Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Jumping on the weightloss bandwagon

My associate Mattbear has inspired me to share my own weight loss/fitness status, so I'll start with some history:

A little over two years ago, I was at my highest weight - 230 lbs. (I'm 5'11", for reference) I started running a few times a week, doing aerobic kickboxing classes at the gym, and eating better, and dropped 19 lbs. over about 9 months. It was rather painful, but culminated in running a 5k marathon, and I was in much better shape overall. But then we moved, our instructor got pregnant and left for a while, and I was basically just slacking and eating whatever, and crept back up to 218 over the next year or so.

A few months ago I decided to get a handle on things again. I can't say I've make any drastic changes in my life, but it seems to be working, and I'm dropping a pound or two a week. Basically, this is what I'm doing:

Cutting down on food intake:
My eyes are always bigger than my stomach. In fact, it seems silly but I noticed that I have this tendency to get a little panicky if for some reason I think I won't get enough food at a meal. I'm not sure where that came from, but for instance, if I walk into the cafeteria at work, I would always look for something that looked big and filling, which usually ended up being full of meat, dairy, and grease (burgers, fries, lasagna, pizza, fish & chips). In the morning, I would always eat a big heaping bowl of cereal, or a big bowl of oatmeal plus a donut, but I basically always had this subconscious goal of being "full". So, my first change is to simply start eating less, and remove this emotional/stress component of my eating.

This is my standard diet now: A small (half-normal) bowl of raisin bran in the morning, plus coffee (soy milk, no sugar). A big vegetable-and-tofu salad at lunch (Intel has a great salad bar, so I'm spoiled here), with wine vinegar for dressing, water to drink. And pretty much whatever for dinner, although I try to make it non-dairy, and I try not to eat as much. If I'm feeling snacky, I can usually distract myself with some water or an apple, but I usually just try not to think about it.

Improving Food Quality:
Basically, I try to avoid dairy and sugar. I'm not a big salt fan normally, so that's not a huge issue. Honestly, if you can simply avoid cheese and processed sugar (corn syrup, etc.), your diet will become healthier exponentially by default. For instance, I used to eat a lot of ice cream. Ice cream is the food of the devil. It tastes great, but contains solely the worst things you could possibly eat - pure dairy, pure sugar, and tons of salt. I don't drink soda or juice anymore, mostly just water. I'm not a vegetarian, but I try to eat only "whole" non-processed meats (whole fish, steak, sliced ham, bacon). Stuff with dairy in it (bread, etc) is generally fine, but I avoid cheese and cream-based sauces/dressings. It's odd, but when I have eaten a lot of cheese lately (had a burrito for lunch one day), I can definitely feel the difference - I just feel heavier, and more congested somehow.

I can't say I'm always successful, I will sometimes eat a cookie in the afternoon, make some waffles, or eat pizza with the kids, but overall my diet "trend" has improved drastically.

I'm currently doing my one-hour aerobic kickboxing class every Monday, and jogging about two miles (40 minutes or so) a couple evenings a week. I would like to start doing some actual weight lifting to work on my upper body more, but haven't got there yet.


I weigh myself in the morning after I get out of the shower. I've noticed that my weight can fluctuate by a pound or sometimes two from day to day, probably due to water retention, which I'm guessing depends a lot on how much salt I ate the day before. In general it's at it's lowest the morning after my kickboxing class, and will pop up and down a bit during the rest of the week. I can definitely correlate my diet quality and amount of exercise to whether I lost any weight that week though.

So, my current status: two weeks ago I got down to 206, the lowest weight I can remember. I had this work conference and started slacking (eating out & conference food) and missed kickboxing one week, so my weight popped back up to 210, then settled back to 208. I went kickboxing this week and am back on my cereal/salad regimen, so as of this morning I'm back to 207.

My goal was to be under 200 before Burning Man, but I don't think I'm going to make that. I think I stand a good chance of being below 200 *after* Burning Man though, so I would be very happy with that. I'm going to get myself a present, or celebrate somehow when I break the 200 barrier, haven't decided what yet.

Long-term, I'd like to get down to 185. According to this Ideal Weight Calulator my ideal should be 182-200, so 185 seems about right. I'll hereby set a goal for that of the end of 2008. Will update weekly, wish me luck!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

News Trifeca

Unlike some people who don't update their blog nearly enough (hint hint), I actually have a job, which I will use here as my excuse for not updating my own blog nearly enough. However, a few things struck me today, which I feel necessary to relay:

I was seventeen in 1991, when Nirvana's "Nevermind" album came out. On NPR's All Things Considered show yesterday was a story about the baby on the cover of Nevermind. Give it a listen. He apparently lives in California, is seventeen now himself, and has his own brand of teen angst which landed him in military boarding school for six months. He disparages Guitar Hero and thinks our generation was probably cooler than his. And yes, you should feel old in... three, two, one... now.

Note: I had originally posted something snarky here about "Spam King" Eddie Davidson escaping from prison. Given the ensuing tragedy, and apparent desire of this man to inflict unforgivable harm on the people who loved him the most, I no longer found it funny and have removed it.

Finally, I saw this story about former NASA astronaut and Apollo 14 moon-walker Dr. Edgar Mitchell going on the record, claiming that we've been visited by aliens and the government is covering it up, although they're going to go public with the information any time now. I really want to go crash the local UFO convention this year, it would be a hoot. If Dr. Mitchell had actually seen them himself while walking on the moon I might lend him more credence, but I'm afraid all it really proves is that astronauts are just as gullible as the rest of us. But you never know, I could be being paid by the government to spread disinformation, or they could just be controlling my mind directly with radio-controlled spy cockroaches. Now where did I leave my tinfoil...

Now back to your regularly scheduled (non)work day.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


One thing I love is old science-fiction. I find it fascinating looking back at how people in the past imagined the future would look, and how it actually turned out. I ran across a series of 16 pictures drawn by a french artist (feuilleter?) in 1910, showing his concepts of life in the year 2000. (You can click on the pictures to see a larger version) He hit a lot of things really accurately that probably weren't too much of a stretch - electric trains, motorcycles, "automobiles of war" - but I'm impressed by the "Correspondance Cinema", and that one "At the School" where the teacher is dropping books into a mechanical machine that appears to put the information straight into the kids' heads. I'm also intrigued by the one titled "Un Diner chimique" - "A chemical dinner" where there's no actual food, just little flasks & things. The last one appears to portray what looks like horse-drawn carriages, if you removed the horses and stuck wings on them.

All in all, I think he got it pretty spot-on, conceptualizing the technologies that really ended up defining our lives on this end of the century - cars, airplanes, automated manufacturing, processed foods, computers. 2010 is going to be coming up soon - what are your predictions for the year 3000?

Friday, March 28, 2008