Do You Know a Bagel Weighs Five Pounds?

The Five Pound Bagel!

Blog #4 – Do You Know a Bagel Weighs Five pounds?

Greetings Cool Healthy Lifers!

In my last post, we talked about our summer beach trip and staying in the grooveYou want to know what knocks you out of the groove?  How about a five-pound bagel.

The Five Pound Bagel!
The Five Pound Bagel!
Ok, ok.  I know what you’re thinking.  There is no way that a bagel weighs five pounds.  Maybe few ounces, max?  You’re right.  If you put a bagel on a scale it would probably weigh around 4-6 ounces.  Throw some yummy veggie cream cheese on there and you have yourself about an eight ounce breakfast.  I love bagels.  I grew up in Boston and a bagel sandwich was part of my normal weekly (sometimes daily) meal plan.  In college a bagel sandwich and a cup of coffee could potentially be both a breakfast and lunch for me.

There’s a local place my wife, the girls, and I used to walk to that has the best whipped cream cheese. It was a weekly tradition for us, even as recently as last year, but no more.  I haven’t eaten a bagel in ages.  I miss my bagel sandwiches. I still dream about bacon, egg and cheese on an onion bagel. Why did I stop eating bagels???  Well that is the five-pound question…

The Five Pound Bagel Journey

After I had my awakening, I was determined to change but didn’t know where to start.  I had read all sorts of books, blogs and research articles over the years but felt like I needed to do something fundamentally different to truly change where my health was heading.

I started with the normal thoughts:

Great IdeaMy internal response
Should I join a weight loss club?Next Question…
Maybe move to sugar-free products?Umm…chemicals anyone?
What about the master cleanse?Lemons and cayenne pepper, seriously?
What about joining my local cross-fit?Have you seen my physique?

This wasn’t working for me.  These solutions work for many and that’s great.  But this wasn’t what I needed.  I needed to get back to my core.  Start at the beginning…

Enter my day job.  I’ve spent years looking at ways to improve performance for companies.  I spend my days immersed in process improvement, eliminating waste and streamlining inefficiencies.  Maybe I can leverage a similar approach with my own life?  The first step in any process improvement is to understand the “current state.”  I needed to step back and observe how I was operating today before I could figure out how to improve for tomorrow.

Step 1 – Observations.  In any type of performance management setting there is this concept called the “Hawthorne Effect.”  It’s this phenomenon which summarizes that when you apply consistent measurement to different outcomes, performance around these outcomes tends to improve.  People consciously (and subconsciously) start doing things that lead to improvement in the measured outcome.  Said simply, “if you measure it, it will improve.”  For me, this meant weighing myself every morning and evening.  Now this goes against some weight loss pundits who will tell you “never get on a scale, never to focus on the number.”  To me this is flawed logic.  I need to understand how my body responds to certain stimuli.

–          Are certain foods a trigger for me?

–          Does my body react differently to different types of exercise?

–          Do I notice a difference in weight when I’m on the road vs. when I’m at home?

In the same manner that I would tackle a business problem, I needed the fact-based data to inform my decision process.  I began to weigh myself every morning when I woke up and every night when I went to bed.  At first this was an excruciating experience.  I already knew I was overweight and this twice-daily reminder was like rubbing salt in my wounds!  But I learned to not ‘personalize’ my score (weight).  It was just data points for me to use to understand how to get better.  Jim Collins, a critically acclaimed business author, once wrote in his book Good to Great:

In order to positively progress toward the future, organizations must examine the current reality and pay attention to its brutal facts.

Well, I needed to confront the brutal facts … I was overweight.

After a few weeks of twice-daily weigh-ins, a few very interesting things became apparent.

  1. I had dramatic weight swings throughout the day.  I could wake up in the morning and weigh 190 lbs and then weigh 196 lbs before bed.  Or I could wake up at 194 lbs and go to bed the same night at 190 lbs.  While fluctuation is natural, there is something to glean from this.
  2. I noticed over the course of a few months that most weeks I had a similar weight pattern.  I tended to weigh less on Thursdays/Fridays and the most on Sundays/Mondays.  While I didn’t physically test the statistical significance of the data, it was enough for me to scratch my head and conduct some additional observations of what I’m doing / eating on these days
  3. After a while, the dread of weighing myself went away and it became more of a game between my wife and me.  I became more conscious of how my body reacted to different stimuli and was able to more accurately guess my weight based off what I ate and how active I was during the day.

Let’s focus on the first finding for a moment.  While everyone’s daily weight fluctuations are different, I tend to be in the camp of wide shifts in weight throughout the day.  This can be frustrating at times, but it gave me great data to analyze my food and exercise patterns over the course of the day that might be driving these changes.

So what was the one food that seemed to have the largest impact on my weight on a daily basis?  Bagels!  At the time our family was in the routine of taking a Sunday morning walk to our favorite bagel joint and indulging in pure deliciousness.  On these Sundays I saw a five-pound increase in my weight from morning to night.   It was like clockwork.  I would weigh 190 in the morning and  195 at night, 187 in morning and 192 at night, 185 in morning and 190 at night.

As this consistently played out, we decided to put this to the test.  For a few weeks we skipped the Sunday morning tradition and substituted a more nutritious alternative (granola and berries, oatmeal).  The results were pretty cut and dry.  On Sunday’s when I skipped the bagels, I didn’t weigh five pounds more at the end of the day.  In most instances when I had granola/berries or oatmeal for breakfast I would weigh almost the same in the evening as the morning.

Maybe this wasn’t rocket science, but it became very apparent what the strategy was to lose five pounds … ditch the bagels.

Until next time.

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Photo Credit:  © Juriah Mosin |

This Video Caught My Attention

We’re starting something new in the blog.  Watching short, fact-based videos on specific topics is one of the newest types of “content-based training” programs.  After each post we identify an interesting ‘healthy living’ video that we found particularly insightful.  Consider this our version of a healthy living YouTube channel!

From Table to Able

Heads up. I just said short videos, and here I am linking you to one that definitely would not meet the definition for short. But this is just a really cool video about disease and food…or how food can help reverse so many different diseases.  Enjoy!

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