I always write a lot on my various blogomachines when I have a talk to prepare for. I’m going to Michigan this week for a flyby visit to Lansing and the Michigan Library Association conference. I was writing an update to this post from last September and realized that my various archives are sort of fucked. So I had to go and move include and archive files around and now they’re mostly okay and wow there’s another hour gone. I have this real back and forth about the time here, whether it’s “need another hour” or “get rid of another hour, please!” This set of weeks is the best for it because all the clocks, in an effort to be helpful and set themselves for us, have derailed us. All the Windows machines at school say it’s an hour ago. Most of my clocks at home say it’s now. My new-to-me car doesn’t have a clock at all, and my wristwatch is … someplace. So this means I’ve been showing up at work sometime between early and on time, not knowing which until I walk in the door and I’m still a little amazed that works as well as it does. But I had other numbers to talk about.

I upgraded the RAM (2 GB) and the hard drive (160GB) in my year-old laptop (details here, nothing special) which was a process involving a few screws, a few hundred dollars, some savvy online shopping, and a half an hour. And, as always, I think about the people I work with who are still at the Mousercise stage of their computer learning. The fact that you can now do a lot of this work yourself makes computers in some ways more affordable. The fact that it’s still thought of as esoteric mojo, going under the hood so to speak, does not. We’re working on some open source chicanery in Vermont, getting serious about an open source online catalog at some of our small libraries. Part of the plan is to have geeking sessions where people actually bring their CPU and we install server software together, transfer records and data together, hammer things out together. This has always been the way geek projects have worked, to some extent, but in a profession with more of a sense of “authority” getting people to trust each other and not people higher in the food chain has been a challenge. I’m excited for it.
prepared, waiting
And, speaking of exciting challenges and what got me sitting down to type besides my current Distraction Initiative, I’m checking in on how last year’s “do exercise, eat well, be fit, look fit (and don’t look bad in photos)” plan is going. It’s not bad. Since I started this all last Fall, I’ve lost a little over twenty pounds with what I considered to be a medium amount of attention and no amount of deprivation. When I first started — after what was already a few months of exercise and attention to eating, but a serious dread of the scale — I weighed 161. Today I weigh 140.

It’s been a simple plan really, involving basically The Hacker’s Diet and a lot of time in the pool and lately, in the backyard doing garden stuff. There’s also a really short list of things that have been helpful which I’ll note for future reference.

  • Getting on the scale – if you want to lose weight to lose weight (not so your clothes fit better, for example) this is mission critical. I use a little widget called The Google 15 where I give it my goal weight, tell it what I weigh every morning that I remember, and it does a five day average and tells me if I’m getting closer or farther from that goal. It’s stupid easy. Everyone has their own technique for fitness and weight loss, but I really believe if you’re not getting on the scale, you may not be totally serious.
  • Exercise goals – while I’m probably not going to make it the length of Lake Champlain this year — thanks to shoulder injuries and a life that’s gotten busy — having something to work towards kept me going even on days I felt lazy or cranky. This was a good thing and I’m sure I exercised just a little more because I was, theoretically, going somewhere. Having an exercise buddy can help with this, but you have to make sure your goals are somewhat similar.
  • Cooking at home – not only is it easier to calorie check what you’re eating, you’re unlikely to make yourself too much food, as opposed to restaurants that pretty much always serve too much food for what I want to eat but it’s SO TASTY (mmm butter and salt!) that I’ll eat it anyhow. At the outset, I decided I liked food too much to really diet, so my other main option (really there are only two) was to exercise more. I developed a bunch of tasty not-super-high-calories small meals and just got used to preparing and enjoying them. I swap out a lot of stuff: tea for juice, fat free for lowfat milk, turkey for beef. If you’re really into doing all this stuff in slow motion, all you need is to eat 100 calories less a day and you lose a pound a month. One less glass of orange juice. One less cookie. Ten more minutes in the pool.
  • No bargaining – I think it’s an easy step to take, to make deals with yourself about eating and exercise, less now more later or vice versa. My deal with me is to do what the hell I want and let the scale (over time that is, it’s easy to see your weight shift 2-4 pounds daily, hence the Google averager) be the arbiter. So I don’t not eat food that I like. I let myself stay home from the pool if I want to. I’ll have a third delicious empty-calorie beer if I’m having a good time. I eat what my friends are serving. Once you make yourself your own opponent for health and fitness, you’re really having a different problem.

So yeah it’s been a slow process and one that I’m sure is ongoing. I felt like I’d mention it again. Maybe I’ll mention it once a year, since it’s good to remember just how much in our lives is actually under our control. As for me, I sort of like my jawline and I’m happy to have it back. I like the pool and I’m happy to be there a lot. I like it when people say “Wow you’re looking great.” The one downside, if there is one, is that those extra twenty pounds kept me warmer at low temperatures. I may have to invest in long underwear.