Working It Off

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It’s time for me to break my silence about my journey. This is a journey that has not been sponsored by random people on the internets. This is not a journey that has been told about in the news. Also, this is a journey that is still going on which will likely only end the day that I die.

It’s also a journey that I have not written about at great length to anyone until now, because I this has been very much a private journey that I have been taking which has been shared with just friends, family and my work mates. Also, I am a very quiet person and tend to not open up much about myself to most people.

I have been extremely overweight since I was a small child. When I was in school, I was the kid who was always picked fun of and singled out for embarrassment, such as the time that an opposing baseball team actually specifically hit balls towards me because they knew I couldn’t field them properly.

Also, when I was in High School, my marching band was invited to perform in a lengthy parade in the winter. While I did some of the exercises in preparation of the parade, but at the end it was decided that I would not march due to concerns over my not being able to make the entire route. Had I not made the entire distance, there would have been no way for me to leave the parade route. Also, for that trip, it was decided that it would be best to buy two airplane seats for me.

Through college, the situation didn’t improve over that time mostly due to the fact that I had unlimited dining in the three meals a day I had access to. A typical breakfast for me would be eggs piled quite high, at least 7 or 8 sausage links and toast as well, plus hashbrowns when available. That was in 2002, and I’ll pick up the story in 2011.

At that time, nobody knew what my actual weight was. The scale that I had went up to 200kg – 440lb, and every time that I would stand on the scale, it would just say “error” meaning that I weighed more than the maximum weight. I estimated my weight at maybe 450 or 460lb, but in hindsight, I think my weight was pretty close to 550 or 600lb. We will never know the truth of that time in my life. But that has changed.

When things changed for me was when I took a trip to Australia to meet my best friend, Snoskred, in person for the first time. While on the way, it was a struggle for me to fit into the airline seats, especially on the long-haul flight from San Francisco to Auckland where the arm rest did not go all the way back up, so I spent nearly 14 hours in a 747 with an arm rest in my left shoulder. On nearly all of the other flights, I had a row to myself, but still was unable to put down the arm rests in those seats.

I didn’t notice the things that were going on during that trip, for example, having to use a specific car because I probably would not have fit into the other car that they had. One thing that I did not see was a group of tourists on an escalator who pointed in my direction, and then decided that staring was not good enough, so they took a photo. Of me. I didn’t know about this for quite some time after the trip actually finished.

Carrying all of this weight around had its complications for me as well. One of which is that I had poor coordination, especially when walking around. When I was in Australia, we were walking along one of the beaches, and while going down a slight embankment on the sand, I fell backwards into the sand, then needed a moment to recover from the fall. Then when I was on my own in Hawai’i on the return trip, I was walking from the airport to the post office. On that walk, I came across a curb and not realising that it was a slanted curb, I stepped and there was nothing there, so I wound up falling again.

Another complication is that the weight affected my posture greatly. When I would sit with my legs up, for example in a recliner, my legs would be splayed in a fashion like this – \_/ (but with the feet quite frequently completely at 90 degrees to my midsection).

Turning things around started in the build-up to my trip to Australia. I joined a gym and began going every day after work, starting with just doing the treadmill and then moving to the elliptical machine and pulling in some weights as well. I did look a little bit at my diet, but was not completely focused on my eating. Because of the exercise I was doing, I did lose some weight by the time I went to Australia, but it was only the beginning–and still no idea of what I actually weighed.

In the beginning of 2012, Snoskred — who I will say has been responsible for the vast majority of my successes in the last 11 years of my life through her encouragement and, at many times, showing me the “tough love” that only a true friend can show — got me to finally order Nutrisystem. That is the time when the weight has really started to fall off. It would be yet another month or two after starting Nutrisystem that I would finally get a number on the scales.

That number was on April 19th, 2012. I was able to weigh in at 201.7kg, 444.7lb.

I’ve been continuing with Nutrisystem and exercising at least 3-5 times per week (at least 30 minutes of good aerobic work on the elliptical, bike or treadmill) for nearly the last 4 years.

In that time, I have not had any issues where I have tripped over uneven surfaces, and while it is something I have to be aware of, I am able to comfortably place my legs in the correct position when sitting in a chair – i.e. the feet pointing upward instead of pointing to either side.

Am I where I want to be? No. Unfortunately, for the last 2 years, I’ve stayed in the range of 330-350lb, with my current weight at 348.2lb/157.94kg. My goal is to get myself down below 300lb/136kg by the end of this year.

I will now share a photo of my body – the one on the left is in Australia and the other is 2 years later in Hawaii.

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Considering that we will never know what the starting weight was, it has been a long journey, but one that will keep on.

The Ongoing T-Mobile Saga

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A few weeks back, I explained how I tried out T-Mobile’s services by way of receiving a SIM Card for my iPhone. It didn’t turn out so well, as the service was not what I was expecting. After about a week or so of having the SIM card, I returned it.

After returning it (including it being tracked by the USPS) to the address provided, I thought that was the end of the story – I tried the service, and returned it within the return window.

That’s not what has happened.

On August 17th, I received an envelope in the mail from a PO box in El Dorado Hills, California. Upon opening it, I discovered it was a past-due notification from T-Mobile indicating the following –

  1. My T-Mobile Service was now suspended. (OK, well, I terminated the service by returning the SIM Card, so I’m not sure why you’re saying it’s suspended)
  2. The reason that my (cancelled) T-Mobile Service was suspended was due to non-payment of a balance of $152.29.
  3. If I don’t pay the bill, I face the permanent deactivation of my phone service and additional actions, including the account being sent to a collections agency and it affecting my credit.

That’s a bit odd, but OK. And there’s a phone number on the bill. So, I call it. The first call that I make, I erred and had myself muted so the rep hung up on me (oops). I call again, and speak to someone in Meridian Idaho, and he indicated to me that the account was placed at a zero balance due and I would get a bill saying I had a zero balance.

So, that means it’s over, right? Everyone can go home happy and enjoy some fresh orange slices, living happily ever after! 🙂

Nope.

Last night, I received another envelope from the same mailer, but with a different address on it. This one was in Wixom, Michigan. This letter was from a company called Convergent Outsourcing Inc. This letter stated to me –

  1. This is a notice being sent by a collection agency.
  2. A balance of $152.29 is due in full for mobile phone service (again, how is that possible considering that I had the SIM card for at most 10 days – I received it on 6/29, and it was returned to the returns department on 7/9).
  3. If I do pay this debt, they may be able to offer me the option of re-connecting my mobile phone service at no additional cost.

So, I try calling – this time at just after midnight. Turns out their billing department closes at midnight. Fair enough, at the company I work for, the billing department usually closes around that same time. 🙂

I started to write this post actually as I was calling them again this morning to sort this whole sordid situation out again; I was on hold for someone when I started to write this, and got to someone who sounded like she was in the Philippines. To be honest, I was not up for talking to someone in Cebu or in Cainta or in Manila, so I asked for someone in the USA – and was promptly transferred to someone in, as she said “sunny Tampa”

Awesome, I thought, someone in the USA and I can get this sorted out. I started out a bit heated – as one would be considering that they had received word from a previous rep that the bill was zeroed out and then received a collections letter.

She tells me that there is no reason as to why I would have been told that the balance would have been zeroed out and that I owed $11.56 for services as I had the service for almost a month. I asked for her to hang on while I grabbed my mobile to check the USPS tracking on the SIM card return. When I returned, she asked for me to hold for someone in the billing department…OK, I thought you would be able to help, but I guess she transferred me due to my disputing this $11 amount – which I had accepted while I was grabbing my phone.

So, after another 3 minutes or so on hold, I am transferred to Lance to whom I explained my situation, he placed me on a brief hold, and then came back to me. When he did, he said that he was in the process of waiving the fee. I also explained that it was weird that I received this collections letter dated 8/21 but never received a bill from T-Mobile regarding the service. He was stumped to that as well.

He did tell me that the account hadn’t gone to collections as yet (again strange considering that I received a letter from a collections agency) and that the letter actually came from T-Mobile and that I can disregard this information.

From there, the call ended with me asking for his ID and for a confirmation number – he did give me his ID and has told me that the balance would be zero within 48 hours.

I’m going to check this on Sunday to see if the balance is actually zero. And if I get another collections letter from T-Mobile, I’ll be on the phone and raising holy Hell on these people as this will now get even more ridiculous than the situation I’ve found myself in.

SIM Card Shuffle

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For the past 5 years, I have been an owner of two iPhones – first was an iPhone 3GS which served me decently for about 2 and a half years until I dropped it onto a concrete sidewalk and the screen cracked. There were other issues with the phone as well, such as the phone not making any sounds and then losing any ability to vibrate.

As a result, I bought an iPhone 5 which came with a new 2-year contract. Literally on the day the contract was fulfilled, I applied to have the phone unlocked, and it was unlocked pretty much straight away.

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What can you do with an unlocked iPhone? Switch carriers and maybe save money. Am I dissatisfied with AT&T? Not at all. However, some carriers have great offers and do allow you to bring your own device to them and will sell you just the SIM card.

Currently, I pay around $87 per month for AT&T’s base voice plan – 450 minutes anytime (with rollover), 5000 night/weekend, 200 SMS and 5GB data with mobile hotspot. This pricing also includes a discount that I get with them through an affinity program with my job.

I’m all for saving as much money as possible, which is what I was thinking when I started to look into service with T-Mobile. At first, the offer looks really good –

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So, here’s a quick pro/con list of switching to T-Mobile –

  • Pros –
    • Including taxes, I’d save around $15-20 per month on my mobile service
    • 3GB plan includes hotspot
    • Data Stash – essentially rollover data. If you don’t use all 3GB in the month, what’s left over carries over for the next month.
    • No worries about overages – if I go over on data, my speed is throttled. Right now, if I use 5.0001 GB of data, AT&T will (as a courtesy) add $10 to my next month’s payment for the overage and give me a 6th gig of data to use.
    • International roaming – if I am in, let’s say, Australia, I have unlimited data through my T-Mobile SIM. No real need to buy a local SIM unless I want to have a local number for the time I’m there, or if I want to take advantage of a full-speed network
    • Unlimited Music Streaming – I have subscriptions for Google Music and SiriusXM radio. If I’m out and about, that can be a lot of data. With T-Mobile? No worries!
    • Upfront cost? $15 for the SIM card itself and I don’t need to buy a new phone or worry about a contract.
    • Unlimited talk and texts. I’m not a big phone user, nor do I send many text messages (literally my Messages App is 99% adverts from different stores like the local gas station who sends me coupons for $1 free petrol every week ;)), but this is something that is awesome to have the ability to do.
  • Cons –
    • Smaller network – if you compare the coverage maps of T-Mobile and AT&T, you’ll see that the TMO network has more gaps and less 4G LTE coverage. This isn’t a major issue since I don’t do a lot of travelling, but it’s worth noting
    • No LTE Coverage at my house – This is an interesting one since their coverage map says that yes, I can get LTE coverage, but there’s a caveat at the bottom –
      lte
      What they mean by newly-expanded 4G LTE is that you have to have a device capable of receiving signals in the 700MHz LTE Band 12. My iPhone 5 only supports bands 2, 4, 5 and 17, so there’s no LTE at my house.

If you look at this, the pros well outweigh the cons, and it’s a no-brainer to switch my phone service over to T-Mobile. Add to that the fact that based on their plans, I recommended we use their service to get Internet at my church since the cable company doesn’t get out that far and the phone company would only offer 3×1 service (which is just a little bit more than 10% of the download listed by the FCC as the minimum for broadband service, 25Mbps), so I bit the bullet and ordered the SIM for my phone as well as the hotspot for my church.

Hilariously, I didn’t get my SIM card as planned as the folks at UPS decided to deliver it not to my house, but to a business in the city. I thought it was weird that it was delivered at a “Dock”. Thankfully the UPS guy was able to ring his office and get it dispatched to me, with only a 4 day delay.

I get the SIM card and then I put it in my phone. After seeing the No SIM message, it says that it’s searching for service. I’m doing this in my living room, I should note. I’ve gotten decent coverage with AT&T – not 5 bars, but, as TMO put it, “satisfactory” coverage indoors. I was already a bit apprehensive on the coverage on my phone after the experience with the hotspot. So, it was no surprise for me to see this message –

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I had to walk outside just to get a basic signal, and that didn’t even have data available, it was just a normal cell signal. Interestingly, there was the option for me to select a carrier –

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But none of them would allow me to connect. This is because T-Mobile have it set up that if you are in an area where they have radio spectrum, you cannot connect with other cell companies. Thus, even though AT&T signal may be available at my house, I can’t use it because T-Mobile has wireless spectrum.

Then, I decided to take a kit along – a plastic bag, the SIM card and its holder and a “SIM extraction tool” – better known as a paperclip – with me to work. And that was where I learnt another lesson.

 

I tried making a call to one of my favourite test numbers (it’s an automated system so no actual people, and it’s a toll-free number). When I dialed, I noticed that the data coverage disappeared altogether. This is just not something that I am used to, since with AT&T while I’m on a call, I still have data. It may not be LTE speeds, but it’s still useable.

Now the pros and cons are a bit different. Of course, the main pros of the money saving and the rollover data and the international roaming options are there, but now the cons list is changed – NO service at my house, smaller network, no simultaneous data and voice.

I still have the SIM card on hand, but I am now to the point where I am going to return it back and say thanks, but no thanks, it’s not a good fit for me right now. 🙂

Rules of the Gas Pump…

Sunoco Station

Clearly, the above is a gas station. There is something strange about this particular station, however.

It’s not necessarily that it is a Sunoco station in Wisconsin. That, in itself is a bit of an oddity, since I did not know that there were Sunoco stations in this state until I found it using my GasBuddy app while getting my car serviced.

No, it’s that there is no attached store.

All transactions are done at the pump – as the sign states, you can pay cash or credit at the pump. If it were me, I’d make well sure that it was a cash payment.

Why?

Many stations have signs on their pumps that say “If you don’t get a receipt, you didn’t pay.” Which has always brought up a question for me, and is why this is one of my rules –

What happens if you use the pay at the pump function at a station that has closed for the night and you do not receive a receipt? It’s never happened to me as, with possibly one or two exceptions, I’ve followed a rule of mine to never get gas at a station that is closed, to avoid this particular situation.

In fact, the only gas station that I will use that does not have a dedicated convenience store is the Costco Gas, but the reality is that so many times Costco is not cheaper than other gas stations that I go to.

Maybe that is why some gas stations decide to place a small hold onto people’s cards when they use pay-at-the-pump. Though I think this was taking it a bit overboard –

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What are your thoughts on paying for gas/petrol at the pump?

Winter has come

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Well, it’s winter and with winter comes the doldrums. But with the doldrums does come some good things –

When I updated my stats previously, I had mentioned that I had gained quite a bit over the course of 2014. Well, thanks to some changes that I made to my exercise routine, namely going to a different gym with different equipment and a more peaceful atmosphere where you don’t have people grunting all the time, I have managed to take off 6 pounds!

Beginning weight on 30/12/14 = 348.75lb (158.19kg)
Weight on 30/01/15 = 342.5625lb (155.38kg)

What is interesting is that with the different gym (it’s all part of the same company’s chain of franchises), they have a special room with a stand out front. It offers a series of classes called Wellbeats.

The series that I have been doing mostly is the Kinetics, which features a teacher showing you different moves that I thought there’s no way I can do that. Things like burpees, mountain climbers, lunges and just all kinds of crazy stuff that is really good for the body.

However, being who I am and saying I can’t do that yet then trying it and trying it again, I manage to do this stuff (even if I did fall to the floor when trying a curtsy lunge! :D). There’s a story to be told about my learning to swim later, as it’s relevant here. 🙂

Are you trying to lose weight this winter? What have you been doing to lose the weight, and is it working?