Yearly Archives: 2007

Those numbers could look a little hotter

I had some follow-up lab work done from my previous visit, and here are the results:

  • Total cholesterol: 185 (normal range 140-200, down -11 from 196)
  • Triglycerides: 108 (normal range 35-160, down -8 from 116)
  • HDL (good cholesterol): 37 (min. 40, up +2 from 35)
  • LDL (bad cholesterol): 127 (normal range, 80-130, down -11 from 138, hypertension range 80-100)

The total cholesterol looks better, but the HDL and LDL numbers still aren't quite what they should be. The LDL number was previously out of range for a person in normal health, but since I have hypertension, that number ought to be lower. The HDL number went up but not high enough. So in addition to the aspirin, my doctor is prescribing another medicine. And yes, the exercise regimen will continue (not that I was going to stop.)

I'll go in for another check in another three months.

I should really lighten up

I've gotten as low as 188, but I end up bouncing as high as 192. Average everything out, and it's still a plateau. After three months, my body has gotten used to this notion of daily exercise. It's reach an equilibrium. It likes where it is, and it's still 40 pounds more than I'd like it to be.

I added weight training Thanksgiving weekend — nearly three weeks ago — but I know I won't start noticing a physical change for another few weeks. The last time I did weight training, it took about two months before I even started feeling a bump in my biceps. Perhaps then some of that muscle will burn the fat.

I could probably afford to eat a smaller dinner or smaller portions on the weekend. But for the love of deity, I do not want to drink Slim Fast shakes twice a day. I'm already guzzling that crap for breakfast during the week. It makes me appreciate breakfast tacos on the weekends all that much more. No, I'm not giving that up either.

Zigzagging calories is dangerous for me. That requires a level of attention that I'd rather apply elsewhere.

I've changed the program I'm using on the treadmill. I tried a light jog instead of a brisk walk when the program sped up, but my knees don't like that. I also tried the cycle over the weekend, but it didn't get my heart rate up to where I wanted it. I'm not sure what else I can change with the cardio part of my regimen.

I think maybe it's time to consider actually taking a day off more than once a month. Perhaps — gasp! — once or twice a week. I pushed myself to do the daily thing because I didn't want to give myself any room to slack off. Now that it's part of my routine, I would feel odd giving myself that break. At the same time, brute force can backfire.

Here's a lousy analogy — when I'm on a roll with coding at work, I tend to smoke more. Sure, I could find other ways to step away from my desk than lighting up a cigarette, but there have been many a time where a smoke break afforded me enough distance to find the solution to a problem easily.

It's time I consider an analogous — not literal — smoke break from the daily exercise. Would I really spiral to slackerdom if I gave myself a day off here and there? That's the real test, actually. The routine thing is as much of a crutch as not doing anything at all.

191.6, or the plateau

I finally hit it — the plateau.

A little more than two weeks ago, I hit 191.6, and I couldn't budge from that number. Thanksgiving didn't help matters either, spiking the reading on the scale to around 194. Last week, I thought I nudged the plateau lower by staying at 189.6, but this past weekend, 191.6 reared its head again.

I've added weightlifting on the weekends, and I changed the program I'm using on the treadmill. I'm supposed to be trying out a zig-zagged calorie intake, but I think that's failing for the simple fact I'm not keeping great track of which days I'm taking in more calories than others. In essence, I'm probably eating more.

Now comes the part that requires something of which I don't have much: patience.

Need new pants

I think I can now use the fourth notch on my belt loop. I don't know what that means in terms of a waist size, since I haven't actually measured myself with a tape measure. (Must remember to get one from the Target.) I do know that if I don't use a belt, my pants will fall off my waist. Back in August, my size 38 jeans were feeling a bit too snug. Now on this last day of October, my jeans don't fit but for the opposite reason.

That's progress, right?

Despite the obvious need for a fitting pair of pants, I refuse to get new ones. I bought new jeans back in August — when I thought the old ones shrunk instead of my just getting fatter — and I'm not going to waste them. If I continue to lose weight, I don't want to buy a pair of jeans that fit now, only to find they too fall off my waist a few months later. (A friend of mine suggested shopping at Goodwill.)

No. I need to save my pennies for other things, like software upgrades and the Waterloo Records storewide sale.

Running up that hill

This past week and a half, I've been concerned about hitting a plateau. I've read about the phenomenon where people losing weight hit a wall and can't make the scale budge further down. I'm accustomed to readings which bounce erratically, but from last week Tuesday till this week Tuesday, I registered the exact weight from day to day. It edge slightly up when I overate one evening, but the number was pretty much that same: 197.

I also noticed other changes. After my workouts, I no longer feel dead tired. When I first started out, I got some really good nights' sleep because the workout left me exhausted. My body is accustomed to the physical activity now, so I can actually do things after the workout. When I would check my heart rate during my treadmill session, I noticed the rate was relatively lower. It used to be 3 mph got my heart rate up to 130 bpm and beyond. But recently, I'd be lucky if I broke 120.

Between the plateau concerns and the workout feeling, well, easier, I made some adjustments. I increased the workout from 35 minutes to 40, and I use a program with steeper inclines. Today, I pushed my heart rate to 151, which is on the high end of my target range. I'm hoping these changes will shock my system back into shedding pounds.

When I stepped on the scale this morning, I registered 195.4. I ate a big dinner at a Mexican restaurant tonight, so I'm pretty sure I'll be hovering at 197 for the next few days again.

Still, it's nice to realize the exercise is changing the way my body runs. I'm no longer hungry after workouts, and I'm eating less because my appetite has been curbed.

Maybe next week, approximately two months after I began this regimen, I can say I lost 20 pounds. If I round down, I can say it now.

Maybe it worked after all?

Last week, I dismissed the results of an experiment where I used Slim Fast for a week. Almost immediately after I abandoned the experiment, I registered a three-pound loss, and for the week after, I've stalled at the same weight for a number of days. I wonder, then, if that week on Slim Fast really did work.

The drop is the probably the steepest I've had since I started tracking. My last significant drop was right before my eating and workout schedule went to hell with aGLIFF. This past week, I've been watching my portions again, actually bringing leftovers to work for lunch.

I know weight loss has certain plateaus, and it looks like I'm in the middle of one right now. At the same time, the week on Slim Fast felt like an eternity. The lack of variety in flavor drove me to eat big, unhealthy dinners, and in that way, the shakes-only diet doesn't work.

So for this week's experiment, I'm going to use the shakes for breakfast only, and I'll continue to bring leftovers for lunch. The unintended effect of these experiments, though, is fewer trips to the ATM — I'm spending less on food at the cafeteria.

Money isn’t everything, but a little more would really help …

I learned what my raise would be this year, and if the first deposit with the new adjustment is any indication, it adds another $140/month to the coffers. But that still wouldn't really dent my month-to-month expenses. A profit-sharing check gets distributed next month, and I'm already fantasizing about all the things I'd love to do with it.

Cakewalk announced the release of a new version of SONAR, the software I use to record my demos. I didn't upgrade last year, and the version I have can get unstable. I would like to upgrade, but that would be $229. Just about every piece of software in my studio has an upgrade available: Sound Forge 9, Sibelius 5, Reason 4, Ableton Live 7. SONAR is the linchpin of my studio, so that gets priority. (Honestly, I haven't done much with Sibelius 4.)

I bought my laptop with an 18-month loan, and if I could just make a big enough payment, I can probably shave six months off that term.

I've got some band scores saved on my Amazon Japan wish list, and I would still like to indulge in some purchases from And SXSW? Please may I have a music badge?

But my savings accounts aren't as padded as I'd like, and I'm not putting a dent in the credit card debt.

The easiest solution would be to find a new job that doesn't lowball me by the tune of (redacted.) But I'm convinced there's a recession looming in the distance, and the last time I had that sense of lousy timing … well, it got me where I am today.

Slow and steady wins the race. Wish I were that patient.

Well, that backfired

I tried an experiment this past week — I bought a bunch of Slim Fast shakes and followed the plan on the box. I had a shake for breakfast and lunch with snacks in between and a big dinner at the end of the day. By the end of the week, I had managed to disrupt the downward trend of my weight loss moving average with an uptick.

The program may be effective purely as a concept — low-calorie shakes and snacks to stave off hunger would certainly facilitate a calorie deficit. By psychologically? I was so craving for something with taste that when I went out to dinner on Wednesday to an Indian restaurant, I gorged. And last night, as I was wrapping up the experiment, I indulged in a pizza.

Thing is, I've actually been doing very well with just cutting out ice cream, fast food and packaged food from my eating habits. Getting rid of taste from my eating habits, however, is an even greater invitation to fail. And believe me — those shakes me claim to be "creamy chocolate", but they're pretty nasty.

I have three cans left of the two packages I bought. I'm inclined to pour them down the drain.

Always the skeptic

I stepped on the digital scale this morning, and it read 200.0 pounds. That's a 15 pound difference from my reading on the analog scale from a month ago. Progress? Yes, but not the drastic progress I may have been lead to believe.

When I was researching scales on Ask Metafilter, I ran across a link to the Hacker's Diet, which is an engineering perspective on weight loss. It advocates the conventional wisdom of eating less and exercising more, but rather than speaking from a health or fitness professional viewpoint, it explains things in engineering terms. An old journalism professor of mine said design is information, and the Hacker's Diet is designed to address an audience not easily swayed by the word of athletes. is a web-based implementation of the Hacker's Diet. Rather than just take scale readings at their face value, the Hacker's Diet calculates moving averages and other kinds of metrics to determine the trend of a particular weight loss regimen. To do that, daily weight readings are required.

I started tracking that information a week ago, and I started out at 205.4 lbs. That's a pound less than 10 days ago, when I visited the doctor and got a reading of 206. In the week since starting that tracking, I'm down five pounds. The moving average of my weight loss only indicates a 1.5-pound loss so far, but I'm not skeptical about that.

I'm wondering if my initial reading of 215 lbs. on the analog scale was accurate to begin with. When I compare readings between the digital and analog scales, the former indicates I've gone from 205 to 204 in a week. The latter now says I'm 205, after weeks and weeks of plateauing at 208.

I found it suspicious that the analog scale showed a five-pound loss from 215 to 210 in that first week of exercise. I wonder if perhaps I really started at 210 pounds, and my loss for the month is not 15 but 10 pounds.

Neither number is anything to complain about. Rather I should be happy.

But from here on out, I'm going to rely on the digital scale. It's giving me numbers I prefer anyway.

By the way, if you want to see how well I'm progressing, my profile is public.

Those numbers don’t look too hot

I'm jotting these figures down to rattle off to my mom. The blood work from my most recent doctor's visit came back.

  • Total cholesterol: 196 (max. 200)
  • Triglycerides: 116 (range: 35-160)
  • HDL (good cholesterol): 35 (min. 40)
  • LDL (bad cholesterol): 138 (health max. 130, hypertension range 80-100)
  • Blood sugar: 91 (range: 70-100)

In short, my cholesterol is not in a good way. My doctor now wants me to add over-the-counter baby aspirin (81 mg) to my blood pressure medicine regimen, and in three months, she wants more blood work.

Although my immediate goal with exercising is to bring my weight down below 200 lbs., I now have the more long-term goal of getting those cholesterol numbers changed.