New Fitness Goals AGAIN

I've been trying to lose weight, with some temporary successes, but overall unsuccessfully, for years. Many many years. Well, then again I suppose it depends on your definition of trying. Trying, to some (and by some I mean lazy fatties like me) can sometimes mean wanting to lose weight... feeling guilty about eating too much... and wishing that I was thinner. There are times, however, that I've genuinely tried. I've actively set goals (and failed them) and have put programs and activities in place that, had I not been tempted by the devil (feel free to substitute "the devil" with any number of evil things, such as "the donut", "the couch", "the all-you-can-eat Vegas buffet") I would have eventually been successful with. Alas... the devil has always won. Or rather... I have always found the devil more enticing than having a Spartan body (yes, with painted abs a la 300). You see... having a Spartan body would be great for when I'm climbing in slow-motion from the pool at a party or when I'm competing in a flexing contest... but donuts taste good right now. And so I eat them. (actually I must confess I'm blaming a lot on donuts and I rarely eat them, but the word is admittedly funny so I type and type it!)

DISCLAIMER: yes, all these images are ridiculous

When I was a kid I was average sized: Kid Vu

When I became a teenager I was chubby: Farmer Vu

When I was 15 I was sent to Vietnam for 2 years to learn "my roots" (on my father's side) and got malaria and lost a ton of weight and became fairly thin: Lan and Vu in Vietnam

By the time I was 18 I was back to getting chubby: Uncool Vu

And once I hit 20 I surpassed 200 lbs... a weight I would not see again for many years: Finally Fat Vu

At the height of my fatdom I was 230 lbs. That's a lot for a 5'9" tall guy (I used to claim to be 5'10" but really it's like 5'9.5" and I've decided to be more humble in life). I thankfully don't actually have an image from that time... but I do have this one which was probably over 220 AND shows the dumb hair I had for a few months. Perhaps at the time I thought the blonde hair and giant black eyebrows would distract people from seeing my belly.

WTF Vu

So... 2009 arrives. I'm fed up. I've always been on-and-off active... having played a heck of a lot of beach volleyball from 18 to 23 or so... then finding mountain biking and other outdoor activities... but I've never really stuck with anything. One thing I've ALWAYS hated was running. Ugh. Just thinking about running makes me angry. I'm angry that I've ever had to run in my life for any reason whatsoever, and I'm angry that I know that I will have to run in the future, for a variety of reasons (hopefully never for my life, but you never know... I DO live very dangerously).

Wait, where was I? I tend to get off topic pretty easily. Oh yeah, 2009. So in 2009 my dear friend Ryel bought me a pair of running shoes as a gift for some workflow and other help I've given her... and I buy a Nike+ sensor. It works perfectly with my iPhone 3GS (built in communication and app) and I now have no reason not to run. Ok, actually I have my bad knees which have bothered me since I was a teenager... but the honest truth (as opposed to the dishonest truth) was that they had seemed ok for the past couple years and I was determined to at least put them to the test. When I say I hate running though... I mean I HATE running. Every step I take while running is another step I hate. I literally think the ENTIRE time, each time I run, of all the excuses I can find to stop running. Almost every second. Sometimes I even think of ways I could allow my ankle to sprain or maybe just trip and fall and scrape my knee... something enough to give me a good excuse to stop. So when I run... and when anyone sees that I've run like 5 miles... they actually have no idea what an accomplishment that really is... because I REALLY HATE running!

But I ran. I ran a total of 38 miles. Over the course of 2 months (that's a LOT for me, probably the most ever). Along with that I also decided to cut my daily caloric intake down to 1,000 calories (plus any exercise I did that day... so if I ran off 400 calories I would eat 1,400 calories that day). Extreme? Yes. But I wanted results and I was tired of not getting them. I was 215 lbs when I started and I just wanted to look and feel good by November. In just over 2 months I lost 25 lbs. Yup, one morning I actually weighed in at 188 lbs. It was the lightest I had been since I was 19. Wow. Momentous, right?

Unfortunately I didn't think so. I felt like I had done a lot of work but I didn't realize how awesome an accomplishment I'd really achieved. I wanted to continue but I went on vacation and stopped the dieting and stopped the running all at once... and didn't start them up again. I regained 15 of the 25 lbs I lost over the course of 4 months... and that's where I am right now. 205 lbs. Hello again, fatso.

Ugh. 205 lbs. I look at images I took just months ago when I was under 190 and they make me SO regretful that I didn't just keep it up. Here's my favorite. Yup, that's me in a pose that normally would show wonderful curvy love handles with the way the wind is blowing my shirt in... but there are none! Ok they're there but they are manageable. They're close to being gone.

@VuBui showing @RoxanneDarling the shotimage of Roxanne Darling and myself by Shane Robinson

A New Beginning. Again.

So... I want that again. I want that and more. I want 175 lbs. That's not too thin for my height and age. That would actually not be that thin at all, just a hell of a lot more thin than I am right now. And it's not just about LOOKING thin (and wearing a Spartan Halloween costume). It's about FEELING good and healthy. I really enjoyed being lighter on my feet, I enjoyed being able to run up a flight of stairs with the slightest of effort. I just wish my insecurities about my body and weight had caught up with the rest of my good feelings... I might have realized how far I'd come and be less likely to keep it off. Unfortunately I still felt like a fatass... and so I let myself become one again.

I'm going back on the 1,100 a day calorie plan (plus exercise). I'm trying to run a consistent 15 miles a week plus calisthenic workouts in between runs. I'm also looking for someone to barter a headshot session for a road bike (blog post about this coming soon). I'm going to post some of my results to this blog. Probably at least my weekly calorie intake. My runs go to Twitter. My calisthenic workouts I think will show up on my calorie chart (it's all in the amazing Lose It iPhone app). And once I get that bike those results will be posted too.

Do you think I can do it? I sure could use people giving me a hard time about NOT keeping up with my goals. I'll come up with some actual dates soon, once I figure out exactly what I want to do... but I'm totally open to suggestions, criticisms, name-calling and encouragement (in no particular order). I have Lydia (who is surprisingly an AMAZING motivator) but no offense to her... I would love some more.

These are some of the stats from today's blog post on 750words.com, click the image to see all the stats:

750 words stats

Photography as Art... Again | 750 words day 2

I actually wrote 606 words this morning then deleted it all... I wasn't happy with where it was going and needed to start fresh... but after writing 606 words straight I needed some time before I started again. The writing this morning was all about workshops in the photo industry. But I really wasn't happy with what I was saying... because I ended up just talking about what Lan and I have done, and then about what I think that people actually want. I think it should have been a lot more about what I want to change in my own business... because honestly there is no better way to lead than by example. So... I'll save that talk for another day.

Instead, today I want to talk about something else that's really important to me right now. Art. When Carlos Baez first started truephototalk.com (where much of the talk of workshops and value and lies and truth and...) it had nothing to do with "truth" in the industry, and was actually more about bringing the art back to photography, or at least his desire to bring art back to the spotlight of what photographers are about.

Photography, especially in the wedding industry today has become much more of a commodity and less of an art, in general, than ever. The homogenization of photography can be blamed mostly on the amazing advances in technology that we've seen in the past 10 years, but also by what the consumers of this commodity want. They want the same thing they see on 100 blogs... and luckily there are 10,000 photographers shooting that same exact thing. I used to look blogs just like everyone else, especially when I was thinking I was going to become a wedding photographer... but then I realized that not only did each photographer's weddings look the same from client to client... but each different photographer looked the same as the ones around them. And all that looked pretty much the same as what I was doing.

Certainly some photographers are better and some worse from a technical perspective... but most photographers, once they reach a certain level of experience, all look pretty darn similar (NOTE I say most, because there are some who certainly stand out). THAT is why there is the huge movement in making your business about YOU and YOUR PERSONALITY. Lan and I have been lucky that our personalities lend themselves well to selling ourselves instead of just our photography. We've been hired more than once (actually MANY times) for gigs where the client only later realized that they were completely excited that we were their photographers yet had never seen any of our work.

Our wedding film on themotionboutique.com website was our first true wedding video. When Nicole, the awesome (and I mean she really was cool) came to meet with us we chatted for almost an hour, laughing and having a great time... before she asked if we had any work that we wanted her to see. We told her "no, actually nothing we've ever done before would be at all representative of what we are going to do for you, but we'd love it if you'd trust us enough to do a great job for no reason other than you've met us." We explained in words what we wanted to do for her... and she hired us right there... and said it was because she really liked us and wanted us there on her wedding day. It was a surprise but also felt great, and it was an amazing amazing wedding that we totally delivered for her (in our opinion, and in hers).

SO... we are living proof that there is credibility to the claims made by so many that a photographer's personality is as important (if not more in some cases) as their actual work. BUT... do I want that to be why my clients hire me? Do I want to be part of that 80% or so of photographers whose work is just about the same as everyone else... leaving only my personality to shine above and make me the right choice? Perhaps the capitalist in me is happy with that... but the artist in me is definitely saying NO.

What do I do about that, then? How do I improve my art and craft? How do I elevate above what I currently do? In the past couple years I've gotten to the point where I only pick up a camera if I have a gig. Holding an SLR makes me feel like I'm working, not enjoying photography like I used to. That's one of the reasons I'm absolutely in love with the Olympus E-P2 that I have on loaner (and have to give back in a week). It doesn't feel like work. It has brought the fun back into photography for me.

So maybe I just need a camera that doesn't feel like I have to do serious work with. I don't know. But I know I want to do something to get myself out of what I'm stuck in right now.

Yeah, if you're read this far you can probably see that I am a terrible writer when it comes to just laying down thoughts... because I can't stay on topic, not for more than a paragraph or two. Oh well. I'm not as keen on fixing that too soon.

These are some of the stats from 750words.com, click the image to see all the stats:

750 words stats

Why Write 750 Words Every Day? - Day 1

Today is April 1st, and the first day of a few projects I'm trying to start or revive. One of them is this attempt at a daily written blog. The idea came from 750words.com, which is a site that reminds you and allows you to write 750 (or more) words a day... the idea being that if you aren't held accountable by someone or something to do it... you probably won't.
My first writings were just stream of consciousness. I let words just flow from my brain into my fingers and really tried not to think about it too much. Since I had just gone through a breakup... most of the words were about her. That was stuff I'm glad was not for publication at all. I'm a very open person... but honestly not many people out there want to read about those types of things from someone who is hurting and feeling insecure and down about themselves. Then again, the right kind of person would take a lot of motivation from it. They could compare themselves to me... and feel great in comparison! Alas... I'm keeping those docs to myself.
The other great thing about the site is that it gives great statistics on what you're writing. You get a word cloud, some pie charts which gauge your mood based on the words you use, and some other pretty cool statistics that I'm sure will become more interesting to me as time goes on and I actually have more to be analyzed.
There are also the monthly challenges. Each month you are challenged to write 750 words every single day. There is no way to cheat... so you really just have to do it. I was delighted and surprised to see that my friend Rudy Jahchan was on the short list of 10 people who completed the task last month. Way cool and very motivational. There are a lot of reasons I think daily writing is important... and I'm totally not going to go over them at all today.
Instead I'd like to try and describe the things I might want to talk about during these 750 words a day... because as of this moment I have no idea but if I put some stuff down in writing, right now, as I think of it... there might be a chance I'll somewhat stick to it in the future and provide either entertainment, information or perhaps mild amusement to anyone who happens across these writings. I suppose I could also spend the time sprinkling SEO keywords in a dense enough manner that for each 750 words about 6% of them are the name of a product, and at the top of the page I could have a link to that product on Amazon. How awesome would that be???
Ok, so probably not very awesome.
Instead I think it would be most useful if I literally just write the things that are on my mind. Those things usually revolve around just a few different topics. There's photography... of course. Boy do I have lots to say about photography. I originally started this blog in 2002 with posts about my new love of street photography... unfortunately in the multiple moves the content has taken the photos themselves have been lost to the ether... I no longer even have the original scans (they were all shot on film back then). All that remain are a bunch of posts mostly about gear lust... which I'm proud to say I no longer feel much need to write about these days.
I'll also write lots about my thoughts on video, DSLR video and filmmaking. Mostly because besides photography I'm mostly involved with this stuff on a daily basis, and half of what Lan and I teach and get hired to do is all about video. We were lucky to get into web video before web video was the thing to do (December, 2004) so we have just about as much experience as most people can have on this specific topic. Though things have come a long way (YouTube is so easy a child can upload their videos now) there's still a lot of other factors that people don't understand or know much about... so I'll likely write about these things too.
Lastly... well not lastly but lastly for now... I'm going to start giving my thoughts on industry-related topics. I'm involved in a few industries... but they all revolve around web marketing and web deliverables and web promotion... and there are lots of things to say about all of that.
Ok, so here are my first 750 words. Actually I'm now at 777.

Today is April 1st, and the first day of a few projects I'm trying to start or revive. One of them is this attempt at a daily written blog. The idea came from 750words.com, which is a site that reminds you and allows you to write 750 (or more) words a day... the idea being that if you aren't held accountable by someone or something to do it... you probably won't.

My first writings were just stream of consciousness. I let words just flow from my brain into my fingers and really tried not to think about it too much. Since I had just gone through a breakup... most of the words were about her. That was stuff I'm glad was not for publication at all. I'm a very open person... but honestly not many people out there want to read about those types of things from someone who is hurting and feeling insecure and down about themselves. Then again, the right kind of person would take a lot of motivation from it. They could compare themselves to me... and feel great in comparison! Alas... I'm keeping those docs to myself.

The other great thing about the site is that it gives great statistics on what you're writing. You get a word cloud, some pie charts which gauge your mood based on the words you use, and some other pretty cool statistics that I'm sure will become more interesting to me as time goes on and I actually have more to be analyzed.

There are also the monthly challenges. Each month you are challenged to write 750 words every single day. There is no way to cheat... so you really just have to do it. I was delighted and surprised to see that my friend Rudy Jahchan was on the short list of 10 people who completed the task last month. Way cool and very motivational. There are a lot of reasons I think daily writing is important... and I'm totally not going to go over them at all today.

Instead I'd like to try and describe the things I might want to talk about during these 750 words a day... because as of this moment I have no idea but if I put some stuff down in writing, right now, as I think of it... there might be a chance I'll somewhat stick to it in the future and provide either entertainment, information or perhaps mild amusement to anyone who happens across these writings. I suppose I could also spend the time sprinkling SEO keywords in a dense enough manner that for each 750 words about 6% of them are the name of a product, and at the top of the page I could have a link to that product on Amazon. How awesome would that be???

Ok, so probably not very awesome.

Instead I think it would be most useful if I literally just write the things that are on my mind. Those things usually revolve around just a few different topics. There's photography... of course. Boy do I have lots to say about photography. I originally started this blog in 2002 with posts about my new love of street photography... unfortunately in the multiple moves the content has taken the photos themselves have been lost to the ether... I no longer even have the original scans (they were all shot on film back then). All that remain are a bunch of posts mostly about gear lust... which I'm proud to say I no longer feel much need to write about these days.

I'll also write lots about my thoughts on video, DSLR video and filmmaking. Mostly because besides photography I'm mostly involved with this stuff on a daily basis, and half of what Lan and I teach and get hired to do is all about video. We were lucky to get into web video before web video was the thing to do (December, 2004) so we have just about as much experience as most people can have on this specific topic. Though things have come a long way (YouTube is so easy a child can upload their videos now) there's still a lot of other factors that people don't understand or know much about... so I'll likely write about these things too.

Lastly... well not lastly but lastly for now... I'm going to start giving my thoughts on industry-related topics. I'm involved in a few industries... but they all revolve around web marketing and web deliverables and web promotion... and there are lots of things to say about all of that.

Ok, so here are my first 750 words. Actually I'm now at 777.

These are some of the stats from 750words.com, click the image to see all the stats:

750 words stats