Dear Gym Guy Who Just Doesn’t Care,

You’ve been there – right?  You’re at the gym, and someone comes in who just doesn’t know how to use the equipment.  As they walk from machine to machine, and apparatus to apparatus, they do everything completely wrong.  People snicker, point, whisper, laugh…

And I’ve been there.  I’ve been streaky with my gym attendance.  I never worked out in high school, as I was a chorus and drama nerd, I worked out for the first time in college during the summer while at camp with Nathan Walker, a guy who had a neck thicker than Brock Lesnar.  I got into a second time when I got my first job out of college at Westbury Christian, working out alongside Coach Steve Hawley.  I fell in love with it, and for about 2 years, worked out consistently.  I got into it again after about a 5 year hiatus when my wife and I moved back to Houston.  This time, I got really into it.  Sadly, after life caught up with me and I had a few shoulder and joint injuries, I stopped.  So, I’m not perfect, I get it.

When we moved back to Nashville, for about the first 18 months here, I worked out pretty consistently, got to where I could move a decent amount of weight, and was pretty knowledgeable about how to do all the lifts and use all the equipment in any gym.  Recently, I’ve gotten back into working out after taking about 8 months off.

Today, I ran into that guy.  You know the guy I’m talking about.  The one I mentioned above.  The one who uses every single machine completely the wrong way.  The guy who works his shoulders out on the leg press machine.  He was about 50 years old, and he was wearing an old Hulk Hogan style shirt that was about 20 years old.

He walked into Anytime Fitness today, and I was about done.  I was doing a superset with dumbbell curls to finish my workout, combined with some triceps pushdowns. He walked by, stopped, turned around, walked back to me, and watched me finish the set out.  He looked right at me, clapped, and told me “Great job, Boss!” and then walked on, to do back rows on a pec deck (also known as a butterfly machine…yup…wrap your head around that one.)

In between sets, you could tell he was listening to a group like ACDC or Metallica, as he was doing full fledged air guitar, spinning around, and at one point doing a jump kick while jamming on his invisible Gibson SG.

And while I judged him, and mocked him in my head – I had a realization.  This guy was having a heckuva lot more fun than me.

He didn’t care.  He didn’t care if he was using the machine wrong.  He didn’t care if he looked silly.  He didn’t care who was watching.  He didn’t care if he was doing it right.  He didn’t care if people were staring.  He just didn’t care.

It hit me.  I want to be that guy.  I want to be the guy.  I wish I didn’t care, but I do.  I care about what people think about me all the time.  I want to look right.  I want to act right.  I want to do things right.  I want follow the rules.  But sometimes, we need to be the guy that just doesn’t care.

When I got done with my workout, I walked over to him while he was finishing a set of biceps curls using a leg extender machine, and when he finished a set, I gave him a high five, and said “Great job man!  Keep it up!”

May we all have a few days in life when we just don’t care.

The One About Addiction…to Anything

addictionAddiction is a word that is heavily associated with things such as alcohol, smoking and drug abuse.  The problem with that is for those of us who have absolutely no problem with alcohol or drug abuse, we tend to feel like addiction can’t take a hold of us.  Like to drink soft drinks multiple times a day?  Can’t start your day without a cup of coffee?  Do you have a compulsive need to finish that bag of chips you just opened?

 Want to go deeper?  Addiction is NOT just dealing with things you consume.  Pornography is one of the things that has a grasp on many.  Maybe you don’t struggle with pornography, so you feel as if you don’t have an addiction problem to anything – but you just might.

Facebook much?  Pinterest much?  Text much?  Candy Crush too much?  Have you played Temple Run so many times that your thumbs are raw?  Do you find yourself going to the internet to look at one thing, and two hours later wonder where your time went because you got sucked into a vortex of web surfing?

The real problem with addiction is that it is possible to be addicted to pretty much anything – and whether that addiction is to something hardcore like alcohol, drugs, or pornography, or whether it is to something less physically dangerous like Facebook, the internet, or games on your phone – it consumes you.

I’m fearful for people when they start to go down a path with things that consume them.  Denial is a big part of the problem with addiction.

After years of consuming diet soft drinks, specifically Diet Dr. Pepper, I realized I had a problem.  I could not go 5 minutes in the morning without cracking open a can and enjoying the bubbly fizz and taste of that sweet nectar of carbonation.  The caffeine would kick in, and I’d be good to go.  That is, I’d be good to go until I got to the office, or to a gas station, or to a fast food restaurant, or anywhere else where I could grab another diet drink.

One in the morning, one when I got to the office, one for lunch, one after lunch, one in the afternoon as a pick me up, one at dinner, one before bed.  If I had gone to a restaurant that day, I would have gotten 3 or 4 refills as well.  I was hooked.  The thought of drinking anything else but a diet soft drink repulsed me.  I knew I had a problem.

I had tried in the past to get off of drinking my diet drinks, but to no avail.  The longest I had gone was a month or so, but I would always cave in, giving in to stress or cravings.  But this time, on March 23, 2012, I woke up with a mission.  I was going to stop depending on this chemical to provide me with life.

Today, I have gone 410 days without having a soft drink.  99% of what I consume as a beverage is straight up water.  And let me tell you, its liberating.

Food tastes better, life is better, my stomach feels better, and I rarely have headaches anymore.

But do you want to know what happened?  My addiction moved from diet soft drinks to other things.  I started to eat more, specifically chips.  I started to play mind numbing games on my phone/ipad to calm me down.  Thats when it hit me – addiction is going to try to find a way to rule your life, especially when you have an addiction problem.

The problem with addiction is that it is a constant struggle.  It rears its ugly head when it can.  It reminds you that you need something to fill the void of something else that filled a void.

Its overpowering.  Its strong.  Can’t have a drink?  Can’t have a smoke?  That’s fine, fill it with food.  Fill it with pornography.  Fill it with ___________ .  Addiction can rule your life.

We tend to trivialize some addictions.   Coffee – oh, I’m not addicted to coffee, I don’t have to have it…yet you’re nonfunctional without it in the mornings.

Facebook?  Oh, I could close my account right now and never miss it…yet you get off the computer and go straight to your Facebook app on your phone.

I noticed the other night how addicted we are to just filling a void with something.  Its almost as if we are scared of the quiet, scared of just doing nothing, scared of having to interact.  My little girl was watching a show while sitting on my lap.  I had my phone in my hand scrolling through facebook.  My wife had her computer out looking through Pinterest.  Show goes off, my daughter goes to bed, we come back downstairs, I get my computer out, scroll through Facebook some more, and my wife gets out her computer and does the same.

So I’ve made a more conscious effort to quit relying on other things to fill the void in my life.  Maybe I should God fill that void.  If you were to clock your time – do you spend more time on Facebook or more time with God in prayer and scripture each day?

Do you spend more money a month on Starbucks or soft drinks than you put in the collection plate on Sunday?

Or if you do have a serious addiction to dangerous things such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, pornography – have you sought help?

If you’re looking for something to fill the void of a past or current addiction, or if you see yourself struggling with something that could very easily become an addiction – do something about it.

Turn to God.

Turn to a friend.

Turn to a spouse.

Don’t go at it alone.  Get some help.

Facebook, the internet, Candy Crush, coffee, soft drinks, drugs, alcohol, the list goes on and on – don’t let these things define who you are.  Don’t let them control you.

And when you give up your addictions, don’t replace them with other bad addictions.  Let go, and Let God in to your life.

I Can Do It!

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I can’t even begin to tell you how hard it is to write this. However, sometimes, you just have to do hard things, right? I can’t even count how many times I’ve written about this topic – countless – but I’m going to bring it up yet again.

I know that I am not a “thin” man. However, I’ve never felt like I was a morbidly obese man.

Today, I found out that officially – I am. If I were to apply for health insurance coverage today based upon my current weight, I would be denied coverage. Fortunately, they won’t raise rates from where you initially qualified, but this is still a very sobering thought.

I will lay it all on the line – and fully disclose a few things. I’ve been trying. In fact, at times I’m rather upset that what I’m doing is not working. Tomorrow marks 300 days without any soft drinks, teas, juices…pretty much anything but water. I’ve also gone 160 days without eating french fries. I’ve given up two of my biggest vices so I can lose weight. But it hasn’t worked.

I lift weights 3-5 times a week. I’ve increased cardio. I’m eating better – but I’m still fat.

There’s nothing more humbling than putting on a pair of pants and having them not fit the right way. There’s nothing more troubling than bending over to tie your shoes and having to stop to catch your breath. There’s nothing worse than having a job where you stand in front of people each and every week several times and feeling like all eyes are on the flaws of your physicality.

Here’s the problem – I don’t really feel like I am “morbidly obese” person. But according to my health insurance, if I were to qualify for the preferred or basic coverage – I would have to lose 31 pounds up to 40 pounds. I honestly feel like if I were to lose that much I’d be a beanpole. But – if I want to save money and have good coverage – I have to do it.

I’ve never really cared that much about reaching a “number” for my weight. But apparently, that number is extremely important for insurance purposes.

Here’s where you come in. The book of James tells us to “confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” While I don’t feel like I am confessing a sin, I am asking for prayers that I can be healed of my cravings, my lack of willpower, my lack of desire to stay focused on this endeavor, and that my health can improve.

I know there are people out there who are struggling with more issues than being overweight – but let’s face it, we all have struggles with our identity and our appearance. Will you pray for me? And if you need prayers in this same situation, can I pray for you? Let’s support each other in these endeavors. May God give us the willpower we need to stay the course for good health.

100 Days…Now What??

On Saturday, June 30, I will have gone officially 100 days with only drinking water.

Its been a challenge, to say the least.

For me, I had to give up my biggest addiction – Diet Dr. Pepper – of which I was drinking 6-8 cans a day, sometimes more.

While the taste of Diet. Dr. Pepper to me was absolutely divine, it had gotten to a point where I wasn’t even drinking it for the taste, I was drinking it because my body demanded it, and I had such a strong craving I could not deny myself.

I was invited to come and speak at a Area Wide Youth Service at the Ashland City Church of Christ on the topic of sobriety. I was also invited to go and speak at the Mayfair Church of Christ for their Wednesday evening service on the topic of temptation. As I began to study and prepare for these two topics – I realized I had no business speaking to people on how to avoid when I could not avoid things myself.

So, on Friday morning, March 23, I cracked open my usual morning can of Diet. Dr. Pepper, drank about 4 sips of it, and felt sick about it. I could no longer continue letting one thing have such control of me. I put the can back in the fridge, got a bottle of water, and didn’t turn back.

That can stayed in the fridge for a good 60 days or so, along with 12 fresh cans. I was tempted and tried every single day, but did not give in. My life was not going to be controlled by a craving.

Finally, my wife asked me what my long term goal was going to be, and at that point, I realized I didn’t really have one. On Saturday, it will have been 100 days since I last put that wonderful beverage can to my lips. 100 days is a monumental moment for someone who was pouring the beverage down his throat every chance he got. But I have to say…now what?

Most of us have a problem with this – once we think we have a hold on something, we realize we don’t. I’ve kicked that sin for so many days, I have control of it now! Next thing we know, its back in our lives, because we have slowly let it take control again.

I feel like at this point in my life, I could keep them out of my life forever. But at every meal, there is a temptation and a craving still. Not too long ago, I had stopped at a Zaxby’s to eat some dinner. I was by myself. I had my cup for my water, filled it with ice, and instinctively reached for the Diet Coke, and filled my glass half full before even realizing what I was doing. I quickly poured it out and rinsed my glass, and filled it with water instead.

That just shows me how powerful cravings and temptations are. Sometimes, they have such control over us that we don’t even realize the effect they are having on us.

So, here’s to another 100 days – its become a personal challenge. I challenge you to do the same. Give up something for 100 days. Believe me when I say that if I can give up my Diet Dr. Pepper addiction, you can give up yours for 100 days.

What is it in your life that is controlling you? Maybe you need to give up Facebook for 100 days. Maybe you need to give up french fries. Maybe you need to give up smoking, drinking, cursing, soft drinks, or something else that has you wrapped around its finger.

Give it up – for 100 days – and see how much better you feel! Take control of your life again!

New Decade, New Year, New Resolutions,

Halfway through the year 2009, I joined a gym.  I made a second half resolution for 2009 — get motivated for 2010.

Since that day, I have at least been the gym twice every week.  I even got up and went to the gym the day we left for the beach at Thanksgiving.  I hate getting up in the mornings and going to the gym, but I must say I hate being fat.

In December of 2007, I posted these physical goals for 2008:

1. Lose at least as much weight as my wife gains through her pregnancy.
2. Be consistent in my exercise and diet plans.
a. Exercise in some form 6 days a week
b. Eat consistently 3 meals a day with 2 or 3 small snacks in between.
3. Be able to shave my beard off because I won’t have a double chin anymore.
4. Eat in a most healthy way except for twice a month, when I’ll be able to eat whatever I want.

I didn’t do so well.  I look back, and realize I actually failed miserably.  I didn’t lose any weight after Kristen had Josie.  I didn’t exercise, except for about a week.  I ate constantly, not consistently, and it was more than 3 meals a day and no snacks, unless you count chips as a snack.  I still have my beard.  And I ate healthy twice a month instead of the other way around.

I realize now why I failed.  I had no motivation.  I went and tried once or twice at a gym, but I tried to do everything at once, not over time.

Now, I have a solid foundation to build on.  I am motivated.

So I have a few new goals to bring out, while banishing the old goals.

1.  I will walk/jog/run at least one mile every day in 2010.  Sounds crazy, but it is doable.  It takes me 20 minutes to walk a mile right now at a very casual pace.  I can take 20 minutes a day to that.

2.  Continue to work out at least 3 times a week.

3.  Reduce my carbonated beverage addiction to no more than 2 a day, hopefully down to one.  I see no reason in eliminating them altogether, which I have done in the past.

4.  I will fit in a size 36 waist pant by the end of the year. (currently at 40)

5.  I will be able to wear something besides Big and Tall clothes.  (However, right now, I’m learning that clothing size is totally inconsistent.  My shoulders are very broad now, and while I can fit into an XL shirt through the chest and waist,  my shoulders don’t fit into them.)

6.  I will be able to, at the end of the year, report that I am a much healthier person.  Bodyfat % will be down, fat levels in blood will be down, and cardiovascular endurance will be up.

7.  I will not focus on my weight, but rather, my health.

8.  When I look in the mirror, I will no longer be ashamed, but proud.

9.  I will not sabotage my results after working so hard to achieve them.

10.  I will be contagious with my actions.

So, don’t wait till its too late to set up your goals for 2010.  These are my physical goals.  I will post on other goals in the upcoming days.