Monday, January 31, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 5: Back Trouble and Standing Still

So at the end of five weeks, I currently sit at 246 pounds. This is down 0 pound and is 48 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

So yeah, you all caught that, right? No movement. that's because I had limited movement this week. I don't know what I did exactly, or what triggered it, but when I reached for something this past Monday evening, I felt that tell-tale "bass string Pop" sensation above my left hip. Each time this happens, I know what I'm in store for... limited movement, large doses of Ibuprofen, and me totally frustrated. With less movement comes more boredom and, often, a desire to eat more food, so I found myself snacking mindlessly at times when I didn't even really feel hungry or want to eat. It provided a distraction for my ache, but it's not the distraction I really wanted.

Fortunately, the ache is subsiding now (these episodes usually last about a week), so I am finding it easier to get out of the snacking mode (that, and an increased consumption of water).

So I have figured out the rhythm of the breakfast delivery at work. As I mentioned, yes, the entire office gets breakfast. Monday's are breakfast sandwiches from various places (they rotate where they come from, but basically they are usually egg, ham or bacon, or vegetarian, on either English muffins or toast. Tuesday's are bagels w/ various schmears and a plate of cut fruit. Wednesday's are breads and baguettes with really heavy Greek style plain yogurt and various flavorings (my preferred method is Turkish style with a tablespoon of honey). Thursday is breakfast burritos of various kinds (usually ham, bacon and veggie). Friday is steel cut oatmeal and mixed fruit. Seriously, my company buys enough for everyone each morning. Pretty cool, huh :)? Of course, with so much food about, it's easy to make frequent trips to the break room and see what's there, so it's up to me to decide when to steer clear.

Well, here's hoping this coming week will see a return to greater mobility and also to reduced pounds.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 4: New Temptations

So at the end of four weeks, I currently sit at 246 pounds. This is down 2 pound and is 48 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

This in a way surprises me because I started my new job this past week... at a place that has even more food in the office than the place I just left (LOL!). What's more, they feed the staff breakfast every morning. Yes, you read that correctly (start-up culture, it's a beautiful thing in many ways; this just happens to be the tradition of this place). What's neat to see is that they get actual hearty breakfast foods, like egg sandwiches, granola, yogurt, fruit plates, breakfast burritos, etc. and they get enough for everyone! What's more, they foster a sense of community when they eat lunch and take their breaks to eat. They all hang out together. All of this makes the meal time breaks more anticipated, but more to the point, it makes snacking practically stop.

The third story stairs deal also seems to be helping a little bit. I was leaving the building to go out and in at least three times a day the first couple of days, but that has mostly stopped (LOL!). Seriously, though, I think just a break from routine made enough of a switch-up that I was able to drop two pounds without making much of an effort. The healthier breakfast food options, and later in the day, are probably helping, though (I love my friend Curt's response when I told him my company feeds us breakfast. He said "Breakfast?! What are you, Hobbits?!")

So there it is week one of a new job down, and a plan to see if this change up is just a temporary blip or actually has a longer term effect. We'll see next week :).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 3: New Beginnings, New Habits

So at the end of three weeks, I currently sit at 248 pounds. This is down 1 pound and is 50 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

Interesting to see what the future will hold. I officially ended a six year run with Tracker Corp. on Friday and will start my new job today as a Senior Tester at SideReel. There are some differences that will definitely make a change to my routine. First, the new building is an old building, an early 20th century (maybe earlier) brownstone with three floors. We're on the top floor and the stairs is the only real way in and out (there's an elevator, but it's for freight only, and it's an old elevator anyway, so best to use the stairs. With that being the only way in and out, my exercise quotient has risen a bit right there.

Many of the old snack habits from the old company are now officially gone. I can't access the varieties of free food and candy that were often stocked in the office, and I have a feeling this new company is a lot leaner on those types of things (they are a start-up after all :) ). So that will also shift my habits considerably. More water and home brought stuff for me, which is fine :).

It'll be interesting to see what the new job and the way the office is set up and structured will do to me longer term. I for one am interested in seeing just what happens. Stay tuned for more :).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Madd Money: Made in the USA?! Actually, Yes!!!

One of the oft heard quips from many is that "the US doesn't make anything anymore". Well, that may or may not be true, but here's a question... how many of you (and I'm pointing at myself when I use that "Royal You" as well) actually make it a point to look at where your items are made? Do we really care?!

One one side, I'm as patriotic as the next guy and I want to see our country prosper and grow. On the other hand, if I need new shoes and the US pair is $90 and the Chinese pair is $40, well...


...and I know I'm not the only one that does that! Truth be told, though, I'm willing to bet that 90% of the time, we don't even give a second thought as to where something is made, just the price and "can I take that home now?!" If we have to do much thinking beyond that or much detective work, then it's likely we'll do nothing, or move onto what is easier for us. 

Just for grins, I thought I'd check my labels. My shoes? Made in China. My swank Gap 1969 jeans? Festooned with references to San Francisco in various places and prominent on many of the labels... but made in Macau. My flannel, actually made by a company called American Living... and manufactured in India. See? I'm in a glass house myself, so I ain't throwing any stones here. Also, there are certain items that I greatly enjoy and I know full well they come from overseas, and I'm cool with that and willing to spend the money for the real deal item. My Ray Ban Wayfarer sunglasses are hand made in Italy, and I do not mind spending the money for a pair of them because the style and the brand are excellent and high quality (and hey, looking like a bald Roy Orbison is kinda' cool ;) ).

So what's a patriotic person supposed to do? What if we want to buy products that are Made in the USA? How do we even know what's out there? Well, there's a site actually dedicated to that at Made in USA Forever. Now, granted, I can't vouch for anything here yet, as I haven't ordered anything from them, nor am I in the immediate market for anything on this list, but should I find myself in the need or wanting anything, I do plan to give this list a look and see how things rate. If the items in question are of solid quality, I'm willing to pay for them and support local business and economies. If you want to play along as well, please feel free to. At least this way, when we make our comparisons, and if we know there's a viable alternative, we can put our money where our mouth is. If enough of us do it, there just might be a desire for a resurgence in American made goods and, frankly, I would like to see more of that!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ego Over Matter: Week 2: Back In Touch With Reality

So at the end of two weeks, I currently sit at 249 pounds. This is down 1 pound and is 51 pounds away from my goal of 198 pounds.

Bleh! that about sums it up. Not elation, not frustration, just, bleh! Having done this a number of times, I think I'm becoming both more philosophical and more cynical about it, but also more concrete in I know what I have to do, and I just have to do it. Some things that this week helped put into perspective. There are several maxims I've used over the years, and those maxims still hold.

1. Eat it whole, eat it raw, eat it unprocessed is still good advice. When in doubt, go with fresh, go with whole foods, and eat them as is. Two whole oranges are a lot less calorically dense compared to a glass of orange juice, and they are also a lot more filling :).

2. Steering clear of sodas of any stripe is best, but if one must, go with Diet flavors (even if they are genuinely awful tasting). Other than that, drink at least 64 oz of water every day potentially closer to 1 gallon a day. Your trips to the bathroom increase, but it also helps flush out the other gunk, too (and your skin will thank you, seriously, it will :) ).

3. Getting back into the understanding of what a portion is can be amazing. If in doubt, carry around some measuring cups and see/calculate what you actually eat. You may well be astounded by how much you put away without even thinking about it. Also, read carefully the serving labels. My morning oatmeal baggie is actually two servings (ha ha ha! in who's world?!). Each serving has 100 calories, so each bag actually has 200 calories. I often would put two bags together to make a substantial enough meal. That's 400 calories or 20% of the days calories for a 2,000 calorie day (which if you are on a losing kick is a good goal at 6'2" and 250). That's sobering!

4. If you have to choose between eating less and exercising more, it's great if you can do the latter, but the necessary output to burn 500 calories more a day is a lot more effort than shaving 500 calories a day. Do both and you will be a rock star (as well as create a 1,000 kCal/day deficit, but you may find it makes you really grumpy, too. Still, that's all you really have control over is the amount, and diet control is simpler than expending more energy exercising (provided you're already doing some as it is. If not, get up and go take a walk :) ).

5. Dieting sucks! Yes, I said it. It's not fun, it's kind of a pain, and it's frustrating when you are invited to dinner or are out and about. You can mitigate that fact a little bit, though, by being more prepared, packing your own food wherever possible, and packing the items that are nutrient dense and take up a lot of room w/o adding a lot calorically (back to the whole whole/raw/unprocessed spiel in #1).

So there it is. I met the target for the week and feel utterly underwhelmed. It's still early, though, so let's see if this tortoise approach will actually work better long term.

Monday, January 3, 2011

EGO OVER MATTER: Week 1: Getting Our Bearings

To those who know me, as usual, this is not a New Year's Resolution. I do not make those; I believe a goal is good enough to start any day and every day, so I actually started this on December 27th, 2010.

Week 1: The Truth Shall Set You Free

So here is some truth. I weigh 250 pounds at 6'2" of height. Now, some might say, oh that's not so bad for a guy in his mid 40's. True, but in 2007 I went from 242 to 190. I dropped 52 pounds in 26 weeks, averaging two pounds a week without ceasing (and often doing 3 or 4 pounds a week at a clip). The net result was that I looked great for about a year, got totally burned out on dieting, joined a gym so I could build some muscle again, ate like a horse to build up, then stopped going to the gym in the Summer of 2009. Still kept eating as I was accustomed to. Have a fairly nice amount of muscle still, but it's marred considerably by the extra fat weight I'm carrying. Grrr!!!!

After dropping to 190#, I had lost the chronic back pain that had plagued me for several years. Sadly, it's back (no pun intended) and it irritates me considerably. I'd like to see it go away again.

When I dropped to 190#, I stopped snoring. Seriously. With the weight coming back, so has the snoring, and frequently my getting up to go sleep somewhere else so Christina can have a good nights sleep. That's a drag, since I happen to like  my bed and I hate the fact that I'm depriving someone else of good sleep. Plus, I had vanquished it, so I know I can do it again.

Here's another truth. I lost 52 pounds in 26 weeks in 2007. I know it is possible, I know I can do it, and I know I can do it without tearing myself to shreds in the process. This time around, I'm not going to be impatient, and I'm going to allow my body to acclimate more naturally so that I can make it a lifestyle change I can live with. The change in 2007 was dramatic, it was amazing, but in many ways, I set myself up to fail after I met my goal. What then? So my goals will have to be a little more concrete this time, and emphasize some good long term reasons to lose the weight:

1. I hate the back pain. I want it to go away.
2. I hate that my snoring is keeping my wife up at night, and that it may be pointing to sleep apnea that may shorten my life if I don't do something about it.
3. 38" waistline. Need I say more?!
4. My mom was recently diagnosed with Diabetes. Granted, she's 70, and later in life stuff like this happens. But I also know that this can be genetic, so if my mom's got it now, I could develop it later, unless I change tactics.
5. I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired, or put more succinctly... I'VE HAD IT!!! (In my best Les Brown / Dave Ramsey imitation :) ).

Since I believe wholeheartedly in public flagellation to accomplish goals, that's exactly why these pages exist. Check in with me each Monday and see how we roll. Good or bad, it will be posted here for all to see.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Shedding of Innocent Stuff: The New Year's day Garage Purge

This is a day of extremes. New Year's day is always spend doing the same thing. It's the day I put away all of the Christmas decorations, and I spent the bulk of the day in the garage de-junking and making the commitment to toss more stuff (it almost always requires a special trash pickup call, and today is no exception).

This day is purifying, especially since I make it a point to be especially ruthless! If there are items that I have not touched once in the course of the year, they're pretty much goners (there are of course some exceptions, items that don't get used often, but are there for a purpose, such as paint, spare lightbulbs, etc, but in general, if it's in the same place I left it last year, its not likely to be there again at the end of today :).

Time to de-junk.

Updated: Decided on a different approach to some stuff. I went out and bought six medium to large sized laundry baskets. These now reside underneath the row of cabinets in the garage, and they all have the various often used items. This way, each seasonal or often used item has a simple totle to carry it wherever, get used, then get put back. What.s more important is that, as seasons change the contents can, too. My logic is to see what makes their way into the totes, and then I will know what is actuall ygetting used throughout the year, and it will help me be a better hatchet-man during the rest of the year as well. Now, if I could only find a permanent place for my big mixing board console and the lawnmower outside of the garage, I would have finally achieved one of my long term goals; the complete and total removal of the 2nd perimeter of stuff! I'm *SO* close :)! Even more exciting, I have access to my garage's work bench again. YEE HAW!!!

New Year, New Presence, Lots More Posts

Hi everyone!

When I said I was going to take a break and focus on my professional blog, I didn't think it would mean I'd have *no* interaction with it. Yikes! that changes starting today (no this is not a new years resolution, but it's a good place to start up an old habit again :) ).

My professional blog is all about testing. This blog is all about everything else, and frankly, there's a lot of things that "everything else" entails. For starters, I decided last week to start up my Ego Over Matter posts again (note, I started on December 26th, not a New Years Resolution :) ). Still on Monday I will be putting in my first week of reality and how it has affected me.

I'm also focusing on Madd Money again, since there's a few aspects of personal finance I've missed writing about and want to cover more of in the days, weeks and months ahead.

Finally, I owe this newfound drive for my personal blog to Gerald Weinberg. His book "Weinberg on Writing, the Fieldstone Method" is opening my eyes to a way to write that I hope will be more effective and more insightful. We shall see :).