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

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.