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The pride cometh…

January 21st, 2011 8 comments

before the slight uptick in the generally downward trend of my scale weights.

Remember that post about running?  I have a case of shin splints now, and can’t run.  Remember that post about trends and trend lines, and how little gains don’t matter.  This morning I got smacked in the face with a 1.2 pound gain.

Intellectually, I know it’s a hiccup, a bump, a bit of extra water and fiber.

Emotionally, it’s not that simple.  I spent this mornings hour long commute (5 mile drive, but first two laps to three different schools) mulling over that silly 1.2 pounds that still left me 1.2 pounds below my trend.

Some of the conversation:

Me: Meh, I was due for a bump.

Me: It’s that time of month.

Me: Do dudes have a time of month?

Me: That was the oatmeal at 11:30 last night.

Me: Nah, oatmeal is good for you this was the Baskin-Robbins from two nights ago.

Me: Right, karma sucks.

Me: You’re being silly, you’ve had blips like this before.

Me: You’re right, I need to drink more water.

Me: You’re hitting your water targets, and your hitting your calories, this is just normal, stop being a jerk and worrying about it.

Me: Well I did eat into my exercise calories a bit earlier this week, maybe…

Me: STFU, I’m not talking to you anymore.  Go cry in the corner, wimp!

image My LoseIt! friends are all on the side of the sane side of that conversation, and really they are all right.  Looking back doesn’t do me any favors, make good choices today.  Work out and exercise, drink water.  Not a time to panic or fret and only make the stress of that worse.  So I’m blogging my pain, allowing a bit of catharsis to occur from connecting with my emotions, then I’m gonna indulge in Free Bagel Friday (which is totally within my budget! woot!) and enjoy my Friday.

Enjoy yours too!

Running the race…

January 20th, 2011 2 comments

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead – Philippians 3:13

Running and I have a very mixed relationship.  When I was a kid I wasn’t very fast, my Dad made the comment that I spent too much time running in one place.  Which is probably a fair assessment of my form and technique at age 10.  When I got to middle school and high school I dreaded the running segment of P.E. class, though I eventually learned to run, I never got any real training on form or technique.  Running to me was just put in the time, and I hated it.  I preferred riding my bicycle, and through high-school that was my preferred way to work out aerobically.  When I started college I kept in shape playing basketball with friends, walking the golf course, riding a bike to and from work.  In my senior year I bought a car, and slowly stopped being active.

After joining the Navy, I started getting more an more sedentary, when it came time for the semi-annual fitness test, I’d go out and run a few times then pass the test, I wasn’t looking to improve my times and it slowly started to show.  My waist-line grew and my run times lengthened, and I started to panic during the training that I wouldn’t ever be fast enough.  My knees hurt from pounding on steel decks and steel ladders, and when I started post-graduate school in Monterey I was close to getting discharged or failing to meet physical standards.

Monterey was a time to get back in shape.  First thing I did was rest, get my knees to stop aching at any opportunity.  Then I started a mandatory step aerobics class and that strengthened my knees, we also got one of imagethose Health-Rider that Covert Bailey was hawking back in the mid-nineties on late-night infomercials.  I passed the next fitness test, but wasn’t confident in my running technique and my knees ached terribly after the test.  So I knew I need to learn how to run. 

About that time, Oprah (don’t judge, a good husband has interests in what his wife is interested in!) was showing how she finally got into shape the right way, with good diet and lots of exercise.  So using that as a method I started  a 30 day walk to run plan (what has become known as a Couch to 5k plan) and enlisted a good friend to hit it with me three times a week.  imageSo for the next month, we worked the program running along Monterey Bay which if you have the means I highly recommend you do that.  And thirty days later I was running 30 minutes without stopping, and easily passed the next few fitness tests. 

I hit department head school in probably the best shape of my Navy career.  My next command was in Ingleside and our ship started a physical fitness program where non-duty personnel mustered at the gym and so my fitness stayed about the same, but it was still the cloud of my past readiness test failures that hung over my head as a cloud, I didn’t work out because I wanted to improve I worked out because I didn’t want to fail.

I separated from the Navy in 1999 and moved to Plano. Without the specter of the readiness test hanging over my head, I vowed to never worry about running again. I stayed in a semblance of shape, playing softball and sports with my church.  Then one night, playing volleyball in the gym, I stepped wrong and severely twisted my knee.  I thought I’d require surgery but through an intensive treatment with a chiropractor I was able to align my knee and strengthen the support muscles enough to not require treatment.

[Sponge Bob Announcer Voice] 8 years later

I woke up out of depression and issues to a body I didn’t recognize.  Three-hundred and forty-two pounds on my frame suddenly seemed alien to me, though I’d been there the whole time it slowly grew. Pushing my waistline out, and raising the edge of my shirts up.  With the prompting of my wife, I started on Weight Watchers with her. I also knew, that I needed to exercise, and that I’d gotten in shape before with running.  I decided that would be my first choice in starting on the long road back into shape.

The tools have changed since the mid-nineties, I had gotten my first iPhone about a year earlier and had taken a very short walk to test it, then let it lay dormant in my app-stack for a good long while.  In my social media feeds I asked questions from people that I’d seen were runners, and asked them their advice, read about couch to 5k programs and remembered my success with the walk-to-run program back in Monterey.  I had my starting place.

image RunKeeper has been my consistent companion, logging in all my walks, I took it slower than back in Monterey. Listening to my body, if I hurt I rested, if I felt it was too hard to do the next week, I’d go back and do the same week again.  I wasn’t in a hurry, but I wanted to learn how to run correctly.  I signed up to participate in a 5k for the Corporate Challenge my company competes in each year.  So I had a plan and a goal to complete a 5k.  My first walk/run was April 13, 2010 in a loop around my office building. My speed wasn’t very fast, (3 mph) but I did all of the intervals.  Three days later I did day 2 on a treadmill, and logged the time in RunKeeper a little bit further, a little bit faster.  Same with the third day, I gained confidence that I could work the program.

image The next week, I posted a picture of myself after the work out on facebook.  I captioned the photo “before” which really was a step of faith that an “after” was going to follow at some point. My head and heart were in the game, and the long slow race was begun. I haven’t completed an entire C25K plan, and I’m currently running with a friend that’s given me a different plan.  I ran the first 5k in September, and at that point I had progressed to running more than walking, and started categorizing all my run-training (regardless of intervals) as runs.  I changed my description on dailymile from “Walker” to “Runner”, and have slowly replaced my walking routines with almost all run training.  Using walking and running I’m about to go over 300 miles in total training mileage, and I feel so much more confident about my training and my life. 

image I completed a second 5k a couple weeks ago, didn’t train or it, just went and ran it, 5 minutes of running 2 minutes of walking.  Bested my previoius time by a minute, and now I’m training for race number three.  I have some goals for this race, but regardless it won’t be my last.  I never have called myself a Runner, but I’m slowly changing into one. All it takes is a little bit each day, slow progress each week.  If I can do it, anyone can do it, including you.

Why I weigh-in daily

January 19th, 2011 Comments off

Seems like it’s a popular topic on the LoseIt! forums, so here’s my chance to tell my story.  I started losing in April, on weight-watchers and used the scale at the gym to record my weights because I was too heavy for our old scale in the bathroom and it wasn’t reliable at all. 

The gym scale worked great, and I had great success.  Usually tried for the same day of the week, but the time would vary, morning to mid-afternoon as my schedule changed.  But it was in convenient, and after moving to LoseIt! in June my rate slowed dramatically.  I thought it was the normal plateau so I kept doing what I was doing and making small adjustments here, a bit more running there.  Travelled a lot in the Summer which I justified some of the slowness in just the environment of flying, staying in a hotel, and the stress of being away from home.

image In October I expressed frustration that my weight-loss rate was really slowing down, and I wanted to mix it up a bit.  We bought a new scale at Wal-mart and I started a month long experiment on daily weigh-ins.  This chart shows the raw data of the daily weigh-ins since I started.  Noisy is the word for that data, and imagine how I felt emotionally each morning. Up = Bad mood.  Down = Euphoria. Same = Grumpy.  It’s crazy to look at that data as a snap shot.  Our bodies take in a lot of ‘stuff’ over the day, The Hacker’s Diet uses the figure of 14 pounds of ‘stuff’ goes through our system daily.  So a snap-shot scale weight is almost meaningless without context.

Which is why I don’t really care about those numbers.  Well I do care, but only as they relate to the over all trend.  You’ll notice the fits and starts at the beginning of the dailys, I’ll give you a hint, the first spike was Halloween, the second Thanksgiving weekend, and the third smaller spike, right after the new year.  But the spikes, over time have gotten less volatile, and I think that’s the discipline of looking at my daily weight as it relates to the trend. 

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Here’s the same data with a 10 day moving average trend line overlaid in red.  Not near as manic as the daily weigh-in, and some early warnings become apparent in the data points (I didn’t start using a trend until after Thanksgiving the tall spike in the middle).  Armed with the trend-line early warning system (above trend weigh-in check out routines, and re-evaluate habits) I got through a 15 day vacation at the end of the year without a major plateau and buckling down when the work/school routine started put me right back on track.  So if you’re going to weigh in daily, use a trend of some kind to relate to your data, and don’t ride the emotional roller coaster of daily weigh-ins.

I also noticed that my Monday’s were almost always up, and my Tuesday’s were almost always down.  So I thought to myself, what if I changed to only recording my weight on Tuesdays. image I’ve gone back and made a chart of the Tuesday weigh-ins along with the trend points for those days.  The blue lines show the Tuesday weigh-ins for the same intervals as above.  The red-lines show the trend values from the daily-weigh-in (they’d be different if applied to only the weekly data).  The point I’d like to make here, is that for me I’m not sure I’d have really gotten the feedback that’s been valuable in finding and changing small habits if I’d only looked once a week.  As I noticed back around Thanksgiving, high-sodium and not enough water will spike me in the wrong direction.  On  this chart it just looks like a small little uptick, and I wouldn’t have really thought about the bad habit, and the rest of the graph might be a lot flatter if I didn’t make that connection.

The changing of my lifestyle isn’t a one thing, one time event, it’s lots of little changes, realizing portion size, the importance of water, the effect of junk food on my plan, emotional eating, etc.  Each of those came at a different time, and only when I had the data-points that gave me more direct feedback on the results of those choices.  If your reading this, your body is different, my results are NOT typical, so you need to do the work of checking in regularly to your patterns, finding your triggers and then finding solutions to change the way you react to your environment.  That might mean weighing in daily, or weekly.  That might mean just logging your foods for now, trying to just eat your maintenance amount of calories.  You’re in charge, and you can do anything you set your mind to.

iPhone apps that keep me on track!

January 13th, 2011 Comments off

Photo Jan 11, 4 06 11 PMHit my mini-goal of 4 pounds today, moving to next mini goal of 8.  Will try to hit that by Valentine’s Day.  I’m trying to put a blog up regularly to keep my writing skills finely tuned should I ever need to write a novel, or a short story.  Because, you should never start a sentence with because, nor do you know when you might by held hostage until a good work of fiction is done!  There, paragraph down and haven’t even mentioned the subject I want to write about. Take that! productivity!

Hey, look at my iphone, look at my Mii, now back to my iPhone, and back to Mii.  Sadly you aren’t Mii. right… on topic!

Ahem.

This is a special page of iPhone apps that I use regularly.  My essentials are along the home row and I use them everyday.  The others are used less often but still good resources to tracking my diet, hydration and exercise.  This post I’ll just highlight the essentials.

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Lose It!: This is my main app to keep me honest.  It is my food diary so I’ll open it at least 4-6 times a day to record my meals and snacks.  The simple functions are easy, a comprehensive food database that include many brand name foods along with a good sampling of many restaurants and even fast food joints.  The database made it easy to start off and as I went I added foods that weren’t in the database.  Once a food is added, you can use it again and again.  The Lose It! plan for losing weight is to figure out your basic metabolism by using your height and weight, adding to that an activity level score to get a baseline for how many calories should keep you at your present weight.  Then you pick a planned amount of weight to lose in half pound increments.  The math works out that if you want to lose 2 pounds a week (7000 calories) your calorie goal will be 1000 calories less a day.  Everybody is different so there might be slight adjustment per person, but that is the basics.  The application is joined by a top-notch web application that syncs with your on phone log and gives you a plethora or reports to obsess over.  Recently, the site has added an awesome social networking layer so you can meet other losers and encourage one another. It’s a free app, and worth every penny!

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RunKeeper Pro! (RunKeeper Free):  This, like Lose It! was on my phone for about a year before I started using it regularly.  Since I’ve used it regularly, it has been three-four times a week app.  It’s core is a GPS tracking application that tracks your route live while you run, along with speed, elevation and all the other stuff that comes with GPS location services.  Much like Lose It!, RunKeeper syncs your runs that you enter on the iPhone with it’s website which provides additional tools to look at your history.  You can enter manual entries from the gym when your on stationary machines.  RunKeeper has a free app, but to get the most from the application, it’s a good investment to get the Pro version ($9.99).  Right now RunKeeper is running a promotion, you can download RunKeeper Pro for free through January.  Even if your not ready to start walking or running immediately it’s a good idea to grab the Pro app now, to avoid the normal fee.  RunKeeper has some additional add-ons, an Elite account ($9.95) will get you additional reports and the ability to track your runs live which is a neat feature when you’re running a race, or a long run to keep your loved ones informed on your location.  They also have Fitness Classes (different fee for each) that downloads a schedule and run intervals to help you train for a fitness goal.  They just pushed out active heart-rate monitoring this past week, or with select Polar devices you can upload your HRM data to the web-site post-run.   Great application, continuing to deliver new features and a good social networking layer to collect Street Teams to keep you motivated.

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Water (Water Your Body): this is currently a $0.99 app (limited promotion, that’s been running since November), and it’s a really nifty application to help ensure your drinking enough water.  It also has some in application awards and badges to encourage you to hydrate.  The app has a reminder badge on the icon to remind you (after you log your first drink of the day, how many more drinks you need to take to reach your goal.  No social networking layer with this application, but it doesn’t need it, it does the one thing it advertises very well.  Good visual representation of the water your drinking, and has a load of factoids about water that was interesting to read through.  There is a free application with advertising by Brita floating around, so if the buck gives you pause, grab the free one.

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True Weight: Another $0.99 cent application and I think this is only really required if you weigh yourself everyday.  A weekly weigh-in over time will show you the progress from sticking to your plan and meeting your goals.  However, if you’re like me and impatient and want to see the numbers everyday, then give your mind and worries a break and lay down the buck for this app.  Our bodies are wonderful machines, but we take in and push out over 14 pounds of “stuff” a day, so our weight is bound to fluctuate day to day.  By recording your weight in this application everyday, it calculates a moving average.  This is great if you’ve noticed a one day jump of a pound and start to worry, and realize it’s still a half pound below your average.  Good for piece of mind for the scale OCD types like me.  Nice graphical interface, and a 1 to 3 month chart keeps me motivated to stay on track.  You can even use the graphs as an instant brag page to friends over coffee.  What’s not to like about bragging.

So there is my essential iPhone app review for weight loss.  You can get in the game for $2 through the month of January, or wait until February and shell out 11.99.  Either way, it’s a bargain for how you’ll feel after shedding that holiday excess (or in my case … YEARS of holiday excess).

Who’s in your cheering section?

January 12th, 2011 2 comments

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we must get rid of every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and run with endurance the race set out for us…
Hebrews 12.1 (NET)

I’ve had enough number crunching posts that I’ve bored one of my most favorite readers, and I can’t afford to lose her and cut my numbers in half!  So I’m going to write on something else that has been extremely helpful to my race. A cheering section.

Admittedly, there is one person I credit towards getting me off the starting line, my wife Angie.  Last year she started WeightWatchers, and she needed my support.  She told me if she was going to be successful, she needed to know that I was in it with her.  I joined WeightWatchers and started logging my points and began to see progress without much of a feeling of starvation.

But there are several others that had an influence in me as I started down the track.  I am an avid consumer of the social media, at present I have connections to my family, high school friends, church family and a great host of online friends that share my passion for LOST and other quality television shows.  Some of those friends had shared their successes and challenges with getting in shape and losing weight with their community of friends, and I was blessed to be a witness to some very encouraging stories.

Social Network Connections
Facebook 570
Twitter 1552
Lose It 109

The table to the right shows my connections to date, and I do not post those to brag, but as a reminder and encouragement to myself that I have a great number of friends that are watching and encouraging me in my race.  I also use two other sites, RunKeeper and DailyMile to track my exercise and have found more friends and partners on those sites.

Their commitment and motivation to their races, only fuels my motivation to keep on trucking in my race. It always so encouraging and humbling when I have a good day, or good weigh-in to have many of my friends comment and congratulate my progress.  It’s heartening and welcome to get friendly reminders from my contacts when I struggle or have an off day.  Their mere presence sometimes makes me want to shed the “stuff” that can easily clog my mind and thoughts and let them drop aside as I continue my progress.

image There is a chapter in the Lose It! book entitled Do These Friends Make Me Look Fat? that examines the importance of the social network around us.  It cites studies that show a correlation between our relationships and our waistline. That doesn’t mean I need to drop all my fat friends and go find some healthy thin friends.  The encouragement is this: When you start to lose weight, and share it with your friends, they start to examine themselves and they start to change.  By taking control of our lives, and sharing it openly, a butterfly effect kicks off with those around us, and we might not even consciously know it.

Online social media sites are so prevalent and such a interesting tool to use, so I’ve begun to remind my self that even though I might think that I’m insignificant (self-worth is one of those things I struggle with) I have a lot of people watching me.  I’m thankful to all my friends (online and offline) that share their interests in music, movies, pop-culture, religion, faith, nutrition, exercise and a genuine joi de vive! that I only hope I can influence them a fraction of the impact they had on me.

So, the weight-loss key for today, and the challenge to you, is to share.  Share where you are now, and share where you want to be.  Whether it is your neighbor, a relative, or just randomly tweet it or facebook post it.  Share your goals, and then start working to make them a reality.

For me, I still have a ways to go, so this is my reminder.  One-hundred and five pounds left to go!  Thanks for giving me the daily pushes I need to know that isn’t impossible.

Getting Trendy – and keeping perspective

January 10th, 2011 1 comment

It’s a new year, and many people are making New Year resolutions to lose some weight.  Whether it is the holiday binges, or trying to make a lifestyle change, more people are stepping on the scale, hitting the gym, trying a new diet or just wanting to eat a bit healthier.  With this post I hope to encourage people that are starting new goals and might be a little more vigilant on the scale to not get too concerned about what the scale shows day to day.

I’ve been on this losing weight train since April, but only recently have been getting more active about blogging my journey.  I take a data-centric approach to my journey, looking at numbers of calories in versus calories out.  I’m not focused on a specific diet plan, rather trying to cut down on junk carbs, limiting pure sugar, and making sure I’m fueled to have a regular exercise plan.  One of the habits I’ve really taken to the past few months is daily weigh-ins.

I call daily weigh-ins a roller coaster ride, because even though I weigh myself daily at the same time wearing the same clothes, my weight fluctuates day-to-day.  Here is an example of the last two weeks of data from my LoseIt.com data.  Helpful to remember the first few data points, show the effect of Christmas, two birthdays and New Year celebrations.  Also for the first half I was on vacation, and sleeping in, skipping breakfast and off my routine.

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For two weeks, that is a decrease of about 2 pounds if I measure start date weight to end date weight.  Measuring from peak to valley it is more like a 5 pound drop, but also a 3 pound increase in the middle.  Here is lies the wackiness of trying to match the scale to consumption of calories, a gain of three pounds is the equivalent of 10,500 calories or roughly 18 Big Macs.  Clearly something else is going on with the body holding on to water, solids or some dark matter associated with the peak.  So intellectually, I get that peaks and jags up are to be expected and part of the ride.  Emotionally, I need something to make me feel like I’m still meeting goals.  This is where trend-line enter in.

image This is the same daily weigh in data entered into my account at The Hacker’s Diet.  The diamonds are the actual daily weigh in, with the red-line showing the calculated trend.  If I measure the trend it shows about a one pound loss for the two week interval.  Not bad, but I hope that it goes better as I get back into the normal swing of daily routine. 

The thing to look at in trends is if the recorded weight is below the trend, you’re doing fine.  Tipping above the line, re-evaluate your actions a little.  Water intake for me is important, especially with sodium rich snack foods and munchies one might find around parties.

As with most of my posts, I’ll leave this on a positive note, and show you a couple of screens from an iPhone app I also use to keep me sane after I step off the scale each morning.  These screens are from the iPhone app True Weight ($0.99 – iTunes App Store Link)

TrueWeightJan11 photo

 

 

This show my progress for the last month, with a weighted average highlighted in white (weigh in data is shown in a light dotted line) and shows that despite the end of the year bump, I’m hitting inside my goal range of 1-2 pounds per week.  This gives me the confidence to keep going each day, and not go into a pity party binge because of one lousy weigh in.

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags: , ,

My top-ten foods last year

January 5th, 2011 Comments off

image Using LoseIt! as a food diary is great, because it has some really nifty reports to show you based on the data you’ve recorded.  One of these reports is the favorite foods, you can set the duration for various intervals, but since this is a post near the first of the year, it’s best to do a last year retrospective. [Besides the past four weeks show too many chocolate chip cookies, which my two week long plateau also attests too.]

So what can I glean from this report.  The first is, I’m not very inventive when it comes to breakfast, the next 10 entries after the top-ten have five types of cereal, as a whole cereal is my number two favorite food, usually served with a cup of milk (because let’s face it water on cereal is just wrong!)

Second I’m not afraid of the dairy: milk, yogurt and cheese are good snack choices, fairly low calorie with the right mix of carbs and fats with a good dose of protein.  Eggs also show my preference for the breakfast foods, also with the number 10 entry of bacon, and what’s not to like about bacon. 

We eat a lot of mexican style dishes so the tortilla chips are not a surprise. Also when I don’t eat cereal peanut butter on a bagel thin is a good start to to the day.  So while I could beat myself up and say, “Yo! Jon, toss in a few veggies dude.”  I’m not going to, this chart actually shows a change in the past year of actually eating breakfast instead of skipping it, and having a nice dose of coffee (not tracked in lose it, though maybe I should) for breakfast.

I’d like to in the next year replace the soft white bread with a good whole wheat variety.  I’d like to have some sort of vegetable make it into the top ten snack foods over time (carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes).  There lies the rub, with variety comes less numbers in the total charts, so I’m sure I’ve upped my veggie portions this year, but they don’t show up because of variety.  Which is good, I guess.

So, gentle reader, this shows that a person can lose weight eating a sensible amount of the same foods you normally eat.  Now, get to logging and see what foods are in your top ten.

Categories: Life, Losing It Tags: , ,