General Archive

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Weighing Myself Over a Whole Day

Detecto Bathroom ScaleEver since I posted an entry about the techniques I found useful to lose weight (How I Lost 40 lbs in 6 Months), there's been a project that I've wanted to do, but I just got around to doing yesterday. I weighed myself continuously over a whole day to see how my weight varied.

In that older entry, I'd mentioned that one of the techniques I found useful was weighing myself daily. I explained how I did so in the mornings in only my underwear to try for consistency, and also how you shouldn't stress too much over small fluctuations. And while I knew from experience that my weight could vary by pounds over the course of the day, I'd never taken a detailed look to see exactly what that looked like. So I finally did. (It was actually a little bit more of a hassle than I'd anticipated, so don't expect another entry like this any time soon.)

Before getting into the longer explanation, here are the results, in two graphs. The first graph includes my weight on the scale. The second is just my body weight, so that the graph could be 'zoomed in' a bit more. Both graphs also include the next morning, just to help show the trend.

My heaviest body weight over the course of the first day was right after lunch, at 171.6 lbs. My lightest was right before supper, at 167.6 lbs. So, over the course of that day, my body weight varied by 4 lbs. Also, my clothes weighed around 5 ½ lbs, so my biggest number on the scale wa s 177.1, almost 10 lbs heavier than my lightest body weight.

Weight Over a Whole Day (Includes uncorrected scale weights)
Click to embiggen
 
Body Weight Over a Whole Day
Click to embiggen

Let's get into a few more details. First, here's my schedule over that period. I was up a bit late the night before, going to bed at midnight. I woke up at 6:00, made a quick trip to purge my bladder, then did my morning workout. Once I got to work, an office job, I ate my breakfast and started drinking coffee, making periodic bathroom breaks. Pretty much every sudden drop in weight throughout the day was a bathroom break, so I won't bring those up again. I ate my lunch at 11:00. For the rest of the afternoon, I tapered off on the coffee, with a protein bar snack around 12:30. I ate supper around 6:00, then changed to work clothes to go help my daughter on some projects at her house, having a drink or two of diet soda over there. I got home and went to bed around 10:00.

I didn't eat that much yesterday, not anywhere close to what I eat on weekends or special occasions. I'm pretty sure that if I did this on a Saturday, there would be much bigger spikes at meal times.

One thing I already knew, but which I still think is interesting, is how much my body weight drops while I'm sleeping - around a pound. I'm guessing this is a combination of basal metabolic rate (inhaling oxygen, but exhaling the slightly heavier carbon dioxide), perspiration, and losing just a bit of water to evaporation while breathing.

I had no intention to strip down to my underwear every time I was going to weigh myself, so I just did some math. I weighed myself with and without clothes in the morning before heading to work, and then again when I got home and changed before heading over to my daughter's (both in my office clothes and my work clothes), and then one last time before I went to bed. So, for each outfit, I had two measurements for the difference. I averaged it for each, and subtracted that from the weight on the scale. (It turned out to be right around 5.5 lbs for both outfits.) And to be thorough, I even made sure my pocket contents were the same each time I weighed myself (cell phone, wallet, keys, pocket knife, and mini tape measure at work, empty pockets at my daughter's).

That last paragraph brings up another caveat - my scale's not perfect. If it was, it should have shown the same difference in weight in clothes before and after work, and before and after going to my daughter's. But it didn't. It was off by 0.2 lbs in the first case, and 0.3 lbs in the second. That's not huge, but it does highlight just one more source of variation when weighing yourself.

I think that just about wraps things up. This project helps to show the types of variation someone can have in body weight over the course of a day, and the even bigger variation you can get in the weight on the scale depending on the clothes you're wearing at the time, or even how consistent your scale is. If you're weighing yourself as part of an effort to lose weight or to maintain your current weight, keep this in mind as a reason for consistency in when & how you weigh yourself, and as a reason to not worry about small fluctuations.

Related Entries:

Bathroom Scale Image Source: Detecto.com

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Weight Loss Follow-Up - Keeping the Weight Off

fitnessWell, it's the start of a new year, and a lot of people are making weight loss resolutions, so I figured it was a good time to revisit a post from 2½ years ago, How I Lost 40 lbs in 6 Months. I've managed to keep the weight off (in fact, I met a new lower goal - 60 lbs lighter than my original weight), so I'm counting that as long term success. But I've also made a few adjustments, and had a few short term slips, so I figured I'd share what I've learned since then.

In that older entry, I made a short list of what I did to lose the weight, and then expanded on each of those items. Go read it for the details, especially if you haven't read it yet, but here's the short list:

  • Count Calories
  • Weigh Yourself Daily
  • Exercise
  • Optimize Nutrition
  • Take Days Off, but Don't Go Crazy
  • Find Ways to Make it as Easy as Possible
  • Set Reasonable Goals

I don't mean to imply that this is the optimal solution for everybody, but at least it worked for me, so some other people might find it useful. Anyway, let's go back through those items again with new updates since that old post.

Count Calories / Weigh Yourself Daily

I can't emphasize enough how useful those first two actions were for me. I set a calorie goal per weekday (I relax a bit on the weekends), and use the MyFitnessPal app to track exactly what I eat for the day to make sure I meet the goal. For one thing, I just didn't have a good sense of how many calories were in various foods before I started doing this (especially restaurant food). For another, logging the foods helps keep me from cheating. Certain foods that may just seem like little snacks can really add up if you're not careful. One cookie here (570 calories at Starbucks). A handful of sunflower seeds there (200 calories in 1/4 cup source). Maybe one or two beers with dinner (230 calories per each Sierra Nevada IPA). And before you know it, you've busted your calorie goal on just snacks without even eating anything filling or nutritious.

The scale also helps keep me on track. Now, don't stress over the numbers or fixate on weight entirely. After Thanksgiving, my weight on the scale went up 12 lbs. There's no conceivable way to gain 12 lbs of fat in a single day. But, the scale is still a good indicator, especially when you're on a normal routine. After weighing myself daily for a few years, I have a good sense of what my weekly pattern is like - a bit of a boost after my relaxed eating over the weekend, followed by a gradual decline to my target weight by Friday. If I relax too much over the weekends, as I did for a short time about a year ago when I also was lax about the daily weigh-ins, my weight will start to drift back up. Once I started weighing in daily again, it was a daily reminder of where I stood in relation to where I wanted to be, and I got back on track.

Now, I did alter my plan a bit as far as my long term daily calorie goals. My original plan was to ease my weekday calorie goal back up once I reached my target weight. But I've found that I prefer to stay strict during the weekdays, giving me a bit more cushion to relax on the weekends. It's a running joke in my family that I'm always hungry. This joke began before I ever even started on the diet (it's a big part of the reason I was so overweight to begin with). So I figure, if I'm going to be hungry, anyway, I might as well be hungry on 1250 calories a day as on 2000 calories a day. And it's a whole lot easier to be strict on weekdays when I'm eating at my desk at work or cooking a simple supper at the house, as opposed to weekends when we tend to meet up with friends.

Exercise

In that old entry, I mentioned that my wife and I were going to the gym a couple times per week. Well, it didn't last. The biggest reason was probably just the time - an hour at the gym plus time to change, shower, and drive all adds up to a decent chunk of the evening, especially with a few life changes that made us a whole lot busier. On top of that, my elbow gets aggravated when lifting weights, so my doctor recommended sticking to light weights at high reps. So, I switched to exercising with dumbbells at the house a couple mornings per week, and just recently adding in a leg day. It's still about 45 minutes per session, but I just roll out of bed to do it, and then go get the morning shower I was going to get, anyway, so I skip the extra time associated with the gym, and keep my evenings free.

During the spring & summer, I also try to jog and swim laps in our pool, but those are hard to find the time to keep up with. So, I try really hard not to slack off on my morning workouts.

And just to repeat something important from that previous entry - exercise is important for fitness, but unless you're a serious athlete, don't count on it to lose weight. You're probably not burning as many extra calories as you think you are. The best way to lose weight is to eat less.

Nutrition

I've stuck mostly with what I wrote in that old entry, but now concentrating mainly on getting enough protein and carbs even within my low calorie goals - 0.75 g of protein per pound I weigh, and 130 g of carbs. I haven't done any fad diets or specifically avoided any types of food (e.g. keto, Atkins, gluten-free), but just by default to get the protein and carbs without going over on calories, I've stuck mostly to lean white meats (chicken breast and pork loin), and baked or roasted foods. I also try to mix in different types of veggies for variety. And I usually have enough of a cushion to eat a ~50 calorie dessert with supper, which is just enough for a little treat.

I specifically mentioned Quest Bars and Muscle Milk in that old entry as supplements to try to hit my protein goals. And those are still good products, but they're not particularly cheap. So, I've switched to two protein supplements a bit easier on the bank account - Premier Protein Fiber Bars and Protein2o Protein Drinks. Like I wrote previously, those are mainly for snacks and as a post-workout drink. I still get the majority of my calories from 'real' food.

Just to put it out there, I recently wrote an entry on Good Sources of Potassium, back when I was starting to swim again but getting cramps. The surprising thing when I actually researched various foods, is that bananas aren't actually particularly good potassium sources. You're better off eating more vegetables, particularly zucchini and squash.

Take Days Off, but Don't Go Crazy

This is one of the areas I've found where I have to be pretty careful. Like I wrote up above, I'm always hungry, and certain foods are just packed with calories that can add up in a hurry. So, I can't just eat whatever I want for an entire weekend. I can relax a bit, and maybe pick one meal to splurge, but I still have to be at least somewhat disciplined.

Find Ways to Make it as Easy as Possible

This hasn't changed much. I still eat single serving microwave oatmeal for breakfast, microwave Lean Cuisines for lunch, and individually packaged afternoon snacks, and we still try to cook basically once per week, and then just heat up leftovers for the rest of the week. I just wouldn't have the dedication to make fresh, from scratch meals every day, let alone for every meal of the day. And I've already discussed how I've managed to fit in workouts the easiest way I could. It comes down to making habits you'll be able to stick with long term.

Set Reasonable Goals

This is one of the harder things to do longterm, and related to what maybe should have been its own topic - Find Motivation. My initial push was to get to a certain weight before a planned summer trip. But after reaching that goal and not having anything concrete to shoot for, it was easy to slack off a bit, which I did. But I buckled back down again for another vacation, then my 40th birthday, and then it was the holidays. Now we've got another trip planned in a few months. So, even though I've been managing, I know how hard it can be to find the motivation to keep the weight off. I've done it mainly by planning ahead for various events.

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So, I think that mostly covers the lessons I've learned over the past couple years of maintaining my weight loss. I hope that if you're reading this that it helps you out.

Related Previous Entries:

Image Source: ClipArt-Library

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Big Christmas Post, 2018

Christmas TreeChristmas is less than two weeks away, so it's about time to get up my now annual Big Christmas Post. I've written quite a few Christmas related entries over the years, and posted various comics and memes, so I've decided to gather up links to all the best stuff into one post. I know this is recycling, but it's still good stuff, especially if you've never read it before.

 

Jolly Posts

AOPA Christmas Card A Plane Christmas Greeting
This is a poem written by my late Uncle Bud. We both shared a love of aviation. This is his version of "The Night Before Christmas" (or "A Visit from St. Nicholas" for you pedants), with an aviation twist.
  
Koch Fractal Snowflakes An Early Christmas Present - Koch Snowflake Christmas Ornament 3D Printer STL Files
Last year, I played around with making snowflake ornaments for my 3D printer. But since I'm a nerd, they couldn't be any old snowflakes. These are fractal snowflakes.
  
White Wine in the Sun Merry Secular Christmas 2018 - Buy White Wine in the Sun, Support Autism Charity
I have a tradition of posting a video of this song every year around Christmas. This year was no exception. Go give it a listen, and donate to the autism charity, Aspect, while you're at it.

 

Curmudgeonly Posts

Santa in the Crosshairs War on Christmas
This was my first War on Christmas post. It covers a bit of the history of Christmas in the U.S. ("a nightmarish cross between Halloween and a particularly violent, rowdy Mardi Gras"), the Pagan origins of so many modern Christmas traditions, and in general why it's silly to get upset over an imagined War on Christmas.
  
Santa is no more Yes, Virginia, There Are Liars
I've never particularly liked lying to kids about Santa Claus, nor the whole mindset around Christmas time that kids should suppress their doubts and critical thinking skills. Playing pretend with kids is one thing, but lying is something else.
  
Scrooge When Happy Holidays Isn't Good Enough
This was an incident a few years ago that still stands out in my mind - a Salvation Army worker getting physically punched for wishing somebody a 'happy holidays' instead of a 'merry Christmas'. I included a meme that shows the appropriate response to any holiday greeting.
  
Take that, Santa Unintentionally Hilarious War on Christmas Video
Well, this could go into Jolly or Curmudgeonly depending on how you want to take it. This was a video I came across this year from a extreme right wing website - so extreme that I had to do a double take to verify it wasn't parody. Anyway, the video was so over the top that I couldn't help chuckling over it.

 

Should I Donate to _____ Charity?

Since so many people start thinking about donating to charity around the holidays, here are a couple entries on charities.

Salvation Army? The Salvation Army - To Give, or Not to Give?
As much as they try to portray a completely wholesome image, the Salvation Army isn't without their controversies. I'm not actually going to advocate that you do or don't donate to them (but if you don't, please donate to somebody else), but you should at least understand some of the activities they engage in that you may not agree with.
  
Charity Debunking an E-mail on Charities
This was written in reply to one of those email forwards, decrying all the supposed waste from certain charities, and suggesting you donate your charity money to other, more worthwhile charities. Well, suffice it to say, since it was an email forward, it wasn't particularly reliable. Granted, it's been a few years since I've looked into each of these charities, but it still gives you a sense of how legitimate various charities are, and provides links to a few watchdog groups.

 

Christmas Memes & Comics

You may have to click to embiggen to read this one.
Calamities of Nature Comic on Charlie Brown Christmas
Source: Calamities of Nature (via the WayBack Machine)

 

Santa Jesus Meme
Source: Master Marf (no idea if that's the original creator)

 


Source: Meme Generator

 

You'll never see one of those cutout plywood nativities the same way, again:
Source: Scoopnest

 

Christmas Tree Image Source: Free christmas Tree Backgrounds

Merry Secular Christmas 2018 - Buy White Wine in the Sun, Support Autism Charity

In a yearly tradition for this blog, it's time to post one of my favorite Christmas songs, White Wine in the Sun, by Tim Minchin. But more than that, this is a chance to support Aspect, an Australian charity supporting children and adults on the Autism spectrum. For the past several years, Minchin has donated all procedes from sales of the song around Christmas time to the charity (previously known as the National Autistic Society - more info). So, if you don't own a copy of the song, yet, now's a perfect time to buy it.

If you've never heard the song, there's a description on Minchin's site from 2010 which reads, "This is a captivating song and a beautiful and intelligent exploration of why Christmas can still be meaningful even without religious beliefs. There's just the right amount of sentiment and some very gentle humour illustrating Tim's feelings about Christmas and the importance of family and home. It is a heart-warming song and may make you a little bright eyed."

So, with all that out of the way, here it is, White Wine in the Sun. And new for this year is a new(ish) recording of the song (new for this site, at least):

Also new for this year, I'm including the lyrics, if you want to read along (per Google, from an older recording):

I really like Christmas It's sentimental, I know, but I just really like it I am hardly religious I'd rather break bread with Dawkins than Desmond Tutu To be honest

And yes, I have all of the usual objections
To consumerism, the commercialisation of an ancient religion
To the westernisation of a dead Palestinian
Press-ganged into selling Playstations and beer
But I still really like it

I'm looking forward to Christmas
Though I'm not expecting a visit from Jesus

I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

I don't go in for ancient wisdom
I don't believe just 'cause ideas are tenacious it means they're worthy
I get freaked out by churches
Some of the hymns that they sing have nice chords
But the lyrics are dodgy

And yes, I have all of the usual objections
To the mis-education of children who, in tax-exempt institutions
Are taught to externalise blame
And to feel ashamed and to judge things as plain right and wrong
But I quite like the songs

I'm not expecting big presents
The old combination of socks, jocks and chocolate's is just fine by me

'Cause I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun
I'll be seeing my dad
My brother and sisters, my gran and my mum
They'll be drinking white wine in the sun

And you, my baby girl
My jetlagged infant daughter
You'll be handed round the room
Like a puppy at a primary school
And you won't understand
But you will learn someday
That wherever you are and whatever you face
These are the people who'll make you feel safe in this world
My sweet blue-eyed girl

And if my baby girl
When you're twenty-one or thirty-one
And Christmas comes around
And you find yourself nine thousand miles from home
You'll know what ever comes
Your brothers and sisters and me and your mum
Will be waiting for you in the sun

When Christmas comes
Your brothers and sisters, your aunts and your uncles
Your grandparents, cousins and me and your mum
We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Darling, whenever you come
We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you in the sun
Darling, when Christmas comes
We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Waiting

I really like Christmas
It's sentimental, I know

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Unintentionally Hilarious War on Christmas Video

Santa in the CrosshairsI was just curious if anyone was still going on about the 'War on Christmas', so I googled it, and came across an unintentionally hilarious video, from a site named, non-satirically, ChurchMilitant.com/. At first I thought something so over the top was surely a parody like Landover Baptist, but no, it has it's own Wikipedia page and everything. Anyway, I don't think I can embed the video here, so you'll have to go watch it on the site:

DECEMBER 6, 2018--WAR ON CHRISTMAS: The advance of atheism.

The 'surely this must be parody' stuff started off from the very beginning:

Hello and welcome to The Download, live from our Church Militant studios in Detroit, Michigan. I'm Christine Niles. And, happy Feast of Saint Nicholas, the manly saint who punched the priest Arias in the face, after Arias blasphemed our Lord and rejected His divinity.

Ah, yes, manly saints punching people in the face. None of that turn the other cheek bullshit that some beatnik hippy went on about.

Then the talking head started using all the right-wing cliches you've come to expect about atheists and liberals:

The heretic Arias brought his own war against Christ by rejecting that he was God. That war on Christ continues to this day, brought by secularists who hate Christ and everything he stands for, and try to mask that hatred behind political correctness, or arguments for separation of church and state, a phrase that never actually appears in the Constitution, by the way.

Just for the record, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." while not literally using the phrase 'separation of church and state' certainly seems to be saying that government should keep its nose out of the whole business. And the phrase was coined by a U.S. president, by the way.

The segment then went on to praise Donald Trump for his support of Christmas in the face of political correctness, and showed a clip of Trump from a rally. Now I admit, I hardly ever voluntarily watch Trump, since he hardly ever has anything worthwhile (or coherent) to say. So I guess I'm just not accustomed to his mannerisms. But my goodness is he hilarious. He's like a parody. At one point while the crowd was cheering, he literally winked at someone in the crowd and then did that sleazy lounge host pointing people out move, before doing an unintentional (I hope) Elvis imitation, and then finally moving on to a brave stance in support of the single most popular holiday in the country:

Thank you. Thank you very much. And something I said so much during the last two years, but I'll say it again as we approach the end of the year- You know we're getting near that beautiful Christmas season, that people don't talk about anymore. They don't use the word Christmas cause it's not politically correct. You go to department stores and they'll say happy New Year. They'll say other things. And it'll be red, they'll have it painted, but they don't say- Well guess what, we're saying Merry Christmas again.

Wow, what an act of heroism. I mean, it's not like 81% of non-Christians in the U.S. celebrate Christmas, including a majority of Buddhists, Hindus, religiously unaffiliated, and even a third of Jews (Pew - Christmas also celebrated by many non-Christians).

And yeah, those department stores are loathe to admit what all this 'holiday' shopping is about:

Oh, wait, I did find a page on Wal-mart called Ready, Set, Holiday!, that did have a whole bunch of 'holiday' references and not so many 'Christmas' references, at least until you actually followed any of the links or looked at any of the products being sold.

It's hard to believe this is the world we live in today - a clown like Trump in the White House, and right wing kooks making websites that are barely distinguishable from SNL skits.

Oh well, I'll take the unintentional humor as an early Christmas present. Merry Christmas everyone.

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For a bit of an entertaining read, check out the following TV Tropes page. It's not about this site, per se, but it definitely reveals the mindset:
TV Tropes - Church Militant

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