Friday, February 28, 2014

The Great Saunders Health Quest - Day (-1)

Well, tomorrow's the big day.  I'll be eating CiCi's at lunch, then it's diet time.

I'm excited, actually.  I've been needing to make a change like this for years, but just couldn't get myself to do it. 

I had my ultrasound Wednesday morning, and it did confirm a fatty liver.  I'm thankful to God that it's not something more serious; although, left unchecked, it could become something serious.

As far as specifics on a diet go, there really isn't anything to go on.  I could submit to the Great and Powerful Google, but if I did, I fear there would be nothing left for me to eat.  There are hundreds of different ones.  The doctor didn't give me anything specific, just diet and exercise, so we'll be coming up with it as we go.  Here's my plan, at least until I've lost a substantial amount of weight:
 - no Cokes of any kind (because I'm southern, and there are hundreds of different kinds of Coke)
 - no sweets
 - no buffets
 - no fried foods
 - one cheat meal a week (which must follow the above guidelines)
 - more veggies
 - less meat
 - much less bread
 - smaller portions
 - a whole lot more water

Nothing extreme about the diet.  One contributing factor of a fatty liver can be rapid weight loss, so I can't do anything crazy, anyway.  The biggest change will be all those wonderful bubbly drinks I love so.
Farewell, old friend.  It's been fun.

As far as the exercise part goes, it's really quite simple: do some. I thought about joining a gym, then I remembered the 25 acres we live on that constantly needs attention, and decided I'll get more exercise just doing the work that already exists around the house.  We use the fireplace all winter, so there will be lots of firewood chopping in my future.  I'm also thinking about making some walking/running trails in the woods around the house, which will be beneficial once done, and in the process of creating them.

All in all, this should be quite the adventure.

A1V Devotional: Positive in the Face of Unpleasantness!

(Repost from 5/2/2012)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer." ~ 1 Corinthians 1:3-6

So, I go home for lunch, spend quite a bit of time praying, really getting myself to lean on Him more. He gives me the verse I shared earlier, reminding me He is always in control, and it completely lifts me up! I've been in a funk this week, and it's all gone, now!

I head back to work, singing and praising all the way. Then, half a mile from my exit, I get pulled over for speeding. Thinking back, I even saw him, as he had just finished pulling someone else over. I didn't even check my speed (usually reflexive) as I switched lanes to give him some space. Apparently, praising too hard while you drive is hazardous, as it can distract you from your speedometer...

But, I'm still praising Him! No stinking ticket is going to bring me down! It's great to have Him show Himself even in the midst of a rather unpleasant situation! Even while the kind officer was writing my ticket, I couldn't help but smile to myself. (I refrained from laughing aloud, though I did feel like it...didn't think the officers kindness would tolerate that.) I sang and laughed the remaining mile to work!

Who knows? Maybe the officer needed someone to deal with that was in a great mood, and extremely helpful, and easy to deal with. I hope so, because that is sure what he got!

Lord, I pray you will keep this positive mood in and around me at all times. I pray that it spills off, and shows to everyone I encounter, that they might see something in me that they need a piece of. In that instance, I pray you will speak through me, giving me those wonderful words of life, that I might be used to lift others up, to encourage them in all aspects of their lives. Lord, just work through me any way you can, for I am ready and willing!


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Thursday, February 27, 2014

A1V Devotional: Thankfulness 2012-03-14

(Repost from 3/14/2012)

Thankfulness is underrated. We view it as something we should feel, but not something we need to feel. It is so easy to take things for granted. We need to make a conscious effort to keep ourselves thankful, especially in the face of our troubles. If you are facing difficulty, or things just don't seem to be going right today, just take a minute to mentally note a handful of the biggest blessings in your life. Then, give the Lord the thanks he deserves for giving them to you. I guarantee, it will lighten your load.

We (I definitely include myself in this) just don't take the time we should to be thankful. That special day in November simply isn't enough to keep us afloat year-round.


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HWYSD: The Next Great Food Festival

Hot Springs is always looking for new ways to attract tourists.  Here's one for you.

Here's What You Should Do:

The Annual Hot Springs Peanut Butter & Jelly Festival!

Just imagine, an entire day themed around PB&J.

There are competitions for the best homemade PB&J recipes, all of it has to be hand-made, right down to the bread.  You've got your standard Wheat/Peanut Butter/Grape all the way to weird combinations like Jalapeno Bread/Almond Butter/Pineapple. 

You've got kid competitions where the kid who makes the best PB&J, with the most appropriate PB to J ratio is the winner!

You've got a PB&J eating competition.  Two levels, even: a standard competition, or, for diehard competitors, NO MILK UNTIL THEY FINISH!

There are bands.

There are special guest judges.


There's someone in a banana costume doing that "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" dance ALL DAY LONG!

Seriously, just try and tell me the Food Network wouldn't be there.

Special thanks to Jeremy for brainstorming assistance on this one.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

HWYSD: Read Bills Before You Discuss Them

Here, have a bonus post for today.  The news got me all riled up, earlier.

Seriously, how many of us get swept up in the controversy concocted by media? They play us like violins, folks.

It would serve us all well to remember that almost nobody we hear talking, writing, posting, or ranting about an issue has actually read up on it.  Instead of doing a few seconds of actual research on it, we read posts, and see how people feel about the issue, instead of looking at what it actually is.

I'm guilty of it, too.

Here's What We Should Do:

Read an actual state bill, especially if we think we just have to rant one way or another about it.

Here, I'll even give you the link to Arizona Bill SB 1062, which is the thing to rant about, this week.

Hey, here's an idea: share the link with a news station (or anyone else) that probably hasn't looked at it.

HWYSD: Enjoy Your Vocabulary

From dictionary.com:

lous·y  [lou-zee] 

adjective, lous·i·er, lous·i·est.
1. infested with lice.
2. Informal.

   a. mean or contemptible: That was a lousy thing to do.
   b. wretchedly bad; miserable: a lousy job; I feel lousy.
Idioms
3. lousy with, Slang. well supplied with or filled with, often to excess: Our city is lousy with bad drivers. I wish I were lousy with money like my boss.


Here's What You Should Do:

Use the phrase "lousy with" once a day.  As in: "You've got to check out this guy's blog, it's lousy with ridiculous ideas."  You'll feel cultured, and people will look at you funny...but it's ok, that's how you'll know you're cultured.

A1V Devotional: Hard Lessons

(Repost from 2/17/2012)

There have been several songs on Christian radio in the past year that show a lot of wisdom in how we should look at the trials we go through.

"what if your healing comes through tears" - Laura Story
"I will rise. Out of these ashes, rise." - Shawn McDonald
"I find you when I fall apart." - Josh Wilson

Those are lyrics from just a few of the songs, but there are several more. What wonderful lessons we can take from adopting that perspective!

Lately, I've had trouble getting busy. It's become really easy to just sit. (Sound familiar? I seem to go through pretty regular cycles of this...)

I've been praying about it, and I definitely got my answer: a trial. Something will go wrong or unexpectedly, and I just get bogged down in worry, stress and anxiety, until I can finally let it go.

But talk about a blessing in disguise! Walking through this was exactly what I needed to get my spirit charged up. Christ put me in a position where I couldn't get through it without him, and while that was frustrating at the time, it was exactly what I needed. I spent more time reading my Bible, praying, and worshipping. Now, I'm in a place where I feel closer to Him than I have in months, and all because He knew what I needed was not the same as what I wanted.

It is so easy to fall out of the good habits we set for ourselves, and take on bad ones. Sometimes what we need is a trial to get us back on track.

Lord, I'm thankful. I'm thankful for the salvation You have provided, for my family and friends, for my job, and all the other coutless blessings You have sent my way. And I'm thankful for the tests and trials, even though I don't feel that way at the time, that You have used to get me back on track. Lord, align my will to Yours, and help me to keep the good habits You have shown me through this. If I start to slip, help me to realize it without delay, that I would be able to stand firm in You.


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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A1V Devotional: Getting in Line

(Repost from 12/7/2011)

How many times do we allow our spirits to get lethargic? I know that over the past few weeks, I let mine slip into laziness in a pretty bad way. Not through anything deliberate, of course, but just through simple neglect. It's easy to do, and we've all done it.

What got in my way? Renovating a bathroom, TV, facebook, junk food, and many other things. Just various distractions. None of those things had to cause it, but through my busyness, I allowed myself to become tired and worn out. I let that keep me from being active in my walk with Christ. How many of us fall into that trap?

Once we allow our spirits to become weak, we start a long, downhill slide. Until we manage to grab on to something (Christ, of course) and stop sliding, we will just keep going.

The hard part is making that first grab, and really holding on. As soon as we try to get out, that weariness kicks it into high gear. Every excuse for delay and neglect comes flowing through our minds, willing us to stay caught up in what usually has become our own self-pity.

Once we reach that point, our prayers become pretty repetitive. Something along the lines of "Help, I can't do it. I can't even pray... Hello? Can you still hear me? Why aren't you answering?"

Today, I started that part of the decline. But, something was different. As that prayer, which (from the start) was lacking conviction, started flowing, I stopped. I was suddenly hit with a realization that I already had what I needed to be rescued. I realized anew that I carried a piece of Christ's spirit right here inside of me. With that comes a direct link to his understanding, will and love. Suddenly, I had new strength. When Christ revealed that to me, I was able to completely skip all the hopelessness and depression that would normally follow the decline. It was as though my spirit suddenly leapt into His arms.

The really great part of all this was that I realized that we all, every child of Christ, carry that bond. We don't have to wander aimlessly, especially when we think we've lost our way. All we have to do is make the smallest effort, with the smallest grain of faith behind it, to tell our own spirit to get off its butt, and get in line behind Christ!

Lord, I make a choice, here and now, to stand on the promises You made in Your word; to stand in certainty and confidence on the work You have already done and continue to do in my life. I now make a conscious move of my will, as weak as it may be, to align my spirit with Yours and choose, yet again, a life of service in You. Lord, open doors and give me opportunities to serve You, in every aspect of my life. Plant in me the seeds of wisdom and discernment and a thirst for You and Your word that I have never felt before. Help me to be a blessing to those around me, to lift others up rather than tear them down, and always keep my eyes set on you. Amen.


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HWYSD: S'mores

Here's What You Should Do:


Use toasted coconut marshmallows in your s'mores.


No more details are really necessary.  S'mores rock.  These rock harder.


PS - You'd think these would be great in hot chocolate  You'd be wrong.

PPS - If you haven't before, you should just set a normal marshmallow on a plate and microwave it for a while to see how big it gets.  It's impressive.  Send me a pic and I'll add the biggest one to this post.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A1V Devotional: Trust

(I spent some time looking back over the A1V facebook page, reading some of the old devotionals I put on there.  This was the first one.  Repost from 11/4/11)

One of the most valuable lessons the Lord has been teaching me over the past few months is simply to trust Him. We are constantly bombarded with problems upon problems, doubts and uncertainty about our role in the grand scheme of things. The solution and very direct path to victory is always simply to trust Him! If we truly turn over our doubts and fears to Him, He starts making a change in us, right there, on the spot. The situation we are stressing about may not change overnight, but it doesn't have to. He will equip us to handle it appropriately until the time that it does change. All we have to do is truly open our hearts to Him, let him know we are willing to do whatever He wants us to, to further His goals for our lives, and we can find immediate relief.

Peter catches a lot of flack for his hasty attitude. He puts his foot in his mouth constantly, gets himself in trouble, even denies knowing Christ. He is so much like us in this life, that it's just not even funny. When he started walking to Christ on the water, the main lesson we get is that just keeping our eyes on Christ can help us accomplish even the impossible. We draw a valuable lesson from his momentary doubt, and how he began to sink. But we also find something commendable in Peter's weakness. He knew exactly what he needed to do to find rescue. As soon as he started to sink, he cried out "Lord, save me!" Did Christ delay in his rescue? Nope. Immediately, He reached down and pulled Peter up out of the waters of his own doubt. How many times to we allow our problems to overshadow our ability to seek Christ in any situation? We can pray anywhere, but in the midst of difficulty we find ourselves constantly delaying. "I'll just take care of this first, then I'll take some time to pray." "Just one more email to type." "I'm almost home, then I can pray." Why put off what you can take care of in mere moments? Stop working, driving, watching TV, or whatever you are doing and take a moment to turn your problems over to Him. He's faithful to answer. He always does!


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HWYSD: Solve the National Debt

So, yeah, there are tons of plans for this.  Let's start with something new: basic financial education. 

Obviously, members of government aren't looking for people to tell them what to do, so, we take a leaf out of the tobacco industry's book and hook them while they're young, before they even become members of the government.

Here's What You Should Do:


Start a required class in high school called Financial Responsibility.  (That's more optimistic than what it really should be called right now: Debt Management.  Right?)

Sophomore year, it has to do with personal and family finances.  Junior year, business finances.  Senior year, governmental, starting with city/county and working up to national.

This way, in 20-30 years or so, most members of the government would at least have had some educational backing in finances.

America, you're welcome.

You know what?  Until such a time as this would take place, as any change to the educational system would take a century to get done, let's all agree that we will force our kids to take classes on it, just to get a jump on things.  Sound good?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

HWYSD: Cheese Dip


Here's What You Should Do:

 Make cheese dip out of these:


While adding ground beef and sausage still makes the best kind, this works very well, and gets extra points for being so easy.

Just throw the chili, Rotel, and half a block of Velveeta-style cheese into a pot, and melt it together.


I'd use regular Rotel, instead of mild, personally.  The chili also helps thin it, so adding milk isn't really necessary.  It also doesn't thicken up much when refrigerated.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Great Saunders Health Quest - Day (-8)

It's no secret that I could stand to lose a few pounds...and by a few, I mean 60+.

Sadly, I am horrible at motivating myself.  Enter a visit to the doctor.

My wife has been bugging me for, I kid you not, the past 9 years about going to the doctor for this issue.  It's GI related.  We'll leave it at that.  I made her work for it, though.  9 long years of nagging me about it.  That's her punishment for bugging me.  When I finally conceded to go in, I told her to let it be a lesson to her...it's not worth the effort it takes to nag me, I'll do it when I'm ready.  She disagreed and told me to let it be a lesson to me that I should just do what she says sooner.  Clearly, she's the one in the right, since my punishment for making her nag me for 9 years is a colonoscopy.

So, one stool sample, a visit with my doc, and two vials of blood later, we might have something to deal with: a fatty liver.  I've got extra liver enzymes, high bilirubin, and a couple of other numbers that aren't where they need to be.  They all relate to the liver, and seem to point to me having non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Like I didn't have my own body image problems, now my liver is going to feel fat, too.


Here's What You I Should Do:
Lose the weight.


The treatment for a fatty liver?  Weight loss.  Score.

Honestly, I've prayed for motivation to lose weight.  It shouldn't have had to come in the form of a vital organ acting up on me, but it's still an answered prayer.  I've definitely got motivation now.  Something that can contribute to a fatty liver?  Corn syrup.  I am actually looking forward to my last Dr. Pepper, which, despite my intense love for it, I am more than happy to give up for my health.

The last time I was in shape was 10th grade.  I played soccer, and that year, was in better shape than anyone on my team.  I was running trails on Hot Springs mountain twice a week, running about 5 ten-minute-miles each time, and having soccer practice a couple of times a week. Then, I stopped playing and got a job.

Since then:
-I gained the obligatory 20 in college.
-I married a woman who can cook just about anything...while she had a job that gave her lots of free time...working a room away from our kitchen.  Seriously, we had treats you wouldn't believe.  You know that scene in The Incredibles, where Mr. Incredible comes home late at night, and sees one huge slice of cake left, and just nonchalantly picks it up and starts eating it as he heads toward bed...that was me.  It's not her fault at all.  I love food, and eat more of it than I should.  Plain and simple.
-I worked a miserable job for 8 months, and found solace in eating out...very frequently.  I gained a lot of weight that year.
-I got a desk job, and continued to slowly gain my way to 230 pounds.

At 230 pounds, with two kids, and a full-time job, exercise is hard to manage.
-Get up early and exercise = Spend the entire day in a dazed stupor of sleepiness.
-Exercise during a 1-hour lunch = Spend over an hour just trying to stop sweating afterward.
-After work?  Family time.
-After the kids are in bed?  Some TV time with my wife, and various responsibilities before bed.
There.  All my reasons excuses in a nice, neat, little list.  Don't worry, I recognize that they are excuses, and my goal is to dash them to pieces.

I'm waiting until all the other fun stuff the doc has planned for me is finished up.  I'm scheduled for the ultrasound of my liver next Wednesday, and I'm actually interested in seeing that.  The week after, an appointment with a GI doctor, which is likely to result in scheduling the colonoscopy.  Yipee.  Once all of that is done, major lifestyle changes are coming.

My wife thinks I'm just waiting so I can have one last hurrah of enjoying food I shouldn't be eating, but that's not why I'm waiting.  Granted, it is a perk, but I truly do want to know for sure what is wrong with me before I change what I'm eating.  I'm actually excited to start the diet.

My wife is awesome, and will be joining me in this journey.  She's already thinking of ways we can eat better, and she's an awesome cook, so I'm looking forward to what she comes up with.

Pray for us.  This won't be easy.

As added incentive for us to keep on top of everything, I'm going to be adding updates on how it's going to the blog.  I'm thinking a heavy dose of transparency through the process will be a good motivator.  A scorecard will accompany each update:

Current weight:  (By the doc's scale, fully clothed last week) 238
Pounds lost: 0
Waist: 38-40
Gut: ...overhanging
Attitude: Optimistic and Excited
Desire for sugar: Sated...repeatedly.  (The diet hasn't started yet.)
Meals of note: Cici's for lunch Wednesday.  (Again, the diet hasn't started.)
Activity level: Sloth-like
Cheats: (Seriously, the diet hasn't started.)


I don't plan on cheating more than once a week, but I'm throwing that category on there so I can put a big fat "NONE" in the blank for further motivation.  The categories will likely change a bit as we go.  If you can think of any that should be on there, please send me a suggestion.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Lunch.


We've been trying to find easy lunch items that I can just grab on my way out the door when the morning has gone sideways on me and I leave in a hurry.  This was one of those attempts: Campbell's Chunky Mushroom Swiss Burger (soup).


While Mushroom Swiss Burgers are, without doubt, my favorite breed of burger, this soup is disappointing.  It's just one of those food ideas that sounds brilliant, but misses the mark.  It tastes just like every other creamy beef soup they make.  One highlight was the bland, spongy meat that I could actually hear deflating as I squished it between my teeth...and could hear reinflating a bit as I lifted pressure for another chew.  That was memorable.

I think my favorite part is that we are still gullible enough that it is worth a company's effort to put stripes on the chunks of "burger" to make them look "grilled."  If fact, on closer inspection of the label, you can actually see, quite clearly, that the meat is not grilled, but striped.  At least they are honest about it.
 
So, I dig through my desk for an alternative, and it's Spaghettios to the rescue!  Don't judge me.  I know exactly how they will taste before even opening the can.  It's an old childhood classic, for me.

Here's What You Should Do:

Don't buy products where you can see striped meat on the packaging.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Few More Yu-Gi-Oh Cards

Here's another batch of custom cards I made.  In the game, there are many cards which create "tokens" for various purposes.  Tokens are monsters...kind of.  They only exist on the field, itself, and disappear from the game when killed.  There are very few actual cards made for tokens, and none have descriptions of what the token is capable of, or names of any kind.  I made some that reflect the abilities of the actual token monsters, because...you know...I'm like that.  I prefer to have all my details laid out in front of me, and I liked the funny names I came up with.  Anyway, they look pretty good, and actually printed quite nicely.

    




Fairness

I've just figured out our problem: fairness. Or, rather, the confused idea we perpetuate of what fairness really is.  

Here is how dictionary.com defines fair:
adjective, fair·er, fair·est.
1.free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice: a fair decision; a fair judge.
2.legitimately sought, pursued, done, given, etc.; proper under the rules: a fair fight.
3.moderately large; ample: a fair income.
4.neither excellent nor poor; moderately or tolerably good: fair health.
5.marked by favoring conditions; likely; promising: in a fair way to succeed.
Somewhere along the way, the definition seems to have become:
noun, fair·ness.
1.treating two people or situations exactly the same, despite them being different
2.the unwarranted and unearned satisfaction of every envy, want, and desire that a person has had in the past, currently has, or could have in the future
3.entitlement
Fairness has become an object of worship within itself.  Look how we run our schools, our government, our workplaces, our marriages (in many cases), and any other interaction you can think of.


I went to school and received a degree in Early Childhood Education.  I don't use it professionally, but many things from that have stuck with me, and continue to have an impact on how I react to and see the world around me.  One specific phrase I picked up from a professor has always stayed in my mind, especially when it comes to dealing with people: "Being fair to students doesn't mean you give them all the same thing, it means you give them all what they need."

This idea of fairness being each of us receiving the same thing is nothing more than a testament to our own envies.  None of us need the same thing that everyone else has, so let's all agree to stop acting like we do.