Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Progress Report: Uh-Oh

This is a very, very small blog post today. But I wanted to post something before too much time between posts.

I've had a lot of uh-oh moments the past two weeks. I've spent the better part of my time nursing an irritated ankle, followed by working crazy hours just trying to make ends meet for the time being.

I must share that I've had very little time to work out. When I did have time, I was either too exhausted or too tired.

Okay, those were just a couple of excuses. Truth is, aside from the bad ankle, the tired/exhausted issue was an excuse like every other one. I just didn't want to do it bad enough. That's the only legitimate reason that flies around here.

I wish it could all be good, but I'm not perfect. I have flaws like everyone else. Scars, moles and all, this is the general picture of me for the time being.

The good news is that I'm implementing a diet strategy now to help with the exercise. So far, so good. I'll have more details on that later.

But the best news is that I'm learning how to stay positive during the down times, though I'm not the greatest student, but I'm willing to learn.

I'm not giving up, and I'm determined to have a good result this week. I'll let you know how it goes.

More to come...

Monday, August 22, 2011

Gap Filler: Go Suck a Lemon, Dave!

It's amazing how challenges arise when you make a decision. Whenever change is attempted, the challenges come fast and furious. For us, it's mostly financial. But we still have our health.

I knew that taking on this weight challenge would start things in motion that can't be explained in the natural. I just didn't think about how fast it would begin, nor did I expect this much of a drought to occur.

Currently I'm sitting here at work waiting for actual work to pop into my computer queue...I've been waiting for a while now. I signed out of my last job at 2:30 p.m. and took off to run an errand. As I write now, it's now 3:20 p.m. and still nothing on the queue.

At the same time, my wife is facing the same dilemma. She's in sales, so she doesn't earn anything unless she sells something, and nothing has been coming in her queue, i.e. the front door.

The good thing about it is that I have time to blog. I already updated my bank register (sad) and ate lunch. I don't have to go to the bathroom, so I'm good for awhile.

In what looks like a few seconds for me to type, I have been sitting here thinking about what to write about and and 30 minutes have passed. It's 3:40 p.m. now, so you can see it takes me a while to think of something to write and then type it out. That's what us "perfeshinal blawgers" do. We wait for inspiration, or in my case, perspiration.

So, I'm faced with a dilemma. I could call it a day and guarantee nothing else made for a day, or I can wait it out.

Since this is a weight loss blog I DO need to mention something about weight loss, diet, exercise, et cetera: "You know, I could have worked out during this time."

Unfortunately, my situation right now requires me to sit and wait, and pray. I've been praying like crazy though. I've got people on Facebook praying! What good is social networking if you can't utilize it, right? It really does help to network during a trial.

Speaking of trials...I really hate trials. And I'm not talking Perry Mason trials. I'm talking about trials that come with tribulation. They stink a lot and they're supposed to make us better people, right? Well, for the record, I don't like them, and it's hard to be happy about them. And, by the way, it's 4:05 p.m. now. So, what do you do when you're going through a trial? Make lemonade, right? The axiom is that when life hands us lemons, we're supposed to make lemonade. How about just throwing the lemons at someone?

Pretty bad attitude, huh? Well, I'll tell you, that's how I was feeling yesterday. Whatever the case may be, the worst thing to do is sit and stew about it. And, it's now 4:20 p.m.

But today, I am really doing pretty good. Thanks for asking.

Of course, if I had only followed today's advice yesterday, my day would have been more joyful to say the least. I had the house to myself yesterday with the afternoon off and it should have been a refreshing time, but by the time everyone got home, I was sitting slumped on the couch watching television as if I were stoned on methamphetamine, except I wasn't smiling euphorically, singing "Lemon Tree." The only one that I could think of having a more sour day than me was Moammar Gadafi, and his whole country hates him and wants to kill him. But, seriously, how bad can THAT be?

It's 4:45 now, if anyone's keeping tabs. Oh, it's me keeping tabs. There's no way for you to know unless I tell you.

Okay, so I'll admit I was frustrated yesterday, because I had tried everything I could think of to keep things from going out of control over the last couple of years. I had been following the advice of a financial guru named "Dave," like a good boy, and it still wasn't good enough. I should have bought his book or his program. This is what I get for trying to skim information off the internet. But, I've always believed that if "you don't work, you don't eat." Well, that hasn't been the case here: It's work extra long hours, make less each month, and eventually die. Plus, the registration is due on both vehicles and the my truck is making a funny noise, my shirts have holes in them, and we have no Cheetos.

Now, don't judge me. That was yesterday. I know that sounds pretty pitiful, but I was in the midst of a great pity party yesterday. The best ever. The Kardashians couldn't have thrown a bigger party. It could have been shown on TMZ, it was so big. A Cheetos-fest would have been "simply fabulous," but "simply fabulous" sounds pretty flamboyant, if you know what I mean. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Plus, our budget doesn't allow for Cheetos.

So yesterday, after chewing off my fingernails and gnawing the skin off the inside of my cheeks from stress, I begrudgingly told myself not to start on the toenails and got myself out the door to head out to the club and work out.

And it's 5:00 p.m. now. Still nothing on the queue. Sigh.

Anyway, I got to the club an hour before they closed and hit the treadmill for a good 45-plus walk just to get back in the swing of things. I'm glad I did. My performance level was still the same (I sound like a pro athlete now) and I felt pretty good afterwards. Endorphines, I suppose.

The endorphines kept me feeling pretty good until I went to bed and got a good night's sleep. Nevertheless, I woke up this morning anxious and sweating. A friend of mine told me recently that "sometimes you have to let God push the 'play' button and start moving." So, I got up, got my stuff together and sat down and had a light breakfast and coffee while going through some mail and listening to the television before leaving for work. As I sipped my coffee, I was able to hear a morning talk show host referring to the tough times that the country is facing, and "with us now to explain how to navigate through the tough times, it's Dave!"

I needed a lemon right then but I didn't have one. After throwing my peanut butter toast at the television screen, I cleaned it up and went to work.

It's 5:25 p.m. now. I'm hearing that there is a technical problem coming from XYZ, Inc., where our work originates. It appears that the voice capture regulator that supplies the security key VROM module that plugs into the interface activation circuit authenticating the deepak chopra that motivates the voice capture regulator that supplies ...well, you know where I'm going with this.

The point of my message today is that I'll keep on going, live for God, trust God to provide (although I do like having things in order), and keep pushing that "play" button and move forward each day.

And I'll keep a lemon on hand...just in case. It's easier than cleaning peanut butter.

Now, it's looking like we might have work pop up any time now. I think I'm going to gut it out for a bit, because we might get slammed with work. Ordinarily I'd be frustrated, but I'm glad it's a technical issue rather than a work supply issue.

Keep me and mine in your prayers. It's all appreciated. But, it looks like I'm closing the gym tonight unless we get slammed here at the office.

Update: It's now 6:00 p.m. My queue is now starting to fill up. It looks like it's going to be a long evening. I might have to hit the gym early morning tomorrow, but we'll see. Time to push "play."

A Final Note: I finally got out of the office at 1:30 a.m. It was a long day. Needless to say, I didn't hit the gym but I did get the needed amount of work done. Sometimes it's necessary to not be denied. But the following morning (at the time I write this addendum) my queue is at "0" once again. I'm going to go have some lemonade.

Disclaimer: No claims are made by me regarding the success or failure of "Dave's" advice in relation to my checkbook, nor in regard to any information, services, or products provided by him. Today, he just annoys me. So there.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Zeroing In

Wow, it's been a few days since I posted anything. I need to catch up here.

By the way, in case you're wondering, the picture on the left is that of a torpedo. least it's supposed to be. Stay with me on this'll see where I'm going here.

So, it's been a few weeks now. Since I'm moving forward, predictably, the challenges are beginning to present themselves:

A couple of weeks ago, I took the time to weigh myself. I gained 3 pounds. Up until that moment, I had a pretty good relationship with the scale. It said nice things to me and made me feel loved, but then it started nagging at me by telling me the truth. I think I ate too much red meat and starch. I hate it now. Result: Discouragement.

Due to my late hour routine, I began to lose control of my schedule, staying up late to wind down, waking up late the next day, heading straight to work, and working late to play catchup because of fatigue, and then back to the club to work out late, and on and on, resulting in no time for myself with the potential onset of burnout. Result: Discouragement.

I woke up the other morning with an aggravated ankle, which is a result of a circulatory condition due to weight and inactivity from sitting in front of a computer all day. I think my new activity level shocked my system and it's starting to fight back. Result: Discouragement.

Like many people, the economy has hit us hard. This month, I'm dealing with a 50 percent cut in my family income, which had already been cut 40 percent over the past two years, resulting in wonderful discussions around the kitchen table at bill-paying time about our inability to pay for luxuries, like food and gas. Result: Discouragement.

Setbacks, family stressors, job issues, financial struggles, health challenges, car trouble, our dog taking off down the street, stress incontinence (okay not so much), and Netflix losing the rights to video-stream Dexter episodes have given me some frustration over the past few weeks since I started hitting the treadmill. Result: Discouragement.

I can't even enjoy sports right now. The Giants have lost 13 out of their last 18 games, and the 49ers' starting quarterback can't even pass gas. Result: Discouragement.

To top it off, and I don't know why, I always seem to attract the club weirdo who likes to sing out loud and beat his fists on his console while listening to his headphones and spraying sweat over me as he waves his arms to some kind of 5/4 rhythm, trying to do a Roger Bannister impression as if he were breaking a 4-minute mile. Result: Not really discouragement, just irritated. I hope he has a You Tube "Fail" moment.

I'm once again learning that in order to accomplish my goal, there will be setbacks and challenges, and I have to maintain a clear vision by zeroing in on my target like a torpedo.

Torpedos are pretty remarkable weapons (except for the lame one in the picture). They whiz through the water with only a propeller and some fins to keep it somewhat straight as it travels to its unfortunate target. The nice thing about them is that no one is needed to steer it. It locks onto a target and begins its journey to it's glorious end by relying on gyros inside it to communicate directionality, constantly making corrections to it as it drifts off course in one direction or another, getting it back on course. It's in a perpetual state of adjustment until it's time for the Great Kaboom.

Pretty simple: Launch, lock on target, drifting, correcting, back on target, drifting, correct, on target, and KABOOM! Goodbye enemy ship.

Goal-oriented people have their targets and, like a torpedo, are focused on it, listening to their gyros, making adjustments along the way until they reach their goal.

Most people, unfortunately, let their gyros get to them. They don't say stuff like: "I didn't lose any weight - let's evaluate my diet." Nor do they say: "I'm tired - let's work on getting more rest." Instead, excuses abound, such as: "I didn't lose any weight! I'm too tired! I'm sore! I'm stressed! I have no time! I'm broke! It's Shark Week! (ok, that one is mine)." We start finding reasons to quit and stay home.

What if torpedos were like people? What would happen if a torpedo took failure personally and couldn't handle it?

It would be more like: Launch, lock on target, drifting, correcting, torpedo takes the correction personally, begins to cry, says "Why me? Forget this! I'm going back home!"

Sad torpedo turns around and heads back home, the submarine captain looks through his periscope, announces to the crew that they are about to have an "Oh Crap" moment, starts cursing the recruiter that suckered him into joining the Navy, and then experiences the Great Kaboom.

Goodbye torpedo. Goodbye submarine. Goodbye captain.

Believe me, there are times when I wanted to turn around and go home, but all that will accomplish is regret for not working out, plus the TV shows are better at the club. No Kardashians or Bridezillas on their televisions.

Ultimately, my goal is part of God's bigger plan for me. I know if I stay focused on the true Target, the goal will come to pass. I'm blessed to have my Target; He keeps me going and He adjusts my gyros as needed. He keeps me keeping on, and I'm trusting in Him to take care of the other stuff as well, resulting in fewer ISTBM (It Sucks To Be Me) moments.

It's time to go now. The dog took off again...

(Maddie - our 13-year-old puppy)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Strategery: First Steps

I've been asked about offering a how-to segment, in order to share ideas on how to get motivated.

So far I've written about my experiences, my thoughts, and my progression. I'm finding it challenging to write about my experience (i.e. the mechanics) because the experience (save for the first day) is rather uneventful. So far, my experience consists of my relationship with a Precor Brand treadmill. I'm even taking pictures of it. We're in love, I think. Well, I'm actually in love in three of them (I have my favorites now).

Having different segments will work well for me. I have my story, my Gap Filler (more of an opinion segment), my Progress Report (pretty self-explanatory), and now I'm adding one more. Some people want the details, so I'm adding another segment called "Strategery" and today I'll start that segment by writing about my first steps to motivation.

By the way, isn't that a cute picture? This baby reminds me of my girls when they were first learning to walk on their chubby feet.

I love the word "strategery." It was coined by Will Ferrell in a skit mocking then-President George W. Bush. They used it to poke fun of him, but to me the word illustrates a simple plan, which is great because I like simple; of course, I then go out and complicated everything (duh). Nevertheless, simple is what gets me motivated.

My strategery will be to share the how-to on how I'm getting to where I'm going. It's not a 10-point plan. For far it's a 1 or 2-point plan.

So what's the first step? Here goes:

1. Start.

There. How simple is that? I'll throw in another one:

2. Set simple goals.

Now I know some readers are thinking, "Geez...I've heard this before!" But have you ever done it? That was where I was. Looking for answers, but never really implementing the simple things, like getting started and setting a goal.

My first goals were to get into the regular exercise habit (at least 5 days a week) and to cover 60 minutes on a treadmill. Why 60 minutes? Years ago, I read the book "Aerobics" by Dr. Kenneth Cooper, who believed that if a person could move for 60 minutes, a "training effect" would take place. A training effect refers to changes in muscular and cardiovascular systems that lead to improvement in function and strength due to regular endurance or resistance training.

Due to daily exercise, I was able to reach the 60-minute goal within my first 10 days. I didn't cover a lot of ground (around 1.5 miles, I think), but I made it. I then set a goal to cover 2 miles; sometimes I had to walk 65 minutes and then restart the treadmill, as they are only allowed to be set at 65 minutes maximum. I reached the 2-mile goal within a month. I thought I was going to die, but I reached it. I can now cover the 2 miles within 60 minutes.

My next goal is to reach 2.5 miles, and then 2.5 miles within 60 minutes; 3 miles, then 3 miles within 60 minutes, etc.

To summarize:

1. I got started.
2. Once I got started, I set a goal to work out at least 5 days a week.
3. As I exercised daily, I set another goal for 60 minutes on the treadmill.
4. Once I was able to walk for 60 minutes, I set my next goal for 2 miles on the treadmill.
5. I'm now walking 2 miles on the treadmill within 60 minutes.

By the way, you may have noticed I didn't mention anything about diet. I didn't set any diet goals, other than to stay away from fast food and junk food for the most part.

Diet is my next step. Ugh. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Progress Report: Month 1

It's been one month since I started working out at the club. I'm still walking funny but I don't get eye boogers anymore and the zits are diminishing. I actually know my club ID number now, so I can rattle if off at the counter like the pros. I'm starting to become familiar with the regulars who come to the club at the same time I do. A couple of people came up to me to encourage me as they've battled the same condition and lost a lot of weight themselves.

So far, I'm down a total of 15 pounds since starting the gym and I'm down 25 pounds from my peak weight. I lost about 3 pounds a week the first three weeks and was down 10 pounds; however, in the fourth week I actually gained 4 pounds. Up to that point, I wasn't working too hard on my diet, and was pretty much eating normally, just not too much and little junk food. That left me with a net loss of 6 pounds going into the last week. The final week I cut out pasta and red meat, and that seemed to do the trick. I lost 9 pounds in the last week. Thus, I think I found a winning strategy.

I don't sweat as much walking out to the mailbox and I can actually stand for 10 minutes without looking like I'm about to have a heart attack. The pain is still there, but I'm starting to see some improvement.

I'm definitely getting encouragment. I get most of my encouragement from people on Facebook and in the comment section of my blog. It's great to read all the well wishes and it keeps me motivated. I get a lot of positives on Facebook every time I update my locaton to "GB3." I've been pleasantly surprised that a number of people encouraging me are those I don't normally hear from regularly, in additon to those people who normally comment regularly on my posts. What's interesting is that some people have been strangely silent for whatever reason, but I don't dwell on it too much.

Life being what it is, though, I don't get a standing ovation or a pat on the back when I hop off the treadmill, and there isn't a celebration for me when I get home at 11:30, as everyone at home is either asleep or watching television (in other words: life goes on); however, most nights I'll call my brother on the drive home from the club and we'll talk about my progress in addition to to discssing the things that are going on in our lives, and how great it'll be when the battle is over.

As it is, I still have to remind myself that the battle is still here today; however, I don't have to fight it alone.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Gap Filler: A Paradox

Until a couple of days ago, I had never heard of Dr. Niels Bohr. I came across a quote of his that he made years ago. For those who are interested, he is a Danish physicist who won the Nobel Prize for physics almost 90 years ago, in 1922. He also helped to create the first atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. Dr. Bohr has a lot of interesting quotes, none of which I can understand (maybe because they're in Danish), but the one translated quote from him that caught my attention was: "The opposite of a fact is falsehood, but the opposite of one profound truth may very well be another profound truth. "


People who win Nobel Prizes for physics talk like that a lot. Sometimes they don't seem to make sense.

Once I looked at that quote a little more deeply, it was apparent that this quote was really a paradox, which is a statement with an intrinsic conflict - two ideas, each that are true when standing alone, but seem to contradict each other when lined up together in the same sentence or phrase.

And no, a paradox does not consist of two physicians or two places where boats can park.

By the way, that atomic bomb that Dr. Bohr helped to create was a paradox in itself. It was created to prevent more lives from being lost. It's believed that millions of Japanese would have died as a result of a ground assault instead of the thousands that perished in the atomic blasts that ended World War II.

Another great example of a paradox was when Jesus said, "To save your life you must lose it." The words themselves do not make much sense until you think about it a little bit more deeply and in a larger scope. Because a phrase like this is often contrary to what common sense would indicate, you need to use common sense to comprehend it.

Confused? Welcome to the club.

Here are some more quotes that really apply to me:

"Real security come from being comfortable with insecurity. "

"Less stressful living will require stressful changes."

"The more you try to control, the more likely you'll be controlled."

"It takes more effort to be happy than it does to be unhappy. "

"It'll take more pain now for my normal pain to go away. " That's my quote, by the way.

In Proverbs, it says: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to death."

As a believer for 24 years, I've been doing that which seems right to a man: Serve God, work hard, take care of family, live a clean life, behave yourself, and all the other wonderful things that others would consider selfless. I never took the time to take care of my own self because I always considered it selfish to make time for me. Put yourself last, I always heard. Make sure there's a roof over everyone's head and food on the table first. I was sold a bill of goods that the world lives by. Sometimes, you have to do what's good for you first, before you can do what's right for everyone else.

There is a reason why flight attendants instruct you to put your mask on first in the event of sudden cabin pressure loss, before you put a mask on your child.

I sacrificed the vital for the urgent.

At this point in my life, I could work a couple of more hours each day, but what I earn will just get spent (quickly, I might add), or I could invest the couple of hours on my health, which will open up the possibility for a better opportunity down the road (if physical health is a requirement for a better job). I could give up some time with the family for an hour or two in order to be able to have the energy level to spend quality time with them later on, whereas now I could play slug in front of the television watching the shows that no one else wants to watch.

The answer is pretty simple for me...and it's not even a paradox.

For me to save my life, I must lose it. As a believer in Christ, I have to consistently desire Him more than anything or anyone else in my own life. Only then can I see His blessing. Right now, the greatest honor I can give Him right now is to offer myself daily in this effort to achieve victory in this battle that I'm in. I believe He will bless my effort.

And who knows? Perhaps 90 years from now, someone will quote me and get inspired...