Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter cookie re-post

Here's a re-post from several years ago.
Maybe someone new will enjoy it.

Easter Cookies

Happy Easter Weekend.
He Is Risen!

John <><

Thursday, April 10, 2014

We All Hate to Lose!

One of the thoughts in the book The Abs Diet was that diets fail because we are not programmed to lose. We hate to any thing! The book (and the philosophy) focused on the things we gain from being healthy--like visible abs!

Maybe there is something to this way of thinking.

I am still hearing of friends on different "diets" and their struggles to stick with the regiment of whatever diet they're using. And then I think the real failures occur when people reach their goals and go "off of the diet." Once back to their old habits, the weight slowly returns.

Rather rehash old material, I'll refer you to a previous post that describes "diet" as a way of living.
This "way of living" thing is really what I've done and feel that it is sustainable. As a matter of fact, although I am closely monitoring my weight loss, I am really past "trying to lose weight" as a goal and more interested in what weight this "way of living" will place me. I'm beginning to realize that I'll probably wind up at a weight that is lower than my original goal. Of course, when I started this journey I was still thinking in terms of "going on a diet!"

I'm currently consuming between 2,000 and 2,500 calories per day. Some days it's more; it's rarely less. It's almost always over the amount allowed on the app I use, but who cares? For me, it's more about eating good foods in reasonable amounts than about restrictions. Admittedly, if I'm going over by too much, I add a little exercise to offset the additional intake.

Even though the weight is coming off much more slowly now, I'll still make my original goal of 52 lbs. in 52 weeks. That will put me at 206 lbs by June 1. Right now I have two consecutive days below 210, so I'm only a few pounds away. I'm now guessing that I'll end up around 200, maybe a little less.

So, what have I gained?
I feel better.
And I feel better about myself.
I can easily manage the stairs to the tower (120), a long walk or a short run, an all day hike with backpacks, or an hour long bike ride.
A year ago, I could only manage a few push-ups and no pull-ups. Now I can do multiple sets of 25 push-ups and can manage a few pull-ups.
My sleep apnea isn't an issue most of the time. Although I feel okay without the CPAP machine, I am still using it because it's easier than going through the FAA's circus to keep my medical certification for one more year. I'm also sleeping more than I used to.
I have more energy than I remember having.
I am seldom "hungry" which helps avoid snacking on poor foods.
I've learned a lot about foods and how they affect me--my energy, my sleep, my mood, my weight, etc.

I would tell you that it's been difficult...except that it hasn't.
The most difficult thing that I had to do was simply to decide that I was going to make some changes in my "way of living."
I began to make decisions based on good health. I've had some good encouragers. I had to learn a little patience. I've had a few setbacks, and a few re-starts.

With most of us being a little (or a lot) overweight, and most of us making poor health decisions, we can all use a little encouragement. You'll feel better. You'll live longer. You'll spend less on healthcare and less time feeling like you need some health care.

Eat an apple.
Be well.

John <><

Monday, March 31, 2014

...Out like a lamb.

March comes to an end.
Baseball begins.
Life is good.

It's obvious to those that have followed Out of My Hat for any length of time that I have have been pretty lazy when it comes to posting this year. Sorry about that.
Truthfully, I've also spent less time reading blogs. My reading has been limited to just a handful of the blogs that I've been reading over the years.

I've actually been reading...books.
Not as often as I would like to, but more than I have done recently.
I've also been spending some of my "online time" offline and am getting some daily exercise. The exercise varies. Some days it's cycling on an indoor bike (I'm looking forward to spring weather and an outdoor bike). Other days it's a Nordic Track cross country ski machine (yes, we still have one of those!) or a short run. On most days it's walking 45 minutes to an hour.

I'm hoping that my indoor exercise time will combine nicely with my baseball watching time. I also plan on less time following baseball this season.

I know! That doesn't sound like the John you're used to. But it's true.
I do plan to keep things more in perspective this season. Let's face it, though baseball is fun to follow, the outcome of the season (much less, each game) has little impact on life in general for most of us. It does nothing to improve ones intellect or health. It is nothing more than a time consuming form of entertainment for most people. Maybe walking while listening to a broadcast or just checking the scores and stats after each game will serve me well most of the time. We will see as the season rolls on. Overcoming this addiction will not be an easy task.

One quarter of 2014 is history.

Be well.
John <><

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fats: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

One of the many things that I'm learning is that all fats are not the same...and not all fats are bad for you. As a matter of fact, good fats are essential for--get this--weight loss!

One of the many food industry lies that we've been told over the years is that poly-unsaturated vegetable oils are better for us than saturated animal fats.


If you stop and think that we are animals and primarily produce saturated fats and mono-unsaturated fats (about 97% of our fat with only about 3% being poly-unsaturated), it would make sense that we would best metabolize the same and better use the building blocks from the types of fats that we produce. It turns out that the great influx of omega 6 fatty acids (read vegetable oils) is a big player in the fattening of America. Plant based saturated fats like coconut oil and palm oil, mono-unsaturated fats like olive oil, and animal fats like butter, tallow and lard, are actually better choices!

Good fats are necessary for our bodies to produce the hormones that help to regulate all of our bodily functions--including the storing and burning of fat energy! If we don't feed our bodies the good stuff, our bodies tend to under produce or poorly produce the hormones that we need.

Also, as we age, our bodies produce less of (or stop producing) some of the hormones that we need to keep burning fat as an energy source--namely testosterone and estrogen. Hormone production is a big player in weight loss and weight gain! Although I started with a prescription testosterone therapy, I now use an over-the-counter supplement. Combined with the better diet and better dietary fats, I really believe that it has been a key factor in my weight loss.

If you are around 50 (for men) or post-menopausal (for women), I'd recommend being checked to see how much hormone therapy might be necessary to help you on your way.

Another factor in proper weight management hormone production is getting enough sleep!
For the past eight or nine months, I've been trying to get more sleep. While there are still plenty of days that I run on four and a half (and some on three) hours of sleep (with the occasional power nap), I'm trying to manage six or more hours as often as I can. I'm pretty sure this has also had a positive effect on the weight loss.

As always, I wouldn't take any of what I have to say as any kind of health advice. It's just what I have found works for me.

John <><

Saturday, March 22, 2014

More on Weight Management

It has been a number of years since I read The Atkin's Diet and put it to the test. I was intrigued by the science of the plan and approached it with my usual skepticism. I figured that this guy claims I can eat all of the "approved" fats and proteins that I want and still lose weight as long as I cut out virtually all carbs during the induction phase. I ate meats and cheeses until I was about to puke. I went to breakfast buffets and ate eggs with cheese and hot sauce and all the bacon and sausage I could stand...and that's a lot of bacon and sausage! I skipped the healthy lean meats like chicken and fish and loaded up on pork and beef. Big greasy cheeseburgers were regular fare. I even ignored the no caffeine part and continued with my daily coffee and 3+ liters of diet sodas per day. I snacked on slices of pepperoni that were crisped in the microwave (they were like little crackers!) topped with slices of sharp cheddar. I substituted the milk in the sugar free cook and serve pudding with 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 water for a high calorie, low carb chocolate snack. I shunned fruits and vegetables like the plague.

...And I actually lost weight!

And I began to realize that if I was more diligent about eating good proteins and limiting fats, I might actually improve my health!

In retrospect, there is no telling how much damage I may have caused by being so careless about the crap I ate during those few weeks. But, since I did actually read the book rather than just hear about the diet part from somebody that didn't really know what they were talking about, I was able to understand that the induction phase was just to reset my system and wasn't intended to by a long term way of eating. Overall, I think that the basic philosophy of the Atkin's system is good.

Whether it's Atkin's or South Beach, The Zone or Eating for Life it seemed to me that the main theme revolved around controlling insulin levels.

The current book I'm reading, The Abs Diet doesn't make a big deal of it, but the foods it promotes are the same foods in the other diets, as well as the philosophy of eating less, but more often.

I'm not a big conspiracy sort of guy, but I do believe that the food industry is killing us by its promotion of fast, cheap, chemically produced and genetically modified foods. Just by eating real foods, I've managed to feel better and lose a lot of weight.

I'm not a strict "don't eat that" kind of guy. In the past month I've had a couple of White Castles, an Arby's Jamocha shake, a couple of McDonald's soft serve cones, fried chicken wings, bread sticks, corn bread muffins and a few other foods that would make serious nutritionists cringe and serious dieters throw up.

I eat very little that is grain based (other than oatmeal) or comes out of a box. I'm eating less fried foods and more fruits and vegetables. I've cut back on red meats and high fat foods. I generally have at least one meatless day each week and I pay more attention to the number of calories that I consume that I probably need to. It's just that those little buggers have a way of adding up--even when they're good calories from good foods.

It's time for dinner.
Eat healthy foods.
Be well.

John <><

Note: I used Wikipedia rather than Amazon because I'm not promoting these books nor their philosophies. I think that they are good reads and have some good science to back their respective claims.

Monday, March 03, 2014

It's March!

Wow! How did it get to be March already? The year 2014 is one sixth over and it will soon be Spring!

So many people have commented and asked about my weight loss that I thought I'd share a few things about it here on Out of My Hat.

Before I really begin, I need to say that I am a subscriber to the theory of eat for weight management; exercise for health. I know that there is a correlation between activity and weight loss, but principally, you manage weight by what you eat.

Also, I no longer believe that calories in vs. calories out is a good way to manage weight. Not all calories are considered equal. By understanding how different foods affect my systems, I am better able to manage weight loss. By eating better foods, I am able to manage hunger and therefore eat less.

Since I am far from an expert on such things, I'll just give a few of the things that have worked for me. The biggest thing was to try to limit the amount of chemical crap that I ingest. For the most part, that meant cutting out all processed foods--and drinks. I cut out the diet soda and drink mostly water, coffee or freshly brewed tea. I eat very little bread, pasta or prepared foods. Other than cereals (which I don't eat a lot of), there are few boxed foods in our pantry.

Also, in the past nine months, I've only been to a fast food restaurant a handful of times--and even with those few times, I am much more aware of the crap that I'm eating and so I eat less of it or make the best choices available.

I'll admit, breaking old, destructive habits isn't easy. I was recently asked what it was that finally got me started on the weight loss and healthy lifestyle. My answer was that it was time. I knew what needed to be done but I just had to settle it in my head that I was going to do it. Switching out diet sodas for water was probably one of the biggest things--and that's not even a calorie saving choice! Little steps, simple choices; they add up.

I'll share more in the future; some about what works for me, some about the science I've learned, some about the little bit of exercise that I'm doing.
I suppose I should also share the benefits I'm reaping from a healthier lifestyle.

Live healthy.
Be well.

John <><

Monday, February 24, 2014

Another Grand Day at the Pulaski Association Evangelism Conference!

We are halfway through day three of the conference and I am having a great time. One of the best things about these conferences is getting to hear other evangelists preach, sing and share their stories. For the most part, we are all going in different directions and serving at different churches throughout Missouri and surrounding states and never run across each other's paths.

At conferences like this, we are showcased together for the local churches and are able to book events for the coming year. As much as these events encourage me, they also remind me that there is much work to be done.

And I also come away a little discouraged at the missing demographic--young pastors from predominately young churches.

I know that traditional revivals and crusades are a thing of the past to many of our Southern Baptist churches. However, the men and women that serve as evangelists are versatile enough to fit into the plans of any church and are gifted by God to reach the lost and motivate the church to do the work that God has set before them.

I feel particularly blessed to have a somewhat unique ministry with magic, but also feel that the call to preach is under utilized by both traditional and non-traditional churches. While I do love going to churches for events like VBS, Upwards Basketball, AWANA and other special days, there are many other ways to reach communities through simply sharing the truth of the Gospel.

In the future, I hope to be able to teach more on apologetics and help believers to become defenders of the faith. I think that there is a great need and calling for Christians to stand firm against the onslaught of criticism that we often face.

I hope that you know why you believe what you believe. I hope that your defense of your faith goes deeper than, "Well, that just what I believe!" I hope that you have settled in your own heart the questions of heaven, hell, good, evil and whether or not there is life after death. If you have questions, we have answers.

As always, feel free to send me a private message of give me a call. I serve at His good pleasure.

John <><

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Imagine My Surprise!

I arrived at St. Robert First early this morning and after reviewing my message I still had some time on my hands. I pulled out my Galaxy S3 and linked to my blog's dashboard to see what had posted in the blogs that I follow.


My reader feed had been inundated with pornographic posts from a site in Great Britain! It would have been a shock anywhere but it was especially unnerving at a church I was visiting. I'm still working on figuring out how to rid my feed from getting these posts in the future as it is not showing the address as something I subscribe to.
I have changed my passwords and notified Google.
I hope that my e-mail contacts don't start getting pornographic spam from me!

I'll keep working at cleaning things up, but wanted to get this out...just in case.

John <><

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Weekend Conference and more

It is a nice Saturday morning in the Ozarks and I'm taking just a few minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee before getting things ready for the Pulaski Association Annual Evangelism Conference.

It looks like the weather will be good for this year's conference. We've had some pretty bad years in the past. I think that I will be a little bit more ambitious about looking for bookings this year than I have been in the past. I would like to do more in the way of preaching revivals. I know that I do get calls for magic events, but would also like the opportunity to preach more often.

      * * * * * *

On the health front...

I've added a couple of apps to my phone that are helpful.
One is a pedometer and it is nice to know how many steps I take in a day. I'm a bit of a pacer so I take a good number of steps in addition to the daily walk. The other is a calorie counter that also can be set up to encourage exercise. Both are from Noom. I am using these in addition to Run Keeper that I use to keep track of walking and running. Both of these have social features and if you are using them, feel free to connect with me.

I've decided to try running again, but am going to have to have some foot issues taken care of. I managed to run a full mile on my second time out, but took a little over ten minutes to do it. I have to admit that although I was happy to complete the mile, I am a little embarrassed by the time. I am a long way from being a runner!
Oh well, some thing to work for...but I probably need to stick to walking until I take care of the foot.

Chris and I went ice skating this past week. It was my first time. I think that we will continue. At my pace, it isn't really exercise, but I'm sure that it can get to that point.

Today was day three at less than 218 lbs. That means I can claim -40 lbs since I started last June. Eating better foods keeps me from feeling hungry and eating too much. The calorie counter is helping to recognize how daily counts can climb without realizing it. I need to keep the fruits and vegetables up more than I have been. The low calorie density keeps me filled up without the calorie count. Over all, I'm pretty pleased with how things have been going.

Time to get busy! A little bit of magic tonight and preaching tomorrow morning and evening! Monday and Tuesday off work for the conference then back to ATC.

Have a great weekend! Be well!

John <><

Monday, February 17, 2014

Miscellaneous Monday

One of the grand things about an air traffic controller's schedule is that my Monday doesn't start until 3 in the afternoon. It makes coming off of the weekend and transitioning to the work week a little bit easier.

I've been spending a little less time on the internet (both via computer and cell phone) lately. About the only negative that I find is that I'm writing less and even reading fewer of the blogs that I follow. The internet can really turn into a time sucking device if you're not carefully managing it.

I have picked up a couple of new apps for my phone to help with fitness and weight-loss. To be fair, they mostly help me keep track of what I'm doing and don't really add a lot to my programs, but it is fun to have something to look at when it comes to checking your progress.

Noom has several apps. I'm using the pedometer and weight-loss coach. If you've been using them (or something similar), I'd like to hear about it. I've only been using mine for about 3 days and I'm enjoying it. I got the links from my Run Keeper app. Both have features that allow you to share with friends. I have a few "friends" on my Run Keeper app that are no longer using it or have stopped working out and know of a few that use the app but don't use the social features. The biggest thing for me is they help keep me accountable to me. If I can see what I'm doing (or not doing), I'm more likely to stay on track.

As a matter of fact, since it's a nice morning out, I'll think I'll get my daily walk out of the way now.

Have a great Monday and a grand and glorious week!

John <><