2019 1st Quarter Check-In

It’s been a while now since I’ve had a meaningful health update on my blog – lately it’s been a lot of stuff of a promotional nature (podcasts, mainly). I haven’t really written anything of “substance” in a bit. This won’t change that, but at least will change up the routine a little.

Physical Health

I can’t remember right now when my most recent weight update was, but luckily all of the digital entries I have at my disposal are helpful in this regard. I closed out 2018 at 274.0. Today (as I write this, “today” is a Tuesday) I weigh 271.8, with Happy Scale telling me my moving average is 271.4. So let’s call it 271. Down 3 pounds in 3 months; not terrible but not where I’d like to be either.

I’ve been up and down when it comes to properly logging food in MyFitnessPal. Some days I lack the discipline to stick with it (I get lazy, or I am purposefully ignoring the fact that I know I’m over-budget). What has been happening lately is that I am solid with logging for a few days, and then fall off the wagon.

I haven’t figured out a solution to this yet – the best solution is that I just log consistently, every day. However this doesn’t work for me mentally. Something I need to brainstorm.

Mental Wellbeing

This is one category I’m happy with. It’s not perfect, but I’m definitely doing better than the physical side of things.

Reading – I’ve been doing a lot of reading. I’ve finished 2 books in the first 3 months of the year, and am making good progress on 2 others at the same time (“Dune”, and “Gone”). I’ve rolled my reading into a new podcast too, and while that’s not taking off very fast, I’m having a good time with it.

Writing – Yeah, haven’t done a ton with writing. I was going to work on a fiction project as my “project” for 2019, but instead of moved to creating a new podcast. I have some stretch writing goals for my blogs, and this I guess is part of it.

Other parts of mental health – Recently my workplace’s health team shared an article about fostering mindfulness – I gave it a quick skim but I saved it for later. I think I’m going to go back to it. Not something I usually think about but sometimes it feels like something I need.

Overall, I’d say I’m doing pretty well. I feel like I had some more things to say but I had to take a break from writing and came back to this the next day, so that’s that. I will try to get some more things written in the near future. I have a couple of gadget reviews that will be fairly easy to write.

Quick Weight Loss Update

Back in November I wrote out a goal – that I wanted to lose ~20 pounds by March 5th 2019 (my 35th birthday). The only reason I picked my birthday was because 5 years ago, I had a huge weight loss goal for my 30th birthday, and I mostly attained it.

Anyway, suffice it to say it has not been going well. I started at 276 lbs November 28th. January 28th, I was at 275.8. Between then and now, I’ve flirted with reaching 270 but have gone back up. I know the reason: inconsistent food journalling / calorie tracking.

This week I gave myself a wake-up call and readjusted my calorie goals to aim for a 2 lb / week goal. I’m fine with 1 lb / week but this way, I aim high and won’t be disappointed if I get less than that.

I started the week at a really low weekly weight loss rate, but with my re-focused efforts have improved to a 0.40 lbs / week rate. I’ve started using Happy Scale to take some of the math away from me (I feel my own math is at times suspect), and it’s telling me that at this current rate, I’ll reach 270.1 lbs by March 3rd. That’s not ideal but better news than when I started the week.

Oh, I should mention what I’ve been doing to realize this change. I found a post on reddit on /r/LoseIt that gave me a different way of tracking my progress; to save you a click, I’m subtracting my daily calorie burn as measured by my Gear S3 from my calorie intake. The difference is either a calorie deficit (good thing) or a surplus (bad thing).

To lose 2 lbs / week I need to hit a 1000 calorie deficit weekly – 500 for 1 lb. As long as I’m in that range I’ll be in good shape! Now…to stay disciplined on weekends. That’s the real challenge.

Health Notes + Quick Dailyio Review

I’ve not seen very much progress in the weight loss department over the last 90 days.  My numbers have pretty much fluctuated up and down, meaning I’m more or less maintaining my weight rather than losing.  That’s fine, it’s definitely better than gaining.  

I know the reason for this too – I’ve not been properly tracking my calorie intake via MyFitnessPal.  It’s been a combination of a number of things – either I skip days entirely, or I only enter a portion of my diary, or I don’t record “treats” – the bottom line is that I’m not keeping track of what I’m eating, so I’m not holding myself accountable to the weight loss.  

In looking at my numbers, I think part of the reason for this is because I set my daily food goal too low.  It looks like I based it on losing 2 pounds a week – which is pretty aggressive, but it meant that daily I was only allowed 1690 calories.  That’s really low.  I asked some questions yesterday about what I was doing, and the person responding felt my calorie deficit was really high.  That’s when I looked at my numbers and agreed with them.  Helps to get outside perspective every now and then.  So I’ve done a reset, based my numbers on my TDEE – 500 per day (so the goal is: 1 lb per week).  

We’ll see how this goes.  I’ve also decided not to focus too much on the exercise front; I will be going to the gym, going for walks, playing some sports, etc.  But I feel that I’m putting too much emphasis on getting my daily steps in and I’m not getting as much reading done as I’d like to.  

Edit: My overall goal too is to help me feel more comfortable with the clothes I’ve bought.  I liked them in the store, but when I go to put them on at home for work, I don’t like the way they look.  So there’s a confidence thing going on too.

Daylio

I’ve recently started using the Daylio app.  I’m…not at all sure how they came up with that name, but it serves a specific purpose that I was looking for.  Namely, to track how I’m feeling.  Mostly I wanted to do this for days when I feel “down”, to try and figure out the reason behind feeling that way.  

I wanted something simple, quick, and give me the option to look back on it later to track trends.  I stumbled upon Daylio quite by accident, because I was originally thinking of tracking this kind of thing in my bullet journal.  I saw someone recommend Daylio and it turned out to be exactly what I needed.  

I stuck with the free version for a while, but they ended up having a 50% off sale – so I jumped on it and bought the paid version of the app.  To be honest, I think most people will be fine with the free version – I probably would still be using it for free had there not been a flash sale.  

But the app is pretty basic.  You open it up, add an entry (which is done by clicking on an overall mood and associating with an activity), and that’s it.  You can type notes if you want to, but it’s completely optional.  The simplicity of the app is what makes it great.  I believe the paid version opens it up to add more “moods”.

Overall it’s only something I recommend if you need a quick tracking app.  It’s not an in-depth thing that has a lot of utility.  I would say that if you need help with mental health in a serious capacity, this is not a solution.

Interesting Podcasts

I can’t remember the last time I did one of these, so that must mean it’s time to write one!  

Originally I was going to dedicate an entire post to Make Dad Read Comics; I would still like to do that, but I’m still feeling a little conflicted because I don’t want to draw too much attention to the fact that the titular Dad (Patrick Sr.) passed away in July.  I cannot share this podcast enough, and while it is sad that it won’t be continuing, the massive backlog of shows is well worth listening to for two reasons:

  1. The conversations Patrick and his Dad had are often hilarious and heartwarming.  It’s also great to hear the progression Dad makes from the beginning of the show to the end.  His understanding of comics was on display and it’s a real treat to listen to the shows where he really likes a book they read.
  2. You can learn about some new comics / books to read that may not have been on your radar.  I’m currently reading Black Monday Murders, which was the second to last episode they did together.  It’s fantastic.  Previous to that I read I Kill Giants.  Both of these books were highly rated by Patrick & Dad.  I just saw today that I also have Persepolis waiting for me at the library.

Twenty Thousand Hertz – I’ve talked about this podcast in the past, so I thought I would highlight a particular episode that I really enjoyed:  Episode 46 | Slot Machines.  The sound design in this episode was amazing.  The producers did a great job of replicating the casino sounds (there was even a moment where they layered in the various sounds of the casino one at a time, and ended up with what it actually sounds like at a casino).  It was fun to learn about some of the techniques they employ as well, and the history of slot machine music.  Very fun, I highly recommend it.  And it won’t leave you jaded about the slot machine industry.

The Big Story – this one is produced by Rogers Media (I work there, I have to mention that), and is a Mon-Fri (except holidays) daily show that covers the “big topics” (hence…the Big Story) of the day.  The episodes are about 20 minutes in length, and up until this week I’ve been listening to all of them.  They’ve been pretty interesting so far, but some topics I decided I can skip – I don’t need to be a completest here.

Based On A True Story – I haven’t listened to any of the most recent episodes, but checked out A League Of Their Own and The Social Network.  The gist of this one is the host watches movies that are, well, based on a true story, and researches the true story behind them.  I’ve picked out a few movies I’ve seen and want to hear his take behind, and as I go through the list I realize that there are more I missed the first time and need to add.  The episodes are short and easily digestible (usually around the 30 minute mark) so they make for a fun break between my usual episode list.

What else have you got that I haven’t listed here?  Maybe I can check it out in 2-3 months when I’ve caught up on my 90+ shows 🙂 

The Weight Train

In my mind, I had some kind of vision of a cartoon-y train to use as a picture for this post, but alas, it was not meant to be.

For the past…I don’t know…30 days?  I’ve been holding steady with my weight.  I went up, but have come back down.  Currently I don’t know my status, because I don’t have a scale handy.  You see, I’m in the process of moving so things are all over the place.  One of those things is the scale.  Anyway, this is all related.  Oh, and a warning, this post is going to be more of a ramble than something I’ve actually thought and planned out.

Early on in the moving process we decided that we would pack away things like dishes, cooking utensils, give away some pots and pans, etc.  Essentially means that we are currently unable to actually cook anything at home.  As a result we are eating out a lot.  Being in a small town at the moment, our options are rather limited.  It’s a little stressful at times, too.  So since February something or other I haven’t even bothered logging anything other than my daily weight.

I’m trying to keep some rough estimates in my head for when I eat, so that I don’t over-indulge, but for the most part I’m not worrying about it.  Unfortunately this is probably going to have the side effect of setting me back even further than I’ve already done.  Still, I would rather take the trade-off of not worrying about my current food intake vs. reducing some stress around a big move.

I was doing some thinking and I want to set some different goals.   My weight used to be my primary goal, and was a measure of success.  I don’t think that’s cutting it, for me though.  There’s got to be a reason why I keep going back and forth with logging, not logging, juggling my calorie limits and “do I eat back calories or not?”, and so forth.  And I think that putting too much attention on my weight is one of the leading factors.

So my goal for the rest of the Spring and Summer is to set a new goal.  Haha.  I have to do some thinking, but I need to set a goal that is measurable and attainable.  I will still have a weight number in mind, but that’s secondary.  Some of the things I have kicking around in my head include going back down shirt / pant sizes, improving my softball game, and so on.  What I need is a solid plan instead of a loose ramble.

Work in progress.

2018 Reading Update

About a month ago I presented my reading list for 2018.  I figure since the first two months of 2018 have come and gone, it’s time I provide an update of where I am.

Well…I’m not doing so well.  I’m 67% of the way through “From A Certain Point of View” (short story collection based on Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope).  I’ve been putting most of my time into listening to podcasts and catching up on movies (re-watching in some cases…thank you Star Wars BluRay set!) and TV shows.

I’ve got a big move coming up, so will likely be packing away many of the books on my 2018 list.  So my new, updated goal right now is to finish “From A Certain Point of View” and get started on “A History of the World in 12 Maps”.  I likely won’t get much further than that until the Summer.

I would like to have finished at least 4 books on my list by July.  We’ll see how it goes!  In the meantime – what are you reading that I can add to my never-ending list?

Restart

Flat restart iconEvery now and then I feel like I need to stop and take a break from constant food logging.  Usually it’s for a short period – a week, maybe a few days – and then I get back on track, and I either maintain my weight or gain 1 or two pounds.

Unfortunately I recently took an extended break from food logging.  My last full entry seems to be Friday February 9th – and even then, I’m not sure that it’s really complete.  It looks like the 8th was really the last complete day.  Since then I’ve maybe added one or two things, but for all intents & purposes, I’ve basically taken an entire month off.  And now I’m here to tell you that there are consequences:

On February 8th I weighed 262.3 pounds; as I write this (Monday March 5) my weight is 269.4 pounds.  An increase of 7.1 pounds.  I may not have done any tracking, but I know that not doing so allowed me to be irresponsible with my eating.  I worked from home a lot in that time period, and didn’t think twice about getting up and grabbing a snack.  I almost sank back into this behaviour this morning, in fact; I was about to grab some chips and poured them into a bowl without measuring the portion size.  I stopped and remembered that I should be logging everything and promptly measured out 50g.

What I realized in the process though is that when I’m not logging for an extended period of time, I’m a bit careless.  I don’t think too much about what I’m eating.  When I’m not logging for a day or two, I usually still measure things out and stick with proper portion sizes.  When left unchecked, I get lazy.

This past weekend I picked up a Samsung Gear S3 (Frontier edition, if you were that curious).  I already had the fitness aspects covered off with the FitBit Charge 2, but now I’ve added some productivity options as well.  I think the fitness features are just as robust an option as FitBit’s, just “different”.  Apparently connecting MyFitnessPal to my Gear S3 also gave me a year’s premium membership, for free.  So, I’m using this as a kicking-off point to restart my fitness journey.

I reset my goals in MyFitnessPal, to show losing 1 pound per week to start.  According to the new settings, I should lose 5 pounds by April 2nd.    As I go through this process I’m going to take notes on how the premium version of MFP works too, and probably will review that.  I have no idea if it’s something I need personally, but you never know.

Wish me luck!

Stealth update: Already down to 268.3.  I’m always amazed how quickly I can bounce back when I get back to proper logging.

Wellness Update – Slow & Steady Wins the Race

I’ve got a ton of posts about media coming up, so I thought I’d break things up a little bit with something a bit more personal and leave a little bit of a fitness update.  So far, I’m doing fairly well.  My original title for this post was “fitness update” but I thought I would expand and talk about my overall ‘wellness’, in general.

Physical Health

December 2017 Weight Loss Chart
December 2017 Weight Loss Chart

The chart to the right is from December 2017; I’m honestly not sure if I shared this on the blog already, but it’s my blog, so too bad!  I’m sharing it now.  I finished December on a high note; my goal was to lose four pounds and while I didn’t get to that goal exactly, I did make some seriously great progress.  As I type this I do remember talking about this a while back so I won’t pound away too long on December, but suffice it to say – I have continued that progress through January, so far.

I started my number tracking on January 2nd, I think mainly because I might not have weight myself for a few days after December 31st.  Which is fine.  Anyway, I started the month at 261.2; with 4 weeks in the month for tracking I set a goal of losing 1 pound per week, or 257.2 by January 31st.  As of today (January 23rd), I’m sitting at 258.2!  So about a pound off my goal, with a week still to spare.  I’m really proud of that accomplishment.  I had some periods this past month with my weight going up, but that was in direct response to A) not tracking my meals, and B) there was one night when I had at least 5 beers, so to expect my weight to NOT go up is just silly.

Apart from weight, I’m also pretty satisfied with how I’m doing.  I’d like to be getting out to bootcamp (twice weekly) but I don’t feel terrible if I don’t go.  I’m still curling twice a week, and I don’t often drink while I’m there.  The club I’m at isn’t very big on the ‘buy for the losing team, then the losing team returns the favour’ that my old club was.  Actually, my team doesn’t seem to stick around after games anyway (they live a bit out of town so I understand).  So the side effect is I’m not drinking very much beer, which I find is usually the bigger obstacle when it comes to losing weight.

Oh, and also we just got a ton of snow in the last 24 hours – so I did some shoveling that I feel makes up for any missed gym time.

I’m trying to maximize my use of my FitBit Charge 2 (I’ve got a fun post about that coming up in February), and challenged myself to match Vanessa’s own goals on her Apple Watch.  It’s no longer about just meeting my daily step goal (though that is still a priority for me), but I turned on my “reminders to move”.  Every hour between 10am and 3pm FitBit wants me to get 250 steps.  If I haven’t reached my goal with ten minutes to go in the hour, it buzzes at me to remind me to move.  Still a work in progress.  Days when I work from home are harder to get 250 steps per hour, over 5 hours, than if I were to work in the office.

Mental Health

I don’t focus on this a lot – in general I feel like I am pretty healthy mentally.  At the same time, I feel like I shouldn’t ignore it, and when I think about it, a lot of things I do to in my day-to-day life fall under this category of ensuring I stay mentally fit. All of this is over and above simply talking with my wife, which does wonders on its own.

The thing I do most often is listen to Podcasts.  And I listen to a lot of podcasts.  My work environment right now is somewhat isolated, especially when I work from home (I try to work in the office as much as I can, but weather often dictates this reality).  Having podcasts to listen to and interact with provides a sense of community helps keep my mind working, while I’m working.  Also fun to listen to while in the car on the hour-long commute.

One podcast I’ve just started listening to is one that started up local to me – it’s a couple of guys from Manitoulin Island that have a show called “Raise The Bar“.  It’s essentially an outlet for them to share their own weight loss journey but they also talk about other things in their life.  I haven’t reached out to them yet, but I’m thinking about it.  What I find interesting is that their podcast style is quite close to another one I listen to – The Benchcast.  I am thinking that they base their show off the same influences (I think both are a fan of Joe Rogan’s show…maybe I should check it out as well).

I also try to read as much as I can.  I posted my reading list earlier this month – I’m slowly making my way through it.  I’m trying to set daily targets and make sure I reach them, but so far it’s not going like I wanted.  There are so many other easier distractions out there that make it hard to choose reading.  I used to be a voracious reader, and I still have the ability to tear through a book in a matter of days…depending on the book.  I’m still working on this one – I think I’m probably going to be marking January as a “fail” in terms of how much reading I’ve done, but I’m not quitting on it and I plan on improving this in February.

I maintain a daily journal (specifically, I use the “Bullet Journal” method) too.  Mostly, its purpose is to make sure I don’t forget anything and it’s mainly a to-do list.  But I also write down stray observations, other notes etc. of what happened during a day.  I find it more useful than dumping things into an electronic database.

Overall

I thought maybe I’d have more categories to write in, but I guess those are the two major categories.  I think I’m doing great overall.  I could be doing better, but so could everyone; no one is perfect 100% of the time.  I know what I’d like to focus on to be better, so I’m not going to worry too much about what’s already working.  It’s still important to me to recognize what I’m doing right, so that stuff doesn’t start to slide.

Any suggestions on finding time to read?  What do you do to carve out reading time?

Story Update

I don’t have a big post for you today, but instead a story update.  In one of my recent goal update posts I mentioned that I wanted to get back to writing some more fiction.  I had the idea that I was going to share an original piece with you today, but due to time constraints that’s just not happening.

My thought process shifted to posting an older story, from one of my Google Drive folders.  I have a few sitting in there, but to my dismay – they’re not really ready.  There was one story in particular I was thinking about sharing, but when I opened it, I realized that I left it unfinished.  There are some comments on it that I got from a writing group but I never went back to it.

I’m going to update the story in the next few weeks, and create a cover art for it and release it as an eBook.  Actually, as I typed this I also found what looks like a pretty complete draft of another short story.  I’ll have to read it over but I think I’m going to give that one the same treatment.

I haven’t decided whether I should try to put them up for $1 on Amazon or something; or if I’d be better off just throwing them online in a pay-what-you-want format.  Either way I will make the stories available to readers of the blog in some form.

And so that I make sure the work gets done, I’m giving myself a deadline: Tuesday May 9th.  If you don’t see something from me by that date, yell at me!  I’m on Twitter at @stephen_g.