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Confessions of a Yo-Yo dieter

Over the years I have lost my total current body weight. And then I go and put  it back on again, with interest. I have always been on the heavier side, and really like eating sweet things and drinking those glasses of pink wine. Funnily enough, I don’t like sweet drinks, but I love chocolate, cake and cookies.

My Mother was one of those naturally slender, although curvy, women. She never dieted a day in her life. My weight carrying genes come from my Father (thanks Daddy). If I could bottle my Husband’s metabolism, I would be a rich woman. He can – and does – eat whatever he likes, and just doesn’t put on weight. His weight has remained more or less constant since he was 18. Fortunately he loves me whatever shape and size I am, but he is always proud when I do lose the weight because he knows it makes me feel good about myself.

I could write a book on dieting. My journey has given me a lot of knowledge on good eating habits and what does and doesn’t work for me. What I do know is that I need a support system, and most of all I need the discipline of standing on the scale in front of someone else.

So let’s take a look at my ups and downs and back up again (maybe more like a roller coaster than a yo-yo now I think about it).

In my early 20’s I went to a Naturopath, who taught me to eat only healthy foods. The eating plan was quite hectic, and was more about getting healthy than losing weight. I did lose weight, but don’t remember how much.  I did learn a lot about how food relates to health.

A few years later I went to a French beautician who ran a weight loss program. A friend, who was getting married, went to her and lost weight quickly. As an interesting aside, this friend went to a dressmaker to get her wedding dress made. The Dressmaker told her to lose some weight and then come back again – almost as if she wasn’t prepared to make a dress and have it look less than perfect! The French beautician insisted I had a very “Chanel” figure, meaning I was the right shape but just needed to lose a few pounds. In those days I had a small waist and carried all my weight around my hips and thighs. She put me on a calorie reduced diet. I lost those few pounds but of course inexorably I found them again – with interest.

When my Husband and I started living together I put on a lot of weight. I guess it was contentment. We moved to Cape Town and the sight of a picture of me in a bikini was enough to motivate me to join Weigh-Less. The Weigh-Less eating plan is very useful in that it teaches a balanced diet. I was a real evangelist for a while, and even considered becoming a group leader, but at the time they only wanted women who did not work. I lost 19 kg’s in total, and kept much of it off for a few years, but slowly the weight crept back up. Anyone thinking of going to Weigh-Less should do so. It does work. Some of the Group Leaders are better than others: find another group if you don’t like yours. I have to say though that I did best with a group leader who did not seem to take to me – being as contrary as I am I think I was determined to prove to her that I could do it. I did try going back to Weigh-Less a few years later, but found I was bored.

Fast forward a few years, and having now regained all the weight I lost – plus interest, I joined Weight-Watchers. I really loved the flexibility of the eating plan and think that psychologically it’s really good to be in charge of your own eating, with tools to measure and control your daily and weekly intake.  Once again I lost approximately 19 kgs, once again I stopped going because I was bored, and true to form the number on the scalecrept back up.

I had a small flirtation with the Atkins Diet. Lost weight quickly, put it on – with interest – twice as fast.

In the early 2000’s, because I was downhill skiing annually at the time, I knew I had to be fit. I went to join the gym, and signed up for the Body for Life program. I have to say that it really worked for me. I never followed their eating program (but by now I did know how to eat LOL).  I was weighed and measured monthly, and the exercise regime was increased in intensity every month. Although it was necessary to go to gym six times a week, the programme only lasted 20 minutes at a time. So it was really easy to fit in, and once I was in the groove, I became very dedicated. When the program was over, I signed up for a Personal Trainer, but eventually I just did not have the money or the motivation to continue.

In 2008 I hit an all-time high weight-wise and for the first time my blood pressure was higher than usual, my cholesterol count a little worrying, and after eating my way around Milan, the time had come for drastic action. A friend introduced me to a dietician who helped me to detoxify first, and then put me on a low GI diet. Five meals a day and no carbohydratess allowed after lunch. I also learned what foods my body does not tolerate. The great thing was the dietitian measured me as well as checking weight, BMI and body fat percentage. I really got into the zone and once again lost 19 kgs (what is it about this number?).  Moreover, apart from having a too thin face, my body was probably a better shape than I had been for a long time (no more thunder thighs)  I stopped my visits just over a year ago, and despite knowing exactly how I should be eating, I am gaining centimeters around my stomach, hips and thighs at a scary rate.  Part of the problem is that I work from home building my business, and so don’t get nearly enough exercise. I joined the gym again last year, but have now acknowledged that I really don’t enjoy gym – this means I always find excuses not to go.

There is a saying in weight-loss circles “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”. I don’t believe this – if it was the case I would simply stay thin!

I decided to write this in the hope that I would learn something about myself, and maybe help others do the same. At the very least, many women out there will know they are not alone. After thinking about and writing the piece, what I now know for sure is:

  • As you grow older, it gets harder and harder to shift the weight. And each time you lose and then gain, you gain a little bit more.
  • When I am motivated to lose weight and shape up, I really do “get with the program”. In fact, I realize that I probably bore my friends going on about my latest diet and how well it is working for me. I become a bit fanatical. I bet they all have a quiet laugh as I grow larger. I do have a sense of letting people down, but it’s not enough to keep me on the straight and narrow..
  • As my GP pointed out, all of these weight-loss programs do work. It’s the motivation that is difficult.
  • I get bored easily (I already know this about myself). This is why I never go back to the same program.
  • Gym is not for me, I need to find a dance class because I love dancing.
  • I need a support system.
  • As much as I enjoy online communities the commitment level is not the same. Although maybe if I ran such a community I would be conscious of needing to be an example.

I need to find the next viable weight-loss program and then “keep it off”. If I could find a weight-loss coach who could also be any exercise buddy, that might help. The Coach would have to challenge me an keep me stimulated. Any suggestions or volunteers?

(I’m also trying to get into the habit of writing – the experts say “Just write anything to get into the habit”. So this is me doing just thaT)

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Speech to text – WTF

I was at WSIS the week before last. One of the sessions I attended was on Ethics in the Information Society, sponsored by Globethics.net.

I’m happy to report that Ethics is becoming a key issue on the UNESCO and ITU agendas.  As a Professional Member of Computer Society South Africa, I subscribe to, and try to live by, a code of ethics. But I digress.

The aforementioned meeting was addressed by authors and others who take a keen interest in Ethics. Most of them were European, and so spoke English with an accent.

I am an Evernote fan. In fact I could be President of the Evernote fan club, I love it so much. However, it’s never easy to type fast enough when taking notes on a Tablet or SmartPhone, so I decided to use the record facility in Evernote for the purpose. What follows is a verbatim transcript of what was recorded in Evernote.

2 years ago we used for young chat to make them pierced they have the weight of a b**misuse** getting her and there young people seem to have a problem talk b havier wuth parents Using air we have all been there many times and there just recently luther king beaver street hi lindsey easy twitter understand
How will society be organized especially education
Mornington volumes thank you for your kind invitation so I will pass out there is still a stop to this is an erection least we were fortunate enough to self listen balls are freezing free Internet and I was born what is the cervix is 6 oz are in a minute experiments ends up when I was old enough and mature enough to understand it up wrestling tonight jane so where is the main generations in a little experiment ends up straight understand what this is all about so I like?

I don’t have any clue how some of these words and phrases were what the device “heard”. It’s a little like some little devil is sitting in the device and typing in words that are almost the antithesis of what the speaker is saying. Is there an Android devil I don’t know about? 🙂

So it strikes me that when I want to take notes quickly, I will still go back to the writing on paper, or using an App that lets me write on my tablet (I have not found a very effective one yet but keep looking).

5 reasons to make your workforce mobile

I was listening to a talk show on the radio yesterday, and was stunned at how inflexible managers are about giving staff time off to take care of sick children, or deal with other personal matters. And it was not just women: a man related the sad tale of how, because his wife suffered from severe post-partum depression leaving responsibility for caring for his new baby to him, he was actually fired. That’s beyond insensitive – it’s just plain cruel!

Can companies afford to lose good people simply because they are totally inflexible? There are almost always alternatives, unless the job is a customer-facing one. Companies should consider making a large percentage of their workforce mobile, and allowing them the option of working from home.

If you think about it, a mobile workforce makes a lot of sense.

  1. The company can drastically reduce its office space, and all the associated costs such as electricity and supplies.
  2. Workers will not spend many frustrating hours commuting. So they are less stressed, the roads are less congested, and it’s a “green” option.
  3. The younger generations are blending their work and family responsibilities with greater opportunities to put more balance in their lives. They are prepared to put in long hours, but at times that suit them.  The “net-generation” has grown up with technology, and so is perfectly adept at using all the technologies at their disposal: laptop computers; tablets; Smartphone’s – and the connectivity that makes all of these things work. An employee does not have to be in a specific place to work.  The “net-generation” is also considered to be the smartest generation, so will be unlikely to accept having to work in the old way
  4. All workers should be judged on their outputs; just because someone is sitting at their desk, does not mean they are actually doing productive work.
  5. Virtual meeting technology enables remote meetings, but do remember that many meetings can be replaced by a well-written memo!

So why aren’t more companies making their workforce mobile, and allowing them to work from home, the local coffee shop, or anywhere else they might find themselves? Well much of it is down to management attitudes, which I have listed in italics together with my rebuttal.

  • Employees cannot fully contribute if working from home. Actually, the contrary is usually the case. The hours usually spent commuting are used for working. Reduced stress makes people more productive.
  • I will not be able to manage the employees if they are not at work. If you can’t manage them if they are not under your nose, you are a very old-fashioned manager. Also, it’s all about trust. It’s important to trust your employees wherever they are located. And if you find you can’t trust them, do some soul-searching – maybe you don’t trust yourself. And if they are really untrustworthy, do you really want them working for you?
  • I will not be able to reach them quickly enough. Why would it take longer to call someone on the mobile phone than an interoffice extension? Part of the contract should be that employees are always reachable during office hours.
  • Wanting to work from home is certainly not something I would expect from a fast tracker. What – are you serious? Fast trackers are the people most likely to want to want to work from home. They know what they want and how to get there, and will probably be more focused without the distractions of an office.
  • Home workers are not team players. It’s up to the leader to build a cohesive team.
  • Homes can be too disruptive to work effectively. There should be an agreement with the employee that they will have a space that can be closed off from the rest of the house. If the person does not have a home office conducive to productive work, then the company should consider assisting to finance  the necessary alterations. Budget for it along with budgeting for the technology.
  • Face-to-face contact is what I am most comfortable with. Get over it – times have changed!
  • We need to be able to rally quickly, brainstorm, solve problems, which can only be done together in the office. This should not be necessary that often. However, you can brainstorm virtually. If it’s really necessary to bring everyone together, call a meeting at the office.
  • There is no way to know what they are really doing at home. And neither should you care, as long as they are delivering what is asked of them.

It’s really all about balancing the risk with the benefits.

The keys to success with virtual teams are:

  • You must lead differently. You need to ensure everyone (including yourself) has a clear and unambiguous role description, with competencies that can be assessed.
  • Communication is vital. You must be clear and unambiguous in all interactions with staff.
  • Concentrate on creating a highly defined process where team members deliver specific results in a repeated sequence – this builds reliability and trust

If you are changing to a mobile workforce, there is a need to hold some workshops with your staff to discuss the new way of working. You can use this forum to set some ground rules.  The move must be managed like any change process.

Sure, not everyone is going to survive the change – but your high-performers will thrive. And aren’t those the ones you really want to keep as highly-engaged, happy and productive workers?

People I would like to bop on the nose …. and why

I often fantasize that on a plane trip I will end up sitting next to the guy (surely it could not have been a gal?) who invented those hand dryers found in cloak-room. In fact calling them a dryer is a misnomer, they don’t really dry your hands, do they? All they do is create a nice warm environment in a place full of germs, for those very germs to thrive. So whilst he is telling me about his great invention, I will be (at least in my imagination),  punching him in the nose.
The other “design feature” I have a real problem with – and again it’s found in public bathrooms – are these wash areas that have no basins, just a bit of slanted marble that the water runs down. Goodness, I thought innovation was meant to make things better! Why is this a problem you might ask? Well I wear contact lens, and even carry a plug around with me (because there is a little kleptomaniac gremlin who always steals basin plugs), for the time when I need to clean them. No chance to do this over the tilted shelf, because drop a lens and kiss it goodbye!
And finally, there is whoever came up with the idea that chaos is a good idea. It might have been Tom Peters. Tom probably always flies up front in First Class, – thinking I might be flying in First Class is a REAL fantasy for me, so I can’t even think I might get close enough to bop him, but I can “kvetch” about it. He and his many disciples will probably tell me it helps innovation, creativity, and all manner of positive outcomes. Me, I think it just causes chaos and trouble for everyone in its wake. I wonder if the good people of Haiti or Chile think chaos is a good idea – I don’t think so.