that and it gets slightly harder to lose weight, you go over it and it’s slightly easier.. so that’s the 5% I’m referring to. Some people are genetically predisposed to be thinner damn their eyes.Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to North says:

        And, as a weight loss strategy, even round-the-clock monitoring beats consumption.Report

      • Dave in reply to North says:


        What I’ve learned from monitoring my eating is that I can wing it pretty well when I don’t feel like tracking each meal (which I really don’t do anyway).

        Then again, I can keep my food intake very simple. I can eat bland chicken breast with a little salt and pepper every day and not think anything of it. Then again, I’m the anti-foodie. 😉Report

        • North in reply to Dave says:

          Yeah and I am a frickin foodie.. you have it made.. you would be just as happy with a cuppa bland soylent if it was nutritionally sufficient. -I- would drink the cuppa, then eat the box and after a day or two of such a diet probably the waiter too (so long as I could have him medium rare with a sprig of parsley and a nice wine reduction).Report

          • Dave in reply to North says:


            you would be just as happy with a cuppa bland soylent if it was nutritionally sufficient.

            Between 85% and 90% of the time this is true, but cake is like kryptonite. They’ve been known to disappear around here. 😉Report

            • North in reply to Dave says:

              Even the non-foodiest non-foodies I know have something of some sort that is their dietary Archilles heel. Often something non-foody gross like box macaroni and cheese or MacDonalds. Bleaugh.Report

              • Dave in reply to North says:


                I never did get rid of my sweet tooth. I just moderate it somewhat.

                That said, I found a protein powder in a smores flavor that tastes just like smores. It’s insanely good and only has 8 grams of carbs. It’s a bit high for what I want in a protein powder but I’ll take it for the flavor!!!Report

      • Kim in reply to North says:

        Try a 16 hour walk each day, with a 20lb pack. That’ll put your calories burned at about 3000 or more, easy, if you walk fast.

        Makes a great vacation too!

        (the problem with walking is it takes oodles of time to really get the calories burned).Report

    • Murali in reply to Maribou says:


      Knowing your situation, I don’t judge you specifically. I just judge everyone else who is in a similar enough position to me that they can lose weight, but who, like me, didn’t because we were too lazy/unmotivated to change our ways.Report

  8. NoPublic says:

    Is this the wrong place to bitch about how annoying “I’m slightly larger than I want to be, see how awesome I am for losing 20 lbs” stories are to people who really struggle with weight?

    Try losing 75 lbs and still being obese. And getting no credit for it. And trying to keep it off. Day after day, year after year. Plateauing for months at a time.

    Nobody fat-shames like the slightly overweight.Report

    • Dave in reply to NoPublic says:


      Feel free to bitch, but I may push back if I find something that I disagree with.

      Try losing 75 lbs and still being obese. And getting no credit for it. And trying to keep it off. Day after day, year after year. Plateauing for months at a time.

      One reason why I never judge a person by the way he or she looks is that I have no idea what that person’s situation is. I’ve never had the kind of weight issue where I’ve dropped that kind of weight and still been obese. All I can possibly do is learn from the experiences of others. I’ve read Tony Posnaski’s blog for a couple of years now.

      Personally, my concern is less with people that want to share their experiences and be proud of their accomplishments and more with people that think it’s perfectly acceptable to publicly shame people on some bullshit basis of “raising awareness”.

      This guy’s a complete piece of shit:

      • Will Truman in reply to Dave says:

        You may not realize this, Dave, but people who are obese need to be consciously reminded of it, or else they will forget. And if you show anything other than contempt, they may get the idea that it’s okay because society is so generous with the obese and generally too polite to say anything mean.

        As always, it’s very important for self-appointed individuals to “tell it like it is”…Report

        • Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

          Well, for me, I did require lots of prompting and cajoling and shaming in order to eventually build enough motivation to start doing something about it.Report

          • Dave in reply to Murali says:


            My losing weight was suggested to me on a few occasions, but I was never shamed. That said, I think you may be more the exception than the rule. I’ve read a few weight loss bloggers and the shaming they received did nothing for them but make them feel even worse about themselves.Report

        • Dave in reply to Will Truman says:


          As always, it’s very important for self-appointed individuals to “tell it like it is”…

          This is one reason why I avoid a lot of fitness-related pages and the fitness hashtags/groups via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’ve seen too much of it. It’s not just offensive but it’s hypocritical in cases where these super lean people that are obviously in deep caloric deficits eating at borderline disorder levels are telling other people what’s healthy and what’s not.

          Things start to get a little messy when messages intended for other audiences are seen by people likely to get offended by them (see: Maria Kang’s “What’s Your Excuse”).Report

    • Murali in reply to NoPublic says:

      Dude, its awesome that you lost 75lbs. And it completely sucks that you don’t get credit for it.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to NoPublic says:

      Nobody fat-shames like the slightly overweight.

      Dude, that’s the culture we live in, here in the Great Ole USA. Everybody’s feelin good just so long as they can look down on someone else. Take pride in the fact that you’re losing weight for internal reasons. Not so you can look down on folks who aren’t.Report