Auld Lang Syne
December 28, 2013

Well, with no exercise since 12/11/13 and this being the last Saturday of the year, I figured it’s time to step on the scale. Uncontrolled eating, no exercise, kind of avoided the scale like Miley avoids clothes. So I get on it this morning and to my surprise, it’s 259.2.  I am in such good position to hit 250 by Feb. first.

Not sure how it happened, but apparently, I can maintain my weight. Now if I can do that while being about 60 pounds lighter, then we have a bingo.

It’s been quite a year. I quit my job at the psych hospital, I got my Haniah as my first grandchild, Luke and Amanda have moved home, Ben graduated, Jo Jo and Josh have jobs they love, it’s a good year.

But it isn’t all good. I reflect on how the year was for me. I, all of a sudden, am dealing with my deceased dad and his relationship with me. I’ve found I can be very judgmental in spiritual things, not particularly an encourager, not exactly always loving, and sometimes I’ve been told I’m mean.

I have taken this all to the Lord and am determined, with His help to change all of that. I want to love on people who aren’t lovable. I want to encourage people who need encouraged. I want to help financially those in financial need. I want to be like Christ.

This is a lot of work, but I know I can change. I know I can be more like Him and less like me. I know I can hit my weight goal. I know I can’t quit on any of these things.

I am thankful for another year. I read the obituaries and many people younger than me have gone face to face with God. How awesome/scary is that? I look forward to this year. I’ll be 59 next year at this time. Crazy. And I’ll have been married 29 years. Large numbers, huge numbers. But I am looking forward to making them even larger, unless the Lord sees otherwise. Who knows? Maybe a grandpa again?

So my friends, Happy New year. I hope you’re Christmas was blessed. I hope and pray your 2014 is the best year ever. I am determined, no, I am sure I will be healthier at 60 than I was at 50.

Can’t wait.



Looking At The Rain
December 21, 2013

With Christmas and New Years Day approaching, it’s very easy to get distracted from your weight loss goal. My goodness, I mean cookies, different dishes, all sorts of things that make you forget that you have a goal.

The Christmas season is the best time of the year, but it could bring on a flood of emotions, some good, some bad. Memories of childhood, lost friends and relatives, a “simpler” time.  And we can use this as an excuse to delve into some “comfort foods”.

There’s a song by Gordon Lightfoot, old but new because I never heard it, called “Looking At The Rain”, a reminiscing song about times past. And it got me to thinking about how we reminisce about things that make us happy and sad. This time of year I think of when I was a young boy and the family would all be together and we’d have get togethers. My mom and dad were still alive and I was a young boy who didn’t know about the cares that my mom and dad may have had, or any world problems. Heck, we were in the middle of Viet Nam and the threat of nuclear annihilation was very real.

I miss my mother-in-law Nadine Bateman. She lived on the property we had in West Middlesex. Christmas Eve was when Santa would arrive at her house and my kids and Bonnie and I would “go down the lane” to her house after church and the kids would be opening up their presents. Oh, we would eat! She always had plenty of goodies. Good memories.

I got a realization this past month, well, since Thanksgiving. The old saying goes, “You can’t go home”. I never understood it. Of course you can go home. You can visit there, take vacations, trips, whatever, but you can go back home. But I’ve just understood that you can’t go “home”.

“Home” is the way things were. I can go back to my house I grew up in, but there won’t be uncles, parents, the player piano, the Italian cookies, the booze.  Ok, you can buy cookies and booze, but I think you get my drift.

Nadine isn’t here. My kids are grown. We can’t go down the lane. We don’t live there anymore. We may seek comfort foods to help deal with the losses, the reminders of good old days. The food won’t bring back those times.

But we have memories. Even though we can’t go back to those times, we always have to remember the times that brought joy, and the times that brought sorrow. These times are what make us what we are. Now we have to handle the past, and live for today. Today we are making memories for our children. Today will be our kids “good old days”.  It’s ok to look at the rain.  We can visit there.

But we can’t live there anymore.

Winter Skin
December 15, 2013

It’s cold up here (or down here if you’re in Canada) in western Pennsylvania. Colder than usual this time of year.  I love winter. I’ve taken some wonderful pictures of a “Winter Wonderland”. Pennsylvania is a great place to visit, year round. I know what you’re thinking, “Nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there”.

I find that as the weather changes, we put on our “winter skin”, (a great Jars of Clay song) which basically are sweatshirts, hoodies, coats, gloves, hats, boots, etc. Looks like we’re a bunch of bank robbers most of the time, and with my bald head, a stocking hat is always in order. Tellers back up when I enter a bank. Note to self: Keep your hands out of your pockets when entering a bank.

Side note: I’m not sure how these guys with shaved heads can go outside without a hat. My sinuses run like Rosie O’Donnel to a buffet. God bless you guys that can go out hatless.

Since we cover up, it seems it’s easier to be a bit less self conscious. We figure, “well, we’re covered up, we’ll get back on it in a few months…….when winter breaks………in June!”  Bad trap to fall into. If you start to feel a bit lazy, I have a way to help keep you on track.

Mirrors. I’m not talking “smoke and mirrors” or the mirrors at the fun houses that make you look thin (or heavy and one foot tall), but the real mirrors in the house.

Mirrors don’t lie. Have you ever been in a hotel (hopefully you don’t have this at home, because if you do, I hope you’re built like Mario Lopez or Jennifer Aniston) and you get out of the shower and there is a full length mirror mocking you? It’s a totally unexpected terror.

You’re not expecting it, exposed, buck naked, so immediately, after I’m done screaming, I do what I always do: I suck my gut in (As if the gut is the only problem). But it’s too late. My eyes have been damned for what they saw, burned into my skull, etched into my brain FOREVER.  I think, “If I was laying on the beach they’d throw me back in the water”.

Looking at myself from above (you know,dropping your head and checking out your body), it’s not so bad. But mirrors don’t lie. Neither do store front windows.

I walk in the mall or the outlets and see my profile in the reflection of the windows and think, “When did Alfred Hitchcock get here?”. So I do what I always do. I suck my gut in. It’s a good reality check.

Have you ever been out with your spouse and friend and think that everyone around you points out how big you are? And you want to scream at them, “Yes, but you should have seen me six months ago. I was really big!”. Why do we do that, or am I the only one?

It shouldn’t matter, but we’re programmed that to be overweight is akin to hanging out with Charlie Manson and going to visit movie stars. It’s degrading, people think you’re weak, lazy, whatever. But even though we say we don’t care, we keep trying to let people know we’re “working on it”. “Oh yeah, I’ve lost 20 pounds (ok, like three months ago and have been stalled like ObamaCare).”  Yeah, working on it.

But as Paul McCartney said, “I got to admit it’s getting better. Just a little better all the time”. Focusing on the real issue, which is: I’m doing this for me. And I’m thinner than I was 9 months ago, so onward we go. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Some good days and some bad days. But each day is a blessing. Seriously, you know what?

I got this.

Weight: 259.0 (250’s are my new normal. Sweet)



Killing Me Softly
December 7, 2013


Yesterday was one of those days. Ok, not exactly YESTERDAY, but let’s say from 6 p.m. Thursday through 3 p.m. Friday I ate eight donuts. Now, not the real large donuts, but medium size. Why? Well I’ll give you the rationale, then tell you the truth.

Rationale: With donuts in the house, other people will eat them and they’re trying to lose weight too. I am helping them.

Rationale: They’re small donuts. Not much weight in them, they’re glazed, they don’t weigh much.

Rationale: I’m supposed to eat every two hours because I’m diabetic, so a donut or two every two hours is good for me.

Truth: I’m lazy.

I’d been hungry most of the day, and, admittedly, it was an easy fix. Can’t say it was I had a “craving” for sweets. Can’t say, I “longed” for donuts. I can say that I was hungry, and was too lazy to cook anything. So, a donut sufficed. Well, really, they’re small donuts, so two at a sitting would “take the edge off”.

I’m pathetic. Truly. I look back at that and think, “whats up with that?”. Lazy. Not in the zone. Backslid diet wise. Call it whatever. A bad day.

A wonderful elderly woman at my church, Betty, told Bonnie that I’m trying to kill myself. Am I? Do I have a deep desire to just give in and do whatever I want? Of course I do. And so do you.

We all do. It’s called a sin nature. We desire the things of the flesh and even though we know better, we continue to dive into activities that are not healthy for us. It used to be drugs and alcohol. For some people it’s porn. For others it’s stealing. For someone else it’s holding grudges. To another, it’s slander. Or to some it’s smoking. Or drugs and alcohol.

If I gave into my eating desires, I’d be “Sprinting to 300” instead of “Walking to 199”. We may stumble, but we are not defeated. You know what the kicker was with this whole donut incident? The thing that aggravated my wife, my kids, and church people?

I lost three pounds! I thought, “wow, I’m onto a secret. An all donut diet”. Of course that’s not true. It will catch up with me eventually, like every sin does. But God’s grace keeps me. There’s a quote that George Steinbrenner kept in his office and I’ll paraphrase it.

“I’ve been hit. I’ve been wounded. I’ve fallen down. So I will rest. I will rise. I will fight again”. Something like that. So that’s what life is all about. How cool if we never screwed up! But realistically, that’s what we do. We mess up. But with Christ, He is able to keep us from stumbling.

But we’ll stumble at times. And even though this was a bad stumble, the times between stumbles are becoming longer and longer. That’s progress. So we move forward.

Seriously, I don’t want to kill myself. There are too many people out there who have never had the pleasure of meeting me yet. People that I haven’t had a chance to irritate yet. People I haven’t had a chance to encourage.  Let’s do this.

Weight: 260.8

November 17, 2013

So as I do this weight loss journey, which apparently has become more of a “rest stop” as the weight remains the same (260-261.8) like forever, I’ve focused on why I eat.
I got the exercise pretty good. I’m focusing on why I eat.
I am so affected by emotions. Boredom, avoidance, angry, are all good reasons to eat. If I want to avoid a chore, I eat. If I am bored, which is rare, I eat. If I’m angry, I eat. (But I feel like the Hulk in “The Avengers” movie. They said they needed him to get angry. He says, “Oh, I’m always angry”. I must be too, because I eat a lot.
Growing up in an Italian home, it was quite common to eat out of guilt. “Oh, don’t you like my cooking?” “Only one piece of cake? I made it because I know you like it”. You get the picture.
I spent a lot of my childhood trying to please my dad. I was the youngest of five and he introduced me as his “generation gap”. Term of endearment I’m sure.
Everything I tried to please him didn’t work. Football? He says, “You’ll quit”, and I did because I didn’t want to play, but I figured he’d be happy.
He rarely came to my sporting events, never complimented me on good things I did, even when I lost weight earlier in life he said, “It’s probably all water”. Thank you Mr. Encouragement.
Everyone liked my dad. He was funny, and was a great harmonica player. But I could never please him, so I quit trying. It was very freeing, as I was just being me. A hippie, which I’m not sure now if it was just to tick him off that I grew my hair so long.
I think he tried hard with my siblings, but just got tired with me. I was tired of him also. He was a hard worker, working in the steel mill for over 35 years, always kept a garden, and was told he worked 3 jobs when I was a baby.
I think that’s why I was fat growing up. Food satisfied my emptiness inside. The longing for a relationship with my dad. A good excuse to eat. This is no lie, I would eat 8 (yes, eight) pieces of toast for breakfast at 10 a.m. and eat lunch at noon. Why? Because it was noon. You eat lunch at noon.
When I came to Christ at age 28, that void of needing a father was filled by God. It didn’t matter that my dad would mock me about my religion……or weight……or clothing…..or, well, you get it. It was still painful but it didn’t matter. I focused on Psalm 139, where God tells me “I’m fearfully and wonderfully made”. I still believe I am because He says so.
I see where I get some bitterness from and am still an emotional eater. But I am able to recognize my emotions, and sometimes I’m successful in abstaining, other times, bring on the buffet! But it’s a journey.
My dad passed away 9 years ago. I officiated his funeral. My family fought over who got the flowers. And you know what? I loved him.
But I couldn’t cry at his funeral. I just couldn’t. I just left and ate a lot of pasta.

Hot Legs
November 11, 2013

Those of you that know me (and those of you that know me from the blogs) find out I’m a pretty transparent kind of guy. A “what you see is what you get” kind of fella.

Well, I’m mostly an idiot, trying to preach, trying to lose weight, trying to be a good pastor/father/husband/grandfather, etc. I tell my congregation that I expose myself more than a stripper at a club. So let’s hear how stupid I am.

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, has been telling me to use the elliptical instead of the treadmill because it’s a better workout and you burn more calories in the same amount of time. I’ve always had a problem with the elliptical, and here’s why.

I find it very painful. It burns the upper part of my legs, my muscles ache, it’s tiring, and I don’t enjoy it. I understand it is better for my knees, but I just don’t like the pain I go through.

So two days ago, Luke, my eldest son, and I go to Planet Fitness. I see him going to town on the elliptical and think, “What the heck, I’ll give it another shot”. I figured I’d go twenty minutes.

After one minute my legs were burning pretty badly, upper thigh area, and said, “Well, if you go fifteen, that’s not bad”. At the two minute mark, my upper legs were burning badly. I said, “I’ll go ten, but I don’t know how Bonnie, my wife, or any human being can go that long on the elliptical.”

So I’m going as fast as I can, and at three minutes, I say, “I’m going to do 5 minutes. I can’t take the burning”. I begin the self degrading, “sissy, girlie girl, wimp, little boy”, and I look over and Luke is going at it like it’s his job. I hated him for a moment.

I get a text message on my phone while I’m at the 3:45 mark, and tell myself, “Screw this, I’m quitting at 4 minutes”. I actually prayed, “God, help me get to 4 minutes”.

So I slowly climb down from the elliptical, and read the text message. It’s from Luke, 6 or 7 machines down from me. The text reads, and I quote, “You can move forward on it too it may be easier :)”

I’m doing it backwards.

That’s great if I’m a defensive back in the NFL, but he kindly pointed out to me that it would go a lot easier if I did the machine right. Now, realize, I’m too old to be embarrassed by the stupid things I do. Maybe not too old, just that there’s so many of them that I’m getting used to them.

So I go 20 minutes FORWARD on the elliptical. I burn 30 less calories than if I did 30 minutes on the treadmill. So, needless to say, I am excited to get back on the elliptical…… soon as my legs heal.

I’m So Excited
October 23, 2013

Ok, an update.

I went to the doctor for my checkup and since last visit, I’ve lost a pound. I thought, “wow, all that work and it’s a pound”. The doctor said I’m not eating enough. She also said to stay away from the scale. Where have I heard that before? (Trainer, Bonnie, Emily, my kids, etc.)

So a bit discouraged, but glad the report is good, we went to buy me another pair of jeans as we’re leaving for North Carolina this week with friends. Before I started “MY Walk To 199”, I was size 48. Currently in 44’s, I wondered if I was losing inches, because that’s what everyone says, but not weight. I’ve added a weight lifting program to my routine, and my legs are more muscular from all the walking, but I don’t want to kid myself.

My son Luke hands me a size 40 and said to try them on. I grabbed a size 42 and said I’d be happy if that fits. Well I put on the 40 and they actually fit. They didn’t fit bad, a little tight in the thighs. The 42 fit perfectly. I decided on the 42, and hopefully will get into the 40’s when I’m back from Carolina.

I can’t believe that I fit into the 40, and am now, quite comfortably, wearing a size 42. I understand that is still big, but it is 3 sizes dropped. So don’t lose hope. It works if you work it.

My weight is obviously shifting, as I’m losing my belly and gaining muscle. I’m very motivated to continue working out and getting in shape. Even though the weight is at a standstill, I’m losing inches.

Weight: 262.0, but it doesn’t matter, does it?

Helplessly Hoping
October 11, 2013

It’s funny about losing weight. Or at least trying to lose weight. The scale can be your best friend, but more than likely it’s your worst enemy. How many times have you felt “great” about yourself, only to step on the scale and it deflates you like a Macy’s balloon the day after Thanksgiving? If you’re like me, a lot.

I try to avoid the scale, but I’m an addict. Everything I do is addictive. When it was alcohol, it was to excess. When marijuana, also to excess. Eating? Excess. Weighing myself is addicting. Yet I hate it.

I said I’d weigh myself once a month. That didn’t last long. Even Chris the trainer said to get off the scale. But I keep going back. How pathetic.

I keep helplessly hoping I lose weight even though the eating thing is not under control. I exercise very regularly, which is really my therapy, however, this eating thing is so trying for me. My mother was a Mistretta, and Mistrettas’ are notorious sweet eaters. My motto? I’d rather eat cake than steak.

So, stepping on the scale “hoping” to lose weight without doing all I can to make it happen. Too many birthday parties, church dinners, etc.  But enough with excuses. I have to do this. This isn’t for how I look (although I must modestly say I’m starting to look pretty fantastic) but for my health.

Bonnie’s cousin Mitch has lost a HUGE amount of weight. He looks great. I ask him what he weighs and he said he doesn’t know. I ask him what he used to weigh and he said he doesn’t know. He doesn’t own a scale.

So I’ll “try” not to weigh myself. But it’s not easy when you need that “number” to encourage you. As my friend Emily (who has a great Facebook page you need to follow called “Establishing a New Emily) says, “Don’t let numbers define you”.

Ok, I will push on. I know I got this. I’ve been on this step of weight almost as long as Oprah is on a glazed ham. But, I’m a realist and have to do what I have to do. God is good. Whether I’m fat or skinny, God is good. And He is my ever present help.

Weight: 262.8

Hello It’s Me
October 2, 2013

No excuse.

I’m lazy. It’s been over a month (I missed September) and no blogs. I apologize to those who look forward to them. I feel awful and will do better.

I have “retired” from my job at the hospital. I am loving life, right now. It’s been 18 years I’ve worked there, and trust that the good Lord will take care of me (He always has). It’s quite exciting.

I did almost a three mile walk in the park with my beloved Bonnie, no weight training today, as I realize I need to do something to be more consistent.  So I will plan on getting up early, even though it’s not necessary for work. But tomorrow I’m taking off as I got a ticket for my birthday from my son Ben to see the Browns/Bills game. Me and my boys haven’t been to a football game together, so we will now.

I had my birthday October 1. Fifty-eight years. I’m in better shape than when I turned 57 and plan on even better shape for my 59th and 60th. I got to spend time with Emily Alexander, who is doing a phenomenal job of losing weight and doing it the right way. If you’re on Facebook, follow her page, “Establishing a New Emily”. It is worth your time. And if you’re looking for humor, insight, and down to earth talk, if you’re on Facebook, follow “Luke’s Brain Chunks”. It’ll be worth it.

It’s always a time of reflection on birthdays. Thankful for life. Happy that God has brought my kids all home and I have Haniah, my granddaughter. Life is good for me.

Autumn in western Pennsylvania is remarkable. Love the changing of the leaves (a bit early this year) and the park nearby is phenomenal. So blessed, and determined to live life to the fullest.

I am the happiest I’ve ever been. Until I get to 199. I will.

Today: 262.

Teach Your Children
August 29, 2013

August 29, 2013

“Teach Your Children”

Been a while since I’ve blogged. Dealing with a bunch of different stuff.

Well, I’ve added weightlifting, actually, increased weightlifting to my routine. I had no rhyme or reason on how I was lifting, just working on biceps and triceps.

Well, about 4 days ago I lifted, and sometime on Sunday I noticed that I was in pain in the rib cage area. I figured I’d pulled a muscle. Well it’s 4 days, and still in pain, to the point where it hurts to breathe. I overdid some things, I guess.

So I met with the trainer and so did Bonnie. He gave us a routine to follow(when I have my ribs heal), and I realized that although I’ve lifted weights quite often in my life, I have apparently not been lifting correctly.

Very valuable lesson here. Technique is more important than the weight you lift. I was lifting with my back instead of arms, thus the pain in the rib cage. It’s funny after all this time that I have been doing it wrong. I’ve seen results, but not the results that I should see.

This excites me as I’m always willing to learn. I was initially embarrassed, but realized that life is all about learning. You learn more outside the school building than inside.

So, I move on. Trying to be adult and learn my limitations, maybe work more on technique than amount of weight, and continue with the cardio routine. I am not able to do my walking without there being pain in the rib area, so I’ve decided to take the full week off. I miss it and am looking forward to getting back to it.

So, kids, listen to this old man. Just because you’ve done something for years doesn’t mean you’ve been doing it right. See a professional, learn, study, and apply. Wisdom isn’t what you learn, but the application of what you learned. (And pay attention outside of the school building).

My trainer recommended not weighing myself for a month because of discouragement and giving up, so I won’t. Weighed myself two days ago. It was 262.0.  I’ll keep you posted.