Saturday, October 26, 2013

Doggin' It

Disclaimer:  Dog Photos

That being’s been a busy couple of months, with exercise, school, Dodger-bashing (sorry guys), and a new dog (duh).  I find that because of my size and the energy I’m putting into what I’m doing, I need more down time to recover, which cuts into my time on the computer (non-study time).  After putting it off, I’m happy to report that I have some time to blog. 

"Needs a Home" picture of Buster, posted on Instagram
The weight battle is at a stalemate right now.  For some reason, it’s not coming off as it was during the summer.  I been diligent about avoiding fast food and other foods that aren't good for me; however, it could be stress, poor sleep patterns, inconsistent eating and/or exercise patterns may have something to do with it.  But I haven’t worried about it, mostly because I don’t want to have something new to discourage me.  I have plenty of things out there that are working hard to keep me discouraged, and it’s a daily battle to deflect the fiery arrows that come from the actions and attitudes of others who are in a constant state of “what can I do today to discourage John?” mode, in addition to the circumstances that throw themselves in front of me.  It’s that way for a lot of people, so I’m not feeling sorry for myself.  That’s just the way it is.
Buster coming home with Kellie two hours later...

The good news is that college (with the new dog) are great distractions.  College has been a lot of work, but the results show my effort.  It’s nice to see something pay off for once.  Over the years, I've poured myself into things that failed to yield any real fruitful result and this has been a good thing for me to see in my life.  It doesn't pay the bills (well, it does a little…I was able to get some stipend this year for school), but I've determined that I no longer want to go through life spending my time on activities that yield little to nothing like I've done in the past.  That’s why school and exercise are great investments.

I also have to say that exercising and chasing the dog have been helping me in building my endurance from the parking lot to the classroom.  I had a lot of difficulty (really an impossibility) walking from the parking lot to the classroom earlier this year.  I walked like Steve Martin in that scene from “The Jerk” and instead of carrying a chair and an ashtray, I was carrying me and my books.  I'm not skipping through campus, but I can now actually make it to class without stopping and without looking like I’m having a heart attack, although I am on first name basis with the guy who drives the shuttle from the parking lot, and I will gladly flag Isaac down if I’m feeling lazy.     

The face that wakes me up
in the morning...
The best thing, though, has to be the addition of Buster, our dog.  He’s my big galoot.  If there is a breed to label him with, it would be that of an Australian cattle dog.  Or a dingo.  He has a floppy ear, so his ears angle at a perfect 45 degree angle.  We figure that he is probably six months old.  We’re not sure.  He chews a lot, and he has big feet, has an issue with coordination, and is really the biggest klutz, so that’s why we think he’s still a puppy.  We got him six weeks ago, when his picture popped up on my daughter’s friend’s Instagram account, with the caption “dog available.”  My daughter sent me a picture of the post, and I noticed that she commented “Let me ask my dad” below.  My kid is smart.  She knows who the sucker is.  He got into the trash, peed on the floor, chew up tissue, barked when he was put outside, jumped all over me, and wanted to play fetch forever.

We fell in love with him.  Now we’re doomed.
Yes, I love my dog.

So, exercise, school, dog, and who knows what’s next?  We shall see. 

Go me. 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Find A Way

Sunday afternoon, I was sitting at home, tired from a week of school, working out, studying, doing laundry, constipation, and watching the first 19 episodes of The Walking Dead.  I could never get into zombies, but I was starting to feel like one, although I only bite someone's head off if they look at me wrong...or text me telling me that I need to go to the gym.  As I sat there, growling and snorting, thinking of food, my Coachzilla texts me to ask me what time I was going to work out. Since it was Labor Day the next day and I didn't have class, I told her that I was going to go then, and take Sunday off.

Yeah, right...

I don't remember how the next text message went, as it was apparently traumatizing, but it seemed like it was saying, "if you don't plan on going, you're not going to go, and if you don't go you're a weenie, and so you better go, and when you go, just go some more, and life is full of puppies, kittens and rainbows, and wonderful, you weenie...go, go, go, go.....

AAAGH!!!!  Alright!

So I went.

I was mad.

I was so mad I got on the treadmill walked fast, and DEFIED her instructions to do an easy workout.  She told me to do 30 minutes.  I DID 60.  SO THERE.  HA HA.

In the 31st minute, as I began to approach code blue status, I slowed down the machine and was a little more relaxed, having rid myself of the stresses that climb on board like a bunch of holiday travelers on an Amtrak train, all wanting the same seat.  I breathed easier and watched the closed-captioned television programs on the monitors above to catch up on what's happening in the real world with no zombies (that we know of).

I saw this lady on the news, dressed in a swimsuit and jumping into ocean water to begin swimming.  I said to myself, "that's Diana looks like she's going to try it again."  The "it" was swimming from Havana, Cuba, to Key West, Florida, a distance of over 100 miles, and it was her fifth attempt.

Most people associate Diana Nyad with the numerous failed attempts to swim the strait between Cuba and Florida, but don't realize that an inability to cover the distance was not the reason she couldn't finish.

The distance was no big deal.  She had more than enough talent and skill and endurance to make it happen.

It was one specific obstacle:  Jellyfish.
These stupid jellyfish would take a toll on her, stinging her as she swam by causing everything on her body to swell.  Even her lips were swollen. That's what happens when you kiss jellyfish, I guess.

Finally, she and her team were able to figure out a way to overcome the jellyfish through the use of protective gear developed for that purpose. Now, it might have taken 35 years to figure it out, but she figured it out, and, as you can see from the picture, she made it.

Her words of wisdom?  Keep living your dream and if you're not living it...find a way.

Three simple words:  Find a way.

Obstacles are like those jellyfish.  They sting you and you look like crap going through the journey, but you adapt, and over time they don't bother you so much, although Diana walked like a zombie coming out of the water after 53 hours.

Whether it's swimming, fighting zombies, or losing weight:  You find a way...even if that means having someone text you to call you a weenie for not working out.

Go me...


John's Progress

Friday, August 23, 2013

Perfect Storm?

After two weeks of school, working out five days a week, coordinating transportation, trying to maintain a reasonable diet, I can say that I'm rather tired.  But I've lost 15 pounds, got through an automobile crisis, managed to get everyone where they needed to be, and have taken five quizzes, scoring A's on all of them.

Right now, my life can be best described as a fishing boat, fighting through a storm, getting over one huge wave with an even bigger one coming up on the horizon.

I don't know much about fishing, but I would imagine that the captain of that boat would breathe a sigh of relief after getting over that wave, take a quick break to get his senses together and to pray that whatever it is that he needs to get over the next wave at that moment in time is there when he needs it...

Times like this cause me to reflect on the words of a song that I first heard a long time ago...

The anchor holds, though the ship is battered
The anchor holds, though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees, as I faced the raging seas
The anchor holds, In spite of the storm

And it's in these moments that my Anchor holds...

Go me...


Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hopin' Change

My last nine weeks have been a whirlwind of change.  Getting consistent at exercise, watching my diet, learning once again to rise before the worms, and now topping it off by starting back to college has been challenging, to say the least.

I did see a man in a dress yesterday at school, which signifies how much things have changed, but that wasn't what I was looking for.  His/her nails were nice though. 

So I have all this, in addition to all the other fun stuff we have as a family, such as playing the old favorite, “Now What?” 

Murphy's Middle Name Is Aloysius?

With Mr. Edward A. Murphy laughing from up above as we prove his Law to be indisputable on a daily basis, it just so happened on the Sunday evening before the first day of school, I noticed a pool of water on my driveway as I took off for the gym.  I didn’t really think much of it because it’s a hundred and sun degrees in Fresno in the middle of August, so I merely dismissed the water as condensation from the air conditioner on the truck.  On my way to the gym, I stopped at a minimart to grab a Zone bar to eat before working out and was in and out quickly.  I jumped back into my truck, started it up.  Right away, I noticed a strange sound coming out of the engine compartment, which not a new sound.  It made me nervous, but the truck seemed to run okay, so I kept on to the gym. 

One hour later I finished my workout and walked (staggered) back out to the truck and started it up.  The noise was still there; not very assuring in the least.  As I drove home, I noticed that the noise was getting louder and I was getting more concerned. 

Then I got home.  The spot of water that was on the ground was still there, which was odd since it was a 95-100 degree day.  If it was water, it’d be gone.  My first thought was “oh, no.” 

I was right…it wasn’t just water; it had oil in it.  I then started to breathe harder than I did when I was killing myself on the treadmill an hour before.  I had no clue as to what it could be, but it didn’t look good.  So far, it wasn’t a big pool of oil/water/blood, so I thought that it could wait until the following day. 

I was able to put it out of my mind until after I went to bed.  I had difficulty sleeping.  I don’t know if it was because of the next day or if it was the big cup of coffee that I had earlier in the evening.  I got up about 1:30 in the morning, and with all the anxiety of school upon me and having read about a meteor shower taking place that night, I decided to go outside and take a look underneath the chassis for a leak and maybe see a meteor while I was outside. 

No meteors.  Big leak, though. 

In fact, it was a massive leak underneath the engine, flowing halfway down the driveway, like blood from a Dexter Morgan murder scene.  If my truck were a human it’d be the crime of the century. 

I went back to bed and got into the fetal position, cried, and sucked my thumb, writhing back and forth waiting for someone to call an exorcist.  Fortunately, the beer that I drank kicked in and I was able to go to sleep.  

Three hours later, I woke up at 5:00 am to start my day...I wasn't looking forward to it.  In the mirror I looked like a mix between a basset hound and Walter Mondale the day after he lost the presidential election to Ronald Reagan.  Pretty scary.

Monday, The First Day...Only 18 Weeks To Go

After arranging for a backup vehicle in the event that I couldn’t get my truck running that day, and texting a couple of friends for favors, and after having one friend take my wife to work and my daughter to school, all this before 6:00 am, and then limping in the truck to the mechanic and have him drop me off at school, and sitting through six hours of school, and having my daughter’s boyfriend give me a ride back to the shop to pick up my truck after giving her a ride to practice, and asking my dad to cover the bill for me until I get some extra cash, I could finally call it a day. 

Change is good, unless it’s all you have in your pocket. 

What's Up With Hope And Change?

President Obama coined the change thing when he used “hope and change” as his mantra for the 2008 presidential election campaign, and many people “drank the Kool-Aid” of his hope and change message.  For those with an “R” beside your name, don’t be shouting “YES” at my comments.  The R’s use the same hope and change message to sway their constituents to get to the polls for their own job security and drink a different flavored Kool-Aid. 

The reason President Obama did so well in his bid to become President was that his message was comprised of something that really crosses all boundaries, whether it be socioeconomic, cultural/racial, male/female, or even political. 

Being young, energetic and black was also a good chemistry for change as well.  It was time for something new, and while I didn’t vote for him and don’t agree with his politics, I believe it was a good day for this country when he was sworn in because he took away all the excuses of how hard it is to succeed in this country. 

Now anyone who thinks that one man in Washington is going to change your world overnight is sadly mistaken.  I think that lady in Florida who said she won’t have to worry about her car payment or her rent is still waiting by the mailbox for something to come through. 

It’s a good thing that most people believe in the hope and change message more than they believe in the messenger.  That’s the way it should be, because it’s just not possible for anyone who has little to no vested interested in our personal success can do anything for us.  All they can do is pass on the message and hope that we do the best we can with what we receive. 

Hope and change is a powerful motivator; it’s also ear-tickling if all you want to do is feel warm and tingly by hearing those warm and fuzzy speeches.  Hearing but not doing always leads to the same result, or worse. 

That’s because hope can’t be developed unless there is change.  And that takes hard work. 

The message becomes magic when we put the effort behind it. 

Change Through Hard Work - What A Concept!

I saw a Facebook post from someone of a YouTube video of Ashton Kutcher, who gave a speech a few nights ago when he won a Teen Choice Award for something – I don’t know what it was – he said it was for being an old guy, but he said something that was quite profound and it changed my attitude about him for the better, although I’ve always enjoyed watching him on television. 

He touched on three things which resonated with me:  Opportunity, being sexy, and building a life. 

(By the way, it should be noted that his speech is going viral in the midst of Oscar talk for his portrayal of Steve Jobs in the latest biopic.  His choices moved him to the top of his game, while at the same time, the choices of one of his co-stars from "That 70's Show" led to her being found dead yesterday at a drug treatment center.  Everyone knows his name; few people remember Robin Kelly's name.)


Opportunity looks like a lot of hard work.  When he was 13, he had his first job helping his roofer dad carry shingles up to the roof.  He then had a job washing dishes at a restaurant, followed by a job at a grocery store deli, and then by a job at a Cheerio’s factory, sweeping Cheerio dust off the ground.  No job was ever beneath him, and he always considered himself lucky to have a job.  Each job was stepping stone to the next job, and he never quit any job until he had another job lined up, and we all know what happened to him by his repetition of that pattern. 

For me...the opportunity is college and exercise. 

I took the opportunity to go back to school because of a few bad breaks that I’ve had the past couple of years.  Certain things fell into place which enabled me to do this and I’m taking advantage.  This opportunity is hard work.  I have about a hundred pages to read by next Monday to be on top of my game if I want to get an “A.” I’m not in it to just pass. 

As I mentioned earlier in earlier posts, I also have a friend who is willing to commit herself to my well-being and walk alongside me as I work toward changing my health for the better.  To say that that opportunity is not hard work has not met Coachzilla. Trying to slide an excuse past her is not just hard's mission impossible.  I should benefit from this "opportunity," right? 

I also regard my ability to walk as an opportunity to take advantage of exercise and improving my overall sense of well-being.  I made a commitment when I was last laid up in bed that I would do something about my health when I was able to walk once again. 

Being Sexy

Kutcher said that the sexiest thing in the world is being really smart, thoughtful and generous. Everything else is crap that people try to sell us to feel less valuable than we really are. 

Well, I’m pushing for “A’s” so if that makes me sexy, so much the better.  I’d rather lose the weight and try for that, too.  By the way, I’m 65 pounds down and on my way down. 

Building A Life

As young people, we are told that the world is the way it is and that our goal in life should be to try to live inside that world created for us.  We’re told to stay out of trouble, get an education, find a good job, start a family, and live life according to way things are.  The truth is that we live life in a world that was designed by people who are no smarter than us.  Sometimes the biggest battle is between our ears, a result of the input that we received from well-meaning friends and relatives who think they know your inadequacies better than you do.

Change is subtle, either good or bad, depending on what it is that you do.  I tell my daughter most fortunes are lost a dollar at a time, especially when she makes a trip to Taco Bell because she doesn’t want to eat what’s in the refrigerator.  Stuff like television and surfing the internet takes me away from studying, and I’ve already battled the Seinfeld “Summer of George” syndrome, when it’s easy to watch television instead of read.  And, the same thing applies when potato chips are brought into the house, when I’m trying to stay away from that junk.  Every pound I fail to lose is a delay in reaching my fortune.  Good health is priceless, and much more than any monetary fortune is worth.  It would do me some good to look at potato chips as lost opportunities in a bag. 

I think a good strategy for most people would be to save your money, eat right, and go to school and get smart, and then you can be rich and sexy too. 

A dollar at a time, a minute at a time, or a chip at a doesn’t matter.  It all adds up a little bit at a time, for good or bad, for good or better, or bad to worse.  It’s our choice.  Change takes place a little bit at a time, and before you know it, you have hope.

Go me...


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Five Days a Weenie

Over the last couple of weeks, I've been focused on upping the challenge (that is, having it upped for me) of getting in a daily ritual with me any my treadmill. My workout partner Christina (or "Coachzilla," which is my term of endearment for her) has been keeping me on track and making sure that I only don't push myself beyond code blue. As a macho remnant, I do tend to want to do more than I should at times, to which I get a stern "no" from "Christina."  
Unfortunately, it doesn't work the other way around. If I say "no" then it's "too bad" from "Coachzilla."

I'm up to five times a week now but my speed isn't anything to brag about. Usain Bolt runs a 100 meter dash in the time it takes me to walk ten steps, but that's okay. Sometimes I get up to 2.0 MPH for 2-3 minutes, but for the most part, it's 1.0 MPH for 60 minutes...60 minutes which I wasn't able to do earlier this summer.

My knees still feel like they have knives sticking in them when I bend them, but that's bound to improve with time and strengthening...and ice.

Now that I have all this going, with the fall semester of college approaching, I have this time dilemma now, which involves juggling one vehicle between three people, in three different directions, since our hooptie car is down for the count. After our Monday midday workout, I lamented to Christina about my situation and she asked me what I thought about going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning. According to her, my eyes glazed over and I looked like I was in a state of shock, and I stammered some type of excuse about 5:30 in the morning being of the devil or something like that. Coachzilla kicked in and the battle was over.

By the way, Coachzilla is a play on two words - Coach and Godzilla - for those who need the explanation. In the movies, Godzilla crushed Tokyo. In real life, Coachzilla crushes excuses. The excuses are like Tokyo - they can be pretty big, but they don't stand in the way for long.

I'll spare the gory details, but somehow she managed to get me thinking that I could do this, and would meet me at 5:30 the following morning.

That night, I felt like I did when I took a statistics final in college 35 years ago. I felt totally unprepared for it, and all I could do was stress about it, and when I finally got to sleep, it was all I could do to stay asleep. Then I woke up at 3:30 the following morning, and after being up for an hour, I felt great...distress. To add insult to injury, I had another hour before I had to be at the gym.

I failed to mention one more thing...if I didn't do this, Coachzilla said that she would make it her mission in life to tell the world what a weenie I am if I didn't do this. She would even learn to blog to accomplish this.

I don't want people to know I'm a weenie.  I'm already a weenie, but I'd rather keep that to myself.

When I failed my statistics final, my professor said to me, "You do better luck next times," in his incredibly thick Chinese accent. He didn't call me a weenie.  

We got out to the treadmills and Christina made it easy on me, only working me for 40 minutes instead of an hour.  I was okay with that. Coachzilla was taking the day off, knowing it was a stretch for me to be there.

When the week was over, I managed to make it to the gym every morning that week, and I even added an extra day on Saturday, as I needed to get some calories burned for a wedding that evening; I heard they were serving barbecue, and I'm glad I did the extra day. Physically, I had a tough time at the wedding because I'm still overcoming a lot of pain. I would have loved to line dance, but the knees wouldn't allow it. I did get my barbecue and cake pop, though.

One thought: The best thing about last night was how I was able to witness the miracle of God in the way He brings two wonderful young people together to start a new life as a couple. When I think back about all that He did to bring my wife and I together 33 years ago, from opposite ends of this's mind blowing to think what events had to happen in order for that that happen.

If He can do that, He can grant me the grace needed to get over this weight thing...

Speaking of the weight thing:  I wish I could say the weight falling off like crazy, but it's steady, and as long as it's steady I'm good...I'll know more tomorrow morning, when I weigh in. Christina will be happy with the result or Coachzilla will be having a weenie roast. Time will tell.

Stay tuned...and have a great day...

Go me.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Commitment and Fridays

I'm getting out to the gym late Friday evening, but as long as I'm making it...

Commitment is very simple to keep but not easy to accomplish. There will be some moments where everything is set against you to keep you from reaching your goal.

I've been stuck at home today, and now it's late in the day, so I'd rather be in bed, but I made a promise to myself to keep to this and get my 60 minutes in on the treadmill.

When you decide to do it no matter what, even if it's a small amount, it all adds up.

Stay tuned...and have a great day...

Go me.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013


I got up this morning with astonishingly great ease, had a cup of coffee and a couple of pieces of toast, anticipating my trip to the gym to tackle my biggest challenge so far after starting back on the ol' horse, er, treadmill.

My goal today: 60 minutes.

I got started and within two minutes realized that this was going to be a difficult 60 minutes. Within ten minutes my knees were aching and the back of my thighs were tightening up. But I kept going. It wasn't anything new that I was experiencing, so I didn't feel the need to stop.

Well, truth be told, I did feel the need, but I always feel the need to stop even before I start.

Since I recognized the pain and it was muscles just not cooperating and I figured it would get better within a few minutes.  

At 30 minutes, my knees were now feeling like ice picks were being jabbed into them and my legs were tightening up even more. I was worried about how I was going to get off that treadmill without having to bend my knees.    

But I made it and was able to slide off the treadmill and walk like Frankenstein over to a chair and sit down.

I got home and spent the day recovering, drinking lots of water and enjoyed a bottled margarita that I discovered in my refrigerator. To no surprise, I did have a nice nap after that.

It's now almost 10 p.m. and although I'm fatigued, I'm not in any distress, and I'm confident I'll live to see another day. My workout partner demanded that I stay home tomorrow and recuperate. 

Good idea...I will spend tomorrow doing my imitation of a potato.

Stay tuned...and have a great day...

Go me.


Monday, July 15, 2013

School Daze

In my previous blog entry, I mentioned that I was exercising again. In addition to that, I'm taking on an additional project this fall...I'm going back to college. With the economy the way it was and with the challenges that I had physically (making it difficult for me to get out and about), nothing was really happening with work opportunities. I had a couple of good possibilities but they didn't pan out, so I planned for college mostly as a contingency plan, in the event that the work opportunities didn't present themselves. And they didn't. So, it's off to school I go.

The thing that got me down this road was an impulsive decision at the beginning of this year, as I was filling out my daughter's financial application online. I got this idea that since it didn't really take a lot of time to fill out the application, I would fill one out for myself. I figured, "what the heck?"

I took about 15-20 minutes to fill out the financial paperwork (FAFSA application - any parent with college students knows what I'm talking about). I followed that up by getting online with the college to investigate the registration process. My daughter told me that I needed to apply for a student account with the college and then go from there.  The last time I did anything like this, I had to physically walk onto the campus and physically get the paperwork and mail it in.

It's so easy for kids these days.

So I created my college online account, and once I had that done, I checked out some classes and picked out those that would suit me fine, and put them on "wish list" type of section. Selecting classes is like shopping online, where you put your items in your shopping cart, but the difference is that the items you select may or may not be in stock when it comes time to paying.

I did all that was required of me at the time and then it was a matter of waiting for the college to get back with me to give me a date upon which to register. I was given a date of May 10, which was three months down the road. I thought this was fine, that I could register three months before school actually started, being proactive and all the fun stuff that goes with it, until my daughter told me that her registration date was a month earlier than mine. It turns out that returning students get the first pick of classes, and then returning students get the leftovers. I guess it's better than being a slacker. Slackers are those kids who drop out, or get a low GPA, and have to jump through a lot of hoops to get back into school. Colleges are a lot less lenient than they used to be when it comes to that kind of stuff.

So I waited. Thankfully, the day finally arrived and I went online to register. I felt like a 14-year-old girl trying to buy Justin Bieber concert tickets. The classes I picked were FULL.

Eventually, to my surprise, I was able to find some classes which were also simple classes, making it easy for me to ease into the college routine.

Since then, I've been on campus a couple of times to take care of paperwork and to take care of stuff that you need to do to get things in gear. It's a great feeling to be there. As I step on campus, the spirit of matriculation which permeates the air descends upon me, and I feel smarter.

I feel enthusiastic.

I feel hopeful.

And I feel old.

I feel this way when I meet some of the kids that are enrolling with me. Most of them have parents who were little kids when I started college the first time. What amazes me about these kids is how they can wake up in the morning without needing CPR to remind them how to breathe.

Is there something about this generation of young people who refuse to use their lips when they speak?

The other day, I stood in line with one of these students. His elevator obviously didn't ride all the way to the top. My new friend gave me his whole life story within fifteen minutes and was soon giving me pointers on dieting.

Yeah, that was fun.

I don't expect to see him in any of my classes.

I am starting to get excited, even though I couldn't say I was feeling that way a few weeks ago, until I watched a Tom Hanks movie, where his character loses his job and goes back to school and eventually hooks up with his teacher (Julia Roberts).

I really enjoyed this movie - not because he hooks up with Julia Roberts (although that would be pretty cool for most guys), but because it shows how starting over is nothing to be afraid of. In the movie, he learned some new things, made new friends, got a job that he could do well while he was in school, and yeah, the Julia Roberts thing.

It made me realize that in order for me to build a new life, I have to get rid of the crappy foundation upon which I've been trying to build my old life.

So, now that I'm almost as old as the school administration building was when I first started college, I say "here's to rebuilding."

I start August 12.

I wonder if they still sell Chick-O-Sticks at the student bookstore?

Stay tuned...and have a great day...

Go me.


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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Hope And Dishstress

I was just thinking about how I felt yesterday. I had a harder workout on Friday (two days ago) and thought I overdid it a little. But I woke up yesterday morning and felt pretty good. I decided to do the extra day for about 20 minutes on the treadmill (using a steeper incline, which is really helping my back), check my weight, and then float in the pool for about an hour.

After my 20 minutes, I could actually get off the treadmill without too much pain.

The scale needed to be double-checked: Another 7 pounds gone and now 57 pounds from where I started two years ago, and the lightest I've been in 12 years.

As I floated in the pool, it was the first time I've felt relaxed in quite a while.

Later that day, I was able to do the dishes and stack the dishwasher, although my wife said that can be my job from now on. So I'm still not sure about that victory...

But I am starting to feel a little hopeful, save for the dishstress.

Stay tuned...and have a great day...

Go me.


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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Back On The Conveyor Belt

I've been encouraged to keep on blogging, so I think a shorter narrative might be more favorable to read and I can sit here and put something down in a few minutes time.  

So what's new with me?  


I'm back on the treadmill once again.  I reinjured my back a few weeks ago, and was laid up for over a month.  But time heals, and I knew it was time to get back on the old conveyor belt.  

I've been at it for almost four weeks now...but this time I have an accountability partner.  I'm of the opinion that she likes killing me, but she says as long as I don't vomit, pass out or die, then I'm fine. How lucky am I?

I am, however, over the crying part.  It's a work in progress.

Stay tuned...and have a great day...

Go me.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Stepfather Knows Best

My stepfather Gery, an avionics engineer, overseeing a
Gulfstream II jet checkride over Texas, in 1978
It’s Father’s Day 2013…my 23rd, to be exact.  I became a dad in 1991, and I can’t imagine even having a life before that. Kids bring so much excitement and energy into your life, and not a day goes by that I give thanks to God for bringing my two daughters into this world.

And now, 22 years later, I sit here in an empty house, because the two little girls that I love so much are busy today with their own lives, and my wife is working this afternoon, probably trying to get ladies who are out shopping (leaving their husbands at home to watch golf) to buy their heroes a recliner.  Either way, it’s a good day to do some blogging.

Since it’s Father’s Day, this would be a good time to write about my dad, or one of my grandfathers, but I’m taking a different approach this afternoon.  No disrespect to my own father, though.  He has accomplished so much during his life, and still continues to achieve milestones at the ripe old age of 78, for which he turns today on this Father's Day, so before I continue, I just want to say Happy Birthday and Happy Father's Day to my dad!

However, the person who I want to write about is someone who is my other dad:  My stepfather Gery (yes, that’s how it’s spelled), who married my mother when I was a teenager.

To set the stage…when my parents divorced (when I was 10), my mother moved us all back to her hometown of San Antonio.  She was a dedicated mom, focused on raising me and my two brothers, and didn't have time for any other person in her life, dealing with the adjustment of a new life with three boys who were homesick for their own hometown.  Over time, she went out with a couple of gentlemen for a while, and they were both good men.  They were hard-working, educated, and were excellent dads to their own kids. My mom would have done okay had she married either one of them, but it was not to be as she was focused on raising her three boys.  Little did we know the best was yet to come.

After a few years of traveling back and forth between Texas and California, my brothers and I decided (convinced) to stay in California to finish our school. It was a difficult decision, but we believed (again, convinced) it was the best decision for us. I look back on it now, and wish that we stayed with our mom, but you can't go back and change the past, and the friendships we’ve made as a result of our decision are still there today, so I don't have too many regrets on that matter.  Had we stayed, she might have not given Gery the time of day.

Being free of three monkeys (or “house apes” as he affectionately called us), she now had the freedom to meet someone if she wanted.  She was of the mindset that didn’t really need anyone, and I think she believed that when she met Gery.  He had a different opinion, though.  He started "sniffing around" (as he likes to describe it) a couple of months after we moved to California. When my mother and I would talk on the phone, she wouldn’t say much about him at first, but then I started noticing that every time we talked, this Gery guy was there visiting. She was kind of vague at first, saying he was a “friend,” but it was apparent that she had a man in her life, and after a few more phone calls, she finally put him on the line.  It was kind of awkward for a teenager, but Gery didn't seem to mind.  I think he got a kick out of it. He also happened to be ten years younger than my mother, and ten years older than me, so he was still young enough to relate, and old enough to be responsible.  

The first thing I noticed was that he had this deep “Hello” when he spoke, but it was quickly apparent that he was totally at ease with conversing with us.  He chatted like he knew us for years, and we quickly learned that he was a really nice guy, and he really cared for my mother.  This went on for a couple of years, until one day when we received a Christmas card from them, and it said, “Merry Christmas…we got married!”  We were totally surprised, but we were happy for them and even though we had yet to meet Gery, we were confident that she made a good decision.

A few months later, Gery and my mother drove out to California for my high school graduation.  That’s when I met Gery for the first time. He was a long-haired, self-described redneck with a handlebar mustache,, with hazel eyes that twinkled when he smiled (and turned black when he was angry), and I knew right away what she saw in this guy.  We liked him from our conversations on the telephone, but we really liked him after meeting him.  They stayed in California for a week, and I made plans to see them the following Christmas.  I flew out to Texas that December and was in San Antonio for about three weeks, and got to know Gery well during this time.  We spent many nights talking about everything we could think of, and he shared stories with me that proved that he was a pretty normal guy growing up, in spite of the challenges he had with his dad(s).  It turned out that his own father died when he was young, and his mother was married a couple of times, with the third and final marriage to a career military man.

This military man (after some head-butting with a stubborn teenager) became the rock in Gery’s life.  He passed away before I had the chance to meet him, but I saw how much it broke Gery’s heart when it happened.

Another memorable moment during my Christmas trip came was when we stopped by his work, and he took us in to meet some of the guys in his department.  This is how we know that he considered us something special.  He introduced us to his coworkers as "my boys."   He barely knew us, yet was willing to call us as his own.

After the holidays, I came back to California but soon made a decision to move back to Texas within the next couple of months, and Gery was a big-time factor in my decision.  There were some job opportunities available and I wanted to take advantage of them, so it would require a big commitment on my part.  I was ready to jump at the chance, and I knew that with Gery around, I would be in good hands. Once again, upon arriving in Texas, there were more nights where he stayed up, talking with me until all hours of the night, and then going to work, with little or no sleep, and putting in a ten-hour day.

I lived with them for the next couple of years, until he and my mother left San Antonio for a job that he was offered in Southern California.  I learned how to become self-reliant thanks to him and I realized how much I was going miss him.  I decided to stay in San Antonio and get an apartment, and they moved about a month later.  The day before the move, they packed all their things into a moving van, vacated the house, and spent their last night in San Antonio at a nearby hotel. We spent the evening once again talking about things in general and what the future had to offer for all of us, and the only thing that kept Gery from staying up all night with me was that he had to to drive the next morning.  So we said our goodbyes outside the hotel room on the balcony, and I hugged my mom and told her much I loved her.  I then turned to Gary and when I saw that twinkle in his eye, I realized how much I was going to miss this guy.  I hugged him, and he hugged me back hard and "I love you and I'm proud of you."  He had poured so much of himself into me in the short time we had together, but it made the biggest difference in my life.

In January 1991, he called me; I thought it was odd that he would be calling, but my mother had been sick and it concerned me when I heard his voice.  In a broken voice, he told me my mother wasn’t doing well and that the doctors said she would be fortunate to make it past the springtime.  Not wanting to put any unnecessary burden on us, he didn't press the issue of me coming out to Texas until that time, but my brothers and I knew that time was of the essence and, hard as it was, we decided to go out there to spend some quality time with her before the end came. My brothers arrived on a Monday, and I arrived the following day.  We spent about an hour with her that day, and it was our last time together.  She went back to bed and went to sleep; Gery tended to her every need during that that time.  Little did we know that it was our last time with our mother.  For the next couple of days, he was at her bedside, waiting for the inevitable.  When she passed, he came out of the room with tears in his eyes, but with a small smile on his face as if to say “she's okay now,” and told me that she was gone.  It was difficult to watch him for the rest of the day because of the heartache he was going through, but after finally getting to bed and getting some much needed sleep (even if it was only about 3-4 hours), he was up the next day making arrangements for her funeral.

Gery made it out to California after my oldest daughter was born three months later, and that was the last time we physically saw each other.  We still talk on the phone regularly, although not as much as we should.  Each time, I have to make sure that I block out three or four hours to talk and to be near a electrical plug so I can keep my phone charged.  He’ll still stay up until 3 a.m. if I let him, and our conversations never end without saying “I love you.”

I’ve written so much…and it’s still not enough.  I can’t recall a bitter moment between the two of us. Sure, he can go into “dad-mode” and be irritating like dads can be, but I can’t recall a time where I’ve been mad at him.  If he has a fault, it’s that he tries to do too much, and that’s a good fault to have.  The times that we have spent together have been fantastic, and we've shared so many laughs over the years. And I'm a better man for having him in my life.

Happy Father's Day, Gery.  I love you.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Taking Heat in San Antonio

Sebastien De La Cruz
I am far from being politically correct.  In fact, I am more conservative than a lot of my friends and especially among people of my own ethnicity.  But there are some things that just rub me the wrong way and it should do the same to others.

Since my favorite professional basketball team is in "The Finals," as it is now known, synonymous with the Super Bowl and the World Series, I was naturally excited to see my team, the San Antonio Spurs, make it back home to face the Miami Heat in the third game of this series.  Living in Fresno, California, in the shadow of San Francisco Giants baseball and 49er football, I love to see the games broadcast from San Antonio because I consider San Antonio my second home.  I lived there for a few years as a boy and as a young adult, and have many fond memories of the Alamo City, along with its people and culture.

This evening, due to a last-minute scheduling issue with the original singer, a local boy was asked to fill in at the last minute to sing the National Anthem.  Sebastien de la Cruz is a 11-year-old who has already received national attention through his talent on a network television singing competition, and when asked to do this for the Spurs organization, he was more than happy to do so.

His talent:  He is a 11-year-old mariachi singer.

At the beginning of the game, there he was, in his mariachi outfit ready to belt it out, and he did very well, although he had a couple of rough patches patches where he changed key.  Coming from a music background, I tend to catch small details like that, but in fairness to him, it is very difficult to sing in an sports arena a capella, and I'm more than confident that he nails it when performing with the guitars, violins, and trumpets serenading behind him.   But a job well done, nevertheless.  I'll take him over the girl in Miami any day.

But Simon, Paula, and Randy could never be as tough on him as those who were critical in the cyberworld due to one issue:  His ethnicity - and his mariachi suit.

I'll save you the details, but the racial overtones directed at this young boy were beyond ludicrous.  The Twitter world was buzzing with so many racial slurs directed at this young boy.  This professional singer, however, takes it all in stride and his only concern is how exciting it was to be able to sing at Game 3.

What the heck is wrong with people?

Given it's current political climate, San Antonio would appear to be a politically correct city, so as to shove the Mexican culture down people's throats, as if to say, "Hey, look at us!  We're Mexicans and we live here too!"  The fact is that San Antonio's Mexican culture has always been synonymous with San Antonio and what it stands for.  It thrived in spite of a liberal or conservative climate.  San Antonio's people, like those in Texas, still have a sense of unity that has been in existence for almost 200 years, made famous at the Battle of The Alamo in its fight for Texas independence.  Many people fail to realize that the men who fought and died at the Alamo were not all rich white men with a lot to lose, but also Mexican and black men who chose to fight alongside them.  Many of the surrounding towns are named for Mexican patriots of Texas who have fought for Texas independence.  

Need more proof?  Try this for size.  The names of the four missions that were established there before the existence of any city are named:

Mission Concepcion (established as Misión Nuestra Señora de la Purísima Concepción de Acuña in 1716).
Mission Espada (established as Misión San Francisco de la Espada in 1690).
Mission San Jose (established as Misión San José y San Miguel de Aguayo in 1720).
Mission San Juan Capistrano (established originally as Misión San Jose de los Nazonis in 1716).

That's pretty Mexican if you ask me.

I loved living in San Antonio for not only the culture, but also the celebration of what San Antonio was all about.  Mexican restaurants, the River Walk, Fiesta Week, La Villita, the Hemisfair, along with mariachi, flamenco, and folklorio music were what gave me wonderful memories of what San Antonio was and is all about.  Country-Western muslc and Tex-Mex music was what I enjoyed as a young adult, and stopping at a barbacoa stand on the west side or a fish fry restaurant on the east side were all experiences that I can never forget. I can still taste barbecued brisket while drinking a Big Red soda as a kid (or Lone Star beer as an adult). Of course, going to an actual Spurs game at the old Hemisfair Arena as a 13-year-old was something I never forgot, and to this day I continue to cheer on my Spurs.

So, to those complaining about the little mariachi kid singing at an American basketball game:  Unless you live in San Antonio, stick it up your twitter hole.  You don't know a darn thing.

By the way, I failed to mention one thing...Darius Rucker, an African-American who sings country music, was supposed to originally sing the National Anthem.  What then?

Either way, San Antonio wins!  Nobody messes with Texas!  Go Spurs!

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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What Makes A Fan?

Great love between San Francisco's Juan Marichal and Los Angeles'
John Roseboro during a crucial series late into the 1965 MLB season,
where both teams were in the hunt for the National League Pennant
Roseboro was not hit with the bat, as it would appear here, but was
stumbling to the ground from being bumped into by another player. 
As we begin a second month of what will surely be an exciting baseball season (unless you're a Houston Astros fan), We are also taking this time to root for our favorite NBA basketball team as they advance to the NBA Finals (my team, the San Antonio Spurs, just swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round), and to cheer on our favorite hockey team as they march on toward the Stanley Cup (I'm not a huge hockey fan, but I do like the California teams, and the Montréal Canadiens are my sentimental favorite).

With the advent of social media, the passion that we exhibit for our respective teams overflows onto the Facebook walls of many others, including the smack talk, the insults, and the indisputable facts of why "my team is better than yours." The latest trend on the Internet is a familiar or funny photo with a funny caption, known as a "meme." While the actual meaning of a meme is different than what the photo is intended to do (a meme is an idea or concept that is circulated through large populations of people for the purpose of changing the mindset of a society or a select group of people), the ability for a fan to utilize these in order to trash talk about opposing teams is rapidly gaining popularity.

Whatever you utilize to poke fun at an opposing team, the results can be quite satisfying, especially when your rival team is mired in last place, or if they lose their best player for the year, or if they are just getting bad press, all those things just fuel the fire for trash talk. As an example, last year my favorite baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, lost one of their players due to failing a performance-enhancing drug test, who was leading the league in hitting, and won the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player trophy, and was on his way to potentially winning the league's Most Valuable Player trophy. Los Angeles Dodgers fans came out of the woodwork to harass us poor Giants fans about this guy, accusing him of eating "Cheaties," The Breakfast of Champions, with a "meme" of him on a re-done Wheaties box.

By the same token, the Dodgers had a player early in the season who was on fire, leading the league in hitting, homeruns, and was a virtual lock for the same trophy at the end of the year as the Giants player. That is, until he got hurt in the second month of the season. Needless to say Giants fans had their moment as well to needle Dodgers fans as well.

Things got really exciting in the middle of the season on the Dodgers spent hundreds of millions of dollars to acquire a handful players, with the expectation of them winning it all at the end of the season. The Giants, on the other hand, made a couple of trades with teams and wound up winning the World Series for the second time in three years, while the Dodgers entered their 25th season since their last World Series appearance. And to add the fuel to the trash fire, another Giants player won the league's Most Valuable Player award.

Needless to say, the trash talk was at full throttle at the end of the season, and then as quickly as it started, it died down. By this time, football season was upon us, followed by basketball and hockey season, and back to baseball. In fact, there is only one day a year where there is no news happening in the four "major" sports. It's usually the day after the MLB All-Star Game, when players travel back to their home cities to resume the remainder of the regular season. People often say "What about the day before the All-Star Fame?" Typically there are usually a home run derby competition or some sort of sports activities leading up to the All-Star Game, so that doesn't count. So, it leaves us with the remainder of the 364 days in the year (365 in an Olympic year), to create strategies to pummel our opponents with phrases, memes, statistics, and other types of weaponry to decimate our opponents with the ammunition needed to prove whose team is better.

Sadly, fan craziness tends to take different forms, and sometimes violent forms. Many know about the beating that the Brian Stow (a Giants fan) took last year at Dodger Stadium, and it caused such a stir among fans all over the country, reminding us that baseball is only a game.

As much as I "hate" the Dodgers, it is really a strong animosity that I have toward them. As much as I "hate" the Dallas Cowboys, it is really a desire to see them lose every game, rather than to see physical harm upon them. As much as I "hate" the Los Angeles Lakers, it is really a goal to see them out of the playoffs every year, which is difficult due to the tremendous talent pool that they have, and the notoriety they receive from it.

Are people idiots for loving the Dodgers, Cowboys, or the Lakers? Are people stupid for rooting for the Chicago Bears, or the New York Yankees, or even those poor Houston Astros? Are people who root for the Atlanta Braves, the New York Rangers, the Miami Heat, or any other powerhouse team smarter because their team wins?

The answer to those questions are an absolute "no!" We choose to align ourselves with teams because we know of a popular player, see a favorite color, live in the city in which the team plays, or in my case, when I saw my football team (49ers) on television and I thought they clobbered the Colts rather hard and liked them ever since. That was at a time when the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and the Dallas Cowboys were picking up new fans due to their success at the time.

People should become fans for whatever reason they choose. My son-in-law became a Jacksonville Jaguar fan because that was one of the first teams he remembers watching (the Jaguars are currently the worst team in the NFL… I have a lot of fun with him on this).

It should also be noted, that in all the years that I've supported the San Francisco Giants, the San Francisco 49ers, and the San Antonio Spurs, I have yet to receive a thank you card from either of those organizations thanking me for their support all these years. And people should remember that when they begin to think about using their fists to defend their teams "honor."

The truth is, if the Dodgers were to move to another city, I would be just as sad as LA fans. The rivalry between our teams, is a historical rivalry. It has given us many memorable moments throughout time, and we can be assured that it will continue to do so. I was sad for my brothers when the Los Angeles Rams left for St. Louis. It broke their hearts. As much as we enjoy needling each other with rude comments, funny jokes, during football season, we take the time to lift each other up when our team doesn't make it, as they did when the 49ers lost in the Super Bowl.

So in light of our efforts to razz our friends on the teams they choose, let us all be aware that friendships are first, teams are second. So, let's enjoy the game.

Play Ball!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Maddie Not Happy
We've been very blessed.  We had a dog who has been loved by us for almost 15 years.  We had so much fun with each other.  We've taken countless pictures of her and I don't think she could have asked for a better life.  She's gug holes in the backyard, eaten steak off my my plate when I wasn't looking, ran out the door and down the street, got in the trash, boot-scooted inappropriately, and mooched for food without any evidence of humility.  But I have been blessed.

We got Maddie when she was two months old, from a lady who hosted a bible study we attended.  Two months earlier, her dog had four or five puppies and we were able to see them when they were first born.  Maddie was the only brown one, and my girls asked if they could have her.  They didn't ask me of course, but plans were already in motion.

Cuddling with Lindsey
The night we brother her home, she was kind of listless and lethargic.  My neighbor said that it was something to be concerned about as puppies tend to get sick with all those horrible diseases that puppies have to endure.  We hoped that wasn't the case, but for about three days, she had us wondering.  The only activity she really offered was whining in the middle of the night in the backroom where she slept, but we kept the light on for her, so she wouldn't be scared.

But after three days...

This dog figured out that she was home and quickly became the center of attention.  She was the center of my daughter's attention, at least.  I wasn't totally sold on the idea of having a dog, but I gradually warmed to the idea.

Playing Dress-Up
My girls dressed her up in shirts and skirts, hats, glasses...anything that wouldn't fall off.  I can't count the number of bows that were placed on her head.  In the mornings, she would run from her sleeping area, jump on the bed and lick me to death.  I called it, "Doggie Love" and would sing "Doggie Love" to her to the tune of "Baby Love."  Yeah, that's corny.  I don't even know why I put that out there for all to see.  But, it just shows that she was a happy dog and she fit right in with this family.

Drama Queen
As my girls got older, they tended to lose some interest in Maddie, as boys started coming into the picture, but even the boyfriends loved Maddie as well. In spite of all the girl stuff that came along with getting older, they still spent time with her, and kept on loving her as before.  They gave her a lot of attention, more so than other teenagers.  Whenever they would tan out in the backyard, they would have her out there with them.  When they learned to drive, they would take her in the car for a ride.  My wife and I became more patient with her, as she slept more and didn't get into so much trouble.  We also learned that by calling her lovingly and not yelling at her for running out the front door, she was a lot more responsive to coming back, and it was always more of a funny experience than a frustrating event.  Even in her last days, she would try to get out the front gate.

Her life was filled with love, treats, pictures, squeaky balls, stuff animals, and all the things that a dog could hope for.

Maddie with Kellie
Her last few days were spent in comfort, and my youngest daughter spent a lot of time with her, carrying her to her bedroom and snuggling on her bed, as well as spending time with her outside the last day.  When she stopped drinking water, we knew it was a matter of time.  Last night, I hit the gym early, because I wanted to be here at the house when she passed.  My daughters came by the gym (I keep my phone in the locker) while I was winding down and told me she had passed fifteen minutes earlier.

I went back to the house as quickly as I could, and I could see her in the window where she always greeted me when I came home, except she was gone.  She was laying on her bed, as still as I have ever seen her before.  I walked in, and immediately got down on the floor and I laid there with her, just one last time to say goodbye.  To say I wasn't crying would be a lie.

Mom Thwarting Her Escape
What's remarkable about this wonderful dog is that she was part of my daughters' foundation, from their childhood to adulthood.  My daughters were 4 and 7 when we brought Maddie home and now they're 19 and 22.  When I was a kid, I had numerous dogs, and while I remember certain things about them, I can't remember personalities or quirky behaviors that are ingrained in my daughters' memories such as their memories of Maddie.  They will have stories about her to share with their children, and with their grandchildren.  They will share how much they loved her and how much love she gave to them.  It's a love story like no other.

I find that writing is a great way to reduce stress as well as counter grief.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't grieving today.  My blog today is from a letter that I wrote a few weeks ago as she was declining.  It was summarized as "if Maddie could write" and what she would have to say to us, as follows:

"If my family could hear me speak, I would tell them: Don’t be sad, because whatever spirit God gave me will remain in your hearts, as my love for you is too much.  They say that all dogs go to Heaven, and I’m hoping that’s true.  If it is, I will be waiting for you with my tail wagging and a squeaky ball in front of me so that we can play forever and ever.  

I have been blessed.  

There are no words to describe how much I love all of you, except that I love all of you so very much.  Thank you for the most wonderful life any dog could have.

Maddie Dog"  

No, Maddie, it is all of us who have been blessed, and while it's not written in the Bible, I do have a hope that all dogs do go to Heaven, and that we'll have a chance to see you once again.

Goodbye old girl...I love you.

Maddie Dog (1998-2013)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Discipline Helps

I have to say it's been pretty simple so far this month.  So far I'm down 13 pounds since I started at the first of this month (April).  Unfortunately I'm having to lost back 13 of 19 pounds that I regained when I was off my exercise regimen.  Last fall, I was able to get down to under 450 pounds, all the way to 447 pounds, which was the 50-pound mark for me.  

Just to recap, I started in June 2011 at 500 pounds (at least); by working on my diet for a month before being talked into a gym membership.  I was off to a good start, then regressed due to injury.  I was down to about 460 pounds when I first injured myself, but I was fortunately able to maintain that weight for the nine months I was down.  When I started back again in July 2012 (a year after originally starting) I found myself having difficulty with the treadmill due to pain, so I started working out in the pool.  It's helped a lot, but it hasn't done much in relieving the pain.  I took some time off in the end of 2012, and was hit and miss until March, when I started getting more consistent.  During that time I hit that 50-pound mark and dropped down to 447 pounds; however, I gained back 19 of those pounds and wound up at 466 pounds at the end of March.   

I became more dedicated this month, watching calories and being faithful in getting exercise.  It's helped.
My goal is 22 pounds for the month; that'll put me at 444 pounds.  I'm 9 pounds away as I write this, and I'm confident that I'll reach it.

Here is a heads-up on some goal-setting that I'm doing, and my putting the numbers in perspective:

For April (as mentioned) my goal is 22 pounds, which will put me at 444 pounds, which is the lowest I've been in at least six years, when I was down to 442 pounds.  

For May, My goal is 23 pounds, which will put me at 419 pounds, the lowest I've been since 2001, when I was down to 415 pounds.  

For June, my goal is 20 pounds, which will put me at 399 pounds.  What makes this goal special is that my 18-year-old daughter, Kellie, has never known me to be less than 400 pounds.  So, this goal is for her, and it's emotional for me, even as I write this.  By the way, it'll also mark 100 pounds since I began.  Two years and 100 pounds.  Not a bad result.        

For July, my goal is 23 pounds, which will put me at 376 pounds, which is where I'll need to be to be able to take classes in the fall (I'll need to be able to move around between classes and sit in a desk).  

And for August, my goal is 22 pounds, and that will put me at 355 pounds.  This goal is for my oldest daughter.  My 22-year-old daughter, Lindsey, has never known me below 360 pounds.  Plus, this goal will put me near the 150-pound mark since starting, but, more importantly 100 pounds lost since I became dedicated to this in April.  It seems like a lot, but it's really simple to lose this much weight in such a short time span, especially weighing as much as I do. 

I have goals for the last four months of the year, but I'll wait until the summer to see what's realistic at that time, as rapid weight loss doesn't happen for a prolonged period of time.  

I credit four things which have helped:

1.  Desire.  I was tired of feeling this way once and for all.
2.  Simplicity.  Calorie counting is easy with the right tools.
3.  Understanding.  Through documenting all that I eat, I can see how easy it is to eat too many calories.
4.  MyFitnessPal.  My phone app which has really allowed me to keep track of what I'm doing.  

So, I write these down and put myself out there in the open for all to see.  Maybe I can inspire someone.   


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

My Fitness Pal

You'll see down below that I'm still hovering at the point where I was a few months ago, when I hit the 50 mark, and have gone off track for a bit, as the holidays and other distractions (along with pain issues) has kept me from the gym for awhile.  Since the first of the year, I've been hit and miss, and while that's been frustrating, it hasn't been as frustrating as the disappointments that I've encountered, mostly due to my weight issues.  I had a few chances at some jobs, but none had developed, and it was mentioned to me that people really wouldn't take a serious look at someone my size.  In fact, it had been mentioned to me that this is probably the reason I'm not chosen for a lot of jobs or activities that could use the talents that I have, whether in work or ministry.

After going through the darkness of discouragement for a few days, and growing tired of staying in bed until noon, I started to look more seriously at what I was doing to tackle this monster.  Everyone had advice for me, such as eating soup all the time, or fasting two days a week (a new fad apparently), or exercising two hours a day (i.e. Biggest Loser workouts), or one of these other new diets that come along and are featured on the morning talk shows, the same one that features topics like Al Roker pooping his pants at the White House.

One of things I decided to do was go back to choir and rehearse on Wednesday evenings.  The week before, I stopped by our music ministry office and talked to my friend who works in the department to see about just showing up on Wednesdays even though I'm unable to stand for any length of time on Sundays.  When I saw her (I hadn't seen her in awhile) she looked fantastic, and I asked her what she had been up to.  I knew she was doing some bike riding, and I wondered if that was it.  To my surprise, she said all she did was count calories.

Duh.  That's a new one.  But an easy one.

So, with the help of technology and good old fashion goal setting, I once again started on my journey, this time of exercise and counting calories (to the exact calorie).  Since the beginning of April, I have lost 9 pounds and it's been easy.  A few months earlier, I downloaded a "MyFitnessPal" app onto my phone, which enables me to keep a running log of my meals and calorie limit for the day.  So far, I'm limited to 2720 calories a day, which is quite generous and will allow me to lose 2 pounds a week if I do nothing but stick to the daily limit.  My target is 2000 calories for the day, but 2500 calories if I goof up.

And I have goofed up already.  But it works.

I make sure I back it up with exercise, and so I've been hitting the pool daily so far.  The weekends are free for me to take it easy from working out, as the pool at my gym is open for families and it's difficult to swim laps when water weenies and Styrofoam dumbbells are being thrown by unruly children who have parents without stones when it comes to disciplining them.  But I'll try something different on the weekends or just take a break altogether.

So I continue on with the's a long trip, one that I started about 20 months ago taking three steps forward and two steps back, but now I'm more inclined to take a few more steps forward than backward.  Ultimately I'll make it.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013


In blogging, I got off to such a good start, but as time goes on, other things tend to take priority, so I take this time to get back on purpose.  I will be compiling "lessons" as I go through the day or week, and will continue to make regular postings on what I'm discovering as I move through this journey.  I'm finding it difficult to categorize everything and finding the time to cover it all.  I've come to realize that a good blog is going to capture one thing, which is the essence (good word, huh?) of what the author is all about.

So, I'm sort of moving aside (although I haven't discarded it) the Plain Brown Rapper moniker, and keeping it more in line with me and who I am, John Flores.  I can only wear one hat...well four, if you count my favorite sports teams, but one when it comes to blogging.

It's very easy to get down on myself and become my most "mentally vocal" critic, but that is exactly the time when I need to get up and keep moving on.  That, or eat donuts.  Personally, I prefer eating donuts, but that won't work very well for my future.

So I'm combining the personal, professional, spiritual, nutritional, and all the other "als" into my PBR blog, which will include my Company Si blogs, my devotional material, weight loss, insights for living, recipes for ice cubes, donuts, and pictures of my dog on this blog.  There are so many how-to blogs, but there's only one blog site that can only talk about what it's like to be ME.  The jury is still out on whether that's such a good thing, but it'll help keep the stress down.  Although, it's not the stress that'll kill us, but how we react to the stress.  See, we learned something already!

Have a great day!


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