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.