Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

None of my clothes fit any more!

April 13, 2014 6 comments

Last fall, I decided I wanted to get more fit.  There was no trigger point, no health scare, nothing other than the realization that since I’d started working at home I really could make better use of my lunch hour.

So I went to my local gym to sign up, and spent an hour with a trainer.  His first question was “what’s your goal”?
“I dunno, to be more healthy” was my response.  He didn’t like that answer, and after taking me into the gym to prove to me that I was completely out of shape he came back at me with a hard personal training sales pitch that ended with “well y’know mate you’ll never be able to do it on your own”.  He had no idea how motivating that statement would be, he had just challenged a cheapskate to save money.  Game on!

So I set upon a path myself, but everywhere I went I kept coming up against the “what’s your goal” question – websites, apps, workout routines.  Fine, I picked a random goal of 250lbs which at the time meant losing a little over forty pounds.  Seemed reasonably drastic and difficult, yet attainable.

Just having a goal wasn’t going to keep this geek moving though, I needed technology.  So I started with a calorie-tracking app called MyFitnessPal, which has pretty much every food known to man available to be tracked against a daily goal of calorie intake.  The app gives you a daily goal based on how fast you want to lose weight (I chose 1.5 pounds per week).  Eat too many calories in the day, earn those calories back via exercise.  My youngest daughter Jaimee had a fun time with that one, and would take me out in the neighbourhood to be my trainer for walk/run/walk intervals while watching the calories tick off on another exercise-tracking app called Endomondo.  I started to really like the whole calorie in / calorie out thing and gave myself another goal of tracking it for at least a month before I could buy some additional fitness gadgets.

I stuck with it, and my reward was the gear that is now part of my daily routine.  I still use MyFitnessPal to track calories in, I bought a Fitbit watch to constantly track calories out, and a Fitbit Aria scale to track weight and body fat every morning.  Through the magic of the cloud, it all just syncs together in MyFitnessPal so that at any given moment I know where I stand with respect to calories in the day.  Yay!


The tech only tracks what you’re doing, it doesn’t actually do any of the work for you.  Some people have noticed my weight loss and they always ask me what it is that I’ve changed about my lifestyle (getting that question so often is the main reason I’m writing this article, so I’d better answer it).

So what has changed in my daily routine:

  • Remove high-calorie items from the everyday diet.  That means no sugared pop, no juice, light beer only (cuz who’s kidding who, I’m not giving up beer), milk only with cereal and just water with most meals.  Drinks are the “easy” ones to get rid of, but I also stay away from high-calorie snacks in general, replacing with lower-calorie options.  I’m now that guy who asks to see the nutritional info before buying or ordering anything.
  • High-calorie items only when I want it enough to put in extra work.  Eat less on days when I’m going out for dinner, Extreme Pita as my fast-food kick instead of McDonalds, extra time at the gym if I’m going out for beer and wings.
  • An exercise routine that I try really hard to stick to.  It’s booked into my work calendar like any other appointment, and if I need to move it for some reason it gets moved to another day or time.  Two visits to the gym per week for weight-training on the machines, and a ninety-minute hike on the weekend while my daughter is at synchronized swimming class.  Extra exercise when I have the opportunity, including walks around the neighbourhood.
  • Track it all.  I honestly don’t think I would have been successful without getting obsessive about tracking.  Yes, I know it’s incredibly annoying especially for my family as I enter things into my iPhone at dinner but it’s been key for me.

I noticed after about three months that my clothes weren’t fitting any more.  I had dropped two inches on my waistline and the pants wouldn’t stay on.  That was a conundrum, because while I needed clothes I was also hoping that I would lose more weight.  I bought enough clothes to get my by for a few more months, and boxed up the clothes that were getting way too big.  I own two pairs of dress pants and three dress shirts that fit, which gets me by for most work functions for now (although I think my colleagues are starting to notice the limited wardrobe).

After a few more months, I actually found myself unable to eat as much as I had in the past and staying under the calorie goal became more the norm than the exception.  They say your stomach shrinks, I’m guessing that’s what has happened.

And to completely bury the lead in the story, this week I hit my 250lb goal and can officially declare my arbitrary goal as having been met.  Yay!  I’m down almost four inches at the waistline, down a full shirt size, and looking visibly healthier in photos. 

I’m not done yet though, turns out that arbitrary goal wasn’t quite enough and I still have some more weight to lose before I’ll call it mission accomplished and go wild on a new wardrobe.  I’ve tried pretty hard not to talk about it all the time because I know that can be annoying, but I figured this milestone was a fair excuse to share.  I’m proud of the work I’ve done so far and look forward to continuing down the path to a healthier lifestyle.

Categories: Uncategorized

Why does my smoke alarm keep going off? (and how to fix it)

February 14, 2013 4 comments

I recently updated the smoke alarms in our house.  Because I’m me, I did all the research to figure out the most up to date recommendations on type and coverage for the home.  We ended up with several First Alert Dual Sensor smoke alarms throughout the house.

These alarms came with a neat feature that allows you to shut off false alarms using any infrared remote control you might have lying around the house.  Useful I thought for burnt toast and whatnot.

Well the fun began that night, as we were watching TV one of the alarms kept going off.  After several false alarms I just took it down and removed the battery, with plans to exchange it.

The fun continued a few days later, as the alarm would go off in the laundry room when we turned on the lights.  What the heck?

This was now too much to be a coincidence, so I hit the internet to do some research.

Remember that neat feature that lets you use a remote to turn off false alarms?  Turns out it also lets you test the alarm via infrared remote.  And you know what else generates infrared signals that can trigger the test function?  Compact fluorescent light bulbs, yep those twisty CFL bulbs that are by law replacing every light bulb in your house.

Legally-required smoke alarms that are incompatible with legally-required light bulbs.  That, my friends, is what we call a conundrum.

How to fix it

In order to stop this annoying false alarm, you need to disable the IR sensor on the smoke alarm.  This won’t affect the ability to detect smoke, it will simply turn off the IR remote control features.  It’s pretty easy to do:

  1. Open the battery door (disconnect the battery)
  2. Hold down the test button on the alarm
  3. Close the battery door while still holding the test button
  4. You will hear a chirp, and can let go of the test button

You’ll need to do this every time you replace the batteries, because it will reset back to normal when you pull out the battery.

Toboggan Hills in Milton

December 28, 2012 1 comment

After a nice deep snowfall, I took the kids out tobogganing yesterday.  Finding a decent toboggan hill in Milton is a tough mission, but there are a few around.

I’ll share our tobogganing spots, and point you to a toboggan hill database where you can both look up some hills or add some of your own.

Best In Milton – Lowville Park
Okay, it’s more *near* Milton than in it but it’s the best hill we’ve got.  Steep, an okay size, easy to get to and park.  On the down side it tends to be busy and if there’s not much snow, bumpy from all the brush.  Watch out for trees near the bottom, although I think they’ve started to put hay bales there now for safety.

Best Nearby: Food Basics
Near the corner of Laurier and Ontario, there is a park with a decent hill.  Mid-grade slope and plenty wide.  Parking is available in the Food Basics parking lot.

Most Popular: Sixteen-Mile Creek
People flock to the hill near Commercial and Laurier, a very wide spot with lots of room for everyone.  It is a steep but pretty short slope.  People park on the road, but I’d rather see you park at the highschool or in the parking lot of Rad Brothers (near Derry & Ontario).

Hidden Gem: Livingston Park
I stumbled across the hill at Livingston Park during a summer cleanup with my daughter’s Girl Guides troop. We went to visit it yesterday, and there was nobody at the hill with pristine powder.  It’s not a very steep slope, but a decent size for young kids.  Parking is available at the end of Margaret Street.

I’ve added all these slopes to  Are there any hills you can share?


Categories: Uncategorized

Halloween 2009

October 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Once again, we’re all having lots of fun with Halloween this year.  Katlyn, Jaimee, and Jodie all dressed up as princesses, Diane as a witch, and I as a hunchback.  And once again, we all stepped it up with the pumpkin decorating.  Jodie stole the show (as usual) with her “Help Me” pumpkin and a carving of our house, Katlyn did a castle, Jaimee a jack-o-lantern, and my entry this year was Mr. H1N1 who was puking his guts out while getting a needle.


Categories: Uncategorized

Katlyn’s Squirrel Friend

September 13, 2009 Leave a comment

Several months ago, a squirrel started to visit our patio.  At the time, he was quite clearly a young squirrel and retreated back to his nest in the Wisteria vine.  As he grew, he became accustomed to the fixtures in our back yard including the kids and even the cats.  We tried feeding him by hand once, and with some tail waving and hesitation he decided that was okay.  He hangs around with the cats when they go out to bask in the sun, and he actually runs up to the patio door to greet us when we go outside.  Okay, it’s a bit of a stretch to say “we” when really the one he likes most is Katlyn.  He’ll let her do anything!

I took some pictures and videos today of Katlyn with the rodent she’s named “Bouncy”.


Categories: Uncategorized

My Server Is Down

August 30, 2009 Leave a comment

I lost my server this weekend and haven’t been able to get it up and running.  I blame these guys for making bad hard drives and refusing to own up to the data loss issues they’ve cause me.

Anyways, the web site will be down for at least a week so in the meantime I thought I’d provide you with some links to keep tabs on the Near family.

Pete’s Twitter Stream:

Jodie on Facebook:

Categories: Uncategorized

Getting Microsoft Security Essentials in Canada

August 12, 2009 Leave a comment

Microsoft is testing a new free antivirus tool, but if you try to download the beta from Canada you’ll be blocked.  In my testing, Microsoft Security Essentials is a nice and easy to use antivirus option for Windows 7, and comes in x86 and x64 flavours.  You can download the beta from Softpedia, and it will work just fine on your Canadian Windows 7 machine.

Categories: Uncategorized