Weekly Digest 55: 8/16/19-8/22/19

Another week has gone by and more hard work has been poured into this journey.  This time, the results were not as positive as I would have liked.  Part of that has me questioning how good I am doing with my diet and part of me understands that the body goes through changes and decides to lose the weight when it is ready to.  This process is feels very much like trying to make heads or tails of the completely unpredictable.  Anytime the body is involved, you can insert a degree of randomness. That’s just something I need to accept.

Ultimately, there is science and analysis behind what I am doing. While uncertainty is created by plateaus and those momentary pauses while the body recalibrates, it is important to understand the inherent danger in analyzing process through too small of a sample size.  While a cause and effect relationship urges us to look at every micro event as indicative of the process, in truth, we need to take a longer view – aka, a larger sample size, when dealing with the body and dieting.   Ask yourself the question “how is this working over 3 months?” rather than “oh my god I didn’t lose weight this week! I’m DOOMED”.  Keeping in mind that this is a long term plan helps keep the body’s natural fluctuations in perspective. 

Weekly Results:

This week I gained back two pounds.  So I am sitting at 213 pounds lost overall.  As I described above, I don’t think this bears much scrutiny nor do I give it much credence other than to say it is likely part of the body’s normal process. It could be lean muscle gain, or it could be a little water retention from too much wheat or salt this week.  Either are possible, but neither is worth being too concerned over this week.  Striving to eat clean will yield benefits regardless of whether it directly addresses whatever led to the minor weight gain, so an approach that sticks to the plan is likely the best.   

New Keyboard: 

Previously, I had been using a nifty clamshell case & keyboard all-in-one rig for my ipad.  It was actually my second of that style – and it has served me fairly well, with one exception. The keyboards in those things almost always suck.  This one was no exception.  After a year of use, I kept letting multiple strikes and light strikes – in a random sampling a single mid-length paragraph contained 20-some errors.  Now, those of you out there that also write know very well this is a non starter.  It was time for it to go. 

What I wanted for a replacement was a mechanical keyboard.  Just like what I use on my desktop computer (a Das Keyboard with Cherry MX brown switches) but only smaller and portable.  And so I found an answer – The Dierya keyboard.  It’s about 60% size and uses a Cherry MX brown switch equivalent.  So it’s tactile, sure-footed, yet remains portable.  It will never be as portable the super flat keyboards with the bubble membrane actuation keys …but it’s a joy to type on.  The membrane keyboards have become like typing on a marshmallow to me …just can’t do it. Yuck!

keyboard
My new portable mechanical keyboard, the Dierya.

Sidebar: Mechanical vs Membrane Keyboard: 

Keyboards, generally, fall into two types: Membrane and Mechanical.  A membrane keyboard has a single piece of flexible material which forms a “bubble” under each key and serves as the resistance and position return for that individual key.  They are light, thin, and usually very quiet.  Mechanical keyboards have a mechanical spring-actuated switch under each key.  They are bigger, heavier and louder.  However the typing experience for a writer is unparalleled on a mechanical keyboard.  The positive response and return provides absolute repeatability and consistency.  So for me, there’s really no other option.

The type of switches in a mechanical keyboard are also important  The Gold Standard is a german company that makes the Cherry MX series of switches.  They are differentiated by color codes that tell you what type of actuation they possess and how “clicky” they are. So my “brown” switches possess particular characteristics that I find most pleasing. You can learn more here: 

https://www.cherrymx.de/en/blog/cherry-mx-switches-at-a-glance.html

Not Alone in Making Mechanical Moves:

I found a fascinating article recently by a writer who went through the same keyboard journey that I did. He penned a nice article on CNET that describes his foray into mechanical keyboards:

https://www.cnet.com/news/one-writers-long-overdue-adventure-with-das-lofree-mechanical-keyboards/

Working Remotely:

My Monday started with me up early, and taking dad to his eye appointment. Dad gets some medication that won’t let him see very well afterwards, so I am his chauffeur on those days!  It’s actually kind of fun, plus I get to learn exactly how he is doing. So this week I brought my ipad and external keyboard to do some writing in the car while I waited for dad.  It was going to be a unique experiment because I didn’t know if I could write comfortably in a car.  It turns out that with my ipad stand draped over the steering wheel and my new keyboard in my lap, I can!  Oh yeah …it’s also nice to have a lap again!  After losing all this weight, that’s one side benefit …I can put things on my lap again!

writing in the car
Writing in the car: an impromptu setup worked well!

Not the Wake-up Call I Wanted:

So here I am…sitting in the car, working away …trying to wake up.  Something is missing. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  I was looking at the people walking by. The parking lot was very busy and folks were in a rush to get on with their day.  I noted that some were in a hurry with apprehensive looks as they headed in to the medical building and those coming out were keen to get in their cars and get on to their next order of business. 

I reached my for thermos of coffee to take a sip …and that’s when it suddenly became crystal clear what was missing this morning. My coffee.  I left the thermos in the kitchen …complete with coffee in it.  No wonder things felt slightly off! I was in violation of the ritual.  I normally always start my day with coffee or tea.   It rattled me! 

me
Deer In Headlights. This look says “oh crap, I left my coffee at home…”

Baseball On The Deck: 

With some beautiful weather, I took full advantage and had a few nights of “baseball on the deck”.  This is where I move the smart TV out to the deck mounting location and I take in a baseball game in the great out-of-doors.  Its not quite the same as watching the Twins live at their awesome stadium, but it’s pretty darn good! 

I understand that having a television outside is pretty much de rigeur down south or in warmer, drier climates.  But in the upper Midwest, it’s not all that common.  That’s why I made it removable …most of the time it sits on a pull down mount in the 4 season porch.  But when the weather plays nice, we can bring it outside for some fun on the deck.  Often joined by perennial Twins fan, Johnny Hoy, we take in the game, he educates me on the finer points of how much our relievers suck, and we enjoy cigars to the dulcet sounds of the crack of a bat.  

Deck life
Baseball on the Deck! A Minnesota Twins night game is part of the deck ritual! Ah summer! I love it!

Marketing Makes The Difference:

Cleanse drink
The nutritional supplement I use for cleanse days

On Thursday I did what Isagenix refers to as a “cleanse day”.  Usually, whenever I hear people talk about this they start out with a comment that it’s a cellular cleanse and not a gastro-intestinal cleanse.  And then usually follow up with something about it being “nutritionally supported intermittent fasting”.  A big part of why this preamble even needs to take place is because of the naming of the nutritional supplement product that is used to support this fasting activity. It’s called “Cleanse for Life”. Now with a name like that, most people immediately make a connection to the GI cleanse prompted by the chalky drink that your doctor gives you to clean out your insides.  It’s a different type of cleanse, but it evokes the wrong imagery.

When this product was exported to the UK, they changed the name.  They called it Nutrition for Life.  I think it is a better name and would make a ton of sense to change it in the rest of their markets as well. But appropriate marketing can make all the difference, can’t it?   

Intake:

How did I do in the kitchen this week? Not bad but also not perfect.  I don’t pretend to be perfect so I can live with little things.  But I get the sneaking suspicion I am rationalizing a bit and probably could do better than I am.  What do I mean?  I mean that I am keeping my overall caloric goals in check, but that what makes up those calories could be better.  Less peanut butter, less crackers, less chips and salsa – more vegetables, more clean foods, and push back on the portion sizes.  Sometimes they are bigger when I am more hungry.  I need to constantly check myself so I am not letting things get away from me.  It’s difficult to do, and it something I always struggle with. 

“Eat Like You Train”:

Recently, my friend, Natalie Shafer, posted a great meal picture with the tag line “eat like you train”. How I interpreted her meaning is straightforward: If you are serious about your diet, then you need to have the discipline to eat like you are training for an athletic event.  That is a great way to inspire determination and dedication to a dieting goal.

I look back to how I was eating at the start of my diet and note that it was a little bit closer to what Natalie is talking about.  There is a great lesson to be learned here!  It’s things like this that illustrate the value of surrounding yourself with inspirational teammates. These are the kinds of things I draw on to help keep me strong – when others around me are flexing their muscles in the same way it makes it just a little bit easier. Many hands make for light work.

healthy food
“Eat like you train” – Photo and meal prepared by my friend Natalie Shafer. Natalie leads by example, and this is what having a supportive team is all about! Great job Natalie!

Striking the Right Balance:

Each of us has to determine, for ourselves, what is the right balance between eating clean and actually living life.  We don’t want to be monastic or so strict on our diet that it becomes akin to punishment.  But at the same time, we do need to keep in mind that the choices we make on a daily basis matter.  It’s about consistently making the healthy choice and being intentional about where we allow ourselves to splurge.  If we do it too often, we need to understand there will be consequences. 

For me, my body is not terribly forgiving, so in order to keep making positive progress, I need to toe the line a bit closer than some.  That is what I am talking about when I say that I need to make better, cleaner, choices.  It’s been difficult, and it is especially difficult to manage when my body has been demanding more fuel this summer.  My analytic nature leads me to recognize where I need to improve and continue to work in that direction.  Anything less will result in a slow erosion of my diet and dedication.

Exercise: 

This week was pretty good – as I have said recently, the exercise part of my week continues to be a relatively easy task.  This week I logged 70 miles on my bike.  That’s a pretty good amount for me. That was 5 days of biking and 2 days off this week.  These other days were still filled with a fair bit of movement and activity, just mostly housework and not a dedicated exercise session.  I am satisfied with my exercise levels and can feel my physical capabilities changing as I stay dedicated to exercising. It’s a pretty good feeling to know that what you are doing is working.

My Take-Away:

I think the most important take-away this week continues to be a need to focus on the kitchen and keep myself accountable there.  There has been nothing specific that has really triggered this concern about whether I may be too lenient on my intake, it’s just that looking back over the last few weeks I am beginning to sense a trend of leniency and snacking.  I need to correct that and get back to “eating like I train”.  Onward, friends.

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