07 March 2007

Originally posted at my old blog geekcyclist.blogspot.com

Catch up with Part I if you missed it…

Let’s face it. Sometimes it’s really hard to drag your sorry butt out onto the road, or into the gym, or away from the double cheeseburger. These are a couple more things that keep me motivated.

Other People Other people can serve as motivation by setting both bad and good examples. First, a couple of bad examples. There are about 500 people that work in my building. A few of them are ‘just like me’, meaning that they are overweight, overstressed, and generally going down the wrong health road. There are a couple that are about ten years older than me and give me a perfect picture of what my health/life will be like if I don’t make a change.

Another bad example: There is a guy waiting for the bus some mornings when I drop my son off for school. Calling him morbidly obese understates his condition. Every time I see him I have a “There but for the grace of God go I.” moment.

Before I talk about the positive examples for me, let me say that these bad examples may be great examples in other areas of their lives, and even sometimes in this area.

I do have some great positive examples. I find a lot of motivation from Neil Brennen. He will probably always outweigh me, but has made huge improvement in his health while at the same time maintaining a balance in other areas, an ability I sometimes struggle to find. At work there are three people who have lost a combined 180 lbs. buy putting* the fork down, shutting the pie hole, and biking like crazy. I worship with another friend who lost 60 lbs and kept all but 15 off for over a year primarily by riding his bike.

Another inspiration are the hidden cyclists. These are the people riding bikes not so much as recreation, or as a transportation choice, but as a transportation necessity. As I commute to work I see a couple of cyclists coming the other way. There not all dressed up in spandex and lycra, nor are they riding the latest fancy road bikes. They are bundled up in regular clothes, riding heavy Wal-Mart clunkers. But they are always smiling and they never forget to wave. They remind me that riding in the snow and rain is always a possibility.

The Numbers This is where I totally geek out. I love numbers. I have taught math and statistics, and I build econometric software for a living. So for me there are few things as exciting as seeing the results in a nice table or chart, especially if there is some neat statistical model involved.

A few years ago I first came across The Hackers Diet: How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition. The book itself is really just a common sense approach to dieting built on the simple yet oft ignored principle; if you expend more than you consume you will lose weight. On his web site he offers a set of spreadsheets as well as a PalmPilot based tool called the “Eat Watch”. I have used the Eat Watch and really like it. I put my weight in every morning, and I can see what my ‘trend’ value is. The trend is much more important than my actual weight. It smooths out the large variations that can come through eating at a different time, being dehydrated, or any of the myriad other factors that lead to daily weight variations.

So, I get really motivated when I see a table like this: Weekly Trend Analysis

Past Week -1.62

Fortnight -1.42

Month -1.56

So when I say that I am losing around 1.5 lbs per week, I have empirical evidence to support my statement.

*As a person who was at one time at least conversationally fluent in two languages besides my native English I am occasionally amazed that anyone learns this language. For example, “He was putting pudding on the putting green.” What kind of language is this where the only way to discern meaning and pronunciation is by a words context?

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