Archive | April, 2014

Working in the gym

30 Apr

I read the other day that you lose weight in the kitchen, you tone and build muscle in the gym.  That is VERY TRUE.  Because I have been doing cardio and lifting weights (at times) in the gym since 2001.  I can only imagine how HUGE I would’ve been if I had not been doing that.  But here is a glimpse at what I’ve been doing since January 3rd, because I DO believe it has a direct impact on my weight loss.

Six days a week, I have a goal to burn 500 or so calories.  On the days when I lift weights (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) I try to burn 400-450 calories on cardio.  I usually do 40 minutes on the elliptical machine at Anytime Fitness, Florence.  I am constantly reminded to mix things up and not get into too many routines, even while doing cardio.  When the body naturally adjusts to what you are doing, even cardio doesn’t have the same impact.  The best thing you can do for your body is mix the routine up.  On days when I am NOT working out, I sometimes mix up the elliptical and treadmill, or walk on the treadmill for 45 minutes, or walk/run on the treadmill for 45 minutes.  If I am unable to get the gym, I walk in my neighborhood and use the Runkeeper app on my iPhone to track distance, time, and calories burned.

WHEN I STARTED cardio, it was all I could do to do 30 minutes at a time.  You have to work your way up, and you CAN do it.  I have found the longer times and distances to be much easier now that I have lost a small village of body weight.

As I wrote before, I lift weights three days a week.  And before you hit the weights, PLEASE talk to someone at your gym for direction.  I have been at Anytime for over two years now, and when I started with weights I had a session with a trainer who was aware of my arm breaks and the hardware that I still carry in my left arm.  He showed me some things I could do that would make an impact and yet not goof my elbow up.  When I was at the Florence Y, the folks there were always ready to help with a machine or schedule a weight orientation.  I cannot stress enough the need to use machines properly and NOT mess your back or other muscles up.  It’s worth taking the time to learn to do it right.

Right now, I am doing a couple of different arm curls, a chest press, an overhead press, leg curls,  and a leg press.  I started small and have worked my way up.  I have also discovered recently that I can now do a push-up.  For a long time after I broke my arms, I could put very little weight on my left arm.  I could only push very little with my left elbow and the pressure felt wrong.  The fact that I can now do a pushup is a direct testament to lifting weights.

If you are looking for a gym, I STRONGLY RECOMMEND Anytime.  Lane Johnson and his staff want to see you succeed!!!  They will show you machines and exercises, challenge and motivate you, and they are all great!  My biggest encouragement is for you to find a gym that you like.  I like Anytime!!!  You find your place…  (If you want a pass to Anytime, email me at and I will help you out!!)

What in the world are we eating??

29 Apr

I tried to get Diana to be a guest writer on this topic today.  But we were unable to pull this off.  The next logical question is “What are you eating??”  My answer:  GRASS.  Lots and lots of grass.

Untrue.  There are two things about how we are eating:  We are eating more healthy foods, and we are eating breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner (well, like a prince, too).

A typical morning will find me making a two egg omelette out of Harris Teeter egg product (it is really good, and I have tried others that ARE NOT), turkey sausage crumbles from Jimmy Dean, and 1/8 cup of Sargento Chef Blends 4-State shredded cheese.  Along with that, I have a bowl of Special K Fruit and Yogurt blend OR Banana Nut Cheerios.  Diana fixes an oatmeal with nuts, honey, cinnamon, and craisins.  If we have to vary from this general menu, I try to keep my total breakfast calories between 400 and 500 and the MyFitnessPal app will help with that.

LUNCH finds us not eating out as much as we used to, but if we do it will be at a restaurant where we know we can find something healthy and low calorie.  We find healthy menu items at Chick Fil A, Subway, Wendy’s, Scholtzky’s, McAlister’s Deli, Lizard’s Thicket, and probably another place or two I am forgetting.  Again, I try to keep this meal around 400 calories and use the app OR the restaurant nutritional information as a guide (the app will allow you to enter foods from a restaurant not in their database).  MOST DAYS we eat at home and eat leftovers from supper, or make a salad with Baby Spring Mix from Sams, grilled chicken, feta cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing.  If I eat that for lunch, I will also eat an apple or orange to make sure I am getting close to 400 cals.  Also, we have a chicken salad recipe Diana found on the web that uses Greek yogurt, a little low-fat mayo, salt, pepper, and craisins.  I try to boil a chicken and keep some of that in the fridge too.

DINNER again finds us not eating out as much, but if we do we use the restaurants above.  I am now trying to make sure dinner is NOT the largest meal of the day.  One of the things I have always done before (I think it is a RULE in the South) that we have a BIGGGGG supper.  I try not to have a huge supper and not to eat anything after 7pm if possible.  Some of the things we eat for supper are:  A LEAN hamburger with low fat cheese, grilled chicken (LOTS OF GRILLED CHICKEN), grilled pork or roasted pork loin, mixed veggies, green beans, corn, lima beans, couscous, roasted potatoes, baked potatoes, grilled zucchini, and a variety of other veggies.  We try to eat a balanced meal with one green vegetable and one starch.

The way we manage portion size and calories is we measure the food we eat at home.  If a serving size says 2/3 cup of corn, that is all we get (and that is a lot).  When I eat chicken or pork, I weigh the amount I put on my plate and log the calories accordingly with a food scale we bought a Wal-Mart for $15.

For snacks, we keep apples, oranges, Kind protein bars, strawberries, fruit salad, etc. around.

HONESTLY, there are probably a couple of days a month when I cheat and even then, I try to control portion sizes.  And if it looks REALLY worth it I will have a little dessert.

I am sure I have left out some really important details, but this is a general idea of how we are eating.  And so far it is worth it!!  My doctor approves of this, my blood work a couple of months ago was PHENOMINAL, and it is still working so far …  One of the tricks to keeping it off will be to have a plan for maintaining, and MyFitnessPal has that mode available.  And I plan to keep using it!!

Next time, I will write about what is going on in the gym ….

How is it being done???

28 Apr

I really haven’t blogged much about my weight loss.  But lately the only question people ask is “How are you doing this??”  Sometimes I answer with a joke answer, like “I only eat lettuce.”  There are other answers, but I won’t go into those now …

But, seriously, since January 3rd I have lost 60 pounds and gone from a 44 waist to a 38 waist.  And my method has been simple … There are three elements to my lifestyle change.  Here they are:

On January 2, 2014, I had lunch with two friends and one of them is a body builder / trainer.  He dared me to try the “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper” thing.  So this all started with me eating a two-egg omelette with cheese and sausage, a bowl of cereal, and two cups of coffee every morning.  I have that or an equivalent of that every day.  (I have moved to turkey sausage and the Harris Teeter brand of liquid egg to cut back on calories.  I am a sausage and egg critic, and that omelette tastes really good!!)

Honestly, I am doing lunch and dinner both as a prince.  Both are reasonable meals.  I haven’t arrived at the place where I can do the pauper thing yet.  Maybe one day, but for now this is working!!

Then a few days later, another friend told me about the MyFitnessPal app for iPhone.  (They also have a website so this can be done on a computer).  It is free and has a massive database that will help you log calories.  I have never logged calories before, but this has become easy.  It also has the tools to build your own recipes and it will calculate nutritional values for you.  I now log calories at every meal and snack and it really is easy …  However this app showed me how unhealthy I was eating.  For years, doctors and others have told me that you lose weight in the kitchen and you tone in the gym.  And I always said “But I am not eating bad …”  MyFitnessPal showed me how BAD I was really eating, even though I thought I was doing well.

Now, we are eating lower calorie meals, but they are GOOD meals.  And smaller portions.  And, here I am 60 pounds lighter!!  We search the internet for lower calorie recipes and there are some on

So now I am on track.  Forty more pounds to go.  Making progress almost every week.  I have been exercising in the gym since 2001, but I am now able to hit it harder than ever before and I exercise 6 days a week.  And I FEEL like doing it.  I am lifting weights three days a week and blasting cardio all 6.

And, most importantly, I have a plan to MAINTAIN once I get to my goal.  MyFitnessPal and Anytime Fitness play MAJOR ROLES in that plan.

So, that is where I am.  And so far, so good.  And if you start a journey like this, best of luck!!  Let me know and I will encourage you, and you can do the same for me!!!

The Coolest thing about Easter

22 Apr

This past Sunday we celebrated what I believe to be the most holy day of the year for those of us that follow Christ:  EASTER!!  Not because of the Easter Bunny … (He doesn’t even come to see me anymore) Not because of Jelly Beans, which are nature’s perfect food.  (HOWEVER … in spite of my diet, I DID have 8 jelly beans this year.  They tallied 86 calories.  I ate them SLOWLY and enjoyed every bite, even the black one that was in the zip lock I was given!!)

Easter is a time to reconnect with Christ.  Easter is a day in which we all gather in God’s house, and for those of us in the South, a day where everyone AND his brother shows up in the house of God.  And I love it because I know seeds are sown.  It is a day for all of us to come face-to-face with what God is doing around us.  Some will reconnect and their hearts will blaze for Him.  Some will take the seeds that were sown and God will bring those to fruition later.

But, this I KNOW:  The word of God DOES NOT GO OUT AND RETURN VOID.  In Isaiah, God said this about His word:

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”   Isaiah 55:11, NIV

God’s word really is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.  It DOES NOT go out without making an impact.  I believe that with all of my heart!!

That is the coolest thing about Easter to me …  It is about renewal… Revival …  A chance to return.  And God welcomes all back with OPEN ARMS!!  Hope you have a great week!!


Hindsight is 20/20

11 Apr

This morning, I’ve been thinking.  That might be the smoke that some of you smell ….  Thinking about the past two decades of my life.  In a little over a month, I will make the 19th year milestone on the staff of Ebenezer.  And Ebenezer is what I am thinking about.

The 1990s were a tough decade for Ebenezer.  Without going into detail, we had some spots that brought us down to low places.  I was there for half of that decade and I remember.  And now, I look at where we are going, and while some people see an imperfect church, I see something totally different.  I look at Ebenezer today and see and church that God has brought FAR (and NOT just over the past 15 years or so, but since 1778).  I see a church that God is healing.  We are still imperfect.  But God is working among us, and that is a WONDERFUL thing.  And I will not take that for granted.

Perhaps it is time for all of us to look back and see what God has done!!  Maybe that will change many of our perspectives on our own lives!!  Give it a try!!!!

I struggle with this

9 Apr

I’ve got to admit, one of the things I preached about on Sunday is one of my greatest struggles.  I am working on this, but it is one of my most difficult struggles and I know many others struggle with it, too.  It is TRUST.  Especially after I’ve been burned.

I am a pretty easy-going guy.  I try to live and let live, to do unto others as I WANT them to do unto me.  And I know Jesus commanded us to love not only our friends, but our enemies as well.  To pray for those who persecute me.  But I struggle.  I struggle when people lie to me.  When people do or say things to me or about me that are less than Christ-like.

In Luke 17:4, Jesus told the disciples  If he (your brother)  sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”  The disciples responded “WOW!  THAT WILL TAKE A LOT MORE FAITH THAN WE HAVE!!  HELP US!!”  I have prayed that prayer many times.  And I have learned something else:  Even if they don’t repent, the best thing I can do is FORGIVE.  Because, when I hold on to grudges or bad feelings, I am hurting MYSELF way more than I am hurting them.

And I struggle with this!!  So pray for me, and I will pray for you!!  Hope you have a great Holy Week next week and I hope you are already preparing your heart for what God will do!!