Anvil or Hammer


Help me get a plan and process

Posted in Diet and Bodyweight,Goals,Rant,Toys and tools by Mike on June 11, 2007

Sorry for the long delay.
So I gained. Not much but I gained when I need to be going down. I’ve been thinking about this a fair bit the last week or two, cause it’s not a new thing. I’ve thought of half a dozen excuses and possible reasons. In the end I decided that my diet and exercise PLANS are sound it’s the stuff outside the plans that is breaking me. It’s fairly obviously that when I get busy or get derailed from my plan is when I hold steady or gain. When I’m on, I’m on. One could argue it’s weak will but I don’t think that is really the case. I do think that I use the abnormalities of life as an excuse to deviate.
As I thought more about it, I decided it is symptom of a bigger issue. I tend to have that issue at large. I can have a heavy schedule and as long as it flows, I’m mostly good but throw a couple curveballs and I get all messed up. I tend to just stop, maybe I’m pouting I don’t know but I just stop doing anything. The more I looked at the diet and the bigger problem, I decided it came down to writing it down. I have this blog where I keep the after effects of my goings on but I don’t write it down before it happens.
I think I do that for a reason but not a good reason. Writing it down before hand means expectations and requirements. Writing it down before hand means I thought about it, knew what I needed to do. That also means owning up when you just don’t do it. Basically it’s an added layer of responsibility to yourself.

So I have decided, I need a tool. I don’t know what it is yet but I need a tool. I need something that I can use to write down what I am supposed to be doing. My first thought goes to a planner. I need more than just a calendar though. A calendar is nice but just scratchs the surface. I would need persistent lists that I could follow through and temporary lists for one day or another. It would have to be flexible enough to hold long chunks of text (like a blog does) but also to be able to hold tables of information. I know that most modern planners come with scratch paper and junk so maybe that could do it.
I tried to keep thinking though. Im not sure paper is as dynamic as I want. Now, bear in mind, I am a computer geek through and through. I don’t think I have explained this to you all but I spend about half of my work day designing Access databases. I’m by no means a master of the art but I’m getting much better. Knowing I’m a DB geek, my mind goes to the idea of making it a database project, it could be tons of fun. Infinitely flexibleand dynamic.
There is a problem with that though too, actually a couple. I need something that is ultimately cross platform. I can’t be limited by the fact that my laptop is XP but my desktop is VISTA or by the fact that I might be running it on Ubuntu. That almost implies that it needs to be a web thing, but I don’t know enough of the dynamic web stuff to create this. Another issue is that I need it now. I can’t invest a year in building this thing. I need to have it here this week.
So that brings me back to paper, which I’m still not sold on.
I did consider a PDA. I have had two in my life. One, I had a long time ago and it was when they were new. It was a piece of junk. I used it to download games so I could play checkers or something while I was in the car. I got a better one recently. It died in less than month. It’s still in my pile of computer junk I’m not using. It froze up and I can’t seem to unfreeze. It wasn’t sad to see it go. I tried to use it but it really didn’t seem to intergrate with anything well. It wasn’t any good at bringing in my email, I couldn’t look at my feeds on it. The list keeping ability was totally one dimensional. I felt like it was worse than paper. Although, supposedly it could play MP3s 🙂 .

So I am coming to you all. Suggestions.
What is the killerapp to organize your diet, workout, goals, education and life?
I realize that
A) no one system will probably be able to do all that so working across multiple systems is likely.
B) No system of organization can be effective without the human component.

Now to give you and idea of how I organize now.
Diet – There is no organization. I have a basic template of how I think I should eat and I just try to follow it. I don’t document the plan and I don’t document the deviations
Workout – Most of the time I make it up on my way to the gym. Half the time I document it while I am there. The other half the time I just try to remember it for later. In all cases, I try to write it down in the blog. It could be 2 hours later, it could be 48 hours.
Work – My work email calendar is Very up to date, with work stuff only. I organize by doing the oldest email first or whatever is actively burning.
Websites – not much, I just sit down and try to remember what it was I was trying to do last
Other – none
I don’t keep persistent lists like shopping or large budgetary items.
I keep temporary lists and notes on scraps of paper. Little corners or the back of something. I keep the scrap under my keyboard but sticking out until the task is done, then I thow it away, usually.

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14 Responses to 'Help me get a plan and process'

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  1. Chris Rice said,

    Any chance you’re over thinking this? Your workouts follow Chaos Theory perfectly and seem to be working for you other than the weight loss aspect. At some point you’re going to have to prioritize to lose weight by putting fewer calories in and burning a lot more calories with your exercise program. Consider Weight Watchers or some other organized diet plan and see what happens. If you really want to lose weight – just do it – then come back and get strong again – your strength loss will be smaller than you think.

    “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”

  2. Stephen said,

    Mike: I’d like to revisit goal specificity with a few questions. You mention you “need to be going down.” What specific need are you fulfilling? What is the singular purpose of the weight loss? Is it important enough to sacrifice some of your absolute strength? How can you combine the weight loss with a competitive interest (i.e. lower weight class in the strongman, powerlifting, olympic lifting, boxing, etc).

  3. Scott Styles said,

    No offense Mike, but I think you just need to eat less at every meal and get used to never being full. It seems like you are looking for that miracle tool, when it really comes down to consistently consuming less food.

    With all the activity you do at your weight, you must burn at least 3000 calories a day. If you intentionally under consume at each meal, the weight should drop right off. It’s working for me, and I’m sure you have more muscle and train harder than I do.

    Keep it strict for a month to learn the right patterns, then allow yourself one cheat day a week. If you don’t drop your pound, cut more from each meal the next week. Accept the fact that once you drop the weight, what is strict now will become your normal diet. You’ll get used to it.

  4. Scott said,

    Personally I’m a fan of GTD (Getting Things Done), a great book by David Allen. There’s a good primer on 43 Folders. Grab the book if you see it, or check out the immense amount of free material (podcasts, articles and so on).

  5. Mike said,

    I’ll take ’em in turn:

    Chris, Yes there is a great chance I am overthinking it. I’ll come back to your weightloss suggestion in a minute

    Stephen, For me, the weightloss has a lot of things behind it but the biggest one is that I am convinced that 260 is not a healthy weight. 210 seems pretty healthy. I want 235 by the end of the year and then I will reevaluate myself. I’m also planning on getting a physical later this year, something I haven’t had in a very long time. Yeah I’m willing to lost strength for this.

    Scott S, No doubt, your plan kicked butt for you, so you have that behind you. The weird thing for me is that when I went off the diet and then back on. I went right back to the same diet and didn’t lose. I cut my calories further and don’t lose. I basically eat a bowl of oats, a yogurt, some kind of meat entree (probably a serving and half in nutritionists ideas), a normalish dinner and two – three salads per day. I don’t think I’m even hittin 2000 calories. Still on my off days, I probably do overeat, so maybe my average is just off. It is pretty much my normal diet these days. I find I don’t feel as well when I get away from it.

    Scott B, I opened the links in some other tabs and will get to them shortly. I know you’re a big 43 folders fan, I have used their inbox zero and liked it. Have you ever checked out David Seah’s stuff, it’s a bit more gimmicky but geared towards the self employed, which, if I recall, I think you are.

    No doubt this post was born out of frustration with diet and other things. It came after a largely unproductive weekend in which I didn’t get a whole list of things done including making my meals for this week, which is usually a Sunday night thing. It seemed like I would “just kill a little time” and the next thing I know I blew and hour. I spent the whole weekend like that.
    I thought about this whole thing throughout the day yesterday. I need to keep a better log of goals and intents but they will do me no good if I don’t refer to them. I’m gonna keep a notebook/planner for that and some other stuff.
    Some of the frustration is just coming out of having too many balls in the air right now: Gym, School, Websites, Work, Certifications, other stuff. Some of it comes out of having had a successful first half of the year with weight loss and the second half is beginning to erode away with no success.

    So the consensus on the diet thing is, eat less and aerobic more… I’m gonna post on the aerobic thing in the next 48 hours. I’ll put my ideas of “aerobics” out and see what hits back.

  6. Chris Rice said,

    Mike – Sean (my son) was reading this last night and said to tell you to just sit down on the rower and get off when you weigh what you want. He said he ended up in the best shape of his life and the strength loss was well worth it in terms of the way he felt and moved again. He rowed almost every day – anywhere from a short sprint to an hour session. He lifted a little but mostly 1 to 3 rep stuff to maintain strength. He was concerned about the health aspects of weighing over 300# even if he was carrying a lot of muscle He certainly did lose strength, hard to lose almost 100 pounds and not. He has since moved up to a fairly lean 250# and looks and feels great at 6′ 4″. It’s all about your goals, only you can decide what has the most importance to you.

  7. Mike said,

    Tell Sean thanks. I can’t do it every day, just Monday and Wednesday. I need to figure out the other days.

  8. Scott Styles said,

    You need to eat like someone who weighs 50lbs less than you would eat, even when you overeat. Stomach capacity shrinks if it is not pushed to the limit.

    I think cardio is a losing battle for someone with more than 10-15lbs to drop. It takes too much time to burn a lot of calories, cuts into muscle mass, and is too boring to sustain for the long term.

    Very few lean people are that way as a result of doing 60 minutes of cardio 5 days a week. The ones who are don’t usually look very healthy to me. Flip through a copy of Runner’s World to see what tons of endurance work gets you. I’ll pass.

    What if you ate exactly what your wife eats for one week? Match her portion for portion for a week. Could be interesting to see the result.

  9. Mike said,

    This is why I hate weightloss. It’s still in the dark ages. There is no real science behind weightloss, it’s all anecdotal. Everyone has a vague notion that they should eat less than they burn but even that is up for grabs. Some people think it’s about what you eat or when you eat.
    Bob Greene is lean, he says Don’t eat after 8 pm
    John Berardi is lean, he says Eat fiber and protein at every meal
    Pavel is lean, he says Eat tiny meals throughout the day and one huge meal at the end
    Jim Fit is thin, he says Do aerobic exercise for an hour a day
    Keith Richards is thin and he does a line of blow for breakfast

    As for eating what my wife eats, I don’t like carbs enough for that. Besides, calorically we aren’t that far apart right now. Most of the extra volume I eat on a daily basis is in my salads.
    I do eat like someone who weighs 50lbs less, ask Dan and Luke. We go get food together, they both eat more than I do. They aren’t the first people to notice it.

    I can get lean, I have been lean twice in my life. I just gotta figure out how to get there and I gotta figure out how to stay there for once. Of course, to get away from leanness I had to stop working out the other two times, I’m not really planning on that. Of course, I wasn’t then either….
    wanna cuss…

  10. Scott Styles said,

    I think the only common thread is everyone who succeeds burns more than they eat. It all comes down to what works for you. Chris is right on, as usual.

  11. Scott Styles said,

    More on this – I wonder if there is something substantially different about your daily patterns that results in you burning fewer calories? Would you get something out of 15 minutes of kettlebells in the morning every day?

    I find the days I train in the morning I am more awake, aware, and move a lot more. That probably results in more calories burned.

  12. Mike said,

    I like the 15 minutes of kettlebells in the morning idea. It is something I have bantered about in my head but never seem to work up the guts for. I believe it is worth a try.

  13. Scott said,

    I’ll second the idea of morning workouts. In my case though, it’s just a light bodyweight-only affair in addition to the serious stuff later. Don’t really trust myself with anything heavy first thing in the morning 🙂

  14. Mike said,

    I don’t think I’ll go heavy, it would be kettlebells at most. I might try to get a bit of a sweat but also exploit some mobility stuff like windmills at the same time.


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