Focus for 2016 – Healthier Me

So this year I’m focusing on one thing, and that’s a healthier me.

I don’t have all the answers to what that entails quite yet, but I need to start feeling better myself, so I have more energy to accomplish other goals I have in 2016, that I need the energy to complete.

In 2014

Before getting into this year theme in detail let me reflect on my 2014 theme that was “FOCUS”,  since I never did one for 2015. 2014 was to be about focusing on different things for a month or two. This theme ended up being way too vague, which meant 2014 didn’t go according to plan since I never got past improving my writing.

I started out reading a few books on improving my writing that were:

The one that I found most useful was “The Only Grammar Book You’ll Ever Need: A One-Stop Source for Every Writing Assignment” by Susan Thurman.

To help improve my writing, I started paying more attention to my reading. To do this, I slowed down and re-read the words I wrote more to make sure things made sense. I started seeing some patterns in what I wrote and came up with ways to improve my writing.

I even started using two web-based applications to help with some of my grammar issues. Some of my issues were either adding too many commas or not having enough.

The main application I use is, which  Ella Waters (@nethermind) suggested I use. I signed up for the 14-day trial and after a few days, I happily signed up for the yearly plan. Currently, it’s $29.95/month or $139.95/year and well worth the money.

I use Grammarly a lot to check e-mails for work to make sure what I’m saying makes sense. There’s one file called, “Grammar Check,” which I drop in short bits of writing that I’m not worried about saving so I can check a sentence or a paragraph or two.

The other application I use is the Hemmingway application. Using this application shows you how many complex sentences you have written are by giving you and idea what grade school level the text was written.

So not getting everything done in 2014 was good and bad. It was good in that it got me to spend my time improving my writing. The sad part was I never did much with any of the other areas from 2014.

2016’s Theme

This year I need to work on getting healthy and here are a few ideas I have on how to get there:

  • Eat more nutritious/quality food and less non-healthy food, along with making better food choices starting with veggies and fruit.
  • More walking during work hours, after work, and on the weekends, which end up being my least amount of steps during a week.
  • Do more stretching using the back porch steps posts.
  • Start riding my bike for some different exercise.
  • Get at least one massage per month to make me feel less sore and stiff.

Ways to Tell I’M Healthier

Some of the easiest ways to tell I’m getting healthier are the following:

  • Work towards making it easy put on socks, shoes, etc. without feeling out of breath/shape when doing so.
  • My Achilles don’t get stiff and sore after sitting at my desk for a few hours.
  • It’s not painful for my Achilles and tendons in my knees when walking down stairs.
  • Be able not to need a seat-belt extension when flying.
  • My clothes fit better, along with moving down a few sizes in pants and shirts.

Helpful Articles

Here are a few helpful articles I read to start me thinking that this is a long-term way of living:

These two articles on losing weight took a long-term approach instead of a quick fix, which won’t last and is not good for your body.

Another two interesting articles are “50 Ways Happier, Healthier, And More Successful People Live On Their Own Terms” by Benjamin Hardy and “Simple Rules for Healthy Eating” by Aaron E. Carroll of the New York Times.

Below is a short list from Aaron E. Carroll’s article:

  1. 1. Get as much of your nutrition as possible from a variety of completely unprocessed foods.
  2. Eat lightly processed foods less often. You’re not going to make everything yourself.
  3. Eat heavily processed foods even less often.
  4. Eat as much home-cooked food as possible, which should be prepared according to Rule 1.
  5. Use salt and fats, including butter and oil, as needed in food preparation.
  6. When you do eat out, try to eat at restaurants that follow the same rules.
  7. Drink mostly water, but some alcohol, coffee and other beverages are fine.
  8. Treat all beverages with calories in them as you would alcohol.

Current Weight

As of yesterday morning (Monday, January 18, 2016), was 247.2 lbs. I started eating better and paying attention to what foods worked and made me feel better on August 10, 2015, where I was 262.2 lbs. So over those five or so months, I’m down 15 lbs so far, with a big folding pattern from about end of October until now.


In the end,  I would like to lose 100 to 125 lbs., over the next two years, but more importantly, I want to feel better. Doing this is a long term goal and not one to quickly lose a bunch of weight, but to change the way I eat, exercise, and live.

I’m going to leave you with this Michael Pollan quote:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

2014 = FOCUS

No, New Year’s resolutions for this guy, but this year’s theme will be “FOCUS”. Themes is an idea, which was taken from Jared Goralnick’s blog posts from a few years ago:

Instead of doing New Year’s resolutions, which I haven’t done in decades I’m going to spend an extra five hours a week minim, hopefully at least ten hours, a week on a given subject for a month or more depending on the amount of knowledge gathering needed for a given subject. More time will be spent each week if my schedule happens to allow for more, but at least five hours a week, which will make over 250 extra hours of training over the course of the year. The week will start on Monday and ending Sunday night, which allows me the opportunity to either catch-up on the weekends of add more hours for that week.

Plan for Spending My Time

I will spend the first two to three hours per month writing down more details of what and how I’m going to spend my time learning that month. The months focus maybe to spend the next five or ten hours reading blog posts, books, etc. on a given subject before diving in to learn and work on a given subject. Or it might be to spend an hours reading a book, blog post or whatever and then another hour or to doing something like coding or painting.

Will also need to spend and extra hour or two towards the end of each month contacting people that are smart and know more about a given subject for recommendations on what to read and anything else I will need to stay focused on the next month’s subject. This time spent asking questions, for help, or recommendations will not be part of the hours each week/month focusing on a given subject.

I want to spend at least four full weeks on the subject. If the month starts or ends somewhere in the middle of the week, I will need to decide if I have learned enough or if I should spend and extra day or so continuing to learn or move on to the next subject/area of focus.

Topics of FOCUS

A lot of the topics I’m going to be focusing on for one month will hopefully help prepare me for the next month and be able to be improved upon and use this whole time. By the time, I get into the months of August and September (PHP), October and November (mySQL), and finally December these focus areas are going to get me closer to finishing my web based event registration application Hold An Event or at least build something a little less complicated, so I have some kind of finished project by the end of 2014.

Below are the months and what subject I plan on focusing on during a given amount of time. Some subjects span a few months because I have determined that to learn anything useful I will need to focus on them for a longer amount of time. Under each month/topic of focus is a list of things I can think of now that I want to focus on with more to be added at the beginning of each month or as I delve deeper into a subject.

January – Improve My Writing

  • Start with doing a bunch of reading on how to improve my writing and grammar.
  • Create outlines for some writing examples.
  • Next will be outlines of blog posts, slide presentations, etc.
  • Write short blog posts or stories to get more practice in .
  • Write Hold An Event content from the perspective of first time user/visitor to website/application.

February – Creativity, Inspiration, and Passion

  • Read about how to be more creativity, inspired, and passionate.
  • On the weekend or weekday night take a trip to the National Gallery or Art.
  • Take a bus road trip to NYC to visit MoMA or one of the other museums.
  • Spend time painting.
  • Watch YouTube videos to learn how to play the guitar.
  • Take a guitar lesson or two.
  • Do some sketching on iPad using Paper from 53 of new “I Gotta Eat Here” web application.

March – Learn Git, along with Github

  • Learn Git.
  • Learn Github.
  • Practice starting with:
    • Improving my website content.
    • Update blog posts for grammar and spelling issues.
    • HTML code, JavaScript, CSS, etc:
      • Improve or remove obsolete code.
      • Delete commented out code.
      • Make pages responsive.
  • Add META data to web pages.
  • Continue to improve my writing by re-writing website content for:
  • Accessibility improvements need to be made in the process of learning Git.

April – Learn More about Accessibility

  • Some subjects include ARIA, JAWS, Dragon Naturally Speaking, VoiceOver, etc.
  • Use accessibility information gained at CSUN to start working on being a better developer.
  • Focus on improving my knowledge about ARIA/accessibility issues the better I will be at building websites, web applications, and making JavaScript/jQuery items more accessible.

May – Better Health

Originally had this January as everyone does to start the year out on the right foot and decided, since that usually doesn’t work, why not try it later on. This allows me to focus on other subjects during the colder months and start with health once ti gets warmer, since I tend to like to walk as my exercise.

  • Starting with food (better choices, smaller portions, etc.).
  • Exercise more by walking after work and on weekends.
  • Work on having more energy to be able to stay up late to work on Hold An Event later on down the road and still feel rested.
  • Create easy ways to cook and prepare healthy meals.
  • Decide how many days during given a week I should cook/prepare my own meals.
  • Decide how to have me to bring my own healthy food to work for lunch, which saves me money.

June and July – Javascript/jQuery

  • Find best book(s), video tutorials, or blog posts to learn JavaScript.
  • Learn JavaScript and to start with the basics, maybe with Jeremy Keith’s book (DOM Scripting), if it’s still a good resource, which will make understanding and fixing jQuery issues easier.
  • Learn jQuery, since most websites now a days use it to perform their JavaScript functionality.
  • Create accessible examples, along with ARIA, error messages, etc. examples for others to use.

August and September – PHP

  • Learn the best way to optimize code.
  • Create ways to read different parts of the database by changing parms.
  • Create API to use to create, read, update, and delete records.

October and November – mySQL

  • Create databases.
  • Write new records.
  • Update/delete record (not really deleted, but mark as done using date so I will know when record was deleted).
  • Find the best way to optimize database to get information as quickly as possible.

December – Security

  • Stop denial of service.
  • Look into protecting data, but mostly user information.
  • Figure out how to add SSL to website, along with cost per year, etc.

In Conclusion

After each month, I will write a blog post to continue to improve my writing, along with explaining what books, blog posts, videos, etc. I read or watched to help me focus on that months subject. Will also rate myself on how I thought I did with a given subject and if I truly learned anything, long with to tell everyone how many hours I managed to focus on that months subject for.

So this year I plan to “FOCUS” on monthly topics and hope to be better and more knowledgeable person by the end of 2014.

What are you planning to accomplish in 2014?

Started Losing Weight Long Term

A week or so ago I started to eat better and exercise more. Way to go me.

It all started with my team over at the client site deciding that they were going to lose weight along with a co-worker before their wedding in the fall. Figured I’d join in even though I’m only over at that office two days a week.The more the merrier is what I figured.

The group decided that they are going to keep track  of their weight lost, the number of days of cardio, strength training, etc. completed each week. This is to help see what might have helped each of us lose weight over time more. The official weight tracking is scheduled to go until the end of November.

After the first week I lost 6.8 lbs. which I considered a lot by eating healthier and eating smaller portions, along with for now just getting out and walking a few days a week. Last week I managed to walk four different times for a total of about 13 miles, which I averaged between 3 and 3.5 miles per walk.

This week I ended up not losing any weight, but didn’t gain any either. It probably had to do with not making as healthy of food choices. Ended getting Chinese takeout twice during the week and a few other things I wanted to cut out. Did manage to get three walks in for a total 13+ miles. This time it was one walk of over three miles and then two walks of just over five miles each.

When trying to track the distance of my walks I started out trying to use RunKeeper, which always had issues either finding a GPS signal to start with or somewhere along the walk it would shoot me out into the Potomac River. So I ended up switching over to the FREE version of Map My Run’s iPhone application and it worked great. For those wondering I have not tried either one with Voice Over to see if they are accessible or not.

In retrospect doing the two five mile walks on back to back days was a bit much so early in my getting healthier and more fit. The one thing that it did make me realize is that I need new sneakers to improve my walks. My current shoes/sneakers are a bit used and beat up.

Wish me luck in getting healthier and more fit while losing weight at the same time for the long term.It’s been a long time that I have had to do this. Even made me buy a new scale, since the one i have at home has about a 15 or 20 pound difference from the nice new digital scale we have in the office.

Will keep you all posted once in a while on the progress.