How To Lose Weight

You might be forgiven in thinking that we’ve moved from a tech blog into a lifestyle magazine but I wanted to share a little of my life from the past 18 months. In late spring last year, I visited my doctor and she pointed out that in the 20 years since I joined her practice, I’d put on over 20 kg in weight – about 44 lb – and that my blood pressure was up. All classic signs of a heart attack waiting to happen. I had to lose some weight, get the pounds off and lower that blood pressure or an early exit beckoned. Obviously I’m still here but did I shed the pounds and how did I do it.

First of all, let’s get over the fact that there’s no diet in existence that will make you magically lose weight; you have to work at it. However, the recipe for weight loss is very straightforward – there are only three ingredients really.

  • Eat less
  • Eat better
  • Exercise more

While the recipe for weight loss is easy, I’ll admit that following it isn’t. The good news is that you can have three square meals a day; the bad news is that it means no junk – no crisps (chips), sweets or late night peanut butter sandwiches. There’s no need to starve: just take smaller portions and if you are full, stop eating.

Wii Fit Balance BoardAs a geek, I also employed a bit of tech to help achieve my goal – a Nintendo Wii with Balance Board, a Fitbit Zip and food apps / web sites.

Most people will be familiar with the Nintendo Wii though sadly its discontinuation has been announced in the past few day. The Balance Board is bundled with WiiFit and WiiFit Plus, and while the associated programs are fun enough, I used the Balance Board as electronic scales to record my weight. Each morning, shortly after getting up, I’d weigh myself on the Balance Board. If my weight was down, I gave myself a mental high five. If my weight was up, it was a mental “you need to do better”. The Wii records your weight day by day and will show a graph of your progress.

Fitbit ZipThe second piece of gadgetry is the Fitbit Zip. It’s an advanced digital pedometer that will upload its data to your PC and onwards to Fitbit’s portal. I received this for Christmas and Fitbit tries to gamify the activity of walking further by competing against friends and awarding badges. While I don’t need any stinkin’ badges, I was quite chuffed to be awarded my 1000 mile badge last month. The Zip doesn’t make you fitter by itself, but it does make you aware of walking and now I often choose to walk where previously I might have taken the car. Every little bit helps.

Finally to help eat better, I used a range of foodie websites and apps to find new, interesting and low calorie recipes. I find the BBC’s offerings both on their main site and on the Good Food site are excellent. Many of the supermarkets, such as Tesco, have good recipes too. Look for sections on healthy eating. App-wise, there’s a Good Food app on Android too. It helps if the app and website cater to metric as well as imperial units and do the conversions properly as directly converting from oz to g doesn’t work terribly well.

A word of advice. When browsing the supermarket shelves, “low fat” is not a particular benefit when the product is laden with sugar to make up the taste so approach with caution any food which loudly makes those claims. Ultimately, I found that weight and calories were the best guides so read the nutritional information on the back of food.

Did I succeed in losing weight with help from this tech? Absolutely – I’ve managed to lose nearly 18 kg (40 lb) and 4″ in waistline. There’s still a few pounds to lose but I do feel tremendously better for it. It has been hard work even with the tech – it requires willpower to say “no” to food, and food is so very much part of Western culture. But you can do it as I did. Remember; eat less, eat better, exercise more. Take encouragement from your success and determination from your setbacks.

GNC-2010-10-26 #621 No New Tricaster Yet!

Hey folks back in Hawaii for two shows only, then I will be in Albuquerque for 3 weeks on a consulting gig. Really weird doing the show without the tricaster, one thing for sure I have a whole lot less to do in the show which was kinda nice for a change. Had my outpatient work done on my arm today where the took some skin samples to from some suspect spots so should know at the end of the week whether I will need some more intensive treatment or not, fingers are crossed.

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Nintendo Wii Internet Access

Before I go on a tangent about the Wii, let me say that I like the system. More importantly my kids really like it. I don’t care for the overall selection of games but do enjoy the sports games we have. The problem I have is a simple one. Nintendo has an online store where you can download old school games to your Wii. You have to buy the games which I have no problem with. I really wanted to buy Techmo Bowl which was my favorite game when I was younger. It was a simple football game that took a lot less thinking than today’s Madden Football games. Perfect for me! Anyway when I investigated further I found out I need a special wire to connect to my router or wireless adapter (no longer available I think). Not only could I not use the perfectly good ethernet cable I had on hand, I could not even run out to Walmart to grab the special Nintendo one. Apparently it is only available at nintendo.com or Walmart’s online store. Don’t get me wrong, I like ordering online, but this was a weekend thing so I wanted it right then. I knew by the time I got it it would be a week day and I would be working so I would have to wait to use it until next weekend. So the passion for the game faded a bit and after a few days it was not on the top of my to do list. I know Nintendo is full of smart people and likely make a killing off selling this “special” ethernet cable but they are also putting up a roadblock between another product and the customer. They should either put the special cord in the box when you buy the Wii or better yet make it compatible with regular ethernet cables.

I know other game systems likely do the same thing so I don’t want to pick on Nintendo alone. Also I realize most products come with the bare minimum so the price is low enough to get you started in hopes that you will buy more later. My Sony HD camcorder records HD really well & the video looks great on the big screen. But guess what it would look better with…. a freaking mini HDMI cable! It came without one and you have to get it at sony.com I assume since the place I bought the camcorder does not carry one. This is frustrating but unlike the Wii it does not stop me from buying another sony product because of a roadblock to the internet. However it does make my viewing experience less than it can be.