Michigan Summers, Fireworks, and Fireflies,

Tonight I have the urge to write. I don’t particularly know why but it’s there none-the-less. It’s been an uneventful day and I find myself with some quiet, almost-alone time. The kids are here but somehow peaceful, dinner is cleaned up and… that’s it. Nothing else is happening.

I’m not writing tonight to talk about weight-loss and diets or being fit, even although I think that will end up being a thread in tonights afghan. I didn’t have some amazing week where I lost a bunch of weight or a terrible week where I gained back all my progress. It was average. It was uneventful, mundane even in the weight-loss department. I am where I was the last time I wrote and so tonights update isn’t so much an update as it is just me feeling like writing and actually having the time to do so.

Last week was a blur from start to finish. My sister-in-law and her family were up from Tennessee for the holiday week, which means we were busy. We spent Fourth fo July at my other sister-in-laws house with the whole family plus others. We swam all day, got a little sunburnt, ate hotdogs and brats and watermelon and watched fireworks out the car windows on the way home with exhausted kids struggling to stay awake. The next day we were back out there at the pool, swimming more, eating more, and burning more. Tuesday and Wednesday were chill days because my wife had to work, although Wednesday night we got together with some friends we haven’t seen in forever, mostly due to the pandemic, partly due to us all having numerous children who all have activities so getting together is tough to schedule. Thursday was family picture day, which is always challenging with little ones, but also worth it in the end. Pictures were followed by everyone coming back to our house for pizza and games and ended with two cousins spending the night and the kids all having a blast. Friday I got to golf with my brother-in-law from Tennessee which was loads of fun and hopefully the first time of many. The week concluded with a big family dinner at BlackRock and me consuming way too much steak. (if there is such a thing, as stated in my prior post) Somehow all of the snacking and hot dogs and pizza didn’t lead to me gaining a bunch of weight back. I’m still where I was and am moving forward once again.

This week my wife and my oldest son are going on a backpacking trip to North Manitou Island. It’s an island off the coast of northern lower Michigan, in Lake Michigan. It is part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and is thus protected. It used to be a logging camp that was abandoned in the 50’s and the island is now uninhabited outside of the park ranger who keeps people alive who are hiking on the island. We did a similar hike a few years ago and loved it. You have to take a ferry to get to and from the island and if the weather is bad you just have to stay on the island for another day. There’s also no campfires allowed on the island. You can use camp stoves to heat food/water but no fire pits or open flames allowed. It’s pretty rustic and is a good first true backpacking experience where you really have to pack in everything you need for the time you’ll be on the island and you have to filter your water and go to the bathroom in the woods with a shovel. It’s awesome!

Which has of course lead to me and Allison (wife if you didn’t know her name) to start looking at more, bigger backpacking trips. We really love it and want to start checking hikes off our list. (shared google doc we both add trails and hikes to that we hear about) Obviously the National Parks are all on our list (life bucket list is to get to all of them eventually) but really there are so many other great trails to get to. We want to start working our way through the Appalachian Trail, all 2,190 miles of it. While we’d love to maybe one day do a through hike (whole thing at once) we don’t have 6 months to set aside to do it, so splitting it up into more manageable hikes is where we’ll begin. Same thing with the North Country Trail, (4,600 miles) the Pacific Crest Trail, (2,650 miles) and the Continental Divide Trail. (3,100 miles) Those are the big guys that we are planning to start chopping up so we can do sections at a time. Plus there are thousands of other smaller trails to explore, that we will use as training runs and just weekend getaways.

Sneak peak of future me

Something about getting out there, with your pack on your back and nothing else; it’s just so freeing. To start walking and not looking back. To find a place to camp under the stars, no tv’s, no cell phones. Sleeping in a hammock or a tent, listening to the sounds of nature; there’s nothing that compares.

My initial thought is that as this year ends and I am actually 40, I will start to transition this space into more of a hiking/backpacking blog that also continues to update my fitness and health. This fitness journey that I am on is not something that is gonna end in 18 days when I hit the big 40. I plan to keep eating organic, real food that is free of preservatives and chemicals and my hope is that those food choices along with a backpacking/hiking lifestyle will help me achieve my fitness goals.

We will see how things go. We hiked in New Hampshire a few years ago and loved it but then last year covid hit and threw a wrench into everything so we’re trying to get back to where we were. We also want to camp more and are starting to think about getting a hard sided camper. We just bought a Suburban to fit our large family so now we have the ability to tow whatever we want. It kind of feels like driving a bus but it is nice having all that room! We don’t want anything too big because we like actually camping and not just hauling a small apartment around from campground to campground. We want something that sleeps at least 5 (carter almost always sleeps in a tent or hammock and not in the popup) and that has a small bathroom. Don’t really care about the kitchen or any electronics, again we like “camping,” but we do want it to have solar panels so we can boon-dock if we want. (not at a campground just out in nature with no hookups) Having a camper will also allow us to go on more hikes since we could camp near by and then doo out and backs or loops.

Me on long trips

So that’s the update for tonight. Life continues on. July is half over almost and yet it feels like it’s just begun. School is only 5 weeks away!

Recommendations for this week:

Instagram: Andr3wsky – just a guy who is hilarious and is apparently a lawyer.

Podcast: Nurture vs Nurture with Dr. Wendy Mogel – great for parents, or people in general

As always I have not been compensated in anyway for my recommendations. I just like what I like!

Summer, Summer, Summertime

Hello! Yes, as it turns out I am still alive and still working on getting healthier and fit. I have been absent for a few months but have been actually making some good strides in the health department. Life has been crazy busy with the kids and the family and my parents almost dying in a car accident and all sorts of other fun stuff, but through it all I have lost 20 lbs and more than that I feel so much better about the foods I’m eating. So without further rambling, here’s my update.

So about two months ago my wife and I got to the point where we knew we had to change things. I had been trying-ish since the first of the year to lose weight yet I had actually gained some. Back when I was writing here regularly I was doing ok. A pound here, a pound there, I was doing ok. Then life got busy with the basement remodel and stopping for Arby’s every time I went to Home Depot, which was daily, and by the end of April I was the heaviest I have ever been at 263 lbs. More so than the weight though was my eating habits. I ate terribly. I ate fast food all the time. I snacked on processed, manufactured, food items that while technically being edible, were far from nutritious. I felt horrible all the time, constantly swinging from being constipated to feeling like Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber… you know what I’m talking about.

So we made a change. We decided to switch to all natural, organic when possible foods. We cut out all processed food. We switched from the over processed white bread to organic whole grain bread, and actually my wife dropped bread altogether and discovered that she is gluten intolerant. She has dropped all gluten and feels amazing and the few times she’s had gluten she certainly notices it.

We now look at labels and if something has chemicals we can’t pronounce or flavors or colors added, we don’t eat it. We eat fruits and veggies and organic meat and eggs. We grow our own lettuce now and eat way to many salads. We only use vinaigrette dressings for the most part and again try to go organic when we can. We eat a lot of grilled chicken and pork chops and hamburgers without a bun (burger bowls with lettuce, cheese, pickles and A1) I eat 2-3 eggs most mornings for breakfast, and some turkey sausage. Other days I just eat a Luna Bar and have a coffee with almond milk creamer and Swerve artificial sweetener. Lunches vary from salads to brats on the grill, or sautéd shrimp, or a fruit smoothie. We try to eat normal dinners just with better ingredients. Organic spaghetti sauce and gluten free noodles, or whole grain noodles if my wife isn’t home. Again, grilled chicken with fresh steamed veggies or even sautéd veggies in Olive Oil. Snacks are almost exclusively fruits. Berries especially. We eat a ton of blackberries and raspberries. We grow our own strawberries now too so every month of so we get a pretty big harvest of fresh organic strawberries. We started blueberries as well but the deer devoured all of them so we have to come up with a better option there.

The great thing about all of this is that it’s not super structured. I had Wendy’s the other day because I was out and about with the kids and, well, Wendy’s sounded good. Was it the healthiest thing to eat? No it was not. Did eating that classic double with cheese do anything other than increase my calorie count for the day? No it did not. I still came home and ate better food for dinner. I woke up the next day still trying to put the best possible food in my body. That is still my goal everyday. However, some times I just want a snack. I want something that isn’t the best for me. Every once in a while that’s ok. My issue before was that I ate like that all the time. I didn’t try to put the best possible foods in my body all the time. I ate what was easy and convenient and most of that food was not great for my body.

We’re trying to teach our kids that there are no “bad” foods. Every food serves a purpose. If your blood sugar is low and you need some fast energy then a candy bar is a great option.( an apple or other fruit is even better, but in a pinch a candy bar will work) It will give you that spike in energy and sugar and you’ll be good to go. However, a candy bar is not good for dinner. It is not a good life sustaining food option. For that you should eat a lean protein and some veggies, or maybe a not so lean protein (I’m looking at you steaks) and a baked potato, just go easy on the butter, sour cream, bacon, salt, etc. Doesn’t mean you can’t have any sour cream, but maybe one tablespoon not 4. Better yet, eat a salad first and maybe you only eat half your baked potato or (heaven forbid) half of your steak.

Which brings us to the next thing we’ve really worked on the past 2 months… portions. I hate portions. I want to eat all of the steak, plus your steak and then more steak. The restaurant offers a 36oz. porterhouse? Sign me up!!! However. that is not putting the best food in my body. Our bodies aren’t designed to digest 4000 ounces of beef, no matter how much we want to eat it. I have been really working on buying the 12oz. steak and cutting it in half for my wife and I to share. 6oz. should be enough steak. I don’t often feel it is, but it should be. So I eat my 6oz. steak, my corn on the cob with just salt and pepper on it and my salad with cranberries, sunflower kernels, almond slices and raspberry vinaigrette. The amazing thing is, I’m full after that. I’m not so full I cant move, but I am full and satisfied and I ate normal food, and it was all natural, organic, healthy food. No chemicals, no preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup or processed sugars. Just actual food.

In two months of this I’ve lost 20 pounds. I feel like that isn’t much since I still have 40-60 to go, but then I think of how much a 5lb bag of flour weighs and I realize I’ve shed four of those in two months. I notice my shorts falling off and my shirts being baggy. My third chin is almost gone… progress is being made.

My initial goal of getting to 200 lbs or less by my 40th birthday is sadly not going to happen, but I’m ok with that since I’m trending in the right direction and I am getting healthier, not just skinnier. Skinny is good, healthy is better and I feel like I’m doing what I need to do to be healthier going into my 40’s than I ever was in my 30’s.

I’m really going to work on writing more and keeping up with things. July is usually our busiest month of the year and this year is no different. We have family coming to visit 2 of the 4 weeks. We have our carpet getting replaced on our main floor (office and living room) my wife has a 3 day backpacking trip with our oldest, I have a 3 day scout campout with our middle two, our daughters birthday is the 25th, our dog has a surgery consult on the 29th, my birthday is the 30th and next thing you know it’s August. Not to mention still waiting for my mom to get out of the hospital (5 weeks since their accident now) and then getting her and my dad back home and settled and figuring out what all they need. At some point I’ll put together a schedule of all the extra curricular things the kids are doing too and you might understand why it’s been 3 months since I’ve written anything! However, I will try my best to keep up with this better, thank for staying with me through the lulls!

Podcast Recommendation: The Lazy Genius Podcast The book is not bad either!

Instagram: @family.of.nomads a family of 5 that lives out a fifth wheel RV and travels around. Tis the season for camping so this is a good follow.

You can also follow me on Instagram @jaoran03

Lastly, I have not been compensated in any way for my podcast or instagram suggestions.

Diving Back In

Good morning everyone and Happy Easter! I have been away for way too long but am excited to be back!
Excited to dive back into a healthy lifestyle and keep working toward my goal of 70lbs lost by my birthday on July 30th. This goal is getting harder by the day since I’m still currently only down about 5lbs since the first of the year, but much of that is due to my lack of commitment my program.

When I was eating correctly and exercising the way I should… I lost weight, shocking I know! My issue continues to be commitment. Sticking to what I plan and oh you know, actually doing it. My eating really hasn’t been that bad since my last post. Yes, I’ve consumed more calories than I probably should have, but the big issue for me has been activity. Early in February we decided to finish our basement. We’re adding a bathroom, bedroom, game room and living room. We also decided that I would do as much as possible myself since my job is still very slow (travel agent if you didn’t know) and this would keep me occupied and motivated. It has done exactly that. I’m very happy and healthy when I have a project, but what I don’t do is excess exercise. I thought for sure that building walls and running pipes and electrical wires would make up for not dedicating time to actual exercise… I was very wrong.

So the past month and a half has been building and not exercising. It has been quick stops at Arby’s because it’s on the way home from Home Depot, and drinking pop (soda) and coffee more than I should. It has been busy but not intense and thus the lack of impact on my waistline. My wife and I have still been walking about 2 miles everyday on her lunch break and then walking 4+ miles on one weekend day, and that’s great, and I think it has probably kept the weight from coming back on over the past month, but it is not enough to move the needle down.

Now with the weather in Michigan getting better by the day the time has come to start exercising outdoors. I’m going to try once again to start running. My biggest issue with running is my knee. My right knee has now endured 4 surgeries and is on it’s 3rd ACL. Functionality wise it is fine. I can run and jump and all the things. The problem comes from a lack of cushion. Two of those surgeries were to remove scar tissue and shredded meniscus. The meniscus adds a lot of padding to the knee joint and keeps the leg bones from grinding on each other. I no longer have a lot of that cushion so excessive use, especially impacts from running, can cause my knee to swell up and get pretty sore. My hope if that as I lose weight, the effect of the impact will be less because there will be less weight behind each impact. We are just gonna have to wait and see but I will keep you all posted.

My second motivation for running again is that both of my older sons are running. My 13 year old has to run a mile everyday for Boy Scouts, and my very soon to be 10 year old (April 6 is his birthday) is a natural runner and wants to do cross country in the fall and so he’s starting to run this spring/summer to get ready. I think I will enjoy running with them, especially due to the forced slower pace, and it’s something we can all do together.

Golf is starting to ramp up again and while I don’t have the time to play as much as I’d like, when I do play I’ll try to walk as much as possible which adds to the fitness plan. Warm weather also means yard work. Sometime in the next month we’ll have to mulch all of our flower beds so that’s a few days of work, then there’s planting and power washing and so on and so forth. I have always had a much easier time being active in he warm weather (part of why a move to Florida doesn’t seem horrible to me) so the next few months should be conducive to rapid weight loss, if only I keep up with it!

I’m going to really try to get back into writing on here a few times a week again. The busy-ness of working on the basement makes it a bit tougher but I will hopefully be done with that by the end of May. I will also post some pics on here as I finish up too, pretty excited about the end result! I’m also starting to ramp up my Travel Agency again now that more and more people are vaccinated and things seem to be trending in the right direction in regards to Covid. If you want to travel, have questions about travel or just want a quick quote on a trip, let me know! I am a full service agency so I can do everything from hotels and flights to cruises and resorts and even theme parks or sporting events. Check me out at simpleescapestravel.com.

Podcast recommendation: Sticking with my people at the Popcast Media Group and recommending The Over/Under Achievers. If you like sports, or gambling or both, they are a fun listen.

Instagram follow: @influencersinthewild and @loswhit Very different accounts but both amazing in their own right!

As always you can follow me on Instagram @jaoran03 or on Twitter @jaoran

Also as always, I am not compensated in any way for my podcast or instagram recommendations, although I am always open to such arrangements lol!

Have a great day/week. Enjoy your Easter Sundays everyone!

Day 40 – Busy Life

Good Morning friends! I know, I know. It’s been a while since my last post. Life has been busy and weight loss took a back seat for a moment, but I am back (have been for a few days really) and kicking butt! My wife and I decided to do some home projects so my focus has been on doing that. Plus the end of January and last week were…um…not good on the weight loss front. I did not walk, I did not exercise, I DID eat a bunch of junk. I gained back all that I had lost and then some and was not feeling great about myself, other than looking at the progress around the house I was making. Projects tend to lead to stops at McDonald’s or Taco Bell, or Arby’s, or all three in consecutive days! That is not the way to lose weight, or even make it to forty alive, let alone be fit and healthy. However, this weekend I made a change, grabbed my bootstraps and picked myself up. This week has been….better?

Yeah let’s go with better! You can see my peak of despair on that graph, and now my start at redemption! What’s difference you ask? Tom Mother F’ing Brady! I have always been fan of his since he went to Michigan (Go Blue!) but man watching him this weekend really made me appreciate what he’s done physically. I decided on Saturday to check out his TB12 Method. A health and wellness method for staying healthy, both weight wise and injury wise. It focuses on pliability and healthy eating and recovery and so I am giving it a try!

There’s an app for TB12 that I downloaded that creates custom at-home exercises for you. It’s all body weight, bands, and jump rope based which works for me since I have all of those things. They are only about 30 minutes long but also focus on your pliability, elongating your muscles to help them be more…pliable. This reduces soreness and helps prevent injury. I have done 2 of the workouts so far, with the 3rd due today and I have to say that I really like them. They are basically High Intensity Interval Training. 20 seconds of exercise, 20 seconds of rest, 3 times through 8 different exercises. The exercises don’t seem hard at first but by the third time through they are rough! Also, how freakin hard is a plank!?!?!?!? I’m convinced the longest 20 seconds ever experienced is when you’re doing a plank.

So beside the exercise aspect of TB12, they focus a lot on healthy eating. Very little sugar, very little processed stuff, very little dairy. Big time emphasis on organic and locally sourced food. The point being you get better nutrition from fresh organic veggies and fruit, and even meat, then you do with anything processed, or frozen.

As with all “plans” or other ideas that people have, I don’t necessarily buy in to all of the stuff in the TB12 method, but much of it makes sense and is helping me to get moving in the right direction. I think the exercises are great, I think the food recommendations are also great. Does that mean that I will abide by them 100%? No. Everyone has to do what works for them. I think focusing on hydration, exercise, and recovery are good things to focus on. I’ve been working hard to eat better. I cut out coffee completely. With that goes most of my caffeine intake, a huge amount of my sugar intake, and helps to keep me more hydrated since coffee is a diuretic.

I’ve adjusted by drinking more water and in my morning jug (40oz) I put some MIO Energy into it. (it has a little caffeine and some B vitamins to help me get my morning boost that coffee once provided) Every morning I eat 3 scrambled eggs, cooked in coconut oil, and 3 strips of bacon. Lunch I am trying to eat more fruits and veggies, but not really worrying about my portions because I need to eat enough to keep from getting hungry before dinner. Dinner is where I eat whatever the family is having but try to limit my portion sizes. My goal is about 1700 calories a day. Breakfast is 350 calories. Lunch is usually around 500, which leaves 850 for dinner or any snacks I want to have during the day. I’m limiting my snacks to fruits or veggies, or tortilla chips with salsa or humus. I would say dinner usually ends up being about 600 calories with snacks taking up the other 250. Oh and I also no longer snack after dinner. We usually eat around 6:30 and after that I am done for the night. (or at least I’m trying to be done for the night)

So yeah, I still eat dairy, if it’s included in lunch or dinner. Last night we had tacos and I had sour cream and cheese on my tacos, but I only ate 2 tacos. Before I would have had 3-4 at least. I still eat carbs and I still eat gluten, but with my new plan I eat much less of both of those. Much more in line with where I should be eating.

The snacking is really where I have made the most gains and also where I struggle the most. I want to eat a bowl of cereal or ramen before bed. I want to have some chips while I work, or have some candy while watching a show. Those things are still very hard for me. However, my busy-ness helps with that. I’ve been very busy working on the house so I don’t have time to sit and snack. I’m exhausted by 9:00 every night so it’s easy for me to just go to bed and not grab some food. If I have grabbed a snack I’ve tried to make it healthy like I said, a banana, or some black berries.

All in all I’ve been fairly pleased with my progress. I assumed a relapse would happen and it did. Happy that I got back up on the horse though and kept going. I know there’ll likely be more hills in my weight-loss rollercoaster, but I’m ok with that so long as I keep going. Breaking my sugar addiction is really the next big goal and woo boy is it turning out to be a toughy. .

Podcast of the week: The Over/Under Achievers Podcast. Brought to you by the Popcast Media Group who also creates the Popcast, and the Bible Binge. Hosts Knox Mccoy and Jason Waterfalls talk about sports and sports gambling even though they are both very amateur gamblers. It’s very entertaining for sports fans.

Instagram of the week: @TB12sports for obvious reasons. Also, @designmom for any other DIY people out there.

As always (since no one has offered) I am not compensated in any way to recommend a podcast or Instagram account. I do so of my own free will and get nothing back in return. Maybe someday that will change but I’m not optimistic!

Day 27

Happy Tuesday everyone! It’s snowing here in Michigan today yet the children are at school. There was massive disappointment in our house at 6:30am when it was confirmed that school was in fact happening, and much grumbling as we trudged through the snow to the bus stop. I’m okay with it.

I survived the weekend without any major slip ups, but also without any massive progress. We went for a long walk on my parents frozen lake, which the kids very much enjoyed, especially when it started snowing. Otherwise there was not much going on. Our oldest went on a 7.5 mile hike with boy scouts but I’m not in 7.5 mile hike shape yet so I declined to join him. My wife and I did talk at length about getting out and hiking more so we can do some longer hikes this spring/summer… updates to come later.

I joined most of the known universe in watching football all afternoon Sunday. I did however refrain from massive amounts of snacking whilst doing so. I refrained from purchasing a Tampa Bay Bucs hat on fanatics afterward because if I’m being honest I remain a Tom Brady fan and not really a Tampa Bay fan, although my friend did suggest that they become my NFL team if/when we move to Florida, and he might be right about that. Mostly because every time I think of the Jacksonville Jaguars I think of Jason Mendoza from “The Good Place” and imagine what a trash fanbase that must be, and when I think of the Miami Dolphins I only think of “Ace Ventura Pet Detective” and honestly just can’t get past that.

I am very much looking forward to the Super Bowl in 2 weeks though. I think it will actually be a great game and I honestly don’t care who wins because as I said I love TB, but I also am a big fan of Kansas City. The real winner in all of this though is the fact that for the millionth year in a row, someone from the University of Michigan will win the Super Bowl. If only they could have played this well when they were at the university!

Meanwhile, we are starting to get the house ready to possibly sell. We still have no idea if we are actually going t o have to move to Florida, but we have to keep moving ahead anticipating that we will. So we’re setting up appointments to replace the carpet in our living room and office. (turns out 4 kids, a dog, and a very lax no-shoes in the house policy will destroy carpet in only 4 years) We’re also talking with a painter to paint our entire first floor. (again, four kids are not easy on walls) Beyond that we are slowly starting to go through closets, cabinets, bins, and drawers and cleaning things out. Six people accumulate a lot of stuff over 4 years and most of it is broken, due once again to the children. The current weather situation helps to motivate us though since we don’t want to have to be inside doing this when it’s actually nice outside, which today it is not.

I’m starting to increase my exercise goals now that I’ve got a few weeks under my belt. Today my exercise will be shoveling the driveway, possibly a few times, rather than firing up the snow blower. We will see if that is sufficient to fulfill my exercise ring or if I’ll have to bike tonight as well. My hope is to actually sweat today, so we’ll see. Dinner tonight is tacos because it’s Tuesday. Lunch will be Meatball Minestrone Soup that my lovely wife made on Sunday. Meatballs, tomatoes, beans… something else I’m sure but can’t think of right now, and no noodles. The removal of the noodles makes it much healthier so we took those out a long time ago. Tomorrow dinner is beef stew so lunch might be something other than meatball minestrone, but I’m not sure what yet.

I haven’t really been on Instagram or been listening to new podcasts this weekend so no recommendations today. Friday I’m sure I’ll have some for y’all. Have a great week, stay warm and stay healthy!

Day 21

Good afternoon everyone! It’s been a few extra days since my last post, I’ve been a little preoccupied this week, but I’m back today and staying the course. Feeling hopeful and encouraged this morning, mostly due to the state of the world and not my actual progress, but feeling good none-the-less. Weigh-in is tomorrow morning so I don’t have a weight update for you today, I was maintaining my 2-3 pound progress as of Tuesday morning so I’m assuming I’m still right around there. Today though I am really focusing on drinking water and only eating for meals, and in reality I’ve only eaten lunch today. 2 ham and cheese wraps at about noon and otherwise I’ve had my daily cup of coffee and almost 100 oz. of water

This week has been up and down eating wise. Yesterday I splurged a bit and had some snacks while I watched the inauguration. Tuesday was a good day, Monday was…not. It’s also been up and down as far as exercise go. Monday we did a 2.5 mile hike with our friends in the snow. It was a lot of fun since there was fresh snow coating everything, although that made it a bit more treacherous going up and down hills. Yesterday and Tuesday I did my 45 minutes on my bike. Today Allison and I did a 2 mile walk on her lunch break and otherwise this is my only time sitting down today so all in all not bad. I might do another 45 minutes on the bike tonight after the kids go to bed but we’ll see how I’m feeling.

Like I said I’m feeling much more optimistic in general today. I stood and watched President Biden’s Inauguration pretty much all day yesterday, and watched the celebration last night. I too felt bad for Tom Hanks and wished someone would get him a coat every time he spoke last night, and I have been absolutely loving the Bernie memes all over twitter and instagram. What an amazing time we live in lol!

I also was blown away by the amazing Amanda Gorman who recited her poem at the inauguration, like so many were. This outstanding 22 year old woman speaking incredible truth to not only our leaders but to the millions of people who were watching. Her ability to weave her words together in such an exquisite way was awe inspiring and the fact that she did so on such an enormous stage, in such an inspiring way… it was truly majestic.

I love the gravitas of this younger generation that is growing up right before our eyes. Their ability to speak truth and to do so when so many “grownups” have failed to do so is incredible. I know that Ms. Gorman is 22 and technically an adult, but you get what I mean. I see her do what she did yesterday, and I see Greta Thunburg standing up for climate change when so many people in positions of power cower from the big issues of our world. People who are so afraid of losing their position of power that they fail to do anything of meaning. All the while these young women are standing for what they believe in and they’re letting their actions do the talking. It was reported that Amanda Gorman wants to run for president when she is able to in 2036. Let me tell you right now, if she keeps doing what she did yesterday, if she stands up for what’s right not just what’s convenient, she will have my vote without a doubt!

I’m hopeful today for change, for real progress for our country. Do I think Joe Biden is going to be the best president ever? Nope. I do however believe him when he says that he will work hard for everyone in our country, not just for those who voted for him, or who are rich, or who are white. Will he make mistakes? Yes. Will he own up to them, I think so. Will he actually work with republicans to move our country forward? I believe he will. Will he be able to fix everything? Nope, no single person can, even if they are the President, but today I have more hope than I’ve had for the past four years that our country will once again be moving in a positive direction.

Instagram recommendation today is @passengershaming. I mean what are people thinking!!!

Podcast recommendation today is “The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe” The former host of Dirty Jobs also wrote a book of the same title. Both are very good. *Footnote – my friend Nick who I used to work with always compared my demeanor at work to Mike Rowe’s demeanor on Dirty Jobs… I took that as a compliment.

Again, none of these people/accounts paid me or compensated me in any way to endorse their accounts/podcasts, although I am still open to such opportunities.

Day 15

Two weeks down, 28 to go.

I looked at my calendar and it turns out to be happy coincidence that my birthday also falls on a Friday so it will be exactly 30 weeks for my journey from start to finish. It’s not really a coincidence, though, my birthday is always on the same day of the week as New Years Day. The fun part really is that I never knew that.

This week was very different than last week. Much more even as far as emotions and discouragement and depression go. No major world events to throw me into a downward spiral, no two fisting Little Debbies and fruit snacks to get through the days. With that consistency came a slight recovery in my progress. Wednesday I posted that all of my previous gains had disappeared, which was true, but now two days later I’ve sort of righted the ship.

The graph clearly shows when things went south, and again when I got my act together. Turns out weight-loss, like life, is a rollercoaster. I was optimistic this morning that I would continue my decline from the peak, but alas I went up about a pound, for which I blame the damn stroopwafels. I also blame the fact that in the past week I’ve hit my exercise goal a whopping 3 times. Not ideal for someone trying to lose weight and get in shape. Guess I’m gonna have to play some Madden today to make up for it.

I think I’ve shared before that my kids don’t go to school on Fridays so they basically become another weekend day. Plus this week they have Monday off for MLKJ Day so this is now a four day weekend. How will I adjust and somehow get through it… I do not know.

Monday we are going on a hike with friends so I may actually hit my exercise goal that day. Really looking forward to that since we haven’t seen them in over two months and we used to see them at least once a week at church. Our kids miss their kids and we miss our friends. Monday will be awesome.

Tomorrow is a cooking day for my amazing bride. She will literally spend all day cooking meals that we will then freeze and use over the next few months. Having four kids makes your evenings pretty chaotic so having a meal that we can just thaw the day before and throw into the crockpot or oven makes life manageable. Anything that can be cooked in advance is cooked, mixed, bagged and frozen. Yesterday I went to Costco, Kroger, and Meijer in order to get everything she will need. I posted a picture of the mountain of groceries on Instagram if you’d like to see it. I apparently also implied that my wife’s amazing cooking is the reason for my being overweight, which while true, she makes amazing food that I cannot stop eating, as always I alone am at fault for my current mass.

On that note I have been Instagramming more. Discovered stories and how to actually post things so you know, I might keep that going. You can follow me here @jaoran03

The business side of life is still painfully slow. The joy of being a travel agent in the middle of a pandemic, especially when the CDC makes it even harder to travel than it already was. Don’t take that wrong, I completely support the CDC and doing anything and everything necessary to stop this madness, but yeah it’s certainly put a halt to my business plans. On the one hand I want people to travel so I can help them and make some money. On the other hand I think it’s somewhat irresponsible to travel during a pandemic. I see both sides. (I’ve traveled minimally and think that so long as you follow regulations then you can really do whatever you want)

I’m also incredibly grateful that my wife is a rock star and makes enough money that I don’t have to freak out about not making money. Especially during this crazy time I can focus much more on the kids and our house and keeping things moving, rather than whether or not I’ve gotten any new clients and the ethics behind encouraging people to go on a vacation just so I can make some money. I still do some bookings and have done bit of advertising, but I’ve put most of that on the back burner until things start to move in a better direction, hopefully under the new administration.

So yeah, I still exercise too little and eat too much but I think both of those are moving in the right direction even though it’s painfully slow. This weekend will be an interesting test since Saturday there’s going to be tons of yummy food all around me and football on the TV. Sunday might be a bit better but maybe not, Monday will be glorious with the hike!

As I shared on Wednesday, if you’re looking for a great centered voice on all the political happenings I encourage you to go follow @sharonsaysso on Instagram. Just click the link.

A fun follow that will make you laugh out loud while waiting in line at the grocery store is @zillowgonewild. People do crazy, messed up things to their houses and then have to sell them.

Podcast recommendation for all of my church/ former church people. The Bible Binge However, only listen if you can have a sense of humor regarding church and Jesus and the Bible. It’s funny yet insightful and a good way to learn more about the Bible and it’s awesome stories while not being too self righteous.

Today I leave you with a random Paul Rudd .gif because it makes me laugh, it applies to me, and I love Paul Rudd…

Day 13

Day 13… seriously, that’s it. It’s only been 13 days since the new year began and yet it feels like forever ago. 13 days ago I started this journey. 11 days ago I was ecstatic at the loss of 8 lbs in only a few days. Yeah those gains are gone. I’m right back where I started 13 days ago and while all blame certainly falls on me, I blame the world in general.

Things were going well a week ago. I had just rode my exercise bike for an hour for the second consecutive day and was doing a pretty good job with my food consumption. Then I turned the TV on and I’ve been a disaster since. I want to eat all of the junk and sit and do nothing all day long. I’ve had no desire to write and even when I did last weekend I decided it would be better to not post my few thousand word vent session on a weight-loss/healthy living blog.

Last night Allison and I had a little date night. The podcast I recommended last week, “The Popcast with Knox and Jamie” has a special AUA (ask us anything) for their Patreon supporters once a month and it was last night. This is usually our one night a month that we spend without kids (starts at 9:30pm so the kids are asleep) and just laugh and enjoy the talking heads on the TV. I was going to try and not eat a bunch of junk during it but ended up eating more than my share of a 40 count bag of pizza rolls. They were amazing! I enjoyed every one of them.

Of course that euphoria was quickly overcome by regret. I don’t even know how many calories that “little” snack was but I do know that I will have to ride that dang bike for more than an hour to make up for it. I guess the good part of this situation is that I am aware of my failings. I am now much more sensitive to my caloric intake because dang it if I’m gonna lose 75 freakin pounds in what is quickly becoming only 6 months I have to GET MY ISH TOGETHER!!!!

Back on the wagon I go. Back on the eating healthy and daily walks and riding that stupid bike that goes no where. I am undeterred. I am un-shakable in my determination. I will do better today, and then better tomorrow. I will not eat all of the cinnamon swirl bread we have in the house. I will not steal any of the kids snacks in order to supplant my emotions. I will keep saying these things until they are in fact true!

I’m not alone in this. I know there are probably millions of people who have had rough weeks. I also know that my weight-loss failures this week are tiny and completely insignificant to the problems of the world. I know that in my privileged little world I completely ignore the fact that I have so much food that I have to force myself to not eat it, when there are literally thousands, if not millions of people starving in this country. I get that my struggle is a struggle of fortune. I have so much and am so blessed and boo hoo I have to force myself to not over-eat, cry me a river! I do not for a second over look the fact that there are thousands of people dying everyday from a virus that way to many people argued didn’t even exist. There are thousands more who are struggling to pay the bills because of lockdowns and restrictions and yet here I am bemoaning the fact that I have no self discipline!

All of that is part of the dredge of life that has been beating me down. That’s what makes me not to want to even post an update because in a world where our very democracy is under attack, who the f*ck even cares about gaining or losing a few pounds! So I sit here and type and wonder what the heck I’m even doing and yet also realize that this is life. I stand and watch as our President is being impeached for the second time (since no one seemed to care that he was worthy of such honor the first time) and I wonder if this is what it was like when Nixon resigned? Is this what it was like during Vietnam, when millions protested a war half way around the world?

I think about those events and realize that really my generation has never had anything quite like this. Something so divisive. When 9/11 happened we were united in our rage and anger and although we felt threatened, and although thousands lost loved ones, the enemy was again half way around the world. We were removed from it to an extent. This is very very different. I know people who were in Washington D.C. last week. I know others who probably would have been there if they could have been. When the FBI stopped a plan to kill our governor, they came to my town and arrested people. This is not a foreign threat that only our brave servicemen and women have to face, but one that quite literally could live next door, and that is a thought that is deeply troubling.

In the context of all of that, losing weight and getting healthy seems small. It seems so insignificant. Yet here I am. Trying to get myself together and staying focused on a desired goal. I will not allow all of this to be an excuse for quitting, or for being lazy. I decided on January 1 that I will be fit when I turn 40 and through it all you better be rest assured that I will do it! I fell this week. Now it’s time to get up and dust my self off and get going again.

I hope that you are encouraged by this post. You are not alone in the pit of despair. I am right there with you. However, we can choose to stay here or we can start climbing out. I for one am not going to let the world beat me down, I can’t. I have to do better, I have to be better. I have to wake up every morning and do something that fights against the darkness of this world. I have to do something that causes me to grow and learn because I certainly am not perfect. I have to be patient, both with myself and with others. I have to just keep moving forward. One step at a time.

Thanks again for the likes, follows, shares, etc. Please, please, please leave comments, share your thoughts, share your tips, share your experiences. Encourage one another (and me) and let’s help each other through this craziness!

If you are overwhelmed by all of the political stuff that’s happening and don’t understand a lot of it, I encourage you to follow @sharonsayso on Instagram. She is amazing, and a voice from the center, not right or left.

If you just want to escape it all, I recommend my new 2nd favorite podcast (Popcast with Knox and Jamie is #1 by far!) Smartless. Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes interview other celebs and it is hilarious. (warning, adult language)

Lastly, you can always follow me on the socials. Links are below. I appreciate all follows, likes, shares, etc, as I’ve said. Biggest thing you can do for me is to share my posts. I have not monetized this blog so I’m not asking you to share so I make more money. I just like writing and would love to have a larger audience. So if you like what I have to say tell someone about it. (kind of like I do with podcasts, instagram accounts, etc.)

Ok really lastly… a reminder that none of the podcasts or Instagram accounts paid me to recommend them. I would not be against such arrangements but none have been made at this time. lol

Be safe. Be healthy. Talk to ya’ll soon!

Not Today

I really wanted to post an update today but it turns out I’m still a bit fired about about the weeks events. I’ve typed a few thousand words about it all and have come to the conclusion that deleting those words and posting this is probably better. I want this to be a place where people can come and get encouraged and laugh. I don’t want this to descend into the madness of politics and welcome even a tiny bit of that craziness into this place.

I plan on posting again in a day or two. Hang in there everyone!

Stress Eating for All!

Well, it’s been a week. After my insane start which I knew was a total fluke, I ended up being down 2.4 lbs for the week. Overall I am happy with that, especially after the events of this week.

My initial goal of 75 pounds by my birthday, July 30th, means I need to lose about 10.1 pounds a month which breaks down to 2.5 pounds a week on average. According to that math I am on target so far. I’m not thrilled that I started with a big drop and struggled the rest of the week, but seriously, if there was ever a week that justified a little stress eating, I feel like this was it.

Through my post Wednesday life was pretty normal this week. I had stayed up until after midnight on Tuesday watching the Georgia election coverage, which lead to some late night snacking that wasn’t great, but I think I mentioned it was Special K cereal instead of Fruit Loops so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Then Wednesday happened.

Turns out I am a stress eater when I’m watching an attempted coup of our government happen in real time. Ruffles have ridges…they also have a calming effect on my soul. I think I’m ok justifying some stress eating when the world has gone batshit crazy. It hopefully won’t be an excuse I get to or need to use ever again. Sadly we still have twelve more days where that possibility exists.

Yesterday… was not much better in the stress department. It was much better in the food department. Also, I rode my bike for an hour while playing Madden and escaping this world for a while. Part of me wants to justify gaining back a few pounds as “it’s new muscle I built from biking this week, and muscle weighs more than fat, so maybe I lost fat but gained muscle and therefore have a net weight gain but it was “good weight”.” Not sure thats a correct way of thinking lol.

Overall though I’m pretty happy so far. Small steps and small changes have been fairly easy. No major instances of buying a box of Fruit by the Foot and eating them all in 5 minutes, no sneaking candy or eating 12 tacos when 2 would suffice. Was I prefect this week? Nope, not even close, but I did ok and that’s good enough for my first week. If I expect perfection and massive weight loss I will just be disappointed and then quit. I’m trying to be positive and see the tiny victories in the midst of what are way too many failures but at least there’s less than usual.

I might be in the minority but weekends are actually easier for me than the weekdays. I’m typically more active and busy and thus have less time to think about being hungry. Also I sleep in later so the hours of the day where I’m thinking about eating are fewer than during the week. Today for example (kids are off of school on Fridays so they count as the weekend) I had some steel cut oats for breakfast, will have a salad for lunch (my salad that I had the other day) and tonight is Sausage Skillet.(smoked sausage with sautéed red, orange, and green peppers, onions and potatoes.) Since I’ve snacked way too much this week I am going to try to not snack at all today. (Stroopwafels are gone which helps too!)

Again I appreciate all the likes, comment’s, follows, etc. I am planning on posting again on Sunday afternoon so keep an eye out for that. Otherwise, hang in there, the world is kinda nuts right now but hopefully things will start to normalize soon. (like after Jan.20th) In the meantime, if you want to laugh at something I highly recommend “The Popcast with Knox and Jamie” It’s a podcast that Allison got me hooked on over a year ago and let me just say, these are my people! Their 2021 prediction episode is both funny and way to accurate. The link is below and no they aren’t paying me to promote their podcast, although I’d be open to it lol.