Saturday, October 12, 2013

Making habits stick

Much of the weight I have lost in 2013 happened in the year's first three months. So now that we're in October, that means I've succeeded in keeping it off for about six months. Which means good habits have stuck with me!

Many people have asked, "What's your secret?" or "How have you done it?" And there hasn't been any special tricks, pills or anything like that to help me lose 35 pounds. Just a change in habits. For example:

-- Instead of always having ice cream in the freezer and eating a bowl just about every night, I try to have it around just occasionally, and eat it for special treats instead of a nightly snack.
-- Exercise. Instead of going at it hard for a couple weeks and then giving up, I've been able to make it to the gym 3-4 times a week pretty consistently. And when a week goes by where I only worked out once, or maybe not at all, I brush it off and convince myself to get back on track.
-- Beverages. Very little pop, and LOTS of water. It's that simple. I've been trying to drink 60-100 ounces of water each day, and I enjoy a pop once or twice a month.
-- Smaller portions. This was probably the hardest change, but I've convinced myself that I was eating too much.  Two burgers for dinner was excessive, for example. I've just learned to stop.
-- Making healthy eating fun. This has been the most enjoyable part of it, finding fun ways to eat good food. Like homemade smoothies instead of ice cream. Enjoying a variety of fruits and veggies, such as asparagus tonight for dinner and taking advantage of apples while they are in season.

So what I've learned is that long-term good health isn't about any one certain thing. It's pulling together a number of changes. And for close to a year now, I've bought into it.

Good health to you!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Birthday lessons: Keep the glasses out of the pool

I celebrated Birthday No. 46 last week, in a very low-key manner. What did I learn? Let's take a look at that.

-- Morning workouts at the Y are good. Rolled out of bed and went straight there, where I saw a friend and let him give me a little strength training coaching. During our conversation, he wished me a happy birthday and asked how I was celebrating. "Just hanging around. Nothing special." His response is lesson No. 2.

-- He said, "I tell (my wife) on my birthday, "Just let me do something I want to do." It's good to make the extra effort to help others and do things for them, and it can bring you a lot of joy, too. But sometimes, you need to pick a day and make it your own.

-- And finally, do not swim with your glasses on. Seems simple enough, and you might be wondering why it
would take me 46 years to learn that one. Before heading over to some friends' house for a swim on the birthday evening, I took my contacts out and put glasses on. When I got to Maridene's house, I took off my shirt and left my glasses on. I don't know why. But I wasn't really swimming. Just standing in the 4 feet of water with Jodi and Jessica, and holding/playing with Paige and Parker. Seemed harmless enough. Until Paige started shooting me with a squirt gun, and I responded by pretending to go down with a direct shot to the skull. When I came back to the surface, Jodi looked at me and said, "Phil, are you missing a lense?" I said "No," and then tried to touch my left lense and watched as my finger poked myself in the eye. What the heck? I just gently fell backward into the water, nothing violent. So then we spent an hour gently walking across the bottom of the pool, hoping one of our six feet would bump into a lense that was impossible to see. No luck. We looked to see if it was floating, we looked to see if it was hiding around the ladder posts, we tried opening our eyes under water to see it, and we tried lining up side by side to better cover the area. Nothing worked. I called off the search and went home frustrated. Jodi called the next day to say she had found it, and all is well now. But you can bet the next time the Adamses invite us over for a swim, I'll leave my glasses in the house.

About my health: I recently hit the 30-pound mark for weight lost in 2013. That put me close to 180 pounds, and I'm excited to see a 7 as the second number in my weight. Exercise has been really good the last couple of weeks, and I really like the elliptical machine now. Last night I had the wife take pictures of me to compare myself to the beginning of this journey toward better health. Definitely can see some changes, so that's exciting.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Who are your FB friends?

She was a former co-worker who turned to the medical field and just happened to be in the operating room when I had surgery to have cancer removed from my body.

He owns and cares for my favorite piece of land that I am privileged to visit once a year.

And the only time I ever saw her in person was when she cut my hair once in college.

Taking a quick inventory of your Facebook friends can be entertaining. For most of us, the vast majority of those people can be lumped into any one of a few basic categories: Family, co-workers, high school or college friends, church friends or other groups where you connect regularly.

But for me, the fun comes in realizing how rarely you see, or have ever seen, some of your FB friends. I have a group of 10-12 women I became friends with through a website I had to manage as part of work responsibilities, and many of them I have never seen in person.

I'm friends with a husband and wife (and their grandson) who own and operate a resort I take my family to each June for a memory-making fishing vacation. It's in Minnesota, and that's the only time I see them each year.

And perhaps the most unusual: One day I saw a woman comment on a mutual friend's status, and thought the name sounded familiar. I sent her a message that went something like this: "This may be weird, but I think you cut my hair once in college. If you are who I think you are, you were high school classmates with my college roommate, and you came to our dorm room once and gave us hair cuts." I remembered correctly (a rarity, my wife will tell you), and now I enjoy seeing Sherry's postings about her life and her kids.

Facebook has a way of bringing to life the old "It's a small world" phrase. When I showed up at Reid Hospital for my surgery after being diagnosed with prostate cancer, I was pleasantly surprised to see the face of Dorothy, a former co-worker whom I hadn't seen in 10-15 years, dressed in scrubs and ready to be part of the team taking care of me.

Many of the friends in your newsfeed you see regularly -- some I sit right next to every day at work, and worship at church with every week, and I'm always thankful for Maridene and her family for the help they provided in raising our children and the good friends they continue to be.

What is the most unusual story you have about how a Facebook friend came to be?

About my health: I kicked this blog off with the intent of having it mostly focused on my new healthy ways. So where do I stand in late May? Weight is still down near my low point, and eating continues to be mostly good. Exercise? What's that? I've fallen off badly. But I did do a lot of yard work over the weekend, and ran a mile yesterday. I want to lose 6 pounds before leaving for vacation to reach a new goal, but that's just three weeks, so I don't know if I can do it.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

School nicknames, from Hot Dogs to Penguins (Oh, and about my running)

This is a little off the beaten path from my last two posts about being healthy. You know, there's more to me than just that!

Anyway, I've always been kind of intrigued by school nicknames, whether at the high school or college level. When I went to Frankfort High School a couple years ago, I took a picture of the Hot Dog paintings at Case Arena, primarily for my wife, who loves her dachshund. I love the unique nicknames. A former best friend once bragged that his school was the only school in the nation to use the Argylls. I believe that. And one of my all-time favorites, because I'm a dog lover and because of their clever play on their town's name: A small town in Wayne County named Boston, when it still had a high school, was the Boston Terriers.

So what's my point? Well, it's this poster of all college teams in the nation, from Division I to Division III, categorized by their nickname. I bet I spent 30 minutes pouring over this, and here are some of the things I learned:

-- There are 43 colleges that go by Tigers (and that doesn't count "colorful Tigers" such as the Lincoln Blue Tigers), including two schools both named the Trinity Tigers.
-- There are 60 Eagles, plus 15 more that go by Golden Eagles.
-- There are three schools the poster lists under "Birds," but that category has 20 sub-categories, including Penguins (Youngstown State, and Dominican) and Ducks (Oregon and Stevens Tech)
-- When a school has a one-of-a-kind nickname, the poster creator has grouped them by certain subjects. There is a "Colors" section. Under "Blue" is Illinois College Blueboys, John Carroll Blue Streaks and Millikan Big Blue.
-- There are four unique schools listed under "People," but a whole bunch of sub-categories branching out from that, including Professions, Warriors, Lakers and Quakers.
-- If you didn't know the separation between Division I and Division III and heard that the Cardinals and Wolverines were playing in Monday night's championship game, the matchup could have featured any of 16 Cardinals (including Ball State, of course) and 4 Wolverines.
-- Indiana University is among 8 schools that use their state nickname as their own, along with the Sooners, the Tar Heels, the Buckeyes and more.

What's your favorite school nickname?

Side note: I ran 3 miles outside again today, and I sort of feel like I'm having an affair on the Y, and the road is my mistress. When I'm ready to extend beyond 3 miles, I could pretty easily run right by the Y, and how awkward would that be, running past without stopping to even scan my pass? I felt like I ran a little faster than last time, but the clock said I was on the same pace. Today's strong winds probably played with my mind a bit.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Exercise Lightbulb

I've never considered myself to be absolutely full of smarts, but recently I had an "Aha moment" while running.

Throughout my 45 years, I've had small stretches where I've tried to run. First competitively, in junior high (I brought home a second-place ribbon in a "B" race once), and then on several different occasions as an adult, when I tried to add some exercise to my life.

But in each of those adult efforts, there were two major problems for me:
     1) I had a very specific goal in front of me, like a scheduled event, and when I achieved that goal, the running stopped. Immediately. Several years ago, I worked pretty hard as part of a team sprint triathlon; I was doing the running leg. Felt pretty good about myself, and I ran the 5K without stopping. But when that Saturday was over, I didn't run again for over a year.
     2) I  hate treadmills. When I started this weight-loss challenge with Jess several weeks ago, I decided to make running part of my routine. But I would get on the treadmill at the Y and would immediately start staring at the screen in front of me that tells me how far I've run. First I would watch the tenths of a mile tick off, and then I would start thinking, "OK, just three more hundredths of a mile and then I've run another tenth!" It was all I could do to run a mile before my mind just couldn't take the distance-watching anymore. Finally, about a month ago, I got to where I could go 1.5 miles. But it was painful to my mind.

And then Ivy, the office marathoner who runs 7-8 miles on her days of rest, convinced me one sunny day to run outside. "You couldn't pay me to be on a treadmill on a day like this," she said. As I got home, I didn't pull in the drive. Instead, I drove away from the house and watched my odometer, taking note of spots 1 mile from the house and 1.5 miles from the house. Then I drove back home, changed my clothes and hit the road, music in my ears. I ran all the way to the 1.5-mile spot without really thinking about it, then turned around and ran home. And on the way back, the lightbulb went on.

This was SOOO much easier than a treadmill, because I wasn't obsessing over those tenths of a mile, and because I couldn't just press the stop button and step off. I was a mile, 1.5 miles, from home. I had to get back, so I might as well keep running. Oh sure, I had my phone with me and could have called Dawn. 'Honey, will you come get me? I'm tired." But that would have been more embarrassing than only running a mile on the treadmill. And anyway, she was enjoying dinner with some friends, so I didn't want to bother her.

So I kept running, finished the full 3 miles without stopping and walked in the house totally satisfied and proud.

And I did it again tonight. Next step: Mark off 2- and 2.5-mile spots away from home, so I can work up to 4- and 5-mile runs.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Where my parents failed me

I love my mom, and loved dad, too, before cancer took him from us. They raised me right, gave me a good church foundation, taught me to love Minnesota fishing vacations, kept me mostly happy and well-behaved.

But in recent weeks, I've learned one area where they failed me. And that's the proper method for eating a grapefruit. I've always halved them and then cut up all those little triangular pieces of the fruit, just like my dad ate them so frequently for breakfast. It's easy enough, and I enjoy drinking the juice out of the peel bowls at the end.

I have, however, officially declared that to be the WRONG way to eat a grapefruit. My new method takes a little more time, and is a little messier, but the reward at the end makes it totally worth it. This video I found online demonstrates it as well as I could, so check it out.

(mobile and tablet users, if you can't see the video player, try this link: Eat a grapefruit this way!)

Basically, you're undressing the flesh of the fruit. Take off the peel and the white pithy stuff, like how most people peel an orange, and then peel back the thin layer of skin off each section to expose the best part. The woman in the video uses her fingernails to peel back the skin; I usually keep a sharp knife by my side to slit the skin for a starting point.

When you're done, you have a pile of grapefruit that's ready to explode its juices in your mouth, without the obstacle of the skin and without leaving part of the fruit in the peel.

I'll never cut a grapefruit in half again. Now, my first post in this new blog mentioned that you won't often get me too opinionated, so just don't consider this opinion. It's a fact that this method is better than the other.

Best part: When you learn a new and exciting way to eat something healthy, it makes keeping bad foods out of your diet that much easier.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ugly injuries, pets and dead mice

Couple of random thoughts on this Easter evening:

Hard to watch: The injury sustained by Louisville's Kevin Ware during Sunday's NCAA Tournament game, when his leg bent in a way that just shouldn't happen.

Easy to watch: Animals piling on top of each other.

In a span of just a few minutes, I experienced a little high and low while sitting here in the family room. I'm not a Louisville fan, other than I have them winning it all in my NCAA bracket. But seeing Ware's leg break on national TV while trying to make a pretty routine play was tough, and my mind quickly wandered to the emotions that his parents would be going through.

And then, I looked across the room to my sleeping wife. Curled up with her was the dachshund, with one of the cats stretched out across the dog. (photo at right)  Who says there isn't at least a little love between canines and felines? 

Allow me to take this moment to introduce the Beebe pets, for those who don't know them: The dachshund is Franki (you know, cause she's a weiner dog ... get it?). Her running mate is a black lab, Nellie. And the cats are brother and sister, Chris and Sprinkle (don't get me started on those cats' names!) The cats were shelter rescues, and Nellie is an Animal Rescue Fund dog!

My goals for the week:

Try to lose 1-2 pounds without focusing on the scale, just by getting some exercise and putting some good food in my body. 

Do a little cleaning in my garage. I think there's still a garbage bag out there with 10-12 dead mice caught over the winter.

My own rating on this blog entry is "Weak." Come back again for something more interesting than this another day.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Getting started

Occasionally I find myself, as a journalist with limited writing duties these days, craving some writing. And sometimes I take that out on my Facebook friends.

So I'm thinking about turning to a blog that won't have any real focus other than me and my life, and things that interest me at the moment. I'll post links on Facebook, and I'd love it if you'd read from time to time and give me some feedback.

What might I write about? Well, these days I'm pretty focused on being more healthy, so there's that. Sports, of course. My wife and kids and the things that make our life go around. Fishing and camping, at times. Facial hair, maybe, since I have some for the first time in my 45 years. Weather, perhaps. God and the importance of my Christian friends. Who knows what else.

I won't be real opinionated, because I generally don't like to be perceived as pushing my opinions off on others. You'll know my opinions, for the most part, by how I live. Hopefully I'll be at least a little bit humorous, because I like to make people laugh, or at least smile.

And what's the point of the title of this blog? Well, it's part of one of my favorite sayings: "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass ... it's learning to dance in the rain."

So ... who wants to dance with me?