Burger Option

IMG_20140801_173823059My last experiment in using portabella mushroom caps as pizza crust was delicious. After posting it, a friend pointed out that they make a great bread replacement for open faced sandwiches, which gave me an idea. Last night for supper I grilled burgers for the family and decided to make a version that I could have.


  • Portabella mushroom caps, large enough for hamburger patty
  • Hamburger patty (as lean as you choose to use)
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Goat cheese
  • Tomato
  • Condiment of choice (I used Dijon mustard)



  • Remove stem and scrape gills from mushroom caps (a spoon works well for this)
  • Brush olive oil into caps, then salt and pepper
  • Grill burger patties and mushrooms
  • Add goat cheese to top of patty and allow to soften
  • Place patty on mushroom (after removing from grill, of course)
  • Add leaf lettuce, tomato (I grilled mine) and condiments
  • Final step: enjoy!

What do you have to live for?

2014-05-14 11.21.49-1Earlier this week my coach asked how I was doing and if my program has had any impact on my work life. I got to share with her some of my thoughts and now want to share them here.

I’ve noticed these few weeks on the program have improved my mental acuity and mood. When I was at my heaviest, I was convinced I was waiting to die. I am 47 years old, and this is about the age many in my family have their first (and on occasion final) heart attack. To be honest, at times I found myself wishing I could just get it over with. My beliefs help me not to fear death. What I feared was a long unhealthy miserable existence. I also feared being a burden to my family.

It took a long time to finally take to heart something that I had told many troubled couples over the years:

“You may think it is easier to just give up and move on, but your problems show a great deal of personal work is needed for you to have a healthy relationship. You can either do the work in this marriage or do it in the next one. Either way, the work will have to be done, so how many other lives will you wreck before you do the work?”

It finally clicked one day that this same advice applied to what was going on in my health. I was on the verge of altering the lives of my wife and kids with my bad choices. In enjoying the momentary pleasures of my bad choices I would be leaving them with major problems—my wife a widow and my children fatherless. I see death as nothing to be feared or even shunned. As far as I am concerned death is just going home. However, the same God who gave me this assurance also gave me a responsibility to be the best and do the best for my wife, family and church.

This latter is also important. Over the years I have gotten to where I no longer enjoyed being a pastor. I had no energy to go beyond the barest requirements of my job—and great effort was needed to even do those. I had little desire to do much of anything but sit in my office chair or on the couch. My weight and health had left me unfit for the service to which I was so committed. It left me only a shell of the servant I have been called to be. My prayer could have been, “I’d love to follow you Lord, but you will have to go slowly and only on the easiest road since I am so heavy and unhealthy.”

I have now been on program about a month. I have lost almost 40 pounds and my mind and body have undergone considerable changes from this time last month. I was shocked how much has changed with such a small difference in weight.

I am fitting into clothes that have been too tight for years. I will attach to this a picture of me wearing jeans that are baggy. Just about a month ago, I could barely close those jeans and the legs were as snug as spandex. A few years ago, I wore suits every day in a sales job. These suits have all been too small for about five years. I now find myself with a fairly nice wardrobe that I have “backed into.” Over the last few years I have taken to wearing shorts and sandals because tight pants are uncomfortable, and replacements at my size are expensive (Walmart does not carry 54W with a 32 inseam). It was cheaper to stock up on shorts, and blame my wardrobe on the heat of South Texas. Now I am back to wearing jeans and boots—now this is comfortable!

My mind has also changed. Since I am losing weight, I can see myself with a future and realize new opportunities are around the corner. I have energy to get out and work, to plan and to carry out. I had gotten to the point where I didn’t want to meet anyone new. Anyone who knows my personality knows this is out of character. I have always been that guy who got to know everyone, and if you acted as if you didn’t want to get to know me, I would find a way to make you. I find now that I have become more gregarious. Part of it—and we all have to admit we think this way—I think I look pretty good for a 47 year old fat redneck!

Finally, there is one more thing that excites me. I always loved preaching. I would jump at any opportunity to preach and was quite animated and passionate in the pulpit. Over the last few years the luster wore off and I found myself rambling and having a hard time concentrating. I have always preached without notes (or very minimal notes), so mental sharpness was essential. For a long time my mind has been cloudy and I would get out of breath. All of these impacted my preaching. Lately, I notice the old Ken (or at least a pretty close facsimile) in the pulpit. I am more animated. I find new illustrations, quotations and applications coming quicker. I find myself looking forward to stepping into the pulpit each week.

If you have given up and feel it is just easier to die—as I had—you are absolutely right. Death is the easy way. But how often is the easy way the right way? Is there anyone in your life for whom your death will be hard? Are there others who are going to suffer and be impacted either by your death or by extended health problems? Do others count on you but have to do without because you are not healthy enough to meet their needs? If you won’t change for yourself, change for them.

Getting a bit creative

2014-04-17 18.12.22Last night was my first night on my diet. I cooked supper in order to make it easier on my wife. I also prepared enough for both of us. Since my wife is small, she didn’t feel any deprivation from a diet meal—as a matter of fact she couldn’t finish it.

I decided to get a bit creative within the limitations. I was allowed 6 oz. of skinless chicken breast. I was also allowed 1 tsp of canola oil as a Healthy Fat and 1 tsp of Balsamic Vinegar as a condiment.

I started by grilling the chicken breast. When it was almost done I used the canola oil in a pan to soften some red and green pepper slices. Once finished I shut off the heat and added about a cup of Romaine lettuce to the pan, and covered to sweat the lettuce. Once the lettuce was fully wilted I rolled it around in the pan to pick up any pan goodness. Put this together on a plate with the chicken breast and drizzle with the tsp of Balsamic Vinegar (I love that stuff and could drink it).

My wife didn’t finish all of her chicken, so I saved it for today’s lunch meal (about 3 ounces). That I crumbled cold over a bed of Romaine and Spinach with a few slices of white mushrooms then drizzled with a tsp of EVOO and a tsp of balsamic vinegar whipped together.

While I don’t want to make any of the meals too hard, I find that these have been very simple and not taken more than a few minutes to make each—except for waiting for the chicken to grill.

First Day, learning the ropes

This morning (April 17, 2014), I started a journey to take control of my health beginning with a major reduction of my weight. I decided, after a friend’s recommendation, to use the Take Shape for Life program using MediFast products.

I have to say I like the program so far. I know one day on a diet is not exactly a major accomplishment. But I like the program because it offers some things making it easy to stick with the diet. One, I have a coach who can make recommendations and help me through some of the initial confusion—and moments of discouragement. Second, the foods make sticking with the diet easy. I am supposed to eat something every three hours. I’ve set alarms on my cell phone reminding me to eat my next meal. Most of the meals are meal replacement products, so I just pull something out of a box and follow the instructions. All are easy to prepare. Are they tasty? Some are surprisingly so; others, not so much. Of course, I am still learning about the options available and will have to find what I like.

The hardest part of the program is the Lean & Green meals. These are healthy meals that I must shop for and prepare. My plan calls for two of these a day. My lovely wife is so helpful and such a wonderful cook, but for now I’ve decided to cook all my own meals so I have total control and know I am following the program. It wouldn’t be good to go all day and then lose any benefit because my wonderful cook of a wife got creative.

ImageI went to the store to purchase the supplies for several days’ worth of meals and the biggest thing noticed was the sheer number of products now off limits. Pass by the bread section completely—there’s nothing in there for me. Candy aisle? Don’t even look that way. No more bacon—“Wait! What? No more bacon? What have I done?” Sorry. I’m back now. Even the produce section is interesting, because there is just so much I will not be allowed to have for some time. It’s amazing how even a strict carnivore, like me, can start lusting after forbidden fruits and vegetables. I even found myself, on my phone, looking up how to cook spaghetti squash. That still leaves me speechless.Image

I also realize it can be very confusing to learn what is and is not allowed—when it’s allowed, with what it’s allowed, etc. To help, I created a PDF with the instructions from the Kit’s Quick Start Guide. With this loaded on my phone, I can simply open the document to check an item.

Of course, the question of hunger is going to come up. Am I hungry? It’s only been one day so, “No. I don’t really feel hungry.” Of course, tomorrow is another day.

If you would like to see or download my PDF Guide made for my own use, see below.

Diet Guide

Finally Starting my Journey

BeforeI’ve always been large—at least since a major growth spurt between sixth and seventh grade. Of course, it is a common joke about overweight people claiming to be “big boned.” For me it is not a joke. Recently I was in a new doctor’s office being lectured about my weight—as usual. She paused for a second looking at my arm, reached up and tried to put her hand around my wrist and exclaimed, “Wow! You really are big boned.” But the problem is not my bones. The problem is all the fat hanging off of them.

If you had told me as a young man that getting this way was in my future I would have laughed at you. I went in the Army right after High School and spent the next eight years as an Infantryman—including a couple years on Jump status with the 82nd Airborne Division. I always loved to road march. I was the guy who would walk everyone else into the ground. I was a speed marching machine—often volunteering to carry the heaviest items. Weakness was despised and fat was just a physical manifestation of weakness.

Things changed over time. I married a beautiful young woman who loved to cook wonderful large meals. Which, I was happy to consume. Not long after marriage I had a conversion experience and also sensed a calling to leave the military for the ministry.

After 8 years I got out of the Army and spent years supporting myself in construction—which helped to keep the weight down. However, the lack of organized disciplined exercise could be seen around my growing middle.

Now years later, after spending the last 15 years in fairly fulltime ministry—an occupation that requires little actual physical labor—I am not only overweight but shamefully fat. I can point to some factors other than lack of discipline. I struggled with the weight for many years and even tried to lose it. At one point I went on the Atkins diet and lost 50 pounds in two months. When I dropped off of the diet, I gained it all back along with an extra 25 pounds—I was worse than before.Current Me

Even with all this, I had managed to keep my weight under 300 pounds. But a few years ago I started packing on weight fast. I was going through something seriously wrong with my body. I was waking up a dozen times each night to urinate; I was flop sweating all night; I was having bad heartburn; I was having a hard time controlling my blood pressure; I developed gout; I gained over a hundred pounds in a little over a year.

When I got the point of being unable to concentrate or think clearly and falling asleep constantly I finally went to the doctor expecting the worst. After several weeks of testing it was determined that my long time problem with sleep apnea had gotten so bad it had torpedoed my endocrine system (I was stopping breathing and waking 85 times an hour so I was never entering into REM sleep). My body had stopped making testosterone. I was also told that my apnea was slowly making me insane and killing me. Unless I got my hormones and sleep patterns fixed I would die.

Now, after a year and a half taking regular injections and using a C-pap machine, I have lost a few pounds, but very slowly. I have decided to make a major life shift. I started looking for options when I found out a neighbor of mine was on a weight loss program that was being quite successful for him.

I have decided to use the Take Shape for Life program by Medifast. I have a coach, and have just received my first box of food. This is a program where you use meal replacement products purchased in place of regular food and snacks.

Of course, a program is only effective if you follow through and use it. To quit in one month or two would do me no good. I currently weigh 385lbs. I have sleep apnea, testosterone issues, gout, and problems with blood clots. I am also pre-diabetic with high blood pressure. I didn’t get this way overnight and won’t fix it overnight. Though I am looking long term at the rest of my life, I am starting with the first step of getting myself down to 250 lbs. My first step is to commit to a year on this current plan. While that will likely not be enough time to lose the 135 lbs. of my first step, it is a start. I decided on my current time and duration because I work well with starting times and end goal times. Right now is Easter season—an important time in my year—and will continue until next Easter. After that I will look at the next step.

In order to discipline myself I decided to blog here about my journey. I want to share my story. I want to document it. However, more important than this is the accountability it gives me. By letting the world see what I am doing the world will also know if I fail or surrender. So feel free to keep me accountable. Watch my journey and consider your own.

I post this right as I eat my first meal replacement.