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Apirl 2014 Loot Crate


Gift subscription services seem to be popping up everywhere. Over the last few months Heather and I have looking at Loot Crate. If you don't know what Loot Crate is let me explain. Loot Crate is a gift subscription service for geeks! I love it. Basically you pay a monthly fee and they will send you a package full of great stuff. It's like a geeky Christmas package every month. The contents of the crate are definitely worth more than the monthly cost. Crates are sent out roughly around the 20th of the month.

So for Easter this year I decided to sign Heather up for Loot Crate. It worked out perfect! This month's theme was "Dragons." We love dragons by the way. :) With Easter being so close to Loot Crate ship day it actually arrived the day before. Great planning right?

So what's in it? Glad you ask. This month contained an exclusive Elder Scrolls Online Nord Foam Figure above. A d20 foam stress-ball dice. A regular random d20. A Game of Thrones foam figure. A Loot Crate button. A screen clear. Dragon Jerky (kinda green, but looks yummy!). A really neat magazine talking about all the contents. Plus some other interesting things.

Was it worth it. Ya bet ya! Catch ya next time.


Weigh In - March 28st 2014


This week I'm excited to say I lost 1.7 pounds! I'm hoping this trend keeps up. I normally would prefer to lose 2 pounds a week. But slow and steady wins the race right? My lovely wife Heather lost 1.3! Way to go girl! We got some good reports from our friends as well. This is our 4th week back on program. Things are a lot more routine. However I am noticing a few things I need to work on.

I'm burning through a lot more weekly points then I should be. I typical reserve weekly points for major events like holidays and birthdays. You know those times it's just hard to plan exactly what you're going to eat. I've been rewarding myself everyday with some kind of treat. It's usually a brownie or ice cream or something sweet. I limit it to something between 1 and 6 points. However I'm not budgeting that into my daily allowance. So I've been dipping into my weekly points.

To help combat this issue I plan to limit use of weekly points to 1 - 4 points per day max. If you follow Weight Watchers you know you have 39 weekly points. If you average that out over 7 days you get roughly 6 points extra per day. I've found I lose more weight when I use less extra points. Not to mention I've heard stories of people going on maintenance after hitting their goal and getting 10 daily points back. That's only 4 more points extra on top of your average. Maintenance is designed to keep you at a set weight.

My theory is that if I'm eating all of my extra points averaged out then effectively I'm on maintenance. I'm doing this to lose weight not stay where I'm at. So that's why I'm working to not use my weekly points. What can do I to help control how many extra points I'm eating? We'll I can put in more "free" food items into my schedule. Right now I'm eating two servings of fruit a day between meals. I could squeeze in one more during a meal to help fill up the meal. Just a mental trick to make myself think I'm eating more. Weight Watcher's calls this "filling foods."

I can switch to using only my activity points I earn. There is a option in the tracker to use my activity points before I use my weekly. Effectively I'm only eating extra when I've earned it through exercise. The only issue is I'm bleary of activity points because they're very subjective. I can "say" I did this and there's no hard science to what I've really earned. I'm just going to have to be a little more trusting in myself and hold myself accountable for reporting the correct amount of activity.

Last but not least. I can change my "treats" to something more healthier. I may end up doing a combination of all the things above to limit my weekly point usage. For now that's my plan. I'll let you know how it works out! Thanks for reading.


Weigh In - March 21st 2014


This is now my third week back on program. I'm feeling much better this week. Tracking again has become more natural. I'm not having to look stuff up as much as I had been. I'm almost fully back to routine. However this week I haven't gone to the gym as much as normal. Monday night we went with some friends to Lexington to play some board games at a Meetup. That was a blast. I didn't end up having time to workout, shower and be ready in time to go to our event. Oh well. But I know you're wondering. How did you do?

Well good news. I lost 1.6 pounds this week. The bad news is I lost a point. I know sad right? But some more good news is Heather lost 2.2 pounds! Way to go my girl. But in other good news. Two of our close friends (Jason and Kelly) have decided to join us in our Weight Watchers journey. They're doing great. They're learning how to track. It's a real blessing to having friends on program as well. I'm glad that we can help them. In the past we've had our friends Catie and David on program with us too. I don't know how many times I've leaned on them for support. I can't thank them enough for supporting us. I only hope that we can provide as much support as we've been given by our friends.

My plans for next week is to ramp up working out more. I'm going to ensure that I make it to the gym every workout day next week. The rowing machine has become one of my favorite workout tools. I can manage to do about 10 minutes at 100 watts. I can feel my my upper body muscle getting worked good. Or as they say "I can feel the burn!" I also plan to try and reward myself more. In the past I've saved points for a end of the day snack. It always gave me something extra to look forward too. In the past we've bought a tray of brownies (roughly 5 points a piece). Tonight I'm either going to have some Arctic Zero Ice Cream (only 150 cal per pint!) or a medium Ice Coffee from McDonald's. Happy Friday! We'll see. Till next time onward and downward!


Pi Day 2014 - Weigh In


Just recently my wife (Heather) and I have started back on Weight Watchers. We previously had lost over 100 pounds together. Even with that much loss we still haven't reached our maintenance weight. We've decided to push forward and head toward our goal again. As of this post I'm now on my second week. Today was my second weigh-in back on program. I didn't lose anything or gain anything. But let me share with you what the last few weeks have been like.

I'll admit. I'm addicted to food. As most people are. It isn't easy sometimes to eat with moderation. Especially when life events happen. Birthday parties, holidays, etc. It can be a pain. It's easy to go off program. I know I have many times. But what I notice the most about coming back on program is the shock of the system. It amazes me how quick us humans can get adjusted to eating certain level of food everyday. When that level changes it's rough on us physically, mentally and even emotionally.

Over the last two weeks I've had to re-learn to say "NO" again. At first I had became bitter. I also got very territorial about my food. "MINE! You no can have!" What has helped is understanding the following: A) My body only needs so much fuel in order to run properly. B) I can't give into my emotions. If I'm upset food can't be an outlet. C) I can put off certain "extra food" to eat the things I really want or crave. No food is completely off limits. You just can't eat much of it. D) Last but not least. It's easy to form habits. It just takes practice and time. Here's a great article for those struggling to make new good habits. But after a few days of saying "NO" I start to feel better. My energy levels drop but then being to improve.

I've started going to the gym again. I've gone to the gym three days week for the last two weeks. I'm blessed with the health program at my new job. I can now workout for 45 minutes a day, three days a week. So on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I workout. By the time I get home I've had may workout complete and have the whole evening to do whatever. It's great. Enough for now. I just wanted to share my experience. I hope to keep these weigh-in posts going. Hopefully I can do that. Happy Pi Day (3.14).


Why I Love The ISO Date Format


After working with different types of data for many years you gain appreciation for a few things. One of the odd things I've gain favor of is the ISO Date Format (YYYYMMDD). This simple concatenation of a four digit year (YYYY), 2 digit month (MM) and 2 digit day (DD) makes it very easy to query and work with. Not to mention this format is internationally recognized and compatible with gregorian and julian calendars. With or without built in programing/scripting language functions I can break this date format down into easy to use parts. Let me show you a few PHP snippets I've used in the past.

Example: Parsing ISO Date Format Using date() and strtotime() Functions $str_date = 20131231;
//strtotime() will convert it to Unix Time, date() returns part requested
$year = date("Y",strtotime($str_date)); //2013 - "Y"
$month = date("m"),strtotime($str_date)); //12 - "m"
$day = date("d"),strtotime($str_date)); //31 - "d"
echo $year.$month.$day; //20131231

Example: Parsing ISO Date Format Using substr() Function $str_date = 20131231;
//even without the use of date() and strtotime() functions, I can parse this date format into year, month, day using the substr() function
$year = substr($str_date,0,4); //2013
$month = substr($str_date,4,2); //12
$day = substr($str_date,6,2); //31
echo $year.$month.$day; //20131231

Where I think this date format really shines is in SQL queries. Because of the nature of the date format being an integer it makes it easy to find all the dates between a range of dates. For example say if I wanted all records where the date is between January 1st 2013 and October 21st 2013. My query would look something like the example below.

SELECT * FROM records WHERE mydate BETWEEN 20130101 AND 20131021;

What if I needed a quick and dirty way of querying for all records during one month (April 2013) or even a full year (2013). My queries could look something like the examples below.

SELECT * FROM records WHERE mydate LIKE '201304%'; #Full Year-Month
SELECT * FROM records WHERE mydate LIKE '2013%'; #Full Year

One last thing about this date format. How can we convert to it? Well Below are some examples in different languages. I hope this may have inspired you to take a look at this date format. I know it makes my life easier as a developer at times. In a future article I'll talk about the benefits of using Unix timestamps as well.

#php: date("Ymd"),strtotime("yourdatehere"));
#mysql: date_format(date(NOW(),'%Y%m%d'))
Sources: w3.org
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