Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's been about two weeks since my last update - but I've been loosely formulating plans of attack for all my goals and quieting all the mental noise I've been having as of late.

The most of which has been paying down my credit card debt.  I haven't been carrying a large balance, my balance is definitely lower than the national average.  It's still something that lingers when I pay my bills every month.

There are only a few handful of ways to approach this problem and stick with a solution:

1.)  Minimize expenditures and save more, thus increasing my monthly payment.
2.)  Make more money, and increase my monthly payment.
3.)  A combination of 1 & 2.

As with most things in life, easier said than done.

The "best" way to solve this problem is going to be option 3...

One of the many places Siobhan and I spend our money is going out to eat, drinks, entertainment, etc...  This is something I have to be more disciplined about.  She's not the antagonist, it's mostly me wanting to go out to blow off steam.

This works hand in hand with me wanting to lose the last bit of weight, so I've placed a rule on myself, I can only have beer at most once a week, and no more than 2 bottles/pints.

Another way is to save money by cooking more and eating out less, something that's relatively easy to do.  We both enjoy cooking and eating at home, we just need to cook more often and I need to be more disciplined in bringing food to work.

I need to plan out my spending and stick with a budget.  I don't splurge when I spend but I do get very impatient when I want something and I know how easy it is to simply use my credit card(s).

We've also been trying to simplify life a little more and getting rid of things we no longer need or use.  My motorcycle is one of those items.  I really don't have time to enjoy riding the bike anymore and it sits about 95% of the time collecting dust in the garage.  That'll be posted for sale on Craiglist fairly soon.

As far as making more money, ideas include getting a second job, asking for a promotion, or taking on freelance software work.

I won't go into details about work, that's a post for another day, rather I'll say that I know I can do a lot better in terms of salary and responsibility at other companies.  The current job I'm in right now is a dead-end unless things change, something I'll discuss this weekend.

We also have plans on moving in June once Siobhan finishes her semester and having a smaller rent payment will help immensely.

More to come.

- Jonathan

P.S.  In the weight-loss battle, I've gone down a few pounds since Jan 1st, currently weighing in at 205lbs.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Plans for losing the last 20 pounds and toning up

Warning:  This will be a lengthier post!

My weight loss journey has spanned the better part of the last 2 years.  I began paying attention to portions, exercise, calories, and all that fun stuff at the start of 2010 whilst I was in San Jose.

All the things I continue to do are lifestyle changes.  These are conscious decisions that I will continue to practice throughout the rest of my life.  

I've lost 65lbs now and I weighed in today (01/04/2012) at 209lbs.  I'm aiming to tip the scales at 195 - 200lbs, with the ultimate goal of having 6-pack abs and moderate muscle definition.  Not really looking to get "big", but gain some strength and endurance as I step into triathlon training.   

My plan to get there?  Keep on doing what I've been doing, but with more discipline.  In short, the more calories I burn through physical activity (and the less calories I eat) the more weight I lose.  This applies to anyone and everyone.  

I need to stick to my 1800 calorie daily limit, low carb, and high protein "diet".  This also means less (a whole lot less) eating out and processed foods.  I also enjoy healthy fats in moderation, like avocados and  such.  

My exercise routine consists of at least 30 minutes of cardio a day and at least 45 minutes of weight lifting, 3 - 4 days a week, anything more is gravy.  

I've found that doing at least 30 minutes of cardio activity have yielded great results, and apparently research has shown that the body begins burning fat around the 15 minute mark during physical activity, whereas the first 15 minutes the body is using glycogen reserves in your blood stream. has a good article here related to glycogen reserves and cardio:

In order to supplement muscle growth, I'll be eating a lot more protein, which also includes factoring whey protein shakes into my diet, and eating more protein during lunch and dinner. 

There's a holy war out there about when is best for protein intake - not going to bother with that here.  If I have time, I'll drink half of my protein shake before a workout and half after I'm done.  If I haven't eaten anything before I go lift, I'll drink the entire shake before I go.  

I use Optimum Nutrition 100% natural whey protein, no artificial sugars or sweeteners.  The use of whey protein is just to supplement what I protein I don't cook and eat.  It's easier to down a shake than to cook a bunch of chicken breasts and eat them before lifting!  Again, this is also calories into my body, so this often substitutes the snack I would eat before going to the gym.  

Here's a loose diet plan that I follow: 

Breakfast is any of the following:
  • Oatmeal, with raisins, brown sugar, sliced almonds
  • Whole grain cereal with a banana or apple, non-fat milk
  • Yogurt with a little granola and fruit
  • Cliff bar for when I didn't want to prepare anything else
  • 2 scrambled eggs, salsa, 2 strips of bacon, 2 slices of toast or a whole wheat tortilla
  • Coffee with 2 teaspoons of sugar and a splash of non-fat milk
Mid-morning snack is any of the following:
  • Single serving of roasted, un-salted almonds.
  • Another piece of fruit, apple, banana, orange, peach, etc...
Lunch is any of the following:  
  • Usually dinner's left overs
  • A 6" sandwich from Subway
  • Small cup of turkey chili and a muffin from the office cafeteria
Mid-afternoon snack was any of the following:
  • Single serving of roasted, un-salted almonds.
  • Another piece of fruit, apple, banana, orange, peach, etc...
Dinner was any of the following:
  • 2 scrambled eggs, 2 slices of bacon, salsa, whole grain tortilla
  • Pick 4 oz of lean protein (chicken, turkey, fish, even steak) sauteed or grilled, a few asparagus spears drizzled lightly with olive oil and baked, single serving of leafy green salad, no dressing. Also used a lot of frozen steamed veggies out of convenience.
  • Romaine lettuce, 4 oz of strip steak (grilled), 1/2 of a roasted bell pepper, 2 strips of bacon, 1 hard boiled egg, cherry tomatoes. I'd slice up the steak, bell pepper, and bacon, and toss it all together as a hearty salad.
  • Bowl of cereal if I was too lazy to cook.
The meal plan is flexible and I don't go too crazy over when I eat what.  I've found I eat out of boredom and I've been working hard to break that habit.  

All said and done, I try to eat healthier and really pay attention to my portions.  

Almost all of my exercise is driven by running and establishing my base level performance as I work towards finishing an Ironman triathlon in 2.5 years.  

This is a really high level view of my lifestyle and I've left quite a bit out.  I'm constantly tweaking my diet and my exercise to fit work, social life, etc...

I've also been very lucky to have good friends that enjoy the same type of physical activities, so it makes "cheating" on my work out plan pretty difficult.  I can't stress how important this is.  

Blogs, Facebook posts, even tweets often seem narcissistic and self-righteous, which for some, this is probably the case.  But I view public notification as a means to be accountable, an informal way tracking progress, and a source of motivation.

In a few days, I'll go through a quick list of the weight lifting routines I do and maybe figure out a way to put up my progress in terms of strength and mile times.  

As a last piece of motivation and comparison, here are 2 photos (click on the photo for a larger version), the first being taken my senior year of college, easily at 274lbs.  The photo on the right, taken in November during a friend's birthday.

- Jonathan

Monday, January 02, 2012

The New Year

In retrospect, 2011 wasn't terribly bad nor good for me.

I started a new job, lost a lot of weight, did a lot of running, and got to experience quite a bit.  It also wasn't the "best" year I've had and had plenty of downs will all the ups I went through.

Alas, time has come and gone and now it's time to focus on the present and future.

2012 has plenty of challenges for me - a lot of which are self imposed milestones.  The work I'm putting myself through now is an effort to prepare and gain the skills necessary to start my own company.  I'm fairly certain, I will never be happy working a corporate job.

I've never dealt well with authority and I'm too arrogant and stubborn to live my life making someone else rich.  No thanks.  Enough rambling for now...

I list out my yearly goals here in attempt to make myself accountable, and remind myself of what I'm working towards.

So without further adieu, here are my 2012 goals (in no particular order):

- Lose another 20 pounds.
- Make 20% more income.
- Sign up and begin grad school classes.
- Move into a bigger apartment / home.
- Master Selenium for automated web testing.
- Relearn Java, C#, and pick up some scripting languages.
- Run 12 1/2 marathons.
- Begin training and sign up for an Ironman triathlon.
- Get out of credit card debt completely.
- Visit at least 2 places out of state - better yet, out of the country.

In the coming days I'll detail in-depth plans for each of those goals and how feasible they all are.  Sadly, the one goal I feel will be tough is getting out of credit card debt, but let's cross that bridge when we get to it.

- Jonathan