As nostalgic as it would be to bust out the Moleskine and page-a-day, I knew on Wednesday that there had to be a better and easier way. I looked at how I was handling the day-to-day tracking of my weight plan and found that I could very easily upgrade how I managed things, especially considering that I had a much more sophisticated piece of equipment on me at all times– my smartphone. As always, I’m very iOS-centric, so Android users may need to adapt to different tools. Your mileage may vary. Also, as you should no doubt be aware, this is merely what worked for me: if you want to start a diet, do your homework first and/or see a doctor.
The first thing I did was digitize my “burndown” chart. This is the table of values that I set up in 2006 to track my daily weigh-ins and current status towards my goal. It started off as a fairly simple chart: just my weight for the day, with a little bit of math to determine my change over the last 24 hours and the cumulative loss. Turning it into a spreadsheet using Numbers was a great idea. I now have a very simple entry form where I can enter my weight and time spent exercising, and see an instant readout of the daily and cumulative changes. However, things get interesting with the “Math” form. With the press of a button I can add the day’s numbers to a rolling set of larger statistics, augmenting a charts page which visually shows me how I’m doing. I’ve also added a measure of how well my metabolism is working, in the hopes that it’ll prove my suspicion that it got easier to lose weight as I stayed on the wagon.
Next, I needed a tool to count my intake points. This would be the culmination of a search I’ve had ongoing for a few years now– a basic counter app would work just fine. I found the rather spartan Counter+, which does what it does very well. There’s a few issues with its interface, but by and large it doesn’t need to be anything terribly flashy. In order to augment this, though, I needed a calorie counting program. I’m still looking for a better replacement for my old Moleskine and its list, but right now the MyFitnessPal app seems to be a strong contender. The big priorities here are being able to handle a lot of different fast food places as well as keeping that information relatively up-to-date. If I’m cooking at home, I’ll probably stick to the calorie book I bought back in ’06: rice doesn’t get reformulated much.
Finally, in order to spur on some of the metabolism boosts I’m looking for, I decided to pull the trigger on a gym membership again. I last had a membership in ’08 and kept up with that for, you guessed it, about four months. I didn’t go for the full contract-year this time, instead taking a weekly membership to make sure I can actually stick with it. Plus, this is a nicer facility with much better hours (as in I’m going to be going in the morning in order to make sure I actually do it) and closer to home. With a little bit of effort I can make this work.
That’s the plan, boys and girls. Let’s see how far we get.
It’s hardly a secret to say that I like food. In point of fact, I like food a little too much for my general level of activity. This is something that I’ve felt I need to fix for a very long time, and back in Cleveland (at what I would later realize was the lowest point of my depression) I made an attempt towards doing so. This was a rather difficult thing to do, because of the aforementioned lifestyle: coders tend towards very fat or very skinny, either because they’re constantly eating at their desks or completely forgetting to eat.
So, in the first third of 2006, I made a resolution: I was going to lose some weight. I had set myself to a goal of losing 50 pounds, and I was honestly making great strides to it. While I didn’t make my goal before I lost motivation (which was due to a combination of a pig-out session at Tekkoshocon and an uneven meal schedule during E3), I still pulled 40 pounds off of my frame and dropped a couple of inches from my waistline. This was an incredible accomplishment for me, and because of it I was able to make the first steps towards getting out of my funk.
Whenever I tell the story, people ask me how I did it. The answer is depressingly simple: I counted calories religiously and forced myself to exercise. Because of the way my job was structured, I had the later shift, but I still was waking up rather early. This meant that I had an hour or so before I showered to take a long walk. I started with just about a half-mile, but as time went on I moved up to a mile, then two. This was greatly helped by the fact that I had a route which was flat, and long enough to be visually diverse no matter how I extended it; there’s only so many times you can lap around the same building before it gets old. I did that walk every day.
As for the calories, I changed how things were handled. Anything that was less than 10 calories “didn’t count” unless I was eating enough of them to push over that threshold. Meals, then, were based on a “points” structure: ten calories were one point, and at least some of them had to come from a “healthy” source. I transcribed calorie counts from a thick paperback into a smaller Moleskine notebook, and kept track of my daily counts on a page-a-day calendar. As long as I was under my target goal for the day– which was 150 points– I was good.
Believe it or not, this worked wonderfully while I kept it up. I don’t have the notes from those three months anymore (I started in late January and was off the wagon by May), but I do know that by the time I was in full swing, I was losing half a pound a day, and feeling much better. More to the point, it allowed for one “cheat day” a week: on Saturdays I would go into Macedonia and play DDR for about an hour or so, then get a big meal at Long Yun’s Mongolian BBQ and watch a movie or two in the theater. Not being on the clock the entire time made it rather bearable.
Over the last week, I’ve started to think that I need to restart the plan. It’s made much easier now that I’m less restricted in terms of what I can eat, so now I can focus on controlling how much. And that started yesterday.
It frustrates my friends and family to no end when I start writing about stuff that’s going on “behind the scenes”, without actually referring to any of it. This is a problem that’s only exaggerated by my increasingly-frequent bouts of radio silence. The fact that I also dropped the bombshell of depression on you all earlier this year doesn’t exactly help to reassure a lot of you, either. The only thing I can really offer is that I am a very busy person, and that if I say something can’t be discussed publically just yet, there’s probably a good reason for this. The biggest one is because, as amazing as this may sound, I have learned from my many mistakes in the past.
Metal Rogue. The Deep. Caught!. Laura. Those are just four of the major projects I’ve announced publicly and then just kind of… dropped. That’s not even getting into the fact that I still haven’t written an ending to Frangible Time, because I honestly just want to re-write that from scratch. There are a ton of projects that, when I was younger, I would announce, start working on, and then just lose steam with until something else caught my eye. Eventually– and more recently than I would truly like to admit– I figured out that a lot of drama could be spared if I just said “I’m working on something” instead of detailing exactly what. Then again, when I’ve had successes, I’ve mentioned them. This is no different.
Last weekend, I made the decision to go back to eating meat, ending an almost five-year experiment with pescetarianism that, while not permanent, certainly shaped a significant part of my life. More importantly, it got me to re-evaluate certain things and to become more adventurous with my meals, which again came a little bit more recently than I would have cared. I’ve always said that it wasn’t borne out of an ideological thing, out of empathy for animals or latent sympathy with certain whackjobs. My decision to suspend eating meat was just something I wanted to try, to see if it was worth pursuing. For five years, it was. Now it’s not. I suggest that a lot of you try not to read too much into this, as there’s very little to it beyond “I wanted a Double Whopper” and “I learned what I wanted to know”.
There are, of course, more projects that I’m working on. Once I’m done with them, I’ll talk more. Some are small, some are bigger, and one is simply massive in scale– don’t expect too much news on that one for a couple years yet. What I can say is that every once in a while you can hear a few details now and again on my Twitter feed, and if you catch me in person I’ll usually talk your ear off about whatever I’m engaged in at the time.
More to come. There is always more to come.
This evening, I attempted to dine with a friend at a well-regarded establishment in Pittsburgh, named Burgatory.
After the first hour of the wait, we decided it couldn’t possibly have been as good as everyone makes it out to be, and went to Eat’n Park instead.
Note to self: put the hammer in your bag this morning; you need it for work. Totally not for the obvious reason. I’m cosplaying a Hammer Brother for Halloween this year and want to surprise people. (no, not really)
Actually, it’s a little sad for me to realize that I honestly don’t know when I should have candy ready for people showing up…. I think it would be Saturday, but I won’t be home then. Alternately, if it is actually Monday…. I probably won’t be home then, either, owing to the fact that I have (yet another) obligation added to my calendar then.
At least I still have to get up early in the mornings, meaning that Tuesday before work I can raid Giant Eagle before the half-price candy is completely picked over.
So I found out today that not only does the new office location have an Asian grocery store nearby, and not only do they have more favors of instant udon at cheaper prices than the Giant Eagle, but this grocery store also has fresh anpan and butter buns. I haven’t had a good butter bun ever– the ones at the old store were all dried out and crumbly inside, while these have insides that are more like pudding.
Did I mention that the cost of a bun and can of soda is about half the price of a meal at Taco Bell that would be only slightly less filling?
I think it bears little repeating that the way to my heart goes through my stomach, and doesn’t get out of there for quite some time.
I have to question the validity of the serving sizes on some of the foods I eat. In general I’m trying to eat less monstrously-sized portions, in an effort to again control my weight back down to reasonable levels, but at the same time when the “serving size” of a bag of tortilla chips is “6 chips”, that kind of casts into doubt either if I should be eating them at all, or what size chips these people were using.
“Enlarged to show texture” can only be used as an excuse for so many things, you know?
So, in lieu of sticking to a coherent theme or narrative structure tonight, I’ll just run down some of what’s on my mind.
First, Kurokiiro Festival is coming up, and as I’m helping to staff the Video Game Room this year (read: The Collection serves one of its intended purposes), I needed to double-check some things. The big one was getting a replacement A/V cable for the Dreamcast. Shortly after I’d picked up Twinkle Star Sprites at Otakon, I accidentally ripped the old, flimsy A/V cable out of its socket. Anyway, I’d forgotten about that incident during the move, and when it came time to unbox the retros and get them ready for transport to the festival, I found that little hiccup. Anyway, I ordered a new cable on Saturday from eStarland, a place that Slipgate had recommended on many an occasion. I have no reason to doubt him further, as the cable arrived today, and for the money it’s perfect. It’s an S-Video cable as well, meaning a somewhat nicer picture (and it looks incredible on the big screen TV). So I got my Twinkle on, then set it aside.
Next, in terms of anime, since I’ll be doing things that are not watching anime at the festival, I’ve been trying to get caught up a little more on some series that I’ve had on the stack. I mentioned to some friends that the current DVD set in the player is Slayers Next; this evening I reached the halfway point of the series. It still astonishes me to note the level of progress we’ve seen in made-for-TV animation in just fifteen years, after an equal period of stagnation. Anyway, Slayers Next is a hell of a lo of fun, even when the series is deliberately trying not to be funny. Incidentally, I can see (and hear) exactly why everyone was so happy to hear that Xellos’ voice changed in the dub for the new seasons (I’m on the English track because, quality or not, I can’t associate Lina’s character with any voice but Lisa Ortiz’s for some reason). He’s the most flaming not-really-bothering-to-hide-that-he’s-evil character ever.
Games… well, I ran across a couple of really good deals lately, including my third-ever Super Famicom cartridge. It’s bizarre that a city so far removed from any kind of an anime mecca could manage to be where I’ve collected two out of my three SF games (the third was Seiken 3, picked up at Otakon this past year). Anyway, straying from the beaten path has brought me a decent share of deals, including a game that, just going by its release date and meager print run, I should never have even seen (You Don’t Know Jack Mock 2). If this keeps up I may have to start a second row of PS1 discs. Which reminds me, as soon as I get a shelf or chest of drawers for the retros and the portables, I need to snap a photo of The Collection so you fine folks can see the glory of its new configuration.
As for yesterday’s post– yeah, the back pain is mostly due to my nocturnal contortionism, but the scientific process cannot be denied.
Finally, as it turns out, I picked up a cookbook that I wish I would have found three years ago. It’s entitled “Okay, So Now You’re A Vegetarian” and it details just what each of those scary-sounding things in the meatless section of the Market District really are, and how to use them effectively. With that in mind, I have a new mission: vegetarian gyudon (“beef bowl”), using seitan, sweet onions, and a few other ingredients. I’m sure it can be done; the question is: how? Actually, a better question is: how many fire extinguishers should I have on hand?
Over lunch, I went out and got a milkshake from a fairly popular, yet mostly maligned, fast food restaurant. I’ll be the first to admit that it was totally not what I should have been drinking, and that it was an extravagance in a time when I really need to be thinking about my budget and wallet. I’ll also say, for what little defense that it grants me, that I very, very seldom have milkshakes, and that I was out anyway, so whatever else I ate for lunch today probably did far more damage to me nutritionally than about twelve fluid ounces of partially-melted ice cream could ever hope to do.
Looking back at it now, you wouldn’t think it was anything particularly special, and indeed it wasn’t. But sometimes, being just a little bit special… sometimes, that’s all it takes.
Got a couple of surprises today, most of them pleasant but some unexpected. The one that I can talk about, though, is that the Asian grocery store that burned down literally weeks after I discovered it has finally re-opened, and I’ve already ingratiated myself (albeit inadvertently) to the proprietors by knowing how to handle myself inside such an establishment.
Of course they opened yesterday, and the store is still really, really bare in terms of stuff. I honestly wish I’d known it was opening soon, as it has the kind of rice cooker I was looking for all of last month (though I’m happy with what I settled on). Also, they don’t have udon yet. I mean, they have the instant kind, but not the real kind. Well, it’s still too warm for udon anyway… probably not until football starts, really. The clerk said they’d be adding more coolers soon, which I hope will contain the kinds of fixings I’d need to make udon properly… in the meantime, they also have mochiko, so if I were to undertake the making of mochi– something I certainly would like to try my own hand at– I can do so at any time.
Again, that’s probably not going to happen until after November. But for an entirely different reason.