Open Source Weight Loss: Will You Join Me?

For those of you who read LockerGnome for the tech news, this article might not be your cup of tea. If you are a part of the LockerGnome community and would like to participate in a year-long experiment how technology can assist us in living healthier lives, this may be an article worth adding to your bookmarks.

I’ve lived my entire adult life on a long and exhausting uphill weight climb, relying on a false hope that one day I’ll finally get the motivation I need to reverse the trend. At 180 lbs., I was a healthy and happy 18-year-old, out on his own with a world of opportunity ahead of me. Slowly, the weight began to pile on and I found myself seeing 200, 220, 240, 260, 280, and then a whopping 297 lbs. on the scale. This didn’t come overnight, but the change over the years has been quite dramatic. I allowed myself, through a sedentary lifestyle, to grow further and further away from the shape I wished I could be in.

If you’re still reading this, perhaps you’re trapped in the same cycle. You’ve probably, like myself, spent countless dollars on pills, miracle diets, and gym memberships that require more dedication and a stronger will than you seem to be able to muster. Don’t feel bad; it happens to the best of us.

What is Open Source Weight Loss?

Here’s what I propose. Join us in a year-long campaign to discover the many different gadgets, gizmos, and plans and what it takes to make them work. I intend to share my personal journey, warts and all, with the world while passing on tips, tricks, and personal experiences from members of the LockerGnome community as they comment on the Open Source Weight Loss (OSWL) articles.

Together, perhaps we can explore options that you don’t hear about on every infomercial, weight loss website, or the mass media and discover options that work for regular geeks.

With each article in this series, I’ll share the details of my ongoing journey and present a question to you, the community. Your answers, in addition to the articles, will, I hope, help us as a community gain a better understanding of the struggles many of us face with this particular issue. Not everyone loses the weight overnight, and living a healthy lifestyle means more than just meeting a certain BMI goal. Perhaps you have concerns about your heart health, cholesterol, or you simply want to be a part of a group that can help you find the motivation you need to make a difference in your life.

This isn’t a diet plan, or anything like that. It’s a free and open experiment in community. After all, what’s the point of building a community if not to help us improve each other’s lives?

How Can You Participate?

All you need to do to participate is to join the ongoing conversation at Each article in this series will link to a question for the community. Your answers will help others learn from your experiences, and perhaps help them achieve their goals.

To kick things off: What weight loss gadgets, services, or plans have you tried in the past? Did they work for you?

Sharing your experiences in an open and honest fashion will enable us to learn from one-another and perhaps discover new ways to live a healthier life. Perhaps the trick that helped you was the introduction of a gadget such as the FitBit Ultra or a certain diet plan. Whatever the case, the idea behind this is to share our experiences and build on what we know as a community.

How Am I Starting This?

I’m 5’9″ and presently weigh 295.0 lbs. Last year, I weighed between 278 and 284 and promised that 284 would be the absolute highest I’d ever go. All of a sudden, the weight started pouring on and, within a month, I hit 297 lbs.

After having experienced my first business trip in a plane late last year, I discovered that my experiences in life are being bogged down with my own concerns about my weight. Where I should have been thrilled to finally get to hop on a plane, I was more concerned with actually fitting in the seat without making the person to my right or left uncomfortable. I find it difficult to attend family functions, or do simple things like go to the movies or stand in line somewhere. My size is constantly on my mind, and I’m spending more of my time worrying about how I look than actually living.

This is a common problem with overweight individuals. I would easily slip into overeating out of frustration with little things like my favorite store not having anything in stock that fit me. I wanted to buy a certain jacket last winter, and to my surprise, two of my favorite clothing retailers didn’t even carry my size. I remember sitting in the car after one unsuccessful shopping trip with my wife, nearly in tears. For the first time in my life, I felt as though I was almost inhuman. If a major clothing retailer didn’t carry my size, I surely must be larger than anyone else that typically shops there.

Being overweight is a vicious cycle, and whether you attribute it to addictive eating or simply a lack of self control, the very feeling being overweight gives you makes you want to escape to the one thing you feel as though you can control: food.

I’ve never smoked, only had maybe five drinks in my entire life, and I spend almost every waking moment of my life working. The stereotype that large people do nothing but eat and sit on the couch watching television simply isn’t true. In many cases, large folks live very active and stressful lifestyles. Perhaps their size is due to not eating the right foods, not having the spare time to exercise, or simply not having the motivation to rethink whatever it is that is going wrong. In my case, it may have been all three.

FitBit Ultra and Non-processed Foods
So, here’s where I’m starting. I’ve invested in a FitBit Ultra and have pledged to wean myself off of processed foods. My daily calorie intake levels are being closely monitored, with everything I put in my mouth being cataloged and referenced. Day by day, I’m replacing more and more of my favorite foods with organic and calorie-light alternatives in an attempt to halt my body’s intake of harmful chemicals and preservatives that could slow my weight loss.

Activity Levels
My average steps per day as of last week were 2,500. As per medical advice I’ve received, I’m working to increase that activity by at least 500 daily steps per week. After 14 weeks, I should be walking somewhere around five miles per day, which is a dramatic difference from where I started.

In the interest of losing weight at an even pace, I have a goal in mind to lose at least 1.5 lbs. per week until I have reached 180 lbs. This gradual weight loss is intended to make it more difficult for me to “put the weight back on” should I have a bad week during the program. After all, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year.

I encourage everyone willing to participate, as we lose weight together, to set your own goals and keep us updated as to where you are as the weeks progress. Anyone willing to take part in this project with me will be my partner in success, and I will do everything I can to help support you as you attempt to improve your own life through healthier living.

You can actually see live charts of my progress on my FitBit profile. Here, I track my sleep, eating, exercise, and general activity every day in real-time. Feel free to add me to your friends list there as well, and we can take these first steps together.


Week 0: Will You Join Me?
Week 1: the Rollercoaster
Week 2: the Burn
Week 3: Slow and Steady
Week 4: Always Be Training
Week 5: Hydration is Key
Week 6: Taking Breaks

Photo by: Ben Sklar

40 comments On Open Source Weight Loss: Will You Join Me?

    • Thank you very much!

      •  I have taken another thought about your challenge, I think I might attempt to join but I was scared to commit as my other business is a chocolate factory/custom cake and misc desserts. Unfortunately, usually have to taste all these items. However, I guess it’s a poor excuse, so I will try to stop making excuses and join in ;].

  • Good luck. I know first hand how extremely difficult is can be to lose weight. 

    In 2009, when I was 20 years old, I weighed ~368 lbs. My family has a history of deaths from heart attacks, so I decided I had to start dieting and working out. Since May 16th, 2009 I went from ~368 lbs to 219 lbs.

  • I’m ahead of you but pretty much was forced to take action by a quick diabetic coma last March. 
    I quit eating white stuff.  White flour, rice, pasta and such are off my diet and I am eating much more fruit and veggies, especially raw. 
    I’m still diabetic but I’ve lost about  75 lbs and have kept it off for about the last 6 months. 
    Something else that I’ve done that has helped me keep from eating too much is eating a small snack at 10:00 and 3:00.  It seems to keep me from drooping during the day.

  • Good Luck, Matt. 

  • I look forward to reading your updates. I am on my own weight loss journey. This past month I’ve lost 12 lbs. I’m up to 2 miles a day (walking) which is pretty good for a girl with a fractured L5! Actually, the walking has helped with the pain by strengthening the muscles. I start swimming again on Thursday! So, good luck to you and this very public forum should help you stay motivated. Be prepared for bad days – they do happen. Food is very addictive, especially sugar and soda. I haven’t had a soda in a month now and the cravings are still there. 

    • I feel you there. Sorry to hear about your injury. Feel free to post your own stories as you progress. I’d love to hear how your swim goes, and whether or not it helps you break any plateaus.

  • That is my life story except i actually got up to 315, but i did a juice reboot for 5 day and followed a steady diet and gor down to 285. Unfortunately i have been slacking anf put 2 lbs back on. Time to watch my food close again

  • Making this a public pledge will go a long way to motivating you.  Congrats for even having the guts to write this article.  I’m on my own weight loss journey and give you props for going about this boldly.  Good luck, you’re definitely not alone.

  • Making this a public pledge will go a long way to motivating you.  Congrats for even having the guts to write this article.  I’m on my own weight loss journey and give you props for going about this boldly.  Good luck, you’re definitely not alone.

  • David Phillips, LPC

    I’m in!  Just weighed in at a slim 264. (Not fair, I swear I was 252, tops.  The scale was broken!)  Step one, stop lying to myself.  I am fat and I sit at my desk most of the day.  Not gaming, not hacking, not doing anything other than slaving away paying for gas that now costs more than most wines.  Do those inflatable exercise balls really help?

    • My wife has one, and says it is supposed to strengthen your core which makes things like workouts much easier for you. Let us know how it works out!

  • Oh my. LOVE the Open Source methodology. It’s not easy being open source about weight loss!

    • That was the idea. I want to turn that embarrassment I’ve been dealing with for a decade on its head and instead share everything I can with the world. My weekly updates will include charts and other geeky data, but also the troubles associated with working out when you’re, well, kinda big.

  • Oh my. LOVE the Open Source methodology. It’s not easy being open source about weight loss!

  • Oh my. LOVE the Open Source methodology. It’s not easy being open source about weight loss!

  • Jivko Panayotov

    Nice first time hear about that, good luck…

  • I am going to officially participate! I am only 25–26 in July–and I’m hovering around 250-260 on average. I’ve been walking constantly, with a blend of bike riding to break up the monotoney. I am joining now. To progress!!!

    Couldn’t get my DISQUS to login. Weird.

    Just another benefit of being a Gnomie: support from a great community! We can all attain our goals. 🙂

  • Awesome, Matt! I was so excited to see you on FitBit. Dieting is not “fast” or “easy” – though, if you drink a lot of water, you might find a quick drop the first few weeks from water weight. (I lost 10 pounds in one week (!!!) – but it’s been a steady 2 pounds since then.) Your weight might fluctuate day-to-day. DO NOT obsess over those movements. Record them, but try to look at your data by the week. You WILL have “bad” days. You won’t be able to walk; you’ll want to eat a burger. It happens – and let it. But always focus on the bigger picture and make the effort to make those good choices. Oh, and as always, feel free to shoot me an email 🙂

    • Drinking more water is in my goals. I’m gradually weaning myself off processed foods which used to be pretty much everything I ate from morning until night. Now, it’s down to about 2-3 items per day. My water intake is hopefully going to increase quite a bit by replacing diet sodas with warm tea and ice water.

  • First of all, what is “pounds”? I thought it was what the British use to buy their deep-fried fish and chips. I’m Israeli, so we only gain or lose weight in kilograms.
    Good luck with your diet! As an experienced dieter (sorry to say, I have done it many times) I can tell you for certain that dieting is no picnic, but regrettably it is far easier to take the weight off than to keep it off.Now there’s the trick!

  • More_spare_time

    All the best in your challenge! 

  • There are only two ways to loose weight (or to avoid gaining it!): 1) keep your mouth shut as much as possible, 2) make some exercise. This last one is more difficult, and forget about gymns, or PT’s, or a train bike in your bathroom! All of them are too boring!!! Try to find some sort of activity which is also social, require some company, and give you some pleasure. For instance in my case I do ballroom dancing: it’s nothing fancy, and may be out of fashion, but it’s much more funny and appealing to exercise with a female companion than pedalling in your bathroom to go nowhere!!! Or play table tennis, or tennis, or anything else you like and requires someone. This someone will help to take you out of the sofa!! I’m 60 years old, 1.72m and 77Kg (someone please do the math for feet, inches and lbs!), and that’s my formula, and… it works!!!

  • Hi I just want to wish you the best of luck and let you know about a little trick that helped me lose weight. what I did was eat as healthy as possible 6 days out of the week and on Sunday for dinner I could eat whatever I wanted, doing this gave me something to look forward to and helped me off processed food

  • Hi I just want to wish you the best of luck and let you know about a little trick that helped me lose weight. what I did was eat as healthy as possible 6 days out of the week and on Sunday for dinner I could eat whatever I wanted, doing this gave me something to look forward to and helped me off processed food

  • I’m interested in getting on board.  I’ll have a look at .net later on today.  I promised a friend I’d go KFC so I best get that out the way before I commit =).

  • Hi I started a blog along the same lines – well the I have to lose weight line. For me it is also about getting my sugar under control, because being diabetic is just so much fun!! (Yes I am being very sarcastic) 

  • I wrote a little app to pop up a randomly selected photo of a water scene, reminding me to drink some water. I also wrote an app reminding me to get up and walk around once an hour, but that turned out not to be necessary. 🙂

  • Hi Matt, I started this a couple of months ago.  I’m also detailing social weight loss for a book.  Look forward to your results!

  • I can’t wait to hear how you’re progressing. Please keep me updated. Do you have a FitBit profile by chance?

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