Penny Library – Nov. 2019

Portrait of a Fighter

I parked up front and shouldered my laptop bag. It was cold, but not so cold I needed the coat I wore. As I reached the entrance, a vehicle pulled in and parked next to mine. I paused with my hand on the door handle and looked back to see who it might be. A Toyota pickup someone body-lifted three feet, twenty years ago, rolled to a stop and its owner stepped from the cab.

He wore a camouflage jacket, rugged work pants and boots. He wore his face clean-shaven and his hair short and flat. I knew him by reputation, Manual Salazar, or as they nicknamed him in the octagon Mani Scar.

I held the door open and stepped back to let him pass. He gave a short nod and crossed the foyer where he returned the favor and held the inside door for me. We both headed for the counter. I let my bag drop into a swivel seat and sat near the cash register with my back to the door. Mani removed his coat, revealing his signature tank top that bore an American flag and accentuated his bulky chest and arms. As he sat in the seat on the end, by the restrooms, I noted the tribal tattoos that began at his elbow and patterned nearly to his neck over his left shoulder. The pattern parted around an earlier tattoo that read “I bleed for my country,” and a large scar from a bullet wound.

I knew from seeing one of Mani’s MMA fights, that the shoulder facing the bathrooms bore another tattoo reading simply ‘Army Ranger.’ Outside the octagon, Mani had fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia.

I could stare at him no longer without being weird so I took in the next patron, already seated at a booth in what had once been the smoking section.

Penny Library – Oct. 2019

General Prologue

In the Pacific Northwest, April marks the sixth consecutive month of rain. In a few weeks though, spring might start and the anticipation of sun builds in the bones of man and beast alike.

This is the time of year when insomnia creeps into bedrooms around city and town, and prods its sleepless victims to seek out the company of strangers.

The drinkers seek out a bar and the hoppy brew that may soon lure them to sleep. The working poor and entrepreneur seek extra shifts at work. But a small, odd group of disenfranchised non-drinkers, already drunks, bleary-eyed students, urchins, and the occasional stray mundane find their way to an all-night diner.

So afflicted, I sought out the warm glow of a diner downtown in the center of Vancouver Town, and watched the motley cadre of regulars assemble.

Having sought such company of strangers before, I can tell you these were no stranger than usual. Still, to distract my spent brain, I began to record all I saw and heard. Ennui plagued many of us and conversation broke out to fill the void, soon shifting the group from strangers to acquaintances.

However, before I rudely leave the reader in the dark, let me briefly describe the diner and the group of people who’ve joined me. Together let us pass the night and if the sunrise tomorrow is visible through the clouds may we glimpse it together before driving home.

Journey Plan: Healthy Balance

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(Note: This season physical health journey will focus on balancing my endocrine system through diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. Other Journeys this season include True-Up/Sharp Ax and the Eve & AM Journey. )

Welcome…

I’m excited to start this journey. A little history: I’ve always been pudgy but I wasn’t really unhealthy until I got a high-stress job about ten years ago. About the time I needed to start focusing on my health because of age I let it go almost entirely. It’s been an uphill climb since.

The reality is, even if you don’t struggle with your weight, our western diet and lifestyle don’t lend to health. We fight a two-front battle with our own bad habits/lack of knowledge and our culture’s lack of nutrition and physical activity. In truth, I’m not the only reason I’m fat, but if I don’t take on responsibility then I’m not empowered to change it.

My Goal…

I’m not a fan of traditional goal setting. I don’t find it innately motivating the way some people do. That may come as a shock given that I’m in the self-improvement arena with this blog and the books that are coming. I just know that goals can take my focus off what I really want (abundant life) and make it about one thin aspect of that (dropping x lbs. in x amount of time).

I do find goals helpful as benchmarks to make sure I’m not doing something unhealthy and that I’m still on track.

I’ve lost 70lbs in that last 5 years, then hit a plateau. Last year I broke through and lost another 15 lbs, hurrah! Which I gained back over winter, boo! So my first goal this season is to drop 5lbs a month for June, July, & August.

I can tell you what has worked:

Thrive by Level helped a lot, but was pricey, so I’m searching a for good replacement for it (probiotic/prebiotic/metabolism boost). I focused heavily on the gut when I lost pounds last time and will again.

Sitting less. I was able to add more activity throughout the day, which I will again. I love to “ponder walk” now, and whenever I hit a roadblock at the laptop I get up and walk around the block. I come back with answers and better health.

I worked out in the gym 3 times a week. Again that got expensive and after my initial boost, it leveled off effectiveness. I shifted to home workouts and that’s the direction I’m going to stick with this time. I read somewhere that 7 out of 10 people who lost weight and kept it off worked out at home or within a block of home.

I got sick…by that I mean I literally came down with the flu, pneumonia, then bronchitis during the winter of 2017. It shrank my stomach and I didn’t stretch it out again until the holidays. I’ve been really healthy this year even though my wife and daughter got sick this last winter. I’m going to use portion control & intermittent fasting techniques, described below, to reproduce a smaller appetite.

My Conclusions from Last Years Experiment

It may seem like a disappointing list but I learned two valuable things. First that some of the most significant things we do for our health can be quite simple and obvious. The other thing I learned is that there are saboteurs in the mix that cause failure no matter how hard you try. I think I identified that saboteur.

Although recently you’d think that fad diets were equal to men and women, for decades mainly they were aimed at women. I don’t think we get quite the right balance of nutrition while trying to eliminate everything that could or does cause problems. That combined with our current load of chemicals, stress, and sedentary lifestyle creates a hidden logjam guaranteed to derail our health efforts by running us out of willpower.

My Plan at this Time:

I’ve been pouring over research and testing ideas on myself for the last couple years and we need a two-pronged approach. First, self-control is actually part of God’s nature. It’s listed among the fruits of the Spirit… (Gal 5:22 & 23)

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

So we can’t divorce our Spiritual walk from our efforts to become healthy, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need a plan. My friend Chriss Skaggs once said, “God supplies everything you need, like salvation, but if you want something in this world you’ll need to fight for it.

So step two is an effective plan. That means we need a flow of actions that address a wide variety of physical, emotional, and lifestyle needs.

In the past I’ve looked at the areas I need to cover as Sub-Categories:

  1. Diet – What to eat/not eat
  2. Exercise – strength training, aerobic
  3. Lifestyle – Sleep, active habits, etc

It can be helpful to list my research that way since it’s the widely accepted way to do it. I’ll include both my own experience/research and also what I’m learning from Ben Levi’s course on building testosterone without supplements.

  • Diet – What to eat/not eat
    • Basically paleo (+ legumes & relume grains)
    • Eat Brazil nuts before bed
    • Supplements: Creatine & Magnesium (Probiotics, Prebiotics & Digestive Enzymes)
  • Exercise – strength training, aerobic
    • Basically CrossFit (eventually)
    • Starting with Home workouts, resistance, and isometrics
  • Lifestyle – healthy habits
    • Sleep,
    • Active habits, (Don’t sit so much)
    • Stretching, balanced (tai chi)
    • Stress reduction

I have a new take on the categories this time based on a balanced approach. Since I’m amazed by the mileage I’ve gotten from simple changes, I believe we need to conquer this incrementally. So I’m going to break things up into stages as you’ll see below.

 

The List So Far:

Lifestyle – Start here if you want to have success

Sleep – when your body repairs and builds hormones

Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room. (Red light okay, Blue light is bad). Eliminate electronics an hour before bed. Get at least four 90-minute increments (6 hrs) 7.5 hours is best. Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning (even weekends). Train your body.

Ponder walking – (Stop being sedentary)

Get up and move, look into standing desks, park farther from the door, find a fun activity like hiking, swimming, or bike riding that you can do with friends and family. Get one of those watches that reminds you to get up and move.

Stretching – Not what you’re thinking

We need a full range of motion. Static stretching is good too, and I will start doing it every night before bed. But the big need here is activities that require us to work the support muscles. I’m eager to find a good tai chi (or hsing ha), teacher. This way I can de-stress at the same time.

Stress Reduction – Live inside out, and loved

We need to a balanced approach to handling both the urgent needs of the day and making progress toward our life goals. I’m writing a book later this summer on ways to be more organized.

Frankly, there are seasons in life when we need to just survive, or work our way out of a corner. This doesn’t mean we aren’t loved by God. I’m writing a book to address this concept right now.

For the purposes of this journey plan, we need daily devotionals before bed and first thing in the morning. I recommend Graham Cooke’s audio teaching on rest and the Daily Battle section of my book, “Primacy of God.”

Drinking – (Reduce liquid calories, add water)

Increase water intake by having some on hand at all times. I’m allowing bullet coffee every morning (occasional red wine in the evening).

I’m supplementing my food with a morning smoothie of almond milk, protein powder cinnamon & turmeric. I’ll add more on this later.

Things in moderation: Alcohol (Mainly red wine) & caffeine (coffee once a day, never pop).

Eating – (Basic diet is my take on Paleo which I call the caveman diet)

Portion Control – The toughest thing I’m going to do by far. I’m going to eat from a smaller plate, take home half of any restaurant meal, reduce protein size and add veggies to lunch & dinner.

What I don’t eat: No processed sugar or artificial sweetener, pre-prepared foods with more than five ingredients, gluten, MSG, or things I’ve learned I’m sensitive to (milk). For now, I’m giving up mint (anti-testosterone).

I can’t worry about everything all the time, so I’m not stressing about sodium or fats.

What I do now eat: I’m not strictly low carb; to paleo, I add,  dried fruits until lunch, rye bread or ancient grains or steel cut oats during breakfast okay.

I specifically try to eat fish & avocado! Salads or veggies with lunch & dinner. Eat more garlic, onions & basil. Brazil Nuts before bed snack! (Contains selenium, vital, but only eat 3 or 4 nuts)

I take supplemental vitamin D3/K2, Creatine, Magnesium,

Things in moderation: Dark chocolate.

Core – Balanced Health begins in the gut

Diet –

I’m supplementing my food with probiotics (kombucha/kevita/pills/fermented foods). Digestive enzymes capsules.

Work out –

Squats (Ti Lo Han), Sit-ups, Push-ups, front & mule kicks (while balancing)

Intensity – (to be added in phase three)

Diet – supplement with EGCG (green tea extract) sometimes.

The big add here is intermittent fasting. There are several ways to accomplish this, but the method I favor is skipping breakfast a few times part of the week. There’s good research to support the benefits of fasting on insulin sensitivity, but the big goal here is to shrink my stomach and keep my body in it’s place.

I’m going to skip breakfast on Tuesday/Thursday.

Work out- Break a sweat and lose your breath

In addition to the other maintenance workouts I’m doing, I need to break a sweat at least three times a week. Rip a little muscle and raise your heart rate. This triggers my metabolism to burn and my endocrine system to balance. It’s also true that having more muscle results in burning more fat. Men need to labor, it’s in our DNA.

I’m going to try to find productive ways to get this workout Monday/Wednesday/Friday, like yard work, but I’m willing to hit a gym sometimes with a focus on my arms and shoulders.

Cheat Days –

Might sound crazy to include this here instead of the lifestyle section, but really it’s just dealers choice. The idea here is to increase willpower by giving yourself a break once in a while.

I’m going to combine this with a weekly date night. Want to reduce the feeling of being deprived by knowing there is a day when I can enjoy what I’m craving. It’s not gone forever, it just has to wait until I decide to do it.

An added bonus here is that if I screw up early in the week, I simply need to count that as my cheat day. The other big advantage here is we often discover that eating that thing you thought you wanted wasn’t worth it compared to how your body feels later.

 

 

Any resources I’m leaning on God to help with

All of it! I wish I had someone to tackle this with me, but I’ll manage.

Specific places I predict challenge (prayer requests)

I’m concerned because when I take on something big like this it often derails something else I’m working on…and I can’t let the other journey’s I’m on fall off my plate. I’m trusting that if I go moment by moment God is faithful to take care of things.

Estimated Start Date: June 10th (the day after my birthday)

 

Journey Update: 5/5/18

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Welcome to Spring!

Andy “Sir Bunch Adventure Writer” Journey’s Update: May 5, 2018

If you stumbled onto this page prior to my main landing page here’s a link to the full list of current journeys and more info about what a Journey is.

Brief Overview:

I’m trying to update once a week on Saturdays, but as I mentioned last time, I’m giving myself a lot of Grace and Flexibility on that deadline because it simply may not be feasible. I also mentioned last time that I’d be at a men’s retreat all weekend last week so I wouldn’t get last weeks update done. Nothing like breaking the pattern out of the box, but that’s how things go more often than not with me.

Welcome to The Cleric Path, which is what I call this grand experiment in how to live more abundantly. This is a journey update I’m really excited about so let’s dive in.

God/Relationship/Family

May – Rewrite Primacy into my blog — ch10 of 10
I’ve been revising my next book on this blog as I go, and I’m finished with the revision. Don’t worry though, it’s not too late to read it for free. I’ll leave it up until I’ve finished the final steps.  I’ll give anyone who signs up for my list during this process a free digital copy of the book as soon as I’ve written the back matter and formatted it for publication.

I’d hoped to be finished prior to leaving for the Spring Boot Camp on the 26th of this month but it took until yesterday. I’m grateful to God for the content and to my awesome wife for helping me carve out time to finish this week. Reading it again, I’m blown away by how good this book is. Overall Score A-.

May – Upcoming (5/8/18) business meeting with my Awesome Wife to hammer out some details for the home remodeling projects.

Identity/Adventure

April – BCNW Retreat — Attended
No matter how much I anticipate the awesomeness of these retreats, I’m never disappointed. When I step out of the Matrix God always meets me with a special message. It was harder than ever to be without my family for the weekend but it’s important and well worth it. I’ll be unpacking my notes from the retreat over the next few weeks–stay tuned. Overall Score A+.

May – It’s a season change and I’m still waiting on God for some marching orders. In the short run, I’m going back through my notes from the Boot Camp. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

ORG (Growth & Success)/Learning

May – Evening & Morning challenge
I’m Excited by the opportunity take on a very unique challenge. God wants to help me learn intentionality. Stay tuned for a link when I’ve published a blog post detailing it.

June – Read Book “The Five Choices” /Summary to Blog — tabled to May
Haven’t started. Just plane bit off more than I can chew this month. It’s a common problem for me. This is a transition month and I’m glad to get time on projects like that I want to bring to a close before the next season gets in full swing. (I know April is technically the first month of Spring/ 2nd quarter, but much like the weather, Spiritual seasons don’t follow the calendar exactly.) Overall score, Jury’s Still Out.

Health & Fitness

May – Audition Nucific Bio x4 — ordered and started
I continue my trial of Bio x4. I do notice less hunger, more energy, and good stomach health. I’m still not implementing additional diet/workout, which will come soon, but it’s a good test of the product alone. Want to increased fiber etc. One side note about Bio x4, it’s one of those “take 5 minutes before each meal” type of systems. I hope to have a solution to that soon.

Increased step goal (7,500) is still going well B+ overall.

Daily Stretching — Not started, Tabled to May 15

Wealth & Freelance

June – Upgrade & Revise Blog — Table upgrade to next month
Work continues. Lots to do. I’ve been blogging almost every day. I still love it. I have not managed to raise the money for some of the upgrades I’d hoped to accomplish. So I give it a solid B overall.

Final Note:

April was a transition month for me. I felt that God was moving some chess pieces. I’m still feeling that, which is not to say that God hasn’t done some cool things already. I know this much about the coming season. God is setting me free of fear of public humiliation. He’s empowering me to add speaking my message, not just writing it.

I feel strange to do a half update like this, but there are still some things up in the air and I wanted to get it posted while its only 3 days late. LOL. God Bless.

PS. It’s harder to understand what I mean when I say journey without reading more about it in my next book, “The Primacy of God.