Resolving to Revolutionize My Life

WWLHappy New Year!  This is it.  This is the one.  This is the year when everything changes:  You will make and save more money than ever before.  You will loose those last (or first) ten pounds.  You will find a meaningful hobby.  You will volunteer in a way that changes lives.  You will fix up the house, get a new wardrobe and read War & Peace.

This is the year that you climb the mountain of apathy, plant the flag of determination and take the stance of self-assurance.

This is your year and nothing will change your mind.  You will set your sail, stay the course and find new adventures over every horizon.

Or…you won’t.  You might just stay the same…or worse.

You might make less money and spend it foolishly.  You might blow up like a human balloon because you can’t control your eating and your emotions.  You might live a year of sloth; no hobby, no meaningful service, or no home repairs.  You just might sit around in Cheetos-stained t-shirts watching reruns of Happy Days wishing you were as cool as the Fonz.

Instead of blazing new trails, you are afraid to mow your own yard.  Instead of leading the charge into a life of adventure, you cuddle under your Harry Potter Snuggie in the dark of night.

This is it.  This is your year.  And it could go either way.  Which one will you select?

Day 191 – A Little More Info

2013.08.31 SaturdayI posted earlier today about falling behind and now I want to add some more info about my day.

This day was amazing.  We spent the day doing our usual Saturday stuff and decided going to church in the afternoon would be a good idea.

But before we left for the service, out of the blue, I strapped on my tennis shoes and my headphones and went for a run.  I haven’t hit the pavements for quite a while.  In fact, it was before we went to Colorado.  But while we were there, my friend Dan taught me about the Zen of running.

So, I decided to give it a try.  I didn’t break any land-speed-records but I did run 3.58 miles on one of the hottest days of the summer.  It felt great!

After a cool shower, we loaded the car and made our way to church where, as usual, we were touched by the content, moved by the music and challenged by the message.

Now that we are empty-nesting, we don’t have any more obligations at home so we went from church to the movie theater where we watched “The Butler”.  WOW.  I’ll say it again, WOW!  This movie is so deep with talent and the story line is so rich.  Think, FOREST GUMP meets THE HELP…only better on both counts.

It was a great day.  I ate well (not meaning that I stuffed myself but that I made good choices) and increasing my Niacin and Fish Oil.  Combine that with my running and I’ll have my cholesterol under control within a week or two!

Day 105 – A Week Nearly Over

Keeping a smile on my face as I prepare to hook up another sleep study in a far-off location.
Keeping a smile on my face as I prepare to hook up another sleep study in a far-off location.

My day took me as far southeast as Greensburg and as far northwest as Lebanon.  I started the day with a home visit and ended the day with a sleep study in the patient’s home.

I figure I’ve hooked up more than 200 sleep studies over the course of the past four years.  That’s a lot of sleep studies, a lot of home visits, a lot of second hand cigarette smoke, and a lot of travel.

I don’t mind it too much, really.  It gives me a chance to meet people where they live and I nearly always get to watch TV while we hook the patient to the equipment.  And it’s rarely the same viewing from house to house.

I’ve seen everything from Ice Road Truckers to slasher films.  I’ve been challenged by Jeopardy and nauseated by MTV.  I’ve watched late-breaking news and Entertainment Tonight.

Once in a while, the TV watching is interrupted by a family pet or child.  Several times I’ve had to concentrate on my work while the patient’s dog (s) bark at full volume at my ankles during the entire procedure.  Other times, I have to shoo cats away from my equipment.  Children pull wires, ask questions and hover.  I’ve had to feed one child because he wanted more Gold Fish and hot dogs but mom was mid-hook-up.  I’ve been sniffed by dozens of dogs and only bitten by one cat.

Sometimes we don’t get to watch TV because they don’t have TV’s…Or furniture for that matter.  In fact, there was one patient who had nothing more than a single light bulb and an over-stuffed chair in their home and we completed the study by the equivalent of candlelight.

What makes it worse is if the study didn’t work the first time (wires come loose, equipment is removed by the patient, or some other disruption occurs).  Then I have to go back and do it all over again another night.  For instance, tonight’s study is a repeat because the patient removed the blood oxygen monitor from their finger, making it impossible to know if their apnea resulted in desaturations.

My work is a challenge and difficult to put into words on a resume.  It’s something I never thought I would be doing 15 years ago.  And it is certainly something I hope I won’t be doing 15 years from now!

Day 62 – Another Frosty Start

2013.04.24Every time I think about my Journey to 50 and my slow going, I simply remember my garden to re-assure myself.

Seeds and bulbs are planted.  New growth is beginning to show.  The green leaves and colorful flowers are peaking out.  It looks like it is almost time to bloom.

And then the frost hits.  Something cold and unplanned stunts their progress.  They don’t stop growing but they slow down their Journey to full bloom.

I’m getting there but I’m not there yet.  I’m walking.  I’m mowing.  I’m eating less and meditating more.  I’m finding positivity in all things and fretting less.  I’m reading pages and striding miles.

I won’t let a little cold air stop the journey.  Neither should you!

Day 60 – Monday, Monday, Monday

2013.04.22Some days are very productive.

This wasn’t one of those days.  But that doesn’t mean the day was bad.  It just wasn’t perfect.  In fact, when I think about it, the day was better than good.  The day was GREAT!

It started slow with our monthly meeting with our financial adviser who helped us learn about all the money we don’t have.  Next, I went to my first home visit where the patient decided he didn’t want a visit after all.  I suspected my day might be one of THOSE Mondays.

Thankfully, the day got better.  I had a great lunch with my friends/co-workers, got some good file work done and completed another home visit later in the evening.

At 7:30 I was on my way north and enjoying the fantastic weather.

Now I’m ready for bed.  But first, being true to my Journey, I willl drink three glasses of water, do 10 sit ups, 10 push ups and get in a good 15 minutes of meditation before I hit the hay.  That’s a good way to end a great day!

Day 48 – Man’s Best Friend

2013.04.10My dog gives me joy.  She doesn’t care if I’m overweight.  She doesn’t flinch when I’m grouchy.  She doesn’t judge when I make the wrong decisions.

My dog loves me for who I am.

She’s been a part of my life for four years now and finally, and very thankfully, she is able to sit quietly at my feet without crazy-making.  She licks less and loves more.  She twitches when she sleeps.  She desires nothing more than to be with me, whether dreaming or awake.

I’m trying to take a lesson from her.  My life should be one of loyalty to others, without judgement.

My life should reflect the very best of others.

But most of all, I thinks she’s teaching me that I should nap more…Yes.  That’s it.  A nap is the perfect lesson.

Now where is my floor pillow?

Day 38 – We Haven’t Changed A Bit

Lynn and I enjoy time together before Easter lunch.
Enjoying Easter with Lynn and Wendy.

We had a great day today.  Easter worship in Katy, Texas.  Lunch with my old friends, Lynn and Wendy.  Fun the boys and a super night’s sleep.

This trip is already shaping up to be a great experience.  Lynn and I worked together for a few years beginning in 1987.  We enjoyed one another 26 years ago and after only a few hours together this weekend, I realized why.

Lynn is brilliant, funny, and loving.  He might have more gray hair and a few extra wrinkles but he’s the same wonderful person today as he was nearly three decades ago.

Another wonderful day spent with my boys and my friends.  The journey can’t get any better.

Day 37 – My Traveling Buddies

2013.03.30Elliott and Ben will be with me for the next eight days as we travel to Texas and back.

We’re going to see things.  We’re going to do things.  We’re going to make the most of every moment; even if that means taking a nap in the middle of the day.

Spring break.  Senior year.  Finding friends.  Having fun.  Making the most of the journey.  Talking about girls, computers, video games.

I imagine I’ll cherish these moments with my youngest son and I hope he cherishes them, too.

A once in a lifetime trip.

Day 34 – Getting Ready for Taste

2013.03.27Our garden, though frozen solid, is doing quite well in the windows of our home.

My wife is planning ahead. She is taking the time to plant seeds, water the plants, and prepare for a bountiful harvest later this summer.

Do we have tilled soil now?  No.

Do we have red, ripe tomatoes now?  Of course not.

Do we enjoy fresh produce on our table in March?  I wish.

The point isn’t that we have it now.  The point is that we are preparing for the future.

I’m working on losing 1/2 pound a week to prepare for my future.  I want to be fit, not because it serves me right this minute but because I will reap the benefits for years to come.

My body will enjoy the benefits of the change but it will take time.  What I eat today prepares me for what I will be later.

How I move this morning will result in a change down the road.

We do things today and sometimes we enjoy the benefits immediately.  But more often than not, our actions today are preparing us for the future.

Some day this summer I’ll pick a red, ripe tomato from the vine.  But that day will never come if we don’t tend the garden today.

Day 29 – Smart People

2013.03.22I’ve had a great privilege of working with really smart people.  It makes going to work every day a joy.

Today was a great opportunity to set around the table with a dozen brilliant scientists, statisticians, and researchers.  We discussed a new research study, the details of the science, and the action that will need to take place to make it a reality.

The meeting only lasted 55 minutes but it set a fantastic tone for the next two-and-a-half years of research.

I’ve never been known as a bright man.  It’s true.

Funny? Yes.  Sincere?  Usually.  Loving and honest?  Always.  A man of science?  Never.  But surrounded by these men and women of studies and science, these amazing people of knowledge and training, gives me a sense of pride.

The journey through this next year will require diet changes, increased activity, renewed spirit and energy and an effort to surround myself with brilliant people.  Perhaps a little of their smartness will rub off on me.

Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?

Day 26 – Oh, To Be Young Again

2013.03.19My son and his singing group were honored tonight by the school board.  They received a gold at the state choral ensemble competition and they earned the praise.  It really was quite an accomplishment, especially since this was their first year as a group.

My son’s outfit was the perfect choice for the award.  It was also appropriate for the Madrigal singing group, of which he is a part.  He loved the outfit and even said that he was sad to have to turn it in.  You could tell, it fit his youthful mindset and his inner personality.

But watching him strut around in the velour robe and high-top boots reminded me of something I’ve forgotten over the years:  Sometimes it’s good to swagger.

After all, we were born to be Kings and Queens.

But somewhere along the way, life becomes burdensome, our memories become hazy, and our royal demeanor diminishes.

Over the decades we allow mortgages, car loans, countless hours of work, home repairs, and medical bills to distract us from our true calling.  We carry responsibilities that are too heavy and mundane and in the process, our shoulders sag under the weight.

But in truth, we were made to live larger.  We were designed to rule our lives, rather than allowing our lives to rule us.

Unfortunately, we’ve forgotten to wear the cape.  We’ve failed to lace up the gauntlets.  We no longer think to tighten the belt another notch and move forward with purpose.  We’ve forgotten that we are royalty; rulers of our own land and throne.  We have abdicated our position to the cares of this world and the search for riches and treasure.  We have failed to pursue the grand adventure that awaits us all.  We’ve forgotten that we must throw off the shackles that bind us and rush forth as one with authority and power.

After watching my son tonight, I desired nothing more than to lay aside my burdens and walk with pride and purpose, as is my royal privilege.  And, by Jove, I intend to do so!

Now, where did I put my crown and sword?

Day 25 – Image Problems

2013.03.18My dog seems to have a problem with her image.  She’s been spending a little more time with her head in a corner.

Perhaps it has something to do with her recent weight gain or her non-stop licking.  Either way, I feel for her.

There are days when I’m not too proud of myself and wish I could join her in the 90 degree space.

For instance, I started my day with a healthy breakfast of Schwan’s chicken pot pie.  In the interest of full disclosure, I should report that I had two pot pies.

I know…I know…corner of shame.

But one just isn’t big enough and two are just right.  Who would have guessed that they totaled to 1300 calories!?

But the rest of the day I was pretty good and even though I’m 25 days into my year, this was only the second time that I was over my calorie target.  So it might be better to leave the dog in the corner by herself and go for a walk, with my head held high!


Day 16 – Early Mornings are Killing Me

2013.03.09Can I just ask if anyone else has to get up at 3:30 in the morning on a Saturday to take their son to the school for a choir competition?

How am I suppose to exercise when I’m exhausted? How can I focus on my diet when I can’t even focus on the spoon in my hand?

And why does the school insist on torturing both parents and students with these events?

Day 12 – New Moon Rising

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere’s the bottom line…Here’s the truth.

This is a new life.  This is a new approach for me.  I’m not thinking short gains.  I’m not thinking quick loss.  I’m not worried about buying new outfits and getting my tan on.

I’m fat now and that won’t change too soon.  I know that.  I get it.

But my journey is just starting.  The plan isn’t to chop off massive pounds.  I’ll take off a little at a time.  I’ll lose a few pounds a month.

I’ve given up the fads and am changing my life…one day at a time.

Day 8 – No Bread for You

2013.03.01I must admit that I’m a sucker for a good fruit cake.  I know, the brick-heavy, fruit bomb is not exactly high on the best-food list.  But there is something about all that dried fruit that gets me every time.

So I tried a recipe.

And it failed.  Disgustingly, shockingly bad.  Horrendous.

I’m guessing if I stick to a diet of water and this version of fruit cake, I’ll lose my goal weight in a matter of days.

The opinion was unanimous:  Don’t taste it, just trash it.

I’ll stick to my fruit in a more wholesome method in days to come.

I walked 20 minutes and kept my calories below my goal.  Another good day!

Day 7 – Chips, Please

2013.02.28This was a long day.  It started early in the morning with a conference that lasted the entire work day.  I drove to the church to run some lines for a short film I’m helping with and the day ended with a fun dinner with a friend.

Note:  Chips and Salsa are not bad for the diet.  Mushroom Quesadilla is not great for the diet.  TWO Mushroom Quesadillas are BAD for the diet.  Especially when they have so much salt!

Because I spent the day in a conference and the evening in practice, I didn’t get any more than 20 minutes of walking in today but that will improve, especially if I want to burn off the my beer.

Day 6 – Homecoming

2013.02.27After a month abroad, my daughter is home.  After picking her up from the airport, we stopped at Steak ‘n’ Shake for dinner.

She downed a cheese burger and fries.  I limited my intake to a serving of fries (400 cal), some cold slaw and baked beans.  I even had the will power to avoid the milk shake that was calling my name from the kitchen.

No walking today but my calorie count was down so I call this a good day.

Day 5 – Down the Pounds

Enjoying a very fine wine in celebration of my progress.
Enjoying a very fine wine in celebration of my progress.

I know I promised not to weigh myself until Fridays but I’ve felt pretty good and thought I’d just check on my progress.  I’m down two pounds!  208 lbs as of this morning.  I’ll take that every time.

And, yes, I know that the first ten pounds come of the easiest. I’m not kidding myself but I’ll take any success I can get.

The true secret is tracking my calories and eating better.

Here’s the shocker:  Yesterday, during a meeting at Paradise Bakery, I helped myself to a Peanut Butter Cookie.  Prior to this, I’d eaten a breakfast of on egg, polenta, and one slice of toast with home-made jelly (300 calories).  But that one cookie was 350 calories!!  One decision doubled my calories and it was only nine o’clock!

And that was the lesson.  Today, despite candy down the hall and evil Girl Scout cookies in the break room, I resisted and was thrilled.  At the end of the day, I still had over 800 calories before I topped my goal.  But I’m stuffed.  I age roasted vegetables and a fantastic fruit salad for supper with some apple-smoked cheese and a very nice Cabernet.

Five days in, two pounds down, and looking forward to Day 6!


Day 3 – Garbage In…

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Second stop: My neighborhood Kroger!

It’s Sunday and for my family that means two things:  1.  Drop the kids off at church so they can help with the Special Friends (kids with disabilities), and 2.  Shopping while we wait for the kids to be done.

Before you go all “They just drop their kids off at church!“, let me explain that we usually go to the Saturday night service at our church.  But the kids have volunteered to help with the larger crowd on Sunday.  See?  We are religious AND pious.

Back to the story.  When we shop, we often think about what we need to make healthy meals.  Unfortunately, when we get to the store we often buy things because they look and taste better.  The end result is that we often end up with too many chips, too much soda, and too many excuses to eat wrong.

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Which rice is the best rice?

But today was different.  Today, I took stock of our pantry.  I made my list of meals for the week and cross-checked this with the supplies on hand.  Fruit?  Check.  Beans?  Double-Check.  Rice?  Triple-Check.  Vege’s?  Plenty.  Mushrooms?  Never enough…And so it went.

So I find myself in the store and am faced with the difficult dilemma of deciding between good food and bad food.  Sure, I made a meal plan.  Of course, I made a list.  But look at all those options!  Can’t you hear the Doritos calling my name?

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Piles and Miles of Peppers!

But, in the end I emerged victorious.  Just like I did yesterday.

Yesterday was a good day (okay, it was only day number two and I had no where else to go but up after day number one) and I’m proud.  We walked 35 minutes at a VERY brisk rate…probably because it was very brisk outside.  I stayed under my calorie goal by more than 200 calories.  And we went to church because I’m so very religious.  I was triple blessed.

Yep, yesterday was good and today promises to be even better!

Now it’s time for that walk!

Day 1 – Setting The Goals

February 22, 2013 “Head Shot”

I turn 49 years old today.  It’s a good time for reflection and looking back over the years, I’ve made many good decisions:  My marriage, my children, my friendships, my writing.  These things make my life rich and joyful on a daily basis.

But I’ve also made several bad decisions:  My diet, my activity level, and my sedentary life-style (I like TV, okay?).  These things have reduced my enjoyment of life and, more importantly, resulted in an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and Alzheimer’s in my later years.

And so, as I get one year closer to my 50th birthday (and those later years of life), I’ve decided it is time for a change in those things I regret.  It’s time to plan for my future, rather than just live for the present.

Starting today, I will do some things a little different:

1.  I will reduce my weight from a current 210 lbs to 185 lbs before my 50th birthday.  Of course, this will require two actions on my part.  First, I will reduce the number of calories and increase the quality of calories that I take into my body.  To accomplish this, I will track my food using a web-based and phone friendly app called “My Fitness Pal”.  I will also switch to a Whole Foods diet that is meat and cheese free.  I will reduce my serving sizes and eliminate alcohol and caffeine from my diet.  This last part will take a little time but the entire experience is a journey so that is no problem.  The second aspect of this weight change will be an increase in exercise.   I’ll start by moving 45 minutes, 5 times a week.  That might be a stationary bike or a brisk walk with my dog.  Some form of movement will take place…whether I feel like it or not.

2.  I will increase my fitness level from ZERO activity now to completing a marathon by the Spring of 2014.  I currently have a fasting Cholesterol level of over 350 and rising blood pressure.  I jiggle when I move (which is why I don’t care to move too much).  But this will change, starting today.  As mentioned above, I will begin with moving 45 minutes, 5 times a week.  As warmer weather rolls around, I’m going to take my activity to the streets and start running.  I’ve completed one 5K race a few years ago and there was a certain “high” in preparing for the race.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t as prepared as I needed to be and received an injury when I tried to keep up with the Yuppies pushing strollers.  This time, it will be different.  This year I will work slowly, train smart, and compete responsibly.  I will complete several 5K races and a half-marathon or two.  My training will be designed to get me to that final goal of a Marathon in 2014.

3.  I will hike the KT trail in 2014.  The Knobstone Trail is Indiana’s easy version of the Appalachian Trail.  The KT travels more than 58 miles through beautiful Indiana forests and offers a hiker a challenge without the deadly altitudes of the Rocky Mountains.  I’ll spend weekends of 2013 getting familiar with the sections and prepare for a 6-day trip in the spring of 2014.  Of course, the ultimate goal is to get back to the Appalachian Trail and go further than the 4-5 miles we accomplished our first time out.

In short, this will be a challenging year.  I’ll document my successes and failures of these three goals here on this site but I’ll also continue to write for my other blogs.  I will continue to read as many books as possible and spend as much time as I can with the family and friends that I love so much.

I will take a daily picture of myself and post them here but will only weigh myself on Fridays.  Blood pressure and pulse measurements will be regular.  Cholesterol and other lab word will be conducted every 3-6 months.  You’ll see my progress and I encourage you to cheer me along my path.

My 49th year will be one of my best yet.  There’s no doubt about it!