Food jail, backups, the death of facebook, etc.

I miss being able to write here on a daily basis on everyday topics that have nothing to do with my writing, in a style not like my writing. It’s caused a problem in that people read stuff here and assume my books are like this writing, and either say I should write more like this in my books (no) or make this blog all absurd stuff like my books (no). I do like when I look back at a random entry from 1997 and see what existential crisis I was having over buying CDs or something.

I’ve been in food jail for the last few weeks. I should be at about 170-175, but I’ve been just north of 200 for most of the year, and need to get past that. So I’m on plan, and I’m hesitant to say which plan, because everyone is a fucking expert, and I don’t need yet another goddamn person telling me I need to intermittently fast. I know what I need to do and what I need to eat, but it’s a slow process. If I could lose a pound a week, there are only 20 weeks left in the year, so that’s almost my goal. But it’s been slow. When I did this ten years ago, I would eat about 1500 calories a day, keep at a good ratio of protein/fat/carbs, and eat clean(ish) and I’d always lose 1-2 pounds a week, without fail. Now, not so much. There’s certainly something metabolic there — higher cortisol from stress, lower testosterone from being ten years older. And when I get too much into reading this junk, diving into various pseudo-science blogs about insulin response and carbohydrate conversion and whatever else, my ultimate response is to say fuck it and start eating again. So I’m going to have to stick with what I’m doing, keep exercising, and slowly carve away at it.

Went to the GP last week, partly because it’s just time for my annual, partly because everyone is dead and dying and there’s some paranoia there. Everything’s fine. All the blood numbers are fine. Blood pressure is borderline, but between the day job and all the caffeine, that’s understandable. I need to lose weight, although this doctor doesn’t hassle me about it that much. I have mixed feelings about fat acceptance – if you’re into it, whatever, but I know I felt better and my numbers were better when I weighed less, so it definitely has health consequences for me, and it’s something I need to work on. Anyway, why am I telling the world all of this?

Spent yesterday burning too many cycles dealing with my backup solution. I have used CrashPlan for years, and they decided to get out of the home game, and told everyone to switch to their pro/small business plan, or go screw. I stuck with it, and then found out my machine hasn’t been backing itself up for weeks. I futzed with their program for a minute, and it said it had to re-upload everything, which would take a week or two. Or maybe it didn’t – their new UI is very opaque and tells you nothing. I spent all day poking around with alternatives. They gave me a “deal” to switch to Carbonite, but the “deal” was roughly twice as expensive. I looked at rolling my own solution, using a tool like Duplicacy to back up my stuff to an Amazon S3 bucket, and then using Wasabi, which is a cheap-o S3 substitute. I couldn’t really get that to work, so I gave up and switched to BackBlaze. I like the UI and the performance of BackBlaze, and the price is right. I am not entirely into the recovery method – instead of just being able to browse the archives remotely, you either request a monster ZIP of your entire archive, or pay to have them ship you a drive. I suppose that is okay for a full-machine failure, but doesn’t address when I need to go back and grab a single file from backup. I do also back up locally, on an external drive and to a NAS, so that’s okay for now I guess.

Facebook keeps removing features. I keep wanting to write some big “the death of Facebook” article but I have no inertia there. The first thing that went – they had this thing, and I can’t remember the name, but it showed you a feed of posts that might interest you, things from feeds friends followed or whatever, just a firehose of things that weren’t in your friends feed. I really liked this idea, because it might show you things out of your orbit that you could then follow. (Instagram does something similar.) So that vanished. Then the news items, which is probably good, because that just raised my blood pressure, but I don’t read news anymore, so that was my only exposure to current events. The “friends activity ticker” also got pulled, which ceased to be useful after I had more than like fifty friends, but still. And now, the concept of friend feeds is gone. I don’t even know that most people knew about this, but you could make lists of friends, like “school friends” and “work friends” and “annoying friends who post too many pictures of their kids” or whatever, and then you could unfollow those people, but go to that feed to see those posts. I found that helpful because when my main feed would get fucked and have a ten-hour gap in posts, I could go to a close friends feed and still read their posts. I think with the combination of news feed fuckery and people just losing interest, FB is going to become MySpace soon. Which is bad, because it’s the only way I sell books (not that I’ve been selling any books lately) and it’s the only way I keep in touch with people, since nobody reads this anymore. And no “what’s next after Facebook” replacement has gained any traction. So, who knows. There was a weird dark ages after college for me, because everyone in college emailed and chatted and was on the computer constantly, and then from the mid-90s to the mid-00s, people just dropped off the map completely. I sort of see that happening again. Maybe I need a new hobby.

I have a book 99% done that I can’t seem to get out the door. It is completely written, has been through like three or four editing passes, and I’m at the point where I can’t even look at it anymore, let alone write a snappy description and tell the world it is the greatest thing ever. I have someone working on a cover for it right now. Maybe that will make me get off my ass and finish it.

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fitness update

I know none of you give a fuck about my fitness stuff, but I need some accountability. I also wouldn’t mind being able to go back in a few years and see this data. So, serious post, bear with me. All stupid replies to this will be deleted, so save your jokes for another post.

My one basic goal for 2016 was to use my Apple Watch and finish the “three rings” every day. That means standing once an hour for twelve hours, exercising for at least 30 minutes, and burning a specific set of calories. I got a late start on this because of stupid stuff in January of 2016, and started my streak in February.

So yesterday, I broke a one-year streak, or 365 continuous days of meeting all three goals. This usually involves a brisk walk of about an hour a day. In summer, this is great, because I get the sun and it helps my mood a lot. This time of year, it is a real challenge, because it is dark and rainy and shit out. But I persisted on this, and it was my one goal, and I made it. I am going to continue on this for the rest of the year, and now I really don’t want to miss a day, but it’s part of my routine, so I’ll try to get the next 11 months perfect, too.

My second goal of 2017 was to write down everything I ate. I still use a Fitbit One (don’t ask why I use this and the watch, it’s complicated.) and I use a Fitbit Aria scale and weigh myself every day. So I use the Fitbit app to log food. My goal wasn’t to be all judgmental about what I ate and stick to any kind of diet, but just to log everything. I find when I do that, I’m somewhat accountable about eating 178 granola bars in one sitting. And for January (and the start of February) I have done that.

The third thing is that I have been following Fitbit’s guidance of how many calories I should be taking in versus how many I burn, with a 250-calorie deficit. I have not been that rigid with it, just keeping an eye on it. I generally eat a few hundred calories lower than I should, but have one or two days a week when I eat more. And I realize that calorie counting isn’t the way to go, and despite all the “fat isn’t bad” hokum on mommyblogging sites, fat is bad for me. The Weight Watchers point system works better for me, but WW fucked this all up in one of their annual reboots, and I hate going to WW meetings, so I can’t do that.

I ended the year on 12/31 at 204.5 pounds, thanks to being in Wisconsin. As of today, I am at 196.0. My goal is like 170-175, and I realistically shouldn’t be losing more than five pounds a month. I am also expecting to fall off the wagon at some point and stop logging every day, because it is a huge pain in the ass. So, that’s why I need to make another post like this next month.

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Freshly

I am lazy. I can cook, but given the choice, I don’t. That means either I eat sad microwave dinners, or I go out to eat, and eat too much. That has been catching up to me, and I had to do something out of desperation. I wanted to get those Zone delivery meals, where they  cook everything and measure it out and do it to a certain nutritional profile, and then deliver them every day. I think if I was given three pre-portioned meals a day and told to eat just that, I’d be fine.

The big problem with this is that most Zone delivery things cost roughly as much as my mortgage. They also usually use their own delivery people, which means they will 100% get lost or not be able to get in my building. (Case in point: Amazon Logistics always fucks up deliveries here.) And some of the food delivery things have some flexibility with getting less than 21 meals a week, but some don’t.

I thought about Blue Apron, since they advertise constantly, and a bunch of people won’t shut the fuck up about them. But those involve cooking, and they’re more for two people, and my wife doesn’t eat. So that was out.

I finally found Freshly, which seemed to fit the bill. They delivered with FedEx, packed in ice. They have meal plans of 6, 9, 12, or 21 meals a week, which you pick from their rotating menu. They list ingredients and nutritional information. And their web site did not look that impossible to use.

I tried this out with the 9-meal plan. I did not need breakfast, since I have oatmeal each day. I also left some dead space for weekends or going out for lunch once in the week. 9 meals, including shipping, was $99.

First, packaging was interesting. The meals came in a cardboard box, which was lined with some padded stuff which is actually recycled jean denim, wrapped in brown paper. Then inside that were alternating packs of white plastic containing a frozen gel, along with the individual meal trays. Each meal tray was in a cardboard sleeve with nutritional info, then was a standard black plastic bottom/clear plastic wrap sealed top.

The food was all made with minimal ingredients, no preservatives. I generally don’t care about that either way, but it was all fresh, not frozen. There was zero prep involved: poke holes in the top, nuke for two minutes, done. I plated them after cooking, but that’s it. No flavor packets or mixing or anything else. It’s just prepared food in a plastic tray.

The meals I had ranged from pretty decent to excellent. Each one was protein-centric, with mostly carbs from vegetables and no sugar or starches. The best meal was a Lebanese meatball dish with spinach, chickpeas, tahini, and raisins. I would have easily eaten nine of those. There was also a beef provencal with brussels sprouts, and I absolutely hate brussels sprouts and I ate all of them. The first meal I ate was the most meh, a paleo toasted almond chicken. I wasn’t entirely into the coating, but even there, the chicken was perfectly done inside and not dry or knuckly or weird.

As far as ordering, their web site lets you choose what you’re going to get a week in advance. You can skip a week or throttle up/down from your chosen plan if you need to. If you did nothing, you’d get the same stuff as last week. It looks like it would be fairly easy to cancel the account if I needed to bail completely. (There’s a link at the bottom of the subscription settings page, so it’s not completely buried, or one of those things where you have to sit on hold for an hour.)

The one bummer about the whole experience is that the food expires fast. I got my meals on Thursday, and they were all marked best by Monday, and the weekend of eating out was in the middle of that. Their web site says you can freeze meals, but is really dodgy about it, saying some freeze better than others, but no specifics, and no instructions on the best way to thaw them. I froze two of the meals (a chili, and an asian steak) and they were not as on point as the rest of them, but were as decent as an average TV dinner. There’s no real way around this, other than maybe two deliveries a week, or knowing what freezes well and planning on that.

Other super minor gripe is there was no FedEx tracking number. That’s a big deal for me because every delivery person fucks things up, even though I am home all day, and it’s nice to feed the number into a delivery status app.

I ended up losing 3.3 pounds last week. I generally only lose weight from diet. I don’t subscribe to any belief on fad stuff like paleo or gluten-free or no-GMO or any of that. You eat more than you burn, you gain weight. That said, I also walked 36 miles last week, so there’s that. But I think having controlled portions to prevent me from gorging, and not having any bread or empty carbs helped most.

And the Amway part of the post: If you’re interested in trying this, go here: http://refer.freshly.com/s/7xqc7. Like I said, it’s not exactly cheap, and it’s not available coast-to-coast, either. But it’s been good for me so far.

 

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