Jeff Reifman http://jeffreifman.com Lookahead Consulting, Seattle, Washington Mon, 23 Mar 2015 20:00:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Peepless in Seattle: Dating, Friendship, and the Seattle Freeze After Fortyhttp://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/22/peepless-in-seattle-dating-friendship-and-the-seattle-freeze-after-forty/ http://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/22/peepless-in-seattle-dating-friendship-and-the-seattle-freeze-after-forty/#comments Sun, 22 Mar 2015 19:58:26 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4315 A lot of people were confused why 20 thousand additional men in a city might make finding meaningful romance more difficult — for everyone. So, I’ve written a sequel to "You’ve Got Male."

The post Peepless in Seattle: Dating, Friendship, and the Seattle Freeze After Forty appeared first on Jeff Reifman. Follow @reifman on Twitter.

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Empty Bar in Seattle

She took off the last of her clothes and pulled me closer, kissing me and tightening her embrace. I thought I knew what would be next. I reached for a condom and began to tear it open. Suddenly, she said she needed to go and fetched an Uber; she was gone within minutes. She’d been delightful and I’d enjoyed her company the whole evening but seriously, what had I been doing in bed with a 24-year-old from Tinder? Apparently, in that moment, my date was asking herself the same question. The next day she texted, “you seem really great but I think our difference in age is too much for me.” Of course it was.

The honest answer to my question is that I was eager to have any kind of companionship – intimacy and sex of any kind have become increasingly scarce over the past several years. In fact, I’ve found sustaining friendships and fostering community more difficult as well. I’m long past college and have worked independently for over a decade, most of my friends have paired off and had children. Sometimes I wonder if the opportunity to begin deeper social relationships has passed me by.

I’m sharing all of this because I know that a number of you relate.

Seattle’s Changing Face

In May 2014, I blogged about Amazon’s impact on the Seattle dating scene, put simply: “not enough ladies too many mans”. The post quickly went viral and spawned a number of follow-ups – the most popular of which, “Amazon is Killing My Sex Life” by Tricia Romano, made it into the late New York Times’ columnist David Carr’s curriculum for his communications class.

Sad Google Search on Seattle Dating

Sad Google search that appeared in my web analytics

When SeattleMet included me in last July’s “Perfect Dinner Party” with Jay-Z and Beyoncé, I felt a private, poignant irony in how at odds it seemed with my actual social life.

Then, in November 2014, I wrote “‘Amageddon': Seattle’s Increasingly Obvious Future”, which hit a nerve and received well over a hundred thousand page views. In the wake of these posts, I’ve heard from a lot of people about their love-hate relationship with Seattle and its changing face.

I also hear it frequently on my dates – of which there have been many. Too many.

If there’s one thing I can do as a writer, it’s initiate conversations about what’s happening where we live and in our society. As ill-advised as it may seem, I want to share my experience with dating, friendship and the Seattle Freeze after forty.

Friendship

Seattle historian and columnist Knute Berger says that “despite our smiles, we can be a passive-aggressive, cold-shouldered kind of place.” He calls it “Seattle Nice”:

If you’re the kind of person who invites neighbors you’ve never met to a get-to-know you barbecue, well, it might help you to know we have a name for people who do things like that: They’re called ‘stalkers.’

I’ve had the same neighbors for 15 years and while we’ve house-sat for each other’s cats and come over to wish them farewell on the eve of their euthanasia, we’ve never actually had dinner together.

Seattle is infamous for its freeze. For a long time, I was a skeptic but the growth of the city and its male-dominated tech scene has brought a unique new chill.

My housemates and I have hosted a number of fun dinner parties but in Seattle one serves as a perpetual host because the invitations are nearly never reciprocated. After a while those unrequited relationships get really old. I’ve gradually begun a purposeful fade from acquaintances who rarely make the effort that I do to reach out.

I’ve also signed off Facebook. The company exists primarily to market deeply personal information about us to for profit corporations. Science tells us that it can make us feel badly and “the heaviest users are either neurotics or narcissists.” Plus I thought (perhaps naively) that anyone who wanted to keep in touch would do so in person. Honestly, most haven’t.

As comfortable as I remain with my decision, my departure from Facebook has impacted my social life, as Portlandia so eloquently captures: once Carrie disconnects, Fred forgets he ever knew her:

As I’ve matured, I’m seeking more quality relationships from both friends and loved ones – relationships that are regularly nurtured with equal effort. I’ve learned that the path of finding this can be a long and solitary one.

Most of my married and/or parenting friends used to invite me to their daytime parties with other families, but slowly we all realized it’s not much fun to be the single person at those events, and my attendance and the invitations slowed.

I went to college far from where I grew up and settled in a town across the country from there. I’ve worked independently for 15 years, either running small teams or working alone. I’ve considered leaving consulting to return to traditional work partly for the social benefits but I’m pretty sure I’d be miserable if I deepen my roots any further in Seattle. I’m concerned about where the city’s headed and its values. (If “Amageddon” concerned you – note that Amazon’s acquiring enough office space to double and possibly triple its headcount by 2019.)

Isolation in the evenings is more pronounced than it used to be since few of us talk on the phone anymore. I had dinner with a woman who’d recently begun dating again after a divorce. “It seems like people do a lot of texting,” she said. I know millennials experience this differently but texts still feel transactional to me, best used when you’re running late (if you’re one of those people who still meets friends in person).

Perhaps it’s that talking on cellphones still sucks. Who wants to punctuate their conversations with, “No, I didn’t move! Can you hear me now?” Or perhaps it’s that the average American watches five hours of television a day. No wonder we’ve stopped calling each other, it interferes with “House of Cards”.

Dating

Something broke for me when my Tinder date rode off in her Uber. Certainly, the social scientist in me found it interesting to see someone’s brain flip so quickly from sexual expression to the intellectual assessment of risks and consequences, cultural expectations, and potential emotional baggage. Ultimately, I had to accept that dating in Seattle was no longer working for me and it’s been this way for a long time now.

Frankly, dating in my 40s here has sucked.

In “You’ve Got Male”, I estimated that Amazon’s Seattle headcount has grown by nearly 20 thousand since 2010. The company refuses to release its technology diversity numbers. They’ve brought so many men to Seattle a friend said she’s heard their tech workforce is 95% male. After my dating article, I began to take more notice around town – even geekily counting at times. Once at my favorite coffee house, there were 18 men and one woman. These are numbers that don’t naturally occur in nature.

Seattle Gentrification Capitol Hill

Credit: Cultures clash as gentrification engulfs Capitol Hill: Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times

Make no mistake, the culture of Seattle is changing. In addition to Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing, Google, Apple, Facebook, SpaceX, and many other firms are moving in or expanding investments. The San Francisco-ization of Seattle is well underway.

Critics said “You’ve Got Male” sounded “entitled”, but it’s a natural human desire to find a partner and demographics matter. When every community activity you attend is overpopulated by guys, it makes finding a potential match significantly harder.

Undesired Attention

Another downside to the abundance of men in Seattle is that women are bombarded with unwanted come-ons and requests for sex. A woman I met who just arrived in town said she’s already had a dinner out interrupted by a drunk guy hitting on her and on another night, received drunk texts from a coworker. Another woman said that she frequently receives texts with unsolicited dick pics as soon as she gives out her number.

Browse any dating site and you’ll see large numbers of women with disclaimers: “NOT looking for casual hookups,” “NOT here for random sex!” or one of a plethora of variations in this theme. It’s a way women are trying to deflect this type of undesired attention.

But one of the challenges I’ve found with dating in my 40s is that most people are so focused on finding long-term relationships, that physical intimacy in between those rarified relationships is scarce.

We’re immersed in a dysfunctional culture that celebrates male promiscuity and largely shames female promiscuity. This and the current demographic trends may have other consequences as well.

Berger reports, “Seattle’s sex industry is undergoing an explosive period of growth with brothels replaced by social media and online sex sites…Human trafficking is again a major concern; feeding libidos is a lucrative business.” Diplomatically, he says, “There’s no evidence that this is due to Amazon men.” Maybe they’re only buying cars.

If women want sex, I presume it’s easy for them to find – there are guys lining up for that (with dick pics!) In “What I Learned About ‘Myself’ From Internet Trolls”, Romano found it curious that no one had suggested, “the girls are obviously not sleeping with [Reifman] because they can sleep with hot 20-year-old guys with ripped abs.”

She may be right; I’ve slept alone most of the last two years.

When I occasionally check in with “Savage Love”, I frequently wonder what universe people write from. In my experience, sexual fluidity and the opportunity for experimentation is scarce. However, I empathized with the husband who opened his marriage only to find that his wife was in high demand and he was not:

She has hundreds of men lined up to take her out on dates and is gone most nights of the week. I am happy for her and love that she’s having a good time, but I am bored and lonely at home and have no idea how to meet like-minded, young, attractive women.

Good luck with that. But let’s be honest, my dating difficulties run deeper than gender imbalance.

Shopping For People

I’ve had literally over a hundred dates in the past two years but connection has been elusive.

Maybe it’s me, but maybe it’s because the ubiquity of online and mobile dating is changing the way we meet and build relationships with people and not for the better. It’s turning us into shoppers of people.

Sharif Corinaldi, a geeky OKCupid hacker, recently wrote in The Guardian, “online dating sites are built on this perverse, inverted pyramid of desirability.” He says, “Women rated as highly attractive get 28 times more messages than women rated on the lower end of the hotness curve.”

Young women and women that reflect cultural perceptions of attractiveness are more empowered dating than ever. In their hands, they hold apps with queues of men waiting to take them out or take them home. A young sex positive female data analyst I met via OKCupid told me proudly that when she swipes right on Tinder in Seattle, 98% of the men match her back.

hacker made tinder bot

Artist Tully Arnot’s Tinder Robot

Most of the women I’ve met on OKCupid say they typically receive from 15 to 50 messages weekly – and many of them are also receiving messages on Tinder. That’s the noise a Seattle guy has to break through. Corinaldi estimated he might need to send four hundred messages to get a date.

Women frequently complain about the short messages men send them online; the reason may be that we’re exhausted. I’m a writer and even I can only send so many intriguing emails before the lack of response saps me of my last ounce of cleverness.

Yes, online dating in Seattle feels like work and as such has turned some users into professionals. Many first dates feel like interviews. Checklists are inventoried and it often feels like people are swiping me left in their mind. I try but it’s hard to inject any playfulness into these outings. A nurse I met who gets three days off weekly said she once scheduled four dates in a day (it didn’t sound to me like a one time thing.)

The amount of time people spend on Tinder is ridiculous:

Mobile Dating Apps Market Share By Session - Tinder

And its growth the past few years parallels the changes I’ve seen in the culture of dating:

tinder-mau

Tinder may be the one-click ordering of the dating world for some but for me the opposite is true. If I want to feel badly about myself, Tinder is the go-to app.

Stories abound of geeks like Corinaldi hacking dating sites, a sure indication the technology’s not working well for everyone.

Dating technology creates a perception of abundance but many men and women feel left out.

Says Corinaldi, “The problem is that the likelihood of a successful pairing decreases quadratically with the pickiness of the participants.”

Second and third dates are no longer part of the dating culture; why bother when there are always more people? This may be the first time in our lives when you meet a date that they’re comparing you to scores of recent suitors and return home to messages from half a dozen more.

Even if you set aside time for a date, same day cancellations are epidemic – it happens about a third of the time:

Seattle Dating Last minute cancellation

It used to be commonplace for me to build friendships from first and second dates that weren’t a romantic fit. These days, women I meet are often so busy socially and professionally that it’s hard to make new friends. More recently, most of my exes moved so quickly into new relationships that we drifted apart or our friendship ended as their new relationships deepened. An acquaintance that wanted to set me up said the friend she’d planned to connect me with just got engaged with a guy she recently met online.

Most of the women I’ve met in Seattle are fluidly cycling in and out of relationships, whereas I’ve been single for most of the last four years.

Fuck Yes or No

I agree with Mark Manson’s eloquent “Fuck Yes or No”:

The Law of ‘Fuck Yes or No’ states that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say ‘Fuck Yes’ in order for you to proceed with them [and] that when you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a ‘Fuck Yes’ in order for you to proceed with them.

But one thing I’ve noticed from my dates is that few people seem satisfied – in fact, most seem less satisfied than ever.

Recently I had a promising first date that went well enough to last three and a half hours. A few days later she emailed me, “I must say, I had a really great time with you over the course of dinner and the evening. I found you to be very relatable and I believe we share many similarities in terms of our worldview and approach to life. You certainly did and would challenge me to aspire to be my best self.” But that wasn’t enough, she continued, “At this point, I’m not sure if I feel like there is much potential for us to be great romantic partners.”

In my experience, the combination of Seattle’s gender imbalance coupled with mobile dating technologies mean that I much less frequently meet women in public who are single. In the past, I began a number of serious relationships with women I initially met offline. We’d flirt and I’d ask to join them. It might just be me, but straight flirting seems dead in Seattle. I sense a distinct lack of availability.

It might be our laptops, smartphones, headphones and our constant texting and swiping – I just don’t know how to make eye contact with people anymore. And I rarely sense that women in Seattle are open to meeting people in the real world, although if I were getting all those texts of dick pics I would probably be a little more closed off too.

The avenues by which we used to meet and build relationships in real life have been slowly closed off by our technologies.

Aging and Obesity

I’m a lefty activist with strong political views; I’m vegetarian, drug free and I prefer to live a healthy aware lifestyle inspired by yoga practice and philosophy, so meeting people out at night is difficult for me.

Age definitely makes it harder to find partners that are health conscious and have a desire to remain active.

A fit older friend who practices yoga regularly complained to me that she’s stopped dating because the men she’d met online were completely out of shape. But even a woman in her 30s told me she’s having difficulty finding fit men her age.

Seattle Techies at Happy Hour

Seattle Techies at Happy Hour

The CDC reports that 69% of adult Americans are overweight or obese. In researching How Seahawk Are You Seattle, Sorry Not Much, I learned that the average weight for men rose ‘dramatically’ from 166.3 pounds in 1960 to 191 pounds in 2002; women went from 140.2 pounds 164.3 pounds.

These results have played out in my experience in the Seattle dating pool and in my own body. An injury and surgery derailed me from running and hiking and keeping up with more active communities the last couple of seasons. I put on weight. I wasn’t obviously overweight but over the last eight months I’ve managed to lose a surprising 30 pounds and counting.

Author Brene Brown says, “We are the most in-debt, obese, addicted and medicated adult cohort in U.S. history.” Whether with food, prescriptions, or recreational drugs, a lot of us medicate to handle the challenges of modern life. The New York Times reports, “One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication; among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is one in four.” And those are just the pharmaceuticals.

What I’ve Learned

Microsoft brought me to Seattle more than 20 years ago. You could say I was part of an early wave of “program bromanagers.” I’m also a beneficiary of the region’s technology successes.

Street Art Capitol Hill Gentrification Seattle

While you can make a lot of people a lot of money, you can’t hire mostly men for decades without breaking something in a place.

I’m pleased to see Intel and Apple make significant investments in diversity but regional behemoths Amazon and Microsoft have not.

I’m not sure present and future Seattle is for me. Certainly, the demographics make dating an uphill battle I no longer want to struggle with.

There’s amusingly terrifying logic to David Kestenbaum’s anecdote from This American Life: basically the odds of finding an ideal relationship partner where you live is essentially zero.

And unfortunately for Northwest guys, gender balance is nowhere nearby:

Metros with More Single Men

As much as technology erodes our real world communication skills, I know it can bring people together. But, at the end of a day on the computer, the last thing I want to do is get back online sending messages in the hopes of meeting new people.

The week of my Amazon post, a dormant article I’d written about relationship cutoff from the year before suddenly went viral when an advice blogger wrote about it and an acquaintance of my ex launched a harassment campaign against me. For a week, my Twitter feed was filled with rage and personal attacks. Some of the nicer folks said they were glad my photo appeared on the article so Google could ensure I never got a date again. Others mocked my Amazon post and suggested I look in the mirror, that the problem was me.

Rest assured, over the last few years, I’ve considered that seriously too.

Facing Yourself

Living with sustained isolation has forced me to face myself and focus on changes I wish to make. For me, yoga has helped build capacity for this process. And, it’s also made me more selective about the kinds of people I want in my life – yet another reason that these days I date less, not more.

This past year, my writing and consulting has taken off. I’ve never been more satisfied with the person I’ve become and other areas of my life. Routinely I hear from women I date that they feel quickly comfortable with me and from acquaintances that they’re glad I’m a part of their community. I’ve stepped up my friendship game. I’ve become a better listener. I make time for people and I try to stay playful.

But in Seattle, none of this has translated into deeper friendships or meaningful romance.

I’ve never been a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of guy; I’m more of a “tend your lawn” type. But, after years of my best efforts, I have to accept that something in the soil here may have gone bad.

So I’ve decided it’s time to get out of Seattle for a bit. I’ve traveled more frequently in the Northwest and have made arrangements to be increasingly nomadic the remainder of the year.

Evolution-based theories of attraction say that online dating undermines a legacy of subtle cues we’ve developed to identify optimal partners. I’m ready to try meeting more people in the real world away from saturated areas of tech culture. Wish me luck.

Note: There’s now a landing page for sharing on social media if you want to post with a bit of added discretion: http://jeffreifman.com/peepless-in-seattle/

The post Peepless in Seattle: Dating, Friendship, and the Seattle Freeze After Forty appeared first on Jeff Reifman. Follow @reifman on Twitter.

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Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Poundshttp://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/21/hacking-weight-loss-what-i-learned-losing-30-pounds/ http://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/21/hacking-weight-loss-what-i-learned-losing-30-pounds/#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2015 22:35:59 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4275 Over the past nine months, I’ve lost 30 pounds and counting. It’s taken discipline and commitment but I’ve never felt uncomfortable or experienced significant periods of hunger. I feel tremendously better in my body. My blood pressure’s dropped from 135s/90s (pre-hypertension) to 110-125/70-80. My total cholesterol has dropped from 186 to 144 (and LDL from 134 to 85). I’ve learned so much ...

The post Hacking Weight Loss: What I Learned Losing 30 Pounds appeared first on Jeff Reifman. Follow @reifman on Twitter.

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Over the past nine months, I’ve lost 30 pounds and counting. It’s taken discipline and commitment but I’ve never felt uncomfortable or experienced significant periods of hunger. I feel tremendously better in my body. My blood pressure’s dropped from 135s/90s (pre-hypertension) to 110-125/70-80. My total cholesterol has dropped from 186 to 144 (and LDL from 134 to 85). I’ve learned so much through this process that I’d like to share this with others.

Obesity is epidemic, most Americans struggle with it. The CDC reports that 69% of adult Americans are overweight or obese. The average weight for men rose ‘dramatically’ from 166.3 pounds in 1960 to 191 pounds in 2002; women went from 140.2 pounds to 164.3 pounds. Obesity is the second leading cause of preventable death in our country. If you’re in the tech industry like me, you’re likely at greater risk due to the sedentary nature of our job. But, Nielsen reports that even average Americans spend 11 hours per day in front of a screen.

In 2011, I injured my knee and spent a year trying to rehabilitate. Finally, I chose to have surgery at the end of 2012. I couldn’t run for nearly two years and I gradually put on weight.

Here’s what I looked like before in July 2014 at 200 pounds and after in March 2015 at 170 pounds:

before-after-final

I thought I was 15 pounds overweight for my build. The most surprising part of this experience was slowly discovering that I’d been 30 possibly 40 pounds heavier than an optimal weight. I mirrored that CDC study.

I’ve literally turned back the clock in pounds between fifteen and twenty years. And, I did so without any running. Here’s a fun chart of my weight through adulthood based on drivers licenses and older workout sheets I managed to find:

Weight By Year

Weight By Year

I briefly hit 169 back in 2011 during a difficult breakup. But, I haven’t remained at that weight since somewhere between 1995 and 2000.

How I Lost The Weight

In 2014, I purchased a Fitbit Aria Wi-Fi Scale and began recording my weight each morning. That’s how I know I’d reached 200.1 pounds in July 2014.

In September 2014, I met with a nutritionist and began actively trying to lose weight. I was 197.3 pounds. For about a year, my blood pressure had reached borderline hypertension regularly testing above 135 / 90. I was taking naturopathic supplements to reduce it.

Weight Loss Since July 2014

Weight Loss Since July 2014

I began tracking my calorie intake using MyFitnessPal (the iOS app is very efficient at this, the website is not). In addition to knowing the calorie counts and protein levels of most common foods, it allows you to scan barcodes as well. It works incredibly well and is easy to make a habit of.

I’ve largely been a healthy eater and completely vegetarian for many years, but I’d been eating more than I need. I began by instituting a daily calorie limit of 1,850. It felt like a lot less than I’d been eating and at first, it was a bit of an adjustment but I was never uncomfortable.

Gradually, I rediscovered the occasional, normal sensation of hunger that I’d lost to the rule of snacking before you get hungry.

It’s important to eat sufficient protein to encourage your body to focus on burning fat and not muscle. My daily protein goal was 100 grams. It also helps to workout on a slightly empty stomach to target fat burning.

My workouts for most of this entire period consisted of some muscle strengthening (PT rehab, mostly) and low impact mellow cardio (elliptical, spin, real stairs, et al.) workouts between 25 and 45 minutes, generally 30-35 minutes. I was typically at the gym four to six days a week with some breaks when I traveled. I only practiced yoga intermittently in order to focus on my cardio at the gym.

After about a month, I weighed 191.6 pounds. I wanted to progress a bit faster, so working with my nutritionist, I cut my calorie count to 1,700 calories. I’ll describe how I did this in a healthy manner below.

By January 1st, 2014, I weighed 180.4 pounds. I’d made tremendous progress but I was still carrying significant body fat, approximately 18%; and I could see it in the mirror.

I began to flexibly aim for 1,600 calories per day. During January, I averaged between 1,650 and 1,700 calories daily with some lower days. It was definitely a bit of a challenge to carefully monitor my food limits during the day but again I was never uncomfortable or experiencing even moderate hunger. Typically, I’d eat 450 calories for breakfast, 500 for lunch and 650 in the evening.

Daily Calorie Count

Daily Calorie Count

As your body fat comes down, it takes less food to maintain your weight. As you approach your goals, your weight loss will slow down and become more difficult. I began adding gradually more intensive speed intervals to my cardio routines e.g. 2 minute slow, 1 minute fast, et al.

By mid-February, I weighed about 175.8 pounds. I was feeling tremendously empowered and skillful. At this point, I made a personal choice to keep going and to accelerate my efforts. I don’t recommend this for others but I felt comfortable lowering my calorie threshold to 1,500 calories. That’s about 450 calories for breakfast and lunch and 600 in the evening. Doing this took great focus and discipline. I continued to aim for 100 grams of protein daily.

Daily Protein Consumption

Daily Protein Consumption

Again, the only reason I was able to succeed doing this is because I had gradually been reducing my food intake over eight months. Each step down was a small incremental step which my body felt ready for. There’s no way I would have succeeded beginning with a 1,600 calorie daily goal.

In early March, I also increased my cardio time to between 45 minutes or an hour on most days.  It took longer than I expected but I finally reached 169 pounds in mid-March. Even at 1,500 calories, I’ve never felt an increased struggle or added hunger — mostly, I’ve felt great.

Over time, my body fat went from a high of 21% down to a low of 12.5%:

Body Fat Reduction

How I Reduced My Calorie Count

It helps greatly if you are willing to eat similar foods day to day that are easy to track, at least for breakfast. My go-to breakfast was the highest protein (10g) Kind Bar (Almond Walnut Macadamia) (200 cal), a Fage 2% yoghurt (150 cal), an apple (70-85 calories)  and a tall nonfat latte (100 cal). The repetitive routine helps you stick to your daily calorie counts and it allows your body to “acclimate” to a certain amount of food per meal.

daily-food example thumbIt doesn’t matter as much if your calorie counts are exact as much as it matters that you count what you eat consistently. Check out a food log from my typical day.

In order to reduce the amount of calories, I began gradually substituting lower calorie replacements:

  • My tall nonfat latte (100 cal), became a short nonfat latte (70 cal) which became a tall Americano (15 cals) and eventually an espresso (6 calories). It turns out that I prefer the intense taste of short lattes and espresso.
  • My Fage 2% (150 cal) transitioned to a Fage 0% (100 cal)

I also greatly reduced the frequency of high calorie beverages I’d grown used to drinking. For me, that meant giving up Kombucha (150 calories in some cases), Coconut Water (100 calories) and even Greens Juice (50 cals). Instead, I’d have water, sparkling water and Diet Coke. I haven’t had much beer during this time. My favorite, stout, can have up to 200 calories. Instead, I have red wine a few days a week (120 cals). In the future I’ll drink more schooners and less pints.

Surprisingly, I stopped making smoothies – in general, these packed too many calories for my daily budget. To ensure I kept up my protein intake, I supplemented many days with Whey Protein and Skim Almond Milk using a shaker cup. This was quick and easy to prepare and about 120 cals combined.

Instead of eating a whole bar of dark chocolate (420 cals), I’d literally have 2-3 squares each night (50-75 cals). It became surprisingly soothing to have a bit of chocolate.

I began drinking tea nightly, hearty tea. My favorite is Traditional Medicinals Licorice Root tea (0 cals) or tea to help me sleep like Bedtime Yogi Tea. Tea is a great substitute for late night snacking.

Carrots and celery are your friend. You can eat a lot of them without piling on the calories, though celery is better in this regard.

Instead of eating a whole medium pizza, I learned to eat 1-2 slices (depending on the meal). I learned that tortilla chips and rice are the enemy. I ate very small amounts of them generally and only a few french fries here and there.

Occasionally, I had a few bites of other people’s desserts but for the most part, I’ve had no muffins or baked goods since last summer.

While I initially ate a lot of prepared deli food at my coop, I gradually realized that the amount of oils they use in preparation created artificially high calorie counts that I needed to avoid.

I actually eat out a lot so would often have a pita plate with humous or a black bean burger with a salad – often with a glass of wine. This would mostly fit into my 600 calorie dinner limit. As I lowered my calorie count to 1,600 and then 1,500, I began to occasionally repeat my breakfast at lunch – or have a small vegetarian burrito or a single slice of pizza with yoghurt and carrots or celery.

I probably have leaned a bit more on caffeine throughout this period. I’ve frequently had an afternoon coffee, which isn’t typical for me. I expect to wean myself off of this gradually. Stimulants suppress your appetite and an afternoon latte or espresso felt like a personal treat in an otherwise regimented diet.

Related Links

What Else I Learned

People initially began to notice my weight loss after about eight to ten pounds but much more frequently after 25 pounds. Over time, the folks at the gym (both staff and members) began to root me on which provided a great boost (thanks Zum!) After 15 pounds, my pants began to fall down without a belt.

As my weight’s come down, my blood pressure returned to near normal ranges of 110 – 125 / 70 – 80 and my pulse dropped from 80s to 60s. I reduced my body fat from 21% to 12.5%. My total cholesterol has dropped from 186 to 144 (and LDL from 134 to 85).

Counting calories and reducing the calorie thresholds gradually over time was key to my success. I never tracked workout calories in MyFitnessPal because I think that makes it too easy to cheat yourself and eat more. I didn’t use a FitBit to track my workouts either.

My workouts were never hard core but as my weight loss increased it became easier and easier to increase their intensity. Climbing steps became easier as well. Taking 30 pounds off my knee for the rest of my life will be incredibly helpful long term.

Because I’ve lost the weight gradually over time (about one to one and a half pounds weekly), I’ve acclimated my metabolism to my exercise and diet routine. However, I plan to continue counting calories for some time. When I’m ready to normalize my eating, I’ll increase my calorie threshold, first to 1,650 and stay there for some time to ensure I’m not gaining back weight. Then, if that works well, I’ll return to 1,700 and 1,750. I don’t expect to be able to go higher than that and stay below 170 pounds.

My nutritionist recommends setting an ideal weight range e.g. 168-172 rather than having an exact weight. If I notice my weight creep upwards, it’s time to return to more careful calorie counting and exercise.

The Most Important Lesson

hhh-cover

One of my favorite yoga teachers, Sarahjoy Marsh, recently authored Hunger, Hope, and Healing: A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Food. I’ve trained with Marsh for yoga the past several years. She’s been a huge inspiration to me, helped me heal and grow personally and influenced my path and my writing.

Hunger, Hope and Healing is oriented to help people heal their relationship with food.

Over the past few years, I’ve completed more than 600 hours of yoga teacher training. This, counseling and my yoga training with Marsh has really helped me become a more resilient, positive person. Many people have a hyperactive inner-critic. Certainly, I’m not immune to negative feelings such as shame but I no longer beat myself up psychologically. I’m kind, gentle and supportive with myself. I’m quick to remind myself that I’m human and it’s always okay to have faults, imperfections and vulnerabilities — and to make mistakes.

This foundation of psychological health made it easy for me to approach weight loss with an entirely positive frame of mind. I never felt there was anything wrong with me. On days where I ate a bit much or gained back a few pounds, it was nothing more than a step in the process — it had no emotional meaning packed into it. I never felt that cutting calories was an act of self-denial or punishment. I never blamed myself for missteps or taking a day or two off from the gym.

Upon reflection, this was an essential part of my sustained focus for the past eight months. If you venture down this path, I’d encourage you to integrate counseling (and perhaps yoga) into your plan.

If you’re facing the challenge of being overweight or obese — or disordered eating, I hope you find something in this post that is inspiring or helpful. I know how difficult a struggle it is. It’s taken me much longer than I ever expected. Take a long term view e.g. six months or twelve months. The rewards are worth it. I truly wish you the best.

Please feel free to share your experience.

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What Are the Odds of Finding Your Ideal Partner (in Seattle)?http://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/19/what-are-the-odds-of-finding-your-ideal-partner-in-seattle/ http://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/19/what-are-the-odds-of-finding-your-ideal-partner-in-seattle/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 06:15:59 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4210 For its Valentines Day episode in 2013, This American Life’s David Kestenbaum shared an anecdote of physicists trying to calculate the odds of finding a girlfriend in Boston. They began with the population of Boston, adjusted for the female contingent that they were searching for, adjusted for the fraction within ten years of his age who were single college graduates ...

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wheedle noodle

For its Valentines Day episode in 2013, This American Life’s David Kestenbaum shared an anecdote of physicists trying to calculate the odds of finding a girlfriend in Boston. They began with the population of Boston, adjusted for the female contingent that they were searching for, adjusted for the fraction within ten years of his age who were single college graduates and finally guessed at the percentage of those who would be attracted to him. They reached about 2,500 people. And that’s before they considered anything personal. Kestenbaum concludes that it’s “like finding a needle in a haystack.”

When they re-calculated for a tall women physicist who prefers men taller than herself, the answer quickly became zero. “She’s still single,” he says.

How About In Seattle?

In May 2014, I wrote You’ve Got Male about Amazon’s rapid growth and male dominant hiring practices were impacting Seattle dating. The article went viral and generated a number of popular followup articles.

Recently, I decided to walk through Kestenbaum’s exercise for myself in Seattle. What are the odds of finding your ideal partner under the Space Needle?

By the way, the image above is from a book called, Wheedle and the Noodle. I very much enjoyed the Wheedle on the Needle series as a child and it probably played a subconscious role in my moving here. Apparently the Wheedle’s not real, whatever. Kittens are.

We’ll use census data for the first few calculations. There are about 608,660 people in Seattle. Of these, about 307,373 are women. About 75,571 of these are within a fifteen year age appropriate range.

About 57% of these are college graduates, leaving 43,378 women (if that’s your thing).

About 61% of these are single, leaving 26,504 women.

About 99% of these women are in the typical height range that date me (up to 5’10”). Women taller than that don’t seem to go for me.

I’d prefer to date someone with a job, that leaves about 18,086 women.

My ideal partner lives a healthy lifestyle, not overweight or obese. According to the CDC, that leaves about 31% or 5,607 women.

Estimating from here is more challenging. Let’s assume that 10% of these find us somewhat attractive (sure, might be high). That leaves about 561.

Let’s take away a quarter of these women due to the gender imbalance in Seattle which I wrote about in You’ve Got Male. That leaves 421. If you’re a female, multiple by 1.33 instead.

Then, let’s try to find someone who shares one of my three favorite interests yoga, snow sports or vegetarianism. Let’s guess that 20% of the remaining women share at least one of these. That leaves 112 women in Seattle that would be a good fit for me. If you’re less picky, your pool will be larger.

Finally, let’s assume that 10% of these will have that intangible chemistry with us where we’d hit it off on a date.

odds-seattle

Ultimately, there are 11 women in Seattle that are perfect for me. Your mileage may vary.

On the bright side, we only need to find one of them, unless you’re polyamorous.

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Why You’re Not Smart Enough to Work At Googlehttp://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/18/not-smart-enough-to-work-at-google/ http://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/18/not-smart-enough-to-work-at-google/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 05:47:45 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4252 While attempting to set up a new Google DoubleClick for Publishers account for a tutorial I’m writing, I ran into some of Google’s advanced authentication systems. Those folks are such geniuses. They call it nO-Auth. You could never work at Google because you would never think of designing an authentication system this secure: A system so secure, that it integrates ...

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While attempting to set up a new Google DoubleClick for Publishers account for a tutorial I’m writing, I ran into some of Google’s advanced authentication systems. Those folks are such geniuses. They call it nO-Auth.

You could never work at Google because you would never think of designing an authentication system this secure:

A system so secure, that it integrates across Google with Gmail to conceal all of its verification emails in spam:
google-spam-small

So secure that it blocks access to even registered users, like this:

And, this:
google-unauth

And, this:
adsense-unauth

Before ever granting access to a user interface as simple as this:
dfp-home

You could never work at Google, nor could I.

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Why Clinton Email Server Has Legshttp://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/05/clintons-private-email-server-legs/ http://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/05/clintons-private-email-server-legs/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 19:07:59 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4232 The political left may want the media to let the Clinton email server story die but I think it highlights some of the more troubling aspects of our experience with the Clinton legacy. While the most obvious reason Hillary Clinton would run her own email would be to gain control over archiving and public disclosure requests such as FOIAs and ...

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clinton-bioThe political left may want the media to let the Clinton email server story die but I think it highlights some of the more troubling aspects of our experience with the Clinton legacy.

While the most obvious reason Hillary Clinton would run her own email would be to gain control over archiving and public disclosure requests such as FOIAs and subpoenas, another possibility is that she wished to avoid snooping by right wing conservative activists within the NSA, such as a right wing Edward Snowden type.

Since there was nothing super secret about her use of the domain name clintonemail.com, why not just use a discrete gmail account as others have done? It’s very possible Clinton’s team knew of NSA’s ability to snoop gmail. If true, it would mean that Clinton wanted to opt out of the domestic spying for which the Obama administration has continued to subject all of us to.

The best technical reporting I’ve seen thus far is, Clinton’s E-Mail Built for Privacy Though Not Security (Bloomberg), which seems to indicate that she may have used Microsoft products. Some expect that Microsoft’s products are also susceptible to NSA snooping – so it may be that the Clintons understandably wanted to minimize fallout from future right wing witch-hunts.

Yet, running her email privately shows arrogance for transparency and the public’s right to know the government’s business. Her team’s arrogance is clear in this week’s emails between her longtime aide Phillip Reines and journalists.

Her tweet that she wants the state department to release her emails is disingenuous at best and an attempt to deliberately mislead the public at worst:

Clearly, by running its own email server, the Clinton team had full control over which emails to turn over for public disclosure to the State Department.

Her tweet is so intellectually dishonest that it brings back to mind President Clinton’s famous, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

Further, her decision to run state department business over private email servers shows a lack of sensitivity and political judgment to how Americans might perceive this action. It’s mind-boggling to me that anyone in the Clinton team would ever have thought this could be a good idea.

Worse yet, it shows a lack of technical acumen on her team. They thought they had the technical capacity to easily secure her server better than the U.S. government, which apparently they clearly didn’t. Political leaders like Clinton remain weak at grappling with the challenges and intricacy of technology – and it weakens their leadership and hurts all of us. Ultimately, there’s no way to know if she put state secrets at risk – this from a leader who advocated for prosecuting Chelsea Manning for leaking state department cables.

This story invokes many of the worst aspects of the Clintons and that’s why it has legs.

Related Links

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Funded By Seattle Real Estate Developers, Forbes Writer Attacks Amazon Critichttp://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/03/funded-seattle-real-estate-developers-forbes-writer-attacks-amazon-critic/ http://jeffreifman.com/2015/03/03/funded-seattle-real-estate-developers-forbes-writer-attacks-amazon-critic/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 07:30:04 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4223 Upton Sinclair said, “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it*.” This is evident in Roger Valdez’s column in Forbes today (How Jobs and Awkward White Men Are Destroying a City) in which he likens my criticism of Amazon’s overwhelming impacts on Seattle to racism against Chinese immigrants in the late ...

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Upton Sinclair said, “it is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it*.” This is evident in Roger Valdez’s column in Forbes today (How Jobs and Awkward White Men Are Destroying a City) in which he likens my criticism of Amazon’s overwhelming impacts on Seattle to racism against Chinese immigrants in the late 19th century. While Forbes says that, “Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own” Valdez doesn’t disclose clearly that his nonprofit’s funding appears to be largely funded by the commercial real estate developers building towers for Amazon including the Master Builder’s Association, NAIOP Washington State (Commercial Real Estate Development Association) and at least until earlier today, Vulcan – Paul Allen’s real estate development venture which owns and develops much of the property around Amazon’s headquarters.  (When I looked earlier today Vulcan was on their sponsor page, now they’re not – but you can see them in last week’s Archive.org snapshot**.)

Sinclair understood the difference between speaking out for the powerless vs. the powerful. Valdez mocks my concern and others’ in Seattle over Amazon’s disregard of women in technology (Amazon’s so far refused to release its technology workforce diversity numbers.) He also mocks my concerns for lower income Seattle residents being rapidly pushed out of neighborhoods due to the fastest rising rents in the country. He labels my criticism of Amazon’s white male-dominated culture as just another kind of discrimination.

spite-mounds-seattle

His accusations of reverse-gender discrimination and racism remind me of what Samuel Johnson meant when he said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Coincidentally, Amazon’s headquarters is located very near the site of the city’s 19th century Denny Regrade sluicing (shown right) which rendered many residents’ homes worthless. Amazon’s the beneficiary of multi-generational disenfranchisement.

Seattle’s granted Amazon and its real estate developers one of the biggest free rides in modern times; the city’s had no impact fees. Amazon’s growth is a major (but not only) contributor to the city’s fourth worst traffic in the nation. Its in-city headquarters may be smart growth but its policies and lack of transparency on gender balance are not. Its impact on lower income residents is also a serious problem. The company and its advocates should stop dismissing these issues and their critics.

My GeekWire column which Valdez referenced went hugely viral and tapped into the pent up frustration many Seattleites have for the company’s rapid growth to date. Meanwhile, Amazon’s acquired enough real estate to at least double if not triple its in-city headcount in the next five years.

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* A colleague who wished to remain anonymous emailed me the Upton Sinclair quote upon reading the Forbes piece.

** I reached out to Valdez via email tonight and he responded, “[Vulcan was] a founding sponsor for 2014. They’re putting their resources into opposing the linkage taxes [impact fees] being proposed. So they haven’t contributed for 2015. They may come back later as a sponsor.” He has not yet responded to my followup asking if the timing for the removal was related to the publication of the Forbes column (but it’s late in the evening 11:24 PM PST).

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Hunger, Hope, and Healing: A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Foodhttp://jeffreifman.com/2015/02/21/hunger-hope-healing-yoga-approach-reclaiming-relationship-body-food/ http://jeffreifman.com/2015/02/21/hunger-hope-healing-yoga-approach-reclaiming-relationship-body-food/#comments Sat, 21 Feb 2015 22:05:40 +0000 http://jeffreifman.com/?p=4206 Discounted through February 24th: Use offer code HHHPC14 at Shambala. One of my most inspired yoga teachers, Sarahjoy Marsh, has a book coming out this week. It’s called, Hunger, Hope, and Healing: A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Food. I’ve trained with Sarahjoy for the past several years. She’s been a huge inspiration to me, helped ...

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hhh-coverDiscounted through February 24th: Use offer code HHHPC14 at Shambala.

One of my most inspired yoga teachers, Sarahjoy Marsh, has a book coming out this week. It’s called, Hunger, Hope, and Healing: A Yoga Approach to Reclaiming Your Relationship to Your Body and Food.

I’ve trained with Sarahjoy for the past several years. She’s been a huge inspiration to me, helped me heal and influenced my path and my writing. Her teachings have been helpful to me and she shares many of the same concepts in her new book.

Hunger, Hope and Healing is oriented to help people heal their relationship with food:

“Yoga philosophy and practice are increasingly being used therapeutically to help people overcome disordered eating patterns—like overeating, food addiction, and stress eating—and the resulting emotional distress they can cause. Sarahjoy Marsh offers a program using yoga to address food-centered behaviors and body image issues. She illuminates the nature of addiction and offers a methodical approach to recovery that is neither dogmatic nor rigid; rather, it is compassionate, hopeful, and deliberate.

Full of clear, empathic advice and photographs of the step-by-step practices, this book will help alleviate the isolation that people with food-oriented issues and body image problems feel; offer strategies for changing the behaviors; and give clear guidelines about the processes of recovery and the development of new life skills.”

You can also browse the book below:

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