If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27

Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season therof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. D&C 59:18-20

Monday, July 25, 2011

Know your maintenance level

I think there is so much that is wrong with our attitude about how to lose weight.  I follow The Biggest Loser religiously and am really motivated by the success stories.  They put the contestants on strict calorie budgets that are pretty low--at least compared to what I've been on.  I believe the usual is 1200 calories for the women.  And they work out 4-5 hours a day.  On Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition, it appears the trainer follows the same strategy -- low calorie count and lots of hours of working out every day.

Let me bring you up to date with my program, which will explain why I think this is the wrong attitude.  At the first of July, I started to feel some stress following my calorie budget of 1750 per day.  On July 1 I reached a new low of 177.2, which marked a 36 pound loss in 6 months.  As you can see by my weight chart, that's been a pretty steady rate of loss.  As I've noted before, my personal trainer is the Lord -- I make whatever changes in my program that He inspires.  I was troubled at the beginning of the month because I felt like I was losing control again of my eating.  The inspiration that I received startled me -- it was to increase my calorie budget to 2000.  The other thing going on with me is that at the end of June I was feeling a lot of fatigue and discomfort from aches and pains.  I was still doing a lot of yard work while keeping up with my 1000 steps per day program.  It was just too much.  I felt inspired to take a break from the step program while I was doing so much yard work.  I didn't feel uncomfortable about that, because I knew I was getting a lot of activity, but adding an increase in calories to it worried me sick.

I didn't implement the new calorie budget right away -- on July 5th I did up it to 1900 calories, but finally on the 6th I brought it all the way up to 2000.  And what happened after that has shocked me.  I hit a new low on July 3 of 176.8, then had a bump in weight to 178 by July 6, hitting a high of 178.4 on July 8.  I thought, well here goes 6 months of work.  I was again at 178 on July 11.

By the 11th, the yard work had decreased and I was feeling a lot better.  I was inspired to start doing steps again, but just 500 steps and just using 20 lbs of weight.  On the 20th, I started alternating doing steps without weight to doing steps with upper body exercises.  I now alternate between 500 steps with no weight and 300 steps with 3 lbs weights at 50 steps for each of 6 upper body exercises.

Wow!  I've upped my calories and decreased my physical activity, and I'm not gaining weight; I'm not even just maintaining; I'm actually hitting new lows.

The American public seems to have an All or Nothing attitude about losing weight.  It's either go on a very low calorie budget and do hours of strenuous exercise OR do nothing, make no effort at all.  Once people decide they are going to lose the weight, they demand it come off right now!  Not all of it of course, but enough each week to deserve bragging rights.

Now, when winter comes and the summer-time activity ceases, I most likely will be inspired to up my steps again -- we'll see what happens.  But I think the point of this exercise has been to show that a person can lose weight while enjoying a much higher calorie level than is generally recommended, and that more activity, not necessarily strenuous exercise, does a lot to help promote a good reaction to the calorie budget.

Here is my updated weight chart.  I put a green arrow to mark July 1.  Click to enlarge.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Stepping up the Steps

Last night when about 500 steps into my 900-step routine, carrying 33 lbs of added weight, I felt inspired to increase the steps to 1000, which I did.  It was hard--I don't think I've ever sweat so much doing exercise, drops of sweat falling off my face and much of my t-shirt damp.  Now the question is, how to increase my arm exercises to get the extra 100 steps in for my even-day routine.  I've been doing 140 steps of each of 5 arm exercises (=700), and 100 steps of holding one 10 lb weight straight out in front of me (excellent for core strength), and 100 of just holding a 10 lb weight in each hand.  Tonight I'm going to do 150 of each of the last 2, and that will give me 1000 steps.

My weight this morning was 180.6, down a full lb from last Tuesday.  For many people, losing only one pound a week will be much too slow to satisfy their rush to get the weight off.  But for me, it's not just about losing weight, it's about enjoying life while I'm losing it and having the confidence to know that what I am doing is inspired by Heavenly Father -- He knows much better than anyone else what my body needs at this time.  I still can't believe I am even losing weight at all from a 1750 calorie budget.  Steps take me about 50 minutes or so, and since I do them at home, I don't have any lost time from driving to and from a gym. I'm able to listen to scriptures while I do steps, so I am not only strengthening my body, but nourishing my spirit.

It's a very good program for me, and I'm indeed grateful for the inspiration from Heavenly Father.  I don't know what mechanism fails when we let ourselves go like that, but I feel it is just one of the addictive behaviors that plague our society -- be it drugs, or alcohol, or food, or pornography, or computer games, or whatever.  God gives us weaknesses so we may become strong.  Whatever weakness we have, it's for our good.

Here's my progress chart.  Click to enlarge.

Edited to Add:

I had barely gotten started with my steps tonight when I felt inspired to do 200 each of the 5 arm exercises -- so I did.  That was tough.  Since I do the arm exercises for half (10 out of each 20 steps), that totaled 100 repetitions of each exercise, using 10 lb weights in each hand.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Downward, ever downward -- Breaking through the 2009 low

This last week I not only secured a place below my previous 2010 low of 184.2, I also ducked below my 2009 low of 182.  So this was a very good week.  And, alas, time to add another lb to the weighted vest, which now puts me up to 32 lbs. to carry on my even-days steps.

Gardening and yard work is helping out, as it keeps me much more active during the day. However, I was so worn out by Saturday night, that I decided to forgo my steps for that night.  In addition, on Saturday my granddaughter didn't want the last 1/4 of her ice cream bar, so I took it off her hands, but then forgot to write down the 40 calories on my daily consumption.  I remembered on Sunday, too late to do anything about it.  However, I deducted it from my Sunday calories and did 40 extra steps on Monday night.  I am still doing 1750 for my calorie budget.

I continue to be very pleased with the success of this program, and I owe it all to my Lord Jesus Christ, who knows me and my body better than I or any mortal expert does, and who gently guides me into getting the right program.  I have a strong testimony that all of the plans that I've followed were inspired by a Wise and Loving God who knew what was best for me at the time.  Yes, I've had periods of failure when I gave up on myself, but He's never given up on me.

Here are the 2 charts as of today, Tuesday, June 7, 2011.  My next milestone is to break out of the severely obese category, which is to get under 173 lbs.  I highly recommend using these categories as milestones, because they do mark a dramatic change for your body.  Forget dress size -- focus instead on the work your body must do to carry all that extra weight.  If you don't believe me, strap 32 lbs on yourself and try to go about your life as usual.  Then imagine what it's like to carry 50, 75, 100 and even more extra pounds, 24/7.

You can click either chart to enlarge.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I've reached my previous low of 184.2

Today my weight matched my previous low of 184.2.  I include another chart to show that daily weight can very much be a yo-yo.  These yo-yo periods teach us that many factors go into how our body regulates weight, and changes from day-to-day can affect it.  But as long as one is following the calorie budget and getting in the daily exercise, the trend will be downward, and that's what is most important.

The upgrade to 900 steps plus doing a lot of yard and gardening work has really taxed my body this week.  Last night I tried to talk myself into not doing steps, into taking an extra day off to recover, but luckily for me, my stubbornness this time was on the side of not yielding.  As I did the steps, I felt it more in my muscles than I have for a long time, but that is good.

And that's what life is all about -- doing more than we think we are capable of doing so we become stronger.  If we only did what was comfortable and easy, we would be physical weaklings.  The difficulties of life in past centuries for the common people naturally produced more physical strength, but with the coming of modern conveniences, it is all too easy to slip into being a couch potato.

The same is true spiritually.  We develop a vending machine mentality -- just as we put our coins into vending machines and expect a product to be dispensed immediately, we expect immediate blessings from our obedience and virtue.  And as we buy insurance to protect us from the cost of medical and other emergencies, we expect our obedience and virtue to protect us from all adversity and hardship - a cover-everything, no deductible, no co-pay policy.  The expectation of being free from adversity and hardship is wholly contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I love the way it is expressed in this verse:

And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.  Helaman 5:12

Why does God allow the devil to attack us so viciously?  To develop spiritual strength. We should look at adversity and hardship as being just as important for developing spiritual strength as physical activity and exercise is for developing physical strength.  And just as I've accepted God as my personal trainer in developing greater physical strength through weight control and physical activity, I must accept God as my personal trainer in developing greater spiritual strength.

Click chart to enlarge.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A new change in my Plan -- Increase steps from 800 to 900

I had just started my steps on Thursday night (5-19-11) when I felt inspired to increase the number from 800 to 900.  I quickly responded that I wanted to wait till  . . . but the thought was cut off in my mind, and I continued to feel inspired to increase to 900.  So I did.  Thursday night is my Odd-Day routine, where I do arm exercises while doing the steps.  When I was doing 500 steps, I only did 5 arm exercises, 100 for each, in sets of 20, and I would work up to doing the arm exercise for about 15 out of each 20.  When I graduated to 600 steps, I simply did 120 for each of the 5 exercises.  At 700 steps, I added 2 more arm exercises to do and still did 100 for each, with 10 out of each 20 steps doing the arm exercise, and the remaining 10 holding the weights in my hands.  By that time I was up to the 10# weights.  At 800 steps, I started doing 120 steps for each of the main 5 arm exercises, and 100 steps for the remaining 2.  Now at 900 steps, I do 140 for each of the 5 main exercises and 100 for the remaining 2.

It was quite a challenge to jump from 800 to 900 steps, but I got it done.  The next night, Friday night, was my Even-Day routine of doing the steps with added weight equivalent to what I've lost during this current plan.  On Friday night, that was 28 lbs.  I use ankle weights, wrist weights, and a weighted vest.  Even though I'm doing nothing but the steps, the added weight is quite a challenge, more so than the Odd-Day routine.

In addition to the added difficulty of the steps, I've been doing a lot of yard work.  So I'm very, very glad today is Sunday and I can rest from all my labors!

I'm getting very close to my 2nd short-term goal of breaking through the 184.2 low that I set twice before -- as the weights for the last three mornings are:  185.4, 184.6, 185.0.    I'll wait until I've broken through before publishing another chart, since I just published one a few days ago.

As far as weights, if I were using a scale that showed only lbs, there wouldn't be any change for days.  It all comes out in the wash, but there is a definite psychological advantage to see some incremental improvement.  At least I think so.

If you are looking for a good scale, I recommend HealthMeter.  I picked mine up at an Alco store years ago, and it's so dependable and consistent.  If you can't weigh yourself 2-3 times consecutively and get the same weight, you don't have an accurate scale.  If you can't weigh and then pick the scale up and move it to another place, and weigh again with the same results, you don't have an accurate scale.  With my HealthMeter, I can do that.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Romney as a viable candidate / Progress on Weight Loss

I know Mitt Romney, who appears to be the current front runner since Huckabee and Trump said they will not run, will face a lot of hostility from a certain part of the public because he is Mormon and also because of Romneycare.  But if Glenn Beck can get a strong coalition of Mormons and non-Mormons as his viewing audience, then Romney should be able to face that challenge.

Regarding Romneycare -- folks, that's the rights the Constitution gives to the States, to adopt whatever programs they want to take care of their citizens. It's perfectly alright if MA wants a government-run health care program -- and they can raise whatever taxes or make whatever accommodations they feel necessary in order to pay for it.  If they cease to want it, they can elect politicians to repeal it.

But what's alright for the States to do is NOT alright for the Federal Government to do.  The FG has no Constitutional right whatsoever to impose a national health care plan.  None whatsoever.  That's what people just simply don't understand.

So I don't hold Romneycare at all against Romney -- he did what MA wanted him to do, and it was totally their Constitutional right to enact such a plan, as long as it didn't violate their own State Constitution, but that's for MA to work out.

Personal Goals

I am very pleased with my weight loss progress.  Since I last wrote, I have lost a total of 28 lbs, so am now carrying that much weight doing my 800 steps on M-W-F.  On T-Th-S I am still using the 10 lb weights to do upper body exercises during the 800 steps.  On May 9 I felt inspired to reduce my calorie budget to 1750 calories, and that is working out well.  With Spring here, finally, I'm working in the yard and the garden, in addition to my steps, so I'm more active than during the winter.

When I started on this current plan, I calculated my calorie budget for 150 lbs. at moderate activity, and that equaled 1903 calories.  Recently, I calculated my calorie budget for 124 lbs (the top of my "healthy weight") at moderate activity and I'm pleased to find out that it is 1820 calories.  I've found 1800 calories to be quite satisfying, so now I have the assurance that I can live quite well on my healthy weight calorie budget.

I have my sights set on my previous low of 184.2 lb.  As you can see from the following chart, I reached 184.2 twice in 2010 -- I didn't hit a plateau, I just simply stopped following my plan and went back to my old habits.  There's an interesting concept taught by Jesus in Luke chapter 11:

24When the aunclean spirit is gone out of a man, bhe walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, che saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out.
 25aAnd when he cometh, he findeth it swept and bgarnished.
 26Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.

I believe what Jesus is teaching us is that if we revert back to our old ways after once having overcome then, then our state is much worse than before.  I have found this to be very true.
I'm very close to breaking through that barrier, and the test will be if I get stupid again and abandon a very successful plan or stick with it.  (Click to enlarge.)

I'm including the chart of my current plan to show the reality of a slow-paced weight loss, as it's a much slower weight loss than appears above, with many ups and downs.  I like to weigh daily, but some people can't handle these frequent ups and downs, so they should only weigh weekly.  It's all personal preference, do what works best for you.  (Click to enlarge)

NOTE:  May 19, I updated the current plan chart to include the first 2 short-term goals.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Christianity on The Survivor

In past seasons, various contestants on Survivor have announced they intend to play according to Christian principles, and either failed to do so, or didn't go very far in the game.  Hence, most people believe it's impossible for a Christian to win at the game of Survivor, which seems to require a lot of promise-breaking, blind-siding, and betrayal.

This season is different.  Two very prominent Christians are still very much in the game -- Matt and Mike.  It's all possible because of a new plot to the game - Redemption Island.  When contestants are voted off, they are not sent home immediately, but to Redemption Island, where they can keep themselves in the game by winning a duel.  Of course, the concept of Redemption is very Christian.

Matt, a member of the Omatepe tribe, was the first person to be voted out at Tribal Council and sent to Redemption Island.  After winning 6 duels, he was brought back to join the merged tribes.  Matt struggled with the choices he had -- of remaining loyal to the tribe who voted him out or seeking new alliances.  He did resist the temptation to join with the outnumbered Zapatera tribe, but did take steps to ally with Andrea to fool Rob into thinking they were on his side until the opportunity came up to eliminate Rob.  Matt then had a bout of conscience, and went and confessed to Rob what he had done.  I suppose many ridiculed him for doing that, calling it stupid.  But it was the right Christian thing to do.  Matt was promptly voted out and sent back to Redemption Island.

Mike is an Iraqi vet, and while I did not agree with his decision to help eliminate Russell, it wasn't a blind-side or a broken promise, and certainly not a betrayal.  He did what he thought was best for his tribe.  The fault in it was that Zapatera intentionally threw the immunity challenge so they could eliminate Russell.

Of course Mike was next to go after Matt as he was the biggest threat to Rob among the remaining Zapatera tribe members.

So now we've had Mike and Matt at Redemption Island.  Matt has not been silent about his struggle to deal with God's will concerning him.  At times he was ready to give up, then recommitted to God that he would stay as long as God wanted him in the game.  He left it in God's hands, willing to accept His will, but put forth his full effort in the contests, which now involved more than one person, with the loser being the one sent to the Jury.  Mike and Matt have remained in the game for 3 contests now, but this last contest is the one that was truly remarkable.

Matt's Christianity had its effect on Julie, who when eliminated by Matt and Mike, promised that she was going to find a Church when she got home and go regularly.  Matt's actions, however, far surpassed that.

The contest was between four of them -- Matt, Mike, Ralph, and Steve.  3 would remain alive, and the loser sent home.  But the first one finished got a special prize -- a visit from a family member of friend.  After being out thee so many days, that can be a real morale booster.  They all had someone waiting in the wings, and they knew who their family/friend was because they had previously seen short video greetings from them.

Mike won the contest, and so he had a choice.  Enjoy the afternoon with his mother, give the prize to Matt and Ralph who remained alive in the game, or give it to the 6 Omatepe tribe members in the grandstand.  Mike felt that God wanted him to follow the 2nd great commandment, to love his neighbor as himself, but he in fact followed the more explicit, love your enemies, do good to them with despitefully use you and persecute you, and he gave the prize to the 6 Omatepe members.

Matt was in reverent awe, saying he didn't think he could have done that, but he was glad Mike did.  Ralph was angry.

Did it get any votes for Mike if he ends up in the final 3?  I don't have any doubt that is not the reason Mike did it -- he did it because he felt the Spirit of God telling him to be a Christian first and foremost.

For once, Survivor has selected Christian contestants that truly do live their Christian values - no matter what's at stake.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Very disappointed in Rulon

I'm a big fan of The Biggest Loser, the reality show on NBC that's in its 11th season.  This weeks episode left a very bad taste in my mouth.  Rulon, a Gold medal Olympian wrestler, walked off the show.  He's been a strange one almost from the beginning, as he seemed to think being on the show was beneath him, but he had to get the help so he swallowed his pride and went on.  That may not be an accurate representation, but that's how he came across to me.  In this last episode, the remaining contestants had to pull a car, as they did in the season Tara was on.  To add to the drama of "Favorites" week, Tara was invited back to participate.  The stakes were tickets to a race, picture on the Wheaties box, and $5K.  Rulon drooled over the prize because even though other Gold-medal Olympians have had their pictures on Wheaties boxes, he never had that privilege.  However, Tara beat him, by inches.  I felt that was why he left the show, because he was just too embarrassed that he was beaten by a woman.

What upset me the most is that his exit did not keep anyone else from going home.  Earlier in the season when Kaylee wanted to go home, her team of 3 rigged the weigh-in to lose, and the agreement was she of the three would be sent home.  But it backfired and they didn't lose the weigh-in.  But at least she tried to spare someone else from being eliminated.

Now they are weighing in as singles, so Rulon could have thrown the weigh-in and asked his fellow contestants to spare the other person and send him home.  Such requests are almost always honored.  But instead he just announced he was leaving, and so another person still had to be sent home.  That was Kaylee. She could have had another week at the ranch to help her understand why she was in such an up-down cycle with her weight.  But Rulon wasn't gracious enough to exit in a way that ensured all of the other contestants would remain for another week.  That irks me.

To end on a positive note, WAY TO GO! Tara.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Sunday -- Weekly Update

What a glorious day Easter Sunday is.  The Atonement in Gethsemane and on the cross, followed by the resurrection -- can we truly ever understand what Jesus Christ did for us?

I'm very happy with my continued progress.  I've not only fully recovered from the trip, but have hit 3 consecutive new lows.  My scale weighs by the .2 lbs, so the new lows are tiny successes, but successes nonetheless.  It's the downward trajectory that's important, not how long it takes me to get there.

I'm 4.6 lbs from reaching my last "low" on October 1, 2010, which was also the low I hit in Feb/Mar 2010.  My next previous low was 182 on May 10, 2009.  I'll be very glad to break that 182 barrier.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How did I do on the trip, and after?

When I've got a good program going, I'm always anxious about taking a trip or having some other encounter where I have to yield considerable control over my diet and activity level.  This was no different.

On Tuesday, April 12, I weighed in at 190.4 lbs, which was my low so far (3 days in a row).  Tuesday was travel day, so not much activity except walking through the Salt Lake City and Oakland airports.  And lots of sitting.  Not too bad on the diet.  Wednesday was a lot of walking, as I was on site for 8 hours, with very little sitting during that time.  The diet was a bit worse.  Thursday more walking, for about a 6 hour period, but the diet deteriorated even more.  Friday was travel day. I flew to Burbank and met with friends and enjoyed pizza and toasted bread sticks. Very good.  Then I flew back to Oakland and then on to Salt Lake City.

Saturday I resumed my 1800 calorie budget, but was very tired all day so I rested instead of doing my step routine.  But I was back at it Monday night.

So, what was the damage?  Saturday morning I weighed 192.8, and Sunday morning 193.6. That was the peak of the weight gain.  Monday down to 192.6; same on Tuesday; Wednesday down to 191.6; and this morning, back to my pre-trip low of 190.4.

I'm very pleased with the success of this particular program.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weekly Update

I'm still plugging along on this current program.  I'm up to 23 lbs of weight for my A days, which is difficult to do.   My last entry, April 3, I weighed 191.6.  This morning I weighed 190.4.  The weight loss is slow, but that's okay.  I'm feeling pretty good, have a lot more energy, and it's starting to actually look like I've lost some weight -- at least it is obvious to me.

I leave later today on my 4-day trip, so I won't be able to do any exercise other than the rigor of all the walking I'll be doing.  I've been feeling some anxiety, wondering if I will be able to resist the temptation to let go on this trip.  I know I can resist, with God's help - I've done it plenty of times before.  But, I've also yielded plenty of times before.  So I don't take it for granted that I'll have the strength to resist the temptation this time -- I must rely on my Savior for the strength I need.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

My progress

I'm very pleased that this new program is working so well.  I'm still at 1800 calories for my daily budget, but have made a few adjustments to my steps program.

March 28 - Increased to 800 steps.  For the A days, that 800 steps carrying 21 extra pounds of weight.  For the B days, I divided the 800 steps up as follows:  1st 5 arm exercises @ 120 steps each = 600 steps; remaining 2 arm exercises at 100 each, for a grand total of 800 steps.

I've gone down another pound, so I've added another pound weight for the A days.

Just in case some people did look at the overall chart and think, My she's losing the weight too fast, I've created a chart just for this current program.  It started out pretty rapid, and that was just from cutting out candy and soda, but after that original reaction, I've just enjoyed a gradual loss. I do weigh daily, so you see all the little ups and downs.

I am amused sometimes at the objections people have to losing weight fast, claiming they just gain it all back.  Well, I'm absolute evidence that when you lose it slow, you can still gain a great deal of it back, if not all.

The secret is to not be tricked into the mindset that I can abandon my calorie budget or stop my fitness routine and just pick it up again later.  In my experience, I have been able to, but then comes that inevitable time when the will power just isn't there any more, and it's too much of a struggle to get control again.  I obviously stop weighing when I've gone off budget -- and perhaps if I would just force myself to continue weighing every day and recording it, that might put the brakes on some weight gains.

Regardless, it's something that I will always have to deal with, and I'm just glad that I'm in a season of having some success.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My current program

I've decided to re-publish my weight loss chart, although my relapse into obesity is a personal embarrassment to me and a terrible frustration.  Perhaps someone can benefit from my constant struggle.  The chart starts on October 24, 2005, at a weight of 255 lbs.  I didn't know it then, but for my height, that put me in the super obese category.  That's bad.  Really bad.  I hit my low of 145 lbs on February 6, 2008.  That's 2 years and 3 1/2 months to lose 110 lbs. and to do it in a very consistent, downward fashion.  Losing the weight wasn't that much of a struggle -- I had a couple of different methods that I switched between and I was able to get some good physical activity consistently.  I had a mind-set that whatever my situation, I adapted.

Then I lost that mindset.  I know from my journals that the first crack in the mindset occurred when I pulled some all-nighters in order to meet a pressing deadline for a website project I was working on.  Then I took an out of town trip and thought it wouldn't matter how lousy I ate during that trip because I could get right back to eating right.  That is my downfall -- I can overeat today because I can eat less tomorrow and make up the difference.  Addiction doesn't give vacations.  It's ever present, just waiting for a chance to get you back into its clutches.  That's a hard lesson to learn.

I didn't just give up and throw in the towel, though -- well, not for very long at least.  I made some valiant efforts to get my eating under control again.  This last effort started on December 28, 2010, with reduced calorie intake by simply just eliminating junk food and soda.  My primary motivation was extreme concern about my health.  I had been on a very long period of severe insomnia, going days on end only getting 2-3 hours a sleep at night.  I was physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted.  I felt that my weight was at least a contributing factor, and felt like if I didn't reverse the upward trend, I would soon be attending my own funeral.

On January 1, 2011, I added steps, starting off with 300.  Steps is such an easy thing to do at home.  I love going to a gym, but I can't afford a gym membership and I don't like all the extra time it takes just to get there and back, in addition to the workout time.  The step only costs about $30 and takes up very little space.  I don't do any "routine" -- I simply do steps.  Doing 300 steps was a challenge, not only because I was physically out of shape, but because I was still exhausted from the insomnia, which had eased quite a bit, but still a problem.  I do my steps at night while listening to my scriptures off the computer.  It's a wonderful way to combine spiritual and physical fitness.  Then it's a hot bath and off to bed.  That helped to continue to break the back of the insomnia.

On January 9, my weight loss, which had started out so good, had stalled, so I decided I needed to go on a calorie budget.  I realistically set my goal weight at 150, as at that level I felt very good and even though overweight, I was satisfied with how I looked.  I calculated my calorie intake for that weight at a moderate level of activity, which equals 1903 calories.  So I set that as my calorie budget to start the next day.  I knew I needed some motivation to follow that budget, so I imposed both a reward and a penalty.  For my reward, I earn a penny for every calorie I am under budget which when I've saved enough, can be spent for something very frivolous, indulgent, and unnecessary.  For my penalty, I have to do an extra step for every pound I am over.

That may not seem like much of a penalty, but on the very first day, I was over budget by 380 calories.  I was up to 440 steps by that time, so I had to add 380 steps to 440 for a grand total of 820 steps.  That indeed was a penalty.  But I did them, and the memory of how hard it was is still very much with me.  The most calories I have gone over budget since then is 3.

January 12, I added some weights to my steps -- a single 5 lb weight held straight out in front of me, chest high, for 5 out of every 20 steps.  I was up to my goal of 500 steps by then.  Each night, I increased one more step until I reached 13 steps out of every 20 with the weight.  I found holding the weights in front to be very good for strengthening my core muscles.

January 22 I incorporated some upper body exercises into the steps, using 2 5-lb weights and still doing 500 steps.  I wanted to increase my upper body strength as well as continue to strengthen core muscles.

January 24 I upgraded to 8-lb weights, still doing 500 steps, starting out at 5 out of 20, and adding one more step each night with the weights.  On January 31 I reached 10 out of 20, and felt inspired to start alternating days:  "A" days would be just steps holding a 5-lb weight in each hand, and "B" days would be steps with weights + upper body exercises.  I still continued to add 1 step out of each 20 with weights on the B days till I reached 12 out of 20.

February 4 - I lowered my calorie budget to 1850 calories; February 7 - I increased my weights to 8 lbs., following the same pattern of starting at 5 out of 20 and adding one more each time; February 14 - dropped my calorie budget to 1800 calories.  February 16 - I increased the number of steps to 600 for both "A" and "B" days. On "B" days, I did 120 steps for each of the 5 upper body exercises that I did.

February 28 - I upgraded to 10 lb weights, changed the number of steps to 700 for both "A" days and "B" days, added 2 more upper body exercises for the "B" days and did 100 for each, and replaced ankle weights and wrist weights for holding a 10 lb weight in each hand for the "A" days, as I felt that 10 lbs in each hand would put too much stress on my wrists and elbows.   That wasn't as much combined weight, only 10 lbs total compared to 20 lbs total, but my intent was to have the "A" days be less intensity than the "B" days.

Shortly after, I saw a The Biggest Loser segment wherein the 2 trainers were going to have their contestants work out with body weights strapped on equal to the amount of weight they'd lost, so they wouldn't forget what it was like carrying all that extra weight.  I thought that was a good idea, and decided I would use the "A" days to carry my "lost" weight doing steps.  So on March 14, I invested in an adjustable weight vest that would go from 1-20 lbs using 1 lb weights.  I so far had a 19 lb loss, so I added enough weights to the vest that combined with the ankle weights and wrist weights equaled 19 lbs.

March 15 - After reaching 10 out of 20 for my "B" days, I didn't want to go any higher for either repetitions or for weights, so I decided to add some intensity to those workouts by holding a 10 lb weight in each hand some of the last 10 steps of each set of 20.

March 22 - I upgraded the "B" days to holding the weights in each hand for the balance of the 10 steps out of 20 for the entire 700 steps.

March 23 - I upgraded the weight vest for a total combined weight of 20 lbs to match my current weight loss.

I am currently at a 21 lb loss, so I will be adding one more lb to my weight vest tomorrow night.

I've considered dropping my calorie budget to 1750, but have felt inspired to put that off.

So that's my progress so far on this most recent effort to control my eating and improve my physical fitness.  I have an upcoming vacation April 12-15, so it remains to be seen whether that will throw me back into the other mindset.  That's what happened last October -- and that did me in for the whole rest of the year.

When you look at the weight chart -- it appears that my weight losses were very rapid -- so be sure to read the dates along the bottom line.  The blue dots represent actual weights, and the purple line is the trend line.  You can click on the chart to enlarge it.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Audience? -- Who were the Gospel writers trying to persuade?

I believe the Gospels are intended to be universal -- that is, they can benefit anyone of any persuasion during any time period.  However, I also believe they had intended audiences, a select group of people they particularly wanted to persuade.

While attending BYU and taking the Bible as Literature classes, I learned that many scholars believe that Matthew was written to and for the Jews, Luke to and for the Gentiles, and John to and for the converted disciples.  No one really seems to know who Mark's intended audience was.

I've read the Bible a number of times, and I don't agree with the intended audiences, especially for Matthew and Luke.  I think they have it backwards. Luke's intended audience pretty much is based on his Greek name and that he is writing his Gospel to Theophilus, assumed to be Greek.  But one of the classes I took on Jerusalem through the ages introduced me to the fact that during the Maccabean period, many Jews took Greek names, either simply to make it easier to do business, or in other ways to better assimilate with the Greeks.  In addition, we know the New Testament was written in Greek, that Jesus is the Greek name for Christ, that Paul is the Greek name for Saul, that Matthew is the Greek name for Levi.  Why are we surprised then that Luke is merely the Greek version of his name?  The same may be true for Theophilus.  Furthermore, in Chapter 3, vs. 19 (JST), Luke while specifically mentions that Theophilus is well-acquainted with "the manner of the Jews," and "the custom of their law."  So these two names being Greek is not a good enough reason, in my opinion, to assume that Luke's Gospel was intended specifically for the Gentiles.

Besides audience, the underlying thesis is very important.

  • Matthew's thesis is that Christ is the fulfillment of the Prophets, and is written to those unfamiliar with the Old Testament (Gentiles).
  • Luke's thesis is that Christ fulfills the Mosaic Law, and is written to the learned Jews. 
  • Mark's thesis is that Jesus spoke and acted with Authority and I don't have a clue, so far, who his audience was.
  • John's thesis is that Christ is the Son of God, and his audience also seems to be the learned Jews.
Matthew's lineage for Christ traces back to David and then to Abraham.  This is important because it points to the person unfamiliar with the Old Testament the importance of the Abrahamic covenant and that Christ would come through the lineage of David.  Thus, to the Gentiles he's saying, the Gospel comes to you through the Jews.  He's also giving the lineage that entitles Christ to be King of the Jews, so the Gentiles know that Christ truly is a King.  It's Matthew,not Luke, that includes the visit of the Magi (Gentiles), thus letting the Gentiles know that they have been given a witness of this divine birth.  It's Matthew, not Luke, that provides the account of the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt and the subsequent return, prefiguring the passing of the Gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles.

Luke's lineage for Christ traces back to David, to let the learned Jews know that He is of the proper descent, but then all the way back to Adam.  I believe this is a strong message to the learned Jews that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, is universal.  No longer will Jews be able to claim an exclusive relationship with the God of the Old Testament.  

Matthew repeatedly says that events in Christ's life are the fulfillment of the Prophets, and he says which Prophet, often quoting that prophet.  This would not be necessary if he were specifically addressing the Jews, but quite essential when speaking to the Gentiles, who have no familiarity with the Old Testament.

Luke's approach is little different.  He does occasionally identify a prophetic fulfillment, but he shows that Christ fulfilled every dot and tittle of the Mosaic Law without doing the same.  He simply states what was done without adding, This in fulfillment of the Law of Moses, or something similar.  That to me is the strongest evidence that he was addressing an audience whom he knew to be so familiar with and obsessed with the Law of Moses, that he need not give any references.  In a future article, I'll list all of the elements of the Law of Moses that he shows Christ fulfilling.

More on this subject later . . . 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

More Politics . . .

Bradley Manning
In case anyone is not familiar with the name, here's a brief history from Wikipedia:
Manning had been assigned in October 2009 to a support battalion with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, based at Forward Operating Base Hammer, Iraq. There he had access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet), used by the United States government to transmit classified information. He was arrested after Adrian Lamo, an American computer hacker, reported to the FBI that Manning had told him during online chats in May 2010 that he had downloaded material from SIPRNet and passed it to WikiLeaks, which had begun publishing it in February.
Some are lamenting the treatment Manning is getting -- solitary confinement for 24/7 and suicide watch, which pretty much requires Manning to be naked -- arguing that it is "torture" intended to break Manning down to admit a direct connection to WikiLeaks' Julian Assange.

Two points I'd like to make -- where are all those who think waterboarding selective foreign terrorists involved in 9/11 is torture, but aren't condemning this kind of treatment of an American citizen?  The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven.  But of course, this is done on Obama's watch, which proves the outcry from the left during the Bush years was indeed very partisan.

Second, how does a soldier with Manning's rank get access to classified documents?  I don't believe the cover-story.  And I don't believe the ill-treatment is intended to make Manning confess to a direct connection with Assange -- I think it's because they know that someone else very high up gave Manning the codes he needed to access that classified data.  They want that connection, that name.

Is Manning a hero or a villain of the worst color?  I don't know, as I don't have enough information to argue one way or the other.  In my opinion, heroism and villainism depend as much on motives as on the actions, perhaps even more so.  I don't know why Manning did what he did.  I do know that the American people have a right to know what our Government is doing behind our backs.  I believe that sunshine is the only way to prevent and detect corruption, and I suspect there has been an awful lot of corruption in our Government for a very long time.

I have no objections to Gitmo -- those terrorist prisoners have to be kept somewhere, and I prefer that it's not anywhere in the contingent USA.  I am quite perturbed, however, that the Executive Order that keeps Gitmo open also allows us to detain terrorist suspects even AFTER they have been acquitted in a trial.  That's outrageous.  No one should be detained after being acquitted.  I understand that part of the system must assume these detainees are guilty of terrorism against the US when they first arrive and through the trial.  That's the only way a case can be made against them.  The Prosecutors are under no Constitutional obligation to presume innocence -- that's the role of the Judges, the Juries, and the public.  However, once an acquittal comes through a trial -- people can think what they want of the justice of the verdict, but the person must be set free.  If they are given military tribunals, as allowed by laws Congress has passed, then I think we can rest assured that the jury will not be unduly sympathetic to the suspect.  Thus an acquittal should have more credibility than what we might have if the terrorist suspect was tried before civil jurors.  This really disturbs me.

Unions, especially Teacher's Unions
I'm all for busting the power the Unions have over our school districts, cities, and states.  As far as I can see, Walker and the Republican legislature are doing what they said they would do, which promises gave them an impressive mandate from the voters.  The question is, do the people of Wisconsin understand what they voted for?  Do they really understand the issues, or were they swayed by 30-second sound bites without really looking into the intended consequences of those promises.

I believe a lot of people voted for Obama without knowing what he stood for -- they put their own interpretation on what he said, and ignored anyone who said he meant something entirely different.  Now they realize he didn't mean what they thought, and they don't like what he meant.  Is that going to happen in Wisconsin?  Will the people realize they didn't really want what Walker and the Republicans promised?

So now it's up to the people -- Will they stand firm with Walker and the Republican legislature, or turn their backs on them and boot them out with recalls?

This will be an indicator of whether the American people really do want a balanced budget, really do want to stop the reckless spending -- or do they only want it so long as it doesn't affect their pocketbooks or disturb their peace and tranquility?

Early Presidential Favorite
At this point, I know more about who I don't want to win the Republican nomination than who I do want to win.  I don't want:  Gingrich (he's had his chance and blew it), Huckabee (don't get me started), Romney (not conservative enough for my tastes), Palin (too much baggage), Paul (proven he doesn't have the public support).  Some Governors look like they'd be good candidates, but I'd like to see a little more of what they can do.

Donald Trump is considering a run for the nomination.  I went to the website advocating his run to see what he is all about.  Trump is pro-life, and is opposed to legalizing gay marriage -- those are two very big pluses for me.

One of the international issues that caught my attention is his intent, if President, to demand a seat at the OPEC table and to negotiate with OPEC for our oil prices.  Also, he would cease the "free" military protection we give wealthy countries like South Korea -- either they pay for the protection, or we close up shop and come home.

As far as baggage, I'm sure that by his age he's said enough things to give his opponents something to use against him, but I look at the whole picture, not isolated incidents.  And if things were said in the distant past, what have recent actions indicated?  People do change their minds.

So right now, I'm looking seriously at Trump.

I do think all of candidates must give us a lot more detail about their positions and their solutions.  They can't do that in 30-second soundbites, and not enough media cover entire talks.  Nor do the debates give that much opportunity to really delve into the issues.  Websites seem to be the best solution -- the best way to give the detail that serious voters want.

I recall having a High School teacher that required us to follow the Johnson-Goldwater Presidential race. We had to collectively come up with the 12 most important issues, then collectively determine the position of each on those issues.  This took us several class discussions and lots of homework to complete.  Then we voted on each issue - which one we favored, and why.  Then we voted for each candidate and had to give the reasons why.  It would be great if all voters would devote the same attention to selecting a President.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Changes to my blog

I changed the style just to have something different -- change is refreshing.  I chose the background because it reminds me of shooting for the stars.  The 3 quotes I put under the title reflect reality -- we are humans with weaknesses, and my particular weakness is my battle with obesity.  I've managed quite well at times, but sooner or later I give in and gain the weight back, oftentimes plus more.  So what is the solution?  It's to admit this is going to be a lifelong battle that can only be ultimately won through faith in Jesus Christ.  As with Paul in the New Testament, Christ has chosen not to remove this thorn from my side, so I must learn to deal with it.

These are some things I've learned through years of experience dealing with this issue:
  • It's my issue, and I'll deal with it in my own way.
  • There are many ways to skin this cat -- and what works at one time, doesn't work at another time.
  • Not all food eaten must be nutritious, or in its most nutritious form.  That's why the 3rd quote is included, to remind me that food is for enjoyment as well as nutrition.
  • The Lord knows what's best for me, thus the need to keep in tune with the Spirit when planning diets and exercise programs.
  • I prefer to be private about this, but the Lord inspires me to be public so others may benefit from my successes and failures.
  • There's no such thing as a "recovered" food addict -- we are always in a state of "recovering."  
  • All things in moderation is the guiding principle, but if certain foods induce binging they should be totally eliminated for a period of a few weeks, and then try again to see if you can control the amount consumed.  
  • Everyone has a calorie budget -- we can tweak it a bit through good diet and adequate exercise, but for the most part, we're stuck with it.  Exceptions, of course, are thyroid or hormonal problems that cause disturbance in the metabolic rate.  Most of us don't have thyroid or hormonal problems -- we just overeat, eat too much of the wrong kinds of food, and don't get enough physical activity. 
  • We should exercise to be fit -- not just so we can eat more food.
I'll write another post in a few days to catch everyone up on how I've been doing the last year or so.  I hate to publicly admit it, but if it helps someone else, then it's worth it.