Build On The Pain

The screams were deafening. The shredding of human tissue insufferable. Body parts washed in lactic acid produced a symphony of sharp, burning pain.

And this was just my biceps.

If there is anything that merits the title of grueling, starting a new exercise regiment at the gym after a few years decade hiatus is one of them. Still, that’s where I find myself this week as my wife and I bit the bullet and signed up for membership at the Health & Wellness Center at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel.

I know what you’re thinking. A gym at the hospital? I was a bit skeptical at first, too, but the facility is state of the art, and the staff has been nothing short of exceptional. Besides, I’m glad I’m in the same physical structure as an ER just in case I go crazy and push myself too hard.

But the moral of this story is starting over. I will admit it’s been easier, psychologically speaking, mostly because I’m on a bit of a ‘new thing’ high. Lee and I have been waking up early to make 5:30 AM classes (Body Flow kicked my butt, BTW), and we’re motivating each other to start every morning with a fitness routine. But the toll on my body has been tough. Aches, pains, soreness; I know they’re all good and normal for someone like me starting out again, but I look forward to the day months from now when I laugh at myself for having been such a wimp.

Muscle Homer

It turns out that as I kicked off this workout week, my friend Rick Christensen wrote an excellent blog post titled Spiritual Bench Press. It got me to thinking about my recent faith journey, and how five years ago I was a spiritual couch potato in need of working on my faith. Although I always revert to my caveat, “I didn’t have a crisis of faith so much as a crisis of church,” I was very much failing to act like a Christian.

But just as I hope to do so with my physical fitness, I am able to look back now and see how far I’ve come in my spiritual journey. I can see how much stronger I am as a Christ follower, working out my soul by reading the Word and acting on His behalf. I’m not perfect, far from it. I struggle daily with the pitfalls and temptations of life. But I am very proud to see I’m closer to where I want to be than I was this time five short years ago.

And it’s not a destination you reach. It’s a lifelong journey of lifting the weight of your burdens and placing them at God’s feet. It’s a perennial run away from the enemy and towards the light He had provided for us. It’s feeding on the nutrition found in the Bible, the words of life that nourish us from day to day.

The best part is there’s no soreness to deal with or fatigue after a good spiritual workout (i.e. doing good for others). Instead, it’s a feeling of reward that can only be described as exhilarating.

I may never reach my goal weight. My BMI may remain plotted on the ‘unhealthy’ side of the chart. I may forever struggle to do curls with 20 lb dumbbells (seriously …. my upper body strength is so lame), but as long as I keep my spiritual wellness at the top of my priority list, I know I’ll be fine. Besides, God doesn’t care if His soldiers are a little soft around the edges.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

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Geeking Out

I’ll admit it. I’ve been accused of being a fan girl. Sometimes Oftentimes merited, I’ve been known to have an un-manly reaction to meeting a celebrity or performer.

The same is true with Geekdom. In the world of social media, it’s not uncommon to have something you post on Twitter be re-tweeted by someone famous. It’s kinda’ cool when you’re able to connect on Facebook with someone of note, be it a celebrity or local personality, and they happen to mention you in a post. That’s the cool thing about social media and the power it has to make the world a little bit smaller.

On Sunday, I marveled when my friend Amber (aka @MissDestructo) had one of her tweets RT’d by Drew Carey. I thought it was way cool, and I think it’s something people plugged into the blogosphere secretly wish for one day. A step up in Interwebs recognition and perhaps – just maybe – the cornerstone of the big break we’ve all been hoping for. It’s fair to say those are geek-out moments, and they are definitely few and far between.

Geeking Out

As you may know, my wife and I have completed our first round of the Fast Metabolism Diet. I wrote about it at the two-week point of the 28 day program, and then again yesterday following our completion of the plan. As usual, I shared my post across various social media platforms. My goal is to get as many possible eyeballs on it as I can, only because I love to go over my WordPress stats and see not only how many views a particular post has received, but also the various countries around the world in which my blog has been read. (I still don’t understand how someone in Bahrain stumbled onto my blog, but that’s the beauty of the Internet).

When I tweeted out my link, I happened to include the Twitter handle for Haylie Pomroy, the nutritionist that designed the Fast Metabolism Diet. My hope was that she’d read the post and know how much Lee and I appreciate her work, and how her diet has literal transformed us in one short month. It was a digital ‘tip of the hat’ to her, and my way of saying thanks. What happened next was something I was not at all prepared for.

That teenage squealing you just heard? Yeah ….. that was me.

Clean and Lean

Today officially marks the end of the 28-day, Fast Metabolism Diet program Lee and I began back on January 6. As a matter of convenient clarification, I ended my program sometime yesterday afternoon. Let me explain.

Our goal, as we undertook the commitment to this new diet, was to lose weight. We were both tired of being too flabby around the edges and just sluggish every day. We bought the book, bought the cookbook, planned our meals, and, for the most part, managed to eat on schedule and eat what we prepared. Yes, there were some afternoons we’d forget to snack, and yes, there were sometimes when that, “eat every three to four hours” stretched to four and a half to five. Nevertheless, we completed the 28 days (27.5 for me) with resounding success. My wife dropped 12 pounds and 2 sizes (we’ve already been shopping for new clothes for her). I dropped 21.5 pounds, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this good in terms of having a continuous ‘bounce in my step’.

Still, all the planning in the world could not prevent us from having our program end on Super Bowl Sunday. Yikes! What were we going to do?

My wife didn’t care. She made sure to tell our friends hosting the Super Bowl party to not include us in their meal planning since we were going to bring our own food. Then she spent all of Saturday and part of Sunday preparing FMD compliant snacks, treats, veggie trays, and dinner (vegetable meatballs) for us to consume. For the record, everyone at the party raved about Lee’s non-dairy ranch dip. It was amazing.

With the exception of two mushroom and cherry mini-quiches (they were prepared by our friend Jason who is a chef, and they were spectacularly divine), and my four-pack of gluten free beer (I had to have some brew for the big game and I figured gluten-free would be a happy medium), I stayed on plan during the party. I thought I would just cave and revert back to my pre-FMD ways for the party (especially with the beer), but I did not want to risk feeling like absolute crap in the morning. I also didn’t want to have a huge setback after twenty seven and a half days of culinary discipline.

The thing is, I’m done with eating poorly. This FMD experience has been a ‘proof in the proverbial pudding’ trial that has lent tons of weight (pun intended) to what so many of my friends have been telling me for years: It’s about eating clean. The feelings of sluggishness and lethargy are gone. The afternoon headaches are gone. The episodes of having my stomach feel upside down are gone. I feel better, stronger, and more agile than I have in the past decade. The weight loss is just a bonus on top of the more healthy feeling and appearance I’m displaying.

The best example I can give is this. My mother-in-law Patsy, who lives with us, has also been participating in the FMD. In addition to the dietary changes, she also gave up her Coca Cola and smoking (all at the same time and all cold turkey). She, too, has lost 12 pounds. More importantly, her well being is noticeably better. We had a bit of a cold front pass through here in Florida, and Patsy mentioned how her arthritis would normally flare up with the cold weather. It didn’t this time around, and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s because of the change in diet and her improved nutrition.

Haylie Pomroy’s Fast Metabolism Diet has been a life changer for us, and we look forward to staying the course with regards to clean eating. Yes, we will introduce some items back into our diet, and we may not necessarily eat phase-specific,  but we are committed to not going back to processed foods, fast food restaurants, and impulse buys at the checkout counter. Those days are behind us, and it’s cleaner and leaner on the road ahead. A road, I like to think, that’s been made a little bit longer as a result of this lifestyle change.

Happy eating, everyone.

Nancy Peterson

Weighing In

2 weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. 70 meals (including snacks). At least 1750 ounces of water (that’s over 13.5 gallons).

The result: 17 pounds (actually 16.5, but I like to round up).

That’s right. I’ve dropped 17 pounds in two weeks simply by eating food. There has been some exercise activity thrown into the mix, but not a whole lot. The result of my weight loss has been primarily me jump-starting my metabolism by changing the way I eat.

It all started around last summer when my wife came home and told me her friend Alyson did the Fast Metabolism Diet and lost about 15 pounds on the 4 week program. I quickly allowed the information to go in one ear and out the other as I was too busy thinking which pizza place I wanted to go to for dinner. Fast forward to December when we visited our friend Renee at her house for dinner. She had prepared for us a delicious meal, but it was quickly apparent she would not be eating with us. When we asked her about it, she reached into the freezer, grabbed a bag, and said, “This is my dinner.” Perplexed, we asked her what was going on, and she proceeded to tell us about how she was doing the Fast Metabolism Diet. She then went on in great detail about how the plan works and what foods she could and could not eat, etc.

Enjoying my second serving of rice, I didn’t give it that much thought. My wife, however, was sold. She was excited about a weight-loss program that involved cooking and eating and not starving or killing yourself with work outs. The next day, Lee bought the book and did research online. She dove into the program, becoming a near expert in a matter of weeks. She sat me down and gave me the high-level overview. All I remember saying was, “What do you mean you can’t eat bananas?” Then, with her birthday approaching (12/30), she took my hand, looked me in the eyes, and said, “THIS is what I want for my birthday. I want to try this ….. and I want you to try it with me.”

I don’t want to paint the picture that I was forced into the Fast Metabolism Diet. I had been wanting to do something for quite some time, but I didn’t know what exactly. I’d had some success before with low-carb diets. I have friends who swear by Paleo (and have lost lots of weight as a result). I didn’t want to join a gym, but I knew I needed to get more active. Sharing in this program with my wife would be a good starting point.

Lose Weight Now

What I didn’t expect was a complete lifestyle change. In reading the book, author Haylie Pomroy explained why all the other diets don’t necessarily work, and if they do, why people tend to gain the weight back so quickly (as has been the case for me). The best part of it all is that she explained it with science. She talks about how stress – yes, stress – is a factor to gaining weight. Haylie explains how the liver, adrenals, thyroid, pituitary and your body’s substances (white fat, brown fat, and muscle) are all players in your weight loss efforts. She uses anecdotes and analogies that are easy to understand and make lots of sense when you stop to think about it. But fundamentally, I think the message of her book can be summarized by saying our bodies are not designed to process chemicals and artificial substances. Feed your body good, clean (i.e. organic) foods and the benefits will be almost immediately noticeable.

The diet, however, is not without some drawbacks. Firstly, it’s not exactly cost effective to eat clean. Organic produce, cage-free chicken, nitrate-free beef; they all tend to be higher-priced than their non-clean counterparts. A loaf of sprouted grain bread can be almost double the cost of a loaf of whole wheat bread. And because the program runs for 28 days, there’s a LOT of food purchasing going on. Then there’s the preparation. To this I give all the credit in the world to my wife. She’s spent hours and hours over the weekends and throughout the week preparing meal plans, cooking, and making sure we have all the necessary foods we need for our snacks, etc. I can see where a single mom or a busy traveler would find it nearly impossible to make the required meal schedule (eating within 30 minutes of waking up, and then every 3-4 hours thereafter until bedtime) work for them. For us, it hasn’t been easy, but I can honestly say it has been worth it.

Still, I recommend Haylie’s book to everyone, whether you’re looking to lose weight or not. There is so much valuable and enlightening information in its pages. For me, the whole experience so far has been a crash course in eating clean, and it’s opened my eyes to all the things I was doing wrong for all this time.

As I am now at the half-way point of the program, I am really looking forward to the next two weeks and the end result with regards to my weight. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this good, and I look forward to feeling even better. And if you could lose weight by simply eating better foods, why wouldn’t you give it a try?

The Fast Metabolism Diet

198/365 Last Time For A Long Time?

So …. Lee and I are on what I am calling a minimalist diet. We’re trying to cut out 95% of the meats we’d normally consume and go as vegetarian or vegan (really … vegan-ish) as we can.

Like Freshman on the first day of high school, we are really small fish in a ginormously huge and new pond. It’s not that we don’t know what we’re doing, it’s that we don’t even know what it is we’re supposed to know. Still, thanks to Pinterest and our circle of informed and healthful diet friends, we are managing to ease into this new mindset with some success (and by we I mean Lee b/c she’s been the research hound. I’m just eating what she makes).

The goal: clean up how we eat. The process: eat more whole and plant-based foods.

Don’t get me wrong. I can never go 100% vegan, if for the only reason being that honey (somehow inexplicably to me) is not vegan, and I’ll be damned if I am not going to drown my salads in some zesty honey mustard dressing. That and the fact I can’t imagine a true breakfast without eggs, or a special dinner without steak. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think I am crazy for even trying this (but I digress).

What is really going to be an adventure is trying to minimize our dairy intake. Talk about tough! No cheese. No milk. No ice cream. No *sniffle* frozen yogurt from our favorite froyo shop (Cherry Berry).

The good news is that I am going into the healthful eating plan knowing I cannot/will not get a 4.0 on my final grade. I will fail to be vegan. I will barely pass at being vegetarian. Still, I WILL make a difference in the fuel I put into my body, and I am confident that it will yield both short and long-term positive results on my well being.

So as I polished off the last of our cow milk and dropped the gallon jug in our recycling bin, I can’t help but think, “When will be the next time I go out and buy some more cow milk?”  We’ll just have to wait and see.

PS. Before you judge, those empty cans of Coke are not mine. Part of our new plan is to cut out all sodas. The empty can of Monster and the discarded bottle of beer, however, are totally mine.

184/365 Been Around The Block

So today Lee and I did something we’ve never done together. We put on our sneakers and went for a walk around the block. I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but it’s something we’ve talked about doing since … well … forever. And it was great to not only get out and get some exercise, but also to share that quality time with Lee. It was a new experience for us, and I think it was healthful for both bodies and our souls.

We followed that up by watching the documentary Forks Over Knives. It was truly an eye-opening experience, and I think it will lead to some serious changes in diet and eating habits.