pozorvlak: (Default)
Monday, January 2nd, 2017 12:57 pm
Happy New Year! You're all no doubt itching to learn how I got on with my 2016 New Year's Resolutions.

[Content note: weight loss/gain]
Read more... )
pozorvlak: (Default)
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016 10:34 pm
Following on from my 2015 review post, I should document my New Year's Resolutions for this year. In descending order of priority:
  1. Make a first ascent in the Greater Ranges. Same plan as last year: we've found some 4000m mountains in Kyrgyzstan with no recorded ascents, we've applied for financial assistance from the Mount Everest Foundation (who exist to fund this sort of thing), I've booked the time off, I'm learning Russian via a combination of night classes and Duolingo (befriend me here!), and I'm training in earnest. Speaking of which:
  2. Get my body mass below 70kg, from a starting point of 81.2kg on New Year's Day. I want to retain a few kilos of body fat, because food is heavy and burning fat on a route is way better than burning muscle, but every extra gram of body mass will have to be carried 2000m up a mountain, at altitude, as fast as possible. If you've never done hard physical work at altitude while overweight, let me share a secret with you: it is Not Fun. I'm tracking my weight using the Libra app for Android, which implements Hacker's Diet-style smoothing on your noisy daily weigh-in data; calorie intake via MyFitnessPal; and calorie expenditure via a FitBit exercise-tracking band, because MyFitnessPal's calorie-per-hour estimates for most forms of exercise are laughably high. FitBit can sync calories-burned to MFP, which I currently have set up; Libra doesn't sync to either of them, which is annoying, but I really want the trend rather than the raw weight data. FitBit also have a native food-tracking system, so I may ditch MFP at some point.
  3. Show up for work in a timely fashion. This is something I struggle with horribly at the moment. I almost always arrived in time for our morning standup meeting at my last job, but now I'm working remotely as part of a distributed team, and we don't have any equivalent for that. I've just signed up for Beeminder and created a "Do Less" goal with units of "minutes late to work", and a fairly generous weekly target; we'll see how that goes.
  4. Actually do some work while I'm there. Not sure how to make this SMART or how to achieve it. The Pomodoro technique is... moderately effective, if I actually start doing it (which is much easier if I show up not-too-late in the morning). RescueTime integrates with Beeminder, so I could set myself a goal for "spend more time looking at an IDE, terminal or job-related websites" (or one for "spend less time looking at blogs and social media"). By the way, a pet peeve: if you're reading about the Pomodoro Technique and thinking "sounds interesting, but 25 minutes isn't enough" then you are not the kind of person who needs it. 25 minutes is a major challenge for some of us.
  5. Read an average of one book a week. You can follow my progress on this one at Goodreads.

pozorvlak: (polar bear)
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 06:01 pm
1. Start tracking my weight and calorie intake again, and get my weight back down to a level where I'm comfortable. I've been very slack on the actual calorie-tracking, but I have lost nearly a stone, and at the moment I'm bobbing along between 11st and about 11st 4lb. It would be nice to be below 11st, but I find I'm actually pretty comfortable at this weight as long as I'm doing enough exercise. So, I count that as a success.

2. Start making (and testing!) regular backups of my data. I'm now backing up my tweets with TweetBackup.com, but other than that I've made no progress on this front. Possibly my real failure was in not making all my NYRs SMART, so they'd all be pass/fail; as it is, I'm going to declare this one not yet successful.

3. Get my Gmail account down to Inbox Zero and keep it there. This one's a resounding success. Took me about a month and a half, IIRC. Next up: Browser Tab Zero.

4. Do some more Stanford online courses. There was a long period at the beginning of the year where they weren't running and we wondered if the Stanford administrators had stepped in and quietly deep-sixed the project, but then they suddenly started up again in March or so. Since then I've done Design and Analysis of Algorithms, which was brilliant; Software Engineering for Software as a Service, which I dropped out of 2/3 of the way through but somehow had amassed enough points to pass anyway; and I'm currently doing Compilers (hard but brilliant) and Human-Computer Interaction, which is way outside my comfort zone and on which I'm struggling. Fundamentals of Pharmacology starts up in a couple of weeks, and Cryptography starts sooner than that, but I don't think I'll be able to do Cryptography before Compilers finishes. Maybe next time they offer it. Anyway, I think this counts as a success.

5. Enter and complete the Meadows Half-Marathon. This was a definite success: I completed the 19.7km course in 1 hour and 37 minutes, and raised over £500 for the Against Malaria Foundation.

6. Enter (and, ideally, complete...) the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon. This was last weekend; my partner and I entered the C category. Our course covered 41km, gained 2650m of height, and mostly consisted of bog, large tufts of grass, steep traverses, or all three at once; we completed it in 12 hours and 33 minutes over two days and came 34th out of a hundred or so competitors. I was hoping for a faster time, but I think that's not too bad for a first attempt. Being rained on for the last two hours was no fun at all, but the worst bit was definitely the goddamn midges, which were worse than either of us had ever seen before. The itching's now just about subsided, and we're thinking of entering another one at a less midgey time of year: possibly the Original Mountain Marathon in October or the Highlander Mountain Marathon next April. Apparently the latter has a ceilidh at the mid-camp, presumably in case anyone's feeling too energetic. Anyway, this one's a success.

5/6 - I'm quite pleased with that. And I'm going to add another one (a mid-year resolution, if you will): I notice that my Munro-count currently stands at 136/284 (thanks to an excellent training weekend hiking and rock climbing on Beinn a' Bhuird); I hereby vow to have climbed half the Munros in Scotland by the end of the year. Six more to go; should be doable.
pozorvlak: (pozorvlak)
Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 12:58 am
I don't normally make New Year's resolutions, but what the hell.

1. Start tracking my weight and calorie intake again, and get my weight back down to a level where I'm comfortable. This morning it was 12st 1.9 - not terribly high in the scheme of things, but it's almost as high as it was when I first started dieting (though I think a bit more of it may be muscle now) and it's definitely high enough to negatively impact my sense of well-being.

What went wrong? Well, I'm gonna quote from Hyperbole and a Half: "trying to use willpower to overcome the apathetic sort of sadness that accompanies depression is like a person with no arms trying to punch themselves until their hands grow back. A fundamental component of the plan is missing and it isn't going to work." A scheme for weight loss that depends on willpower is similarly doomed if you're too depressed to stick to it. So this time I'm going to try to make changes to my eating habits that require less willpower. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

2. Start making (and testing!) regular backups of my data. I lost several years of mountain photographs last year when the external hard drive I was keeping them on died: I don't want that to happen again.

3. Get my Gmail account down to Inbox Zero and keep it there. It's currently at Inbox 1713, most of which is junk, but it's just *easier* to deal with an empty inbox, and not have to re-scan the same old things to look for the interesting new stuff.

I have a few more Ambitious Plans, but they don't really count as resolutions:

1. Do some more Stanford online courses. I'm currently signed up to Human-Computer Interaction, Design and Analysis of Algorithms, Software Engineering for Software as a Service, and Information Theory. Fortunately they don't all run concurrently!

[BTW, they're not all computing courses: [livejournal.com profile] wormwood_pearl is signed up to Designing Green Buildings, for instance.]

2. Enter (and complete!) the Meadows Half-Marathon in March. I started training for this back in December, but then I got ill and Christmas happened, so today was my first run for a while and it wasn't much fun. Never mind; I've got time to get back on course.

3. If that goes well, enter (and, ideally, complete...) the Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon. As I understand things, it's basically two 20km-ish fell runs back-to-back, with a night camping in between. Oh, and you have to carry all your camping kit with you. In the high classes people do the whole thing at a run, but in the lower classes (which I'd be entering) there's apparently a bit more run/walk/run going on. Philipp and I did nearly 40km in one day on the South Glen Shiel ridge in November, and then went for another hike the next day, so I should be able to at least cover the distance. Providing I don't get too badly lost, of course :-)

The only way to progress in anything. The trick, of course, is not biting off enough to cause you damage.
pozorvlak: (Default)
Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 04:25 pm
I was chatting to [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet the other day, trying to come up with puns based on family saga novel-series and great feminist works (long story). Seeking inspiration, I looked up The F-Word's list of recommended reading, and was astonished to find Helen Fielding's Bridget Jones series there.

Bridget, for anyone who hasn't read the books or seen the films, is an astonishingly ditzy thirtysomething single woman living in London in the late Nineties. Her telegraphic diary entries all begin with a rundown of her weight and intake of calories, cigarettes, alcohol and Lottery scratchcards, with comments on same: "8st 13, alcohol units 5 (Jude's fault), cigarettes 2 (sort of thing that could happen to anyone — does not mean have started smoking again), calories 1765, Instants 2" being a typical entry. Or there's my favourite, from the second book: "Calories 22, unforgiving minutes filled with distance run 0".

Tracking these things is, of course, essential to controlling them. Unless you do it the way Bridget does - looking at only the raw data, and going into a panic at every pound gained. As everyone who's ever counted a calorie knows, your weight fluctuates from day to day and hour to hour based on all kinds of spurious and irrelevant facts like how full your stomach is and how much liquid you've been drinking in the last few hours. Which is why The Hacker's Diet (about which I have written before) recommends looking instead at a moving average of your daily weights, to extract the true picture from the noisy data. What, I wondered, would Bridget's trendline look like?

I couldn't find my copy of Bridget Jones' Diary anywhere, but fortunately it was trivial to find and download an ebook copy: think of it as format-shifting :-). A bit of mucking about with regexes and spreadsheets, and I had the following graph, for her weight and trendline throughout the first book:

It's a bit wide, unfortunately )

I have no idea what that sudden downward spike a third of the way along is: the entry gives her weight as 8st, but it passes without analysis or even comment in the text. OCR error, perhaps. Anyone with a treeware copy care to check out the entry for April 11? Anyway, note how the trendline is barely affected by such a sudden and swiftly-corrected change.

Overall, we see... not a lot. She pretty much maintains her weight in a five-pound band. A band, incidentally, which even the most fat-phobic doctor would be unlikely to criticise: assuming she's as tall as the average British woman at 5' 4", her BMI never goes over 23.5.

[I'm well aware of the problems with using BMI as a clinical tool; bear in mind that we're (a) only using it to get a rough idea, (b) talking about a fictional character here :-)]

The spreadsheet's here, if anyone wants to have a play with it.
pozorvlak: (gasmask)
Saturday, January 5th, 2008 09:54 pm
It's Saturday, I'm in Scotland, so I went hillwalking. The usual walking kru1 were all uncontactable, or ill, or out of the country, so I went to Ben A'an with my friend Katie. Ben A'an's a pretty trivial hill at only 460-odd metres, but we had a good view of Ben Venue and Loch Katrine from the top, and it was a nice leg-stretch to ease me out of the sloth of the Christmas period (over which I did almost no exercise, and gained nearly five pounds :-( ).

Better than that, there was snow on the ground, and so I got the chance to try out my Christmas present2. I'd never used crampons before, but a day walking in snow with and without them has made me an instant fan. Without them, I was constantly slipping on loosely-packed, wet snow; with them, I was gripping solidly. Much less tiring and much better for morale, and in an environment where $scary_statistic percent of fatal accidents are caused by the now-legendary simple slip3, they seem like an excellent investment to me. Owing to a combination of weird feet and idiocy on my part, my boots aren't technically rated for crampons, but they're pretty stiff and the guys in the shop told me I'd be OK on reasonably-angled slopes but would be unable to front-point. But actually, I was able to walk on my toes up some fairly steep stuff when I tried: presumably, doing this fatigues the central bar and is generally a bad idea ([livejournal.com profile] elvum? [livejournal.com profile] mrpjantarctica?). I was also seriously impressed by how easy they were to put on and take off with mittens on: part of the standard test suite for all mountaineering gear should be "plunge your hands into ice water for a minute, then take them out and put on a pair of wet oven gloves. Can you still operate the item in question successfully?". Anyway, I'm looking forward to annoying Philipp by putting crampons on at the first sign of snow next time we go walking together4.

A couple of downsides: the snow wasn't always thick enough, and I kept hearing the nasty sound of crampon points scraping on rock underneath the snow. The paint got scratched off the tips, but they looked OK: I hope I haven't damaged them on their first time out :-( And I tore a hole in my waterproof trousers, but it's only an inch or so across, so hopefully it can be repaired.

1 Massif?
2 [livejournal.com profile] wormwood_pearl informs me that owning crampons makes me at least 10% manlier.
3 Nobody ever quotes the statistic that's actually relevant, namely what percentage of simple slips lead to a fatal accident. But the oft-quoted way round does give one a better feel for one's own mortality, and that can be a useful thing to have.
4 Philipp is Swiss, and thus feels that crampons (or, come to that, all safety precautions and emergency gear) are overkill on any mountain smaller than the Eiger. I am a scaredy-cat Brit, and feel that if I have to die young, I'd much rather it's not from something as embarrassing as an easily-preventable mountaineering accident. These differing attitudes are the cause of a certain amount of tension in the party :-)
pozorvlak: (Default)
Monday, November 19th, 2007 01:53 pm
I've been doing what for me is a lot of exercise recently.

Read more... )

More capoeira tonight, more climbing on Thursday, and maybe I'll go bouldering with the university Mountaineering Club tomorrow. We'll see. Somewhere between the weight loss and the increased exercise, my body's become a much more pleasant thing to inhabit in the last couple of months, but being lazy, I have an unfortunate tendency to seize on opportunities to slack off if I'm feeling even a little bit busy or down. I think the trick is getting myself to think of exercise as something that I enjoy for its own sake, rather than as something that stops me feeling grotty.
pozorvlak: (kittin)
Thursday, October 25th, 2007 04:34 pm
Here's something odd I noticed a couple of days ago:

Myst-EEEE-rious! *waggles fingers* )
pozorvlak: (Default)
Monday, September 10th, 2007 12:39 pm
Current status on some of my long-term projects:

Thesis: Up to 36 pages )

Birdshot!: I had some good ideas for this )

Moving in with [livejournal.com profile] wormwood_pearl: Nominally moved in at the beginning of August. )

Learning Haskell: I'm going to officially give up on this one for now. )

Diet: This is going really well. )

Munro-bagging: up to 61 out of 284 )

Becoming a l33t martial artist: I've been doing some capoeira. )

Learning to juggle 5 balls: I'm getting 8 catches pretty consistently. )

Reading Ulysses: Haven't looked at it since I reached page 500. ) I seem to have so many other things competing for my attention :-)
pozorvlak: (Default)
Tuesday, July 31st, 2007 10:24 am
... and occasionally you re-learn something you already knew but had forgotten.

  • If you're expecting someone to call you back about some work by a certain time and they haven't, call them before the deadline so problems can be sorted out. Don't rely on minions to pass on messages.
  • If presented with the opportunity for paying work, seize on it immediately, don't delay.
  • A category with a well-pointed endofunctor is the same as a category with a monad isomorphic to the identity monad (and both are the same as an unbiased weak algebra for the trivial theory).
  • The centre of a category (ie the endomorphism monoid of its identity functor - this agrees with the usual definition in the case of groups) is always commutative, by an Eckmann-Hilton argument.
  • A benefit gig in the middle of the Glasgow fair, at the same night as a Celtic match, and when all the students are out of town, is not a terribly good way to raise money.
  • Vacuum space bags are totally sweet.
  • Magic Erasers, while not a replacement for all other cleaning products, are a valuable addition to one's cleaning arsenal. They seem to be particularly good on grimy baths and tea-stained kitchen counters.
  • Barclays bank in Glasgow do not open on a Saturday at all.
  • There is no limit to the complexity of modern rucksacks.
  • I can't afford one, even in the sales.
  • Natural yoghurt may be low-cal, but it doesn't make a terribly good mayonnaise substitute.
  • Steamed spring greens and soy sauce make a quick-to-prepare, tasty, filling snack.
  • Try as I might, there is no way I'm going to fit my chest of drawers into my new room.
  • The weather in the British hills can go from sun to hail, and from perfectly clear to whiteout, in literally seconds.
  • Corollary: I don't care if it's summer, you should take your waterproof trousers. And the compass. And your gloves (d'oh!)
  • Posh chocolate makes poor hill food: you actually want the more sugary stuff. The best stuff we've found for hill use is Milka, though Somerfield value milk chocolate is surprisingly good. Cadburys Dairy Milk is too cloying.
  • Steamed spring greens in sandwiches = crunchy goodness.
  • Gaffer tape can be used to make useful carrying handles for cardboard boxes whose contents weigh less than 7kg.
  • The Drum and Monkey, the pub opposite my bank which I'd always meant to check out, is fantastic. Light, airy, cool interior, leather sofas (for which I'm a sucker), some good beers on tap (Caledonian 80/-, Deuchar's IPA, Amstel), Hendrick's gin, good music, nice coffee, good-looking menu. Shame I'm off the booze :-(
  • My body is 21% fat. This is a little high, but could be a lot worse.
  • Two weeks off from capoeira (unavoidable, due to flooding and moving house) seriously affects your performance in the roda. On the upside, I think I'm starting to get the hang of some of the twistier kicks.
pozorvlak: (Default)
Wednesday, July 25th, 2007 11:36 pm
I've put on about a stone and a half in the last couple of years (that's about 20lb to the USians, and 10kg to the SI-users), and it's having all the usual negative effects - half my trousers don't fit any more, there are whole classes of stretches that I can't do any more because the fat gets in the way, and, worst of all, my mother's started commenting on the size of my tummy every time I go and visit. So I decided it was time to lose some weight now before it gets any worse - we tend to run to fat in my family.

Partly on a recommendation from someone ([livejournal.com profile] johnckirk?) but mostly because I liked the name, I read John "AutoCAD" Walker's free book The Hacker's Diet ("How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition!"). I've found it interesting and entertainingly-written, though much of it's undoubtedly old hat to a lot of you. Anyway, here's a summary )

It all sounds pretty sensible and straightforward to me. The real test, of course, is whether I'll manage to stick to it, lose the weight, and then keep it off. As Larry Niven reminds us, in one of the corollaries to his seventeenth law, telling friends about your diet won't make you thin, and buying a diet cookbook won't either. But I have the boundless optimism born of total lack of experience.

Apologies in advance to the Two Shaders: I will undoubtedly be rather tiresome on this subject, and hopefully I'll be stinky and halitotic to boot :-)