A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 1 of 2 Part Series)

Two recent events forced me to accept something that I have been putting off for two years.   I am now officially a “Senior”, and, as such, there are certain things I need to adjust.

The first event’s linkage to my advancing age is apparent.  My youngest of four children Kendall graduated from college recently.  She may not have been able to walk across the stage due to the current pandemic.  However, her name flashing across the scoreboard at Texas A&M’s Kyle field signified that my wife and I were officially empty nesters (Gig’em!)!  

Graduation Name - Kendall

The second event, our dog Boots’ reaction to the loud rainstorm in Austin last night may not be so apparent (more in Part 2 of this blog!) A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 2 of 2).  But both conspired to make me finally accept my new season in life.

I did not embrace my age two years ago! When I turned 55, I staged a ritualistic burning of my AARP card application on YouTube (see video below).  

I was trying to show that I had no intention of slowing down in what I then thought was a humorous way.  It was not! The part not captured on the video could have caused me to miss my next birthday, but in hindsight was funnier.  The part I cut out is the AARP card caught fire rapidly and I had to drop it.  I asked for someone to give me some water to dash the flames.  Unfortunately, the pan with the water had been in the sink with some oil that had not been removed.  The pan lit up like a torch until someone gave me a lid to snuff it out.  Almost lit the house on fire!  Not good for my health and those around me (although that video would have gone viral!).  How did I finally embrace my age and adapt to stay fit?  Read the second part of the blog series on the event that was the final tipping point – Boot’s whimpering at the rain here link A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 2 of 2)

A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 2 of 2)

In the first part of this blog series here A Daughter, A Dog, and A Not So Old Man (Part 1 of 2 Part Series) , I showed I was ready to risk life, limb, and house instead of embracing my age.  So how did the dog and the rain change my disposition

Boots and my attempt to calm him reminded me that I no longer had the stamina that I once had.  At 3 AM, with the lightening striking, thunder rolling, and Boots barking, I decided to sing him a lullaby like I did when the recently graduated Kendall and her three older siblings were scared.  It worked for a bit.  I sang the following to the tune of Bing Crosby’s Little Man Your Crying while petting Boots.  Like Kendall’s lullaby I changed the lyrics but this time for a dog, not a girl.

Little dog you’re crying,
I know why your blue,
the rain is loud and took
Your time to walk away.
Better go to sleep now,
because little dog you had a busy day.
Lacy took your dog bones,
now I’ll tell you what I’ll do,
I’ll go out and get you new ones right away,
better go to sleep now
because little dog you had a busy day.

Lacy is my oldest daughter’s Pit bull. The song worked! But I had to keep singing it or Boots would cry. So, I decided to get up and do the next logical thing.  Do aerobics!

What?  That does not sound logical.  Well I was not going to come up with multiple Boots lullabies.  Unlike my kids, the dog did not fall soundly sleep. Each flash of lightening made him howl anew.  Since I had to stay up with my frightened dog and it was my weigh-in day for WW, I decided to do some exercise to music earlier than usual.  But unlike other Saturdays, I was feeling all my 50+ years and was not ready for High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) or something like that.  So, I did what I never said I would do.  I did an exercise video for Seniors. 

And boy was I glad I did.  I had avoided Senior based videos since I thought that such videos would be boring and not much of a workout.  Instead the videos by Paul Eugene (see here) were energizing, fun and just the right level to get a great workout. 

I liked the first one on Latin Dance for Seniors so much; I did a second Aerobics one!  If I had done HIIT or something more strenuous in my dog induced, sleep deprived coma, I would have ended up with a pulled muscle or on the floor.   Instead, I was ready for the day and more. 

When the videos ended, the rain had stopped, and Boots was finally asleep.  Lucky for me he feared rain but loved Paul Eugene!  The sun had started to come out and I decided to take a walk.  And then the biggest surprise happened.  On the path to my park, I saw a Doe that looks to be ready to give birth!

 It took me back to the days of Kendall and lullabies, but not depressed with my advancing years.  And hopefully in a few years as I stay healthy Sweating to and with the Oldies, I may have the chance to rock a grandchild instead of a dog!  Embrace your age! Stay Healthy!

The Real Art of Racing in the Rain

The other day I went to see “The Art of Racing in the Rain”.  At first, I was not sure why I wanted to see it.  I hate driving cars, especially in the rain.  Just ask anyone who has had the misfortune of driving with me.  I am also not overly fond of Dogs.  I despise being headbutted and sniffed by my daughter’s overly affectionate Pitbull or any dog not named Boots (he is OK). 

So why did I absolutely love this movie about a racing car driver, his family, and his Dog Enzo?  And why did I cry a river of tears when (spoiler alert) both the driver’s dog and his wife died?  A bit because I am the ultimate sap!  I punch my fist in the air when Mr. Smith saves the boy scout camp and weep at every Walton episode.  But this was something more.  Then I realized.  The movie reminded me of my Brother David, his love of cars,  his recently departed wife Debra, and their dogs – Alvin, Jasmine, Zooey.

Three dogs ready to race!

David has loved cars ever since he was a little kid.  One of the most memorable events of my childhood (and one that haunts my dreams) is when David, I, and Gary were waiting for my parents in the station wagon to go on a trip.  David all of 4 years old sat in the front seat. Suddenly, he switched into the driver’s seat, shifted the car in neutral and started steering the car like a crazy man.  My brother and I were helpless as the car backed down our sloped driveway.  We drifted down the hill across a major road (safely thank God) and ended up in the neighbor’s front yard across the street. My parents rushed out to get us and I will never forget the joy in David’s face or terror in the eyes of my brother and me! 

Terror was also in my eyes every time I drove with David.  He treats the Houston highway like the Daytona 500. My heart races as he passes cars, barely missing the bumper.  I in contrast drive like the future Grandpop I aspire to be.  He has translated his love for cars into a career as a truck driver.   He can drive the biggest rig with speed and precision.  He was a lot like Denny, the movie’s lead, except he drove trucks instead of cars.

Also, like Denny, David loves dogs.  In this, he is like his namesake, Uncle David.  Both love Dogs with a passion I cannot fathom.  Uncle David currently has 8 and David 4.  They bring them both joy and I never realized why.   The dogs yap and yip.  Not my cup of tea.  Until the movie showed me why – Dogs are more empathetic than people.  They can realize when you are hurting and give you just what you need to race through the rain and not crash into the wall of life.

In the movie, Enzo the dog helps Denny deal with the premature parting of his wife Eve.  Enzo realizes the signs of Eve’s impending death and helps Denny and Eve deal with her illness and eventual passing.  Eve is like my Sister-In-Law Debra who was afflicted with various neurological  and eventually led to her passing two weeks ago.  You can read more about Debra’s passing in this link. http://obituaries.acremation.com/o/grier/44141/?fbclid=IwAR13i5PLQAHaRBC57t9KCHuu0ZcY4DzbH95BjYpVd7iZS7ql-umZeC3nu6I

Enzo kept Denny whole by driving with him as the rain pulsed down.  Likewise, David and Debra shared the latest antics of Alvin, Jasmine, Zooey, and Cuddles.  David would make Debra’s eyes twinkle with his imitation of the dog’s barking for Debra’s return.  The  dogs also helped my brother to be strong for his wife through unconditional love.    

In closing, there are two quotes from the book/movie that really resonate with me. This one is a quote from the movie.  “If a driver controls his own conditions, then the rain is only rain”.  David through his dog imitations and frequent Facebook posts worked to control the uncontrollable.  In so doing, my younger brother taught me a lesson of how to keep strong through the storm. 

The last quote is from the mind of Enzo the dog.   It is so poignant and meaningful I cannot do it justice.   To me it will always mark the moment that Debra passed and reveals  the true nature of her kind soul. 

“I saw her soul leave her body as she exhaled, and then she had no more needs, no more reason; she was released from her body, and, being released, she continued her journey elsewhere, high in the firmament where soul material gathers and plays out all the dreams and joys of which we temporal beings can barely conceive, all the things that are beyond our comprehension, but even so, are not beyond our attainment if we choose…”

Tonight, before you go to bed be like Enzo, David, Debra and their dogs.  Race on through the rain and love unconditionally.  Turn away from the wall and toward new life through love!

In Just Spring

In Just-

Spring   when the lame

middle-aged man

runs   far and    wee!

And the ground-beneath

is puddle-painful

From too-much running  too-soon,

As the hobbled, middle-aged man

limps slow—ly   far and wee!

The above is my take on e.e. cummings’ classic  “In Just Spring” https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47247/in-just after my first run in Spring. Everyone wants to get out and lose those 10 pounds of insulation gained during the Winter months.  But before you go out and become the little lame woman or man, here are three rules to follow In Just Spring.

Take it Slow – It is always tempting to walk that extra mile or two when the weather gets warm and the bluebonnets are out.  That is exactly what I, my wife, and our dog Boots attempted to do on the trails on Brushy Creek.  Even with a stop at a sandwich shop for a quick bite, we ended up struggling to make it back to our car.  We ended up dragging our 70 lbs., huffing Bernese Mountain dog the last few yards.  We are still recovering!

The lesson learned is simple.  Do not overdue it with the first flowers of spring.  In the winter it is a struggle to get out and about (read how so in this blog https://weightlossleadership.com/2018/12/09/baby-its-cold-outside-but-exercise-anyway/ ).  Now that the weather is more conducive to exercise don’t try to catch up all in one day.  Take your time to slowly build up your miles, so you too don’t become the little lame woman or man (or dog!).

Do the essential – A corollary to the first rule is to focus on the essential.  In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg Mckeown says that the key to success to health and life in general is to do “less but better”.  When waking up after our winter fog, it is tempting to try everything at once to get fit.  It is understandable, we are excited to get swimsuit ready for the summer.  So we take up the latest diet, try a myriad of fitness fads, and buy the newest exercise equipment from Amazon.  But it is better to focus of the essentials.  Track the food you eat diligently, get plenty of sleep, and focus on the now.  Don’t do everything! Do the essential well to enjoy the Spring and the new you.

Be in the Moment – The flowers are in bloom and the sun is out.  It is time to focus on the now and enjoy the new life of Spring.  One way to take it slow is to take in nature.  Sit on a bench.  Take a picture.  Lie in the bluebonnets like Boots the dog!  Clear your mind of anxiety and enjoy the blooming beauty all around you.

Dog in Bluebonnets

Follow these rules to avoid becoming the little lame, middle-aged woman or man.  Spring into the season and a new you!

Two Essential Ingredients to Weight Loss – Family and Friends (Part Two)

Two key ingredients to sustained and maintained weight loss are family and friends.  They are just as important to your weight loss journey as healthy food, careful tracking, water, and exercise.  I wrote about the first of these ingredients – family – in Part One of this blog here Two Essential Ingredients to Weight Loss – Family and Friends (Part One).   On this one, I tackle Part Two – friends – in this blog.

There have been three categories of friends that have helped me as I lost 170 plus pounds and kept it off.    Here is how Work Friends, Facebook Friends, and Fitness Friends at Weight Watchers and Lifetime Fitness have helped me along the way.

1.       Work Friends – My friends and colleagues at Accenture have encouraged me on and challenged me over these last two years.  First, my company has a program called Accenture Active where I had the good fortune to be one of 30 selected Journeyers when we initiated the program.  As a Journeyer, we had bi-weekly meetings to touch base and learn from each other.  We also had access to special lectures to inspire.  One particular one was given by Diana Nyad who told us how she trained to be the first person to swim from Florida to Cuba.  She accomplished it at 64, after several previous tries.  Her story a long with the Accenture Active group inspired and made it easier to keep on plan.  If someone can swim to Cuba, I can lose a 100 lbs.  Here is a link to Diana’s wiki page if you want to learn more. 

Diana Nyad

Second, my office friends and colleagues formed a Fitbit group.  I cannot tell you how the many contests drove me to exercise more!  I actually walked the halls of the Columbus Sheraton to pull ahead of my colleagues.  My friends also helped me accomplish a long-term goal of walking 50 miles in one day.   My friends from our sales team that walked 10 miles with me with their kids, partly in the rain!  That is what I call support! Below is a the Fitbit badge to prove it. 

Image of FitBit 100,000 step sandal
50 miles in one day!

2.Facebook Friends – My friends on Facebook were also a great help in my Weight Loss.  First, they gave me Likes to my corny workout rhymes (Example:  Today I did the typical, 5 miles strong on the elliptical!).  They also gave me Likes and a few Loves as I hit my weight loss milestones.  Along, with individual friends on Facebook, I was helped immensely by some of the Facebook groups.  Four groups in particular, Weight Watchers Saturday Round Rock Group, Sheri’s FIT (my sister-in-laws great workout group), Spreading Positivity, and the West Point Class of 85 site.  Each site gave me helpful hints and encouragement.  For example, yesterday I learned that I could get Center Cut bacon which was only 2 Weight Watcher’s Smart Points for 3 pieces!.  That made my day and helped me get my bacon fix while reducing calories and keeping the pounds off. 

3.       Fitness Friends –  I already discussed my fellow Journeyers at Accenture Active.  There are two other fitness and weight loss friends I want to give a shout out to.  First is Weight Watchers in Round Rock Texas.  This group literally changed my life.  I love meeting with them every Saturday to trade tips, words of encouragement, and recognition.  I also found out for me as a guy it was a good fit, so do not let anyone discourage you guys out there.  I found that it had the accountability and recognition of the scale while it taught me to be more empathetic and listen more. Here is a link to the meeting if you decide to join us!

Weight Watchers Round Rock

The second group is my exercise groups at Lifetime Fitness.  As I got more fit, my fitness classes changed from Water Aerobics to the Spinning AMP course.  I even have done Zumba and Yoga!  In all the classes I loved the friendship, exhilaration and fun!  I want to give a special shout out to Corey’s Saturday EDG class at Life Time Austin North.  I now know as many hip-hop songs than some of my kids (although I will never beat my son!).  I also know I can get over 130 RPMs (wait till I get my cycling shoes this Tuesday).  Spinning is Winning!   Here is the link to Life Time North Austin location.

LifeTime North Austin

 

In closing, weight loss is not an individual sport.  It takes family and friends to help you to reach your milestones.  

 

 

Two Essential Ingredients to Weight Loss – Family and Friends (Part One)

Two key ingredients to sustained and maintained weight loss are family and friends.  They are just as important to your weight loss journey as healthy food, careful tracking, water, and exercise.  Family and friends inspire you to be healthy, console you when you go off plan, and applaud you as you meet milestones.  It has been said that it takes a village to raise a child.  I say it takes your family and friends to take off the pounds and keep them off.

This has certainly been the case as I lost 170 plus pounds and kept it off over the last two + years.  Here are just a few of the ways that my family have helped with my weight loss.  Part two will focus on friends.

1.       My wife has provided great support and companionship.  She has listened patiently as I droned on about how many more Weight Watcher points a chicken thigh had compared to a chicken breast!  She has kept the cabinets and fridge stocked with healthy food and has hidden away any indulgences that she likes so I can’t find them.  She has asked each week how I did with my battle with the scale.  Most important, she has gone on numerous hikes with me.  Last year when I did my first Kennedy Walk (50 miles in one day), she walked with me for the first 10 miles at O dark thirty and finished the last 10 miles with me at 10:30 PM.  Here is a picture of us before walking the Bix 7.

Running the Bix 7
Running the Bix7

2.       My kids encouraged me and listened to all my Dad anecdotes about my latest struggles as I turned away from my Peanut M&M addiction.  They showed their support by giving me Likes on my countless Facebook posts (especially my son-in-law). They also did not gripe when our family outings changed from pizza to Brussel sprouts.  Lastly, they turned me on to the latest self-help gurus like Tim Ferris that inspired me (thanks Kyle). 

3.       Family Pets – Boots the dog joined the weight loss journey with me.  I remember that initial walk when he and I were at peak weight as we trudged up a hill on what I called our last chance workout! We both made it thankfully for Colette since she did not have to carry us up the hill (although Boots stopped for 10 minutes mid-way through)!  As we lost weight together on the trails of Turkey Creek, he shared my victories and my steak.  You can read more about Boots and me in this blog.  The two cats have been helpful because they wake me up at 4:30 AM to let them out, thus making sure I get to the morning work out on time!

A little help from friends: Striding Subbu and Boots the Dog

4.       Extended Family – My siblings and my in-laws have been companions and inspired me on my weight loss journey.  My brother also took on the weight loss challenge and has lost over a 100 lbs.  We really should have gone on the biggest loser and won the cash (but our health is way more important).  My other brother and sister have also encouraged me with Facebook likes and encouragement.  As for my wife’s family, they have been key to establishing an exercise regimen.  One of my sisters in law established a monthly challenge group on Facebook.  Together our team walked across Texas and challenged ourselves in fitness.  One of my nieces made a group called Spreading Positivity which was a key to keeping me up when I was down!

A little help from friends: Striding Subbu and Boots the Dog

There was one instance on my weight loss journey that I gained weight despite hitting all my goals. What did I do different the next week?  For one thing, I ate less salt     But more importantly, I got help from two of my friends – Striding Subbu and Boots the Dog.

Subbu one of my colleagues at work is one of the nicest people and hardest workers I have ever had the pleasure to know.  That Tuesday when I was feeling a bit run down because of late night travel and an early meeting, he showed me his Fitbit record.  I almost passed out when he told me he did over 20 miles on Saturday!  He said he had dropped off his kids and had to wait for them to finish some activities, so he just started walking, and walking and walking.  I was reminded of Forest Gump’s journey across the states. Due to his inspiration, I was able to hit my step goal on that Tuesday  even though tired.  Striding Subbu shows the way!  Here is a picture of his Fitbit record documenting the walk.

subbu-walking-169x300

 

My other workout buddy is Boots the Dog.  Boots is a lot like me.  A Chow, Bernese Mountain Dog he looks a bit like a bear which I have been told I resemble.  We both adore my wife (he follows her around like well a puppy dog!).  Lastly, we both had a weight and health problem a year ago and have both overcome the  issue.  I remember when we both walked  with my wife in what I called the last chance workout after a famous show.  My wife had to drag both of us up a hill (at least she did not have to carry me).  Over the last year, Boots has lost 30 lbs.

Boots helped me and got to celebrate to boot.  I was at a colleague’s retirement dinner and wanted to celebrate with half a steak.  Who got the other half – Boots!  This is an old weight loss trick.  When in a restaurant, immediately box half your meal and eat it the next day or win the endearment of a buddy.

boots-2-e1457818986719-225x300