The Wagon – A Slight Slip From It

I have fallen from the wagon this week into a big pile of cow mess.

Dysentery Dystopia

I haven’t done any serious exercising since Monday, and even Monday is debatable.

There’s no good reason. No crushing demands on my time. No excuse for me to cling to. But in the interest of learning something from the experience, I will venture a guess as to what’s happened.

No Plan for this Week

Unlike weeks one and two, I didn’t start this week with a plan. That made it easy for me to cheat, since I didn’t have any specific goals. I had hoped to maintain the momentum from last week and simply stay in good habits, but it seems that’s not specific enough. I need to define clearer goals for the week, and maybe even day by day to ensure that they get done.


After letting one day slip, it was pretty easy to let the next one slip, and so on. Even though I didn’t have specific goals, I did have the overall goals from week one of exercising regularly and eating better. But once I had cheated and gotten away with it with no obvious consequences it was more comfortable to let the next day slide.

Willpower and Accountability

As I mentioned at the outset of this project, one of the reasons for doing this publicly in a blog rather than a private journal or spreadsheet was that I have very little willpower when it comes to things like diet and exercise. I had hoped that by tracking progress in a blog I’d feel accountable to the readers, and therefore I’d be more motivated to stay on track. But this blog is new and I haven’t really announced it anywhere yet, so there haven’t been any readers (that I know of).

So in practice it’s been like keeping a private journal but leaving it unlocked in a cupboard no one opens. Yes, someone could find it and read it, but the odds are pretty low. That means that if I slack off or cheat, I’m still accountable only to myself. That should be enough, but in the end I don’t think it will be.

To Do

So what to do now? It seems like I should start with the following:

  • Get back to 30 – 60 minutes of exercise per day
  • Don’t miss any days
  • Spread the word about this blog to some folks
  • Look to communities and other sites for motivation

Hopefully these corrections made now will be enough to get me back on track.

Stat-Tasticks! July 27th, 2009

Weekly Weigh-Ins

Startling Undulations

Startling Undulations

Over the last two weeks my weight has formed something that looks a bit like a letter “W” written by a dying man.

I can’t really explain the wild dips. It may be that I’m not weighing myself at the same time every day (I’m not), or it may be that sometimes I weigh myself before eating and sometimes after. But you wouldn’t think that these factors would lead to such major differences day to day.

Foolishly I took this photo after today’s weigh in, so Monday the 27th appears on here even though it’s technically in week three. While I’m pleased to see my weight crashing below 170 today, I honestly can’t account for how it got there.

This Week’s Weight:

Monday: 176.6 pounds
Tuesday: 176.1 pounds
Wednesday: 174.4 pounds
Thursday: 173.9 pounds
Friday: 175.3 pounds
Saturday: 176.6 pounds
Sunday: 172.8 pounds

What a puzzling roller coaster.

A more sober assesment

A more sober assesment

Whereas my weight was blown this way and that by the wiggles and gyrations of the scale, BMI is a stolid Yankee reacting to only the greatest shifts in weight with a gentle downward slope. While there’s no accounting Sunday and Monday’s sharp declines, it is heartening to see the line dropping toward normal as rapidly as a stock market crash.

This Week’s BMI:

Monday: 26.76
Tuesday: 26.70
Wednesday: 26.43
Thursday: 26.36
Friday: 26.56
Saturday: 26.76
Sunday: 26.20


This week’s measurements aren’t significantly different from last. It seems that if I’ve lost weight, it’s come off my butt. I’m okay with that, since my butt is extremely efficient at storing fat. My ability to do push ups, crunches, and squats has also improved. With both the crunches and the squats, I wonder if I’m doing them wrong. The number I’m able to do before my form goes to hell seems surprisingly high. My upper body is still too weak to do many push ups or complete a decent chin up. Unfortunately I don’t have a real chin up bar, so I’m using a loft bed which is less than ideal. Maybe that’s contributing to my failure, or maybe that’s just a convenient and ready excuse. Who’s to say?

This Week’s Measurements:

Height: 68″ (=)
Head: 22.5″ (=)
Neck: 15.5″ (=)
Shoulders: 44″ (=)
Chest: 36.5″ (-)
Bicep: 12″ (+)
Elbow: 11″ (+)
Wrist: 7″ (+)
Belly: 35.25″ (-)
Waist: 35.75″ (-)
Butt: 39″ (-)
Thight: 22″ (=)
Knee: 15″ (=)
Calf: 15″ (-)
Body Fat % Measured by Calipers: 22.1% (=)
Resting Heart Rate: 60 (-)
Max Push Ups: 25 (+)
Max Crunches: 110 (+)
Max Squats: 75 (+)
Max Chin Ups: 0 (=)

This Week’s Paunchy Photo!

July 27th 2009 Progress Photo - Slightly less colorful than last week!

July 27th 2009 Progress Photo - Slightly less colorful than last week!

Despite the wild ride my weight has been on these past couple of days, there isn’t much in the way of visible progress. I still have the pregnancy bump and need of training bra. When I was gaining weight I became bulbous so gradually that I didn’t notice anything was changing. It makes sense that the rate of change will be similar when losing weight. I probably need to lose a fair amount of fat before anything starts to visibly change. Still, it would have been nice if a couple of hours of waggle had translated into a completely transformed sack of me.

Wii Fit Age

If you’ve ever done one of Wii Fit’s body tests, you know that at the end of the test you are given a Wii Fit Age. The lower the age, the better. If this number was used to track your weight and activity level to form an index of your overall health, it could be very useful. Instead what it does is take your weight and your ability to stand perfectly still, and then adds to that two arbitrary tasks involving shifting your weight or standing perfectly still again.

Theoretically it’s measuring your posture, and this somehow relates to health. Practically, it’s not very useful. Nevertheless I’ve been tracking it. As you can see it is a capricious beast. But the overall trend is downward, which is apparently a good thing.

Numbers with something and nothing to do with overall health

Numbers with something and nothing to do with overall health.

Week Two Recap

The second week has been punched in the mouth and is now lying whimpering and bruised across the curb. Let’s talk about how it went.

Sekrit Plan - Week 2

Fitness Benchmarks

As I mentioned at the beginning of the week, I was going to add some real world fitness benchmarks to the moon numbers that Wii Fit and Wii Sports hand out in the form of “ages”. This appears to be a success. I’ve seen improvement in push ups, crunches, and squats. Hopefully week over week I’ll become stronger in each of these areas.

I’ve also found that my resting heart rate seems to be a bit lower overall (by 3 bpm). This could be due to normal fluctuation, so I’ll be keeping an eye on it next week as well. Ideally it will trend downward.

Body fat percentage by calipers is the same. I really don’t know if I’m doing it right or not. But I haven’t seen major changes on the scale either, so I guess I’ll just have to keep at it and hope that I see some change as the weeks go by.

Wii Fit

I did succeed in doing 15 – 45 minutes of Wii Fit each day. I also tracked my heart rate on most days to get a sense of which activities were providing the most aerobic exercise. The activities I found most strenuous were:

  • Push Ups & Side Plank
  • Lunges
  • Plank
  • Island Run – Long

I wasn’t able to do the jackknife properly, so I didn’t list it on here. It is quite strenuous, but since I can’t do it right I don’t think I’d get much benefit from it.

EA Sports Active

I only played EA Sports Active for a short time. I had hoped to play more, but didn’t get to it. I found it more difficult than I would have expected to just jump into an activity. You need to create a workout playlist to do so, and the interface isn’t super intuitive. I would have preferred it if there was a menu like Wii Fit that let you just jump in and out of activities, even if it didn’t have the same level of tracking. I will probably come back to the 30 Day Challenge at some point since it includes pre-defined workouts.

Punch Out

Punch Out with motion control is fun to play. Though it can be frustrating going from the NES style to motion control + balance board. You sacrifice some precision for a more visceral experience and a decent level of activity. I only played one day this week, but this is a game that I could see rotating in once and a while for an alternative to Wii Fit and Wii Sports boxing activities.

Day Twelve: Recap – Injured by Wii Fit?

While playing Wii Fit today, I noticed that during some of the activities I was getting a strange tingling sensation in my right forearm. At first I just dismissed it as fleas or some creeping fungus, but then while playing Rhythm Boxing it switched for a tingle to something that felt like a line of hot liquid pressed against my forearm.

This turned out more gruesome than I intended. I only meant to illustrate where I was getting the weird sensation.

This turned out more gruesome than I intended. I only meant to illustrate where I was getting the weird sensation.

I’m not sure if there’s a better way to describe the “hot liquid” phenomenon. It wasn’t pain. It didn’t hurt at all. It just felt like intense heat moving from my wrist down toward my elbow. I found that it was quite severe if I snapped my arm while throwing a punch, but barely noticable if I kept my movements small and controlled.

I can only guess that with the flailing of my arms that’s been going on this week I may have irritated some nerve or bundle of nerves. It’s probably my own fault for my wild out-control-waggles that I’ve been doing to try and make the activities a bit more intense.

My guess is that this minor inconvenience will pass on its own, but just to be on the safe side I think that tomorrow I’ll focus on activities that don’t involve so much snapping and flailing. It’s a shame, because that’s what I do best.

Nutrition Facts:

Total Calories: 1907.5
Calories from Fat: 459
Fat: 50.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 222.55 grams
Fiber 19.95 grams
Protein: 134 grams

Exercise Level (moderate):

Walking    1.8 miles    Easy
Wii Sports – Returning Balls    ?    Easy
Wii Sports – Home Runs    ?    Easy
Wii Sports – Putting    ?    Easy
Wii Sports Fitness    6 minutes (Age 49)    Easy
Wii Sports Tennis    12 minutes (7 games – 7 wins)    Easy
Wii Fit – Push Up & Side Plank (10 reps)    100 points    Moderate
Wii Fit – Push Up & Side Plank (6 reps)    100 points    Difficult
Wii Fit – Single Leg Extension (6 reps)    65 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Single Leg Extension (6 reps)    67 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Torso Twists (6 reps)    89 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Torso Twists (6 reps)    0 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Plank (30 seconds)    42 points    Difficult
Wii Fit – Plank (30 seconds)    15 points    Difficult
Wii Fit – Lunge (15 reps)    100 points    Difficult
Wii Fit – Rhythm Boxing (3 minutes)    321 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Super Hula Hoop (3 minutes)    813 points    Moderate
Wii Fit – Snowboard Slalom (beginner)    1:16.41    Easy
Wii Fit – Snowboard Slalom (beginner)    1:15.25    Easy
Wii Fit – Snowboard Slalom (beginner)    1:07.9    Easy
Wii Fit – Chair Pose    82 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Sun Salutation    78 points    Moderate
Wii Fit – Tree Pose    69 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Warrior Pose    98 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Deep Breathing    86 points    Easy
Wii Fit Total    42 minutes    Moderate

Foods Devoured:

Chicken Super Burrito
Tortilla Chips
Diet Coke
Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte
Chicken Breast
Ciabatta Bread

Today higher repetitions for some of the Wii Fit activities were unlocked. The push ups & side plank as well as the lunges kicked my ass at the higer reps. I also tried the plank, which seems simple enough. But I was shaking the whole time and sure I wasn’t going to be able to hold it the full 30 seconds. In the end I was able to hold it, so I was just being a wuss.

During the plank I found myself putting all my weight on the part of my arm near the elbow, which was just off the edge of the balance board. This caused the board to dig into my arm, which was pretty painful. I may be doing it wrong. I think the weight was meant to be evenly distributed through my forearms. I just didn’t have the strength or control to do it like that. Maybe this pinching is partly responsible for the mystery liquid feeling later on.

Today would have been pretty great on the food front if it hadn’t been for that super burrito. I found myself feeling extremely hungry and craving something very substantial, and the burrito fit the bill. Since the place it came from doesn’t post nutrition facts, there’s no good way of getting data for the thing. So I went online and found a bunch of chicken super burritos, and just picked one that seemed in the ballpark for the nutrition info.

I’ve found that one nice thing about fast food and packaged food, at least as it relates to this project, is the clear labeling either on the product or online. With home cooked stuff you need to keep track of how much of each ingredient is used, and when you’re eating out at a place that is not a chain, you have to guesstimate.

Oh well, so much for precision. The burrito certainly felt like it could be over a thousand calories. It was heavier than some cats and twice as delicious.

May this burrito cleanse your palette and whet your whistle.

May this burrito cleanse your palette and whet your whistle.

Day Eleven: Recap – The Case of the Space Case from Outer Space

Today’s recap is brought to you by: OUTER SPACE!

If you head toward the first star to the left and straight on 'til morning, you'll run into that damn giant space baby.

If you head toward the first star to the left and straight on 'til morning, you'll run into that damn giant space baby.

I’ve been feeling weird today. Spacey. I’ve had trouble remembering things. What I’m doing, passwords, names, etc. It’s not uncommon for me to walk into a room and have no idea what I came in for. But today it’s been like that across just about everything. I’ve also had trouble concentrating. If my brain were a record album, it seems to be jumping between grooves every few minutes. How’s that for a dated reference!

Aside from being a total space case, I fell great. I still have a bit of soreness in my thighs and upper body, but I’ve got plenty of energy.

I don’t really know to what I should attribute the mental wandering. I know some people can get spacey or irritable when their blood sugar gets low. Maybe that’s what’s going on. I’m used to running on a high calorie diet of fat and sugar with no real physical activity. Now that we’re a few days in to adjusting that pattern, maybe my brain is freaking out a little.

Obviously I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. Otherwise I wouldn’t describe a neurological response as “freaking out”. But I would assume that our bodies get into a routine and build an equilibrium around that, and when the routine is disrupted things can get a little dodgy.

At the moment I’m not super concerned about this development. But if you find me on the side of the freeway wearing every article of clothing I own and muttering about balance boards, maybe you should give me a cookie.

Nutrition Facts:

Total Calories: 1156.5
Calories from Fat: 313.17
Fat: 34.85 grams
Carbohydrates: 121.03 grams
Fiber: 13.7 grams
Protein: 95.05 grams

Exercise Level (Moderate):

Walking    2.8 Miles    Easy
Walking    1.0 Miles    Easy
Wii Sports – Bowling Test    X
Wii Sports – Putting Test    X
Wii Sports – Heavy Bag Test    X
Wii Sports – Test    6 minutes (Age: 27)    Easy
Wii Sports – Baseball    15 minutes (7-9: Loss)    Easy
Wii Fit – Basic Run (Long)    68%    Moderate
Wii Fit – Super Hula Hoop    791 points    Moderate
Wii Fit – Basic Step    203 points    Moderate
Wii Fit – Basic Run (Long)    73%    Moderate
Wii Fit – Sideways Leg Lift (10)    62 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Sideways Leg Lift (10)    58 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Single Leg Twist (10)    63 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Single Leg Twist (10)    77 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Rowing Squat (15)    100 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Rowing Squat (15)    100 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Lunge (10)    100 points    Moderate
Wii Fit – Torso Twists (3)    79 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Push Ups & Side Plank (6)    100 points    Moderate
Wii Fit – Single Leg Extension (6)    28 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Single Leg Extension (6)    66 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Deep Breathing    90 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Standing Knee    81 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Palm Tree    66 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Sun Salutation    90 points    Moderate
Wii Fit – Warrior Pose    97 points    Easy
Wii Fit – Balance Bubble    1:21.55    Easy
Wii Fit – Total Time    40 minutes    Moderate
EA Sports Active – Batting    2 minutes    Easy
EA Sports Active – Back Court    2 minutes    Easy
EA Sports Active – Bump & Set    2 minutes    Easy
EA Sports Active – Passing    2 minutes    Easy

Foods Devoured:

Raw Almonds
Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte
Ciabatta Bread
Balsamic Vinegar
Chicken Breast
Ciabatta Bread
Trader Joe’s Almond Butter
Fuji Apple

I got a late start to the day today, which explains the relatively low calorie count. The quality of food today is a bit better than it has been this week. The chicken breast was fresh, not frozen. Not locally grown, but what can you do. The Ciabatta bread only had about five ingredients, all pronouncable. The sauce was from scratch. And the almond butter was made out of only almonds, and the apple was made out of just apple.

This is the first day where I’d say that the bulk of my food wasn’t something processed. While I wouldn’t call it nutritionally perfect, I’d say it’s a step in the right direction. I had my usual coffee craving, but I haven’t had the urge for chocolate. Until just now when I typed it. Damn.

Day Ten: Recap – Mamma Said Punch You Out

The Pope, a Rabbi, and an otter walk into a bar. The Pope says to the Otter, “I know a man with a wooden leg named smith.” The bartender says, “Get out of my bar.”

Punch Out

I woke up today feeling sore in my neck, shoulders, and thighs. I guess the fitness test and yesterdays, albeit light, workout are catching up to me. It just goes to show how out of shape I actually am. The soreness wasn’t bad enough to interfere with today’s workout, but it did cause me to dread it a little.

After completing the Wii Sports and Wii Fit activities I popped in Punch Out, switched it over to motion control, and activated it with the balance board.

The punching takes a little getting used to. Just punching will always throw a low punch. You need to hold up on the directional stick to punch high. Since I had just played Wii Sports boxing where you can change the angle of your punch by changing the angle of the remote and nunchuk, I was a bit disoriented at first. Glass Joe got some good hits in and almost knocked me out. Glass Joe!

Once I was acclimated to the punching though, Joe was a piece of cake. So was Von Kaiser. Where it got dicey was Disco Kid.

When you’re playing with the balance board you dodge punches by leaning left or right. The problem is, the balance board isn’t very sensitive when it comes to detecting your lean. I understand that the designers wouldn’t want players accidentally triggering a dodge, since that could be very frustrating. But you really need to shift a lot to trigger the dodge animation.

If you’ve played Punch Out you’ll know that Disco Kid is essentially a dodging tutorial. He’s the first opponent where the direction of your dodge matters. If you dodge the wrong way, his strong punch will connect. The delay between me throwing my weight to the side and the character animating was a problem. But a bigger problem was that Mac would often dodge the wrong way. I was very confused, until I realized that I was pushing off with my other foot in order to push myself in the direction I wanted to dodge. This meant that just before I leaned to the right, I’d press down with my left foot – or vice versa.

I’m not blaming the game for this. It’s just the way my body was compensating for the speed and magnitude of the shift necessary to make Little Mac respond. But it would have been very helpful if the game had a sensitivity slider that let you fine tune how much of a weight shift was necessary to dodge. It also would have made the balance board more responsive to my feelings, and after the game we could have read The Bridges of Madison County together.

I eventually beat the Disco Kid by removing the off foot from the board when it was time to dodge. For example, if I needed to dodge right, I’d pick up my left foot which put all my weight on the right. This worked, but created some unnecessary complication and dissonance between the control scheme and the animation.

On to King Hippo! I figured King Hippo would be pretty easy compared to the other three. His pattern is simple, his punches are slow and easy to dodge, and you only have to knock him down once. As I expected, the fight went really well until he got down below half-health and started doing his ear boxing punch.

I knew I needed to duck, but I couldn’t figure out how. The controller help said to hold down on the analog stick, but that definitely wasn’t working. I tried the d-pad, holding Z & B, no good.

Then I ducked. And then Little Mac ducked. And all was well.

Unlike dodging, I found the ducking to be super responsive and actually fun to use. After figuring it out I started ducking all of Hippo’s punches, and he was knocked out most soundly.

So how is Punch Out as a workout? It’s not as vigorous as Wii Sports boxing. There isn’t so much constant bobbing and weaving. The punches are timed around the opponents attack patterns, so you’re swinging less frequently. But despite that, I did find myself working up a bit of a sweat before the King Hippo match was over.

The balance board was a mixed bag. Dodging, a really central part of the game, disappointed. It was unresponsive and worse, sometimes backwards. But the ducking felt great. When playing Punch Out for a workout rather than as a game, I would recommend the balance board for the extra activity and immersion. Just expect some frustration with it and stick to opponent’s whose patterns you’ve already learned.

I first played through the game with the NES control scheme. But now I feel like it could be fun to play with the motion control, sans balance board. It is somehow more satisfying to pummel with your fists rather than by tapping buttons. As with the balance board, I feel like imprecision with the motion control could become a problem with the hardest opponents where split seconds count. But if you’ve mastered the game it would breathe a fresh challenge into it.

Nutrition Facts:

Total Calories: 1387
Calories from Fat: 399
Fat: 48.9
Carbohydrates: 182.9
Fiber: 20
Protein: 84

Exercise Level (moderate):

Wii Sports Test
Wii Sports – Boxing
Wii Fit – Basic Run (short)
Wii Fit – Sun Salutation
Wii Fit – Tree Pose
Wii Fit – Half Moon
Wii Fit – Warrior
Wii Fit – Single Leg Twist (10)
Wii Fit – Rowing Squats (15)
Wii Fit – Lunge (10)
Wii Fit – Torso Twists (3)
Wii Fit – Pushups & Side Plank (6)
Wii Fit – Hula Hoop
Wii Fit – Hula Hoop
Wii Fit – Basic Step
Wii Fit – Super Hula Hoop
Wii Fit – Soccer Heading
Wii Fit – Total Time: 30 minutes (moderate)
Punch Out with Balance Board

Foods Devoured:

Trader Joe’s Chicken Tikka Masala w/ Cumin Flavored Basmati Rice
Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte
Soy Milk
High Fiber Joe’s O’s
Chicken Breast
Emmentaler Swiss Cheese
Trader Joe’s 50/50 mix
Vanilla Yogurt with Chocolate Chunks

Overall I’m pleased with today’s food choices. I’ve taken in less calories than I was eating each day last week. A lot less. And yet, I haven’t felt hungry or deprived. My meals have been small, but scattered throughout the day. While a lot of the foods were still packaged convenience foods rather than real fresh foods, they were less offensive than some of the fast food I had been grabbing before.

The yogurt and chocolate snuck on there again. As long as they were sitting there in the cupboard and fridge, they were taunting me. They needed to be dealt with once and for all. I will avoid the urge to bring more chocolate into the house, which should curb my tendency to combine it with everything.

Day Nine: Recap – Making a Splash

Today marked a wholehearted embrace of water. I had been estranged from this noble liquid for too long. But today I experienced its intoxicating brand of hydration no fewer than 12 times!

Splish Splash

The downside of all the water is the need to pee frequently. I’m used to my body giving me a gentle nudge to go pee, but after swilling down cup after cup that nudge has become a knife to the ribs. It would be kind of embarassing to pee all over myself like a common Sim, so I’ve been obeying my body’s commands… for now.

By early afternoon my pee had become completely transparent. It is possible that all the water I drank has washed out my insides, and now I am just an enormous scraggly water balloon. While I appreciate the idea of a bladder as clean and barren as a robot spinster’s womb, I do miss theoretical possibility of writing my name in the snow with yellow flourish. I’ve never actually done that, but I’ve always had the capacity if I so chose. Now, that fundamental right has been taken from me and the world is a little smaller for it.

But enough of that. You didn’t come here for the mournful wail of a mournful whale. No, you came for hot statistical action, and you will not leave this place unsatisfied.

Nutrtion Facts:

Total Calories: 1442.5
Calories from Fat: 595
Fat: 68.25 grams
Carbohydrates: 164.5 grams
Fiber: 8 grams
Protein: 107.5 grams

Exercise Level (Moderate):

Walking 1 mile (easy)
Wii Sports Test (easy) [Fitness Age - 51(!)]
Wii Sports Tennis – 12 minutes (moderate)
Wii Fit – 30 minutes (moderate)

Foods Devoured:

Turkey Burger
Italian Bread
Vanilla Yogurt with Chocolate Chunks
Breaded Chicken Tenderloin
Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte
Trader Joe’s Chicken Tikka Masala w/ Cumin Flavored Basmati Rice
Bittersweet Chocolate
Breaded Chicken Tenderloin
Trader Joe’s 50/50 mix
Emmentaler Swiss Cheese

Today was not a dining fiasco. It consisted of a lot of convenience food from Trader Joe’s – the Turkey Burger, Breaded Chicken Tenderloin, and Chicken Tikka Masala are all designed to be microwave friendly. But the net result was a low number of calories overall and lots and lots of water. Combined with some physical activity I think today was overall pretty succesful.

Image Attribution:
Picture / License

Day Eight: Recap – Vice

I may as well confess, I’ve got a problem.

The weird mermaid space lady is using her mentalist powers on me

The weird mermaid space lady is using her mentalist powers on me!

Starbucks, I can’t quit you.

I don’t particularly love coffee, in fact I don’t really like the taste at all. As strained bean runoff goes, it’s alright I guess. But for the most part I find the first few sips okay to pleasurable, the middle tolerable, and the bottom of the cup harsh and unsavory. Time for a warm up!

The smell though – the smell is terrific. I suppose there’s some sense memory at work there. When I was growing up Dunkin’ Donuts coffee was ubiquitous. My grandmother would always get two cups, one to drink now and one to heat up later in the microwave. The microwave was like a super atomizer for the coffee fragrance, and it would hang in the air for several minutes.

On winter mornings I’d clutch the paper coffee cups to warm up my hands. I was never interested in drinking it, just holding it and smelling it.

When I was in high school Dunks started offering vanilla and hazelnut coffee. The taste was nothing like vanilla or hazelnut. It was chemical like floor cleaner. Mixed with three packets or more of sugar, it made the coffee taste like a nutty jolly rancher. With enough cream added, it could be mistaken for nutty jolly rancher ice cream. This was when my problem started.

I wasn’t wild about coffee, but I was cuckoo for candy. I also found that I responded quickly and aggressively to the effects of caffeine, and that I enjoyed them. On a stinging slushy winter morning following two or three hours of sleep, a hot cup of liquid candy that would shock my body awake was exactly what I craved.

It was also a ticket into the coffee club. Taking orders for family and friends for Dunkin’s runs, going out to grab a coffee, being able to complain that I hadn’t had my daily coffee yet, it was all part of a social experience I’d never been apart of. Since I could never get the hang of smoking, this was the next best thing.

Over the years I’ve come to appreciate different varieties of coffee, and to drink it with less and less adornment. Now I can drink good coffee black, and understand that it is good. But that doesn’t mean I like it.

Coffee isn’t a thing that I seek out because I enjoy its company. Rather it is something I need to have because its absence is keenly felt, and without it the day is slushy and stings.

Nutrition Facts:

Total Calories: 1297.5
Calories from Fat: 376
Fat: 28.2 grams
Carbohydrates: 158.95 grams
Fiber: 10.35 grams
Protein: 49.25 grams

Exercise Level (Low):

Walking 1 mile
Fitness Test 15 minutes

Foods Devoured:

Italian Bread
Balsamic Vinegar
Italian Bread
Turkey Burger
Roast Potatoes
Turkey Meatball
Grande Skinny Vanilla Latte

Week Two: The Plan

Now that we’re into the second week, we should set up some sort of framework for the next seven days? Right? Come on, whose with me? Baahhh, to hell with you Stanley. On with the planning!

Sekrit Plan - Week 2

Fitness Benchmarks

Wii Sports and Wii Fit both assign you an “age” that is meant to represent your overall health, lower being better. Unfortunately, they’re both pretty useless as a fitness index. Wii Sports is really just measuring how good you are at specific mini games, and Wii Fit is just an assesment of your balance. Both may have some relationship to fitness, but it’s a pretty tenuous one.

For that reason, I’ve added fitness benchmarks to my weekly measurement tracking. These are pretty straightforward. I’ll see how many push ups, crunches, squats, and chin ups I can do before reaching a failure point. Presumably as strength improves and weight from fat drops these numbers should go up. Maybe not substantially, but there should be an upward trend over time.

To get a snapshot of cardio fitness I’ll be tracking resting heart rate. If I understand heart rate correctly, this should go down as fitness improves.

I’ll also be using calipers to measure body fat percentage, along with various other measurements around my body. Some measurements should go down, like belly fat, others should go up or stay the same.

Wii Sports

Each day I’ll be doing the Wii Sports Fitness test which chooses three activities from the Wii Sports mini games. I’ll also play 12 – 15 minutes of one of the more vigorous games – Tennis, Boxing, or Baseball.

Wii Fit

Each day I’ll continue doing the Wii Fit body test and recording the results. In addition I’ll be doing 15 – 45 minutes of exercise using various Wii Fit activities.

EA Sports Active

I will occasionally add EA Sports Active exercises into the mix to get a feel for which ones I enjoy and find effective. I will not be kicking off a structured 30 day challenge just yet. I may in the coming weeks, but I would like to avoid setting up a regimented plan centered around this software at the moment

Punch Out

I will also occasionaly add Punch Out with motion controls and the balance board to the mix. So far I have been playing Punch Out with the traditional NES style control, so it will be interesting to see if playing with motion control is still fun, and if it provides any kind of workout.

Stat-Tasticks! July 20th, 2009

Bang Bang! Two shots rang out as the butler scrambled over the upturned end tables toward the maid’s cupboard. Her corset torn on the nail of the false crucifix, a crimson trickle of blood wended its way between her alabaster bosoms, braving the dark crevasse. “Calgon, take me away!” She cried into the night. Before Humphrey could stop her, she had crashed through the third story window, toppling ass over teacup into the smoldering haystack below and the waiting arms of her lover, Calgon of Macedonia.

Calgon clutched her tiny face between his thick square man-paws that reeked of cube steak, manure, and the forbidden passions promised by Aqua Velva. “Did you get them, my love?”

“Here,” She said. “It cost me my fortune, my virtue, and my leg. But by god Calgon, I’ve got them!”

Calgon’s chest hair began to grow.

“Show them to me. At once!” He snatched the stained rumpled parchment from Ragina’s trembling paraffin spackled hand. “Dear God,” he said. “It’s worse than we thought…”

It looks a bit like the Big Dipper's bent cousin, Larry Dipper.

It looks a bit like the Big Dipper's bent cousin, Larry Dipper.

One week down! Looking at my weight fluctuation over the last seven days there is a strange dip on the second day followed by a steady increase over the rest of the week, leveling off around the weekend. I don’t know what could have caused the dip. It may be that that I was weighing myself at different times on different days, and sometimes it would occur before or after one of the life processes had taken places. You know the ones I’m talking about. Food goes in, food comes out. You get my drift.

I am talking about poop.

This Week’s Weight:

Monday: 177.7 pounds
Tuesday: 173.9 pounds
Wednesday: 174.4 pounds
Thursday: 175.9 pounds
Friday: 176.6 pounds
Saturday: 177.5 pounds
Sunday: 176.6 pounds

This is the Big Dipper's lazy Aunt Layabout Linda Dipper

This is the Big Dipper's lazy Aunt Layabout Linda Dipper

BMI tells a less dramatic tale. Instead of the emotional rollercoaster of the weight chart, here we see a gentle dip rather than an abrupt crash. If only the economy could have been measured in BMI rather than Dow Jones. Who knows, perhaps it can?

This Week’s BMI:

Monday: 26.93
Tuesday: 26.36
Wednesday: 26.43
Thursday: 26.66
Friday: 26.76
Saturday: 26.77
Sunday: 26.76

Why didn't you tell me this earlier?

Why didn't you tell me this earlier?

You may recall that jumped through a few hoops to calculate a goal weight using infallible data from such reputable sources as insurance companies, the military, and dubious no-name websites. It turns out that all this time the Wii balance board has been keeping something from me. She had an ideal weight in mind the whole time! It’s a bit like melting Wicked Witch of the West and finding out you could have gone back to Kansas any time you wanted to. In fact, it is that. It is that very thing.

You may recall that the target weight I came up with was 149.58. Now here’s the Wii telling me I should actually be shooting for 145.1. Well, that’s a fine how do you do. I plan to stick with my initial goal for this project. I think the Wii’s suggestion may be overly ambitious for 90 days.

As much as I resent Wii Fit’s cagey passive aggressive way of doling out the information, I do appreciate having it. It is a useful data point, and a goal to consider when the 90 days is all wrapped up.

That is kind of a lot. Could we maybe do it with less?

That is kind of a lot. Could we maybe do it with less? No? Crumbs.

Another little smackerel of information that would have been nice to have earlier. This doesn’t really change anything, but it is handy to have some unit of conversion between weight and BMI. Unfortunate that my conversion factor should be so similar to the sign of the beast, but you takes what you can gets.


To my surprise, some of my measurements shifted this week by a quarter inch to a full inch. I wasn’t expecting to see a change, since my overall weight is pretty much the same as it was at the beginning of the week. The only thing I can attribute it to is the whims of fluids inside my body under the thrall of moon’s terrible gravity. Or, it may just be that I’m measuring at a slightly different time of day, or a slightly different spot than I did last time. If a measurement didn’t match up I retook at a few times. These are the results, accurate to my capacity for precision :

Height: 68″ (=)
Head: 22.5″ (=)
Neck: 15.5″ (+)
Shoulders: 44″ (+)
Chest: 37″ (=)
Bicep: 11.75″ (-)
Elbow: 10.75″ (+)
Wrist: 6.75″ (-)
Belly: 35.5″ (-)
Waist: 36.5″ (+)
Butt: 39.5″ (-)
Thight: 22″ (=)
Knee: 15″ (=)
Calf: 15.25″ (-)

New Stat-Tasticks!

I’m going to be throwing in a few additional stats at no extra charge!

Body Fat % Measured by Calipers

First off is body fat measured with calipers as opposed to the scale. Some sites claim this is more accurate than the bioelectric impedance scale. I’m not sure my results will be much better since the calipers require some degree of judgment to pick the right spot to measure. As I’m not trained to use them, I’m not sure if I’m getting the correct measurement. But, the result that they came up with is pretty similar to what I’ve been getting from the scale, so I’m going to assume that they’re in the ball park.

Body Fat % Measured by Calipers: 22.1%

Resting Heart Rate

Resting heart rate is useful for finding your target heart rate – the rate you want to get your heart up to during aerobic exercise to give it a good workout without overdoing it. It’s also something of an indicator of fitness. People who are more fit typically have a lower resting heart rate. I really don’t know if this will change much over the course of the project, but I figured it was a useful data point so I’d include it in the weekly tracker.

Resting Heart Rate: 63 beats per minute

Fitness Benchmarks

These fitness benchmarks are a few common exercises repeated until I’m no longer able to do them with proper form, or doing so becomes not just strenuous, but painful. Theoretically as I lose fat and hopefully replace it with some muscle these numbers will improve. I was actually surprised by how many crunches and squats I was able to do. It seems I have more lower body and core strength than upper body. Not surprising since I actually do walk a fair amount, but hardly ever do any lifting or carrying of heavy stuff.

Max Push Ups: 16
Max Crunches: 90
Max Squats: 60
Max Chin Ups: 0

This Week’s Doughy Photo!

July 20th 2009 Progress - or lack thereof - This is an outfit a retired Spiderman may wear in Boca

July 20th 2009 Progress - or lack thereof - This is an outfit a retired Spiderman may wear in Boca

In defiance of normal pregnancy procedure the food fetus has gotten no larger over the past week. It must have settled into a comfortable size and shape. It hasn’t been kicking as much either. These swim trunks were discarded by a citizen of taste sometime around 2001 and scavenged with the thought that one day they would prove useful. Well my friends, that day has arrived.