Six Months, Fifty Pounds

On July 2, 2011, I weighed myself, like I do every morning since I started [trying to be healthy and lose weight](, and I weighed 300 pounds. Six months earlier, at the start of the year, I weighed 350 pounds. Six months, fifty pounds. I’m proud of what I have accomplished, but I have a long way to go still. 115 more pounds until my goal, which I should hit by summer of next year. But this feels like a milestone, so here’s some of what I’ve learned in the last six months.

## Mindfulness and Quantification

I don’t consider myself “on a diet”. I’m not. I just eat. But I am mindful of what I eat. I record and quantify it. Recording all this data about myself (everything I eat, my daily weight, along with daily blood pressure and heart rate) pushes the happy button in my nerd brain. I can totally understand the [quantified self movement]( “Lifelog – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia”). I want to get a [Fitbit]( “Fitbit”) device to track my daily activity and sleep, especially now that it integrates with [Lose It](, the app/site I use to keep track of everything.

## Habits

I’ve been doing this long enough now that I have a feel for how many calories I should be eating each day, and if I had to, I think I could continue without explicitly logging all my food and activity. I’m not going to stop logging, since as I mentioned, I find it fun. It’s like a game now. But I think I’ve started to retrain away years of bad habits. And that feels like real progress.

## Bending Over

I can bend over and pick things up off the floor now, and breathe at the same time. I can tie my shoelaces. There are a whole bunch of other changes I’ve noticed with my body. I won’t detail them all here. But the best of all is that I feel better than I have in at least a decade. I have more energy. I don’t hurt when I stand up or walk for more than a few minutes. I actually feel good when I go for a walk. Walking used to be torture, and forget about anything more strenuous than that. I still don’t do much more than walking, but hey. Progress.

## Protein is Your Friend

I never really paid much attention to nutrition before. As in, what function things like protein, fat, and carbs have. I knew the basics, like carbs get turned into stored fat, etc. And I’m still no expert. But one thing I have learned is that protein is awesome. When I eat a lot of protein for breakfast (an egg, some jerky), I don’t feel hungry until at least lunch time. And protein is fuel for your brain. I’m sure this is incorrect in at least three different ways, but sometimes I figure if I can keep my brain fueled with protein, the rest of my body can fend for itself, and raid my ample fat stores for energy.

## Clothes

All my pants (cargos) are waist size 48. If I’m not wearing a belt cinched really tight, they drop straight to my ankles. Sorry for the mental picture. They don’t sag, they’re not baggy – they fall straight off. I need to get some new pants, but since I’m “in transition” to my destination weight, I don’t want to spend a lot on new clothes, so I’m going to hang on as long as I can. The other nice thing is that I can fit into shirts that I haven’t been able to wear in a while. I have many geeky t-shirts that have been hanging in my closet since I outgrew them that now have the added benefit of being vintage geeky when I wear them. And I look much better in a t-shirt too. Not as much “tenting” at the bottom, where my belly bulges.

## Onward

I’ve still got a **long** way to go. I’ve set my goal weight at 185, which is what I weighed when I came home from two years in Brasil as a missionary, when I was the most healthy and fit I’ve ever been in my life. Then, I wasn’t even trying – my daily routine of walking about 15km a day, and eating mostly beans and rice took care of changing my flabby self into something resembling a fit human being. I had muscle definition. I had a flat stomach. I don’t want to be a model or anything. I just want to be healthy and fit. Thanks to all of you for your encouragement, sympathy, suggestions, and support. It means more than you know. Hopefully I’ll be posting another milestone update soon.


Can the Kindle Do For eBooks What iPods Have Done For Music?

Next in a long series of thoughts about electronic books an the Amazon Kindle: can the Kindle have the same kind of huge, mainstream success, and become embedded in our culture like the iPod has?

You can read my previous posts on the Kindle, including my Two Month Review (and Washington Times interview), Why eBooks are a Great Entertainment Value, my Rebuttal to Kindle Critics, and my video Kindle Unboxing and First Impressions. Each of those posts has some great discussion in the comments, and I’d advise you to read them if you’re interested in the topics. Now, on to the topic at hand!

Comparisons between the Kindle and the iPod are inevitable. Some say (and I’m among them) It could do for books and reading what the iPod has done for music and listening – make it a very digital, customizable, personal experience. Part of the draw of iPods, I think, is the ability to bring your whole music library with you, and mix it up and listen to it in whatever way you feel like moment to moment. The Kindle seems similar on the surface – they even use some of the same terminology (“library”, etc.). The terms of the DRM (Digital Rights Management) restrictions on Kindle books and iTunes music files are also very similar – you can only use the digital files on devices from the manufacturer from whom you purchased the iPod/Kindle, you can authorize up to 5 devices to share the files within your family, but not with thousands of your closest friends on the internet, etc. You are permitted to load up free files that you’ve obtained from elsewhere. The promise of the Kindle seems to be the same as that of the iPod – you can bring all of your digital books with you, and read them however and whenever you want.

This is certainly part of the appeal of the Kindle, and ebooks in general. But there are some differences – places where direct comparisons between the Kindle and the iPod break down. I think the linear nature of books and reading means that people won’t be shuffling through their books on random, like we do with music on our iPods. And there’s the attention issue – you can listen to music or podcasts or other audio content on your iPod while you’re doing something else – driving, working out, even reading. You can’t really do much else while you’re reading a book. In the end, though, I think there’s one big issue that will prevent the Kindle from obtaining the same level of commercial and popular success that we’ve seen the iPod soar to:

Lots of people just don’t like to read.

Steve Job said as much when he was asked if Apple was working on a Kindle competitor (though many took that to be tacit acknowledgement that Apple IS planning such a device – just like when Jobs said “no one wants to watch video on an iPod” years ago). Speaking as an avid reader, and lover of words and books in all their forms, it saddens me to admit this. But I know lots of people who just don’t enjoy reading. And it’s going to be almost impossible to convince that set of people that they should buy a Kindle.

So why do people love their iPods so much? Most of us like music, and even if you’re not a full blown music lover, listening is a passive activity – it doesn’t take much effort – so it makes a nice background filler. Personally, I love listening to podcasts – they make me smarter. Plus there’s the “cool” factor – wanting to be seen with the latest iPod dangling from those white headphones, wanting to express yourself through your playlists and preferences. So even if you don’t think of yourself as a music lover, there are lots of reasons to own and use an iPod.

No one is ever going to be considered “cool” for walking around with their nose in a Kindle (although I do know people who express themselves through the books that they read in public – nothing tells the world you’re a science fiction lover like reading a Cory Doctorow paperback on the train – something the Kindle can’t do). Why the stigma against reading? I’d say that often it goes back to our school days, and the whole “smart kids” versus “cool kids” culture clash. Those habits and preferences are deeply ingrained.

For these reasons, I don’t think the Amazon Kindle, or eBooks in general, are ever going to be as popular, culturally or commercially, as the iPod and digital music.

That doesn’t make it less important. I’d argue that the Kindle and digital books are likely to change and influence people on an individual level, because of how much more stimulating reading is for your brain compared to listening to music. And for that set of people who DO love books, words, and reading, even if they’re not technologically inclined, there’s a lot to love about the Kindle. It won’t make you into a book lover, but if you’re already of that ilk, the attraction of the Kindle is just as powerful as bopping your head to the latest tunes with those white earbuds in your ears.