Category Archives: Biography

Physical Training Anniversary and New Challenge

One year ago today I embarked on a project to renew my body. I’d gained flab and lost fitness. I made a meme of Frosty the Snowman with my face superimposed because I looked like a snowman. I don’t look like that today!

I won’t go into all of the details of my diet and exercise program here. If you want to look back at earlier entries in this blog you can discover what I did. Suffice it to say, what I’ve done worked. I’m maintaining less than 10 percent body fat and have gained muscle mass. My waist is at 29 inches. My goal is to gain about 10 more pounds of lean body mass and keep the fat percentage where it is currently. However, I’ve encountered an obstacle: injury.

Over the years, I’ve seen a repeat of the same issue. I’ve gotten myself back in shape and then sustained an injury to my shoulder(s), which results in my not being able to train my upper body. I get disappointed, don’t do other exercise, let my diet go, gain weight, and remain out of shape until long after the injury heals. I re-injured my right shoulder while doing benchpress last week. This is sad because I had gained strength even though I still have a mis-located (broken) collarbone sustained while doing incline benchpress. I’m afraid I’ll have to find other chest exercises. Bench has proven destructive. Yes, I warm up. Yes, my form is correct. 

I’m not giving up, but I am learning. First, I’m not afraid of gaining too much fat, even if my workouts are curtailed while this shoulder heals. Why? I’ve found the golden ticket to fat loss and maintaining lean body mass. It’s called intermittent fasting. You could also call this scheduled eating. I’m not the expert here. You can look it up. Read books by Jason Fung. Watch YouTube videos by Thomas DeLauer and Dr. Eric Berg. What I will tell you is, it works.

Intermittent fasting means I fast periodically for at least 13 hours, up to 24. Typically I stop eating between 3pm and 6pm and don’t eat again until the next day until noon. On the 13 hour fasting days I drink Bulletproof coffee and/or eat eggs, no carbs in the morning. Secondly, I limit my carbohydrate and sugar intake. I eat almost no bread, no pasta, no potatoes, and limit the amount of fruit. Of course, I avoid all sweets, and don’t put sugar in my coffee or tea. Intermittent fasting is easier on a low carb diet. When I eat carbs I’m hungry all the time. When I eat healthy fats, I’m not. The simple reason for this is, when you eat carbs, your body uses that as fuel immediately; therefore, it wants you to keep supplying those carbs throughout the day. When your body doesn’t have carbs/sugar for a longer period of time, it learns to burn fat. This is what happens when someone follows the now famous keto diet.

A keto diet is a good place to start before entering into longer periods of fasting (ie. longer than over night). Once your body is in ketosis, it isn’t craving carbs for fuel. Fasting becomes easier in this state because your body is used to burning fat, and will easily burn body fat in the absence of food. That’s what you’re looking for, at least if you need to lose some flab.

So, I’m injured. I’m disappointed. However, I’m not giving up, and I’m not going to get fat again. Fasting is a discipline often associated with religion. In fact, every major religion practices fasting to one degree or another. Sadly, many Protestants or Evangelical groups do not practice it. We should. It’s healthy, both spiritually and physically. I’ve written about this as well. The reason I bring in the spiritual aspect at the end of this entry is, I believe God’s providential reason for allowing my current injury is to move me away from focus on self and toward increased spiritual discipline, or what the Bible calls training in godliness. The essence of this kind of training is focus on God instead of self. Fasting is one of the spiritual disciplines I want to pursue. There are others.

I’ve just purchased the Kindle version of Richard Foster’s classic A Celebration of Discipline, along with Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. One year after my physical transformation, I will now focus on training in godliness/a holy life. Basic to this is becoming more like Jesus. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m impatient. I’m easily frustrated. I complain often. I’m lustful. Just saying no to these things will not stop them. I know because I’ve tried that approach my entire life. What I need is to learn to say yes to a good and loving God, and that includes saying yes to spiritual training and discipline.

for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8, NRSV)

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My Smile

I never smile with my teeth. At least, not on purpose. I have need for quite a bit of dental work, but have never been willing or able to invest the money. However, the most visible flaw that I seek to hide is a broken tooth, which I’ve had for 35 years. Today that will change. In a couple of hours I will finally have a crown put on that tooth.

I’ve related the story of my broken tooth to audiences when speaking about fighting and turning the other cheek. You see my tooth got knocked out by an employee of an Exxon gas station.

It was 1983 in Phoenix, Az, and I was on Christmas break from Baylor University. I purchased a 1970 yellow Chevelle Malibu to get around. One December evening I decided to go to Metrocenter Mall to see the movie Bladerunner. However, my Chevy was running rough. I figured the timing needed to be adjusted, so I pulled into a full-service Exxon gas station near the mall. The bay door of the garage was up with a big sign that said, “open.” I parked and asked the guy if he’d put a timing light on my car real quick. He said, “We’re closed.” I pointed out that the sign said open. He insisted. I walked away and muttered an obscenity under my breath.

I sat in the driver’s seat and proceeded to try staring my car. Next thing I know there’s the employee I’d asked, standing at my open window. He grabbed my face with a greasy hand and punched me with the other. I watched my tooth fly across into the passenger side of the car.I was shocked, injured, in an indefensible position and probably outnumbered, since I seem to remember seeing another guy walking up behind my attacker. So, I pulled away. Humiliated

I had to have emergency surgery on the tooth that night to disconnect the nerve. For 35 years I ‘ve lived with that broken tooth. It’s been a reminder of several things.

1) Watch your mouth. I haven’t always done so to this day. However, blurting out whatever you feel can get you hurt or in trouble. We have some politicians today that could stand to learn this lesson today.

2) Be mindful. Have 360 degree awareness of people and surroundings. It’s too easy to be distracted. Far more so now than in ’83 due to all of our little tech gadgets. There are bad people out there, and they will take advantage of those whom they perceive to be weaker than themselves.

3) Don’t allow a potential threat to approach me while sitting in the car with an open window. Keep the window up. Don’t roll it down to meet a confrontation. If I cannot drive off, I’ll get out of the car.

4) Turning the other cheek is costly. It’s humiliating to get hit and not hit back. My pride was more injured than my tooth. I wanted to return to the garage that night with some big friends and pay the guy back. I didn’t. Not fighting back bothered me for many years, even though I am a Christian who says he believes in the teaching of Jesus. However, this is the perfect example of what Jesus spoke about. I turn the other cheek in response to an offense, not an onslaught. This guy proved to be what I had called him under my breath, a jerk (I used a more offensive term), and he hit me and hurt me because I had offended him. It stopped there. He didn’t keep hitting me. His friend/co-worker didn’t hit me. I was permitted to leave. Self-defense was not necessary, except that I should have been aware of the threat and blocked a punch.

Thirty-five years is a long time to live with a broken tooth and an embarrassing smile. Hopefully, the need for a reminder to keep my mouth shut is over. After today I’ll smile a little more. In fact, I’m thinking of getting braces in the near future, so a mega-watt smile may be in the works.

You Can Be Less Fat & More Fit

Fitness is more than how thin you are, but I believe a good start (probably the best place to begin) is with a change in your diet, which results in a leaner body. A lean body is better for many reasons: less prone to heart disease, increased longevity, avoidance of type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, joint problems and a host of other complications which result from hauling around too much body fat every day.

It’s not popular to say this, but neither is it a secret: many people are simply carrying too much body fat. Perhaps you are one of them. Notice, I didn’t say “too heavy.” It’s not about weight; it’s about body fat percentage. The average American carries between 28-40% body fat (and it may be worse today, since that stat is from a study done 15-20 years ago!). That is not healthy. Not at all.

One year ago my body fat was around 23% at a weight of just over 170 lbs. I’m around 71 inches tall. I wasn’t terribly unhealthy, but I was getting there gradually. You see, everything accumulates over time, whether fitness or fatness. In 2012 I had gotten down to 7% body fat, was lifting weights and running regularly. I felt great! Then I broke my clavicle doing incline presses and that slowed the weights down considerably. I was discouraged. I stopped running. My diet gradually got less healthy. I still went to the gym a couple of times per week, but my workouts weren’t enough to burn off the additional calories.

The difference over a five year span was a gain of 16% body fat, which translates to around 20 lbs on my frame. That’s an annual gain of a little over three percent fat, or a mere four pounds each year. Consider, if I had gone another decade I could have been carrying around the high average of 40% body fat. NO THANKS!

I took a look at myself in the mirror at 23% and didn’t like what I saw. I looked like a round, slightly lumpy snowman. I knew what I could look like when healthy and fit. I knew it was going to take some work to get back. It did! I’ve journaled about that process here, so you can look back at those blogs if you’d like. The picture I’ve included in this entry is a screenshot I took this morning from a body fat calculator on my mobile device. To use the app you still need body fat calipers, and, yes, you need to weigh yourself. Currently I weight around 145 and am carrying about 5.5% body fat. Did I mention I’m 56 years old…

If your sex is male, and you’re not an elite athlete, then you should aim for 10-15% body fat. If your sex is female and not competing in some sport, aim for 20-25%. If you need to be leaner for a sport (I am a martial arts instructor), then you may seek to go lower. However, men shouldn’t get below 4% or women below about 9%. You do need some body fat. I am keeping mine between 5-7% because I want to stay at that level of fitness to teach my karate’ class. That, and I like how I look and feel when I’m this lean.

So, what’s the secret? Did I do Keto? Count calories? Fasting? Run an hour a day? Overall friends, although it’s hard at first to apply the self-control, the concept is really very simple: you get fatter when you eat more, and you get thinner when you eat less. You also get fatter when you’re less active, while still eating the same, and you get leaner when you’re more active without increasing the amount you eat. Everything accumulates over time, fitness or fatness.

Duh? Well, why do we read so much disinformation when it comes to this? People want to believe, “You can eat whatever you want and lose the weight!” No, you can’t. Don’t buy it (metaphorically or literally). There are many paths to the goal of losing fat, and there are variables, but the truth is your body carries more fat when it doesn’t burn the excess (yes, I’m going to use a bad word here) CALORIES you’re consuming.

So, do you want to get fit? Start with your diet. You need to establish a healthy diet. If you want less fat, then you need to eat fewer calories. You need to cut out the sugar and starch. You need to schedule your eating.

Next, you need to move more. Find a form of exercise you will do regularly: walk, swim, bike, lift weights, get into an aerobics class, learn and practice a sport like basketball or an art like karate’ or yoga. Aim for 30-40 minutes of vigorous activity five or six days per week.

Do you want help? Coaching? I’m considering doing that for people in the near future, so stay tuned…

Billy Graham

Billy-Graham-Nixon-Funeral-2Billy Graham has passed on to see the Savior he faithfully served and spoke of for so many years. I don’t believe any evangelist has had the same impact, but I pray God will raise up another. What would that require? One word: integrity.

Billy Graham was never involved in a scandal. Every time I ever heard him speak, it was of Jesus, who died and rose to save us from our sin. I watched Billy Graham preach the funeral of Richard Nixon. Seated in front of him were five living presidents, all of whom he knew and most of whom he had counseled. Billy Graham preached the Gospel, not politics, not personal opinion, not a people pleasing eulogy, just Jesus. That’s what it will take to bring about a revival in this tragically bent and backslidden nation of ours. May God raise up another Billy Graham.

When I was a young teenager I was hurting, lost and had little hope. I had been exposed to the Gospel, and that is likely due to earlier influence from Billy Graham on the culture in which I was raised. If I were growing up today, that influence would be absent. However, it took more than a generalized cultural exposure to Jesus to save me from my sin and self. I needed to hear the Gospel, clearly and plainly proclaimed.

I was watching television in my bedroom, must have been 13 or 14 years old. Billy Graham was on, preaching one of his many crusades. At the end of the message he gave the invitation to make a decision to trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He invited people in the stadium where he stood to join him by coming from their seats to the stage. However, on this night Billy Graham did something else, which I don’t remember seeing him do on other occasions when I watched his crusades. What he asked was directed to those of us watching the telecast, and it seems a little silly, but my willingness to join his invitation demonstrates just how much I wanted Jesus in my life. Billy Graham said (something to the effect of), “If you’re watching the telecast from home and would like to put your faith in Jesus, why don’t you get up and place your hand on the television as you pray with me.” I knelt in front of my TV, placed my hand on the screen, and prayed the sinner’s prayer with Billy Graham. I remember it clearly.

During this time I was also exposed to the preaching of Richard Jackson of the North Phoenix Baptist Church. That too was on television. I prayed the prayer with Pastor Jackson on numerous occasions and eventually went to his church and publicly committed my life to Jesus Christ. The public commitment, walking the aisle, going down to the front like all those people did at the Billy Graham crusade, that was important. Jesus said, “If you confess me before men, I will confess you before my Father in heaven, but if you deny me, I will deny you” (Matthew 10:31-32). That was the final step in the process of my decision to believe in Christ. I took it on Easter Sunday, 40 years ago, and I’ve never gone back.

“I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

I have decided to follow Jesus.

No turning back, no turning back.”

It all started when I heard the Gospel plainly preached by Billy Graham. Simply stated, this is that Gospel. Jesus Christ came to earth, lived the life that you and I are supposed to but don’t, then died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and prove God’s love. Then Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, and now he offers the gift of eternal life to anyone who will decide to put faith in him. Realize, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” and “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 3:23 & 6:23a). We see evidence of this in our own lives and all around us today. Jesus came to offer life. In fact, he promised: “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come to offer a rich and satisfying life” (John 10:10). So, even though sin brings death, “the free gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23b). Do you want that gift? Will you put your trust in Jesus who died and rose to offer it? “that if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Saved from what? Saved from death and eternal separation from God and love and life in hell. All you have to do is believe. Call out to Jesus. “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). Will you make the decision today to believe in Jesus? Speak to him in prayer right now. You can say something like this:

Dear Lord Jesus,

I am a sinful person, and I need you to forgive me and save me.

I believe you died on the cross for my sins. I believe you rose from the dead.

I open my heart and accept you as my Savior.

Jesus Christ, you are Lord. Take charge of my life right now.

Amen

Thank you Lord Jesus for saving me. Thank you for sending your servant. Please send another to this generation. Send revival. We need it desperately. We need to return to you.

Don’t Give Up

When your expectations aren’t met it’s tempting to give up. When on a fitness program–or most any other plan you make in life–you need to see progress. Or what’s the point, right?

I’ve seen progress, but it hasn’t gone according to my original plan, which was to lose 2lbs per week until January 1, then lose 1lb per week until around Valentine’s Day when I reach my goal. I wrote my target weights on a calendar and met about half of them at the right time. I did the 10 day modified juice fast and hit my goal for January 1 on December 24. Then I proceeded to gain SIX POUNDS. The next week I dropped back down a couple of pounds then fasted for three days and got back to where I had been. That’s where I am currently, and it’s about three pounds off of my original goal.

Still I look at myself in the mirror and it has been a remarkable physical transformation in a two month period. My scale measures body fat, but I’ve determined that it is grossly inaccurate. At my current weight, based on the original body fat calculation, I should be at 10-12%. The scale says 15.6. I’ll need to get calipers and pinch the fat in various places and plug those numbers into a formula that calculates more accurately than my $100 scale from Amazon.

So, although I’ve not met my original numeric goal YET, I have made significant progress. I’m not giving up. In fact, I’m more determined than ever to make my body do what I believe it can and will do: reach 9% body fat with 40% muscle mass by my birthday, which is in 52 days. At middle age this is not as easy as it used to be, but I’m up for the challenge! And I’m looking and feeling great–except for the constant muscle soreness!

Body Fat comp

Addendum: I used calpers. The various formulas for determining body fat lead me to believe my scale is closer than I’d assumed. I’m probably between 14-15% now. So, I adjusted by goal to be at 9% by my birthday, which is 49 days from this addendum.

A Quick Juice Fast Review

Well I finished my modified juice fast at about 1:00 pm Christmas Eve Day. I’ve probably eaten more since then than I did the entire week before! Not to worry, I won’t go back to old habits. This is the only time I intend to cheat on my diet, and I wasn’t even that bad (Well, except for the two pieces of pecan pie!). I’m doing great today. In fact, I started German Volume Training and had the best weight workout in years. All that glucose in my muscles from the Christmas eating was amazing!

In review, I did a 10 day modified juice fast. Modified because I included a protein shake; intiially, using whey protein (which is a ‘no-no’ for juice fasting, but I’m a rebel). I did this before and it worked with the protein. That was five years ago, and apparently my body has gotten good at converting protein to glucose, so the whey may have slowed my weight loss intially. In fact, I actually gained a half-pound between the fourth and fifth day! There are issues of water and elimination to consider over a period of one day, but I stopped using the whey protein as a precaution. I purchased some vegan protein powder with tons of other micronutrients and that worked well.

The end result was I went from 161.8 to 152.6 in nine actual days of modified juice fasting, which is about a pound a day. I’m more interested in body-fat loss than weight loss, but it would seem my scale is not accurate in measuring that. I can look, though, and I’ve lost my gut. YEAH!

On day eight I was praying and became convicted of the selfish nature of this fast, so I converted to a standard water only fast and focused on praying for personal breakthrough and for my church. That was a tough, but fruitful time. I experienced a vision issue and stopped after 36 hours. It is likely the issue would have cleared but I was in prayer and it seemed time to go back to juice to end it.

In deciding to do the water portion, I prayed that the Lord would take away my caffeine addiction so that I wouldn’t have to cheat by drinking tea or taking a caffeine pill to keep away the headaches I normally get when detoxing. My prayer was answered!

So, now I’m back to the diet I was on previously, and I will be in the gym five to six days a week, along with my karate’ training. All of this will ensure I maintain the weight (fat) loss, gain strength and some muscle mass. All in all, I feel good! Most importantly, I believe I’ve had a breakthrough in the spirit that parallels breaking the 160 lbs barrier. In fact, the spiritual breakthrough is most important to me. I believe I’m where I should be physically at this time, and where I must be in relation to God.

Modified Juice Fast

Today is day nine of my fast. That’s farther than I’ve ever gone before on a fast. I’ve lost about eight pounds. I don’t know that my scale is accurate in determinig body fat, because it would seem from what it calculated previously I should be lower, but according to this scale, I’ve cracked into the 15% range.

Yesterday I met my weight goal for this week, and I converted to a traditional no food fast, drinking only water. This part of the fast is for God, not me. I dropped coffee three days ago and all caffeine yesterday. This is something I’ve wanted to do for some time. I don’t want to be addicted to anything. “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12). Caffeine has a way of getting a hold that is not easily shaken. I detox on it periodically, usually for Lent. Normally, it takes two weeks before I can completely drop all caffeinated substances, reducing the amount gradually. If I go cold turkey, I get terrible migranes that no pain reliever will stop. When I stopped drinking coffee two days ago, I expected to drink green tea (less caffeine) in its place until the caffeine addiction ended. I drank two cups that day, and it was that night that I prayed and determined to do a full fast with no juice. I told God that if he was behind this he could show me by keeping  the headaches away. He did! I haven’t had any side effects from eliminating the caffeine altogether. This is a big deal for me.

So, I’ve been doing a lot of praying, and I’ve been reading the book God’s Chosen Fast by Arthur Wallis. There are many reasons for fasting, and many benefits as well. I’ve written about it, and have observed six. The first I’ll mention is the last in importantance, but the reason I began this one, Diet. I’ve benefitted by losing weight, ending caffeine addiction, increasing my water and micronutrient intake (the latter applies only to juice fasting), and there are many other benefits.

Here are five more reasons to fast.

Fast as an Act of Dedication–  Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted after his baptism and prior to entering into his ministry. Perhaps he did this to gain confirmation and clarity by intensely focusing on God.  By denying the body what it needs most I am saying that something else–in this case Someone–is more important than me.

Fast as an Exercise of Discipline–  Learn to say no to “me.” All of Jesus’ temptations in the wilderness were for him to act expediently and egotistically. If the Lord had given in it would not have been an exercise of faith, but the wildly alternating swings between self-doubt and presumption. My body cries out for food, but I say no. This teaches me to say no in other areas where my earthly nature (or “flesh”) cries out. It teaches me to resist temptation.

Fast as an Affirmation of Dependence– Learn to rely on the power of God. Jesus’ first statement in response to Satan’s temptation. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3 as quoted in Matthew 4:4, also John 4:34). I am dependent upon food for survival. I transfer my fundamental dependence from a substance to the Sustainer of life.

Fast to Establish Determination–  Learn to have a tenacious and unshakeable faith. “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29, Matthew 17:21). I fast for a breakthrough, as Daniel did when he needed God to answer his prayer for this people (Daniel 9:3). I fast to prove I am serious, both to myself and to God. This has been the main purpose of converting my juice fast to water only at the end.

Fast as an Act of Desperation–  Cry out to God in repentance (Joel & Israel, Jonah & Ninevah). I have the need to hear from God at all costs (Daniel10:2-3 & 21 days of prayer). Repentance may be part of fasting. Joel called a fast for the people when disaster loomed (Joel 2:12, 15). This includes mourning for sin, and prayer for transformation. I have been doing some of this too.

Well, tomorrow will be the end of my fast. I’ll likely end the water portion earlier. As of this writing, that has lasted about 35 hours and has been a physical challenge. I’m praying and monitoring my body and the Lord’s response. Either way, I’ll end the juice fast sometime tomorrow. I’m praying for a big breakthrough in my life and in the life of my church. I am praying for both of our Christmas services to be filled with people who are seeking God and willing to respond to him. I’m praying that we will have Spirit filled worship. I am praying that our church will grow in the new year. Fasting and praying, and praying. Seeing that the Lord has responded obviously by ending my caffeine addiciton, I have encouragement that he will respond to these more significant requests.

Amen.