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25Feb/10Off

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.

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24Feb/10Off

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.

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18Feb/10Off

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.

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17Feb/10Off

Week 316: Strawberries, water, and a compliment

Boy, some delightful behavior out of my girls this week. Geralyn made a big batch of chocolate-covered strawberries for Valentine's Day and the leftovers were put in a large tupperware container for future enjoyment. That evening after we had retired to the basement I went upstairs to investigate suspicious pitter-pattering. I had just made it to the base of the stairs leading to the top floor of the house when I heard a thunk and saw out of the corner of my eye a pink flash going from the landing up the rest of the steps.

The thunk, it turns out, was the entire tupperware of a dozen or more chocolate covered strawberries, with which Mandy was trying to abscond to her room before she decided to dump her stolen cargo and make a run for it. I can only imagine Geralyn's apoplectic reaction if I had been just a few seconds later and it wasn't until the next morning that Mandy was discovered, in bed but smeared with chocolate and surrounded by sticky strawberry stems.

Then the next night Sam did her part by taking what seemed to be several gallons of bath water and relocating them to the bathroom floor with the aid of a bucket. I discovered the ensuing quagmire about the same time that Geralyn was freaking out in the basement on account of all the water following the laws of gravity and pouring out of the downstairs air ducts.

Of course, I shouldn't sell the girls short. For every bit of facepalm-worthy mischief they manufacture, they do something else really sweet. Sam has gotten to where she picks up her toys every night without being asked and will toss out "I love you" comments out of the blue. And the other night after I had turned the TV off and played with both of them for an hour or so Mandy looked up at me and said "That was fun playing blocks with you. You're a really good daddy."

And folks, it doesn't get much better than that.

Filed under: Parenting 5 Comments
11Feb/10Off

Weight Loss Week 6: 14 pounds to go

Feb 11 weight: 176

Last 5 days avg weight: 178.2

Weight a week ago: 176.5

Workouts in last 7 days: 6

Pretty unimpressive week. I either lost half a pound or no weight at all, depending on if you look at this morning's weight or the 5-day running average. I had a bad weekend involving Chex cereal mix and the dreaded "Donut Sunday." The latter is our church's monthly, free all-you-can-eat donut bonanza. Not to go all "Cathy" on you, but donuts are my favorite food. I won't say anything as untruthful as "I can't help myself" but the fact is that if you set a platter of them down in front of me, I don't want to help myself. I'll eat them until I literally feel ill and at the time I'll think it the best of all possible situations. Alas.

Chart!

Weight loss graph week 6

You can see how much I'm bouncing around, but at least there's a downward trend there. If you squint and kind of tilt your head. I'll make next week a better one. Thank God that Donut Sunday is only once a month.

And picture!

Half a pound doesn't show up much in pictures. So for comparison's sake, here is an average six year old girl who insisted on trying out the camera's remote control:

I think she weighs like four pounds. Five tops. Wait, that just makes me look heavier, doesn't it?

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10Feb/10Off

Week 315

Busy with other stuff this week, so here's two quick pictures just to keep the chain unbroken. I think they're making hot chocolate or something after playing in the snow that a vengeful Mother Nature dumped on us. Also, tattoos.

I have to say, I'm thinking about bringing this whole series of parenting updates to a close. There doesn't seem to be much energy in them, and at least Sam is getting old enough that while I've long ago passed the point of etching all kinds of embarrassing things about her on the Inernet's gleaming surface, it's still starting to feel a little rude to blog about her.

Which isn't to say that I wouldn't want to do some semi-regular blogging about parenting and my kids. And honestly I still think it would be totally cool to continue to photograph my kids at least once a week every week until they're grown up. You could make a hell of a photo album for each of them as high school graduation gifts and it would be priceless. But I may change the format a bit. I dunno. I'm going to think about it.

Filed under: Parenting 3 Comments
4Feb/10Off

Weight Loss Week 5: 14.5 pounds to go

February 4 weight: 176.5

Last 5 days average weight: 178.2

January 28 weight: 181

Workouts in last 7 days: 6

Ah, back on pace. I've lost 4.5 pounds in the last week, which makes up for last week's gain and then some. And not only that, it takes me past the "10 pounds lost" milestone after just 5 weeks. Apparently working out regularly and not snacking on calorie-dense foods is important to weight loss. Who knew?

Chart!

Weight loss graph week 4

Very squiggly. And here's me this morning:

So, let's talk about weighing. People sometimes tell me that you shouldn't weight yourself every day because your weight fluctuates naturally and you can get depressed when you stay the same or even gain weight the morning after what you considered a good day. Poppycock. It's true that your weight fluctuates (look at the green line in that graph above), but the regular feedback motivates me more than it demotivates, and if I have a bad (or a particularly good) weigh-in I remember that the orange, 5-day average line up there is what matters more.

I weigh myself every morning. I stumble into the bathroom, use the toilet, get nekkid, and then step on the scale. Same conditions every morning, which removes many sources of random error variance, such as what you're wearing and how full your bladder or stomach is. Sure, it doesn't eliminate the variance in your weight not attributable to diet and exercise, but it gets close enough. Heck, one dieting hack I've started doing is weighing myself in the evening after dinner, thinking "Okay, if I don't snack on anything else for the rest of the night, the laws of physics demand that I will weigh no more --and maybe less-- than this in the morning." It works.

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3Feb/10Off

Book Review: What The Dog Saw

Unlike Outliers, The Tipping Point, or Blink, Malcom Gladwell's newest book What the Dog Saw isn't an examination of one topic cut from whole cloth, but rather an eclectic mix of articles that originally appeared in The New Yorker. In it he examines everything from why it's impossible to improve on Ketchup, why Enron's failure was a mystery but not a puzzle, what makes for a good dog trainer, and what FBI criminal profilers have in common with psychics. It's good stuff.

The format of What the Dog Saw actually highlights one of the things I really like about Gladwell's style: he takes a single interesting idea and then dives really deep with it, meticulously building towards a conclusion by snapping together what at first appear to be wholly disparate elements but by the end form a strong pattern. What do homeless people in Reno have to do with the Rodney King Riots? What does the song "Last Christmas" by Wham! have to do with accusations of plagiarism on Broadway? What do the late John F. Kennedy Jr. and (almost) tennis superstar Jana Novatna have in common? Gladwell pulls them together and makes it riveting despite the fact that the language and tone he uses in his writing is usually pretty tame and without a whole lot of personality.

This is not to say, however, that Gladwell isn't completely without his shortcomings, and indeed his habit of fitting pieces together can sometimes be revealed to be a flaw in his writing if you're after a complete picture. Specifically, he seems to sometimes selectively pick what research he reports on and who he talks to, possibly in the service of forming a coherent and simplified story. This only really became evident to me when I a story on one of the topics where I somewhat approach being an expert: the use of general intelligence to predict job performance. Not only does Gladwell conflate intelligence with "talent" (a term that probably has different meanings to different people), he sells cognitive ability short by deriding its small (in absolute terms) relationship with job performance without giving consideration to the piles of research saying that while the correlation isn't a perfect 1.0, it's still really high relative to other predictors like emotional intelligence.

On the other hand, Gladwell's excellent essay on the benefits of structured interviews should be required reading for all HR managers and anyone involved in interviews. Go read it here. If you liked it, you'll probably like the rest of the book as well.

Filed under: Books 1 Comment
3Feb/10Off

Week 314: One-On-One, Reading, and Lack of Parental Controls

Oh, hey, that's right. Pictures!

Not much happening this week. I did get to spend some one-on-one time with Mandy thanks to some overscheduling of Daddy-Daughter classes, and Yoga. We went to the former. This is nice because I often feel like I didn't get the same foundation with her that I got with Sam when she was the only sibling. It's also odd how Mandy is often a different person when it's just the two of us. She's much more affectionate with me and more likely to engage with me in play instead of doing her faux snob routine. That she apparently reserves for everyone else. And getting her bathed and ready for bed is SO much easier when Sam isn't there to suggest "Hey, let's pretend we're dogs and TOTALLY FREAK OUT!"

Sam is doing really well with her reading, which now includes words like "Hunt's Tomato Ketchup" and "Press OK to see a list of recorded shows." The other night she read three books to me. On the one hand, this was nice, because I just had to lie there and I think I may have dozed off a little. On the other hand, it takes about five times as long as my reading to her. But I suspect she'll pick up the pace. The unexpected consequence of teaching her to read, though, is that she is learning how to navigate things like the DVR to bring up her own shows. Only sometimes she decides to check out our shows as well. I came down on Saturday morning to find her and Mandy watching the decidedly NON kid friendly show Caprica, the prequel to the recent Battlestar Galactica remake.

"It's a show about a girl who has a robot for a friend!" Sam exclaimed when I asked her what the heck she was watching. "Only she's not really a robot. She's like a ghost or something."

This kind of pissed me off, because I hadn't watched the show yet and she hadn't given me a spoiler warning. Time to figure out the parental controls on the new DVR.

Filed under: Parenting 1 Comment