Weight Loss Journey

9 07 2018

I have been on a journey for over a year now.  Actually I have been on this journey for many years but was finally in a place where I was finally ready to admit I needed God’s help about a year ago. 

I have been “chubby”, “heavy”, “large”, “a big kid”, which are all polite ways of saying “FAT”, almost all of my life.  I remember when I was 8 or 9 I would stand with my arms folded at the top of my stomach.  I remember my mother telling me not to cross my arms above my stomach because it pushed my stomach out.  I was teased in school and was always part of the “last kids picked” when it came to choosing teams. 

I married the woman of my dreams in 1986 and if my memory serves correctly, I was about 180 pounds.  I remember that I was working out at the gym prior to the wedding to look my best.  After I was married, I think I lost interest in maintaining my weight.  When I got married I was working a retail job where I was on my feet for a major part of the day walking around.  A few years later, I was hired for a job that would use my computer science degree.  With the hour or so commute and a fairly sedentary job, my weight started to increase. 

So I was fat, and I knew I was fat.  Years of the doctor telling me I needed to lose weight and my wife telling me that she was afraid I was going to die early and my dad telling me I needed to lose weight didn’t cause me to get help.  I tried a trainer at the gym and spent thousands of dollars without a lasting effect.  If memory serves correctly, I managed to go from about 300 pounds to 270 pounds.  My wife and I tried a “well known” weight loss program in 2005 and that worked while I was paying to go to meetings and paying for their snacks.  However when money got tight and I could no longer pay for the trainer and when my wife reached her goal weight and we stopped going to those meetings, I gained all the weight back.  With the weight loss program I actually  managed to get down just under 246 pounds.  245.8 to be exact.

In 2010 I had three business trips traveling to Eastern Europe for work.  We always had a lay over day each way in Vienna, Austria for two trips and Amsterdam, Netherlands for the last trip.  Putting my 290+ pound body into a coach seat for a transatlantic flight, and not being able to walk around Vienna and Amsterdam got me to the point that I was finally ready to give Celebrate Recovery a try.

For those that don’t know, Celebrate Recovery is a Christ based 12-step program similar to the better known Alcoholics Anonymous.  One of the major differences is while Alcohol Anonymous refers to a “higher power” as a source of help, Celebrate Recovery specifically names the higher power as Jesus/God.  Anyway, a pastor at the church my family was attending was “heavy” and lost quite a bit of weight.  He told the congregation that the 12 steps of Celebrate Recovery is what helped him to lose the weight.  His testimony and my business trips to Eastern Europe were enough pain to overcome the fear of walking in to Celebrate Recovery.

Given my past failures with the gym and the nationally known weight lost program I knew that my weight issues were more than simple behavior modification would fix.  There were deeper issues that needed to be addressed.  I went though the doors of Celebrate Recovery and started to work the program.  I started watching what I was eating and trying to drink more water, in place of snacking.  I actually lost 30 pounds in the beginning.  However this was my doing and not what God was most interested in helping me overcome….at least not yet.

I found this walking app for my iPhone and started tracking my sporadic walks back in December of 2014.  My walks got more regular in 2016 but still not consistent. 

Back in February of 2017, I got an Apple Watch and started tracking my exercise.  As of April 1, 2017 I weighed 300 pounds.  I have been as high as 321.  This is not something that I am in any way proud of but it is worthy to note how far I have come. 

With the purchase of my Apple Watch, I decided to start walking regularly and tracking my walking progress.  I figured out the workout app on my watch and in March of 2017 had 1 workout.  In April there were 15, May was 24, June and July there were 20 each and then I started to get serous in August of 2017.

I consider my official start date of this journey August 1, 2017.  We had recently booked a family cruise to the Western Caribbean and I was looking at some of the excursions.  What took me somewhat by surprise was the fact that some of them had weight limits.  Now this wasn’t the zip line or scuba diving where I know there are weight limits.  This was playing and swimming with the dolphins.  This sounded interesting but there was a weight limit.  Those above 240 pounds could not participate.  Since I was currently close to 300 pounds, it meant that my weight was going to be what limited me on this excursion.

I didn’t want my weight to be the reason I didn’t do the excursion.  As I mentioned above, I had tried the gym, I had tried a nationally known weight loss program.  Both worked, sort of, until I couldn’t afford to pay for them.  I had gotten just under 270 pounds while working with a trainer.  I had gotten down to 245 with the weight loss program.  Neither of those were below the 240 that I needed to be under to do the excursion. 

I knew that there were deeper issues behind my weight that simple behavior modification would solve.  I decided to pray about this and ask God if this was the time for us to work on my weight.  I started walking and trying to watch what I ate.  The weight was starting to come off.  In November my prescription for blood pressure medication ran out.  I called the pharmacy to refill it and it was denied.  It turns out that my medical insurance was now insisting that I see the doctor every 6 months while on long term medication.  There was no way I was going to get in to see the doctor before Thanksgiving so I decided to start recording my blood pressure daily and see the doctor after Thanksgiving.  I took my record of blood pressure measurements to the doctor and he was concerned.  Not because my blood pressure was too high but there were several readings that were too low!  With that my doctor decided that I could be off the blood pressure medications and we would check it again in April when I had my annual exam.

In January I was going to the gym because walking when the outside temperature was below 50 was causing my hands and feet to be cold to the point of pain.  I also got an app to start tracking what I was eating.  The combination helped me break through the plateau!

I had my annual physical in April part of which was the usual blood tests.  The doctor was thrilled with the amount of weight I had lost.  When he got the results of the blood tests, all my results were excellent.  Where I had been on both blood pressure and cholesterol medications in the past, and had even had a liver biopsy in the past to determine I had a fatty liver, I am now off all prescription medications.

As I write this I am 56 pounds lighter than I was in August!  As I shared in my travel post, I was finally below 240 and my weight would no longer be the reason for not playing with the dolphins!  I am also down two pants sizes since I started in August and actually 4 pants sizes down from where I was at my heaviest.  At my heaviest, XXL shirts were tight, actually very tight.  Now large shirt are tight but with God’s help, they won’t be for much longer.

I continue to work at losing weight.  My next goal is to break through the 225 pound barrier with my ultimate goal to see if I can get back to about 180 pounds which is where I think I was when I got married. 

Until next time…

Paul





Bathroom Hand Dryers

6 07 2018

I am nominally a very practical person. I am not a germaphobe!  I think it is a great idea to use hand dryers in restrooms to reduce paper litter, keep the bathroom clean, reduce landfill, and save trees. However I have to wonder sometimes if the people designing these facilities are either naive or not thinking things through.

If you “assume”, and I learned from the movie “Bad News Bears” what happens when you assume, everyone washes their hands, then having a hand dryer and a door that opens IN to the bathroom is a workable idea. However, I have observed that the above assumption is false. I don’t have any data on the percentage of folks who wash versus those who don’t but even if one person doesn’t wash, this is a problem. Now if there are paper towels so that you can use one of those between your clean hand and the door handle, then all is good. Except that now we are using/wasting a paper towel when the whole idea was to not use that resource in the first place.

For example, I have washed and dried my hands and now they are germ free. Then I have to grab a handle that the person who didn’t wash used just before me. Now my hands have picked up some of their germs.

What dawned on me the other day was the restaurant employees at one of these facilities. There are signs that tell them they must wash their hands before returning to work. The fact that the sign is necessary is scary enough. Anyway, so now they have washed their hands because of the sign. Then they have to grab the handle to get out of the restroom and the person before them didn’t bother to wash. I mean they aren’t an employee so the sign doesn’t apply. Now this employee who washed their hands and had to grab that less than sanitary handle, is serving you your food.

I am certain I am not the first person to think this all the way through. Some might say I am overthinking this.  I am fairly certain this is not an original blog post.

Until next time…

Paul





Last Day In Florida

3 07 2018

This is our last day in Florida and the last day of our vacation.  It has been a great vacation but I am also anxious to get back home.

After breakfast we finished packing, left our bags at the Disney Springs Resort and went back to Epcot.

EpcotTinkerbell

There, four of us designed cars and tested the design in a head to head competition.  The car my youngest daughter and I designed, actually she did most of the work, won.

After that we road the Finding Nemo ride.  I had a beautiful companion for the ride.

FindingNemoSelfie

After you get off the ride you can walk around the various tanks in the aquarium.  I could spend hours watching fish swim around.

Afer we left Epcot for the last time this trip, we went and had lunch at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.  This is definitely NOT the place to go if you want a quite lunch.  It is quite noisy.  If you drink your soda or water too quickly out of the mason jar, they bring you an EXTRA LARGE mason jar of your beverage.

DaughtersLargeDrink

If you order something and you need ketchup, your entire table yells “WE NEED KETCHUP”  The folks at the previous table that yelled that then bring over all the bottles of ketchup from their table.

KetchupTower

Of course my daughter had to build a tower out of the ketchup bottles.

 

 

 

 

 

During our lunch they held a pony parade.  Yes two of my “adult” daughters rode stick ponies around the restaurant with other “kids”.

RidingStickHorses

After lunch we went back to Disney Springs to do some shopping and to stock up on snacks for the plane ride back home.  Two of my amazing daughters tried on dresses and my oldest bought the Minnie Mouse dress she tried on.

 

This is the last blog entry for our 2018 Cruise and Disney World vacation.  This is the first time I have done travel blog.  I kind of enjoyed the experience.  I learned a few things along the way and have made some new online friends.

During this vacation I ended up going through many different metal detectors.  Getting back on the ship and entered Disney World are the main times.  I learned awhile back that if I didn’t want a personal pat down from a TSA agent, I wanted to use the x-ray machine rather than the metal detector.  Having two metal knees, a metal hip and pins in my foot mean that more often than not I will set off a metal detector.  A couple of times getting back aboard ship as well as a majority of the time entering Disney World, I did NOT set off the metal detectors.  I didn’t mind NOT have to undergo the special “wand treatment.”  But I have to wonder who calibrates those things?  If I had carried my swiss army knife, or even my larger knife would they have gone off?  Maybe for me with the other metal in my body but what if my wife had carried one of those in?  I don’t want to try that as an experiment as I don’t want to lose the knife but it makes you wonder what folks are actually getting through the detectors with.

Until next time…

Paul





Animal Kingdom

2 07 2018

Before we started the day at Animal Kingdom, my awesome daughters wanted to give me their father’s day present early since we wouldn’t all be together on the official holiday.  They went in together and got me this t-shirt.

The words on the shirt say “I’m a Proud Dad of Three Freaking Awesome Daughters. Yes they bought me this shirt.”  Yes I am a proud dad of three awesome daughters and one awesome son.  Unfortunately, my son and his wife could not be with us on this trip.

We got parked and road the tram to the front entrance:

TramSelfie
GroupAnimalKingdom

As we were walking through Animal Kingdom, we did a group photo in front of the tree of life.  Everyone but me were pretending to be wild animals.  I played the part of animal keeper.

 

 

I don’t remember where my youngest was for this picture.  HomeTreeSelfie

We went and saw the Festival Of The Lion King show.  Afterwards two of my daughters posed with Pumba.Pumba

After the Festival Of The Lion King Show, the same two who posed with Pumba, walked with me on a walking animal safari.  We were most of the way through when it started to rain.  At first it wasn’t too bad and we were under the cover of trees.  Then it got really heavy and I had to put my DSLR away.  This is the only time on the whole trip where the weather prevented us from doing anything.  Here are a few pictures from that:

 

Initially when we went by the Dinosaur ride, partially to ride the ride and partially to say hi to Mat, the ride was closed.  We went back later and were able to go back 65 million years and retrieve the dinosaur.

DinoRide

We also got to see Chip and Dale dressed as dinosaurs dancing with kids.

ChipDaleDino

A few of us rode the Kali River Rapids ride and got a little wet in the process.  There used to be water guns near where this were taken which is why you may notice us taunting my wife and other daughter.  We didn’t find out until the end of the ride that the water guns were no longer there.

During the rain storm we decided to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride.  The truck has a canvas top so we were mostly protected from the rain.  There were about 11 total folks on the ride so when it came time to disembark, we asked our tour guide if we could go again.  She checked where the ride supervisor and we were able to ride again!  Here are some pictures from both times through the safari.

Finally it was time to head to Pandora.  I know that my two youngest were very excited for me to see this given my love of Avatar.  We rode the Avatar Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey.  I was a little hesitant about the Flight of Passage rides as there were warnings that those with a fear of heights shouldn’t ride.  I have a fear of heights.  However it seems to only manifest itself when I am standing near a ledge.  I had absolutely NO issues with this ride.  It was AMAZING!!!  My only issue with the ride is that it was over WAY too soon.  I could have easily “rode” for another hour.

Pandora land was fantastic.  I even got my own Ikran (Mountain Banshee) with perch.

Until next time…

Paul

 





Magic Kingdom & Epcot

1 07 2018

12 June 18

The day started off with a character breakfast where my wife and I finally got to meet “the boyfriend”.  While working at Disney World, my wonderful middle daughter has made some really good friends including Mat who thinks of her as his little sister and her boyfriend Andrew.  While we had breakfast with him and spent a little time with him, we really didn’t get to talk much.  I was hoping we would get to know him a little better while we were in Florida.

We started the day with breakfast at the Cape May cafe.  Given my Disney crazed daughters, of course this had to be a character breakfast.  During breakfast they got to see Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and Goofy.

 

Like her father, especially in his younger days, my oldest daughter sometimes doesn’t like to have her picture taken.  This is a picture of her mom trying to take her picture.

AttemptedPicOfKelly

We did several rides in Epcot before we had to say goodbye to Andrew.    While waiting for my awesome middle daughter to return, we went on the ride at the Imagination Institute where we saw Figment. ImaginationInstituteRide

We had lunch at the Garden Grill, which was also another character meal.  This time they got to see Mickey Mouse, Chip, Dale, and Pluto.

We went over to the Magic Kingdom and did some more rides including Small World and walked through the castle.

Castle

We had dinner at Tony’s.  What do you think of my “strawstache”?

StrawFace

I think I need to work on balance!  After dinner we did some more rides.  I watched some of the fireworks while the girls went on some rides in FantasyLand that I just really didn’t want to go on.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 





Universal Studios & The Magic Kingdom

30 06 2018

11 Jun 18

Today started off with buying some coffee and filters and then returning the rental car.  I found the rental car return desk off the hotel lobby and patiently waited.  I am not quite sure where I learned or developed this habit, but I strive to always be at appointments 5-10 minutes before the appointment time.  8am came an went with no rental company representative in spite of the fact that the sign on the desk indicated they were open starting at 8am.  I decided I wasn’t going to wait any longer and filled out the paperwork and dropped off the keys.  We had a busy day ahead and I wasn’t going to waste it waiting to return a car.  Having been burned by a different rental company when I did the same thing in the past, I decided to take a video of the rental car before I left the hotel.

Yesterday we purchased some breakfast foods and we had breakfast in the room this morning.  Then it was off to Universal Studios.  The main draw here, at least for 75% of the group, was Harry Potter World.  I have never read the books and I have only seen a few of the movies.  Now Pandora, Ikran and the Na’vi are my thing!  That will be another blog post.

We had 4 tickets to get in to Universal Studios and at this point in the vacation, there are 5 in our party.  You know that saying that “more is caught than taught”?  I was reminded of that today.  I knew there were 4 tickets and 5 people.  I was going to stay in the hotel room while the others went to see Harry Potter Land.  However, my youngest caught my trick of setting up the situation such that I get to be the one that doesn’t go.  Unfortunately, she learned it and implemented it before I had a chance today.

So we went to Universal Studios.  After getting tickets, we went directly to Diagon Alley and wandered around there.  My wife and daughters went in to many of the shops.  I tried going in to a few but there were just too many people in too small of a space.  Below is a picture of my wife and two daughters in front of Gringotts Bank.  There is a dragon on the top of the bank that occasionally breathes fire.  Sorry no picture of the fire-breathing dragon.

Gringotts

We got some ice cream as a snack and I had the ButterBeer ice cream.  It was actually pretty good.  We, mostly they, wandered around shops in Hogsmeade.

 

We had some lunch and then rode the Hogwarts Express.

After that my lovely wife and I decided to go to the castle and go on the ride.

HogwartsCastle

The ride is kind of like a roller coaster where you are strapped in a four seat bench and you fly through various parts of Hogwarts including flying through a Quidditch match.  I don’t get motion sick but I was NOT feeling all that well after this ride.  I can say I did it once.  I don’t know that there is anything that could convince me to ride that one again.

On the way out of Universal Studios, I took a picture of a beautiful Hibiscus.

Hibiscus

Also on the way out my awesome daughter pretended to be a dinosaur.

DaughterDino

After we left Universal Studios we went back to our room in Disney Springs to get my youngest daughter who “had” to do some errands and couldn’t go to Universal Studios with us.  We went and spent some time in the Magic Kingdom and rode the people mover.

DaughtersPeopleMover

The adults were in the vehicle behind our daughters.

After doing a few more things in the Magic Kingdom, we went for dinner at Ohana.  While waiting for our reservation, I took a picture of Maui and the flowers in the lobby of the Polynesian resort.

TikiFlowers

We were finally seated and took some pictures while waiting for the food to start arriving.

 

After dinner we took a family picture in front of Maui

OhanaFamily

Until next time





Vacation Part 2

28 06 2018

10 June 18

This was the last day of the cruise part of our vacation.  I am not sure why but I woke up about 4:30 in the morning and noticed that there was a storm outside with lightning.  I had left the curtains open on the window in our room and the flash of lighting indicated the storm in the distance.  Since I knew we were going to be pulling in to port, I decided that I ought to close the drapes just in case we got in to port before we actually woke up.

We arrived in port a little before the expected time.  We had our last breakfast onboard the cruise ship, packed up the last of our stuff and disembarked from another wonderful cruise.  

At the suggestion of the cruise staff, I tried downloading the Customs & Border Patrol app to electronically fill out the customs paperwork.  The idea is that this will help the traveler get through customs quicker.  However, the final submission must be done within 4 hours of when you expect to go through customs.  I did that.  Prior to leaving Puerto Costa Maya, I added all the passport information and current pictures for the family.  About 20 minutes before we disembarked, I completed the electronic customs form and got receipts showing the forms had been submitted. 

At this point I thought all was well.  We got to the customs desk for those using the electronic app and apparently the form has to be completed BEFORE you get on to US soil and about an hour before you plan to go through customs.  I was still on the ship that was docked to the pier so I guess that now qualified as US soil.  This means that the 4 hour window is actually only about 3 hours.  This is definitely doable but unless I purchased the internet package on board the ship, there is no way I could have done the official submittal an hour before disembarking as we were still too far from shore to get a cell signal.

We got the rental car and drove up from Fort Lauderdale to Orlando to see my awesome middle daughter.  Somewhere between Fort Lauderdale and Orlando the display on my youngest daughter’s Google Pixel 2 phone started to turn from normal to purple eventually to black. 

Being the daughter of a “Tech Lord”, that is the families name for me, my oldest daughter had the presence of mind to help get all the data from the failing phone backed up to the cloud before the display became unusable.  Very smart thinking on her part!

We had lunch and then checked in to the Disney Springs Resort my youngest daughter is a member of the Disney Vacation Club.  After getting all our luggage into our room it was time to deal with the phone.  Given that it was a 1-1/2 year old Google Pixel 2, which no-one apparently carries replacement screens for, we ended up going to the Verizon store and getting her a new phone.  I tried really hard to convince her to come to the “dark side” and get an iPhone but she decided on a new Galaxy S9. 

We wandered around Disney Springs and had some dinner.  After dinner we went to the top floor of the Disney Contemporary Resort.  The Top Of The World Lounge is up there with areas outside to watch the fireworks.  

Before the fireworks started we got to see part of the electrical parade on the lake.

DisneyWaterParade

Here is a picture of the fireworks.

DisneyFireworks

 

Until next time