healthy lifestyle

P90X 3 + Running + Gluten Free + Sugar Free = Healthier??

P90X3

From my early teenage years, I have always struggled with pudginess. In later years I have discovered it to be in part due to a medical issue, I have a pituitary tumor, more specifically a prolactinoma. We affectionately like to refer to it as “Petey, the Pituitary Tumor.” The effects Petey has on my endocrine system make it more difficult for me to maintain my weight, so I have to work harder. The challenge I have is balancing family life, career, church and community service, and somehow fitting in time to exercise and be active.

In recent years I have done a lot better managing my weight and fitness. In the last six years, I have gone from 250 pounds and out of shape, down to 180 pounds and running marathons. Currently I am a little over 200 pounds and if I were being chased by a mountain lion, I could maybe squeeze out a half marathon.

My goal now is to get back down to about 180 pounds without going to the extreme of marathon running. Don’t get me wrong, I do love running and the challenge of pushing my known limits. I love the feeling of finishing a 20 mile training run, the satisfaction of pulling off blackened toe nails. The feelings associated with finishing a marathon are irreplaceable, but they come at a cost. I’m no scientist, but I have learned through trial and error that there was an effect on my metabolism, and not for the better. When I was running and logging lots of miles, my weight stayed stable, but when I stopped, even for a few days, the weight would come back very quickly.

I was always careful to try to pack most of my training miles into the early morning hours, but on weekends, the 3 hour training runs definitely took me away from family time that I should have been spending with my wife and kids.

So here’s the new plan:

1. Eat better: My wife and I have challenged each other to a sugar fast. Until the New Year we will not eat or drink anything with added sugars.  We have planned 3 cheat days a month to get us through the holidays. As if that is not difficult enough,     we also decided to go gluten free for five weeks. There is some evidence that “Petey” will treat me better with a gluten free diet. If I complete the challenge, I get an Apple Watch next year.

2. P90X 3: So they got me at a weak moment. It was 3 a.m. and I couldn’t sleep. While flipping through channels I saw the    infomercial for P90X 3. It looked easy enough so I bought it with three easy payments. I have actually found that I like it a lot. I am currently on day 50 of my first round and I like that the workouts are only 30 minutes. Good job Tony Horton, you’ve done it again.

3. Running: I don’t want to lose all the gains that I have made in running. I want to be able to participate in the occasional                          10K or maybe even a half marathon here and there, so I am running about 20 minutes every morning after the P90X 3 workouts.

4. Rigorous Family Activities: This is something my wife and I really want to work on this year. It gives us exercise, helps our kids get out and active, and we get to spend time together. We plan to get out with the kids and go hiking, biking, skiing, etc…

I just want to acknowledge none of this would possible without my beautiful, smart, funny, multi-talented wife to help me eat right and stay on track nutritionally.

Trading Sugar for an iWatch

apple-watch

My wife and I issued each other a challenge last night. The end goal of the challenge is to be healthier, but in essence it is a “no sugar challenge.”

So, for the final quarter of 2014, we have committed to abstain from added or excess sugar in foods and eat more home made whole foods and vegetables. We have also pledged to exercise at least four times per week.

Maybe we’re not that committed or maybe we’re just realistic, but we decided to allow ourselves two “cheat days” a month, mainly on date nights. We also realize with the holidays coming throughout the challenge that it will be very difficult to maintain so we’ve agreed that Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day are also “cheat days.”

To motivate ourselves to complete this challenge we each chose a prize that we will receive at the end of the year to reward us for doing what we should be doing anyway. I will be receiving an Apple iWatch, and my wife chose to reward herself with laser hair removal in her under arm areas. I’m pretty sure I came up with a better reward, but she seems motivated too.

So, now the challenge begins. This is where we separate the strong from the weak. We have successfully done this challenge in the past and found that the hardest part is staying on track during family events. With the holidays, this will be somewhat more difficult. In making this public announcement, I hope to have some outside motivation to stay strong and maintain the commitment.

In the end, the true reward we are looking for is to be healthier and have a better quality of life overall. I have gone from the extremes of being obese to running marathons. I know how it feels to be on either end of the spectrum. Right now, I am somewhere in the middle, and I know that I will be happier and feel better by exercising and eating healthier. And the iWatch sounds pretty good too.

Let the challenge begin!!!

Foreplay Starts in the Kitchen

So I’m that guy that thinks it’s cool to do the dishes.

The road to happiness.

Disclaimer: This post may be a little controversial and get me into some trouble, but this is one of the most important things that I have learned in the last 12 years of marriage to my beautiful wife.

Early in our marriage I read a quote that hit home for me. More or less, it goes like this, “Happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and  well-being of one’s spouse.”

My wife and I have taken that quote to heart and made it a priority to focus on each other’s needs, rather than always thinking about our own needs. When each of us is focused on the other, our own needs our met and we see each other as equals partners. That doesn’t mean that we do the same things and that our roles are interchangeable. We each have strengths and weaknesses, but when we work together we make a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts.

Every marriage is different, but this is what our marriage looks like. I work and my wife stays home with our four children. She also works very flexible hours from home, but mainly she focuses on the children. I see her role as equal to mine, in fact most times I feel like my 8 hours at work is a vacation compared to the war zone at home. When I get home I help with the kids, help make dinner, help clean up dinner, and help to straighten up the house. We both have demands on us through the day so I try to share equally in the responsibilities that come at night. I change diapers, do bath time, put kids in pajamas, and help put them to bed. It is all in my job description.

We take turns waking up late at night to feed the babies. This is the hardest part because it is hard to remember whose turn it is at 3 a.m. when there is a baby screaming.

So some guys may be asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” I am sure at some point you have heard the statement, “Foreplay begins in the kitchen.” I have found that to be true, need I say more?

The overall lesson I have learned is that I truly want my wife to be happy. My taking responsibility for some household duties makes her life easier. In return she is focused on my needs and it all comes together to make an awesome marriage. It may sound bizzarre, but I really like doing dishes.

Time Flies

Tempus fugit - Il tempo vola - Time flies

Last night my boys and I were shuffled out of the house to make room for a “make up” party that my wife was hosting. At first it seemed like an annoyance to be forced out of the house on a Thursday evening. It was up to me to figure out what to do with my sons for the hour and a half that they would occupy our house.

We ended up going to a park near a small lake about 2 miles from our home. The boys played on the playground, ran up and down the hills, and played near the water’s edge. As I watched them, I was grateful for the excuse to go out and spend time with them. They are a lot of fun to be with and I realize daily that they are growing fast and I need to make the time to be with them and develop our relationships.

I never thought I would say this, but Thank You crafty, over-priced, makeup sales Lady, for giving me an excuse to spend time with my boys. I may rethink that statement when I see how much the makeup costs.

Balancing It All

So I’m that guy trying to find balance in chaos.

Health Work Career Friends Signpost Showing Life And Lifestyle Balance

I’m sure everyone is just like me in thinking that life is chaotic. The hardest part for me is trying to find the balance in all the different aspects of my life. The ambitious part of me would spend 24/7 working on my projects and developing my businesses. The family man in me would love to stay home with my kids all day and develop those relationships.

I grew up with less than perfect examples of balance. My father is a farmer and in that profession the demands of the farm generally take control. There is no way to maintain a 40 hour work week throughout the year because the needs of the farm are much greater during certain times. He did try to balance that by involving us in the farm labor and spending more time with the family during less demanding seasons.

My mother is a business owner as well. She started her business when I was 3 years old out of our basement. Through the years it has grown into a business with about 30 employees that I currently manage. It has always been a big part of our family. My mom even likes to refer to it as one of my siblings. Unfortunately, as we grew up, it was the favored sibling and it received much more attention and care than the rest of us.

As a result of my childhood and role models, when I reached adulthood I had no concept of balance. Throughout my childhood, the careers of my parents came first and on many levels I can’t fault them for that. It taught me how to work hard and I had many opportunities to grow through working with them in their businesses. But looking back on that, I want to live a more balanced life.

My roles are many, I’m a husband to a beautiful wife, and we have four children ages 10, 4, 20 months, and 5 months. Professionally, I’m a part owner and general manager of the business my mother started when I was 3. I also own a general contracting and real estate development company, and I try to fit in selling some products on Amazon on the side. Civically, I serve on a board of trustees for a public charter school in our community, and I’m a volunteer leader in my church of a group of young men ages 14-16. Sometimes I feel like I have A.D.D. as I switch roles throughout the day. There is always a problem that needs attention, or a challenge to overcome. With all the demands on my time, it would be easy for me to focus solely on my work and neglect the important parts of my life.

To overcome my tendencies and maintain balance, I try to schedule out my day and structure it to meet all the needs of myself, work, community, and my family. I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. and focus on myself and my personal development. I meditate, read and write. Exercise is also a big part of my morning. I’ve found that if I don’t get it done in the morning it won’t happen.

When the family wakes up, I usually have my personal things done and I’m able to help my wife prepare the kids for the day and we sit down together as a family to eat breakfast. I help clean up and I leave for work at around 8 o’clock.

At around 12 o’clock I’m usually able to come home and eat lunch with my family. Then I’m back at work until 5:30 when we have dinner together. My office is close enough to my home that my commute is generally walking, so throughout the day I have the chance to see my family and sometimes we all load up in the car and go run errands for work together. Some evenings I have activities with my youth group or board meetings for the school, but most are spent at home with my family. Saturdays are always reserved for family activities or work projects around the house, and Sundays are set aside for church and visiting extended family.

This schedule has been working well for us and I think it is helping maintain the balance in my different roles. I’ve found that the most important part of the scheduling is living in the moment. For example, when I’m with my children, I can’t let my mind drift into work. I have to be present in every moment whether it is with my wife and children, at work, or in a board meeting. If not I’m neglecting another part of my life and losing the balance that I’m trying so hard to maintain. I’ve found that being present is both the key to balance as well as the hardest part.

In the end, what is really important? At my funeral, I don’t think anyone will talk about how great I was at business or how many houses I built. What they will talk about are the relationships that have been developed. They will talk about the fun vacations we went on together. They will talk about the lessons they learned through example and conversation. They will talk about the memories of eating meals together as a family and spending time together.

Life is too short. Children grow up fast. Providing an income and meeting their physical needs is an important part of being a father, but it shouldn’t be done at the expense of spending time together. Finding balance between these roles has been one of my greatest challenges, but I have found that it is also very rewarding.

Miracle Morning

So I’m that guy that figured out a way to add another 2 hours to his day.

Man on the beach

When I’m doing work that doesn’t require a lot of thinking I like to listen to podcasts. I learn a lot from them and it brings new ideas to think about as I’m working. Recently I was listening to an entrepreneurial podcast where the author of a book was interviewed. His name is Hal Elrod and the book is called, The Miracle Morning.

Some of the things they talked about got my attention and I decided to read the book and see what it had to offer. The book encourages people to wake up earlier than usual and start the day with a period of meditation, reading, writing, and exercise. I’ve never considered myself a morning person. The only time I’ve consistently woken up early was during the times I have been training for marathons. It has always been the hardest part of the training to drag myself out of bed and start the day early and head out on a run. But this seems different. The main focus is to get up and get your mind in the right place before the stresses of the day distract you from what’s important.

I decided to try it for myself. I was actually kind of excited to take control in this way. I’ve always felt that I’m at my laziest at that moment when I’m trying to get out of bed in the morning, and this seemed like it gave me a purpose to get up. The first day I tried it was June 9th. It has been almost 2 months since then and I can say that with only a few exceptions while on vacations, I’ve been able to wake up and start every day with a miracle morning.

I’ve seen some significant differences in my life. I’m excited to wake up every morning and start my day in this way. I’ve been able to continually do things that I’ve always thought I didn’t have time for. I’ve been more consistent with my exercise goals. Ideas have come and I’ve been able to follow through on them. This blog, for example, is a result of the extra time I have in the morning to think about what’s going on in my life and write it down. I feel that it has helped me to be more focused and proactive in my business dealings.

I’ve had to cut back on my sleep somewhat. I’m used to getting a little over 8 hours, and now I’m getting a little under 7 hours. I haven’t noticed any change in energy levels throughout the day. The main things I’ve noticed are that if I want to take a nap in the day, it’s a lot easier than it was before. The other thing is that I fall asleep a lot faster at night. All in all, I don’t think it’s had a negative impact on me, but I will continue to pay attention to this and make adjustments if necessary. As far as sleep, I feel the key is going to bed somewhat early and maintaining a consistent schedule.

Based on the last two months, I think this is a habit that I would like to maintain in my life. I feel more creative and proactive in all areas of my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that the benefits outweigh the negatives. I’m not following the outline of the book to the letter, but I have adapted the morning rituals to fit my life and my needs. I think I might become a “Morning Person.”

Maybe It’s a Tumor

So I’m that guy, trying to process being told, “I think you have a tumor.”

 

MRI Head Scan side view

 

At my biggest, I weighed in at about 250 pounds. I am about 6 feet 2 inches tall and not completely out of shape. I knew I was overweight, but I thought I was still somewhat healthy. Since my teen years I had struggled with my weight, it was a slow and steady process, but it gradually crept up on me. At the age of 28, I had been actively trying to lose weight for about 2 years with no success. I decided to go to the doctor and talk about what I could do to lose the weight.

The first step was to do some blood tests. Two days later, the results were in. I went to the doctor’s office to go over the results. First of all, my blood sugar levels were elevated. They had done an insulin test and found that I was severely insulin resistant and on my way to having type 2 diabetes. My cholesterol was elevated and nearly at the point I would need to be medicated for it. My testosterone levels were extremely low, and there was a funny little hormone called prolactin that I had never heard of, but it was highly elevated as well.

After talking about the prolactin levels, the doctor said the words that no one wants to hear, “I think you may have a tumor.” I was stunned and confused as he started to explain that he thought I may have a pituitary tumor that was basically at the root of all the other problems I was having. The prolactin levels were inhibiting my testosterone production, therefore causing my body to be completely out of balance. I had many of the symptoms and almost all of the physical traits associated with the tumor and I could trace these things back to my early adolescence. A few of the traits were lack of facial hair and abnormal distribution of body fat.

The MRI confirmed the existence of a prolactinoma (pituitary tumor). It was small and thankfully benign, but it was in fact a complicating factor of some of my most significant health issues. I believe that my lifestyle choices were definitely the major factor in my health problems, but the tumor made it an uphill climb to reverse the effects of the choices I was making.

It was a substantial turning point in my life. I was medicated to control the tumor and its effects on my metabolism. I had a renewed motivation to change the habits that had brought about the health issues I was facing. I increased the frequency and intensity of my workouts and most importantly I changed my eating habits.

Six years later, the tumor is still there, but it is under control with medication. I’ve discovered a lot about myself in the process of learning to manage it and take back control of my body and my health. I’m now about 50 pounds lighter than the day I went into the doctor the first time. I’ve made new habits around exercise and eating that have made it possible to maintain my weight loss and reverse the health problems I faced before. I’ve run two marathons in the last two years and I maintain an active lifestyle. My blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and testosterone are all at normal levels currently. I’ve learned to enjoy “healthy foods.” I feel healthy and empowered to continue forward in my new lifestyle.

All in all, I’m not completely sure how much effect the tumor had on my health. Maybe it was just the shock of finding it that spurred me to change my bad habits and learn to enjoy things that are good for me. Either way, I now see it as a positive turning point that has motivated me to improve on a continual basis.