Monday, August 31

The last weight loss update!

Ok, that's sort of a trick. Starting tomorrow, I'll be calling them 'Live healthy' ;-)

You see, today is September eve. Good bye, August. You weren't too bad. I worked pretty hard at living healthy and I saw some benefits. Today's the day to evaluate and reload for September, including a new 'Live healthy' contract. Oh, yeah: and I lost a few pounds, too ;-)

Had to be intentional to not put the weight loss first. It's still on the front of my mind. And it's still probably the number one reward I want to reap from living healthy. Little by little...

Some more detail:

1. My first goal was to wake up at 6 everyday, rested and ready to exercise. This was probably the goal I missed on the most. However, it also, ultimately, had the least effect. Its purpose was to facilitate exercise, and I did really well with my exercise. The few days I didn't exercise in the morning I was able to rejigger my schedule to make it up.

This goal will fade for September. It's starting to get a little cooler in the mornings, so I don't have to work out as early to keep from melting. The sun isn't rising until almost 7. And I'm pretty sure I'm not going to be riding my bike on weekday mornings anymore. (I'm going to try my neighbor's recumbent stationary bike as a replacement.) For September I will still plan on exercising before work. By the time we get to winter, in case you're curious, I'll be doing any outside cardio over lunch when it's warmer.

2. My second goal was to exercise 12 times a week and, if you've been following my progress, you know this is the goal I blew out of the water. I probably missed a couple times biking but, overall, I did really well with exercise. Good job myself! What should I do for a reward? ;-)

I'll probably keep this goal essentially the same (granting the cycling switch). In fact, I may even add a Thursday night workout (pushups, situps and squats). I probably either need more reps or less rest between sets on my pushups. You can always do more situps (abs recover faster and I didn't like my average test result). And I might do more squats just for good measure ;-)

In the challenging category here, Elizabeth's dance schedule (4x/week!) is in full swing and Wil is going to try going back to fencing (which is a 2-hour, twice a week trip, home to class to home). Caution to myself: don't fall for all-or-nothing thinking, as you're wont to do; if you can't do 30 minutes, do 10.

3. Weight loss and calorie control was probably my second weakest goal. I wanted to lose at least a pound a week and my average loss was only about a half a pound. I think I gave myself a little too much credit for eating moderately when I was actually picking up a hundred extra calories here and there. And, while I agreed with the 'Weigh Down' approach and thought 'Ok, I can do this', I somehow didn't actually embrace it and do it very much. So, I need to re-commit to these principles: 1. Seek God's help and then listen to my body ('Weigh Down'). 2. Count the calories as a record and for added accountability.

4. As hard as I worked on it, motivation was still my weakest aspect of living healthy, I thought. If you suffered through all of my posts, you're probably thinking 'Then why did he subject us to this!' ;-)

Here's what I mean: my motivation and mindset did not carry me through calorie control and weight loss and sometimes left me feeling disappointed about my efforts and prospects. This component is going to become my first priority for September.

For all of the good and great ideas I had in my motivation and method category a month ago, I just did not revisit them enough or keep them in mind enough. I defaulted to my unconscious impulses a lot. They are so much stronger than my conscious intentions. I will do a lot more mindset work in September (but mostly in private, so don't worry ;-)

Of course, they are going to be some disappointed, not fun or boring days. That's a given. I'd like to reduce them a little in September.

That's enough assessment for now. Tomorrow you'll get my September Live Healthy contract. Want to join me in making a healthy change in your life?

Until then, enjoy your last day of August! :-)

Sunday, August 30

What is your Facebook friend/hide policy?

Mine is to accept almost anyone I know as a friend.

However, any 'friends' who

1. never comment on my stuff or
2. never reply when I comment on their stuff or
3. have a lot stuff I don't like to read in my news feed

get hidden. (As you can see, the key term in my policy is 'stuff' ;-)

But don't worry. Hidden people can come back off the hidden list with good behavior.

Just put this in a status message, but I wonder how many people have me hidden. Sick of weight loss updates yet?

Things that make you go hmm...

Saturday, August 29

8/29 weight loss thoughts: The boring edition

Weight loss is often boring. I hate boring. Sometimes I don't want to brush my teeth because those two minutes are so boring. I think the boring-ness of weight loss has probably been part of the reason I've failed in the past.

Here's one example of boringness: I have lost .58 pounds a week since August 1st. And this last week I only lost .45 pounds. That is boring.

I know, there are things that can be done to spice up weight loss and, frankly, I probably need to do them.

But, to make it a little more positive, my average loss in the last two weeks has been .97 pounds.

I know, I keep trying to de-emphasize weight loss. And I honestly don't want to focus my happiness on a three digit number. And it could be worse: I could be at 210, or 211.5, my peak this month (after my day off in Charlotte), or even worse. So I should count it as a good month's work, right?

You know, it's funny. A couple days ago I said I need to revisit my calorie control and the 'Weight Down' approach, but I honestly haven't done it. That's strange. Do I just think eating right is going to magically happen? It hasn't for a long time...

A few more positive things:
  • I'm still doing really well with my exercise.
  • My inlaws are in town, so we're eating more extravagantly than normal. But, I saved half of my lunch and half of my supper for later.
  • I kept my August contract for weight loss
  • August is almost over and I have the opportunity to tweak my program for the September contract.
So, yeah, I'm disappointed that I didn't make my August goal of 205. But, I'm learning. I did lots of healthy living this month. I'm in a much better place than if I hadn't worked on it at all.

Thursday, August 27

8/27 weight loss thoughts: To bike or not to bike?

Why don't I want to bike?

Those of you who have been reading my weight loss posts know the bike issue appears pretty often, especially in the form of 'do I pay for a 75$ + parts tuneup or not?'

This morning I got up at six, did some work, and could have gone biking, but I did not want to. So I went back to bed.

One reason I'm wary about biking is that I don't like to ride in traffic. I'm not sure whether living in SC has anything to do with that or not. I doubt I'd want to ride in traffic in a more bike-friendly city, but maybe. We certainly have very few bike lanes.

We do have some new bike lanes about four miles away. I even drove over there one Saturday to start from a different place and try them out. But that route was a little more hilly than what I want right now.

So, anyway, the way I've been dealing with the traffic issue is to bike early and try to stick to four-lane roads as much as possible so there's plenty of room for cars to move around me.

And that was working pretty well for me. But now school is back in session and there is more traffic first thing in the morning. Plus, the sun is rising later, so there's less time to get in a ride before the traffic picks up. My easiest route (and therefore a staple for me) goes by 3 schools on the way out and 3 on the way back! (Though it is possible to route around one of them.)

Furthermore, it's going to be getting colder in the mornings, and I'm not going to want to bike before work.

I don't think biking has a good future for me, do you?

Are all of these reasons just excuses? I don't know. But I'm probably going to go with them and not fight them too hard.

Then I started thinking: about a hundred dollars for a tuneup for my road bike. That's probably about half-way to a decent stationary recumbent bike. And before that, my neighbor has one I can use that I need to try.

I could try to marshal my will-power and just go ahead and bike, but I don't think I'm going to do that. Lots of people say find exercises you enjoy, and I'm inclined to believe them. Believe it or not, I'm more inclined to mix in running with my walking than to make this biking thing work much longer. Crazy, I know...

Wednesday, August 26

8/26 weight loss thoughts: Caloric failure!

Ok, yesterday was my first out and out calorie control failure. The other times I really binged were days off (which I have since done away with).

I was doing fine. Christine and Elizabeth were at dance (as usual ;-). Wil and I went to Chick-fil-a for carry out. We had a coupon for 3 chicken strips for him and I got the southwestern salad with grilled chicken. And we got a peach shake to share.

Still, it would have been ok, if Wil hadn't taken two bites and said he was done! Friends, I know it's wrong. It goes against everything everyone says about dieting. But I just could not let that shake go to waste. Couldn't even put it in the freezer to save it for later. It wouldn't be as good. So I ate the whole thing. I shudder to think how many calories were in that sucker. (You can look it up, but I'm not going to! ;-)

When I weighed in this morning, I was up a pound. Hard to believe that was from one shake in one day, but maybe. Before my shake disaster I was hoping to be at 205 today. My goal was to be at 205 by this Saturday. Will I make it? Will I have to extend?

(It wouldn't be the end of the world because, after all, I'm living healthy, and the weight will come off in time (barring any more shakes! ;-).)

Took another situp test last night, this time the President's Challenge Adult Fitness one instead of the SparkPeople one that rocked me.

And I did a little better. You might remember, these are 3.5 inches instead of 6 (in terms of how far you have to reach as you sit up). I did 40 in one minute to get 55th percentile. I'll be adding more of these nefarious situps into my routine, not least of all to do better on the tests! ;-)

Tuesday, August 25

8/25 weight loss thoughts

Ok, the nitty gritty on what I'm doing to live healthy:

1. A quick note about all this writing: one reason I'm doing it is to help manage my own attitude. I've started weight loss and given up before. I don't want that to happen this time! And I've been so encouraged by the people who have commented. Thanks to all of you! Facebook has been an especially good place for this. So, in some ways, attitude management is my most important thing.

2. Monitor caloric intake. In round figures, if I want to lose about a pound a week I can eat about 1500 calories per day. The cardinal rules everyone prescribes for dieting are true for me: I have to watch my portions and I have to track what I eat or I will cheat.

Fortunately for me, I'm pretty happy to eat pretty much the same stuff. Then I don't have to think about it too much. I get my servings down and know what to expect. Most everyday I eat:

+ 2 servings of Honey-Nut Cheerios with skim milk, a cup of orange juice and a cup of coffee for breakfast.

+ 5 Whole Wheat Ritz crackers (1 serving) for my mid-morning snack around 10.

+ 1 serving of pita chips, 1 serving of hummus, a mozzarella cheese stick and 10 baby carrots for lunch.

(I add a little variety here and mix in popcorn, cashews and deli ham and mandarin oranges on a tortilla, so I'm on about a three-day rotation.)

+ 1/2 can of pineapple

+ Supper varies greatly depending on what's going on with the family and what Christine is fixing. We have done a great job of adding a lot of salad in at supper time. Sometimes we just do a big chef's salad. Other entrees include pizza (1 slice), loose hamburger sandwiches, pasta and salmon.

+ Also, I almost always drink a glass of wine with supper.

+ I eat a mint and chocolate Skinny Cow almost every day ;-)

+ Other snacks include yogurt and 100 calorie packages of popcorn.

+ I have no problem drinking water and usually drink at least 64 ounces a day.

Addendum: I've also been trying to approach my eating somewhat from the 'Weigh Down Diet' perspective which applies a lot of spiritual principles to weight loss. Here's a shot at boiling-down the basic approach to eating: God made our bodies to know what they want and need to eat. Learn to listen to your body and don't eat when you are full. Simple, right ;-)

I will eventually write up more on my study of 'Weigh Down'.

3. Exercise: In some ways, exercise has been the easiest piece for me and what I most had on the ball before starting this (hopefully last!) round of weight loss. Because I work from home, I have more time to workout. No time is lost to commuting. I commute from my bedroom to my office ;-)

So I have taken on exercise with a will. Since the Paris Air Show in June I have been getting up at 6 am to do cardio six days a week, either 30 minutes to walk the two miles around our neighborhood or 40-60 minutes biking 8-10 miles. I have been tracking my early rising at HabitCal and, of the 25 days so far in August, I have only failed to get up and work out when I was supposed to 4 times. Most of those times (if not all), I was able to make it up in an evening session or by moving stuff around.

I've been doing 100 pushups twice a week for about a year. At some point I added 100 situps and 100 air squats. Now I do that workout twice a week, usually Tuesday night and sometime on Saturday. I'm in the process of mixing up the kinds of pushups and situps I do in each set, mostly just for variety.

I do yoga three times a week for about 30 minutes. I really like this amount of yoga. I don't think I'd like doing it everyday, at least not with DVDs like I do now. I like that it's a different approach to fitness. It's also really good, obviously, for my flexibility and for my back.

Plus, I count about an hour of mowing a week as a calorie-burning exercise :-)

So, if you add all those up, I'm exercising for 30 minutes 12 times a week. Definitely not something everyone could do, but I can, so I am.

FYI, here's a link to my August weight loss contract. I'll be revising it and re-upping for September.

My new mantra: I'm living healthy now. I'm enjoying the benefits now. I'm in a really good place. (And the weight will come off in time.) I'm trying not to get too focused on the weight loss, on some target 3-digit number. I'm making a real lifestyle change. It's working so far and I plan for it to keep working!

What do you think?

Cool caffeine, colleges, Cubs (and Heisman)

Stuff I've been saving up for you:

+ I found this Lifehacker article on how to stay cool while sleeping absolutely fascinating! I have actually been misting myself more this this summer to cool down, including when I workout.

+ Here's a fun infographic charting caffeine v. calories, listing lots of familiar products like mochas and cokes and Big Macs (the latter for reference). (via)

+ U.S. News & World Report's college and university rankings are out again. Some important ones:

Clemson (20th public, 61st overall)
U of Iowa (29th public, 71st overall)
U of S Carolina (55th public, 110th overall)

The State
The Press-Citizen

+ McCoy, Tebow, Bradford in Unique Heisman Race

+ Ricketts Family to Buy Cubs for $845 Million

Monday, August 24

8/24 weight loss thoughts

Down to 206 yesterday and this morning. 205, here I come!

You may recall that my conservative goal for the end of August was 205. Plus, I had that setback with taking days off that totally messed up my trends. So, I'm happy to be at 206 and looking forward to being at 205 by the end of the month :-)

Took the President's Challenge Adult Fitness aerobic test today and got basically the same result I got from the SparkPeople 3-minute step test: below average. Again, I'm a little surprised by this because I can keep moving without getting particularly winded, but I guess my heart is working pretty hard, not least because of the extra 25 pounds (at least) that it's carrying.

So, the question becomes, do I get after this right away and start increasing the intensity of my aerobic activity, maybe even get a heart monitor; or wait until I lose a few more pounds and it cools off a little bit more?

I think I'm ready to start alternating walking and jogging. In the spring, before it got hot, I was doing pretty well with alternating every three minutes or so, so maybe I'll try that again.

All in all, though I'm a little disappointed, I'm not going to get too worried about this below average score. First of all, it would require too much work ;-)

Second, we'll get it fixed in time. Remember my new mantra? Live healthy now (the results will come in time).

Did you see my status from today? 'When I lose this weight I'm going to be hotter, but that's just a chance I'll have to take' ;-)

Another way of thinking about weight loss (a diagnostic question we can ask): Do I want to get to [w-1] quicker (where 'w'=weight. we're looking for a specific number here), or do I want this donut?

Now, I got the best of both worlds: Saturday I had ONE warm Krispy Kreme donut and Sunday I was at 207-1 = 206. I told Christine I'm going to publish the 'Krispy Kreme Diet' ;-)

What do you think? Good approach?

One more thought for today: I've hardly written about what my specific food choices look like. Got an oldie but a goodie I'm just back onto that I want to pass on to you.

Tuna Taco: tuna, salsa, cheese, soft shell tortilla. Yummy! One great thing about it for the summertime is you can just eat everything at room- or refrigerator-temperature. Nothing to heat up. Nice and cool. Sound good?

Question: any interest in hearing about what I usually eat?

Saturday, August 22

8/22 weight loss thoughts: Really mixed day

Weigh in this morning was just ok. 207 again. Have to re-double 'Weigh Down'/caloric intake efforts.

Walked with Columbia SparkPeople at the West Columbia RiverWalk. It was nice to meet 5 adults (and 3 of their children).

Had one warm Krispy Kreme doughnut afterward. Moderation is reasonable.

Then, late morning, did the SparkPeople fitness test. It's pretty standard and lines up with The President's Challenge Adult Fitness Test. Pushups, crunches and 3 minutes step test, all of which I thought I had at least a little on the ball with, so I was actually looking forward to the test.

One test I knew I was going to be great at was the sit-and-reach. They weren't testing it at SP, so I had to go over and find it at the PCAFT. 53 inches. 95th percentile. That's what I'm talking about ;-)

Well, the pushup test went as expected. My goal was 35 in a minute, the beginning of the 'good' category, and I got 37. 75th percentile in the PCAFT. And these are only going to get easier as I lose weight (since I'm keeping the muscle).

Then crunches. I've been doing 200 situps a week, but it obviously hasn't been enough. These crunches have a touch line 6 inches from your finger tips when you're lying on your back and they kicked my butt! Only 34, which they rate as 'marginal'.

Finally, the step test. I've been walking 2 miles in 30 minutes 3x/week and biking at least 8 miles at about 12 mph 3x/week. Again, I figured I'd do ok on this. And I wasn't particularly winded when I finished. But my heart rate for the first minute after stopping was 109 which ranks as 'below average'.

Say what?! I'm working out this much and my heart rate is below average?! That was pretty discouraging.

So, I'm going to do the PCAFT Walking test as an alternative. If that comes up below average, I'll know I have real work to do.

(I'm also going to try their crunch test on Tuesday. It's only a 3.5 inch reach.)

This is, however, one of the good things about measuring. You can't say 'Yeah, I think I'm doing pretty good' and then get a score totally out of that range. I have to start looking more closely at what I'm doing.

I mean, I'm burning calories, so that's good. But it sure looks like it might be time to turn up the intensity some.

Another good thing: I've established a baseline now and I plan on retesting these areas each month. And then we'll see...

Did some more research and found a squat test. I've also been doing 200 air squats a week, so I wanted to test it. 47: well into the excellent category.

Shoulder Reach flexibility test: excellent.

That's better. Done for today ;-)

Friday, August 21

8/21 weight loss thoughts: To burn or not to burn?

Cortez is famous for having burned his ships to inspire his men to conquer. We have a similar saying: 'burn your bridges'.

Are you willing to burn your bridges when it comes to weight loss? Am I?

This is not a recommendation. It's a question. I'm not sure what's best.

I'd been thinking about this idea. Should we give our 'fat clothes' away when we get out of them? Then the same topic came up in the SparkPeople forums the other day.

It's an extra commitment: If I re-gain this weight, I'll have to buy new clothes.

Is that motivating to you? Is it motivating to me?

It reminds me of another, popular new way to lose weight: betting. You either challenge one another in a pool and the 'biggest loser' takes the pot, or you make a bet with yourself (essentially), say $500 or $1000, and if you lose you have to give that money to charity.

Another motivation is rewards. Instead of giving the money away, you set a reward for yourself, say the same amount we were looking at for bets. What would you reward yourself with for $500. Christine and I have kicked around the idea of a Disney Cruise...

So, what do you think? Where do you stand on financial incentives to weight loss?


I was at 207 again this morning. I haven't been counting calories strictly, not applying 'Weigh Down' strictly, so I may have to get back to those to see more/faster weight loss results. But I'm still doing really well, comparatively. I'm definitely in range, living healthy, at least standing pat.

Thursday, August 20

8/20 Weight loss thoughts

In some ways, I have arrived. I am living the healthy lifestyle now. All I have to do is keep this up and enjoy the benefits, including the eventual weight loss. To put it another way, from one viewpoint, I have arrived.

While I want to improve my health, I don't want to be too focused on the end state. I want to figure out how to live now, enjoy it, and de-emphasize the actual weight loss achievement a little.

I am really trying this time to have a better perspective on my health. I am making real lifestyle changes. I am not in this for the short term. This is not a fad diet. The key will be to persevere.

At the same time, as I said before, one of my problems in my previous weight loss failures has been complacency. So, how do I stay motivated without focusing too much on the weight loss? Things I continue to think about...

I joined the Columbia group on SparkPeople yesterday and got an immediate invitation to walk with them this Saturday morning (much to Elizabeth's chagrin ;-). I'm going to give it a try.

Did well at Applebee's for lunch today. (What, dining out twice in the same week?! What will Melanie say? ;-) Got asked by Rusty to meet him. Ate half of my entree and brought the rest home.

Have I told you the ongoing saga of my road bike? I haven't ridden it since RAGBRAI 2004, so, if I'm going to ride it, it has to be tuned up. But a tune up costs 75$ plus parts. Biking in the morning, before traffic gets heavy, has been working well for me. But how much longer will I be able to bike in the morning without being too cold? Then I thought 'Ok, I can bike two days a week during lunch when it gets cooler'. But when I was out today at lunch, the traffic was pretty heavy. For awhile I was thinking about jogging this winter instead of the biking/walking mix I have going now. That would be cheaper, right? I keep psyching myself out about this and don't know what to do or what will be best.

Thinking about taking on some actual healthy activities rather than just exercising for the sake of exercise. My top candidate right now is ballroom dancing, which I've always wanted to do more of. We did some in the social dance class I took in college for a PE credit (excellent, I know! :-) and I've always wanted to do some more. My runner up right now is some kind of martial art. Also considering basketball, soccer and cycling. We'll see...

207 again this morning on the scale. Looking for another little drop here in the next day or two ;-)

Wednesday, August 19

8/19 weight loss thoughts: SparkPeople

Have you heard about SparkPeople? I hadn't until my friend Lisa pointed me to it.

One of the coolest things about SparkPeople is it's free and they're not after your money. Therefore, they're not serving Google ads about the 3 day diet that is guaranteed to take off 20 pounds ;-)

There are a lot of other things I like about SP: it's well integrated; it's got a lot of good tools; good emphasis on nutrition, fitness and motivation; you can earn SparkPoints (a nice, little if maybe silly motivation), and more.

Beyond that, frankly, it becomes a little overwhelming. I consider myself capable of handling complexity, but SP is still a little confusing to me. I do plan on putting in more time on it because I think it's worth it. And I will probably switch from tracking calories on the Daily Plate to tracking everything on SP.

Here's my SP profile (not sure if you can see it if you're not a member).

One specific SP item that pertains to what I wrote yesterday regarding measuring your health is what they track: weight, body measurements, subjective wellness ratings, biometrics (like blood pressure, etc) and 3 fitness tests. The fitness tests are pushups in a minute, crunches in a minute and blood pressure after a 3-minute step tests. I like these additional measures and plan on testing myself on them this Saturday and then monthly after that.

Other tests I'm going to look at: The President's Challenge Adult Fitness Test and the Army Physical Fitness Test.

Other ways of assessing fitness include before and after pictures and body girth measurements. I finally broke down and took those last night, but I'm not going to share them until I have better results to pair them with ;-)

Tuesday, August 18

8/18 weight loss thoughts

What I've been thinking about the most in the past couple of days: I probably need to deprecate (geek word choice) weight as a measure of health. This is totally obvious, so I guess I should say it hit home with me. My health and well being and whole life (exaggeration alert) is not summed up in the three digit number of my weight, whether it's 210 or 170 or anywhere in between.

Weight is one of many indicators, and I certainly don't want to give up my goal of getting to 170 if I get to a place in the 190s that 'feels ok'. But I probably need to think more in terms of feeling good and feeling healthy and general fitness. BMI is another factor. Hmmm, what are the others?


Hit my new low (for this effort) yesterday: 206. Felt really awesome. Back up to 206.5 today. Did eat at Cici's last night and thought I did pretty well: Caesar salad, breadstick, 2 pieces of pizza and some blue cheese dressing for dipping.

A couple conclusions:

1. I had an upset stomach last night so got to have Alka-Selzer for a nightcap ;-)

2. No surprise: none of the food as Cici's tastes very good. Not being able to eat for volume at Cici's takes away almost all of the fun. I probably need to choose someplace else to eat in the future. It wasn't even like a treat. (We went because Christine was working and we had coupons for kids for free.)

Monday, August 17

The War of the Worlds

Had it on my computer for forever, finally listened to the Orson Welles version.

(Lots of other good looking choices over there that I haven't tried.)

It was fun. Worth the 60 minutes.

Wikipedia entry

Sunday, August 16

8/16 weigh loss success! (and thoughts, especially spiritual)

Hooray! 207 this morning! A new low for this weight loss effort and hopefully the last time I ever see 208!

I'm feeling very encouraged about the stuff I'm reading in The Weigh Down Diet, so thanks, Tia, for the rec. I will be covering this at more length soon.

Furthermore, I'm feeling great. I'm feeling good about myself. I feel fit and healthy. I feel positive about my outlook and energetic in general. I feel like I'm on the road to weight loss success and healthy eating. I want to keep this ball rolling!

Slept in this morning because I didn't have to do a morning workout. In fact, no workout today (save mowing the lawn, if the rain holds off). But, crazily enough, I am looking forward to getting back to cardio tomorrow morning. Like I said, I want to keep this ball rolling...

One tenet of Weigh Down is being able to eat what you want as long as you stop when you're full. Listen to your body. There's a lot more to say about this, but I've been trying to put it into practice and have been allowing myself some small treats if I wanted them: 1 serving of ice cream on Friday and Saturday and a brownie today. And I'm feeling good about it. (And, yes, I'm still losing weight, but the results aren't instantaneous, of course, and we have to look at the trends, etc...)

Having a treat is working much better for me than my previous program of semi-binging days off. (You know, working much better over the last 3 days ;-)

(One result of listening to my body is trying to pay attention to desires for reasonable amounts of fat and protein v. a 'low-fat' higher carbohydrate diet that can leave us feeling unsatisfied and hungry.)

Another principle is slowing down while you eat (ok, I am kind of getting into Weigh Down here, but not a comprehensive or critical treatment). I have been the last person in our family to finish eating all this weekend, and it hasn't even been close. This overlaps, of course, with some of the earlier thinking I was doing about mindful eating.

Weigh Down also addresses emotional eating, so that's something I have been thinking about as well. I want to break the habit of going to food for emotional comfort. There's a vast chasm between enjoying food and looking to food for emotional comfort.

Furthermore, when we go to food for comfort, our eating takes on the dynamics of addiction: we go to the thing for comfort, but it actually provides less and less comfort, prompting up to dose more heavily, resulting in poorer function/health, prompting us to go back to our addiction for comfort. Vicious circle by definition.

We're still in John 6 in the liturgy and Jesus is still saying crazy things about Himself: 'Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you will have no life within you.' Ties right in with looking to God for life and not to food.

My syndrome has been: disappointment with God, despair, depression, hopelessness, ennui and then grasping, like a drowning man, for any comfort I could find, including food (how's that for sounding melodramatic? ;-). Then, again, in the addiction pattern, even when I don't feel like I'm drowning, I still go back to food for comfort, even when I don't really need it or when it's the results of too much eating that are themselves causing me to need comforting!

So, I need to get out of the dynamic all together. I need to opt out. I need to get on a different track. Jesus is my source of life. Yes, I've been disappointed in Him, but that was not His fault. My expectations were unreasonable and less than what He wanted for me. He gives life now and forever. I need to fill up on Him, not on earthly food. Food needs to recede to proper comparative unimportance in my life; more like oxygen and less like some emotional underpinning without which my life will collapse! ;-)

Change gears:

So, does it seem entirely too early to be talking about pitfalls to watch out for?

My Achilles' heel in past weight loss efforts has been getting to a place of complacence. I get disgusted and spring into action in the 205-210 range (like this time, frankly). But then when I get down to 200 or 190, the Return on Investment diminishes. 'I'm not that overweight, and is losing weight really worth all this work?'

I don't want to fall into that pattern again! This (hopefully) last time I have been trying to emphasize lifestyle changes and to stay away from temporary fixes that might work for awhile but are ultimately unsustainable and even undesirable.

Barely related: had a great idea for supine pullups with my new exercise 'rings' (as a way of working up to those 10 real pullups that are my distant goal).

Ok. That's more than enough for today, aye? Obviously, I had a lot on my mind ;-)

Friday, August 14

What's your favorite Schoolhouse Rock! song?

(I wrote a post on Schoolhouse Rock! almost 4 years ago.)

The Wikipedia entry has a complete list.

It would be hard to pick a favorite, but one of them is Rufus Xavier Sarsparilla:

Others on my short list are: Three is a Magic Number, Interjections, Interplanet Janet, A Victim of Gravity and No More Kings.

Special bonus: Elizabeth and Wil singing No More Kings when they were 6. Wil's exuberance drowns out Elizabeth and me a fair bit ;-)

Wednesday, August 12

8/12 weight loss thoughts

I've done a fair amount of reading on Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-step recovery-type programs in general. One aspect of them that I agree is crucial to 'sanity' (as they call it) is helping others. It's enshrined right there in Step 12:
Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Reading in this field teaches that step 12 is not just about altruism. It's also importantly about helping others as a means of working the program ourselves. Helping others to find 'sanity' helps us to stay sane ourselves.

So, talking about my weight loss and encouraging others has become part of the method to my madness. Let's help one another to get there!


Doing fine. Similar reading on the scale, but looking for it to come back down and there will be no semi-binge day off to follow it this time. Getting all of my exercise in like a big dog ;-)

Also started 'The Weigh Down Diet' today, which Tia recommends so highly. Very good so far (though probably off-putting for those who are not comfortable in Evangelicalism (even other Christians)). Looking forward to reading more and will share in this forum.

Tuesday, August 11

8/11 weight loss thoughts

Ok, that didn't work ;-)

I think I've finally given up on the 'lose a pound, take a day off' protocol. Just too depressing seeing the scale shoot back up. Not worth it.

May try taking a meal off after every pound lost, or once a week. Haven't decided yet.

Otherwise, doing fine. Eating moderately and getting my exercise in. Onward and upward!

Slavery or states' rights?

Honest question: Can a legitimate case be made that states' rights was a serious concern of the CSA, or was the predominant concern really just slavery.

A few links, quotes and thoughts:

'Both North and South assumed that if slavery could not expand it would wither and die.'

'Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens said[12] that slavery was the chief cause of secession[13] in his Cornerstone Speech shortly before the war. After Confederate defeat, Stephens became one of the most ardent defenders of the Lost Cause.[14] There was a striking contrast[13][15] between Stephens' post-war states' rights assertion that slavery did not cause secession[14] and his pre-war Cornerstone Speech. Confederate President Jefferson Davis also switched from saying the war was caused by slavery to saying that states' rights was the cause.'

Adding territory. Would it be slave or free, affecting balance in federal government?

'There was the polarizing effect of slavery that split the largest religious denominations (the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches)[32] and controversy caused by the worst cruelties of slavery (whippings, mutilations and families split apart). The fact that seven immigrants out of eight settled in the North, plus the fact that twice as many whites left the South for the North as vice versa, contributed to the South's defensive-aggressive political behavior.'

Friday, August 7

8/7 weight loss thoughts: The No Fun Edition

Weight loss is no fun.

Surprise, surprise. I've been trying to be as positive as possible, and I will be again, but felt pretty down about it today. Just garden-variety discouragement. And it's a little early for that, don't you think?

I guess this morning's weigh in precipitated it. For all my talk about trends, I do care about the number, and I was disappointed. Going from 207.5 to three days of 210 is a little deflating. I did take Tuesday off, but I didn't think it was going to have such a big impact.

And maybe it didn't. Probably these are just normal fluctuations and I should just keep working my plan.

It does make me begin to doubt the plan, though, at a minimum. Maximally, doubt begins to creep in that I can be successful.

So, let's be rational: if my current plan/behavior doesn't work over a decent amount of time, then I may need to look at making a change. But we're probably not there, yet. Give it a little time.

And it is possible that my no-holds-barred day off is counterproductive. Still, other reputable diets contain days off, and mine isn't even once a week any more. What do you think?

As to the maximal doubt, it's just not rational. I can be successful at this. Many people have lost weight. It can be done. Doesn't being really smart count for anything? Or is this one of those all too frequent cases when too smart is dumb?

Plus, I have supportive friends to encourage me. We are in this together. I don't want to let myself down or my family or you.

In the end, it's like Apollo 13: Failure is not an option. Not this time. Not any more. I don't care if it takes a year. I'm going to lose this weight. I'm tired of overeating getting the best of me.


So, like I said frackin' 210 today with everything else good, as far as I can tell: caloric intake, exercise. Got up at the right time this morning and caught up on my biking.

But enough about me. How are you doing?

Thursday, August 6

8/6 weight loss thoughts

First things first. Let's all plan on checking in tomorrow. I like checking in on Fridays. For me, at least, that will include disclosing my weight in number. You can just give a status report or say you lost a pound or you got your contract done or whatever, ok?

My weight loss thought for today centers on vision: imagining our right-weight future. What will it look like? What will it feel like? We want it to be vivid so that we can always choose our vision rather than pigging out in the moment. (More later on how totally unsatisfying that is.)

I already touched on this in my contract:
picture this!
1. eventual goal: 170 pounds
2. nice and fit (with all that exercise)
3. feeling better about myself
4. fitting into my clothes better
5. getting new clothes, or getting out old ones i no longer fit into, including jeans
6. doing my push ups and pull ups easier
We want as much detail as we can get. What is your vision for your weight loss? What concrete details can you add?

I forgot one that I've said before and my brother, Ryan, reminded me of: to look better naked :-) Part of the joke here is that often when I say I need to lose weight people will say 'No!' Asking them 'Have you seen me naked lately?' shuts them down every time. And, seriously, I do want to look better naked. Don't we all? (If not, let us know, if you're not too shy ;-)

One way I've been thinking about my right-weight future is imagining going through my day. How is it going to be different? What is it going to feel like?

For one thing, I'm looking forward to wearing jeans again. I haven't really worn jeans since I gained weight. I never bought new ones and the plan was always to lose weight, not buy 'fat jeans'.

I told Wil he's going to be sad when I lose 40 pounds because I won't be as physically cuddly (soft and squishy). I really like to cuddle and snuggle, too, but it's just going to have to be with a fit body :-)

Something else I'm looking forward to is a 2000 calorie diet. My weight loss caloric intake is 1400-1500 calories before exercise. I think (though I might just be kidding myself) that since that sometimes feels a little depriving, 2000 calories once I've hit my target weight will feel more 'normal'. That's one reason this time I'm building in at least one break (at the end of August) where I eat 2000 calories like my maintenance diet will be. I'm hoping this will be encouraging and even feel a little 'pampered' in comparison to the 1500 calorie diet. It should give me something else to look forward to.

Something I didn't include in my contract, but which I'll bury down here where almost no one will see it, is that I have had some minor, semi-medical 'problems' that have accompanied my weight gain. Without going into too many gross details: 1. I sweat at the slightest provocation and it's really gross. 2. I snore now, which is a problem for Christine and maybe the load on my body (I've been wearing nasal strips for awhile to try to ameliorate this), and 3. I have some annoying psoriasis on my face (that may or may not be related to a yeast infection). I am really looking forward to at least two of these problems going away, and maybe all three. If not, once we've got the weight under control, those will be the issues I try to track down next. But the weight loss is the top priority.


Another waking-up-early failure this morning. In fact, I shut off the alarm clock without even being aware of it! Not good. Got to get this thing licked and get to bed earlier.

However, once again it's not totally mission-critical because I had planned to mow the lawn tonight, anyway. I think I'll adjust by planning to bike tomorrow and Saturday morning and call tonight's mowing what would normally have been tomorrow's walking.

Even got my road bike down and pumped up the tires last night, was going to try it out before going on a longer ride Saturday morning, and then I got to thinking 'These inner tubes are, like, 5 years old. What are the chances they'll hold up?' Seems slim. So, I've almost made up my mind to get my road bike tuned up, including new inner tubes. I've been holding off because it's going to cost a little money and we're on a budget, but, probably need to bite the bullet on this one...

Fun with Wolfram|Alpha and life expectancy

Been holding onto this for too long.

Did you see Wolfram|Alpha when it came out? One place I read about it was Smarterware.

I followed Gina's examples and got the following information:

I am 37 years 7 months 4 days old. Or 1961 weeks 4 days ago, or 13 731 days ago, or 37.59 years ago.

My life expectancy is 77.46 years. Therefore, statistically, I will die 9:36 pm EDT | Friday, June 18, 2049. Isn't that fun? ;-)

Christine's life expectancy is 81.75 years. Therefore, statistically, she will die 12:00 pm EDT | Saturday, August 17, 2052, outliving me by 3 years 1 month 24 days 14 hours and 38 minutes.

Well, now we know ;-)

Wednesday, August 5

8/5 weight loss thoughts

Since I haven't been that crazy about my life some days, I have looked forward to the passage of time. 'Good, we're already to August!' But then I wonder 'What am I looking forward to?'

Now I have something! As the months pass, I'm going to be losing weight! Awesome!

And, then, I want to move on to other, more significant things to look forward to. And move back to enjoying the things I need to enjoy now.

Want to get to the point where the body future I'm looking forward to is more compelling than pigging out now.


Enjoyed my day off yesterday with lots of treats. The scale was up this morning, but no worries. Back on the wagon.

Stayed up too late again last night, not least because Wil had a nap and didn't fall asleep until midnight or so. Could not face staying awake, so got up at 6, got essential work done, and went back to bed for a couple hours. That means I've got double workout tonight, but nothing too onerous: at least 30 minutes of yoga and 2 mile walk.

Still, I need to get to bed earlier and stick with the schedule I have made for myself, because I'm pretty sure it's going to be best.

Tuesday, August 4

8/4 weight loss thoughts

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Who do you see?

And, unfortunately for some of us, I'm including the bathroom mirror as you get into the shower.

Up until today, for a long time, I have seen someone who is fat, who needs to lose weight.

And that's just wrong. Being overweight is not even a significant part of who I am. I shouldn't categorize/simplify myself in that way.

There are so many other, more interesting, healthier things about me: I'm a decent husband and father who's loved by his wife and children. I'm a decent brother and son who's loved by his parents and siblings. I'm a really good friend who has some great friends. I've got lots of talents. I'm able to earn a living for my family. I have many passionate interests including Tolkien and other literature, music, movies, the internet and, yes, even Civilization ;-) Most importantly, I am loved (and saved, and ...) by God.

All of these general things are true of you, too, in great, specific ways. So I truly hope you don't look in the mirror and see someone, principally, who is fat and needs to lose weight! If you do, do me a favor: like I have done above, list some of the other, great things you are.

Further, today I looked in the mirror without shame. Now, it's still not based on my real identity, almost independent of my weight. But what I saw was someone who's on the road to losing weight. I'm succeeding. All I have to do is stay on this path, with you good people, and I will reach my goal. That is a really good feeling.

Yes, I will certainly have to take it one day at a time. Yes, three days is no big victory. But it's the necessary start. I just need to keep stringing these days together.

I can't wait to get to 170! :-)

Ok, a few more diary-ish thoughts:

Dang! So hungry yesterday! I overshot my calories by quite a bit, but ate moderately. One reason I exceeded my caloric target was the advice to not let myself get hungry. Seemed like I was there all day! But, anyway, I ate moderately when I was hungry.

Oddly enough, forgot to mention yesterday that I was down 1.5 pounds from the previous day. Now, the first thing is not to get too excited, since I'm weighing myself every day for the data and using the trendline. However, I had been hitting my calorie target and still floating up on the scale, so I figured I was bound to drop down suddenly. Certainly a welcome trend :-)

Then, like I wrote about in this post, I was another pound lighter on the scale this morning. So I am taking today off from counting calories (but not from exercising). Again, don't want to overreact since I'm weighing myself every day and looking at the trend, but it's nice to see a new low for this weight loss effort. And here's hoping that yesterday was the last time I ever see 208! :-)

Best morning ever!

Woke up at 6, very tired. I have not been getting enough sleep. But good news right away: another pound down on the scale after a pound and a half yesterday. So I get a day off from strictly counting calories.

Did not want to ride my bike, especially up St Andrews. But I went anyway.

And it was hard. Did not feel strong heading into the hill. But then 'The Final Countdown' came on my exercise playlist on random and that inspired me a little :-)

Good thing, because my bike didn't gear down to first correctly. Took a long time and almost killed me. Pretty sure it was my worst performance ever on that hill.

But, I survived, didn't have to stop, and, as always, was glad I had exercised. (It feels so good when it's over, you know, like banging your head against the wall ;-)

Almost out of milk, so needed to run out for that anyway. Though 'I'll celebrate my weight loss and my day off with a Chick-fil-a biscuit and a Wendy's Frostycino.'

Got to Chick-fil-a and they've got free breakfast for the first hundred customers this week. Bingo!

Yes, it was a great morning, but work is coming ;-)

Monday, August 3

Cheap and lazy man's exercise 'rings'

I've been wanting to add pullups to my workouts. Being unable to do any is just not acceptable. But the only decent place I had to do them was the swingset in the backyard and I simply didn't make it back there very often. I've been wanting to mount a pullup bar somewhere in the house or garage. Our garage is drywalled, though, including the ceiling, so nothing jumped out at me there. And I didn't really want to spend money on a pull up bar, either (or, rather, Christine didn't want me to ;-).

Then I started thinking about the attic access in our hallway. And those straps I used to use for strapping a cartop carrier to the roof...

Definite potential. Straps connected to joists in the attic and just about even. Now where am I going to get rings?

They're like 50$ to buy. Or you can make your own by heating and bending PVC, but that's a little too much work...

Hold on. Simple handles will do the trick. Cut a spare length of steel pipe in half...


Available any time, throw 'em up in the attic when we have decent people over ;-)

I'm not in a huge hurry to make progress on this. Working on the weight loss first. And pull ups at 170 are going to be way easier than at 209.

I have to start with 'negative' pull ups: jump up, ease down and start training the muscles that way. Still sore from doing it on Saturday.

Over all, pretty fired up about my ingenuity. And I know Walter 'CrossFit' Stokes will be proud :-)

8/3 (spiritual) weight loss thoughts

(And, yes, I am on logging fire ;-)

Lectionary for yesterday really synced with my new program.

Exodus 16:2-15 (manna)

Psalm 78:23-29 (more manna)

(Ephesians 4:1-16 not as much)

John 6:24-35 (I am the Bread of Life)

Jesus says to look beyond what we need to physically survive: 'Don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you.'

'Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty."'

Why do I overeat? What am I so hungry for? More on this in a future post.

For now, this is a big reminder to not focus too much on food, neither eating too much nor eating too little (losing weight).

Further, I had some pretty good experience last year with getting in touch with the fact that Jesus justifies me. I am not justified by anything I do or am. I couldn't justify myself if I tried.

Hey Sean, don't try to lose weight to justify yourself in your own eyes. You're justified in Christ. You don't want to go from a publican to a Pharisee in terms of body image ;-)

But, seriously. I am very tempted to judge myself and others based on physical appearance and fitness. And, yes, this means I've been largely living under self-condemnation for the 7 or 8 years I've been overweight as an adult and the however-many years I was slightly overweight as a child (let's say 10-13 in round numbers).

So, here's hoping having a comparatively better spiritual attitude (ie, I'm justified in Christ regardless of my weight) will help me with my 'perishable' weight loss goal.

To put it starkly, I am justified even though I'm 40 pounds overweight.

One reason I overeat is to feel good or to comfort myself. But then I become physically 'unjustified' in my eyes. Then I overeat because I might as well, since I'm unjustified anyway. And to comfort myself for being unjustified. Thus, vicious circle.

(And, just to totally freak out all of you who don't come from this same viewpoint, I sincerely look forward to my resurrection body, when none of this will be a struggle anymore :-)

Sunday, August 2

Amazing song: Baba Yetu

You will want to listen to this song if you 1) love beautiful music in general, especially 2) choral music with #) an African sound that, to me, at least, is 4) very worshipful.

Ok, the first thing to say, in light of the research is that, as much as I love this song, I'm embarrassed I didn't clue to the lyrics being from the Lord's Prayer. I mean, I know some Swahili. I know 'Baba' is 'Father' and 'milele' is forever. Sheesh :-)

Here's a nice version to listen to (watching the video is optional):

LOVE the way the song adds to a melodic opening hum: soloist with drum: women's voices in unison: soloist with choir hum: expanded percussion with choir in four parts (it's this second chorus that gives me chills, especially the descending bass line): expanding orchestration in the bridge: maximum chorus with prominent violins and chimes/marimba (?): beautiful, understated outro.

After Googling, here are some posts about 'Baba Yetu':

Civilization IV Music: WOW! (2nd Update), including nice email exchange with the composer

Early post on CivFanatics about the lyrics (to be perfectly honest, I do read this website sometimes ;-)

The guy's first stab is a little rough (and very impressive) since he doesn't know any Swahili.

Then a native speaker comes in and cleans up a little.

Then the original poster adds a basic chord chart.

There are a couple videos on YouTube with subtitles, but, unfortunately, they used the original stab.

The composer is Christopher Tin. Among other things, Baba Yetu is one of the bestselling sheets of choral music for Alfred Publishing. It has been performed live at the Hollywood Bowl and the Kennedy Center.

Albert compares it to the Main Title for the new Battlestar Galactica, which I also love:

Ok, I doubt anyone had read this far, but two little quibbles:

1. As a purist, my preference would be to restore the lyrics to a more 'pure' version of the Lord's Prayer

2. To me, this song is more 'worshipful' than 'prayerful'. I might be even better with a Biblical text of praise than the Lord's Prayer. And I'd also like a pony ;-)

Saturday, August 1

My new weight loss plan

Yes, I'm trying to lose weight again. But that's better than not trying anymore, right?

I've looked at a lot of different tips and tried to build a plan that is doable and concrete.

Short version: work at losing a pound a week from current weight of 209 to target weight of 170 allowing for some days off and potentially some weeks of maintenance caloric intake instead of loss.

One difference this time is writing up a semi-formal contract, sharing it with my family, and signing it. Trying to raise the accountability, since I have not been able to keep myself accountable in the past. If (God forbid) this plan doesn't work I'll have to go to one of those weight loss bets with significant money at stake.

One major component I'm not satisfied with is support. Weight Watchers has a support component (though I didn't get/use it trying the online version). Everyone says support is critical. Not sure my family is enough support. This may have to be a work in progress. Not really looking for general suggestions on the plan at this point. What I do need is any support I can get (including prayer!) and I am open to suggestions on how to maximize support.

One support possibility is having people join me. Anyone want to join me in this or a similar endeavor? I know Kathy's trying to gain weight (it would be cliche to say I hate her ;-).

I have a pretty impressive resource base if you'd like the links.

In case you're interested, most of the 'contract' is pasted below:

August weight loss plan

starting weight: 209
ultimate goal: 170
goal for this month: 204
duration: Aug 1-29 (hopefully ending with weigh-in on friday the 28th, one day early :-)

  1. wake up every day at 6, rested enough to exercise
    1. this means going to bed early enough. being in bed by 11 is probably a good target
    2. reward: don't sleep in on the weekend. instead, take a good nap!
  2. exercise 12 times per week (including mowing)
    1. walk 2 miles in 30 minutes 3x
    2. bike ca. 8 miles 3x
    3. 100 push ups, sit ups and air squats 2x (Tu pm, sat am)
    4. yoga 3x (MWF nights)
    5. mow for an hour 1x ;-)
    6. start working on 10 pull up goal (but nothing too serious)
  3. lose at least 1 pound per week
    1. target 1400-1500 calories/day, recorded on The Daily Plate
    2. weigh myself daily 1st thing and chart at The Physics Diet
    3. NO secret eating (eg ice cream from the carton, shakes when out by myself)
    4. reward: day off for every pound lost
      1. repeat 40x :-)
  4. motivation and method
    1. sign a contract with my family
    2. invest time, including reading and note-taking
      1. how do other people do it? what helps them succeed?
    3. post to weblog and Facebook
      1. yes, again, but it's better than not trying at all
      2. anyone want to join me? or what is your goal (eg, Kathy)
    4. record the psychology of failure. what makes me want to quit?
    5. slow down. taste your food!
    6. never eat to 'full', only to 'not hungry'
    7. don't be afraid of hunger. a little hunger in the right context is the feeling that accompanies weight loss.
    8. when i fall off the wagon, don't wallow. get right back on!
      1. i used to wait until the next monday to 'start fresh'. maybe...
      2. analyze: why did i fall off? beat it next time!
    9. satisfy cravings, but with one serving, not half a carton
    10. especially savor treats!
    11. 'strictness makes thing easier.' you don't have to decide.
    12. systemic moderation
    13. what are the healthy habits i am cultivating?
    14. 'We are rich in proportion to the number of things we can afford to leave alone.' - (approximately) Thoreau. this includes food!
    15. goal is to make lifestyle changes. when i get to 170, i can add some calories back in, but otherwise, everything should stay the same, right?!
    16. how can i get more support?
      1. LiveStrong dares?
    17. do i need to keep a log? weblog?
      1. couldn't hurt...
    18. why do i overeat?
      1. when hurt, depressed, sad, bored or angry
        1. what will i do instead?
  5. picture this!
    1. eventual goal: 170 pounds
    2. nice and fit (with all that exercise)
    3. feeling better about myself
    4. fitting into my clothes better
    5. getting new clothes, or getting out old ones i no longer fit into, including jeans
    6. doing my push ups and pull ups easier

I will stick to this plan for my good and the good of my family. When I depart from this plan, I will admit it and get back on plan.

[My signature and Elizabeth's and Wil's as witnesses :-)

  • consider: 4 weeks on, then a week of maintenance with one day off and then 6 days of maintenance at about 2000 calories. i think i like this better than working by calendar months.
    • re-evaluate after 4 weeks. any changes needed to plan, not least for variety? how can i spice it up. how can i persevere? that's the kicker. i don't want to have to lose this weight ever again!
    • part of re-eval: what are the best tweaks to make this a lifestyle?

More mp3 music geekery

And you thought my media makeover was geeky.

1. Imported the soundtrack for Civilization IV (including Beyond the Sword) into my music library. Includes many classic pieces from history and some new to me stuff I really love, including Baba Yetu (original to Civ IV) and The People are the Heroes Now (low level volume as uploaded, so you might have to crank the volume) (lyrics) from Nixon Goes to China.

2. Went through my entire collection, which with the Civ additions and some others I found hiding is now 2836 songs and picked 963 (!) (and one at a time!) for my exercise playlist to go on my Zen. If you're remotely interested, I uploaded the entire list. Listened to it for the first time this morning on my bike ride and it was so awesome! To give you a feel, Hard Day's Night was the least awesome song I heard on random (of those 963) this morning ;-)