Friday, August 26, 2011

Don't Rely on Treadmill Calibration!

I've already confessed to being both a geek and a data junkie, so this post may not come as a surprise to any of the (no) people reading this blog. Once I had my new Garmin in hand and started using it, I started to see interesting discrepancies between what the treadmill's display was telling me and what the Garmin was telling me.

Now, I would expect that if it were a problem with the Garmin or its footpod, I'd see the same or very similar discrepancies all the time. But that's not what I'm seeing.

A few days ago, I used the third treadmill from the end at my gym and noticed that 3mph seemed exceptionally slow. After a bit, I glanced at the Garmin and it said that I was really walking at 2.8mph. hmmm.

Today I used the fifth treadmill from the end to see what happened. The treadmill's stated speed agreed with the Garmin's reading so it was probably reasonably close. But the problem came in mileage....

I walked for 2 min at 2.5 mph (a warm-up and a cool-down minute)
Then I walked for 58 minutes at a 3.0 OR GREATER speed. I was watching my HR monitor and would go between 3.0 and 3.2, depending on what my HR was doing, mostly 3.1-3.2.

At the end of the hour total time, the treadmill told me I had walked a total of 2.75 miles.

Ummm.... that math does NOT work at all.

58/60 = .97 (the portion of an hour actually walked in full-on mode)
.97 * 3mph = 2.9 miles (minimum distance because I'd actually spent most of it at 3.1 to 3.2 mph).
1.0-.97 = .03 (the portion spent in warm-up/cool-down mode)
.03*2.5mph = .075 miles (distance walked in warm-up/cool-down)
2.9+.075 = 2.975 miles

2.975 is the MINIMUM I walked. This is a difference of almost a quarter mile from what the treadmill told me. The difference is greater if I take 3.1 mph as an average and do the same calculation.

Seriously - walking 2 minutes short of an hour at a 3mph pace should give me just shourt of 3 miles, no? Not 2.75.....

So, in light of all the variances, I'm going to stick with the Garmin's variances since they should be consistent over time. I think my best bet is to walk for an hour and just see how far I go, since I know I can walk 5K in an hour at a very doable pace.

So - this is my data geek warning to never take what the display on any exercise machine tells you as the truth. Calibration (or lack thereof) can play havoc with the stated values.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Nurturing Confidence

I'm still a long way from many of my goals, including weight loss and fitness goals, but I can already see some changes in myself. This time the changes are more in attitude and emotions than in the physical. It's a bit strange because I've been so focused on the physical but those actually aren't the first changes I notice.

In most of my life I'm a pretty confident person and, when I'm not sure, I usually will take the risk anyway. True, it does take some talking myself into it sometimes, but I often will make the leap. This has definitely shown in my work life.

But there are parts of my life where I'm really not confident and many of these revolve around either how I look or what I can physically do. I was always comparing myself to others and feeling negative about how I looked but because I had no confidence in my physical abilities, I thought I was trapped in the skin I'm in. No, I'm not sure why I thought that - because it's obvious I can make changes (and have). Maybe it's a symptom of feeling if I don't try and I'm negatively judged, I have an excuse for why?

I'm truly not sure.

What I have noticed is that I'm seeing less of these negative comparisons in myself and when I do compare myself to another person and find something lacking, I start thinking about how to get there (if possible) or how it's just the breaks that I won't ever have x attribute. I just don't seem to linger on it past a thought or two.

When something is physically hard, I seem more able to acknowledge it's hard and put aside my almost obsessive need to WIN the first time and recognize that it may take time to get there but I can do it if I both want to do it and I put the necessary work for into it. It's okay to not have things happen overnight. It's okay to have to build up to something.

Hell, it's okay not to be Wonder Woman!

Instead I'm trying to nurture this little seed of confidence in my ability to achieve my long-term goals on this fitness journey. One pound at a time. One step at a time. One new experience at a time.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Review: Road ID

(photo courtesy of the Road ID website -

I'll confess to being a bit of a worrier in the "what if..." realms. I'm always thinking about what would happen if I got hurt. Or I got mugged. Or the generic "something bad" happened. Now that I'm starting (as of today) to take long walks outdoors, I have some concerns that don't apply at the gym.

I don't tend to have pockets in my workout gear and though I have a camelback, I don't want to carry any valuables in it because, well, what if I'm either mugged or (more likely) I spill things out somewhere and don't notice? I've had my wallet stolen before and the pain of having to get all new credit cards, insurance cards, etc. was Not Fun. I really don't want to have to do it again.

Since I knew I wouldn't be gym-bound forever, especially since my friends had persuaded me to agree to doing a 5K before the end of the year, I started doing some research several weeks ago on how to solve the problem of wanting first responders to be able to get information on who I am, emergency contacts and maybe some medical information but without carrying my wallet around. Medic-alert bracelets weren't really the answer either.

I know someone will tell me about programming "ICE" contacts in my cell phone but, even though my cell phone does go with me at all times, I keep it locked. Because I receive work information on it, it's a hard and fast requirement plus I really don't want to lose it and have someone calling Mars on my dime.

Luckily, in the course of reading about how barefoot runners are attaching timing chips, I stumbled across a reference to a Road ID anklet. A quick search and I found the website for Road ID  ( and looked through their products.

The basis of their product is that people should have some sort of ID on them when working out. They offer laser-etched stainless steel tags (with a lifetime guarantee) that can come attached to various attachment mechanisms to provide that ID. I was really pleased to see they actually offer two versions, one has your name and info printed directly on it, the other has your name and selected info but on the back has an id number and pin # for first responders to use to call Road ID to obtain your information. This information is updatable and they have great interest in making certain it's secure.

Now, I will point out that if someone has the tag with the two numbers, they can get your data. There's no verification that they really ARE emergency services or such. So if you choose the "interactive" version, you need to keep the tags safe. There is also a small yearly fee for the interactive version, though the first year is free with your purchase.

I hate having things around my neck and my wrists are pretty taken up with the Garmin on one side and I hate things on the other. So I ordered a black anklet. The order process was easy and straightforward and very smooth. I received a confirmation email and a second email that showed me how to set up my account and enter my information while I waited for the ID to arrive (so I would have the ID# and PIN#).

Setting up that profile and entering my information was quite straightforward and simple as well.

I got several status emails from RoadID while my id was being produced and then shipped. It showed up about a week after I ordered it and I registered the ID# and PIN# to my profile.

The anklet itself is very adjustable and the plate is attached to it with elastic so it doesn't flop around. There is a band of reflective tape around the anklet to help visibility. When I tried it on, the inner neoprene kept my ankle from being scratched and the velcro was plentiful and strong. It's light so after about five minutes, I hardly noticed it was there. It appears to be very size-adjustable as well.

Now I will worry a little less about "what if..." when I want to walk/run with just my Camelbak, my cell phone and car keys. It's not a guarantee but it's a good safety net. It may also come in handy in any races that need me to wear a timing chip that won't attach well to my VFF shoes - or if I ever go completely barefoot.

Check out the RoadID at There are lots of options, colors and sizes.

(Note: I bought the RoadID myself and this review expresses my personal opinions)

Today's Walk - Sammamish River Trail (WA)

Today, despite it being my allowed "day off" of exercise, I decided I wanted to take advantage of the nice weather and walk along the Sammamish River Trail. I live in Western Washington state and we're very lucky in the number of trails, paths, parks, etc we have. Many of these are multi-use trails where bikers, walkers, runners, skaters, etc. all share the trail. For the most part, this works really well and the vast majority of people follow the basic rules and are nice to each other.

The Sammamish River Trail is 10.9 miles in full, all paved. I love the river and all the plant, insect and wildlife I get to see. In fact, I meander along it with my camera quite a bit. Today was obviously Canada Goose day as a lot of them were bobbing in the river, looking for snacks.

I enjoyed my walk and put a link to the map generated by my Garmin Forerunner during the walk at the top of this post. See - DATA!

I slathered on a lot of sunscreen, filled the smaller Camelbak with water, brought my good sunglasses and set off in my VFF.

Things I'll do differently next time:
  • Burp the Camelbak. The sloshing was a bit annoying.
  • Put ice in the Camelbak (we don't use much ice at my house so rarely have any - might have to stop somewhere). The water got pretty warm after a bit.
  • Take chapstick. The sunscreen did well on most of my skin but my lips suffered a bit.
  • Go earlier in the day. It gets a bit crowded at noonish on a weekend.
  • Remember my iPod.
What a lovely day for a walk.

Oh - and I realized I got 5K done in under an hour. Woohoo!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm a Data Junkie

(graphic courtesy of the Garmin product website)
I am a data junkie and a geek. I love reviewing data and picking it apart. I love my electronic toys, too. Both of these together make me get into trouble when I start researching how to track a new obsession.

I started using Daily Mile to record my day's exercise (it posts it to Facebook for me, too) but I'd have to remember what the information was until I got home. I also discovered that I would have to wear the pedometer I typically wear at work, etc., to track any outside walking/running and (again) remember where it was when I started so I could do some math and separate my "try not to encourage swivel-chair spread" office meaders from my "going for a real exercise walk".

Okay - and I've already pointed out that I'm lazy..... See the problem?

I wanted a way to have one piece of equipment to wear that would automatically track both indoor and outdoor exercise in one place with as little "memory" required from me as possible.

Enter the gadgets. I began doing a ton of research (I love research because, well, it's a lot about data!) and decided I wanted a gps enabled device that would track heartrate and distance/route outside but that could also track foodsteps inside. I wanted it to upload electronically and not to have to type it in myself, too. Oh and, of course, I wanted to be able to review the data in detail. After research and reading a ton of reviews and opinions, balanced with cost, etc. I made a decision and ordered my new toy.

I bought a Garmin 305 Forerunner with heart rate monitor and foot pod. It's not the most "fashion-forward" of Garmin's line but it offers the most display flexibility and accessory options along with a docking cradle that seems more reliable than the sync mechanism of the other models. I get charts of the running pace, heart rate and cadence (for biking really) for each workout. It uploads via the cradle (which also charges it) and I can import it into Daily Mile as well, so it shows up on the sidebar of this blog and on Facebook.

Last night I got everything charged and got the watch set up with the data displayed that I wanted so I could use the Garmin today.

I did have a few false starts at the gym. I discovered the Garmin 305 is very determined to seek out satellites before it finally decides to give up and asks me if I'm indoors. Next time I'll start it seeking before I get on the treadmill.

I also found out that the foot pod was a bit ... persnickety... about connecting and orientation. It really wanted to be arranged centered on top of my foot and laying along it. I'd started out with it off to one side because my VFF shoes have a single velcro strap and not the shoelaces the pod is designed for. This caused a bunch of weird distance readings and I have a couple of "stops" in my data when I paused the treadmill and adjusted it until I found where it wanted to be.

Tomorrow will be better. The weather is supposed to be nice so maybe I'll slather myself with sunscreen, strap on the Garmin and a Camelbak and take a walk along the Sammamish River Trail and see what data that gives me.

Data! I has it!

Friday, August 19, 2011

When Food is no Longer a Comfort - Coping Mechanisms in Flux

Today has involved some interesting insights and revelations about myself and how I cope with stress now versus how I used to.

I used to have a complete reliance on comfort foods. If I was upset, I needed a treat, dammit. If I was stressed out about something, I wanted foods with huge amounts of carbs like, oh, macaroni and cheese or such. I wanted sugar and I wanted lots of it.

Right now things are a bit stressful at my house. My husband has been job hunting for several months, my ten-year-old is having the "summer sillies" and work is going well but I'm very busy. Add in some extraneous other issues as well as my health news and my "remake myself" voyage and it's a lot of concern and stress.

Normally, I'd have dived into some chips-n-dip. Maybe a cheesecake. Oh - grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup! But I realized because of a comment a friend made when she wanted to eat because of stress that things have reached upheaval in my world.

I Don't Want Comfort Food.

Seriously. I just don't care. I'm not hungry. This morning I actually woke up a bit stressed and found myself eager to get to the gym to let go of some of that stress!

I thought about it while driving to the gym and while on the treadmill, including some discussions with one of my BFFs (who valiantly meets me at the gym two days a week - even though I'm not up to her pace but, boy, do I appreciate the encouragement and the sanity checks!).

My coping mechanisms are in a weird state of flux.

Food seems to have come off the table as a comfort/coping item because:
  1. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease, some comfort foods went onto the forbidden list right away and others I had to find gluten-free substitutes for. Even more than that, eating was now fraught with suspicion and concern. Very few foods could just be trusted, everything had to be examined in detail. Spontenaity was pretty much GONE.
  2. When I then had to go low carb as well, all the substitutes had to be re-examined and most had to be discarded.
  3. The biggest thing, though, is that after a month on low carb, my tastes and have changed and I'm just not hungry. I just don't care. In fact, there are days I think I was stalling my own weight loss by not eating enough food. Not because I enjoy or want to feel hungry but because I just don't feel hungry.
I had to stop and think. What is my coping mechanism now? I don't think I'm just leaving stress bottled up inside me or I'd be (a lot more) nuts.

Then it dawned on me - my newly minted coping mechanism seems to be activity of some sort. At work I've been getting up from my desk and walking around the floor/building. This morning I wanted to get to the gym to get over my mad-on with my husband.

I can live with this.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remaking Myself - To Tell or Not To Tell

Once I made up my mind to remake myself, I began to struggle with a question I'd not anticipated. Do I tell people what I'm doing and how or not?

On the one hand, if I don't tell people and just keep it as a secret to myself, I wouldn't have to explain any success or failure. I wouldn't be called to task if I'm failing somehow. I could just smile a secretive little smile when people ask me why I look slimmer.

But.... if I don't tell people, I am possibly creating an all-too-easy out for myself?

On the other hand, if I tell people, I will be judged (or at least feel as it I'm being judged) constantly. This can be on my exercise level, my current "look", my food intake - just about anything. I leave myself open to embarassment if I fail or bobble on my journey.

I did a lot of thinking about this and, as you can tell by this blog, I decided to make my goals and my thoughts, struggles, successes and failures public. I think this will both keep me more honest and maybe (if anyone else reads this besides close friends and family), it might help encourage someone else.

So, we'll see. In the meantime, I'm forging onward!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

About the Glycemic Index - I Don't Trust It

The Glycemic Index is one of the most touted ways to judge the impact of foods on people's blood glucose. Diabetics, in particular, are told to eat foods "low on the glycemic index" in order to better control their blood sugar.

It sounds, at first, to be an elegant thing. Judge foods not just by how many carbs are in them but by what their actual impact on blood sugar is. How could that be wrong?

Well, in reading Dr. Richard Bernstein's book, Diabetes Solution, I've learned some very interesting things about the glycemic index and how it was developed that make me much less likely to ever rely on it for judging what foods I (as a pre-diabetic) can eat and still maintain good blood sugar control.

The Glycemic Index was pioneered in 1981 by Dr. David Jenkins, a professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto. The scale goes from 0 to 100, with pure glucose being 100. A glycemic index for any given food is determined by:

  1. Gather a pool of at least 10 volunteers and have them fast overnight.
  2. Feed these volunteers a sample of the food being tested containing 50g of available carbs.
  3. Take blood samples at 15 minute intervals for the first hour and 30 minute intervals for the second hour.
  4. Measure the blood glucose level in each sample for each volunteer.
  5. Average the measurements at each increment between all the volunteers.
  6. Map out these averaged measurements over time (this is called an AUC or a glucose response curve).
  7. Calculate the area under this AUC curve and divide it by the area achieve with a control (usually white bread or sugar).
  8. Multiple this number by 100 to obtain the test food's glycemic index.
Now, I'm an admitted geek and, especially after reading Diabetes Solution, I have issues with this system as the "holy grail" it's often treated as:
  1. These tests are carried out on "normal" subjects. By definition, the insuline and glucose-regulating systems of a diabetic or even someone who is insulin resistant are NOT normal.
  2. A pool of 10 individuals is a damned small pool and the results are averaged, which further casts doubt.
  3. Measurements are only carried out for two hours and the glucose response can last longer than two hours, depending on the person and the other factors involved.
  4. Each food is tested in isolation. While this is an attempt to not allow other factors to interfere, we don't tend to EAT these foods in isolation.
What I do (and strongly advocate) is test foods on myself to determine my own, individual, reaction to them. There are already foods that raise my blood sugar a lot but barely affect my husband and vice versa. What I do is fast for four hours, take a blood surgar measurement, then eat the food and start taking measurements at 15 minute intervals for two hours, then 30 minute intervals for two more hours.

Doing this means I can compare what a particular food does TO ME and make my own decision about what actions to take.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Patience is Not My Forte

I'm not sure if my personality is just strange to me when I try to examine it or if it's truly unusual. Maybe there are other people out there who are quite similar to me but I've not really discovered one yet.

I'm a mix of very type-A and driven with a good dash of really lazy thrown in. If I decide to tackle something, I'm very gung ho and want to fix/resolve/decide immediately but if I don't want to do something or decide it's not worth my full efforts, I can be an ostrich with my head firmly underground. This often means that I will put off little things until they become big things and I get fed up enough to make them a focus. I can't say it's particulary healthy or the best way to deal with things but it's a part of my personality.

Being driven is a key part of my success at work but the ostrich part of me is why I got so fat. Now I'm driven to FIX the fat and get fit again. Be a runner again. The hinderance is that little thing called "patience" - not something I have in much of any quantity and certainly something I'm going to need on this journey.

Today I got to the gym and got on the treadmill. I started out at (for me) a brisk walk of 3.0 mph (20 min/mile) but after about ten to fifteen minutes, my shins started to complain. I dialed the treadmill back to 2.8 (22 min/mile) and walked but kept catching myself reaching for the button to speed up the treadmill. I really had to force myself to not go faster. The shin splints need time to heal and complaining does not equal healing.

I'm going to try to make myself complete this week only walking and reassess how my shins are doing on Sunday. Right now they have some lumps and are tender to the touch.

This is suprisingly hard for me. I'm used to "work really hard, solve the problem quickly and move on" but I can't do that with my weight or my fitness. Add in the fact that although I've been eating to plan since I started, this month has been a series of up and down the same two lbs. I'm really hoping it's just because my body is adjusting but we'll see - again, the patience cames in. I can't tell any changes in clothing fit, either, so that adds to my angst.

But I want gratification NOW, dammit!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shin Splints & Shoes

When I decided to get fit again, one of the things I really wanted to do was become a runner. I ran track in high school and really enjoyed it. I guess I'd both like some of that feeling back as well as just getting in better shape and losing weight.

Like a lot of people, this is not my first attempt to get into shape or start running but this is my first truly serious one. I remembered that last time I tried, I had a lot of knee, hip and ankle pain before long and I wasn't as heavy then as I am now. This was in spite of my podiatrist-recommended motion-control running shoes.

I'd done a lot of reading about the barefoot running movement and wondered if this would be better for me. I know many people have many opinions of it but I'm a strong believer in personal choice and this is my choice to try. So telling me how wrong I am will not make a difference, trust me. :)

I didn't want to be completely barefoot, though, because the soles of my feet are quite soft and sensitive - not a lot of callouses - so I decided to give Vibram FiveFingers a try. A trip to REI and trying on the many styles led me to the ones pictured above - the Vibram Komodosport. They fit wonderfully right off, even if friends did refer to them as "Avatar Water Socks." I never thought they'd come in periwinkle myself!

I then started to walk on the treadmill at the gym until I worked myself up to running short intervals - like run 1 minute, walk 4 minutes. I noticed that the bottom of my feet ached a bit, most likely from the combination of being weak from wearing supportive shoes and from a lot of weight landing on them. Mind you this is not the screaming pain of plantar fasciitis (been there), it's a diffuse, generalized ache that lasts about 4-5 steps when I first get up in the morning. Then it's gone.

The VFF did force me to mid-foot strike and not heel strike, another reason I wanted to try barefoot running. It's hard to heel strike when it hurts a lot and I had been told I did so in my running past. I wanted to break that habit as I re-learned how to run.

I had a few twinges of pain along the front of my shin when running but nothing bad. Then I decided to try an experiment to see what happened if I wore my motion-control running shoes. This may be the cause of my current situation.

My form was basically the same but I had quite a bit more shin pain. This was this last Saturday. Since the bottoms of my feet still ached the next morning, I decided this was not the way to go and today I went back to the VFF.

Except today I had even MORE shin pain, to the point I knocked off my run intervals after 20 minutes and just walked the other 30 minutes. Now my shins are sore to the touch along the shin bone and I think I have a case of shin splints.

Needless to say, I am NOT pleased. But I know I have to deal with it now. So it's Aleve, BioFreeze and only walking for at least a week at which time I'll see if they are still tender.

Logic says that this may have happened anyway, even without the running shoe switch. It's a very common problem and may have been caused more by my lack of slow build up to the intervals but, either way, no running for a bit.

Ah well, the Couch to 5K can wait and I can walk the 5K I have planned with a friend for Nov/Dec if I need to. But I'll stick with the VFF for now.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Gluten-Free Meets Low-Carb

I was diagnosed with celiac disease (also called celiac sprue disease) in late 2009. This is a genetic auto-immune disease where my immune system reacts to the gluten in wheat, barley, rye and spelt and, as a result, destroys the lining of the small intestine. This leads to a whole host of miseries and has been linked to cancer as well.

This diagnosis changed my relationship with food quite a bit. No longer was food something I could just indulge in a quick sugar fix without care or concern. Gluten is in an incredible number of foods and most fast food was right out if it wasn't a salad. The penalty for not being careful was swift and severe - I would react within about twenty minutes with nausea, chills, then vomiting. It takes me about three days to get over being "glutened". I very quickly became very careful.

In a strange way, this really started my voyage. I was forced to change my eating habits if I didn't want to be miserable all the time. When I realized how much better I felt, like a new woman, I was easily able to resist gluten foods.

I thought I was doing so well. In retrospect, not so well, actually.

The growing number of people on gluten-free diets means that food manufacturers have quickly come out with a whole host of gluten-free substitutes. You can get cake, bread, pasta, etc. All sorts of things you would have otherwise never been able to have. And I did just that - substituted the gluten-free equivalents for the gluten-containing favorites. All seemed right in the world -- for a while.

In about June of 2011, I started to become concerned. Though I initially lost some weight after going gluten-free - probably because my edema or swelling went down throughout my system - I was gaining weight again and it was all in my belly. I was normally prone to gaining mostly in my hips, thighs and butt. Not this time. As is typical for me, I did a bunch of research and started to worry that I had the precursors to diabetes - metabolic syndrome.

After some home blood testing, then a visit to my doctor, it was confirmed. What I needed to do was to not only lose weight - a lot of weight - but to go on a low-carb diet.

I have issues, by the way, with the standard Diabetes Diet. I'll save that rant for another time but I devoured Dr. Bernstein's book, Diabetes Solution. In it he talks a lot about the difference it can make to get your glucose as close to normal as possible instead of within the wide (and generally too high) numbers touted by the medical establishment and how the prescribed Diabetes Diet is just plain wrong. But I digress....

I sat down and took a long look at what I'd been eating - and winced. A lot of my gluten-free substitute foods were extremely high carb and the carbs were highly digestible. Sugar was off my list, too. So it was time to make drastic changes to my diet. Good changes, in retrospect. With only 30g of carbs a day as my maximum limit, I don't eat many prepared foods anymore. Most gluten-free prepared foods are too high in carbs. Most low-carb specific things like pasta, etc., contain wheat.

Instead I eat a lot of meat, cheese, eggs and such and a ton of vegetable. I am almost completely grain-free. Thankfully, I like meat, eggs and cheese and I'm broadening my vegetable horizons regularly.

It does make me a bit of a drag as a companion for an impromptu meal out but, thankfully, my husband has also gone low-carb because of his own pre-diabetes (though he still eats some gluten) and he's a darned good cook.

Gluten-Free can co-exist with Low-Carb but you do have to do some careful reading and assess what will work for you. The biggest fear with a lot of low carb diets is kidney damage or cholesterol problems. I had blood work done for both and I'm doing extremely well.

Welcome to the Long Road

I've now started my Slow Strides down the Long Road to health and fitness. Readers will probably see a variety of posts on this blog - everything from posts about eating right for me, to posts about running, to posts about medical disorders. Even posts that are just me yammering about my thoughts and insights.

The purpose is mostly to have an outlet for those posts for myself but I'm always happy to share them with others. I like to talk, can you tell?

That said, I am not a medical professional and am not offering advice to anyone. I can only say what I've researched and what I've chosen to do for myself. I'm not an expert, just well-read, highly motivated and very curious. I recommend everyone come up with a plan in coordination with their doctor for any health issues. My own doctor has approved of my approach and we touch base regularly.

If you'd like a bit of background on me, I have put up an About Me page you can read.