130 Chances: Week 1 Summary

July 10, 2012

My first week of chances went amazingly well.  My official weigh-in Monday morning put me at 303 pounds – down seven!  My plan is to be in the 290’s during August, the 280’s during September, the 270’s in October, and the 260’s for deer season.  That’s averaging 10 pounds/month, which is pretty ambitious to keep up several months in a row.

Luckily, I think I have a great head start this month.  I’m hoping to be in the 290’s as early as next week, which would give me over six weeks to reach my next milestone.

So far, I’ve done surprisingly well with the parts of my plan I thought would be the hardest.  I’ve gotten up every morning to work out, I haven’t snacked at all outside of meals, and I’m solidly in the habit of going to bed before midnight.  Last night, it was even before 11:30! That’s  a big deal for me, I’m a night owl.

Sunday, I had trouble getting lunch ready ahead of time, and ran short of time altogether.  I ended up getting a big mac meal.  Other than that, I was pretty solid with my rules.  I think the results on the scale proved that.

It’s amazing, as I write this it’s tuesday morning and I’ve only been on the elliptical machine nine times in nine days.  That’s not very long in terms of building muscle or lung capacity, but I started to feel better almost immediately.  Part of it is perception – I went from avoiding physical effort throughout the day to welcoming it.  When you’re actively trying to get fit, you appreciate the longer walk to the store from the back of the parking lot, etc.

Aside from the almost immediate psychological boost, I literally feel like I’m in better shape, just over a week later.  It might be because I’ve been down this road before, and my body knows the drill.  My muscle memory has kicked in, so the elliptical isn’t as effort-intensive as it was the first few days.  And losing even a token amount of weight makes me feel less “full” and bloated around the clock.

Not a bad start.

130 Chances, Day #3: Mostly Positive

July 5, 2012

Yesterday was the 4th of July, and I kept myself out of trouble mostly by working the first part of the day.  I got up, and did my workout.  It wasn’t pleasant.  I’m in that first patch of soreness where your body isn’t used to the effort *and* your muscles are tight.  I also tried something new: I added video to the routine.  Only video.  Let me explain.

A couple years ago we bought a tablet PC, like an iPad but cheaper.  I’m a computer geek (personally and professionally) and I was enamored that it was roughly half the price, but had twice as powerful hardware.  Unfortunately, it also had terrible software, and so we haven’t used it for much of anything.

One of the original ideas was to watch videos while working out on the elliptical machine, but all the big video outlets – Netflix, Hulu, Youtube – see this tablet as a “mobile device” like a phone, even though it isn’t. It can only connect to the internet through our home network, just like all our other computers. But because it *looks* like a mobile device to the Internet, the major players block a lot of content.  At the time, neither Netflix nor Hulu even supported the device, and probably still don’t.

I decided to play a little legal leapfrog here, and downloaded the entire series of Futurama from a torrent site. If you’re not familiar, I basically downloaded without paying.  However, it’s a bit of a gray area because we *have* a Netflix account that would let me watch every episode of the show on my TV upstairs. But Netflix doesn’t work on my tablet, so I’m just watching stuff I’ve already paid for the right to watch.

I’ve seen most of these episodes already, which is perfect.  I won’t be tempted to watch them at other times, but they will be interesting enough to help the time pass more quickly during workouts.  Futurama will be my workout-only treat.  Unfortunately, yesterday I got downstairs only to realize the video worked fine (like I said above), but there was no *audio* – no sound! I watched the pilot episode mostly lip-reading a cartoon (heh) and going from memory.  It still helped a little.  Later in the day, I fixed the sound issues, so tomorrow’s workout will be better.

The Food

I’m happy to say I stuck to almost all of my rules, and only fudged one.  I got my workout in, only ate during planned meals, and only drank water.  But I ate more at dinner than I should have, due to the table-wide 4th of July spread my wife put together. Lots of meat/cheese/crackers, chips and dip, etc.  Still, I think I usually did worse at my average dinners.  I also got to bed late, but not too bad.

Revised Rules

After living with the rules a couple days, I’m revising them:

  1. Work out for at least 20 minutes before anything else.
  2. High-protein or slimfast breakfast.
  3. Procure lunch before lunchtime.
  4. Stop eating dinner before you feel full.
  5. Eat no other meals.
  6. Drink nothing but water, reasonable morning coffee, and occasional alcoholic beverage.
  7. Avoid sweets, even at meals. They trigger a craving for more.
  8. Go to bed before midnight.

Based on these, I scored 6/8 for Day #3. I ate until I was full, and went to bed late.  Still a pretty good day.

130 Chances, Day #2: Success

July 5, 2012

Day 2 of any challenge is always a critical point, right? You’ve had a chance to sleep on the original idea, plus anybody can change their routine for a day. But will you do it another day, in a row?  I did.

Tuesday started out right away with an obstacle.  I woke up late, probably due to the cigar after dinner which kept me awake the night before. Now I was faced with a commitment test: I’m going to be even later starting work if I do my workout and drive to get my salad as planned.  But I managed to do it anyway, and it wasn’t too bad.

I have to look at it this way: it’s much more destructive to my productivity to stop in the middle of the day, get changed, and do my workout then.  Better to get it over with. Same with getting lunch.  I’ve noticed now that I’m getting it before lunchtime, I’m eating lunch *on time* instead of putting it off until 2-3pm.  That means I’m hungrier when dinner rolls around, so I eat enough that it’s easier to get through the evening without snacking.

I’d gotten in the habit of eating a light dinner because I’d only had lunch a couple hours before.  Dinner is when my life snaps back to reality and I’m on my family’s schedule again.  Working from home makes my days kind of free-form, which isn’t always a good thing for healthy habits.

I’m also refining my “no milk to drink” policy.  It’s really “drink only water”, with the exception of the occasional (2-3 times per week) alcoholic beverage, and a reasonable morning coffee.  No sugared up frappuccino from starbucks. This is easy, because we have an espresso machine and I can control everything I put into it.

FYI, if the espresso machine sounds fancy, it’s actually very practical.  If you ever get mochas, lattes, or cappuccinos from coffee places, you pay about $4-5. A nice machine at Wal-Mart (the best of the worst, heh) will cost you about $50-60. Even buying the *nice*, grind-it-yourself coffee at the grocery store, it’s going to pay for itself in the first 15-20 uses. If you have a wife, you can score some points and justify the cost even faster by making two every morning 🙂 The other big benefit is that it’s slightly more work than brewing a traditional pot of coffee, so you don’t overdo it.  I used to brew a whole pot of coffee, and end up drinking the whole thing throughout the day.  This way, if I really need an afternoon pick-me-up, I weigh it against the effort to make another serving.

By all accounts, today was a success.  I think I’m going to add another rule though, that I would have broken last night: go to bed before midnight.  So far so good!

130 Chances, Day #1: Success

July 4, 2012

Monday was my first of 130 Chances to get into shape for the most physically demanding week of my year – Deer Season in the Nebraska Sandhills.  Even though this was the very day I conceived of the challenge, I didn’t want to let the very first chance slip by.

I’m fortunate to work from home, so I took my lunch break on the elliptical machine in the basement before driving to my local grocery store for a salad.  I also setup some rules for my experiment.  After all, what constitutes whether or not I took advantage of a chance, or wasted it?  So I’ve posted the rules below.  If I achieve all of them in a day, I’ve succeeded.  If I miss a lot, I failed.  And if I miss one or two, I’ll have to make a judgement call as I go.

The Rules

  1. Workout first thing in the morning.
  2. Eat a healthy breakfast – high protein, or slimfast if it needs to be quick.
  3. Secure a healthy lunch *before* lunchtime. That means a salad most days, picked up *before* I start work for the day.
  4. Stop eating dinner before I feel full.
  5. Eat no other meals. Evening snacking is a big problem for me.
  6. No milk to drink, with the exception of slimfast shakes at breakfast. I tend to guzzle this stuff.
  7. No f***ing candy. Just don’t do it. You think you’ll stop, but you won’t.

The First Day

Monday was an unusual day. By luck, I ate a decent breakfast. And even though it was mid-afternoon when I got off my ass, I stopped work to work out for 20 minutes. That’s a lot at this point (sadly), and I don’t want to kill myself by overdoing it in the early, fun stages.  There will be plenty of time for pain.

I then got a salad, even though my inclination was to grab some junk from the kitchen. It was already 3pm, late for lunch, but I made myself go the salad route.  I knew I was going to have a late dinner anyway.

Mondays, I usually meet with a client in the evening.  After the meeting, he invited the small team out to dinner. I had a steak. This is not my normal life, this was quite a treat, and the steak was awesome.  It was also well-portioned, I ate the salad that came with it, and aside from a single small pimm’s cup (awesome british drink) it was all I consumed.

When I got home, there was an open bag of starbursts on the kitchen counter.  I grabbed a handful, poured some water, walked to the living room, put down the water, and walked back into the kitchen to return the candy. I’d picked it up without even really thinking about it!

After returning to my chair to watch some TV before bed (needed to unwind) I did a mental walkthrough of my usual routine. I’ll start with a small snack, but then there’s 10 minutes of the show left when I’m done.  So I grab something else to snack on.  The show ends, but I still have food left. No joke, I’ll go back and forth like this sometimes for 2-3 extra shows, eating the whole time. Yes, I understand just how stupid it sounds when you see it in writing.

In short, Monday was a total victory.  Onward and upward!

130 Chances

July 2, 2012

It has been a LONG time since I’ve updated this site, and I apologize.  Life has been happening. But now I’m back in the saddle, and on the rampage.  I’ll explain more below, but first, an update:

The chubby part of me has seen the ups and downs of two major weight loss efforts, but I’m currently back on the chubbier side of the fitness scale.  I was at my fittest last November during my home state of Nebraska’s deer season, where I tracked down a trophy (to me) mule buck. Then a few weeks later, I did equally well during Kansas deer season. How? A lot of hiking.  I wasn’t afraid to put on the miles in search of my favorite animal (on or off the table). But after those major undertakings, I started to slack off.  Sitting was easier than working out, and I fell into a rut.

Meanwhile, the survivalist part of me has been doing pretty good.  I still can’t survive in the woods for a week with nothing but a pocketknife and a ball of string, but I’ve really come into my own as a hunter, and I’ve been passing that knowledge along to my boys just as fast as I can acquire it.

So What Changed?

In short, shit got real.  This morning I received my annual e-mail notice that Nebraska deer permits will go on sale next week.

The first couple years I deer hunted, I did it with my dad’s group.  They’ve been making the annual trip to the Nebraska Sandhills for over 20 years.  They were very gracious to me and my brothers when we joined them, but it was clear that this is their group, and they weren’t looking for my friends to join up.  So I chose to duck out, and start my own traditions with my friends.

My best friend (going all the way back to 6th grade) is a guy who still lives in Nebraska, named Jonathan. Last year, I took him on his first deer hunting trip.  It was amazing, and not just because of the prize buck I took home.  Not living in the same state anymore puts a damper on casual hanging out, so a week of hiking, camping, deer, and beer was a blast. By the end, he was just as hooked as I was.

Now that we’re both relatively competent hunters, it’s time to expand the group.  This year, we plan to have 4-5 guys – some new to hunting, some veterans. Within hours, we had confirmation of our first new member.  I’m so unbelievably excited, and so unbelievably fat.  It’s time to get back in shape.

What Does Chubby Plan to Do About It?

I have four  months before deer camp.  That’s about 130 days to get in shape for about 130 hours of the most intense living I will do all year.  The Sandhills are brutal to dumb saps (ie, myself 3 years ago) who don’t prepare.  In 2009, I was so out of shape I could only hike about 10 minutes before needing to rest for at least five.  And although I *was* very out of shape, it’s the terrain that can humble even stringiest, walkeverywheriest vegan.

Normally, I’m a big (literally) fan of starting tomorrow.  But I’m fired up.  130 days before deer camp is 130 chances to prepare.  And I’m going to chronicle all of them.  Today, even though I got little work done after reading the news about deer season, I cleared the boxes in the basement from around the dusty elliptical machine, and I did 20 hard minutes.  Then after a shower, drove just up the road to my grocery store.  They have a great salad bar, and I brought home lunch. It was already almost 3pm, and normally I would have gotten something cheap and fast at a drive-thru.  Those days are done.  I’m in training.

My next plan is to check out my bike this evening. If it’s in good shape I’ll bike to the store first thing in the morning, to get my salad.  It’s fresh, so a couple hours in the fridge until lunch won’t hurt it.  And then I won’t be so wrapped up in work that I feel like I can’t take the time to drive/bike to the store in the middle of the day.  That’s the plan – I’ll have my healthy lunch and workout taken care of before I start the work day.

Let’s see how it goes.

Nebraska Recognizes Other States’ Concealed Carry!

September 3, 2009

It’s finally happened, and I’m thrilled!  My home state of Nebraska now recognizes most other states’ concealed carry permits.  This includes the states on either side of Kansas City, where I live.  I’m thrilled personally, because aside from the Missouri side of KC, Nebraska is the only other state I ever really visit.  Both my immediate family and my wife’s entire family are up there.  I’ll be hunting there in November, and with a little luck I should have my permit by then.

On a grander scale, looking at how this law affects more than just me: concealed carry permits from at least 34  states are now recognized by Nebraska.  They enacted basically the same law that Kansas did this year.  If another state has concealed carry requirements that are equal to or greater than our own, we recognize them as valid.  It took a while for the Nebraska Attorney General’s office to compile the list, but they finished it recently.

This is definitely a step forward, but I feel for states like Vermont that put no restrictions on a person’s right to concealed carry.  You don’t even need a special permit there.  Perhaps they should offer the option of a state sponsored permit expressly for the purpose of taking advantage of new reciprocity laws.  I’d spend money and take a class in order to open up more states I could carry in.  Heck, I’d toyed with the idea of an Arizona permit just for that reason.

Of course ultimately, I think it’s a person’s right to carry, and that means no state should be able to put any restrictions on that.  Between the certification (class and ammo, $120), filing fees ($150), and permit issuance ($20) It cost me almost $300 total.  I’ve spent all but the last $20, since I’m currently in the 45-90 day wait for the permit approval from the state.  This is cost prohibitive for many Americans, which isn’t right.

It’s only when criminals know there is a very real chance of victims being armed that it will begin to have the greatest impact on crime.  Who would rob a bank if you knew 2-3 of the customers on average were carrying guns?  That’s why Vermont’s law makes the most sense.

The one upside, for now, is that permits add legitimacy.  We can obviously see how states like Nebraska, Kansas, and others value requirements when deciding what other states to honor.  Also more businesses are taking down those no-gun signs from their doors, after responsible concealed carry holders explain the difference.  The general public is already prohibited from carrying in most states.  The sign only serves to restrict the people who have been properly trained, certified, and background checked.  No bank robber’s plans were ever foiled by a door sticker.

Learning to Live with Hunger

September 1, 2009

Yesterday I took some time to really contemplate hunger.  As I’m trying to lose weight, I’ve realized that maybe the discomfort of slight hunger is akin to the slight discomfort from say, not having your house at the perfect temperature at all times.  People lived without air conditioning for all of history, save the last 50 years or so.  Now, we’re uncomfortable when the temperature is even a couple degrees from perfect.

I think maybe the same goes for hunger.  We live with such abundance here in America.  Even in those first shaky years of my marriage and family, when money was scarce and rent was almost always late, I was never hungry.  The idea of always eating until we’re full seems just as “given” as the idea of always controlling the temperature to within a couple degrees.

I’m starting to think this is wrong.  Defining the end of every meal as being the point of total satisfaction (and often more) is a recipe for disaster.  I see now how I got overweight.  I expected to feel “full” after every meal, and even the slightest hunger was a discomfort I was unwilling to live with.  I think if I can learn to live with even the smallest amount of hunger, I can eat much less.

My wife gives the kids as much as they want to eat.  That sounds good on the surface, but I’m starting to think it’s wrong, and will leave them as overweight as she and I have become.  Refills of sweet breakfast cereal until kids no longer desire more seems dangerous.  Perhaps just a single serving is in order.  And if the kids are really still hungry, something more nutritious(and less tasty) like toast is probably a better way to go.  If you’re really hungry, you’ll eat toast.  But it doesn’t take more than a sweet tooth to down another bowl of sugary cereal, even the varieties that are “healthier”.

This summer I did a great job of conditioning myself to live with the mild discomfort of temperature.  I didn’t use my mustang’s a/c at all, even when hopping on the interstate for 20 minutes or so meant keeping the windows rolled up.  Eventually, it didn’t even seem like discomfort at all, and I’m genuinely shocked at times when my wife needs air conditioning.  I did the same thing with physical effort, upping my daily tolerance.  Perhaps I can do the same thing with hunger.  Maybe if I’m always comfortable with a mild amount of hunger, and I accept this mentally, weight will become a non-issue.  And it’s not a bad survival skill!

Losing 25 Pounds in 75 Days

August 31, 2009
The Sandhills of Central Nebraska

The Sandhills of Central Nebraska

After a healthy break from blogging (most of the month of August) I’m back in the game.  I recently received an incredible incentive to both get in better shape, and hone my wilderness survival skills.  My dad invited me to go deer hunting with him again up in the sandhills of Nebraska!

Last year was my first time, and I remember the pain and suffering all too well.  I was overweight and out of shape (which are NOT the same thing), trying to hike dozens of miles, several hours a day.  I couldn’t keep up with my dad, a veteran of numerous marathons over the decades.  I seriously cut into his hunting that first day, and we were both glad to go our separate ways the next morning.  If you haven’t hiked sandhills before, it gives you a whole new appreciation for the guy you see in movies, lost in the desert and traversing enormous sand dunes.  It’s easily 2-3 times as difficult as hiking pleasant terrain.

As of Saturday, I weighed 300 pounds, with roughly 75 days before the hunting trip.  I’d started to drop some weight with my survival activities, but without a proper incentive my “comfy chair” in front of the TV was just too inviting.  Now I’m on a mission: to lose 25 pounds, and to log over half a million steps, before the start of the hunting trip.  That’s a pound every 3 days, and just under 7,000 steps per day on average.

Doing this, I hope to spend our 2 pre-season scouting days out in the sandhills, tracking and photographing deer for several hours a day.  I hope to be able to hike 8-10 miles a day during our three planned hunting days, never letting my fitness be a factor in bagging the best deer I can.

As I mentioned above, fitness and fatness can co-exist.  No matter how well I do the next 10 weeks, I’ll definitely be overweight for this trip.  But I don’t have to be unfit.  I can build up a great level of endurance in that time.  And if I keep up the activity after the trip, I’ll eventually lose the rest of the fat as well.

It’s been two days since the start of my challenge, and I’m down two pounds.  Weight loss is easy early on, so I plan to keep pushing and get ahead of the game.  This will buy me wiggle room during the last few weeks, when pounds will shed less easily.

Government Health Insurance Hurts Self Sufficiency

August 3, 2009

Why is it that every time the private sector fails, it the fearful are so willing to let the federal government take over?  Socialism is like the parent of a child who got a speeding ticket, deciding the best course of action is to take away the car and do all the driving from now on.  Currently on the list is health care.

I consider the government to be the servant of the people, and like any potential employee, I’d like to see some references.  Let’s see…the government has handled retirement (Social Security),  and education.  Social Security is near insolvent, largely because somebody decided the first generation should receive benefits without actually contributing much, if anything.  Not to mention, the SSA has employees and offices all over the country, costing money that could otherwise be invested in individual retirement accounts.  How about education?  I’ve never heard of a private school that underperformed its local public counterparts, because it has to be accountable.  If it didn’t work, people wouldn’t pay for it.  Yet, private school or not, we’re all forced to pay for public schools.

My point is this: the government should be regulating important things, not running them.  Setup ground rules for any investment plan marked as “retirement”.  Set minimum educational requirements for anything calling itself a school.  Then get the hell out of the way.  I’d like to share a couple of personal examples of why government-run health care is a bad, bad idea.

It’s not as great as it sounds.

Growing up military, I know exactly what socialized health care looks like. It means a bad tooth gets pulled instead of a crown. The words “adequate and practical” come to mind. It won’t be the more generous health insurance most are used to, even if most of us complain about our current coverage.

Let’s face it, most of the things we call necessities are actually luxuries.  You can live just fine missing a few teeth.  You don’t need the latest artificial limb from space age composites.  I dare say the top 20% of luxury medical care probably accounts for 80% of healthcare costs today.

It’s not as cheap as it sounds.

I also have a big problem with the government that makes, interprets, and enforces law competing with private business. Once upon a time, I briefly worked as a manager for a county records department. Theory: one unified department could store and digitize county documents (warehouses full) cheaper than each department doing it for themselves. Counties still had the option of hiring private firms, just as people would have the option to choose private OR government health insurance.

We couldn’t compete with private firms because we were paying county employees $30K a year (10 years ago) to literally sit there and push paper through a scanner all day. So the department head would bid a fraction of what it cost us. It didn’t matter to him – we were a government agency, so tax revenue made up the difference. The problem with any “business” that has ready access to tax dollars is that it can charge whatever it wants, and taxpayers pick up the rest. Eventually competitors die, and you no longer have other options.

It’s not as competent as it sounds.

People like to point to high CEO salaries and severances as evidence of corporate corruption.  What those people don’t understand is that if you’re a large corporation, you want the cream of the crop running your company, and there’s high demand for that person who can pilot a company to success.  The severance is necessary, too.  CEO’s put their heads on the chopping block with every decision, and are fired on a dime if stockholders lose confidence.  Would you take a job with such high risk without some promise of security?

Government positions have set pay grades, so it’s a whole different ballpark.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing people in government, and they’re the reason the broken system gives even the appearance of working.  But those people are the exception, and even they have their limits.  Why would you work as an agency director with all the stress of a CEO  for a couple hundred thousand, when you could be a CEO and make millions?  The government simply can’t afford to hire the best candidate for the job.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the government can solve healthcare by taking it over.  It’s never been successful before.  The evidence is there.  I agree our healthcare system is broken, but let’s look to fix the system instead of running home to our collective socialist mother.

The answer.

Chances are, you don’t have insurance.  You have a payment plan for medical services.  Do you get doctor visits and prescriptions for free, or near free?  That’s a payment plan.  You simply have a contract with your coworkers to split the bill evenly, and you’re paying an enormous markup for a company to manage it for you.  Think about it: insurance companies take your premiums, pay the agreed amount on your claims, and have billions left over for overhead and profit.

What you need is a true insurance plan.  You have a high deductible, and a low premium.  You cover most of your medical expenses yourself, averaging far less than what you would have paid an insurance company to pay them on your behalf.  In the event of an unforeseen catastrophe, you pay up to your plan max, and the insurance company covers the rest.  These plans do exist, but the one piece of the puzzle that still makes it tough is the fact that most people have the more socialized version.

Let me explain the industry term Usual, Customary, and Reasonable to you.  When I processed dental claims for a living,  a plan would have percentages it pays out for different services, based on UCR – the typical amount a dentist in that area charges for a service.  Better plans would pay out 90-100% of UCR for a given procedure.  Cheaper plans paid less.

How did we determine UCR?  It’s the average of what dentists in the area are charging for procedures.  As dental insurance became more popular, prices for services went up.  Since prices went up across the board, UCR went up, which means insurance paid dentists more.  Here’s the flaw: every time dentists raise their rates, insurance companies raise what they’ll pay, and pass the cost along to the patients.  The patient never wins in this scenario.

Gradually, individual insurance plans are becoming more affordable.  More people are working mobilly, or on a contract basis, and as this happens traditional employer health coverage will be replaced by plans that meet your specific needs.  Your coverage will no longer be determined by who you work for.  Why should it?

Better Braided Survival Belt With 550 Paracord

July 31, 2009

If you’ve read my previous post on making your own braided belt out of paracord, then you’ll be very happy to know it gets even better 🙂  I’ve since made a couple more belts, with increasing complexity, coolness, and amounts of rope.  My latest has worked pretty well, and stores close to 100 feet of cord.  In a pinch, it would be easy to separate two 25-foot pieces of rope and still have a working belt.

My finished paracord survival belt - very strong and comfortable!  I used two different colors of cord, a lighter accent color, and a darker main color.

My finished paracord survival belt - very strong and comfortable! I used two different colors of cord, a lighter accent color, and a darker main color.

Start with two 50-foot pieces of paracord.  If you get two different colors, it’ll create an interesting pattern.  I’ve used two shades of green.  Locally, Cabela’s seems to be a good place.  You can get 100 feet for $7 or 1,000 feet for $40.  With as much as I’ve been using, I plan to pick up a 1,000 foot spool soon.  That’s actually a better price than I’ve even been able to find online.  Without further ado, here’s how to create a sturdy paracord belt that should hold all the rope you need for an emergency.

Start with a 1-inch slide buckle.  I found this at Cabela's for $1.50.

Start with a 1-inch slide buckle. I found this at Cabela's for $1.50.

Loop the paracord through one side of the buckle.  It's not shown here, but you want the outer strands to be the longest, and the inner strands to only be about 6 feet long.

Loop the paracord through one side of the buckle. You should have both strands of the same rope on one side, and both strands of the other rope on the other side. Don't worry, it'll create a symmetrical pattern once we start.

Pull the outer paracord almost all the way, so that only about 6 feet remains on the inner strands.

Pull the outer paracord almost all the way, so that only about 6 feet remains on the inner strands.

We're going to start tying a knot called a portuguese sinnet.  It's the one knot we'll use over and over to "braid" the rope.  Pick which color paracord you want to be the accent (outer) color.  Loop that behind the inner strands, and in front of the other outer strand.

We're going to start tying a knot called a portuguese sinnet. It's the one knot we'll use over and over to "braid" the rope. Pick which color paracord you want to be the accent (outer) color. Loop that behind the inner strands, and in front of the other outer strand.

Second half of a portuguese sinnet with paracord

Take the other outer strand, and pull it through the loop we created.

Tighten the knot, and push it upward.  Now do this about a thousand times :)  You'll always loop the accent strand, and pull the main strand through it.  You only touch the outer strands, and the inner strands stay straight.  That's why they don't have to be very long.

Tighten the knot, and push it upward.

Caption.

Now repeat the knot about a thousand times! You'll always loop the accent strand, and pull the main strand through it. You only touch the outer strands, and the inner strands stay straight. That's why they don't have to be very long.

Measure your waste, and subtract a few inches.  Keep braiding the belt until you reach that length.

Measure your waist, and subtract a few inches. Keep braiding the belt until you reach that length.

Now flip the belt upside down, and tie another portuguese sinnet over top of your last knot.  We're going to add another layer, braiding over the top of our original layer.

Now flip the belt upside down, and tie another portuguese sinnet over top of your last knot. We're going to add another layer, braiding over the top of our original layer.

Continue braiding over top of the original layer.  This creates the width and thickness of the belt, and more than doubles the amount of paracord used.

Continue braiding over top of the original layer. This creates the width and thickness of the belt, and more than doubles the amount of paracord used.

Oops!  I didn't use enough rope.  That's because I didn't take pictures the first time, and this is a cheater belt, just a few inches long.  You should have plenty of paracord, not to worry.  When you get to the end, you can simply cut the extra cord, and melt the tips together with a lighter.

Oops! I didn't use enough rope. That's because I didn't take pictures the first time, and this is a cheater belt, just a few inches long. You should have plenty of paracord, not to worry. When you get to the end, you can simply cut the extra cord, and melt the tips together with a lighter.

You should have 2-3 feet of paracord left.  Previously, we stopped the braid a few inches short.  That's because this is your room to shrink!

You should have 2-3 feet of paracord left. Previously, we stopped the braid a few inches short. That's because this is your room to shrink!

Now braid back down the extra length.  If you lose weight you can unbraid these last few inches,  remove some of the extra, and rebraid.  If you gain weight, you can let it out, as well.  Now cut the extra paracord, and melt the tips together with a lighter.  Do this on the inner side of the belt that won't be seen.

Now braid back down the extra length. If you lose weight you can unbraid these last few inches, remove some of the extra, and rebraid. If you gain weight, you can let it out, as well. Now cut the extra paracord, and melt the tips together with a lighter. Do this on the inner side of the belt that won't be seen.

Congratulations!  This was a fun project, and a much better belt than my original.  There was also an in-between version where I only braided along the line once, not doubling over.  This looked more like a kid’s belt, and only uses about half the paracord.  This project took about three hours, but I just worked on it over a couple nights while I watched TV.

There are two tough parts.  The first is that you’ll be pulling a lot of cord through the loops each time, several arm lengths.  I folded the cord twice so it was only a quarter of the original length, and tied it off to shorten this.  Second, the knots will appear a little uneven until you’re practiced enough to tighten the knots the same each time.  The good news is, your first few hundred knots won’t be seen under the double braid.

Enjoy!