Dec 31, 2011

A Surprise at Taco Bell

So normally at Taco Bell I get the steak taquito with no cheddar cheese, meaning it's just the meat & the tortilla. Being a picky eater, that's how I like it.

The other day I go to Taco Bell, order Christy's stuff and then order my taquito. The girl behind the counter informs me they've redone their menu and no longer offer the taquito... What?!? Why do places do that? They get something good on the menu and then mess around with it. (Update: They still will sell you taquito... they just don't list it on their menu)

But, I've still got options. They have a steak taco, but it's less convenient to order. With the taquito I could just say no cheese. With the taco I have to say no cheese, no lettuce, no tomatoes and no avocado ranch sauce. This makes it four times more likely that they'll mess up my order. I don't even bother with doing the drive through at fast food places any more. They always goof up the order and I have to go inside anyway.

But, none of this has anything to do with what my surprise was. It's been so long since I've ordered the steak taco, I had to go to Taco Bell's website to see what all is on the taco so I can be sure and list everything they need to not put on it. While on their website, I noticed they have a nutrition calculator. It allows you to build a customized meal and it'll adjust the calories for what you add or subtract.

So I started looking at the side items I get at Taco Bell. I plugged in Cinnamon Twists and learned that they have 170 calories. That's not too bad compared to 230 calories for a small fries from McDonalds, 380 calories for a medium fries and 500 calories for a large fries.

But my big surprise was when I looked at Taco Bells nachos, the ones that come in the little bag with a little container of cheese sauce. I don't do the cheese, but I like the chips. I was figuring that the chips would have less calories that the cinnamon twists since the cinnamon twists have a cinnamon and sugar coating. In fact, I've always kinda considered the cinnamon twist a dessert item.

I was shocked that compared to the 170 calories in the twists, just the nacho chips have 230 calories! I was able to save 60 calories by going with the cinnamon twists over the chips.

While typing this post, I see that McDonald's also has a food calculator. These are pretty handy tools to see exactly how many calories you are getting and where they come from. For example, eliminating the Big Mac sauce from your Big Mac will save you 110 calories. The BBQ sauce for the nuggets carry 50 calories for each little container.

Bottom line: we typically underestimate the calories we are consuming. The only way to really know is to do the research. Oh, and don't be afraid to think outside the bun...

Dec 29, 2011

The Journey: Am I Up To This?

One of the blogs I follow is "11 Points." His humorous, sometimes off-color posts are full of useless trivia which are like candy to the brain. I didn't realize it, but the author has been on a Journey of his own. He talks about it here... I'd suggest reading it first before continuing on with my post.

When I decided to cut out soda, I did it 100%. I knew if I just tried to cut back it would lead to an epic failure. In the same way, the author of the blog made a 100% commitment to work out every day in 2011. He knew if he said he'd work out "most" days that he'd compromise one day at a time and before long he'd find he hadn't exercised in months. Which is EXACTLY what I've done over the last 6 months. It's so easy skip a day, promising yourself that you'll hit it hard tomorrow. Only tomorrow never comes...

So, after reading his post, I'm contemplating doing the same thing he did: commit that in 2012 I will exercise everyday. But I'm hesitant... And in the spirit of the original blog, I'll list the 11 reasons why I'm hesitant:
  1. Am I too late? When I made the commitment to stop drinking soda, I gave myself a month and a half to prepare mentally. Every time I had a soda between early February and late March I was reminding myself that soon I'd be quitting. It was part of the process of retraining my thinking. If I make this new commitment, I've got just a couple of days to prepare.
  2. It's not going to be convenient. Something like this never is. 
  3. What if I fail and don't make it the whole year? Do I really want to add another dismal failure onto the pile of failure that is my life?
  4. If I do miss one day, will I have intestinal fortitude to go the next day since I would've already broken the streak?
  5. What if I do go at it this hard and still see no results?
  6. Is it wise in regards to health to exercise every day? I've seen studies that show your body needs periods of rest. Even God took it easy on the seventh day...
  7. If I don't do this am I ever going to get some of this weight off?
  8. What other demands on my time will I have to ignore to make this happen?
  9. Why did I say I'd have 11 reasons? I'm starting to run out of things... How can I commit to a year of exercise when I can't even complete an 11 point list?
  10. Going to the gym is pretty boring... Can I figure out a way to make it more engaging?
  11. What if I fail... Yes, I know I've listed this twice, but it's a pretty big concern. Outside of my marriage & my walk with God, I've managed to mess things up pretty good lately.

So... Am I going to do it? I don't know. I've got three more days to decide. I'll let you know what I come up with. Unless I fail at that too...

Dec 25, 2011

My Family Christmas Letter

I've been a little remiss in my blogging duties... So I thought I'd put up our family Christmas letter for your reading enjoyment.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!

So you may’ve notice that this Christmas letter has come to you after Christmas. You might be assuming this is an indication of laziness or procrastination. Well, you’d be wrong. You see, by the time you get this, Christmas will just be a memory. The stores will already be onto Valentines day stuff. The last of the leftovers will be molding in the back of the fridge. The tree will be mulch. But, by us sending our Christmas cards & this letter out now, we are helping you keep the spirit of Christmas alive for a few days extra. You’re welcome...

We pray that this letter finds you healthy & whole. As much as we love living in Alaska, it’s hard being away from family.

So, here is an update on what has been going on in our lives in 2011. We’ve been in our new house for two years now. We had gutters put on this summer & next summer we’ll have to get a yard put in. We are the last home on the block without grass. Luckily the house next to us has an old travel-trailer half tore apart in the yard, so we are not the most ghetto-looking place on the block.

Christy’s work has remained very busy. In addition to being bookkeeper, she is now the store manager and for the most part in charge of the whole company. It’s been a big challenge, but she’s making great strides to keep everything going. She works at Builders Bargains and they sell cabinets, countertops & wood floor. They offer a high end product at a low price.

Todd is still working at Alaska Air Balancing. He’s been there 2 1/2 years and has finally started to understand what “air balancing” is. Mechanical engineers design the heating & ventilation system for commercial buildings & mechanical contractors install these systems. Then balancers come in and measure & adjust the heating & ventilation system so they function as they were designed. Alaska Air Balancing is the only firm in the state of Alaska that are qualified to do what they do, so their 10 field technicians stay pretty busy. Todd works in the office doing the job bidding and getting the paperwork set up for the field technicians.

The highlight of our year was our first ever trip to Hawaii. We spent two days on Oahu, staying in Waikiki Beach, and then 7 days on Kauai. It was a great trip. We climbed to the top of Diamond Head, went snorkeling and spent time on the beach. At the end of the trip, Christy didn’t want to leave. Neither did Todd, but that’s only because he had sunburned his feet so bad he couldn’t walk.

The biggest change this year was our resignation from Wasilla Assembly of God. Todd had been there almost 16 years & for Christy it’s about the only church she’s ever know, having been there 23 years. It was an incredibly hard decision to make, but it was just time for a change. After the first of the year we’ll begin the hunt for a new church to attend here locally.

Back in 2010 we both started a journey to begin to lose weight. We cut out soda & focused more on what we were eating. In February we joined a gym and really saw some great results. We knew our trip to Hawaii was coming up and that gave us the motivation to hit it hard. Todd lost 55 pounds and Christy got to her lowest weight in years. After getting back from Hawaii, things haven’t gone as well. Between Christy being overwhelmed at work, Todd’s feet being fried to a crisp for a month and the stress of making the decision to step away from Wasilla Assembly of God we lost our momentum. But we haven’t given up. You can follow Todd’s journey at his blog,

For Thanksgiving we snuck off to Oregon & surprised the family there. We got to meet our five new nephews & nieces: Trenton, Averee, Anna, Elijah and Esther and get reacquainted with Trent, Trevor & Levi. It was great to see a good portion of the family again. We are trying to put together another quick trip down over Memorial Day weekend.

The rest of our year was spent enjoying time with friends & family, relaxing at home and geocaching along the trails and in the wilderness of Alaska.

We are thankful to God for His provision & protection this year. We know that what ever is ahead of us, He will guide us and walk us through. We remember this Christmas season the ultimate gift that was given: Jesus Christ as our savior & lord; for the forgiveness of our sins & shortcomings.

We love & miss all of you.

~Todd & Christy

Dec 11, 2011

Dark Chocolate

We all know how it works with Hershey's Miniatures...You buy a bag and dump them in a bowl. The Krackel & Mr. Goodbars go first, and then the regular milk chocolate. Now you are left with a dozen or so of the dark chocolate bars that linger in the bowl for the next two weeks until you either throw them out or eat them in a fit of self-loathing.

I've always assumed that I didn't like dark chocolate. But that's because I've only ever had the Hershey's dark chocolate. All of that has changed.

On our recent trip over Thanksgiving to visit family in Oregon, we took a couple of days & drove over to the eastern part of the state to visit some good friends that live in Milton-Freewater. It's a little town just south of Walla Walla, Washington.

In our room where we'd staying for the night, they put together a little welcome basket, full of all kinds of delicious snacks. Among the items was a bar of Dove dark chocolate. Now, I'm familiar with Dove chocolates. As I've been on the Journey I've develop some tricks to help along the way. To keep me from binging and devouring a whole candy bar, I keep some of the little foil wrapped squares of Dove chocolate in my desk. When I'm craving some sweet, sweet sugar, I'll slowly eat one of them, one little bite at a time. And since chocolate makes me thirsty, one little square eaten over time will cause me to drink a liter of water. Drinking lots of water is a big key to weight loss, so it all works together.

At some point that evening I was hungrin' for something sweet, so out of desperation, I tore into the dark chocolate. And while it wasn't as good as milk chocolate, it was good. It was definitely way better than the Hershey's dark chocolate.

I feel like I've discovered a whole new world. I went to my local mega-mart and got some of the Ghirardelli 60% Cacao dark chocolate. It's pretty tasty! Because the flavor is still a little bitter, just one little bite causes me to drink a lot of water & satisfies the sweet tooth for quite a while. This one 3.5 ounce bar has lasted me all week That works out to about 95 calories a day, which is equivalent to about half a candy bar. And who ever eats just half a candy bar?

So over time, as I can afford it, I'm on a mission to try out some the other dark chocolate options in the candy aisle. Hershey's will not be among the candidates...

Dec 6, 2011

The Journey: HCG Diet

I'm back from my trip to Oregon & I've got a couple of different posts in mind to do, but I'm short on time...

However, I saw this in the news & thought it was worth passing on. The HCG diet is the current fad out there. It's not cheap, and now the FDA says that their claims are illegal and dangerous.

This post from Scott Hensley at NPR lays out the details.Here are the highlights:

HCG is a natural hormone made by the placenta during pregnancy. A prescription-strength version is given by injection as a part of fertility treatment.
But companies that sell the stuff in drops, sprays and pellets without a prescription claim it can recalibrate the body's metabolism, the FDA says. A dieter is supposed to take HCG to help curb cravings while adhering to an extremely low-calorie diet of, say, 500 calories a day. Stick with that and you're supposed to lose a pound a day.

 "These products are marketed with incredible claims and people think that if they're losing weight, HCG must be working," Elizabeth Miller, acting director of FDA's Division of Non-Prescription Drugs and Health Fraud, says in a statement. But there's absolutely no proof of that, the agency says. "Any loss is from severe calorie restriction. Not from the HCG."

Aside from the issues with HCG, the FDA says a 500-calorie diet by itself is pretty risky. You can get gallstones and develop other health problems from such severe restrictions on what you eat.

MSNBC also had an article on it here...

Bottom line: There's no shortcut to weight loss other than proper diet & exercise. Which really sucks...

Dec 1, 2011

Oregon for Thanksgiving

We decided to surprise my parents by showing up unannounced in Oregon for Thanksgiving. We flew the red eye flight and got to Portland at 6am Thanksgiving morning. After grabbing breakfast we woke mom up to let us in the house. She was shocked but happy to see us.

Because of everyone's travel & work schedule, we did our Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday. There was over 20 of the family there. I got to see both of my grandmothers and all of my nephew & nieces. I had 2 nephews & 3 nieces that I had never met before. It's been 3 years since we've been down here. It was really good to connect with everyone. The one regret I have for living in Alaska is that I'm so far from the rest of family.

We'll be spending a total of 10 days here. We are spending time with my parents & getting some shopping down. We also took a couple of days to drive across the state to Milton-Freewater to see some friends who have moved there from Alaska. It was an incredible drive over & back along the Columbia River. And it was even better to spend a little time with some incredible people who we miss very much. I was going to include some pictures of the drive, but they are on another computer & I'm too lazy to get up...

The Journey will resume when I return home. The complete lack of results in the last month do not give me much motivation, but I can't give up... My goal a few months ago was to be back down to 315 for this trip. That was my weight before I lost momentum back in May. I completely failed on that goal. I was also wanting to be 299 by the end of the year. That's not going to happen either. I also wanted to be 271 by March 24th, 2012, which would be 100 pounds lost in 2 years. That goal *might* be doable if my body will start responding to the exercise.

I just remember I could grab the pictures off of facebook:

The mighty Columbia River

Mount Hood

Multnomah Falls

Our rental car. I've had it up to 108 MPH so far...

A recreation of Stonehedge built in 1918 as a WW I memorial

The vineyards behind where we stayed in Milton-Freewater, Oregon.

We saw hundreds of these wind turbines on the drive.

Nov 22, 2011

Worth it?

From Seth Godin:

Worth it?

That's a question you hear a lot. "Was it worth it?"
Not certain what either "it" refers to, but generally we're saying, "was the destination worth the journey? Was the effort worth the reward?"
The thing about effort is that effort is its own reward if you allow it to be.
So the answer can always be "yes" if you let it.

Nov 20, 2011

After you've done your best

From Seth Godin:

After you've done your best

(and it didn't work)
...then what do you do?
Slamming your six iron into the ground, yelling at yourself, cursing out your staff, second-guessing, berating bystanders—there are plenty of ways we demonstrate our frustration that our best didn't work this time.
But is it helpful?
Learning from a failure is critical. Connecting effort with failure at an emotional level is crippling. After all, we've already agreed you did your best.
Early in our careers, we're encouraged to avoid failure, and one way we do that is by building up a set of emotions around failure, emotions we try to avoid, and emotions that we associate with the effort of people who fail. It turns out that this is precisely the opposite of the approach of people who end up succeeding.
If you believe that righteous effort leads to the shame of personal failure, you'll seek to avoid righteous effort.
Successful people analytically figure out what didn't work and redefine what their best work will be in the future. And then they get back to work.
Let the guys at ESPN do the racket throwing.

Nov 15, 2011

The Journey: Why Am I Bothering?

The one or two of you who even bother to read this blog may have noticed that I've been off schedule the last few weeks.

The truth is I'm horribly discouraged. I've hit the gym HARD for the last month. I've been careful in what I'm eating. I feel like I'm putting 100% effort in. Yet I'm seeing NO, zero, none, nada, nyet results. I'm STUCK at 330 pounds.

My goal of being 299 by the end of the year is completely unattainable at this point. There's just no way I could make up that much lost time.

I'm use to effort in equaling results out. Work more hours, get more pay. Drive faster and get there sooner. Up until now in the Journey this has been truth. The harder I've worked the gym, the more weight loss. But this is no longer the case.

I would give up completely, but then I think of a friend of mine who is a commercial fisherman. He works hard. The thing is, no matter how much effort he puts in, sometimes the fish just aren't there. But if he didn't put in the hard work, then the fish could be there and he'd miss it. So, fish or no fish: You have to put in the work to take advantage of when the fish are there.

Therefore, I will continue to put in the time at the gym. At least I will know I'm doing my part, even if the desired results don't come.

Nov 9, 2011

Don't Be Common

I Do Not Choose to Be a Common Man

It is my right to be uncommon—if I can.

I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept
citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after

I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to
fail and to succeed.

I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the
challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of
fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia.

I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for
a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend
to any threat.

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to
think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations
and to face the world boldly and say, “This I have done.”

~By Dean Alfange
*Originally published in This Week Magazine.
Later reprinted in The Reader’s Digest, October 1952 and January 1954.

The Honorable Dean Alfange was an American statesman born December 2, 1899, in Constantinople
(now Istanbul). He was raised in upstate New York. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I and attended Hamilton College, graduating in the class of 1922. He attended Columbia University where he received his law degree and opened a practice in Manhattan. In 1942, Alfange was the American Labor Party candidate for governor of New York and a founder of the Liberal Party of New York. Dean Alfange was also Professor Emeritus at UMass Amherst and a leading figure in various pro-Zionist organizations. Between other actions, in November 1943, he appeared before the House of Representatives and addressed them on the rescue of the Jewish people of Europe. He died in Manhattan at the age of 91 on October 27, 1989.

Oct 29, 2011

The Journey: Diggin' Deep


Said the Little Red Rooster, “Believe me things are tough!
Seems the worms are getting scarcer and I cannot find enough.
What’s become of all those fat ones? It’s a mystery to me.
There were thousands through that rainy spell,
But now, where can they be?”

But the Old Black Hen who heard him didn’t grumble or complain,
She had lived through lots of dry spells;
She had lived through floods of rain.
She picked a new and undug spot, The ground was hard and firm,
“I must go to the worms,” she said. “The worms won’t come to me.”

The Rooster vainly spent his day,
Through habit, by the ways
Where fat round worms had passed in squads back in the rainy days.
When nightfall found him supperless, he growled in accents rough,
“I’m hungry as a fowl can be, conditions sure are tough.”

But the Old Black Hen hopped to her perch
And dropped her eyes to sleep
And murmured in a drowsy tone, “Young man, hear this and weep.
I’m full of worms and happy
For I’ve eaten like a pig.
The worms were there as always
But, boy I had to dig!”

I was going to just put the poem up for this blog post. But since it speaks to where I'm at right now, I need to give an update on The Journey. While on our trip to Hawaii in late April/early May I was at my lowest at 315 pounds. Coming off that trip, I completely lost momentum. I stopped going to the gym and wasn't weighing in regularly.
I stayed under 320 through May & June. In July I was up, but still under 325. I didn't weigh again until late September, when I was 329. By the time I started going back to the gym in mid October, I was up to 335 pounds. 

In the last 19 days, I've been to the gym on 16 of them. I initially lost 5 pounds, but have since held steady at about 330 (give or take a pound) for almost two weeks. It's VERY frustrating to put in an hour to an hour and a half every day and see no results.

To be very clear, I hate going to the gym. It's inconvenient. By the time I get home in the evenings it's 7pm or 8pm. By the time I make and eat dinner, it's time for bed. But it would all be worth it if I was seeing results.

But I'm not seeing results. So... I can whine & complain. I can give up. I can join the idiots at Occupy Wall Street and demand that skinny people get fat too so I'm normal. Or I can do like the Old Black Hen and keep digging. So dig I shall.

Oct 25, 2011

The Journey: Stuff You Can Eat

In the last few posts I've covered stuff you should avoid. Today I wanted to pass on a few things from the fine folks over at Eat This, Not That that actually isn't as unhealthy as they seem.

The fact is that sometimes it's not possible to solely dine on organic, all natural fruits, twigs & air. Sometimes you just gotta eat something good. So here's a few things that aren't going to kill you instantly: (Oh, and here's the link to the whole article)

The Super Roast Beef Sandwich at Arby's comes in at only 440 calories. A comparable hamburger would carry at least 600 calories.

Speaking of hamburgers; the BK Single Stacker from Burger King only has 380 calories. That's pretty light compared to the rest of their menu.

Or, if you are a fan of the Golden Arches, the McDouble only delivers 390 calories.

Looking for some upscale eatin'? The Steak Toscano at Olive Garden gives you a slug of protein for just 590 calories.

What about pizza? Two slices of The Works on original crust from Papa Johns has 460 calories, and two slices Hand Tossed Spicy Sicilian pizza from Pizza Hut has 480 calories.

Dairy Queen is known for their desserts, but they've got other stuff too. Their All Beef Chili Dog  has a mere 330 calories.

Speaking of desserts; hungry for some ice cream? Haagen-Daz's Five Milk Chocolate ice cream only has 220 calories for 1/2 cup. Or you can do a small Original Frosty from Wendy's for 250 calories.

So, for those times when you just want some good food, there's options. You can splurge & still not go nuts.

Oct 22, 2011

The Journey: Just Don't Eat These...

This is the second post (click here for the first one...) covering Eat This, Not That's 2012 list of worst foods in America.

As I've said, I'm not dieting as part of the Journey. And I'm not counting calories. But I am being more aware of what calories I'm eating and being more strategic about my calories. (See my "Tale of Two Meals" post...)

If you aren't careful, you can blow up a day's worth of calories in one meal. Remember, it's recommended that adults consume 2,000 calories a day. If you are a dockworker or coal miner, you can up that number. Take a look at four examples that could feed a dockworker AND a coal miner with a little left over for their tax guy:

With their Jalapeño Smokehouse Bacon Burger with Ranch, it's almost like Chili's was trying to see how many calories they could jam into one item. And at 2,210 calories, I'd say they did a pretty good job. Throw in the fries, soda, appetizer, & dessert and you can skip the next two or three meals. Oh, and the burger also has as much sodium as 6 pounds of McDonald's fries. (article link)

Speaking of appetizers... They aren't innocent either when it comes to the calorie count. Remember, appetizers were originally meant to be a small snack before the main meal. Well, there's nothing small about Applebee's Appetizer Sampler. It comes with chips, dip, wings & quesadillas. Oh, and there's celery sticks.... So, I guess it makes it healthy. Right? Well, at 2,430 calories, it's not healthy. Even if 4 people share this pile of food, it's still an extra 600 calories. That's a meal's worth of calories right there! (article link)

Ribs start off on shaky ground. The meat part of 'em are interlaced with fat. But that's no excuse for the 2,450 calories that come with the Caribbean Rockin' Reggae Ribs from TGI Friday's. But the sin here isn't the meat. It's the oily, sugary BBQ sauce that is layered onto it. (article link)

The 1,310 calories in the BK Ultimate Breakfast Platter from Burger King that I mentioned in the last post doesn't hold a candle to the Big Country Breakfast with Country Fried Steak & Country Gravy from IHOP. It packs 800 calories for every time they use the word "country" in it's name. That's over 2,400 calories total for those of you who don't like math. 2,440 calories to be exact. (article link)

To eat any one of these meals for a special occasion wouldn't be a big deal. But if you are eating stuff like this on a regular basis, the effects add up quickly. Let's say you start with breakfast at IHOP, lunch at TGI Friday's, and dinner at Chili's. That's almost 7000 calories for the day. Let's say you just splurge like that on Saturdays. Unless you exercise A LOT, you could easily pack on 50 pounds a year.

Looking at those numbers, I think I'm lucky that I only got up to 371 pounds. It could've been much, much worse.

Oct 18, 2011

The Journey: An Update

I was going to do a second part of my last post, covering more of the Eat This, Not That's list of worst meals for 2012.  But, I thought I would instead give you a quick update on where The Journey is at right now.

Last week I made it to the gym six days in a row. Sunday we had to go into Anchorage early, so I didn't get a chance to go then. Plus, I was hurtin' pretty good. I went last night (Monday) and the plan is go every night this week.

In the couple of months that I wasn't exercising, I went back up to 335 pounds. I'm not sure how it happened so fast, but it is what it is. I've managed to take back off 4 pounds already.

For now, I'll be working out 5 to 6 days a week. My goal is to be at 299 pounds by the end of the year. I don't want to start 2012 weighing over 300 pounds. March 24, 2012 will mark the two year anniversary of the beginning of the Journey and my goal is to be at 271 pounds by then, which will be 100 pounds lost.

For those who are just recently joining my Journey, you can go to my first post about it and then read forward. In a nutshell, though, on March 24th, 2010 I made the decision to cut out my 1,500 calories a day soda habit. I had hit 371 pounds and was only getting fatter each and every day. Just cutting out the soda helped me lose the first 30 pounds. I've also modified what I eat (but I don't diet) and have started working out regularly.

I've gotten as low as 316 pounds, a 55 pound loss. But then I had a month where I couldn't work out and it's been hard to get the momentum going again. But I think I may be back in the swing of it.

The sad thing is there's been 3 different times I've lost momentum. If I hadn't, I could've lost the 100 pounds in a year and I'd almost be at my goal weight by now. But, what's done is done. I can't undo what I've done; I can only do what I can do now.

What about you? What are you doing?

Oct 15, 2011

The Journey: Even more Eat This, Not That

The fine folks over at Eat This, Not That have released their list of the worst foods in America for 2012. Here are some of the highlights...

Does TGIF stand for Thank God It's Fattening? It might if you order up their Loaded Mashed Potatoes. It's only a side dish but packs an astounding 930 calories. Yeah, that's about 1/2 your calories for the entire day. (article link)

Speaking of half your calories for the day, you'll get that if you order the Veggie Sandwich at Quiznos. That's right... 1090 calories in a veggie sandwich. It sounds like it should be healthy, but it's not. Oh, and it also slams you with a day's worth of fat. (article link)

They say it's good to start each day with eating breakfast. But if it's the Burger King BK Ultimate Breakfast Platter, you'll need to follow it up with a 12 mile run to burn off the 1,310 calories. Hmm... I'm pretty sure it would take me the whole rest of the day to even run 12 miles. (article link)

No one expects chili cheese fries to be healthy. But the Texas Cheese Fries with Chili & Ranch from Chili's seems like it's design to kill you. It packs in 2,120 calories. That's 106% of your daily calories and a week's worth of sodium. (article link)

Still hungry? In the next blog post I'll have a few more dishes to fill you up....

Oct 11, 2011

The Journey: The Blog

When I lost my momentum on The Journey, I also floundered in putting up regular blog posts.
At it's height I had about thirty people who would read each post. Now that I'm blogging again, it's fallen to about half that.
So, in addition to getting serious about getting to the gym regularly, I'm also serious about doing my blog posts on Tuesdays & Saturdays. I can't guarantee they'll be interesting or entertaining, but I'll try.

Oct 8, 2011

The Journey: A Tale of Two Meals

I love KFC. You know, K-Fry. Kentucky Fried Chicken. Yard bird. The Colonel's Cluckers.

Seriously. It's good stuff. You know in the Bible when the children of Israel came up out of Egypt & were travelin' through the desert? We all know that God fed them with manna. But here's what you may not know. If you do a proper exegesis on the original Hebrew word there from the original text, you'll see that the manna was actually KFC biscuits.  Really. And when God sent quail... Yep, it was actually KFC chicken. Original recipe. And when Moses struck the rock & water flowed out. That was actually KFC gravy.

Now, as I've said; I'm not doing any special diet while on the Journey. I have cut out sugar soda and try to limit the amount of junk food I eat. And I know fast food isn't the best for you. But life gets busy, and sometimes fast food is the only choice. So the key is to make smart choices in your fast food feasting.

For the purpose of today's example, we'll assume that you are on the road. I will admit that I've eaten chicken off the bone while driving. In a stick shift. Looking back the only way it could've been less safe is if I had been drunk. Or on the cell phone. Or on a drunk cell phone... But I digress. So, since we are looking to be responsible behind the wheel, we will keep to the boneless stuff.

Our first option is KFC's Crispy Chicken Strips. Those come with the Potato Wedges & a wonderfully fluffy biscuit. This option will deliver 860 calories, almost 1/2 of your daily allotment of 2,000 calories. Option two is the KFC Original Recipe Boneless Breast Fillet. We'll pair that with the Potatoes & Gravy and stick to the biscuit. What's our calorie count here? A mere 500 calories, for a savings of 360 calories. Michelle Obama probably still disapproves of it, but at least we are trying.

Now, I will grant you that eating mashed potatoes & gravy on the road isn't exactly convenient, but it's doable. You will need to use your cup holder. And you'll want to take small bites.

So you don't have to give up hittin' the drive through when you are yearnin' for some tasty vittles. You just have to visit the joint's website and do a little research ahead of time.

Now if you'll excuse me, I hear Fourth Meal calling my name...

Oct 4, 2011

The Journey: Not giving up...

It Tuesday. According to my self-imposed blogging schedule, it's time for a post on The Journey. Or maybe I should call it The Good Intentions To Be On A Journey But In Reality I'm Sitting On Bench Eating A Twinkie.
 Well, not really eating a Twinkie. I'm not a huge Twinkie fan. Oh sure, I'll have one if it's offered to me, but I haven't bought one of those yellow sponge cakes filled with cream in a long time. I'll tell you what I am craving though... An Orange Hostess Cupcake. Most of you have no idea what that is. You are probably familiar with Hostess's Chocolate Cupcake. Well, they also make an orange flavored one. It's so good. But they don't have them everywhere. I've found them in Oregon, Arizona & Hawaii. They don't normally carry them in Alaska, but last year Walmart had them for Halloween. I haven't had a chance to check and see if they have them this year...

Okay... Today's post was not suppose to be about orange deliciousness. That was just a distraction. This post is actually the 3rd one in a row that is on schedule after almost two months with no posts. And I probably wouldn't be posting now if I hadn't gotten an email from Tom. Tom is a great guy. He has an excellent blog and is a published author. I highly recommend giving his blog, Wilderness Blues, a read. Tom noticed that I hadn't blogged in a while, so he sent me an email, just checking up on me.

So, an update on the Journey... I made it to the gym a couple of times early last week. My weight has crept back up. At my lowest I was at 315. I'm now at 330. If I had lost what I've gained over the last 6 months, I'd almost be below 300 pounds for the first time in years. And if I had kept the momentum I had I'd be at about 270 pounds.

Looking at the numbers can be pretty depressing. But, as the blog title suggests... I'm not giving up. Not yet.

Oh, and I've checked at Walmart. The orange cupcakes are back. There's no way that this is going to go well...

Oct 1, 2011

The Journey: More Eat This, Not That

I mentioned in my last post I'm a big fan of the Eat This, Not That people. So I thought I'd share some more stuff from them.

Every one talks about how healthy green tea is, but not if there's a bunch of sugar in it. The SoBe Green Tea pictured below, for example, packs as much sugar as in 4 slices of Sarah Lee Cherry Pie. (article link)

 Are you running late, so you're just going to have a muffin for breakfast? If you grab a Otis Spunkmeyer Banana Nut Muffin you are looking at 460 calories and 32 grams of sugar. That's the same sugar as a 3 1/2  Rice Krispies Treats. You are better off grabbing a Vitalicious Apple Berry Muffin which will only be 100 calories. (article link)

Are you looking for something easy for dinner, so you grab a Marie Callender's Creamy Parmesan Chicken Pot Pie to throw in the oven? You are looking at 1,060 calories, over half of what you should get in a day. Plus you get sodium equivalent of 8 small bags of potato chips and the fat equivalent of 23 strips of bacon. Instead you can grab a Marie Callender's Oven Baked Chicken and only consume 360 calories. (article link)

Are you thirsty and looking for something healthy? Snapple Agave Melon Antioxidant Water sounds like it's a good choice. Except that it has 33 g sugars which is like eating 3 bowls of Honey Comb cereal. Your better choice is Dasani Plus Orange Tangerine Vitamin Enhanced Water. (article link)

Salads are healthy, right? Maybe some spinach, a little chicken? IHOP's Chicken and Spinach Salad contains a staggering 1,600 calories!! You could snarf down six pancake short stacks and still take in less fat. (article link)

Okay... One final comparison. Headed out to Chili's with your friends? You want something with some spicy so you order the Big Mouth Bites with Jalapeño Ranch. Those four little sliders will deliver 1,540 calories. And that's without the french fries. That's more calories than two Burger King Whoppers.

Bottom line: before you consume, take a look at the details behind what you are eating.

Sep 27, 2011

The Journey: Eat This...

I've become a big fan of the Eat This, Not That people. I haven't read any of their books, but I follow them on Twitter and have read quite a few of their articles from there.

I like that they go beyond the obvious in their analysis. Any idiot knows that having green tea is more healthy for you than a soda. But they go much deeper into it...

For example... Let's say you've got a hankerin' for a bowl of cereal. You look in the cupboard... You've got a box of Frosty Sugar Sweetness, a box of Cheerios, or a box of Quaker Natural Low Fat Granola with Raisins. Which one is better for you? Obvious the sugary stuff isn't. And Cheerios doesn't sound nearly as healthy as the Quaker stuff. I mean it's got raisins. And it's low fat. And it's got granola. It's like it was designed by Richard Simmons!! Surely the Quaker cereal is the way to go!

WRONG!! The healthy soundimg Quaker Natural Low Fat Granola with Raisins has 315 calories in one cup. For comparison, a Snickers candy bar only has 275 calories. Yeah, you'd be better off enjoying the candy bar for breakfast.

Oh, and the Cheerios... Only 100 calories for one cup. For reference, here's the link to the article...

And speaking of granola bars... Have you ever thought about what holds them together? That's right, it's sugar. How is that healthy? Okay... what about dried fruit? I mean, it's fruit. How can you go wrong with fruit?!? Well, often times the makers add a bunch of sugar to it in the process. And bran muffins? Made with sugar & refined flour and can have over 400 calories. Lot's of things that we have been told are "healthy" aren't necessarily so. You can read more here...

I've probably depressed you by now, so I'll end it here. But in future posts I'll highlight more fun stuff from the great folks at Eat This, Not That.

Sep 25, 2011

The Journey: An Update

It's been over a month since my last post... And almost two months since the I've been to the gym or stepped on a scale. I'm still not drinking soda, and I'm still being somewhat careful about what I eat.

Well, I did go to the gym on Friday. I was only there for about 40 minutes, and did that time on the elliptical machine. I've got a spot in my neck where a nerve gets pinched and it was killing me, so it was a short work out.

And I'm headed to the gym after I finish typing this post for a couple of hours. I've still got at least 120 pounds to lose. I don't watch what eat closely enough to do it just through diet. So I've got to exercise.  Before going to Hawaii back in late April I was going about 5 days a week. In July I went three days a week for 3 weeks.

Work has been busy and I've been working some overtime. But it's not so much overtime that I don't have time for a good work out.

I'm not at a point where I'm ready to declare The Journey a failure. It's only a failure when I give up. And I haven't given up. Not yet...  I've got some ideas for some good posts in the future, so now I just need to get consistent again on blogging.

The Journey takes quite a bit of focus and the past couple of months my focus has been on other issues. But now that those have cleared up, it's time to get back on track.

Aug 13, 2011

The Journey: Gym People, Part 2

As I mentioned in part 1, to keep my mind off the misery of working out, I spend my time at the gym observing those around me. I've begun to label & categorize some of them...

Smelly Guy: I don't say this to be cruel... But dude, you stink. How can you not smell that? It's like a skunk ate a bunch of garlic and then set itself on fire. And then hopped on the treadmill. I'm struggling to catch my breath, and I haven't even started working out yet.

The Fashion Diva: They're not just here to work out... They are here to look good. From their shoes to their head band, they are color coordinated & shiny. And it's not just limited to the ladies... There are some guys there that are sportin' the look too.

Rebels Without A Clue: This is the three teenagers running around. And for some reason, it's always three of them. Not two, not four. They'll spend a few moments in the weight lifting area trying to see who can lift the most. And then they spend the rest of the time running around acting like idiots. There's an upside though. The dumber they act, the less likely they are to ever get the chance to breed & reproduce. So it works out.

The Mixologst: I'm not sure what these people are all about. They've got 55 gallon drums of a powder mix in their gym back and they spend a lot time mixing up these protein drinks. They say their goal is to get bigger. Shoot, I think a few Big Macs would do the job faster...

People Like Me: We range from chubby to really chubby. We are just there to erase the guilt of the donut binge from the night before. And we hope all of the work will show some results. After all, we are having to put up with these Gym People all around us.

Aug 9, 2011

The Journey: Retrain Your Brain

I read this great article the other day on retraining yourself on how you look at food and eating. You can (and should) read it here.

The article says that are brains are hard wired to eat fatty foods... "To avoid dying in a famine, the brain is wired to pick up on signs that calorie-rich foods are nearby, which helps explain why that piece of cake on the plate in front of you is so irresistible, or why seeing a sign for a doughnut shop draws you in even when you know you need to watch your diet."

 But more than that, it also says "that while we're born with certain cravings, there's also evidence we start to crave whatever we eat in large quantities."

So in the sort term, dropping the junk food in favor of healthy fare is hard, but in a short amount of time we can retrain the brain to crave the healthy food. And that's important to remember when you fighting the craving for a bag of M&M's. Those feelings will soon subside. You won't have to live in denial forever.

The article goes onto to suggest some tricks to help the process along, which include cleaning the junk food out of the house so it's not as accessible and keeping plenty of healthy snacks on hand.

Aug 7, 2011

Financial Peace University in Wasilla

I've locked in the details for my next Financial Peace University.

This time around the class will be held at the Working Place in the Meta-Rose Square on Yenlo Street, near Carrs in Wasilla. The free preview is on August 23rd at 6:30 pm.

The classes will be on Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8:30, starting August 30th and going 13 weeks to November 22nd.

The cost of the Membership Kit is $100. Kits may be purchased from me. If you purchase from, the cost is generally higher.

Class size is going to be limited, so if you are interested, go to to register.

This class will teach you everything you need to know about dumping debt, building wealth, and changing your family tree. More than one million families have attended FPU with amazing results.

We also invite you to join us on facebook.

Aug 6, 2011

The Journey: Best Idea EVER

My little brother is a GENUIS! He recently posted this idea on Facebook:

Someone should open a donut shop named The Gym. That way I could post everyday on FB "at The Gym" and feel good about myself.

They could name their maple bars "cardio" - then I could say "at The Gym for some cardio". or "I hit The Gym hard today and am really feeling it in my abs."

Of course, this is coming from the guy who when in Bible College named his bed “prayer”. That way when he was tired in class he could say that he was tired because he spent all night in prayer.

Aug 2, 2011

The Journey: Gym People, Part 1

Going to the gym for a work out is an essential part of The Journey, but that doesn't mean I have to like it... To keep my mind off of the misery I'm putting myself through, I've begun to evaluate & categorize the people you'll find at the gym.

The Ghost: This is the person who signs up for a cardio machine but then NEVER actually shows up & uses it. And they always sign up for the good machines. I'm too much of a rule-follower to just hop on anyway. I'm afraid the gym police will show up...

Awkward Naked Guy: A certain amount of nakedness is required in the locker room, so I'm not being a prude. I'm talking about the guy over at the sink brushing his teeth in the buff. Or the three guys discussing politics while wearing nothing but a smile.

'Gave Into Peer Pressure' Chick: This is the slightly chubby, out of shape girl that's there with a couple of skinny, fit friends.  She has no desire to be at the gym. She's only there because she neglected to listen to Nancy Regan and just say no! She's easy to spot by the "what the heck am I doing here" look on her face.

The Butterfly: I don't know if they are ADHD or hopped up on energy drinks. But they go from the treadmill to the stretch area to the weights to the bike to the stair stepper. All in 5 minutes. They burn more calories in transition then they do working out.

The Chandler: If you've never seen "Friends" you probably won't get this reference... This is the guy that has signed up for the gym but this will be the one and only time he works out. He's signed up for the reoccurring payments directly drawn from his bank account. Four years from now he'll still being paying his monthly fee.

The Socialite: They aren't at the gym to work out. They are at the gym to hang out with people who work out. They can be a little hard to spot, because they are dressed in work out gear. But if you watch, they never actually work out.

There's more than just these five types, but we'll start with this... There's more to come, including Smelly Guy & the Fashion Diva.

Jul 29, 2011

Our Anniversary

Fifteen years & eight months ago today I was in Wasilla for the first time. I had driven through it headed from Fairbanks to Little Beaver Camp in Big Lake a few times. But this time I was here for a three day visit to decide if I was going to move here.

On that Wednesday night I attended my first service at Wasilla Assembly of God. Afterwards a bunch of us went to the Kashim Restaurant, which is now called Tailgaters. Among the group was Christy Lucus, who was to become my first wife. And yes, she's my only wife. I just like the reaction I get when I refer to her as the first wife...

A couple of months later, on January 12th, 1996 I made the move. I was attending a school of ministry at the church and very involved in the youth group as a leader. That August, we did a missions trip to Barrow. Christy & I were assigned to work together on VBS for kids. Up to this point we had just been friends. But while working together on that trip I begin to realize what an incredible, beautiful person she is.

I went directly from the Barrow trip to a summer camp in Kodiak. While there I realized how much I missed being with her. A couple of weeks after the Kodiak trip, I went back to Afognak Island to work in the timber industry for a few months. I was pretty broke and needed to earn some money.

I had made arrangements with Christy to check my mail while I was gone, which gave me a perfect excuse to call her often. On September 29th, 1996; 14 years and 10 months ago we decided this was more than just a friendship and we began dating.

Two years later, on September 29th, 1998 at Point Warzoff as the sun was setting behind a snow covered Mt. Susitna I proposed. To my great joy, she said yes.

Ten months later on July 31st, surrounded by friends & family we were married. This weekend we are celebrating 12 wonderful years of marriage.

Christy, I love you. Thanks for all the great times. There are many more ahead of us!