The Ground Rules

Weight Loss Journal was borne out of sheer frustration.  A few notes about its creator may help to explain:  I am a professional editor and published author who hasn’t written anything of substance in the past 10 years.  In those same 10 years, I have gained almost 50 pounds of absolutely unnecessary weight.

The combination of my steadily increasing size and steadily decreasing literary output led me to the proverbial crossroads earlier this year, when I arrived at two unshakable conclusions:  first, that I needed to lose weight for the sake of my bodily health; second, that I needed to write for the sake of my mental health.  However, the two objectives seemed mutually exclusive.  Losing weight would mean hours at the gym, while writing would require hours at the keyboard.  Frustrated, I concluded that there weren’t enough hours in my hectic day to devote to both, and so I would probably do neither.

Then, one day, in the shower (which, by the way, is where many authors come up with their best ideas), I had a moment of revelation — I suddenly realized I could do both, at the same time, and with the same purpose.  I would reduce my caloric intake and increase my exercise level (moderately but strictly), and then write about the days of steadfast endurance and the nights of desperate indulgence.  I would catalogue each bit of food that passed my lips, and record my weight fluctuations.  I would set — and meet — deadlines for recording the entire process, and I would be accountable not just to myself but to all those I invited to follow my progress (or regression).

Above all, I would document everything.  If I felt, in a moment of crazed excess, that I absolutely needed a Ho-Ho, at least I would write about the guilty experience of slowly unwrapping the chocolate-covered, creme-filled caloric timebomb and then hastily devouring it.  There would be no need to hide the wrapper, because nothing would be done in secret.

Naturally, this is not an open-ended project.  Starvation Journal will include 26 weekly updates (on Monday evenings), from July through the end of December 2003, with an introduction and a summary conclusion.  By the end of the year, I will have achieved at least one of my goals — I will have published articles for 26 consecutive weeks.  If I’ve lost some weight during that time, all the better.  And if I’ve gained weight during that time — well, at least the articles will be more profane.

While food and diet will be my main topics during this project, I expect they will be the starting point for a good many discussions of other topics.  Food, after all, touches many aspects of our lives that are not always readily apparent.  It certainly figured prominently in my childhood, in ways that will be explained during the course of the project.

Once an entry is published, I will not revise it except to correct gross errors or fix errant formatting.  If the procedure works correctly, two entries (that is, two weeks) will be shown on the main page, while previous entries will be archived.

There will be no photographs on this site.  I’m sharing my most intimate personal details — my weight and diet — and you want pictures too?  Can’t I retain even a shred of dignity?

Diet and Exercise Guidelines
My dietary restrictions during this project will be simple and common-sense.  I will not be following any sort of organized “plan” (Atkins, the Zone, Jenny Craig, etc.).  Rather, I will be adhering to a simple set of rules, as follows:

Three moderate meals per day
No snacks
Low intake of fried foods
Low intake of refined sugars
Balanced intake from each food group

I will attempt to increase my activity level moderately, while decreasing my caloric intake somewhat drastically.  The whole point of this exercise is to be hungry.  Very hungry.  The more ravenous I am, the more weight I will lose (presumably) and the more unhinged and desperate my writing will become (definitely).

Water Intake
By design, I have not listed water in the weekly menus, as it would be listed every morning, afternoon, and evening.  I have measured my average water intake at between 80 to 100 ounces per day, which is well above suggested guidelines.  You’ll have to trust me when I say I’m getting enough water.

Critical Measurements
For this project, I purchased a Tanita digital scale, Model 2001.  (It claims to be “The Ultimate Scale,” but I suspect that’s more of a marketing slogan than an indisputable fact.)  I will weigh myself every Monday evening when I return home from work, prior to dinner.  Depending on the reading, I will then spend some time bitterly weeping or giddily exulting before I update the site.

A Short Note on My Identity
“Brendan M. Burns” is my adopted pen name.  It will be my pseudonym not only for this site, but for my subsequent writing.  I was previously published under my real name.  So why bother using a pseudonym now?  The most obvious reason is that two active published authors use my birth name, as well as a moderately famous mountain climber who was recently killed in action.  All of which leads to what advertising agencies call “brand confusion”.  To remedy this situation, I borrowed the name of the brother of my beautiful goddaughter, Catherine Burns.  There may be quite a few Brendan Burns out there, but I found no currently published authors with that name.

If I personally invited you to this site, you already know my real name.  If you don’t, you could easily find out, though I don’t know what the point would be.  I suppose some people care that Mark Twain’s “real” name was Samuel Clemens, or that George Orwell was born Eric Blair.  It’s all one big yawn to me.

This site was designed by an adult, to be read by adults.  I don’t know why any child would be interested in visiting this very wordy site, but I would ask parents to dissuade their children from doing so.  While I most certainly do not intend to post anything foul, I will be discussing many issues of a highly personal nature that I would never discuss with my own young children.  The primary reason is that I believe that children should not be concerned with dieting, weight, and such related issues, as it is their parents’ responsibility to monitor and control these issues for their children.  If parents “owe” their children anything, it is to act as a buffer between the harsh realities of the world and the cocoon of childhood innocence.  Adults, on the other hand, presumably have the right reason and experience to consider such issues maturely.

Nothing that appears on this site should be construed as a suggestion or recommendation.  In fact, I’m probably stupid for undertaking it myself, so why would you want to do the same?  (Remember what your mother told you about your friends jumping off bridges?)  It’s just a silly idea I came up with, so please do not try it yourself at home.  Let it be clearly understood that this author bears no responsibility for anyone who suddenly stops eating and starts designing websites.