Sunday, July 30, 2017

Trying to Gain Weight When Nothing Else Seems to Work

In a world where it seems most people are trying to lose weight or stick to a diet to prevent themselves from gaining weight, it may be odd when someone says they are actually trying to gain weight. But for many people like myself who have always been very skinny, it can be very hard to gain or even maintain weight.

Right now I weigh 105 lbs at a height of 5'7''. For a man in his mid 30's, this puts my BMI (body mass index) at 16.4 which is very under weight. My goal is to get to about 120 which will bring it into the "Normal" range.

To accomplish this goal, many people will say, “Just eat more food!”, but to someone like myself, this is easier said than done. I eat 3 meals a day and always look to eat foods that are high in calories yet healthy at the same time. I try to add extra things to each meal not for taste, but to just to get more calories. I rarely feel hungry because I usually eat before I even get to that point.

The trouble is I tend to get full very easily. 500 calories of food in a meal will fill me up to where I do not want to eat anymore. In order to gain weight, I have to get up to about 750 calories or more per meal. To some people this may seem like a piece of cake, but trying to force yourself to eat more than you want to at every meal is not fun. It really becomes work.

I find, by eating too much, it ends up making me feel physically uncomfortable and sometimes even sick to the point where the food may have trouble getting digested and absorbed properly. Also I find that if I eat more in one meal, I am less hungry on the next meal, so it ends up just evening out.

Exercise in combination with eating more is also recommended to help gain weight. Years ago I was very active with cardio exercise but these days, I just walk, lift free weights, and do calisthenics like pull ups, push ups, squats, and sit ups. I try to do these exercises daily but never really do enough where I am sore the next day.

It seems like it has been about 10 years since I have been wanting to gain weight yet I never made any progress. In fact, I am probably at my lowest weight I have been at in a long time. Every once in a while I would try to keep track of calories for a few days, but never really stuck with it.

Starting now, I have decided to take a more dedicated approach to this issue. I have signed up on a calorie tracking website that makes it easy to keep track of your calorie intake each day. I have done the calculations so I know how much is needed to gain 1 pound per week. If I can stick to the program, I should be able to reach my goal of 120 lbs in about 4 months.

Doing the calculations really puts it into perspective that it is going to be no easy task. It will take hard work, discipline, and planning to achieve this goal, but I am going to try to make it work.

I also took some “before” pictures as extra motivation to compare with the final results that should hopefully show a difference in a few months time. I am also posting about the journey here on the blog and will try to post updates about the progress and final results.

Are you someone who is now or has struggled with gaining weight in the past? Feel free to comment below on your experience or any tips you may have that can help others in the same situation.

2 Week Update:  
I have been keeping track of my food with a calorie tracker aiming for about 2200 calories a day which is supposed to add about 1 pound per week. It is hard to get an exact calculation on most of the food so I have been estimating and for most of the days I have been getting pretty close to the target amount.

At this point I ideally I should be up 2 pounds but I just weighed myself and I am almost the same weight as when I started 2 weeks ago. This is pretty disappointing considering how much work it is to document everything you eat and try to eat more food than you might like just to reach a calorie goal.

It is possible I was over estimating some of the amounts of food or maybe I actually need to eat more like 2400 calories a day in order to start gaining weight. I guess I will try to increase my calorie amount a little more to see if any improvement can be made. It will be tough because I feel like I am already eating a lot as it is. We'll see how it goes.

4 Week Update:
The past 2 weeks I did not keep track of calories but just tried to do a good job of eating enough at each meal. I'm up about 1 pound since the last update which is not bad considering I have not been keeping track of the calories.

Update 12-7-17:  
I had stopped keeping track for several weeks and I started getting too low in weight again so I decided I better keep track of the calories again to make sure I am getting enough. My goal is 2400 a day. Hoping to make some progress if I can stick with it.

Update: 1-6-18: I have managed to keep track of calories for about a month. I think I did ok for most days but was usually a bit under the 2400 goal each day. Weight is about the same which is pretty disappointing considering I have been keeping track of calories every day to make sure I am getting enough food. Not really sure what to do at this point other than to try to keep eating more.

Update: 1-29-18: I have been keeping track of calories for about 60 days with a goal of 2400 calories a day. Based on the calculations, I should be gaining about 1 lb a week and should be up about 8 lbs by now. Unfortunately after weighing myself recently, I am basically at the same weight if not a little less than when I started.

Again this is very discouraging considering I have been making the effort to document everything I have eaten for the past 2 months. I will say that most of the days I did not quite get to the 2400 calorie goal, but I think I have been doing well enough where I should have at least gained a few pounds by now. I will probably bring it up next time I go to the doctor to see in case they have any other ideas or reasons why I am not gaining weight.

Update: 5-3-18: 
I'm still keeping track of calories and by looking at the average totals of my history, I found I was averaging around 2000 per day and pretty much stayed at the same weight. This is interesting because when I put in my metrics and goal weight, it estimated that I needed a few hundred less than this to maintain weight. This means that my body tends to burn more calories per day than the estimate.

This is good information to know and it is something everyone should know when they are trying to gain or lose weight. You cannot just go by what the computer estimates for you. You have to actually track it yourself to get the correct information to learn how much calories you need per day to maintain weight.

I will continue to keep track of calories and still try to exceed this amount each day in order to gain weight slowly over time.

Update 8-31-19:  
It's been 2 years since I started this goal of gaining weight. Unfortunately I still have not made any progress, in fact I am pretty much the same weight if not a little less than I was 2 years ago. I am still in the habit of keeping track of all my calories each day and I am averaging around 2,000 calories a day.

From these results, I can see I still need to eat more each day if I expect to gain any weight. I want to, but for some reason it just seems very hard to get more calories. I already eat more than I want to each day. I try to stick to high calorie foods and try to fit in extra snacks when possible. I think it is just a combination of lack of appetite combined with a high rate of calories burned per day that is making it so difficult to gain weight.

Despite the lack of progress over the past 2 years, I will stick with this goal of trying to gain weight.

Update 4-24-20: 
So it's been about 3 years and I am about the exact same weight as when I started. After years of keeping track of calories, I finally got tired of it so now I do not keep track of them anymore. At this point I have a pretty good understanding of how many calories I am getting each day without having to document them.

However without keeping track, it is easy to fall behind because naturally I do not eat as many calories as I would need in order to make any change, so I have to be mindful of this and make sure I am eating enough each day. At this point I don't really see any changes happening any time soon, but I will continue to monitor my weight. 

Update 12-10-21:
It's been about 4 1/2 years having the same goal of trying to gain weight and as of now I am actually a few pounds lower than where I started. This goal has proven to be a lot harder than expected. I specifically try to eat high calorie foods and eat more food than I want and it still does not work. I think it may be a combination of still not eating enough food and a metabolism that uses up energy fast.

I mean I will weigh myself on the scale and be disappointed because the weight is low. So I will then eat a snack to try to gain a little weight. Then I get on the scale again and my weight will be even lower than before I ate a snack! Its like my body burns calories faster than it can consume them. 

I am still sticking with it. My plan now is to be very calculated about when I eat food. I am going to try to eat 4 meals a day as evenly spaced out as possible throughout the day.I'm aiming for about 600 calories per meal which should end up being 2400 per day. It is hard because it seems like I am still full when it is time to eat another meal. I will do my best and see if any progress is made.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Google Search Results Need Improvement – Top Results Given to Spammy Sites

There's no denying that Google is the number one search engine and is one of the best ways to find things on the internet, but as of late, I have noticed a decline in the quality of search results provided. Often I will do a search on a new topic hoping to find a good site with clear and helpful information only to find the top results give the opposite experience.

I will click on a top recommended site and immediately be bombarded with a pop up to sign up for a newsletter. This is one of my pet peeves and the kind of thing that will make me click the “Back” button immediately to find a better site that is not going to try to spam me with pop ups.

If you manage to get through the pop ups, you may get to the site hoping it will have the information you are looking for only to find out it is a slide show that you have to click through 10 pages when all the information could have easily been listed in the first page.

No one likes these kinds of things so why is Google putting them at the top of their search results? I think some better attention needs to be put into the curating of these results. Sure the websites might be nice looking, but if it is spammy and does not provide the information the visitor is looking for, it is not a helpful result.

I know much effort goes into reviewing search engine results to make sure they are the best possible, but as of right now, somehow sites that are not very good are being given top placement in the results. Has anyone else noticed this trend?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Wordpress Privacy Protection and Whois Information

Recently I got a message that one of my other websites which happens to be hosted by Wordpress was going to expire in 1 month. It was for a site that is not too active and I was debating on whether or not to renew it for another year. The cost to renew is $26 which is pretty high compared to Blogger which only charges about $10 per year.

I noticed that Wordpress charges separately for privacy protection. This basically means when you register your website, your personal information such as name, address, phone number, and email will be kept private and they will display their contact information instead. With Wordpress, they charge $8 for the privacy protection.

Since the renewal was coming up, I was testing out some of the settings and disabled the privacy protection to see what would happen. Upon a search, I noticed that it did in fact publish my personal information for the domain ownership. So I decided to re-enable the privacy protection for the remainder of the term. The only problem is, they do not allow you to re-enable it without paying the $8 again for a new year.

Of course I was not happy about this, basically having to pay another $8 for something that was already supposed to be in place. I paid the charge and the privacy was restored. I contacted Wordpress by email to see if they could refund the charge because the privacy should have been covered through the end of the year. I expected a reply saying something like unfortunately the only way to re-enable it is to pay the $8 again for the year, but to my surprise, they actually refunded the charge! Thumbs up for good customer service!

I started thinking, why is it the case where people's personal information is available upon a search if they register a domain name? This seems like a breach of privacy. I guess it depends on which service you register your domain name with and if you decide to enable the privacy protection feature. It seems like if this is an option, it should be standard for all domain registrations.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Why I Dropped Out Of College – Was it the right thing to do?

Like most kids that grew up in my area, it was expected that I attend college after high school. I had always been an average student. I was well behaved but I was not the type to try to get straight A's or take advanced classes. I was a bit lazy when it came to school work. Still I went to a decent college after I graduated.

In the beginning, I didn't really know what I wanted to major in. I liked physical activities and my parents mentioned that teaching was a good job to get into. So I decided to major in Physical Education with a minor in Health Education as was recommended by the school.

The first couple years were pretty good. I took mostly general education classes and a couple of major based classes. The 3rd year I was taking almost all Physical Education classes. It was not just about sports; There were a lot of technical classes like learning about the body and how everything about it works. There were also a lot of teacher based classes, learning how to actually teach.

Around this time, I was starting to get tired of college. I was not really motivated to be a teacher. The classes kept getting more specialized, making us learn things that no one needed to know to be a gym teacher. I didn't really want to be a teacher, but I didn't know what else to switch to. This one just one of the many reasons that persuaded me to drop out.

Another reason was the cost. While my parents paid for most of it, I did pay for a portion. I noticed the the costs were high and kept rising, everything from classes, to room and board to books. I felt like the school was more of a business trying to earn money than an educational system. We were not poor, but we certainly were not rich and I knew these costs were hard on my family. Not only that, but my sister would be going to college next year. That would mean they would have to pay twice as much at the same time. I didn't want to cause these expenses for something I was not interested in.

Another thing that stressed me out and was a huge factor in my leaving college was a condition I have called hyperhidrosis which means I sweat a lot, even in normal situations when it is not hot and I am calm and relaxed. I would sweat from places like my hands and feet and this would make it very uncomfortable to be in classes. You might think it is not a big deal, but imagine wetting your palms with water and not drying them. Then go about your life and imagine your hands always being like that. It becomes a big problem and very stressful. A couple times in the 3rd year it got so bad I had to excuse my self from class just because I was near a panic attack because of the sweating. This is something I still deal with to this day, but I have been able to manage it better with treatment.

Another specific example of something that made me want to drop out was when I had this project for one of my physical development classes. We had a big assignment and part of it was to go find some young kids and observe them doing various physical tasks, like running and jumping. Well being a college, living in the dorms, I didn't have access to any kids to observe. I remember even going to a Walmart and considered asking parents if I could observe their kids doing activities, but I was not comfortable doing that. I probably should have contacted the teacher and asked if he had any ideas or solutions, but I didn't. Instead I just didn't do the assignment. This really lowered my grade in the class. I knew I had to make it up on the final so I studied hard and ended up getting a 99% on the cumulative final. Even with this great score I still ended up with a D+ in the class. Because it was a major class, I had to get at least a C to pass it. So basically I was going to have to retake the class where I just got a 99% on the final which was over everything. I was not about to do that.

So it was the summer after my 3rd year and I was working delivering pizzas to earn money over the summer. I had been doing this for the summers and breaks for the past few years so I was comfortable with it and I enjoyed working there. It was decent money, I liked the people I worked with, and the job suited me well. I was not looking forward to going back to school in the fall. After some time I thought about what it would be like if I just kept working and took some time off to decide what I really wanted to do. As soon as I considered this, it was like a huge relief and a weight was taken off my shoulders. Because of the minor I had, I would have had to take at least another 2 years of college that I did not want to do. On the contrary, I could keep working at a job I liked and could earn money and take some time do decide on another career path. So after careful consideration, that is what I did.

Of course my parents and everyone wanted me to stay and finish college, but I stuck to my decision. You might ask, when looking back, do I regret my decision? The answer is no, I didn't regret it then and I still do not regret it to this day. I made the right decision for me. I might have done things differently if I could do everything over, for example, maybe go to a smaller school and major in something else like computers, but at the time, taking a break and working was the right thing to do.

Looking back years later, everything turned out ok. If there is one down side to it, it is that not having a college degree does limit your options more when looking for a job. I have still be able to get other jobs but there would be more opportunities available with a college degree. Because of this, my advice to others would be to try to graduate college if possible.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

RA Fischer MD-1A Iontophoresis Machine Review – Long Term Update

Hyperhidrosis or excessive sweating is an issue that affects a small percentage of the population and can make life very difficult for those who have it. I have written about my experience with this condition in a previous article. Over the years I tried several treatments from antiperspirants to oral medications and eventually decided to try iontophoresis to treat this condition.

Iontophoresis works by using a machine connected to trays of water to deliver an electrical current to the effected area such as hands or feet. By doing this, it is supposed to help reduce the amount of sweat in these areas. There are a few companies that manufacturer iontophoresis machines. I decided to try out the RA Fischer MD-1A unit because they had an option to rent it to try it out for a month.

This was around 2011 when I first started using the machine. It took a while to see results but I did see enough improvement in the reduction of sweating to go ahead and purchase the device. It has now been about 6 years and I am still using the machine to help with hyperhidrosis. It is not a 100% cure and I still sweat quite a bit, but it does help to make it more manageable.

My current schedule consists of treatments for the hands about every 2-3 days or so with a 15 minute session, switching the polarity for each session. I do both hands at the same time and use my foot to control the knob on the device to adjust the intensity of the current. I usually turn the milliamps up to about about 10-12. I find this setting is pretty comfortable unless you have any cuts or cracks from dry skin on your hands, then it can sting quite a bit in these areas.

As I recall, and it looks like it is still the case, you must get a doctors prescription to order the unit. Also, when I purchased the unit, I submitted the bill to health insurance but they did not cover it so I ended up having to pay for the whole thing out of pocket. I recommend checking with your insurance to see if they will cover this device.

Overall the machine is not cheap but it is still working after years of treatments and I have not had to replace any parts or anything so I would say it has been worth it. If you have been struggling with this condition, I recommend trying out an iontophoresis machine such as the RA Fischer. 
Update 5-8-21:
It's been about 10 years and I am still using the RA Fischer ionto machine. Surprisingly it still works good as new even having used it on a regular based for all this time. I have not had to replace any of the parts. I still find it to be the best treatment option for hyperhidrosis that I have found so far. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Advice to the Younger Generation from an Older Person

With age comes wisdom and over the years we make mistakes and learn a lot the hard way. No matter how much you study and try to learn things, some things can only be learned with age. This is why it is important to get the perspective of those who are older than you and see what advice they have for the younger generation.

As someone in their mid 30's I certainly do not claim to know everything and I do not have nearly as much experience as those who are much older, but at this age, there is a lot of advice I would give to a younger version of myself so I thought I would share some of that advice here. Here is some of the advice I would pass along to the youth of today:

Try hard in school and take advantage of the opportunities available.
When I was in school, I did ok, but never really challenged myself to excel or get more involved. School is one of the basic things our society is built on and how you perform during these years can have a big effect on the opportunities available to you later in life.

Try out different courses and clubs even if you think you would not be interested in them. I never got involved with any performance type classes such as acting, singing, or dancing, but looking back as an adult, I think it would have been a good experience to at least try some of the classes like this.

Education becomes even more important when you get to the college years. While college is not for everyone, I would recommend try to go to college and get a 4 year degree if possible. Just having a degree no matter what it is opens up a lot more job opportunities when you get older.

Make an effort to start and keep relationships when you are young.
Growing up, you will be around many people your own age who are from the same area as you, so even if you feel like you do not relate to anyone, just age and location alone gives you a lot in common with these people. It is a great time to meet people and develop relationships with friends and also partners.

As you get older, it becomes more difficult to meet people and develop relationships as people are more busy and already have groups of friends established. If there is someone you like, make an effort to talk to them. If you pass up the opportunities, you may regret it later in life.

Take care of yourself physically.
One thing about getting older is your body starts to deteriorate and you start to have more issues and ailments. When you are young, your body is resilient and if you get hurt or sick, your body heals and recovers quickly. As you get older, it is easier for things to go wrong and when they do, it takes longer to recover.

Taking care of yourself starting from an early age will help so you have less issues as you get older. For example, things like protecting your skin by wearing sunscreen is a good idea. Try to eat healthy and stay active by working out or getting involved in sports. Avoid activities that are more risky that may result in injury.

Develop good habits such as brushing your teeth,wearing your retainer, and flossing everyday and avoid bad habits such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol. Taking care of yourself starting at an early age will help make sure you are more healthy as you get older.

Don't worry if you don't know what you want to do or what direction to take.
A common question is “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. We are presented with this question at an early age and often told to choose a path even before we really know what we want to do. It is hard to know what you want to do when you are young because you do not have much experience with different things especially when it comes to jobs and careers.

Many adults still do not know what they want to do and end up changing jobs every few years. Another thing is that interests change over time. What sounds like something you would want to get into when you are 18 may be very different from what you want to get into when you are 30. A lot of it will be trial and error.

Keep in mind a job and a hobby are two very different things. You may think you want to do something that sounds fun like design video games or be a music producer. These kinds of things are fun as a hobby, but as a job, they actually become a job so they may not be as fun anymore in a case like this. Look for subjects you are interested in and feel you can do well in, but also subjects that have plenty of career opportunity.

Make the most of each day and don't waist time.
As mentioned in a previous article, time seems to speed up as you get older. When you are young, it feels like life is so long and you have all the time in the world, but before you know it, you will start getting older and soon you will be at an age thinking, “How I am this old already?”. Time is limited so make sure you are using your time wisely. There is usually always something to do even if you are bored and feel like there is nothing to do. We all have 24 hours in a day but how we choose to use it is what makes a difference.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Lindberg Glasses Review – Are they worth the high cost?

For most purchases, I tend to go for the best deal and try not to spend a lot of money, but for certain things, I don't mind spending a bit more. One of those things is eyeglasses. As someone who wears glasses for distance, I wear glasses pretty much all day so it is important to have a pair that is comfortable and looks good.

I purchased my current Lindberg glasses back in 2009. It's hard to believe I have had them for about 8 years and they are still holding up strong. They were definitely not cheap especially when you add in the cost of the lenses, but I figured, for something that I will be wearing on my face all day, everyday, I might as well get something good.

I purchased them from an eyeglasses boutique retailer that carries some of the higher end brands. For the Lindberg's, they had many in store to try out, but when you order them, they actually measure your head to get the exact dimensions and then the frames are ordered and built to your exact specifications. I think this is great considering most frames you buy in store are the ones on the shelf that everyone has been trying on. Also with the custom build, it allows you to choose the color and shape options so you can get them exactly how you want.

I remember when my glasses came in the first time, they accidentally made a mistake and ordered a different shape for the frame. Luckily, they were able to re-order the correct frame at no charge so it was only an inconvenience because it took longer to get the frames.

Overall I have been very pleased with the glasses. As mentioned before, I have been wearing them every day for 8 years and they are still in great condition. Even the original lenses are still in good condition. There have been countless times where I have accidentally scratched them on things, even metal. I then check the frame thinking I just ruined them only to find out they are still in perfect condition. I guess the metal and color used is very durable because they show no signs of wear even after all these years.

The nose pads however did wear down after a few years. They are a high quality, but the silicone did start to break apart eventually. Luckily, I was able to take them to a local eyewear place that carries Lindberg and they were able to replace the nose pads for free! I was very surprised by this, especially considering the high cost of the frames.

As for comfort, they are super light and do not cause any discomfort or irritation. They fit very well which is expected since they are made to order.

Are they worth the high cost? If you take care of your glasses and plan to keep them for several years as I have, I would say yes, they are worth it. The quality is top notch so you can expect them to hold up longer than cheap frames.

Recently I had another eye exam and my insurance covered some basic frames. I would have liked to get another pair of Lindberg's but since my current pair is still good, I decided to just get a cheap pair as a backup. The difference in quality of the cheap pair vs the Lindberg's is very clear when trying them out side by side. The Lindberg's are lighter, more comfortable, and better looking.

I wish the Lindbergs were not so expensive, but I would probably get another pair when I need to replace my current frames. If you are someone who takes care of your glasses and doesn't mind spending quite a bit more for high quality frames, I would recommend checking out Lindberg. 
Update 1-18-24:
After 15 years of daily wear the fishing line that holds in the lenses on my glasses finally broke. It happened to be a day when I was outside for a long time in very cold temperature so it's likely that had something to do with it, but considering this thin material held up for 15 years, I was not too surprised that it eventually broke.

Good news is I quickly learned than this is something that can be fixed. You may even be able to do it yourself with some replacement line, but I ended up taking them to my nearest Lindberg dealer to see if they could fix it. They said yes and they were able to fix them in about 20 minutes. They even re-strung the other side just in case. 

So now they are back and good as new! I plan to keep wearing them for now. They are still in good condition and they are comfortable so I have no reason to replace them.