A few weeks ago, I built a new gaming computer. My long-suffering Lenovo y510p laptop was around 7 years old, and while it’s a great gaming laptop, these things don’t last forever.
I had been having trouble with it for a couple of years. Certain games would make it overheat and crash, but I just didn’t play those games and turned settings down and got by. But last year, I reached the point where the number of games that I wanted to play, but couldn’t, was higher than those that I could play.
So I built a new machine. I had thought about buying one instead of building, but you save so much money building, which meant fewer months of saving up money. And today, the last piece came in: a new keyboard. Subsequently, I’m writing a blog post.
Intel Core i5-8600k 3.6GHz 6-Core Processor
Asus – Prime Z370-A ATX LGA1151 Motherboard
G.Skill – Trident Z 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 Memory
Crucial – MX300 525GB 2.5″ Solid State Drive
Seagate – Barracuda 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive
I’m super pleased. I decided not to get the highest-end video card, and I haven’t yet upgraded my monitor. I plan to get a new monitor later this year because mine is going dim after however-many-years it has been. But the video card needs no upgrade, as it turns out. I’m running everything on maximum settings, and I even have some add-ons installed for Elder Scrolls Online that make it even prettier, and I’m getting at least 60 FPS in everything. This has been an unmitigated success.
The only challenge that I ran into is that my external hard drive was corrupted. It looked like it still worked, but when I tried to transfer all of our photos to the new computer, it failed. Thankfully, I had everything backed up through Carbonite, and they had backed up before whatever/whenever it was that the external got corrupted, so I was able to restore everything going back to 2005. That would have been pretty heartbreaking to lose all of our pictures.
Now I just need to get used to this keyboard. I’m still managing around 90 words per minute, but I’m making a lot more errors than I would like. I do enjoy the feel and responsiveness of it though, and I look forward to doing more writing with it. It is higher profile than I’m used to so I may need to get a wrist rest.
It took another 11 days, which indicates that my weight loss is slowing significantly, but here we are.
Starting weight: 240
Goal weight: 190
Current weight: 199.8
I was at 190 pounds at the end of my freshman year of college. Just 9 more to go to reach my goal.
Given that I have been maintaining a caloric deficit for the last week, I suspect I’ve still got some water weight hanging around. Let’s see if I can stick to keto for another few days to drop that off.
I’m still continually surprised by the life I lead. It’s so awesome, and I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve this beautiful house, or April, or our friends, or my awesome job, etc. etc.
God is good. April and I sat in the front room yesterday morning and just looked out the window at the birds for a while, enjoying the peace and each other’s company, and I want to hold onto that memory forever.
I’m heading to SF to spend a day with our CEO, the head of products (my boss), and the head of product marketing to talk about Adaptavist Learn and plan our next steps.
In other news, I’m down to 200 even.
Starting weight: 240
Goal weight: 190
Current weight: 200.6
For those keeping score, my weight loss has slowed down; that’s only 3 pounds in the last 2 weeks. Now that I’m normal weight, I keep eating non-keto stuff 1-2 times a week, which breaks keto and slows my weight loss. But I feel tons better already, and I still anticipate hitting my goal weight this spring. If I wasn’t going to SF today, I suspect I’d be at 199 by Wednesday. As it is, I’ll probably eat Chinese food and other stuff that will spike me back up and it’ll be another 1-2 weeks.
Oh, one last thing I want to write down so I remember it: last week I volunteered at Campbell Elementary for a STEAM night (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). Kids came and there were 5 rooms with different activities, plus free food for them and their families. Campbell doesn’t have a PTA, so a few area churches have pitched in to fill the role that parents might at other schools.
I don’t know why I was surprised by this, but I was surprised by how nice the teachers were. I guess you have to be pretty nice to survive as an elementary school teacher, but for some reason, my mental image of a teacher is: exhausted, burned out, cynical, bitter. I wonder where that comes from? It certainly wasn’t evident at Campell. I didn’t really do much (signed people in at the front door), but I was happy to contribute and I hope I get another opportunity to volunteer there in the future.
Edit: Oh, also, for future-me, this is the week you got a Helix mattress and it’s going pretty OK. It’s comfy but still kind of smells weird. I think we made the right choice getting it.
I hit my first milestone on January 20th: normal weight. For my height, I dropped out of the overweight category at 209 pounds.
Once I reached normal weight, I became less strict with my diet. That weekend, I enjoyed some cake at April’s birthday party. I had some Thai and Chinese food and pizza over the following weeks. Just a few nights ago, April and I went to a movie and I ate a LOT of popcorn.
But I’m continuing to track and log every meal (and tubs of popcorn), weighing what we’re making, eating a salad for lunch most days, and making sure that I stay under my calorie goal. CICO (calories in, calories out) is king.
Starting weight: 240
Goal weight: 190
Current weight: 203.7
What I’m finding is that dropping off keto makes me retain water, but because I’m maintaining CICO, I’m continuing to burn fat and lose weight. And then I go back on keto, and around 4 days later I drop the water weight and see a whoosh on the scale. I’ve “lost” about 3 pounds this week (2.1 in the last day), but I’ve been at 206-209 since Feb. 3. I was actually losing weight over the last two weeks but retaining enough water that it didn’t look like it.
So that’s encouraging. Weighing myself daily has actually had a really positive impact on my weight loss mindset. I can see a clear connection now between what I eat and the impacts of those foods, and that gives me an additional sense of control. I know that certain things are going to make me retain water and my weight will go up, and that’s OK because I know that 4 days of keto will drop that water back off and the fat loss will become evident.
The less-positive realization I’ve had is that I can’t wait to buy some new clothes. I’m cinching my jeans so much with my belt that they won’t stay buttoned. April and I are going to hit up some thrift stores today, find out what size of jeans I wear now (I’ve lost 2.5 inches there, but I’m skeptical that this means I just switch from 38″ to 36″ jeans). I think I’ll probably be down another 0.5-1 inch once I hit my goal weight, so I don’t want to do the full wardrobe replacement yet.
The Vivoactive 3 watch is helping, I think, but Garmin’s software sucks in general. I’ll write a separate review sometime on the Garmin Index Scale, Vivoactive 3, and Garmin Connect, their incredibly buggy software interface. That said, I do like the watch, and it is helping me keep better track of my calorie burn.
A week from today, my Garmin Vivoactive 3 ships. Maybe. It’s already over a week late, and I don’t really trust United’s Mileageplus to follow-through since they already missed the first date.
You might be wondering, if I’m losing weight without some sort of device to track steps and whatnot, why am I getting one now?
The answer is two-fold. First, because my miles were expiring and I wanted to use them before they all went poof. Second, because I want an easier way to keep track of my heart rate during activities compared to wearing a chest strap. And third, because I think the data it provides me will help me stay balanced going forward.
One of the interesting things I’ve discovered over the last 11 weeks on the keto diet is that I rarely struggle to stay under my calorie and macro goals. This high-fat diet leaves me pretty satiated, and I don’t have much trouble avoiding ice cream. (Avoiding rice is another matter, so I pretty much have to stay away from Thai and Chinese restaurants if I don’t want to blow my carb goal for a day.)
The challenge I have is eating enough of the right stuff, particularly when I’m active. Right now, I’m only having around 1,500 calories a day, and I feel fine. But if I burn 800, I absolutely need to eat more. And if I don’t do a good job of tracking how much energy I’m burning, then I may not eat enough. Typically, when people exercise and don’t track their calories, they end up eating more than they burned, but because I’m using MyFitnessPal to log everything I eat, I am firmly sticking to the calorie goal.
I’m also really curious to see how many calories I burn during regular activities. For instance, I’ve read that standing during work hours, like using a standing desk for your computer, can burn 400 calories in an 8 hour day. I certainly feel it in my legs, but do I need to eat more those days? Or did I just burn an extra 100-150 like I do during yoga? I can handle a 100 calorie deficit (a couple pieces of dark chocolate), but 400 is more than I have for breakfast, and 2/3 what I eat for lunch or dinner.
I look forward to blogging on March 16th to see if the trend of the last 11 weeks continued and I have hit my goal. March would be a good time for that.
I discovered a few days ago that we lost 40,000 miles. In order to not lose the rest, I went through United’s merchandise that you can buy with miles.
To help better track my ongoing fitness improvements, I ordered a Garmin Vivoactive 3 and a Garmin Scale. I did a few hours of reading today to compare the Samsung Gear 3, Fitbit Ionic, and the Garmin Vivoactive 3, and I feel pretty confident in my decision.
And if I hate them, I can sell them and put the cash in the bank. But I think this will help. I’ve been weighing myself regularly, but I definitely don’t log it when my weight goes up. Instead, I wait for it to go back down (in a week or two) before I log again. Having a scale log automatically will help keep me accountable. And I’ve got some strength and cardio goals for the new year that the Vivoactive will help track.
At the end of the day, gadgets don’t help you lose weight. You can’t outrun your diet, and keto is helping address that part of the equation. One of my favourite fitness quotes is, “Suffer the pain of discipline or suffer the pain of regret.” The discipline of the diet isn’t too painful for me, but I think exercising will be more of a challenge.
In related news, some of my weight from yesterday turned out to be water I guess.
Starting weight: 240
Goal weight: 190
Current weight: 217
At this rate, I have about 10 more weeks until I hit my goal weight.
This year was terrible and disheartening in regards to politics. I spent a good chunk of 2017 disillusioned and unmoored from society. The US presidential election communicated to me that I am what the majority voted against (educated, liberal, wants to provide healthcare and education to people). That’s still there, though the depression from it has lessened.
I also spent the year doing a job I love, and making real progress in several areas of my life. So let’s talk about the good things, and what I can look forward to in 2018.
Our largest expense this year was paying off my student loans. We’ll never have to do that again. That’s paid for and done. Over. Gone.
23%: Student loan payoff
21%: Tithe to the church
20%: Home mortgage payment
11%: Retirement investment
3%: AT&T? Really? Well, they are our home internet, and we had our mobile phones through them until we switched to Project Fi, so I guess that’s believable… sheesh
3%: Modern Springfield provides furniture delivery from IKEA. I had them delivering for both our home and Adaptavist’s downtown office, so that one isn’t surprising
17%: Everything else
I’m mostly happy about the student loans being gone. I wonder what this chart will look like next year.
It didn’t feel like we had much money this year, despite having a higher income than we’ve ever had. That’s because we had debt I wanted to pay off, and I wanted to start saving for retirement. Every month, any extra cash we’ve had has been thrown at credit cards or medical debt. While we haven’t been able to save hardly anything in terms of cash in an account, our net worth is doing pretty alright.
Mint hasn’t updated yet, but I paid off our credit cards yesterday, so that little bit of red in December will be gone by January. I’m also going to cancel our Citibank / American Airlines credit card and replace it with an Amazon Prime credit card. No more annual fee, and we’ll get cash back towards all the stuff we get on Amazon.
So 2017 is quite the success story for us from the financial perspective. I started working full-time in January 2007, so almost 11 years ago, and have been very focused on paying off debt, investing in retirement, building up savings, and improving our net worth. This is a stark contrast from my last year working at the university; I joined Adaptavist in October 2014.
So yeah, less debt, more savings. Nice.
Next up in 2018, we’re replacing our dishwasher! But we’ve decided that, whenever we have large expenses like that, we’re going to save up more than we need. I’m not sure how much more… saving up two times more is unrealistic for large expenses. For instance, in 2019 or 2020 I’d like to replace our fence, and that’ll be $10,000, so saving up $20,000 before we do it is quite a stretch. But I don’t want to save up cash to do something, then spend 100% of our savings as soon as we hit the goal.
I don’t think we’ll reach the point of a proper emergency fund in 2018 (three months of expenses in a savings account), but we’re going to use the credit card a LOT less and try to only spend money that we have.
I’m also going to get a new gaming computer in 2018! Savings for that begins in January and continues through December. Since I’ll be building my own, I’ll likely start doing that before December, but it’ll take until near the end of the year to save up enough. I’m going to get a new desk at home as well; I have enjoyed my standing desk at the office so much that I want to get one at home.
We might also insulate some pipes and a wall in our home. That would be a big project, though probably not terribly expensive… just lots of effort and mess. One of our pipes has frozen two winters in a row, and I can feel condensation build-up on the wall where the pipe is at, which suggests it’s just a bare pipe running through a poorly insulated outer wall right now.
Church and Faith
I didn’t do much in 2017 related to the Church. That is to say, my amount of service went down. I was visiting prisoners for a while, but a new warden reduced the number of visitation days during the week and I couldn’t make it during the remaining days, so I stopped doing that. I’m not preaching at Vineyard anymore because I couldn’t do it frequently enough to practice and get good. It was frustrating to be criticized on my sermons but only get to preach 1-2 times a year, such that I couldn’t really improve. And I’ve been praying with people less too. Every Sunday morning, when people go up for prayer, I ask God if I should pray with them, and 99% of the time He says no. He has someone else to pray with them, or in some cases, He has told me to just worship and be in His presence.
I think it has been restful and healing for me, in a sense. 2017 has been an opportunity to reflect and just… rest. It’s like when you’re feeling under the weather, not terrible just low energy, and you lie in bed all day. You don’t do anything drastic like go to a doctor and get a prescription, or sweat out a fever or some other strenuous sign of healing. You just rest for a while, and then you feel better.
2018 will likely be more of the same. During Advent, I was reflecting on joy and how much I have struggled with the concept of joy for years. Advent was one of those times I was regularly invited to preach, and preaching about something I hadn’t experienced much of was a challenge. My youth didn’t provide many opportunities for joy or hope. To be honest, my approach to hope was less a positive expectation and more a desperate bloody-mindedness. I didn’t wait for a better life to be given to me, I took it.
(As an aside, and because blogs are actually terrible ways to communicate nuance and a comprehensive message, I’m not saying that what I have in this life is by my own works and will. Everything I have, God gave to me. It is by His grace alone that I live. But I also believe that faith without works is dead, and that God wants us to partner with Him, which is to say that we have to be open to opportunities and we have to trust in God and pursue those opportunities if we’re going to succeed.)
2017 was hard in many respects. Politically, it feels like our country is going backwards. April and I experienced miscarriage, and the message during Advent I heard about waiting left me weeping; I’ve been waiting to have kids for 22 years now, and working towards that goal, and it’s hard. Ending every month with no cash in the bank is hard, even though I know it’s because we’re paying off debt and saving up for retirement.
But I also feel like I have come to understand joy and contentment better this year. I am truly hopeful, not just determined and motivated. I am content. I have trusted God in years past, but I feel like I moved to a new level of trust this year. The hard things aren’t as hard as they would have been a few years ago because I have confidence that God is in our corner. He hasn’t changed, I have. And the more I learn about that, the greater my joy because I can see how He has sheltered and provided for me, both materially and emotionally.
2018 will likely be continuing to grow in that area. I don’t think I’m “there” yet, but I think I’m getting there. I look forward to seeing where “there” is and what God calls me to next.
I will be starting one new service thing, which is doing some volunteer work at Campbell Elementary school as part of our church. I don’t know what that’ll look like quite yet, but I hope to start in January/February.
Adaptavist continues to be awesome. I’m still Head of Learning and Development, but in December my group was moved out of Operations and over to Products. My business model better aligns with Products, which has more of an investment focus: you build the thing, then sell the thing, whereas in Operations/Services, you have to get the business then hire the people to deliver the work. Adaptavist Learn is a product, and we’re going to be better able to invest in it as a product now. So that’s pretty exciting.
My current team is traveling to Springfield the second week of January so we can experiment with a new method of course development and try to write an entire course in one week. Then, two new people are joining my team later in January, which is huge. We haven’t hired anyone into L&D since March 2017. I’m hoping we’ll actually hire a couple more people sometime between February and March 2018.
In 2018, I’m looking forward to completing the foundational set of features for Learn, rounding out our course library so we have everything covered that I originally set out to cover, and making some huge improvements to our product documentation.
I have already written extensively about mynewdedication to the Keto diet. I surprised my dad recently when I told him that this isn’t just a temporary change to lose weight, but a lifestyle change. I’m in this for the long-haul.
A helpful quote I read recently: what matters isn’t what you eat between Christmas and New Years, but what you eat between New Years and Christmas. I definitely cheated some over Christmas… the first couple of days were OK and I was able to resist, but my mother-in-law’s biscuits and my father-in-law’s chocolate chip cookies were just too much. I couldn’t handle it. And then, when we came home, I had some french fries from Chik-Fil-A, followed by Chinese food for dinner.
Starting weight: 240
Goal weight: 190
Current weight: 220
Still the same weight I was pre-Christmas, and I’m down 3 pounds since my last blog post after London (18 days ago). Not bad.
I have some additional health goals for January, and the rest of 2018, but I don’t want to write about them. Instead, I’m just going to do them. I’ll tell you all about them later.
I have four more work days this year, including today, and then I’m on holiday until January. That’s pretty exciting.
Staying on my diet through Thanksgiving was pretty easy. I just ate turkey, ham, and green beans, and saw my siblings and some extended family at my mom’s house. It had been almost 10 years since I had seen my brothers. One of my nieces was there and I hadn’t seen her in 24 years.
Then, the Monday after Thanksgiving, I went to London. I was able to stay on keto through the first week without too much trouble. Salads with chicken, a McDonald’s salad with a couple of hamburger patties on top, roast chicken and squash and other veggies. Not too bad.
The second week was a loss, though. It’s hard to avoid rice when you’re having Thai food every other meal. I didn’t drink a single beer, but I did drink two bottles of wine one night. There was a pot pie for dinner one day, and pizza another, and I lacked for choices. So not ideal, but I tried to manage my portion size at least, and I think avoiding beer helped.
I was back on keto as soon as I got home last Friday, and the re-adjustment has been a bit tough. I’m hungrier than I was, so I made a fat bomb yesterday comprised of almond butter, cocoa, cream cheese, and heavy whipping cream. Then I made hot chocolate last night with almond milk, cocoa, some vanilla powder, cinnamon, a bit of xanthan gum, some swerve, and a bit of heavy whipping cream. I didn’t have much sugar while in London, but it was enough to have me craving sweets again.
All’s well that end’s well:
Starting weight: 240
Goal weight: 190
Current weight: 223
It’s neat to see these numbers, because I forget between blog posts what I weighed. I’m weighing myself every 1-3 days and logging it into MyFitnessPal so it’s pretty incremental, then I blog and see I’ve dropped 5 pounds since my last weigh-in.
This week, I’m finally adding in the exercise that I was supposed to do in week 2. I have a new battery for my heart rate monitor, so I got that working this morning, then rowed for 20 minutes and stayed in the target range for 7, per Mark Sisson’s book. He recommends 2 hours of exercise every week, so I figure if I do this 20 minute routine every morning, 6 days a week, that should set me right. We’ll see if I can keep that up, though. It was nice to listen to NPR while rowing this morning.
I have an 8 a.m. meeting, so I better get going. Heading into the office this week since I haven’t been there in almost 3 weeks.
I forgot to blog at the end of week 2. Or rather, I remembered a day late, and then never got around to it.
As of this morning:
Starting weight: 240
Goal weight: 190
Current weight: 228
Week 2 of the 21 day reset was supposed to include exercise, but that never happened either. On day 11, I finally adjusted to keto and was no longer hungry or craving. Because the keto diet wasn’t too different from what I was already eating, I think this was quicker than most people experience. No more Andy’s frozen custard. No more beer. No more potatoes or rice. Other than that, I kept eating the meat and vegetables I was, but I added more fat by way of avocados, butter, cheese, and avocado oil.
Unfortunately, my adjustment to keto tempted me to try intermittent fasting, and I found this similarly easy. I started skipping breakfast every day and eating all of my meals between noon and 8 p.m. And it’s great that I’m able to do that now, but it actually slowed my metabolism and caused me to retain more water. It turns out that intermittent fasting is supposed to be once every couple of weeks, not every single day.
So I cut that out, and started losing weight again. I got down to 229 on day 12, then at day 17 I was back up to 232, and as of this morning (day 21), I’m down to 228. So that’s cool.
The other focuses for week 2 were stress management and sleep. Sleep is going pretty well… April was sleeping poorly and having neck pain from her pillow, so I gave her mine, which was one of the top-rated memory foam pillows when I got it. It’s really good for side sleeping, but just a bit too thick for me. It turns out that she used it the last time I was travelling and it helped her a lot, so it made sense for her to keep it. I bought a Casper pillow, which I was skeptical of but they had it at Target, so I decided to give it a try and return it if I hated it. As it turns out, no matter how I lay on that pillow, it is comfortable.
My stress levels have been pretty good these last two weeks. Things are finally calming down at work such that I’ve had time to actually think and plan and get caught up. And with the additional mental energy that keto is helping provide, I finish the day at 5 p.m. and can still function in the evenings, which is wonderful.
I can’t say much about what’s going on at work, but I’m making some plans for the coming year and I’m pretty excited about it. I don’t quite know how we’re going to get where we’re going… because that’s what I’m working on: the how. I’m currently reading The DevOps Handbook and trying to figure out how to apply it to training development, and I’m really looking forward to being in London in a week (and a few days). I’ll be having many conversations with different people about how we can work better together, which is pretty much my favourite subject after Marvel comic books.
London is going to be a real challenge for this diet. But I’m going to do my level best to stick with it.
Next week: Thanksgiving. How’d it go? Stop by to find out.