Weight Loss Week 15: 8.5 pounds to go

April 15 weight: 170.5

Weight two weeks ago: 170.0

5 day avg weight: 171.4

5 day avg weight two weeks ago: 171.1

Workouts in last 7 days: 6? I think?

Well, I missed last week’s update because I was out of town at a convention and forgot to throw my scale in my suitcase. So I really didn’t have any good way to weigh myself and this week’s graph involves some guesswork. This causes me much consternation, as I have been trained and conditioned to hate dirty data.

Weight loss graph week 15

I’m hovering right around 170, which is annoying. Eating while traveling is always tough, as you don’t often cook for yourself and it’s hard to go to restaurants where they don’t give you massive portions. On top of THAT, the convention where I was featured 2-3 catered coffee breaks per day where they would roll out these big trays full of cookies, energy bars, cakes, and the like. I didn’t partake every time, but I abstain every time.

However, I’m not at all bummed for two reasons. First, this is an annual convention that I go to almost every year and see old friends and colleagues so I was about 35 pounds lighter than the last time most of these people had seen me. I got several comments and compliments on this, and I’m not going to lie to you –I enjoyed that.

The second reason I’m not bummed is that I ran in my first ever semi-official 5k race –the SIOP 5K “Fun Run.” The downside was that the race took place at 6:30 on Saturday, the morning after a late night. Also, it was far too chilly for my tee shirt and shorts. And we spent more time bussing to the race location and waiting for them to set up the trail. But once we got started, I had fun running with a pack of other people. While I found the 5K run easy (I run 5K to 6K for routine workouts 3-4 times a week) I wasn’t anywhere near the front of the pack. The winner had an average mile of 5 minute 11 seconds (!) but I came in #63 out of 107 with a total time of 27 minutes on the nose and an average mile of 8 minutes and 41 seconds. Here’s a post-race picture:

Weight loss week 15

I’m slowly getting more into running now, especially with the warmer weather. I still track my stuff at DailyMile.com, and I’ve sigend up for another 5K in June. I’d really like to find a local 10K to work up to, though. I think I could do that at this point.

Anyway, I’ve got some time before I have to travel again, so it’s time to get back on target. 160s here I come.

Book Review: The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade

I’ve mentioned before how big a fan I am of the guys who make the Penny Arcade webcomic, so you can imagine that when the book tour promoting their new volume, The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade, came to my hometown I went to see them. And it was a really fun event! They got up on stage for about an hour and a half, during which Mike (the artist) sketched on a computer that was projected in front of the crowd (80% of which were wearing black tee shirts, I’d estimate) while Jerry (the writer) ran a question and answer session. They really knew how to work a crowd and afterwords I was able to get my copy of the new book signed.

Speaking of which, the first thing you should probably know about The Splendid Magic of Penny Arcade (subtitled either “The 11 1/2 years anniversary edition” or “Nearly 12 years of bullshit” depending on if you look at the dust jacket or the actual hardcover) is that it’s not just another collection of the webcomic fixed in a paper medium. They have those for sale if that’s what you desire, or you can just go read the website for free. Rather, this new book is split evenly between reprints of favorite/relevant strips and big delicious blocks of text describing not just the comic, but the entire Penny Arcade enterprise. There’s a biographical recounting of how Mike and Jerry met and eventually got around to creating the comic, there’s articles about the Child’s Play charity they created, and there’s photos and stories about the Penny Arcade Expo that has quickly risen to claim the crown of “Best Public Expo For Nerds Who Like Gaming Ever.” There are even harrowing tales of how the PA guys ran afoul of the law, almost went out of business, and floundered at almost every step of the way. Almost all these pieces are written by the PA staff (most usually Mike, Jerry, or their business manager Robert Khoo), so while they’re not exactly impartial and obviously aim to leave you with the impression that Team PA is totally awesome, they do get you a lot of inside information and are surprisingly frank about things that the creators and their collaborators did flat out WRONG. So if you’re a fan of PA and are looking for a little more biographical information on everyone involved to date, the book should satisfy.

I should mention that despite all the words in the book, its graphical elements are also outstanding. Some of Mike’s best artwork is scattered throughout the book to give it the right flavor, and the layout and typography make the book a lot of fun to just flip through. Coupled with the brief nature of all the stories contained within, this makes it an ideal coffee table book of the kind that friends may just enjoy opening to any page and starting to peruse. I can’t guarantee what they’ll think of you afterwords, though.

Week 323: Easter!

Okay, ask me how much candy my kids ate. Ask me. Infinity! They ate infinity candy!

Well, at least they had a good time. We dyed eggs on Saturday, but the girls’ hearts weren’t in it because their neighbor kid was having a birthday party at the same time, to which they had also been invited. And they had a bouncy castle. And a clown. We had eggs and cups of bright liquids that smelled of vinegar, so both Sam and Mandy made their exit early. Mandy would periodically trek back up from the neighbors’ house, up our back porch, into the house, then back down to the basement to tell me things like “Daddy, there’s a clown!” This message delivered, she would then turn around, go back upstairs, go out to the porch, then back down to the neighbors’ house where the festivities were continuing.

Unfortunately in all the exuberance Mandy took a bit of a spill on the concrete patio outside the bouncy castle and kinda sorta busted her lip and scraped her cheek. So on Easter morning after she had gotten her enormous basket of candy I started telling everyone who asked that she had fought the Easter Bunny for his sugary loot. And won.

Sam also got candy, and one addition to her basket was a package of Pop Rocks that I had been hanging on to for a while. You remember Pop Rocks? Those little handfuls of sugar-coated gravel that would pop and snap inside your mouth and blow your head clean off if you combined them with Coke? Without telling Sam what to expect, I let her gobble a mouthfull and then documented the results:

The transition from frame 5 to frame 6 is my favorite.

Easter evening we had Geralyn’s entire family over to our house for an Easter party. Ask me how many family members were at our house. Ask me. Infinity! Infinity family members were at our house!

Not that it was bad in any way. In fact, the girls had more fun playing with their various cousins (and, in one case, trying to shove one of them down the play structure slide) and there was ANOTHER egg hunt with MORE candy. We had given up trying to regulate their candy intake about eight hours ago, so they pretty much gorged until they looked green in the face. When we finally tried to give them a bath around 9:30 that night, Sam had a total sugar crash. She just lay there in the tub, saying “I’m SO TIRED. I want to GO TO BED.” I squirted her in the face with cold water until she got out of the tub, which is also a good trick for teaching errant cats a lesson. At any rate, sleep was instant in coming, deep for its duration, and released reluctantly in the morning.

And yet, they both wanted candy for breakfast. But don’t worry; I only let them have a couple of pieces.

Book Review: Dune Messiah

I really liked Frank Herbert’s classic science fiction novel Dune when I first read it a few months ago –so much so that I named it one of the best books I read that year. But upon finally getting around to the sequel, Dune Messiah I’m pretty disappointed. It’s really boring.

Don’t get me wrong, I can see some of the impressive literary clockwork that Herbert assembles in the book. Where Dune told the story of Paul Muad’Dib’s rise to the Emperor, controller of the universe’s only source of the coveted super spice “melange,” and general badass dude, Messiah tells the story of his downfall. It also follows through on one of the more interesting concepts introduced in the first book: Paul’s spice-induced ability to foresee the eventual species-wide extinction of humans and the hard choices he has to make in order to steer history towards a lesser evil. Indeed, Messiah fast forwards to a point where Paul’s fanatic followers have propagated a holy war that has destroyed entire planets and left over 60 billion people dead in just a few years. By those measures, Paul is the worst monster history has ever created, yet he has to bear the mostly private burden of knowing that he’s killing all those people to save the race as a whole while simultaneously trying to outmaneuver his political opponents and crafty assassins. Angst!

The problem I have with Messiah is that it suffers acutely from a kind of talking head syndrome. It’s not until the back sixth or so of the book that anything interesting happens. Dune had sword fights, skirmishes, Paul and his mother tromping around the deadly desert of Arakis meeting and learning about the Fremen, and all other kinds of adventures. Messiah devotes literally dozens of pages at a time to sitting in a room listening to conspirators talk to each other. And then talking about what the talking means. And then thinking about what the talking about the talking means. It’s terrible and jarring to see how Herbert has switched gears so abruptly from fascinating adventure and world building to stark exposition and naval gazing.

Not that some of the ideas aren’t interesting. The way that Paul must grapple with his precognition and how he has to grasp at things to try and leave humanity on the path to survival in the wake of his inevitable fall is a complex and fascinating idea, for one. And I liked the idea of how his strengths are the things that ultimately do him in –sometimes literally. It’s just that I wish Herbert had found ways to make this story less tedious in its execution.

Is the third book any better? I’m on the fence at this point.

Weight Loss Week 13: 8 Pounds to Go

April 1 weight: 170.0

Weight a week ago: 171.5

5 day avg weight: 171.8

5 day avg weight a week ago: 171.6

Workouts in last 7 days: 6

Another pound and a half down, though the 5-day average weight was basically a wash. I let myself have a “fall off the wagon” weekend but got right back on track Monday. I’m SO close to being in the 160s. Hopefully I will be in the next few days, though with Easter coming up I’m no so sure. There’s going to be a lot of candy and food at our big family gathering this Sunday.

Graph!

Weight loss graph week 13

No picture at the moment. Maybe tonight.

I started mixing in a bit of weight lifting to my workout routine, and this has reminded me of something very important: lifting weights after not having lifted weights for a long time makes you hurt very, VERY much. So sore. Still, it’s nice to have some variation and it’ll be good for the long term.

Week 322: Early Easter and RAWK

We got a bit of a head start on Easter as you can see from the pics below.

This was at some little Easter egg hunt at a local park, but they had a massive turnout. The kids were all segregated by age group, but over in the “Ages 1 to 3” lot Mandy had the advantage of being at the top of her age bracket. She put this to good use, sprinting ahead of the crowd when the whistle blew and throwing the occasional elbow into the face of the 18-month olds who got into her way. I had to do a lot of apologizing, but she scooped up the little plastic eggs by the armload and was well pleased with herself.

Sam didn’t quite do as well despite being at the top of her own age bracket. The differences between 6 and 4 are not as tower as between 3 and 1, for it seems that once you learn to walk and generally control your limbs it levels the playing field dramatically. Still, she did score one special egg containing a prize ticket that awarded her a stuffed animal. Because, you know. SHE NEEDS MORE STUFFED ANIMALS.

The girls spent the rest of the weekend playing with some stuff that their Aunt Shawn had mailed them a bit ahead of the holiday, including some sunglasses that they put to good use totally rocking out. Notice Sam’s tee shirt, please. She’s legit. What Mandy lacked in proper instruments, she more than made up for in sheer attitude and furiously banging two nondescript pieces of plastic together as hard as she could.

Book Review: Men at Arms

Men at Arms is Terry Pratchett’s fifteenth …woah, really? This is the fifteenth Discwordld book? And I’m not even HALFWAY done with the series yet? And he’s still writing them? That’s AWESOME!

Anyway, in Men at Arms returns to the metropolis of Ank-Morpork, specifically the Night Watch charged with preventing suicides, such as suicide by strolling through the wrong part of town or saying the wrong thing to any of its inhabitants. Captain Samuel Vimes is relegated mostly a B-story for most of the novel, allowing Pratchett to focus more on the new recruits foisted on the Watch by the city’s new affirmative action. But since on the Disc Black and White live in harmony on account of their ganging up on Green, the race relations here have more to do with dwarfs, trolls, and the undead being added to the Watch’s ranks. Pratchett has a ton of fun with this concept, playing both sides by skewering the idea of affirmative action in employment while simultaneously lampooning people who are biased against other races without even really being aware of it.

Of course, that’s not all. There’s also some fun stuff about detective novels, investigative police dramas (Corporal Carrot of the Watch does a great Columbo impersonation), charismatic leadership, gun control, clowns, and the domestication of dogs. Speaking of which, Men at Arms gets bonus points for including Gaspode the Wonder Dog, the talking mongrel who only survives his many diseases (including Lickey End, which you only get if you’re a pregnant sheep) because “the little buggers are too busy fighting among themselves.”

All in all, another great book in one of my favorite settings with some of my favorite characters. Pratchett really shows that he’s more than a simple satirist, he’s actually a good writer capable of including characters that are subtle and nuanced while still standing in as proxies for larger concepts that the author wants to lampoon. I don’t imagine that it’s easy to do something like that.

Weight Loss Week 12: 9.5 pounds to go

March 25 weight: 171.5

Weight a week ago: 172.5

5 day avg weight: 171.6

5 day avg weight a week ago: 173.7

Workouts in last 7 days: 6

Another week another pound. That loss should be higher. I was weighing in at 170.5 yesterday and the day before, then ate poorly yesterday. Still, I’m down over TWO pounds if you look at the 5-day running average. I hope to drop into the 160s next week or the week after at the latest.

Graph!

Weight loss graph week 12

Picture:

And just for fun, here’s me photobombing my daughter after she asked to play with the camera remote:

You probably can’t tell from the photos, but it seems that one place the weight loss is really showing itself is my face. I’ve actually got a more squared off chin now (the trademark Madigan chin, which my dad had, which my sister has, and which Mandy has) and I swear sometimes you can see cheekbones. There’s stil some soft/baggy flesh under my lower jaw, but even that is diminishing. It’s nice to see. Or not see.

Book Review: Under the Dome

With my tepid reaction to recent Stephen King books like Just After Sunset, Duma Key, Cell, and Lisey’s Story, I was kind of prepared to be vaguely disappointed by Under the Dome. I wasn’t. In fact, it’s one of my favorite King books to date, because it harkens back to a lot of what I loved about his earlier work. It also does some stuff that’s new for King.

This epic novel (the print version is over 1,000 pages long while the audiobook version took me 35.5 total hours to listen to) tells the sad tale of what happened when the town of Chester’s Mill is suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an inexplicable, dome-shaped force field. There’s relatively little supernatural or sci-fi to the story beyond that, as what King seems really interested in is examining how the social fabric of a small town ripples, strains, and eventually tears when Chester’s Mill becomes insular to an extreme. At the center of society’s startlingly rapid deterioration is the opportunistic and sociopathic politician James “Big Jim” Rennie, a town Selectman and –I kid you not– used car dealer. Big Jim takes “dome day” as an opportunity to seize and consolidate power in Chester’s Mill, building a ruthless police force and deftly manipulating public opinion in his favor. Opposing Rennie is Dale “Barbie” Barbera, a drifter and ex-Army Captain who had worn out his welcome in town but becomes trapped there by the dome. Barbie and his cohorts do their best to counter Rennie’s machinations, but they have to swim against the tide of apocalyptic hysteria and mob mentality created by the dome disaster. That and the fact that things seem to break Big Jim’s way at every turn.

The concept of a small Main town alienated from the rest of the world and preyed upon by sinister forces is one that King has worked extensively with before. It’s the central theme of both Needful Things and Storm of the Century, plus it shows up in other works like The Tommyknockers, and Desperation/The Regulators. But King explores the concept a lot more thoroughly and a lot more convincingly in Under the Dome, if for no other reason that he shows how the people of Chester’s Mill are responsible for their own doom moreso than the dome. The dome is just there. It’s the people, and the mob they form, that freaks the hell out and turns to Jim Rennie for help. It’s the people who blindly believes in Big Jim to the point of savaging each other and tolerating his abuse “for the good of the town.” The town cracks along the fault lines of human nature, and with Jim Rennie in charge things get really bad astonishingly quickly.

Likewise, King does a pretty good job of showing how the voices of reason, like newspaper owner Julia Shumway and physician’s assistant Rusty Everett, have their work cut out for them. And in the last few chapters of the book everything goes to hell (as it always does in King’s stories) and people are fighting just to stay alive, sometimes without success, in a poisonous and polluted environment. This part was pretty effectively done and evoked genuine despair in me.

You may be thinking, “Hrmm. That makes me think of Iraq. And global climate change. And the Bush administration.” To which I would say, “Yep, pretty much.” Under The Dome is clearly King’s most nakedly political (or allegorical, if you prefer) work. Big Jim Rennie and his easily manipulated First Selectman Andy Sanders are CLEARLY stand-ins for Dick Cheney and George Bush, respectively. The rapid deterioration of the air and weather inside the dome is CLEARLY global warming writ small. The town’s rapidly expanded and sadistic police force CLEARLY embodies the deterioration of civil liberties in the last decade. This is not subtle stuff, people, and you wouldn’t have to hunt very far to find King going on record with it. But at the same time it clicked for me, and Under the Dome becomes not only King’s most exciting book in a while (it has an amazingly peppy pace for such a long work with a whole town’s worth of characters) but also perhaps his most insightful and relevant examination of human nature.

Weight Loss Week 11: 10.5 pounds to go

March 18 weight: 172.5

Weight a week ago: 173.5

Last 5 days avg weight: 173.7

Workouts in last 7 days: 5

I’ve lost one pound (or 1.3 pounds if you go by the running 5-day average) in the last week. That’s okay. Not great, but okay. It’s progress. Graph:

Weight loss graph week 11

Unfortunately I didn’t live up to my pledge to avoid the “Monday spike” I talked about last week. This probably had something to do with the St. Patrick’s Day celebration over the weekend, with specific blame going, oddly enough, not to beer but to baked goods. Part of me says I should have opted for the beer.

Sorry, no picture this week. I find it harder to get up in the morning with daylight savings time and I was running late this morning. Maybe I should start taking them Wednesday evening.

With the weather warming up I’m starting to get outside to run a bit more, and I’m reminded of how much better (and more demanding) it is than running on a treadmill. Still, I can still run well over 5K at a time on the ground, so I shouldn’t have any trouble finishing next month’s 5K race. I actually haven’t attempted a long run (by which I mean in the 10 kilometer or 6 mile range) on the ground yet. I hope to soon if the weather would stop slingshotting around.

Week 320: Happy St. Patrick’s Day

As you can probably see, we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day a little bit early at our church’s annual …whatsitcalled. Thing. Carnival. Event. There were games and food and beer. The girls partaked of two of the three.

Mandy has generally been on good behavior, but one event does bear mentioning. We had put her to bed for the evening and thought she was down to stay, but when Geralyn came upstairs to get ready for bed, she found that all of her fingernail polish bottles had been arranged on the bathroom counter and every one of them opened. The thing is that the mess you’d expect was nowhere to be seen. Not a drop of the stuff was anywhere, but it was too late and too dark to inspect Mandy so had to go to bed and lie awake for quite some time wondering what she’d look like when she bounded in to greet us in the morning. Turns out that she had actually done a fairly good job of painting just her fingernails (and one toe), without making a mess. So Geralyn let her redo the job with green fingernail polish in honor of St. Patrick.

Book Review: Nudge

The full title here is Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness, and between them the two authors, Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, can claim a substantial amount of expertise in psychology, economics, law, and public policy. The stated goal of the book is to take lessons from these four areas and squish them into a concept that the authors dub “libertarian paternalism.” The idea is that as libertarians the two believe in free information and free choice in all things public and private, but as students of behavioral economics and psychology they know that most people, most of the time, simply make bad decisions on account of our human nature. This is a book about how to fix that. Or at least improve things relative to the status quo.

Specifically, Thaler and Sunstein propose a series of “nudges” that spring from the way that choices are presented, framed, and informed. Early on they give the example of Carolyn, a fictional director of food services for a public school. Carlyn wants the students at her school to eat healthy, but she has limited control over menus so she can’t just ban unhealthy food –nor does she necessarily think she should. But what she can do is nudge children into making healthier choices by changing how food is presented and what information kids are given about their choices. Putting carrots at eye level while chips are relegated to the bottom shelf, for example, would translate to more carrots being eaten. Or including milk with the value meal by default, even if kids can request to substitute soda for free. It’s not a matter of forcing (read: legislating) students to eat their damn carrots, but rather creating what the authors call a helpful choice architecture that encourages the students to make better decisions on their own by side stepping (or even capitalizing on) well known foibles in human decision-making.

After a few introductory chapters to explore these foibles (think anchoring, framing, availability heuristic, loss aversion, status quo bias, etc.), Thaler and Sunstein run with the idea by showing how to create choice architectures that favor their libertarian paternalism approach to public policy and personal choices in everyday life. Specifically, they show how to nudge people into saving more money for retirement, investing money better, choosing a better prescription drug plan, increasing organ donation, protecting the environment, choosing the right school for their kids, and more. I have to admit that I enjoyed the early chapters on psychology and behavioral economics more than the later chapters, which became more nakedly political, but there are a lot of really solid ideas in here, even if they are of varying levels of practicality.

The authors also have a great style. They keep things friendly, funny, and engaging, with the occasional vignette, figure, or photograph to illustrate their points as needed. I was rarely bored, even when talk turned to traditionally tiresome subjects like 401(k) savings, prescription drug plans, and fuel economy. And the book is full of thoughtful insights on how human psychology plays into everyday decisions and, more importantly, how to avoid those kinks in the human brain that often lead to poor decisions about things that really matter.

Weight Loss Week 10: 11.5 pounds to go

March 11 weight: 173.5

Weight a week ago: 175

Last 5 days avg weight: 175

Workouts in last 7 days: 6

Okay, back on track and trending in the right direction. I had been worrying that this would be another bad weigh in.

Graph:

Weight loss graph week 10

And here’s a picture. Happy St. Patrick’s Day. God, why are my pants hitched halfway up to my armpits?

Weight Loss picture week 10

I noticed something about the graph. Notice how it regularly spikes. Those spikes? Seven days apart. Every Monday. Every one of those spikes is a Monday weigh-in. The implication is pretty clear: I do fine when I’m at work and I have little choice but to eat what I packed. I could go out or go to a vending machine, but that’s kind of a pain. At home on the weekends, though, I’m more likely to snack and eat bigger meals at breakfast and lunch. Apparently.

So, here’s my new mini-goal: No spike come this Monday. I’m counting every calorie again to help make this happen, but I want to see that green line smoothed out next Thursday.

Week 319

As you may be able to see from the picture above, Sam’s latest mania is Batman, fueled by our semi-regular evening sessions of Lego Batman. Like any good geek, she immediately clued into the fact that the best part of the whole Batman thing is the rogue’s gallery. Pictured above, from left to right, are Catwoman, The Riddler, and Man-Bat. She had also drawn Joker, Clayface, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Two-Face, and Killer Moth, and Mad Hatter. The Poison Ivy one was actually really elaborate, with plants, flowers, and stuff.

Mandy’s new obsession, you can see, is scribbling on her own face with magic marker and then saying “ROWR! I’M A CAT!” Which make Sam mad, because she always wants to be Catwoman.

Game Review: Borderlands

Gearbox’s Borderlands is kind of a weird bird as far as first person shooters go. In some ways it smacks of a game that wasn’t quite 100% finished, and you get the inkling that its publisher just jettisoned it out into the wild, knowing full well that it might flop to the ground and die. It’s supposed to have role-playing elements like quests and NPCs, but the world of Pandora seems anemic and sterile, lacking in people to talk to, things to interact with, and stuff to do that’s not shooting bandits or local fauna until they die. There are NPCs standing around, but they’re soulless and by and large don’t do anything other than utter the same stock phrase. Most of the “quests” involve murdering bandits or collecting Pandora’s equivalent of Goretusk livers. The nifty sci-fi meets wild West vibe aside, it’s not very engaging.

And yet, somehow, Borderlands manages to be a ton of fun, due in part to funny writing but mostly thanks to the gameplay. The combat mechanics of aiming, shooting, and triggering special abilities just feels right, and it took a long time before it got to feeling old. The leveling up mechanic and 4 character classes also gave you some fun tactical choices to make, with different buildouts and class choices giving you many options on how to approach shooting things in the face (I myself played a soldier with emphasis on building up my deployable Scorpio turret). The “bajillions of guns” loot mechanic where the game randomly cobbles together weapons by combining different attributes is a bit oversold (I found it too mentally taxing to evaluate slight differences in weapons across so many factors), but it does add a nice incentive to keep checking treasure chests and an occasional payoff when you score something clearly better than what you’ve currently got.

One other design philosophy that I feel compelled to comment on is that Gearbox apparently started with a goal of making everything player friendly and then sprinted past that goal line into “crazy” territory. But crazy in a good way. There’s ample fast travel options, for example, and vending machines are conveniently if absurdly stationed in the wilds wherever you need them. Even getting gunned down by your foes barely rates as a minor annoyance, as you just respawn nearby and only have to take a small hit to a bank account that grows to obscene balances early in the game. It’s not very challenging, but it is FUN, and I’m all on board for that.

Weight Loss Week 9: 13 pounds to go

March 4 weight: 175

Weight a week ago: 174

Last 5 days avg weight: 175.6

Workouts in last 7 days: 6

Feh. Bad week, not sure what else to say. The culprit is, as usual, diet. I really need to rein that in and see what I can do over the next 7 days.

Graph.

Weight loss graph week 9

I was running late this morning, so I didn’t grab a picture yet. I’ll try to snap one tonight and update this post. If not, just use your imagination

And now, I’m going to get ready to head to the gym.

Week 318

The girls dug into one of the cabinets the other day and decided to ROCK OUT. And in this case, “rocking out” involved Sam’s bellowing songs about princesses and Batman while Mandy beat the ever living daylights out of a tiny toy piano. Rolling Stone has been notified.

Weight Loss Week 8: 12 pounds to go

Feb 25 weight: 174

Weight a week ago: 176

Last 5 days avg weight: 176

Workouts in last 7 days: 6

Two pounds down and 5-day average weight down a pound. Hopefully, this is the end of my plateau. Getting under 175 pounds is a big psychological milestone for me, since that’s the weight I was when back in grad school when I was lifting weights A LOT and was probably the most fit I’ve ever been. Only admittedly a lot less of my current weight is from muscle. Alas. Up next: college weight!

Graph!

Weight loss graph week 8

Picture! I need to learn to smile in these things.

Weight Loss picture week 8

I really upped the intensity of my workouts this week in addition to tightening up diet. I’m trying to do 10k treadmill runs three times a week, with eliptical workouts in between to let my legs recover. This has meant getting up early enough to get into work by 7:30 so I can leave at 4:00 and have a 60 minute workout instead of a 30 minute one. I wish my gym offered a spinning class or something at a time that worked for me; the “Cardio Blast” stuff they offer would probably indeed blast me, but just doesn’t look like it’s for me.

The diet part of the eqation has been helped out by the fact that Geralyn has committed to giving up candy for Lent, and is herself dieting and abstaining from baking cookies, cakes, pies, muffins, cupcakes, breads, or other such hidiously delicious things with which she usually keeps our kitchen stocked. So we have all been snacking either better or not at all. The price of progress.

Week 317

Slow week this time. We’re all ready for Spring so that I can usher the kids outdoors and they can do something more physical than playing Lego Batman. The kids are so starved for exercise that they ask me to “play chase” just about every evening, which usually involves me pretending to be a villain from Lego Batman and chasing them around the living room. Only Mandy occasionally latches on to the fact that Batman does not flee from his foes, and she’ll run straight up to me and punch me as hard as she can in the crotch. And with that, Mr. Freeze or the Joker goes down. It’s all very America’s Funniest Home Videos.

Weight Loss Week 7: 14 pounds to go

Feb 18 weight: 176

Last 5 days avg weight: 177

Weight a week ago: 176

Workouts in last 7 days: 6

Meh. I seem to have hit a plateau already, as my weight isn’t any different than what it was 7 days ago (though my running 5-day average did go down by over a pound). Valentine’s day treats probably didn’t help. Well, in my experience the thing to do with plateaus is to keep on grinding until you get past them, so that’s what I’ll do.

Graph!

Weight loss graph week 7

Picture!

One thing I have been doing really well with is my workouts, which makes the plateau kind of aggravating. I’ve been running on the treadmill, trying to get ready to run a 5K run this April. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem, as on Monday I surprised myself by running, nonstop, for 10 kilometers (about 6.2 miles) with a pace of 5:30 per kilometer. According to my calculations, that 10k run ate up 844 calories which is like HALF my daily calorie goal. Two days later I ran again and hit 8 kilometers before having to cut it short and go home because I was already late for dinner. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so that I can try my hand (foot?) at running outdoors on the ground.

I could tell myself that maybe I’m putting on muscles in my legs and that’s accounting for the plateau in weight loss. …If that didn’t sound like something that someone trying to fool himself would say.