War on Weight

I need some help.

I need some accountability.

I need to lose some weight.

I’ve previously written about my 20ish-year struggle with my weight. There have been many ups and downs over the years. The victories are some of my proudest moments. The setbacks are some of my lowest lows.

Much like Justin Bieber’s career, I’ve been in a steep decline over the past year.

Man in the Mirror

260 to 180.  Now hanging out at 220 (not pictured due to tired/crazy dad eyes).

I’ve always struggled with eating healthy. I have some sort of food obsession, or just really weak willpower, and always find myself munching on something, eating out of boredom, or going back for a third serving of fajitas. I hate it, but it keeps on happening.

I’ve often been able to balance out the caloric gorging by exercising a ridiculous amount. In law school, I worked out twice a day and lost 70 pounds. However, after spending most of the past three years hanging out with my work computer, that isn’t feasible anymore. It’s hard for me to accept this fact, but I’ve gained 40 pounds since I started my job in September 2010. That’s dangerous and depressing.

Biking to and from work has often been a huge help in the past, but this past winter was brutal in DC and I have been too lazy over the past six months to get out there and pop some wheelies. That downturn in exercise coincided with an unfortunate uptick in snacking. This was probably due to increased stress and the fact that there was so much more junk food in our house with two little kids on the way.

Unfortunately, the food availability and snacking hit all-time highs (technically, lows) over the past few weeks of paternity leave. Sitting around all day in a house full of food and sweet treats is a bad combination for me. In short, I ate four packs of Oreos last week. Due to the constant cycle of feeding, burping, and diapers, I haven’t exercised in two weeks (except for the bouncing I do to help the kids fall asleep).

And now none of my pants fit.

Yes, some people may say they didn’t fit before, but now my skinny jeans are no-fit jeans. I finally swallowed my pride and ordered two pairs of bigger dress pants last week. I tried them on over the weekend and they didn’t fit either. I screamed.

It’s finally time to do something about it. Again.

I’ve been polluting my body with all this junk food. I feel gross and lethargic. My love for fashion is quickly waning when nothing fits right. I recently saw some amazing floral pants that were so beautifully tacky, but I didn’t even want to buy them because of my weight gain.

That can’t happen.

Okay, rant over.

Here’s the goal:

Lose 20 pounds by July 4th, 2014.

Here’s how I’m going to get there:

(1)  Bike to work each day that the weather permits.

(2)  Lift weights before leaving from work each day.

(3)  Write down all the food and drinks I consume. This one is already paying dividends as I’ve resisted some tempting cookies and candy bars all day.

(4) You. I need accountability. Badly.

Game on.

Shortcomings

I have never been in a boxing match.

I have never been in a fight.

I have never been in a wrestling throwdown (other than when I entered a tournament for eleven-year-old kids and had to wrestle a guy with a mustache).

However, I am a parent.  It feels like a fight sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s the most wonderful experience of my life. There are moments that are so beautiful they make me cry. There are moments that make me laugh. There are so many moments I’ll cherish forever.

The Unspoken Battle

However, there are also moments that bring out the worst in me.

Sometimes, I feel frustrated.

Angry.

Helpless.

Terrified.

Exasperated.

I don’t think we talk about those moments enough.

I’ve never experienced anything like staring at a baby that has been crying furiously for an hour. Those moments when you’ve tried everything, but the cries keep coming: feeding, burping, diaper changing, rubbing his/her back, swaying, silly baby talk, pacifiers, more diaper changing, bouncing, running water in the bathtub, playing music, singing, and anything else that has even a remote chance of getting your baby to stop crying.

Sometimes, nothing works.

I wish I could say that I always remain calm, cool, and collected in those situations. They are so intense and so raw. I wish I could say that I always empathize with the precious little babies that have no ability to function in the world without my wife and I.

I can’t.

I’m human. I’m a work in progress.

Despite the insanity and intensity of those helpless moments, I’m thankful for them. They are making us better and stronger people and parents. They also make me appreciate the sound of silence.*

*Not the awful Simon & Garfunkel song though.

Lost and Found

In case you didn’t notice the creepy bunny at the mall or the absurd amount of yellow candy at CVS, Easter is almost here. I’m really excited about Easter this year because we’ll actually be able to go to church. It’s been five years since we’ve been to an Easter service because we were either gallivanting through Thailand or Hungary or visiting my brother in jail. I’m also really excited about Easter because I have a new pair of teal and orange shoes I want to wear.

Oh, and because I have a new appreciation for the story of forgiveness that is central to the message of Easter.

Like every human being ever, I am my own worst critic. I magnify my mistakes and replay the memories of my stupid decisions over and over again like they were Katy Perry songs on my iPhone. I’ve struggled with a lot of the same issues for so many years. It’s tiring. It’s frustrating. I feel defeated, I feel like a loser, I feel condemned. Thus, if I feel that way, then God, OMG, must really feel the same. It has to be a horrible movie for Him to watch me screw up again and again (but it is still a better movie than Cloud Atlas; that was a waste of three hours this week). I feel like the weight of my mistakes is so heavy and my shame so great that I am unworthy of God’s grace.

And then Luke 15 slaps me all up in the head. In this chapter, Jesus tells three stories:

The first is about a sheep that got lost from the herd. Jesus emphasizes that a single sheep is so valuable to the shepherd that he will leave all the other sheep to find the dumb one that went astray. After he finds it, the shepherd invites all his friends over to celebrate the return of his lost sheep. I’ve been to a few awkward parties over the years, but a “I Found My Sheep” party sounds like the worst. Despite that, I still love this story.

The second story in Luke 15 is essentially the same as the tale of the lost sheep, but it is about a lost coin. Thus, there is less poop and fleas, but still the same awkward party at the end to celebrate finding the lost coin.

Finally, there is the story of the prodigal son. I like this one the most because sometimes it is hard to relate to a sheep or coin. However, a dude who lived it up, made some poor life decisions, and found himself full of regret and laying face down in the mud, yea, I get that. Although the prodigal son blew a bunch of his dad’s money on booze and prostitutes, the dad still welcomes his son back with open arms. Yep, the son screwed up. A lot. Yep, he hit rock bottom. Yep, pops still threw a rocking party to celebrate the fact that his son came home. It didn’t matter that the son was filthy. He was home.

I love these stories because they remind me (1) that we should throw more parties; (2) that God isn’t up there excitedly waiting to smack me down each time I screw up; and (3) my mistakes will never be too great for His grace.

I am the sheep.  I am the lost coin.  I am the prodigal son.

I am also hungry for some McDonald’s breakfast. BRB.

Awakening

Life has changed a lot over the past few weeks:

We got a new coffee machine at work. It looks like something from Star Trek, but it’s downright amazing. “Despicable Me 2″ was dissed at the 2014 Oscars and didn’t win “Best Picture.” Finally, my incredible wife gave birth to twins on March 5th.

Parenthood

As evidenced by the dearth of blog posts and the dark circles under my eyes, it’s been a challenging three weeks. I’ve had a lot of fun topics that I wanted to write about, but I usually just fall asleep instead. Alas, I’m slowly crawling out of the shadows and starting to resume a normal life. A normal life that is so much richer now that I have two new partners in crime (and a house full of baby junk).  After three weeks of parenting experience, here are my initial thoughts:

1.  Mothers. You all deserve a round of applause. My goodness.

2.  To the man or woman who invented the pacifier, you are my hero. I’m not even kidding. Thank you. Now, can you figure out how to help a newborn keep one in his or her mouth?

3. I have often had doubts about the existence of God during various times of my life. I’m a critical thinker who appreciates facts more than feelings. However, I have no doubts when I realize that this…

Austin and Madison - The Start

…became this…

A Fantastic Beginning

4.  People often ask me how the babies are doing. I always respond by saying that they are still alive. They think I’m trying to be funny. I’m not. That is a big deal because we’re stumbling our way though this whole parenting thing.

5.  For a horrifying sixty seconds, we thought we were going to lose Madison. On her first day of life. She started to choke and began turning blue. We had been parents for about five hours and had no idea what to do. There were no nurses around. It was the worst moment of my life. Alas, she pulled through and she’s alive today, which, again, is a big deal. Oh, and now I’m insanely paranoid about any little mouth noise the babies make.

6.  These kids are in the 90th percentile for height and 30th percentile for weight. I wish I was that lucky.

7.  Austin and Madison each had a distinct and beautiful personality the moment they were born. Madison came out at 1:41pm. She wasn’t really crying, but her big, beautiful eyes were looking around with a bold sense of wonder. Since that moment, she’s never stopped soaking in all her new surroundings. You can tell she’s constantly thinking and learning. Meanwhile, Austin, just like me, spends his days eating, sleeping, and crying.

8.  This was the happiest moment of my life.

IMG_6480

 Not pictured: Austin screaming.

9. We have so many amazing outfits for these kids to wear. I had big plans for them to be dressed to the nines like ballers each day, even though they are just hanging out at home for a few weeks. In reality, the clothes selection process usually happens in the wake of a diaper explosion and the owner of said diaper is likely crying. A lot. His or her brother or sister is probably crying too. Thus, they wear whatever is on the top of the stack of clean clothes.

10. I’m struggling to find a healthy work/life balance. Hopefully paternity leave in a few weeks will help. I’m also finding it really challenging to find time to exercise, but really easy to eat way too much junk food.

11. Our poor dog is confused.

Napoleon Confused

12. I did not know what true fear felt like until a fussy baby has just calmed down at 3:00am and I laid him or her down to sleep and I crawled into bed. A minute later, as I lay staring towards a dark ceiling, I hear stirring and whimpering from the pack-and-play across the room. Will the baby fall back asleep or will the noise continue to build until a violent explosion of cries emerges?  The seconds feel like hours. Those moments have helped strengthen my prayer life.

13. Those first few diapers were horrifying.  So smelly, so sticky, so black.

14. I’ll be honest, when I found out we were having twins, my first response was to laugh. Then I nearly passed out. Then I wanted to cry because I thought my life was over. Now, despite the late nights and 150+ diapers a week, I realize that it was the greatest gift(s) I’ve ever been given (except for the purple Jordans Amanda got me for Christmas).

15. Seriously, let’s give the mothers a round of applause.

Meeting Mommy x2

Bye.

A Fantastic Beginning

I’m a dad now.

A Fantastic Beginning

The last five days have been some of the most tiring, stressful, paranoid, and intense moments of my life.

They have also been the best.

I know everyone thinks I’m this really tough guy, but I’ve got a sensitive side too.  I’m so in love with these kids and so humbled by the opportunity to be their dad, I’ve cried at least a dozen times over the past few days.  This world has so many adventures to offer, but there is nothing better than holding these kids in my arms.

I haven’t slept much over the past week, but I used some of my late-night free time to make a short video that captures some special moments from Day One.  Enjoy!

Thank You

The world is going to get a little sillier tomorrow.

Austin and Madison will be making their wet and slimy debuts.  I have so many different thoughts and feelings about this whole parenting thing, but I can sum everything up in one word:

Thankful

I’m thankful for a determined, beautiful, passionate, and inspiring wife who never takes life too seriously.

I’m thankful for two little babies who have helped show us the beauty and miracle of life in such a profound way.

I’m thankful to have a job full of understanding and supporting co-workers who emphasize that family comes first.

I’m thankful for the two police officers who showed me how to properly install a car seat.  I forgive them for being UNC fans.

I’m thankful for our families.  They have been so generous and so encouraging.  We could not do this without them.

I’m thankful for our friends who have children.  It is priceless to see that others have gone before us and survived this crazy adventure.  Your advice, tips, and warnings are infinitely appreciated and always welcome.

I’m thankful for a church full of blessed friends and dynamic pastors who inspire us to become better people, better servants, better spouses, and better parents.

I’m thankful for UVA’s basketball team.  There is no real connection to the babies here, but you’ve helped make 2014 a very special year.

I’m thankful for all the baby gifts we’ve been given.  Babies are loud, babies are messy, and babies are expensive.  The priceless generosity of so many friends and family have really helped out with the last category.

I’m thankful for Peanut M&M’s and chocolate milk.  You’ve been Amanda’s rock, encouragement, and friend-in-need over the last seven months.

I’m thankful for all the encouraging comments on this blog, on Facebook, and on Instagram.  It means the world to me and your thoughts and tips are cherished by us both.

I’m thankful for doctors and medical workers who are wonderfully skilled in their professions and patient enough to answer all our dumb questions.

I’m thankful for a God who loves us so much that He can use two broken people for something beautiful.

Most importantly, I’m thankful for 20% off Buy Buy Baby coupons.

Thank You