1. 40

    So that happened. Today. The big “Four-Oh” as they say. If one views the normal human life-expectancy as 80 years (with anything after that being the bonus round), then that puts me at mid-life. As anyone whose had a birthday secretly knows, I don’t actually *feel* any older then I did yesterday. But as I look back 10, 15, twenty years, yeah, those years start to weigh on one.

    On the plus side, I’m quite possibly the healthiest I’ve been since before I graduated high-school. Starting roughly two years ago I put myself on-track to loose a ton of weight, and started eating better. For the most part, that’s paid off. On the down side, I’ve been stuck in the 175 - 185 range since the beginning of the year, vacillating up and down without any discernible pattern. 

    This means I’ve missed my goal of being medically ‘normal’ weight by 40 (still technically in the ‘overweight’ range). Not for lack of effort. Oh yeah, there’s been a *lot* of effort, with hundreds of thousands of calories burned, and well over a thousand miles walked since the beginning of the year according to my Fitbit. It may be time to visit the doctor and find out what I’m doing wrong.

    As I look forward to the next 20-year chunk of my life, I start thinking about some goals I’d like to reach. 

    • I’d still like to transition from being a UNIX SA to being a programmer. Problem there is by the time I get home from work, the parts of my brain I need for programming are burnt out from the day. 
    • I’d like to write fiction, though fear of outputting absolute trash keeps paralyzing me every time I start. 
    • I’d like to get more involved with the table-top RPG community, maybe even go as far as design/creation. Here I’ve actually taken some steps, part of which is appearing on most (or all?) of the Tome Show Book Club episodes this year, with plans coming together for something more. 
    • I’d like to learn to paint miniatures, but seeing how fantastically great others can do this makes me loose heart.
    • I’d like to learn to play an instrument and/or sing. However my *complete* lack of talent makes me think that even after 100 years of practice I’d still suck. Badly.

    So what does that leave me with? A list of wishes along with a list of convenient excuses as to why I “can’t" pursue them. I think what I really need to concentrate on right now is tackling the fears and other psychological barriers existing between my ears which keep me from pursuing any of these interests. 

    I’m making a little progress already. As I’ve mentioned, I am very slowly, and in very small ways, growing my involvement in the RPG community. I’ve got a solid understanding of the basics of OS X and iOS programming I so desperately want to get into. I’m starting to write more—no fiction yet, but writing none-the-less. I’ve even picked up a paint brush and painted a mini in the last month (with more to come there, as well). Stay tuned, maybe y’all will see something different from me soon…
  2. Yeah, I know, I dropped the ball on this whole “blogging” thing. Good thing I don’t claim to be a professional. I have still been running the Dark Sun mini-campagin, but haven’t kept you all…

  3. 18:30 19th Dec 2011

    Notes: 2

    My entire adult life I have been in the overweight—or worse—category. I distinctly remember my weight in senior high being in the mid-190’s, and it only went up from there. Slowly, so as not to alert me that things were getting bad. The reason is fairly simple: I enjoyed eating, I didn’t enjoy exercising. In fact, I didn’t (and still don’t) enjoy many physically active activities at all. I vastly prefer sedentary things such as reading, watching movies/TV, gaming, and “doing computer stuff”.

    What I wanted was something magic, something like fairy dust, to help me lose weight.

    Occasionally over the years I would try to diet. Atkins, South Beach, Weight Watchers, what have you. I even bought an elliptical at one point, telling myself I’d use it while watching TV. None of that lasted long. This came to a head in late 2005/early 2006 when I finally cracked 300 and had to buy a pair of size 50 pants.

    By spring 2006 I knew I needed to change something. Lots of something’s.

    2006 was not the best year for me in many ways, but that is another story for another time. I tried yet another diet called Slim-4-Life. I can’t remember if I stumbled upon it on my own, or if one of my brothers recommended it. This particular diet pulls down allotted calories over time, promising the ability to eat “normal” food and not requiring a lot of exercise in the mix.

    It seemed to be working, at least for a while. By the end of 2006 when we moved from Minnesota to North Carolina I was down below 220. A few months later I was below 210, though that had much to do with being violently ill and not being able to keep any food down for a few days.

    But by mid-2007 it fell apart. The Slim-4-Life diet was still too restrictive, stress was beginning to raise again, and I had (once again) started work on my Bachelors’ Degree. It seems I can only focus on one life-goal at a time, thus my weight began to slowly creep up once again. By the beginning of 2010 I was back in the 240’s, hitting 260 by the middle of the year.

    No way, no how was I going to ever need to wear those size 50 pants again, so I realized I needed to do something more permanent about this problem.

    In August the light was at the end of the tunnel for my degree program, so I decided my next life-goal would be getting in shape (once again putting my dreams of programming on the side in second place). I joined a gym, Planet Fitness, and started forcing myself to go, though it would be about three more months until my school was done and I could develop an actual habit.

    There is no magic to this, no fairy dust. Blood, sweat and tears is what it takes.

    It was around this time that my brother Adam (currently @CeridianMN on Twitter) tweeted something to the effect that what it takes is more calories out, less calories in. This became my mantra. I remembered that my friend Jeff (@Squach on Twitter) had been tweeting about an app called LoseIt! (with the exclamation mark, very important), which I got and put on my iPod touch for tracking both calories and exercise. This became one of my most important tools.

    I wasn’t very good at this exercising and tracking calories thing. In fact, I was very poor at it.

    By the end of October, with school wrapping up, I was visiting the gym sporadically, and was not tracking my food intake properly, or at all. I know I was consuming over 2200 calories per day on average. When I did go to the gym I was not burning a lot, as I was lucky to make it 20 minutes on any of the machines, and could barely lift enough weights to make a difference. But on the plus side I had gotten rid of the “easy” weight and was down to around 245.

    I decided I needed to force myself. I simply had to do what needed to be done. This takes an immense amount of self-control and will-power. I started to push myself, just a little bit. If I did 20 minutes on the treadmill last week, then I needed to do 25 minutes this week. I decided I didn’t need to track my exact calorie intake/output, but I did need to track “in the ballpark” numbers. No special diet or limiting foods at all, just tracking calories of what I did eat, keeping the net total below what LoseIt! told me my budget was.

    Two weeks later, I hurt my back. Badly.

    It was a at least two or three weeks before I could even contemplate going back to the gym. I was fuming the whole time as I knew I needed to make this a habit, and I knew it takes at least 30 days to develop a new habit. But as I recovered, I slowly stated going back to the gym. I decided to go in the morning, before work, waking up around 5:30 and getting to the gym before I realized I was out of bed.

    By the time we took our normal Christmas drive to family up north (a trip which we sadly won’t be taking this year), I was finding a groove. While we weathered the 2010 Snowpocolyps at the hotel on the beach, I kicked things into overdrive. I was down another 10 pounds by the end of the year.

    Slowly, week-by-week, I lowered my average daily calorie intake from well over 2200 to around 1800, while slowly pushing myself more and more. I flat out gave up on weights, focusing exclusively on a mix of Stair Master, treadmill, elliptical, and (occasionally) stationary bike as I aimed to increase my endurance and get myself into something resembling shape.

    This was never easy. There was never any magic, there was never any fairy dust. Every trip to the gym was an act of will-power. Every meal was a wrestle with my desire to eat a little more instead of a little less.

    Over the summer I got stuck on a severe plateau around 200 or so. A few people mentioned adding weights to my exercise routine. I didn’t have a lot of time to exercise in the morning, and the cardio burned more calories per minute then weights ever would. It wasn’t until another twitter friend, Corey (@corey_nagle on twitter), laid it out that I really needed to mix things up and throw weights into that mix that I really paid attention.

    I came up with two different half-hour basic weight routines which I can vary a bit. I mix and match these with half an hour on one of the machines, usually Stair Master or elliptical. If I have time I’ll follow-up with treadmill, or if I can’t make it to the gym but really feel I need to exercise I do some treadmill at home. I don’t do the stationary bike anymore, I simply don’t like it and cannot force myself to do it. This has broken me through my most severe plateau to date, and allowed steady, if slow, progress in the downward direction.

    I still don’t like it. I still have to force myself every step of the way. I still have to wrestle with my desire for a little more food rather than a little less. Though it is a little easier then when I started, it is still hard.

    But I’m now down to just over 180. About 55 pounds down from a year ago today; about 80 pounds down from my North Carolina high in 2010; about 120 pounds down from my lifetime high back in early 2006. I’m starting to buy size 33 pants as the smallest I have is 36, which are getting to be too big. I’m okay with consuming about 1500-1600 calories a day average. My endurance is notably much better, and instead of pushing/pulling around 30-50 (40 average) pounds of weights I’m pushing/pulling 95-240 (120 average) pounds.

    I still have a little ways to go. Medically speaking, I’m still overweight—the magic number is 172 for my height and build. My ultimate goal is to pass that and get a good distance away from it before settling into a maintenance routine. I still don’t like it, and it won’t be easy, but it should be done by late spring/early summer. I believe this time it’ll stay off as I’ve ever so slowly built up the habits needed to support this new body of mine. I’m even thinking about adding some kind of physical activity, such as 5K/10K training or a martial art (time becomes a limiting factor here—I still want to do programming on the side).

    There is no magic to this, no fairy dust. I simply must do what needs to be done.

    Finally, I want to—I NEED to—send out a huge “Thank You!” to anyone who has offered words of advice, encouragement, and/or congratulations, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, or RealLife(™). Also thanks to the Twitter #Plus5CHA community for inspiration as well. This really does help, perhaps more then you know. I’ll try to remember to revisit this topic in the spring, let y’all know where things are at. Until then, I’ve got food to avoid and exercises to do…

  4. 10:24 28th Jul 2011

    Notes: 2

    Continuing the adventures of my Dark Sun campaign, our group has successfully concluded what I refer to as “Chapter One”, a conversion of the original flipbook adventure “A Little Knowledge”. As an…

  5. 08:09 20th Jul 2011

    Notes: 1

    In my circle of friends and family, I am known as having, shall we say: “an above average” level of knowledge when it comes to all things Apple. So it came as little surprise to me when a very good…

  6. 18:42 16th Jul 2011

    Notes: 1

    Perhaps the single most defining aspect of the Dark Sun campaign setting is defiling magic. It is the reason the world is a desolate waste-land. So I think any game set on Athas needs to have a…

  7. It’s been awhile since we last spoke, but not a lot has happened, so I guess that’s okay. I’ve managed to read through a bulk of the old Dark Sun novels (though not all of them), as well as many of…

  8. (A quick content note: There will never be a part two to my previous post. Sorry.)

    For years now Apple related press has been inundated with rumors about The Next iPhone. Due to the overall…

  9. 17:33 3rd May 2011

    Notes: 6

    Do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable.
    — T. H. Huxley
  10. 17:31 2nd May 2011

    Notes: 4

    Since death alone is certain and time of death uncertain, what should I do?
    — Stephen Batchlor