Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Every Journey Starts With A Single Step

Kerie and I ran a 5k race this past Saturday. For us in these here United States, that's 3.1 miles. Kerie finished in about 35 minutes, I finished in a little under 24. We didn't actually expect to do as good as we did. I came in 2nd in my age group (30 to 44) and 4th place overall. I will wait a moment until the applause dies down.

Ok. Thank you.

Now I write this short blog not to brag (ok, maybe just a little) but to make a point about getting from where you are to your goal.

If you are at a place where you are overweight and out of shape, and you hear people like us talk about not only running 5ks but running them well, you may have the same kind of reaction we used to have. You see it as different, weird, and unattainable. And that is ok, because you don't want to attain it anyway!

So we cope by making jokes about only running if something is chasing us. Ha ha.

Now don't get me wrong. Now that I am a runner, I am not touchy about it in the least. I've been on both sides and understand. And this blog isn't about running. Running isn't the solution to obesity, and it isn't the only way to fitness. Remember, this blog is about getting to a goal.

If you'd have asked me last fall if I'd have fun a 5k this year, let alone do really well, I would have probably made some joke about only running with something chasing me (it just won't go away). It seemed impossible then, and it wasn't one of my goals when we started losing weight. All I could see in front of me was shedding a few pounds. That's it.

But for some, even that goal now seems impossible. You're glad for others who do it, and you'd like it for yourself, but it just seems impossible at this point. There must be something special about those who make it, right?

Let me tell you, there is nothing special about us that made it any easier to reach our goals. Just take a look at this photo:

It's my favorite before photo of me . Do I look ilke the kind of guy who'd run a 5k? Do I look like the kind of guy that would even get up early on a Saturday to drive someone else to a 5k? No!

But I did start on the journey, one step at a time. The first day I exercised, I walked. I walked a half a mile on my road, and I thought I was going to die. Day after day, however, my body was changing. It wasn't fast, it wasn't perceptible right way, but it happened. And it isn't because I am special, no matter what my mom says. The human body will respond. It will change.

So let me encourage you. If you have a body, you can lose weight. You can be fit.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stuffed Chicken Roll Up - Entree

Chicken breasts provide almost unlimited possibilities for entrees. When pounded out, you can stuff them and create delicious rolls of many varieties. This one features onions, cheese, mushrooms, and spinach. Here's what you'll need:

1 medium onion, chopped
4 oz mushrooms, chopped
3 cups (85 g) spinach, chopped
3 wedges Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss
3 (4 oz each) servings boneless, skinless chicken breast
Seasoned salt
Poultry seasoning
Black pepper

Prepare the filling first so it will be cool enough to handle when you stuff the chicken breasts. Here's how you make the filling:

Spray skillet with non-stick spray. Heat over medium-high heat. Add onions, and cook until soft and lightly browned. Add mushrooms, continue cooking until mushrooms are soft. Add spinach and cook just until spinach is wilted. Remove from heat, and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 370 degrees. Place chicken on waxed paper, and cover with plastic wrap. Pound each breast out to about ¼ inch thick. Season generously on both sides with seasoned salt, poultry seasoning, and pepper. Spread one wedge of cheese on each chicken breast. Spoon 1/3 of filling mixture onto each chicken breast. Roll each chicken breast into a log shape, and secure with a toothpick.
Spray skillet with non-stick spray, and place on medium-high heat. Brown the 3 chicken roll-ups on all sides. Transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes or until internal temperature of roll-ups is 165 degrees.

Be sure to follow us on Pinterest and Facebook where we will post announcements about new recipes.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Flab to Fab production scheduled to start

We will start shooting the documentary/teaching program From Flab to Fab: An Easy to Understand Guide to Weight Loss this coming Saturday.

We will blog, post videos, and keep you informed of our progress here as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

The final project will be available on DVD and is designed to present information on losing weight and getting fit. It will be simple, easy to understand, and fun. We don't believe in gimmicks, hype, half-truths, bad science, or con artists. You just won't find that here.

Losing weight and getting fit is actually very easy to understand. Unfortunately, the obesity problem in the United States has created a huge market of varying information that has left many confused and frustrated.

The DVD will contain a main program that will be quick-paced and informative. There will plenty of extras on the DVD that will go deeper using demonstrations, thorough teaching and explanations, and much more.

Keep up with production by following this blog, Facebook, and Twitter. You can help see this project to the end by ordering a pre-release DVD that will be shipped once the project is complete.

If you haven't been to our main site, please go there and view our pre-production trailer.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Purple Power Breakfast - Blueberry Oatmeal Recipe

How often do you get to eat a big bowl of something purple? Hardly ever! And I say it's not often enough. We're going to rectify that today with a recipe for blueberry oatmeal. Now if you are a purist and prefer your oatmeal, well, oatmeal colored, then we have a solution for you too.

First, you need some oats. I am using steel cut oats today. The most popular oats in America are called rolled "quick" oats. Now they are both oats, mind you. They are just treated a little different. Let's chase a brief rabbit and talk about the difference.

Oats are the seed of a cereal grain. Steel cut oats are oat kernels that have been cut into smaller pieces. That's about it. The kernels are harvested and cut into smaller bits. They are more akin to porridge in Scotland. 

Rolled oats are oats that have been rolled. Clever eh? Well, in more detail they were rolled into flat flakes under something very heavy. They are sometimes lightly toasted before packaging. They cook quicker than steel cut oats because more of the oats now have an outer surface that is exposed to the boiling water. 

The steel cut oats are often described as being nuttier in flavor since many of the husks remain in tact whereas they are separated in the rolling process for rolled oats. Many claim that the steel cut oats leave you feeling fuller longer since they are still somewhat whole. The theory is that it takes the body longer to digest them as a result.

There's your lesson on oats. I am using steel cut today. If you used rolled, follow the package instructions for water amounts and cooking times.

Ok, here's what you're going to need for two servings:

1/2 cup steel cut oats (80g)
1 cup fresh blueberries (120g)
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp Splenda (or sweetener of your choice)

1. Bring the water to a boil. Add oats, reduce heat to low/medium, and bring it down to a simmer. Be sure to stick with it until you get a good simmer. Oatmeal is one of those foods that will foam up and boil over in a blink. Simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

2. Take some of the blueberries and add them to the simmering mixture. Reserve some to be spread on top. I have divided the blueberries between cooked-in and on-top berries. The cooked in berries will turn the oatmeal bright purple after a few minutes.  The ones cooked in will give you a nice, even, and mellow blueberry flavor throughout.  The ones on top will give you bursts of fresh blueberry flavor. I liked a mix of both, but I could see where just putting them on top would be a blast. Literally. A blast of flavor.

3. Mix in the vanilla and sweetener. Stir until everything is dissolved and mixed in.

4. After simmering for another 5 minutes, you should be just about done. The steel cut oats cook for my liking usually right around the 25 minute mark after I've added them to the water. Cook until you like the texture.

5. Separate into two bowls, and divide any whole blueberries on top.

6. Enjoy! The way we prepared them, the calories came up to 185 per bowl.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Weight Loss & Looking Sickly

"You're looking poorly!"

That's what one elderly lady at our church told Kerie not too long ago. It is a term that you don't hear often, but in this lady's younger days, it was common. Folks who lived in poverty couldn't afford much food. Even in America, many could only get what was needed to survive. My own parents recall days when most meals consisted of potatoes and beans, and those only went so far. So a poor person wore their poverty on the outside as they were often thin.

Being too thin and poverty aren't really connected much in our nation these days. Yes, there is starvation in our own nation, but some of the most poor among us suffer with obesity as food programs, government assistance, and cheap, high calorie foods have become major parts of our society.

Perhaps that's why the phrase is not heard much nowadays. But you do hear what I heard today: You look sickly. Sickly? Really? My ideal weight range (for a guy my height) is 110 to 159. I weigh 145. Sickly?

I reached my goal of 145 about a month ago, and I've held steady since. I've been approached by a few folks (mostly older ladies), who've asked, "You aren't going to lose anymore weight, right? I think you've lost enough. You look sick!" These same ladies, with the exception of my mother, didn't come to me when I was at 285 pounds and say I looked sick. They are the type who love to cook for others. While that is not wrong, they are the grandmotherly type that try to shove deep-fried and sugary foods in your mouth when you visit because you need the kind of nourishment that only they can offer.  Deep down, however, I think there are two main reasons behind these sickly comments.

It's Psychological

Somewhere, deep within the recess of the brain, when we see someone lose weight drastically, we subconsciously think something is wrong. I believe it is a normal, unconscious reaction. Drastic weight loss can definitely be an indicator of a major health issue, and it is very visible. It is an indicator that something is going on. That's why just about any health history form you fill out will ask if you've lost a large amount of weight recently and if it was intentional or not. I have experienced this myself with others who've lost weight. Your first reaction is that the person looks sick. It's unintentional, and once you know they are doing it purposefully and you start to get used to their new looks, the sickly thoughts start to dissolve.

We Don't Know What a Healthy Weight Looks Like

We are a society of extremes. In recent history, ulta-thin models were touted as the standard of beauty. They were sometimes emaciated-looking with no body fat and no muscle. There's been a great amount of backlash and rightly so. But the backlash has come from a society that is dramatically increasing in obesity. We are confused. On one hand, there is danger in starvation and eating disorders so we can meet an arbitrary standard of beauty. But as many of us get fatter and fatter, there needs to be a backlash there as well. We're losing touch with reality in two different directions.

It has also come from the acceptance of the obesity epidemic in America. We don't really have a gauge on what a healthy weight is any more. If you looked at the vast majority of Americans in the history of our nation who were at a normal weight and compared them to the society of today, they'd probably look sickly. We've even had to add categories to the obesity scale. It used to be underweight, normal, and overweight. Obesity goes beyond overweight, and it has now been divided into three classifications: severe, morbid, and super. As more and more people enter into the severe, morbid, and super categories, we start to see those who are overweight or just serverly obese as normal. That's because it is becoming the new norm. Many of us would not be classified as obese but would qualify as overweight. Normal weight is becoming less and less common. We see it less and see truly underweight people rarely. We have a new normal.

We cannot allow our gauge of what healthy is shift and change based on the extremes and new normals of society. We must look at this objectively. We are getting fatter and fatter, and acceptance doesn't change what it means to be overweight or obese. We have to honestly ask ourselves these questions: What does it mean to be overweight? What is a healthy weight? How much food does my body really need to be fit? And we must be prepared to face the answers and act accordingly.

Let us approach obesity in our nation the way I was approached today! You look sickly, and I am worried for you!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

McDonalds to Add Calorie Counts to Its Menu

Here's the original AP story:

McDonald's says it will start posting calorie counts on menus in restaurants across the country next week, ahead of a new regulation that will require the information.

The world's largest hamburger chain plans to announce the move Wednesday morning. It's making the change as it tests healthier menu items.

For example, McDonald's Corp. says it's testing an Egg McMuffin that's made with egg whites and a whole grain muffin. 

It's also testing versions of the McWrap, which are already sold in Europe and clock in at less than 350 calories. And the chain says it will offer more seasonal fruits and vegetables through its limited-time offers.

President Obama's health care overhaul will require chains with 20 or more locations to post calorie counts as early as next year.

Poor McDonalds. They always find themselves at the center of the obesity epidemic. They've become the whipping boy for activists and the government in their war against fat.

As a part of the government's war on obesity, this new law will require that calorie information be displayed on the menu itself at McDonald's and other restaurants around the country. I believe the government is stabbing at a symptom of the problem and not the problem itself.

It all goes back to motivation and desire within each of us. Most of us eat everyday without any idea of how much fuel (calories) we need and how much fuel (calories) are going into our mouths. And we like it that way. Ignorance is bliss, right? If most of our nation were honest, we'd say we don't want to know the calorie count in the food we eat.

The calorie information for McDonalds has been available for quite some time. It can be found online or even in the store. Some have even posted the pamphlet on the wall so you can see the nutritional information of that Big Mac before you eat it.

So why don't we want to know? Deep down in the recesses of our hearts and minds, the motivation to eat what we want, when we want, and in the amount we want tends to win out over the motivation to be fit and reasonable, eating only what our bodies require. We don't need more info, we need our motivators to be fixed. Their food is not to blame, we are. If we were all motivated to eat no more than we need, then McDonald's may not be as prosperous with their current food line-up.

Maybe seeing the raw numbers will motivate some, but I think in the end, it will mostly be information that will fall on deaf ears. There has to be an impetus within each of us to make us want to do something with that information. I am not sure the government can regulate that.

But hey, how often does the topic of counting calories show up in news headlines? At least it gets us talking.

Monday, September 10, 2012

We Know the Problem, So Why Don't We Do Anything?

So What's Our Problem?

If such terrible, physical maladies are, for the most part, preventable, why aren't we doing anything about it? The problem is instant versus delayed gratification. There is a saying that goes like this: hard work pays off in the future, but procrastination pays off now! When it comes to our health, it appears many of us hold fast to this motto. Eating large amounts of bad-for-you food and inactivity is enjoyable.  If it weren't, the national trends would be headed the other way. And the pleasure that comes from these things is immediate, just like we want it. 

Eating healthy and exercise don't appear to have an immediate pay off. In fact, they feel like self-denial. Exercise brings the sweat and an expense of energy, and that huge hamburger or extra piece of chocolate pie sure seem more satisfying than that diety food. Plus being in good, physical condition may pay off in the future. It reduces the risks of disease, but it doesn't elimate them. We're all going to die anyway, right? 

Let's think about this logically for a moment. You are going to die. There is no doubt about it. But imagine you are presented with these two options: 1. You choose a lifestyle that will provide you with some immediate gratifications, but your overall quality of life will be lowered, you will eventually not be able to do all the other activities you enjoy, your risk for a slow, decaying death is increased, and you die early OR 2. You maintain a high quality of life until death, able to enjoy many different activities without serious health complications, all the while feeling your best. Seriously, which would you choose?

My lack of desire and inability to do things I enjoyed coupled with the real possibility of grave physical problems woke me up. I had tried to lose weight many times before. You may be familiar with that ten pounds that you lose only to have it move back in within a month. Yeah, I've been there, done that. But this time, I wanted that ten pounds and about ten of his buddies to move out for good. I didn't make up any excuses, and I urge you not to either. Most of your reasons to not do anything are not reasons, they are excuses. Call them as they are. Honesty with yourself and your situation are crucial on this journey.

So, How'd You Do It?

Every time I see someone who has not seen me in a while, and they notice the weight loss, the question is always the same: how'd you do it?  My daughter jokingly suggested I answer with the Shake Weight. 

I think the question is, in some ways, the wrong question. Normally a person is asking me how I lost weight. I cannot approach my life changes simply from the one avenue of just losing weight. Granted that is how I started, but that is not where I am today. I have not just lost weight. I've decreased my risk for disease, increased my physical capacity and endurance, increased my energy and quality of life, and I've enhanced all other life activities. 

Why do I make this distinction? Because simply losing weight as a goal is short-sighted. Sure, the number on the scale is the main figure I use to gauge the overall progress in these areas. But if I make just weight loss the goal, I will feel that my job is done once I get to where I want to be. I've seen it happen many, many times. A person goes on some sort of diet in order to lose weight. They are met with a measure of success, and, once they feel satisfied with how much they've lost, they go back to normal, only to gain it all back. They met their goal, so why keep going?

The problem is that weight maintenance, a decreased risk for disease, increased energy, and increased quality of life don't just happen for the rest of your life. They must be pursued. If you are like me, however, you will want to pursue these things because you've come to realize the quality of these benefits.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Carrying a Heavy Load: The Beginning of My Journey

Carrying a Heavy Load

Last week I transported two bags of goat feed from my garage to our humble goat barn not too far behind my house. The bags weighed fifty pounds each. As I hoisted one up and onto my shoulder and walked a short distance to a waiting cart, I could hardly imagine actually carrying that much weight all the time. I hoisted the second one up and took it to the cart. Three bags together would almost equal the amount of weight I've lost since October 1st, 2011. It's insanely crazy to think of a hundred and forty pounds of fat hanging on my frame day in, day out. If you put a bag of feed on each shoulder and one on your back, your body would immediately feel the oppression of its weight and, in no time, start to tire from the added load. A hundred and forty pounds! Good grief! That's heavy! 

The Things That Scare Me Most

I knew I needed to lose weight. I helped a co-worker carry a heavy item a short distance, and, once we put the object down, I was out of breath. Then it took forever for me to recover. My co-worker, who really isn't in shape either, kept looking at me and asking, "Are you going to be OK?" What a wake up call! If I am getting this way now, how will it be 10, 20, 30 years from now? What will I want to do that I will not be able to do? I could already see it in my life. I was not doing many of the activities that I used to because I was out of shape and lazy.

And the health risks of being overweight are undeniable. First there are heart problems, which run on my mom's side of the family anyway. I wasn't just overweight. My heart and lungs were not conditioned because of my sedentary lifestyle. The heart becomes weak due to its lack of inactivity, and its condition deteriorates. Just like any muscle, a lack of use will eventually render it useless.

Another health factor that really gave me the heebie jeebies was diabetes. I don't mean to minimize or make light of the disease, but it really is a frightening thing to have. Not only is it closely linked to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes, it is a disease that, if it fully runs its course, causes one to basically slow rot. Diabetes ultimately damages small blood vessels as well as the nervous system. Ultimately, these two combine and many diabetics lose their eyes and limbs due to the slow decay of these body parts. If a heart attack or stroke don't get ya, its a slow, miserable death.

Over 11% of the U.S. population 20 years and older have diabetes. About 27% of people 65 and over have it. And the numbers continue to grow! In my state alone, the percentage of those diagnosed with diabetes grew from less than 1% in 1958 to almost 3% in 1985 to over 11% in 2010. Guess what other percentages grew as well? Obesity was a little over 10% in 1985 and up to over 31% in 2010! Now just because those two things happened concurrently does not mean they are related. Please don't be duped by junk science. But the correlation between the most cases of diabetes and obesity and inactivity are well established and documented. 

So what does it all mean? The risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a host of other problems are greatly reduced by maintaining a healthy body weight and exercise. Yup, you can prevent most of these woes! Not only that, many of them can be reversed. Many with diabetes who lost weight and developed an active lifestyle actually reversed their disease to the point that it simply disappeared.

I knew I needed to act. If I did not, the future would be grim.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

About Us

Please visit our main page at for more info and to see the pre-production trailer of our new video project.

We've always been the average, American couple; even in the ballooning of our weight. We met in the Air Force when both of us were in fairly good physical condition. Once we returned to civilian life, however, we followed the trend along with the rest of the nation: our weight ballooned out of control, and we joined the growing ranks of the obese. I (J.T.) literally doubled my body weight, going from 140 pounds to 280. She (Kerie) made it up to 260. We knew something wasn't right about it, but the problem is so prevalent and accepted in our society that it was easy to brush off our concerns. It seemed that we were doing ok and felt good enough, so why not go with the flow and be happy?

Time to Face Reality
We began to see the ill-effects of heart disease run their course in our family. People we love have died while others are struggling to manage the results of years of physical inactivity. We also started to see the tragic consequences of type II diabetes, a disease that is linked to being overweight. According to the CDC, of those diagnosed with type II diabetes, nearly 90% are overweight. That makes this tragic disease largely preventable. It is a slow, rotting death if it fully runs its course. We knew we had to change. If we were going to live vibrant, full lives, and continue to enjoy the things we love, the obesity had to go.

Where Do You Start?
We were faced with a myriad of weight-loss options. The method du jour is surgery, either gastric bypass or lap band. There are also pills, eat-this-don't-eat-that-diets, and tons of exercise fads and equipment. We wondered, however, what happened to just eating less and exercising? The more we looked into all the different ways to approach losing weight, the more we discovered that the most intuitive and time-tested approach was the most effective and produced results that lasted the longest. Once we saw it, we began to see it everywhere, from TV shows such as The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover Weight Loss Edition to standard, medical approaches to weight loss that have been around for decades. The problem is that the truth gets diluted, lost, and buried under all the junk that is designed to make money and become the next big thing in one of the largest consumer markets in the U.S.

Our Journey
We started our path to fitness on October 2, 2011. My goal was to lose 135 pounds. Kerie's goal was to lose 105. As of September 2012, I have lost all 135 pounds. Kerie has 6 more to go. We've discovered that the journey is more than an issue of weight loss. While that is the cornerstone and main measurement of success, we've discovered a new life in being physically fit. It sounds cliche, but the truth is that we are whole new people. We feel renewed and regenerated from the inside out. This is more than just weight loss. This is a pursuit of life.

We are asked all the time how we did it. For many, the question is not one of mere curiosity. They ask because they are where we were. They know something has to change, but they don't know where to turn. They feel desperate, yet at the same time almost hopeless. Most have tried something but failed. There is a sense of despair. After being asked many times to explain our weight loss, I wrote an extensive article. What I didn't expect was the response the article would get. Many found it to be refreshing, simple, and effective. We started to get requests for personal counseling, teaching friends and family a new approach to eating, physical activity, and living life. We couldn't keep it to ourselves.

Our Project
I am a filmmaker. Starting in high school, I went to school for video production. Later, I earned a Bachelor's in Business and a Master's Degree in Mass Communication. While I don't get to pursue filmmaking on a constant basis, I've had the pleasure of crafting several documentaries and a teaching series for a Christian ministry that has literally taken me to the other side of the world. As I reviewed the article I wrote on weight loss, I realized that it was well-suited for a video production. Our goal is to produce a documentary/teaching DVD that will become a weapon in the fight against obesity. It will be upbeat, simple, and even humorous. Our goal is to treat everyone who sees it with respect. That means no gimmicks, no hype, and all truth. The main program will efficiently outline what I presented in my article. Extra features will go into greater depth on some of the topics, giving examples and deeper teaching on topics presented in the main program.

How You Can Help
I am very blessed to have access to most everything I need to produce this film. Access and ability are most of the battle. It will take, however, some funding to make this project possible. You can help by donating to this project. Some donations earn producer credit. Haven't you always wanted to be listed as a producer in the credits of a film? You know you have! You can also pre-order the DVD. Every donation of $28 or more will get a copy of the DVD when it is complete. So it is really a pre-order that will also be supporting the production. All donations are an investment in the lives of those who are desperate and need help. We are ready to show them that health and fitness are attainable, and life can be different. Be sure to visit our support page.