10th May, 2010

Treadmill desk beta proving trickier than I thought

I seem to have been a bit ambitious in wanting to get a treadmill desk up and running over the last weekend =).  My goal here is to “try before I buy” so to speak.  I want to get a functional treadmill environment setup without spending a lot of money – I need to know that it can work for me before I invest too heavily in the idea. 

I also need for the first go around more of a hack – that is not physically modifying my desk and can be easily reverted back.  I’ve moved my treadmill into place and found that I need to raise my monitors up about 30 inches.  My first thought was some sort of adjustable hydraulic platform.  This would allow me to raise or lower my monitors around to revert back to a chair desk – but that looks like it might be some sort custom built deal right now.

Next I started looking into various monitor arms/stands.  The first problem I encountered is that my basement walls were put up using the cheap metal studs that don’t have much strength.  The other problem is that stands that will hold my 30” monitors look like they are going to run about 300$ a pop.  Not very cost effective for a risky trial.

It seems like I might almost need a desk to put on top of my desk.  Hmm back to the thinking board…

9th May, 2010


I’m thinking I’m going to try the .  I first looked at P90X when I first started .  Unfortunately, the way it was marketed – just made it seem like such a scam.  My parents-in-law picked up a copy and so did my sister-in-law.  They both quit, saying its too hard.  So, now I’m intrigued…

I’ve been working on the from for quite some time now.  They’ve really helped me along both in breaking up the boredom of endless running – but also in overall fitness.  It’s time to change things up a bit.  Variety is crucial…

A challenge?

I pick up the book and start reading through it.  The very first line says:

This program is for YOU, if you have achieved a respectable level of fitness.

That makes me think this might be a challenge worth trying.  There is even a to see if you’re what they consider ready.  The fitness test takes you through pull ups, push ups, plyometrics, flexibility, squats and tons of other things.  Nothing in the list looks out of my range.

Getting with the program

The program comes with twelve DVDs.  Each DVD containins a days worth of workouts targeting one or two parts of the body.  Most importantly there is a ton of variety.  Its not all weights, or all plyometrics.  They guide states “Muscle Confusion” is the key to success:

By providing extensive variety of different moves that take time to master, P90X is continually challenging the body’s muscles into new growth.  The more you confuse the muscle, the harder your body has to work to keep up; the more variety you put into your workload, the better and faster your results will be.

This supposedly will prevent your body from hitting a “plateau”.   The variety offered in P90X is pretty varied – I can see this a viable.   I’m almost certainly at a plateau now with the running and circuits – good for maintaining the work I’ve done thus far – but I still have a little further to go.

The program is thirteen weeks long.  Three weeks of six different workouts – one per day.  Seventh day is a rest day or do the optional stretch workout.  The fourth week is varied.  This completes “Phase one”.  Phase two is the same kind of layout though the workouts done vary.  Phase three consists of weeks nine and eleven repeating the same set, and weeks ten and twelve do another set.  Finishing up with a “cooldown” for week thirteen.

I saw someplace that you can start “doubling” up on phase two by adding a second cardio workout on some days.  I’m liking this – I would hate to lose all the progress I’ve made on running endurance.


They recommend you have a yoga mat, a chin-up bar, dumbbells, resistance bands, heart rate monitor, and push-up stands.   Of course they market and sell all of this.. =)


They really emphasize nutrition.  The program comes with a nutrition guide that has a bunch of great looking healthy recipes – with some decent looking variety.  It emphasizes the need to eat often throughout the day.  It walks you through figuring out your “level” to determine the needed caloric intake.

Each “Phase" has its own nutrition aim.  Phase one is called the “fat shredder” in an effort to help you get rid of that “little bit” of fat you’ve picked up =).  It’s high in protein to help you (start) building muscles.  Phase two is called the “Energy Booster” – more carbohydrates, lots of protein to help increase energy.  Phase three is called “Endurance Maximizer” – complex carbohydrates, proteins, low fat.

Finally they offer protein powders, vitamin supplements, protein bars, and a “recovery drink”.  All sold separately of course. =)

It’s worth a shot…   I needed to go buy groceries today anyhow – I’ll pickup food, protein bars, and some powder tonight and try this thing out.

5th May, 2010

Salter nutritional scale

When I started eating right and exercising – I vowed to never be that guy weighing all his food!  I figured that just making healthier choices and exercising was more important than measuring food.  I was right.  I lost a lot of weight with this mentality.

When I started doing the program I realized I had to change my tune.  My goal had changed from losing an unknown amount of weight (probably ~100 lbs) to getting rid of that last little bit.  I  have to be more precise at this point.  I decided that I good scale would be pretty SAM_0561important when preparing meals. My wife was heading out shopping so I asked her to find a scale. "not the cheapest, but not the most expensive" I said as she ran out the door.  Of course her decisions are based purely on appearance and size/profile. So she came back with the most expensive one :) . Weighing in at 100$ is the Salter Glass Nutritional scale.  Amazon has them for a lot less…but oh well.

Once I started playing with this scale I was pretty stoked. Yah it’s pretty and small and it looks pretty – so my wife was appeased. What I really like is that it comes with a huge internally stored library of foods. If you enter a food code the scale will show you not just the weight of the food, but also the calories and other nutritional information about the food.  Pretty handy.  Oh, and the three AAA batteries were included =).

It’s got a weight capacity of about eleven pounds.  This is plenty for most food weighing scenarios.   Another nice feature of this scale is the ability to change the unit of measurement between all of the biggies (grams, ounces, pounds/ounces, even milliliters).  The P90X recipes are all ounce based, but life in Canada is usually done in grams.  

You can load the scale and zero it out. This is great for adding a measured quantity of something (like mayonnaise) to a bowl of something. For example, when making tuna salad I’ll add the tuna to the bowl, put the bowl on the scale and zero it. Now I can effectively measure the mayo into the bowl without having to mess around with measuring spoons (which steal a small amount of my precious yum!)

I have only two beefs with this scale.  First the buttons, which are kind of like touch screen glass are a little finicky.  Sometimes I have to press the zero button a few times before.  Finally when placing a larger plate on the scale – its difficult to see the screen.

So check out this scale. It’s a must have item if you’re starting P90X IMO…

4th May, 2010

Is sitting killing us? Is walking and working the way?

  This article has inspired me to research alternatives to my .  Perhaps a walking desk could work for developers?  I’m very interested to see how walking 1-2 mph all day would affect my heart rate and overall fitness…

I’m going to research and attempt a prototype this weekend. 

I’ll keep you posted…

22nd April, 2010

Substitute guacamole for sour cream

Next time you go to use sour cream as a garnish or a dip consider using a instead.  Though avocado does have higher fat content than most fruits/veggies, I’m perfectly cool with eating them as one of those “once and a while” foods.

Anyhow, it’s creamy and the taste is mild so it doesn’t overpower what you’re eating.  Give it a shot.

16th April, 2010

Controlling a treadmill with Silverlight

This is a whole lot of awesome.  Page Brooks has written a series of posts explaining how to control an Image 15.0Q treadmill with .   This treadmill is controlled using audio signals and a 1/8” audio jack.  Interesting interface… 

Now I’m totally wanting a better treadmill that I can control programmatically…that would be an awesome iPhone app…

1st April, 2010

Personal running distance and endurance record!

I set a new personal record today!  For months, my usually run was about three miles.  Sometimes when I would push it I could pull off 4.5.  Usually I would cramp out or something else would go wrong,

According to

  • 60 minutes of running
  • 5.87 miles
  • 1.82 (mi/hr) (min)
  • 5.89 (mi/hr) (avg)
  • 9.85 (mi/hr) (max)

Finally my body came through for me and didn’t have a little freak out at the 30 or 45 minute mark.  Had to make three brief thirty second pit stops to work out a kink in my left knee, and a knot in my right foot but managed to keep going.  The weather was great, around 8C – so not to warm but not to cool.

Funny story from my run today.  Around the 15 minute mark I passed an older gentleman also out for a run.  About 20 minutes later, we passed again.  The third time we passed about 20 minutes later I laughed to myself.  That dude can run…

The best part is, at the 60 minute mark I could have kept going.  Sadly, I had to get lunch taken care of and get back to work..ahh well.  A good day. =)

1st April, 2010

Binge Eating – An eating disorder?

During my morning coffee today I was getting the brain warmed up for another fun day of work.  Came across an interesting article on .  It turns out there is a name for the super unhealthy “habit” I learned from my father long long ago, and go figure its a  psychological !  WTF!

Used to be, I would get up drink coffee and smoke until dinner time – then eat a massive dinner.  Usually going to bed right after that..

If you’re the kind of person that goes into a fast food restaurant and orders two combo meals – and powers through those for your one big meal a day – you might be a binge eater.

This prompted me to .  The first result seems to have described me down to a T, and wouldn’tcha know it – there are checklists. 

Ask yourself the following questions. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you have binge eating disorder.

  1. Do you feel out of control when you’re eating?
  2. Do you think about food all the time?
  3. Do you eat in secret?
  4. Do you eat until you feel sick?
  5. Do you eat to escape from worries or to comfort yourself?
  6. Do you feel disgusted or ashamed after eating?
  7. Do you feel powerless to stop eating, even though you want to?

Let’s see, If I were to answer this checklist two years ago it would have been – yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, only if someone saw me, and yes. 


But the current answers to the checklist are better – only with cake and , sometimes, not anymore, sometimes, not sure, sometimes, sometimes. 

But even still today, one and half years after I started changing my life – I find myself staring in the cupboards with a hunger that I can never seem to satisfy.  In an effort to keep this in check – and do the least amount of damage to all the progress I’ve made I make sure to keep a lot of healthy(ier) snacks and fruit around.

This hunger hits me the hardest right before bed, perhaps its a leftover of that giant before bed meal.  Perhaps there is somewhat of a instinctual thing about going to bed with a full stomach?  Either way the best I’ve been able to cope with this is to grab a piece of fruit and get out of the kitchen asap.  Keeps my hands out of my wife’s potato chip stash…

26th March, 2010

High-fructose corn syrup causes extra weight gain

More information on the .  A Princeton University research team has finding that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain than table sugar – though the caloric intake is the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

This is a great read which further coaxes me to try and reduce my fructose intake.  The more I learn about fructose – the more it scares me. 

17th March, 2010

You don’t need a gym

On the biggest loser last week they did a “work week”. The contestants were working eight hour days plus a commute at a local food bank.  A really big deal was made about “not having access to the gym” and “the gym is closing at 7:45″.  This was pretty frustrating to me because you don’t need a gym! I’ve lost over 70lbs without setting foot in a gym.

You can run (with or without) a treadmill, plyometrics, yoga and other strength exerizes instead of weights. You can ride a bike, you can walk, you can swim, the possibilities are endless…

Please don’t think that you NEED to get a gym membership to succeed…you don’t.