Technology in weight loss

Kip singing to LaFawnduh

Yes, I love technology. But not as much as you, you see. But still, I love technology. Always and forever.” – Kip, Napoleon Dynamite

I love that movie, and the song at the end is the perfect note on which to end it. My wife and I joke about the song, because technology is partly what bought us together. Our friend Elaine was a blogger as was I, and through the technology of the Internet and of blogging, I met my wife. It was technology that showed me how selfless and caring Sherry is: after a few power outages that kept forcing reboots of my self-hosted email server in my home, Sherry showed up one night after work with two UPS’s that she bought for me. That’s when I knew: this girl was a keeper.

I love technology. I always have. It’s something I learned from my dad who was always interested in tech and sci-fi. He encouraged me in any endeavor involving science and technology, and my favorite magazine was one he subscribed to: Popular Mechanics. Just seeing the title of that magazine on my monitor as I typed it brought back many warm memories of the glee I would feel when I opened the mailbox and saw the brown wrapper around the magazine with those words on it. I knew I was about to learn some cool stuff, see some cool tech, and be thrilled for at least a few hours about what’s coming in the future!

When I started my weight loss journey, I knew that if I had any chance of success, I had to find a way to get technology involved. I was using a Jawbone Up to count steps and to help analyze my sleep, but while it was cutting-edge when it came out, it was a little dated by the time I bought one. I had to sync it via a 3.5mm headphone jack to get any data off of it, and it was just a black wrist band with no other function. After a while, I replaced it with a Fitbit Surge which was amazing. It was not only a step counter, but it had GPS and a nice screen. I could track my runs with accuracy, and it had some limited smartwatch functionality (notifications and alarms). It was a great watch until it wasn’t. The battery life on mine has been fading fast in the past few weeks, to the point where I was having to charge it every other day (that’s a lot considering I used to have to charge it once every 10 days when I first got it). Seeing where this was going, the search was on for a replacement.

That replacement arrived yesterday: The Garmin Fenix 3 HR. It’s not Garmin’s latest and greatest fitness smartwatch; they literally just released the Fenix 5. However, after looking over all the features, I decided that the Fenix 3 HR was really the watch I was looking for. It has all the features I need, and many I don’t. Best of all, it’s robust, has a good battery life, is very configurable, and even has a sapphire crystal bezel which will help cut down on scratches.

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My new watch. It’s pretty big on my small wrist, but I love it.

I didn’t get a chance to use it on my run yesterday as it arrived with a dead battery and I’m a stickler for getting an initial charge on any new device to 100% before I use it, so I ran one last run with my Fitbit Surge. As runs go, it was a good one. I ended up running 3.3 miles with a 9:39/mi average pace which is within my happy range. What I love most, however, is being able to look at data that points to my progress. Data points make me happy. I like to geek out with the data collected during my run to see my pace as it evolves through a run, the altitude changes (if any), the route, how the different parts of the route affect my pace, my breathing, and even my heart rate. It’s fascinating to me, and yes, it helps motivate me.

That’s the bottom line, I think: the technology motivates me and helps me be a better runner and helps keep me in line with my health. I always tell people to find the diet that works best for you and your body. Well, in this case, I also recommend finding whatever gadget or technology helps fuel your journey. Our minds need fuel for motivation. It can be just as important as what we fuel our bodies with for energy.

Product Review: Paleo by Maileo

I was contacted by Paleo by Maileo and asked to review their Paleo-themed monthly subscription box, and I gladly agreed. Being that my wife and I both are constantly on the lookout for new Paleo products, this offering was right up our alley! Yesterday, I received my box, and was greeted by a cute cartoon pig flying with a jet pack!


Here’s a closeup of the logo. I think it’s cute!



Opening the box, I found a huge bunch of full-sized Paleo snack options. These are not samples, but actual usable products that you would find in a store or online. This month’s box contained no fewer than eight products, each of which are items I’ve either bought or tried in the past (or had similar items).


The first thing I tried was the PaleoKrunch Cinnamon. Wow! These are actually pretty out of this world, and it’s a good sized bag that could be kept at the desk for a week or two for the occasional snack when necessary. I really liked these as did Sherry.

I claimed the Heavenly Organics Pomegranate Chocolate Honey Patties for myself and I didn’t share. These were, well, for lack of a better word, heavenly. The chocolate is very dark and paired with the honey and pomegranate, an amazing treat. I could eat these anytime and they would put a smile on my face.

The RX Bars have long been a favorite in our household, and I have at least one in every backpack, day bag, and other small bags that I own. They are a great meal replacement in the event you can’t make a lunch or missed breakfast. They are also made with very simple and basic ingredients and is my go-to meal replacement.

My wife tried the Larabar as her dinner replacement last night since she worked late and missed her regular dinner, and she said it curbed her hunger and allowed her to go to sleep without feeling hungry. She has been a huge Larabar fan for a long time, so this one made her happy.

I’ve yet to try the rest: I didn’t want to eat it all in one setting!


The cost for these boxes to be sent to you monthly is $37-$39 per month depending on how long you sign up for. Taking into account boxing, shipping, and the cost of the products themselves, that seems fair to me especially when you factor in the convenience and fun factor of getting introduced to new Paleo stuff monthly. Heck, Sherry and I went to Paleo|fx last year primarily to find Paleo products! You can do the same thing just by subscribing to Paleo by Maileo.

For those looking to be introduced to new Paleo products monthly (the contents of the box changes monthly) or for you old-hat Paleo people who just like getting an assortment of Paleo goodies sent to you monthly, this is a great option. There is nothing here that felt, looked, or tasted cheap or otherwise sub-par. The products are all well-known and high-quality.

Give them a try. I think you’ll find some really neat stuff using this service and you won’t have to scour the Internet to do it! Oh, and bonus: everything that comes in the box can then be bought through their own website which makes it easy for you to re-order items you found in your monthly box that you love.

So many changes in my life: who am I?

Me after a run with my amazing Phaiser Bluetooth headphones. Seriously great.

This is something I never thought I’d be doing: browsing Amazon and Woot! for running gear. Fortunately, I have shorts I like, and enough shirts to last me for a week. I have a belt that holds my iPhone when I run, and a really amazing Phaiser Bluetooth wireless headset that has been all kinds of amazing. The Brooks running shoes feel like they weigh nothing at all and fit perfect (thanks to Fleet Feet). Next up: some running pants. It’s getting cooler out, and anything under 50 degrees is downright cold to me. I want something covering my legs when I run in weather that cool.

I haven’t shopped for exercise equipment or PT gear in a very long time. With the exception of the kettle bells Sherry and I bought a few months back, Academy was a place I went to for ammunition, not exercise clothing. Now, when I go there, I find myself looking at shirts, shorts, sock, shoes, etc. It’s not that I need anything, but I want to have ideas and numbers in my head for when I do.

There are many indicators to myself of how much life has changed. I have so much more energy in the mornings partly due to the better sleep I get now. My appetite has normalized to allow me to eat three times a day without snacking. Better yet, I don’t have snack cravings, and foods don’t tempt me anymore! I feel normal in my clothing: nothing binds, feels weird, or falls off me due to having an odd body shape (when my stomach was huge, it was always a battle to keep pants up even with a belt; I refused to wear suspenders). I can run up a flight or two of stairs without getting winded and I find myself not getting colds or feeling run-down anymore.

I realized this morning that I have a life I always wished I could have: A beautiful wife, great kids, a beautiful home, amazing and loving friends, a good job, a nice car, and a dog who drives me nuts sometimes but ultimately is a sweet and loyal buddy. I have no needs, only wants. It’s a good place to be. I want to enjoy this as long as I can. If eating right and exercising helps me do that, then I’ll gladly do it. It’s no imposition.

A final thought. There are many who have fought harder battles and who are unable to exercise like I can today due to physical limitations thrust upon them. I run for myself, but this morning, I decided to also run for them. I actually thought of all the veterans that can’t be out on a morning run like I was today. I picked up my pace to honor them. I plan on picking a week in the upcoming weeks where I’ll run 25 miles over the course of 7 days. It’s not much, but it’s more than I’ve run in a week since being on active duty in the Marines. It’ll be tough for me as a new runner, but I’m up for the challenge.

Tamogochis have been replaced with Fitbit

I (once again) saw on Reddit something that made me laugh: Tamogochis have been replaced with Fitbits. Now, we are the things that need to be walked. I laughed because I actually use a Fitbit Surge and I really enjoy quantifying my fitness. I like having data that I can analyze and use as I fine tune my diet and fitness plan.

I have a lot more steps to get in today to reach my goal!

My wife Sherry also has a Fitbit (her’s is a Fitbit Charge HR), and we both use them to monitor how much walking we get during the day. If she and I both have low step counts for the day, we often go outside and take a walk together (with our dog!) to “Get our steps in.”

While I exercise, it’s nice that our Fitbits also give us our heart rate. While we know it’s not 100% accurate, it’s pretty close. When I did my stress test earlier this year, I watched the medical equipment’s heart rate and matched it to my Fitbit, and it was always withing about 2-5 BPM accuracy. That’s good enough for me.

We also use our Fitbits to monitor the quality and amount of sleep we get. I’ve been able to consistently correlate my weight loss with periods of good sleep while during those times I don’t lose weight, I can look on my Fitbit app and see that I was getting less than 6.5 hours of sleep a night. Interesting correlation.

I use my Fitbit as an alarm as well as for phone and text notifications (the Surge does this). It’s come in very handy for me, and for this reason alone, I’m having a hard time going back to normal watches.

Sure, it’s not as pretty or as slim as my Seiko or Citizen watches, but it does a lot more. It’s become a part of my EDC (Every Day Carry) and I can’t see myself without one for the near future.

Used with Whole30 and Paleo, I’ve lost 98.5 lbs in ten months. It’s not necessary, but it’s another tool that can be used when you’re looking to monitor as many data points as possible during your weight loss journey. I highly recommend it.

The Dirt Cacao Mint Toothpaste

At Paleo f(x) this year, Sherry and I visited many of the vendor booths (as many as we could!) and while we didn’t expect it, we found a great new toothpaste that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.

I have seen The Dirt original toothpaste which is like a powder, but I hadn’t ever tried it. I didn’t know anything about it, nor did I take the time to learn more. While at the vendor booth, however, I was told about the product, how it came to be, and how it works. On their website, founder Shannon Puma Drake had this to say:

Using the principals of the paleo lifestyle; a ‘whole foods’ life style based on clean eating and high nutrients I drew inspiration from my passion for studying traditional beauty secrets from around the world to craft high quality, beautiful and natural products for women, men and kids too.

What I thought was cool was that The Dirt had toothbrushes to actually try their products. Since I literally just ran out of my Tom’s of Maine toothpaste that morning, I decided to give The Dirt a try since I needed to buy some toothpaste anyway. Enter their MCT Oil Toothpaste.

thedirtWhile their Dirt product is the one that started it all for them, a tooth cleaning powder, I opted to try the MCT Oil toothpaste. The flavor (Cacao Mint) and the form factor (a tube of toothpaste) was more to my liking and seemed to be an easy transition for me from my favorite, Tom’s of Maine. I put on a pea-sized dollop onto a wet toothbrush and almost immediately, I knew this was my new toothpaste. The flavor isn’t overwhelming, nor is it something you taste immediately. It takes a little bit of brushing to release the flavor, but as soon as it does, it’s nice, smooth, and tasty. The best part, for me however, was how my mouth and teeth felt after brushing: minty clean without the sick sweetness of regular toothpastes (Tom’s excluded) or the weird chemicals (why would they put polyethylene in a product to be used in our mouths!). My mouth felt clean, and honestly, probably the freshest I’ve ever experienced. I was sold. I had to buy some, so I bought two tubes.

So, you are probably wondering what MCT is. From the Made Man website, here’s a nice definition:

MCTs are medium chain triglycerides. Triglycerides are also referred to as fatty acids. There are medium and long chain fatty acids. Chain length references the number of carbons chained together in a fatty acid. The medium chain variety consists of 6 to 12 carbons.  There are four MCTs: Caproic Acid (C6), Caprylic Acid (C8), Capric Acid (C10) and Lauric Acid (C12).  And our friend coconut oil happens to be the richest natural source of MCTs.

Is there a down side to this product? Well, I will say that the MCT Oil can get pretty solid with all the “dirt” in it, so it can be hard to squeeze out of the tube. This isn’t all bad: it keeps me from putting too much on my toothbrush at one time. I’m wondering if I should have tried their original Dirt instead, but when I get close to running out of my second tube, I’ll buy the original and try it out.

Is it worth trying? I think so. If you’re concerned about the chemicals modern hygiene products contain, the food you put into your mouth, or are just looking for a natural toothpaste that leaves your mouth feeling clean and fresh, then yes, you should buy some. If you don’t like those things, then skip this advice. But seriously, I think you’d be happy with this product.

You can buy The Dirt MCT Oil Tootpaste on Amazon or from The Dirt website.

PaleoFX and Upcoming Product Reviews

Sherry and I at PaleoFX 2016.

Sherry and I had the pleasure of going to the 2016 PaleoFX convention/show/gathering and we had a great time. We were able to meet a bunch of really neat people, try a bunch of Paleo products, and find others who are into the same lifestyle as we are. Rarely do you get to be in an environment where you’re not the weird one for eating the way you do. PaleoFX was great! Everything at the vendor booths was edible for us, and we tried lots and lots of stuff (much to the chagrin of the scale!).

This week, I’ll be reviewing some of my favorite products that I found at the show. I did not receive any of the products I will be reviewing for free; I paid for everything. This is after trying products, and deciding that I wanted to have a longer-term trial by buying and having at home.

Most of the products will be foods while a few will be hygiene or drinks.

Sherry and I didn’t watch any of the panels. It was pretty loud in there, and the way they were doing panels was a seating area in the corner of the Palmer Convention Center in Austin. It’s nice, but Sherry and I decided to focus on the products and booths. The panels, while interesting, didn’t appear to present any new information to either of us based on the schedule and descriptions. We’ve been reading so much about Paleo that, at this point, unless they’re talking about advanced science or new discoveries, we’ve probably seen it, read it, or heard it. No, we’re not experts, but we’re well-read.

We will likely attend again next year. It was a good time, and meeting the founders/owners of many of the vendors was a great experience. These people have such passion for their products, and it was neat to experience that.