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Me, the rain, the lake. My run.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sitting in front of my laptop, I'm tracking my food in sparkpeople. I feel tired. My posture should look really bad. I look outside the window, and it's raining. I check out the weather forecast, and it's cold. I don't feel like exercise at all.
Good. Zero motivation to get out.

I decide that at least, I take on my running clothes, my t-shirt, my pants, my socks, and my shoes, and at make some stretching inside, and then I decide.

I go outside. Here I can see, the rain is heavier then it looked from the inside. And it feels cold, too. My wife's mother is complaining with a smile, why I go out running when it's raining and it's cold, I should stay inside. We visit here for the long weekend. Huh, why can't people help me at least emotionally? It's hard enough already. I decide I don't care about her nagging, and make a short run anyway.

I make it to the nearby lake. I check out endomondo, how much I did. This trash, again, the GPS didn't connect, it just measured the time, no distance. I decide I don't care about the roaming costs, and turn on the data connection, the GPS connects better when the data is on. And I will get at least some voice feedback on my progress. And as I turn on the data connection, withing 2 seconds, endomondo shows the strong signal.

I make some stretching, and pose exercise drills. These drills are a bit boring, and I'm not sure I do it correctly, but I do it anyway. I wish I could go to a POSE training nearby. When I go to the POSE training, for a few days afterwards, running feels so much easier. Then it wears off, and my technique is poor again.

I decide to continue with the running, slowly.
Two guys are fishing, and discussing about their equipment. They don't look at me. I pass them, and hit a big watery area with my feet, and my socks are soaking. I guess, from now on, at least I don't have to care about avoiding water, I just go my way.

I get nearby a couple, walking their dog. The man is standing and watching me. He nods when I get very close, I nod, too. The woman is watching the dog. She smiles at me, looks at the dog, and back at me. I smile at them. But anyway, I steer a few meters to the other side. The dog looks friendly, but, I'm a runner, and it's a dog. Suddenly, I remember all those years, when I developed petfood. My life was about cats and dogs all the time. Feels both so long ago, and like yesterday. I hit some water again, and remember again, that it doesn't matter anyway.

I pass by the fisher guys again.
They are still talking, and don't notice me really.

A new couple walking their dog.

I'm still the only runner.

I realize, it doesn't feel cold actually.

I check my heart rate.
Up to 175 bpm.
Oh, these used to be lower.

I make another round around the lake, and pass by original the couple, the fisher guys, and dog. The new couple went away already.
The rain stops.
I'm running for 30 minutes now. It feel like I cannot go more, but I remember that after 35 minutes, it feels much better.

Another 5 minutes, and it feels much better.
I listen to the feedback of Endomondo, 5:40 minutes per K, a slow pace, good for this time.

I'm with my thoughts. I think about today, yesterday, and what will come the weekend.
I forget about the people, the environment. I just feel my heart beating, my feet touch the ground, the air in my lungs. I focus on my technique, pull-pull-pull. Andy's word echo in my mind, "Relaxed feet, and think about the pull!"

I finish my last round around the lake, and decide to steer back home. I could go on more, but as it was hard to start, now it's hard to stop. But it's better to go home now.

As I arrive to our street, I decide to speed up a bit, and have an easy sprint for the end.
I stop endomondo, and walk until my heart rate falls below 120 bpm. It only shows 8K, when it was 10K. I realize again that it missed the first part. When will technology finally catch up.
I walk a bit to cool down.
Make some stretching.

I feel energized, free, and happy.
Suddenly I notice, it's raining again.
But it's not cold anymore.

How was your run today?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

EVER-HOPEFUL 6/6/2013 6:46AM

    i love the rain it is my favorite weather.no i am not mad just english,lol. emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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IGSBETH 6/4/2013 2:20PM

    Way to go!

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GRANDMACOO 6/1/2013 5:56PM

    Great visuals. I could smell the rain and feel your wet feet, although I never have to run in the rain. Living in arid AZ, even if it's raining when I want to run, I just have to wait a bit and know that it will stop.
Thanks for sharing.

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AEROBISAURUS 5/31/2013 1:07PM

    I'm guessing you do not wear headphones while you run? Ditch the endomondo! Lol (I had to google what the heck it was!) Haha :P Just go with your flow instead, no chaos. I love the warm feeling you get after the first 3 or so miles, it's bliss, feels like freedom! That's probably why I enjoy the sport so much. emoticon

Happy running!

~Nikki :)

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GRANDMA1951 5/31/2013 11:11AM

    How motivating. I hate getting outside when it's cold. Thanks for sharing so that maybe next time it's cold, I'll remember how you were no longer cold toward the end. Great blog.

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WIO_ALISA 5/31/2013 10:01AM

    emoticon Thanks for sharing your run with us.

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NUOVAELLE 5/31/2013 2:45AM

    Your blog is like the definition of "against all odds"! Well done, Oliver! Everything was against you, the weather, the people, even technology but you insisted and enjoyed a great run!
Thank you for sharing it with us. I really enjoyed reading your blog!

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    Oliver,,, this is GREAT !!!! Have you looked at the Dawgs and the running a 5K? They could USE YOU !!! And you use them for these DAYS !!!

The hardest part of ANY Exercise when we do NOT want to do it,,is "putting on our clothing" for it,,, for once we do that,, e are NOW OBGLIGATED to FOLLOW THRU !! WOOOHOOOO !!!!

I felt like I was runnin w/ya (I used to be able too,,, I LOVED THOSE DAYS !) when you stepped into the puddle. LOLOLOL I used to say the about the same ,,mine was "Well I am wet now,,, I can now STEP IN THEM FOR FUN" !!! AND I DID !! HAHAHAHAHA


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STRIVERONE 5/30/2013 10:14PM

    You really conveyed the atmosphere and the gradual change in your mood during the run. Very engaging. Thank you.

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LISAINMS 5/30/2013 9:17PM

    What a lovely description of your run. Good job going out when it was cold, raining and you weren't motivated.

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DOUGDC 5/30/2013 9:03PM

    Your stream of consciousness style is great. I was engaged and with you every step of the way, every wavering decision, the beating heart, the rain, but not cold. Thanks for the post!

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MOBYCARP 5/30/2013 8:54PM

    My run today was not nearly as good as yours. Thanks for the picture of running in the rain; I aspire to being able to do that again.

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GETSTRONGRRR 5/30/2013 8:35PM

    Nicely written!

Exercising when you don't feel motivated is the mark of a true athlete...good on you!

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KALISWALKER 5/30/2013 5:46PM

    You are great at motivating yourself. I am glad you did what you should do.

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KELLIEBEAN 5/30/2013 3:13PM

    People who do not pursue a healthy, active lifestyle and running, do not understand why we go through what we go through to get out there, to improve, to push ourselves and eat right.

It's just like people not understanding why I like to ride a motorcycle. I have a t-shirt that reads "if you don't ride then you don't know". I should look and see if they have shirts like that about running.

Thank you for sharing your run. What a lovely picture!

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The joy of Quantified Self (video interview)

Monday, May 13, 2013

I've been in Amsterdam, The Netherlands this weekend (11-12 May 2013) on the Quantified Self conference. It was great - I learned and experienced so much. I probably will unfold it in another post.

I had the chance to have a video interview at the conference, it's posted on my own website, I link it to here. I would be interested in your feedback. And it's also a chance to see me sort of "in real life". It's 14 minutes, max resolution is 720p (HD).

What is evoked in you?
How do you like it?
Any advice for me based on your experience?

Thanks a lot!


If the link doesn't work, copy-paste this into a brwoser window:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

AEROBISAURUS 5/29/2013 8:58AM

    Cool! I'd go absolutely nuts self tracking! Very interesting though. Best of luck to you!

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RUFFIT 5/28/2013 8:20AM

    Good for you!! Great video and I think it is awesome what steps you are taking in your healthy lifestyle journey!! Moni

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SPARKCHANTAL 5/21/2013 5:04AM

    i'll check it out later, but for now...

meow emoticon woof!

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GINIEMIE 5/19/2013 6:31AM

    I read the article of Quantified Self, and watched your video. It was very interesting and showed me how much more I could be tracking, things I tracked a long time ago and gave up on because I was too busy going to school, raising five children, etc. I used to track my dreams, and I remember it helped me figure out why/when I was stressed.
I track most of my food, and my exercise but I'm not consistent enough. I started tracking flossing my teeth, but did not stick to it. So now at the beginning of a new week, I'm going to find a little note pad and set it up so that I can look at what I'm tracking. That way when I'm away from my computer I'm still tracking my food/calories and exercise.

I liked you blog & video, it was motivating and you incorporated good examples. It evoked a desire to do better for myself. Keep on doing these kind of motivational videos.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SHOOPETTE 5/19/2013 4:18AM

    I took a look at your website and thought it was very inspiring,
I think it's really important to stress that tracking is key and that you don't need super hig tech gadgets to do it.
So you track your dreams too?

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DOLLFACEDX 5/18/2013 8:43AM

    FYI, the link didn't work - I did copy/paste and was able to get the interview. . .no video but the audio was the important part.

What is evoked in you?

Curiosity and excitement. Already a 'tracker', this hi-lited areas I hadn't thought to track.

How do you like it?

I enjoyed listening; you were asked about the benefits and as you responded, the words "self-awareness" kept popping into my head. Possibly even more important than the various health aspects is knowing oneself.

Any feedback, suggestion?

First, thanks for spreading this knowledge to others - I had never before heard of this movement as a movement.
Second, if not for my recent involvement in the 5% Spring Into Summer Challenge (which group is VERY difficult to learn about), I would have totally missed to learn of QS – is there some way to generate more general exposure to the Spark community on this subject? I’m sure many peeps could benefit and would appreciate it.

Thank you for taking the time to raise this subject in your post, Dolly

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EVER-HOPEFUL 5/15/2013 2:48AM

    for some reason i couldn´t access the link but i am sure it was interesting as all your blogs are emoticon

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ITS_MY_TURN_NOW 5/14/2013 12:22PM

    It was very interesting. I hadn't heard the term "Quantified Self" before. It intrigues me. I like numbers which is probably why I like tracking food, water, exercise etc. I am just learning about bio-hacking, which is similar,I think. Thank you for the blog.

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KALISWALKER 5/13/2013 10:04PM

    What is evoked in you?

an interest in being more investigative about myself

How do you like it?

I liked it very much. You are very knowledgeable about the subject!

Any feedback, suggestion?

I remember how motivated I have been from some of your blogs and this is another great blog!

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My home, my food

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

On Sunday night, I was back from a 4 day visit back at family for Easter.
It was a great time, however, for healthy living...

Family + Holiday = Healthy Lifestyle Challenge

"If you love me, you eat!"
"You look so lean, OMG, are you all right?! You should put on some weight!"
"A good cookie is fatty!"
"Why don't you go by car? It's so far away, it's rainy, you shouldn't walk!"
"It's holiday time, why are you doing exercise? You should rest!"
"Are you sure breakfast was enough? There's cookies on the table, ham in fridge, cookies in the box, banana and oranges in the basket!"
"You really want to log your food? For what? Are you crazy? You should feel if you are hungry or not!"
"I prepared some cookies, ham, eggs, [long list] for you for the trip back in case you get hungry!"
"You don't eat more... you don't love me?"

No wonder, I put on ~0.5 kg (1lbs) during the 4 days.
I used to gain more, now I'm happy I could resist, and only have 2-300 kcal/meal, or 6-900 kcal in excess per day.

I like to be in family, but healthy living wise, somehow my message doesn't go through. Especially when it's holiday time, it's green light in families for all kinds of crazy over eating. With some emotional blackmailing of "if you love me, you eat a lot of my food" type.
After the 4 days, I was emotionally recharged with the family love, and being surrounded with close people.
And in parallel my healthy lifestyle batteries went down to zero. It's tiring to constantly say no for the flux of food flowing in front of me, to say in myself that I look good and I shouldn't put on weight (on the contrary), to neglect naysayers when I want to do exercise.
I told them countless times. If they love, they should support me in living healthy, and not promoting with words, actions, messages, and the whole environment on getting overweight and lazy.

Now, I'm back at my home.
I go into my kitchen, and all food is packed away in the fridge, and the closet.
I open the fridge, it's full of healthy food.
Snacks are 100 kcal each.
There's filtered water.
When going for a long walk, there's nobody nagging around me, even if it's rainy.
My running shoes are on display.
My computer is only a click away to log my food.
There's no TV, so no TV during meals.

It's already 3 days that I'm back at home, and finally, I'm getting back on track. Because it's not just like I'm back at home, and I turn a button, and everything goes again well. I wish it would, but it takes time.

Easy to meet company in the countryside in Austria....

How you deal with family gatherings healthy living wise?
Any tips, ideas, suggestions?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHOOPETTE 5/14/2013 6:21AM

    Way to go!
Fortunately my family supports me on healthy habits, my coworkers though... and that's who I spend the most time with

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DUSTYPRAIRIE 4/7/2013 5:24AM

    It takes those experiences to keep give us renewed focus, wouldn't you agree? Sometimes I think we all wonder what it would be like if we "went back". Now you know and have chosen wisely!

Since my brother became diabetic my mom doesn't question our diet choices anymore. Oh, she'll tell us what she eats, but she's stopped telling us what to eat and giving us the guilt approach into making us eat.

Have a super week, Oliver!

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GREENGENES 4/5/2013 8:44AM

    I hear you loud and clear. It has taken DW a long time to accept my decisions to live healthier and her family still tries to "help" me get back to a "healthy" weight when we visit. It's funny because she wants me to be a good role model for Junior to make healthy choices but then finds way to undermine my healthy choices. Lot's of conflicting messages. I am encouraged to do some healthy things but other lead to grief - riding my bike to work is the biggest challenge but I am slowly winning that battle.

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NUOVAELLE 4/5/2013 8:13AM

    I just read all the comments below trying to find some useful tips!
I'm sorry I don't have any to offer, either! But I can hear you on this one loud and clear! My family have been giving me this weird look when I only have a small piece of dessert on holiday feasts.
But you did great so you should be proud of yourself! Not only because you gained only half a kilo but also because you found your way back on track so fast afterwards!

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BLOOMINGLENA 4/5/2013 5:55AM

    I can so relate to you! It is the same with me and my typical greek family! Congratulations on your gaining ONLY 1 lb! I have no tips. I am fighting everyday with this family attitude towards me and my trying to lead a healthy lifestyle so I have no advice. They can't change their way of thinking even when I tell them that they should eat more healthy as they have to deal healthy issues themselves. So I need some useful ideas, as well. I am so glad I was of help to you!!! hahaha! emoticon

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KELLIEBEAN 4/4/2013 11:22AM

    I can relate. But things are changing with my mom. She is starting to see how her lifestyle has led to so many of her medical problems. She's now very worried about my sisters who are very overweight.

When you get the "you don't love me if you don't eat" diffuse the situation with humor. Give a HUGE hug snd say "I love you this much!"

Its hard for people who are not health conscious to understand people who are.

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    I am glad you managed to gain only 1lb and that you are back on track now. Good for you!

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KCLARK89 4/3/2013 9:54PM

    I feel the same way! I know I definitely used to be part of it and I would eat whatever and not be SO focused on nutrition and exercise as I am now. Now that I live 1,000 miles away, coming back is a huge ordeal, so it's EAT THIS it's your FAVORITE! I baked this for you! Definitely hard to resist, but if you keep reminding them that you are doing this because it makes YOU feel better, they'll (eventually!) understand :)

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GETSTRONGRRR 4/3/2013 9:14PM

    There's nothing like family to make it seem like good food is the answer to all our problems!

My mother is famous for giving you a look if you don't have seconds on everything she makes..."Didn't you like it?"

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MOBYCARP 4/3/2013 7:43PM


I got shoved into SparkPeople the last time I went home to visit family. I don't know how challenging it will be the next time I go, but I don't expect to have as hard a time as you did.

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ALDEBARANIAN 4/3/2013 4:08PM

    No tips. Just a couple of messages.

Yes, you are a mature, intelligent person, capable of making valid and important choices and decisions for your own life.

It's ok to decide where your barriers are, and to choose where to draw the line between intrusive, inappropriate input, and when to compromise for the sake of family relationships.

Keeping the weight gain under control was a victory.

Isn't it nice to get back to the environment that you've created for yourself, to live the way you choose without taking a lot of flak for it?

Thank you for the blog, and for being a friend.

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MISSLORI5 4/3/2013 3:16PM

    I applaud your self-control! Unfortunately, mine lasts only on the road trip of three days, and then I'm shot! As a result, I put my last ten pounds back on for Christmas vacation, but then, one does get to go home! I have family who knows better, but cares less to make the changes than I do, so I am kinda thankful we don't live too close to one another! Fortunately, my husband knows better and is willing to make the changes when he's around me, but does not always have the willpower to remain on track when he's away, so I consider myself mostly lucky! I hope you are able to get your life back into harness rather easily and maybe, someday, the saying "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" will be de-mythed! emoticon

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LILYBELLE8 4/3/2013 2:13PM

    I love this blog - and especially appreciate your decisions and methods for getting back on track! Thanks!!

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IDICEM 4/3/2013 2:05PM

  It's always difficult to navigate family gatherings when you've made changes that don't fit the traditional family dynamics. Congratulations on navigating the holiday so well! As much as I enjoy visiting family, coming home is often my favorite part.

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FIT4MEIN2013 4/3/2013 1:26PM

    It is time for you to wrap your head around the idea that Love does not equal food! Then you need to teach your family that. My family, rather my husband's had a very difficult time learning the lesson. I just repeated the mantra that I love them, and I was there for the people not for the food.

My eating habits have nothing to do with the people I am with! When I started back to work my hubby started making dinner. The 2nd day he fixed something that he knows better then to fix. "My feelings are going to be hurt if you don't eat some of this'", he said. "Prepare to have your feelings hurt, then" I replied because he KNEW that it was something that I don't eat.

Don't get pulled into the guilt trip. It isn't a fun one and has only negative results.


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From a never-track to the QS conference

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Something fundamental changed in me during the last two years. Or it must have, because I'm doing something I never thought I would do.

I'm registering for the QS conference in the Netherlands in May. QS stands for Quantified Self, and it's about tracking in any way our life. With pen and paper, with gadgets, with sensors, with computer, with blogs, with Google calendar, with wall calendars, with Excel. In any way, collecting data about myself. And then, learning about it.

However, this was a long journey to here.

When I first had the idea that tracking is important, I could hardly imagine how I would fit into my life those 5-10-15-... minutes per day, just to track. I started with a paper booklet to track what I ate during the day, and it was quite a hassle. At the beginning, I forgot simply to write it down, and when I finally wrote it down, it felt such an effort.

However, that was the thing that got me started to live healthier. Looking back on my logs, I was shocked to see how, what, and when I ate. It brought an unprecedented level of awareness into my system that shifted me to action very quickly.

Of course, it was not by accident that I started to track what I eat. I came accross a peer reviewed scientific article, which showed that a group of people lost twice the weight when simply writing down their daily food intake into a food-journal vs. a control group, who were on the same diet, but without the food-journal. That's all it takes to double my success rate? I would be crazy not to try it, and it worked. And since then, I'm experimenting with different types of self tracking.

For example, I weigh in daily, but less to follow my weight then to track my hydration level. When my weight drops 1-2 lbs from one day to the other, there's a high chance I didn't drink enough the day before.
I like to take a note of the dreams I had. It's funny, but since I jot down a short note about my dreams, I remember them easier, and they are more and more interesting, with meaning. I even started to read the book from Verena Kast on dreams.
Firing on endomondo for my walks during the day convinced me that those 5-10-15 minutes of walk do add up to an hour, sometimes to two hours a day, worth of 300-600 kcal burned.

At the moment, I'm looking for "low resistance" tracking methods. Best is to have some device in set-it-and-forget-it mode, which tracks in the background. Or it's in my face, like my scale in the morning, it's almost no effort to step on it on the way out of the bathroom. And there's a moleskine notebook next to my bed, so when I wake up, I have already a 5 min window planned into my day to jot down any interesting dreams from the night.

The highest resistance is still food tracking. I wish for a system that is easy to use, user friendly, and requires zero to minimal time. Unfortunately, to track food here on sparkpeople is only medium good at best. Firing up my PC, navigating to the SP website, waiting for the nutrition tracker to load, fiddling with the search results, entering food into a US-formatted nutrition table all (I live in Europe, with metrics, and a different order of nutrients) gets in the way. However, I still make the effort, although, I'm not surprised that I skip easily, and many give up after a few days. Still, I didn't find a better solution, so I live with it.

I was thinking to try it on a tablet, with the native SP application, but that would be the main reason to invest in a tablet, and I heard mixed feedback on the forums. Many people told me it's still easier to do it on a PC.

An easy was of tracking food would be planning ahead my weekly meal plan, and following it. This way, all the tracking-calculating task would be done in one batch, ahead of time, and I wouldn't loose time each day to capture what I've eaten, and to stay in my calorie budget.

Another thing I slowly learned over the course of the last two years that probably tracking food, and other things in general, is part of the daily routine of a healthy lifestyle. When I started, I thought I just track now, I tolerate the effort, and then later on, when I've reached my goal weight, I focus on other things. However, it seems that to keep my weight, and to balance well my exercise and food intake, I need to track. So, better I make it fun. :-)

The Wednesday market under my window, lots of healthy options (and some totally not healthy), mostly from local production.

Here's the link to the QS conference.

What do you track?
How do you track?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

POPSY190 3/30/2013 12:03AM

    The conference sounds fascinating and I hope you blog about it and let us know how it went. Food tracking is very difficult, especially if the site used is "foreign" - it's time-consuming adjusting weights and measurements, let alone trying to find the products on the lists provided.
Yet, tracking, even inaccurately, is better than not doing it at all; when I let it lapse it shows on the scale within days!

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LYNNIERN 3/28/2013 7:21AM

    Another interesting blog. I hope you'll blog after the conference and let us know how it went. I think some of the topics are very interesing; especially those on the lunchtime ignite talks.

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GETSTRONGRRR 3/27/2013 9:40PM

    WOW, that sounds right up my alley! You know I track everything from food to heart rate to calorie burns....I quantify everything and would like nothing better than to have a Wi-Fi from my brain and heart directly into my PC.....maybe someday my grandchildren will have that ability.

I've been using something called the Bodymedia Fit Core Armband. It records steps, calories, body temperature, sleep patterns....and it plugs directly in SP and translates it into the fitness tracker


I also started using Digifit to link (via Bluetooth) to my phone....it records heart rate, and maps out routes for running cycling, etc.

Let us know how the seminar goes!

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KELLIEBEAN 3/27/2013 9:12PM

    I never believed in tracking food until last year. Now I'm obsessed with tracking my food to stay mindful of what I eat.

I also track abdominal contractions that I do every morning while brushing my teeth, daily walks, journaling stress among some other goals.

Very interesting blog!

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MELBBART 3/27/2013 7:02PM

    Great blog. Since the last time we talked about food tracking not being very efficient, I got an iphone and downloaded the SP app. For some situations it is helpful, like when I'm tracking foods that I eat often. But if it is something that isn't on my favorites list it is easier to do on the computer. It is helpful to have another way to track though.

When I started SP I figured, like you, that I would just track everything until I lost the weight. However, now I'm also realizing that is probably something that I'm going to have to stick with long after.

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KMICHA 3/27/2013 4:35PM

    Another interesting blog, Oliver. When I see that you have posted one, I try to make time to read it, because it is always interesting! Thanks for sharing!

I usually track food and fitness. The food I track here on sparks. I have quite the list of favorites built up, so it doesn't usually take that long to track . . . especially if I do it meal by meal. I can understand where it would take more time for you to convert items and find comparable items in some cases. For me the tracking has become a habit. I'm not so good about tracking all of my fitness anymore. I do make sure I track my strength training each day. I received a fitbit for Christmas and I feel it does a great job of tracking for me. If I desire to track time or miles I run, something of that nature, then I will take the fitbit off and clock manually.

I'll check out the link to the conference, hope you enjoy it!

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GOGETUMX2 3/27/2013 4:23PM

    I'm a data person, too.

I find it eases my self confidence because I usually eat much healthier than I think.

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KRISKECK 3/27/2013 4:18PM

    How interesting! I love to collect data, it is interesting. I track my caloric intake as well as all my various workouts in Spark, either on my phone or pc. And like you, I kept track in a little notebook before we did everything online. I started before I heard that it was one of the most effective ways to lose and to keep weight off and I expect to keep tracking when i reach my goal weight this time. I also hop on the scale each morning but only track it each Saturday. I wish I remembered my dreams, perhaps I'll start keeping a notebook by my bed and they will stay with me when I wake up!

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POLITIGAL75 3/27/2013 4:03PM

    I use spark to track my food and typically use my iphone unless my computer is turned on. I have the sparkpeople app and found it's pretty easy to use. Has the added benefit of showing calories as you are entering rather than when you post them. Best of luck.

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TEQPEACH 3/27/2013 3:27PM

    I completely agree with where is the easy tracking option!! When I went to Jenny Craig, the meals were all laid out. Just eat what was on the paper. Now I'm doing the Weight Watchers plan and it is a bit easier to track on their site. But you have to be a member. I don't have an easy answer for you. But I'll stay tuned in case you come up with one!


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STRIVERONE 3/27/2013 1:48PM


You blog is always so interesting. I'm sure it is keeping a lot of people engaged.

I have been quite fanatic about tracking my food over the past few years, first on paper charts, then with SP. The main negative for me is that I tend to eat from a limited group of recipes and meals because it's just easier to record them. It also limits my going to restaurants, but that is probably a good thing.

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KRISZTA11 3/27/2013 12:54PM

    Great blog!
I'm an enthusiastic tracker normally, but now I haven't tracked anything for weeks being so busy at work.
I can see how not-tracking can undermine motivation.
For me tracking means I'm aware how well I'm doing.
I'll return to tracking fitness minutes, sleep, water, running soon, hopefully starting this Sunday.

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BESSHAILE 3/27/2013 12:53PM

    Congratulations on becoming a QS. :)

I got better at tracking food when I went online although I still grumble about it. But when those good habits become true habits, life just gets a whole lot better, doesn't it?

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KALISWALKER 3/27/2013 11:43AM

    I enjoyed your blog. I tried planning meals in Spark a week in advance, but I am impulsive and often change things. However I see the benefits, you can create a grocery list and see how many calories for the whole we and plan for a splurge. Enjoy the conference!

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My 2y SP anniversary: some Oliver-history, and the here and now

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

We have a thread in the Maintenance group about “Where did you come from and where are you now?”.
As my response started to grow, and I decided to rather make blog post about it, to celebrate my 2nd anniversary here on SP, and to blog today.
I have inserted a few photos from the past year.

This one is in Singapore, during my Gestalt course, May 2012.

I was in generally in good shape until the 3rd year at the university passed by. I was not particularly a sports man, but was in general good and healthy looking. In my childhood, I exercised a lot, playing soccer, biking, working in the fruit gardens, basketball with friends and at school team (primary, secondary, and at university), and later on also being a basketball referee. I think the peak was being a referee. Hard to imagine, but I experienced being a basketball referee as a hard endurance activity. It's like 4h of constant running (one match is 2h, and usually we were assigned for two consecutive matches), being faster than the players, and the constant focus. From the moment entering the gate, it's 'live', and when players rest, the referee is still ON, until everybody leaves after the event.

Then, when I quit being a referee, and when sports classes were not part anymore part of the weekly schedule at the university, suddenly there was no more organized exercise in my day anymore.
Looking back, a big issue for me was that nobody ever taught me how to integrate sports into my life by myself. Before that, some external "force" assured I have enough exercise, but now it was on me, and I didn't know what to do. Today, I know, I learned how to include exercise, but that time, it was lacking.
So, for ten years, I started to gain weight, from around 75kg up to 100kg. Some years, I joined some sports, like Judo, or Salsa, and I was less, other years I didn't, and was near 100kg. I didn't really understand how I could lose weight, it seemed light an impossible task to do.

In company of a Mexican hat. I go a lot by public transport.

Now, I know I had many false assumptions. Like today I'm aware white bread is very easy to overeat, and is dense in calories, and those times I was eating a lot of bread, without even knowing how much impact it can have on my weight.
Once, someone near me had a medical condition, and restrain from sugar, and limit carbs. I was interested to try how is to eat like that and followed this eating habit and I quickly lost a few kg. A few years came with low sugar and low carbs on my flag.
Looking back, I understand that those times were "sad" times not just because life was hard, but now I'm aware that low sugar can trigger low mood. It was not a perfect solution to lose weight, but, it injected some energy into my quest on getting into shape. For example, I decided that time to follow "Norbi Update", a nutrition program in Hungary (similar to Weight Watchers) that time.

Then, in Sep 2010, when I arrived in Austria, I was thinking, what should I focus on this year systematically? I had two things in mind, learning German, or getting into shape. If I learn German first, it helps me integrate, and would help finding sports teams, communities, support for exercise. If I learn "exercise", it will boost my energy for learning languages, and project a healthier me. In the end, I decided to focus on fitness, as previously I already focused on languages almost all my life as a priority, and it looked fun to try something new.

Summer exercise:

An article on the web encouraged me to start with planning instead of jumping into the cold water. It made sense, and I spent two month collecting information, planning, consulting people, reading articles and books. Most people around me were aware of my new focus, and criticized me that I am just “talking” and not “doing”, and were laughing at me, saying Oliver is planning so much and does no exercise or eat differently. Yet. On one hand, I had all the previous “jumpstart” attempts from my life “from today I do and I don’t do”, and the similar failed attempts with diets and exercise programs among friends. On the other hand, my reasoning was that starting 3 months earlier or later doesn’t really make a difference for me anyway, and why not try starting slow.

Running competition with team mates in Vienna in 2012 (note the A - B -C) :-) :

During this period of data collection, I have read a science article that showed that groups that tracked calories lost 2x the weight vs. control groups on the same diet. I decided tracking is key a feature to implement, although I was not particularly motivated to track. I evaluated several options, paper, PDA/phone, internet. I thought because anyway I would surf the net, it's a good thing to channel that time and energy into my healthy living. Therefore I made a survey for myself on what website to choose for tracking food. I evaluated many. SP was mostly medium on almost every score, but it was at least medium on almost every score. While most other sites had one or two excellent features, but were lacking others. So I decided to use SP for tracking food. And since then, I'm on SP, and am happy with my choice, and use many other features beside the food tracker.

I didn't follow any special diet, or exercise program, I just started to track how much I eat, then later on calculate calories, later on fit into a calorie budget, then start exercise, and then adding other things to my now long list of healthy habits. However, most of these things happen now unconsciously, see my blog here:

So, slowly I re-educated myself to live healthy.

Then I discovered that living healthy is really fun, and now I do it as a hobby. In parallel, friends and colleagues started to ask more and more often advice, on what and how to do things "The Oliver Way". I also discovered that a great way to keep myself motivated is to motivate others.

New shoes, which was a planned purchase based on distance run in the shoes. Although, later on I switched Inno-8 F195 Lite shoes, for the POSE-method.

I learned organizational development (OD) and coaching with Gestalt in the past years. Originally, this approach is aimed at business consultancy and therapy, and that was my plan. However, it made sense, to use this approach to support people who turn to me to improve on their healthy lifestyle, and it is very successful. It's still a hobby, but now I'm spending a large amount of my time to support others. Gradually, from free it became a business, and it’s close that my hobby becomes my full time job in the end.

Due to the weight loss, I had to dump ALL my previous clothes. Even my suits. Finally, I saved up enough to buy a new suit. I think I am like 15 models already past me on this picture...

There are many things what I love about this process. The learning about myself, from each other, that I can use many of my other skills and experience in the process. My past years of working as an R&D engineer in food development, working in different level of organizations and countries, speaking languages, project management, interest in innovation and new technologies, photography and writing, and just to connect with people from around the World. Even, living in this small town, Gleisdorf, looks as a great asset - it triggered me to regular running, walking, and cycling. I never planned for this, it came along the way, but it looks like all pieces fall into a place, to complete a bigger picture of a puzzle. The picture is not clear yet, and is still forming, but it is exciting.

Of course, not everything is easy. I was so encouraged to follow a triathlon exercise plan after my success in biking and running, but the closest all year open swimming pool is 2hs away. I went to swim regularly for a couple of months last year as an experiment, but in the end I decided to stop and keep swimming for the next step. For that, probably I have to move to a town with a 50m swimming pool, and rent an apartment that is walking or biking distance away from the pool.

POSE Triathlon training in Vienna with Dr. Romanov himself in 2012.

The past two years, my focus was nutrition, then exercise. I got these to a "working level" already, and now I work on my recovery. This needs some courage to tackle, as benefits are harder to measure. A kg lost is a kg lost, but an energetic day is not seen from the distance. I started with sleeping regularly 8h (and deal with the resulting shorter days :-) ), plan rest times into my exercise regime, improve my sleep patterns, and just this Dec/Jan, I implemented daily meditation as a habit. Now, I am experimenting to fit a morning meditation into my daily schedule, and work with my dreams. When I finish this round on recovery in a couple of months, probably I will focus again on exercise, or nutrition, whichever has more energy around.

As for weight, I see it is a tricky question. The group is "Weight Maintenance", but for me, it's more "New Lifestyle Maintenance". When I started to loose weight, it was "something to reach". These days, it's more a parameter of my body, among many others. And if it's weight, I'm keeping more track of my fat% on the long term, and use the morning weigh-in to check my hydration level. I use an Omron BF511, as it measures body fat via both arms and legs, vs. only the legs, and I can clearly follow how my body changes from month to month. Spending money for a visit to a sports specialized physician sounded before as an "athelte's luxury". Now, it's on my plan every 6 months, and lactate levels, heart rate changes are the parameters that I look at to see how my body is doing.

In Gibraltar (some UK, in Spain), we walked all day and logged near 2000 kcal by being a tourist.

Here, on SP I am engaged in the 5% challenges community, and the At Goal & Maintaining + Transition to Maintenance community.
In the 5% challenge, this week we focus on blogging to collect points, so do I, and hence this blog today. The question for today: "What can you improve upon?" Think about how to automatize healthy actions more. I see if it is automatized, either by a gadget or a habit, it happens. If needs some thinking about, it can slip. For example, my meditation could have a fixed place in my morning routine. Then I wouldn't have to think about when to do it, or to do it, it would just happen.

So, I'm running-cycling-walking among these trees these days. Fresh air, beautiful surroundings, lots of varied paths to keep me entertained, all in 1000m walk from my door. I love here!

For some pictures about me trough my weight loss journey, see my blog from last year's 1y SP anniversary, here:

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CLAIRESML 5/27/2013 4:26PM

    Hi Oliver! I enjoyed reading your history of your journey to a wonderful and balanced life. You are very dedicated and your success shows. emoticon

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KRISKECK 3/27/2013 4:37PM

    Thanks for the story of your journey! I like a lot of things about it but I especially appreciate New Lifestyle Maintenance as opposed to weight maintenance!

How to improve, and automatize healthy habits: like you, I want to make meditation a part of my morning routine, followed by my exercise, which is already a part of my morning routine. This creates a time problem. I think I will have to wake up 15 minutes earlier!

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KRISZTA11 3/22/2013 5:34PM

    Congrats to your emoticon !
Thanks for sharing your healthy lifestyle story,
and for your earlier blog about focusing on one healthy habit at a time.

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DOINITRIGHT2012 3/13/2013 2:37PM


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KALISWALKER 3/10/2013 11:05PM

    Hi Oliver. I was catching up on some of your blogs. I always learn something new when I read your blogs. You've had another very successful year. All the best in year 3!

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DONNABRIGHT 3/9/2013 7:29AM

    Loved the pictures - thanks for sharing your story.

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KELLIEBEAN 3/7/2013 10:00PM

    Great blog. Great read and I loved the pics. Congratulations on your anniversary and all that you have accomplished! Thank you for sharing.

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MINDY502 3/7/2013 9:42AM

    Congratulations on your spark anniversary. You have done so great and have been a motivation to alot of people. Keep on sparking it is working!

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LEMONLYMAN1 3/7/2013 8:11AM

    I love your blog, especially the pictures. It's more fun to watch your journey through them. Congrats on the excellent progress!

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POPSY190 3/7/2013 1:55AM

    emoticon on your SP anniversary. You have written an interesting and informative blog and your planning and implementation of your strategies is wonderful. It's great that you take such pleasure in advising and helping others - that's truly what spreading the spark is all about!

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LESLIE_2B_LESS 3/7/2013 12:10AM

    Awesome blog Oliver and thank you so much for sharing it all with us. It's always so enjoyable and interesting to read your blogs and find out your strategies.

Keep on your recovery journey!

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GREENGENES 3/6/2013 11:25PM

    What a great story. It is amazing how we can find ourselves if we would only slow down and pay attention. A lesson I need to work on more. Well done.

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TRAVELLER3 3/6/2013 8:42PM

    What a wonder full journey you are travelling. Thanks for sharing the treasured moments.

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ANNIE1114 3/6/2013 6:54PM

  Thanks so much for sharing. You sound like you are very detail oriented. I enjoyed your blog. It sounds like you have an interesting life. emoticon

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TEQPEACH 3/6/2013 6:45PM

    Great history lesson ummm lessen LOL!


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KMICHA 3/6/2013 6:13PM

    AWESOME!!!!!! Thanks for taking us on the "Oliver History" journey!!!! What a testimony!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon


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SLENDERELLA61 3/6/2013 5:14PM

    AWESOME blog!! What a great journey. Love that you checked out everything before diving in. That you are now helping others - either for free or pay - is admirable. Best wishes for continued success. Hope this blog gets a Popular Blog Award because it deserves it. Thanks.

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ANNIEONLI 3/6/2013 3:29PM

    Happy Anniversary!

I found the last paragraph interesting - "recovery" is a good term and mindset when things are on the quiet side in maintenance (at least, that is what I am perceiving word to mean)....I call them a "lull" myself! and the more you track them, the more pattern you will see forming, depending on times of the year.

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STRIVERONE 3/6/2013 3:18PM

    You are truly a motivator and it does not go unappreciated.

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TINAJANE76 3/6/2013 2:38PM

    Fantastic blog, Oliver. You've definitely come a long way! Happy anniversary!

Comment edited on: 3/6/2013 2:39:11 PM

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FITFOODIE806 3/6/2013 1:27PM

    great blog! Thanks for sharing your story.

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