30lbs in Weight Loss (and turning 42)

Somehow I hit my milestone right before my 42nd birthday. I weighed in at 165lbs morning, and it’s probably the best gift I’ve ever given myself. Annie asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday today, and honestly I’ve found that I’m very happy for the first time in a long time, in an honest way. I love our home and our continual iterations to refine our daily experience. Most importantly, I think I have put less stress and pressure on myself to think about the future and try to live a more in the moment.

I think my next health goal is maintaining my weight and start focusing on strength more. I could see myself going down to 160lbs, as I still have some stubborn visceral fat around my belly.

I think for this birthday, I’m going to take it easy and just enjoy doing a little work, do a little workout, and watch a movie.

July 4th Weekend at Rehoboth Beach

This past weekend we went to Rehoboth Beach with Annie’s family and enjoyed (surprisingly) lovely weather. It’s been a while since I’ve been out on a beach just to hang out and relax. Julia picked up some extra beach chairs from costco and we rented 3 umbrellas.

I’ve got to say that the breeze was amazing. I spent most of the day napping and eating carbs, which was pretty awesome. We’ll probably be heading back there again in the future. The drive wasn’t too bad, except that we hit a gnarly rain storm on our way back.

Later that weekend, we followed up with a little BBQ. We need more weekends like this.

Tonal First Impressions

TLDR; Tonal is a very compact strength system, but doesn’t quite deliver on first time user experience. In fact, if the AI was a real life trainer, I’d fire them on the spot. But if you can approach it with lower expectations, it’s an early glimpse at what a smart strength training system could be.

We recently had a Tonal installed in our basement. We ordered it a few months ago and it’s finally arrived. I think I was sold on the idea that the AI inside the system would be able to adjust and help me get stronger without much thinking… but I think that there’s a long way to go. After doing the initial setup, I think that the system rated my strength score too high, and all the workouts after that were too difficult. Secondly, when I reached muscle failure, it took too long for the AI spotter to kick in.

To me, I think that there should be a way to give the AI active feedback. Currently the software relies on passively adjusting. Though they say it measures your output 50 times every second, I think that there were several times where I needed to be spotted or the weight needed to be adjusted. This caused strain, frustration, and turned me off to strength training. If a real trainer was like this, I would fire them on the spot.

Tonal has an opportunity to be better… and not by being “smarter”, but by being a better listener asking for feedback. It should do this until it has enough data and then can make adjustments. In addition, the workouts are not very clear how to work out, how to recover, and what kind of body shape you’re building towards. Their programs could do a better job of setting these kinds of expectations and explaining what’s happening. Lastly, I think that they should have audio commands to tell the AI when to help, or to adjust the weight. It’s silly to stop weight lifting just to get up and go to the screen to adjust things. I think voice controls would be ideal if they supported just a couple of commands. Things like, pause, turn up the volume, reduce weight, etc.

With all that being said, I think that it’s a beginning of an interesting product, but there is more room for improvement in terms of first time user experience. This should cater to noobs—people who are intimidated by gyms, trainers, and weight lifting. I think they should start you off easier, so that you can transition in. My first experience had me screaming, straining, and I felt defeated. If this was a real life trainer, it felt passive aggressive, as if I was too weak and I was out of my league.

Tonal should be an extension of your fitness knowledge. They should hire some gaming designers to help them out, or figure out a way to get more feedback (not just in the programs, but in the AI).

I’ll report more on this more soon.

Message in a Bottle

I started blogging over a decade ago, and I never had a real goal with it. It’s been on and off for years… mostly off… but as I look back on my content, I realize that it’s been useful as a journal, to capture a small snapshot of where my life was. If anything, I think I wish that I documented my life a little more here.

Recently, I’ve felt very fatigued with social media. I’m most exhausted with Twitter (as it’s become the most toxic stream, causing anxiety with the most annoying personalities polluting my feed with useless news and brags). It’s nice to see updates from family and friends on as well as inspirational design/art on Instagram, but I’m not sure how much value it adds in terms of consumption. I think the biggest challenge is expression, creation and sharing. There’s something that doesn’t quite feel right with the current social media mediums. Maybe it’s the allure of micro-validation? I can post pictures of what I’m eating, how I’m working out, and small things that catch my attention so I can stay in touch with my friends and family.

But then again, I can proably do all of that here. The only thing I lose is the convenience of publishing out to IG/FB. Also, I have no clue who’s really reading this posts… but I guess that doesn’t matter. What I realize is that I’m probably not really a content creator building an audience.

I’m just writing little updates and unstructured thoughts, stuffing them in a bottle, and tossing them into the ocean of the interwebz to find later.

So the photo above is completely disconnected with this topic… but I’m going to tie it all back together (I promise). I shot this photo this morning using IG stories. I didn’t really add any context other than it’s a basic photo of some blueberries and dahlias. What you don’t know is that I’ve been trying to eat healthier and reclaim a little more time back to myself. But in the process of doing that, I’m still probably using IG/FB too much, which is the irony of how I’m using my time. My attention is spread too thin; or rather, I’ve given up too much of my attention to the wrong places. I’d probably get more out of just doing a video call to catch up with friends and see how they’re doing, and maybe plan a trip to visit them.

We can eat blueberries together and actually enjoy life together versus stare at a little OLED screen.

I think that’s my message in a bottle to myself. Hopefully I can find this again in the future.

Running Update

This past week, I’ve ran over 3 miles a day with an average speed of about 5mph. And for the first time, I was able to run 1 mile with a sustained speed of 6mph (but with a heart rate of 170bpm). Just to be clear, I’ve never been a runner… and the last time I really had to run consistently was when I was in my early 20’s when I worked out with Seal Team PT in Richmond, VA.

Recently, Annie has been developing some shin and mild knee pains from working out over the last few months. I suspected that it could be her shoes, so we went by Road Runner to get fitted for some new running shoes. I went to Road Runner about 15-20 years ago to get fitted because I was developing shin splins, heal spurs, knee and hip pain from working out with the Seal Team PT fitness group. At that time, the Road Runner employees advised me to get a proper running shoe… and I was excited to upgrade to something new and high tech. But on the contrary, they only recommended a really boring ASICS for $120. And then they had the odasity to tell me that I needed to buy shoes every 4-6 months—I thought it was some kind of scam, but all the runners at Seal Team PT told me the same thing. Lo and behold, they were all right. After about two weeks running on the new shoes, all the pain an ailments went away. And I ended up buying new shoes ever 6 months… until I stopped Seal Team PT and started a new hobby.

So Annie and I swung by a new Road Runner store this weekend and ended up buying some shoes. For Annie, this was her first time but she landed on a shoe and custom soles that should hopefully help her with the workouts and ailments. She ended up with the Brooks Glycerine GTS 19, which provided proper support for her foot pronation.

And when I tried out shoes, they brought out some of the most boring looking shoes… reminicent of the old ASICS I wore nearly two decades ago. I was hoping to get something with new technology… but they were just a pair of boring looking running shoes. All that being said, I put them on and they were familiar, predicatable, and felt they would be able to soak up the miles. The new shoes are Brooks Ghost 13.

Here’s a comparison of my new shoes versus my old ones.

From another view—you wouldn’t be able to tell that my shoes on the left had a couple hundred miles on them.

I’m not sure if my goal is to become a runner (since I’m naturally so slow), but for now this seems to be working for me. Hopefully, we’ll continue to make more progress. On a sidenote, I’m weighing about 169lbs now. Sometimes it’s hard to notice progress unless you zoom out a little. I’ll be at 165lbs in a few weeks.

Deck and Pergola

This was a project Annie and I started last year. We had a company come out and build a deck with a pergola in our back yard and I think it turned out pretty well. As you can see, our raised bed gardens are next to it, creating a nice usable area, maximizing space.

This was what the back yard looked like before the deck + pergola. As you can see, I took down one of the railings so we could step down… which was a huge inconvenience.

Now that the deck is complete, we’ve been BBQing and gardening more outside. It’s been actually really nice… though, the afternoons can get quite warm here. Next steps are to get some furniture and start planting some trees.

I’ve hooked the lights up to our smart home system, so now it’s all voice controlled. I’m now debating whether I should add some outdoor speakers as well, since that could be nice when we’re just outside lounging.