Friday, August 3, 2012

you're more than a number...

The scale...

Nothing can be more encouraging than weigh-in day and nothing can be more frustrating than weigh-in day! Whether you weigh in once a week or once every 10 days, that day where you put your bare feet on a cold scale just hoping to see a number lower than the last is a feeling that only if you are on a journey like us, you can understand.

Thank God our scale is not like the "Biggest Loser" scale that seems to flash in 20lb increments until finally landing on the number of the week!  I have a love/hate relationship with weigh-in day!!!  I've personally had around 65 of these days in my journey and wanted to give you a few thoughts that I think will help...

1)  Buy a DIGITAL scale that weighs not just in pounds, but also ounces!!!  This is an investment worth making!!!  First, digital scales give you a clear number instead of trying to guess whether the arrow is pointing closer to the 201 or 202.  Next, there is a HUGE difference between weighing in at 171 and 170.4...a half pound of fat loss actually means that you were in a 250 calorie deficit EVERY day that week...and that's awesome!!!  You burned more than you took in and that's a win!  Please please please get a digital scale!!!

2)  Write it down!  Don't try to guess from last weigh-in, because even though it may only be a week, you will possibly forget, giving you false hope or false disappointment. Plus a half a pound a week might seem "insignificant" but when you can look back and see how over time its has compounded its a HUGE encouragement!

3)  Don't kill yourself over a bad week!  Sodium, and for ladies hormonal changes, can TOTALLY mess up a solid weigh-in week.  If I know I ate some food that potentially was high in sodium (chinese for example) the day before I usually get on the scale, I will wait an extra day to weigh in.  If the number still seems a little off I move on!  Don't stress over a bad week!  Its sad but I have seen so many people blow off their life change because of ONE bad week!

4)  You are not perfect and can miscalculate! When you have more weight to lose, your error in calculations of calories won't affect you as much, but once you get down to losing your last 10 lbs a few miscalculations can mess up your number on the scale.  Especially if you eat out which involves more faith in the restaurants "calories count" or guess work on your part this can be an issue.  Don't allow some simple errors to become a defeat!  

5)  The way you feel is more important than a number!  Feeling good, having more energy, and just being healthy is more important than the number on the scale for that weigh-in.  If you're feeling healthy allow that to motivate you more than a number! 

6)  The way your clothes fit is a HUGE motivator! Go through your closet and stick some clothes to the side that you KNOW won't fit you yet and after a month or so of knocking it out and having a bad weigh-in, go try them on.  When you see how much better or perfect they fit it will get you through that tough time.

and lastly...

7)  Remember this is NOT a race!  You are not going to win a prize for getting slim the fastest... You are changing your life and this is a journey!  There is nothing wrong with skipping a weigh-in if you know that possibly you were not at your best.  Just don't make it a habit!  

Remember your life change is more than a number on a scale!!!  Believing God's Best for you!  


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

fascination vs reality

I am fascinated by weight loss shows...

I don't know if you are like me and have jumped on the band wagon with all of the weight loss shows on TV today.  It started years ago with, "The Biggest Loser" and right now my new show is, "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition."  It comes on Sunday nights...they document the one year transformation of an individual working with trainer, Chris Powell.  The transformation is broken down into 4 quarters (3 months each) with the last quarter being a healing process, because of the need of skin removal surgery.  In the end, the results are incredible!!!  It's sorta, Biggest Loser, on steroids!  It gives us the quick fix of getting to what everyone is looking for...seeing the transformation!

Although this can be incredibly motivating, it can also be very misleading!!  It gives the impression that "big number losses = success," and even more detrimental at times that, "speed = success" for getting rid of a problem that has taken years and years to get you to the unhealthy spot people are at.

A couple of thoughts:

1)  To maintain the, "big number losses," you'd have to be on a TV show or doing something that's somewhat unhealthy. Unless you are reading this and you're at a weight of over 400 pounds, I never suggest more than a 1000 calorie deficit per day which will give you a loss of 2lbs per week and for ladies looking to lose 30lbs or less should never have more than a 500 calorie deficit per day or a loss of 1lb per week.  Remember, YOU are not on a reality show, giving 100 percent of your life to lose weight.  There is not a $250k giveaway or prizes at the end of this "game" or "contest!"  You are changing your lifestyle and learning to enjoy life in a new way, without having it centered around food.  This is a process and a mindset that changes overtime.  I am now down at total of 107lbs and it has taken me 1 year and 4 months to get there.  Only one week in this entire journey did I loose 3lbs at once.  The rest of the time it was 0-2lbs a week.  Big numbers are great for TV, but not reality and shouldn't be the determining factor for feeling victory or success in your journey.

2)  Speed is not success... True success is determined by keeping your healthy life style forever, enjoying the journey, and doing it the healthy way....not by getting there quick and doing things at all cost to get there!   Remember for many of us it has taken years of slow and consistent weight GAIN...slowly, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year.

Speed will get you a quick-fix mentality, a jacked up metabolism, a greater chance of regaining your weight, and excess, saggy skin.  However, speed will never teach you portion control, moderation, that healthy living is not an "all or nothing" deal, nor the discipline needed to never gain a single pound back again!  It will not get you the long term results you need to stay successful long after you reach some sort of "goal weight!!"

Here is what you SHOULD pull from shows like this....Motivation, inspiration, and the knowledge that no matter how fast or slow, life-change IS possible!!!

Believing in you!!

By the way...if you haven't checked it out yet, here's an article done on my weight loss a few weeks back:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Keep your eyes on the prize..

Keep your eyes on the prize...

Tonight I was blessed to get together with a group of individuals I am coaching on their journey to lose weight! I shared some thoughts which I thought might also be worth sharing on here. One of the things that God has consistently told me through my journey is, "to keep my eyes on the prize." The fact that God has had to remind me so often over the past year and couple months is because it's extremely easy to lose focus! Anything worth doing requires discipline, commitment and fortitude! Losing weight is not easy; or there wouldn't be a world filled with obese people! You are one of the few that have made the decision to be different, unique, and committed!

There is a verse in the Bible that I've used for encouragement:

1 Corinthians 9:24 “ Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize!”

It's so easy to start "running..." MANY people start diets every day. Weight Watcher's store fronts can be seen filled with people beginning to "run," but FEW people actually get the prize. Few people will make it through the tough seasons when the scale doesn't move or actually goes in the wrong direction, family isn't being supportive of their decision, or the temptation to give-in is just too great! FEW people really change their life!

Keeping your eye on the prize is something that you will continually have to remind yourself!!! Too many times stuff comes your way and if you are not careful it will totally derail you...remember:

1) Don’t allow the immediate pleasure to take your eyes off the prize…That meal that you don't have the calories for is not worth it!!!

2) Don’t allow the guilt of messing up take your eyes off the prize…That day where you just gave in cannot be your catalyst for failure!!!

3) Don’t allow other people to take your eyes off the prize…Don't let someone guilt you into eating that food, or their lack of support be the thing that causes you to give up!!!

4) Don’t allow a number on a scale to take your eyes off the prize…If you are doing things right, it WILL move, and a number on a scale is not everything!!! You are one week healthier than the last, even if it doesn't show up that week!!!

I know it's hard, but you are SO worth it!!!!! You CAN do this, and with God's strength, you will not only finish the race, but you will GET THE PRIZE!!

#103lbs down!!!! 278lb - 175lb

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

a few things...

Here is a little video that we showed at church this past sunday...The cool thing about being a pastor that gets video taped every week is there is video to show my weight loss. This is starting last year to present...

The second video is my message on "Health"...Maybe it will encourage someone!

Monday, February 27, 2012

tools of the trade...

Here are some of the tools we use everyday...

Kitchen Scale: I think this is a must!!! The chances you will underestimate what you are eating are HIGH...A scale is a cake way to ensure you are calculating the best you can. The one we use is . You don't have to get this one, but for us it looks clean on our counter and has an easy "tare" feature. For those of you that understand the tare feature bear with me...but you throw your plate on the scale, hit tare and it takes away the weight of the plate, then toss on what you want weighed, hit tare and it takes away that weight as well, etc, etc. Shelley uses it for her cream for coffee, cereal and milk and even for baking and it just makes things quick and keeps you legit. Chips are a perfect example for a reason to use it!!! On the bag it says "about 14 chips" that 14 large chips, little chips or medium size????? On that same bag an exact weight is printed as well (example 28g). Just throw those on the scale and you have your LEGIT number! There are plenty of other killer scales out there, the point is, I would never want to do life without one. Once you get one you WILL understand!!!!

Restaurant nutrition info: This information is EVERYWHERE! If we're eating "out," we plan our meals long before entering the restaurant. For places we know we'll go to often, we save the info in our iPhones. If you have a smartphone, there are apps such as, "Livestrong , My Fitness Pal, Restaurant Nutrition," (the list goes on) are all there to help you with your calorie calculations. One word of advice though, the calculation they give you is a ball park number. I will crank up the number if I feel I've received a larger portion!!! For local joints, which we like better than chains :) we use the best guesstimate possible while comparing to the "chain" places.

Regular Scale: I weigh in every week or at least every 10 days. This is critical to knowing I am heading in the right direction and accountable. I don't weigh in less than 7 days, because the reality is if you are losing weight less than a week, then you are at too high a deficit or you are seeing water weight loss, which will only frustrate you when that weight comes back. If I have had a ton of sodium the night before I plan to weigh in, I won't weigh in until the next day or 2 after that. Sodium does nothing for weight loss, but can cause you to retain water and throw your weigh-in (and mood) off!

Write down everything that goes in your mouth: For us, we use an app on our iPhone, but even if it's a notebook, journal, piece of paper...WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN!!! Your memory is not that good!!! ANYTHING that enters my mouth I enter in my app. Even the mints I have at church on Sundays to keep my breath nice and fresh :) get written down. I recently had a cold and needed to eat cough drops, each one is 15 calories and I ended the day eating 200 calories of cough drops!!! Write it down, and keep it legit. I began this journey on February 28th last year and can go back to that day and pull up EVERYTHING that has entered my mouth since then. Side note...even if you have a day that you eat over your goal, write it down!!!!!

These things are CRITICAL to your success and might seem inconvenient or difficult at first, but I promise you, with consistency they will just be a part of how you do life and something you can maintain!!!

So excited to hear how so many of you are changing your life 1lb at a time!!!!! Keep rolling!!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Power of Consistency

I'm not on a diet...

We were in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina a month or so ago, celebrating one of our incredible friend's birthday. His Grandparents have an amazing house on the beach, one of those places that cause you to lust a little bit and then quickly repent. We were sitting in their sunroom, having casual conversations with a few people and the topic of my weight loss had come up. One of the ladies asked me about cheating on my "diet." I told her that to be honest I had never cheated from the day that I started this journey. She was in shock! "Never cheated???? Not even once???" I could tell in her voice (and the fact that she brought it up again while Shelley was around, hoping to catch me off guard :) ) that she was struggling believing that.

To address how I have been able to be consistent, let me first start with this....Diets do work!!! I will never tell you other than that. Back to my last post, many diets work, simply because you are putting yourself in a calorie deficit and your body is burning stored fat for fuel. They work, because initially your body is getting rid of water weight that it had been retaining, due to your eating. They work!!! While sitting here at Barnes & Noble, in my view is a HUGE display of diet books. They wouldn't be selling them, and making as much money off of us, if they didn't work! I have yet to meet someone, who has struggled with their weight, and not gone on some sort of diet which resulted in some level of weight loss. It's not like a diet is the "thing" that we've all been missing!! Seriously, it's not like I was sitting at Golden Corral eating a ton and just waiting for someone to lead me to a diet! We have gained weight and have been unable to keep it off, because we have not been able to be consistent in the "diets" and have been unable to make them a part of our core beliefs or simply our lifestyle!!!

Consistency is the key! This is the thing which will get us the results we want! Since my initial weight gain 17 years ago I have lost weight, doing diets! Why? Because they work...But I have never been able to be consistent on a "diet." The fact that most diets have to factor in "cheat days" screams INCONSISTENCY! It's like they are saying to us, it's impossible to stay consistent with this eating pattern, so we are going to factor inconsistency right into the equation! I did the low carb thing for a while back in 2006 and lost some weight doing it, but how in the world am I going to really live a lifestyle of no pasta and bread for the rest of my life..I'm Italian!! Did it work??? Yep, I lost some weight...did I stay consistent with it??? Nope!

Here are a few reasons I don't think we stay consistent...

1) We set ourselves up with too large of a deficit: Don't be extreme!!! If you can only handle a 250 calorie deficit each day (which equates to a loss of a 1/2 lb per week or 25 lbs a year) rock it!!! Stay consistent with it. Don't start with a 1,000 calorie deficit per day (2 lbs per week or 102 lbs a year) and then in a week head down to Captain Georges, crush it... use up all of that deficit and then some!! Stick with what you can maintain...You are not on a diet you are just eating less than you burn in a day, you are being a good steward of what you have to work with.

2) We place foods "off-limits" instead of learning that there are no bad foods, just bad amounts of that food: This is huge!!! I am now wearing 32 jeans from tight 42's and weighing in the 180's from 278 and I still eat what I want when I want! It's funny how when we think in terms of "diet" we start to think "diet foods" (carrots and other things)... there's nothing wrong with these foods. I actually now try to eat about 80 percent clean foods, but when I started, I ate 20 percent clean foods and the other 80 percent of my calories were spent on non-diet foods, but I still consistently lost weight. Learn to live within your range and spend your calories how you choose. When we place foods in categories and then eventually delve into the "forbidden category," we have a tendency to eat WAY guilt creeps in and we start to say to ourselves, "I have already messed up, so I might as well just eat a ton and start again tomorrow." Even now, if I feel like eating a doughnut, I eat it, it's my business and I manage my calories how I feel. No shame or foods that are off limits!

Let me give you some info that could be a revelation...If you have 2,500 calories to work with, meaning if you eat over that you will gain and if you eat less than that you will lose, and you consume 3,000 calories of veggies and fruit you will gain weight!!! No matter how "good" the food is, a calorie is a calorie!!! At the same time, if you eat 2,000 calories of McDonald's, you will LOSE weight! Down the road we can get into how much better you feel when you eat the healthier foods, but the reality is, there should be no foods that are "off-limits," only excessive amounts of that food. Shelley has a sweet-tooth and still continues to have dessert every night and as far as I go, I will not stop eating fried fish whenever I want to. There are no bad foods, just bad amounts!

3) We don't live within our range, just legalistically lock ourselves to a number:
Once you've figured out your BMR and what you actually have to work with, and then factor in a deficit that you can sustain consistently...You now have your range! This is where you would like to be with your deficit everyday (goal) and where you know you should never go over, because you will gain weight (reality). Living in your range gives you the freedom of knowing that with dinner parties, birthdays, holidays, etc you might not always be able to keep that deficit, but you will choose to never eat over what you actually have to work with. Picture it like a savings, you might hope to bank 1,000 deficit every day, this is your goal, but on somedays you might only bank 200, others 500, 700 and sometimes zero! Life changes and everyday is different...don't just make the decision to gain by going over what you have to work with!

This may seem basic to some and to others may be profound, but I promise you that consistency is the thing which has helped me lose over 90 lbs! You can do this! You can change your life! You can stay consistent! You are worth doing this and getting healthy is very attainable!!!

If you need help setting up a plan and figuring out your range, please give me a shout!!!

Monday, January 9, 2012

something's got to give...

In January 2011 I felt hopeless...

I was probably the biggest I had been and needed help. If you have ever struggled with your weight you know this feeling! Maybe you are like me and you could look back on areas of your past and see victories, things which through Christ you were able to overcome. Possibly, even major addictions that had you bound and you experienced freedom, but food and weight seemed like such a hopeless situation!

I had tried many "fad diets" and even lost weight on some of them in the past, but now I found myself facing some of the most difficult questions: "where do I begin??," "how do I begin??" and even worse, "do I really want to begin something knowing that I am just going to fail???" Talk about setting yourself up for failure...attempting to start something with the lie planted in your mind, that you are probably just going to fail!!! On top of all that, I had the internal pressure of "I'm a pastor and I don't have self-control in this area!"

At the beginning of February of 2011 I had a thought. Knowing I needed to lose weight and that I was in need of some motivation, I talked to about 5 guys from church about doing a little contest. The goal was to lose 50 lbs in 3 months. This meant about 3.85 lbs a week. Watching shows like, "The Biggest Loser," made this seem attainable to me. I had an arsenal of weight loss strategies which had helped me drop some weight in the past and the biggest winner of the bunch was always the low-carb approach. However, this time I wanted to attempt something a little different, so I thought about counting calories. I began on February 28th and was pretty determined to do it. I gave myself 1,500 calories a day and went forward! I came up with this number by assuming that 2,000 was probably where I should be, but I was extreme, so I would roll with 1,500!

I lost a little bit of weight initially and was doing ok, but as time went on some of the guys made the decision to pull out of the contest until I was one of the few still trying to make this happen. At this point something clicked in me...if I was on Oprah back in the day, it would have been called my "ah ha moment"... that moment of clarity where God directs you to the tools needed to complete your journey. What began as a desire to just lose some weight, became a spiritual experience through which God was teaching me stewardship and discipline. I remember talking to one of my great friends at a dinner table and saying, "Bro, I wish that God would just give me a mind like Jillian Michaels," a well known trainer from The Biggest Loser, "to where I'd see food like she sees it...I don't think she ever wants to crush a bunch of Long John Silver's fish!!" We both laughed about it, but in reality God was starting this process in me. I started to study calories, nutrition and just how to really lose weight and KEEP IT OFF! I went from someone who was obsessed with a DIET to someone looking to find a lifestyle that I could keep consistently forever! I also went from being someone who just wanted to take the weight off to instead desiring to be a healthy person and be around for my beautiful wife and incredible daughter as long as I possibly can.

Through research, study, and at times obsession, God was leading me to the revelations that I believe are very important things many need to really overcoming their weight issues and to ultimately change their lives forever!

Here are some of them and I hope to flesh them out in more detail in other posts...
  1. There is VERY simple math connected to weight loss ("Calories in vs. Calories out" is totally legit)
  2. Diets work, but you can't live forever doing a diet
  3. If you monitor your calories correctly you can eat WHATEVER you want in moderation. (There are no bad foods just bad amounts)
  4. The time of the day in which you eat doesn't do anything to stop you from losing weight. You CAN eat before you go to bed if you want!
  5. You never need to plateau in your weight loss!
  6. Exercise alone doesn't make you lose weight, HOWEVER exercise and an active lifestyle can help you feel great and EAT A TON MORE!
Since this is such a huge revelation in my life I struggle with this "blog" times I feel like I want to write a book, because I have so much to say, but I will restrain myself and instead of going through every one of these right away I will just begin with #1...

Here is the simple math...There are tons of strategies, but all of them basically come down to ONE consistent principle: your body burns a certain amount of calories in a day and if you burn more than you consume you WILL lose weight. I had heard this for years, but the math behind it was really the thing that made it clear for me...

Here are the facts...
  • In order to lose one pound of body fat, you need to burn 3,500 calories more than you take in over a period of time! This is a fact! It can be over a period of days, weeks or months, but eventually this is what needs to happen. So, in order to lose one true pound of body fat in a week you need to burn 500 more calories in a day...2 pounds? 1,000 per day or 7,000 in a week. There is no getting around this... If you are on a diet like Weight Watchers, they are using this math to cause you to lose...Slim Fast? Same math!
You can't escape this! You can't "fad diet" this fact away. It's either something you avoid and just hope that it balances out or decide to go on a diet for a season, which already factors this math in, but this is a FACT! For me, instead of avoiding it, I determined to make this math work for me. I wanted a true 750-1,000 calorie deficit to lose 2lbs a week. Once I had settled the fact that this was going to be a "lifestyle," 2 lbs was attainable and something that I knew I could keep consistent. Anything over the 1,000 calorie deficit a day is not only unhealthy for you (you are going to burn muscle), but something even more important is that it's NOT something you can keep consistent for a long period of time! Most people start with an extreme calorie deficit and then hop off and on, off and on, etc, etc. Instead, set yourself up with something attainable, then you can let the compound loss work for you, and in the long run lose tons more!!! I would rather lose a 1/4 lb a week and allow that to compound over time than lose a ton quickly and not be able to sustain it.

Now that we know this, it brings us to the second part of the math- How much do I actually burn?

  • Everyone of us has something called a BMR (not to be mistaken with BMI). This is your Basal Metabolic Rate. It is what your body burns determined by your height and weight to perform what's necessary: the functioning of each of your organs, digestion, etc. This is what you are burning while sleeping, sitting down at work, watching TV, etc. You can figure yours out here. This makes up 80%-90% of your daily calorie burn, depending on activity level during the day and not factoring in exercise.
For me, being a pastor can be mentally exhausting, but unfortunately, not very physically exhausting; tons of sitting in meetings, counseling appointments, sermon preparation, leadership development, etc. What I didn't understand was that I was actually only burning a very very small amount of calories in a day. Even at my largest I was only guaranteed to burn 3,000.

Now you might not think this is a big deal, but for me it was huge. For the first time in my life I came face to face with my true numbers! What I ACTUALLY had to work with. I think sometimes it's easier for us to live in a fantasy land and just assume that things will balance out. We try to make a few good decisions and that should make up for the bad. The reality I was faced with was that on most days I burned 3,000 calories (without exercise and without an active lifestyle, which we will get into later) and if I ate more than that, I was actually CHOOSING to get fat! Man...Choosing! It hit me so hard in that moment, and still impacts me in a crazy way to this day! It wasn't that my desire for Five Guys' burgers and a bag full of fries, which I loved, faded magically away, it was that I came to the realization that I didn't have the calories to eat it!!! Not because I am on a diet...I just don't burn enough calories in a day to eat 4,000 calories of burgers and fries, PERIOD! By choosing to eat it, I was now making the conscious decision to get FAT! Up until this point I sorta looked at getting fat as something that just happened, but now it was a choice. Not only was this convicting, but at the same time, incredibly freeing. If I could choose to get fat I could CHOOSE to get skinny! I just had to use the above math (3,500 calorie deficit over time will cause me to lose 1 lb of fat). This was the start of the process for me...

I guess the pastor's heart in me wants to leave you with a challenge...Would you ever really want to choose to get fat? Are you assuming the math will just work out somehow or are you actually desiring to have the math work for you? Do you want to make the conscious decision to get skinny? With God's strength you can do this!!! You are worth it!!

Since launching this site, I have received many emails from people struggling in this area and I want to toss out the option to you that if you need more help, I would love to help and will be praying for you! Message me...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

my journey...

I used to be big...

I guess that's the best way to begin a blog about weight loss, my journey, and how to change your life!!

My parents raised me with a basic understanding of nutrition in the sense of what foods were good and what foods were bad. We never had soda in the house, unless it was for a party and even then we were only allowed one can. We were taught to eat good foods...fruit, veggies and never any "sugar cereal!"

So, how did I go from a somewhat healthy, active childhood of High School wrestling, tennis and playing outside to an adulthood weighing over 300 lbs (possibly even closer to 350 lbs than I know, because there was a season I didn't weigh myself)??? Was it no will power? Lack of discipline? Was it a pain that I was trying to heal? Was it emotional eating or eating out of boredom? The answer to that is pretty simple for me, my wife Shelley (who has also lost 35 lbs, going from a size 14 to size 4) and many others that I am helping to overcome their weight issues...a bad understanding of nutrition! Sure I've heard quite a bit, "calories in vs calories out," but really understanding it all in a way that made sense, I didn't hear. Since catching this "revelation" I have gotten to 185 lbs  (and still losing) , tight 48 jeans to 34 jeans and my heart is to never see another person struggle with something that there is no need to struggle with. NO FAD DIET, just some determination, simple nutrition and hard work. My goal in starting is to encourage and pastor others into seeing their best life now! As a Pastor, I encourage people to live out what Christ says in scripture, that "Christ came so that we may have life and life abundantly!" Although, I've always preached this in the spiritual sense, I also believe that getting control in the area of health will add to our life, giving us the abundant life that Christ intended! My prayer is that through my story and the knowledge I have gained, which has gotten me to where I am and continue to head, I can be an asset to you in your journey!!