Tuesday, March 22, 2011

This just saddens me

There are 2 types of people in this world . . .

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kind of personal but, hey, sharing is fun

I am not a doctor, nurse, dietitian, or personal trainer. I am about to tell you a story, but I don’t want you to take this as advice. I have no idea if the things that I have done are healthy, damaging to my body, or even a remotely good idea. I am just telling you a little story about the past 6 months of my life.

My “wake up call” came at 229. That’s what it said on the scale, 229. I am 33 years old, 6 foot 2 inches, and weigh 229 pounds. I am not very well versed in health and nutrition, but even I knew that was not a good number to see staring back at me in red. My heart sank a little, for a second, as it hit me that I was, right at that moment, the heaviest I have ever been. My weight and body image only occasionally even crossed my mind, but this, this was more than a little unnerving to me. “I don’t want to be the fat dad” was my next thought. Then I realized that this was probably a huge contributor to why I thought I was developing sleep apnea (I would occasionally wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air and my wife said I was snoring incessantly). Sure, there are guys out there larger and heavier than me, but I was reaching a new personal tipping point. It was at that moment I decided that I needed to make some lifestyle changes.

Diets have never worked for me. I have tried a few through the years and they have all done exactly nothing. I knew that a diet would not work. I needed to change my lifestyle, the way I lived. A short term “diet patch” was not an answer to my problems. I decided that the first step would be to take a look at how and what I was eating. Luckily for me, my wife cooks healthy (tries to always use whole grain, etc) so I could just count on dinner to be fine, it was lunch and breakfast that were killing me. I think I ate fast food lunch almost everyday (or even worse large sit down lunches) and breakfast was the likes of breakfast burritos or breakfast sandwiches. This is where I really needed to get things focused. I needed a way to actually think about what i was eating, to be aware. I searched around for food tracking or journal apps for my iPod Touch (because I typically carry it on me) and tried a couple out. The one I liked best for ease of use and features was called Tap & Track. It has a huge database of foods and is simple/quick to use.  I set a daily calorie budget and was tenacious about logging everything that I ate (even Diet Mountain Dew got logged). I didn’t worry about exercising at this point, or even the weight loss itself, just logging and monitoring what I ate. This forced me to portion control and make much wiser food choices. A little trick I pulled on myself was that I adjusted the calorie budget down 350 for each day, so that on the days when I went a little over I was still under where I needed to be. I also set 1 rule for myself, and that was no dessert or treats except on weekends, other than that all that mattered was that the calorie budget was maintained. 

I noticed something over the next few weeks. Everything that I ate, or didn’t eat, was a conscious decision. It became a game for me. Watching that calorie line progress throughout the day made me VERY aware of every single thing I ate. This was much easier than just trying to follow a “diet”, for me anyway. After a while it just became second nature to portion control to where I would come in right at my daily allowance of calories. There was a point where I could tell you exactly how many calories were in a slice of wheat bread, or serving of string cheese, right off the top of my head.

After about 4 weeks I was confident in my portion control and awareness of what I was actually eating (I actually didn’t even think about it much anymore, it seemed automatic). In this time I lost about 10 pounds, without working out at all. I could now move on to phase 2. 

Now that I had a habit of eating better I wanted to incorporate some exercise. It was now that I also stopped tracking calories on the weekends and gave myself some free days (this made it much easier to get through the week and not “cheat”).  I tried a few different workouts (I hate running, that did not work out for me at all) and the elliptical machine seemed to be my workout of choice. I like that it tracks the time, distance, and calories for you, again making it into a game. I have been doing 30 to 50 minutes on the elliptical about 5 or 6 times a week.  I try to burn 300-500 calories, just depending on my motivation for the day or time. I sometimes get a little strength training in (that is going to be my next “project”) but mostly have just focused on cardio up to this point. I also do about 10 minutes of stretching each day (I want to try doing yoga sometime too if time ever allows).

Over the past few months I have been able to lose 20 additional pounds and have finally broken 200 (199.2 on the scale as of today). This method of weight loss has worked very well for me, much better than anything else I have tried in my life, and it also appeals to my geek mentality (hey technology is fun). With just some small lifestyle changes, I was able to do what I have never been able to accomplish with extreme dieting or other “normal” means. I still have some more weight to lose, but I have not felt this good in a long time (physically and mentally). I also have had no more problems breathing at night and Chelsea says my snoring has gotten much better.

Our Family Picture (July 2010)
Taken Today (January 24, 2011)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Chicken Express, 3440 S. State Street, SLC, UT

Chicken Express is one of my favorite places to eat in Salt Lake City. It gets a little busy at lunch time, but never overly crowded.

Service: The owner works the counter, never had a problem with service. I once saw a guy in front of me in line give a little attitude to the owner, it did not go over well. The strange thing is that, by the end of the exchange, I could tell the patron would be back.

I love that there is never an "upsell" at the counter on what I order. You know, "add bread? add cheese? add extra sauce?". A complete meal is what is on the menu, and that is what you get, for the posted price.

You order at the counter and then they call your number when your food is ready.  Usually only takes a few minutes.

Price: Good, $5-$8. They also have some higher priced "family style" meals.

Food: I love this place, it is so good. I have been about 8 times and, so far, there is no "Law of Diminishing Returns".

I always get the Single Chicken Kabob meal with half potatoes/half rice ($5.25). I have never left hungry.

Not much to look at from the outside, but it is always clean.  Has a drive-thru, but I have never used it. Small parking lot, with a ton of parking in vacant lot next door.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday Night Project - Monitor Stand

I run a dual monitor computer setup and have always wanted one of my monitors to be in "portrait" mode for ebook reading, etc. The stands I found online were all a little pricey, so I decided to build my own. Total cost was about $26 and 2-3 hours including Home Depot trips, etc.

The monitor stand consisted of:
  • a galvanized steel pipe
  • bracket (that bolts to the table to hold the pipe)
  • a fence bracket (connects pipe to the wood piece)
  • a 10" x 8" piece of red oak
  • various bolts and washers (rubber washers between the wood and monitor)
  • m4 x .7 sized screws (these are the ones that fit into the existing holes on the back of the monitor)
  • the actual table I bolted the stand to (I already had this and was using it as my computer desk)
 It was a pretty simple project, and was the first "handy" thing I have done in a few months. No "swivel" feature or anything, just a simple static setup. The hardest part was getting the holes lined up for the monitor, so I used a paper and cardboard template that I made in order to line everything up.  If you have any questions let me know.

Here is my new workspace
The finished stand
The back view of the monitor stand
Here you can see how the pipe is attached to the oak board with the fence bracket

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

iPod Touch Tutorial - "How Do I Get This Thing On The Internet?"

So, for Valentine's Day my Dad got my Mom an Ipod Touch.  Love her to death, but she's not the most tech savvy person (she is getting a lot better though). She knows that I have a Touch, so she calls me with questions from time to time and has me show her how to do stuff while they are in town. I knew that the networking on the iPod Touch was going to be an issue for her, so I made her this tutorial to walk her through it.  Feel free to steal it and give it to your moms, dads, grandparents, whomever.  As more questions come up from her I will probably be putting more of these together.

- here it is in PDF format