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Gaining Weight and Losing Will

We completed the Whole Life Challenge!! Hallelujah!

It was tough. It was fun. It was worth it?

Tough
It took a lot of extra time (roughly an hour) each day to make sure that we were able to complete all the tasks at hand. The hardest thing was definitely the food piece (it's amazing to see that 80% of what we eat on a regular basis has some kind of additive sugar!), but it is also difficult to carve out the time to exercise, stretch, and meditate each day.

Fun
The only way it was fun was through comradery. We had about 20 people from our church join the same team and we would all post daily about what we were learning/going through. Much of the fun was commiserating together and laughing about how deprived we were making ourselves (borderline masochistic if you think about it). It definitely made the nutrition part easier when your co-workers and family were participating in the same dietary restrictions you have.

Worth it?
Overall I gained 2 lbs through the challenge. Not that I had…

Running Start

"The worst that could happen is wet shoes and a broken ankle."
Those were the encouraging words Katie offered as we walked around the backside of the pond a second time.

On the front side of the pond was a little island, about 7 feet away from the shoreline. It appeared to be the home for the geese and ducks who flocked about the water that warm winter day. From a distance it looked like an easy jump to make it from the bank to the island, but the closer I got to the edge of the pond, the further the jump appeared to be. I definitely knew I wouldn't be able to make the distance from a standing jump but I felt fairly confident I could make the jump with a running start.


If it was just a matter of jumping from point A to point B, I would have attempted the jump with no hesitation, but there was some risk involved. Wet shoes, a broken ankle, and wounded pride were all fairly low risks overall, but still, it was enough to make me second-guess my parkour abilities.

So I decid…

Psalm 119

A guest blog post from Ken Read:
Scripture for Reading: Psalm 119 (v.1-16,45,105,129-130) Theme: Loving the Law Song: “Trust and Obey” Summary: “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” So begins the famous poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning describing romantic love. Psalm 119 is a similar love poem, celebrating mystic romance with the Word of God. For 22 stanzas, each with eight verses, and each line within the stanza beginning with the same Hebrew letter, the worshiper “counts the ways” that he loves the Law. Perhaps each of the lines represents the eight different words for the Law that are employed throughout. In each stanza, these words come in a different order.
Nothing less than the longest psalm, the longest chapter in the Book of books, could convey the magnitude of devotion to the Law of God that the psalmist feels. Indeed, the Word of God has been refined seven times. (Psalm 12:6) It is the whole alphabet, it is all the synonyms, it is poetry, and it deserves the highest expre…

Enough to go around

WLC Day #32

I have been going through a wonderful read lately, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes. Totally worthwhile! In it, the authors mention the difference between Eastern and Western views of wealth. The Western way of thinking of wealth is that there is enough to go around; everyone can be wealthy if they just try hard enough. Eastern views on wealth are that there is only so much money and in order for one person to grow wealthy, other people have to grow poor.

I do not claim to know much about economics but I have a feeling that the Eastern viewpoint is more accurate than our Western mind would care to admit. The more wealth I accumulate, the less wealth there is available to other people (insignificantly, but still, the principle is there). Thus, if the American Dream is to become rich and famous then the underlying goal is to make other people poor and insignificant. Ouch.

Katie and I would like to grow our wealth someday. Mostly because we want to become debt-free and …

Fairness

WLC Day #30

It's been a traumatic weekend at Parkside.

A teenager in our community decided to end his life a week ago in his own backyard. He decided that the pain of death was more welcome than the pain of depression. What had started out as a beautiful weekend day in February turned into a rainy, haunting, cold night.

I was called on to help take down the tree on Monday afternoon. A group of 5 men worked quickly without saying a word to one another as we hauled away limbs and branches from the enclosed backyard. And that is exactly what it was too--enclosed.


The moment I stepped past the chain link fence I felt the gravitas of the space come upon me. The naked trees closed in upon a tiny backyard, leaning over the fence line to make a small space feel smaller. The yard was still wrecked from the spiritual battle that had occurred just two short nights beforehand. The mixture of a budding tree with the pungent smell of chain oil and 2-cycle exhaust mingled together in the air, pr…

Common or Communion?

I can’t help but wonder if we have made a bigger deal out of communion then Jesus intended for it. 
I get the impression that communion is a sacred time for most people who attend Parkside. And that is wonderful. Nothing wrong with it. Unless…communion itself becomes the object of holiness and not the one it represents; or if the time spent reflecting is too holy to interrupt, yet our personal time with Jesus daily we allow our iPhones to disrupt. I fear that we place too high a level of importance on a little piece of bread and a little cup of juice. There is nothing magical about Sunday morning communion. When compared to the other 21 (or more) meals we have throughout the week, I believe it should be treated equally as significant. Every time we have community (communion) with other Christ-followers, we should thank God for the gift of Jesus and use that time to realign ourselves with His purpose for our lives.
Now, how do we teach children (and adults) that? I don’t know. Especiall…

Ego Strength

WLC Day #22

I recently listened to an audio book called "Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts--Becoming the Person You Want to Be" by Marshall Goldsmith. It is full of wonderful advice that is practical to every person at every level. He has an easy-going conversational tone that still challenges you to step up your game and truly become the person you want to be.

We all have an ideal us. The ideal us is probably 10 lbs lighter, with a better physique, makes better food choices, doesn't binge on Netflix, meditates regularly, exercises daily, and is super tuned in for every waking moment.

Then there is the real us. We give into temptation. We lack self control. We have limited will power.

Interestingly, there have been numerous studies that have shown that this is absolutely true. We do not have an unlimited reserve of will power. Will power is like a muscle--once we use it for so long, it grows tired and we start to give in to temptations more readily. This is a relati…

Accidents Happen

WLC Day #20

I just witnessed a car crash about as close as I would ever care to witness it.

I was sitting 2 cars deep at a stop light when a light-sized Saturn SUV came plowing into the back end of a Toyota RAV4 in front of me in the next lane.

There was a startling loud noise, an explosion of plastic and metal, and a horn that didn't shut off. The offending SUV was thrown sideways a bit into the median and the receiving SUV was pushed into the intersection with it's back tire bent in shapes that can't be described.

Both women seemed relatively unharmed (thank you safety mechanics and all the crash dummies who gave their lives to make that happen) and I stuck around to give a report to the police once they showed up.

I am amazed at how life can change in just the simplest activity at any given moment of any day. The RAV4 lady had left work early because she wasn't feeling well. The Saturn lady said she had just been in a big fight with her husband and was feeling out-o…

Bread of Life

WLC Day #17

Isaiah threw up.

It hasn't happened in the past year but it did happen the other day. When Isaiah doesn't eat enough dinner then he wakes up uncomfortably hungry. So hungry that he will cry and get worked up enough to vomit. It's almost predictable when it will happen, because the morning Isaiah throws up is right after the night Isaiah refuses to eat more than a couple bites of his dinner. But this time it was a bit different.

Katie made a delicious sweet potato/apple/sausage dish (Paleo friendly) and the kids loved it. We all gobbled it down and made satisfied lip-smacking sounds as we finished off the last couple bites. Katie was impressed. Usually the kids don't respond this enthusiastically about eating unfamiliar dishes. So Katie didn't think anything of it when she put them to bed that night. They ate their portions and seemed content with their dinner.

Later that night, when I got home from rehearsal, the first thing I did was grab a snack. I wa…

Scheduling

WLC Day #12

The dietary restrictions are no longer the big issue for me with this Whole Life Challenge. In fact, I feel like I am tasting things more fully and appreciating fruits as being far sweeter than I ever thought they were before. Now the big issue is finding the time to do the exercise, stretching, and reflecting. If I don't tell my schedule what I want to do and when I want to do it, it will tell me. 

That is the big challenge I am currently working on. How to plan and schedule my day in such a way that I am the one in control, instead of being at the mercy of the loudest demands on my time. I need to get better at portioning off time and spending my time well on specific activities during those time frames.

Any bright ideas out there that have drastically helped you?

Delayed Investments

WLC Day #10

My truck needs the front windshield wiper replaced. It isn't awful yet, I just am aware that it needs to be done sooner than later. But I'm also aware that the sooner I replace it, the sooner it will wear out; and the sooner the new one wears out, the sooner I will need to buy yet another wiper blade. So, if I wait to buy a new one until it is absolutely necessary, I actually will end up saving myself a little bit of money.

For that matter, if I choose to delay buying everything that isn't a need by one day, I will have one extra day's worth of money in my bank account at all times. If I delay buying something for 2 full weeks, then that gives me an extra 2 weeks to save money before my buying frenzy begins. And chances are, if I develop the habit of waiting 2 weeks, I can also manage to wait 4 weeks, or 4 months, or not have to buy that thing at all. Buy practicing not spending my money in small steps, I can practice saving my money in small steps.

What if…

Indulgence Tokens

WLC Day #9

Yesterday our family celebrated a Sabbath rest. We do this every Saturday: we play, rest, and wrestle (and indulge in sweet foods). We know that we aren't commanded to keep the Sabbath in the same way that Jews are--we Gentiles aren't under the same Levitical laws that Jews must keep. But we also know that God's yoke is easy and His burden is light, and that keeping His commands is for our own good. So though we don't have to keep the law of Sabbath, we still keep it because we know it is for our own benefit.

There are many laws that God gives us throughout the Old and New Testaments. Living on this side of the cross we know that Jesus has forgiven our lawlessness and that grace abounds; we don't have to keep the law anymore because every time we break God's law, grace covers our brokenness.

Romans 6:1-2, 15; 7:12
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live…

When Life Gives You Lemons....

WLC Day 8

Today begins our 2nd week of the Whole Life Challenge. I'm surprised at the difference in taste after just a week of this new diet. Namely, in how I think about sugar.

Sugar is in at least 70% of the foods that I was eating on a regular basis. At least. I would be curious to know what the percentage actually is, but it was up there.

We've all heard the phrase: "If life gives you lemons--make lemonade."
Not true!
Lemonade has sugar in it and that isn't good for you in the long run.
If life gives you lemons--make lemon water. 
That's how the phrase should go.

If you think about it, lemon water really isn't all that bad either. Whenever I dine at one of them fancy restaurants the waiter always asks me if I would like lemon water. If you have curbed your appetite for sweet, than even lemon water sounds exotic.

But if you are only used to having lemons with sugar, than the thought of lemon water will sound pretty sour to you. Sour water does not sound p…

Take Your Finger Off the Trigger

WLC Day 6

Triggers. They're everywhere.

Specifically I have noticed how many triggers there are in our sugar-addicted world. A children's book talks about ice cream, a Bible story video has a cupcake truck, vending machines contain nothing sugar-less, etc., etc. It seems that everywhere I turn I see sugar, which makes me want to eat sugar.

For the first week of the WLC, Katie and I have been finding success through a couple determined steps:
1) Make a plan, and
2) Stick to it.

It is easier to avoid addictions when I put together a plan preemptively. I go through tomorrow's plan in my head in detail and think of all the places I might encounter a trigger. Then I think of when the scheduled meal times are, what we will eat at those meal times, and I remind myself that I don't need to act on any of those temptations. Empty calories won't make me happier in the long run.

And yet the smell of bread baking in the oven, or the smell of a BBQ rib on the grill can be such a…

Budget Everything

WLC Day 5

There are 7 daily habits to work on in the Whole Life Challenge: nutrition, exercise, mobility, sleep, hydration, lifestyle, and reflection. Each thing only takes about 10 minutes a day to accomplish, but spread out over several things, that time adds up pretty quickly. I am discovering that if I don't determine when I am going to do each thing beforehand, I quickly run out of time to do them at all. I have to budget my time and stick to it. 

Everyone has heard of keeping a "balanced budget" for finances. I used to think this just meant "don't overspend what you take in," but recently I have learned what it actually means. It means that I tell my money--every dollar--where and how it is going to be spent or saved or given. If I don't specify where I want a dollar to go it quickly gets spent on the next food item or flashy gadget that I wanted to buy. I have to make up my mind what I plan to do with my money before the chance to spend it occurs…

Live to Work, or Work to Live

WLC Day 4

Over the summer I asked my uncle whether he liked his job. He responded by saying, "Some people live to work. I work to live."
It wasn't that he liked his job, nor did he dislike his job--he just tolerated it enough to do it well and make money so that he could live the rest of his life. And I really respect that.
But I wonder, is that the best case scenario?

We all know someone who is a workaholic--they enjoy the accomplishments of putting in a long hard day and doing quality work; they get their sense of purpose through their paycheck and the accolades associated with the job. This is someone who lives to work, and I would argue in an unhealthy way.

On the flip side is our friend who puts in just the minimum amount of effort at work--they arrive just in time and leave as soon as possible; they collect their paycheck and have thought of a hundred ways they would like to spend it once they get home. This is someone who works to live.

And naturally there are peo…

Less

WLC Day 3

Before you can add anything to your life you first need to subtract.

In this particular case, if I want to add something like a workout to my day, I have to subtract a) play time/free time or, b) sleep.
Before I can add any additional activity, group, or discipline to my life, I first need to take away an existing one.

This is gonna stink. I know I need to identify what those things are that need pruning, but I just don't want to do it.

You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone

WLC Day 2

We are officially in the crave stage.
And we're only 36 hours in...

Hopefully this stage will subside soon and be replaced by some kind of a longing stage, which somehow feels less intense.

Here's the thing folks: I really, really want to eat a chocolate chip cookie.
But I can't.

The Whole Life Challenge involves an 8 week sugar detox, as well as refraining from these non-compliant foods. The first 24 hours is fun, because it's new and different and I feel really good about what I'm doing. But my body hadn't caught on yet.
Now it seems to be upset at the lack of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and other artificial sweetners that I have been refusing to feed it.
And it has every right to feel that way.
I have regularly fed my body a big healthy dose of sugar during and after every meal: breakfast, lunch and especially dinner. My body has learned to expect subsequent helpings of the sweet stuff as I have given it no hesitations about anticipating when…

Why You Should Camp More Often

WLC: Day 1

Katie and I are participating in the Whole Life Challenge for the next 8 weeks. One of the 7 areas to be challenged is Reflection. This blog will serve to record and relive some of the reflections I have throughout the next 56 days. Today's thought:
Why you should camp more often. 

I had some friends describe a couple extravagant vacations they were planning to take this year. I must say, they sounded pretty ideal: a winter trip to Florida, a cruise sometime over the summer, and a trip to NY city in the fall. It sounds like a lot of memories to be made, a lot of fun to be had...and a lot of money to spend.

Now don't get me wrong, this is not a blog entry bashing spending money, nor is it a time to knock taking extravagant trips. I plan on taking some of these myself at some point. These friends have put in the time and can now afford to do such things so power to them!

However, I can't help but wonder how they will feel when they come home from each of those trip…

Imitation: Diets, Houses, and Faith

There were 3 options for my preschoolers to choose from: Honey Bunches of Oats, Cocoa Pebbles, or Raisin Bran. I set all 3 on the table and asked each child which cereal they would like to eat for breakfast; all three chose 'Honey Boats.' After pouring their cereal and getting each kid situated, I poured myself a bowl of Raisin Bran and we all got to munching.

When Isaiah (my oldest) finished his cereal first he asked if he could have more. Sure thing, which one do you want? 
"That one" *pointing to the Raisin Bran*
Surprised I pour him a bowl of Raisin Bran, surprised that he ate the entire bowl.

As we were cleaning up our bowls from the table after breakfast I realized that the Cocoa Pebbles were not touched this morning, not even mentioned. Odd, I thought, typically the chocolately-sugary cereals don't last a week at our house. And yet this is the same [big] bag of Cocoa Pebbles that we opened over a month ago. Why the sudden lack of interest?

****************…