• This helps explain why the tyranny of choice is tyrannical. The time it takes to make a decision is based on the number of choices available.
  • Solarized is a color palette for code editors. I've been using these colors in TextMate for a day or so and I'm enjoying it.
  • "Diesels are wildly popular in Europe, accounting for roughly 50 percent of the car market there. So why don't automakers simply bring the European cars here?" An older article that explains why diesels are hard to come by here.
  • Minimalist Clipboard Buffering for OS X.
  • simple, mouse-driven window management.
  • A peek behind the curtain at Facebook with an anonymous FB developer.
  • "...Brad's work was altogether more messy and funny and human and passionate and complicated, just like the man himself. I can offer no more succinct summation of the man than that he was a good man and a good friend, profoundly funny and profoundly kind." Anil shares some memories of Brad.
  • "...the hero is the most damaging person on a team, particularly on a team that’s supposed to be writing high-availability or otherwise mission-critical software." Interesting analysis of team dynamics. [via jessamyn]
  • "One user following another in social media is analogous to one page linking to another on the Web. Both are a form of recommendation." Amit Singhal on how Google ranks Tweets for real-time search.
  • Rules for PR folks who want to work with bloggers. "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE means FOR IMMEDIATE DELETE."

Achievement Unlocked: Lost 20 Pounds

Three months ago Nelson posted about an iPhone app that was helping him track what he was eating: Calorie counting and metabolism. The post resonated with me, so I downloaded Lose It! and started using it. The application is simple: you enter your height, current weight, desired weight, and your desired timeframe for loss. The application comes up with a daily calorie budget and provides tools for tracking/estimating calories.

On April 28th I weighed 200 pounds and I set a goal of losing 20 pounds. Lose It! set a calorie budget for me around 2,100 calories/day, and estimated I'd lose the weight by mid-September. That all sounded fine, but I figured I'd get bored with the application in a week and nothing much would come of it. Like Nelson, I thought I'd at least get a sense of how many calories I was eating each day and that alone would be worth the effort of using it.

I ended up using Lose It! religiously for exactly four weeks. I took a week off at that point and then tracked my calories for one more week. I haven't touched it since. My last entry in the application was on June 8th, and by that point I had lost 10 pounds. Here we are another six weeks or so later and I reached my goal of losing 20 pounds. Hooray!

I have never been able to lose weight. I sit in front of a computer all day and I always assumed my weight problem was due to lack of exercise. Every few months I would make a resolution to run regularly and hopefully lose weight in the process. I could stick with an exercise plan for a couple weeks, but I'd eventually twist a knee or get too busy and give up. Counting calories has been perfect for me because there is no exercise involved and I didn't need to set aside large blocks of time to do it. I do ride my bike a few miles a few times each week and that's up a bit now that it's summer, but I don't ride nearly enough to account for the weight loss.

Why did Lose It! and counting calories work for me? I think it boils down to the simple idea that if you can track something you can change it. I found that I ate similar things every day and by tweaking my routines I could stay within the budget. For example, I used to have a bagel with cream cheese every morning and that was around 400 calories or more. By switching to an english muffin with almond butter, I saved about 50 calories and didn't feel like I was missing out. I used to view them as equal options for breakfast, but tracking every single calorie for a while taught me to see differences in food.

Eating, estimating calories, and staying within my budget became a game to me those first four weeks. Staying within budget was an easier way for me to "win" at something than losing weight. So I measured my success based on staying within budget and eventually the weight followed. I measured food portions exactly, and looked up calories on restaurant websites. (I wish more restaurants published nutrition information online.) I got fairly good at estimating calories and portion sizes, and I always double-checked with the application. If I ever wanted to have a 1,000 calorie bomb in the middle of the day, I'd have to find a way to budget for it. Constantly thinking within these constraints ruled out fast food entirely because I didn't ever want to waste a whole day's worth of calories on one meal. Now I do the calorie-counting in my head, but I needed to track seriously for a while to get to this point.

Anyway, that's my story and I thought I'd post it in case it helps someone else like Nelson's post helped me. I feel better and I feel better about myself. I'm going to stick to a 2,000 calorie diet and see where it takes me. The changes I made are new habits now so why break them?
  • "LeechBlock is a simple productivity tool designed to block those time-wasting sites that can suck the life out of your working day. All you need to do is specify which sites to block and when to block them." I need this! This works much better than my bookmark hack.
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