What I would have written

Wow, this resonates with me for a multiple of reasons.  I’m on the road back to writing (I hope).  In the meantime, enjoy this quote:

 

I’ve been thinking about this damn essay for about a year, but I haven’t written it because Twitter is so much easier than writing, and I have been enormously tempted to just tweet it, so instead of not writing anything, I’m just going to write about what I would have written if Twitter didn’t destroy my desire to write by making things so easy to share.

via What I would have written.

Lost? Take one step at a time.

Yes, I am lost in a fog.

I weigh myself everyday, but I fail to record my weight in any type of log.

I exercise 4 to 5 times a week, but I fail to log the exercise.

I overeat, and I eat junk food, and I have tried to log my food, but fail to log my eating habits.

If you don’t measure it, did it really happen?

I don’t need a log to understand my feelings and see my body composition. I am not obese. I doubt many would call me fat, but the opposite is true. I doubt many would call me the image of fitness. Yet, does it matter what the many would or would not say?

It matters what I think and feel. As I said before, I am lost in a deep dense fog walking through a forest. Searching. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter why we do it. We must Dream Big, Act Small. One step at a time. I have often thought to myself: Who cares about why? I care. Yet, while I am searching. I can still take small steps and trust my inner compass.

Swimming in December…

Long time no talk,

Yes, I am still here.  Yes I don’t have much to say right now.  If you have not figured out by now, I blog when I have something to say.  When I do, I hope its of value.

Where am I at?  What’s my exercise goals for 2011?  What am I thinking?  Where do I want to take Simpleweight?  I’m not sure on all fronts.  More introspection must be done.  In the meantime, I went swimming today for the first time in about a month.  It felt awesome.  Its amazing how energetic exercise can make you feel.

Merry Christmas.

— Scott

As always, if there is anything I can do to help you achieve your fitness goals, let me know.  I aim to help!

4 lessons learned from a triathlete in training

I know in my last post, I promised an article on smiling. I still plan on publishing that article, but I decided to postpone it for a bit due to the heavy research lifting required.

This post is short and sweet. I’m still training for my Triathlon in August. It is fun. Lessons I have learned so far:

  1. Rigid training schedules do not mix with full-time work schedules, work at home dad duties, wet and cold spring weather. I just can not bring myself to swim, bike, or run on the exact days the rigid training schedules require. I’m going to require a more flexible training schedule pronto. The rigid schedules make it difficult to plan a life. While I search for a more flexible schedule, I continue to workout, but I just don’t do it on the exact days the schedule requires. Here’s my average workouts for the past couple of months:
    • two 40 to 60 minute swim sessions a week, (Wed & Sat)
    • one 60 to 75 minute bike ride a week, (Thursday but not always)
    • two 35 to 60 minute runs a week. (Tuesday and Friday, but not always. It depends on the biking days.)
    • two to three 20 minute circuit strength training a week. (Mon, Wed, Fri?)
  2. Exercise alone will not generate weight loss, but it might change your body structure. I’ve been exercising regularly now since Groundhog day. Since the beginning of the year, I have lost 10 pounds. When many of my fellow weight loss bloggers are losing 2 to 3 pounds a week, I’m totally not losing that much. However, I have noticed my belt needs to be tighter than normal, my shirts feel a little bigger, and my pants are starting to fall down without a belt. I think my body is gaining muscle. Yet, why am I not losing weight? My eating habits have not changed. I still eat food I know is not good for me such as fast food hamburgers, french fries, ice creams, chocolate candies, and all sorts of other no-no’s on any diet. I guess I’m just happy I’m not gaining weight.
  3. The more I exercise, the better I feel about exercise. When I first start running, swimming, biking, or weight lifting, I think of all the other things I could be doing with that time. I think do I really need to be doing this exercise. I think isn’t there another way to get physically fit? Then, after I go for a little while I settle in and exercise is tolerable rather than unbearable. Then when I’m finished, I feel good. Still, there are often times, I complain about my muscles being sore. I whine to my wife asking her if running ever actually feels good, because now I don’t feel it. Give me a mountain or a trail to hike, and I go for hours, but running not so much (yet).
  4. I salivate over gear. There are so many triathlon, running, swimming, and biking gear that I could spend all sorts of money. I try to resist the urges. I don’t want to be that guy with the billion dollar golf clubs shooting 130 on the golf course. So, I resist the urge to buy new gear for now as I try to identify if I’m into triathlons for the long haul.

So, as you can see with all my exercise, combined with my busy technology consulting and training business and my fatherly duties, blogging and side projects take a back seat. I’ll keep posting when I can, and I’ll make some progress on a new design for Simpleweight sooner or later, but my physical fitness comes first these days. Its my priority action.

What have you learned from your habit of exercise and diet?

Does it really matter?

Your weight. It is just a number. Does it really matter?

2010, a year of action for me. I could also call this year, a year of reflection. I’ve been very thoughtful about what I want. What’s my legacy? How am I doing raising my kids? What are my passions? What do I offer as a fitness blogger, technologist? Where do I go? What do I do?

Today, has brought that even closer. A co-worker of my wife died unexpectedly today. She was young in my book, 33. She leaves behind her husband and a two year old son. Life is short.

I often live thinking I have plenty of time. I say to everyone that long lifespans run strong in my family. I have good genes, and I am taking steps fitness and nutrition wise to help get the most of my good genes. This thinking of plenty of time to go often means I waste time. I know I shouldn’t, but I do.

Now, I did not know the lady who died. I may have met her once, but I really don’t know if I could pick her out. I’m sure there is more to this story that I do not know. My own human selfishness and ego makes me think of myself and my family. How blessed I am and grateful to be given such great gifts. I have two wonderful kids, a wonderful wife, family, and friends. We often take each other for granted. We take ourselves for granted. I implore you. Don’t!

So, your fitness, your nutrition, your weight. Does it really matter?

We can go two ways:

1) We can say to ourselves: I’m going to die soon anyway, I must as well live it up, eat what I want, like pizza, ice cream, cookies, cake, french fries, etc. Do the actions I want like waste time on the internet or watching TV.

-or-

2) We can say to ourselves: I’m going to die soon anyway, I should take care of my body to extend my usefulness. Extend my legacy. Extend the help I can give to others. Cherish the minutes we have together. Treat your body as a cherished gift that is borrowed and must be returned to the Maker.

Does it really matter?

In science, I have found if you are between two hypothesis. Often times, the combination of the two is the answer.

So. I should live it up. Eat what I want. Do the actions I want. Yet, how can I do the actions I want if I stuff myself with unhealthy food? How can I live it up, if I eat so much that I won’t even be able to walk around with my kids or ride bikes to the park, or do any number of things that people would classify as live it up.

How do we live it up? We must build our own self-discipline to live in moderation. Sure, you can eat cake, you can have ice cream, pizza, french fries. You just have to do it in moderation. We can’t eat that way for every meal. In fact, eating like that every meal makes all those treats less of treats.

Back to Why does it matter? This past month, I have gained two pounds, and my trend has started to creep up despite my increased exercise efforts. I know my diet and nutrition must change.

Add to that my constant inward look at myself and recent events.

I ask myself:

Does it really matter?

At fitbloggin, Roni gave the speakers some nice silver boxes with this quote from Winston Churchill

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

Let’s give another example:  there is this theory in Personal Finance, that the more you give away, the more you get back in return. So, if you give 10% of your income, you will receive that money back more than you will ever think.

The same can be said for our own self-discipline and weight loss. By cutting back on what we get (eating), and increasing what we give (our actions and exercise), we will improve our individual lives ten-fold both physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Does it really matter?

It only matters if we think it does. We decide. Its a decision. Its our life. We can do and think what we want. That’s part of what makes us Human.

I’m saying a prayer tonight for the 2 year old boy without his birth mother and the husband without his mate. Raising children with two parents is difficult enough much less losing one’s partner.

Some links that recently reinforced my current reflective thoughts:

Watching this talk from Ben Dunlap on a passionate life

Derek Sivers writing that a real person is behind that computer.

Sean Wilson losing weight and breaking a weight milestone.
[Sean keep it up!  You’ll make your goal sooner than later! Thanks for the inspiration.]

Mac talking about Beating Exhaustion.
[Mac you Rock too!  You have achieved more than what many people talk about doing.  Listen and Live.  You’ll keep going.]

Does it really matter?

Sometimes we need to stop, listen, and enjoy.

Maybe we achieve goals, and we’re elated. Other times, we feel exhausted.

Life is a roller coaster. The higher the highs, the lower the lows. Without the lows, there would be no highs.

Live your life! Be passionate! Find something anything to motivate you!

No matter how difficult it is for you to lose weight, gain weight, exercise, or achieve whatever fitness goal you have. Remember. Its your choice. Your life is a gift. Cherish it. Move!

Does it really matter? You must decide!

Getting to Green with Gruve.

As I mentioned, when I went to fitbloggin ’10, I received all sorts of fun healthy items to test out.

The first one I’ll detail is the gruve.

gruve

If you are not familiar, gruve is a little device that you wear on your hip very similar to a pedometer. There’s some differences though. As I understand it, the gruve takes measurements of movement 1200 times a second. Using those measurements combined with your biometric data, the gruve calculates your caloric burn for that activity and determines whether you are sedentary or not. Its a very cool device.

Now, if the gruve identifies that you are sedentary for 50 minutes, the gruve then buzzes and buzzes and buzzes until you get up and move. This is great for me, as a computer consultant, I often sit at my desk for long periods of time, and the gruve helps remind me that I need to get up and move. Gruve was created with the help of the NEAT group from the mayo clinic. The NEAT group is the one behind the idea that today’s desk workers need to be up and moving. They’re the first ones I heard do studies on the the treadmill desk.

The goal behind gruve is to get to green.
Gruve Screen Shot

As you can see in my chart above, You start out at red,  you progress into orange, then to yellow, then to blue, and then to green (oops, I have to get up and move to get to green.)

Its pretty fun way to keep track of your progress.  My wife and I were both happy to receive free gruves at fitbloggin from the gruvesolution team. We now have a little competition going on who can get to green first.  Although, I just don’t exercise in the morning as much as she does.  So, she’s going to beat me more often than not.

The gruve is not water proof nor does it do a very good job when you isolate muscle groups like you do with weight lifting.  So, when I swim or do my weight workouts, the gruve doesn’t track that activity.

I’ve been debating about buying the body bugg, the fitbit, the Philips DirectLife, or the gruve.  The only unit I have tested is the gruve, and I can say I’d recommend it.  I’d love to test the body bugg, because I think it uses more measurements beyond just movement like skin temperature and other items. I wonder how accurate they all are.

A little disclaimer time,  Yes, gruve gave me the device for free.  No gruve is not paying me for this review and there was no pitch to write.  I am writing of my own accord, because I think the idea is cool.  Now, if I could only find a device that would automatically measure the calories I consume without an intervention by me.  I’m also interesting in testing out the withings wi-fi scale.  Can you tell I love gadgets?

For a limited time, you can gruve with me.  When you buy the Gruve at www.muve.me, enter the promotional code BlogNGruve to get $70’s off.

You might want to look at the gruve guide too for research.

I asked the gruve team if there is Programming Interface (API) that I could tie simpleweight weight management tracking site into, but the team at fitbloggin was not sure.  I’m still researching that capability.

Exercise is good, but I really must concentrate efforts on reducing my calories in if I want to lose weight.  My weight’s been stable for a few weeks now even with my increased activity level.  I’m sure the hamburger and fries I ate today for lunch combined with my ice cream desert does not help.

what can I do to help you with your weight management?

fitbloggin can wear a person out.

This past weekend, I went to Baltimore for fitbloggin. It was super fun. The sessions were smart. The attendees were nice, and the sponsors were great.  A couple of quick thoughts, I was really surprised that there are not more male fitness bloggers.  I think there were a total of 10 men out of 150 attendees, speakers, and sponsors. I was not surprised by how smoothly the event ran. I expected a good conference based on my reading the promoter’s blog. (Roni you rock!) One thing that amazed me was the wonderful sponsors who were so generous with the really cool swag bags and gear. Thank you fitbloggin sponsors.

For my talk, I was going over the basics of Search Engine Optimization and Section 508 Web Accessibility.  I talk and present in front of people all the time, but for some reason, I was super nervous for this talk. I went so far as practicing bits and pieces of my presentation which I very rarely do.  I think it went well. Time went super fast.  There was so much more I wanted to include.  Like optimizing your anchor text.  Also, I want to emphasize that all need to be careful about the technical details.  I think SEO is something you can and should do on your own.  But, you can really screw up your blog too.  Its a delicate balance. Sometimes, it just nicer to have an expert do the work for you.

I could talk SEO and Blogging for a whole day or longer I think.  I wanted to demonstrate other blogging software other than WordPress.  However, my tumblr, posterous, and blogger accounts wouldn’t log in very easily with the conference internet.  The internet was pretty good, but when you have a conference full of bloggers writing and tweeting away one can almost always expect inconsistencies with the internet.

I posted my SEO Fitbloggin slides at my octāvity Technology Consulting Business blog.

I thoroughly enjoyed walking around Baltimore’s Harbor and Fells Point.  Very pretty area.

I ran my first 5k this weekend on Saturday averaging about 5 mph. Then I let my wife talk me into running again on Sunday. We ran about 4 miles at about 6 mph.

Right now, my legs are super stiff. I’ve got a little bit of a ways to go before I get ready for my International Distance Triathlon in Chicago. Cool News is I get to begin Bicycle shopping. The weather in Chicago is starting to get warm enough to bike. I am so wiped out and exhausted from the super fun weekend. I don’t even feel like posting my usual requisite picture. I’ll post more later about all the fitbloggin swag that I’m so excited to try out.

As always, if there is anything I can do to help you with your weight management journey, please let me know.

Nutritional Menu Good news, but still more work to go.

I received an email today from Panera.

Panera Bread has announced that it will post calorie information on all Company-owned Panera Bread and Saint Louis Bread Co.® bakery-cafe menu boards by April 2010. The bakery-cafe concept expects franchise-operated locations to follow suit and have calories posted on menu panels by the end of 2010. This would make Panera Bread the first national concept to voluntarily post calorie information on menu boards across the country.

This is good news. You know I am a big fan of menu labeling.

Panera says they’ve noticed their customers have changed their purchase patterns as a result of their new informative menus.

“As we’ve been introducing our new menu boards across the country, customers have responded very favorably,” Scott Davis, Panera’s Chief Concept Officer said. “We’ve seen them gravitating towards options that allow them to customize their meals such as our You Pick Two® where they can pair smaller portions of our soups, salads or sandwiches to create a meal with fewer calories.”

“This whole initiative prompted us to take an even closer look at our menu offerings,” Davis said. “The result was we improved the nutritional content and ingredients in several of our menu items. We view it as a ‘win-win’ for both our customers and Panera.”

I think this type of responsibility and activity is only going to increase. If I were a restaurant, I’d be working on labeling my menu right now to stay ahead of the nutritional curve.

What can we do today?

Ask your favorite restaurant to add calorie information to their menus!

If you are a small to medium sized restaurant owner who’s determining ways to implement nutritional information for their constantly changing menus, contact us for some possible solutions.

A Weight Management Journey

Well, hello everyone.  It’s good to get simpleweight back up and running.

First off, why the simpleweight hiatus?

Well, this project has been a labor of love for my brother and I.  We had an idea, we ran with it.  When we came up with simpleweight, at the time, there was not many web ways to manage your lifetime fitness goals.  There were quite a few Diets, but nothing that was diet agnostic.  Also, at the time, all the weight loss websites were a pain in the neck to use.  They just weren’t that simple.

Since the time we hatched the simpleweight idea, we have seen numerous new web tools, competitors if you want to call them, and other ways to maintain and track your fitness goals.  We have always had a decent amount of users, nothing that would put us in the A-list of websites, but enough to say we were attaining some of our goals.

Yet, we stumbled and lost focus.  Simpleweight started to see competitors, and we started adding features because we felt like we had to rather than because we should. We were not getting real as 37signals would say.

One of our original goals was to make this weight website so easy that you’ll actually use it.  Well, I used it, and used it, and used it.  Yet, at some point (August 17, 2008), I stopped.  In fact, I fell off the weight management wagon.  I not only stopped using simpleweight, I stopped recording any data.  Yeah, I weighed myself everyday, and still do.  I would weigh my food still, and track my exercise on my various fitness related gadgets, iphone apps, or my pedometer.  I just never recorded the data I kept.

Tracking data and not recording data doesn’t make the data very valuable.  In fact, it is almost worthless.

A Return to Roots

Why Simpleweight and what can we choose to do?  Because it is all a choice.

I have a couple of options with simpleweight:

  1. Keep it as is. This is not an option in my book.  The experience I can see from my usage and the aggregate patterns I can identify from users, that simpleweight needs to be easier and more useful.  During my hiatus, I tried competitors products, and I was just as dismayed at the lack of usefulness.  If I had found a sound competitor I could recommend, I think we’d close up shop, but I couldn’t find anything phone based, web based, or desktop based that was easy to use that provided the right amount of data to help with weight loss and weight management.
  2. Tweak it. We could do this, but I think there is just too much baggage.  Sometimes, we need a clean slate.
  3. Throw it out and Start over. This I think might simpleweight’s best path.  To Get Real about what exactly is the absolute necessity required in managing ones fitness and add to it the pin-point focus that’s necessary.  There is a big challenge here.  More to come on that.
  4. Just Throw it out and give up. I’m not ready for that.  I still think there is a value to tracking ones fitness, and I think we can do it in good fashion.

So, What’s our Challenge?

The big challenge is there are many parts to weight management and fitness.  There is food out (exercise), food in (eating), the physical factor (actually going throw the physical motions), the mental factor (behavioral psychology behind eating and motivation for fitness), and finally the out of our control genetic factor.

The question for Simpleweight is:  How can we best help you, our user, with your weight management?  What can we do to help?  What data can we help you collect?  How can we present that data to help you mange your fitness?

For example, there are social networks all over the place that will help you stay motivated.  Do we need to include that in our implementation since the psychology of eating is such a strong factor?

Other questions we ask, Who can we help?  How can we help?  Then finally, Is it possible for us to make a living helping you all or should we just chalk it up as giving back to the community?

How can we make a weight management website so simple you will actually use it?

These are decisions we are going to make over the next few weeks, months, days, however long it takes.