Weight Loss Journey

9 07 2018

I have been on a journey for over a year now.  Actually I have been on this journey for many years but was finally in a place where I was finally ready to admit I needed God’s help about a year ago. 

I have been “chubby”, “heavy”, “large”, “a big kid”, which are all polite ways of saying “FAT”, almost all of my life.  I remember when I was 8 or 9 I would stand with my arms folded at the top of my stomach.  I remember my mother telling me not to cross my arms above my stomach because it pushed my stomach out.  I was teased in school and was always part of the “last kids picked” when it came to choosing teams. 

I married the woman of my dreams in 1986 and if my memory serves correctly, I was about 180 pounds.  I remember that I was working out at the gym prior to the wedding to look my best.  After I was married, I think I lost interest in maintaining my weight.  When I got married I was working a retail job where I was on my feet for a major part of the day walking around.  A few years later, I was hired for a job that would use my computer science degree.  With the hour or so commute and a fairly sedentary job, my weight started to increase. 

So I was fat, and I knew I was fat.  Years of the doctor telling me I needed to lose weight and my wife telling me that she was afraid I was going to die early and my dad telling me I needed to lose weight didn’t cause me to get help.  I tried a trainer at the gym and spent thousands of dollars without a lasting effect.  If memory serves correctly, I managed to go from about 300 pounds to 270 pounds.  My wife and I tried a “well known” weight loss program in 2005 and that worked while I was paying to go to meetings and paying for their snacks.  However when money got tight and I could no longer pay for the trainer and when my wife reached her goal weight and we stopped going to those meetings, I gained all the weight back.  With the weight loss program I actually  managed to get down just under 246 pounds.  245.8 to be exact.

In 2010 I had three business trips traveling to Eastern Europe for work.  We always had a lay over day each way in Vienna, Austria for two trips and Amsterdam, Netherlands for the last trip.  Putting my 290+ pound body into a coach seat for a transatlantic flight, and not being able to walk around Vienna and Amsterdam got me to the point that I was finally ready to give Celebrate Recovery a try.

For those that don’t know, Celebrate Recovery is a Christ based 12-step program similar to the better known Alcoholics Anonymous.  One of the major differences is while Alcohol Anonymous refers to a “higher power” as a source of help, Celebrate Recovery specifically names the higher power as Jesus/God.  Anyway, a pastor at the church my family was attending was “heavy” and lost quite a bit of weight.  He told the congregation that the 12 steps of Celebrate Recovery is what helped him to lose the weight.  His testimony and my business trips to Eastern Europe were enough pain to overcome the fear of walking in to Celebrate Recovery.

Given my past failures with the gym and the nationally known weight lost program I knew that my weight issues were more than simple behavior modification would fix.  There were deeper issues that needed to be addressed.  I went though the doors of Celebrate Recovery and started to work the program.  I started watching what I was eating and trying to drink more water, in place of snacking.  I actually lost 30 pounds in the beginning.  However this was my doing and not what God was most interested in helping me overcome….at least not yet.

I found this walking app for my iPhone and started tracking my sporadic walks back in December of 2014.  My walks got more regular in 2016 but still not consistent. 

Back in February of 2017, I got an Apple Watch and started tracking my exercise.  As of April 1, 2017 I weighed 300 pounds.  I have been as high as 321.  This is not something that I am in any way proud of but it is worthy to note how far I have come. 

With the purchase of my Apple Watch, I decided to start walking regularly and tracking my walking progress.  I figured out the workout app on my watch and in March of 2017 had 1 workout.  In April there were 15, May was 24, June and July there were 20 each and then I started to get serous in August of 2017.

I consider my official start date of this journey August 1, 2017.  We had recently booked a family cruise to the Western Caribbean and I was looking at some of the excursions.  What took me somewhat by surprise was the fact that some of them had weight limits.  Now this wasn’t the zip line or scuba diving where I know there are weight limits.  This was playing and swimming with the dolphins.  This sounded interesting but there was a weight limit.  Those above 240 pounds could not participate.  Since I was currently close to 300 pounds, it meant that my weight was going to be what limited me on this excursion.

I didn’t want my weight to be the reason I didn’t do the excursion.  As I mentioned above, I had tried the gym, I had tried a nationally known weight loss program.  Both worked, sort of, until I couldn’t afford to pay for them.  I had gotten just under 270 pounds while working with a trainer.  I had gotten down to 245 with the weight loss program.  Neither of those were below the 240 that I needed to be under to do the excursion. 

I knew that there were deeper issues behind my weight that simple behavior modification would solve.  I decided to pray about this and ask God if this was the time for us to work on my weight.  I started walking and trying to watch what I ate.  The weight was starting to come off.  In November my prescription for blood pressure medication ran out.  I called the pharmacy to refill it and it was denied.  It turns out that my medical insurance was now insisting that I see the doctor every 6 months while on long term medication.  There was no way I was going to get in to see the doctor before Thanksgiving so I decided to start recording my blood pressure daily and see the doctor after Thanksgiving.  I took my record of blood pressure measurements to the doctor and he was concerned.  Not because my blood pressure was too high but there were several readings that were too low!  With that my doctor decided that I could be off the blood pressure medications and we would check it again in April when I had my annual exam.

In January I was going to the gym because walking when the outside temperature was below 50 was causing my hands and feet to be cold to the point of pain.  I also got an app to start tracking what I was eating.  The combination helped me break through the plateau!

I had my annual physical in April part of which was the usual blood tests.  The doctor was thrilled with the amount of weight I had lost.  When he got the results of the blood tests, all my results were excellent.  Where I had been on both blood pressure and cholesterol medications in the past, and had even had a liver biopsy in the past to determine I had a fatty liver, I am now off all prescription medications.

As I write this I am 56 pounds lighter than I was in August!  As I shared in my travel post, I was finally below 240 and my weight would no longer be the reason for not playing with the dolphins!  I am also down two pants sizes since I started in August and actually 4 pants sizes down from where I was at my heaviest.  At my heaviest, XXL shirts were tight, actually very tight.  Now large shirt are tight but with God’s help, they won’t be for much longer.

I continue to work at losing weight.  My next goal is to break through the 225 pound barrier with my ultimate goal to see if I can get back to about 180 pounds which is where I think I was when I got married. 

Until next time…

Paul





Why God?

14 04 2013

This weekend was one of those sermons where I felt it was a message just for me. I am fairly certain that my pastor Mark Connelly at Mission Community Church didn’t write the message for me. However, God definitely used it to speak to me.

Maybe before I go too much farther, I should give you a little of my history. I don’t remember exactly when, though I am fairly certain it was before I was 13, I was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter disese. This is activity-related pain that occurs a few inches below the knee-cap.

At the ripe old age of 13, I chose to have pins inserted in my hip to keep from getting arthritis at 13. This was due to a growing issue where the socket was growing faster than the ball causing the ball of my hip to move abnormally and cause great pain.

I did have one other major knee issue while playing sports. I was about 17 when playing softball. I planted my feet, swung and apparently had a fantastic hit. I say apparently because I did not lift my back foot to rotate and managed to dislocate my knee cap and tear ligaments and tendons. I do remember being pulled up from home plate to try and hobble back to the car to get some care. That little stunt got me several weeks in a hip to ankle cast.

Fast forward 25 years or so and my knee and hip issues decided it was time to make a reappearance. First we started with cortisone injections to try and “reboot” my knee (I love how my Orthopedist was able to communicate in computer terms). This worked for awhile but in 2008 I ended up having Arthroscopy done on both knees. This helped for a few years.

With the knee pain addressed, my hip decided to start hurting me. It turns out that at least partially due to the pins that were put in when I was 13, caused the cartilage in my hip joint to wear unevenly. So in July 0f 2011 I had my right hip replaced. You come to realize just how “special” you are when your orthopedist is excited about the antiques he is going to remove. That surgery went well and I am happy to report there have been NO issues with my hip since then.

Not wanting to be left out my knees started hurting before my hip surgery and again we tried the cortisone and then rooster-comb therapy. It didn’t work. X-Rays revealed that I was almost bone on bone in both knees. This resulted in a Bi-lateral knee arthroplasty procedure in October of 2011. Two major surgeries in just a few months apart! Not something I would recommend to anyone. Not only is it a physical drain on the body but it is a mental drain wondering if you are ever going to be done recovering from surgery.

After all of this several months go by and my foot just won’t stop hurting. By this time I have had orthotics for a couple of years and even had a special plastic ankle brace. This all do to the fact that my arch is collapsing. The podiatrist tells me that I have skew foot. Which means from the front it looks as though I have a high arch and from the back it looks like I am flat footed. The pain is caused by the ligament being stretched and my heel being a little off center. So in September of 2012 I have corrective foot surgery.

That brings me to the date of this post. My foot is still in pain and sometime during my knee recovery my knee caps migrated to the outside of my joint. This means that I am looking at one or two surgeries to adjust the knee caps and who knows what for my foot.

The other night a close friend of mine was telling the stories of all the jobs he has been “let go” from. The pattern seems to be that once someone he has witnessed to at work comes to faith in Christ, he is soon let go. So, I am wondering if I am maybe supposed to witness to someone in the doctor’s office or the hospital or maybe even the physical therapist’s office. Maybe I am not getting the hint and God keeps providing opportunities.

During the sermon, Pastor Mark told of a member with an amazing story. This story was how a member of my church has been carried through unimaginable pain and suffering. That isn’t the end of the story though. In spite of having her back broken twice and the numerous complications, she is being used by God in powerful ways to server others. Based on what I heard at the sermon on Saturday, I believe God is taking me through this season of pain. Like the lady in the story, I know that I would have NEVER written this pain and these surgeries into my life story. It definitely wasn’t in MY plan for my life. Like her and her husband, I know that I have cried out to God asking why.

Her story gives me hope that God can and will use this in some way. Obviously I don’t know what that is yet. Will it be used to coax others out of complacency into service? Will it be used to help someone else as they endure a similar season of pain? I don’t know. However, I have renewed hope that God will use this in some way. I may not know how He used it until I get to heaven. I just need to keep following Christ where ever He is leading and let Him take care of the rest.

Until next time





Foster Care….the saga continues

6 04 2013

It has been awhile since I posted an update on our Foster Care journey. You may want to read Part 1 and Part 2 first to get the whole story.

We have reached the point where all the paperwork has been filled out, back ground checks done, certifications acquired and training completed. The bundle of information about my family has been turned in to the Office of Licensing, Certification & Renewal (OLCR). We were told it was taking 3-6 weeks to be certified. We are almost at three weeks. We were also told that there is a new supervisor at OLCR who is very meticulous about paperwork. With this new supervisor, we were told to not be surprised at all if there was some additional information that needed to be provided or more forms to fill out. I am hoping that we haven’t heard anything yet is a good sign. I would hate to think that they haven’t even looked at our paperwork yet.

This waiting is definitely developing patience in me. Actually the whole process has been a patience growing endeavor. However, I sincerely hope we are at the end of providing information and will soon be able to be a temporary safe place for kids who need that. I realize that once we have been certified, will mean the start of a new set of challenges that will only strengthen my walk with The Lord. I know He has brought my wife and I this far. There have been numerous hurdles that God has helped is over so far.

I have never dealt with bureaucracy well. I get frustrated by the sheer number of forms and apparently redundant information that has to be provided again and again. That and they don’t do things the way I think they should, which of course is the right way (no control issues here 🙂 ). Having a foster child, or children, is going to mean having to learn how to work with CPS, lawyers and the courts. I also realize that I am going to have to work within their schedules to a large extent. I have served on jury duty once so at least the court system is not completely foreign.

My wife and I will be holding on to the promise that God will bring us through anything He has called us to. I am thankful that we have developed a support network at church with other families who are foster parents. They will be a great resource of information and support when we need it.

Until next time….





Our Foster Care Adventure (Part 2)

30 10 2012

If you haven’t read part 1 yet, you might want to start there.

I mentioned in my previous post that there are training classes we needed to attend. Going down the path of becoming licensed foster parents meant that we had to complete 30 hours of training. This came in the form of 10 3-hour classes on Monday nights. We missed one class of the 10 due to travel so we did the make-up class a few days before the surgery on my foot. We also had to complete CPR and First Aid training.

We expected that with my foot surgery the whole process would slow down and it did. During this time we came under what I can only describe as a spiritual attack. We had an invasion of ants, we discovered we had termites, we had to replace our water heater and garbage disposal, we had to replace the batteries in two vehicles and repair a tire. We also have had to deal with folks trying to convince us that this is a bad decision. “Why do you want all these problems?” “Your kids are almost out of the house now you should be taking it easy.” One person even asked if we were doing this for the money. Fortunately this only brought us closer to God and we prayed to see how God was going to work in this situation.

At this point we needed bedroom furniture, fire extinguishers and escape ladders, locks for medicines and harmful chemicals and we still had to pay for the CPR/First Aid classes. As a result of these attacks, the money we had put aside for initial foster care expenses was almost gone and our emergency funds have been hit pretty hard. We also asked for friends to pray for us.

Since we prayed to God, and asked others to join us, we have seen miracles happen. A friend “just happened” to need to get rid of 2 twin mattresses and a dresser. It turns out that the termites were caught early so there is no structural, or any visible, damage to repair. We found a place to get our CPR/First Aid training for $15. Just FYI the Red Cross charges $110 for the same course! Our initial home inspection is scheduled on November 5th and all our paperwork, that we know needs to be completed, is done.

I don’t mean to make this sound like it has been one battle after another. It hasn’t. There have been some spots where our commitment to following God has been tested. We have also been blessed by a majority of our friends being VERY supportive. Since finding out that we are pursuing becoming foster parents, I have had several friends share that they were foster kids. I have been blessed to be able to answer questions for another family considering adoption. We even have some friends that are even more excited about us becoming foster parents than I think we are at this point.

The training classes made it abundantly clear that being a foster parent is not a “cake-walk”. At times it is likely going to be very difficult. However, we know that going in so it won’t be a shock or surprise. We also view this as our ministry field. We may very well be the first Jesus’ ambassadors that the parents or kids have ever seen! We have also started to get to know others who are currently foster parents so we have folks to ask about situations as they come up. We have discovered that apparently late night trips to Wal-Mart are a normal event when kids get placed in your home.

Until next time …





Our Foster Care Adventure (Part 1)

28 10 2012

We are getting closer to being licensed Foster parents.  It has been an adventure so far and I imagine that the real adventure is just getting ready to happen.

So how did we get started on the path to foster care?  Well back in March of 2012, the Pastor, Mark Connelly, at our church, Mission Community Church, did a mini-series on the biblical basis of a new initiative the church was embarking on.  The initiative is called Esther’s Hope and it represents our efforts to help drain the foster care system in Arizona of children needing homes.

During the mini-series, I became convicted that God was asking my family to take some role in this effort.  I didn’t know what we were supposed to do but I was convinced that we needed to do something.  I didn’t say anything to my wife because, honestly,  I was afraid of her reaction.  There was an orientation meeting scheduled and I finally decided to talk with my wife about what I felt God was calling us to do.  I told her that I didn’t know what we were supposed to do as part of Esther’s Hope but that I was certain God was asking us to do something.  It turns out that she was feeling the same way and was waiting for me to say something about it as confirmation of her feelings.  That was confirmation for me that it really was God asking us to be involved.

We went to the orientation meeting and were astounded, as were the folks doing the orientation, at the turn out for the orientation meeting.  The orientation meeting was held in a room that holds 450 or so and it was standing room only!  After getting information about the foster care system in Arizona and how Christian Family Care was participating as a licensing agency, the group was divided in to two smaller groups.  One group was those that were interested in becoming licensed foster parents or adopting.  The other group were the folks that were interested in supporting foster families.

This was our first decision about what our next step was going to be.  We decided to stay with the group interested in becoming foster families or adopting.  I still wasn’t sure whether we wanted to adopt or foster.  Honestly I was leaning towards adoption because it sounded easier.  Being a foster parent means you are on the front lines so to speak.  When CPS determines that a child needs to be removed from a home, foster parents are the first to help the child deal with this traumatic experience after they have been processed into the system.  The goal for foster kids is reunification with their biological parent(s).  That means that after weeks/months of loving on and becoming attached to a child, assuming the parent(s) got their act together, the child is taken away from the foster parents and returned to their biological parent(s).  While being with their parents is really best for the child, it is still going to be heartbreaking to have them leave.  After the presentation was over, we talked and decided we  were going to go down the path of becoming licensed foster parents.

With the decision having been made to follow where God was leading to become licensed foster parents,  this was going to mean some major changes in our lives.  We had training classes to attend, a bunch of paperwork to fill out and reviews of our home and our lives by state agencies.  Not to mention a level 1 federal background check!  Did I mention that there was lots of paperwork to fill out?  We are clinging to the promise that God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.

Obviously there is more to this story we are several months beyond the orientation meeting as of this blog post.  I didn’t want to make this too long so I am going to break this up into several posts.

Until next time….





You are an Inspiration

9 10 2012

While I honestly didn’t think I would be publishing another blog post so soon, nor was this originally a topic I had in mind. However if I don’t get this out I have a feeling it will keep me up all night.

I have heard it said that people are always watching you. Not in a creepy stalkerish kind of way, at least not in this post. I originally thought that it was something people in authority said to keep you wary of what you were doing. I have also heard “You may be the only bible someone ever reads” or “You may be the only Jesus someone sees”.

I have, on a fairly regular basis, used my lunch hour to study my bible and have my quiet time with God. I honestly don’t believe I mentioned it to anyone at work. I just closed my office door, at lunch and spent time with God. One day a woman I worked with wanted to talk. She said “I know that you study your bible and go to church …” Well I just about fell over. How did she know? Did I say something? How could she possibly know what I was doing in my office during lunch? Then I was reminded of the phrase that people were always watching.

In the first letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul says:
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

Tonight I was at my CR step study and after answering a question about my growth during the recovery process, one of the guys told me I was an inspiration to him. WHAT…..me…..no way … you must have the wrong guy! Honestly those are the things that went through my brain. All too often I feel insignificant and like I am not contributing to the group. Tonight I was floored to learn that I was an inspiration to at least one other guy.

You, yes you, are very likely an inspiration to someone. They may never tell you that. I know that I have been reticent in telling others that they are an inspiration to me. Being an inspiration to others is not reserved for adults. In fact there are teenagers at my church who by their actions are an inspiration to me. They inspire me to draw closer to God.

Remember people are always watching … be an inspiration to someone!

Until next time …








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