(Everything you need to know to make an informed guess and compete for the prizes is contained below, including a daily report of my food intake and exercise. Be the first to guess my exact weight when I return from England and win a valuable prize.)
This is a real game, a contest – not some carnival trick.
The question is: How much weight will an American gain, or lose during a three-week vacation in England?
If you can guess how much I will weigh the morning of July 14, 2014, you will win a $20 coffee card for Starbucks or Coffee, Bean & Tea. Here’s the deal, as my three-year old granddaughter Alise likes to say:
I weighed myself the morning of June 22, the day we were leaving for England. I weighed 157.2 pounds.
We return to Los Angeles the evening of July 13. I will not weigh myself anywhere along the way. No scale will see the bottoms of my feet until the morning of July 14, when I will be wearing exactly the same thing I wore at the original weigh in – nothing.
You may update your guess as frequently as you wish. But only your final guess will count. Deadline is 6 a.m. Pacific Daylight Savings Time July 14, 2014.
There are three ways to enter, but you probably wouldn’t want to do two of them.
A. You could post your guess as a comment at the bottom of this article, where everyone less could see it.
B. You could post your guess as a comment on my Facebook page, if you are on Facebook. But, again, everyone else could see it. And if you do this please scroll down to with relevant posting.
C. You should post your guess by going to firstname.lastname@example.org and putting Weight in the subject line. That way no one else will be able to see your guess.
That’s pretty much it. If you have any questions you may ask them as comments below or on my Facebook page, or you can email them to email@example.com and put Question in the subject line. I will be very forthcoming with anything you want to know other than my weight as we progress through this trip. Want to know what I had for breakfast, lunch or dinner? Just ask. Want to know how much walking I did that day? Just ask.
It probably will be helpful to follow my commentary on the trip, which I will publish in this food magazine daily. Of course, it will focus on foods and restaurants.
The prize will be awarded to every person who guesses my exact weight – to the tenth of a pound – on the morning of July 14. If no one gets the exact weight the prize will go to the person who comes closest below the actual weight. In case of a tie duplicate prizes will be awarded. The prize award will double for the first person who gets the exact weight to the tenth of a pound.
This contest is open to absolutely everyone. Only exclusion will be Jennifer, who will be an eye witness to this adventure, and the rest of my family in England, who will have too much inside information.
Here are some things you may want to consider:
1. Three months ago I weighed 172.8 pounds. That day I tried to put on three different dress shirts but couldn’t close the top button on any of them. I resolved to lose 10 pounds.
2. Two weeks later I had lost 7 pounds and changed my goal to a 15 pound drop.
3. One month ago I hit my goal of 157 pounds.
4. Five days later I was down to 152 pounds. But I thought I was looking gaunt. So, I loosened up a bit.
5. The whole thing was accomplished through portion control and walking up the steps – from three to six flights – at my office building at least twice a day. When we went out to dinner I would eat no more than one piece of bread. Breakfast at least five days a week was oat meal and blueberries. The oat meal was made with soy milk. Lunch most days was a grilled chicken breast sandwich with mustard, a slice of onion and a slice of tomato. I would share a small order of steak fries with a lunch mate on occasion. For dinner we ate pretty much the same thing as we always eat, only about half a much. If I had a large lunch, I would cut dinner back to a very lite meal.
6. The steps probably were the most important part of all this.
7. June 17 we left for four days in San Francisco and Sacramento. I weighed 155.7 pounds the day we left and 157.4 pounds the morning after we returned. The next day – June 19 – I was up to 158.6. The morning of June 20 I was down to 157.6 and the next day, after a sushi feast the night before, I remained at 157.6. And today – June 22 – after a cheese burger with fries at the Little League field yesterday and a homemade Italian sausage sandwich fir dinner, I weighed in at 157.2 – right at my original target.
8. There will be few if any stairs to climb in England.
9. I’m a sucker for full English fry ups for breakfast and we will be staying at bed and breakfasts all the way.
10. Our plane takes off from LAX at 7:50 p.m. June 22. We will be served dinner on the plane, probably about 9 p.m. Then there will be not much else to do except go to sleep.
11. This trip is about two things: visiting Jennifer’s family and spending a week in Cornwall.
12. First top will be near Maidstone, to visit our niece and her sons. We will be staying at a B&B hotel and will spend much of the time at our niece’s house. And, by the way, our niece owns a restaurant.
13. Most of the rest of the time will be spent at B&B hotels in Little Hampton and Angmering, where we will be visiting Jennifer’s brother and our sister-in-law. Breakfasts will be at the hotels. The rest of the meals will be a mixture of at home and restaurants.
14. During our week in Cornwall we will be meeting one of Jennifer’s old friends from back when she lived in England. We will have at least one dinner together. We will be staying in two B&B hotels and eating in restaurants the whole week. Some online research into local Cornwall food specialties might be in order. You might start here: http://www.anglotopia.net/countries/england/seven-traditional-foods-of-cornwall-cornish-cuisine-guide/ In addition to the diet-killer pasties, which have nothing to do with strip joints, there’s plenty of sea food in the coastal fishing villages. And Cornish game hen has very little to do with Cornwall.
15. Jennifer has informed me we will be stopping in Devon on the way to Cornwall so she can have some real clotted cream, which, by the way, also is widely available throughout Cornwall.
Here’s the report on the first week of eating and exercising. I haven’t gotten on a scale, but I feel pretty good so far.
MONDAY – JUNE 23 –
Breakfast – An airline omelet and a couple of mouthfuls of some kind of potatoes.
Dinner – One duck spring roll; roasted half chicken with skin removed, green beans, a little bit of mashed potatoes, 1 glass of cab sav.
Exercise – 2 flights of steps up to our hotel room.
TUESDAY – JUNE 24 –
Breakfast – a small piece of very salty English bacon, not the fatty, streaky kind we get in the U.S.; small bowl of porridge (oat meal) with a small banana; 2 cups of black coffee.
Lunch at niece Karen’s café in Malling – A sandwich on “brown bread” with sausage, lettuce, tomato, cheese and mayo; probably equal to two of my usual L.A. lunches; two cups of black coffee.
Dinner – A goat cheese and caramelized onion tart; 8 oz. rib eye steak with Lyonnais potatoes, peas and carrots. 1 glass of Foster’s Lager; 1 cup of black coffee.
Exercise – 35 minute walk, including about 10 minutes at a fast clip; about half of the total time up hill; one flight of steps from the lobby to our hotel floor, 3 times; 45 minutes strolling around the village at Malling.
OK. Here comes the first real test of your ability to judge the balance between some very questionable eating and the daily quotient of exercise. How many calories did I ingest? How many did I burn? What is the net result on my weight?
WEDNESDAY – JUNE 25 –
Breakfast – Oat mean (porridge) with a small banana; 2 cups of coffee.
Lunch an niece Karen’s – Italian meats on two small rolls with mustards, tomatoes and onion, olives, potato chips
Dinner – Shared Yorkshire pudding with Jennifer, niece Karen and nephew Trevor; shared pork crackling with Karen and Trevor; share cod roe with Jennifer and Karen; share cockles and whelks with Jennifer. Ate half an order of mussels and half an order of fries cooked in beef drippings; 3 scopes of ice cream; coffee.
Exercise – 50-minute walk to and along the Midway River and back to the hotel. Up one flight of steps after breakfast, after walk. Two flights of stairs at Marks and Spencer department store. Up one flight of steps at the hotel end of day.
THURSDAY, JUNE 26 –
Breakfast – small portion of scrambled eggs, moderate portion of Heinz vegetarian baked beans, one-half grilled tomato, medium rasher of English bacon.
Lunch – got lost en route to Little Hampton. Skipped lunch. Had late afternoon tea with one shortbread cookie and two digestibles.
Dinner at brother-in-law David and sister-in-law Maureen’s – Nice portion of chicken pot pie, with boiled potatoes, peas and carrots. Small piece of cheese cake and medium scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Exercise – Total of four flights of steps after breakfast and while checking out of hotel in Maidstone. Two more flights of step checking in at Little Hampton. Two more flights of steps on return from dinner. Total for the day – eight flights of steps. Not much walking
FRIDAY, JUNE 27 –
Breakfast – BINGO. It’s fry up Friday. I made it through three breakfasts this week without yielding. But this is a B&B – home cooked. I had the full treatment – two poached eggs, two rashers of bacon, one banger (sausage), tomato, beans, mushrooms, toast with marmalade.
Lunch at David and Maureen’s – smoked mackerel, tomatoes, sliced cucumber, green salad, small piece of pork pie
Dinner – Two pieces of deep fried Brie cheese with cranberry compote and a small green salad; two slices of grilled pork loin smothered in some kind of white, creamy sauce, plus new potatoes; apple tart with clotted cream ice cream.
Exercise – three trips up the one flight of stairs at our B&B; 1-hour stroll at Highdown Garden.
SATURDAY, JUNE 28 –
Breakfast – two-egg omelet with ham, cheese, tomato and mushroom. One slice of brown bread with marmalade.
Lunch – At Rule’s, the oldest restaurant in London. For a starter I had rare roasted veal topped with lambs lettuce, shaved pecorino and a drizzle of excellent extra virgin olive oil. Around the perimeter of the plate were shelled broad beans. I drank one glass of 2009 St.-Emilion Grand Cru. For my entre I had two lamb loin chops, with an excellent aubergine and a side of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, heavily buttered. For dessert it was a trio of ice creams – chocolate, hazelnut and chocolate chip.
Dinner – Not even hungry. I had one tangerine.
Exercise – Total of four trips up the one flight of steps at the B&B. And least 10 more flights of steps while traversing the London underground. Walked up the equivalent of three flights of steps on the escalators at Marks and Spencer and one of the train stations. Daily total of about 17 flights of steps. Plus extensive walking between train stations in the underground and around Covent Gardens.
SUNDAY, JUNE 29 –
Breakfast – Bowl of oat meal, made with whole milk, and a nice portion of fresh blueberries. Two cups of coffee.
Lunch – Big meal again. Traditional English Sunday roast at Angmering Manor. Terrine of minced ham. Then two slices of roast pork in gravy with roasted potatoes, crackling and mixed vegetables. Finished with apple tart and vanilla ice cream.
Dinner – Skipping this meal again. Just a tangerine.
Exercise – Steps at B&B = total of three flights. 45-minute walk, 25 minutes slow, 20 minutes very brisk, including 10 minutes up hill.
WEEK 2 –
MONDAY – JUNE 30
Breakfast – smoked haddock and two poached eggs with one slice of toast and coffee
Lunch – large ham sandwich on baguette with fries
Dinner – half pint of beer and fish and chips
Exercise – 3 flights of steps on check out from B&B; 5 flights of steps on check in and rest of day at new B&B; Modest walk from village of Boscastle to visitors’ bureau; second modest walk to and from parking lot to dinner restaurant.
TUESDAY – JULY 1
Breakfast – full fry up
Lunch – 1 steak, potato and onion pasty
Snack – cream tea, 2 scones, clotted cream, jam and tea
Dinner – chicken and mushroom pie in a butter sauce, roasted carrots, peas and broad beans, roasted potatoes, fresh raspberries with frozen yogurt, cup of coffee
Exercise – single flight of steps eight times at B&B. Long walk to harbor and beyond, including some steep slopes. Several hours walking around village.
WEDNESDAY – JULY 2
Breakfast – Smoked mackerel and two poached eggs. One slice of toast with strawberry jam. Coffee
Lunch – Steak and onion pasty
Dinner – Sashimi appetizer of salmon, john dory, sea bass, scallop; 1 ¾ lb steamed lobster with a few thick fries. Quartet of raspberry, lemon, orange and cassis sorbet
Exercise – Some 300+ steps up to the two sections of the castle ruins at Tintagel plus two hours of walking around the hilltops. 45 minute walk through Padstow. About 10 flights of steps at the B&B
THURSDAY – JULY 3
Breakfast – small bowl of oat meal with fresh strawberries and loganberries. One slice of seeded bread with homemade strawberry jam
Lunch – Cream tea, one scone, clotted cream, jam and tea
Dinner –venison carpaccio with two quail eggs; sous vide steak plus “meat loaf” wrapped in Parma ham with asparagus, roasted potatoes, steamed spinach and puree of cauliflower with cheese. Half bottle of wine.
Exercise – brisk one hour and 10 minute walk along harbor and through the village. Half our walk to dinner and half hour back. Numerous flights of steps at the hotel
FRIDAY – JULY 4
Breakfast – full Cornish fry up
Lunch – Chili & pureed vegetable soup with a small roll
Dinner –salumi and 3 large pieces of cheese, glass of wine
Exercise – single flight of stairs 12 times at the hotel. Some walking.
SATURDAY – JULY 5
Breakfast – full Cornish fry up
Lunch – skipped
Dinner – Chorizo risotto; grilled sea bass on a bed of squid ink pasta in a cream sauce; glass of wine
Exercise – single flight of stairs 10 times at hotelflights; 45 minute slow walk; walk 10 min each way to dinner and back.
SUNDAY – JULY 6
Breakfast – full Cornish fry up
Lunch – steak and onion pasty
Dinner – one-half baked potato with Cornish sausage in onion gravy. One pint of beer.
Exercise – single flight of steps 10 times at hotel; 20-minute walk through village to museum and return to hotel; 15-minute walk to dinner and return. Walk up very steep hill – five-story climb over 270 feet.
DAILY UPDATES FROM HERE ON
MONDAY – JULY 7
Breakfast – full Cornish fry up
Lunch – sausage and onion sandwich
Dinner – sautéed sea bass in bread crumbs, 3 steamed new potatoes, some cubes of roasted potatoes, 2 portions of steamed peas, small slice of chocolate pie, small scoop of ice cream.
Exercise – single flight of steps 8 times at hotel; Walk up very steep hill – five-story climb over 270 feet. Brisk 1/2 mile walk.
TUESDAY, JULY 8
Breakfast – full English fry up
Lunch – chicken liver pate on toast – small portion
Dinner – appetizer portion of chicken Tika; lamb Tika shared with Jennifer; pint of beer
Exercise – three-quarters of a mile walk at modest pace
WEDNESDAY, JULY 9
Breakfast – two poached eggs on one slice of toast, no butter; small slices of kiwi, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, and orange; one British banger
Lunch – cream tea: two raisin scones with clotted cream and jam; pot of tea
Dinner – roasted tomato soup; breast of duck with potatoes, broccoli and green beans; Apple tart tatin with one scoop of vanilla ice cream
Exercise – one and one-half hours of walking
THURSDAY, July 10
Breakfast – full English fry up
Lunch – mini bear claw and coffee
Dinner – mozzarella caprese, spaghetti and six small meat balls in marinara sauce; 2 glasses of red wine
Exercise – two 15-minute walks outdoors; 1 hour meandering around Marks & Spencer department store
FRIDAY, JULY 11
Breakfast – two poached eggs on one slice of grain bread, two rashers of English bacon, coffee
Lunch – two slices of brown toast with pork pate and sliced tomatoes and cucumber; small piece of pork pie; tea with two digestive cookies
Dinner – caramelized onion and feta cheese tart; lamb’s liver with bubble and squeak (cabbage and mashed potatoes; small portion of fries; coffee
Exercise – one-mile walk
SUNDAY, July 12
Breakfast – full English, minus tomatoes and black pudding
Lunch – cup of tea
Dinner – 4 chicken wings; ½ roast chicken with French fries
Exercise – 4 flights of steps; walked three-quarters of a mile