4 June Keto Curious -Progress??

29 May I woke up and the scale finally showed movement. Two pounds lower than yesterday’s weigh in for a loss of 6.

I thought “Okay”, maybe this is progress. Maybe I turned a corner.

Yeh, I don’t think so. It was the only date that low. Okay, so up to now I’ve been circumspect about specifics. Why? Well, there personal.

When I first started I was 215 pounds. I was 214 pounds when I started actually tracking on a fairly regular basis. On May 12th I recorded 211. I bounced around 211 to 210 until May 29th, when I recorded my low of 208.4. Since then I’ve been between 209.4 and 210.4 pounds.

Can I call it progress? It seems marginal at best. I must be doing something wrong. And I’m getting tired of it’s impact on everything. It feels like hours every day revolve around my prepping meals that are carefully choreographed.

I don’t even try to measure ketosis levels because I can’t trust my meter.

So, I look at my larger metrics. My BIA seems to have reduced by 1.5%. 28.9% to 27.4%. But the level of accuracy on that is so so, but it is trending in the right direction.

My waist appears to be 1.5 inches smaller. Not huge, but probably the biggest notable improvement.

My belly button measurement has reduced by roughly 1.25 inches.

And both my biceps seem to have increase a quarter of an inch.

With this real slow progress, I’m afraid of burnout and giving up.

I must be doing something wrong. I’ll do some homework to hopefully identify my problem. But, I’m beginning to lose patience.

Okay, I’m going to continue to persevere.

28 May Keto Curious Week 3 – Frustration!!

Week 2 had gone well and I thought I deserved a bit of a reward so I planned a cheat a cheat day. “Plan” is probably a bad label since I had a hard time getting clarity on how to cheat without destroying progress.

In my homework, I discovered that following my particular plan (high fat, lo/no carbs, and mid protein) really allowed for a cheat meal, NOT the 24 hour marathon glorious binge fest that seem to be recounted by some in their click baity headlines. Okay, I’m cool with that, but it pointed out that I needed to learn more, but I thought I had enough information.

I had checked my ketone levels with the breath meter that had arrived during the week before. My first reading was 2.1, which was considered moderate ketosis. I didn’t check again for several days leading into my weekend. Honestly, things got really hectic and I lost track of daily metrics for several days, like taking metrics one out of three days.

On the spur of the moment, my daughter was in town so we planned lunch at a nice outdoor eatery. I thought, perfect timing for a cheat meal. The place had a great variety of food options. I ordered a grouper sandwich with onion rings and for desert I have a scoop of ice cream. That was a Saturday.

Life continued to be busy, but I went right back on the keto diet. I was still plateaued on my daily metrics with no marked increase or decrease. I was around 27% BIA and in a single pound of the weight I quickly achieved during that first week. I tried my keto meter Tuesday following the Saturday cheat meal and my heart fell. If the meter was right, it was clear that I had kicked myself way out of ketosis. Completely. My reading was a .1, which meant I was barely beginning keto over again. Ugh.

Thursday my reading was .7 and today my reading was .6. That doesn’t indicate real ketosis according to the meter. I expected to bounce back to a decent reading at least.

That was difficult to grasp. But as I thought about it, I begin to question the accuracy of my meter. The only way I could test my theory is if I get another unquestionably accurate tester to confirm against and I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

Either way, it was a blow to my morale. But I made a six week commitment and I’m going to stay with it.

I struggle with whether the diet is worth it. I mean, if I’m not actually in ketosis then why the heck am I putting myself through all this effort?

And yes, it is effort. It’s not easy. There is the time constantly researching the right and wrong of keto, whether it’s books or Youtube or online blogs. Then there is the extra time and expense shopping for keto friendly food or ingredients, there is the actual prep and cook time. And the emotional effort of staying on top of things, which only now seems to have become a challenge as the effort doesn’t seem very fruitful. Then again, it has only been three weeks of my committed six weeks.

I have a feeling of progress, but I can’t seem to measure or capture it in a meaningful way. I have times where I don’t feel as bloated and grab my flab to check for marked change.

I give a huge shout out to those that go through all this effort while maintaining a career and family.

Today’s summary: Still at 4 pounds lost, 27.4 % BIA. My other metrics, I’ve received resistance from my assistant who believes that weekly tracking of those metrics are inappropriate.

21 May Keto Curious Progress

15 May was a weird day. Our family went to a Renaissance fair here in Florida. During the day while walking around I really felt a bit odd. The feeling was a bit woozy and disconnected. Having been through a number of physically strenuous things in life, I knew this was a minor alert. But if I didn’t address it immediately, it potentially could progress into a fainting spell. And the last thing I wanted was to ruin the day for everyone over my stupidity.

Thankfully we were just walking up to food stands when this feeling hit. I got a large bottle of water and a hot dog. Of course I tossed the bun and ate it with a little mustard on top. That seemed to take the edge off and I felt better for a couple hours.

I believe this was a combination of keto flu symptoms and dehydration. Apart from that day, I felt minor symptoms the rest of the week.

I ordered a breath ketone meter to check myself.

During the week, I did decide to try working out regularly for three days this week. Interesting personal observations. My soreness post workouts seems less. I was able to perform full workouts each day and felt less sore or achy the day after. But is it psycho sematic? I don’t know, but I’ll take it. It’s a positive indicator.

I have to remind myself that it’s still early in the process. Plus, I haven’t allowed myself a cheat day. Which, based on some sources, is important to overcoming plateaus. I can’t call it a plateau yet, but it’s been pretty flat for this week.

I’ve made a promise to myself that I would commit to keto earnestly for six weeks at the minimum. I am honestly recognizing that for every thing I learn, there is so much to learn and potential mistakes that I can make.

Speaking of learning, I realize that there is sooooooo much keto information out there to digest. And it’s sooo easy to miss details. Keep a list, journal, document, or all of the above to track, retain and look back at things. Take notes while watching Youtube or reading.

I’ve been using my Fitbit app and Charge 4 to track my food and exercise log along with all the other metrics. I’ve been tracking metrics on a spreadsheet. My intention is daily to track body weight and BIA (bio impedance analysis) based on my bathroom scale. My infrequent metrics cover neck circumference, biceps, belly button, and waist. Of course, this is as much to ensure I’m doing the right thing, but also to examine trends.

I’ve also purchased a breath ketosis meter. Reviews indicate that breath ketosis measurement is relatively accurate where blood ketosis measuring is more accurate. I chose a breath meter for convenience. When that arrives, my intention is use it infrequently to ensure I’m in ketosis and check if I’ve been knocked out.

So let’s sum up where I am. I’ve been measuring weight and BIA based on my scale. I’ve lost about 4 pounds. My BIA dropped an average of 1% so far. That was achieved by the 15th, but since that day, the needle seems to have stalled on those measurements. On the 21st, I took my latest infrequent measurements and saw both belly button and waist measurements reduced by less that 1 inch. Positive indicators.

Summary of tools I’m using now: Fitbit app and a Charge 4, keto breath analyzer(when it arrives), a tape measure designed for body measurement, my bathroom scale, Tom Delauer Youtube series and to a lesser degree keto books and magazines on the side for variety. I expect this list to grow.

I didn’t go into what I’m using for workouts since it’s not diet related. Maybe I’ll touch on that in future.

Magnesium, Wow!

Through following the course to get started with ketosis, I added magnesium to my regimen. But it really made a big difference when I took it just before bed.

I’ve relied on melatonin to make me sleepy on many nights in a week. But honestly, since taking magnesium I haven’t once. I wear a Fitbit consistently and my sleep score average has gone up from a low 70 average to 80 average. I used to have maybe one night a week in the 80s and the rest were 60 or 70s. Now, it’s five nights a week.

I credit magnesium with this huge improvement to my quality of life.

OTA DVR Solved!

Continuing on the Cord Cutting Curious series, I turned to hardware available via retail.

Elements that are important to us: Able to access replays via ROKU in a simple way, quality built in tuner, tv guide functionality that shows more than the current date(the more the better), flexibly sized hard drive size for increasing in the future, ability to record episodes repeatedly.

My choices were narrowed down to one of the HDHomeRun devices or one of the Tablo devices. I heard good things about both of them. The key selection item for me was that I didn’t find an HDHomeRun app on Roku’s. A local retailer was having a sale and I picked up a Tablo Duo Lite for about $99. I grabbed a 1TB hard drive as well, thinking that would be plenty, well, at least to start off with.

My initial reaction: It’s better than I hoped.

The Tablo is a simple box that hooks up to power, coax and you plug a hard drive in. You have to format the hard drive of course. Tablo provides a fully functional service for an initial period ( I think a month). This provides access to channel guide information that extends as much as two weeks into the future which allows you to arrange for recording in the future. The Tablo also provides a fully functional simple dvr operation. You can watch live TV through Roku’s without a tv connected to a coax. The ROKU app and android apps are straightforward and simple interfaces that the family understand easily. It’s also an easy thing to watch Tablo via web interfaces on any device on the same network. The Duo supports two simultaneous actions while the Quad supports four. By actions I mean watching on separate devices, recording, or streaming live tv.

The Tablo provides the capability for automatic skipping of commercials in recordings. After a program is recorded, Tablo scrubs the dvr recording for commercial markers and deletes those pieces of recordings. However, this doesn’t always work 100%. One because it takes hours to complete. It’s also likely that if the Tablo is taxed (i.e. already streaming, etc. ) it could lose the cpu power to complete the task. That’s my guess.

Side menu and example of guide

For a small fee paid annually you continue the fully functional service for a year which we opted for. For another additional charge your recordings can be saved to a cloud based function, which I opted not to use.

My one challenge: Tablo supports streaming through a router to apps on your phone or tablets. However, our Tablo is cascaded on a mesh network behind the ISP router and I haven’t attempted to overcome this yet.

My one regret: Not jumping into getting a Tablo Quad right off the bat.

For anyone with a similar cord cutting need, I would definitely recommend Tablo products.

Sample of the recordings we’ve collected.

Dreams of an OTA DVR #2

Another in the Cord Cutter Curious series.

I gave up on my first effort realizing that the original recorder attempt was comparable to old school VCR’s with no network streaming functionality.

The dream would be to use a software suite that would record programs on a network accessible space ( using a PVR) and be viewable via a client preferably on the many Roku’s around the house for replays on the TV’s.

I ordered two different USB stick tuners. One was an Avermedia H837 and an Hauppauge WinTV-DualHD. Avermedia was only compatible with windows setups. Hauppauge was compatible with both windows and linux.

I narrowed the options down of the various software PVR’s to two. TVHeadEnd and NextPVR. TVHeadEnd was compatible with Linux only. NextPVR was only compatible on Windows 10.

Then came the experimentation to put together the different pieces. Things to consider if you go through this. 1)Your pc will need to have excellent network connectivity. 2) You need to have a solid coax connection between the USB stick and your antenna.

I won’t go into the configuration specifics but will touch on the overviews.

I tried the Avermedia and the Hauppauge on a windows setup, however, this was an older windows desktop pc so it wasn’t the best at reception or recording. As a desktop pc, the location for it was awkward at best because of it’s size. And finally I wasn’t able to figure any means that the recorded files were able to be shared with the Roku’s reliably. With a more current multi core cpu and graphics card, I probably would have had better success.

Next, I decided to try with Raspberry Pi’s. I used Raspbian OS on a Raspberry Pi 3 connected to the Hauppauge with TVHeadend. Recording performance suffered, so I changed to a Raspberry Pi 4 and saw a lot of improvement.

There is a learning curve with TVHeadend. It is NOT a set it and forget it. It worked well with the USB tuner and able to record based on channel and time. It provided access to current TV guide entries on most channels, but recording based on TV show name didn’t seem to work. TVHeadend did auto start for me after power loss.

In order for the recordings to be accessible to my Roku’s, I had to boot Kodi on the Raspbian and make the folder with the recorded shows visible to my network. By using the Roku Media app, I was able to access the recording directory on the Raspbian OS. This was klunky especially for the wife and kid because the recordings were in folders and had file names that were a combination of time, date, channel and not show names. Less than optimal for them by far.

With a little scripting I was able to get this to boot sequentially AFTER the TVHeadend started. This was very useful during power loss.

The total configuration arrangement worked well for a couple weeks. The Raspberry Pi 4 ran a bit warm. It’s unclear whether the heat impacted performance. Eventually the recordings became compromised somehow and I kept hearing complaints of how hard it was to watch the show they wanted.

Overall, it was fun to try. But certainly not the ideal for ease of use for the total household.

“Cord Cutter Curious” Beginning

Part 2 of the “Cord Cutter Curious” series. Let’s start with an assessment of what I have to work with.

I live in Florida within 30 miles of the TV signal source. You can check for yourself what distance and direction your signal source might come from using TVFool. This will give you an approximate direction signals will come to your location and at what height your antenna will receive the best signal.

I have a two story house that has coax pre-run to several rooms left over from cable network providers and from original construction in the late 90’s. The house will allow me to elevate the TV antenna as high as possible to provide better reception of those signals susceptible to line of sight interference. An outside pole antenna is a bad idea in Florida hurricane season since they easily become flying projectiles and have to be replaced. With that I decided on either an indoor antenna or an attic antenna.

My first goal was experiment with the antenna’s I have on hand (a Mohu Leaf and a home made fractal antenna) to determine a high elevation spot inside the house with the best reception possible.

I started by simply trying a Mohu Leaf tucked behind a TV upstairs. It was used to bypass the annual disputes between service provider and broadcaster. The reception was pretty good with some channels in the lower range reception coming in borderline and inconsistent. The lower channels were the primary channels we wanted because they covered NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS. The ones that seemed to always be in dispute with the cable companies.

I then checked out my attic, which amounts to a narrow crawl space since the roof has a low pitch. There was a spaghetti pile of coax with various splitters sitting on top of the insulation. Fortunately most of it was within reach of the attic access. It didn’t take long using the cable tug method to figure out which coax ran into my master bedroom. Weirdly enough, there were a few.

And why is that? From the cable guys I talked too (I went through “cable guy” training classes during my corporate time. That’s another story for another day) it’s easier and cost effective to run a new leg of good cable rather than fix what exists or pull out the old cable. So I removed what I saw as obvious excess cables from the attic to reduce confusion.

The “cable guy” training also gave me enough confidence to know what’s feasible and what should be avoided entirely.

I moved the Mohu Leaf into the attic and secured it to one of the highest rafters near the roof line oriented in a westerly direction. It only took two push pins through holes in the Mohu Leaf. That was an easy mounting job. After connecting it to one of the coax with a double ended female connector and a coax from the wall to the back of the TV I tested the TV.

The reception was excellent. The additional six feet in elevation into the attic was exactly what we needed. Now when our TV service provider lost our local affiliates due to disagreements, the plan was to simply switch to the TV input on our TV and there we go. But with a change to cancel cable, this would prove far more important. That was just the first TV and the first minor step.

More to come. Stay tuned.

Back in the Saddle

I struggled over the past year and a half with losing my ability to run. Exacerbated by depression I finally got help. So I wanted to get back in shape, whatever that meant, I had to find a new way. It’s been slow going and developing to put together something meaningful, challenging and enjoyable.

I checked out what I wanted and my options. I’m very fortunate that I live near a public park with a trail with work out stations that runs along a canal. I have a decent bike and that seemed a simple start.

I started off with riding my bike on the trail. I set a round trip of around 4 miles and started biking at least three or more days week. It was nice to see the splash of mullet or watch the dorsal fins of a pod of dolphin or sea birds swooping in for smaller fish.

Along the route I noticed the park had a pull up station. In part of my running life, I would run and perform calisthenics. So the next step was obvious.

I added a stop at the pull up station on every bike ride. I go for as many pull ups as I can, then I attach a heavy strong elastic band and do a few assisted pull ups.

Then I noticed several land marks along my route. Sidewalks, bridges, and railings. So I began adding in stops at each of the landmarks for push ups. Then spider man push ups. Then dive bomber push ups. And glute bridges. And hanging ab lifts. And whatever else I can think of that I feel I need to work on.

It’s evolving and likely to continue to evolve. For now, it looks like this. I bike a little over a mile to the pull-up station. I switch as quickly as possible to minimize rest and do pull-ups until I can’t anymore. Then I perform some assisted pull-ups until my arms begin to fail. Then I quick change back to the bike and continue on to my first landmark of several landmarks along a two mile ride. At each landmark I quickly pump out a set of 10 reps of either pushups, dive bombers, spider man push ups, or glute bridges. By this time, I’ve looped back to the pull up station. Sometimes I throw in a set of lunges or one leg squats with around there. Or I’ll just ride it back home.

This progression and evolution of working out without running has been such a relief. I’ve come to accept that I will never complete a marathon. Or win runs in my age group any more. But, this work out routine definitely provides me a more comprehensive work out. And I’ve reduced my body fat by 2% and increased my shoulders by two inches. I feel so much better. So thankful for the new mental head space that made this possible.

And now for something completely different….

Games and video games. Yes, that’s what I said. Video games.

First let’s look at what purpose they serve. Their primary purpose is to entertain.

But the most critical thing for me was the element of learning from safe mistakes.

Yes, they provided a window into the real world games of adulthood. Yes, I played soldier as a kid (think Call of Duty with a heavy layer of imagination and endless lives). Yes, I played against dragons and saved damsels in my Disney-esque imagination. Yes, I later evolved into playing bigger picture war games, role playing games and board games. Yes, I did marathons of video games in combat, space or apocalyptic wastelands.

Why does it matter? Because it gave me a healthy, creative and constructive outlet that taught me a few things. Like; whatever you do in life, try to figure out the odds behind a risk or decision if you want to figure out how to win. I died countless times and anguished over each death, but each time I did, I learned there was a better way. And I approached real life in the same way.

And that ultimately, helped steer me in the direction of where my future would take me. It steered me toward a twenty one year career with the military reserves. It steered me to a degree I earned with no student loans and served me well enough to get hired on with a fortune 100 company. It steered me in navigating 31 years of corporate life with 21 of those years spent under the expectation of layoffs. All this aided by the basic idea of figuring out the odds, projecting outcomes and working the long games as best I could.

This was a very simplistic overview of a simple principle. But it has served me well.

Getting My Head Straight

Mental health. Some people think it’s a taboo subject. But in this forum, it’s a big part of our experience.

I needed help recently. I no longer could enjoy a run life and that led to a spiral of negative thought droning on about wanting to run and knowing that it was not the right thing. I couldn’t sleep well, maybe 6 hours, not straight through and frequently not restful. Progressively, I felt like I just couldn’t get out of my head.

I was getting more and more edgy, but kept trying to deal with it alone. It was oppressive. Like waking up with morning brain fog and just never getting out of it all day long.

The final straw came when my wife made comments over a few days about how edgy I was. I think it took her off guard when I agreed and said I was calling my doctor.

And I’m thankful I did. By simply going through some detailed discussions about what was going on with me he gave me a prescription.

I felt a change in 24 hours. I was very reluctant to acknowledge it because I wasn’t sure if it was a placebo affect or not. And that was my mindset for several days. After a week, I discussed with the wife and we both agreed, the prescription was doing what was needed.

My quality of life is immensely improved. I was able to come out of my funk and get out of my own way. I was able to refocus on several aspects of my life. And finally started a new work out routine, but that’s another post.