Saturday, August 27, 2011

Week 27: A New Beginning

It was a triple witching Saturday: I reached by goal of 160 pounds, hit the 75-pounds-lost milestone and attended the first meeting with a new leader after having gone six months with the same one.

But, for a number of reasons, I've decided to re-set my goal for the second and last time, to 155. The least silly of those reasons is that 160 is the highest acceptable weight for my height (5'6") it the highest, and it strikes me that shooting only for that would be the sort of cop-out I've been trying to vanquish.

It seems like a blur, and that it hasn't take very long to get here. And that makes me wonder how hard I will work to protect my position. A big part of the reason that I have tried to be so transparent is so I couldn't retreat very easily.

I'm at 158.5 as of this morning, another new decade and the last I intend to crack.

I'm told that maintaining can be tougher than losing, as you learn to adjust to eating more — but not much more. I'd say that's a rich man's problem

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Week 26: Losing, and losing.

Joan says goodbye.
First, the good news ...

For my weekly meeting weigh-in on Saturday I tipped the scales at 160.8: a frustratingly 0.02 pounds away (relatively speaking, of course) from the 75-pound, trinket-level milestone  and 0.08 from my goal weight of 160 pounds.

It was the usual nutsy Saturday morning on the scale: Despite a very tame Friday and not eating terribly late the night before, my wake-up weight was 164.8 — more than two pounds above my previous weigh-in despite an entire week of behaving myself, and nearly four above my best weight during the previous seven days.

With my usual morning workout, perhaps a bit heavier on the cardio, I shed four pounds of what I can only assume was water weight. Sheesh.

This means that I am likely to hit my goal next week about six months after I started Weight Watchers in as winter waned. It marks the end of a beginning in what our leader describes, without a hint of the schmaltziness it must seem in print, a "journey."

And now, the bad news ...

Our leader, Joan, has been re-assigned to a different location, and won't be my leader anymore. This has had an impact on my mood and behavior for the past 24 hours. I hope it reinforces the positive, but so far it has proved negative.

Saturday was unusual for other reasons too, which played into things. Nancy and I spontaneously went out for breakfast with another Weight Watchers meeting attendee, so I had the fruit portion of my first meal, but no protein. When we got home, we had to turn around quickly and I forgot to take a Clif Builders bar (20g of protein, 7 PointsPlus). By late afternoon I was feeling undernourished and woozy and tired, setting up an evening where I could be tempted by sub-optimal choices.

The choices I did make were not absolutely terrible. I has my usual crudité combo of tomatoes, crimini mushrooms and shallots. I had hummus and some lentils. But I did go over points for the day, eating into my daily activity points wallet -- no biggie, because that are what they are for. And I had more carbs than I've been allowing myself lately, mostly from a variety of chips and raw peas.

And then, late in the evening, I got an enormous sweet tooth and thought it would be great to satisfy that and get some needed protein with an aforementioned Builders bar. Or, as the case may be, three of them ...

On Saturday, which is the one day I'll allow myself much latitude from Weight Watchers tracking, I often eat more than on the other six days of the week. But it's usually by design, with something -- one thing -- special: an Indian meal, a footlong Subway sandwich and chips, a real treat like Jolo's Kitchen.

Yesterday was, relatively speaking, chaos. Joan's sudden announcement got me in the gut, literally and figuratively. It's difficult to convey the importance of the leader; she is part therapist, part confessor, part AA-like buddy. Weight Watcher leaders are members who entered the program as customers and are lifetime members who have kept the weight off for many years, and the also have the certain-something motivational air about them.

And WW leaders have real skin in the game: When they gain weight, they lose their jobs.

But all leaders are not created equal. I was in Weight Watchers once before, less than half-heartedly, about 20 years ago. I recall that the leader was listless, and I attended no meetings, lost no weight and gave up within weeks. That was entirely my doing, because I had no real desire to be there, unlike now. But an engaging leader might have at least made it much more difficult for me to decide to shut down.

Joan -- we only know our leaders by first name -- was a draw. A big draw. I learned yesterday, as we commiserated with others, that some had been with her for as many as 10 years. She had personal friends in the room, coming to her meetings. She was being reassigned as a business decision by corporate, and the reason she did not exactly share was inescapable:

Joan is a star, a rainmaker, and was needed in another parish.

Today I am already back on track, starting slowly with just some coffee to continue to continue to digest the fruits of yesterday's debauchery. I am about to begin my workout, and then there will be a fruit salad and one (1) Builder's bar. And life will go on. (Update: post-workout, I am a pound up from Saturday's weigh-in, which is normal for me).

I have lost about 75 pounds, and Joan was a huge part of the reason that was possible for me. But the lesson is, staying on track is on you — not your family, your friends, the world, or your Weight Watchers leader. In a way, continuing this journey without Joan is a poetic reinforcement of this underlying truth that Joan herself stressed.

It's a lovely thought, and I will cling to it. But, of course, the best poetry ever written was — Greek tragedy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spam Gold: Can't Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me

Wired colleague Dave Mosher shared this on Google+ this morning, and graciously granted reprint rights to Planet Abell.

We are choosing to believe this was spam, and not a perfectly-targeted solicitation ... 
Hey Dave, 
I'm reaching out to you because ******* is getting a lot of job leads for clowns, and I'm looking for another clown who is interested in taking on more clients. 
After checking out your website [Here is Dave's web site: Ed]I think you are a great fit for ******* and I'd love to start sending you job leads. Please fill out a few details about your skills and rates, and I'll start forwarding you potential new clients.

If you have any questions about what ******* can provide, please don't hesitate to ask. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spam Gold: Dear Escort / Masseuse / Dancer

Quote unquote. Only the contact info is redacted

Dear Escort / Masseuse / Dancer
My name is ... and I’m a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer.

If you ever encounter unexpected trouble with undercover vice, for not having a city license, prostitution or drug possession, you will need a skilled and experienced lawyer, not a public defender to present your side of the story in court.
Los Angeles escorts, masseuses and dancers like you, whom I defended in court over the past fourteen years got their charges  dismissed and reduced, and received no jail time. You will usually not need to attend court as I handle your matter from beginning to end. When the court case is completed,  I will expunge your case, clearing this incident from public view.
If an unexpected situation with undercover vice ever arises, I respectfully invite you to call my law offices for a free consultation, so that we may confidentially discuss the best course of action for your case.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Week 25: One Of Us

I'm down four pounds this week — two away from 75 total and my goal weight of 160. It feels as though I am tracking correctly again after a month of gaining and losing the same 4-5 pounds in a see-saw session that rivaled last week on Wall Street.

But the biggest deal is that my daily PointsPlus allotment has been reduced to 29 — the fewest that Weight Watchers allows anyone. When I started this six months ago, at 235.6 pounds, I had 43 PointsPlus to play with every day.

That amount was significantly higher than most around me (I learned and inferred from those occasions when it came up in a meeting) and gave me great latitude. That, in turn, made it much easier to stick with it — how can you find fault with a weight loss program under which it is possible to have a Massive Martini every day and still lose at a pace of more than three pounds a week?

Forty-three points was high, but far from the highest, which is 89 points. But 29 is the fewest: It is even the amount allotted to life members, who get to enjoy every benefit of Weight Watchers without paying a dime as long as they remain within two pounds of their declared goal weight.

Theoretically, I am a week away of hitting my goal since my average seven-day loss for these past 25 is less I need to lose by next Saturday. We'll see — it's not a race. And I am also going to re-assess what my goal should be once I reach 160, since that figure is the top of what the medical charts say is the fit range for my height. At 160 my BMI will also be in a healthy range.

At that point, it becomes an exercise in being as fit as I can be without being obsessive. I think I listen to my body extremely well now, and won't abuse it on the up or downside. My annual physical is in two months and by then I am sure that I will be exactly where I want to be, and will then be able to medically reality-check all of my assumptions and lock in to a WW-guided program that keeps me there.

And that will be one hell of a great early Christmas present to myself.

Before then, maybe even next week, I get what will probably be my antepenultimate Weight Watchers trinket: a key chain charm 75-pound "barbell."

After that, it's a star for making goal, and then the lifer's key!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Spam Gold: Vera Desmond — or Desmond Vera?

We all get tons of spam, but I'm double lucky in the personal e-mail department because a) GMail actually stops tons of it and b) a good friend run my incoming through a whitelist server at a secret and undisclosed location before anything reaches my inbox.

At work, I'm not so lucky. Entourage does absolutely nothing useful to deal with even obvious spam, and trying to manipulate junk settings and rules is pointless. So I do a lot of deleting. And almost no reading beyond the subject line.

I don't know why this particular piece of spam caught my eye, but the horrible bot-like translation and gibberish in this common come-on is almost poetic -- title and all:

 How are you today my love?
 My name is Vera Desmond, her 23-year-old romance of Rwanda in Central
 Africa, I want to make friendship with you, I believe that age, race and
 language. Distance has an impact on. A good relationship does not exist.
 I was very happy to see your response.
 Thank you for accepting me. Is your friend.
 From your new friend.
 Desmond Vera.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Week 24: Give A Penny, Take A Penny

Another gain for me, my second, and slight -- i.e., within the range that would not have jeopardized a lifetime Weight Watchers status if I was at goal. But it's my second gain in three weeks, and basically I have maintained for a month, with two gains and two losses and no movement in either direction.

This is fine, of course, except ... I am working harder than ever on the exercise front, and had no "excesses" this week. It is still fine because I am probably trading some fat for some muscle and because muy body is probably making another one of those larger adjustments as I settle into a range with which it is entirely unfamiliar.

And it is fine just because it is fine: it isn't demoralizing, and this isn't a race. And it feels as though I am solidly in the 160s, poised to declare a new goal somewhere in the 150s.

New this week: I rediscovered my joy of running, and ability to do same. The occasion was a business trip which took me to DC and a fabulous boutique hotel with an awesome gym with state-of-the-art Precor treadmills. I did five miles in an hour — my first run in six years — and was finally able to calibrate my Nike+ app.

There was a lovely sweet desert last night, and there may be a bit more tonight. But I feel entirely on track, and am about to hit the bike.

Friday, August 5, 2011

In Social Media, Just Like In Presidential Elections, It's About A Choice

Someone added me to a group on Facebook yesterday -- which I didn't even think was possible, since my privacy settings there are akin to "I was never here." Very annoying. So annoying that I not only left that group, but the small handful of others I had joined, for one reason or another, primarily fellowship for whomever was the admin, because I don't participate in any FB reindeer games anyway.

But that transaction clarified one of the important, deep philosophical differences between FB and G+ (and all the other non-FB's I venture to say). And my own relationship with FB -- indifference, but a "need" to be there -- may not be as atypical as I imagine. Throwing more and more water on little fires that crop up here and there spotlight what could be fundamentally different dynamics at competing social networks, and over time that can have a material negative impact on what had been a monopoly.

One of the interesting aspects of the G+ era is that Google is unlikely to walk away, even if signups level off. We'll only know where the tipping point was (not when it is), but clearly this can be the un-Facebook in pointed and in subtle ways. It is inconceivable on G+ (I hope it is) that anyone, even someone in your most trusted circle, could associate you with something unilaterally. Shoot, there isn't even anything generic to join or be part of on G+, since every connection and group and gathering is ad hoc, and controlled by the participants 100%.

On FB, when you are committed, that becomes part of your identity. So the inevitable ramification effect of (say) doing someone a solid by saying you like their silly little fan page is to nail your signed confession of heresy to the church door, John Proctor-style. And if someone -- how, I still wonder? -- can say John is a member of this or that group, what control do I actually have on my persona?

That's just unacceptable.

The big battle in social media is over online ID. The winning entity has to allow people to control that in every sense of the word. It isn't rocket science, and being fast and loose around the edges won't cut it in a world where people have real choices.

Is this on the radar yet for hundreds of millions of people? Remains to be seen. But multiply identity crises x10 or x100 and it could be.

For the next year or so it would not surprise me if the social paradigm is broken if only an incremental way, given FB's momentum: We could very well have two viable, "all purpose" social networks co-existing for the first time in internet history. And the dividing line won't be over internal communications, sharing, apps, games or any other commodity features.

It will be over who gets to decide what on the most important thing about your online life. Which means, the most important thing in your life.