5 Takeaways: Week 5 Weigh In

Last week was hard, this week was worse. Here’s five takeaways I have from this week:

1. Convenience is overrated. – If I don’t make my breakfast and lunch the night before, I’m probably not going to wake up an extra 15 minutes early to make it the next morning. Which means, I’m stuck finding food while I’m at work. Which makes Wendy’s Frosty’s and French Fries all the more appetizing…merely for the fact that they’re just a few hundred yards outside of my office. That being said, the extra points they pack on aren’t worth the few bites of tasty bliss. I’m left pinching points when it comes to dinner (typically my heaviest meal) and often after a work out.

2. I run to eat. – Fact, if I run a solid 45 minutes or bike for an hour at the gym…I can earn a whole extra meal in points for the day or the week. Sorry, not sorry.

3. Sometimes, cheating is worth it. – This weekend marks the first weekend in over a month that my wife and I have had two consecutive days off together. It also marks the first time we’ve gone on a real date in who knows how long (I ashamedly take ownership over that one. Worst husband here). We went to see Once at DCPA and cashed in our The Cheesecake Factory gift-card. While I felt like I lost a few man points when I ordered up from the ‘Skinny-licious’ menu, every bite was worth it. Cheesecake and broadway were two great things about my week, but what they gave me was even better…rare and cherished time with the woman of my dreams who inspires me daily to be a better person.

4. Bromances are also worth it. – Friday night I went out with one of my closest friends, Jeremy Q. We hit up Rock Bottom Brewery, grabbed some coffee and saw Captain America unleash hell on Hydra. It was fantastic. Aside from the great food, brew, bean and flick…it was some much needed time with a brother who speaks wisdom and encouragement into my life in a way that few have before…He also challenges me and calls me out on when I’m being an idiot. I love that about him. He really is my brother-from-another-mother. And…splurging on the extra points to hang out with a guy like Jeremy was well worth it.

5. You win some, you lose some. – Except this week I didn’t. Not one pound found its way off of my body, but that’s okay. I didn’t gain any either, so I guess that’s a good thing. Besides, last week I got a notice from Weight Watchers that I was losing weight at an unhealthy rate and that I should have concerns on the effects it could have on my heart. Lord knows I don’t need any more stress on my heart. But, let’s be honest, how ironic would it be to have heart problems from trying to get rid of the problems on my heart, all 220 pounds of them?

Creating Counter-Culture: Week 4 Weigh In

This week has been an especially challenging one in terms of Operation: Banging Beach Bod

For starters, I had the very humbling realization I have the body of Mr. Potato Head: the extremities of a skinny person, but the body of a potato. 

Aside from the realization that I missed out on a lot of dough by being doughy in the Toy Story saga, I have been faced with the cold, hard truth of the fact that I’ve created a destructive culture for myself…one of stress-eating, tv-bingeing and more stress-eating. 

Simply put, when times get hard…I hit the pantry and cuddle up the couch. In retrospect, its a pretty cheap love affair. Instead of leaning into the arms of Jesus and my beautiful wife, I lean into the carbs of Chocolate Chex cereal, fast food and Asian take out. 

I’d like to say I’ll never hit up Chic-Fil-A or order Asian take out again, but that’d be a lie. 

What I can tell you is that this week has brought to light the need to create a counter-culture to the one I’ve spent decades creating for myself. I cannot drown my stress in potato chips, ice cream, spring rolls, Cherry Coke and Reeses anymore; not if I want to be healthier; not if I want to keep losing weight; not if I want to take care of my heart; not if I want to live. 

This week taught me the value of fighting through the stress; and to fight for the things that matter when the things that don’t matter are beating me to death. While I was not perfect, I didn’t (completely) succumb to the usual destructive culture of shoving whatever greasy, salty snack I can find down my throat. 

“‘For God so loved…that He gave,’ When God sacrificed His son, He was creating a whole new kind of culture of generosity.” – Joel Thomas.

I heard that this morning at church, and like a buzzing bee it’s been beating me in the brain all day. As I move forward from this week, hoping to create a counter-culture to stress eating, I must also consider the fact that I am not abiding in a culture created by the crucifixion of Jesus. 

When I let myself be weighed down by the (very normal) stress of work, family and life, I lose sight of the generosity given by Jesus on the cross to be alive…to be freed from life, death and sin…to be a new creation called to be free from worry and stress. ‘From His  fullness, we have received grace upon grace,’ and it’s time to start living like it. 

Week 4 Weight Loss: 2.3 pounds

Total Weight Loss: 14 pounds. 

 

 

Eleven Pounds. Six Minutes. – Week Three Weigh In

Growing up, I must admit…I hated the President. Honestly, at the time, I probably didn’t even know who it was. But, all through middle school, I hated him. Why? Because of that freaking Presidential Fitness Test. I knew it had to be one heckuva S.O.B. to make kids all across America compete in push ups, pull ups, sit ups, curl ups, sit and stretches and running.

I was horribly awkward at all of them. Why we force middle school students to test their fitness at the peak of their awkward body changes is well beyond my understanding.

The worst part for me was running. My body was in the beginning stages of figuring out what it was going to look like. I walked and ran like a duck. I had a hump the size of Mt. Rushmore on my back. And while those things are still here today, I don’t give a damn about them, but in middle school…they were torture. I was the butt of many jokes and glares as I ran and I was a horribly slow runner.

Simply put, running scarred me…for what I thought would be a lifetime. I couldn’t make a mile in 15 minutes, and I’m pretty sure the P.E. teacher just felt bad for me so they passed me anyways. I wasn’t hefty. I wasn’t lazy. I just wasn’t a runner and my body was not in a place to compete with the growing testosterone of fellow middle school boys.

Not much has changed today, but I can proudly say I’m overcoming those scars of middle school. I started running about two years ago. Slow and steady, but I did it. I still run and walk like a duck (although not so much so after having my legs sawed in half and straightened in middle school) and I still have this impossible hump on my back. But, instead of hindering me and crippling me with a fear of public humiliation while I run, they bolster me into something…someone different.

A few people have read this weight loss blog and commented on the ease with which I am self-deprecating. And they’re right, there’s few jokes more funny than I can make at my own expense. But, know this, please: I kid because I’m proud. There was a time where others hurled insults at me. Where I was the butt of others’ jokes. Where I was the guy who ran like a hybrid of Daffy Duck and Quasimodo.

This three weeks of Weight Watchers has really brought me face to face with some painful memories of middle school and overcoming the lack of self-esteem I once carried around with me like an elephant on my back. But, I’m slowly learning that this weight loss experience is not just about me getting skinnier or healthier physically. Its shaping me mentally and emotionally as well.

This week hasn’t been the easiest in terms of Weight Watchers for Men. I’ve been incredibly hungry. I’ve succumbed a few times to that seductress known as Chic Fil A. I’ve wrestled with motivation. But…I am leaving this week with a new sense of pride for two reasons:

1. I’m 2.9 pounds lighter.
2. I’ve set a personal best on a 5k with 33 minutes and shaved 6 minutes off of my previous personal best. While it’s nothing to boast about for many people; I’ve gone from not being able to run for more than 3 minutes two years ago, to being able to run a 5k with an 11 minute/mile pace and to run about 4.5 miles at once without stopping.

Total weight loss: 11.6 pounds.

Food for Thought: Week Two Weigh In

To say that this year’s Easter weekend was the best in recent memory would be a huge understatement. While Sara and I certainly missed our families back in NC, this Easter was a great reminder that Sara and I have the unique opportunity to create our own traditions, building on what our families have passed down to us. 

It was a long work week for both Sara and I. After a few long work days, achy bodies, some big Easter events (apiece) and seeing only glimpses of each other throughout the week, Sara and I were definitely ready for Easter Sunday. We were ready to go to church together (something unfortunately rare given our jobs right now), cook our first big holiday meal together, and to see Heaven is for Real. 

Only there was one problem. The now-present reality of a gluten-free, Weight Watchers friendly holiday meal. If you happen to be gluten-free or doing Weight Watchers, you know that cooking a holiday meal is no small task. Combine those, and you have potentially an impossible task before you. 

Fortunately, there are fewer stubborn people in this world than the Littlejohn family, and especially the two in Colorado. After a couple of hours doing my research, I finally narrowed down our Easter menu to: raspberry-mustard glazed ham, smashed sweet potatoes, apple carrot salad and dark chocolate espresso pound cake with sugar-free caramel sauce. Bring it on, gluten-free Weight Watchers holiday meal. 

Aside from the seemingly endless minutes it took to finely shred apples and carrots (I know, they sell shredded carrots in a bag, but we already had baby carrots so I was trying to save money), this meal was a freakin’ hit. I’ve included some photos of our Easter Sunday for your viewing pleasure. If you’d like the recipes, just let me know. The ham, I humbly admit, was probably the best I’d ever had. The apple carrot salad was surprisingly fresh and crisp. The mashed sweet potatoes took some getting used to, but in the end won me over. And the chocolate cake? Well…can you ever go wrong with chocolate, coffee and caramel? 

Other than the full belly, I’m taking two things away with me from this past week of Weight Watchers:

1. It works. Two weeks in, and the fact that I’m still committed to this thing is really saying something. If you’ve ever thought about doing Weight Watchers, just do it. Its easy and it works. I do it mostly because its easy. My iPhone App tells me when to weigh in, when to track my meals, offers easy and tasty recipes and makes counting points a breeze with its vast food and restaurant dictionary and barcode scanner. 

2. This Easter at Church I was humbled by something. For the past two weeks, I’ve fretted and been unwaveringly committed to Weight Watchers and to pulling off huge Easter events. Yet, my commitment and dedication to Jesus has been put on the back burner for now. While I am proud of the weight lost and the way my events came together, I am not proud of what they have cost me so far. Simply put, if I do not marvel at the foot of the cross and the presence of a resurrected Savior on a daily basis, then my work, my weight loss, my time and my money are all for nothing. This coming week, it’s my hope and prayer that I’ll carry the weight of the cross with me each day as I shed the weight of my beach-bangin’ bod

Oh…and there’s 4.2 things I’m leaving behind from this past week of Weight Watchers: pounds, baby! Total weight loss: 8.7 pounds!

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Bringing Sexy Back. – Week One Weigh In

I went for a run Friday night. The positives: I ran for 40 minutes, broke a good sweat, kept a good pace the whole time and passed a man who was running without his shirt on. You know the type, the one with the perfect, Fight Club Brad Pitt body. Granted, he’d lapped me about three times and he had started walking when I ran past him. But still…I give myself credit for it. 

The negatives: the realization that I was not sexy. Aside from the normal things that makes running un-sexy, the funniest thing happened to me. 

I was running to the beat of one of the three greatest albums, ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’ a la Justin Timberlake. His hit, “SexyBack” came on at just the perfect time. I was getting ready to run by a crowd of people and suddenly got self-conscious. “Oh gosh, do they notice its a tid-bit-nipply?” “What if they think I run like a duck?” and “How ironic. I am incredibly un-sexy right now.” All of those flashed through my mind. In a split-second decision I decided I was going to over-compensate.

I was going to pick up my pace, hold my shoulders proudly, and make every effort to look like a gazelle. 

The thing I didn’t factor in: the swarm of gnats. It is absolutely impossible to run in a sexy fashion through a swarm of gnats. Instead of peacocking my way through the crowd, I looked more like Jack Black attempting the Wobble on one leg. It was a disaster. 

Bugs were everywhere. My eyes. My nose. My mouth. My ears. Realizing my attempts at sexy were a failure, I straightened myself out and jogged sheepishly away. 

As I was running away I was convicted, confused and embarrassed. I had the very humble realization that in order to bring sexy back, I have to have had it in the first place. (Perhaps the title of this blog should really read “Getting Sexy…”)

While I was running, I began to think about how last week after my first post about starting Weight Watchers for Men, a few people thought I was too self-deprecating or self-conscious. And perhaps they were right. I didn’t give much of an explanation for why I was doing this. And honestly, I didn’t really think about it until I was running. 

For me, it isn’t because I think I’m fat. I know I’m fat. It’s not because I want to be skinny. I will never be that. Years ago, through the typical middle-school turmoil and torture, I learned that the shape of my body didn’t define me. I chose to let my mind and words do that. 

For me, doing this isn’t about bringing sexy back. Or even getting sexy. Its about being a healthier me…not for my sake…but for my future children’s. I owe it to them to be around and healthy when they get here. Its about being a good father and a good husband; one who lives to love his children well and one who lives to love his wife with all that he has. 

The perks? Getting slimmer, losing weight, and looking better. The purpose? My beautiful wife and unborn child(ren). [Side note: Sara is NOT pregnant.]

So without further ado…in the first week of doing Weight Watchers for Men, I have lost 4.5 pounds.

Goodbye, 4.5 pounds…I will not miss you and I hope I never see you again. 

 

 

Operation: Banging Beach Bod

The only thing banging about my beach bod is my man boobs as I jump the waves. In other words, I don’t have a banging beach bod…but a bod that bangs the beach. Its embarrassing. 

But, its time to move on from that. For a while, I was doing great being healthy-ish. Running. Eating right. Going gluten-free. Those were the glory days that came, lasted a few months and went running when the cold weather settled in. 

However…the tide is changing. I think. I hope.

Its time to start “Operation Banging Beach Bod.” And thus begins a three month trial with Weight Watchers for Men. 

I know. if you’re like me, you just laughed a little (a lot). Weight Watchers? Isn’t that for Jessica Simpson and Jennifer Hudson? Yes. It is.

But its also for Charles Barkely. So that’s neat. 

For the next three months, now through the end of June, I’m gonna be counting those points, watching the weight fall (I hope) and taking the steps to be a better, healthier me – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. 

This journey isn’t going to be easy. I know that. I’ll want to quit. I’ll want to punch running in the teeth. I’ll want to upper-cut labels and point-counting calculators for sure. I have no doubt about these things.

But in the end, hopefully it’ll be worth it. Three months. Thirty pounds. I can do this. 

I invite you to join me on this three month journey. My accomplishments. My failures. My joys. My sorrows. They’re all coming your way…thirty pounds worth of them. 

So here’s to a better me. A healthier me. Goodbye beach-banging man-boob bod, and hello bangin’ beach bod. 

 

5 Reasons Christians NEED to Watch Noah.

Let me start off by saying this: I have long anticipated the release of the blockbuster Noah. Regardless of who says what about the movie, I made up my mind years ago that I’d be there opening weekend to watch Russell Crowe take on one of the more iconic roles in our faith. 

If you know me well enough, you’ll know that when I set my mind on something…I do it. And, that I did. My wife and I saw Noah this afternoon. My first impression was, “Well…that was…weird.” Now that I’ve had time to chew on the film a bit, I wanted to share something.

Every Christian needs to see this movie. Here’s five reasons why:

1. Don’t be an idiot. – If we really accept the argument that we shouldn’t watch this movie because it was penned and created by an atheist, then we are all idiots. If that’s the case, we should stop watching movies altogether. If its a moral dilemma you’re having about giving money to “left-wing, eco-friendly” Hollywood…then look at it as an opportunity to spend $10 to share the real story with you’re non-believing friends.

2. It was penned by an atheist and marketed to the masses. – Obviously this movie is based off of the Bible…but it wasn’t just marketed as a Christian film. No…this is not: Facing the Giants, Left Behind, God’s Not Dead or Fireproof. It is an epic movie with epic acting and epic special effects and epic story-telling. Those kinds of movies are marketed to the masses…which mean the masses will see them. Do  yourself a favor: read Genesis 6 – 9, go see the movie and instead of reacting or responding to conversations at the water cooler at work on Monday, lead the conversations at the water cooler. If non-Christians are going to see a movie about a story we hold near and dear to our faith penned by an atheist, then shouldn’t we know what they’re seeing? 

3. The special effects. – Growing up the only special effects I had to fathom the story of Noah were some felt giraffes, a felt boat, some felt people and a felt board. You get the jist. In a way that I didn’t know I was missing out on, this film deepened my reverence and appreciation for the breadth of the flood waters and the beauty of God’s creativity in animals and the magnitude of His creation.

4. It asks tough questions. – I found myself uncomfortable through most of the movie because I was faced with questions like, “Could those inside the ark really hear the screams of all of mankind while they drowned?” Its a question that was never laid out on my felt board, so I never thought about it. This movie made me stare that harsh reality in the face and accept that through it all, God was still loving and just at the same time. 

5. We need more of these. – I have long lamented the state of Christian artistry. While this movie is hardly Christian artistry, it is artistry based on the Bible. We have long asked for Hollywood to embrace Jesus, so why push back at the first real offering any serious filmmaker/production company has put out? We asked for it, now let’s come along side it and use it for the sake of the Gospel.