Archive for August, 2010

EagleEye – PS3 Gaming with PC Keyboard/Mouse

August 30, 2010

I’m a PC gamer bigot. I admit it. In fact, I am quite proud of it. Well, except for the Wii. It rocks…for holidays with the kids. Otherwise, it dutifully collects my apartment’s dust for me. However, that’s as close to console gaming I have been willing to go in the last 4 years.

I got a PS3 two years ago. I got it for the Blu-Ray player. I wanted it to also be a game machine. However, I tried BioShock. And while the graphics rocked. Gameplay sucked. And it was not because of the content. It was because of the EFFIN controller. Console controllers. They are MADE to ensure competent PC players do NOT play consoles. I’m convinced of it.

Then, at this year’s E3 (2010), I heard about something called the EagleEye. The claims being made were that you could attach a computer mouse and keyboard to this device, plug it into the PS3 and you wouldn’t have to touch the abysmal POS that is the PS3 controller. That got me excited. So, I signed up for Penguin United’s email list and watched both YouTube videos available. I waited with baited breath for mid-July, the time frame they were giving people at E3. Mid-July came and went and nothing came via email. I resorted to scanning the comments on the YouTube videos to glean whatever information my OCD brain could find on a new release date. I posted comments and emailed the company asking (begging) them to send out an email to their distribution resetting expectations. Nothing.

And then Monday, Aug/23rd, I got an email saying they were taking orders. I hopped on their site and had an order squared away in no time. I was to get it on Friday or Monday. I avidly watched my UPS tracking number and must have hit the UPS site several thousand times a day. And on Friday, Aug/27th, the web-site said it was at my apartment’s office. Naturally, I raced out of work, got it from my office and ran to my apartment.

I tore it open and pried it out of it’s multiple layers of packaging. I finally had it in my hand. Whoohoo! However, I now realize it is going to require a PC to “program” the initial configuration. And then I can use it on my PS3. And I had girlfriend activities scheduled for the remainder of the evening. I wouldn’t get a chance to do anything with it until the morning. Plus, I didn’t have a (non-wireless) USB keyboard or mouse. So, I would be trekking out to purchase those before getting to dig in.

I was SO excited, though. I couldn’t wait to obtain BFBC2 (Battlefield: Bad Company 2) and try it out on the PS3. I loved it on the PC. So, it would be the perfect test to see how well the EagleEye performed.

Story continued in next post…

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Keeping my commitment (to myself)…

August 29, 2010

Well, it’s Saturday night at ten to midnight. And I have not posted anything this week. My commitment I have made is that I must make at least one post here between each Sunday morning at 12:00am and the following Saturday night by 11:59pm. I’m cutting it quite close to the line, huh?! 🙂

I have lots about which to write. I just didn’t manage my time well enough today to make a salient post. I’m sensing I will more than make up for it this coming week. Especially in and around my new PS3 toy, the EagleEye.

More later…

Fit Fail – Intermittent Ingestion

August 19, 2010

Summary:

Timing my meals (and lack of meals) is more important than what’s in the meals (not intended to imply that meal content is unimportant).

Details (story):

Okay, so in my last post, I talked about how I am not happy about my current weight, waist and general fitness level. In this post, I’m going to share details around how I am managing the timing of my meals.

The technique I am using is called intermittent fasting. It can just as easily be called intermittent ingestion/eating/food-loading/etc. The basic idea is to have periods of time where the digestive system is operating to convert food into things needed by the body followed by periods of time where the digestive system essentially stops operating allowing other physiological processes to operate (ex: immune system to address and “cure” area of active inflammation). Or said a different way, it’s to stop having the digestive system operating all the time and allow other natural body processes to operate at higher levels.

For me, the primary processes I am aiming are:

  1. decreasing insulin resistance (or said in the positive, increasing insulin sensitivity)
  2. intra and inter cellular garbage collection

Improving my insulin sensitivity will result in my being able to burn body fat more effectively and in there being less body fat being stored. There are numerous secondary health benefits to eliminating this primary symptom of metabolic syndrome.

Removing the cellular garbage is something I had been following for awhile. The basic idea is the cells in our body slowly but surely become filled with bits of garbage left over from inter-cellular processes. These bits of garbage are eventually removed by the immune system so as to reduce and prevent future inflammation and damage. However, because modern man keeps the digestive system operating around 24/7, the immune system has far less capacity for this critical function.

The analogy I use when explaining this idea is to imagine sitting in a restaurant with me, alone. We can chat and have no problem talking with each other. However, as the restaurant fills with people, it becomes noisier and it becomes more and more difficult to talk with me, to the point we eventually are yelling. And the dialog consists mostly of, “What? Can  you repeat that as I could’t hear you?” This is an analogy of the activities occurring within a cell (restaurant = cell, couples = all the intra-cellular processes operating with their attendant bits of protein garbage) and between cells (restaurant = organ, couples = all the inter-cellular communication processes operating with their attendant bits of hormonal garbage). So, when the immune system has extra capacity (which occurs when the digestive system “shuts down temporarily”), the bits of protein and hormonal garbage are collected and eliminated. When this happens, the intra and inter-cellular communication is less noisy and less prone to accidents and more robust to handle system issues.

So, back to the main idea, intermittent fasting. It appears there are benefits to fasting as little as 14 hours. However, I’ve never been one to do the minimum. And it appears that the optimal threshold is actually 24 hours. This is not the same as a fasting day. That would result in a +30 hour fast (assuming Monday as a fast day, from the last snack at 10pm on Sunday night to the first bite of breakfast at 8:00am on Tuesday morning is actually 34 hours). To make it easy, I figured that I could make it 24 hours +/-2 hours. By doing that, I have set up the following schedule. MWF, I only eat dinner aiming at 6:30pm. TThS, I eat all three meals stopping by roughly 7:30pm. Sunday, I split the difference by skipping breakfast and having lunch no earlier than 12:30pm. Again, all these times are really anytime plus or minus 2 hours. This schedule gives me an average of 24 hours of fasting separated with 24 hours of eating. Since I will be sleeping during both, it’s really 16 hours of awake fasting and then 16 hours of awake eating (since I don’t currently know how to eat while I am sleeping).

I started this eating pattern/schedule on Monday, Aug/9. I was feeling mildly hungry by mid-afternoon. And then I ate at 7:15pm (had an evening appointment that pushed me out further that night…but I am covered by my +/-2 hours). Tuesday was normal eating three meals. Wednesday was easy. I wasn’t ever hungry. I was ready to eat, but not starved, by the time I ate on Wednesday night at 6:00pm. Thursday was normal. And then Friday was the first time I was a bit challenged. I didn’t get to eat until 8:30pm. Actually, I knew I was going to have an issue with that, so I had a tiny snack at 7:00pm to tide me over. I was pretty hungry by the time 5:00pm arrived. I was feeling it strongly by 7:00pm. It was weird, though. It actually felt good to be “hungry”. And then it felt awesome to eat the snack at 7:00pm and the meal at 8:30pm. I deeply enjoyed both, more than usual. It’s almost like this schedule pattern is changing my appreciation for and enjoyment of my food. And that’s just awesome!

Saturday was fun. I enjoyed it. We had an evening social event and ended up eating until 10:00pm. That was later than I had wanted. However, I have given myself permission to change my window to +/-4 hours on the weekend to accommodate just this kind of social schedule eating challenge. I then didn’t eat until 2:15pm on Sunday after having attended soccer practice. And then Sunday was awesome with me finishing up eating around 8:30pm.

Completing the first week was cake. It was so very easy which is going to be important for me if I intend to keep using the intermittent fasting tool for more than a 4 week experiment. I also like how flexible it is turning out to be. The diet I am on is an Atkins-like low-carb diet. I like being able to wander off diet during a meal or two and then have a fast reset within 24 hours. I have to be careful I don’t go crazy and just abandon my low-carb diet just because I am intermittent fasting. However, I like being able to have a piece of cake at some of the birthday parties that occur around me. Or occasionally having a small piece of dark chocolate after dinner.

I will update again next week with my progress. I am hoping to figure out this blogging tool more effectively, too. I don’t exactly know how to embed links to other web-sites, add tagging, add images, etc. I will figure it out over time. For now, I just want to keep my commitment of writing here at least once every week. But, that’s for a different blog post.

Fit Fail – Wardrobe Weight Woes

August 10, 2010

Summary:

I’m committed to becoming fully fit (more than healthy) by experimenting with and making substantial changes in my diet and exercise regimen.

Details (story):

I just moved my favorite pair of work khaki slacks to the “Fit Fail” clothes rack in my closet. It’s my kinesthetic/visual way of ensuring I am explicitly conscious of no longer comfortably fitting in my 34s. That I feel the pain of failure as I move them from the daily selection rack to the “you’re too fat to wear these now” rack. And sure, it’s the first of my 34 slacks to go. However, previous “non-slacks” clothing fit fails have lead up to this event; favorite pair of summer shorts, many awesome shirts too tight in the gut, swimming suit, etc.. Over the last year and half, I have put on over a stone (English measurement for 14lbs – sort of sounds better, and worse). UGH! Why? And more importantly, what do I do to rip it back off and return to my best measurements I have achieved yet, 189.5lbs and 18.5% body fat (28 day average)?

There’s lots of reasons (i.e. bad habits) why I gained 15 pounds over the last 18 months:

  1. Let work stresses justify not having to maintain my health/fitness activities
  2. Stopped doing weekly Yoga (reliably every T, Th and S)
  3. Started drinking at least a half gallon of diet caffeinated soda a day
  4. Slowly slipped away from being strict on my low-carb diet (lots of vacations, birthdays and holidays)
  5. Stopped doing many of my daily supplements
  6. Used my mega-dosing on fish oil to justify not having to do other health fitness activities
  7. Stopped working out regularly (very occasionally, sporadically)
  8. Stopped my daily measuring of my body fat, weight, blood pressure, etc.
  9. Refrained from constructing new motivating health/fitness goals
  10. Started making my new romantic relationship a higher priority
  11. etc.

These reasons have cycled in my head in an infinite loop, hindering small bits of action I would sporadically take. Back in April, I committed to refocusing on dropping the excess body fat and weight as soon as I returned from my Mexico vacation and my son had returned home. And now here I am a week into my commitment (my son left Monday night).

I took my body fat and weight measurement on Tuesday morning, Aug/3rd – 23.2% at 211.4lbs. I have not been this heavy in almost 6 years.

I was able to successfully get back on low-carb again (Atkins-like) and remained so all week. I retook my measurements Sunday (yesterday) morning, Aug/8th – 23.6% at 207.2lbs. It was pleasing to see my weight go down, even if it is only mildly correlated to my dietary adjustment (no exercise…yet).

It’s small progress! Just enough to help me feel good about having an explicit goal. “Which is?”, you might ask? 18.0% at 185lbs ASAP.

However, low-carb is not good enough for me. It just has not worked as well this time as it has worked in the past, both when I was strict, and the change in my ability to be strict (having a huge social life make it downright difficult…OMG a birthday celebration of a friend and/or family member happens every week for me). I have tried numerous diet programs; Body for Life, Atkins, NHE and The Zone. I have flirted with but have not committed fully to a number of other diets, the most recent of which would be one called Paleo, or “The Caveman Diet”. Luckily, my best friend (one of 4), Bill, loves experimenting and has been on Paleo for +4 months. However, he also became a consistent CrossFit workout machine at the same time. So, it made it difficult to see if the Paleo choice was really impacting his ability rip off fat while retaining muscle mass. Recently, he made a diet adjustment. He stayed on the Paleo diet food selections. He changed his eating pattern, i.e. when he ate, to something called Intermittent Fasting. And some amazing things began to happen to him in less than two weeks. Fat started dropping off while he kept his muscle mass. His energy levels seemed to go up. He was able to have more diet-fail events (ex: half gallon of ice cream), and see no undesirable impact to either his body fat percentage or his weight. This piqued my interest, to say the least.

So back to me and my goal. I researched this so-called “Intermittent Fasting” notion (simple Google search). And after about an hour of reading through multiple sites (my favorite thus far is leangains.com), I was very happy with what I saw – people eating ordinary foods (no deprivation, no low-carb, no Paleo, no NOTHING) and losing body fat. They were eating “bad foods” (ex: bread), “terrible foods” (ex: Twinkie), and not having the same negative effects they were having just months before by eating the same foods. “How?”, you ask?!

Simple – it’s not what they ate but WHEN THEY ATE IT!

CE’s Health/Fitness Guideline #1: Focus much more on WHEN I choose to eat and much less (for now) on exactly WHAT I am eating.

Interested in knowing more about this? Well, either Google it for yourself. Or, wait for my next post where I will outline in detail what I am doing and how I am approaching experimenting with “Intermittent Fasting”. And I am still not “exercising” (more on that next post, too).

CE’s Motto: I am and those I care about are being free, happy and successful through better choices in living, loving and learning, today and every day!