Archive for the ‘long range plans’ Category

Okay, completion never happens.  After all, you have to work hard your whole life to maintain what you have struggled to gain.  But here it is day 119 and I am 38 POUNDS lighter– I weighed in at 168.6 this morning.  Imagine that, I am more than 80% of the way towards completing my initial goal- reaching my fire department weight (age 18) of 159 lbs.  Once there I have some new goals.

So now as I near my initial goal, it seems a good time to establish some new goals.  This is what I am thinking…


 Here are my updated before and after pictures.  The pictures on the left (your left) are from February 8, 2007.  The pictures on the right (your right) are from June 6th, 2007.  Almost exactly four months to the day from when I began this weight loss journey.


The guy above (the old me) had a 42 inch waist.  Now, as of today, my waist is 34 1/2 inches.


See all those rolls of fat on the left hand picture?  That guy weighed 206 lbs .  Think of how big my fat cell’s must have been.  Now, I weigh 169.2 lbs- less than 10 lbs from my goal weight. What a difference losing 36+ lbs of fat can make from all perspectives.

croppedsideviewfeb8.JPG june-6-side-double-crop.jpg

The old me had a gut that hung over my belt.  That 42 inch waist was a miserable traveling companion.  It popped numerous button from the front of some great khaki pants.  Now, when I put on my fat clothes they hang on me like  a trash bag, and my old, old, old clothes fit perfectly.


The guy above is a much healthier, happier, energetic man.  Praise the Lord for positive change and for the strength to endure.

Here I am stuck at 174.2 lbs. I’ve been as low as 173.4 and as high as 174.8 in the last week and a half. Plateaus are frustrating- especially if you lot weight quickly in the past. But it happens to us all, we eventually hit a plateau that means weight loss will be slow (at least for a while). How do we break out?


Most people who lift weights come with a general (and often vague) goal of being healthier, thinner, more muscular, etc. My training is very different. I come to this seeking all of the above PLUS one very specific goal- the level of strength and conditioning necessary to compete in Ninja Warrior.

What does training for Ninja Warrior involve? Well, it involves a lot of focus on skills and abilities like balance, grip strength, vertical leap, and sheer hang time (The second level involves almost exclusively hanging from and moving along horizontal bars). And soon, once I build up enough physical endurance, I will tailor my fitness program even further in a direction that will address all of the above skills and abilities.

Even at this relatively early point I already have a significant part of my workout that focuses on those areas above. I work on grip strength with rock carries, wrist curls, and farmers walks. I work on vertical leap with plyometric squat jumps (several different kinds). I have a lot of room to grow with regard to training for balance and hang time. The latter will be easy to do once I finish building my chin-up bar in the backyard. Regarding the former, I ask you all, any suggestions?

BTW, I found a guy who is training for Ninja Warrior that has posted videos of himself training on  Check them out.

Well, I have been told that some of my exercise equipment is a bit unconventional. That is fine with me. It was actually my intention and my goal to use what was handy around the house to create some equipment with multiple uses- but a low price tag. So no more excuses (i.e. equipment is too expensive). And if you have any ideas for workout equipment that can be made from common household or backyard items post a comment.

Exercise Equipment

Kitty Litter Weights

Availability: This was an easy choice as our yard (which formerly contained a pool) has hundred of pounds of gravel that we neither use nor want. We also have two cats that go through kitty litter with amazing celerity.

Modifications: Take one (two is preferable) 35 kitty litter plastic containers and fill them with lots of gravel.


Put a couple shovels full into the empty kitty litter containers.kitty litter weights

Uses: Shrugs, Forearm rolls, farmers walk (how far can you walk while carrying two 50lb weights), and trap raise.


Rocks for Rock Carry

Availability: These were laying all around our backyard. There were so many, I made two piles of them four feet high.

Two of these bad boys (each weigh about 20-30 lbs).

Modifications: None needed.

Uses: Grips. Their irregular shape is excellent to work on your grip. Grab on in each hand using only your fingertips and see how long you can hold them. Please, try not to crush your foot.

Darn Heavy Piece of Wood:

Darn Heavy Wood

Availability: I found about ten of these laying around my backyard. I have already used the other nine in construction projects, this is the only one that remains. It isn’t as heavy as it feels- it’s shape makes it awkward and cumbersome.

Modification: None needed.

Uses: Duck walks, Plyometric Squats, Squats, and Squat Press. Do duck walks with it on your shoulders; try plyometric squat jumps while holding it over your head; or do a squat press.


Well another Monday has arrived- the fifteenth since I began this transformation challenge in February.  And now seems as good a time as any to get back to the basics.  By the basics I mean meal plans and workout plans.  I also mean attempting to (and a more complete post will follow) workout using only cheap and simple things you can find around your house- and a few inexpensive extras.

For example, today’s workout involves the following “props”


Today I will be working on some unfinished work. I am polishing up a short article for submission to the New Bern Historical Journal about the events as Street’s Bridge in 1821. For anyone interested, a larger discussion of the events at Street’s Bridge can be found in the first chapter of my thesis.

Beyond that I need to begin work on a new article I hope to submit to the North Carolina Historical Review. My new article will discuss the condition of the North Carolina Militia between the war of 1812 and the Mexican-American war of 1846.

Beyond the above topics I am looking into possible papers on

  1. “Amazing Grace:” A Look into the Religious Outlook of Southern Slaves. Reading through slave narratives, the amount of faith in Christ (and their own personal redemption from slavery) is amazing considering their unique circumstances. (I’ll post an example later)
  2. North Carolina Slave Patrols on the Eve of the Civil War.  Very few have researched North Carolina’s slave patrol system.  With the exception of Sally Hadden’s work (not to mention my own thesis; and that of another grad student) the study of North Carolina’s slave patrol has been largely neglected.
  3. Wards of the State: The Orphans of War.  The story of how the children of one officer who served in the war of 1812 received significant compensation directly from the state- including financing an education at West Point (books, uniforms, etc.).

Well maybe not throwing it away, how about putting it away for two weeks.  For the last three months I have been practically chained to that thing, morning, afternoon, and dinner.  I am almost ashamed to admit I even took to weighing myself pre and post-meals (as I was curious to know how much weight I gained).

So I put the scale in the spare bathroom for the next two weeks.  And from now until May 26th, I will be giving up my 6-8 time a day habit of weighing in.

Why am I doing this?  Well, I am just curious if it will be beneficial.  Could it improve my weight loss journey?  I don’t know.  I will miss the instant feedback- checking too see if I ate too much for dinner.  But maybe it will offer me a level of freedom that will motivate me.  We shall see.

You’ve seen these folks before, you might even be one. They don’t trust in their own abilities. They worry about whether or not they can make (and keep) a real commitment and as a result never commit to anything. They stagnant and fester, unchanging and afraid. That kind of life isn’t worth living, I know because I’ve lived it.

Losing faith in your own abilities doesn’t happen overnight. It is the result of countless promises you failed to keep. For me it was a promise I made to conduct a bible study everyday for 45 minutes. I would try and I would fail- over and over. Finally, I rationalized my failure, I just couldn’t do it. So I refused to start that commitment over again. Why should I? I was destined to fail- or at least I thought so.

I followed the same course with my eating habits.  I tried to commit to eating better.  And I did- for about a week or two, sometimes maybe four or five.  But eventually it happened, inevitably I went off the deep end and consume a whole pizza or a whole king sized Burger King meal.  Once I did that, why not eat some cookies and drink a milkshake?

So I want to ask you. How often has a lack of faith in your own abilities kept you from God? How often has it kept you from adopting a positive change in your life?

Yes, when we come to God, we must at some level accept that we are powerless to save ourselves. But we must also have faith that He will give us the strength to move ahead toward a better and more fulfilling life. Without that faith we are left to flounder and wriggle at the end of a hook composed of our own self-doubt and lack of trust (in self and God).

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation ; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Submit yourself prayerfully, look towards the end in all you do, and walk your path accordingly. You will find you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible.

“God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6: 7-9.

How often do we (to use a Covey phrase) begin with the end in mind? How much would our lives improve if we thought about the possible outcomes of our actions? Not just the big ones, but our daily attitude, perspective, and actions.

Too often we sow all kinds of harmful seeds without even realizing our actions. It might be harmful habits like smoking, unhealthy eating, and excessive drinking. These actions build up and snowball over time. But what will you sow?

A life of hard drinking can lead to small things at first, things like simple regret over saying the wrong thing. In the end, after a longer season, the results can be much worse- losing your family, home, and even your life. A life of over eating can at the least lead to sluggishness and poor self-image. But given long enough over eating can bring you to the horrors of clogged arteries, heart disease, etc.

You can change this though!

Start sowing new seeds today. Live a deliberate life, think out your choices, fully contemplate your actions. This is your choice; this is your life. Take control.

“…in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Life changes take one day to begin, and a lifetime to complete. But if you persevere you will reap a reward. If you change your unhealthy eating habits today, down the road you will reap a bountiful harvest.

Take my transformation challenge as an example. After only a week not only had my weight declined, but my resting heart rate and my blood pressure improved. In two weeks the drop in my resting heart rate and my blood pressure was significant. After a month I weighed was almost sixteen pounds less, and my waist was almost two inches smaller.

And now, here I am three months and two days later. When you see these numbers, don’t think of how far I’ve come, think of how much YOU COULD DO in just three months.

Weight then 206.3 lbs

Weight now 175.6 lbs

Waist then 41 1/2 inches

Waist now 36 inches

Body-fat Percentage then 27.8%

Body-far percentage now 19.7%

BMI then 29.7

BMI now 26.

I am not special in this regard. You can do this too. Just follow three simple steps.

  1. Visualize and write down your goals honestly and specifically.
  2. Start taking the necessary steps to achieve your goals.
  3. Persevere! Persevere! Persevere!