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Hi,

thanks for stopping by. I’ve long since moved on, and you are welcome to come visit me at Run. Bike. Code.

Cheers!

On Communities

Exactly one year ago my bathroom scale told me something that at first I couldn’t believe (even though it was just the culmination of a trend), and which I didn’t like. It said:

80kg

For most of my life I had been in the low 60s, then - after I switched from an active athlete to an active student - in the high 60s. Enter the lifestyle of a young married couple and I found myself in the low 70s, still not too concerned. This held on for a few years until it slowly - kg by kg - went south to the high 70s. And then, on June 6, 2010, I crossed a border. 80kg just didn’t look right, and - truth to be told, it didn’t feel right either. This also would have meant to buy new pants, and that had to be avoided by all means. I decided right there and then that the weight had to come off. I set the arbitrary goal to get back to 69kg.

A journey begins

I knew I wasn’t going on a diet or anything like that. I didn’t want to give up any of my favorite dishes, because that way I’d feel punished. I quickly realized I had to move my body more, thereby burning some calories, as well as watch my food intake.

Calories in < Calories burned = Weight loss

I found a few helpful tips online, such as

  • Drink lots of water
  • Keep track of your food/calories
  • Do not weigh in every day
  • Weigh in at the same day of the week
  • Drink lots of water
  • Don’t agonize over plateaus. 

The best thing though that I found was a community that supported (passively and actively) my effort. And that is the most important thing I learned during the last year. Whatever endeavor you want to tackle, if you have a community (can be online or among friends) that shares the same interest (in my case: lose weight) and is there for support, there is a high probability for success. You get cheered on for your achievements, you get support during your mishaps, you can share your experience with others and thereby grow. 

Celebrating success

Too bad I didn’t have the presence of mind to take a picture right there in the bathroom, a year ago. Those before-after pictures make it easy to celebrate successes, which is very important. I only have a mid-way picture of myself with 75kg (which I am not going to post here, thanks for asking). Just imagine this:

 

being carried around by yours truly day in, day out. Yes, I can’t imagine that, either. 

The future

As of last Saturday my weight is down to 68.3kg. After reaching my goal of 69kg in November 2010, I was able to more or less (Christmas, thankyouverymuch) keep it there. Now with the outdoor season on the bicycle and with the running shoes in full swing, it’s easier to hold my weight. This also allows me to have the occasional binge day without regret. My life is good and I am pretty sure I’ll never carry around that crate of water bottles other than for shopping reasons.

What’s your success of the year?

Superbowl XLV

After the AFC/NFC Championship games last weekend, Superbowl XLV will be played between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers. Kickoff will be on February 7th, 2011 at 0am. Nope, that is not a typo, that is the time when Europe, or more specifically Germany, will see the opening kickoff. While I’m not going to see my favorite pick (New York Jets), it’s still going to be a great game.

This is going to be my 10th Superbowl, some kind of anniversary on its own. Here is a rundown of my past Superbowl events (winning teams in bold):

  • SB XXXVI, February 03, 2002: STL vs. NE. My first Superbowl, shortly after I had learned about American Football. Watched at my friend Paul’s place with a bunch of colleagues. No idea what we had for food. Pretty sure there was beer, though. Where’s the point in watching Superbowl without beer?
  • SB XXXVII, January 26, 2003: OAK vs. TB. Watched this at home, albeit not until the end (even though it was fun to watch the Raiders lose).
  • SB XXXVIII, February 01, 2004: CAR vs. NE. Watched at home. It’s quite a challenge to watch a game until early in the morning, when your bed is just a few meters away, let me tell you that.
  • SB XXXXI, February 06, 2005: STL vs. TEN: Because of that reason, Paul and I went to a bar called “Uwes Tauchertreff" (yeah, that’s right, that’s a bar for divers, no idea why he showed the Superbowl back then or whether that place still exists).
  • SB XL, February 5, 2006: SEA vs. PIT: Watched this at the Arc Irish Pub. That placed closed up for good in April 2009, probably because we haven’t watched any Superbowl there after 2006. This Superbowl was particular painful; not the game itself, mind you, but the day after. It had become a tradition to take half a day off after Superbowl to be able to sleep in and not be working in a zombie like state. However, this year there was an important(?!) all day meeting going on, starting on Monday at 8.30am. We sat through the meeting after maybe 2 or 3 hours of sleep, and it was a loooooooonnngg day.
  • SB XLI, February 04, 2007: IND vs. CHI: Uneventful, watched this at home, slept in the next day.
  • SB XLII, February 03, 2008: NYG vs. NE: Watched this at home, texting with Paul back and forth. A memorable one, because the underdog Giants defeated the Patriots. Of course I was rooting for the Giants.
  • SB XLIII, February 01, 2009: PIT vs. ARI. My first Superbowl party hosted at my place. Of course, Paul was there and a bunch of friends. Started off with Nachos at Kickoff time and Paul prepared the famous Steamed Burgers at halftime. "It’s not that often that I eat Burgers at 2am in the morning" (Paul). A great time was had by all.
  • SB XLIV, February 07, 2010: NO vs. IND: Paul’s last Superbowl in Germany was celebrated at his place. He prepared the whole set, as if we’d be watching it in the U.S. of A. Nachos, chicken wings, beer and BBQ Burgers at halftime.
  • SB XLV, February 06, 2011: PIT vs. GB: I’m going to try to host a party again at my place, not sure who’s going to be in, though. I’m quite certain what Paul’s going to have food-wise at his place in Chicago and that he will not have to take Monday off (at least not because of lack of sleep). Jealous? Meh, just a little bit.

All dates courtesy of the Superbowl-History-page. Credits to Paul, who had to help me get the facts and places right.

Where are you watching this year’s Superbowl, and more importantly, who’s going to win?

    Tags: NFL Superbowl

    New Year’s resolution

    With all the posts and articles floating around about everyone’s and their neighbour’s New Year’s resolution, it seems like a good time to post mine.

    As every year, I’ve resolved to not have a New Year’s resolution this year. And with that, I’ve already made the resolution a success.

    I never understood what the whole point of them was, anyway. Just recently though, I’ve come to understand why I don’t like them in the first place, and why the alternative is so much better.

    Changing your life

    Most people resolve to change something more or less drastically in their life.

    • "I’m going to stop smoking in 2011"
    • "I’m going to lose 20kg / 44lbs in 2011"
    • "I’m going to get more active"
    • "I’m going to post at least one article on my blog every week"

    Even better, some resolve to change a lot of things in their life. Usually, the way to stick to these resolutions is to change one or more habits. However, changing a habit takes up mental energy. To understand what it takes to change a habit, go over to Ian Newby-Clark at “My bad habits" and start with the "Diary of a habit changer" (coincidentally, Ian also has a post about New Year’s resolutions). In and of itself there is nothing wrong with the idea of making the start of a new year the point of change for something in your life. Just make sure that you tackle only one problem at a time and make corrections to it.

    "The idea is to take the most important correction needed and just focus on that one thing. Attack it from different angles if needed, but be tenacious on correcting the biggest fault only.” (crossfitexcellence.com)

    Make it a goal

    I am a very goal oriented person, I like competing a lot … even or especially competing against myself. For me, having a goal is more attractive than saying “I will do X in 2011”. So instead of having one (or worse: more than one) New Year’s resolution, I’ll happily set a goal for myself. What’s the difference? Goals ought to be SMART:

    • S - Specific
    • M - Measurable
    • A - Attainable
    • R - Relevant
    • T - Time bound

    Therefore, before setting your goal:

    1. Be sure to formulate your goal in a very specific way.  Instead of getting more active in your life, you might want to just go running twice per week (there, that’s also measurable)
    2. Do some research about what’s attainable. Is it realistic to lose 50kg in a year if that means losing close to half of your body weight? Maybe, maybe not.
    3. Be sure to make the goal relevant for you. Do you want to lose weight, because someone else said so? Do you like your body, are you healthy even with that belly that you don’t really care about? Is it maybe more relevant to you to spend more (how much more? Make it measurable!) with your family instead of with your job?
    4. Give yourself a time frame. By common definition, a New Year’s resolution last for the whole year, which makes it time bound. But is December 31 of the year really a good time to reach a goal? Maybe it is better to have posted 2000km on the bike by September 30 of the year.

    Agreed, just formulating the goal in a SMART way doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to have a plan as well. How are you going to safe up the 10.000 EUR for the dream vacation in the year after this one? Where can you cut back? Can you cut back at all or is the goal just not attainable?

    Give it a name

    I like how J.D. Roth of GetRichSlowly.org dubs a whole year with his goal (2010 was his “Year of Fitness”). By that, you’ll be easily reminded about what your focus should be on. You can still have minor/smaller goals that you want to accomplish, but giving your main goal a name makes it stick out.


    My goal this year

    If I would have given a name for last year, it would have been “Year of getting back on the bike”. I managed to accomplish that goal, logging about 1500km from May to November (yes, I was on the bike November 14), the longest being a 112km ride. While I’ll continue to get out on the bike, maybe even logging more than 2000km (time permitting), I’d dub this year “Year of getting flexible”. Yep, throughout all the years on the couch or in front of the computer the notorious bad flexibility of my joints and muscles got worse. In order to avoid getting all sorts of problems again, I need to work on my flexibility. So by October 31st, 2011 I want to be able (among other things) to reach down to the floor with the legs straight (yes, I can’t do that right now and you really don’t want to know how much is missing).

    • Is it specific?
      Very specific; I might have only named one particular movement that I want to improve, but there are more … I just left them out of this post to not completely bore you
    • Is it measurable?
      Very much so. I either will be able to reach the floor or not.
    • Is it attainable?
      Past experience tells me that it is attainable. It won’t be easy, though.
    • Is it relevant?
      For sure. Again past experience tells me that I get severe problems with my knees if I don’t work on this.
    • Is it time bound?
      Yes, October 31st, 2011 is the date.

    There you have it, my New Year’s resolution goal for 2011.

    What is your main goal for 2011? The one thing you really want to accomplish or change?

    There is always next season

    Yesterday the NFL wrapped the 2010/2011 regular season up. To my personal disappointment the Chargers didn’t make it to the playoffs this year. Due to last week’s loss to the Bengals they missed the AFC west title by one game.

    Shoulda Woulda Coulda

    It seems that the Raiders were the decisive factor in the AFC West this year. First, if the Chargers wouldn’t have lost in week 16, they would have won the AFC West (all else being equal), because the Chiefs lost to … the Raiders in their last game. Getting help from the Raiders would have been awkward, but if it means reaching the playoffs, who’s going to deny that?

    Second, the Chargers lost twice to the Raiders this season. If they’d won those games as usual, they would have won the AFC West without help (all else being equal).

    So despite finishing 8:8 this season, the Raiders dominated the AFC West with their 6:0 division record. Kudos for that. Still, the Chargers have the better record.

    There is always next season

    It’ll be very easy for me to follow the playoffs now. I don’t have strong preferences as to which team should advance. I’d like the Jets to beat the Colts in the Wildcard round, and I’d like to see the Saints go to the Superbowl.

    As for next season, I’m still be rooting for the Chargers and I hope they stay undefeated in 2011:

    Obviously very disappointed. Just like our fans, we expect to be in the playoffs. Look on the bright side #Chargers are undefeated in 2011! (chargers@twitter)

    Tags: Chargers NFL

    Chiefs 0, Chargers 31

    I think the Chargers crushed the Chiefs yesterday.

    You think they crushed them?

    Yup, can’t tell for sure yet, because after all, I’m in Germany and that makes being a Chargers fan (or fan of any team) quite a challenge. Here is why:

    Timezone

    Central European Time, that is what our clocks show and that means we are six hours behind Eastern Standard Time. In other words:

    • The “early” game starts at 7pm our time
    • The “late” game starts at 10pm for us
    • The “night” game starts at 2am …

    Given the length of an average football game, the only really enjoyable game is the early game. For the late games, depending on the importance and how much sleep I am willing to sacrifice, I get to see the first half, seldom more. If you really want to watch football (as opposed to merely reading up on the score in the morning) some recording device is indispensable. My video disk recorder is in charge of recording the late games, or - as is the case today - the replay during the day.

    Availability

    I started “watching” football games by logging on to nfl.com, selecting the appropriate game center and hitting “reload” as often as I thought something interesting would be happening (nowadays the game center reliable updates itself). Later I even bought the Field Pass to be able to listen to the radio broadcast of the game (while still refreshing the game center). This was (and still is) great fun, because you imagination is part of the game. But it’s still unsatisfying. Until some off-season my good friend Paul (in Germany at that time, as well) hinted that there was a channel called NASN (North American Sports Network, now called ESPN America), available through some specific cable package on Kabel Deutschland (the local cable provider). ESPN America is also available through other providers, and thanks to Sky it should also be available via satellite.

    And since then I was able to watch football on the TV like most Americans could watch it, except …

    The Selection

    This is probably a specific issue with the way ESPN America has set the contracts with the U.S. broadcast companies, but somehow I end up with an awful lot of New England Patriots games. And frankly, who wants to see those? Especially this season, where Tom Brady forgets to get a haircut week after week.

    Of course, there is a certain pattern to be observed. Teams that make for interesting games and teams that are somehow successful in what they are doing (think: Superbowl) get aired a lot more than others. That way - at least for the last few seasons - I can get a certain amount of Chargers football actually live on TV (sometimes just a mere 24-48 hours later than everyone else).

    Superbowl

    A quick foreshadow on watching the Superbowl outside the U.S or more specifically, in Europe: Think timezones, think sleep. I’ll go into more detail in another post, likely due end of January/beginning of February.

    And now excuse me, I have to go home and watch the Chargers crush the Chiefs in full glory. And after that, I might actually be interested in reading all the game recaps on nfl.com.

    Where do you follow the NFL?

    Tags: NFL Chargers

    It’s December …

    … and the weather is supposed to be that way, you know? This is for all people around here (Europe, in particular) who complain about the snow and the coldness involved all the time.

    Maybe you all didn’t have a happy childhood with lots of snow and being out on your sled day in, day out. Or maybe you don’t have kids yourself, which makes it really easy to remember what’s so awesome about snow. In any case, please stop complaining about the weather, it’s just normal for the time of the year. If you don’t like it, well, why not move to Texas?

    I saw this on Twitter the other day and it describes my feelings quite well.

    "When I was your age ‘Winter Chaos’ was actually called ‘winter’ and people just dealt with the situation instead of mimimimi!" (@zideshowbob)

    I like winter, I like the snow and I am happy to leave five minutes earlier to deal with the snow on the roads. And I’ll take the workout from shoveling snow any time. It’s way cheaper than going the Gym.



    Tags: winter snow fun

    Colts 14, Chargers 36

    It wasn’t the best football game I’ve ever watched, but

    • it was the first game I’ve ever watched live at a stadium.
    • it was historic in the way that the Colts haven’t had a bigger loss in the last 13 years since Peyton Manning is their Quarterback.
    • it was great to see my team live on the field.

    Lucas Oil Stadium is a great place, the crowd was awefully loud (at least during the first half) and the Chargers fans were few and far between (but we had fun!). I am now waiting for my flight back home.

    What was your historic moment this past weekend?

    Happy Black Friday

    Greetings from Darien, Illinois! I have made it safely to the U.S. of A. on what was probably the most uneventful flight over the pond I’ve ever experienced. A couple of quick notes:

    • The “Contemporary Jazz” audio program on United Airlines planes repeats after about 2.5hrs, which means you can enjoy it three times in a row on that flight.
    • Instead of listening to it for a third time, I switched to the Flight Deck audio. Over Quebec, Canada, air traffic control is partly done in French.
    • The headwind when we approached ORD was the same for all planes, no matter where air traffic control tried to line them up.
    • Immigration was easier than ever.

    After getting picked up by my friend, we pretty much immediately settled down to drinking beer and watching football, interrupted only by a delicious Turkey dinner. A couple of notes:

    • A 50” TV is even bigger than a 46” one.
    • A turkey is a lot of food.
    • It was delicious. Oh, I’m repeating myself. But it really was.

    Now back to today’s title … after dinner, we drove around to witness people line up for the Black Friday sales. And indeed, there were people camping in front of Best Buy and a huge line (few hundred meters!) in front of Toys’R’Us. Really crazy, as it was freezing cold! But that’s what you do to save a few dollars.

    How was your Thanksgiving Turkey?

    Why, yes, I am a Chargers fan

    This is my 10th season of watching American Football, more specifically, the NFL. For most Americans - who grow up with American Sports - that’s probably nothing spectacular, but I am from Germany, where people think of football as something you play with your feet (11 players on one team) - it’s called soccer in the rest of the world.

    I also have a team I root for: the San Diego Chargers. During the past 10 years, a lot of people asked me for why I root for them. I like telling that story, so let’s see if I can write it up properly.

    October 2001

    I travel to San Diego for a trade show, where my company exhibits. My job is it to set up equipment for the show, which (back then) usually takes forever. My colleague (and later good friend) Paul comes up and says “Henrik, there is a football game in town which I want to see, make sure to be done by noon so that we can watch it together.”. The game in question is CIN@SD.

    The Move

    A few weeks later Paul moves to Germany with his family, starting work at the same facility as I do. By means of a regular three’o’clock coffee we become friends. Somehow, I end up visiting him at his place after work some day, and we play games on the Playstation II. Amongst others, he pulls up Madden NFL. Mind you, I didn’t know anything about football back then. He quickly explains the game and then the following conversation ensues:

    • Paul: Which team do you want to play. You have to choose a team.
    • Henrik: Ummmm, I don’t know, what’s your team?
    • Paul: Oakland Raiders, of course!
    • Henrik: Hmmm, I liked the visit to San Diego, is there a team in San Diego?
    • Paul: Yeah, the Chargers, but they are no good.
    • Henrik: Doesn’t matter, I’ll take the Chargers.

    My first game of Madden NFL was thus played. I lost big time, even though I did figure out some stuff even in game one. We played many many more games (up until the point where I actually won a few … somehow Paul stopped inviting me to his place shortly after that) and I started to follow the Chargers along and root for them.

    In good times and in bad

    In the past 10 years, I have seen the Chargers loose (anyone remember the 4:12 in 2003?) and win (14:2 in 2006). I have yet to see them perform well in the playoffs. I have collected a lot of stuff - a few  hats, number constantly growing, a few shirts and some other stuff…

    The cup for the three'o'clock coffee

    November 2010

    Next Sunday I will be in Indianapolis (together with my buddy Paul, who is now back in America) to watch the Chargers crush the Colts. It’s going to be awesome, be sure to check back for reports of the trip.

    So, what’s your story? Which team are you rooting for?

    Tags: NFL Chargers