The Story and How It Goes
August 13, 2017

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Sooooo, I’ve been busy. LOL.

It’s been quite a while since I blogged. But here’s what is happening.

I have been enrolled in a pilot program from UPMC for people with various ailments (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure) to teach proper eating and appropriate replacements for foods not so good for you. The purpose is to see how people’s blood numbers can change for the better by proper eating and live a healthy life.

This is how it works. They send you 3 meals for two people, (Bonnie is in the program also,  she’s healthier than me but also a cancer survivor, praise God) every Monday, with all the fixin’s and the recipes for the week. Then for three dinners, you eat what they send you. The rest of the meals are on you. But they give you a goal for the week.

For example, the first week is to divide your plate into four sections: protein (so far that can be meat), grains, fruits, vegetables. So that is the focus for week one. For week two it’s focusing on including different vegetables into your diet. This will go on like this for 16 weeks with different goals.

This is a great program and we both want to do well because this program could save lives and relieve the need for pharmaceuticals.  We are both very excited. It’s not a diet, it’s a changing of eating. A changing of living. The first thing Bonnie and I noticed were “portions”. They’re small in regards to protein, but not small with healthy veggies and fruit.

I realized that my portions prior to this could feed a small African village. I had been exercising but never losing weight, and it was because of portions and crappy food selections. And the change in all this has been easy.

Today is Day 12 and I’ve lost 12 pounds! That excites me. I no longer drink anything but water. I thought not having pop (soda) or diet pop (soda) would be difficult, but it isn’t at all. It’s not even a challenge, or even an “urge”. We don’t drink alcohol, so that’s not a problem. No sweets either, and there’s no temptation. Bonnie had a zucchini brownie she made that was very good, and satisfied the cravings for sweets, which have been minimal since I started this. I’ve had issues that my blood pressure is TOO LOW! That has never happened. This trend will quite possibly result in less medicines or getting off the medicines all together. That’s the plan.

Also, if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (please feel free to do so) you’ll notice I am at Buhl Park a lot. Bonnie and I walk three miles at least 5 days a week and usually 6 days. This also is what is helping I’m sure. We are both just so excited with this and our kids are behind us 100% and are very supportive. They will glean off of us for the recipes.

I love that this isn’t a diet, but a changing of eating. The nutritionist asked me what my goals were and I told her I just wanted tools. Tools on what to eat, tools on how to cook, and tools on how to adjust my mindset.  They give me these.

This program has been an answer to prayer, as we both asked the Lord to help us learn what to do right when it comes to eating. And this program does just that. We eat much less meat (If you’ve never watched the documentary “What The Health”, you should). People are giving me advice, but all I know is that what I am doing is working.

Now, I take no credit for this, but give the glory to God. I don’t buy into this “self love” thing, I do this for my love of God. I’m a miserable sinner and God loves me, so I don’t need to love myself, because there is nothing lovable about me. It’s ridiculous, because that is the problem with most of the world, “Look at me”. I prefer to point to God. That’s why I won’t post pictures to say “Look at me”. I took one of those “before” pictures, but that if for my own chuckling. It was pretty repulsive.

I won’t post my weight, maybe when I get down to where I want to be. I will post my progress (you know, up a pound or down a pound). I won’t post recipes or “plans” other than diet and exercise is the answer. I’m 61 and never been so excited. I will be encouraging others to take control with God’s help. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, hit me up on Social Media and we can talk.

My life is a vacation. I have everything I need with Bonnie, kids and grandbabies. I am happy. And if losing weight makes be around longer, I’m for it. Because my bucket list only has one thing on it.

I want to dance at my grandchildren’s, all my grandchildren’s, weddings.

I covet your prayers.

Budy
June 16, 2017

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That’s Budy. With one “d”.

Ten years ago when he was in 6th grade, Ben said he wanted a dog. My response? “If you want a dog, pray one in”. So he prayed. I thought if God wants us to have a dog, which I didn’t think He did, he’d send one.

God responds to the prayers of young boys. This young dog shows up in my driveway and immediately Bonnie and Ben fell in love with him. I thought he was really adorable, but didn’t really want a dog. As Bonnie drove away to take Ben to school, the dog starts chasing them down the street. Tears running down their faces, Bonnie and Ben say they want this dog. My thoughts? If he’s meant to be ours, he’ll hang around here.

Ben comes home and all he can talk about is this dog. Bonnie and he talked about the dog jumping up on them, following the van, and now it was gone. I have to admit, I was hoping he’d be there when they came home.

A few days go by, and Ben’s grandma, who had a house on our property, calls Ben and says, “Guess who is here?”. My mother-in-law was not much of an animal lover, even though she fed two cats for 10 years or so. So we go running down the driveway to see this dog, and of course Ben says “God answered my prayer”.

I didn’t want Ben to get too excited, so we checked around and couldn’t find an owner, so we’d decided to keep him until we heard there was an owner looking for him. There wasn’t one.

Ben said he wanted to name him “Buddy”, but with one “d”. We asked why, but a sixth grader doesn’t necessarily need to have a reason. So “Budy” it was.

He was really easy to train so as to go outside to do his business. He didn’t have many accidents until toward the end.

We worried, I worried, about how he’d get along with the cat. No problem. They slept together, sometimes laying on the other ones belly. They became great friends.

Budy was always a kind dog. Never bit anyone, even when grandchildren would lay on him or hit him. But he was very gentle, sometimes just walking away from them. At times he would run away, from room to room to avoid the little ones who didn’t know better. He never snapped at them.

My favorite Budy story was when we would come home and we would find the garbage can knocked over, and we’d follow the trail to where he was. I would yell, before I even saw him, “What did you do”? And would come slinking by, refusing to make eye contact because he knew he was bad.

He had his share of injuries. He had “Cherry eye”, something caused from being in grass where there was a huge reddish welt on his eye. We took him to the vet, and with medicine eventually was ok. It seemed like if anything could happen to a dog, it would happen to Budy. Remember, dogs are expensive.

He was such a baby. The littlest thing and he acted like he was shot! I  was told beagles are pretty much babies. He was definitely a beagle. But his bark also revealed a little basset hound in him also.

He was such a good dog. He was Ben’s best friend, as he always said. Budy helped him through the death of his grandma and the breakup with a girlfriend. When all else around him was collapsing, Budy remained a constant source of comfort. He never failed Ben.

Budy, though, rarely slept with Ben. He slept with Bonnie and me. Almost every night. Bonnie, being the kind spirit she is, let him lay right against her. Me, not such a kind spirit, would scoot him over with my foot so he would lay against Bonnie. But don’t tell anybody. It’s Budy and my secret.

When it was time to go to bed, he waited until one of us went to bed. He wouldn’t go up on his own. We’d let him out, then say, “Budy, time for nite nite”, and off he’d trot up the stairs. Now apparently he slept in our bed when we were at work because we’d come home and all the blankets would be messed up and pillows on the floor. He may have had a party or two.

Ben was always worried that Budy would run away, or sneak out, or have something wrong with him. Ben is the sensitive one, like his mom.  About six weeks ago Ben felt lumps on Budy’s body. Bonnie said to just keep an eye on it. We did  for a couple weeks and they got bigger.

We took him to our vets, Dr. Miller and Dr. Uzarski. Dr. Miller said it didn’t look good. He had lymphoma. We asked what is the prognosis and he said he had no idea. So he decided to put him on steroids. He said to check back in a week.

We brought him back, and they hadn’t got any larger. But that also meant they didn’t get any smaller. I asked the doctor what to look for symptom wise, and basically was told that you’ll know it’s time when he stops acting like a dog.

This past week or so, he stopped acting like a dog. He laid around a lot, we felt the lumps getting bigger, he didn’t want to eat his dog food. So we gave him new food, rice, meat, treats, whatever he wanted.

Two days ago he started to lose control of his bowels. He was getting up in the middle of the night and we didn’t hear him. He would let loose at the door, all of it diarrhea. In the morning he wouldn’t eat. Anything. He barely moved. We knew it was time.

We made an appointment with the vet for yesterday. It’s a long drive to the vets when you know the dog will not return. Ben sat in the back with Budy, just petting him and telling him how much he loved him.

The end was peaceful. I told Budy, “Budy, its time for nite, nite. One shot and it was over in seconds. He had a tumor on his leg and who knows how many inside. But now he was at peace.

Budy wasn’t my dog. He was Ben’s. For 10 years, he helped my boy grow from childhood to manhood, which I am very grateful for. Did I cry? You bet. It’s hard to be strong when you hurt so,  but you need to help those around you. The family all gathered last night and had a tribute dinner to Budy. That’s what family does.

Ben decided he wanted him cremated so he will always be with us. I’m cool with that.

People without pets may not get the hurt we experience. Maybe not get the agony or as Ben says, “My heart hurts”. People without pets may think it’s ridiculous to feel this way about an animal. “He’s just a dog”.

But he was Budy. And always will be to us.

 

 

 

So Unfo……what was I talking about?
June 11, 2017

 

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So, the one thing I am consistent on is my inconsistency. I didn’t realize that it has been two months since my last blog. It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say, as that rarely happens, but it’s not on my radar. I forget. I’m not focused.

I love writing (or typing) but it appears that I am not doing what I love to do best. Well, obviously, EATING is what I do best, and I do that well, thank you.

But I find I am getting forgetful. Age? Maybe. Too busy? Doubtful. Not focused? Bingo! Hold your cards, we have a Bingo! Again, hold your cards, we have a Bingo!

I am the least focused person I know. Example, just today. I go to pay for something today at the store and you have to put your card in with the chip to pay for it. So I wait…..and I wait…. then I ask the lady, “Does this machine not have a chip and I have to swipe it?”. She says, “No, it has the chip”. So I wait. Bonnie leans over and tells me, “You put the card in backwards.” As she always says, I’m not “in the moment”.

Then I go to the car and as I head for the door, I think, “Why is Bonnie driving?”. Well, she wasn’t, I was, but I apparently was heading for the passenger door. Forgetful. Not in the moment. Unfocused.

I have lived in the Shenango Valley for 55 of my 61 years. I walk in Buhl Park anywhere from 3-5 times a week. I love that park. But like today, I go to head to my car and Bonnie is going a different direction. I realize that I am headed for the wrong parking lot. I quickly catch up to her and pretend nothing happened.

Have you ever driven somewhere and as you’re driving, think, “I don’t know where I am or where I am going”? I’m not talking driving through Moscow, but your town, your county, places you’ve traveled your whole life. I have to focus on where I’m going.

Now I’m not really worried about this as I’ve been this way most of my life. I remember as a teenager driving home from Canfield, Ohio toward my home in Sharon, PA. I’m thinking, “take 11 South”, so I go. And I go. And I go. And I’m thinking, “I don’t remember it being this long”. My buddy Chuck was with me and I say, “are we going the right way”? He tells me that we are. So I drive. I saw a sign that said “Airport 12 miles”. I’m thinking I took a wrong turn and am heading toward Vienna, Ohio airport. It wasn’t until I saw the sign saying “Welcome to West Virginia”, I realized I needed 11 North, and the airport I was 12 miles from was Pittsburgh, PA, not Vienna, Ohio. I stop at a gas station for directions and watch two guys lifting their engine out of their truck with a two by four. West Virginia.

Yeah, that’s me. Unfocused.

Praying is hard for me. As I’m a preacher, that’s not good! I’ll be praying and in the middle say “Is that coffee I smell? Gee, what will I eat for breakfast? Did the Yankees win last night?”.  Then I try hard to go back, and start thinking about the day, the night, the anything, and I’ve spent 10 minutes praying, and the only one prayed for is my dog because he’s sitting in front of me. It’s work.

I start conversations and never finish them. Ben says, “What?”. I ask him what he’s talking about. He said, “You started a sentence and never finished it”. I tell him, “Be quiet and watch the game”. Then I realize he turned the channel and he’s watching SportsCenter now. Unfocused.

So, I attempt to be focused. It’s not easy for me. Maybe for you that is reading this, maybe you can’t relate, particularly if you’re a female. But fortunately for this country of ours, the draft ended and I didn’t have to go to the military. Because, it would be quite possible I would end up wandering into a Vietnamese village asking if this was West Virginia.

 

P.S. I had to edit this blog. I said I walked 3-5 times a day in the park. I wish! It’s 3-5 times a week, so I changed it because, Hey look! A squirrel.

 

273.6/257.2

Finally Doing My Part
April 1, 2017

 

OK.

So Bonnie said something totally profound to me. (She does that, quite a bit). She said, “Joe, you are totally happy with your health if you can take a pill to make it all better”. Ouch. Hurt like pricking my finger to take my blood readings.

She’s right.

I’ve been flirting with my diabetes, well, actually its a wild affair, for 18 years I think. It has been manageable by walking, kind of watching what I eat, and then just living life. Well, apparently, life has changed for me.

My readings have not been good for a while, going between 180-210, especially in the mornings. So the doctor increased my meformin from 500 twice a day to 1000 twice a day. I thought the increase would keep me at status quo. But oh no, not at all.

My next step is insulin. I told the doctor. Give me two weeks of diet and exercise and see if I can change this. So I’ve been working it. Like a champ.

Walking, more often than not, and eating much better. I’ve added color to my diet: peppers, veggies, all sorts of healthy things. Bonnie has been cooking a “Mediterranean Diet” from a book she got. Healthy choices, better choices. Couldn’t do this without her. Couldn’t do this without God. Who thought I could or would want to eat healthy?

Sugars are rarely in the 150’s mostly 1320’s-140’s, sometimes in the mornings, and dinner time around 97-120.  There is nothing to brag about so I’m not bragging, but finally the light has clicked on. I’m eating better, exercising a wee bit more, and avoiding sweets totally (although Bonnie made this black bean cake that’s a killer). Eating more veggies for sure, and healthier snacks.

I’m saying this to encourage others that may be going through this. It’s doable. Pray. Research. Change some habits.

I’m excited, down to 254, lowest I’ve been in at least 10 years, and its dropping off.

You can do it. Seriously, if I did it, so could you.

273.6/254.4

Saturday Nights
January 29, 2017

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I remember Saturday nights when I wore a younger man’s clothes. As I sit here at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, I began thinking of those times.

EVERY Saturday night was a party night. Sometimes we didn’t go out until eleven p.m. and still it was a rowdy night. Let me tell you of those days.

Let’s start with the big one. Saturday, October 2, 1976. My best friend at the time was Chuck Jones (who I haven’t seen in 40 years. Funny how life does that.) My birthday was October 1st, his was October 3rd. We would both be 21. October 2nd was a Saturday, so it seemed the most logical day to celebrate.

My cousin Don Lacey, Chuck, and I decided to hit every bar in Sharon, Pennsylvania or maybe the Shenango Valley. Now, I’m going to tell you about this night, but I don’t remember all of it.

There were many bars in the valley at the time, and I don’t honestly remember where we started. Now, we weren’t rookies as we both started drinking on a weekly basis at the age of 13. We would go to the bars in Ohio every Saturday and they would serve us, usually, as we used fake ID’s to get in. Sometimes we would just get quarts of beer and ride around, or sit on the side of State Line Road  and listen to Yankees games on WGAR out of Schenectady, New York. Night time was the only time we could hear the games. But I digress.

We thought, rather foolishly, we would stop at every bar and have a shot and a beer. I never cared for alcohol, but beer was always good. Alcohol made me angry (except Rum) and beer made me “happy”.

We immediately realized that after the 5th or 6th bar, we had consumed a lot of alcohol. But there were so many bars left, we trudged on. A couple bars didn’t serve Chuck as it wasn’t officially his 21st birthday, which we thought was petty.  So we moved to the next bar.

It gets a bit fuzzy now, but somewhere along the line, Chuck was getting sick. We pulled off, actually, not too far from where I now live, so he could vomit. Don asked us if we wanted to quit and we said no.

Then, Chuck couldn’t walk. We were in the parking lot, and Don and I carried him. Unfortunately, we dropped him two times, with each time he hit his head on the pavement. We had to explain the excruciating headache he had the next morning to him.

I then was told that our final stop was at the Lube downtown, our usual stomping grounds. I was told that my friend Bill bought me a beer, and as I was talking to him, i apparently put my hand down to the side with the mug in my hand and spilled it on the floor. He said I looked at the mug and said, “Oh, that was quick. Guess I better go.”

And we did.

That was Saturday, October 2, 1976. At the time I thought it was fun.

But today is Saturday, January 28,2017. I think this Saturday was more fun.

I stayed home most of the day and read a book that’s been on my shelf for two years. It’s by Tim Keller called “Jesus The King”. Keller has become one of my favorite authors, and I actually got to meet him.

I helped Bonnie make three different soups for what we call our “Super Soup Sunday”, for church, held the Sunday between the Championship games and the Superbowl. Everyone makes a bunch of soup and desserts and crackers and breads and it’s a blast. Actually, she made the soups, I just cut up onions, carrots, etc. I really enjoyed working in the kitchen with her.

I had to pick something up at Jo Jo and Josh’s house and got to see Haniah. She cracks me up, and I love how she greets me. Enjoyed the visit there and came home. Because we were busy, we got a pizza from Francescos, my favorite quick Italian place.

I had ginger ale. No beer. No alcohol. Ginger ale.

I am so thankful that I no longer have to drink like that to have fun. I don’t have to get drunk to get away from my problems. I don’t have to get high, try to pick up a girl, or get into a fight for my entertainment. Jesus Christ took that desire from me. There is no other way I could stop drinking. It was Christ.

When my dad was my age, he was still a heavy drinker. He didn’t have Christ. Thankfully, I do.

Sitting at my computer, am I missing anything out there that would benefit my life? Nah, I’m good right here. I tell people that what I have, I could never give up. My life is very, very, good. Besides, I have church in the morning.

I don’t need a vacation. My life is a vacation, and it’s all because of Christ Jesus.

 

 

Gee, That Went Well
January 23, 2017

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Well here we are, 3 days into the new presidency and the country has gone mad. Wait, the world has gone mad. I’m 61, and I’ve never seen anything like this.

Protestors, which aren’t protestors when they don’t know what they are protesting about, are out on the streets because the democratic process of electing a president was upheld. Let that sink in.

There is nothing wrong in disliking your government. Jesus’ followers hated the government they had. They were under bondage. They were under oppression. They waited for a savior, someone to get them out from all of this. That is what they expected Jesus to do.

They wanted a revolution. Change things, and they were certain Jesus was the one that would change it all. He would restore a government for the Jews where they would rule. But that wasn’t why He came.

He paid taxes. Remember the story where He sent Peter fishing to get a coin from the fish’s mouth to pay? Or how about the time the Pharisees tried to trick Him about paying taxes, and Jesus’ response was “render unto Caesar what is Caesars and render unto God what is God’s”? (Mark 12:17)

Prior to Jesus coming to earth, there were many uprisings that were squelched by the Romans. Many times they tried to overthrow the government. But Jesus and His followers told them otherwise.

Paul said, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,“. (1 Timothy 2:1-3)

He didn’t tell them to hold up signs, break windows (if they had windows there), call names, and swear at them. He didn’t say overthrow the government, punch people, assassinate them, or belittle them.

Romans 13:1 Paul says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

So God gives us the leaders we need. Some He uses to bless us and others to punish us. When He blesses us we thank Him, when He punishes us, we repent. The Old Testament is filled with those situations. So basically, when we fight against the government, we are fighting against God.

But people will continue to be people. They will continue to fight and all the things we shouldn’t. And that is where we rise up as a Chosen people to fight back with the best weapons that God has given us.

Pray.

 

 

If I Fell
January 11, 2014

So about four days ago, I fell down my basement steps. Yep, I did. Actually, not all the steps.

Have you ever gone down the steps and thought you were at the bottom step, but there was one more? Yeah, me too. I hit the ground knee first, ended up on the ground on my back, glasses one direction and phone the other. So, other than a hurt knee, daily headaches, and bruised ego (“I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”), I’m ok, just sore. Real sore.

But I pushed through this, continued to do the treadmill, and watched my diet. Well until yesterday. We were celebrating anniversaries and I ate some pasta and didn’t exercise. So, yeah, took the day off. But today is a new day.

I’m finding that I’m not like those guys you see on the videos. The guys on You Tube where they lose 130 pounds in a year. These guys change their eating completely, exercise rigorously, and don’t take days off. I’m not like that, I guess. I am living life, but watching what I eat most of the time, and exercising more often than not. That, apparently, is my reality in this “Walking to 199”.

So, I haven’t lost 130 pounds, but since March I’ve lost 26. I was at 30, but put a couple pounds on. I still have two months until March and should lose thirty by then, again. But if I lose 30 pounds a year, I should hit 199 in 26 or 7 months. That works for me.

I’ve found I can maintain my weight, but I’m not at a weight I want to maintain. So I know when I get down to my weight that I will maintain it. I’m finding that diets don’t work, well, they do in the short term, but they don’t work as a lifestyle.

We head up to Erie today to visit Bonnie’s cousins (well, my cousins too by marriage), and we will probably eat. No, I know we will. So I will enjoy the day yet try to be careful. I will do the treadmill again as soon as I’m finished with this blog. I try to be consistent. At least fairly, consistent.

I’ve laid off the weight training for now, focusing on cardio and trying to focus on weight lost. I will focus on looking like the Hulk when I drop some more weight.  Beast mode can wait. I’ve realized that I can’t continue to enjoy cake or cookies more often than not, but just occasionally, like once a week or so, as a treat. I’m a cake eater, thanks Mom.

So, I want to encourage anyone else on this journey, whether it’s weight, addictions, whatever. Live life. Love life. Fight hard for what you want. Pray. Trust God.

Weight: 160.2

Yellow Pee
July 10, 2013

Life gives you various signs on how well you’re doing.

Pants don’t fit? You’ve gained a few pounds (or your spouse has shrunk them, which is my preferred excuse). People zone out when you’re speaking? You talk too much. Hair in your hairbrush? You’re going bald.

Since I’ve started this walk to 199, one tell tale sign of me not drinking enough water is “yellow pee”. If I come home from work at 4:30, and my pee is still yellow, then I’m not drinking enough water throughout the day.

I take a multivitamin and it’s like my urine glows in the dark. By 2 or three in the afternoon it should be clear. If it’s not, then it’s telling me I’m not keeping hydrated.

My guru, Emily Alexander (whom you REALLY NEED TO FOLLOW HER PAGE on Facebook, titled “Establishing Emily”), turned me on to an app to help me remember to drink enough water. The app is “iDrated”, and it’s 99 cents and well worth it. You plug in how much water you need for a day and it does the rest, even sends a message to your phone to remind you.

It would be so cool to have apps like that for other things in life, wouldn’t it? I’m going to invent some. “Call your mom” app, sends you messages to call your mom at whatever pace you want (daily, weekly, monthly).

For college kids, “Take a shower” app. A gentle reminder that “cleanliness is next to Godliness” and that your peers will soon drag you into the shower and scrub you down with a vegetable cleaner.

For men, “The Non-ESPN” App. This one comes with an electric shock, to remind fellas to turn the TV to another station instead of watching the fourth repeat of “SportsCenter”. This could also be called the “Save Your Marriage” App.

Still plugging away at this weight thing. Not quitting, not frustrated, realizing this is a lifetime commitment. It’s a marathon race, not a sprint. I’m not going to sit here and eat rabbit food (lettuce and carrots) 24/7 to lose weight quickly. That will just cause me to gain weight when I go off it. This is a lifestyle.

Weight this morning: 265. Up one from a week ago, down 8 from May 24th.

 

I see the doctor on Monday for my six month check up. We’ll see what she says.