Getting back into it: My gameplan for Post Program Rehab – Hiren Shah

In one of my first posts for GeekHealth I mentioned how my home gym kept me from adding pounds during the program. Truth be told though the program did take its toll on my fitness level. While I did not add as many pounds my body composition changed. My latest measurement for body fat % came in at 21.5. I used to be around 15-16.

I was keen on starting a regimen to regain some of the lost ground. Here is my gameplan. I am about 2 weeks into it, trending well and feeling good.

  1. Sign up to work with a trainer twice a week.
  2. Run 3-4 times a week. Nothing major. Just 20-30 minute rounds.
  3. Eliminate carbs from grains. Load up on  carbs from veggies, fruits.
  4. Participate in MSFT’s moveit campaign. My team has decided to climb a flight of 10 stairs everyday.
  5. Setup my sit stand desk.

What’s your gameplan for summer?


Join GeekHealth’s ‘Get Healthy With David Barton Gym’ contest!

GeekHealth is joining forces with David Barton Gym (DB), Bellevue, WA to help GeekHealth supporters get in better shape. Have you been putting off going to the Gym? Have you been thinking about working with a personal trainer? Always wanted to try David Barton out? Well, here is your chance!

Participate in the following GeekHealth contest and enter a drawing to be one of 30 lucky folks to get ONE MONTH FREE membership + ONE FREE PERSONAL TRAINING SESSION at David Barton Gym, Bellevue.

Here are 3 simple steps you need to do to enter yourself and one friend in the contest:

  1. “Like” these 2 Facebook pages: GeekHealth FB Page and David Barton Gym FB Page
  2. Spread the word. Get one more friend to “Like” GeekHealth and DB pages. New “likes” only. Existing members do not count.
  3. Write on GeekHealth FB Wall and share yours and your friend’s name with this line: Adding <your name> and <friend name> to the contest. And that’s it. You and your friend will be entered for the draw.

The contest will close on 4/29 and the draw will be done on 4/30. Winners will be notified via FB no later than 5/4.

Running Around Sammamish Again! B&G Club 5&10K Next Sunday

The Second Annual Boys & Girls Club Sammamish 10K/5K fun run this year is on May 5th 2013. Please join us in making this year’s event even better than last years! The event will include a chip timed 10K, 5K, and a 1K “Fun Run” for youth ten and under, sponsor and vendor booths in the parking lot, and Teen Center tours.  The event will benefit the Redmond/Sammamish Boys & Girls Club and Sammamish EX3 Teen Center.

To sigh up for this year’s event, sign up here . There isn’t much time left, but it’s a great way to open the running season!


Too Sedentary? Get some Moves!

Recently a conversation with @businessprep got me thinking: How much do we move around in our average day? We were talking about comparing a heart rate monitor to use while working out with a gadget to track daily activity such as FitBit or FuelBand.

We recently came across a smartphone application that that can answer that question (for the low, low price of free!). The app is called Moves. The app runs in the background of your smartphone and using the accelerometer and GPS it tracks how many steps you take a day. Let’s put it to the test!

Using this little tool was a real eye opener for me. I know I spend a lot of time at work sitting down at my desk or in meetings. But I do walk out for lunch and usually take a walk afterwards when it’s not raining too much, surely that should add up, right?


Day 1: 2,600 steps. Wow! That doesn’t seem like a big number. A cursory web search suggests the recommended number of steps for adults is around 10,000 steps. Seems like I don’t really walk nearly enough on my daily routine… time to do something about it!

How to take more steps at work? I have an idea!


I work on a 4 story building that was designed by someone who went to the Spanish Inquisition School of Architecture.

Allow me to explain: The building has a large atrium with ceiling skylights in the middle of the building. This means there is a large gap in the middle of all the upper floors. On each floor the conference rooms are on one side of the building, and the elevators on the other. Complementing this arrangement are one-way, retail style, stairs cutting across the atrium. The net result is that trying to walk between floors is very inefficient: most people take the elevator even for 1 floor since the stairs are usually not available in the direction they need to go or it would mean walking around the atrium twice per floor!

For years the inhabitants of this building have wondered and discussed the intentions and lineage of those who would build such a tortuous and rather unexpected building. Alas, today their creation may play to my advantage!

I will vow to avoid elevators and take the scenic route in all my walks throughout the office! I will even add the stairs of the 3 levels of the underground garage and see what happens. On my first day trying this I was doing a manual verification of the accuracy of Moves. I was encouraged to see that from my car to the first meeting of the day up on the fourth floor I counted, and Moves agreed, over 500 steps! Not a bad start!


Day 2: over 5,000 steps! A nice improvement.

Moves was a fast and convenient way for me to realize I don’t walk that much. I really like its simplicity and I plan to continue to use it for a while.

The one downside it may have is that I did notice the battery of my phone drains a bit faster. This for me is not too big a problem. My issue is I sit around too much during the day, and it’s easy to have a charging cable by my PC and my car. Charging my phone a bit has given it enough juice to last the day.

Need extra charging cables?  I head over to monoprice and order a few extra ones to keep everywhere.

Using Moves was very encouraging for me. It showed me how little I move on my daily routine and showed me that with small modifications on how I move around I can improve that quite a bit. What about you? How many steps a day do you take? Anything you can do to increase your step count?

Getting back to the Gym and a review of an FT-7

Previously on GeekHealth we learned about an exercise plan that can help burn fat. It sounds great! I want to get back to being more active, so I started with the basics: let’s get back into the Gym. Here at Geekhealth we have different degrees of geekness and healthiness. I want to get back onto being exercising more after spending too much time sitting down at work. Let’s practice what we preach :)Going back to the gym consistently (after not having done it for a while) brought up a couple of challenges. 1. How to stay motivated? 2. How to know if I’m making progress? The answer I decided to try, fellow geeks, is gadgets.

I did a bit of online research and decided to get a heart rate monitor. I got a Polar FT-7. I was looking for a way to track progress and set quantitative goals for myself, and I’d like to share my experience with you.

FT-7 Heart rate monitor

FT-7 heart rate monitor. Image from

The FT-7 consists of 3 parts:

  1. A watch (which is the ‘screen’ and does work like a regular watch too!)
  2. An elastic band (goes around your chest)
  3. A transmitter (snaps to the band)

A quick read of the instructions and some initial tinkering revealed that it is very simple to use. After putting in some basic info about myself the first time I turned it on I was ready to use it:

  1. Moisten the plastic sensor of the elastic bag. (Manual says to do this, and it’s true! I found if I don’t do this sometimes it won’t read my heart rate)
  2. Adjust the elastic band to fit my chest tight enough for the plastic sensors to make good contact.
  3. Attach the sensor to the band
  4. Press the middle button on the watch twice to start the workout.

Voila! The time is running, my heart rate is showing and I should be able to get some metrics!

I found out this is a great tool help motivate me to get back to the gym. The watch will provide multiple screens with some intriguing data:

  1. Heart rate (obviously)
  2. Calories burned
  3. Time elapsed during this workout
  4. Workout zone. This is divided into fat burning and cardio.

Initially I found that I could do about an hour of cardio and burn around 700/800 calories. That sounded pretty good! I even continued a little longer to see if I could get up to 1000.

Before I knew it, this had turned into a game… I had a score… I had a (self-imposed) time limit… I can do this! This turned out to be more like a game than I expected. After a few days I started noticing that the same workout would burn less calories. Was the game difficulty increasing?! Next time I have to challenge myself more!

I continued exploring the features of the FT-7. The workout zone is a tool to help me target the workout. 45+ minutes of slow heart rate will help burn fat whereas training at higher heart rate improves fitness. (Let’s aim for both!)

The next feature I discovered is that the watch will save the data from the workout and it’s possible to download it to a PC and analyze it using Polar’s web site. Data! Sweet!  This is one thing geeks love. Alas, I haven’t had a chance to try this yet. There was one catch with this feature: It doesn’t work out of the box, I have to buy another adapter to be able to use this. Dear Polar: this reminds me of opening Christmas toys only to find out they didn’t have batteries included. Please put all the things I need in the box.

In summary the FT-7 has been a great gadget to motivate me and help me see progress as I get back to the gym. It has been a gateway for me to start learning more about fitness and nutrition. There’s a big world of knowledge out there about staying healthy. Come join us at GeekHealth and let’s explore it! What tips and tricks do you have for people who are getting back into working out?

Get a Life – Ok, at Least a Hobby

Based on the results of our recent workplace survey (due to be published soon), geeks are spending too much time staring at the computer screen (big surprise) and not enough time in other activities (no surprise). It’s a recipe for eye strain, repetitive stress injuries, sore necks, crapped out backs and deteriorating mental health.

PLEASE get out and do something else. Get a hobby – focus your energy and efforts on something that you choose for yourself. Spending another three hours a day scripting web widgets or playing WoW does NOT count. Pick something that requires physical motions not involving a mouse or keyboard, and which can occupy your entire attention span for an hour or two. Running is ok, if you can stop thinking about work for four or five miles, but it’s not ideal.

Lindsey's Targets

Lindsey’s Targets (Photo credit: Michael @ NW Lens)

For me, I have two particular hobbies that don’t involve computers at all and which have no tie to my professional career. When I can get an entire afternoon (or morning) free, I like to go to the range and practice both rifle and pistol marksmanship. On the range, I have to apply 100% of my attention to the task at hand. I spend time in multiple physical positions, and my eye are engaged with views at varying distances from a few inches in front of my face out to 200 yards away. I have to control my breathing, stabilize the caffeine jitters out of my hands, and put 100% into the moment. There is no place for job stress, and the cell phone is NOT invited to the party.

Even Thomas Jefferson understood the fundamental benefits, when he said “A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercise, I advise the gun. While this gives a moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be the constant companion of your walks.”

Amateur radio station of DJ4PI

Amateur radio station of DJ4PI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I can’t get a large block of time, I still try to pull away and spend time running my amateur radio station (“ham” radio). I can close my eyes, spin around the dial and connect with people all over the world without using email or twitter. Contrary to popular belief, cute contractions and abbreviations did not wait for instant messaging. Morse code operators have been cutting corners for the last century and we can still send an accurate message faster than any hyped-up tween or hipster. Much like shooting, decoding a weak radio signal in the midst of a noisy radio band requires absolute focus and commitment to the moment. I confess that ham radio is still a techy-geeky hobby, but at least it’s straining my ears and my brain instead of my eyes and my fingertips for a change.

I have no doubt that my hobbies are not for everyone. But, everyone needs to pick what is right for them. Spending time in the selection and discovery process is the first step to an effective escape from the grind. And besides, you always need an excuse to research more stuff on Bing, right? Do something, different.

How to Live Forever: Fantastic Infographic from Greatist

We think this infographic below from Greatist is a simple and easy way of illustrating the things you should be thinking about to optimize long-term health.  The information is a bit overwhelming and don’t think you need to change everything overnight. Start small by picking an area that you can improve like increasing physical activity by 15 minutes a day.  Some are even out of our control, like genetics, but that doesn’t mean your behavior doesn’t have a positive or negative influence on your life regardless of how great or bad your genes may be. Another resource that applies a lot of scientific research in studying why certain populations in geographic regions live longer than others is the Blue Zones Project, led by Dan Buettner.  We will write more about this project in a future post, but in the meantime we encourage you to visit the Blue Zones Project website for more insightful information.

Any similar projects in this space that you are aware of that you find useful? Let us know in the comment section below, post on our Facebook page or send us a Tweet on Twitter!

Get health and fitness tips at

Go for the Low-Hanging Fruit: Cut Out Sugary Beverages

glass sugarBy Ron Cornell

We, as Americans, consume way too much sugar, plain and simple. High fructose corn syrup is in almost everything we eat that comes out of a package. It’s so easy to blame the obesity epidemic on sugar, as the connection seems to be fairly clear. And please don’t take just my word for it; the literature drawing the connection between sugar and the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. is extensive. Two articles that do as good of a job as any, to help convince you how our sugar consumption contributes to the obesity epidemic and the cost of dealing and treating the increasing weight of our nation:

It’s the Sugar Folks – New York Times

Economic Costs: Paying the Price for Those Extra Pounds – Harvard School of Public Health

I’m not here to blame a particular industry or seek stricter regulation on products. I’m here to help change behavior and offer a few tips that I’ve used to drop some pounds fairly quickly, and it all comes down to reducing my sugar consumption. And let me be clear that these are choices I made based on what works for my particular health goals and may not be right for you.

It all comes down to simple math based on calories in and calories out. It takes 3500 calories burned to lose one pound and 3500 calories consumed to gain one pound. You can either reduce calories or increase activity in order to lose weight. Ideally, you would be doing both, but sometimes it’s not a realistic goal depending on your lifestyle. This is where sugar comes in and, in particular, sugar in soda. A can of soda is 150 calories (in fact, 10 sugar packets!) and if you had on average one soda a day like a typical  would be consuming 54,750 calories a year in just soda—adding about 16 pounds to your waistline a year!

I made a quick change to my diet by eliminating sugar in all beverages I drink. No soda, no fruit juice, no sweetened tea and absolutely no sugar in my coffee. It wasn’t a difficult change for me at all as I adjusted quickly without missing them too much. I will occasionally indulge in a can here or there, but I never seem to enjoy it like I used to and can never finish a whole can. I immediately saw the difference in my weight and it gave me the quick motivation to eat healthier and become more active in my life. Try and see if it works for you!

If They Can Do It – By Amruta Vyas, RHN

After watching the video I am sure most of us are thinking what’s all this about. “Worksite Wellness” is catching up like wild fire all around the corporate world and many companies are adapting to this fastest growing wellness concept. The simple reason being these wellness programs helps to improve employee’s health along with their productivity and decrease the healthcare cost for the company. As we all know that healthcare cost is skyrocketing this becomes a no brainer.

I was exposed to the Corporate Wellness in 2011 as “Health Educator” where I got the opportunity to coach Microsoft employees giving them healthy eating and exercising tips. Coaching was also oriented towards addressing any of their health related concerns and focusing on lifestyle changes. This was very challenging as the time was limited and I had to provide the most effective information in very little time. Hence my goal was to focus on realistic and sustainable health tips that can help individuals for long term. After going through their health screening numbers I focused on the significantly high screening numbers and suggested the most appropriate lifestyle change. Some practical tips I discussed are below:

Practical tips: 1. Adding any physical activity to your routine- Ex) taking stairs, taking 10mins breaks, walking around during lunch time, parking the cars far away from the building or playing Kinect.

2. Eating healthy can be challenging for some- Ex) Carrying small baggies of raw veggies (carrots, celery, peppers) with hummus, nuts, protein bars or energy bars, fat-free yogurt etc

3. It is all about substitutions- 1. Instead of having big lunch, split it into 2 mini lunches, 2. Adding fruits in the evening before dinner to avoid starvation, 3. Replacing pop’s with sparkling water (talking rain) or naturally flavor water. 4. Chocolate craving shouldn’t be suppressed but add 80% dark chocolate to add the benefits of antioxidants.5. Adding more variety increases nutrition value in your diet.

The wellness program offered a fast and convenient way to measure the key health screening numbers and also walk out with “One” realistic, sustainable lifestyle change. Employees loved it and so did I. It is very rewarding to make a difference in individual’s life. I am hoping to see more and more company investing in worksite wellness. What do you think? Please share your thoughts about worksite wellness.

Stay tuned for more Wellness updates!

Getting Back to Good

We all wonder what happened……one minute we are looking in the mirror and thinking how great we look, the next we are wondering why that fat kid who swallowed the box of twinkies is staring back at us.  I went to the gym at least 3 times a week but…….as I have always done before….. I ate whatever I damned well pleased.  Fuck it, right?…. we are only on this earth once and I went to the gym today. Why not have a 12oz extra rare steak with a glass…no….a bottle of wine.  But eventually it catches up to most of us and we have to face reality, we aren’t the college athlete we used to be.  As we age we can no longer live the life we used to.  How do I get back to good?  Well I first put down the twinkie and I found a workout that focused less on how much I could bench and more on getting back to basics with a healthy weight that I could live with.  I found it at:

The workout focuses on cardio for an hour almost everyday upon waking up and weights 3 times a week alternating between upper and lower body.  It also provides some diet advice: lower your carbs, increase your protein and EFAs (Essential Fatty Acids, don’t feel stupid I didn’t know what it meant either), decrease sugar, and no carbs after 6pm.

One week in and I am down 4 pounds….boom, how do you like them twinkies!