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:
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?
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?
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.
YOUNG, ENERGETIC, AND NEVER THINKING ABOUT WEIGHT LOSS AND SUCH
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.
CHANGES WITHOUT ADAPTATION
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.
BODY IN FOCUS
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.
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.
A NEW ATTITUDE ON HOW TO LIVE
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.
AND WHAT KEEPS ME BUSY TODAY?
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:
Tuesday, March 05, 2013
Running is a habit I developed 2 years ago. I never was a runner before, and still, my body is better at other types of exercises. However, it's a practical exercise, only needs my shoes, no big money investment needed, can be done all day long in all weather conditions, wo commute.
I stopped for a moment to climb up to this tower to enjoy the view. Had some hard time to catch my breath during talking. Elevation: from 390m to 556m, 10K, 60 min, 800 kcal. Plus running up the tower in the middle!
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