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300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz, Episode #106: “Weight off my shoulders, my stomach, my legs, and so on…”

NOTE: This is a transcript of a podcast for those with hearing difficulties, those that prefer to read, and those who would prefer to not hear the sound of my voice. 😉

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You are listening to ‘300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz,’ and this is episode number 106, “Weight off my shoulders, my stomach, my legs, and so on” so let the 300 Seconds begin!

I like to joke that going to the doctor feels like going to confession, because in both instances you have to own up to your sins.  Actually, seeing the doctor is worse, because the doctor knows what you did or didn’t do.  After all, the numbers on the scale and on your lab results don’t lie.  Thus, all you can do is suck it up and own to all the sins that you have committed towards yourself since your previous visit.  Penance is optional, but there is no absolution to be found until you get your act together. 

After my latest less-than-pleasant checkup, I finally decided to get more serious about losing more weight.  For years my weight had hovered around two hundred and seventy-five pounds, topping out at two hundred and eighty a few  years back.  Thanks to a change in medication, I’d gotten it down to two hundred and forty five, but clearly, we still had more work to do.

I used to be a programmer and I’m a numbers guy, so I decided to go all in and use the FitBit app to keep track of everything.  First my activity, or lack thereof: I’d been using a FitBit for a while to track my steps, trying my best to get 8,000 steps a day.  Yes, I know that should be ten thousand but I do computer nerd things for a living, so come on, man.

I had been concentrating on the number of steps; doing a twenty minute walk in the morning around my apartment complex and maybe a lap or two in the evening if I was short of my step goal.  I decided that counting steps was not enough and that I needed to do a sustained workout.  I started doing a half hour walk around the neighborhood every morning.  In addition to the increased distance, the roads had some ups and downs which required a little more effort than the relatively flat apartment roads.  Suddenly, reaching my step goal didn’t require too much additional effort.

Next was weight, so I bought a smart scale.  It’s one of those fancy ones that also estimates your body fat percentage.  I was already in the habit of weighing myself every morning, but syncing the scale with the app required less effort than typing everything into Excel and it also made it easier to see patterns.  Also, I hate Excel, but that’s a topic for another time. Of course, that first weigh-in was pretty eye-opening; while I wasn’t overly surprised by how much I weighed, the body fat percentage was definitely an unpleasant surprise.

Finally, and most importantly, my diet. I set up a weight loss goal using the FitBit app and picked up a kitchen scale so that I could start practicing some portion control.  As I’m sure most of y’all can relate to; this was the hardest part.

I don’t know what it’s called, but I’m sure there’s a name for the psychological thing where you delude yourself into thinking “Oh, I’m not doing that bad” when in fact you are doing AWFUL.  Once I actually saw how many calories the things that I loved to eat contained, my first thought was: GEEZ, NO WONDER I CAN’T LOSE ANY WEIGHT.  I then started weighing my portions and thinking really hard about where and what I would eat on those now-fewer occasions when I would order take-out.

Armed with all the data I that needed, all I had to do now was execute my  plan, and I won’t lie, it wasn’t easy at the start.  Living in South Texas meant waking up early to avoid the summer heat, and it was a struggle during that first week, especially since I’ve been out of work these last few months.  The walk itself isn’t too bad, and I even went as far as to lengthen it by taking a lap around the apartment complex to start off.  So I don’t get burned out, I take it easy on the weekends by walking just around the apartment complex like I used to.

Now getting a handle on my eating was definitely hard.  What I’m eating hasn’t really changed a whole lot, but what has changed is how much.  With a few exceptions, if I want to get take-out now, I have to adjust my diet for the rest of the day so I don’t completely destroy my calorie goal.  Because the FitBit app sets a goal based on your activity level, that goal fluctuates throughout the day.  The app also tries to guess how many calories you’re burning when you aren’t exercising, but I think it overestimates that part.  Either way, I’m learning to adjust as time goes on now that I’m armed with all the information.

It has been a month and change since I started this plan and so far I have lost over ten pounds. I’ve also been feeling better overall.  Things being what they are right now in the time of coronavirus, I am fortunate to be able to devote the time to exercise and measure what I eat and so on and so forth. I’m pretty happy with how things are going right now.  The next challenge is going to be maintaining these good habits once life inevitably returns to something resembling normal.

You know, I think I might actually be looking forward to my next trip to confession!

This has been 300 Seconds with Eduardo Soliz, the next episode will be posted after I think  really hard about what I’m going to have for dinner.  For more podcasts, check out my website at Eduardo Soliz dot com, and I thank you for listening.  Be good, take care and God Bless.

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SodaStream, Uncategorized

First Impressions: SodaStream Fizzi

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Fresh fizz

I love soda.  For me, there’s nothing like the simple pleasure of an ice cold soda: The little cloud of gas you see when you first open up a bottle, the sizzling sound the fizz makes, the taste, and the feel of the fizz as it goes down your throat are all wonderful.  Even the aftermath, in the form of a good belch, carries a certain appeal.  Okay, so I’m a guy. Sue me.

I received a gift card from a friend for Christmas a few weeks ago and pondered over what to purchase with it.  My friend had gifted me a card from an electronics store, which was cool, but I wasn’t really wanting for a video game or computer equipment or a new tablet, or really, anything related to technology.  What to do, what to do.  Then it hit me.  I excitedly checked their website and was delighted to find the store sold SodaStream machines.

I was less than delighted to discover that they were not in stock at any nearby stores.  No biggie, I could wait a week or two.

I have thought about getting a SodaStream for a while.  The idea of concocting my own soda flavors at home is very enticing.  Producing less waste is also nice, though I do recycle my cans.  The up-front cost of a machine kept me away, though, but thanks to my friend’s gift, I would pay less than half the cost of a SodaStream Fizzi.

I received my Fizzi, excitedly opened the package and removed the contents. It came with the unit, a CO2 bottle rated for 60 liters of soda, a one-liter carbonation bottle, what I presumed was an instruction booklet, and a coupon of some sort.

The SodaStream Fizzi stands at just over 16 inches tall, so it just fits under my kitchen cabinets.  I have to pull it out so I can press the carbonation button, but that’s a minor inconvenience.  The Fizzi doesn’t need electricity so there is no power cord to get in the way.

The carbonation bottle has a little bit of heft to it.  The fill line and expiration dates are clearly marked and the opening is fairly wide, allowing for fairly easy filling and cleaning.   Interesting note: While the bottles are marketed as being 1L bottles, filling it up to the appropriate level takes less than a liter of water.

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Seriously, that’s IT?

I was perturbed to find the booklet included with the device was full of legalese and warnings.  No instructions.  I get that SodaStream machines are supposed to be easy to use, but some guidance would have been nice.  All I got was a paper foldout with pictures that was stuck to the back of the unit.  No words, just pictures.  Okay, I guess it is that easy.  I quickly glanced at the pictures and concluded that there wasn’t much to it.

Also disappointing was the lack of any syrup.  I wondered if it was a trade-off in exchange for receiving a full bottle of CO2.  My understanding is that SodaStream machines originally came with a very small CO2 bottle that didn’t last very long and made people unhappy.  That said, I was aware of that shortcoming coming in, so I took the liberty of purchasing a bottle of SodaStream’s Diet Cola flavor as well as a bottle of water enhancer.

The first step was to install the CO2 canister, which was simple enough.  First, I removed the seal and the plastic cap from the canister.  Then, I removed the back panel of the Fizzi, screwed the canister into the the machine, and replaced the panel.  So far, so good!

I rinsed out the carbonation bottle, filled it with the appropriate amount of water, and snapped it into the machine.  I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to screw it in or what, but it appeared to stay in place so I figured it was okay.  I then held my breath, firmly pressed the big carbonation button at the top of the unit, and water sprayed everywhere.

Remember that quick glance from a few paragraphs ago?  I neglected to notice the correct method of inserting the bottle, which is to pull out a plastic backrest at an angle and then insert the bottle.  At this point, I was a little gunshy after getting water all over my countertop and gingerly added a second shot of fizz without spilling any more water.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure how much to fizz the water at that point, so my first bottle ended up not quire as fizzy as I would have liked.  I’ve read online that screwing  up your first bottle is a common occurrence, so it seems I’m just as silly as everyone else.

Future bottles went off without a hitch.  The Diet Cola flavor I purchased tasted okay but adding water enhancer was much tastier.  I have yet to try my hand at making my own flavors but will likely look online for some recipes before I get too adventurous.

Even after making a few bottles, I’m still not quite completely sure when I’ve fizzed the water enough.  A sticker on the top of the unit says to fizz until you hear three puffs, but I don’t always hear them.  I have yet to under-fizz another bottle, though, so I’m apparently doing it enough…or maybe too much?  Time will tell how many bottles I get out of that 60L container.

After getting over the initial (messy) learning curve, I’m enjoying my SodaStream Fizzi.  I’ve already purchased another pair of 1-liter bottles and look forward to eventually mixing up my own fizzy waters.  With a start-up cost of $100 for the Fizzi and a pair of extra carbonation bottles; SodaStream isn’t exactly the most cost-effective solution compared to buying off-the-shelf, and as anyone who has tasted a Dr. Pepper knock-off will attest, their flavors won’t quite match up to the originals.  The value of a SodaStream to you will depend on how much you enjoy soda.  Would I have bought one without that gift card?  Probably not, but as a fan of fizz, I’m glad I did.

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