Weight Loss Strategies & Thoughts

sparkling water bottle for weight loss success stories blog post lemonI have been on a bit of a weight loss journey for the last few months and I finally have had enough success to blog about it.

After I tried a round of IVF in February (it failed) I found that I had gained another 5 lbs on top of the 20 or so pounds I had gained from the time I got married in July 2009.

The IVF hormones and drugs seemed to make me puff up around the middle and I am sure that there was some stress eating along the way also.

I had been battling my lifestyle, stress and eating behavior for years thinking that just changing one thing, or giving up one key item would be the turning point to weight loss success. Boy was I wrong. People who say that are lying.

I had been pretty successful at losing weight when I needed to earlier in life. Once in high school (90’s) while very active in sports and discovering lean cuisine and diet coke and another time in my 20s while dancing up to 7 days a week (2000’s).

Now in 2012 with a sedentary desk job that demanded hours of excel analysis and implementation and a husband/home/cats/yard to take care of I had given up all of my personal interests and hobbies. Yep, every single one of them. I had no way to exercise and no time.

I finally have had some weight loss success because of several factors coming together to change a lot of things in my life. Like hundreds of things. Lifestyle change isn’t really the right word for it, it is more like millions of really small decisions adding up every day. I don’t actually feel like my lifestyle is any different. I am not sure how much of your lifestyle is really about food anyway.

Some of these changes were:

1. I was diagnosed with ADHD, documented by years of childhood report cards with attention issues. Medication helps me concentrate and stick to things until I get them finished, and keeping the long term goal in mind has always been a problem for me with weight loss. Some people may cry foul because many ADHD meds do lessen appetite, but I counter that with the fact that my stomach still growls if I am hungry while taking it. I just eat a more normal amount and I don’t use food as a stress reliever as much since I’m less frazzled in the first place.

2. I mostly gave up cooking, and certainly the idea that I had to provide my husband with a fancy full course dinner several times a week. (I never cooked before we were married) This led to less groceries being bought, less exotic ingredients in the house, less opportunity to snack. Less choice in the matter of snacking. And fewer trips to the store, which are tempting within themselves. I also canceled all those email recipe newsletters, unsubscribed to the food blogs and droped the idea that desert was needed at all. It actually gives me more time to do other things if I don’t have to always be meal planning, cooking, cleaning and prepping. I have a few staple things I still make, (roast chicken, onion/green pepper/mushroom omelette with egg beaters, quinoa veg salad, organic cornbread) but overall the cooking is much less frequent.

3. I reduced portion size by half. It is important and needed its own mention separate from the previous item on the list. Small plates help but someone isn’t going to lose weight on that method alone as certain statistical studies and books suggest. Basically I have the slowest metabolism in the world so my body can make a tiny bit of food last forever. It may have been an evolutionary bonus but now its a huge negative. I probably live on 1000 calories a day because I don’t exercise. There has also been research lately that states that people who have been overweight have cells that have a history of expecting overeating and slow processing. My take on that is I will always have to eat less than my contemporaries because of my history and extra slow metabolism.

4. I don’t eat breakfast. All you breakfast eaters that hate my method can shove it. I know that my eating snowballs during the day. I start out with lots of motivation/focus and as I get more tired/frustrated/stressed I eat more. My resolve weakens. I also have a kind of weird rebound effect to eating where I get hungry again within 2 hours especially if it is sweet stuff. So why sabotage myself by eating first thing in the morning if I’m not hungry? My metabolism isn’t going to get jump started by eating but my stomach cravings will. Sometimes I wonder if this suggestion is deliberate sabotage by the skinny people of the world that seem to talk about food constantly and eat nothing. Here is an article stating that you never start burning fat reserves unless you fast for 12 hours.  

5. I don’t drink soda – I drink organic coffee with organic creamer in the morning (I guess instead of breakfast) and sparkling water the rest of the day. I’m not a big alcohol drinker so cutting that out is pretty much status quo for me. ( a 1/2 beer is enough to make me sleepy) I don’t think soda is inherently evil but I do think I can’t afford its calories and my teeth don’t need the sugar/nutrasweet. (just like most parents thought back in the 70’s when I was a kid). I don’t drink diet soda because my body was past the point of being tricked by sweet tasting stuff that has no actual nutritional value in it and my body was pissed. About an hour after drinking diet soda I get incredibly hungry and inhale just about any food around me because my stomach hurts so much. Sparkling water seems soda-ish enough with the carbonation, but not sweet or with any calories. (avoid the flavored waters with nutrasweet or splenda) Other people make their own infused waters with cucumber, mint or orange/lemon/lime. That is cool too but I’m not going to cut up produce and do dishes at work, so my sparkling mountain bottle just sits on my desk.

6. The only exercise I do occasionally get is yard work and walking. At first I had no stamina to do basic things like mow the lawn (it’s not self-propelled but still it isn’t like we live on a hill either). I did force myself to get through yard tasks whether I liked it or not because I am incredibly embarrassed if the yard looks bad. This is only really something I have time for on weekends so if I have a bonus of some time during the week I do walk around the subdivision. There is a 1 mile loop around it that takes about 45 minutes. I even go out after dark. No excuses. The dog walkers are still out there and the weather is nice in the evenings now that it is summer.

7. I don’t obsess over lunch. If I bring lunch it is a Tupperware of fruit (pineapple, grapes, oranges & apples) or something like broccoli salad. I have also learned that the potbelly chickpea salad is the healthiest thing within walking distance of the office. I also get chipotle burrito bowls from time to time but only eat half. And the rest is for dinner. I told you I could make a few calories go a long way.

8. I like organic products but I am wary of some since they seem to have more fat, sugar and calories than their non-organic counterparts. I think the organic decision is more about long term health and less processed food, fewer chemicals, fewer hormones and pesticides that you ingest to hopefully avoid cancer. This may be more meaningful for some than others depending on your genetics and other factors, but I just think its safer to minimize the risks a bit. Its impossible to go totally organic so I don’t try but when I find a good organic alternative I usually stick to it even if it is a bit more expensive. Just avoid the organic granola/energy bars. Some have as much fat as a big mac.

In summary it took a lot of changes and a lot of time but after 4 months I have lost 15 lbs (to fit into things I wore in 2009). My hope is to lose another 5 and I hope this blog post doesn’t jinx it!

The Negatives of Social Networking Media

All the world is a Buzz about Facebook & Twitter these days. It’s almost like MySpace circa 2007, Google circa 2003 or Microsoft circa 1998. I don’t doubt the success, innovation or long-term viability of these social networking sites but I have seen that there are flaws in the system that mean that things won’t be perfect with the business along the way and we’re in for a bumpy road. Basically my point is that for all these sites give us in entertainment, social connections and opportunity they also have some negatives that are almost the equal and opposite pendulum action.

1. Time Suck – all social networking sites are using your time that you used to devote to other things. Maybe in some cases this is actually a better use of your time (instead of TV) but in most cases its time spent that you used to use for researching new information for work projects,  time actually spent talking with people in person (family/friends) or time spent doing things that really need to be done at work or home. Once the brain gets trained that you can go socialize instead of work at those times of day it’s a habit extremely hard to break. For all of us procrastinators looking for instant gratification its a real problem keeping up with work and affects the overall productivity of companies and the country as a whole. Internet access is much more prevalent and has far more users during the business day than it does at night, so there’s the proof. Unless your job is trolling these sites for sales prospects by “connecting” and making “relationships” with your customers, its a waste of time to spend more than 15 min a day.

2. Privacy – Of all the details analyzed about consumer privacy online (on Facebook) in the last few weeks the most suprising thing I’ve seen is that people really don’t care about their information online. Sure, nobody is going to post a ss number or cc number on their profile (duh) but they don’t really seem to realize the power of logging all their social interactions in one database and selling access to retailers and cpg companies who have even larger databases of information to analyze and strategize with. Is it really as fun when most of your friends are companies selling you things all the time? Twitter already has morphed into the largest opt in direct marketing platform I’ve ever seen. If people keep using it at this rate it will surpass email. The other obvious issues come with the work life balance thing and when people friend work makes and think nobody will see them rant about work or post drunk pictures on a sick day, but then again I’ve heard that its just people naturally selecting themselves out of the working pool.

3. Logic – the other issues I’ve seen coming for a while have to do with how everything that is built from large databases online with lots of consumer data seems to not work properly. There is always some algorithm developed by a science tech guy based on some theoretical calculus and it doesn’t provide relevant results. Which brings me to a repeating theme of data right now: we don’t really know what to do with it yet. Nobody knows enough real info about their customers to target them. (who has a budget for that?) And the database people just like to say they improved things a statistically insignificant amount with an algorithm tweak. The marketing strategy/process should always start with offline real life information about people and products and then develop an algorithm to show you information in that way. I don’t know why it’s always done backwards but it will keep our results irrelevant and marketing dollars wasted for a long time to come.

TopGear USA, Canceled – 2nd try

TG USA NBC FAIL - Who is up next?

TG USA NBC FAIL - Who is up next?

I just read that TopGear USA or Gear as NBC was going to call it, has been canceled before it has even begun. (because of the epic fail of Knight Rider??? WTF?)  This is disappointing news but it also doesn’t surprise me since this has been the 2nd try at getting a sister show in the US running in some form.

There was a BBC developed test pilot about 2 years ago called TGUSA that never left the ground, and in 2008 NBC started the process of developing a series and selecting hosts and now that has stopped too.

The Top Gear Show people at the BBC say that they are shopping the concept around to cable broadcast networks via the Jalopnik post, but I am not all that sure this will work either. I think that finding a network in the US for TopGear will be tricky because of a few things:

1. All the shows in the US change their content to please advertisers. TopGear does not. This is a huge risk for US networks, (cable or free tv) because they could loose a huge amount of revenue if an advertiser doesn’t like a comment about their product on the show. (not just cars remember, TG rips on anything they don’t like from caravans to clothing to speed cameras)

2. The only people who will want to fund this show would have to be fans. (even if they are executives or media moguls, they still have to be fans to believe in the concept) They would have to understand the intricacies of what TG is, how it is produced and why people love it so much all over the world. You can’t mess with that formula. They are trying so hard in Australia to get it right and my brother still calls it “Bad Top Gear” that we watch when UK Top Gear is off-season. It is a show that is incredibly hard to get right  and the chance you can replicate this in a formulaic way is slim. Just think, the UK  Top Gear has been running since 1977 and only since the late 1990’s has it been really good. It took them that long to get the UK version right and they are still tweaking.

The TopGear show not only takes the best improviser hosts, it must take a huge staff of researchers, a boatload of talented car mechanic guys for all the race and experimental stuff they do, a boatload of the best camera guys and the most excellent editors and sound people. And I am sure I am unfairly forgetting half of the staff. And then there is the constantly updated website. This is a large overhead cost when networks may not know if they can make any ROI from it and don’t know heads or tails about what would make it successful.

Maybe they should start small instead? A small TG-USA blog with short 5-10 min segment clips once in a while? See if it generates enough web interest and then take it to TV? Smaller staff, less hours needed in all the functions and it lets you get your bearings straight on all the details before going on to a higher cost/risk situation. Just a thought… 

Or maybe produce one time hour long “specials” to see how they take without a huge commitment in set building and long term contracts? More the on the road stuff, challenges, trips, building/breaking things? I am just trying to think of ideas on how to keep costs down and limit the risk in the beginning so it can catch on.

Another idea is to pitch it to a sports network, the speed channel or odd indie channel on cable like FX. Or go wild and produce it on the BBC America channel. (and take off those neutered versions of the show that are running there now) That might be it’s best chance of succeeding. Get some large (non-car) sponsors of the show and see what happens. 

Regardless of who ends up producing and funding TopGear USA I hope it lives and I still look forward to seeing the final product. (even if it ends up kind of crap)   . . .

Hey can I help? My brother and I plus my fiance make 3 redheads who know negligible things about cars and have great banter. (my Brother and Fiance actually do know something about cars, I am really the goof of the bunch) If nothing else these pics prove we are real people.

Ok, I know that is a crap idea, but I had to try…

We’d be the super low budget version.

Here’s a camcorder duct taped to your window, good luck, don’t break it. 

Seriously, it would be funny… Ok I’ll forget about it…

We Can Save Washington Mutual and other Banks by Overpaying our Mortgages

Washington Mutual Home Loans Logo - My Mortgage Company

Washington Mutual Home Loans Logo - My Mortgage Company

I think we, the mortgage holders and general citizens might be able to help in the credit crunch going on right now in the news. I am hearing so much about the Lehman bankruptcy and the AIG de-valuing today. Certain sectors of the economy are in shambles due to over leveraging and greed on the part of the top level executives in these banks and financial institutions and we really don’t know how deep this will go.

As much as I hate their greedy asses for getting us into this mess, (just to get another bonus to buy another yacht) I think you and I may be able to help so things don’t get worse. I think that if everyone that has a Washington Mutual (WAMU) Mortgage (like me) pays extra principle over the minimum ammount every month the cash on hand will rise above expectations and help keep the company running. I am currently paying $150.00 over my minimum now and my brother pays $250.00 over his minimum payment also.

The thing is it benefits you too! If you pay extra on your mortgage now it cuts payments off at the end of the mortgage and that saves you the interest that you would be paying on those payments. So, in my book this is a win-win situation. And don’t give me that line about mortgage interest tax deductions, that is only 25% back in credits on your money. It’s not like you get all of it back from tax deductions. Its still better to not pay the interest all together and save 100%. Duh.

You may be “saving” that money for when “financial armageddon” happens but really… those of us savers have been saving for years and have plenty of “cash on hand” now. We should pony up and get these mortgages paid down. It seems like the responsible and needed thing to do. Plus it gets a better return than a new handbag.

If 1,000 people pay $100.00 extra on their mortgage that is an extra $100,000.00 a month and an extra $1.2 Million a year for WAMU to keep afloat. If 5,000 people pay $150.00 extra on their WAMU mortgage that is $750,000.00 extra cash per month and $9 Million more per year. And 10,000 people paying an extra $200 a month is $24 Million a year. (which should do some good)  This may be small potatoes for a banking snob but it all adds up and is scalable since WAMU must have thousands upon thousands of mortgages out there.

Anyway, take it for what its worth and see if you feel like making a contribution to the capital that banks and mortgage institutions have on hand in this economy.

Now I do need to add a few disclaimers to this idea:

1. If you are having trouble making ends meet, this post or idea is not for you. Keep paying the minimum each month and move on to cash saving strategies pronto.

2. It is no one’s individual responsibility to do this especially if the job market is not good and they say to have a year in cash living costs on hand if you loose your job. Make sure you have that reserve first to protect yourself. 

3. We don’t owe those rich asses anything extra beyond minimum payments, but it might help the general economy and us all in the long run. And if you know one of those greedy financial execs, egg their car or something. Make it personal.

 

Update; um, this didn’t work. WAMU got bought, eaten and taken over by Chase bank. Poo.

Updates abound…

A recap of some random things floating around in my head this morning:

1. The Golden Globes were anti-climactic without a big star studded event surrounding the awards. I actually don’t think anyone cares who the best actors or movies were this year when they can’t see those people live on TV at that moment. I don’t think anyone thinks any of these winners are any better this year because they didn’t see the people behind it or the big showy spectacle. I suppose it questions the validity of these kind of award shows. Do people care at all who wins? Is it indicative of better quality entertainment? Is it just a publicity blitz for the entertainment business in general?

2. The Christmas decorations are much harder to put away than they are to put up. And more exhausting.

3. Sinus infections suck. I woke up with what I thought was the beginning of one, but hopefully allergy meds have solved this. I feel better now.

4. The reviews about the movie The Kingdom were wrong. It is a very good movie in the sense that it examines alot of information about a problem and lets you make up your mind about what to do about it. I prefer that to just a canned solution that they impose on us, especially since no one has found the solution anyway. 

5. I am swamped at work again. So please don’t expect a lot of posts here in the next few weeks. It’s going to be busy so I probably won’t be able to post.

6. New trends in Internet marketing continue to emerge on blogs and a lot of newsletters I have gotten in the past few weeks. They are right in that people are more fragmented than ever, but I don’t think we know enough about the people we want to target to really make use of all this technology yet. Few marketers I have ever met really know who they are looking for (and all their demographic info) to sell their products to. Just buying a bunch of media with a broad audience and guessing isn’t very smart. ROI will jump with better information from product and consumer research on existing customers and analysis for trends among them to target new people. The ROI process has a limit between the cost and conversion data only.

7. Being friends with an ex is harder than it looks. I was moving in that direction ok, but Kev wasn’t. I think he wanted to be able to go back, but alas you never really can. He just said he wants to not talk for a while and I resepect that. I am sorry though that he can’t do just friends because he is a good friend that I hate to loose. I do understand his situation though and hope that in the future has friends that are gals that aren’t going to blur the line as being more and that he is ok with that. 

8. Chicago Sketchfest was great. So many talented performers so little time. Plus you run into a million people you know there!

9. I’m doing ok on my goals for the year so far. Although it’s only been 2 weeks. I haven’t lost much notable weight (only about 2lbs) and saved a ton of money yet, but I haven’t given up or messed up big yet either.

10. My parents will get to meet Steve for the first time this weekend I am both nervous and excited at the same time. I am sure they will all get along, but I still hope it goes well in a slightly nervous way. Things are going really well between us and I hope that it continues. It is good to be comfortable and happy in a relationship and not have to worry about loosing it or something bad happening. It seems like I just trust this more than I usually do. Now we get to add the rest of the family to the mix and see if it holds up.

Six Creative Uses for RSS « eMarketing & New Media Trends

Six Creative Uses for RSS « eMarketing & New Media 

I thought that this was a good article, it outlines that RSS is still not used as much as it should be considering how versatile it is. Sometimes it has to do with a lack of technology knowledge about feeds and other times by the limitations of your reader. I have gotten away from feeds though for a different reason entirely, there is just too much info out there to keep up with, so I gave up trying in mid-2005. I am happier now to just read things as I run across them rather than having to see that all my feeds have been read and subscribing to everything I see that had one interesting post back in 2004. I do think that rss has more to give as far as mashing up content and re-purposing it as well as searching and delivering info also, but we haven’t really seen good user interface WYSIWYG tools for non-programmers yet to really access that potential. I hope in 08 things evolve further and RSS is a big winner.

Holiday Shopping Guide Online

This time of year everyone is looking for the best gifts to give and the best deals. It is hard to pick out stuff from crowded department stores and guess what people will like. There is a new blog I ran across called shoppingaddicted.com that reviews products and has some good suggestions for gifts this christmas. It would also be helpful for keeping up with what is new and hot in consumer electronics and some shopping web sites. It’s just gotten started so there isn’t a ton of information yet, but it looks promising. Check out the blog for more info.