How My Latest Fitness Journey Started

Last October, I had gout.

Translation: October was the end of me enjoying food.

Gout, pronounced “gOWWWWWWWWWWWt!!!,” is caused by high uric acid levels which are elevated by the consumption of rich foods, being overweight, and happiness.

I discovered this when I tried to stand and almost fell over. I had to bum a ride home because I couldn’t drive. Before the night was over, it hurt to place my foot on a pillow.

I went to the podiatrist the next morning.

She examined my foot and said, “I think you have gout.”

“Gout?” I asked. “Isn’t that just for old guys in New York who eat a lot of pastrami?”

“No,” she replied, somewhat annoyed. “Do you drink a lot of beer?”

“No,” I said. “I don’t drink alcohol.”

She raised one eyebrow in unbelief after glancing at my belly.

“It’s true,” I said.

“Ok, do you eat a lot of red meat?”

My wife then inserted herself into the conversation.

“He eats way too much beef and pork.”

“That’s probably it then. Does he exercise much?”

You’ll notice by this point in the consultation, I’ve been reduced to a four year old who is not even addressed by the doctor.

“He has in the past but he basically lives a sedentary lifestyle.”

The doctor tightened her lips with extreme disappointment and shook her head at me for a long period of time. I felt like a dog at the vet, guilty of chewing up shoes and furniture.

“Don’t worry,” said my wife. “He will never be happy again.”

At least that’s what I heard her say. She later told me she actually said, “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure he eats right and exercises daily.”

I raised my hand and asked, “Can I still eat bacon?”

“Yes,” said the doctor, once again acknowledging my presence. “You can in moderation.”

“No,” said my wife, as she morphed into the alien from the movie Alien. “Red meat is no longer a part of your life, so forget about it.”

I took a deep breath and thought about putting my foot down, you know, as the man of the house, and overruling her last statement, but then I remembered my foot hurt when it touched the floor and she was my ride home. So I decided to go with her plan.

I started feeling better later that day and haven’t had gout pain since. I’ve also had to find things besides food to bring me stress relief, escape, and flavor. In the words of U2, I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.*

*This song brought to you by the 1980’s, the best decade ever.

**Image courtesy of Unsplash

The Return of Kale

So, after reading my gripe about kale a couple of days ago, my wife made a kale salad for us for dinner. Maybe I’ve been too hard on kale. I did learn from a friend that if you pour just a little bit of olive oil into a skillet filled with kale, then heat it on low for five minutes, it makes it easier to scrape the kale into the trash.

And yet, I didn’t dare do that with my wife’s kale salad. She set it before me and I cried just a little. Somewhere in my head I heard Prince singing, “This is what it sounds like when doves cry…” However, I must admit, it wasn’t that bad. I especially enjoyed the pieces of grilled chicken that had nothing to do with the salad. 

So why do people make such a big deal about kale? I did some research and learned that it contains fiber, antioxidants, vitamins C and K, bitterness, animosity, and wrath. The antioxidants help the body remove unwanted toxins that result from natural processes and environmental pressures (like eating kale in the first place).

I enjoyed the kale so much that two hours later, I drove my wife and I to McDonald’s for a hot fudge sundae. But, as usual, they were out of ice cream, as was the second and third McDonald’s we visited. 

It was then that my wife suggested we just go home. But I’m not a quitter, especially when it comes to ice cream. So, I drove us to Wendy’s for a Frosty. Would you believe they were out of ice cream as well. I did get the hook up at the second Wendy’s. I was halfway through it when I realized I had spent the last hour driving to five different fast food restaurants looking for a small cup of frozen refreshment.

I have so very far to go (and I can’t afford the gas).

By the way, thanks for the advice and the encouragement. Keep it coming.

*image courtesy of Laura Johnston and Unsplash

Have You Fallen Recently?

The older I get, the more medical professionals ask me if I’ve had any recent falls.

Recent.

It’s like they’re thinking, “This guy is so out of shape that he’s bound to have fallen in the past few days. He couldn’t possibly balance all of that bulge.” 

I understand it’s all routine procedure and they aren’t personally attacking me (maybe) but the whole experience does show me that I need to be more serious about my own health and fitness. 

I’m thrilled about this and I plan to have a good attitude about it…

Yeah, right, that’s it.

Fact is, I don’t like watching my weight, I’m not a fan of exercise, I despise consistent healthy eating practices. And might I just add that kale is a tool of Satan used to destroy the happiness of men (and reasonable women) everywhere. 

What do I like to eat? I’m glad you asked. I like eating unhealthy foods, better known as “anything that tastes good.” I especially like carbonated, caffeinated, sugary drinks. I’m a big fan of red meat and I’m a consistent consumer of trans fat. I’m voting for gluten in the next presidential election.*

Well, you get the picture. I need help. I need accountability.

A lot of men my age do. 

Now, I have lost about 20 lbs since the beginning of the year. I’ll tell you the secret. If you want to lose weight, live with my wife during a world wide pandemic where she sees everything you eat for months… and walk a lot.

Seriously, now that things are opening back up, I don’t want to find all the weight that I’ve lost. So I’m starting on a new journey to be healthy. A few years ago, I posted a daily blog where I listed out everything I ate for the whole world to see. As time went by, I also listed my water consumption and exercise log. The accountability was amazing and the feedback was helpful. I lost 48 lbs during the process.

I’m not planning on doing that again, but I am interested in writing about my fitness journey. It seems to keep me committed. 

So I welcome your suggestions, especially if you’re starting to receive AARP applications in the mail or if you grew up listening to 80’s music on cassettes. Post your comments below, message me privately, text or email me. Let me know what helps you stay healthy. Thanks in advance.

P.S. I’m not really voting for Gluten. It’s not even registered as a candidate.

*Photo courtesy of Online Marketing and Unsplash

What If This Is It?

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Everywhere you look, people are searching for what’s next.

What’s the next career for them where people will pay and respect them like they deserve? Where’s the next place for them to live that will suit them perfectly? Who might they meet next who will become their perfect mate for life? What next step might they take personally that will equal God’s will for them in the future?  What person, place, or career might be next for them and be the ultimate thing that will finally give them the fulfillment they are looking for?

People everywhere want to know what’s next. But what if it doesn’t work that way.

What if what’s next is right in front of you? What if the next step for you is not found in searching the world to see what it might hold for you? What if the secret for your success and contentment is found in what you can bring to the world right where you are?

What if this is it?

What if the perfect job for you right now is the one you currently have? What if the home you’re living in is the one that can be perfect for you? What if you’re already serving the organization that will propel you to greater heights of success? What if you’re currently married to the person who is right for you now and will still be right for you in 50 years? What if God’s will for you is to be right where you are?

Think about it. If you knew for sure that where you are right now is exactly where you should be and is the catalyst that will launch you to greater things in your relationships, career, happiness, satisfaction, heck, your whole life… If you knew this for sure, what would you do differently? How would you treat people? How would you invest in yourself and others around you? How would your habits and attitudes change?

What if this it – your shot, your chance, your destiny, your opportunity to do and be something in this world? Whether you believe it or not, acting as if this IS it will move you forward in all of these areas because it will change your actions, your behaviors, and your results.

It’s your move. It’s your turn. You’re up to bat. It’s your big break.

What are you going to do about it?

*photo courtesy of Eric Parks and Unsplash

Dream

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We’ve all lost during this time.

We’ve lost finances, 

We’ve lost positions,

We’ve lost experiences, 

We’ve lost time,

And we’ve lost people… 

So many people.

But God is not finished with you or me.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)

In all of the weirdness that is this time, 

Don’t give up.

Keep moving forward.

Take the next step.

Trust in God.

He is faithful.

Allow yourself to dream once again

And trust Him to complete His will in and through and for you.

 

*Photo courtesy of Johannes Plenio and Unsplash.

Feel Like Giving Up?

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Do you ever feel like giving up?

If so, I have three messages for you.

First, you’re not alone.

People all over the world are working their way through this crisis. They play different roles and perform different services. Nevertheless, they are still a part of this battle, just like you.

Second, you can’t quit.

Things are strange right now, it’s true. But you must keep going. We need you. We need your strength. We need the difference you make. If you can’t keep going for you, do it for us.

Third, ask the Lord for help.

It may have been years since you prayed. That doesn’t matter right now. What matters is that He is right there, waiting for you to initiate the conversation. He’s a great listener. Why not give it a try?

God bless you.

 

*photo courtesy of Steve Johnson and Unsplash

 

Drive By

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I participated in my first drive by this week. 

My wife and I drove down a street and waved to a family we know.

After using so many different forms of communication recently, it was a welcome change.

In the past week alone:

I went to meetings on Zoom, Google Hangouts, and What’s App,

I spoke with friends over Skype and FaceTime 

And left video texts for my nephew on Marco Polo.

I got messages on Facebook Messenger and Twitter,

And I posted photos and left likes and hearts on Instagram.

I learned the difference between Facebook Live and Facebook Premiere, 

And chatted with people on both when I wasn’t on GroupMe.

I hosted a Life Group on Free Conference Call.

I did this when I wasn’t busy reading email, sending emojis, and liking texts.

Or, finally, talking voice to voice over my phone.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone because I see more people outside than ever,

Taking walks, playing catch, enjoying the day and each other.

In this busy time of social distancing, take time for some real communication

Even if it is only a drive by wave.

 

This blogpost is posted on WordPress.

*Photo courtesy of Ben Neale and Unsplash

Come Together As We’re Staying Apart

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I was wrong.

I thought this pandemic would cause most people to unleash their inner hermit. I’ve seen that some, but I’ve also witnessed the opposite.

Neighbors who never speak are checking on each other (from a distance).

Couples and families are spending time together “at home.”

Senior adults are learning social media.

And leaders everywhere are asking people to pray.

The pandemic is terrible, but let’s become better people through the struggle. Let’s care for others, cherish our children, honor the elderly, and whatever else we do, let’s not forget to pray.

I once heard a wise man say that if two people work at getting closer to God, they naturally get closer together. I think that’s true for all of us during this time. If we all strive to grow closer to the Lord, we can come together as we’re staying apart.

Photo courtesy of Sven Brandsma and Unsplash

 

 

 

 

Something I Hate

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I hate being sick. 

I hate doctor’s visits, uncontrollable coughing, sickness fatigue, the inability to concentrate, and forced rest. But more than any of those, I hate the feeling that everything is not right with my body. It makes me feel incomplete, somehow lacking, and worthless.

I hate it when I cough and someone asks me if I have the Coronavirus. It’s not funny.

I really hate it when the sickness lingers. That’s when I get anxious and wonder to myself, “Maybe I’m never going to get better.”

This happened to me years ago when I was serving as a missionary in Central Asia. I’d lost my voice and felt like I would never get better. I began to envision my life without the ability to speak. I felt alone, lost, and scared. 

Then the Lord thrust the following scripture right in my face. I read it in the Bible, I heard it as a song, and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Sometimes I find that scripture comforting. However, both then and now, I find it convicting. How is it that I can dedicate my life to God’s will, serve Him with all that I am, but then forget Him when sickness strikes and worry beds down in my house? How can I work to share the love of Jesus with people and help people grow in Him and then forget Him when I am in need? Do you ever have that problem? It doesn’t make sense, does it?

So, join me as I remember Him:

He is Almighty.

He is our Creator.

He is Beautiful.

He is our Savior.

He is Eternal.

He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

He is our Peace.

He is Good.

He is our Healer.

He is Holy.

He is Love. 

He Knows all things.

He is Faithful. 

He is Kind. 

He is Lord. 

I’ve been reminded, once again, that me being sick doesn’t change His identity or His characteristics. He is God no matter what happens to me. I don’t have to worry. I can go to Him and ask for His help. But first, I must repent.

Father, forgive me. I’ve forgotten Your goodness in the midst of serving You. I’ve misplaced Your love and mercy while focusing on my own need. I’ve forgotten Your grace. Forgive me for worrying and not coming straight to You. You are my God, my Healer, My Rock, and I will ever praise You. Amen.

*photo courtesy of Ben White of Unsplash.com

The Shepherds and the Savior – Interactive Christmas Sermon for Children

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(The following is an interactive children’s sermon for the Christmas season)

This year, I’m going to need some help in telling my Christmas story. Can I count on you all to help? Great…let’s practice first. When I say these words, I want you to follow my instructions. And every time you hear me say them in my story, you go ahead and respond…

SHEPHERD/S – Raise your hand and say (that’s me!)

ANGEL/S – Shake both hands back and forth over your head and say (Praise God!)

SHEEP – Fluff your hair and say (Baaaaaah)

GOOD NEWS – Make a fist and pump it shouting (Hooray!)

Let’s practice one more time…

SHEPHERD/S – Raise your hand and say (that’s me!)

ANGEL/S – Shake both hands back and forth over your head and say (Praise God!)

SHEEP – Fluff your hair and say (Baaaaaah)

GOOD NEWS – Make a fist and pump it shouting (Hooray!)

Ok – you think you have it?  Let’s begin:

I want to tell you a story – and YOU have a very important part to play.  Listen now as I share.

Many, many years ago, in the town of Bethlehem, there were some SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) guarding their SHEEP (Baaaah) at night in the field. 

It was like any other night. The sky was clear and full of stars. The SHEEP (Baaaaah) were quietly resting and the SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) were quietly talking.

When suddenly, out of nowhere, right in front of the SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) came an ANGEL (Praise God!)

“Ooooooooo!” said the SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) looking so frightened!

“Don’t be afraid” said the ANGEL (Praise God!) I’m here with GOOD NEWS (Hooray!) for you; 

“GOOD NEWS (Hooray) which will make everyone very happy!”

“I’ve come to tell you that a Savior has been born. His name is Jesus. You’ll know who he is because you’ll find him wrapped up in blankets, lying in a manger!” said the ANGEL (Praise God!)

“The Savior has been born!” said the SHEPHERDS! (that’s me!) That was very GOOD NEWS (Hooray!) The whole world had been waiting for the Savior to be born!

And with that the whole sky was filled with ANGELS (Praise God!) They sang “Praise God in heaven! Peace on earth to everyone who pleases God!”

Then it was quiet again, and all that was left in the field were the SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) and the SHEEP (Baaaaah).

“Let’s go and see if we can find this Savior named Jesus!’ the SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) said to each other.

They hurried off, leaving their SHEEP (Baaaaah) who were now fast asleep.

The SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) found Mary and Joseph in the manger, just like the ANGEL (Praise God) had said. With them, lying in the manger, just like the ANGEL (Praise God!) said, was Jesus.  

Mary and Joseph were hardly expecting any visitors that night; they certainly weren’t expecting to see any SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) come to their stable.

But the SHEPHERDS (that’s me) knew they had to tell someone! They just couldn’t go back to their SHEEP (Baaaah). They couldn’t keep GOOD NEWS (Hooray!) like this to themselves…they had to tell EVERYONE!

This kind of GOOD NEWS (Hooray!) was too special to keep quiet about – the SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) had to go and tell others. So off they went to Bethlehem, telling everyone about the birth of Jesus.  That was great!!! Thank you so much for helping me tell the Christmas Story – (give yourself a hand!)

But remember, when I told you that you had an important part to play in my story. The important part doesn’t stop here. It’s just beginning.  That first Christmas might have been over 2,000 years ago, but the GOOD NEWS (Hooray!) is something we still need to tell others about today, like the SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) did that first Christmas.

That’s right – all of us have a part to play…we all need to tell others about our Savior, Jesus. 

If you would be willing to tell others about Jesus, like the SHEPHERDS (that’s me!) did, raise your hand and say (“That’s me!).

Awesome! I knew I could count on you!

Merry Christmas.

(Photo courtesy of Gareth Harper of Unsplash)