Too Much of a Good Thing

As a parent, I frequently think about what my kids pay attention to.

I can tell when they begin to spend too much time thinking about things that distract them from what’s important.  When they think too much about a video game, I limit their game time.  When they get obsessive over an artist or song, I limit how often they get to listen to it.  Television, food, candy, sugar, social media–you get the picture.

This is a biblical idea.  Solomon wrote in Proverbs: “If you find honey, eat just enough. If you eat too much of it, you will throw up.”  Short, sweet, and vivid.  You can have too much of a good thing.

Whether it’s honey or the video game Undertale or the musical Hamilton or Facebook or their latest fave on Netflix–none of those things by themselves are bad.  But too much of those things?  Not good for them.

It’s easy to see this as a parent.  We are quick to see what our kids need to stop doing, because we how it affects them.  Their schoolwork suffers, their relationships with others go south, they sleep poorly–you get the idea.

It’s harder for us as adults to catch this for ourselves.

Candy Crush.

All of these things are fine, in themselves.  Rooting for a team is great.  Being healthy is awesome.  Enjoying a good show is relaxing.  Having a job is always a plus.  Getting away from it all is good.  A few minutes with an app is a fun way to kill time.  Money sure helps take care of the bills.  And we kind of need to make sure our country has leaders.

But too much of any of these things will make you sick.  And I don’t just mean feeling sick when your favorite team doesn’t do well.  Anything–anything–that you get too much of will hurt you.  Each of these things can consume you, become all you think about–and that’s the deepest trouble: they will distract you from what really matters.

Time with the kids.
Talking with your spouse.
Growing in your faith.
Deepening friendships.
Trusting in and relying on God.

You can have too much of a good thing.  Solomon learned this the hard way.  Once he filled his life with wealth, women, success, power, he lost his way.  He stopped focusing on the one who gave him all of that, and his kingdom fell apart.  He didn’t listen to his own warning.

I’d never want that for my kids.  But God also doesn’t want that for me–or you.  He’s not out to dispense heavenly Pepto-Bismol so we can feel better about ourselves after overindulging.  He’d rather we make the wise choice to begin with.

So, before you lecture your kids on how much Xbox they play, or that singer they’re obsessing over, take a second to think about the “honey” in your own life.  What’s distracting you from what really matters?  It might be time to admit that you have too much of a good thing.

And stop before you throw up.  Because that’s just gross.

5 Things You Can Do Today to Begin Losing Weight

Six months ago, my wife and I were on the way home from a nice night out.  We’d had a good evening and the subject of style and personal care came up.  As we talked, she asked a question that would prove to be life-changing:

Do you even care?

After we got home, the question lingered.  If I was honest, I had stopped caring.  I no longer made sure my shirts looked good on me, rarely ironed them, wore jeans that were too tight around my awkwardly large middle.  If I was truthful with myself, my self-confidence was also buried under there, too, and I acted like nothing regarding my style, let alone my weight, mattered.  In the 17 years since our wedding day, I had gone from 130 pounds to 230 pounds on a small frame.

Her question probably saved my life, because it started me on a journey.

The journey began with me spending that night determining a style of clothing and “look” that I wanted to dress in, and then finding clothes at the thrift shop sales over Labor Day weekend that actually fit.  Admitting I needed large shirts, pants sized 36, and other painful realities wasn’t easy.  But suddenly I felt better about myself because I looked better.

And, because I finally liked how I looked in the mirror with my clothes on, I could be honest and say I really hated how I looked with them off.  Sure, most people may not have noticed, since all my extra weight was carried right in my front, and I didn’t look “fat.”  But I was obese.  My BMI was nearly 40, and a healthy weight for someone of my height was far less than what I weighed.  My family has a history of high blood pressure, sugar diabetes, and a host of other weight-related issues that hit in their 40’s, and I was headed that same direction.

13307412_10153690113726608_8211026383849589971_nSo, it was time to not only look good, but feel good and be healthy.  In the last six months, I’ve lost 75 pounds.  I now weigh around 145 pounds, and I’m still shooting for weighing what I did on my wedding day.  At 46 years old, I’m in the best shape of my life, and I feel excited about my future because I have finally care.

As I’ve shared my story, I’ve had people ask what my secret is.  How have I done it?  How does a guy who hated P.E. in school find the motivation and determination to lose what amounts to the weight of a small child?  It’s not easy, and you can’t just take a magic pill to make it happen.

Here are 5 Things You Can Do Today To Begin Losing Weight.

1. START CARING.  If you don’t care, you’ll never make the decision to change.  This is true in every aspect of your life: work, family, marriage, health.  Ask yourself that hard question: Do you even care?  If the answer is no, ask yourself why.  Have you accepted that the way things are are the way they must always be?  Have situations in your marriage or family or job caused you resign yourself to the status quo?

When I realized that I had stopped caring, I realized an even more fundamental truth: I actually did care.  I did care about what my wife thought of my appearance.  I did care about being alive to see my grandkids.  I did care about dressing with attention to my clothes and style.  I did care about being healthy.  That was the jumpstart I needed and began my continuing journey.

2. CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN NOW.  I didn’t gain an extra 100 pounds over night.  That came about over 17 years of marriage, kids, vacations, holidays, and jobs where I sat down 80% of the time.  The first step to losing weight was to change what I could change today.  For me, that meant admitting I was extremely overweight and going through my closet.  My clothes looked badly on me, so wearing them made me feel badly about myself.  And when I felt badly about myself, I would not have the motivation to change anything.

I cleaned out all the clothes that, truthfully, hadn’t fit in years.  I went to the thrift stores and replaced them with clothes that were right-sized (embarrassing as it may have been to admit), and went to a few helpful websites that helped me clearly identify the look and style I was going to emulate.  I liked what I saw in the mirror for the first time in years.  I felt confident when I went to work, because people saw me differently.  As I gained confidence, it gave me the courage to take the next step.

3.  MAKE ONE DRASTIC CHANGE.  I also knew I had to make a big change that would shake me up.  I didn’t give up chocolate or pasta or become a salad-eating disciple of vegetarianism.  I wasn’t ready to give up Diet Coke at that point, either.  But I needed a shock to my system that would signal the “new” me, the new direction I was determined to take for myself.  So I grew a beard.

I’ve never had facial hair, so this was a visual sign that I was making a big change.  It helped give definition to my chubby face, and when I started seeing what looked like a chin, I began to get even more motivated.  The drastic change I’m suggesting here doesn’t have to be food-related.  So often when we begin to think of losing weight, we think of all the stuff we will lose.  I chose to make a big change and gained something.  This was motivational because the “new” me already dressed different, and now I was beginning to look different.

4.  FORGET LOSING WEIGHT.  If you decide to lose weight and make it about losing weight, you’ll never lose weight.  Wow, that sounds redundant, right?  The trouble with diets or a focus on weight loss is that it’s about losing something.  Yes, I wanted to lose the giant inner tube around my gut, but if I did that, I’d lose ice cream.  I’d lose Diet Coke (a huge loss for me, as I would drink several each day).  I’d lose cookies and French Fries.

My incredibly intelligent wife (remember, she asked the all-important question that started this whole thing) gave me a great bit of insight: “Just be healthy.”  That simple mindset was so freeing!  So as I started losing weight, I stopped thinking about losing weight and started thinking about being healthy.  I didn’t begin reading fitness blogs or working out each day, I didn’t start eating kale and tofu.  I just asked myself, “Is this a healthy choice?”  If the answer was no, then I tried not to do it.

5.  DRINK WATER.  This is probably one of the most important things I’ve done along the way.  I’m a huge fan of Diet Coke and during busy times at work, I could drink three or four 16 oz. bottles each day.  Every time I went out to eat, I’d get a DC and make sure I got every free refill I could.  It was my “go to” drink.  Asking myself the question “Is this healthy” about drinking that much Diet Coke inevitably led to the answer, “No”  A healthy replacement wasn’t going to be a different kind of soda, so I had to decide to drink water instead.

Beyond the health concerns of diet soda (which were not motivational to me at all), there are many obvious good reasons why drinking water is always a good idea.  I started carrying a tumbler full of water with me everywhere I went, refilling it as often as it was emptied.  It was the first thing I did when I got up, and it was the last thing I did before I went to bed (I keep a tumbler full of water on the nightstand all night long).  Now, drinking water is as much a part of the “new” me as eating healthy, having a beard, and dressing better.

You’ll notice that not one of these five steps involves a diet or exercise plan.  Dieting and exercise won’t do anything if you don’t start with these steps.  Cutting out sugar and carbs and walking 10,000 steps every day won’t matter if you still haven’t decided to care.  These five steps are what started my journey–which eventually did include a change in my diet, lots more exercise, and a few other steps–but we’ll get to those at a later date.  Start here, and eventually, you’ll get to where you want to be!

If it worked for me, maybe it will work for you–or at least give you an idea of where to start!


There are Enough Hours in the Day.

How many times have you heard or even thought, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” I have. Usually daily. And I’m sure most of us like to think, “Yeah, but I really do have more to do than most moms.” There goes my hand up in the air.  I don’t know what makes us think that our lives are busier than the person across the street or next to us in line at Costco. Let’s face it, as moms, or dads, we all have busy going on.

imagesSo, how do you make enough time for your kids, spouse, pets, house, work, self, etc?  Honestly, I don’t know. But I want to give you the 5 top ways that have helped me stay organized and able to tackle the chaos that comes at me daily. If I can do these, you can, too.

1. PREPARE.  I am a note taker and list maker. Sometimes to a fault. I have lists for everything from meal planning to grocery shopping, from workout plans to vacation preparation. Preparing and planning helps me stay on top of my game and helps me feel like I have some sort of control in a sometimes chaotic environment. So, what’s the best kind of list? Whatever it is that helps YOU feel like you’re in control. Personally, I like the old-fashioned clipboard, paper, and pencil method. But you can use anything. Use your notes tab on your smart phone. There are now even apps you can download to help with whatever planning you need. But use whatever best works for you. I’ll have more on menu planning, shopping, and saving money on next week’s blog.

2. STICK TO A ROUTINE.  This one is not easy for me. As much as I love routine, I thrive on spontaneity. So often I want to ditch all my housework, keep the kids home from school, jump in the Montague van and just drive to somewhere remote for a milkshake. Obviously, this isn’t daily reality, so keeping to a routine helps me feel like I have control. So, when a day does come and no one has to work or go to school, we can do something fun and spontaneous. We live by the rule “Work Hard, but Play Harder.” Keep your routines tight so that you can have even more fun on those days off.

3. EXERCISE. You had to know that was coming. Why is exercise so important? Well, for one, it keeps our bodies healthy and when we have healthy bodies, we have healthy minds, homes, and kids. Exercise also, believe it or not, gives you more energy. All it takes is an extra 30 minutes out of your day. I know 30 minutes feels like an eternity when we already have such full days. But think of it this way. You could get up just 30 minutes earlier or go to bed 30 minutes later. If you’re not exercising, you’re probably tossing and turning in bed at least that amount of time. Exercise helps you stay more rested at night and focused during the day. So, you’re not actually losing 30 minutes of sleep, but gaining 30 minutes of activity. Exercise is also where you can blow ofF steam or stress and pull yourself together when you may feel like things are falling apart.

4. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF . Please hear me when I say how important this is. You are giving most or all of yourself to your family. But who’s giving to you? Sometimes you just need to spend an afternoon at the movies or take yourself out to lunch. Maybe you like a warm bath, a book, and a glass of wine. Sometimes a massage hits the spot. One of my favorite things is just to sit on my back patio, listen to music, and scroll through Pinterest. Whatever you enjoy doing, treat yourself weekly. It will recharge your batteries and help you realize that you are more than your kids’ mommy or daddy, more than a house cleaner, more than a paycheck.

5. SLEEP. Yes! You need to sleep! Most doctors will recommend at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Sometimes you can get by on 6 or 7, but don’t make it a habit. Set your body clocks and get in the routine of getting a full 8 hours of sleep per night. Again, this will help you get to your full potential during the day. If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, then try to power nap during the day. I’ve trained myself to shut my brain off for about 20 minutes during the day if I need a little boost of energy.

I also want to add that I have an amazing support system in my husband and kids. I certainly couldn’t do anything without them. If you don’t have a support system at home, then find one somewhere either a moms or dads group, church group, best friend, or counselor. Parenting is hard, but you also want it to be fun.

Over the next 5 weeks, I’m going to break down each topic even further, so watch out next week for what my prepping and planning looks like!  And thanks for reading!   – RM