Sunday, March 31, 2019

My Journey to Health

Family Pictures at Christmas

Family Picture at Thanksgiving (Notice how I try to hide in the back)
    My journey to health found it's Genesis in December of 2018 following a doctor's appointment for a shoulder injury I sustained while managing the Christmas Tree Lot, a youth ministry fund raiser for FBC Wilmington.  Like all doctor's visits I was asked my weight.  There was no scale available so they just had to take my word for it.  I told the doctor I weighed 200 lbs.  Not being one who lived and died by the scale that was my best guess.  However, I was curious how much I actually weighed.  The next morning I got up and weighed myself on our bathroom scale.  The reading that came back was all the motivation I needed to make a change.  When I stepped on the scale that morning it showed that I weighed 210 lbs!  This represents the heaviest I have ever been.
    I have never been big on New Year's resolutions.  Everyone's favorite "I want to lose weight," had never been much help to me.  However, given the time of year it seemed that resolutions were on everyone's mind.  Around this same time we had a discussion in staff meeting about a word that we would adopt for our company for 2019. I liked the idea of choosing a theme word for the year and decided I would adopt a word for myself: Health.  I knew that I wanted to lose weight, but I wanted it to be about more than just a number on a scale.  I needed to make sure that my efforts would be sustainable.
Another Christmas pic with my brothers.

    I really didn't know what I was doing.  I set a goal of losing twenty pounds.  That seemed like a reasonable number and relying on the common refrain of the resolutions seemed to be a common number as well.  I had an idea of where I was aiming.  Now, I needed a plan to get there.  For our whole marriage Becca has been a calorie counter, although not to the extreme I have become, so I knew that calories would be an important piece of the puzzle. I think my laser-focus in this area will lessen as I become more accustomed to this new lifestyle and listening to my body. I also knew that I needed to change my activity level.  I was a cross-country runner in high school and a lover of hobby sports (volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, basketball, softball, golf, etc.) I knew that I needed to be more active than my current situation.  With this very general plan in place I set off on my journey to health.

    Here is my shout-out to Samsung and the Samsung Health app on my phone.  With built in pedometer, activity tracker, calorie counter (input and expenditure), and weight management features I had all the tools I needed in the palm of my hands.  This app has been one of the keys to my success!  I was able to set a weight goal and receive the recommended calorie intake based on my expected outcome.  I track all the meals and snacks I eat, record my exercises, and keep track of the amount of water I drink (still working on this one).

Within the first week of simply paying attention to what I was eating and controlling the size of the portions I lost about 10 pounds!  Some may say that is really quick.  I think it has more to do with my previous level of unhealth (poor eating decisions and lack of activity). As the saying goes, "Knowledge is power."  I am so thankful that many restaurants now have calories listed on their menus.  This has made ordering much easier to manage.  It also cued me to consider whether I should finish the meal in one sitting or eat half at the restaurant and make two meals out of it by taking the other half home.  Going into a meal pre-planning to take half home made it much easier to begin to recognize cues from my body that I actually already full half way through the meal!
    I must say the first couple of weeks were the hardest.  This is probably where lot of people throw in the towel.  The dietary adjustments are too much. The scale isn't moving, You hit an early plateau and can't seem to get over the hump.  My advice is: Keep Going!  My body and mind were used to a certain amount and a certain kind of food.  I was limiting calories and steering clear of high fat items.  At first, my stomach didn't like that!  By the end of the first month I had already reached my goal of losing 20 pounds!  Because the commitment I made to myself was for improved health not just a target on the scale I set a new goal.  180 became the new target.
    It was about this time that some people noticed that I was looking slimmer.  Believe me that is great motivation, especially when I had about a week where there was no change in weight despite remaining disciplined to the plan.  Some people tried to guess what kind of diet I was on or asked what I was doing.  I would always reply the same way.  "I'm not doing much; just counting calories, making better food choices and running/walking some."  When they started asking for more details I began to realize that I was implementing quite a few things at once.  Again, for me it has never been so much about a number on the scale as it is overall health.  Here is a list of what I have maintained since January:
    1. Don't drink calories!  (By far my biggest sacrifice has been giving up sweet tea!)
    2. Portion Control (Most American restaurant meals can easily be split with a friend or two meals for yourself.)
    3. Limit fried foods (Notice I didn't say eliminate; balance is key)
    4. Count your calories (Knowledge is Power and a caloric food log is eye opening)
    5. Running/walking every day (I have settled in to about 4 mi/day)
    6. Push ups to tone arms
    7. Sit ups/crunches to tone stomach
    8. Be realistic (Treat yourself when you achieve goals, recognize you won't lose everyday).
    9. Weigh yourself every morning (maintain a close feedback loop)

    Initially, I limited myself to around 1500 calories, shunned all sweets, and resisted late night snacking.  By the end of February I had reached my second goal of 180 pounds.  I knew I still had some work to do in my mid-section so I set a third goal of 175 pounds.  After my initial goals were met I began to relax my restrictions a bit in order find the sweet spot of maintenance.  I am now regularly eating 1900-2100 calories a day depending on my activity level for the day.  Copious amounts of chips and crackers have been replaced with fruit and more reasonable amounts of Wheat Thins and hummus as snacks.  More and more people have noticed and commented on my weight loss.

    Whether these efforts will be sustainable remains to be seen.  I do know that so far my efforts have been successful!  As of this morning I have lost 40 pounds in 3 months!  I am very pleased to announce that as of this morning I am just under 170 pounds!  I guarantee I have not seen this side of 170 since high school.

Here's to your health!

Press on, 
Andy Jones

Saturday, July 18, 2015

On the Way Home

     We have truly had a great week. It is nice to have the mix of those with experience having been out here before and those who come with fresh eyes gaining a new knowledge.  For those of us that have been before these trips have become a wonderful reconnection with old friends. For those who who are new it is a refreshing introduction to a simpler, harder, more beautiful way of life and being. We learn so much while we are here about respect for the earth, the animals, and each other. We offer friendship and encouragement to a group of people who don't or haven't always receive/d that from the "white" people they know or have known.  We hear stories of racism against the Lakota and other Indians and it infuriates me. But, then it causes me to pause and reflect, to ask myself are there people in my own life on whom I knowingly or unknowingly inflict the same kind of pain. Are there people or people groups whom I unfairly judge before taking the time to get to know them? Are they Republicans or Democrats? Are they black, white, or other? Are they rich or poor? Are they from another Christian denomination or do they have another religious belief system entirely? Are they gay? Are they too young or too old? Too many times I know I can say I have judged someone before I have even gotten to know them and hear their story. Shame on me! I must do better. If you can think of times when you have done the same then, shame on you too. We MUST recognize all people as children of God because they are. We must recognize all people as worthy of our time and effort because they are. We must recognize all people regardless of socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, political affiliation, age, race, creed, or religious belief as people and not categories; as individuals not a group; and as someone who can teach us instead of the other way around. I think there is a natural respect for a teacher. If we view all people as our teachers we might actually learn something. We should talk less and listen more. We should ask questions then be quiet and listen for the answers. Who knows? God might use others to teach us a thing or two. ;) !  I didn't mean for that to be so heavy, but these blogs are a way for me to decompress and reflect on the days and the week we've had. Thanks for bearing with me!

     Yesterday was our sightseeing day. We drove from Bridger after saying, "We'll see you later" (there is no word in the Lakota language for good-bye). We drove through The Badlands and the National Buffalo Grassland. Unfortunately, we did not see any Tatanka (buffalo) this year, but we did see groundhogs and Big horn sheep. We went to Mt. Rushmore and The Crazy Horse memorial and museum.

    My prayer as we re-enter our normal routines is that we do not forget the lessons we have learned this week, that we do not forget the friends we have made and the struggles they deal with on a daily basis, and that we continue to lift them up in prayer.

   A picture may be worth a thousand words, but even our words cannot capture the beauty of these people or this land. However, they can give you of glimpse of each. Enjoy these pictures of our final day.

The team pictured with Bud and Beth Lone Eagle (left), Zora Lone Eagle (front), and Sylvester Waloke (right).

The mountain in the background with a bronze replica of what the monument will look like in the foreground. 

In the museum we found a case of pictures. Three of these pictures had Sylvester in them!

     Thank you, FBC Augusta, for supporting us financially and through prayer as we have been away this week! I ask that you continue to pray for traveling mercies today, that flights are on time and luggage is received. We look forward to returning home to our loved ones to share our many stories.


Smudging of the New Building Addition

     In the course of this blog I hope to show the progression of the building addition at the Bridger church. We arrived at the beginning of the week with a platform and some very basic guidelines for the new structure. 

   It's had been mentioned to me that it wou be great if we work on the walls while we here as that would be the next step in the process. I accepted the challenge and began work on the structure on Monday after consulting my resident construction guru, Allen Hardin, via text and email. Chip pulled up a YouTube video as well. Work started slow as we were also asked to mow a few lawns in the area after getting the lawn mowers working. 

     Eventually, as we got our act together so did the building begin taking shape.  We got our "test" wall up and were easy to begin getting to the serious work.

     Things really got cooking by the end of the week. On Thursday the grass was mostly cut. Emory and James went up to Debbie Day's to do her yard. Chip was chafe ring them while also running to the store, getting gas, and talking a bit with Debbie after he dropped the guys off.  Meanwhile back at the church, Chiles and I continued working on the addition and to the second wall ready to be. Raised by noon. Chip went to go pick up the lawn mowing men and with their help we got the wall up.

     As it was nearing 3:00 on Thursday and the second wall was now in place Chip asked if we would attempt the third wall.  Having cut most most of the studs the day before I answered in the affirmative. So, after a water break we got back to building the third wall.  Very soon we were calling all those around to participate in the raising of the final wall of the addition! What a sense of accomplishment to have finished the building with a small crew and no real construction experience to between us. Does World Changers count?

     A little while after we were finished with room our friends started arriving for dinner. Marvin was Johnny-on-the-spot and grabbed my camera for a posed shot with Pastor Byron, Buffalo Chip, and myself. 

     Tonight we had a special gathering and dinner with the Texas group, folks up from the community,and Toni and Byron. After dinner we had a time of sharing what we had seen God do this week. There were some great stories of mutual respect and mutual giving and receiving of ourselves and our individual gifts. Folks from the community shared stories and songs with us. We also had a wiping of the tears ceremony for one of our new friends from Texas who has had three deaths of very significant people on her life in the last 6 months.  Byron also blessed the new room by smudging it before we began the ceremony.

     Toni was sharing with me earlier in the evening about how she plans to lay out the room to accommodate the quilting machine. I ca tell that she is very excited about the possibilities that machine and ministry holds.

     Our team had a wonderful day today and has had a really great week. Jackson, Jane, Paula, and Savanna went on a long hike today with Eric. I wish I had the pictures that Jackson took on his phone. I wish even more that you, reader, would be able to take in the beauty of this place from my words or these pictures. We are sad to leave but excite do see our loved ones again.