Renewed Determination

The five months since my last post have been full, interesting and educational—and some of it depressing. You may have noticed that I dropped off the radar, blog wise. Actually, I’ve had many things going on and several reasons for not posting on this site. Well, I’m back. I have a specific reason for coming back. One thing important is that I’ve learned much about maintaining weight and the difficulties of going from unhealthy to healthy.

In April, I dropped off of program. It wasn’t intentional. My first plan was to lose the weight, which I did pretty well through Medifast. I lost the weight quickly and learned a great deal about myself. Then I switched, in the fall, to lifting weights to build muscle mass—to continue the weight loss from the other direction, gaining muscle to increase fitness and metabolism.

My job changed in ways that made it difficult to get to the gym regularly. This was more of an excuse. Had I truly wanted to make it, I could have. Of course, there were two reasons for not wanting to make it to the gym. One was an issue with my testosterone level (which I’ll address further down page) and the other was arm pain—not only when lifting, but constantly. Having spent several years in the military, my instinct was to just work through it. This had worked in many other situations. But, no matter what I did the arm only deteriorated.

So, I thought if I laid off a few weeks my arm would get better and I could just go back to it. Instead, I discovered that it didn’t get any better—it continued to get worse. During this time I lost the habit of going to the gym. A good habit must be reinforced just as strongly as a bad habit must be resisted. If you don’t go, you develop the habit of not going.

In June, I received confirmation of what I suspected. I had a torn rotator cuff. I had learned a lesson too late. That lesson was to always always always (perhaps I should say ‘always’ a few more times) lift with proper form. If you’re not going to take the time to learn and use proper form, then don’t lift! On June 23rd, I had corrective surgery to fix the rotator cuff and remove a bone spur from my shoulder. I have been in recovery since hen—I suppose physical therapy is a form of gym, right? It really stinks going from lifting weights in the quest to build muscle to working with pulleys and bands trying to regain the ability to raise my arm above my waist. If you haven’t had rotator cuff surgery, please take it off your bucket list. I assure you it isn’t fun.

During the first few months, even without the gym, I maintained my weight with little effort. Some habits were easy. I still avoid most sugars. I try to limit carbs on most days, but allow myself splurge days. I also avoided those foods which are simply not good for maintaining health (notice the past tense in that sentence). This will bring up another lesson learned, later.

I kept telling myself I was going to go back on program later and I’d go back to the gym as soon as my arm was good enough. This morning (Sunday, Sept 6, 2015), because of how my shirt no longer fit, I said to my wife, “That’s it! I’m back on program right this minute!” I went in and ordered more supplies and notified my coach. Fortunately, I have enough Medifast supplies stored to tide me over until the new shipment comes.

The issue of my testosterone was less of a lesson and more of a discovery. Early in the year my endocrinologist tried lowering my testosterone lower than ever. I was doing well, with lots of energy and motivation. This all changed with the new dosage. It took me several weeks to put the lower dose and my newly acquired lack of energy and motivation together. Then it was a couple months until my next round of tests. A couple weeks ago my doctor found that my low levels matched my symptoms and raised my dosage back up to the higher level. We did an MRI to see if there was a pituitary tumor causing problems. This showed my pituitary gland is fine. The doctor and I agree that the problem is that I still have too much body fat (more on this and testosterone in a later post). I should have continued with the Medifast to continue reducing fat and waited to start weight training. Lessoned learned.

Now with my T levels adjusted and my renewed intent, it’s time to get going back on the path of healthy choices. An important part of this will be this blog. The blog gave me accountability. When facing decisions, it helps to consider what I’ll report in this blog—good news, bad news, success or failure.

If you have dropped off your program of health, get back on program. Don’t let anything keep you from it. “When it comes to health, tomorrow never comes and later is a lie.”

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Weight-loss as Lifestyle

IMG_20140801_072619This is my first official weigh-in after changing my program a little over a week ago. About a week and half ago my doctor asked me to drop off the diet program I was on because of some abdominal pain. He thought I either had gallstones or right-side diverticular disease. Since the purpose of this journey is to build habits through healthy choices, I chose to follow his advice. I decided to drop off the actual program but keep following the principles it taught (eating small meals every 3 hours, low carb, with controlled levels of fat, and lots of fluids, etc.). A couple days later I had continued to lose weight and that was last Friday. I also discovered that my pain was caused by several factors combining with some strong antibiotics the doctor had placed me on. These had given my liver a hit and it had become inflamed. Everything is better now, no more pain.

After that point, I still had a choice—go back fully onto the previous plan or stay where I was to experiment with using the principles I’d learned, without the foods purchased through the program. I chose to keep experimenting with choices to see what would and would not work. The danger was that one of my experiments would drop me out of fat burn and it would take several days of very low carb to get me back into it. I decided to check at least twice a day for a couple days with my Ketostix after each addition. The questions I wanted to answer were several. When I tried and then dropped off a famous low-carb diet back 10 years ago I quickly went on a carb bender and gained back all the weight I had lost as well as an additional 25 pounds. Because of this I wanted to see if I would do the same this time when introducing some new carbs into my routine. I added carrots, Greek yogurt, bananas, as well as the occasional onions. I also wanted to learn how the principles worked with regular store bought food. If the principles are sound, then they should not be material dependent. If the principles work with regular food then the principles are sound (and key to being healthy). If the principles did not work without the packaged foods then the foods were primary and the principles played only a supporting role. Another question I wanted to answer was whether I could actually treat this as a lifestyle rather than a formula. With a formula you follow A to B to C to D and do not waver from this. With a lifestyle you make choices naturally and easily at each step deciding the best route to get from A to D. With a lifestyle you make choices because they fit with the life you are living. With a formula your choices are limited to following the formula or wavering from it. A formula is very effective, especially when first making changes. But it can only be kept up for so long before some variety is desired.

I have been living the principles I learned as a lifestyle for about a week and a half. I have used no packaged foods from my program, but only what I can buy in my local grocery store. Last week I weighed 292 pounds. This week I weighed 286 pounds. I actually weighed lower earlier in the week, but I only take whatever happens on Friday as my official weight. I lost six pounds this week only using the principles I learned and living them as a new lifestyle.

Before you jump to conclusions and think there was no need for any of the other elements of my program—coaching, packaged foods, support network—you are wrong. It was these that helped me to learn the principles I now follow. It was these that made practicing them easy. To try to jump straight into this without that step would have lasted about a week—if that long. I know me well enough to know that early on, if I didn’t have a little box where I could go and take out a package and eat it when the alarm on my phone went off I would have given up long ago. Will I stay off of the packaged items? I don’t know. They are awfully convenient. Besides, I know if following the formula with the packaged foods there is no danger of falling out of fat burn. As it is right now, when I add something new it takes several hours to discover if I screwed up. This wait and the anticipation can be quite discomfiting. I choose to continue this way because I have questions I want to answer and because I want to practice making choices for my health.

I’ve noticed after eating this way for over three months that I no longer crave the things I once craved. I don’t crave potatoes, pasta, bread (though I would still, occasionally, be willing to trade one of my children for a flour tortilla), etc. Last night my wife made chicken for our supper. I asked her how she was going to fix it (in the past she would have fried it). She said she’d bake it because of my diet. I came in the kitchen as we were getting ready to sit down and saw the chicken. It was breaded. I asked her if she had put flour on the chicken. She responded, “No. It’s not flour. It’s bread crumbs.” I got a bewildered look on my face and told her they were ultimately the same thing. She responded, “Well I can’t bake it without putting something on it. I thought you would just scrape it off.” So there I stood over the sink scraping and washing my chicken before I could eat it, even though I was hungry. The interesting thing is that I considered just eating it breading and all, but knowing it would make it harder to make my goal the idea of eating the breading actually repulsed me. I have a weight I want to get to, a level of health I want to return to, and anything that gets in the way of that is not really attractive.

This week’s weigh-in and thoughts

IMG_20140718_133538This week’s official weight is 296 lbs. The last time I was less than 300 lbs. was in 2004. I am now 53% to my goal having lost 88 lbs. on my current program. From my lifetime highest I have lost 129 lbs. total. This number (approximately 130 pounds) has got me to thinking about one of the major problems that comes with being so overweight. I used to hear people often say that all one had to do to lose weight was to eat less and get up and exercise. This is easier said than done.

I was carrying an extra 130 pounds around in fat. Think about what else in this world weighs that much. My wife weighs around 120 lbs. or so. Imagine her carrying a 10 pound weight and me carrying her everywhere I go, every moment of every day. Bricks weigh somewhere around 4 lbs. each. That means I was carrying the equivalent of 32 bricks everywhere I went. Sit in a chair and place 32 bricks in your lap (the general area where most weight is carried) and try to stand up. This should make it obvious that telling a fat person, “Just get up and do something” is either insensitive or cruel. It shows a serious lack of understanding (or caring about) their situation. It is easy for the skinny person to say this, because he has much less to lift.

Now imagine this weight being placed on you whether you want to carry it or not. You can’t escape it. Dropping a brick each week, might look attractive when you only have four or five bricks to carry, but when carrying 35 this looks like it will take forever. It is like looking into a tunnel that is too deep to see the light at the other end. This makes the overweight person depressed. What do people want when depressed? They want comfort. What is the overweight person usually drawn to for comfort? He wants food. It is often the attempt to assuage emotional lack that got the person overweight to begin with.

While it is true that the only way to successfully lose weight and get healthy is to decrease intake of food and increase the burning of calories, telling this to a fat person is like dangling water in front of a parched man. A plan is needed. Support is needed. When those small steps seem to be taking too long, someone needs to help draw the attention to how far the person has come, not how much farther they have to go. Perhaps that person can’t get up right now—you might not be able to if you were carrying along a whole other human being in weight—but can start with decreasing intake. Perhaps instead of telling that person that all he needs is more discipline, or he just needs to do it, you can encourage him to not look to food for comfort. Perhaps you can be a comforter in the place of the food.

Down to 309, and thoughts on Temptations

IMG_20140627_071455This morning the scale reported my weight as 309 lbs. This is 75 lbs. lost on my program (45% of my goal) since Easter. It is also 116 lbs. lost from my highest about a year ago. I still have another 86 lbs. to lose and am plugging away at it.

I have to admit, it gets hard some days to resist the temptations in my house. My wife buys plenty of snacks when she shops, and though she has reduced the amount it can be hard to eat a bar or drink a shake from my program with a bag of potato chips sitting on the counter taunting me. It can be even harder when I turn around from the stove while cooking my Lean & Green to see my daughter standing behind me dipping those same potato chips into French Onion dip–&^#@$&#(!*&#!

Actually, there have only been a few times when I’ve had to remind myself what I was trying to accomplish and the benefits of choosing right in the face of temptation. More often than not, the frequency of my meals (every 3 hours) has made temptations either very mild, or nonexistent. Of course, when I open the fridge and see a pack of flour tortillas sitting under the bag holding the meat portion of my next Lean & Green, nothing stops that temptation! It would be so easy to wrap that meat in a tortilla, since a flour tortilla makes EVERYTHING better!

In such times, it helps to remind myself of the things I want to do once I am back down to a healthy weight. This helps, because when tempted the potential of momentary satisfaction and pleasure comes to the fore. You can see the junk food; taste it; remember the aroma; know the pleasure it would give. Of course, these sensations can come on so strongly it takes intentional effort to overcome. It helps to remind oneself of the better feeling of completing the goal. I have gone from a lifetime of bad unhealthy eating choices to committing myself to building better habits over the next year (9 ½ half more months to go). To complete a yearlong journey is an accomplishment and will bring more satisfaction than diving head first into a can of Pringles.

Another help is remembering how far I’ve come. It helps to remind myself as I feel so much better, and look so much slimmer that I once felt horrible as I slowly ate myself into an early grave. It also feels good that my daughters and wife can hug me with their arms completely around me with some room left over. There was a time when my wife couldn’t get her arms around me. It also feels good when people tell me how much younger I look or how much healthier.

Another help to resisting temptation is self-understanding. While some might be able to give in for a weekend or a short time and just come back and pick it back up afterwards, I know this is not possible for me. If I simply give in, even once, I will have to go through some major psychological work to refocus and get back to the program. Like an alcoholic who must not allow himself even the slightest backsliding, I can’t allow myself to backslide into unhealthy habits again. This doesn’t mean an anal attention to the slightest detail. It means making sure that what I do at each step is because I have chosen that step out of the possible alternatives. If I am going to eat something that is not best for my program, how will I make up for it and make sure it doesn’t cause any damage? If I am going to break the program for a day, what is the reason, the goal, and the justification for doing so? I have to be careful that anything done is carefully thought out and is the best choice for the circumstances. Allow me to give an example of what I mean. If I were visiting a friend who offered me something not permitted on my program, I might choose to accept or decline. If I will offend that person by declining, and feel it is important to accept, then I have made a choice to do this for the benefit of my friend. I would then find it easy to return to the program as soon as I am out of that situation—even if it means going out of fat burn and suffering while getting back in. However, that is very different from walking into the kitchen, seeing something and, on the spur of the moment, surrendering to temptation. In such a case, no choice was actually made. My action would simply be a reflex of “see food, grab food, eat food, repeat.” Though some can do this and pick up the program the next day, I know such surrender would be disastrous for me. Returning to my “food sobriety” would be hard fought. So why risk it? The pleasures of chips and dip, etc. are nothing compared to the pleasure I get out of my move to health.

A final thing that helps is knowledge such restrictions are not a life sentence. While I must “deprive” myself now (that term is not really appropriate because I do not feel deprived but others have expressed it that way), in the future I will be able to make wider choices. I will still have to make healthy choices, but with a healthy weight, balanced blood sugar and an active life, there will be many more options I can choose—including the occasional chips and dip. So in effect I am putting off the enjoyment of having them for another five years or so, until a heart attack, diabetes or a stroke takes me; to enable myself to enjoy such foods wisely for the next several decades. The first step is getting my weight down. But it is still just a first step. There are many more to follow.

Choosing and Planning to Succeed

birthdayYesterday was a very special day: my wife’s birthday. Every husband knows what that means. In husband-speak this is the number two “Thou shalt not screw up” day of the year—number one is wedding anniversary. Fail to do something special for your wife’s birthday and you will wish you were dead. Forget your anniversary and you might as well be dead. This means last night had to be a special time. I took my wife, one of our daughters and my mother out to dinner. My wife has two favorite cuisines: Korean and Mexican. Since the daughter had already taken her out for Korean the night before, this meant I was going to be taking them to Mexican food last night.

One major obstacle with this is my program. You have to understand that this Texas boy loves Mexican food. I’m not talking about the stuff you’d get in a small restaurant on the other side of the Rio Grande. I mean that I love what we call Tex-Mex: enchiladas, fajitas, flour tortillas, chips and salsa, and my favorite (…wait for it…) barracho beans! Now if you look at the list you’ll see that most of these items are verboten until I lose the weight and go on maintenance (which I am far from). How was I going to handle this? The only possibility was to take some time and make a plan.

I had to choose if I was going to break my program, eat non-discriminately, drop out of fat burn and then just return to the program the next day, or if I was going to make choices in line with my program and goals. Either choice is fine, so long as it is freely chosen. Feeling guilty for choosing one or the other is silly and a waste of emotional energy. Face your choice; make your choice; live with your choice; prepare for the next choice and move on. If you look at the name of my blog you will see that I stress health being a choice. I can choose to act in a way that maintains or improves my health or I can choose to act in a way that is less healthy or even choose to be blatantly unhealthy. The problem is when the cravings start making the choices for me. It is hard to be sure the choice is your own when craving carbs and sugars as your body responds to fluctuating insulin and sugar levels. This means choices have to be made when these things are not happening.

I approached the night and dinner out this way. I faced the choice: I was going to take my wife out to dinner in a Mexican restaurant and I was going to do it in a way that would keep me in fat burn. This meant that my meal, possibly not qualifying as a perfect Lean & Green meal, would be one that came very close from the choices available. This meant several smaller choices were necessary. First choice, there would be no chips and salsa. Second choice, the meal would be mostly salad of lower carb vegetables. Third choice, the meat would be either low fat to moderate fat, limited to a reasonable volume. Fortunately, I had eaten in this place before and knew there was a possibility on their menu.

With my plan formulated, I started by checking my urine with a Ketostix (I did this at home, not at the restaurant). My ketosis was 15 mg/dL, so I knew I was in reasonable fat burn. I would check after and wanted to be reasonably close to this level. We went to dinner and had a good time. I do have to admit that making my choice beforehand and working to stick to it was helpful. Had I just gone and made the choice when looking at the menu, the choice might have gone very differently. It was a bit difficult sitting there while everyone else had chips and salsa. I had to remind myself of my choices a couple times. Then came the food. I ordered a beef fajita salad. My wife and daughter both had beef fajitas and my mother had beef enchiladas (yes, we are beef people). My salad was almost perfect. I forgot to ask them to drop the cranberries—my wife took them. I had to pick through and remove these. My plate also included half an avocado. I can have part of this, but not in combination with the beef. I gave the avocado to my daughter. I also forgot about the cheese, but I am supposed to have extra protein so I just enjoyed it—it was mostly mozzarella so low enough fat to not be a problem.

I think the hardest part was reminding myself why I couldn’t have chips and salsa, tortillas or barracho beans during the meal. Especially since my dinner partners were obviously enjoying these. This would have been easier if they had also avoided the things I wasn’t permitted, but this is my program, not theirs. Besides, I will be spending the rest of my life making choices for my own health even when others make very different choices.

So how did I do on fat burn? A couple hours later, once we got back home, I checked again with another Ketostix. I was still unchanged at 15 mg/dL.

Staying on program can be done. First it takes a choice. Next it takes a plan to put that choice into action. Then follow the plan. This may take reminding oneself of the choice or the reason for the choice, but it is easier if starting with a plan.

What choices are you making? Do you have a plan? Remember the old saying, “A failure to plan is plan for failure.”

Scale Addiction!

scale-cryToday is the day I share my weekly weight. I have to say I’m pleased, because earlier in the week I gave in to the temptation to watch the scale. Though my Ketostix showed I was in fat burn, the fluctuations of the scale made me apprehensive. I thought I might have gone into a plateau—or even gained a pound or two. Fortunately, my coach was a quick text message away and we talked about it. My frustrations had also been escalated by a gout flare up. Here I was looking at the scales and seeing what looked like no progress and also experiencing one of the conditions caused by my weight. This along with some problems with one of my meds combined into a perfect storm in my head.

I have to admit the question came up, “What the heck am I doing this for?” This was short lived. I spoke to my coach. I also reminded myself that even with what I am seeing right now, I have still vastly improved over just a month ago. I also had to remind myself that part of my reason for blogging about this and sharing with others is to help others who might be struggling in the same way. Like most of my experiences in life, plateaus simply give me another experience to help me serve and encourage others who are struggling.

Now for those who think it odd that I would admit going to my coach for help in getting through this time, let me explain that this is sort of similar to the person who goes to their pastor for counsel, or to someone in a Twelve Step program calling on their sponsor to help them through a rough patch. It is refusing to call out for help that is a weakness—the weakness of pride. The strong person recognizes their own difficulties and chooses to seek help where and when needed. I think the best part of this program has been having a coach to go to for guidance and help. Is a doctor somehow less of a doctor when he consults with a specialist? Is a mechanic somehow less of a mechanic when he consults a manual? What about someone who calls their doctor for a quick bit of assurance about a newly noticed symptom? These people are not weak for seeking help. Neither is it weak to have and seek the assurance of a coach when making a complete change to one’s life. There is no need to knuckle through alone! Doing so does not show one to be strong. Refusing to get help just increases the likelihood of failure. Which is a better sign of strength: success with assistance or failure alone? Yes, some will say, “But I want to prove that I am strong enough to do this!” Go for it! However, let me ask one question:

If a person were strong enough to completely change his or her life and go from obesity to health with no help, why didn’t that strength keep that person from becoming unhealthy to begin with?

You see, being strong does not mean going it alone. Being strong means having the strength and courage to assess one’s self honestly, making a true evaluation, and call for help if needed. I am now convinced that even more important than the right program is the right support structure and coach.

You may notice I have placed my weight report here, after the “sermon.” Guilty! I considered waiting until Monday to report because I am waiting on some more good news from my doctor—at least I hope it will be good news. I already have some other medical news to report. I’ll post the other later.

This morning I weighed 335 lbs. Remember what I said before about being discouraged a few days ago and frustrated. Well, it turns IMG_20140523_095307out that I lost seven pounds this week. I’ve also lost a total of 49 pounds in five weeks. It looks like the frustration was for naught. On top of that I also got some great news from my  doctor. Shortly after starting this program, I stopped taking one medicine. It was a daily injection of Victoza. I met with my endocrinologist yesterday and after only five weeks on program he reports my A1C is down to normal, he agreed with stopping the Victoza, and he said I am no longer prediabetic (he did hedge this statement, being cautious to see further improvement).

I’ve noticed, besides these apparent changes, some not so apparent. I am happier—except for brief times of scale apprehension—and more encouraging of others ( a good thing for a pastor). Before I started losing weight I was sad much of the time and depressed. I was just waiting to die—not really a fun person to be around.

IMG_20140523_101546The best thing I’ve done for myself is to go on this program to make a complete change of my life. To tell you how radical of a change I’ve made—today I decided to have my Lean & Green meal for breakfast. I made myself a veggie omelet with Egg Beaters. First of all, had you told me a month ago that I would ever be eating (much less cooking) a veggie omelet, I would have told you, “Go home! You’re drunk!” For me, the words veggie and eat were never used in the same sentence. However, I have to say I enjoyed it. I was shocked at just how large it was—I followed the plan limits exactly. I was barely able to finish it. Here is a picture of it. Keep in mind I am a meat smoker and a BBQ cook, but not very good at cooking eggs.

Tempting Fate or Stretching my Resolve

Empty PlateSometimes our resolve bangs against the realities of life. At such times, how do we stay on plan? One example lately has been my resolve on eating out. When first choosing to take control of my health, I set a one year schedule of losing weight, and setting new healthy habits. My wife and I both assumed our lives over the next year would not include the inside of a restaurant. However, my occupation includes duties that sometimes require me to meet in a restaurant.

Over the last few weeks, I started thinking about how a person could eat out while staying on program. While my program has a method used once weight has been brought down to goal, I was wondering about how to do this while still in weight loss. This last Saturday I asked my wife to join me for an experiment. We went to one of our favorite local restaurants—Huhot’s Mongolian Grill. For those unfamiliar this means you select from an assortment of fresh raw meats, vegetables and noodles, and add various sauces. This is all cooked on a round steel griddle. I wanted to see if I could have a nice meal out, limited to allowed items. To do this, I went in with a plan.

I would limit myself to one plate. As an all-you-can-eat place my usual practice has been to have two and, at times, three plates of food. I did this in the past, not because I was still hungry after the first plate, but simply because it was “All you can eat” and I was going to get my full money’s worth and have “all I could eat.” This practice springs from two mistaken thoughts. One mistaken thought: if the food is there and available, I should eat it. But such bad thinking is what this year is meant to reverse. I’m choosing health which includes eating because I choose to eat, and not because the food is there. The second mistaken thought is the idea that getting my money’s worth means eating massive amounts. The amount of food is not the only measure of a nice meal out. Yes, I got filled up, but there was much more to the meal than the amount of food that went down my gullet. For one, I got to treat my wife to a nice time out. I got to sit across the table from my beautiful wife and enjoy her company while sharing a nice healthy meal. I left feeling satisfied instead of stuffed like a tick. I enjoyed each bite of the food instead of shoveling it in and down. Put together the food, the atmosphere, my wife, the time spent together and the good feeling of making a healthy choice and I got more than my money’s worth.

The next part of my plan was to monitor what went on the plate. At this restaurant you fill bowls with raw foods which you take to the cooks. I used two bowls—one for meats and the other for veggies. I would allow myself no noodles, no beans, no water chestnuts (one of my favorites), no baby corn, etc. I limited my vegetables to broccoli, celery, bean sprouts and white mushrooms limited to no more than 1.5 cups (three half cup servings) in the veggie bowl. For meats I planned to favor the lower fat meats. My primary meat was chicken, augmented with Mahi Mahi, crab (probably Krab), with a small addition of beef for added flavor. I have to admit I had a bit of leeway in this because I have been instructed by Nutrition Support to bump up my daily protein by adding three extra ounces per day. To these I added the sauces, avoiding the sugar or salt bombs, of course.

The nicest thing was realizing that eating healthy, even out on the town, is possible. I can choose what to eat, and still enjoy the pleasure of a meal out with my wife. Staying on program is easy when everything falls into a schedule and nothing happens to throw that off, but real ownership comes when learning to remain in control when the world does not follow your program or your schedule.

This experiment was a success. It actually helped me the next day, Sunday. An official from my denomination was in town for our services and took me and my wife out to lunch at a local eatery. After a careful look at the menu, I found a nice little steak meal that fit my plan, satisfied my hunger and gave me plenty of opportunity to share about the changes I have made. It was funny, because the meal was a bit of a reversal; I ordered the small healthy meal; my wife ordered a bacon cheeseburger with fries and fried curly onions. The burger was almost as big as her head! In the past I would have had the huge burger and then would have ‘helped’ her finish her plate. I saw the bacon, the beef and the potatoes (three of my former food groups) and wasn’t even slightly tempted. My satisfaction came from my resolve to stay on program.

Saturday night—between lunch on Saturday and lunch on Sunday—was another chance to experiment with my resolve and with the program. I went to another town to ordain a friend at his church. While there, I had no temptation for any of the snacks, but settled for a decaf coffee. However, the night went longer than I expected and I had failed to bring another meal replacement with me (I usually carry a bar for just such an occurrence). It was going to be an hour to an hour and a half later to get home. I stopped at a gas station to find something to snack on—permissible only! After a few minutes looking I found a small bag of raw almonds, which I purchased. In the car, I handed the bag to my wife, who counted out a proper snack portion and put the rest away. I had this snack and upon getting home went ahead and had my meal replacement bar before bed—as my coach told me to do. It would have been easy to say, “Well there is just no way to stay on program. I’ll just have this one bag of chips for the ride home—it’s a small bag.” The problem is that I know me. If I allow myself one lapse, then temptations to lapse will become legion and my entire resolve will have to be rebuilt. Just this once, turns quickly into just this hundredth once.

It’s nice to be able to choose health. I plan to be healthy and enjoy the next forty plus years with my lovely wife. I plan to grow old old peopleand gray, sit in a rocking chair with her and bounce grandkids on my knee. I also plan to be healthy enough to chase her around the nursing home and gross out all the visitors.