Picking Up The Habit

Well, I’m going to try and pick up the habit of blogging, as I used to in the past.  I’m not sure if I can keep it up, but I’m going to give it a try.  So, stay tuned for more content coming soon.

Soylent Project: Week One

Soylent Project: Week One

2015-01-13 16.19.54

The choco-banana Soylent

After a full week of a mostly-Soylent diet, I wanted to report on how I’ve been feeling and my overall health.   I’ll start by saying that I have designated one day a week (on professional advice) to return to normal food; that day is Friday, as it’s a social outing night for me.  I also did not stick to a 3 Soylents a day the entire week or weekend, but I did make sure that I had at least one or two Soylent meals on those days.  In short, my log kind of looks like this:

  • Monday: Breakfast and Lunch (Soylent), Dinner (Carne Asada, Beans, Cheese, and Tortilla).
  • Tuesday: Lunch (Chicken, Broccoli, Iced Tea), Snack and Dinner (Soylent).
  • Wednesday: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (Soylent), Snack (Pollo Asado, Beans, Cheese, and Tortilla).
  • Thursday: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (Soylent).
  • Friday: Lunch (Pizza, Root Beer), Dinner (Salad, Soup, Lemonade).
  • Saturday: Breakfast (Soylent), Dinner (Pizza, Black Cherry Soda).
  • Sunday: Breakfast (Soylent), Dinner (Chicken, Fries, Iced Tea).
  • Monday: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner (Soylent), Snack (Carne Asada, Cheese, Tortilla).

On each day, I make sure to consume at least 72 ounces of water.  Usually 24 ounces after every Soylent meal or with a regular meal.

Exercise Notes: I had gone to the gym late Sunday night, and I was feeling very sore on Monday.  Decided to skip until Wednesday to give my muscles a change to repair.  I stuck to cardio-only that night and returned to weights on Thursday night (I went a little lighter this time).

As a result of the exercise on Wednesday night, however, I noticed a problem.  I was starving after my workout, and this was three hours after my dinner Soylent.  Given that I burned 900 calories during my hour-long workout, I decided to have a snack.  I ended up staying awake until 1:30am as I ate at 11pm.  Even with the snack, I was still well under my net caloric intake for the day.

The following night when I added my weight training back in, I didn’t feel as bad as I did with the extra protein in my diet from the night before and I didn’t feel hungry after the workout.

On Friday morning, I had my annual physical scheduled.  I spoke with my doctor about the change in my diet, and she had never heard of Soylent before.  I sent her all the proper literature, including the breakdown of nutrients and what’s used to get those nutrients.  She was encouraged by this shift, but was worried about my electrolytic count.  She ordered a full blood lab for (she was going to do this for the physical anyway).  She asked for weekly updates on weight and BP, and I would return in about a month for another blood draw using this one as a baseline.

Over the weekend, I got my blood labs back (this was on four days of Soylent, so far):

  • Weight/BMI: 337 lbs / 49.74
  • Blood Pressure: 131/82
  • Pulse: 80
  • Glucose: Down 15% (Great, because I was worried about pre-Diabetic conditions)
  • A1C: Down a little, but within the normal range.
  • Sodium: Up 20%, but within the normal range.
  • Cholesterol: No change (below 240)
  • HDL: No change (normal)
  • LDL: No change (normal)

After I was sent all this information over the weekend, I got an email from her saying she was happy with the labs, and to send the update on Friday morning.  She recommended that I increase my exercising a bit more.

This morning, I weighed myself and I came in at 331 lbs.  I’m really hoping this is water-weight since I’ve reduced by weekly sodium intake by quite a bit, otherwise I’m worried that I’m dropping weight way too quickly for a weekend.

Recipes

In my last post, I talked about recipes due to the complete lack of flavor that Soylent has.  Again, the Soylent community has been instrumental in trying some of the different things you can do with it.  I’ve done two of the recipes so far, and I had to modify one of them at the request of my doctor.  Earlier, I mentioned the “choco-banana” Soylent that I modified by using Nestle’s NesQuik as a substitute for chocolate syrup.  When I talked with my doctor, she recommended trying a non-sugary alternative as the NesQuik introduced about 12 gram of sugar per meal.  My wife mentioned using cocoa powder instead, so now my recipe has changed to:

  • 1 scoop Soylent
  • 2 scoops water
  • 1.5 teaspoons of the Oil Blend
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 tablespoon Cocoa powder
  • 2 packets of Splenda
  • 6 ice cubes

I took some shots of it coming together, but I shot these when I was still using Nesquik; the concept is the same.  I also tried a another one, this time involving pears:

 

  • 1 scoop Soylent
  • 2 scoops water
  • 1.5 teaspoons of the Oil Blend
  • 3 pear halves
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
  • 6 ice cubes

Unfortunately, this did not turn out as well as I’d hoped.  The Soylent nothingness kind of overwhelmed the pear and cinnamon, which is pretty incredible considering how potent cinnamon can be.  I ended up going back to the choco-banana recipe instead.

Next up: Week Two.

 

 

Soylent Project: Day One

Soylent Project: Day One

As pictured, this is the basic package of Soylent with the oil additive (containing your Omega-3 and Omega-6), scoop, and release notes/instruction manual.  According to the Soylent manual, you’re supposed to ramp up the number of meals you replace over the course of five days.  On the first day, you replace one meal, then you replace two, and finally you replace all three meals.  Each replacement accounts for one-third the total amount of vitamins you’re supposed to intake per day according to the recommended allowances as determined by the FDA. (more…)

The Soylent Project: An Introduction

The Soylent Project: An Introduction

I’d been reading about a new meal replacement system that attempts to replace the need for hunting and gathering by reducing the core components of what you need to survive into a powder form.  One of the writers at Ars Technica also wrote about his experiences with this product, named Soylent.  According to the advertising and the daily journal, all you needed to do was add water and some pre-packaged oil and you have a liquid meal ready-to-eat.  I went to their website back in July of 2014 and decided that I would try it for a week to see if I could stomach it (pun intended, sorry).

I visited their site to place an order and I didn’t realize how backed up their shipments were.  It looked like that for the $70 I paid out, I might not receive my first shipment until late September.  That’s no trouble, really.  After all, it wasn’t as though I were dying of hunger.  I just pushed off my plans until September.

And then September arrived and still no Soylent.  I received an email saying that they were tremendously backed up and that shipments were being sent out to current subscribers to their product.  New subscribers (myself) would get lower priority.  Made sense to me; after all, if you’re already on the plan, then you would need to have priority over people who aren’t.  This required me to have some more patience, though, as they projected another 10-12 weeks (4 months) before I would see my first bag of food-powder.

In between then, I flew to the United Kingdom on a work assignment and returned in late December to find my first shipment of Soylent waiting for me.

Therefore, I begin this project with this shipment and hope to report on what it is doing to me over time.  To properly introduce my vitals, I am rather obese (330 lbs) for my height (5 feet, 9 inches).  I’m not looking for this to be a silver bullet, but I am interested in simplifying a way to eat healthy in order to maximize the exercise program I’m going through.  For reference, I am switching off cardio and weight-lifting every other day with the following routine:

  • Day 1: 40 minutes cardio, 5 minutes cardio cool down.
  • Day 2: 20 minutes cardio, 20 minutes weight-lifting, 5 minutes cardio, 20 minutes weight-lifting, 5 minutes cardio cool down.

I will continue to post under this category and tags to track my progress.

Weekend of Frustration

Weekend of Frustration

 

Last Friday, I ordered a RAM upgrade for my gaming rig.  I built it about two years ago and thought I was styling at 8 gigs, but since I had opted to buy an upgrade for my wife’s Mac mini, I figured that I could use another 8 gigs to bring me to 16.  I ordered both of our upgrades off of Amazon, since I had a gift card that needed burning.  I expected it on Tuesday, but they delivered it on Saturday morning, to my surprise and elation.  I did what anyone would do; I installed the RAM, ran CMOS and saved the new memory configuration and then rebooted it.

When the machine came back up with a listing  of 16 gigs and launched into Windows, I was pretty confident that I wasn’t going to have any troubles.  Unfortunately, after about ten minutes of use and the launch of various programs that I start up every day, I was met with the following BSOD:

BSOD

Close, but this is from Windows XP. Also, mine specified different files.

It dumped out into the BSOD and then came to a halt, long enough for me to get down the specific STOP code, which I was partially familiar with.  I did what any good tech would do… I rebooted into safe mode and started working on it.  I ran the various checks and utilities, I reset the page file size to reflect the new RAM total (for the record, take your pagefile off of system-managed, and set it to 1.5 times your physical RAM).  And then I rebooted again into normal mode.  I got a different BSOD complaining about IRQ not being equal, which kind of raises the ol’ eyebrow.  At this point, I was getting a little concerned and feeling my frustration level rise.  What if Amazon shipped me out some bad hardware?

DIMMs Bad

3 of the 4 DIMMs failed a majority of the tests.

I downloaded Memtest86 at Josh‘s recommendation, and I find out that there’s a forked project called Memtest86+, which will now allow me to use a flash drive to install it and use it to boot up in.  I run it, go to sleep that night and wake up to the screen you see at the right.  Yeah, that’s a fuckton of errors, folks.  Covering addresses for three (that’s right, THREE) of the four DIMMs that Amazon shipped me.  They failed six of the ten total tests per pass, on three separate passes.  I was absolutely livid over this.  Because, it’s not like I went over to a brick-and-mortar and picked up bad hardware that I can drive and return to in order to get a replacement or a refund… I have to RMA this box of DIMMs back to Amazon and wait for them to receive it via UPS Ground, first.

Also, it was well after 2am on Sunday morning, so I was screwed until Fry’s opened up at 9am.  I took out the RAM, put in the original DIMMs, rebooted.. and Windows worked like a champ.  No errors or BSODs.  At least I had a working machine to play with until the sun came up over the horizon.  Which I did, because nothing alleviates frustration than tearing others a new asshole on Tribes for hours on end.

I was at Fry’s only two minutes after they unlocked the doors.  Now, under normal circumstances, flagging some poor working schleb over there is kind of a crap shoot during their prime hours.  They usually ignore me unless I stare someone down, or go to the desk and ask for assistance.  However, when you’re the first person in the store, it’s like you’re a celebrity.  I was walking through various departments to get to the computer component area and sales staff were all over me, asking me if I needed help.  I guess they were all looking for that first commission of the day or something.

So, I made it to the right area.  I was looking at the DIMM prices for the one I wanted, and within ten seconds, I had one on me asking me if I needed help.  The thing about Fry’s is, never ask these guys for advice.  Never.  If you go in knowing exactly what you want, take down the Fry’s PLU number and then say, “I want one of ######.”  They’ll go right to their computer, print out your little receipt so you can take it to the cage in customer service and buy it.  If you don’t know what you want, then call a friend on your cell, look it up on Wikipedia, Google for it, do anything except ask these chuckleheads for advice.  They don’t know shit about shit, other than making a sale.  They will smell your lack of confidence and jump on you like a starving man at a free all-you-can-eat buffet.  Anyway… I got the DIMMs and picked up a couple of cans of compressed air to I could clean out the case, then left the store to return home.

Don’t get me started on the bitterant, either.  That shit is nasty.

Old Ram

The old set of RAM, the original 8GB I had installed.

I replace the RAM again, go through the whole thing.  I clean out the case, which desperately needed it.  As soon as I bring up the computer, I get a BIOS checksum error.  I go into the CMOS, save the new memory configuration and reboot.  Same thing, checksum error.  It’s Award BIOS, I use my laptop to find out how to correct it, and it turns out that I never activated the backup recovery option when I installed it.  To make matters worse, I’m running Revision 3 and the site says they’re up to Revision 11.  Another RAM swap back to the original, I download the new Rev and apply it using the Windows flash utility.  I restart the machine, the computer gives me ten short beeps and it shuts down.  I restart it again and launch into CMOS, this time it seems to load fine.  Save the config, restart.. ten short beeps and it shut down on its own.

Fuck!

I try restarting it, and it comes up, but it freaks out over the configuration.  So I just reset the whole thing, delete it and flash it back to default.  I don’t bother to save any of the old configuration files.  It comes up again, this time with the full Gigabyte full-screen advertisement about the board.  I jump into CMOS and reset the boot order, all the normal stuff.  Get rid of the quick-load screen, I want to see POST, damn it!  Finally, I got it back in order, I shut it down after I confirm it can load into Win7 without difficulty.  I put back in the new RAM, just to be sure, and the same thing happens again.  BSOD in Windows.

New RAM

The package the new RAM arrived in.

Now, I’m thinking I have two bad sets of RAM and I’m about ready to drive back to Fry’s and replace it with a new set.  Something in the back of my head tells me to try it one more time.  I let it reboot, and I get three short beeps and then it shut downs.  I go down the hall to let my wife know that I might be heading out to buy a new motherboard when I hear the Windows 7 startup sound chime in.  While I was out of the room, it turned itself on and successfully started up.

I think it heard me.

It was running fine, now.  I logged in and started doing some stress-testing, using HeavyLoad and DXDiag.  HeavyLoad managed to get me to 75% RAM utilization and 100% CPU before I stopped it.  DXDiag ran the little floating box test and I had no problems, there.  I sat back in my chair, completely flabbergasted by the sudden development.  Then again, given my long history with Windows, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.