.:: An exploration of exercise plans, weight loss and better workouts. ::.

" Searching begets purpose.. So we keep looking for the better workout plan, the better weight loss strategy, the better version of ourselves.. "

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May '11

Testing a local gem with Rails 3 and Bundler

So you’ve created a wonderful gem that you’d like to share with the world. You’re doing last minute tests by creating a sample application. So how do you point your Gemfile at your local, unpublished gem? Bundler conveniently let’s you specify a path :

gem 'turkee', :path => "/Users/jjones/Projects/new_gem"

The important thing to remember is that Bundler is going to expect this path to point to a local gem with a valid gemspec. If there isn’t a gemspec, it’s going to complain.

Mar '11

Perfectionism… is holding you back.

If you’re waiting for the perfect day where you jump out of bed, you look in the mirror and scream “today’s the day I start!”, well… Go back to bed.

We all have these perfect visions for ourselves; how many times have you told yourself “I figured I’d have more money/weighed less/been happier at this point in my life?” We all think it. We are all caught wishing and praying instead of doing only to find ourselves another year older still wishing.

As online blogger Andy Wibbels says, “Hope is not a strategy. It is a commodity.”

The key insight is that is there may _never_ be a perfect day to start. There are always going to be days where the sun doesn’t come out or it’s a little chilly or there’s one more email that you need to answer for work.

So for now on, always assume that no day is going to be perfect. If the rest of your living days aren’t perfection, then, when would you choose to begin?

Mar '11

Think of weight loss as paying off a debt..

Imagine yourself a 20 year old college student with a brand new shiny credit card. Your first taste of financial freedom. Barely containing your excitement, you rush out to the nearest Best Buy and buy the perfect 47″ LCD TV. And then you buy the DVDs for it. And then the Blue Ray player and before you know it, you are 5K in debt..

Fast forward five years later and you’ve recently graduated college. You’ve recently acquired a new job and you’re getting your financials in order. And then it hits you, all of your bad financial habits have lead you to a $200 minimum payment with nothing to show for it but memories..

Say you dedicate yourself to paying $500 a month towards this credit card bill; would it make sense to continue using the credit card and charging new items on it? NO. WAY.

So, thinking about this in terms of weightloss… Let’s say you get in the good habit of following your RunFatBoy workout plan. You’re pushing yourself during the workouts, sweating up a storm..

And yet when you leave the gym you say to yourself, “I have a pint of ice cream in the fridge, I’ve worked hard, I deserve it..” DON’T THINK THIS WAY. This is self sabotage and works against everything you’ve worked for.

If you’re hungry post workout, I need you to be thinking “lean proteins, green vegetables”. Otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels. Why burn 700 calories only to consume 900 the following hour?

This pattern will be devastating; weight loss is going to stall and you’ll eventually quit because of it. I’m not saying that you will never consume your favorite ice cream again; planned cheat meals are part of the exercise plan. But they are the minor exceptions, not the rule and can’t be a part of your daily meals.

You’re trying to dig yourself out of your weight “debt”; no need to surround yourself with the very things that contributed to the issue.

Mar '11

This Isn’t Your Fulltime Job, So Get Done and Get Home

Don’t take this as an excuse to half-ass your workouts, because it’s not. This is hopefully a contract between us that will initiate some tough love.

Here’s the agreement that hopefully we can come to; when you’re in the gym, you’re there to workout. Don’t bring the latest issue of Cosmo or your best friend to chat with. When the workout plan says to run on the treadmill for 14 minutes, you give those 14 minutes 100%. Run like you haven’t run since high school gym class. Run like there’s a tiger chasing you. Run so that you can see your grandchildren grow up.

Divided attention will give you halved results.

So this constraint actually ends up liberating you; because when the workout plan has been completed, you’re done. Don’t even think about doing an extra set. You’ve met your goal for the day, you’ve given it your best, and there’s nothing left to do but to go home and enjoy the ones you love.

Feb '11

You are more than your weight

The long road ahead for weight lossLet us give thanks that if we’re still overweight that at least we showed up at the gym. And if we didn’t show up at the gym we can always recommit tomorrow. And if we’re not sure of our commitment then we still have our health. And if we don’t have our health we still have our self worth.

And let it be know that with enough faith in ourselves that we have the power within ourselves to change any of the former.

Feb '11

Getting through your workout plan, one cup of coffee at a time

When you want to lose weight fast, you’re in for a battle. A million years ago it would have been beneficial to be overweight. The overweight people would have survived a harsh winter. Body fat was a great thing during the summer months of drought when there wasn’t anything to eat. But now it’s the 21st century, food is in abundance, and and now we’ve dug ourselves into a body weight hole.

If you drastically cut calories, the body is going to respond in a number of ways. Hunger is your body’s first defense but maybe you’ve vowed “this time will be different!” and have willed yourself to ignore these messages. So your body steps up its game by first slowing down your central nervous system. You begin to feel sluggish. And as the battle wages on sluggishness turns into all out sleepiness. Your body wants to preserve your fat (energy stores) as much as possible, even at the expense of you living a normal life.

So here’s the trick; make caffeine your friend. Abstain from caffeine throughout the day and then about an hour before your workout, drink a cup of coffee (or two).

The body adjust to caffeine usage very quickly so it’s important that you only use it for those times when you’re most apt to be sluggish. As you cut calories you’re going to feel sluggish. But by cycling caffeine and using it specifically for when you need the boost the most, hopefully this will prevent you from falling asleep at the treadmill.

Feb '11

Losing weight, high fat vs low fat

In the great, long-winded debate on “what is the better diet” you often see the likes of personalities Gary Taubes vs Dean Ornish debating the issue of whether fat has a role in someone’s diet. Is it possible that they’re both right, depending on the individuals insulin resistance levels?

At least one (1995) study alludes to this :

“Insulin-sensitive women on the HC/LF diet lost 13.5 +/- 1.2% of their initial BW, whereas those on the LC/HF diet lost 6.8 +/-1.2%. In contrast, among the insulin-resistant women, those on the LC/HF diet lost 13.4 +/- 1.3% of their initial BW as compared with 8.5 +/- 1.4% lost by those on the HC/LF diet). These differences could not be explained by changes in resting metabolic rate, activity, or intake.”


The participants didn’t participate in an exercise schedule, so the loss of fat cannot be chalked any additional energy expenditure through a workout plan.

I’m definitely in the insulin resistant camp. When I consume large amounts of carbohydrates, I become very sleepy. I’ve personally always lost the most weight when I keep my carbs low, but also have a healthy intake of saturated fats (think steak). On the flip side, I have had friends that have been very successful on low fat/high carbohydrate diets, but they tended to be of normal statures.

Jan '11

Starting from rock bottom; the obese, workout plans and initial performance.

I’ve seen a few largely obese individuals start out with resistance training in the gym in an effort to lose weight. While it is good intentioned, some of these individuals just aren’t at the fitness level (yet) to generally affect their energy levels. I’ve often wondered if it wouldn’t be a better approach to take the time that they devote to weight training and use that time for more cardio work.

Then as their cardio-vascular health progressed and muscle endurance improved, they are able to be more aggressive about their training and could move on to weight lifting.

E.g. If the beginner weighs 300lbs+ but only is performing a squat of 45 lbs (the bar) for 3-5 repetitions (and potentially only two sets of that), the amount of energy burned is going to be fairly low.

That being said, it’s also important to note that the changing of the diet would (and should) be the first priority.

It was interesting to hear Lyle McDonald’s (one of the most respected names in physical fitness and weight loss research) :

Now, this isn’t to say that fitness won’t or can’t improve fairly rapidly in these folks. But the reality is that, initially, the likelihood of significantly impacting on energy balance with exercise in the obese is a losing proposition. This has always been one of those great ironies, about the only people who can burn a ton of calories with activity are trained athletes; and they don’t usually need to lose weight.

Frankly, I think most overweight people would probably do better doing lighter, higher rep types of weight training in the first place. There’s a lot of research showing that some of the issues associated with obesity are muscles that are packed full of both carbohydrate and fat. Depleting those tends to increase how well the body burns fat during the day as well as giving a bigger ’sink’ for incoming calories to go into. The heavy stuff just isn’t needed for muscle mass maintenance and lighter stuff may be better tolerated and have more beneficial metabolic effects in the short-term. As well, it provides a base of training for when heavier stuff is brought in later on.


Nov '10

TaskPaper and DropBox == GTD TODO Perfection

If you’re a fan of using text files for your TODO lists, do yourself a favor and check out TaskPaper. It provides just enough help structuring your lists, but doesn’t get in the way. And if you’re smart enough to save your TaskPaper list on your DropBox account, you’ll never have to worry about losing data.

Sample TODO list

May '10

Ruby 1.8.7 Mysql::Error: Client does not support authentication protocol requested by server

Upgraded to ruby 1.8.7. Went to the script/console, executed a basic activerecord find command and received the following error :

Mysql::Error: Client does not support authentication protocol requested by server.

From the accompanying stack trace, it’s obvious that ActiveRecord is looking at the old mysql adapter that comes packaged with ruby 1.8.7.

from /usr/local/lib/ruby/1.8/mysql.rb:453:in `read'
from /usr/local/lib/ruby/1.8/mysql.rb:130:in `real_connect'
from /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/activerecord-2.3.5/lib/active_record/connection_adapters/mysql_adapter.rb:589:in `connect'
from /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/activerecord-2.3.5/lib/active_record/connection_adapters/mysql_adapter.rb:203:in `initialize'
from /usr/local/lib/ruby/gems/1.8/gems/activerecord-2.3.5/lib/active_record/connection_adapters/mysql_adapter.rb:75:in `new'

Not sure why this is, but just decided to rename the default ruby mysql adapter and retry it :

sudo mv /usr/local/lib/ruby/1.8/mysql.rb /usr/local/lib/ruby/1.8/_mysql.rb

>> Location.find(151)
=> #, lng: #, created_at: "2010-03-02 21:07:06", updated_at: "2010-03-30 06:45:09", airport_id: 1>

Success. Not sure why Rails wasn’t choosing the installed mysql adapter (2.8.1) over the default adapter.