Friday, November 29, 2013

My Wife has the Force

Robyn has a new toy.  I'm a little bit jealous that I don't have one, but we'll talk about that in a minute.

It's called the Fitbit Force.  It's a health tracking device.  In some ways, it's a glorified pedometer, but it also has an altimeter so that it can track hiking or climbing stairs.  Since it tracks her movement, it is also able to estimate calories burned.

She's a good little walker.  Over 16,000 steps in one day.
I've been really impressed.  It has motivated Robyn to increase her activity.  It syncs with an app on her phone which gives her goals for distance walked, number of steps, calories burned, etc.  She's been trying to hit all her goals every day.  I have particularly loved it because that means she asks me to go on walks with her.  Since I love going on walks with her, that has been super fabulous.

Not to mention, it syncs with myFitnessPal, which is the app that both Robyn and I use to track our exercise and eating.  The Fitbit reports her exercise to myFitnessPal so that it is automatically tracked.
Plus, look how cute she looks with it.

So why don't I have one?  Well, that's a good question.  I'm the geek in the family.  I'm the one that loves new gadgets.  But I'm holding out for some new technologies I've been watching on the horizon.  There's some experimental technology that could potentially track my blood sugar.  If I could wear something on my wrist that could monitor blood glucose constantly, I'm willing to wait a year before purchasing a sweet wearable computer.

Meanwhile, I log on to Robyn's fitbit account online and watch her steps go up.  It may be creepy but it helps me pretend that I am wearing one.

Monday, November 25, 2013

In The Closet

Today's post is short. I just wanted to share some pictures of me in the closet. Sorry if you thought the title implied it was something it wasn't.

Just over a year ago, my friend Melissa gave Robyn and I a tour of her new house.  She was a proud new homeowner and we walked through talking about future plans for each room, discussing the little projects, pointing out the cute things we liked, etc.  At one point, I discovered that her closet was the exact height of one Jeff.  Naturally, Robyn snapped a picture.

I do weird stuff like that all the time.  I thought nothing of it.  Until a year later, I was looking at old photos and happened to come across that picture.  It also just so happened that Melissa invited us over for dinner and some good times this past week.  I decided the only logical course of action was to wear the exact same shirt that I had worn a year ago, so that when I was reunited with the closet, it would recognize me.
Above are the 2 pictures, side by side.

It turns out I used to be a fairly large individual.  (And I used to have a super sexy beard.)  When I took the first picture, I had no intention of it being a "before" picture.  The second picture is certainly not an "after" picture, because I still have plenty more to do before I reach optimal health.  But I was kind of surprised to realize how far I've come in a year in improving my health.

The old me couldn't even put my arms straight down.  (And Robyn pointed out that I had a very endearing waddle.)

Hopefully next November I can visit Melissa's closet again.  It's really the best way to measure progress.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Secret Shoppers Rule, Regular Shoppers Drool

I got to be a secret shopper.  It's kind of like being a regular shopper, only it's secret, and awesome.

My sister, Jen, was really the one who got to be a secret shopper, but I was invited along for the ride.

What's that, you say?  You don't know what a secret shopper is?  My explanation of it being secret and awesome wasn't enough?  Well, aren't you a snippy little blog reader.

I imagine that secret shoppers are slightly different wherever you go, but I will explain how it worked this time.  Buffalo Wild Wings was using secret shoppers to do employee evaluations.  Our job was simple, we show up at the restaurant, we request the server that they assigned to us, and we eat food.  They gave us a voucher that we used to pay for our meal, so it was completely free.  After the meal is over, there is an evaluation form that we fill out.  It has questions like, "how long did you wait before your server talked to you?", "Did the server offer you dessert?" and various other questions.

The word is that if they pass the evaluation from the secret shopper they get the wonderful reward of keeping their job.  If they fail, there is a second secret shopper sent from the corporate office.  If they fail the second time, they no longer have a job.  (It's the age old 2 strikes and you're out system.)

The system may seem a little harsh, but I was happy to be a part of it by eating a free meal.

I had never eaten at Buffalo Wild Wings before.  Upon walking in, the first thing I noticed was the awesome crowns that you can wear.  How could I not grab one?  I'm clearly a wing man.

Robyn commented afterward that they would have never guessed that our table was evaluating their service, because clearly someone important would never wear a hat like that.  But she's totally wrong.  Doesn't that selfie make me look important?

I'm not gonna lie.  Our server did an awesome job.  She took good care of us and my burger was delicious.  (They didn't even take away my hat when I ordered a burger instead of wings.)  She passed with flying colors.  She is still employed to this day!

The moral of the story is that secret shopping is way better than regular shopping.  I really want to do it again.  Do you need the services of a secret shopper?  Because I will secret shop for food.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Underwater World

If you've been following along, you know that I've been taking a class to become Scuba certified.  We spent time in a classroom, then time in a pool, and finally I had my first opportunity to to go for a real legitimate dive.  (In more than 7 feet of water.)

Our class uses the Crater in Midway, UT for our open water dives.  If you don't know what that is, it's an underground hot spring where they have dug into and built a space where people can come and float in the warm water or dive down deeper with Scuba equipment.  (Robyn and I went floating there for our Anniversary last year.)

The water is about 65 feet deep, which is perfect for Scuba certification because you only get certified to go 60 feet deep.  They say they don't want anyone touching the bottom anyway because there is so much silt that touching the bottom ruins visibility for a long time.

They've also setup the Crater as an ideal place to learn to Scuba dive.  In the video I linked above, we are floating next to some red buoys.  At the time we had no idea what they were, but they are attached to platforms beneath the water.   For our first descent, our instructor had us hold onto those ropes and lower ourselves down to a platform at about 20 feet in depth.

I was super nervous.  We had learned all the important skills, how to regulate the pressure in our ears, how to clear water out of our masks, how to share air with our buddy, etc.  But I was afraid because in the pool if anything went wrong, you could just stand up and you were in an environment with air.  Not so in the Crater.  One of the rules of diving is that you can't go up faster than 1 foot per second.  That means at 20 feet of depth, it should take you 20 seconds to get to the top.  That's a long time if you're having a panic attack.

Our instructor told us that if we panic we can go to the top, but he's going to grab us and force us to go at a safe pace.  He said, "Just don't forget you have a regulator in your mouth.  You can breathe underwater."

So all that made me nervous, but it turned out my fears were unfounded.  Diving deeper is no different than diving in a pool, except that it is more awesome.

On the platform at 20 feet he had us pass off many of the same skills we'd already passed off in the pool.  We had to take off our mask and put it back on.  We had to pretend we were out of air and ascend while sharing air with our buddy.  We had to lose our regulator and retrieve it.  By now these skills were old hat.

But then he let us swim around a bit.  I'm not gonna lie.  It was the coolest thing ever.  I honestly thought that diving at the Crater would be boring, because there are no fish and not a lot to see.  Well, it is kind of barren, but there's something magical about being in the underwater world.

First I looked down.  I could see divers down below me.  I was amazed how good the visibility was.  I could see way below me.  I watched the other divers exploring around, and then I started to notice there air coming up around me.

Most of the time, there would be lots of little bubbles, but every once in a while you'd get one giant bubble.  It was fun to watch that bubble slowly ascend and then pass me.  They looked like little jelly fish.

After a few of them went by me, I decided it was important to try to pop them.  Yes, I played the exact same game that fascinated the 3 year olds in our Sunbeam class last year: "Pop the bubbles".  It was neat to poke the jellyfish and watch it turn into 100 tiny jellyfish.

After I had had of enough looking down, I started to look up.  There were people floating in the surface, kicking their legs and moving around.  I realized they couldn't see me at all.  It occurred to me that this is what a shark sees.  It was eerie to realize that when you're on the surface, everything below you has a perfect view of you while you can't see below you at all.

It was so amazing to realize how much volume there is in just 65 feet of water.  The Crater is only maybe 25 feet across, it's not a huge area.  But looking at it 3-dimension-ally, it suddenly became a giant cylinder with near endless space.

After we had been down a while, it was time to ascend.  We ascended by holding the ropes again.  It's nice to have the ropes to be able to control the ascent.  It's hard to tell how fast you're ascending or descending without a frame of reference.  That's something I'll have to get used to when we're in the ocean.

The weirdest thing about the ascent was feeling the air escaping my ears.  As you ascend, the water pressure is decreasing and so the air in all your body cavities is expanding.  I'm not gonna lie, it was a strange sensation.

When we got to the surface, our instructor assured us that diving in the ocean is way more awesome, and don't be discouraged if that was boring.  I told him that experiencing an underwater world was absolutely amazing.  His response was that he had dove in the Crater over 3800 times.  The magic of just being underwater wasn't really there for him anymore.

But it was still magical for me.  I'm excited to be certified so soon.  Then, it will be time to do some real diving.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wild Zucchini Grill

I tried out a new restaurant this past week.  It sort of changed my life.  It's called the Wild Zucchini Grill.  One would hope that it would have wild zucchinis scurrying about.  Unfortunately, that wasn't the case, but it was amazing.

It's a brand new place, and it would seem we weren't the only ones with the idea of trying it out.  When we got there, the line was ridiculously long.

Naturally, I had to record Robyn's reaction to the line.  Although, this reaction might be to the fact that I was taking her picture.  It also might have been that she was very hungry.
Isn't she cute when she's cranky?
I told her that she looks cute when she's cranky.  I also told her that her cuteness did not give me incentive to avoid situations that make her cranky.  Telling her that made her cranky.  It was cute.

When we got up further in line we got to witness the birth of the flat bread.
Birth is a miracle, even when it's just flat bread.

After many days spent in line, this beautiful sandwich was the fruit of our labor.  I got this delicious wrap and Robyn had an equally delicious pizza.  They were both glorious.

You totally need to try this place out.  We haven't even tried the pasta yet, but I'm sure it's just as amazing as the food we did try.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bad Drivers are Booger Eaters

There I was, driving along like a good kid.  It was my normal morning commute from Lehi to Orem.  There was a person in the lane to my right.  We were going approximately the same speed, but I was about 5mph faster.  This person was a few hundred feet in front of me when I noticed them, but since I was going faster, that number was getting smaller.

Suddenly, and inexplicably, when I was about 6 feet behind this person they felt it was time to move over into my lane.  Did they signal?  No.  Did they look in their mirror? Of course not.  Check their blind spot?  Not a chance. At that particular moment, I was probably in their blind spot, but had they taken 3 seconds to signal and look, they would have noticed I was there.  The relative distance in speeds meant that I would only be in their blind spot for 1-2 seconds.

When this person suddenly appeared 6 feet in front of me, I naturally hit my break and also quickly changed lanes to the left.  As I passed this individual I looked over at the driver to see what kind of a person it was that was completely oblivious to the near death experience we had both had.

The driver was a female, approximately 25 years old.  She looked like a normal person, probably really friendly if you met her in any other situation.  She didn't look over at me.  She had no idea of the seething hatred I had for her.  I was doing my best to give her an evil eye as I went by.  But that's when it happened.

What is the it I'm referring to?  Well, her finger went straight up her nose, and I mean deep.  She was digging for gold in the deepest recesses of her face.  And she found something, a treasure of great price.  Her finger came out and she looked at that booger with glee, and that's when her finger went straight into her mouth. That's right, this terrible driver was a booger eater.

I gagged a little bit.

The first time I saw someone eat a booger, I was four or five years old.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  The kids's name was Matt and he chowed right down.  I was so grossed out that I threw up then and there.  This time I just gagged a little.  Look how I've grown.

Here's what I've decided to learn from this situation.  All of you out there that are oblivious to your surroundings while driving, I'm pretty sure you eat boogers.  If you cut me off on the freeway, you probably eat boogers.  If you don't look when you change lanes, you probably eat boogers.  If you chill in the left lane and make people pass you on the right, you probably eat boogers.

Just be aware that every time you do something like this, I'm going to think in my mind that you eat boogers.  Do you really want to be lumped with the booger eaters of the world?  If not, perhaps you should pay more attention while driving.

Oh, and if I ever see anyone eating their boogers, after I gag I'm going to think in my mind that you're a bad driver.  So don't eat boogers.  Also, don't do it because it's gross.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Non Scale Victories: Oranges

Diabetes is such a misunderstood disease.  People think it means you can't eat sugar.  What they don't understand is that all food eventually breaks down to glucose.  It's just a matter of how fast.

A normal person's blood sugar will generally fall anywhere from 80-120, but may go as high as 140 right after eating.  My doctor told me that any time my blood sugar goes above 200, it is damaging my body.  When I was diagnosed, my average blood sugar, day or night, whether I had just eaten or I was exercising or I was sleeping, was 260.  That means it probably never got below 200 and probably soared high above 300 after eating.

When I was first diagnosed, I had to learn all about glycemic index, glycemic load and other fancy terms. Diabetics don't just avoid candy.  I learned that other high glycemic foods could be just as bad.  Potatoes, pasta, bread, oranges and watermelon all have a high glycemic index.

When I discovered that, I swore off oranges.  Oranges are high in vitamins and nutrients, but they would spike my blood sugar like nobody's business.  I remember eating an orange as a snack and checking my blood sugar an hour later and seeing it over 200.

Fast forward almost a year.  There are 65 pounds less of me in the world.  My blood sugar really doesn't spike anymore.  The highest I've seen it in the past 3 months was 134.  That was after a particularly carb filled breakfast.  (Mornings are still when it's the highest.  I had to read a lot before I found an explanation for that that made sense.  I won't get into the explanation, but it's directly related to why Metformin is a good medication for me.)

Last week on Halloween, I decided that I was allowed to go completely crazy and eat whatever I wanted for 1 day.  (I also have granted myself permission to do the same on Thanksgiving and Christmas.)  I went out for Mexican for lunch, eating tons of carb filled chips and a huge burrito.  I had chinese for dinner, with lots of rice, and lo mein.  Finally, I ended the day eating all sorts of candy.

If I'm being honest, I didn't enjoy my indulgence nearly as much as I thought I would.  I sort of felt sick at the end of the night.  Regardless of that, I took my blood before going to bed and it was 124.  That was one of the higher readings I'd seen recently, but it was still completely reasonable.

So this week, after discovering that my blood sugar stays under control even if I eat garbage, I decided I might be able to bring back oranges, a more healthy glycemic food.  Naturally, I bought a giant Costco box of oranges.
Don't they look delicious?

Then, I decided to perform an experiment.  (The only good thing about diabetes is that everything you eat is one constant science experiment performed on your blood sugar.)  I ate a normal breakfast, and then I ate an orange every ten minutes for 30 minutes.  I know that's only 3 oranges, which isn't a ton, but it should be plenty to create a glucose spike.  I took my blood 3 or 4 minutes after the third orange, and here was the result.

That's right, it was 110.  I'm like a normal person.  Remember when I used to have diabetes?

Losing weight is great.  It's fun to see smaller numbers on the scale, but it's the non scale victories that really matter.  I can eat my favorite fruit.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

When Scuba turns into Shoe Shopping

I've written a few times about how we're working to get Scuba certified.  Getting certified involves a lot of things.  You have to read the book.  There's a DVD you have to watch.  You have to pass a written test in a classroom setting.  You have to pass off skills in the pool, and eventually you have to pass off skills in a real open water environment.  I expected all of those things going into it.

What I didn't expect was shopping.  And not just any shopping.  That's right.  It involved shoe shopping.  It seems my wife is very sneaky.  Regardless of what we're doing, she somehow manages to make it about shoes.

So here's the story.  We have a set of snorkeling equipment that we bought from Costco.  (And snorkeling equipment turns out to be a subset of what you need to go diving.)  There's nothing wrong with the Costco equipment, but it's the cheap stuff that will meet minimal functional specifications for snorkeling.  However, when we were in Hawaii we found that the fins weren't incredibly effective for swimming and the mask had a tendency to leak.

So we decided that if we were going to get into diving, we should get some new equipment.

We went to the dive shop, fully intending to buy masks, fins, snorkels, and the like.  But before I knew it I was trying on shoes.  How did that even happen?

Of course, Robyn was in her element trying on shoes.

Don't get me wrong, our cute little booties will be very functional when we're getting into colder water or entering on rocky beaches.  I'm glad we got them.  I'm just trying to figure out if Robyn had the whole shoe shopping thing all planned out beforehand.  She knows I hate shoe shopping, but that I'll do it for an awesome cause like diving.

She's good.  She's real good.
My excellent bootie with my fins in the background.

Of course, we got all our basic gear.  (We didn't buy air tanks or regulators, we're not that hardcore yet.  Just fins, mask, booties, snorkel.)

Robyn enjoyed trying on shoes.  I enjoyed trying on masks.
These were the two finalists, but the black was more comfortable.

But look how good I look all decked out.

We tried out our new gear on our second Scuba class in the pool.  I'm not gonna lie, my new fins definitely propel me much better than the old ones.

Not to mention, we both look super snazzy in the water.

Guess who else looks pretty snazzy?  The Watsons did some shopping as well.
If you can't tell which ones are Watsons, just look for the ones slightly less precious than me.
The best news?  We passed off all of our basic skills.   I can now take off my mask under water, put it back on and clear it of water.  I also know what it feels like if my air runs out (I don't like it) and I can even share air with my buddy.  All of this means we've graduated from the pool.  Our next stop is a real open water dive at the Crater in Midway.

We're gonna look super snazzy at the Crater.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hanging with the Donner Party

Saturday was the day we went from Lake Tahoe to Reno.  We woke up that morning in our cabin, but we had to be out by 11:00.  I knew Robyn would want to sleep in as long as possible, so I ate breakfast and had a leisurely morning reading and relaxing.

When she finally woke up we packed up our things and headed out.  We went out for brunch (lunch for me, breakfast for Robyn) at the Log Cabin Cafe in King's Beach.  It had been featured on several food shows and was supposed to be the best breakfast around.  It certainly didn't disappoint.

I had a breakfast burrito because Robyn's burrito had looked so good at McAdoo's

Robyn wanted a croissant, eggs and sausage.  She found a plate that had all her wildest dreams.
My burrito was super good, but I should have asked for it without jalapenos.  I bit into one and was feeling it for a minute.  Other than that, it was fabulous.

It was a long wait, so we didn't actually start breakfast until around noon.  So when we were done we were into the afternoon.

Afterward, we drove up to Donner Memorial State Park.  There is a museum there as well as some hiking trails.  The museum had some history about the area, about emigrants travelling to the trail and specifically about the Donner Party.

The entrance to the museum

I was excited about the golden spike and started singing the song we learned in Elementary School about Promontory Point.  Robyn was less excited about me singing in a public place.

I really wanted a picture in front of the covered wagon.  This was the best I could get.  Robyn was so embarrassed that I wanted a picture that she wouldn't come around to the front of it, nor would she give me more than 5 seconds.

Robyn was also embarrassed that I wanted a picture of her by the bear.  She basically hates memories.
 After the museum we did a short hike along a walking trail.  When I planned the trip, my plan was to walk to Donner Lake. (4 miles round trip) but we were so beat from the 10.5 miles of walking the day before, we just did this short nature walk.
Robyn is cute in nature.

This monument was in honor of the Donner Party.  It is 22 feet tall, to show how deep the snow was when they were there.

The plaque on the memorial: "Virile to risk and find; kindly withal and a ready help, facing the brunt of fate, indomitable, unafraid."
It was crazy to think what they suffered through.  I can't imagine trying to survive a winter in these high mountains with 22 feet of snow falling on top of me.

After the memorial we headed into Reno.  We were staying at the La Quinta Inn in Reno and so we went to check in to our hotel.  I've always had great experiences with La Quinta, so when I was booking this trip I just booked the Reno La Quinta when I found they had one.  It turns out La Quinta has varying levels of quality.  This certainly wasn't a bad hotel, but it wasn't up to the normal level of quality we're used to.  It was in a little bit ghetto part of town and it had more of a Motel 6 feel to it.  Nonetheless, we got checked in, we changed our clothes and headed over to the Reno temple.  (The reason we were staying in Reno was for 2 reasons, the first was that our cabin wasn't available Saturday night, but the second was that we really wanted to see the Reno temple.)

We headed over to the temple and it was beautiful.  It sits atop a hill framed by some beautiful mountains (or really big hills) as you are driving up.  I put a few pictures on my temple blog.

Finally, after the temple, we came back to our hotel and just wanted to order a pizza and relax.  It turns out that ordering a pizza in Reno, Nevada is an impossible task.  No one wants to deliver to La Quinta.  Apparently, that part of town is so ghetto that not even pizza can enter.  I picture Gandalf standing somewhere on I-580 saying, "Pizza shall not pass."

Finally, I just ordered a pizza and drove the 5 miles to pick it up.  That wasn't the easiest task either because apparently my GPS hates pizza.  I did eventually find the pizza place and returned to the hotel alive.  When I brought Robyn the pizza  I got to feel like a true hunter/gatherer bringing back the spoils of my hunt.

Then, like a true warrior, I feasted on my pizza and went to sleep.

Thus ends my blogging about our anniversary trip.  There was one more day, but it consisted of driving from Reno, Nevada to Lehi, Utah.  We did the normal road trip things: singing songs, talking, sitting in silence when we run out of songs and things to say.  So there you have it.
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