Day 26 – Weight

I’m trying to lose some weight at the moment. Not that I am overweight, but I’d just like pants to fit with a little less muffin-top around the waist, and perhaps partly out of some vanity over the fact that I know with my gym routine there are some pretty good abs under there somewhere; I just can’t see them.

None of that is important for this post though.

I weigh myself every day as part of my routine: wake, shower, weigh, dress. It’s something I read somewhere some time ago; the only way to lose weight consistently is to create a feedback loop and graph your progress. And to not panic with fluctuations.

Weight Graph pre/post Melbourne
Weight Graph pre/post Melbourne

Over my recent Melbourne trip I could have easily panicked; as you can see above, there is a measurement gap while I was in Melbourne (packing scales is too OCD even for me). And… a jump.

I weighed 86.3kg the Tuesday morning before flying to Melbourne. I weighed 88.0kg the Friday evening after returning home. I could have easily panicked and chocolated away my sorrows. But this Sunday morning, I was back to 86.3kg.

There are many factors that’ll go into a jump like that; morning vs. evening… mornings are always lighter than evenings. I prefer the mornings because it seems to me that should be the most reliable moment because I will never have eaten just before weighing. Other fun fact: you lose somewhere around 200-300g overnight through breathing in O2 and breathing out CO2 with water vapour.

The biggest reason not to panic though is that from day-to-day you’ll eat completely different things. And food weight has very little to do with long-term body weight.

Pistachios
Pistachios

Losing weight is about tracking kJ (calories) in the food you eat vs. about 8700kJ/day burned for the average adult. The labelling of food with kJ numbers here in Australia has been helpful in changing some habits already; that delicious Pecan Pie I used to occasionally get at Michel’s Patisserie accounts for about 5000kJ all on its own while a just-as-filling (to me) sausage roll is under 2000kJ.

And this morning, with my weight returning to normal, that got me thinking…

How do the calorie content and weight of foods relate?

White Rice
White Rice

Most sites with comprehensive food databases only return numbers in calories, alas the world of food skews non-metric. But, the Calorie King website is one of the few exceptions as far as I can tell.

After using their handy calculator to put in 100g to get comparable measurements, I arrived at the following information:

  • Snickers = 2090 kJ
  • Pistachios = 2328 kJ
  • White Sugar = 1618 kJ
  • White Rice = 543 kJ
  • White Bread = 1108 kJ

On the whole, the numbers were a lot closer than I expected. And I was more than a little surprised by the number for white sugar. Surely sugar would be jumping way off the scales (pardon the pun) for energy rich-ness?!

Sugar
Sugar

After some thinking, it occurred to me that measuring by 100g is probably not the most useful way to think of this when trying to make decisions about what to eat when you want to lose weight.

What is probably much more relevant is how full food makes you feel. Being hungry is only very loosely related to energy intake. Being hungry has more to do with volume.

Some more research later, I found a handy table on The Metric Kitchen (look under heading “Other non-liquid ingredients”) that illustrates the point well. For 1 cup of volume, the weights of various ingredients vary from 60g all the way up to 300g (I don’t usually eat table salt by the cup though).

Snickers - Eaten
Snickers – Eaten

So, another round of lookups on Calorie King later, and the same list of ingredients translates to the following:

  • Snickers = 3360 kJ (my estimate based on 3 bars fitting into a cup)
  • Pistachios = 2864 kJ
  • White Sugar = 3235 kJ
  • White Rice = 859 kJ
  • White Bread = 499 kJ

I think that looks a lot more likely; although a normal chocolate bar at around 1000kJ is about the same amount of energy as a slice of bread, the bread will be a lot more filling for the same amount of energy consumed. Or put another way: if you eat till you feel full, you’ll need many more chocolate bars than slices of bread.

I also found the flip-around that bread and rice do interesting; by weight bread is twice as energy-rich as rice, but by volume it is almost exactly the other way around.

Anyway, the point I was trying to get to before I failed miserably to stay on track with my rambling narrative is that to gain 1kg of body fat from the calories contained, you’d have to eat over 2.5kg of steak. So, if you gain 1kg over the course of eating a steak dinner, no more than about 350g will stay with you (I’m trying to avoid being explicit here, so think this through to your own level of comfort).

Which means that while I was in Melbourne, probably eating more extensive meals through unhealthy hit-and-run lunches and wine-and-dine with colleagues in the evening than I normally do at home, it looked like I gained almost 2kg, but most of that was only temporary added weight.

The best thing to do is to weigh regularly, disregard the bumps and jumps, and plot a graph so you can see the long-term trend matches your goals. There will be heavy days, and there will be light days. Just breathe and keep going. I rely on the graph my free FitBit account keeps for me (see first image above), but there are many more Android/iOS tools that can easily do the same job with minimal effort once you set up a weighing routine.

And that’s the end of my rant I think.

I hope this was an entertaining read, regardless of whether the subject-matter does anything for you.

Also, the pictures for this post came out really well I think. Tripod and shutter-timed shots to get nice sharp images. It seems even when I’m not writing about photography, I still end up writing about photography. 😉

Day 23 – Rips and Conflagrations

We had plans to go to dinner with the development managers tonight to a chef-teaching-institute, but due to a variety of reasons that ended up falling through. Instead a few of us went for a wander across and along the river. We compared the options along the riverbank; first stop was too pricy, second stop not too inspiring, third stop had three options and proved juuuuust right.

We walked up into the restaurant to get seating, and noticed the specials menu. We read the specials menu. We simply had to eat at this place. For one thing, we had to find out what “Pork Rips” taste like… and what part of the animal they actually might be.

Pork Rips
Pork Rips

And as it turns out the “Pork Rip” is the boniest part of the piggy. And the tastiest part in this case as well.

The ribs weren’t so well done that the meat fell off as soon as I looked at it, but it wasn’t very far off that mark. I had been given a fork and knife, but I don’t believe I did much by the way of cutting. Granted, the knife might not have been sharp enough for anything but mashing, but details, details…

We had some chips and salad for shared sides and that worked out very well.

As in, with room to spare for dessert.

Queue jokes from my friends with regards to my relationship to dessert… it’s okay… I’ll wait right here.

I ended up going for a straightforward tiramisu myself, and Stephen picked something that I don’t believe any of us could have pronounced. I trust it was good because it all disappeared. Hamish couldn’t make up his mind. Hamish opted to request an option that was not on the menu.

Daring move.

But a successful one in this case. He requested half of one dessert as the base with added butterscotch and ice cream from one of the other options. Had I realised that requesting customised desserts was an option at restaurants I would have long-since explored this option in-depth. I shall have to make it a standard part of my dining repertoire and see how far I can take it before the staff objects. I can see an entertaining series of escalating experiments in my future.

Torches along the River
Torches along the River

On a side-note, I have also figured out what’s been causing all this climate change we’ve been hearing so much about. As it turns out Melbourne has decided they have so much natural gas that just to show off they better burn blasts of it along the riverside.

There is a series of torches set up that every hour on the hour go through some random/pre-programmed pattern of fiery blasts. Starting with small gusts of flame to get warmed up…

Mid-summer Heat in Winter
Mid-summer Heat in Winter

Escalating to blasts that made me feel hot enough on my face that it could have been the middle of a summery day rather than the middle of a wintery night. It’s quite spectacular,… and also every-so-slightly indulgent.

Day 22 – Sherlock and Tea

I wanted to get better pictures for today. But I didn’t. Also, I’m a little drunk right now, but let’s not skip ahead too far in today’s story.

First of all, whenever we’re down here in Melbourne, Hamish and I make a regular appearance at the Sherlock Holmes Inn for lunch. It’s a very quaint little pub downstairs on Collins Street in the Melbourne CBD. The menu seems very typical on the surface, albeit Sherlock Holmes themed in the menu. But the actual food that arrives at our table is far above what expectations we might have every time. Also, the atmosphere is very jovial and friendly.

And that would have been that.

But then we were invited to dinner. With 4 general managers and our CIO and a few other managers. I had suspected we’d go to a place in Chinatown I’d been once before with a similar crowd, and I wasn’t disappointed.

We had great food, and also great drinks. With a wine connoisseur in tow you wouldn’t expect anything else, and I’m always happy to follow along.

Having that much upper management in one place might sound like a recipe for guarded conversations, but it’s surprising how comfortable and jovial every one is. I think there is a really good chemistry between the IT managers.

But…

I think the safest approach now that I’m back in my room is to go lie in bed and read a book. Then have a good nights’ sleep (FitBit will tell me once I get home) and look bright and perky in the morning.

Dominion – Addendum

Okay; now that I have met my posting deadline, I can tell the full story a little more relaxed-ly(?!).

Most Wednesday nights with friends we actually have… you know… dinner. Sometimes, like tonight, there is just not enough room for snacks and dinner to co-exist in my stomach. We opened a rose that wasn’t entirely convincing, but not sufficiently un-convincing to move on to something else instead.

There was cheese. There is always cheese. Ken is our cheesy friend. Oh, also dip. And Ritter Sport chocolate, which is hard to resist and should never be left near me. I ate almost the entire block of marzipan-filled chocolate before anyone had the presence of mind to save me by removing it from my reach.

The dog looked on hopefully. But no crackers for him tonight.

He got honey-rice-puffs instead.
Don’t even ask.

And Fruit as Well
And Fruit as Well

As I was starting to fill up on chocolate and cheese and assorted fruit, Abbey suggested that we hadn’t actually had dinner yet. Abbey voiced some concern over carby pastizzi for dinner, but frankly, Wednesday is our night of sin and we eat whatever anyone puts on the table. I wasn’t going to argue.

I only managed two or three pastizzi, but I think I managed to hide that fact from the others.

And then the baking began.

And then the gaming began.

Dominion and Dominion Intrigue
Dominion and Dominion Intrigue

Dominion is a game with deceptively simple rules:

  1. You have five cards
  2. You can play one action card
  3. You can buy one new card
  4. Then you discard anything left
  5. And you draw five new cards
  6. When you run out, reshuffle the discards and start from the top

Once you deplete three stacks of cards from the supply, the game ends, and then the person with the most victory points on the cards in the deck they have collected wins.

Victory Points in Multiple Denominations
Victory Points in Multiple Denominations

However…

Each of Dominion and Dominion: Intrigue has 25 types of cards over-and-above the standard money and victory-point cards. At the start of the game you select 10 cards for the game. The manufacturers provided some standard recommended combinations, but we decided to randomly draw 10.

As a result, you play every game by a different set of rules. Every game is different. No strategy works twice in a row.

It’s a game of learning to adapt to circumstances.

We chose 5 cards randomly out of the two sets of 25. Using just this selection method, there are (25! / (5! x 20!))^2 = 2,822,796,900 different rules combinations possible. Oh, and there are about 5-6 more extensions to the game with anywhere from 15-25 new cards each.

It’s a great way to stretch the mind.

Action Cards A-Plenty
Action Cards A-Plenty

The first game I won handily with 106 to 90. It was really lucky that I caught on to Ken’s strategy early on when he was collecting a powerful combination of Duchy’s (3 points) and Dukes (+1 bonus point for each Duchy) which enhance each other for scoring purposes. I managed to keep pace with his buying while monopolizing the Provinces (6 points) which narrowly put me over the top.

The second game was all Ken’s. I wasn’t sure how many points either of us had, but I had the sneaking feeling that Ken had managed to get many more Provinces than I did (8 to 4), and we were racing for snapping up the remaining points towards the end. He won about 68 to 56.

This is another game that is great to play with a larger group, because the rounds are very quick, meaning that everybody stays more easily engaged with the game.

Ken's Wood-based Tea
Ken’s Wood-based Tea

And then it was time for tea with whatever remained of the snacks/chocolate. Ken tried the tea that was supposedly Rooibos-like with a hint of wood and honey. When I tried it all I got was wood and not much else.

Spearmint Tea for Me
Spearmint Tea for Me

And I got myself a cup of spearmint… but not before inhaling the box of loose-leaf tea first. I was expecting tea-bags, but I mentholated my eyes instead. It was a very refreshing experience that I don’t wish to ever repeat.

And by the time Ken was getting ready to go home, it was already around 10 to midnight. So, I had to excuse myself and rush to the study to do my 365-duty and quickly edit a picture and write a brief post.

This longer post is mainly because I felt guilty about the rush-job the other post was.

I think I have managed to ramble here instead.

Good night!

For Evil? For Awesome?

I just read Kathy Sierra’s post on Cognitive Processing and Willpower: Your App Makes me Fat. And now I feel stuck between guilt and satisfaction over my other post today: Day 14 – Blatant Bribery.

Am I exploiting the depleting effects of the cognitive processing inherent in IT work to seduce co-workers into eating unwanted chocolates and chips?

Or am I just short-circuiting the need for willpower by seducing them with chocolates and chips thereby paving a clear path towards productivity?

Is this good?

Is this evil?

I just don’t know… (go read her article though, the first half is very interesting food for thought)

Day 14 – Blatant Bribery

I believe every once in a while, people need a little pick-me-up. Low blood-sugar. Low endorphins. Low whatchamacallit.

I started very simply with keeping a few candy bars in my drawer for when a co-worker looked like they needed something to keep going. And then it got a little bit out of hand…

Middle Drawer
Middle Drawer

So, I clear out my middle drawer… who needs spare chopsticks, monitor cables and old paper notes anyway!?

Out with the crap, in with a wide range of candy bars. I keep an eye out at the supermarket for the $1 specials, and I buy them in bulk. My stock is biased towards specials. Sometimes there are no Kit-Kat bars at all.

Then people start showing up with $1 coins to reimburse me for chocolate bars.

Then people start showing up with $4 in coins, buying multiple bars.

Then I start getting requests for bars that aren’t even in the drawer.

This all came to a head when the vending machine in the kitchen died and there were apparently scenes in my absence of people haggling with my developers over whether it would be okay to take a bar in my absence. I think it got likened to stealing a car for a joy-ride. I’m not sure how I feel about the idea of the chocolate bar getting returned after use!? :/

Next, I discover that bulk small candy bars are actually not badly priced either when on special… so I clear out my top drawer… who needs receipts, pens and markers anyway?

Bottom Drawer
Bottom Drawer

Now I find myself with a completely improved set of drawers. Who needs business folders, spare notebooks or tissues anyway? Candy is where it’s at!

Level 1: Small candy bars for small appetites; about 4 to $1.

Level 2: Regular candy bars; about $1 each.

Level 3: Red Rock Deli chips, small packets; about 65 cents each…

I still need to improve the range and cost of Level 3, but at least I have all the basic programmer food-groups covered.

This is what good management is about, right?

Day 10 – Happy Birthday

Obviously, the most eventful part of my day today was my birthday dinner tonight. I had a great time at Criniti’s in Castle Towers. So far every meal I have eaten there has been absolutely delicious and gorgeously presented.

Tonight I decided to have the snapper.

The waiter asked me “So, you brought your appetite?”

I wasn’t sure what he was getting at, but I confirmed that yes I had. And then my meal arrived. Snapper. A whole one. On a plate. Sitting upright.

And because I can never decide on dessert…

Desserts
Desserts

We had a share platter of the lot.

Creme Brule, Cheesecake, Italian Donuts, Biscotti, Cannoli, Tiramisu…

Everyone had a bit of everything… starting with me taking half the Tiramisu, followed by everyone taking half of what remained of it. Increasingly tinier pieces. On the other hand I didn’t have any cheesecake, but that’s okay; I don’t like it anyway.

And, as Ken would say… we left all the bits we didn’t want:

The Bits We Didn't Want
The Bits We Didn’t Want

Day 2 – Regali Dolci

I still have the after-effects of Rhino-whatsit-virus, which has now morphed into an annoying cold. It makes my brain feel like cotton wool. Sufficiently so that I headed home early from work to have a lie down.

I probably should not have come in, but my e-mail gets lonely without me.

That could have easily been the most riveting part of my day.

Regali Dolci - Gelato
Regali Dolci – Gelato

Luckily for the blog, there was a birthday for me to sniffle my way through. The local town centre is actually quite pleasant on a Thursday night, with a few pretty decent restaurants on the main road.

So dinner was Tapas.

And dessert was Gelato.

Meaning that the most interesting part of my day today was the consumption of one scoop of Rum & Raisin and one scoop of Hazelnut.

And now, I have a date with a tissue box!