Tag Archives: health

Finally . . . Some Progress In Weight Loss!

Iscale1 weighed myself this morning.  Not a practice I would recommend on Monday mornings.  I used to do it every Wednesday because with the “w” in weight and the “w” in Wednesday, it was easier to remember.  Then, it just got too discouraging and I quit. In case you haven’t noticed from my previous posts, I’m not exactly svelte.  I do occasionally run some pretty long distances.  However, that is more of a matter of going really slow and not quitting than it is athletic talent or having the kind of body that would naturally adapt to such a practice. But finally, some good news!  Somehow, I managed to lose seven pounds from last week!  I was flabbergasted!  It occurred to me that there is more than one possibility at work here:
1.  The scale is off in a good way.
2.  Somehow, I managed to trick the scale.
3.  221 lbs. is really what I weigh now.
I’m going with number three at present.
I’ve felt lighter in the last few days or so.  Last week, I noticed that I had to cinch my belt a notch tighter.  I also noticed yesterday, while wearing a tie, that there is more room in my collar, and my shirt felt looser.  So, I was somewhat prepared, but had steeled myself for the possibility that it was all an illusion.
What do I give credit for this unexpected blessing to?  A couple of things:  first, I’ve picked up the intensity of my running.  Almost imperceptibly, I’ve started running harder.  A number of things are involved here.  I’ve been able to strengthen my core, which has helped me to hold my form and allowed for faster turnover.  So often, it’s a matter of paying attention to form and rhythm and not mentally letting down.  Secondly, my tastes have changed, at least temporarily.  I suppose you could call it aversion therapy.  My sister, who lives with us, is on steroids and craves massive amounts of foods with sugar in them.  I was getting sucked into the tide of this for awhile.  However, it’s almost like my taste buds cried out, “no more!”  So, I’m drastically reducing the sugar in my diet out of a desire to adjust to this aversion to sugar.  Good stuff!

Yard Sale

1506_405323316216228_14675588_nI’ve finally turned the corner on this deathly virus.  All I’ve been able to do is the bare minimum to be prepared for class and to survive.  I was sick enough to go home early from work Thursday, which for me, means near death.  It seemed a bit narcissistic to call in sick for the blog, but I had to suspend posting until I experienced a turn for the better.
I did finish Paradise Lost.  I’m not sure I feel any more prepared to teach it but I did outline the introduction to our class discussion and was surprised how much I was able to put it all together.  This is one of those works where you really need to trust the author to take you where he wants you to go.  Being familiar with the Scripture is a big help in getting through this tome.  Even though I get the big picture, I feel like I’m missing so much.  It’s really an inexhaustible treasure.
I started listening to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale a couple of days ago.  Absolutely gripping.  The setting is a futuristic dystopian society that is controlled by a cult that has some Christian elements in it.  I haven’t gotten very far into it, but it appears that the ability to sire and bear children is rare due to the collateral damage done by the wars that have plagued that society.  The protagonist is a “handmaid,” one who is set apart to bear children for the wife of one of the commanders.  Anyway, I got to thinking about this book along with a book that came out a couple of years or so ago by Jonathan Last called What To Expect When No One’s Expecting.  For years, the worry among the progressive elites of Western culture has been overpopulation.  But now, the West is experiencing something unprecedented — a demographic death spiral that is taking place throughout the West, as many families have instituted their own voluntary one child policy.  Last forecasts an alarming decline in economic growth, productivity, standard of living, and quality of life.  It’s an eye-opening read.  The juxtaposition of the two books is almost enough to make one paranoid that we are teetering on the edge of a collapse of civilization, and we don’t recognize it.  Quite interesting.  I don’t think Atwood realized that there may be a time when her effort at speculative fiction may be closer to the mark than she thought.
I’m mostly working on sermon preparation for when I preach in two weeks and Latin III translation.  We’ve moved further into Latin than I’ve ever been in this year’s Latin III class, so I’m having to do the translations with pencil and paper before class now rather than just sight read them.  I’m enjoying the challenge and I’m seeing myself become more competent in the language.  My Latin is completely self-taught, so this milestone and challenge is rather gratifying.
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An Audiobook Got Me Out The Door Today

51eJJdCffZL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Well, yesterday’s run didn’t completely kill me.  I was hesitant about heading out today but once I shuffled about half a mile or so, I felt alot better and managed to put in four miles.  So, four days in a row.  In itself, this won’t exactly get me to the starting line but if I can keep it up for another several months I’ll at least make a dent in the fitness situation.

I started listening to audio while running recently.  It used to be that I only listened to audio if I absolutely couldn’t get myself out the door otherwise.  Then I would crank up some tunes . . . either mostly bad 80’s music that provides an initial burst of energy but gets annoying after a while because it’s just bad music, Motown, or in some cases, chill out to some jazz.  Lately though, I’ve started listening to either audiobooks or podcasts on the way home and gotten so enthralled that I’ve taken them out on the run — and even end up running farther just because I want to get more into the book.  Today, it was The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller.  It’s a memoir of a English man who has a rather mild midlife crisis  — no red corvettes, blingy gold chains, or anything like that, but rather, a sense of disappointment with some aspects of his life that he has passively settled into. He begins to desire to “improve himself,” makes a “list of betterment,” with books that he has resolved to read, and sets out to read about a book a week, and writes about his experiences with these books.    Some of them are classics such as Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice and Middlemarch.  Others are books he became interested in for one reason or another.  In one of the most memorable sections, he relates the experience of reading Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea.  From what I gather, the protagonist of the novel is a rather pompous and disturbed retired actor.  Food plays a major part in the novel, and Andy Miller’s relating of some of these dishes is ‘laugh out loud” funny!  What’s even funnier is, not knowing much about cooking, he attempted some of the recipes of the novel’s protagonist himself, and got to experience firsthand Iris Murdoch’s irony.  Anyway, now I need to put The Sea, The Sea on the reading list.

My wife is at class tonight so it’s reading time tonight.  Another book and a half of Plato’s Republic with taking notes to get ready for class Monday.  Need to keep moving through Paradise Lost because I’m teaching it later this year and feel woefully underprepared.  Of course, I’ve taught the Republic for eight years now, but it’s so rich that every year, I feel like I’m starting all over again.  Then, I’m hoping to get into something that I’m not reading to prepare to teach a class.  So, that’s the daily wrap-up.

What tricks have you used to get yourself out the door to exercise?  Is there a particular kind of music or audio that is helpful?  I’d love to hear about it!


Back To Running

atlantic_beach_jacksonvilleMy oldest son and I decided to run a marathon together in the Fall of this year.  So, I decided to get my act together and actually follow a training schedule for a change.  I pretty much took a Christmas break from running, so I’m feeling rather soft and out of shape.  I’d like to lose some weight and improve my speed so that if my son decides he wants to run the whole thing with me, it won’t be absolute torture for him to go as slow as I do.

The first two days, it was tough to get out the door to run 3-5 miles.  However, today something started to kick in.  I set out to run three miles and continued to stretch it out and ended up running up to Hanna Park, a city park north of my house, and doing some trail running to end up running eight miles.  It was an absolute blast — the sun shining on me and then being able to watch the hues of the sun setting, the rough terrain of our somewhat eroded beach, and being able to be outside and move on a warm January day.  I can’t remember the last time I came home from a full day of work and put in eight miles!  Usually, it’s a four mile or so trudge after getting home from work.  I was pumped!  So it looks like I’m good for “sticking with the program” for this week.

I’ll be lining up some events for late spring and early summer to test my fitness.  Meanwhile, I’ll see if I can lose some weight, feel better, and gain more energy.


Getting Old

ReadingSunday afternoon, I received further confirmation that I am getting old. I’ve always been a fan of hard copy books, and appreciated them more than electronic readers. I did an about face on that yesterday. I picked Volume One of Richard Sibbes’ Collected Works off the shelf, intending to read “The Soul’s Conflict.” I start reading and notice that it appears that the type is in a 2 point font. Immediately I think, “can I get this on Kindle so that I can adjust the print?” So, its official. As much as I like the feel of a real book, the architecture of the page, the texture of the paper, being able to underline and take notes in the margins, I’m settling for simply being able to read. It is possible to annotate Kindle books with the note taking feature and copy and past the notes into Evernote, so note taking is still available. But the Kindle keyboard is difficult for me with the fine motor skill issues that I have. One more piece of evidence to indicate that, as my father-in-law used to say, “the warranty is running out.”

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Vegetarian? Vegan? Macro?

I made my post Christmas pilgrimage to Barnes and Noble a couple of days ago.  It’s a “pilgrimage,” because I enjoy the blessing of having raised a family of avid readers.  So, there’s no shortage of books in our home, and no shortage of enthusiasm for visiting bookstores.  Indeed, aren’t bookstores the real reason for shopping?

The object of my quest was to find a book that was a combination of personal journal/explanation/how to concerning making the change to a vegetarian, vegan, or macrobiotic diet.  The thought of making this change has been rattling around in the back of my head for some time now, and I wanted to read more than Wikipedia had to say about this.  I’m not exactly as svelte as I was in my 20’s, and realized that most likely I’ll never get there again.  But I’ve talked to people who have done this, and they seem happy that they made the change.  Those whom I’ve talked to feel better, report health benefits, and seem to be able to eat all they want within the range of their food philosophy.

I wanted to find the story of someone who “waded in the shallow end” of this journey and didn’t try to do it all at once — someone who would make me think that this might possibly be achievable for someone who includes friends and loved ones in their eating habits.  I also felt like I needed to be “sold” on the why of doing this, and read the words of someone who enjoyed and benefitted from making such monumental changes.

Alas, I found no such book!  I didn’t look at the books that were mostly scientific information– I’m just not going to read that.  The science seems pretty sound from what I’ve read — at least it’s more on the side of a plant based diet than what I’m eating now.   However, it just cannot be that there has never been anyone in the history of mankind who considered attempting this change one meal at a time.  I’m astonished that there is no one in the history of the planet who contemplated taking baby steps toward this.  The books I found were either straight-out cookbooks that assumed that I was sold on their particular philosophy, or “how-to” books.  Of the two varieties, the how-to books started out with advice such as “take everything out of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry, and throw it in the garbage.”  No consideration whatsoever that person who may attempt to follow such advice may be married to a spouse who would advise reasonable, prudent steps toward a better diet, or more like exclaim, “you’re throwing hundreds of dollars of food into the garbage!”  No advice given on how to win over a skeptical spouse whose wisdom has been nothing short of life-saving.

So, my quest was halted in frustration.  However, I’m sure that there is at least one person in the history of the planet who has been in the circumstances described earlier who has written a book about their experience that’s worth reading.

I’d love to hear from you!  If you have researched transitioning to vegetarian, vegan, or macro and found a helpful book that is makes it sound fun encouraging, and achievable, let me know!


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Feeling Rebellious! In A Good Way!

Wow!  It feels quite rebellious to take a 2 hour nap AND run 7 miles AND spend extra time writing all in one day.  Not quite sure how I managed to do all of that !  Rebellious?  Doesn’t exactly sound like the word most people would use.  However, I’m not used to taking that much time to focus on what I want to do.  My wife and I lead a nonprofit educational organization, which is pretty much like running a family business.  My sister lives with us, who is disabled and needs some help with daily living tasks.  And two of our children are home from college.  So, it did feel rather delightfully rebellious and irresponsible!

The 7 miles is the longest run I’ve gone on in about a month or more.  Lately, with the holiday weight gain, it’s been a struggle just to get out and shuffle 4 miles or so.  But today, the miles just clicked off!  It was a beautiful day, temps in the mid 60’s, with a northeast breeze about 10-15 mph.  Started out south on the beach and headed back into the wind — but on the road.  Felt great physically and made me remember why I continue to persevere in this activity.

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Do What You Can With the Body You Have!

I posted yesterday on how I’m in doubt about plans for future ultra events.  However, there’s another take on this subject, or for that matter, any other physical challenge.  This attitude is, “do what you can with the body you have!”

Now, this attitude is not original with me.  I read this somewhere, and I can’t remember where.  But it makes sense.  Rather than trying to diet, slim down, and get into “better condition,” whatever that may mean, do what you can now.  And push yourself to do more.

The idea here is that physical perfection is probably beyond most of us,  So we use this mythical ideal to hold us back, rather than enjoy what we can.  So, do what you can with the body you have !  And enjoy yourself!

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Ultra Running and Future Plans

I’ve put December 31 as the day to decide on which ultras to enter for 2015.  I wish it were so easy.  But in reality, I’ll decide later than that.

I really enjoy the sport.  I see each event as a day away from the cares of normal life.  Each event is a new adventure.  The course, the other participants, the travel, the atmosphere, battling fatigue, and pushing myself to new limits all make for an epic challenge.  However, I’m taking some medications that have the unpleasant side effect of weight gain.  So, I’m almost at my peak in terms of weight.  What this does is that it presents the spectacle of a 230 lb. man trying to run 30-plus miles.  Plus, the downside of each event is what it takes away mentally, physically, and emotionally for days to come.  I’m not sure I have those reserves to draw on.

While nearly every day I look at ultrasignup, I’m postponing any decision making until I get healthier and I can train consistently.

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Numbering Our Days

A friend recently challenged me with the thought of “numbering my days.”  The phrase comes from Psalm 90:12, which reads, “teach us, O Lord, to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.  Earlier in the psalm, we are told that “the years of our life are seventy, or if by strength, eighty . . . ”  So I decided to “split the difference,” and use 75 for computational purposes.

Right now, I’m fifty years old, plus 263 days.  If I live to be 75, that gives me 9,223 days (102 days left until I turn 51, 25 years x 365 days = 6 leap year days).  Now, this may seem like an excessively literal interpretation of this Bible passage and a morbid preoccupation.  But there are at least two things that this exercise has been useful for:

1.  9,223 days is a long time.  When you turn fifty, a rude awakening takes place.  More than likely, you have lived much more of life than there is in front of you.  Calling fifty “middle age” is a polite fiction.  “Middle age” is more like 35 or 40.  I know that with better health care and so forth, people are living longer than they used to.  Still, not that many people live to be 100.  But I digress.  The good news is that there’s alot in front of me, and I’m better equipped than ever to make the most of it.

2.  It breaks the divide between “work life” and “retirement”.    I don’t want to retire.  Ever.  My dream is to keep doing what I’m doing now and find ways to fund the teaching and the writing that I’m doing.  Sure, I’d like to do some traveling and participate in some other adventures, but I’m already doing what I love.  So, I’m not crossing off the days on the calendar until I can collect Social Security (if it’s still there) or so that I can sit in the sun in South Florida and watch people play golf and complain about how hot it is!

3.  It sends a strong message that long term planning is possible and desirable.  Looking at my life from such a stark point of view, it seems tragic to simply saunter aimlessly through my days and just get by.  It adds incentive to living mindfully, planning wisely, and focusing time and energy on the best and most productive activities.  It leads me to ask, “what would I like to be true about my life in 25 years? What would I like to have done?”

4.  It means that now is the time to start building.  Truth be told, I don’t know if I have 9,223 days left.  I may have one.  Or I may have 12,000.  But this does speak to the fact that the time left is finite.  While it is a generous amount of time, it’s not infinite.  So it’s time to put off excuses and get to work.

What are your thoughts on this?

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