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 Wow… Wow… WOW!!!!!

I began my lifelong journey of physical fitness exactly 365 days ago today. Today, as I type this out, I am 50 lbs. less of a man than I was 1 year ago!

Along the way, I’ve picked up some partners in phyiscal fitness… some who are beginning their own journey, and some who simply inspire me on mine, thanks to their level of commitment and accomplishment in their personal training. The partner I’m most happy about joining me is my wife! She has recently renewed her commitment, and has frankly been knocking the cover off the ball! I’m so proud of you baby!

I am so thankful for those who have encouraged me and joined me along the way. We all need accountability and encouragement. Especially me!

If you follow me on various social media accounts, you’ve probably grown weary of hashtags from me like #KeepPushing, #NextLevel, #Phase2 or other terms. These have been more for my own personal accountability to the journey than anything else. For those of you who are annoyed, well, I guess I’m sorry? For those of you who have been encouraged, believe me, many of you are an encouragement to me as well!

I have been in maintenance mode on my weight for several months now, and I’ve added strength training to my regimen. It started out as all cardio and food logging, and then I added the strength training once I was about 80% of my 50 lb. goal on weight loss. That’s when #Phase2 began, sometime in January. 


From here on out, I’ll post about it less on social media, but now, #Phase3 begins, which is simply the ongoing commitment to personal fitness.

This is about taking care of the body God has given me, and it’s about setting a great example for my family.

Folks, if I can do this, I really mean it… anyone can!

You DON’T need a gym membership (although we have since joined one), and you DON’T need to buy into some supplemental company’s pyramid scheme from your friends on facebook and twitter. If those will help you, great. I’m sure some of the products out their are legit, but NOTHING, not a personal trainer, not a shake, not a diet plan, or anything else will work until YOU decide to make a DAILY COMMITMENT to YOUR health.

I’m a big believer that you have to log every single piece of food you eat, even if you do it on a pad of paper, and you have to log every single exercise you do… and you HAVE to do it EVERY DAY.

Even on the days when you exceed your calorie goal. Really, it’s okay. It’s just accountability. Whether you CHOOSE to exceed or it genuinely happens by accident, log every salad, every piece of chicken, every hot dog and ice cream sammich. Log it all… every time. That way, you know where you’re at.

Oh, and you have to be honest about how much you’ve eaten and exercised. If anything, overestimate how many calories you’ve eaten, and underestimate the calories you’ve burned, because it’s WAY easier than you think to do the exact opposite and completely torpedo all of your efforts.

I have not been on a diet. I’ve eaten anything I want, but by logging, it makes me aware of where I’m at during the day. Most days, I log as soon as I eat or exercise, so that I know what I have left for the day. And, there have certainly been days that I decided to go run another mile or so, because I knew what I was going to be having for dinner that night 😉

I never have a “cheat day.” Rather, I just log what I eat, and stay accountable. Most days, I’m right around my calorie goal… some days, I’m not. I’m ok with it either way, and the accountability just keeps me on track.

In terms of exercise, folks, I literally started out with just walking. That’s it. I gradually added some jogging, cycling in the basement, and other things along the way. Walking will absolutely get the job done on calorie burn though… you just have to be willing to log several miles per week. The weight loss is really more about eating less calories than you expend, so if you’re willing to cut back on food enough, you can actually lose all the weight you want without ever taking a single, solitary step on exercise. The exercise just gives you some cushion on what you  can eat, and will help accelerate your weight loss.

Your weight loss will not be linear. It may look, according to that screenshot above, that I always lost weight. NOT TRUE! I only logged my weight on the days that I actually DID LOSE weight. On the days I gained back a pound or two, I just didn’t log those (I still logged my food and exercise every day though.) And, although I did weigh myself daily (and still do probably 3-4 times per week) I didn’t really worry whether one day was up or down…

Rather, I trusted the process. Trust the process of burning more than you eat, and YOU WILL lose weight, too. It’s just a mathematical fact for probably 99% of the population. It’s not your age, gender, this fad or that… Trust the process, and don’t look for a shortcut.

I’ve tried shortcuts… believe me… I know how tempting it can be when you’re desperate and without hope. The fact is,  there is hope… Day by day. Make the decision each day, and if you have a “bad” day (I’ve had PLENTY over the past year) just get back up again the next day and keep on logging. Every. Single. Day. Before you know it, 365 days will have passed, and you might see something like this. Check out a few before and afters:

Before:  

    
    

And now, AFTER!!!!!!!!!!

  
    

Guys and gals, I’m not selling a single, solitary thing here, except hard work, and personal commitment. Find your “why” for doing it, set short-term, achievable and realistic goals, and just keep building. Don’t even focus on the long-term goals at the outset. Just day by day. After you establish a pattern and habit of making it happen, say 6 to 8 weeks in, then you can start setting some mid-range goals, and then after, say, 6 months, it’s time to look longer term.

And log EVERY SINGLE THING YOU EAT. EVERY. SINGLE DAY.

And, log EVERY. SINGLE. WORKOUT.

Keep Pushing, my friends. Just keep pushing!

Blessings,

-BB

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Back in July, I posted about the beginning of a new, healthier lifestyle (tied in with a spiel on setting goals) I was embarking on. Within minutes, I was bombarded with offers from well-meaning friends about the latest and greatest supplement they were taking that was changing their lives and guaranteed to change mine too. Man, these were some seriously awesome products being pitched at me, with phenomenal reports of results!

I don’t begrudge any of these friends offering me their products… I’m sure they have had their lives changed, and are healthier because of their belief and buy-in of those products. However, having started out at the end of July weighing in at 225 lbs on a 6’0 frame and BARELY able to WALK, much less RUN a mile to, at the middle of November, weighing in at 194 lbs (still not to my target, but getting there rapidly) and regularly jogging north of 4 miles at a time, with a personal best distance of more than 7 miles, I’ve found the secret to fitness and weight loss that puts all others to shame. Guys, this will change your life, and make you healthier than you could EVER imagine!

It will make you drop pounds and increase your fitness and cardiovascular profile by leaps and bounds in as little as 3 1/2 months, and make all your friends ask what the heck you’re doing to get so fit!

What’s more, I eat whatever I want. Wanna know where I’ve eaten? Try this list: Wendy’s, Culvers, Chipotle, Chick-Fil-A, McDonald’s, D’Arcy’s Pint (the 2000 calorie horseshoe), Chinese Buffets and all you can eat Walleye at Top Cat’s in Springfield…

At home, I’ve eaten spaghetti, ziti, lasagna, steak, and burgers…

I’ve had Red-Velvet cake, I’ve had beer and wine. I even pigged out at the Signature Chef’s Auction for the March of Dimes last week.

All that, and in around 3 1/2 months I’ve lost over 30 pounds!

Are you ready for the answer? Just keep scrolling down, because I’m about to give you the secret to changing your life!

Hard work.

Yup, that’s it. Hard work…

I haven’t taken a supplement, shake, or pill from one of these multi-level marketing brands this whole time. In full disclosure, I did purchase a soy-based protein powder that I usually mix with skim milk for my breakfast (and, oh my gosh, it has REAL SUGAR in it! For shame!) and I do take a glucosamine supplement to help with my aging knees. I buy them both at Wal-Mart, folks… Wal-Mart… Doesn’t cost a whole lot.

Also, I religiously log every single calorie, every single day on MyFitnessPal. I religiously log every workout of every kind on MapMyFitness, which then ports those burned calories over to MyFitnessPal so that I have a reasonably accurate count of how many calories I’ve consumed and burned.

In short, it keeps it in front of me. There are days that my Net Calories Consumed exceeds my goal of roughly 2080 to lose 1 lb per week, but more days than not, I come in well under (which explains the more than 1 lb./week average, of course.)

It causes me to think about what I’m eating, and when I’m eating it. If I know I’m going to be pigging out of an evening, I just scale back more during the day… or perhaps I run a little more to help buffer the calories… whatever it takes. It causes me to stay on top of things.

I basically just don’t eat as much of the things I’ve always eaten… And I exercise a WHOLE lot more. Weight loss really is a matter of simple math, no matter what anyone tells you. You have to burn more than you eat. If you don’t do that, you will never lose weight.

I could barely walk much of the time when I started out at the end of a run. I won’t tell you I have no pain anymore, but I’ve built strength in the muscles surrounding my joints, and I’m getting less pain, not more, even though I’m doing more miles than ever.

As I approach my weight goal, I’m mentally preparing for what I view as “Phase 2” when I will still run and do cardio, but I may scale that back a bit to make more time for strength training. Phase 1 for me has been mostly about reducing weight and improving cardio.

The truth is I absolutely hated running before I started this, and I still hate each and every step. However, the immense satisfaction I have at the end of a run makes it worth every single step…

Hard work… yup, that’s the secret. The discipline to tell myself “no” on overeating, and the discipline to get up at 5am (or find time when I might want to do something else) to put in the miles on the pavement when I really don’t want to.

Hard work… I hope you guys will buy a ton of it!

It WILL change your LIFE!

-BB

P.S. First: A HUGE thank you to folks who have been encouraging me along the way! I still have a long way to go!

Second: This was not meant to slam anyone who has offered me their products… Please don’t take it that way. I’m just trying to make the point that it’s not so much a “system” you can buy your way into, as it is a decision to change your life. You can use whatever system you like. If the culture of your supplemental company helps you achieve your goals, I think that’s a great thing.

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“It is in the difficult times that we learn what we are truly made of… and in those times, we may find it is time to refine our substance.”

I have no idea who said that, or if I just came up with it on my own – but it came to me sometime last week. It has been a constant thought as I have been going through this professional transition over the last few months.

As a believer, husband, father, son, friend, business man, and all around citizen of planet Earth, the “stuff” I am made of is going through a time of refinement right now.

In reality, we should always be seeking to grow and refine our substance, but you know what I mean – There are moments on the timeline of each of our lives when we get to make some defining choices as to the kind of person we are going to become over our lifetime.

A phenomenal business leader in my community says all the time, “If you’re not green and growing, you’re brown and dying.” If he happens to be reading this, he knows who he is. I don’t have his permission to use his name here, but he should know that the things he’s preached to me and others over the years “sticks” with us. At least with me, anyway.

“Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction.” – Isaiah 48:10 (ESV)

“The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.” – Proverbs 17:3 (ESV)

In times of waiting patiently, searching for what’s “next” professionally, or in any other area of life, it is natural to begin to wonder “Why, Lord? Have I done something that is deserving of a refining time? Is there something in my character that needs to be purged?”

While the answer to that question is always technically “yes” (All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory – Rom. 3:23), it would serve us well to remember that Job had done absolutely nothing “wrong” at the time of his testing (Job 1:8), yet he experienced sufficient difficulty to last several lifetimes.

God has in NO way promised us ease and comfort in this life, and any “gospel” you hear that promises riches, comfort, and ease, should be met with immediate skepticism and rebuke. (John 16:33) The Christ-follower’s reward is not in this life, but in the life to come (Matthew 5:12).

It is our duty in this life to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8) regardless of our circumstances. Much like the apostle Paul, whether in times of plenty or in times of need, we must learn to be content with our circumstances in the Lord. (Phil. 4:11-13)

In no way do I suggest that you or I should not strive to better ourselves or to attain personal or professional goals. What I do suggest is that nothing is guaranteed, and when everything falls out from under us, whether it is wealth, health, or relationships that fail us, we should walk so closely with our Lord that He is always enough to satisfy the longings of our hearts. To know that He may not always provide our wants, but He will always provide our needs. (Phil 4:19)

O Lord, that my substance would be wholly of that nature, for it is not. I confess there are times that I find my heart longing for other things. Things that cannot satisfy eternally. Only You, O Lord, can satisfy the hearts and souls of humanity.

What’s your substance, friend? You may or may not be going through a “refining time” right now, but perhaps you need to pray for it to come. Perhaps your substance needs to have the dross removed, and the impurities burned away. It can be intimidating to face such a time, but to become the best version of ourselves, we must face these moments from time to time.

I’m not just talking about the accountability to progress we should all engage in… I’m talking about a special time of extraordinary refining… a deep cleansing… a purification.

What do you want your substance to be? What are you willing to go through to make it the best it can be in this life?

The path to greatness is through the fire.

Beneath His Mercy,

-BB

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I don’t know if I’m the first to word it this way, but something occurred to me this morning, so here’s a new quote for you to carry with you if you are in a position of leadership:

“An entrepreneurial spirit without entrepreneurial discipline is a dangerous combination.”

Just a thought… Plan your work and then work your plan!

Embracing Life,
Brian

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Not quite sure why this is showing a datestamp of July 2011. It was done in June of 2012…

 

My fellow Star Wars fans should catch the reference I’m making in the title of this post. I may not own a Stormtrooper costume, but I do own a toy lightsaber my sister gave me on my 25th birthday 🙂

Today, I find myself facing an emotion I haven’t had to deal with in many years. Last week, the church I last served with on a full-time basis experienced a sudden, gripping, and incredibly painful loss through the death of the Worship Minister’s daughter and grandson in a car accident. Their funerals are this evening…

My first thought was that my family should, at the very least, attend the visitation. This leader and his wife were good friends to Jenny and me during our time there. And, even though the circumstances under which we left were less than ideal, these sweet people have continued to keep in touch with and be kind towards us. To this day, almost every time I pick up my guitar, I play a song that he recorded on that very guitar almost a decade ago. There was significant impact by them on our lives.

There have been almost 7 years of, physically speaking, separation between this church and us. However, as I mentioned, the circumstances under which we parted company were rather difficult. So, after careful, prayerful consideration, we felt the gesture of our presence, while by this family and a few others may be appreciated, could potentially be unwelcome by others, and possibly create unnecessary tension during an already painful time. Our absence will likely go unnoticed, and the risk of creating an issue was too great in our minds.

That being said, this is the first time in 7 years my “pastor bone” has ached. I didn’t even know I still had one… I thought it had been surgically removed! Sure, I still seek out opportunities to serve others, teach, etc, but this was different. It was a desire to serve at a much deeper level. It is a presence I’ve not felt since… we left full-time ministry.

What does this mean? Nothing, perhaps. Really, I guess I’m just thinking out loud, more than anything…

That being said, can any of you who have served in such a capacity in the past, and no longer are, relate to what I’m feeling? If so, I’d love your feedback, or from anyone else, for that matter.

Most importantly, please pray for this sweet family. There are many hurt by this, including parents, her husband, and two children who are left without mommy and brother…

Blessings,
Brian

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Another mobile post that will likely be edited for grammar & content later:

My family had the blessing of spending the better part of the weekend with a local pastor and his family, not only in their home, but with their church family as well.

They work so well together as a team, and do so much work in our community, making the lives of the people they serve so much better, and fulfilling their God-given mission.

The wife is of a mixed, black & white heritage. Having grown up going to a school where I was actually, decidedly in the minority (4% white), and was (thankfully) forced to learn more about people who were different from me, I thought I had at least a general understanding of the struggles faced by African-Americans in our nation’s history.

What I found out this weekend is there is at least one struggle I didn’t know much about at all.

The wife in this pastoral team has faced discrimination on both sides of her heritage. From white people for many of the same reasons you might expect any other black person has faced, but also from black people for some surprising reasons I won’t even try to address in a written monologue…

We only had the discussion, frankly, because I opened the can of worms when discussing the lack of diversity in the area we live in, versus where I grew up.

None of that is the real point of this post. The real point is how BOTH of them have embraced the adversity they’ve had in their lives to enhance their service to others. I seriously doubt they spend very much of their time focusing on past injustices, dwelling on things they cannot change.

In fact, in a very low-diversity region of the country that deals with racism as much as anywhere else, they have a HUGE cross-racial, cross-cultural, cross-socioeconomic impact on individuals, marriages, and families every day, even with people who initially would not listen to them because of the color of their skin. They have this impact because of the way they have embraced life.

They give the glory to God, and they should. However, God would not be using them unless they had a heart to view life the way they do. They pump me up and excite me to be around them. They are leaders in the truest sense, because they “get it”. They have embraced the life they’ve been given, are blooming where they’ve been planted, and inspire others of all backgrounds to do the same.

As we start this week, how will you embrace challenges and opportunities? How will you embrace your life?

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