Begin Again… and Again

Today is the 30th of March, 2016.

I have come to terms that, because of a stroke about a year-and-a-half ago, I am only back to about 80-85% of the person I used to be… and that’s okay.

I may not be able to do some things I used to do, and I’m still relearning some skills over again that once came easily; but God still has plans for me and life does go on.  I cannot hold a pen and write legibly anymore… well, not very legible anyway.  So it is fortunate that I have a computer and a keyboard that allows me to type (even when I have to backup and re-enter something due to a stroke error (pun intended).

So I will be posting more often and on subjects near and dear to me… but often, I will also be posting links or recommended sights or authors for you to check out because they’ve expressed something I want to share and they have done it so much better or clearer than my own thought process (I know, go figure).

Expect subject matter from how my own physical journey back to fitness is covered, to theology questions and answers, to open theism, to how we related to the Bible, to thoughts about Jesus and why I both believe in Him and am a follower of Him.  In fact, I often respond to the question of, “Are you a Christian?” with a short, “I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and let me explain the difference.”  (We’ll cover that in future posts as well.)

 

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I Stole This Idea – The Next Best Step

I subscribe to a weblog called the IF Life.  IF stands for “Intermittent Fasting.”  A cool concept, but not the focus of this post.  I am also into two other ideas of his, Two Meals a Day and BodyBurst Training.  But again, not the focus of this post.

The author, Mike O’Donnell, has an article he wrote and sent in his e-mail newsletter and also put on Facebook this morning.  I read through it rather quickly, as I often do, and then had a “WOW” moment; and went back to re-read it slowly and let the material sink in to my conscious.

I’ve nicknamed the idea “TYNBS” which stands for “Take Your Next Best Step.”  This is the main point of Mike’s simple motto; when you’ve done something that screws up your plans (in health, fitness, diet, training, or even your job, relationships or your lifestyle – don’t sit and whine about it.  Don’t be consumed with guilt.  Don’t even worry about it (okay, take three minutes to worry, then put it in your ‘worry box’ and forget about it).

Decide to TYNBS – Take Your Next Best Step.  As Mike explains, “It doesn’t really matter how you got there, only what you are going to do next.”  His point is this:  Okay, now what?  What are you going to do today?  What is the next best step for you to take now?  Don’t tell me that after Christmas (I really dislike calling this time of year the holidays) you plan to start a new exercise program.  I do not want to hear about the great diet you’re going to be engaged in as a new year’s resolution.  I want you (and especially me) to tell me what you’re going to do now – what’s your “Next Best Step?”

You know I recently posted an article following a small weight gain that I was going to “Quit Bread.”  I know I’m not perfect and may (probably will) slip up and fool myself into thinking, “well, it’s just this one time… I’m having a burger with some friends and I’ll get back on the wagon tomorrow.”  The goal now is to recognize the event if and when it happens and to not beat myself up over it.  I need to Take My Next Best Step.

This simple motto from Mike becomes a mantra.  Didn’t make the time to get the kettlebell swings in – take the next best step.  Disappointed my wife when I forgot to do something she had asked – take the next best step.  Let a day slide without studying my future means of self-employment as a freelance copywriter – take the next best step.  As with any of the areas discussed, including health, fitness, diet, finances, relationships, job or lifestyle, accept the mistake, quickly evaluate the situation, re-focus and determine what it is and “Take Your Next Best Step.”

This is what I’m going to do.  Mike tells us to “reflect and focus on what you want to do in life.  It won’t happen by chance.”  And like he suggests in his post, repeat this process … hourly … daily …monthly … for a lifetime.

You can, and I recommend you do, read his article here.  Then apply the motto to your own life.

~ Chuck

I QUIT! (Bread That Is)

I Quit!  

I put on about eight pounds in the past four days.  The biggest change was the amount of bread I ate in various forms: sandwiches and dinner rolls mostly – ham sandwiches, dinner rolls with the multiple turkey/thanksgiving dinners (we had three this year: one at each of the sister-in-laws (all good, by the way) on Thursday and Friday, and one more at home when my wife, Bonnie, cooked a turkey dinner, along with all the sides, for her parents at our home).

That was the major addition to my eating over those four days – lots of bread.  And I know better… I had lost 25 pounds over the past nine months or so, mostly by limiting the starches and sugars in my diet.  (Note: I’m also a recovering Type II diabetic.)

So it’s time to go back to what was successful in the past.  That means going back to the Primal/Paleo way of eating that worked before; why I got away from it?  Laziness, loss of discipline, loss of focus on the goal of rebuilding a better ‘house’ for the Holy Spirit to travel in.  Harks back to the old Jimmy Buffett phrase from one of his songs, “You treat your body like a temple, I treat mine like a tent.”

What I’m doing with this post is laying out some guidelines for the rest of my life.  A week from today, I’ll be 59 years old.  I have been complimented by many people who hear that fact that I don’t look that “old.”  Old is a very relative concept in today’s world of advances in medicine, nutrition, health and fitness, and technology.  But I tangent —

I’ve already posted on my Facebook page a quick note that I’m quitting bread – in all its various permutations.  No more sandwich bread (plain, toasted, white, whole wheat, etc.), hamburger or hot dog buns, bagels, french baguettes, dinner rolls, etc. so my Facebook friends can help keep me track with this pledge to eat bread no more… and, of course my wife commented, “Uh-oh, here we go again” because she is the one who most has to put up with changes to how I eat and what I consume as it makes it more difficult on her when planning meals.  (Sorry, babe; but if I want to reach the physical goals I’ve set, the diet and exercise must be congruent.)

How, you ask, will I do this?  What will I eat and what will I avoid?

I’m glad you asked.

To start with, these are the things I will be putting on my Avoid List:

Sugar – including soft drinks, fruit juices, most fruits, cakes, cookies, ice cream, candies, and other forms of sugar, like foods containing High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), corn syrup, table sugar, and other hidden sugars.  I will be using Splenda and Stevia as sweeteners during the transition completely away from any form of sugar (this may take a few months).

Starches – here I will severely limit potatoes (exception will be the small dutch potatoes we slather with olive oil and other spices and bake to go with the occasional steak dinner at home – only happens two or three times a month) and rice.  High starch fruits will also be greatly limited; but I realize that with a focus on ‘real’ foods, fruits in their natural form qualify.

Grains – basically the major avoid items… flour and flour products (goodbye burrito, hello burrito bowl), corn and corn products (so long potato chips and crackers), wheat (gluten) in any form – breads, bagels, pasta, crackers, etc.  Cereals, pizza (now that will be tough at first; I do like to pig out on a pizza and salad at Round Table), and other forms of grains.  Others may say otherwise, but I can only go with how my body reacts, and the near-elimination of these things gives me the best results.

Legumes – no more beans (my wife actually likes this one; I tended to produce negative emissions (gas? flatulence? fart? – what don’t you understand?)

Dairy – okay, this one is among the hardest to limit, but while I’ll still use 2% milk to ‘soften’ my coffee when heavy cream isn’t available, I will be getting rid of the blocks of extra-sharp cheddar cheese (sorry, Trader’s Joe) I bought and often turned into a meal by itself (along with half a bag or more of rice cakes and three or four large glasses of iced tea).

Wow, you say!  What’s left to eat?  How will you survive?

I’m glad you asked.

My W.O.E. (Way of Eating – sounds more realistic than diet, doesn’t it?  Besides, diet always sounds like something temporary and as others have pointed out, the first three letters in diet are D-I-E !!!  Here’s what’s on the To Eat List:

Meats – beef, fish, chicken, pork (ham and bacon, especially), lamp chops, turkey (mostly as a turkey burger to be eaten with a fork without any bun), all prepared by grilling, baking, pan-frying…

Eggs – lots and lots of eggs, prepared any style and usually with plenty of butter (No margarine!)  Truthfully, I could eat 3-6 eggs a meal, a couple of times a day – I love eggs.

Veggies – broccoli (steamed), carrots, celery, cucumbers, lettuce(s), onions, peppers, spinach (raw leaf), tomatoes, and even some grilled zucchini.  Most of these foods will be raw, and as you can see, can all be assembled into a terrific large salad meal in itself.  Be careful as to the salad dressing, and we’re still rockin and rollin.

Condiments – butter (unsalted), coconut oil, EVOO (extra-virgin olive oil), black pepper, mustard, salsa, hot sauce, Splenda/Stevia (already mentioned), and my one exception to the sugar/HFCS rule – once in a while, some Smucker’s apricot jam – to go with my eggs.

The few other things to eat sparingly will be nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts), and a very limited amount of cheese – like a slice of pepperjack to go the burger I’ll be eating with a bun but with a fork (I said primal, not savage).  I will eat some fruits during the year, but mostly the standard, everyday ones like apples, bananas, grapes, oranges and watermelon.

Beverages and liquids – water (filtered and purified, preferred), tea, both black (iced) and green (hot), and coffee, tempered with a little cream (growing up my dad used to joke I liked a little coffee to go with my milk!).

Add to this mix a planned exercise routine (10-15 minutes a day of body weight movements and kettlebells, 10-15 minutes of yoga-related movements, and a couple of times a week, some basic short sprint repeats (depending on the strength of my right knee recovery), and you have the plan to make a 59-year old body metamorph back to a much younger one.  Diet W.O.E. (way of eating) and exercise – there you have it in a summary.

And in order to have a goal, we must first know from where we are starting, so as embarrassing as it may be, the key stats here are:  at 5’7″ I weigh 173 pounds (even after a full breakfast 2 hours ago) and 39.5 inches as measured around the waist at the navel (relaxed, not tensed or suck in – what would be the point then? — or as friend often jokes, “Why go for a six-pack when you can have a keg?”)  The six-pack is not my goal – a leaner, more functional torso is on the plan.

(PS:  I re-read this a couple of times and kept asking myself, is the last paragraph necessary?  But if I don’t publicize where I start from, how can I (ever so humbly) proclaim where I get to? — so it stays)

~ Chuck