Monday, June 23, 2014

The Great Saunders Health Quest - Week 17

I didn't realize how long it had been since I posted.  Shame on me.

40 pounds down!  I'm pretty sure this puts me back to my weight when we got married, or at least soon after.  I'm also back to 34 inch pants, which I haven't been in since college.  Oh, this happened:

That felt good...not for the belt.

Eating so much lighter has become almost routine for us.  Well, that was until myfitnesspal cut me down to 1300 calories a day on non-exercise days.  I'm amazed how quickly they can add up.

Especially on Father's Day...I did not stay within the 1300.

Two weeks ago, I started jogging on my lunch breaks three days a week.  It's been interesting.  After the first day, I was sore from my ankles to my shoulders.  Seriously.  I've pressed on, though.  Actually, today I jogged a full mile before needing to walk.  I think the last time I jogged that far I was still in high school.

I ordered the above shirt from to jog in.  It just seems so very appropriate.

I still have 20 pounds to go to meet my initial goal of 170, though my doctor says 175 would be where I need to be.  I'm sticking with mine.

Start Date: 3/2/14
Days in: 120
Current weight:  189
Pounds lost: 41
Waist: 34
Attitude: stubborn
Activity level: eh, pretty good

Friday, May 16, 2014

A1V Devotional: Listen to The Coach

One of my boys' Mother's Day presents to my wife was a new movie, Mercy Rule.

You may or may not have heard of it.  Kirk and Chelsea Cameron are both in it, along with Christian comedian Tim Hawkins.  Kirk and Tim play John and Ben Miller, brothers overseeing their father's scrapping business who are about to have a load of trouble to deal with.  The other storyline running throughout is John's son, Cody, in his little league baseball struggles.  Of all the characters in it, my favorite has to be the boy's baseball coach.  Played by Bas Rutten (the MMA fighter), he teaches Cody how to be truly valuable to the team. 

During one game, he makes a long throw from right field to home plate, trying to stop a run from getting in.  The catcher is out of position, and completely misses the ball, allowing the run.  In his frustration, Cody throws his mitt to the ground, pitching a fit in right field.  He then finds himself benched.  That night, he hops on his bike and visits his coach at home, hoping to find out why he won't let him pitch.

He finds his Coach having a bad night, as he has just burned dinner, and already received 3 calls from other players' parents wanting him to treat their kids differently.  But, Coach respects Cody for coming in person, and agrees to hear him out.  Cody is surprised to learn that the reason he is warming the bench isn't because he pitched a fit on the field, but because he threw the ball in the first place.

"I shouldn't have thrown my glove in the outfield when Stevie didn't cover home."

"No.  You shouldn't have thrown the ball."

"What?  Why not?  The runner was rounding third.  I knew I could get it there."

"Yeah, you knew you could get it there, but you also knew Stevie wasn't there."

"Yeah, but..."

"A good player is like a good brother.  He gets your back when you screw up.  He's out there, making everyone around him better: saving butts, covering for mistakes, coming through when every other kid in a matching lid is depending on him.  You saw Stevie was out of position and you still threw that ball.  you made everyone in that park notice that Stevie was being an idiot.  You drew attention to it.  You made things worse, just to make your point.  Think about it.  A runner advanced off that throw.  You put your team and your pitcher in a bigger hole, and you made your catcher look like a moron.  So, no, you're right.  You shouldn't have thrown your glove, but first, you shouldn't have thrown the ball."

"I wasn't trying to make Stevie look stupid."

"In baseball, we back each other up on the field.  Always.  Every boy will fail or succeed all by himself; but, with everyone watching, the fear of striking out, of leaving runners on base, of being the weak link in the lineup, it even beats the big-leaguers.  Now, teammates work against that.  They pick each other up...Why are you here, Cody Miller?  What was it you wanted to say to me?"

"I just wanted to find out why you weren't letting me play.  I just wanted to find out why you weren't letting me pitch."

"I'll put you back on the field when I think the whole team will be better for it; when boneheads like Stevie will feel safer with you out there.  As for pitching, you're strong, but you don't have great control.  If there are better guys I can put on that mound, I will.  And, you should always want the best guy out there, even if it isn't you."

"So, if I'm the best, you'll play me?"

"No.  If you're the best for the team I'll play you.  Got it?"

How many aspects of our lives can we apply this to?  Family?  Work?  Church?  Am I being what's best for the team?  Can my family, coworkers, employers, church family, and friends count on me?  Can Christ?  Am I being that player who can be counted on?  When given an unexpected and unwanted position to play, do I stick to it and do my best, or just long for something else?

"Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass." - Psalm 37:3-5

Cody eventually turns his attitude around, and becomes the encouraging, optimistic, dependable teammate his Coach knew he could be.  Would our "Coach" have us strive for any less?

Will we spend our time distracted by the Stevie's in our lives, or move on and be the player our Coach wants us to be?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Great Saunders Health Quest - Week 10

That's right, I'm finally below 200.  I really can't remember how long ago I broke into the 200 pound range, but it has been several years.  (And I better say it now, since cheat night for this week is tonight...)

I've lost just over 30 pounds, now.  I feel great.
What have I noticed?
- Other than some mild allergy issues lately, I'm rarely tired until the end of the day.
- I'd almost forgotten I had an adam's apple.  It's been peeking out occasionally, now.
- I no longer feel the need to just sit when I get home.  I've actually got the energy necessary for playing with the kids...which seems to result in wrestling more than anything.
- A three-year-old jumping onto your back can be quite painful.
- His one-year-old brother learns by example...

The past week hasn't been an easy one.  For some reason, the desire to sneak bites of things was very persuasive.  But, this is the half-way mark for my initial goal of losing 60 pounds, so I couldn't be happier!

Start Date: 3/2/14
Days in: 72
Current weight:  198
Pounds lost: 32
Waist: 36
Attitude: Thrilled
Activity level: low-moderate

Friday, May 2, 2014

A1V: Revived!

I know!  It's been a while, right?

Let me tell you a little story.  It's a story about a boy.  You see, this boy was constantly wondering what God had in store for him.  He had dreams.  Oh, did he dream.  He believed there was something more waiting for him, and so, he walked several paths, often believing he was on the one intended for him, only to have them fall apart in one way or another.  He spent years wondering at what point he stepped off of the path he was really meant to take by the One directing his steps.

Eventually, amid heartache and frustration, he was granted wisdom regarding his plight, and realized that all those paths were the right paths for him.  He realized that, without these paths he believed to be mistakes, he would never become the man he was being shaped into.  After all, the smoothest stone would be nothing without the waves that shaped it.

He prayed, hoping some grand scheme would be revealed, and he would have a destination in mind for his steps to walk toward without distraction.  And so, the Lord gave him one.  He gave him a vision of an amazing event that would help to unite His people in worship, an event that would remind His people that they are not alone in their small congregation of believers, but are a tiny fraction of an impossibly large group who are on the same path.  Far more than a small group of friends gathered in the same room: a family. A family of millions.  A family spanning the globe.  A family desperate for a reunion.  A family that, despite differing views on trivial matters, needed to be reminded of what they agree wholeheartedly on: their faith in His Son who gave His life that they might know Him.  Thus, the boy began the work needed to arrange such an event.

Calls were made.  Discussions held.  Websites created.  Devotionals written.  Then, the unthinkable happened: it fell apart.  The boy was astounded.  How could such an amazing opportunity, an opportunity given by God, designed to unite His people, be of such little interest? 

After many months of confusion and frustration, he was granted further wisdom.  He had always known that God's plan would be complicated, that it would involve thousands of tiny events that all contributed to it, yet he failed to remember that.  So, the Lord educated him.  He gave the boy the goal, gave him the reigns, and allowed the boy to strive toward it.  And, after a time, the boy again understood.  When given the destination, he tried to skip the journey.

Thus, here we are.  It's been about a year since I touched As One Voice, and that's okay.  It wasn't time.  I didn't have it right.  I made it way to complicated for people to be interested.

Here's the new plan:  Instead of trying to begin at the end, we'll start at a beginning.  I know, it's surprisingly simple, isn't it?  We're dropping the plans for radio, for internet, for all the things that may come with time, and starting someplace easy.  All we're going to do is ask every church that is willing to sing the same set of songs on a Sunday morning.  That's it.  We're just going to see how many people we can get to sing together, as one voice, despite how far apart they may be.  One message, one body, one voice.  Hey, that sounds like it might be a slogan.

Look for a website redesign in the future, updating the plans and song list.  And, please, be in prayer.  We need this.  God's people need to remember we aren't alone.  We stand as the largest group of believers world-wide, and it's time we were reminded of that.

In Christ,

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

HWYSD: Climbing Timer for Kids

If your kid is like mine, he has no concept of time...unless he's bored and wants something from you, then timeliness is incredibly important.  Our three-year-old can sit at dinner for an hour and a half.  Everyone else has finished eating, the kitchen is already clean, and he's still sitting there not eating those last three bites of beef.  (That was last night, in fact.)

Zazzle has this clock.  
That's probably how kids perceive time.

Kids just don't understand time, so our reminders to "hurry up," "move faster," "we have to leave in 10 minutes," or "if you help clean now, you get more time to play later" mean nothing to most of them.  Bill gets distracted, finds other things to do, or just ignores what is right in front of him.  I know, he sounds like a typical three-year-old, doesn't he?

Here's What You Should Do:

(Here's What You Should Manufacture might be a better title for this...)

Build a visual, climbing timer so kids can see time passing.

This timer incorporates visual aid to help a child understand the concept of time passing.  The timer starts at the bottom of a belt of some kind, and gradually climbs to the top.  Maybe 20 minutes from start to finish.  Privileges which are at risk of being lost are attached to the belt.  As the timer passes one, that privilege is lost.  For Little Bill at dinner time, it might look something like this:

 I imagine both teachers and parents would be able to utilize this.

As Spider-Man climbs, Bill loses the three things he cherishes most after dinner.  It could also be used on those days when he just refuses to help clean up his toys.  Say he has a small mess and you want to limit him to 10 minutes.  Start the timer at half-way to the top, with a 'TV' tag hanging at the top.  If the timer reaches the top, and the room isn't clean, no TV.  They see the timer moving, and can see indications of what they risk losing if they don't do things quickly.

Spider-Man would work for our kids, but all kinds of variations could be made using any number of characters, or just cartoon head-shots of a villainous face, appearing to eat those privileges as it climbs.

The main perk of this setup?  No constant nagging!  We tell them once, "I'm starting the timer.  Tell me when you finish."  Then, we go relax while they decide if the things they want are worth working for.

OK, now, somebody go make this.  I'd buy it!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Family Camping Trip to Lake Catherine 4/11-13/2014

We went to Lake Catherine State Park with the Mackey's last weekend and had a fantastic camping trip.  I hadn't been to the park in a while, so it was nice to revisit my old stomping grounds. 

The site was plenty big, and right on the lake.  The kids had tons of space to run around, get dirty, and throw things, and that's all they needed for a satisfying trip.  We also had frequent visits from the local wildlife, including two ducks who frequented our bread-throwing children, and a few really mean Canadian Geese, who, upon seeing the ducks feeding, would come honking and hissing toward our site.  We ran them off several times.

Charging the ducks with handfulls of bread was not well received.

Nate was even easier to amuse, as he was thrilled by all the leaves.
He tasted many, along with sticks, rocks, and who knows what else.

Friday evening we set up camp.  Jeremy had arrived early and set up a zipline for the kids to ride.  They had a blast.  He had also hung a great hammock that we all took turns in.  I'm pretty sure you could waste an entire day in that thing and not feel a pang of regret.

Yeah.  He's having a great time.

Sandra grilled some chicken and some chicken sausages.  They had Guy Fieri's picture on them, so we knew they would be good.  We were not disappointed.  She grilled some zucchini and pineapple, too.  All good stuff.  During the cooking, Bill found the spray can of Pam, and decided to use it as hair spray.  That was fun.

We all sat around the campfire for a while, enjoyed far too many s'mores, and had a great first night.  Jeremy and I played Farkle, several card games, while the ladies sat by the fire chatting, then we called it a night.  Sandra, the kids and I all shared a tent.  Bill slept in the double sleeping bag between us, with Nate in a playpen.  We warned the Mackeys before bed that Bill usually wakes around or before 6, and would likely come to their tent looking for his best buddy Jacob. 

Saturday, 6:12 am.
Bill gets away from me as I'm changing Nate's diaper.  The Mackeys are awakened by the floating head of our three-year-old sticking into their tent saying "Guys, it's time to get up."  
Jeremy asks, "Bill, why are you awake so early?"
Bill replies, "Because God is in my heart already."
There's just no arguing with a statement like that.  We spent quite a bit of our morning haze laughing about it, all the while watching two three-year-olds running in circles around us.  Ah, to have that kind of energy at 6am.

Bill's always up for some stick-throwing.

We had a nice breakfast - eggs, toast, potatoes and plenty of bacon...everything you need to start a day in the wilderness.  (Look, just try to stay on a diet and camp.  I dare you.  All bets were off this weekend.)  Not long after we ate, we hiked out to the waterfall. 

Nate's just taking it all in.

We opted to take the Falls Branch Trail from the end, rather than starting at the trail head.  The whole trail is about a mile and a half.  Starting from the head, it's a mile to the falls.  We figured it would be easier on the three-year-olds just to walk a half mile there and back.  The weather was perfect, and the area was gorgeous.  They had a blast.

 The water was running pretty nicely.

Bill and Nate enjoying the view from the top of the falls.
Afterward, we hit the playground for a while, then headed back to camp.  A few more trips on the zipline, more running and throwing, more feeding the animals, and the kids went down for a nap.  Nate slept longer than he's slept at naptime in days.  

 Good grief, they're getting big.  Both had a great time playing around.

 Afterward: Out like a light.

Bill refused to sleep.  After a while, Sandra took him out of the tent and stuck him in the hammock.  She told him he could hang there if he stayed quiet.  A couple of minutes later, he was out cold.
 Hard to beat a hammock for a nap.
 Sandra got to take some time to feed the ducks.  I'm sure they enjoyed her methods a lot more, since she didn't jump up and run after them every time the came up to her.  Nor did she pelt them with bread.
While the kids were down, Jeremy and I went out on the lake on his trimaran.  Pretty cool little boat. The crazy gusts of wind that were coming in that day made it interesting.  I don't think we got any pics, but here is what it looks like:

After we got back, I decided to get a jump on things and go ahead and prep the campfire for the night.  I built a nice, huge log pile, filled it with fuel and coals from the morning, then the wind came in strong and lit it a few hours before we planned.  That's ok.  I just started my s'more binge early.  We did lots of experimenting with s'mores this weekend.  Here are a few things we learned:

1. My previous post about using the coconut marshmallows was completely accurate.  They work great in s'mores, and are even better from a fire than a microwave.
2. Using chocolate chip cookies instead of graham crackers is awesome...naturally, with coconut marshmallows.
3. The coconut marshmallows are even better if you roast them and let them cool.  The coconut becomes a crunchy shell around a nice gooey marshmallow center.
4. Did I mention the coconut marshmallows?

The kids got to fly kites for a while, and we left our mark on the neighboring campsite by getting a Jake and the Neverland Pirates kite stuck in a tree, right over the tent pad.  It was still hanging there when we left the next day.  Jeremy grilled burgers and hot dogs, and made some home-made french fries for dinner.  Another fantastic meal.  Kids in bed, we played more cards, then off to bed.
The next day, we all got up, had another bacon-laden breakfast, and started getting ready to pack.  We were pros.  Sandra felt the first few drops of rain on its way in, which kicked us all into gear.  Even with three kids running around, we had camp packed up by 9:30. 

 Bill tried a new approach and waited patiently for Jacob Sunday morning.  
He just stood there, at the edge of their tent pad, staring at the tent and waiting.

We tried out a new trail at the park, one nearer to the entrance.  It's a nice concrete wildflower trail.  I recommend it for a nice walk when the weather is nice.  Afterward, we headed back to the playground.  It had started sprinkling on us on the way, so we floated the idea of heading into town for lunch and paying someone to feed us.  Our trip closed over apple pie and ice cream at Purple Cow.

All in all, we decided we definitely need to do this more.  You know its been a good trip when you really can't believe it's already over.  It's hard to beat having this much fun spending a weekend 20 minutes from your house.

Don't let having small kids keep you from camping once in a while!  It's totally worth the extra work.

Thanks for taking such great pictures, Jeremy Mackey!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

20 Down, 40 to Go!

Well, guess where we are at on our diets:

That's right, we've both crossed the 20 pound line.  We are very happy.  Considering we are less than a month and a half into it, it's going faster than expected.  I think we should celebrate with mountains of pizza and gallons of milk shakes!  Kidding...although I wouldn't turn away a slice.

At work, I had to go into the gym and lift one of these, just to really process how much weight I've actually lost.  It's substantial, but doesn't feel like that much when I'm walking around.
The diet has become much easier, and I'm not having to constantly remind myself not to eat things I don't need, which is wonderful.  I've even been able to flex a bit on my rules, because I'm actually able to control how much I eat, and even compensate for it in a later meal if I eat something unexpected.

Exercise still has not become a routine.  In fact, the only actual deliberate exercise I've had is a 3-mile hike I went on a few weeks ago.  It's amazing how much I've lost just from changing how I eat.  I did get to spend 3 and a half hours using a chainsaw last Friday, which I could still feel some pain from last night, so I have been more active than usual.  It just seems to be next to impossible to fit exercise into my schedule, so it's a good thing the diet is working so well for now.  Hopefully, once I've lost a bit more, I'll find it easier to get up early and get in some exercise before getting ready.  

As it is now, everything is easier.  I'm not tired all the time.  I don't start yawning until around 3 or 4pm, as opposed to 10am.  I've got more energy.  Sitting around for too long makes me want to get up, instead of melt into a comfy chair.

All in all, things are going great.  I'm not sure how many years its been since I was under 210, and it sure feels good.  I'm almost on the last hole in my belt, and I need new pants.  I realized that I can only tighten my belt for so long before they start to look like parachute pants.

Let me give another plug to MyFitnessPal.  Their app has been a huge help to both of us.

Start Date: 3/2/14
Days in: 38
Current weight:  209
Pounds lost: 21
Waist: Needs new pants!
Attitude: Thrilled
Desire for sugar: Intermittent, sated occasionally with various healthy-ish snacks (cinnamon toast, raisins, fruit)
Craving: both quantity and variety
Activity level: low-moderate
Cheats: I snuck a Teddy Graham last night.  Shame on me.