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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Colds, Clear Creek and Homework


We got to go enjoy a lovely dinner at Jason and Kelly's for labor day and ooh and aww over their new patio and furniture.  We really are lucky to have family that lives so close.

The girls started Center Stage and are doing a tap class to help get prepared for performing Singing in the Rain this spring.  Allison has been excited to go with the older group this last weekend for a trip to Tuachan and St. George.  They saw Peter Pan (she was not impressed), Hunchback of Notre Dame (she absolutely loved it), tour the backstage, do a workshop and play around a lot with friends.  She came home during church today, popped over to help teach Primary and then has been in her bed recovering ever since!  I had parent teacher conference for her this week as well and she is doing awesome but is super quiet is what I heard.


Spencer has been pretty overwhelmed with school lately.  He took the ACT again last Saturday and hopes that he did better this time.  I met with his teachers at parent teacher conference and they all say that he is doing great and that he needs to worry less.  We also met with his counselor to go over college applications and scholarships and graduation etc.  Seems way too close.  On the fun side rec volleyball started up again with one of his favorite coaches so he has practices and games again.  Good thing as stress is his middle name lately.  Still working the grill at Chubby's at least once a week.  And he started back up with guitar lessons which he enjoys.



While Spencer was stressing out at the ACT, we took Taylor to respite and Jeremy, the girls and me got to go play up at a reservoir for the day with the company he went to Barcelona with.  The girls are convinced they now need a wave runner and are amazed at how much beer people can drink.
I thought Robyn was tall but one girl blew her away!

Last week a cold hit Allison and made her week pretty miserable.  This week she shared with me which meant I slept as much as possible and was pretty miserable company for everyone.  But the show must go on!  So I got to go with Robyn to Clear Creek for 2 days.  Its a 5th grade camp our school district does and has been doing since 1950.  We bus down there, stay in bunk houses, eat in the mess hall and enjoy all the activities of a bunch of girls with some crazy and super enthusiastic 5th grade teachers.  We had a great time even with lots of rain and thunder making life a little wetter than we had hoped.  Just meant our campfire ended up being moved into the lunch room where we huddled around a lantern to tell stories and sing songs by.  We did skits, a ropes course, learned new dances, played games, did a hike, watched a movie, pulled cotton and just had a good time together.  With my cold and little sleep I came home a little fried and was very grateful for Jeremy holding everything together!
One of 3 classes - Robyn is rocking the hat

School has been going full steam ahead for me.  I am loving working in an elementary class every day this semester. Turned in my student teaching application so the end is coming up!

Jeremy has been enjoying his motorcycle.  Sold the quad and replaced it with his new toy.  He took Robyn out to camp this weekend with his brother Jason for a 50/20 hike.  Lots of fun, little sleep.  But he came home to go on a bike ride with me and later dinner and a movie - all of which was sorely needed.  He has been busy with work and projects and fixing all the things around here that break.

Taylor is doing well.  Seems happy and is lifting his head up most of the time and responding to people more.  Amazing what happens if you start to poop more!  He has a pressure sore on his ankles so he is enjoying showing off his cool socks lately and avoiding his braces.  We reupholstered part of his eating chair this last week.  It made us realize how bad the rest of it looks now so we might need to work on that.



In the last few months I've been fairly public with my efforts to lose some weight and get healthier, both for some public accountability and personal motivation. It's common for people to (seemingly constantly) talk about their fitness as they get excited and realize some success, and the reality is it's not just a desire to seek some public affirmation or social media "likes." Talking about the process helps keep it in the forefront of our minds and a priority amidst our busy lives. While my journey is far from over, I thought I would share some of my experience in hopes that it may benefit others.

For those that know me well, it's no surprise I have been struggling with some weight, largely due to some chronic pain and injuries. From a rib that frequently dislocates from my spine, to my knee that is mostly void of any cartilage, and shoulders that have been torn and flare up with strain, it has been difficult to maintain any exercise routine for more than a few weeks before something flares up to a degree that derails my attempts at increasing my daily fitness. Several times in the last year I've gotten past the first couple of weeks only to end up with daily icing routines and plenty of Ibuprofen.

But let's be honest here. Despite the injuries and pain, my real problem is a sedentary daily lifestyle and a prolific enjoyment of food. I often joke that my lovely wife Heather is an amazing cook, and I'm a great eater of food. Heather cooks healthy and sometimes rich foods, and I get in those old habits of eating until I'm stuffed. Portion control is essentially whatever I can fit in before my body rejects any more intake. So it was past time for a change.

Enter my friend Jason, letting me know a friend of his was looking for people that needed to lose 30 pounds or more to test a new meal replacement shake product soon to hit the market. I didn't need to know anything more, I was in. Timing was perfect as a family beach reunion was coming up in a couple of months, and all my previous efforts had failed miserably. In fact I had gained more weight in the meantime. After a few back and forth emails to confirm my stats, take some "before" photos and affirm my commitment, I was in.

And that was pretty much it to get started. I received a couple bottles of the shake powder along with a "good luck" and I was on my own. After little surprised there wasn't more guidance, I decided if I'm going to do this, then I'm ALL IN. I rarely do anything halfway, so my choice was to create a way to take in as few calories as possible and just power through the hunger that would inevitably come. And boy howdy did it come.

Along with using the shakes to replace my breakfast and lunch meals, I of course cut out all desserts, processed sugars in general, and no sodas or sugary drinks. Those are actually pretty easy for me to skip. It's the breads, chips and dairy that do me in, so I cut those out too. I had dinner with the family and ate whatever was prepared, just skipping parts if I felt like they hit the categories above and made sure I was eating about half of what I normally would in a portion size. After dinner there was nothing but water. Night time snacking is another of my many bad habits. Though I didn't take time to actually count calories for each meal, my estimate was about 1,100 calories per day total, including the shakes and snacks.

The First Two Weeks

The first two weeks I refer to as my "hell week(s)" as my stomach adjusted to the sudden, massive change. The shake product tasted great and helped both with appetite and nutrition. I looked through the ingredients and it was all natural and a good list of things. My digestion stayed constant despite going to a 2/3 liquid diet and a severe cut in calories and basic mass of foods. But it still was painful. As in it really hurt at times. After two weeks, my body adjusted and the severity of hunger started to subside. I was feeling pretty good and starting to see some weight fall off.

I played with various ways to help stick to the plan, consuming some fruits, veggies and other healthy options as snacks. These did help, but after talking with the program director he suggested if I really wanted to embrace the potential I needed to cut out even fruit because of the natural sugars. Wow. Ok, I'm in. Fruits for the most part were now gone. An occasional apple slice or plum off the back tree was fine, but it wasn't in my daily plan.

So for my snack I turned to plain peanuts. High in protein and even a small handful would satiate my mid-meal hunger if I gave it a few minutes to kick in. I also increased my liquid intake...a lot. I'm now up to 4-6 liters of water (often flavored with sugar free options) a day. That helps the appetite a ton keeping the belly feel despite significantly increasing the bathroom visit frequency.

30 lbs in 5 Weeks

At the end of the first month I was stoked. Results were happening, and fast. By the time I took some progress photos I had lost 30 lbs. I have lost weight in the past, but more like 15-20 lbs over many months with fitness. Losing it this fast was a huge challenge, but I had wanted to see if it was possible. I felt so much better already, primarily because I had taken a huge weight off of knees. To this point I had done nothing physical in my weight loss effort, focusing entirely on my diet. I was stoked and feeling very motivated. Those that follow me on social media were likely already starting to get tired of my frequent posts of the numbers on the scale, but I didn't care. I was all in, and that meant being accountable and following through with all aspects of the effort.

So at this point I decided it was time to add in some exercise, but very slowly. The last thing I needed  was to get hurt and laid up with an ice pack on my back struggling to sleep or move about. Our little dog Jasper was up for the challenge. He probably didn't know what changed, but he was happy to have a consistent morning walk as I hit the streets. Starting with 3/4 mile I tried to take him at least once a day, every day. My knees were feeling so much better I eventually increased this to a mile route, limited only to that because of time and wanting to start doing other exercise as well.

Slower Results, but still Results

My daily food plan was solid, and as I tend to be a creature of habits (both good and bad) I almost never deviated. Adding some fitness you'd think I'd see even quicker results. Right around the 200 lbs was a long standing plateau for me. I'd just above and below for the next few weeks. It was a good place to be, but frustrating at the same time. I wanted to believe I was putting on a little muscle while burning fat, but I don't think that was really happening yet. Mostly my body was fighting to hold on to whatever it could and I just needed to stick with the plan.

At this point I was very comfortable with the 2 shakes a day and very happy with the product and what it was doing for me. My calorie intake was still consistent and low, and hunger really wasn't an issue. My workday was the easiest because my meals and snacks were at predictable times and for the most part kept any hunger issues under control. Just keep with it and trust the results will come.

The Results are In

With a few weeks left I was giving as hard a push as possible. At this point I had been invited to join the company at their convention in Tampa to share my results, and I knew I was near the top of the results of all those participating. Sticking to the plan I was able to shed an additional 14 lbs and end up with 44 lbs lost. What a monumental change. Not only did I drop the weight, I went down several pant sizes and 4 notches in my belt. My joints feel so much better not carrying that weight and I am now enjoying getting outdoors and being active again. I still deal with some of my chronic injury issues, but they are getting better as I am able to continue to increase my activity level and tone up my core and joint muscles.


Tampa Expo

Traveling to Tampa to share my results was fun and a nice affirmation of my efforts. I was one of about 30 people they had come on stage in front of their very large crowd of distributors and leadership attending. It was energizing to see and share with others that also had great results, and honestly even more rewarding to be presented as having had the best results out of the trial.

During the trial period testing out the shake product I was under a confidentiality agreement, so when asked about what I was using I couldn't reveal the company or product. Now that I have finished the trial, I can say the product is called OGX by Organo™. I was very happy with the way it performed for me as part of my overall effort, and it enabled me to push harder than I would have done on my own with just reduced portions and healthy foods. Their mix of natural ingredients gave me energy, helped stem my cravings and frankly tasted great so I actually enjoyed my meal replacement. I'd happily recommend it as an option to anyone interested. I am not a distributor for their products, but I'm sure you'd have no problem finding someone who can help you purchase them at retail or reduced pricing.


What's Next?

My goal all along with this weight cut was hoping to hit a big reset button. Cut the weight and then move forward in improving my overall health and activity level. I've taken up cycling with a couple of friends and even enjoyed a road trip that included some cycling in Snow Canyon and Red Canyon. My neighbor has helped keep me on a 2x a weeks schedule cycling and I'm slowly improving my endurance and cardio. I'm hitting weights in my home gym 3x a week, and added a rowing machine to my options.

It feels fantastic. I'm committed to following through keeping off the weight I've lost and adding back some muscle mass while burning off some additional fat. Many people have asked me about my experience and what worked for me, so hopefully this helps those that are interested and maybe even inspires a few others that are in a similar situation. Feel free to hit me up on social media or via email if you have any questions or want to know more.

Photos copyright ORGANO™. See their product I used at www.organigold.com called OGX. Thanks OG for making this experience possible!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

School


With school starting we spent the week before doing all the odds and ends that need to be done.  I took each kid on their school shopping day where we got school supplies and went out to lunch.  Robyn learned that Zuppas has chocolate covered strawberries with every meal and is now a big fan.  Taylor got all new wheelchair parts and grew his chair so it fits him much better now.  He even got a flame covered seat cushion!


Spencer worked a bunch and we realized we hadn't done many hikes together this summer.  So he picked a hike and we started the Hall death march.  About an hour in of going vertical the whole time, he turned to me and said "This is just insane!"  But he wanted to do the whole loop of Dry Creek Canyon and we did.  We learned spending four miles going up and one mile to go most of the way down makes for a very scary hike.  Spencer came home with two black big toes and we are waiting to see the nails fall off.  We also learned that 5.7 miles sometimes can take much longer than anticipated and we needed a lot more water.  Luckily God sent angels in the parking lot who saw us stumbling out and gave us water - Spencer guzzled down a half gallon on the spot.


Since we were  no where near done with the hike when it became time for Robyn's school open house, Jeremy came home and took her to meet her teacher and see her classroom.  She thought that was a fantastic turn of events.


We had a Mucho Macho Nacho night where we invited friends over for nachos and to watch Nacho Libre outside.  We have never seen that movie and I was surprised that we were the only ones!  Many quotes now make much more sense to me.


I took the kids for one last daytime family activity where we went to BYU bowling and out for ice cream afterwards.  I think I have learned the trick to this.  We need to bowl two games so we can get all the snarkiness out of the way during the first game and then just have a great time playing.

School started on a Monday this year for our kids.  That worked out great for Mom Monday as I make breakfast and lunches that day.  Three of our kids were ready to go as Jeremy left for work so of course I begged for first day photos.



Taylor was a little slow getting ready or rather I was so he got stuck with a mom photo.


The bus system dropped Taylor off their list so I needed to drive him the first few days.  That ended up working out great as I also worked every day for that first week.  Taylor has a new teacher this year who is an intern.  I went to the school open house and couldn't believe how young she was.  Allison came with me to get Taylor and said she really liked Taylor's new aide.  She was blown away when I said that was his teacher.  But she seems to be doing a great job.  Taylor has started eating again which makes life better for everyone.  He is still thin but doesn't look quite as bad anymore.


Robyn, Jasper and I got to walk to the elementary school the first day.  But since then she has been cruising past me on her bike with her friend and we only get to be with her till the end of the block.  She has an amazing teacher this year (plus some squirly boys sitting right next to her).  I have never seen her so motivated to get all her homework done and she has been the first kid awake every day so she can shower first thing.  Every morning her teacher has the class recite this poster:  "I am responsible for how I feel and what I do.  Nobody can make me feel anything.  If I have a rotten day, I am the one who allowed it to be that way. If I have a great day, I am the one who deserves the credit for being positive.  It is not the responsibility of other people to change so that I can feel better.  I am the one who is in charge of my life."  Isn't that just an awesome philosophy?

Allison and Spencer were both pretty comfortable with starting back to school.  Spencer is only working at Chubby's on weekends now.  He is feeling quite overloaded with homework.  Calculus and chemistry are him trying to drink from a fire hose.  But he is getting back into the groove of it.    Last Friday he and I got to go to the Renaissance Fair at Thanksgiving Point.  We had a rocky start as we had to wait for Taylor to get home and the new bus he had just started ended up being really late and then the freeways were closed with an accident.  But despite much gnashing of teeth and some wailing we got there.  Spencer loved watching the jousting and fire breathing and people selling armor and everyone dressed up.

We have been slowly trying to pick our garden.  We got most of one apple tree picked and stocked up our freezer with apple crisp.


And Taylor got to enjoy coming to ladies night at Kneaders for Saturday night dessert while Spencer worked and Jeremy was gone.


This last week we had a very special experience as Spencer received his patriarchal blessing.  It was awesome to see him fast on a school day and take it so seriously.  It really changed some of my perspective on him and I think changed his own perspective on his purpose in life.  Today he bore his testimony about it.  Still couldn't believe that we were at this point in our lives as I sat on a couch holding Jeremy's hand while the patriarch blessed Spencer.  One of the coolest things we have been a part of.

School started for me this week so I was back to class three nights a week and lots of homework.  One of my classes has me teach in a school every day but that doesn't start for one more week.  So although its busy, its not as busy as its going to be!

Jeremy has had some neat opportunities these past two weekends.  We have done some shopping trips as he has been looking for his "thin" outfit.  Much shopping and comparing involved but he found a good looking outfit that fit.  Last weekend he was able to go camping with a friend through Las Vegas area and bike, relax and take photos.  This weekend he flew to Florida for the MLM convention to show off his new figure, look at the ocean and eat a steak.  We will be glad to have him back.  Between the two trips and a bunch of working photo shoots he has been pretty busy.  We are impressed and proud of what he is accomplishing.  Jeremy also got a road bike in exchange for some photo work and has been biking with a friend in the morning.

This weekend the kids and I (plus Allison's friend Kaori who seems to end up in most family activity pictures!) went to the Timpanogous storytelling festival.  Long, awesome, funny and sometimes filled with complaining weekend.  Kids all come home saying they loved it so I try to focus on that part instead of what it took to get there!  (changing Taylor in the car after a blowout, Robyn having a melt down over not being able to play with friends, Spencer deciding that everyone needed to shut up right now, Allison not liking meal  plans) Nope just not thinking about that part at all but the part of spending 13 hours sitting next to Spencer and him talking to me whenever there wasn't a storyteller.  Or Taylor sitting up and clapping for all the laughing stories.  Or Robyn wanting to cuddle with peach shakes.  Or Allison just curled up with Kaori smiling and laughing all night long.  Yep thats the part that I need to remember.







Sunday, August 14, 2016

Back to Reality

Coming home from vacation is always a little rough, despite our kids voting unanimously to stop at Beaver Tacos which we all decided is the highlight of driving home.  Jeremy however made it a lot easier by arranging a surprise for our 22nd anniversary as I walked through the door.  He had our neighbor put in wood flooring in our dining room while we were gone.  We had decided to go that route a month ago and I had been waiting for a quote.  Jeremy figured out along with our kids how to have it all done while we were gone.  It looks gorgeous and once everything is back together I will post photos.  I can't believe that all happened without me ever having a clue about it.  It was an amazing present.

We picked up Taylor from respite and Jasper between us and Taylor was just giddy.  Taylor did not do so well while we were gone but I think he would have done worse on the beach.  He just won't eat right now and is super thin.  But he seems happier this last week and we are just forcing calories in him.

We went over to Jason and Kelly's for dinner and to meet their new puppy on Sunday and brought back with us two cousins.  Robyn just couldn't bear the thought of being cousinless after being so blessed for a week in California.  And they were all good sports about me needing to do mammoth piles of laundry and grocery shopping.  While we were gone Robyn's fake mermaid tail arrived so we spent the evening at the pool trying it out.


I had spent a bunch of the drive to and from California studying for my math test and that is all I did most of the time this week.  It is ridiculous how much I needed to relearn.  But Thursday I finally passed my test so I could get into the math class I needed.  I think Robyn was as excited as I was when she realized I wouldn't be spending hours studying math during the day anymore!  And I of course had to stop on my way to home to get my celebratory brownie. 

Girls have had piano camp this week where they go in for an hour a day with a group of students to work on theory.  Spencer and I did his back to school shopping and doctors visit which mainly involved getting a planner and a mammoth mexican meat sandwich.

Allison had her last dance class and did a little recital at the end to show off all they have learned.  We had a ward pool party one night and one morning I was able to get up early to meet a friend for a long bike ride.  We are trying to soak up the last bit of summer.  The highlight for Robyn was that her friend Kelly was visiting from Connecticut and came down to spend two days with her.

On Friday night Jeremy and I celebrated our anniversary by going up to Sundance for a picnic and to see The Music Man.  Froze and had a great time up in the mountains together.  Hard to believe how far we have come in 22 years!







At the end of July we took Taylor to respite (which was a little stressful as we had a miscommunication and they weren't expecting him for a few days.  So everything was locked up with no staff there.  Thankfully a very nice worker there made it all work out!) and we headed off in the early morning to CA.  Jeremy and our kids are convinced its best to leave at 4 am and get there early.  I am not quite convinced yet.


We spent the next two days at Universal Studios and for one of those my sister-in-law Griselda and their four boys got to join us with my brother David joining in the afternoon.  Cousins make the lines so much better.  But our kids were all good sports at getting up at 5:30 both days so we could be there right as Harry Potter world opened.  It was totally worth it as you could walk onto all the big rides.  My kids were enchanted as was I.


Spencer and Robyn are the Harry Potter fanatics in our house despite Allison having read the books more than the rest of us combined.  They said sitting in HogsHead Tavern drinking frozen butterbeer at the end of a hot afternoon was like a dream come true.


We went to all the shows and decided WaterWorld although a dumb movie made for a super cool stunt show.


It was like 95 degrees so kids really appreciated any shade and misting fan we could find:


And Spencer really liked the Simpson humor.


Saturday morning we just spent the morning at Universal Studios and then battled the traffic to get to Newport and my family.



We had an amazing house this year that was right off of Balboa Pier.  The waves there were huge!  Uncle David taught Robyn how to dive through the waves which would land with a huge boom.  And our girls got their wish for us to get the crows nest room so they could sleep in a loft bed with a little port window to look out of.  Most days we would drive the two miles to Newport Pier where there was a long shallow area for kids to play and boogie board easily in.  The days would just slide by easily and quickly full of sunshine, visiting and relaxing.  Everyone was able to come although Christina was only able to be there for the beginning of the week.  I love my family and spending time with them and one of my favorite parts is watching my kids become friends with their cousins.  We had moments like this that just melted my heart:



We visited the Newport temple after church where Griselda pointed out to her boys that in CA even the temples are tan.


Robyn got sunburned the first long beach day, just in time for photos, and decided her souvenir was going to be a hat and was a sunblock fiend from that point on.  She had a sister and some cousins join her.


We got shakes at Ruby's, went for a family bike ride (whining all the way there, smiles all the way back), went paddle boarding, visited Balboa Island for the candy store, amazing houses and Balboa bars, played games on the sand, lots of boogie boarding, rode a Ferris wheel, nights spent around the fire talking, amazing sandcastles and naps and books.  Just so much fun that none of us wanted to leave.








My nephew Haefen only had a few days on the beach before a towel rack cut open his lip and he had to get stitches.  So he stuck to fishing and sandcastle duty for the rest of the week.


My Mom and Christina had arranged to make a quilt for Taylor with everyone's hand prints on it.


We celebrated my brother Daniel's birthday with sparklers and cake on the beach.  (and earlier some big people did the all you can eat tacos nearby)




And of course Jeremy did family photos doughnuts as bribes for smiles.



It is amazing how a week of being surrounded by people you love and admire, in a beautiful place full of fun things to do just can fly by and leave you wishing for more.  How can you not feel full of happiness and optimism when you can see sheer joy in kids faces?  It was an awesome vacation.