Thoughts on weight loss after losing 55lbs

In January, I had one of those “Oh. Dear. Lord.” moments when a friend of mine tagged me on facebook in a pic they had taken of me at the bar.


I could not believe how disgustingly¬†fat I had become. It pushed me to throw myself hard core into weight loss mode. Health concerns aside, I would prefer that women not find me physically repellant. ūüėČ

Over the next 6 months, I managed to shed 55 pounds. ¬†I went from 247lbs down to 192lbs. ¬†Here’s a before and after comparison. Excuse the shirtless selfies.


I am not done losing, and still have a lot of work to do on getting in shape. I have actually lost a few more pounds since the after shot in the side-by-side, but you can see there is a fairly drastic difference. And several of my friends have told me that the pictures just don’t do justice to the change compared to seeing me in person.

I’ve had a lot of friends ask me for advice, so I figured I would just write a blog post. Below are a few lessons that I’ve learned from the experience.

  • Weight loss is a math problem. ¬†It’s all about calories burned versus calories consumed. Ignore any of the fluff you hear about magical foods, diets, or supplements. A pound of fat is approx 3,500 cal. If you want to lose a pound of fat (you will lose more than a pound of weight for every pound of fat due to water loss), you have to consume 3,500 calories less than you burn over a given period of time. Calorie tracking is the only reliable way to lose a large amount of weight. Everything else is just bullshit gimmicks. I highly recommend the myfitnesspal app. It has been amazingly helpful for me.
  • You don’t have to spend hours slaving at the gym to lose weight. ¬†While exercise can help, by burning additional calories and also by increasing metabolically active lean mass thereby¬†raising your BMR, it is by no means a necessity. I started out doing cardio pretty heavily, but then basically stopped during the first 30 days. I continued to lose weight at a rate of about 2lb/week, even with my sedentary lifestyle and spending zero hours at the gym.
  • You¬†cannot¬†out-exercise a terrible diet.¬†¬†By terrible diet I mean a massive caloric surplus. Note that I’m only talking about losing a lot of weight here. People who are already in pretty good shape can probably shed a few pounds by upping their workout routine. If you’re consuming 3,500cal/day (which I was) and in the obese BMI range (which I was), forget it.
  • You don’t have to eat healthy to lose weight. A healthy diet is by no means a bad thing, but it is a thing that takes a lot of effort to do. I’m a lazy bachelor, I have no desire to spend hours preparing food or planning out my meals a week in advance. There is no need to sit around eating kale and granola all day whilst annoyingly preaching the virtues of veganism to your friends. Fortunately, it isn’t even a little necessary for weight loss. My diet still consists of fast food, delivery, and fine dining. You DO have to make sane choices when it comes to portion size and what you choose to order. Whatever you eat, just make sure you maintain a caloric deficit and you’ll lose weight.
  • You should avoid simple carbs (sugars) AND artificial sweeteners. ¬†While it is tempting to consume these as long as you have room in your caloric budget, it is a bad idea. Both of them cause insulin spikes which will lead to hunger afterward, making you more likely to reach for snacks and blow your caloric budget. Yes, artificial sweeteners cause an insulin spike. The science is out there if you google around a bit. Sorry, the diet soft drinks have to go too. Just get used to drinking good ol’ plain water, it’s better for you and will make your life and budgeting far easier anyway.
  • Protein is your best friend. ¬†Primarily because protein leaves you feeling sated longer than the other macronutrients. It also requires more energy to digest protein (the thermic effect). This somewhat offsets the calories you’re consuming. Lots of protein will also help keep your body from breaking down a lot of muscle for energy during caloric deficits.
  • Dietary fat is not evil. ¬†Your body needs fats. Seriously. The old medical demonization of¬†fat is starting to fall apart in the face of modern scientific testing. We’re now discovering that simple carbs are FAR worse for you than fat. Which is unfortunate, because during the “fat is evil” days, most low-fat processed foods had a crap ton of sugars added to them to make them palatable. And now almost everything Americans eat has sugars added.
  • Even good, more complex carbs should be limited. ¬†Your body needs some carbs, so don’t avoid them completely. However, carb heavy foods tend to be extremely calorically dense and don’t tend to make you feel full for very long. Both protein and fat will leave you feeling sated longer.
  • Weigh yourself daily, preferably with a cloud connected scale. ¬†I personally love the Withings smart scales. I recommend weighing yourself first thing in the morning. Before you drink or eat anything, but after you hit the head. This will give you the most consistent readings day over day because you are weighing in at your most dehydrated point. Water weight won’t be creating as much variance. Weighing in daily with cloud based trending and charts will help you get a handle on what’s working and what isn’t. It is also nice to be able to look at a visual representation of your progress, it helps keep you motivated. As you lose weight, you can look back and see how far you’ve come and be proud of yourself. As an aside, I also recommend taking a picture every 5lbs or so, so you can look at how much you’ve changed over time. It is incredibly motivating.
  • Alcohol is evil. ¬†Yeah, I know, it sucks. I still drink, but I limit it to one or two weekend nights a week. And I try to stick to just wine, or water and straight up shots. Beer is particularly bad. If you go out drinking every weekend, you can count on losing some ground on your Monday morning weigh ins. I have just accepted this because I’m a single guy, love karaoke, and don’t like sitting around at home alone on the weekends.
  • Every once in awhile, ignore all of the above! ¬†You need to occasionally spoil yourself and eat and drink your fill of whatever you want. When you’re on a multiple month journey of weight loss, you need to take a break from the rigorous calorie tracking and avoidance of tasty things. You’re more likely to stick with your diet if you can take a break and have fun now and again.

Of course, it goes without saying that all of the above points are just my thoughts and opinions. I am a computer nerd, NOT a dietician or doctor. ūüėČ

letsencrypt/QNAP remote ssl cert update bash script

In my home environment, I was already using letsencrypt certs on my local webserver.  I also have a QNAP NAS device that I wanted to use the cert on.  Since letsencrypt certs have such a short valid period, it would be highly inconvenient to update the certs via the web UI by hand every time they expired.

My webserver is exposed to the internet, which makes it easier to just group in the NAS’s domain name with the certs that get renewed from the webserver due to the way letsencrypt renewals work.

After a bit of research, I found a way to remotely update the certs on the QNAP device via scp and ssh. ¬† The script below is what I came up with for my own use. ¬†With minor modifications, I hope that others may find it useful as well. ¬†In order to use it, you need to already have the server it runs on (not your NAS device itself) setup for letsencrypt and have already registered a cert. ¬† It will not update the NAS by default if the cert isn’t within 48 hours of expiration. ¬†You can override this by passing the –force option. ¬†It still won’t renew the cert, but it will restart the local httpd and update the NAS device’s cert. ¬†You should only normally need to do this the first time. ¬†I symlinked it into /etc/cron.daily so that it is completely hands off.


#  Script to renew letsencrypt, restart httpd to pick up new certs, and apply new
#  cert to a QNAP NAS device.  User running script must have its public key added
#  to the nas admin account's authorized_keys file.
#  It is designed not to use the letsencrypt/certbot webserver plugins, as some
#  distros lack that capability.

# Path to letsencrypt/certbot

# Email address

# Domains to grab cert for

# Path to letsencrypt cert files

# QNAP NAS hostname or IP

openssl x509 -checkend 172800 -noout -in ${CERTPATH}/cert.pem
if [[ $? -eq 0 ]] && [[ "${1}" != "--force" ]]; then
        echo "Certificate will not expire in the next 48 hours.  Renewal not required."
        echo "Certificate will expire in under 48 hours.  Renewing cert and restarting services."
        /usr/bin/systemctl stop httpd
        ${LE} --text --email ${EMAIL} --keep-until-expiring --domains ${DOMAINS} --agree-tos --standalone certonly
        /usr/bin/systemctl start httpd

        echo "Setting cert on QNAP device and restarting required services"
        cat ${CERTPATH}/privkey.pem > /tmp/stunnel.pem
        cat ${CERTPATH}/cert.pem >>/tmp/stunnel.pem
        scp /tmp/stunnel.pem admin@${NASHOST}:/etc/stunnel/stunnel.pem &>/dev/null
        ssh admin@${NASHOST} chmod 600 /etc/stunnel/stunnel.pem &>/dev/null
        ssh admin@${NASHOST} /etc/init.d/ stop &>/dev/null
        ssh admin@${NASHOST} /etc/init.d/ restart &>/dev/null
        ssh admin@${NASHOST} /etc/init.d/ start &>/dev/null
        rm -f /tmp/stunnel.pem

I just love being a geek sometimes

Sometimes having programming skills comes in very handy, particularly when you’re trying to be as lazy as you can possibly be.

I have a MythTV DVR system setup in my apartment.  One of the features of this system is that any of the Linux systems (Which is all 5 of my home computers) on my LAN can connect to the backend server and be used to watch live TV or shows that I have recorded on the backend.

In my home office, I’ve got two PC’s setup.¬† This allows me to use one as a TV while I’m working on the other.

This setup suits my needs nicely, but there was one minor annoyance.  I had to move from computer to computer any time I wanted to adjust the volume, change channels, skip commercials, etc.

Most people would just accept it as is (well, most people wouldn’t have built their own DVR either, heh), but being a geek it was time to flex some creative mental muscle.

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Telecommunicators single release

(There is an embedded player on this post, but you may have to scroll down a bit to see it. ¬†For some reason it’s inserting a huge whitespace before itself)

I recently went to the Telecommunicators single release show for “Sorrows”. ¬†A friend and karaoke regular of mine Matt is the lead singer and plays keyboard in the band.

As a karaoke DJ in Nashville, you can imagine how many people I’ve met in bands of one sort or another over the years. ¬†Honestly, beyond politely listening to them talking about their plans and wishing them well I don’t usually really pay much attention. ¬†I have had some regulars who were successful musicians in one capacity or another, and some who went on to become so, but it is certainly the exception to the rule.

The first time I went to one of their shows I really didn’t expect much. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I already knew Matt was a great singer and looked forward to seeing him and my other friends at the show, but my expectations were tempered by past experience. ¬†It takes far more than just a good voice to make a good band.

I was VERY pleasantly surprised! ¬†From the first song in their set I became an instant fan. ¬†This was no cheesy cover band, they had their own songs with their own unique sound, a sound and style that very much appealed to my tastes. ¬†I didn’t have to give sympathy applause and empty polite compliments, I honestly loved the music.

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Windows, Linux, and false perceptions

One of my co-workers came to me today for some help with a Windows laptop. ¬†He had just nuked and paved (aka reinstalled) the OS on it, and was having a horrible time finding the correct drivers for several devices on the system. ¬†After using a Fedora live USB stick to identify what the hardware actually was (which I couldn’t readily find out in Windows), I finally managed to get everything working except for the audio. ¬†This wasn’t some obscure audio chipset, it was just one of the normal Intel ones based on the AC97 codec. ¬†I eventually got sick of banging my head against it and handed it off to one of our more Windows fluent people who finally managed to get it working.

I had completely forgotten how much of a chore it could be to get everything working on a Windows box after the OS install. ¬†I’ve been spoiled by recent versions of the Linux desktop distros (Fedora in particular). ¬†As long as your hardware isn’t extremely bleeding edge or exotic it usually “Just Works” under Linux these days. ¬†The only thing I’ve had a hard time with at all in the last few years was that after the PulseAudio transition it was hard to get sound working in apps running under wine (which allows you to run Windows apps under Linux), though even this has been sorted out now. ¬†Most native apps never had any problems at all.

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Media coverage of the great TN flood of 2010

While the local media outlets were on top of things, the national media seemed to respond with a big “meh.” ¬†Where was the obsessive coverage that seems to be the standard for natural disasters (or any story really) in recent years? ¬†Where was the outcry to help those who lost their homes and businesses?

We literally had the most rainfall recorded in Middle TN in a 48 hour period in recorded history. ¬†In other words, we have never had anything of this magnitude since they started keeping records of weather. ¬†The damage estimates are in the billions, and they can’t even really get a good grasp of how bad things really are until the waters¬†recede back to somewhat normal levels. ¬†This is probably the single biggest disaster this state has ever experienced as far as property and infrastructure damage is concerned.

Continue reading “Media coverage of the great TN flood of 2010”