Category Archives: Adventures

Health and fitness?

Published / by Tim / 1 Comment on Health and fitness?

When everything you think you should write about scares you to write about, what should you write about? Yes, that’s what has been banging around in my brainpan this week. I have all these ideas, but they require vulnerability and a willingness to reveal some weakness I have. This week, being “open” doesn’t really set well with me.

So after a lengthy internal debate, I’ve decided I will begin to tell you about my exercise and fitness… struggles… adventures…. dilemmas… whatever you want to call them. I’m not “excited” to share this, but I think the story is getting better. So, here we go…

When I was in high school (every fitness story seems to start in high school) I was a soccer player. My high school was small. To field a team we needed 11 boys. We had 11. This meant that we all ran our guts out almost all of the time, whether we were practicing or playing a game. I was probably in the best shape of my life at that time. I have always been heavy framed. Which is not to say fat, but even when I was very lean, I was not “skinny”. I weighed 175 lbs and was in good health. I drank too much coke.

College rolled around and I got married. My wife is a good cook. I ate well and stayed around 180 lbs. I walked or bicycled all over the place in college so I got enough exercise to keep my soda pop habit from taking over my midsection. I remained in decent shape through college.

I graduated and got a job teaching and started making a good living wage. We did not have children and we were pretty active. Having a good job meant that we could buy “better” groceries, Tillamook ice cream, and real Coca-cola. It was at this time in my life that I really started gaining weight. Teaching, while keeping me mentally challenged, had me slowing way down. Even when I was moving around the classroom, it was not strenuous. I didn’t walk as much and I never rode my bike any more. 4 years in I weighed 220 lbs. Then we had kids.

It’s a strange thing that happens when people decide to have children. Eating is important for the mother. My wife is a healthy eater. She eats veggies, salads, lean meats and she is skinny. I ate more too. Sympathy? I don’t know. but I gained a few more pounds and the baby arrived. I was still teaching all day and sitting grading 8th grade essays in the evenings. Between the sitting and snacking while I was grading, I grew to 235 lbs. I knew I was getting fat at that time and it was frustrating… but not enough to move me to action.

Me (256 lbs)

Me in white @ 256 lbs.

I taught for several more years. We had a second child and I got a master’s degree. Going back to school kind of did me in. I was either reading, writing or grading papers during most of my free time.  With the reading, writing and grading came glasses of soda and cookies or other munchies. I knew I needed to be more active so I tried golf, but it was frustrating. My bike sat in the garage unused and deteriorating. I was plumping up. And then I took an office job.

The office job meant that I switched to drinking coffee as it was in good supply at work. Drinking coffee, in and of itself, isn’t horrible. The problematic part is, the perfect complement to coffee is a pastry. Sweet pastries and doughnuts seemed to show up in the office with some regularity. A coffee and a maple bar were a great way to start a fun-filled day of meetings and paperwork. It was during this time that I also discovered beer.

One thing led to another, I became a school principal and one day I woke up feeling horrible, looked in the mirror and I was horrified. There was a fat old man looking back at me. I decided to get out the scale and see what the damage was. The scale broke which was a bad omen. I purchased a new scale and it revealed that I weighed 256 lbs. (the heaviest I have ever been) It was a sad and sobering moment. I was sick, tired, fat, and unhealthy. I had all sorts of bad eating habits and I didn’t really feel like being active. I stood there with tears streaming and a craving a coke. I knew something had to change. That was 18 months ago.

To be continued—

An obligatory New Years post?

Published / by Tim

Well, it’s 2014 and I made no resolutions, but there are five things I’m going to do this year to help promote my health and sanity.

5. Read a book each month. This is not to say that I will only read one book per month, but it is to say that I will choose a book that interests me and read it each month. Last year I read about 44 books and 2 of those were because I wanted to. Well, I suppose that all of them had the element of “want to” otherwise I wouldn’t have read them, but most of them were because someone else said I should. I didn’t choose them.

4. Limit my coffee and beer intake. Most of the time, around the new year, you see people “quitting” beer or coffee or soda or smoking or whatever it is that they enjoy but isn’t necessarily good for them. I am not a quitter. I can, however, work on self-discipline. Quitting something that you enjoy seems silly to me. I severely limited my intake of Coca-cola in the last 6 months and now I rarely miss it and I no longer crave it like I once did. I do enjoy a Coke every so often and I have a new appreciation for it. One cup of coffee per day is adequate and 3 pints of beer a week is plenty.

3. Keep a journal. I have been an on again, off again journaler over the last several years. I often attribute my lack of journaling to being too busy. I am of the mind that keeping a journal would have more benefits to me than this busy lifestyle I am leading. I see this as a way to slow down, reflect, enjoy and savor my life. This has become more important to me recently. I have felt like I miss a lot and what I don’t miss I can’t always remember. A journal can help.

2. Save some money. I like buying Christmas gifts for my family. I also like not having to pay a credit card bill. I did a good job of keeping spending under control in 2013, which is a minor victory for me. In 2014 I’d like to have 100% cash to fund my Christmas shopping. I have an idea about how I’ll attack this and perhaps in another post I’ll tell you how I plan to get there.

1. Exercise. I have two bikes and I am hoping to acquire a third this year. I like riding my bikes. I do not really have a “plan” for this, but I do have  couple programs I’d like to try out. Again, I’ll talk more about those in future posts (with this 500 words per day thing I’m doing, these “other” topics are precious).

Additionally, I am going to continue using Duolingo to pursue learning a second language. I am learning, or maybe I should say “relearning” Spanish. Once I feel adept I will begin learning German. Why? Well, why not?

So, What things are you going to do this year to promote your health and sanity? Share in the comments… I’d love to know.

Geocaching and Writing

Published / by Tim
There must be a cache here somewhere.

There must be a cache here somewhere.

On the day before the new year, I regularly go with friends out into the woods to look for geocaches. Every year we plan a route and then take off early in the morning to set a “most found” record. This year was no different. One of the brethren picked an area to search that had a lot of little caches.

We drive all over looking for containers in the woods. Most of the containers are small and ordinary. They usually contain a log to sign and some other little trinket. Every once in a while though, we find a larger, more interesting container. A container that itself has a story. A container that the owner obviously put some thought and care into building and placing in the woods. These containers often hold interesting treasures. Items that we want to trade. Items that are traveling the world. Items with a story.

As the day wears on, we come across a string of small green containers that are all hidden essentially the same way and all look identical. None of them have much in the way of treasure .The descriptions ask for detailed logs, but the caches themselves were boring like prepackaged gingerbread men. Good to eat, but not terribly interesting. In the early afternoon we all begin to lose interest. We all grow restless for the bigger and better containers. We want something more.

For me, writing is kind of like that.

I start out sort of knowing where I want to go, but not really knowing what to expect when I get there. I’m looking for little treasures that catch my attention. Usually I find a lot of things that are functional but not always interesting. I wander around the page, looking for the thing that clicks, the thing that will take the story in a new and wonderful direction.

As I poke around the tulies looking for treasure, every once in a while I find a “container” that holds some real treasure. It is one that holds the right phrase or image or metaphor that takes the story in a direction that makes me tingle. I find myself taking some time with that find, exploring it a little more fully. It’s these “containers” that keep me writing to find the next one.

In geocaching, having friends along makes the experience better. It gives a sense of safety. Sharing in the find makes each one a small celebration. Writing is more of a solitary sport when the hunt is going on. Writing, for me, feels safer when there is no one watching over your shoulder. So it goes in writing, having an audience is both risky, but it’s comforting as well. It gives us the opportunity to share and celebrate along the way.

After searching for hundreds of caches it has become clear that the creators who spend some time preparing the containers or finding great settings in which to hide their treasures tend to capture the imaginations of those who search. In that regard, it is also clear that as we create here we need to take some time and care in preparing and giving our audience a memorable experience that brings them back, anxiously looking for more.