Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Technology Helped me Lose 20 Pounds

I've lost 20 pounds since December (thanks for noticing) and technology played a major part in my weight loss along with good old fashion self-motivation/discipline. Most of my life I've been in pretty good shape but always slightly above the weight I'd like to be. I always said I wouldn't let myself pass 200 pounds. Then my twins were born...

About 180 pounds May 1991
Being a father of 4 doesn't give you a lot of time to work out.  And then there is all the beer consumed as any good parent of young children does...

Being a bit heavy is in my "Denham" genes. I weighed about 185 pounds in 9th grade and was about 5' 8" at the time.  Not horrible, but my future wife still wouldn't talk to me (perhaps it was the braces I had for 6 years or the high water pants, who knows).  Once I dropped 15 pounds and grew a semi-mullet (and had a car and she didn't), she started talking to me. I put on a few pounds after marriage and stayed 185-190 pounds most of my life until the kids were born.

November 2012
Just ran 13.1 miles
Weighed about 212 pounds
In November, I bought my fat pants and shorts with a 38 inch waist so that I didn't feel as guilty about the weight.  In December of 2012, I weighed in at 215 pounds when I went to the doctor.  215!  15 pounds over the weight I promised I would stay under.   That was it for me.

Today I weigh 192 pounds and am still losing about 1/2 pound a week.  How did I do it and how does technology play into it?

First, I made up my mind to lose weight and switched to lite beer (yes, I still drink beer, I did mention I have 4 kids, right?) and began to cut back.  But most importantly, I set a goal of 190 pounds. And this is the first of the 2 technology secrets.

I changed my windows login password to 190Pounds.  (Don't worry, I've changed it).  Every day, I was reminded of my goal.  Multiple times.  This made me think about what was important to me.

Second, I got on MyFitnessPal.  Using MyFitnessPal as a tool, some people on my team have lost as much as 70 pounds while many have lost between 10 and 40.  I got on in the middle of last year at 207 before I jumped to 215 but I did not stick with it.  This time, I have stuck with it.

MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter
MyFitnessPal is a website and an app (android and IOS) that makes it very simple to track what you eat.  When I started putting in everything I was eating, I realized how much some of the foods I was eating were causing me to gain weight and stopped eating some things that were very high in calories and started exercising more to earn more calories on the days I knew I would eat more.  

The really great thing about MyFitnessPal  is that your friends (if you allow them) can encourage you when you are doing well or when you are slipping.  I have about 7 friends on MyFitnessPal and at least one of them tends to comment on my activity every other day or two. This keeps me motivated to exercise because I know they are watching.  And, because I choose to share my food publicly with my friends (you don't have to), I am careful what I eat.  Basically, I have several people watching my every food move!

April 2013 Tampa airport 5k run time 24:54
(I weigh about 195 here)
My exercise of choice is also a reason I'm dropping the weight quickly. I run.  I love to run and often run 3-5 miles pushing forty pound twins.  Three miles burns about 500 calories for me and that is usually about 27 minutes of running.  That gives me a lot of room to meet my daily calorie goals.  As they say, you have to limit your calorie intake and exercise to see the best results.  and it is working for me and MyFitnessPal helps me focus on both but allows me to eat junk if I want and see the trade off. 

As usual, technology is an enabler, not the goal. The goal is to lose weight and my original goal was 190 pounds. Now I am shooting for 180 pounds by the end of the year now.  I use technology to help me reach my goal but it is my personal motivation and dedication that are the key to success.   

And as I have covered in many blogs before, technology is making life better and changing things so you should embrace what technology can do for you along with interacting with your friends both in person and via technology. 

Thanks to my friends on MyFitnessPal  for encouraging me: David K, Mike SG, Jen S, Syndee D, Mike D, Shawn W, and new guy Alex who lost over 10 pounds already!

Want to lose weight, here is the summary of what I did to drop 20 pounds in just a few months.
  1. Decide your weight goal (something reasonable, you can always beat it and adjust lower like I am doing)
  2. Change your password to that goal
  3. Get on MyFitnessPal
  4. Get friends to join and encourage you.
  5. Exercise and eat less
Good luck!

PS If you need some size 38 pants and shorts, I have a few, barely worn!

Geiger CIO Dale Denham, MAS+ provides practical insights on how you can benefit from technology in no nonsense terms. Follow him on Twitter: @GeigerCIO

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The high cost of a low training budget

If you train your staff, there’s a risk they’ll leave; 

if you don’t, there’s a risk they’ll stay.

Whether you are in sales, service, technology, or some other field, learning is valuable to your ability to earn income as well as to enjoy life.  So if you are managing people, how are you helping them deliver more value and enrich their lives?

I've managed hundreds of people and without fail, the top employees are always wanting to learn.  This is true for all types of  people I've managed from sales to technologists and everything in between.  As a general rule, the technologists have the biggest passion for learning because the field changes so much.

I believe in training so my training budget is always an important line item.  I strongly agree with the quote that started this blog: "If you train your staff, there's a risk they'll leave; if you don't, there's a risk they'll stay."  I have found that when employees see they have an annual opportunity to truly learn something valuable, they almost never leave (assuming you are paying and treating them fairly).  And the company gets the added benefit of having more productive employees.

You need to ensure you are providing your team a sizable training budget.   Don't simply dictate the training, look at your upcoming 3 year plan and decide what areas are of mutual interest to the employee and the company.  On occasion, let them select a topic that is not a clear fit for their current role but might benefit them or the company in some fashion.

In any case, don't limit sales people to only sales training or finance people to financial training.  Allow them to explore other areas that might help them better understand peers in other areas if they have an interest.  I strongly encourage transferring people between departments to create empathy to others issues.

And of course, everyone needs some technology training.  The best bang for the average consumer technology training buck is  $25 a month for unlimited training per person on all sorts of technology topics in a fantastic format allowing you to skip directly to the part of the training you want/need.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

One of my team members just put me in my place

We've all done it.  We've asked for support or reported a bug to development without enough details to help them and expect them to fix it. In some cases, we even get mad if they ask us clarifying questions.

I sent one such request to the programmer working on a project and he sent me the following picture with the caption "It's kind of like giving me this picture of your car and asking me to fix it."

What a great analogy and I quickly realized my mistake!

Diagnosing problems is a huge part the time spent by IT people.  The more information you provide them, the more likely they can fix the right problem and in less time.  This is true whether you are calling a help desk or reporting a programming bug.

The same is true in sales.  I'm sure you love when your client calls up and says "I need some promotional items for an upcoming trade show."  They might as well have sent you the picture of the parking lot.  You need to know their budget, the audience, time frame, etc.  Imagine all the time you could waste getting ideas together only to learn they had a very specific item in mind that they could have told you about.

So next time do yourself and a geek a favor, do not send them a picture of a parking lot with cars and tell them to fix yours.  Send them a picture of your car and exactly what you were doing, the results you expected, and the results you got.  Screen shots are a great way to do that (and snagit from Techsmith is the best screen shot tool around) along with online support systems like (Geiger helpdesk uses LogMeIn to support our remote users).

So kudos to Mike McFadden for setting me straight and not letting me get away with a picture of the parking lot.  He is a great and valued member of the Geiger IT team who wants to solve problems, not waste time and he has no problem pointing out my faults.