Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Motivation - Part II

Catch up with Part I if you missed it...

Let's face it. Sometimes it's really hard to drag your sorry butt out onto the road, or into the gym, or away from the double cheeseburger. These are a couple more things that keep me motivated.

Other People
Other people can serve as motivation by setting both bad and good examples. First, a couple of bad examples. There are about 500 people that work in my building. A few of them are 'just like me', meaning that they are overweight, overstressed, and generally going down the wrong health road. There are a couple that are about ten years older than me and give me a perfect picture of what my health/life will be like if I don't make a change.

Another bad example: There is a guy waiting for the bus some mornings when I drop my son off for school. Calling him morbidly obese understates his condition. Every time I see him I have a "There but for the grace of God go I." moment.

Before I talk about the positive examples for me, let me say that these bad examples may be great examples in other areas of their lives, and even sometimes in this area.

I do have some great positive examples. I find a lot of motivation from Neil Brennen. He will probably always outweigh me, but has made huge improvement in his health while at the same time maintaining a balance in other areas, an ability I sometimes struggle to find. At work there are three people who have lost a combined 180 lbs. buy putting* the fork down, shutting the pie hole, and biking like crazy. I worship with another friend who lost 60 lbs and kept all but 15 off for over a year primarily by riding his bike.

Another inspiration are the hidden cyclists. These are the people riding bikes not so much as recreation, or as a transportation choice, but as a transportation necessity. As I commute to work I see a couple of cyclists coming the other way. There not all dressed up in spandex and lycra, nor are they riding the latest fancy road bikes. They are bundled up in regular clothes, riding heavy Wal-Mart clunkers. But they are always smiling and they never forget to wave. They remind me that riding in the snow and rain is always a possibility.

The Numbers
This is where I totally geek out. I love numbers. I have taught math and statistics, and I build econometric software for a living. So for me there are few things as exciting as seeing the results in a nice table or chart, especially if there is some neat statistical model involved.

A few years ago I first came across The Hackers Diet: How to lose weight and hair through stress and poor nutrition. The book itself is really just a common sense approach to dieting built on the simple yet oft ignored principle; if you expend more than you consume you will lose weight. On his web site he offers a set of spreadsheets as well as a PalmPilot based tool called the "Eat Watch". I have used the Eat Watch and really like it. I put my weight in every morning, and I can see what my 'trend' value is. The trend is much more important than my actual weight. It smooths out the large variations that can come through eating at a different time, being dehydrated, or any of the myriad other factors that lead to daily weight variations.

So, I get really motivated when I see a table like this:
Weekly Trend Analysis
Past Week-1.62

So when I say that I am losing around 1.5 lbs per week, I have empirical evidence to support my statement.

*As a person who was at one time at least conversationally fluent in two languages besides my native English I am occasionally amazed that anyone learns this language. For example, "He was putting pudding on the putting green." What kind of language is this where the only way to discern meaning and pronunciation is by a words context?


The Historian said...

Hi Geekcyclist,

Thank you, I think, for the brief mention in your motivation article. However, my last name is "Brennen", not "Brennan."

GeekCyclist said...

Duly noted and corrected with my apologies.

neil aka neil on wheels said...

I second the hacker's diet. For months, I was getting up, weighing myself, entering data into eatwatch.prc on my Treo, and looking at beautiful graphs and charts. I recently sold the Treo. I kept the daily weigh-ins but didn't have a good logging mechanism. I then discovered The Google 15, which is a widget that lives on my Google homepage. It is very similar to the eat watch app on the palm.

It even gives you a little motivational 'blurb' based on how well you're progressing toward your goal. It will also let you know if you deviate :/