Everyday Person’s “Diet” and “Exercise Plan.”

We know we must have a healthy diet and exercise to stay healthy, but, how many diet and exercise plans are out there??? Too many to count. A quick Google search for “How to Lose Weight,” reveals 484,000,000 pages associated with that phrase. There are 914,000,000 hits when searching, “Exercise Plan.” The ones that rise to the top are mostly associated with extreme methods or pills for a diet plan. Most of them tout losing weight rapidly, 10 Days, 7 Days, Fast. If any of you have used these methods or pills, you probably experienced what others have, rapid loss and rapid gain. Or you might have discovered, this is too difficult for any extended time period. And then there is exercise…diet alone doesn’t work, so what exercise will I be able to continue?

Reasons why I have had difficulty staying with any scheme or extreme plan, they are not healthy, natural or sustainable. I have a schedule that keeps me from strictly and faithfully following most of the plans. I once went to a nutritionist/Lipidologist. Following the personalized plan she devised for me was unsustainable with my schedule, lifestyle or budget. Clean eating, Mediterranean. Adkins, MediFast, NutriSystem, Dash, and others usually have you eliminate certain groups of food, restrict eating out, cut calorie intake to a “always-hungry” level or make unrealistic claims that become disheartening when you aren’t able to meet them.

Through trial and error as well as hit and miss, here is what works for me. NO SINGLE-FOCUSED DIET PROGRAM. NO UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS OR RESTRICTIONS. NO EXERCISE PLAN THAT IS UNSUSTAINABLE. Below are a few suggestions that come from my experiences of losing weight, maintaining my weight loss and improving my health…better BP, Resting HR, energy level, and appearance. I feel better and enjoy life, including meals. Currently, I have lost 37 lbs over a 1 year and 6 month period. My resting heart rate is 59. My blood pressure is 130/82. My cholesterol is still a little high, but only borderline now. My level was over 300.

This is for the long-haul, not 6 days, 30 days, or even 1 year. This is a life-long lifestyle, so I have to enjoy it and like it.

1. Determine a realistic weight goal. I weighed 135 when I graduated from High School and had a 27 inch waist. So of course, that is what I had in my mind as my desired goal. Or my goal was the picture of that muscular, handsome model. That is totally unreasonable and unhealthy for me now. I weighed 198 when I was convicted that I needed to do something to be healthy. (I’m a small framed, 5’7″ male, so I was heavy). I researched and found that at my age and height the recommended weight was around 145. I believe that is unrealistic for me, plus, when I lost to 145 before, I looked like a skeleton. I do know, that when I was 155, I felt great. So, my goal is 155. You need to determine a weight where you felt great, your health indicators were good, but not unrealistic for you. You also need to forget a time-period goal for achieving your weight goal. Just lose weight. Then maintain your goal.

2. Determine health areas where you need improvement. I have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. I also gain weight around my belly area, which I’m told, is the worst type concerning health. So, I needed to determine my diet and exercise plan accordingly. I cut back on salt, sugars, certain carbs, certain fats, and caffeine. All these cuts came from my personal research as to what affects my health issues the most.
I also need an exercise plan that will have an affect on these health issues, which turns out to be, cardio exercises.

3. Build a balanced realistic diet plan that works for you. I tried the Mediterranean diet, cleaning eating diet, low carb diet, 6 day eating 1 day fasting diet, crash diets…I could lose weight, sometimes extremely fast, but I could not sustain the plan and ended up gaining more than I lost. Usually from sugar binges or starch attacks.
For me, I found a good balanced diet that included carbs, fats, protein and certain sugars was satisfying and sustainable. I have been at it for over 1 1/2 years now, which is a record for me. I have only been using MFP for over 145 days. This has greatly helped me stay on point.
I use the paid subscription of the app, MyFitnessPal. The MFP uses your personal information, the goals you set, and devises a balanced plan that includes proteins, carbs, fats, and sugar. MFP determines your daily caloric limit based off your personal goals and stats. MFP provides diagrams, a community of encouragement, good information and a place to log daily.
Logging daily is not an option, in order to achieve your goals and maintain them, you must develop the habit of daily logging. And you must be honest with your logging, even if you went over your limits. If you find that you continually go over your limits, you might consider lowering your lbs/month weight loss goal. Better to lose more slowly than discouraging yourself.

4. Do a little research to find the best types of foods in each group. Not all fats are equal. Not all carbs are the same. Not all proteins are beneficial. Not all sugars burn the same. Complex, simple, saturated, non-saturated, poly, red, white, cold water, lean, there are differences and you need to know them.

5. Avoid processed foods, read the label. For me, it is impossible to eliminate, completely, processed foods. However, when shopping, I look for products without preservatives, sugar or fillers added. I avoid products that are processed such as deli meat, white bread, etc. I avoid canned foods, opting for frozen when available. I eat fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, multi-grain, etc. You will have to start LOOKING AT THE LABLES. The fewer the ingredients, the better. The ability to read and know what the ingredients are is a must.
When eating out, which I do regularly, eat at restaurants that have their nutritional values listed. With the internet, this has become easier and easier. Determine what you will eat before going and stick to it. I pay close attention to calories and salt content, because of my personal issues. Calories is vital. You will be surprised what you are able to eat. When eating out, I don’t worry too much about what is processed and what isn’t.

6. Find an exercise that you like and are able to do consistently. I ride a rode bicycle. I am motivated to ride on multiple levels. I love it!! I am competitive and enter events throughout the year that I have to be in shape to participate in. I joined a bicycle riding club. I schedule riding 3 times per week. I have developed a riding plan. Did I say, I love it.
This came through trial, error and elimination. I started by working out in a gym. That did not last for me. I didn’t like it and it was difficult to schedule consistently. I tried swimming. I tried running. I entered running events. I joined a running club. I tried triathlons. I joined a triathlon club. Swimming is boring to me, plus I have to drive to a pool. I kept injuring myself running. It takes too much time to train in swimming, running and riding, for me to do triathlons. Plus, I could never get over the anxiety at the start of the swim. However, I never gave up on doing something, until I totally figured out, cycling is my thing!!
Musts for me concerning my exercise, Liking it, having multiple motivations and being accessible. I love riding, I am competitive, so I compete. I want to be healthy, and cycling is cardio, burning the type of fat I struggle with, belly fat. I ride out of my garage leaving and finish riding into my garage. I have a bike rack that is easily loaded and locations close by for different terrain. This took me several years to figure this out, so do not give up, do something, consistently until you find that “something” you like, are motivated to do, and is accessible.

7. Find a community or club that will be your encouragers. As I said, MFP, has a built in community, you just have to “friend,” people to have it. Join a club and participate in the extra events the club sponsors.

8. Keep this in mind…ONE DAY OR ONE WEEK OF MISSING YOUR GOAL, DOES NOT A LIFE MAKE. You will miss your caloric goal one day, one week or even one month. Hopefully not one month. You will miss exercising…because life happens. Do not stop or give up, just because you missed. Get back on as soon as possible. This is a life long journey…which is the main reason for finding a diet and exercise plan that is reasonable, that you like and that is accessible. You want it to last a lifetime, to have a lifetime of healthier living.

Carnival Cruise, Most Active, Royal Caribbean, Best Food, sort of

I took two cruises recently. Both were out of Galveston, Royal Caribbean, 4-day Vision of the Seas and Carnival 5-day Valor. Both were very enjoyable and both were needed breaks from the routine and the stress of day to day work. We had very different experiences on both and hopefully our experiences will enhance or help you decide on your next cruise or 1st cruise.

Royal Caribbean had the best boarding process and “drink” package. We received our Sea Card as at checkin. Go to the dock when your scheduled time is, we did and walked right up to the counter, checked in and when we finished checkin, they called our boarding group to board. We weren’t in the terminal for more than 5 minutes. Since we had our Sea Card our “drink” package began immediately. We used a parking service that carries you in a van, right up to the terminal.

Carnival’s boarding process was even faster, but they did not take our pictures and did not give us our Sea Card. We boarded with our boarding passes and had to pay for every drink we ordered, even though we had purchased a drink package. We used a parking service for this cruise as well, which also took us right up to the terminal.

Royal Caribbean had high quality food in the dining room and average food at their other locations. They charged for room service, which is the only source of 24 hour food. They also had tremendous service, never letting you sit long before some asked you if you needed anything. Our rooms were kept clean with fresh towels daily. The entertainment was OK. The outdoor movies were dated and not appealing. The main show was great, one out of 4 times. The comedian was terrible. The music around the ship was average. The activities stopped around 10:30 or 11:00 and the ship closed up, nothing opened. For many that is great, for me, I am a nite owl and love late night snacks…Pizza, Sandwiches, Ice Cream, but they were not available 24 hours on Royal. There were not a lot of activities either, that were free and alluring. My wife loved the cruise, I thought it was boring.

Carnival had average food in the dining room. Great hamburgers at Guy’s Hamburgers. Fresh sandwiches at the deli. An assortment of great food filled the buffet and good stir fry was available at the Mongolian Grill. Great street tacos and burritos were put together as ordered daily. They were good too. Carnival also had BBQ at another location, which I did not get around to. Pizza, Ice Cream and cookies are available 24 hours. The deli is open late as well. The food was better than average at all the locations, the dining room was the only average food. I didn’t use room service, but it looked like it was free and 24 hours.

Carnival’s activities continued past midnight and were fun and entertaining. The main shows were average, except the last one, it was great. The music around the ship was exceptional. The whole atmosphere was much more upbeat. Of course there are louder cruisers on Carnival and some that were a little over “baring” and they didn’t enforce the dress code in the dining room. The outdoor movies were good. All in all the entertainment was much better on Carnival, for me anyway. And since they went into the night, I was not bored. And fun activities on Carnival were free.

When we got home at departed the ship, Royal Caribbean was much faster and organized than Carnival. But we got off both ships fairly quickly and with no problems at all.

You will enjoy both Royal Caribbean and Carnival. If you are looking for a peaceful retreat with less activity, Royal might be your best choice. If you are looking for entertainment, excitement and fun while getting away, then Carnival might be your best choice.

We have one more this year. I’ll let you know about it when we take it.

Committing to Clean Eating, Sort of…

I have been reading a lot of articles and blogs on Clean Eating. Some of what I read makes sense, but some seems impractical and almost impossible to practice. I like the approach, but 6 meals per day each being 3 hours apart, for most of us is at the very least impractical. So, I am going to adapt the principles so I am able to apply them in a practical way in my life.
I found two great sources, Tosca Reno and The Gracious Pantry. Tosca advocates eating 6 meals per day. Both have great information on Clean Eating food and principles. Plus, I’m not sure how healthy it really is to eat 6 meals per day 2-3 hours apart. Some say, including The Gracious Pantry, eating small meals more often increases your chance of diabetes, since your insulin stays spiked all day.

Anyway, here is what I am going to do. I will eat 3 meals per day, with snacks throughout, to keep me from getting “famished.” I will shop for and seek to eat only “clean” foods. I will stay with MFP, MyFitness Pal, recommended calorie intake for my goals. I will continue my physical activities and exercising. So, I am going to Sort-of take the Clean Eating approach, adapting to my situation and life.

Here are the basic principles of Clean Eating that I will implement:
1. Eat Lean Protein, Complex Carbs and Healthy Fat at Each Meal.
2. Never Skip a Meal. Make sure you eat breakfast daily!!
3. Read Labels. No more than 5 ingredients for the item. No “chemical” wording accepted. No preservatives. No processed ingredients. No added salt/sodium. No added sugar of any type. If you don’t understand or know what the ingredient is, don’t use it. (Organic is best)
4. No Refined Ingredients or Foods. (No sugar, refined grains, refined fats). Ezekiel Bread is a great bread source, it is in the freezer section due to no preservatives.
5. Eat Fresh Vegitables, Fruits, and Nuts. Stay away from juices.
6. Eat Lean Protein. Cold water fish is best. Skinless chicken breast. Skinless turkey breast. Grass fed beef. Venison. Pork tenderloin. (No ham, no processed meats, no deli meat).
7. Drink 8 Cups of Water, Daily.
8. Portion Size and Calorie Intake Suitable for Your Physical Type and Goal.
9. Plan. If you do not plan your meals, even going out, you will not be successful. If you do not plan your grocery store trips, you will not purchase what you will need or eat.
10. Freeze Food. Learn how to freeze fresh vegetables, fruits and meat. Most people give up, because it is expensive when fresh food ruins in the refrigerator.

There are plenty of resources to find lists of healthy fats, complex carbs and proteins. However, I provide a short list of nuts (some of the healthy fats), complex carbs and fish protein below.

Notice the Raw Nut list shows number of nuts and calories in 1 ounce.
Type of Nut # of Nuts in 1-ounce Calories
*Almonds 22 170
*Brazil nuts 6 to 8 185
*Cashews 18 160
*Hazelnuts 20 175
*Macadamias 10 to 12 200
*Peanuts 18 165
*Pecan halves 20 200
*Pistachios (shelled) 47 160
*Walnut halves 14 185

High Water Content Complex Carbs
*Beet Greens
*Brussel Sprouts
*Turnip Greens

Complex Carbs
*Citrus Fruit

Best Fish
*Mahi Mahi

Introspection of My New Year’s Eve with Friends

When I was sitting in a stool at our kitchen island, about 11:00 p.m. New Years Eve, I contemplated how we spent that evening. We had just finished an evening that included playing a game of “Hand and Foot” and eating homemade chili, tortillas and quesadillas with two friends, a couple we have grown to know well.

We had a wonderful evening. We quit early, before midnight, because my wife was ill. She would not have been able to last till midnight. Our friends noticed, so they left in order to allow her to get her needed rest. They noticed this, because they are friends, not acquaintances, not companions, not peers or just fun people. They are authentic friends.

We said our goodbyes and our friends drove home.

Whole living includes friends with whom you are able to enjoy a meal, talk about dreams, share relaxing entertainment and laugh at each other (with each other). Then, even after spending so much time together, you still look forward to the time you are able to do it again.

Friends are unique treasures, not often found. There are plenty of acquaintances, companions, peers and fun people, but not many genuine friends. Friends are dependable, empathetic, and encouraging. They are able to challenge you and be truthful (even when being truthful is remedial). Because, friends truly want what is best for you, always.

Friends develop strong bonds with you. Friends are there for you, without an agenda or desire for reward. Friends find joy in your joy, and pain in your pain. Friends however, don’t let their friends campout in their pain or joy for too long. Friends help you move forward in healthy ways, not let us hang on to the past.

We have some friends, not many, because being a true friend cost…cost time, heart ache, resources and openness and transparency. Friendship exposes one’s heart, leaving it vulnerable. Yet, friendship has the greatest benefits and advantages for one’s total well-being. We are made for relationships, and the best relationships (outside of marital) are real friends.

Spending time with acquaintances, companions, peers or just fun people is enjoyable. But, spending time with real friends is soulful, empowering and life-giving.

Don’t be too quick to make “friends,” but make sure you find those treasures who are real friends. Life is far less than full without them.

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
—Proverbs 18:24

Sometimes, Time Alone and Away is Needed

I went to Lake Brownwood State Park for 4 days. I rented one of their rustic cabins. I stayed there spending time alone with God, nature and “myself.” I needed the break, the withdrawal, the rest. However, I didn’t just need a “retreat,” but a retreat with a purpose. A retreat without a purpose is just that, a retreat with no intentional desired result, just a rest. With a purpose, one is able to reorient, reprioritize, and renew. A purposeful retreat helps move forward with a new vigor, a new drive, a new energy for life. Without a purpose, nothing is gained, not even real rest. My method, retreat with a Bible, 2 books focused on my present challenges, plenty of water, a secluded site and no food. Yes I fasted for 4 days. I’ll explain fasting fuller in a future blog, but suffice it to say, fasting intensifies one’s experience.

After my purposeful retreat, I came back with clarity–having recommitted to my spiritual, emotional and physical priorities,goals and needs. My goal was to clearly understand the direction my ministry needed to go, how to improve my relationships, and how to be healthy in every aspect as I live day-to-day.

I went to Lake Brownwood State Park, because during mid-December, mid-week, no one is at the park. The cabins are empty, the park is empty and the campgrounds are empty. I am able to spend 4-days walking all over the park, by the lake, through the walking trails and down the roads, without coming in contact with anyone, but an occasional Park Ranger driving by.

Everyone needs some time alone and away from his or her normal environment. But it is only a “rest,” without having a specific purpose and desired result. General purposes are clarity, new energy, and reorientation. My purpose this time had to do with my stage in life and the new launch of a ministry I am involved in, Heart to Heart Christian Fellowship. I needed clarity as to what kind of church God wants Heart to Heart to be, on upcoming decisions concerning Heart to Heart and to let go of feelings and emotions that are hindering my progress in life. All this happened!!

Here are some pointers on taking a “retreat” with a purpose:

1. Find a place you are able to go where you will be away from people and your normal environment. Plan to be gone 4 full days, so make all the arrangements before hand letting people know you will not be using your phone or answering any communication for 4 days. Turn off your phone!! I call my wife each evening, but leave it off before and turn it off after the call.
2. Begin your fast the day you leave by eating a large healthy breakfast. I fast completely except I drink water and coffee. If you are not use to fasting, prepare yourself in advance by fasting 24 hours to 48 hours several times before your fasting retreat.
3. Take plenty of bottled water, because you do not know how the water will be wherever you go. I took a case so I could drink at least 8 cups per day. Do not take food! You will be tempted to cheat. Plan where you will eat breakfast when you are finished.
4. Answer, why do you need a retreat and what area of life do you want to improve. Answer what major decisions, challenges and changes you have ahead. Decide what focus you want to make, before you leave.
5. Take reading material based on the focus you want to have. Example: I wanted to focus on the upcoming ministry decisions, my relationships, and letting go of hindering feelings. I took my Bible (I always take my Bible). I took two books recommended to me, Circle Maker, and Beginners Guide to the Gift of Prophecy. I took another but didn’t read it, feeling I had come to clarity and needed to read the last book at a later date. I also took a blank spiral notebook for note taking and several writing instruments, pens and pencils.
6. Spend each day praying, reading, note-taking, walking, contemplating and meditating on what you have read. I do not follow any “daily” plan. I read as I want to, pray at the beginning of the day and through the day as well as take notes about my thoughts, dreams, visions and my readings. I do not start planning or writing down my strategy for the future until I have had time for reflecting. I usually start writing down my future plans, strategies and actions on my 3rd day.
7. Turn off your phone! I did already say this, but it needed to be said again.
8. Talk out loud to yourself, you are not crazy, that helps work things out.
9. Be open.
10. I usually leave on Sunday afternoon (having eaten a large breakfast that morning). I head back on Thursday morning, finding a great restaurant to eat breakfast on the way home.

I am going to do this 2 times per year. I use to do it 1 time per year, but this purposeful retreat is so beneficial, I am increasing it for 2018. I’ll go in June or July then again in December. I will look for a different place for my summer retreat.

Sorry I’ve Been Absent. Catching Up.

I have been working on reducing my tasks and responsibilities, in order to live better. I reduced my positions at multiple organizations. I focused on getting urgent tasks done so I could concentrate on significant and life altering tasks and roles. Years ago I read, Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon McDonald. I also read several Steven Covey books as well as some resource I cannot remember, that suggested dividing your life into your most important roles (I think 7 was suggested) and make sure you balance your life around those roles.

All this was helpful, but actually I found that when I am looking for a system to get me out of a system, I end up busy all over again.

So, I am just reducing to what is important. I am narrowing down what I want to do, to what I am able to do. This includes my roles, my tasks, and my hobbies. I am a husband, father, “family-member,” friend, pastor/director, and athlete (adventurer). My priorities are relationships (1st God, then all others), serving other people with God’s grace, and staying physically active and healthy.

IT IS OK TO SAY NO TO SOMETHING GOOD, EVEN GREAT!!! I have to tell myself that often.

I am able to say no, because always saying yes is really somewhat arrogant and prideful, thinking either I am the only one who is able, or that I am always the one who ought to do it. There is always someone else who is more than able to do all the tasks that are not related to my personal relationships. Someone else is more than able to be used by God to fulfill any role I serve in ministry. I have to make sure, I do not shirk off something he is calling me to, but more times than not, I jump before I make sure he is calling me, instead of seeing He just might be showing me something I just need to be aware of or help someone else heed the call to do it.

Here are just a few questions I ask myself…Is this something that directly affects my relationships, that I am able to do something about? Is this something that directly affects my calling? Is this something that is my responsibility, or am I able to delegate it more effectively? Do I have any Sabbath time or recreation time, and why not? Are there some urgent needs, that are keeping my from my priorities? How does it affect my roles or does it fall into one of my roles?

One of the effects of being overly busy, was I let my health get away from me. I gained 20 pounds and lost my ability to run or cycle any long distances. So, I began to focus on my health, as an urgent need. My attitude, abilities and mental status were affected.

So, I downloaded MyFitnessPal and started tracking my calories. I read several articles on Clean Eating. I downloaded a schedule for preparing to run the Cowtown 1/2 Marathon. I blocked off time each day to take care of these efforts. I do not schedule appointments or find reasons not to do each of these tasks. I faithfully track my calories and stay within the projected calorie count MyFitnessPal set for me. I faithfully run the scheduled distances, 4 times per week, early in the morning. I pay attention to ingredients and seek to eat clean. I have lost over 10 lbs to date and have increased my pace where I am running right at 10 min/mile for 7+ miles. My BP is down. My weight is down. My heart rate is slower. My attitude has changed and I am mentally clearer.

I am working on my relationships…1st with my wife, with my children, with my grandchildren and with the rest of my family. I am taking time to get with my friends. I am spending more time doing the tasks that will directly affect my ministry. And I am making sure I have time to be an adventurer in the areas I enjoy the most…running, cycling, sailing and vacationing with my wife.

I will keep you posted. Oh, and by the way, my new Altra Torin running shoes are the best!!! And my Oboz Hiking boots really did their job and are holding up well as I use them for Backpacking and going to Honduras.

Walk to Emmaus, A Spiritual Journey in San Angelo

Whole Living includes spiritual centeredness, spiritual awareness and spiritual direction. I was renewed and refreshed in these areas at a Walk to Emmaus in San Angelo, TX. My brother-in-law was my sponsor.

When Mel asked me if I would go to Walk to Emmaus, I agreed, but reluctantly. I really didn’t want to go. However, I went, because I had seen a change in Mel. He credited his change to his Walk, and I didn’t want to disappoint him or dampen his excitement.

I really enjoyed the drive to San Angelo with him. I was, in a way, looking forward to 3 days of a retreat, away from the busyness of life. I also, deep down, knew I needed something spiritual, something that would rekindle and recenter my heart. I have been experiencing spiritually depressing and suppressing influences for a while. I have been allowing those influences to keep me from moving forward, they have been causing me to move sluggishly, languishing along.

The Walk to Emmaus was exactly what I needed at exactly the right moment. The Walk is like a conference, workshop, personal retreat wrapped up with surprises that move and encourage you in God’s grace, love and call to service. What an experience, what a renewal, what refreshment! I was moved to smiles, laughs and tears. I was convicted, comforted, encouraged and empowered. I was released and rejuvenated. I left knowing I am loved, forgiven and have an important role in God’s purpose and mission. I knew this at one time. Maybe your knew this or maybe not. Either way, The Walk to Emmaus will either remind you or instill in you these truths in a living active way. The Walk to Emmaus will center you spiritually.

Whole living will not happen unless you are centered spiritually. Being centered, for me, means understanding God’s love, because he has poured it into my heart (Romans 5:5). Being centered, for me, means being continually connected to the life giving Christ in a relationship (John 15:5). Being centered, for me, means being continually transformed by continually “beholding” Christ’s glory (2 Corinthians 3:18). Being centered, for me, means using the gifts God has given me for him and others (1 Peter 4:10). Being centered, for me, means being an active part of a community of faith (Hebrews 10:25).

Make sure you are spiritually centered. Whole Living comes out of a spiritually centered life, no other way. I highly recommend Walk to Emmaus, especially if you need to be centered or re-centered, the Walk might just be what will help you get there, or better said, the vehicle that God might use to get you there.

Narrow to Most Enjoyed, Cycling, Outdoor, Travel

I have discovered, being an adventure/risk-taker junkie, that I often find myself strung out, because I have so many things going on, or I am trying to do so many things I enjoy. Whole-living isn’t filling every moment with an adventurous, risky, adrenaline-rush causing, or satisfaction-promising event, hobby, or effort. Whole-living begins with relationships, which also sustains whole-living. Whole-living does include those activities that you “MOST” enjoy, not all the activities you enjoy. Narrowing down what you do to the “MOST” enjoyed will give you down time and spiritual renewal time, much needed for whole-living.

Sometimes we fill our lives with too many activities, events, efforts, or other enterprises that take our time, energy and focus. Balance. Moderation. Two words often used, but seldom heeded. Maybe it’s actually, Priorities–Relationships (God primary), Enjoyment (as opposed to exhaustion), Renewal (spiritual, mental, physical, emotional). And the time for Relationships to be built, enjoyment to be had, and renewal to take place, making up your whole-life.

I have recently narrowed (this is an ongoing process) down the activities and hobbies that filled my life–flying (private pilot) scuba (dive master), sailing, traveling, cycling, fishing, kayaking, backpacking, RVing, running, Triathlon competing, cruising, and brewing beer. On tope of all this, I taught school, planted a church and directed a nonprofit benevolent organization that operates in Honduras, Mexico and the U.S. Here is where I am so far: I sold don’t fly (sold my plane and am not directly associated with any flying organization) my tri-bike, sold our RV trailer, sold my scuba equipment, did not buy the sailboat, resigned from teaching and cutback on the type of travel we will do.

My focus: cycling (running during off-season), backpacking & kayaking. We will travel twice per year. I will focus on the church plant and nonprofit, combining the two after December.

Narrow down, focus on the activities you most enjoy and that your spouse (others you have relationships with) most enjoy as well. My wife enjoys cycling, traveling, traveling and the church plant as well as the nonprofit. That still gives both of us time for individual activities we are able to enjoy.

Here is my bike. I ride a 2013 Defy 1 with an Ultegra gear set. I have a TomTom MultiSport Cardio with a bike mount. I upgraded the seat with a Cobb Plus. Since I have narrowed down, I have been able to focus, get back on my bike and ride. I rode over 100 miles this week and will continue to ride, building up to be able to ride the 100 K at HHH in Wichita Falls in August. I joined USA Cycling and will ride officially as a Category 5 male racer. I am looking forward to this. My wife and I will be together, she will ride a shorter distance, and we will be with her sister and brother-in-law. We enjoy being with them, building life-long, meaningful relationships while we all enjoy riding together and the whole experience.

This week we will be at Concan, TX staying at Neal’s Lodges on the Rio Frio with family. Again, taking time to build relationships, with an outdoor experience, getting away from the daily pressures and obligations, to rest, recoup, and enjoy. I will be taking my bike!! I will enjoy riding the cool river on an inner tube. I will enjoy a few games of 42 (dominoes). I will enjoy good food, late nights of great conversations, and being with my family.

Narrow down, build relationships, find whole-living.