100 Pounds. Yep.

So in the slightly less than one year since I started my efforts to actually take care of myself, I have officially dropped a full 100 pounds as of this morning.

I think Lucie and I are going to mark this occasion by walking over to The Breakfast Place and having a celebratory horkfest... their bacon waffles and the Monte Cristo are particularly yummy.


Coming tomorrow: "96 Pounds and Counting..."


10,000 Steps for Some Kid in Bolivia

It's no surprise to anybody that knows me that I'm kind of a techogeek. And it's also not too much of a surprise to those same people that I tend to buy cool toys -- err, tools, sorry -- that can feed my geek while also helping fulfill other needs. And while it's also possible -- some may say probable -- that I make up some of those needs just so I can justify buying a new toy -- er, tool, dang it -- there are some times where the need is real. Or at least real enough to actually warrant buying said tool. Er, toy. No, TOOL. Crap.

At any rate, this brings me to my latest tech gadget, my Striiv pedometer. Lucie and I each got one with our tax return this year, and it's been really helping out our desires to become more physically active. It's a smart pedometer that tracks your steps, stairs climbed (technically, equivalent stairs which it also means it counts uphill walks), minutes of activity, and distance walked; and encourages you to increase all of those with a nice combination of physical activity challenges, a Farmville-addictive game, and even a karma boosting pro-social benefit. All told, it's one of the better ways I can think of to spend money if you're in the market for a small piece of highly mobile exercise equipment.

Let's start with the game. MyLand gives you a cute little island where you can build either vegetation or buildings, which earn you gold and potentially attract woodland critters who wander around your property. The hook is, you buy the tree or bush or vineyard or hut with the gold you harvest, but you grow the flowers or topiary or statue or parthenon with energy points, which you can only earn by exercising. Which means, if you want to attract that golden lemur by building the Lemur Treehouse, you'll need to spend 175,000 gold to plant it, which you can get just by being patient and harvesting gold; but you then need to exercise for several hours before you get enough energy points to fully grow it. Oooh, sneaky.

Energy points can be gained organically with just your normal movement through the day -- take more than 500 steps, get 1,000 energy; beat your average number of stairs in a day, gain 2,500 energy -- or with challenges the Striiv gives you, or when you choose to have a challenge offered to you. The latest software upgrade has also added a social element, where you can challenge a nearby friend (or Striiv-created character) to a race to win even more points.

Say I'm sitting on the couch at home watching TV (not exactly an uncommon occurrence.) During a commercial break I check out my Striiv, and I see a challenge: "take 25 stairs in the next 10 minutes." That's just two trips up and down the stairway in our apartment, and I can get 6,000 energy points for it? Heck yeah! So I get off the couch and exercise for a minute or two before the show comes back on, instead of just sitting there like a lump. Go me!

(Of course, the argument could be made that it would be even better if I were to be exercising the entire time instead of sitting there watching TV, but I would also suggest that the people who might make that argument kindly shut up, since they're probably talking during the show I'm trying to watch. My efforts at healthy living do not include giving up episodes of Grimm.)

However, if games aren't your thing, but you still want some sort of feel-good reward for exercising, there's the donations you can make. Striiv has teamed up with GlobalGiving to offer three different ways you can donate with their Walkathon widget: For every 10,000 steps you can conserve a parking space sized area of Tanzanian rain forest; or for 25,000 steps you can provide one immunization shot against childhood polio; or for 10,000 steps you can provide one day's worth of clean drinking water to a child in South America. Not only can I get healthy by exercising, but I can maintain my karmic neutrality the next time I cut in front of an ambulance when it's making all that noise. Yay for being a good person!

And if you don't like playing games, and don't care about helping out your fellow man, you can always feed that internal apathetic sociopathic weirdo by challenging people to races to prove your superiority and physical dominance. The Striiv has a social widget where you can challenge nearby friends with their own Striiv to a race; or if you've pushed away all of your friends by your aggressive behavior and outspoken disdain for polio victims, you can square off against several AI challengers that the Striiv provides. And one of the AI characters is named Sir Bacon, who's so darn cute I could just eat him up (after killing, gutting, cleaning, slicing, curing, smoking, and then pan frying him, of course), so bonus.

Simply challenge Waddles, Sir Bacon or the Walkatron to a 1,000-step race, win (or forfeit the 500 energy it costs to challenge), and spend all those valuable energy points fully building that Acropolis of Heroes.

And then maybe lose that aggressive sociopathic vibe you got going there, 'cause you're kind of starting to scare me.