War on Weight – Week 1

Week One of my renewed emphasis on living a healthier life was a success:

I rode my bike 80 miles (and saved $40 on Metro fares).

I lost six pounds.

It no longer takes an act of God for me to put on my dress pants each morning.

Most importantly, I feel better. Physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I didn’t do any fad diets, supplements, or crazy workout routines. I just exercised more and ate a little less. Although I slacked off on the exercise over the weekend, and discovered that animal crackers and a tub of cake icing is a great combination, I avoided the binging disasters that have often haunted me. I also drank so much water that rising sea levels are no longer a global concern.

Most important, the My Fitness Pal app has been a Godsend for me. I’m addicted to food and often eat out of habit or when I’m bored. My Fitness Pal is the Jiminy Cricket I desperately need on my shoulder reminding me to ease up on the peanut butter.

Finally, thanks to everyone for your encouragement and recommendations! Suggestions are always welcome!

One week down, thousands more to go.

220 and 214:
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A Wonderful Gift

Being a parent is a priceless and wonderful gift.

It is also really tough.

My eyes have been bloodshot for the past seven weeks.

Getting to work in the morning is a struggle.

We often finish making dinner and then have to wait an hour or more to eat it because the babies keep doing stuff.

I didn’t shower for three days last week.  Sorry, world.

In light of those challenges, it is amazing to have so many wonderful friends and family to help us out.

Especially Katy Perry.

Our daughter has loved Katy Perry’s “Roar” since the first day of her life.  When she is crying and throwing a fit, that glorious song calms her down instantly.  Amazingly, the science books say the kids’ hearing was developing at the exact time I was listening to “Roar” 800 times a day while practicing for a “rap” video to that Katy Perry jam.  Now, that song has become a glorious miracle for our family.

Here’s proof:

Meanwhile, Austin is too busy eating and pooping to care about music.

Poppin’ the Question

Our world is faced with so many challenging questions. I thought I should lend a hand and start answering them.

Which is the best boy band of all time?

Don’t worry, I’ll tell you.

Poppin' the Question

First, what’s the criteria of being a boy band? Good question. Unfortunately, Webster’s dictionary doesn’t define the term. Urban Dictionary does, but its definition is pretty offensive.

So here’s the rules:

(1)  If you play instruments, you’re not a boy band. Thus, the Beatles, BBMak, Jackson 5, and Hanson were not boy bands. They all had too much talent.

(2)  If you don’t do synchronized dance moves, you’re not a boy band. Thus, LFO was not a true boy band, despite the fact that “Summer Girls” was one of the finest works of art of the 20th Century.

(3)  If you are too cool to be labelled as a “boy band,” you are not a boy band. Thus, the Temptations are not a boy band.

So those are the rules. Now it’s time for both of you to find out which boys bands are the greatest of all time:

Here. We. Go.

5.  One Direction: This boy band has been tearing up the charts for the past three years and their poppy beats and spirited vocals . . . OMG, I can’t do this. One Direction is automatically disqualified for having a song named “Best Song Ever.” When I hear kids talk about how One Direction is the greatest boy band ever, honestly, I get defensive. “Are you serious? Have you ever heard of Justin Timberlake? Nick Carter? Nick Lachey?” And then I feel ashamed for arguing with an 11-year-old about boy bands.

Okay, here’s the real list:

5. O-Town:  O-Town represents the high point in the boy band craze, which was probably also the low point in American history. I know two O-Town songs. One is pretty bad. The other is “All or Nothing.” It is probably the greatest song ever recorded (no offense to Britney or Beethoven).

Popping the Question - 1

4.  New Kids on the Block: These guys started the boy band craze. Sure, there were boy bands before NKOTB, but those boy bands didn’t have TV shows, action figures, or a song as righteous as “Hangin’ Tough.” I went to the infamous NKOTBSB concert a few years ago. It was amazing. And sad. Joey McIntyre cried. So did my soul.

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3.  Boyz II Men:  These dudes were so cool with their white suits, soulful voices, and matching overalls. Honestly, I feel kind of bad about labeling them as a “boy band,” but if the matching and synchronized tapping shoe fits, you gotta roll with it. However, these boys/men were not your typical boy band. They were edgy. They spelled “boys” with a Z. Ballerz.

2.  *NSYNC:  I’m a big *NSYNC fan. How can you tell? I put the little star in front of the name. I’m that legit. *NSYNC had so many hits. So many epic videos. So many sweet dance moves. Yet, they find themselves in second place. Why? Because *NSYNC was really just JT and JC and three random dudes who kept showing up in the background. That’s not a band. That’s an American treasure, some other guy who is probably wondering what went wrong after 2001, and three random guys.

Popping the Question - 2

1.  The Backsteet Boys:  I loved high school and pretty much everything about the late 1990s and early 2000s. Life was great. TRL was on TV every day, getting on the internet was a really big deal, 9/11 hadn’t happened yet, and gas was ninety cents a gallon. If there is one song that defined my high school experience, the turn of the millennium, and the boy band and cheesy pop music era, it was “I Want it That Way.” Sure, the lyrics don’t make any sense, but it doesn’t even matter when everything else about this song is fantastic. If you don’t sing along when you hear this song, or at least hum a little, you are probably a terrorist or a Nickelback fan.

Poppin the Question - 3

Bye.

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.