Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Be it Resolved...

Ah... December, the time of year when a young man's thoughts turn to... resolutions? Yup, it is getting to be that time of year again, the time to take an introspective look to determine where there is room for improvement and which changes are going to be made. While self-improvement is never a bad idea, the New Year tends to be a very tempting, and convenient, time for many people to make a bunch of unrealistic goals. Many tend to make more of a wish list than a list of achievable resolutions.

As someone who has made resolutions on a fairly regular, yearly basis, I have figured out some important techniques for goal making by comparing my successes with my failures. Since my goal for this year, "Lose weight with Hacker's Diet", was a definitive success, I am feeling pretty confident about next year. At any rate, here are:

Andy's Tips for Making and Achieving your New Year's Resolutions

  • Be Choosey
  • Be Specific
  • Be Quantitative
  • Be Definitive
  • Be Persistent

Be Choosey

Ready to make a change for the better? Well, if one change is good, thirty changes is better! The reality is, if you had a hard time keeping even one of your resolutions from last year, you are likely not able to focus your attention on multiple goals right now. My suggestion is, pick one thing you want to change and really focus on it. Once you succeed, then it may be time to consider multiple goals.

Be Specific

"I'm gonna be a better person" may be a noble goal, but is effectively meaningless. Typically, you just need to put a little more thought into the goal, answering the question "how?". In this instance, in what way do you intend to be a better person? Donate more to charities? Spend more time at the soup kitchen? Or, do you just mean that you are going to stop eating babies?

Be Quantitative

...not qualitative. "I'm going to lose weight" should include at least the general amount you are planning on losing. In my case, though I had not stated it, I estimated about 50 pounds, with the understanding that I would have to re-evaluate when I was near my goal. You need to be able to tell when you have succeeded at your resolution.

Be Definitive

In other words, have a plan. Saying you are going to do something without having any idea how you intend to accomplish it is, at best, self deceiving. For my goal last year, my plan was to read about and follow the Hacker's Diet. Simply setting the goal of losing weight wasn't enough, as it left too much for me to figure out on the way.

Be Persistent

If your resolution is to quit smoking and you slip up, try again! A big reason that resolutions fail is that they are abandoned. The old, "Oops! I 'broke' my resolution, maybe next year!" is a sure-fire way to never succeed at accomplishing your goal.

I hope that helps. I know that taking the time to analyze the resolution process definitely helped me. Stay tuned for my resolutions. :)

Monday, December 13, 2004

Gee, TDM seems to be turning into my own little gay rights advocacy page. :)

Proposal 2 was approved because of intolerance of organized religions. This link does a good job of explaining why church and state should remain seperate.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

An Open Letter to Jennifer Granholm

Governor Granholm:

I would like to express my concern and dismay over the legality and the social repercussions of the ban on gay marriage that was passed via proposal 2 this election.

This is a church-state issue: as some religions specifically allow for gay marriage, this is a violation of church and state separation by mandating that the only acceptable religious view is that of the majority.

This is a civil rights issue: the ban denigrates homosexuals as second-class citizens, without the same rights as others.

This is a economic issue: this ban cause homosexuals to incur extra cost due to not being guaranteed civil union rights, and this can be a drain on society. As an example, in a traditional marriage, when a working spouse dies, the remaining spouse can still collect benefits. If homosexuals are not allowed these same rights, it can cause an increased demand on unemployment and welfare that will cost the taxpayer.

This is a moral issue: this ban is bigoted and hateful. It benefits no one and only causes harm. It is comparable to laws prohibiting marriages between "mixed" races, or to "separate-but-equal" segregation laws. In this modern age we live in, I am deeply saddened, offended, and embarrassed that we as humans can still have so much fear of those who are different.

I ask that you, as governor, please prevent this amendment from becoming part of our state's constitution. While it may not be popular, it is the right thing to do and I hope that you can see that and feel compelled to act on it.

Thank you for your time.


Andrew W. Stampor

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Hey-ay, ay, aye, ay ay, aye...

Now that Survivor: All Stars is done, Kendra and I were pleased to see that the original Survivor, Survivor: Borneo is now available on DVD. We didn't start watching Survivor until Survivor:Thailand so it is interesting to see how it all started, what has remained the same, and what has changed.

In the first Survivor, it is odd to have alliances coming into play so late in the game. In recent Survivor seasons, there seems to be at least a little talk about alliances on the first day; in the first one, people are being voted out by an alliance and don't even think of forming their own to counter it. It really emphasizes just how much Richard Hatch has effected the game since he is the one that originated the concept of alliances, to the point of their being formed just being taken for granted.

In fact, not only are alliances avoided, they seem to be looked down upon. The players of the first survivor seem to have a notion of how the game ought to be played and are blindly marching forward with the assumption that the alliance will magically go away. Amusingly, the entire alliance completely denies its existence when at tribal council.

The journey to tribal council seems to be more of an ordeal than on newer seasons. While we still get to see the remaining survivors getting their torches and start marching back to camp, we never really see a long, painful trek through the jungle anymore. Whether tribal council is easier to get to, or the trip is not shown is not known.

What I really cannot understand is why Richard Hatch is viewed as a villian. He really doesn't seem that devious or sneaky. The only "bad" thing about him is that he created an alliance. Maybe I just don't understand because I've seen the other seasons before seeing this one. Maybe the expectations of what the show has become make his endeavors seem tame. Could someone who saw the first season while it was on explain this to me?

And, Speaking about reality TV...

It looks like the second season of Joe Schmo is starting June 15. I loved the first one, to the point where I want the first one when it comes out on DVD June 22nd.

The May Report

May was very slow and steady. I have been much more relaxed about calories this month; although my target value was 2000 per day, I allowed myself to go over by a hundred or two if I still felt hungry. Still, as long as my daily intake is less than the daily requirements, the diet continues to be successful.

The end of May saw the first dip below 190 with 189.5. Currently, two days into June, I am at 188.5 (for the record, my scale is accurate to half pounds, thus it is either going to end in '.5' or '.0'.) Other noteworthy events include moving from my 34 waist jeans to my size 32, which is the size I had in highschool. Now, if only I had kept those jeans, I'd be able to wear all of my fashions from the late 80's/early 90's.... maybe it is better I outgrew and got rid of them. :) My belt is really starting to look ridiculous, since it is on the smallest setting and the excess needs to be folded back over or just hang. I need to punch a new hole and trim the excess (although, Kendra thinks I could just get a new belt... nah. ;) )

Since my success at weightloss, my opinion about other weightloss programs and pills has become very negative. Especially when the "program" is taking pills bought from some commercial on TV. Their claim that the pills "really work" is not what I take issue with. The question is, at what cost are these pills working? So far, the pattern seems to be that the weightloss pill is released, becomes popular, and then is declared dangerous, to either the heart or other organs. It is unfortunate that such "supplements" don't need FDA approval; shouldn't that be warning enough that you don't want to take this? Look, people, you don't need a pill to lose weight; some careful planning is all you need. I swear to you, it really isn't as hard as you think. If you need some help, just let me know and I'll give you a hand, but, for the sake of your health, don't rely on weightloss pills.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The April Report

The chart:

Now at a daily intake of approximately 2000 calories, the results of April are much less dramatic, yet just as meaningful. Although it is taking longer than anticipated, it is worth noting that a diet need not be extreme to work.

At this point, I would classify myself as being in the same category as most of America, slightly overweight. The difference between me and most of America, however, is that I still know the "secret" to losing weight.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

The Late March Report

Here is the belated March chart:

The consistent, downward trend is comforting. I was even more motivated than usual this month, as there were four days where I actually took part in the exercise portion of the diet. I still need to find a time during the day where I can routinely exercise. However, my focus is still on weight loss; an exercise routine may be easier to accomplish when it is my main focus.

There is a certain amount of pride that I feel regarding my weight loss. However, when it is analyzed, I am actually feeling pleased with myself for achieving a goal which should never have been necessary. In reality, I should never have been overweight, thus returning to an appropriate weight seems like what should be expected, not something to celebrate. I suppose the key to this is not whether I should have ever been overweight or not, but that I identified a problem and found a solution for it. And, the solution was not short term or quick; it required a great deal of patience, discipline and understanding.

Today, April 11, 2004, I am at a weight of 195.5 lbs. Several items of note regarding this:

  • I started at a weight of 231; I have lost 35.5 lbs in three months.

  • I am over two-thirds of the way to my goal of 180 lbs.

  • The last time I recall being this weight was in high school, over 11 years ago.

In March, I increased my daily caloric intake to 1900 calories to slow my rate of weight loss. My estimate for when I should be around 180 lbs is June 18th.

Monday, March 01, 2004

The Second Month

Let's begin this month's analysis with the chart:

As you can see, the inclusion of a trend line is a valuable asset with regard to psychological effects during weight loss. Using just the weight does not provide enough information to determine if there needs to be a caloric adjustment on a day to day basis. However, looking at the trend, it becomes clear that the diet is effective, regardless of the day-to-day weight fluctuations.

A couple of other notes regarding the graph: the caloric daily deficit is correct, but is an average across the entire month. Many times, it was higher, but I increased my caloric values from 1500 to 1700 per day half way through the month after I realized that I would overshoot my weight loss goal, since it is recommended that caloric intake is increased by about 200 per week. Since then, I have noticed that my loss rate has decreased, likely because the caloric intake to maintain 231 is more than it is to maintain 206.5. At any rate, I expect to be close to completion somewhere in the middle of April.

I had a question regarding the Y-Axis on the right of the graph. Amusingly, I had not even noticed it and had to take a look at the Excel sheet I am using to figure out what it represents. Simply, it is the "ladder rung" of the exercise program suggested by this diet. This month, as I really didn't exercise at all, there is no use for it. However, the dashed line in January indicates that I was a ladder rung 1 and never really advanced with it. I suppose this is a good indicator that exercise is not necessarily required for weight loss.

People have made comments to me regarding my statements about the ease of my diet. Apparently, this frustrates some people, and I can understand why. What is important to remember is that I started with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 31, which is classified as "Obese" (I am now at 29, which is just "overweight.") It always seemed to me that it would be relatively easy for someone who was extremely obese to lose weight faster than someone who was only five to ten pounds overweight, since it takes a much higher amount of calories to maintain the extreme weight. I was never extremely obese, but I had enough extra weight that it made it easy and quick to lose a bunch of it. But, I think it will remain fairly easy to stick to my diet for another reason, too.

The Legend of Zelda series of games for the various Nintendo platforms are all very similar. You go around, looking for pieces of the Triforce and fight with bunches of creatures along the way. There are always several dungeons, at the end of which is always a main "boss" creature to fight. The boss is unable to be hurt normally, except by a trick, which is normally related to the new weapon you found in that dungeon. Once you figure out the trick, the boss goes from being impossible to beat to fairly easy. This is how I feel about my weight loss; now that I know the trick and have the right weapons, it has gone from something that seemed impossible to something which is inevitable.

Inevitable and noticeable, my clothes are starting to look too baggy and I am almost out of holes on my belt. At some point I will need to get new pants, but I don't want to buy them only to replace them with smaller ones in a month.

There are some other things which are noticeable, too. Kendra has commented that the muscles in my legs are very well defined now and that my face looks thinner. I have noticed that my tolerance and duration for sitting on hard surfaces has decreased (ahem.)

Some funny side effects that I hadn't considered include the amount of food needed to feel full. When dining at a restaurant, now I feel completely stuffed at the completion of just my entree, instead of having an appetizer, an entree, salad bar and dessert. Something that is kind of irritating is that now I am cold much more often, since there is less insulation, but also because my metabolism is likely a bit slower, too.

Friday, February 06, 2004

The First Month

As you may recall, on January 12 I started the Hacker's Diet. As I sit here eating a cream filled donut, I have concluded that dieting is really not that hard. With some careful consideration, it is possible to eat whatever you want. The trick is to monitor and plan calorie consumption. In other words, as long as you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. It is funny how simple that concept is, but it took so long for me to really "get it."

As you can see from the following chart, I am doing well so far.

My initial goal was to lose about a pound a week. Using a chart to estimate my caloric needs at about 2000, I divided the amount of calories in a pound of fat (3500) by seven and subtracted to arrive at my diet goal of 1500 calories a day. By examining the chart, it is apparent that my initial estimate of 2000 was very low. In fact, the analysis of my most recent data indicates that I am averaging a deficit of 2045 calories per day; on average, my body consumes 3545 calories per day. Amazingly, I am able to get by on the 1500 without really any hunger pangs. Thus, my plan is to continue at 1500 and lose the weight faster. My weight as of today is 214, 17 lbs less than when I started.

Diet tip of the day: frozen entrees make it VERY easy to count and distribute calories throughout the day. Diet pop is also very good, since it tastes like something, fills the belly, but has zero calories.

The only thing hard about this diet is going out to eat: it takes very careful forethought and planning for me to be able to eat out and still be within my caloric limit. For example, at Chilis, the Chicken Ranch Sandwich is about 846 and the fries that come with it are abour 440, for a total of about 1300. That leaves only 200 calories for the rest of the day (to get counts from Chilis, you actually need to call their hotline number (1-800-983-4637) as they don't provide any info on their website.)

Most restaraunts are very reluctant to provide the caloric values, which makes it even more difficult to eat out. There is one place that I have found that goes above and beyond when it comes to providing data, and that is Wendys. Wendys has a pdf file that contains all the nutritional info for their food which you can download, and they have a meal planner program on the website that lets you assemble a meal and get the nutritional breakdown, including the toppings for sandwiches and ketchup for fries. Heck, you can even see the difference between having crackers with your chili or not. I am very impressed with Wendys. Granted, you still can't eat a ton of stuff ( I limit myself to meal 1, the Classic Single with Biggie fries and then need to be careful the rest of the day) but at least you have the knowledge to make informed choices.

Regarding the reluctance of restaraunts to provide nutritional info, there is currently a bill in the House of Representatives regarding this. The Menu Education and Labeling Act (H.Are. 3444), or MEAL, would, if passed, force restaraunts to provide at least basic info (calories, salt, etc) on their menus for EVERY item. I would encourage you to contact your Representatives and ask them to vote in favor of this bill. As there are 14 cosponsors, it seems likely it will pass, but it is always good to make your voice heard.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Easier Said Than Done

Despite our best intentions, Kendra and I have not had a chance to get to the YMCA for a workout. And, since we are going to have Kathryn babtised at St. Francis this weekend, we will be spending our evening tonight gathering and packing items for the trip. Hopefully, we will be able to get in a workout on Monday when we get back.

The Apprentice

Sammy got kicked off last night, thank God. He was completely worthless and totally annoying. It seems like everyone on the show agrees with me, too; they elected him to be the leader of the project with the hope that he would fail and be the one to take the blame. I love reality TV. :)

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Young Man...

On Monday, we stopped by the local YMCA, took the tour and decided to join. A big factor in joining the Y over some other health club is the three free hours of child care provided during your visit. Now, Kendra and I will be able to enjoy a quality workout together without having to worry about Katy. We are planning our first workout for right after work today; it should prove to be interesting.

My Big, Fat, Obnoxious Fiance

The show is hilarious. The premise is this woman has to convince her family that she is really going to marry this clod; if she does, she wins $250k for herself and $250k for her family. What I didn't realize until watching last night is that she doesn't know this guy is an actor paid to drive her and her family crazy; she thinks he is someone selected just like her to try and win the money. It gives the show a bit of a Joe Schmo twist.

Monday, January 19, 2004

TV Fun

My Big, Fat, Obnoxious Fiance looks like it could be amusing, and it begins tonight at 9:00pm on Fox. American Idol is also on tonight, but it never really excited me.

What has been entertaining me lately are the Simpsons. I have seasons I-III on DVD and have found a neat new way to watch TV. I just always leave a DVD in the player and when nothing worth watching can be found on TV, it is a simple matter to flip over to the DVD content. Very convenient.

This weekend, I bought a RF switch for the TV. Now, I can have my Xbox, Gamecube and PS2 all plugged in at the same time. Much more convenient and easier to keep the entertainment cabinet neat.

And, speaking of the Gamecube, I have been playing tons of the Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. Although I initially had concerns because it was a cartoon style of animation, it is awesome because of that very style. It really looks and feels like a 3D cartoon that you control. Mucho fun. :-D

Friday, January 16, 2004

A Beginning to a New Me

For awhile now, I have been wanting to lose some weight, and I like using the New Year as an opportunity to change for the better. So, starting on Monday of this week, I began the Hacker's Diet. The appeal of this diet is the person who wrote it, John Walker (no, not the terrorist) is the founder of AutoDesk, the AutoCAD company. As an engineer, he took a very analytical approach to losing weight and with the knowledge and tools he provides, it seems to be a fairly straightforward process that allows you to proceed with confidence.

According to the calculations provided, I should drop from 231 to 180 by 1/11/2005. Of course, the end goal may change as I get closer to that weight and determine what is appropriate for me. Additionally, it may take more or less time depending on the actual number of calories my body burns daily (until a couple of weeks pass, I only have an estimation for that value, which I have placed at 2000.) I'll be sure to post my progress here.

Baby and Me

My little Katy is a cutie-poopsie-pants. She is noticeably bigger now and can more quickly tire the arm of the one holding her. She smiles and laughs and likes to grab and play with her toys. She still doesn't pay too much attention to the kitties, but she sure likes her mom and dad. :)

Katy's baptism will be on Sunday, January 25th at St. Francis of Assisi parish in Ann Arbor. We thought it would be nice for her to be baptized at the same church Kendra and I were married in. Plus, St. Francis is the church we still feel the strongest tie to.

On the TV

With Survivor done (alas poor Rupert... happily, he'll be back on Survivor All Stars, I have turned my attention to a new show, the Apprentice. Interesting in that Donald Trump is the one who decides who leaves the losing "company". Reality tv makes me so happy. :)