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How did you lose all that weight?

I used to be five stone heavier than I am right now. Weight was a major issue in my life but for the last two years I've managed to stay on the 13.5 stone mark, which for my height of around 6 foot is about right.

I'd like to lose a couple more pounds but I'm finally happy with the way I look.

I had problems with my body size since the final year of university but really packed it on once I left and started working in commercial radio at the age of 22. Now in my mid thirties I finally feel brave enough to write a blog entry on the topic which is designed as advice for people who were, like me, stuck inside a negative spiral of diets, exercise, the occasional fleeting success and then ultimately 'failure'.

Firstly here are the diets that did not work long term for me:

Slimfast - massive success very early on only to fail when trying to adjust to a normal diet afterwards.

Weight Watchers - I had limited success with it but at £5 a week it ended up being too costly. Also in the long term the old habits were always there in the background and returned once I wasn't doing it any more.

The most effective part was the group aspect because watching others lose weight spurred me on to keep trying. It also gave me a chance to get direct advice from fellow dieters who had no vested interest in trying to sell me something. That's the point of this article, I am not pushing any idea that will cost you money here. Just sharing as honestly as possible what worked for me..

The Atkins diet - I had huge success very early on with this. It was amazing to see the weight come off so rapidly and I think it's worth doing just to psychologically convince you that weight loss is at least possible. I was desperate the first time I tried it after it was suggested to me by a listener, way before it took off in the UK as THE fad diet to go on.

Although it worked and I lost a lot of weight there was no group aspect to it and I also had problems keeping the weight off once I'd hit my goal at the time of 15 stone. It's incredibly hard to keep in the mindset of an Atkins dieter.

My advice later in this entry as to what did work is a modified version of the Atkins diet.

Rosmary Connelly's Gi diet - I read her book and gave it as good a go as I could manage but never had any success with it.

Calorie counting - Never had any real success with this. Weight watchers uses a similar principle though.

Massive amounts of exercise - I have never lost weight because of exercise. All my weight loss has always been down to changing the foods I eat and nothing more. Around the age of about 24 I hit the gym as hard as I knew how and developed awful stretch marks across my stomach because my muscles expanded rapidly underneath my body fat and ruined parts of my skin.

I believe the main reason people think you can lose weight through exercise is because it makes for better television programmes. Reality TV shows seem to thrive on music montages and a fat person being ritualistically humiliated for the benefit of the viewer, who is probably equally fat and just wants to feel better about themselves.

What did work for me:

I am not setting myself up as an expert here. I do not know what will work for you and can only tell you as precisely as possible what it was I did to lose weight. Every body is different.

What worked for my body is this:
  • Decide at the start of each day if you are going to eat EITHER carbohydrates or protein. Across a single week my ratio was 5 protein days to 2 carb days. Eat as much as you want until you feel full. Be careful not to over indulge on carb days but knock yourself out on protein days. Seriously, eat non stop on those protein days if you like, just so long as it's all protein. No more "balanced" or "normal" meals until my weight was more "balanced" and "normal". I stuck rigidly to the selection I'd made each day.
  • No bread, ever. Just cut it out entirely. Even on carbohydrate days I skipped bread. Sorry. If you need to lose weight that's the choice you've got to make.
  • When you have a bad day, resolve not to throw away the week.
The above were my rules. If you stick to them, and you have a human body like mine, you will start to lose weight. You will probably lose quite rapidly in the first month or so and then gradually after that.

The psychological battle is the next part and that's where the "Slimming World" group I joined came into its own. I suspect it's a bit like an alcoholics anonymous meeting in that you sit round with a load of people who are determined to stop being who they've become. You sit there and really consider the fact that you must stay the course and lose weight. This comes after you've been ceremonially weighed. Most people don't hang around for the meeting but I found it the most useful part of the process. I strongly suggest you find a group of some kind to join.

Another thing that helped me psychologically was a picture our group leader used to have of a bunch of 7 flowers. One of the flowers was damaged.

One is ruined, still keep the others innit?
The leader would would always make the point that if you had a vase like this with 7 flowers in and one of them was damaged, would you throw them all away? Nope, you'd just forget about the one that was wrong and keep the other 6.

These flowers were like the days of the week. Failing on one day to keep to your diet does not mean you have to throw away the whole week. For some reason that really made sense to me and helped when I dropped the ball.

Nick Margerrison.

PS - err, I kinda cast a magick spell as well...

Details here: Disinfo.

and here: My blog.

BBC documentary blames "the cuts" for death of Lee Rigby

Do you want some public money? Yes, yes please.
Last night's BBC Panorama documentary on the killers of Lee Rigby in the UK verged on self parody when it blamed public spending cuts for the horrific crime.

My personal opinion on who is to blame is pretty straight forward: I blame the people who ran him over and then tried to hack his head off in the street. I don't blame the "evil Tories", Tony Blair or Islam. I blame the people who actually did the crime.

The BBC's approach though, throughout the documentary, was to wonder aloud if it was perhaps words or a lack of Government funding or radicalism that might be the real cause

I find the argument tedious. All criminals have their excuses and pandering to them with a sympathetic ear seems a bad idea.

Particularly when one of their crimes is to try to cut a dead guy's head off in the middle of the street while shouting about a God.

"This makes me unbelievably uncomfortable"


Comment culture is a large part of the brilliance of the net because it allows counter narratives which were previously suppressed to be given a chance. Many people despise it because of the fact it confuses the message intended by an article's writer, for me it's a great step forward precisely because of that.

Arguments and disagreement remind us there is not one central "truth" available to us and all we can access is our personal perspective. So, if you hear about something but receive multiple points of view relating to it, you're left with a need to think for yourself.

When I first landed on it there was not one positive comment on this odd piece placed on EDF's website:
THE ELECTRONIC TATTOO: A NEW FORM OF MEDICINE
[...]
Name of inventor: Nanshu Lu
Organization: University of Texas at Austin
Year: 2013
Country: USA
Prize/Award: MIT “Innovator” (category: Innovators Under 35) / Netexplo Award (UNESCO headquarters)
[...] Affixed to a patient’s skin, it allows vital data and healthcare information to be monitored remotely, transmitting it directly to the doctor responsible. It is packed with sensors and could prove a flexible, practical and non-invasive solution for post-operation monitoring. The solution offers major potential, and could also be used in areas beyond healthcare, such as measuring sports performance or managing objects remotely. Stuck to someone’s neck, it could analyze the vibrations of their vocal cords and transmit simple orders (left, right, start, stop, etc.) to an object or a video console. Society is only just getting to grips with the Internet of things, and it seems we are already looking to the Internet of the body. Perhaps time to look at the tattoo in an entirely new light.
Pretty standard stuff, I wonder where the inventor got his ideas from? Orwell? Pretty much any dystopian sci-fi fiction? David Icke's website? Infowars? It's not a new idea. What I like is how the comments at the bottom are pointed this out:
"YES, THE NAZIS USED TATTOOS, TOO. DESPICABLE IDEA."
"big brother at work ,funny when i was at school we discussed this as science fiction, looks like being barcoded at birth will be science fact soon ! everything will be logged and tagged to our barcode ! part of the machine"
The term "conspiracy theorist" is not flattering. This is ironic given that it seems to have come into prominence in the wake of the JFK assassination. At the time the establishment divided people into two competing points of view. The official story was provided by The Warren Commission which declared Oswald acted alone, anyone who disagreed with this "lone gunman" theory thought the assassination had been planned by more than one person was therefore a "conspiracy theorist".

My first experience of the genre, which I'm trying to call "counter narratives" instead of "conspiracy theory", was JFK and I'm pleased history is not being kind to the official explanation. That Oswald was shot dead before he could talk suggested to many he wasn't acting alone but nowadays, as more information comes out, few hold to the "lone gunman" theory. After looking into it I think there must have been more people involved and so I guess that makes me a "conspiracy theorist" on this one. I'm not concerned about the company that put me in nowadays though, even US Secretary of State John Kerry begs to differ with the official line. Maybe some people still believe he was just a random with a gun, that's their choice, the difficulty in the past used to be knowing most people simply had not heard the opposing points of view and likely never would.

We now live in an age where comment culture and "counter narratives" are significantly harder to suppress and so people must now decide which version of events makes the most sense to them, as opposed to only encountering one authoritative news report. Long may that continue!

082 Bitcoins John Lennon and the occult


The excerpt I reading from comes from this excellent blog: http://chycho.blogspot.ca/2013/11/the-bitcoin-bubble-or-is-it-two-charts.html

The guests featured are: Bitcoin Trader Buttons, ZeroFriendsRecordings and David Pryke.

I had minor problems compressing this and uploading it. In the event it doesn't sound right, do tell me.

www.twitter.com/nickmargerrison


Check out this episode!

They're going to give themselves a pay rise!


Can the media ever be impartial?

The weirdness of being able to send radio and television signals across vast distances confused the logic of many in the pre-internet world. During the rise of "broadcast media" through the 20th Century the idea that someone could be "impartial" and "objective" was incredibly important and some people even believed it was possible.

The reason the absurd notion that one could detach themselves from a perspective was so important seems mainly to be that it was used to justify the restriction of broadcasting licences by Governments and the use of public money to set up and maintain some radio and television stations.

A human's understanding of the world is dependent upon their perspective. It's incredibly hard to argue otherwise. Any notion of "impartiality" is defined by your particular interpretation of the definition of that word. Broadcast media can only provide a point of view and, in my opinion, is far more honest if it keeps that in mind.

This short debate is cut from my podcast, predated the awful Jimmy Savile revelations and initially appeared on Radio Talk in 2011.


Nick Margerrison

--

Recently I have been contacted by a number of friends/collegues/randoms to appear as a guest on radio programs they are producing. Contact me through Twitter if you're keen for me to debate "impartiality" anytime soon. I suspect there won't be many who want to talk about this one...

Final note, I'm very concerned to hear that one of my favorite podcasts, The Disinfocast, is to be cut back to once a month. There are many highlights in and among the archive. One of them hits the topic of this post pretty well: Episode 038

In it Matt Staggs and Abbey Martin have one of the most honest and informed discussions I've ever heard on the topic. Go have a listen!

#Occupy your own New Year's revolution

Timothy Leary on increasing your intelligence,
all the above points are met by uncensored internet use
I've previously echoed the point that the internet is alike to the printing press. It's an observation which is almost a cliché and it certainly wasn't new when I wrote this article here: The Global Awakening. However, the frustrating thing about the comparison is that it's hard not to be drawn towards the headline grabbing side of what happened next, the printing press was a vital step towards The French Revolution and huge political change throughout the world. This terrified the world's leaders at the time, caused a huge change in some of the power structures which towered above the peasants of the age and still causes concern for our modern day rulers.

For me though what's more important is the spread of radical ideas, known as "The Enlightenment", which preceded and underpinned these events. That process is less spectacular and blood thirsty but far more important and long lasting. The further away an event is in our universe the more our minds give it a false symmetry that it lacks when viewed close up, the moon looks like a perfect round sphere but get close to it and its rough edges and crater marked surface are revealed. This is true for events in our past and there's a danger the most positive consequences of the printing press upon the Western world could be forgotten by overly excited would be authoritarians keen to rouse "the masses" and #occupy positions currently held by "the elite". In my opinion such an exchange of power would not serve us as those who #occupy a seat of power in the future will encounter the same problem as those who currently claim to lead: the entire notion of a hierarchical dictatorship is coming apart

I try to explain why here: Why We're Not Living In 1984 Today: Orwell's Oversight. In short, leaders lead by controlling information and the information superhighway makes this impossible. No matter how hard they try, just like the war on drugs, it's beyond their control and our world's massive financial difficulties limit their ambitions and ability. The fact we've lived in a world where the common narrative implied it was their responsibility to sort things out means some people are focusing upon the likely indirect results which the internet may have upon a small few, the infamous 1%. 

I believe would be "revolutionaries" would do well to concentrate upon the less publicised but far more profound aspect of the internet, its an incredible learning tool! It represents the fact that we can now teach each other how to think.

I'm old enough to remember the pre-internet world. Back then people would often say, "ooh, he's even bought a book on how to do it" when they spoke of a friend or relative on a self improvement trip. This is an echo of the most important revolutionary aspect of the printed page. It allowed people to learn how to improve themselves and change the way they thought about the world. This is the driving force behind any meaningful long term social change ever experienced in any society. A violent revolution where the ruling elites have their heads cut off and they are replaced by equally excitable left wing or right wing  demagogues would mean nothing in the long term other than a depressing game of spot the difference.

I was very disappointed by the #Occupy protests I attended in London. I felt I was watching some of the dull Labour Party activist types who put me off politics during my time at University and ultimately led to a total disenfranchisement for me because Tony Blair. As I chatted to them they seemed hugely in favour of censorship, were quick to anger if I questioned their ideas and seemed wholly focused upon fixing other people rather than themselves. I have had similar encounters with people who adopt the Anonymous pose.

The dangers of censorship are key to my argument here. When one person censors someone else they deny you access to a perspective. Even if they've done this because they've decided it's for the collective good you've lost the chance to learn something. This is why censorship is one of the roots of limited intelligence within a society. I believe my generation, and the ones beneath it, have been badly let down by the education system. It's tempting to think this is because it's not in the immediate interests of our rulers to explain how the game is weighted in their favour but this is only an unfounded and perhaps unfair suspicion. Either way their keen appetite to control the information you're allowed to find should not be supported by anyone without serious consideration and a solid counter argument to this piece you're now reading.

Although I'm suggesting something that I'd like everyone to do I am aware of the fact that collectives tend towards fascism. Any idea that requires other people to do as you say can be a dangerous first step towards an authoritarian mindset. People usually know what's best for them in their life and if they don't it's always better they learn how to spot hazards rather than rely upon others to do it for them. That's partly why my call to action is so vague and subjective; improve yourself.

Any movement which requires you to move in a particular direction someone else has chosen will teach you how to follow. What our nations need now is a people who can think for themselves and choose their own path. An uncensored internet lets us do that and without question Western liberal democracy, for all its faults, has the potential to grow individuals who are capable of unique thought. This must be encouraged, not suppressed.

That's where you come in. The true path for a revolution in my opinion begins with self improvement and learning not what to think but how to think. As we approach the new year there will be a lot of people indulging our culture's practice of making a "New Year's Resolution" or two. I suggest that you use this opportunity to do precisely that, sort yourself out and improve who you are. If you're a political revolutionary do it with the same conviction which you'd use to challenge The Illuminati, or The evil Tories, or The Communist leftards, or The Racist Republicans or The Dozy Democrats, or whoever it is you oppose.

This meme is embedded in most of the decent movements that have sprung up recently, including #Occupy and Anonymous, but it often gets ignored. This blog entry is an attempt to remind you of it. The phrase "be the change you want to see" often comes up. This article is perhaps a bit of meat on that bone. I've made no secret of the fact that I think we may have some quite dicey times ahead of us in the next couple of years but it's not the most important aspect of what is happening to people right now, it's only a distracting headline.

If you look for it there appears to be a self-improvement revolution happening already, although it may just be the company I keep in my Facebook and Twitter feeds. I've seen plenty of people who used to be fat but have now lost weight, I suspect they've used the net to learn about diet and exercise. More subtle though are those people who used to be total idiots at school but are now capable of occasionally admitting they were wrong or behaving more reasonably, I suspect they're on a similar trip. Digital communications technology such as mobile phones and the net force a form of self awareness by recording conversations and activities. Revisiting events at a later date can be incredibly powerful. re-reading a drunken or angry conversation in your Facebook chat box is a very profound change to the way you see yourself. Looking at a picture of the night out you went, on where your clothes were too tight, puts the issue of your weight into sharp relief.

It is these changes, which seem small but are magnified by the volume of people they impact upon, that will lead to a better society as a whole. The biggest most important changes that you can make to your world are the ones you can make right now to yourself and the way you think. The more people who take up this challenge of fixing themselves first the less unlikely the wider changes needed in our society will be. Joining those who are using the net as a tool for self development seems to me like the most useful thing you can do. If we all do that we might well all move in different directions but the definition of the word "revolution" might move away from something which has to involve violence and conflict with others.

Nick Margerrison.

Comments welcome...

081 The Cult Of Nick: Space chips and cheaters


Interviews from the archive:

Joey Greco is surmised by Seth MacFarlane as "the guy who was on Cheaters, and got stabbed on camera". He did the show for 12 seasons and his personal website is here.

*cop starts breakdancing*

Paul Marks used to tolerate my bullshit on the old show frequently. His twitter is here.

The "Jeremy Bile" sketch is old and prolly only makes sense to UK listeners, which narrows it down to about 1/3 of the audience according to the last lot of stats I saw.

The music, which is particularly good in this episode I think, is provided by www.zerofriendsrecordings.co.uk

My Twitter is here: www.twitter.com/nickmargerrison


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