All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Myfitnesspal

Back on July 25th I mentioned that I had downloaded the Myfitnesspal app to my phone in an attempt to start addressing some of my health issues. I figured it was time to talk about it since as of last Wednesday I’d been using it for 4 weeks.

myfitnesspal

For those who aren’t in the know, Myfitnesspal is an app that one can use to help keep track of what you’re eating. In a video I did many months ago I talked about a different app called, appropriately enough, Food Diary, and it was a nice little piece of software that, in the long run, was more complicated in some ways and offered less than this app does.

If you want more detail on why I decided to use this app, check out this video:
 


http://youtu.be/vVwRqVoCpjM
 

Suffice it to say for everyone else, I had a health scare over one weekend while out of town and that told me it was time to get a bit more serious about my health and diet. My doctor had recommended I download this sucker and, me being me, I wasn’t going to do it. But I did, and now I’m glad I did.

Basically, this sucker makes you aware of what you’re eating, as well as tracks calories you’re putting away and other nutritional items. The other app just tracked food but this bad boy tracks the nutritional values, offers a way to scan food that have barcodes and tells you what’s in stuff, does all the calculations on a daily basis and, if you put in a goal, gives you a guide as to how much you’re putting away with everything you eat so that you know when to cut back and are more cognizant about what you’re eating.

In my case it was a real eye opener from the beginning. I started to learn that foods I thought were healthy weren’t close to being healthy. I can’t believe how many times I’ve eaten twice the amount of sodium in a day that’s recommended. I was stunned to see how much fat there is in a regular piece of bacon. And desserts… sniff!

Here’s the thing though. Not counting the first couple of days of working with the app, I’ve only gone over my daily allotted number of calories 4 times. Even by messing up sodium, potassium a few times, fat and sugar once or twice, this bad boy tracks calories and I’ve been able to modify my eating habits so that I stay under the calories. Also, you can earn calories back by exercising which, for me, involves walking, something I’d do more often if my back wasn’t hurting but something I’ve been doing more of, in small chunks, when the weather cooperates; I even walked on the treadmill one night. 🙂

net calories

Let’s get back to those calories for a minute. One of the things you should do with the app is set a goal, either a weight loss goal (this is for most of us) or a weight gain goal. You tell it where you are and where you want to go, and how fast you want to get there. I initially told the thing I wanted to lose a pound and a half a week, and realized there was no way I could eat that little amount of food and come close to sticking with it. Instead, I went with a pound a week, told it what I weighed now and the weight I wanted to get to and off I went.

Let’s talk progress, because I have some. At this point I’ve lost 2 1/2 pounds; that’s not bad. Some might not think it’s great but weight loss is always a good thing. However, the two biggest changes have been how I’ve decided to eat and my glucose levels. Let’s take these separately.

For the most part I really haven’t given up anything I’ve wanted, but I have given up some stuff I thought I wanted. For instance, maybe 2 times a week I’ll stop and get an Egg McMuffin at McD’s; instead, I’ll eat 2 pieces of toast or an English muffin, with the comparisons being the McMuffin comes in at 450 calories whereas, depending on type, the muffin or toast comes in around 200 calories. I’ve learned that for the most part I can eat less in the morning so that I can have a better dinner and still have dessert; that suits me just fine.

For lunch, shocking as it may be, turns out a Whopper has less calories than a grilled chicken Caesar salad at Wendy’s; that was a shocker. However, for the same amount of calories I can get a McD’s fish sandwich and a small fries. One offers more food if I start feeling the hunger because I didn’t eat enough breakfast; see how this works?

carbs

Dinner has been interesting. I eat some meals in the hotel room but most of the time I go out. If I go to a chain restaurant or a restaurant that’s popular in a certain area it’s easy to track (oh yeah, they have a massive database of foods and information; all you have to do is search for them during a particular meal).

If you go elsewhere you have to go into the search function and find something close to it. For instance, I go to this particular Japanese restaurant and I had to search separately for grilled chicken and grilled shrimp to add to the rice I get, and it turns out that steamed rice is very low in calories; I don’t do it all the time but most of the time I’m good with it.

If I’m measuring things well, I always have room for dessert. However, I’ve had shocks both good and bad. The good is that the calorie count in something like a Reese’s peanut butter cup or a Snickers isn’t all that bad at night. The bad is that serving sizes can be underwhelming. There’s this particular cake I like in the town I’m working in that turns out to have 530 calories per serving, and when I did the calculations it came out that the piece of cake I got was considered to be 3 servings; ouch! So, I had to cut it into 3 pieces to stay under. However, I learned that I could handle that dessert in small doses pretty well; always good to find out good things about yourself.

Now, the glucose levels. I’ve mentioned it here often that I’m diabetic. Well, my glucose levels were really out of hand I have to admit. My last eye appointment the doctor said it was starting to show up in my eyes; that’s never a good thing. My last doctor appointment, my overall numbers were down but not my much, and there was no other medications to take, and I was almost at the highest level of insulin one could take before moving into the next stage. In four weeks my glucose level has dropped from a monthly average of 230 (that’s extremely bad) to a level calculated on Wednesday of 129; that’s normal! I haven’t averaged normal since the first year I was diagnosed with diabetes; wow!

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Am I happy with what this bad boy had done for me? Absolutely! If I hadn’t lost any weight I’d still be pretty happy. But there’s more.

First, you can add the app to all of your electronics, including your desktop or laptop computers, and all the information syncs whenever you update anything. As I mentioned earlier, if you have a problem with something like sodium you can track that, but you can also alter the numbers to suit you. I have a problem with potassium and unfortunately that one doesn’t always work because the government doesn’t make anyone tell you that, so many times they don’t tell you.

Second, if you’re of the mindset to do it there’s an entire community you can join to talk to people about the app, weight loss, health stuff and more. You can also hook up with someone to let them see what you’re eating and, if you create your own meals with the nutritional information they, and others can tap into it. I haven’t gotten up the nerve to do that yet; I want to drop way more weight first. lol

I’m not sure I can do a lot more justice to talking about this thing except to say that if you’re having any problems whatsoever that are related to eating habits, I’d recommend trying this bad boy in a heartbeat. I’ve even got my wife saying she’s going to start using it once she’s home from her conference; never good to start an eating plan when you’re leaving town for such a thing. 😉

That’s all I have. Any questions or comments… I’m ready to entertain them all.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

First Seven Steps To Small Business Blogging

I once read a post by Marcus Sheridan on his 11-Step Plan to Launching a Successful Business Blog. I thought it was well written but didn’t think it applied to most small business owners who, like me, are either a one person shop or fewer than 5 employees. Therefore, I decided to put my own little plan together because, well, I’ve got 5 blogs (for now…), and most of them are doing pretty well.

Phil McElhinney via Compfight

1. Write 5 to 10 posts ahead of time – This first helps you to see if you can write blog posts, but it also gives you some early content that you can do something with and not have to worry about writing that second or third post too soon.

2. Set up your blog on your own domain – This is the most crucial thing for having your blog help your website because search engines love new content and, if you post often enough, they’ll love your site and keep coming back for more, which helps your website rank higher.

3. Set up your theme – This is important for three reasons. One, you’ll want to determine how many columns you want for your theme (2 – 5), colors, fonts, etc. Two, you can always change your theme later on, but if you’ve added anything special to the theme you’ll have to remember to add it to your new theme, which many people forget about. And three, you’ll need to be careful if it comes with its own images; trust me on this one. By the way, something I try to do is have the blog theme look as much like my websites as possible for consistency; it’s something to think about.

4. Set up some protections – You’re going to want to look at a few things here before you get started. One, you want to make sure you have a back-up plugin so you can save your content in case something goes wrong with your blog. You’re going to want to set up your spam filter and possibly have a spybot plugin as well. You’re going to want to add a firewall to hide your ISP from invaders, and you’re going to want to add a plugin to keep people from having unlimited access in trying to crack your passwords. Finally, you might want to add a copyright plugin so that you have proof that something is yours first in case someone tries to scrap, aka steal it and claim it as their own.

5. Set up your feed & distribution system – As Twitter has started phasing things out plugins might not be the best way to work on getting the word out about your blog. You might also need to worry about the feeds you create so people can subscribe to your blog as my favorite feed program, Feedburner, might be gone within the year (Google bought it & is now not supporting it all that much). I don’t have a recommendation for feeds at this moment but a website called Twitterfeed seems to be working well in sending my blog posts to Twitter when they go live.

6. Create your posts, post-dating most of them – This covers #1 because most blogging software allows you to post-date articles. So, if you have 10 articles and space them apart every 3 or 4 days, you have ready made content that will go the first month to a month and a half on a regular basis, and this gets your blog established as one that will have continual content, and eases your mind for a while because you don’t have to worry about sitting down and having to write something new. And if you do, just post date that one as well.

7. Send the link to the first post to almost everyone you know – This is a one time thing unless your friends and business associates are a tolerant bunch. When I created my second blog, I sent the first post to everyone I knew so they could decide if it was for them or not. Promotion can get dicey at a certain point, but initially you want to let everyone know you’ve got a blog. By having some consistent posts early on, those people who do check it out will know that you’re not a one trick pony and that you’re serious about continuing to blog.

Can you do these things? Of course you can!
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

Is Automation Your Friend?

When it comes to blogging, many people I know use some type of process to have their blog posts automatically go to different places when an article goes live. I used to use a plugin called Twitter Tools to get the job done, but when that bad boy was discontinued I was lucky enough to have someone recommend Twitterfeed to me, and that’s what I use to have my posts go directly to Twitter when they go live.

New Belgium Production Line
scumdogsteev via Compfight

It turns out there’s lots of different tools that can handle that, but it’s also true that there are sites where those tools aren’t needed, and they can handle more than just blog posts For instance, if you set your account up properly on LinkedIn, it will not only share your most recent blog posts but any updates you make to your website will automatically show as well, if you have the proper RSS settings taken care of(I know some people are saying RSS is going away; well, it hasn’t yet). Facebook supposedly has a way of finding new things on your website or blog as well, but I haven’t fully explored it after they took away the original process I was using there.

There’s always this question about whether automation online is a good thing or not. In one way it’s good because it can allow you to put things out when you’re not around that you want people to see. In another it’s horrid, at least to someone like me, because some people set up their automation to post multiple times a day, and I mean like once an hour for a 24-hour period. Who wants to be connected with anyone doing that?

There should always be a balance in how and when to use automation for anything. For me, I have my initial blog posts automated because I like them all to go out between 9 and 10:30 AM EST, and I’m not always around when they go live. However, subsequent postings of anything, if I do them, are done live and in the evenings so that if someone wants to comment or say anything to me they know that I’m online at that time. I think it helps with engagement and branding and lets people know when you’re available to donate time to them.

Overdoing anything isn’t good, and that’s important if you’re going to automate processes. Learning how to engage your potential customers and audience while balancing your time is important. As someone who has a tendency to stay up real late, I tend to “call” some posts I see from people I know are asleep. They’ll have to deal with me the next morning; just the cost of doing business. 🙂

Do you think automation is important in your marketing efforts? Are you presently using it in some fashion or thinking about it?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

The Almost Perfectly Optimized Website

It’s taken me a while, but I finally found it. Found what? The perfectly optimized website according to Google page rank… for a while at least!

Ever since I’d learned about Google’s page ranking system, which I really don’t trust (and don’t think they now care about anymore), I wanted to find those pages that were at the very top, to see just what it is that they’d done. Sure, by now we’ve heard that Google says trying to attain high page rank is meaningless. Still, it was one of those challenges I put myself on because, well, it’s just what I had to do.

Buddha Quote 62
Hartwig HKD via Compfight

That search began in earnest, as I first went looking at the top ten sites, based on Alexa’s ranking. Google’s site has a perfect 10, but we can’t count that. Or can we, since none of the other search engines have a page rank of 10? Nope, had to exclude them, if only for bias. I then went through the next 10; nothing.

At that point, I just started searching big name sites at random, hoping I would just happen upon one. But it wasn’t happening, and I was getting depressed. Then I finally decided that there just wasn’t any way to obtain a perfect score, and I would have to be satisfied with those sites I found that had 9’s; that’s very good also.

Lo and behold, I finally found a site that has the perfect 10 rating by Google. I was researching something regarding standards for proper CSS had HTML, and that search lead me to this site: http://www.w3c.org/, or W3C: The World Wide Web Consortium.

My mind was swimming; the perfect website! Not only that, but it had an Alexa rank of 230 at the time; even better. In a weird way, it showed just how diverse ranking properties can be; Alexa says it shows the web prominence of a website, and though 230 isn’t bad, it seems to shake things up, even if only in a minor fashion, because how can such a page be considered as perfect by one company and only #230 in another?

Frankly, I don’t care. I don’t care because I found perfection. And what perfection; why should I have expected anything less than what this pages shows me.

And just what does it show me? Well, first it has lots of content; these people were made to create content, which is easy for them to do because they have so many contributors.

I looked at the source codes; how wonderful they are. When you look at the main page, start in the middle first. This shows how content doesn’t have to be rambling, or even one coherent thought. These people don’t just have a list of content; they have one paragraph explaining what they’re going to give you, with links galore, internal links, which I’ve talked about before. You almost never leave this site.

Along the top and the sides are even more links. Each one takes you to very organized pages, and every single one of those pages have lots and lots of links, all going somewhere else within the site. On the left side of this page all the links are in alphabetical order; on the right, they’re grouped by category designations.

One very special page is their table of contents, which is here: http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/. Every single line in the actual table of contents, which looks like a large outline, is a link. Each link takes you to a page, which leads you to many other links and pages, and it goes on and on. Frankly, I don’t know that one person could read this entire site in a week or a month without having to start again from the beginning, there’s so much here.

This is the icon, the standard upon which we are all based. And frankly, I have to admit that I was elated and sad at the same time. Elated because I finally found perfection (though it’s gone now); sad because, unfortunately, I’m never going to attain perfection, page rank or otherwise.

As a sole proprietor, I’ll never be able to match this kind of content, and I write all the time. Even if I add staff, which I hope to someday, I can’t see where we would ever be able to spend the kind of time it takes to put together something like this. Others may not see it the same way I do, but this is a beautifully put together site; I almost want to cry. lol

I can only hope that one day, when I’m old and gray (technically, being black my hair is white), I’ll remember what it was like the day I saw perfection, and knew it would never be me or my sites; how do you feel?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Mitch Mitchell

All Social Media Business Isn’t The Same

There’s lots of different social media platforms available to us all. Some people believe that they have to sign up for everything, then wonder why they don’t have any time to do anything else. Some people sign up for everything then do none of it, wondering what should come first and getting caught up in “analysis paralysis”.

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Not all of the major social media platforms are for everyone when it comes to business. For that matter, one might get more enjoyment out of one and none out of others. This isn’t a definitive guide, but it’s an idea of what a person looking to maximize their business might think about doing.

Twitter is quick and fast. It’s a place where you can state something quickly in 140 characters, then move on if that’s all you want to do. The problem with Twitter is that there are millions of other people doing the same thing at the same time, so your message could get lost if it’s not targeted. Twitter is my favorite social media platform because I talk to people all around the world, but it’s not my best business platform.

LinkedIn is imperative for anyone looking to do business with, well, anyone. LinkedIn is imperative if you’re ever looking for work, or might ever look for work. LinkedIn is for business period, although in recent years they’ve added groups, which adds a new dynamic to the mix. LinkedIn gives you ways to highlight your business, and yourself, that you might not want to do on your own website. It also offers you the best opportunity to meet people, locally or otherwise, in their business form. I haven’t actively searched for anyone on LinkedIn for years but every day I have at least 2 requests to add me there; no idea why but maybe it’s because some folks see when my business blog posts go live, which shows up there.

Facebook as a business platform, if you’re not a big name, isn’t all that easy to do. I have a business page that has 345 people connected to it, but I can’t go out and recruit more people to the site. It gives one the opportunity to try to get a dialogue going, but truthfully the best reason to have a business presence there is to link back to your own site; it’s not much but with over a billion people connected to it, smart money says do it. Overall it’s more for personal connections, as all my family is there and many of my friends from years gone by.

Google Plus is Google’s attempt to get into the social media game, and the numbers are impressive if few other things about it are. Actually, the visuals are stunning, and there are some people who have great engagement there, but for many of us it’s just not the same thing. I have almost 5,000 people who have me in a circle there and I have a community there with about 100 people and almost no one talks to me; sigh…

YouTube has more than 500 million views a day; that’s pretty powerful stuff. But it’s also something that’s not for the faint of heart, and it takes the longest to create content if you want to get it right. But hit the right message at the right time and you could be a star. I’m nowhere close to a star but I keep trying, as I now have over 150 videos there; check it out! 😉

If you’re a brick and mortar business, you should be on Four Square. It gives you the opportunity to set up special deals for people who visit you and then tell others they’re at your shop. I know more than one local business that built their presence this way. It works best if you sell a product rather than offer services. I’m not on Four Square yet, but I’ve been thinking about signing up more and more. And being on Four Square gives you the ability to advertise on other platforms effectively.

I’ll stop here because everything else is either a copy of one of or a mashup of all the others. You as a business owner or individual get to decide which type of social media platform you think is for you, but the one statement I’d leave you with is that it’s imperative that you’re on something, because you can bet that at least one of your competitors is. And if you click on any of the links in this post, you’ll find me on all of them… don’t get scared. lol
 

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