My Next Phase… With a Little History!

My Next Phase… With a Little History!

Just finished the 24 Day Challenge with Advocare and am starting day 25 and forward.  You may be able to relate to my life and my struggle for health, identity and weight loss.

When I was an infant, my Mom recently told me, when I would cry she would instantly find a bottle or some food to put in my mouth; part of that I’m sure was her not knowing what to do with a ‘whiner’ like me, but part of it also had to be the fact that I would always be prone to ‘feel better’ when my senses were satisfied.  You see, I’m a ‘touchy feely’ kind of guy who feels emotions and moods very strongly.  Whether I was born that way or became that way by my first taste of “sweet” I’ll never know.  But since then I’ve been prone to the emotional side of eating.

When I was 6 years old my parents told me they were not in love anymore and would be getting a divorce.  I was way too young to realize “self” at that level but I do remember from that day forward being insecure and afraid and unsure about a whole lot of things….and ALWAYS feeling better after I ate! (I will not be one of those people who write a book about how bad their childhood was and blame the parents, they simply didn’t know any better)

When I was about 9 or 10 I was in the bathroom one day and I turned around to the full length mirror and saw “for the first time” that I was knock-kneed, the first indication that I would be set apart and have something weird about me.  I was consumed with the thought.  No shorts for me, EVER.  When it was hot in the summers I would vie for long pants, jeans, wool pants, whatever was available.  No one would ever see my legs (years later I would find out that my legs were pretty darn attractive to my wife; muscular even!)

As an adolescent, the only memory of the annual “School Clothes” shopping trip was passing the aisles at Sears where the cool kids would buy their jeans and flannel shirts and being taken straight to the “HUSKY” section.  It was called “The HUSKY Department”.  I suppose Sears was looking for the right word for the future ‘Big and Tall’ shop but as a 12 or 13 year old seeing HUSKY meant “you were fat!”.  Husky at that age is not a very cool dog but a LABEL in life that would be carried around and be implanted in my head and in the mirror.

My brother was on the wrestling team in Junior High and HS and would put on the plastic trash bags and run to get the weight off before the weigh ins; I followed suit.  At the same time my Mom was buying Diet Rite cola as the household drink of choice and/or Sun Tea sweetened with Saccharin. She also showed me how to made egg drop soup and diet…. I once even found the big box of “AIDS” (not the disease but the diet chocolate chews) in her drawer and got hooked on them eating handfuls at a time.  I’m sure that just taught me to get used to going to the bathroom several times a day!

And then there was the mirror… as a teenager and in college when I looked in the mirror I saw FAT and LOVE HANDLES and big legs and small chest, etc…etc.  I did not see God’s creation the way God exactly formed me.  Now when I look back at photos I see a skinny good looking guy that all the girls in HS should have been running to…hahahaha!

My senior year of High School I came to the conclusion that SUGAR was horrible for you in its refined state (read a very convicting book called ‘Sugar Blues’) and I cut sugar out of my diet for a whole year and got lean and trim and still say myself as FAT!

I worked hard in College to keep my weight down.  I ran, I swam, I worked out.  I don’t remember being very hungry most of the time.  Probably because I was going through the “what in the world will become of me” stage of life.  BUT, a couple big events triggered issues again (although now they are going to sound weird):

1.  When I graduated from college my wonderful stepmother took me out to an incredible “all you can eat Seafood Restaurant” that used to be on the North side of Indianapolis.  We sat and talked for hours (and I ATE for hours).  I remember thinking to myself “WHY do I suddenly have the ability to consume so much delicious food, why am I not getting full?”.  And I didn’t get full anymore… from then on I ate what I wanted and worked out and played the balancing game between amount in and amount burned off.

2. One of my very good friends took me aside right out of college and challenged me on my weight describing me as very overweight; remember I was about 190 pounds and 6 feet tall and look at myself in those photos and think “you looked good”: but it was the 80′s and people were proud of thin and in shape and Health Clubs were seriously the rage.  That did a couple things to me:  I bought a Triathlon Bike and went on a serious binge of working out and quitting the sugar again.  I was fit and trim and yet still looked FAT!

When I got married I weighed a whopping 167 pounds, I must have been really thin but only noticed the ‘love handles’ on my sides and the weird sticks that I walked on!  Fortunately I found an incredible woman who loved me for who I was inside and outside and NEVER, I mean NEVER made a big deal out of self-image or self doubt.  She taught me two very important things at the beginning of our marriage:

1. One plate is usually enough     2. You can buy anything you WANT at the Grocery store, but “what do you need?”

OK, enough of all that.  Now I’m 54 and after losing and gaining about 1000 pounds and settling out on the whole self image thing and thousands of hours overeating and over-working out, I finally found something out a month ago that I never knew…

FAT thinkers believe this:  I must eat at least 3 times a day or I might miss out, get way too hungry, starve, feel deprived, feel emotional and angry and frustrated.  If I snack in between or eat between meals I WILL gain weight and continue to get more and more fat.  It cost too much to eat well and be healthy!

THIN thinkers believe this:  Like all animals I am a grazer, I can eat small amounts all day long and stay satisfied throughout the day.  The food I do eat will generate energy in my body and I’ll probably end up burning it all off anyway. Food is always around me and I can choose what is good and right and healthy and satisfying.  I’d rather spend $20 on a good meal than feel gross with all the $5 meals that would make me temporarily satisfied.

I have LONG way to go… my goal (if I had to weigh myself) is to get back to around 200 pounds and feel wonderful about that.  I don’t want to be on TV, be the Biggest Loser or inspire anyone with a Diet Plan.  I want to feel good about how I feel about me, to enjoy putting on a regular size towel after taking a shower.  That’s all.  I want to be freed up to be LESS about me and more about others and serving and loving mankind.

And so the story goes on…..I found what works for me

So, WHY the 24 Day Challenge?

So, WHY the 24 Day Challenge?
So, WHY the 24 Day Challenge?

About 3 weeks ago my daughter Sarah called me and said “Dad for my birthday I would just like some Advocare products”, to which I replied “What is Advocare?”.  The VERY NEXT DAY when I went into the Cafeteria at work one of the Ultrasound Techs had a booth set up giving away free samples of ADVOCARE.  I immediately went up and had a great chat with Erica with with her sponsor Larry Prater and shared with them that I was so tired of the roller coaster ride of weight loss and also so tired of multilevel programs that promise performance and results, etc, etc.  BUT the next day I signed up to become a Distributor ($79) and ordered my “24 Day Challenge Kit” thinking ‘I’ll give this one more shot’… a few days later my Challenge came in the mail, I laid it all out on the counter and took the plan pages and put them in a notebook and said ‘I’m starting tomorrow’…. that was 17 days ago.

Since then I get almost daily calls from either Erica or Larry asking how I’m doing, how I’m feeling and building an incredible trusting friendship.  Not once has Larry asked me to “sell anything” (something that used to turn me way off about the prideful spirit of other companies).  He HAS asked me would I like to buy my product at 40% off.  Not once has he asked me to come to a “Mixer” or party where people can try product and learn about the business side.  So I’ve done all the research and I invited myself to Larry’s house last Thursday night for a mixer.  I met a very humble, very successful and very encouraging group of young (younger than me) people who are in the biz for others, care deeply about helping people with their health and time, they love the product and I never sensed I was a stranger in their midst.  Larry has become a very good friend (although I know somewhere deep inside he wants me to do this business); our conversations are filled with good thoughts and solutions and family talk.

So, in 17 days I’m down 11 pounds and I’ll measure myself completely at the end of 24 days.  But I know for sure I can wear my XL shirts and not just my XXL shirts and my belt is on the next loop and my extended waist pants don’t need to extend so much anymore.  I’m enjoying the process big time.

What is the process you ask?  First 10 days is a mild cleanse and energy boost to get your body loosened up and rid of lots of years of toxins, the next 14 days are jam packed vitamin packs you take throughout the day to rebuild and get your body burning what you eat all day long through your normal living!

I have been a “Fat Person” in my mind: that means that I have believed that if I ate between meals and ate all day (like a thin person does) that I would just get more fat.  It also means that I eat big meals so I won’t “starve (ha-ha)”.  My body has led my mind and hasn’t wanted to let loose.  A “Thin Person” is a GRAZER…someone who eats a normal size meal or a replacement shake for breakfast and then grazes mid-morning on nuts, healthy snacks, fruits, grass (just kidding) and then has a nice normal lunch, then grazes mid afternoon then a nice healthy dinner and then maybe a little graze in the evening.  They also drink water all day long instead of ‘just’ when they are thirsty.  Animals don’t generally just wait til they are thirsty it seems, their bodies are programmed to drink water for health and survival and energy.  I wasn’t listening to my body and so spent my days punishing it by wrong thinking.

I know I’m only at the beginning of a long journey; a journey that will take me beyond losing 50-75 pounds and onto living the controlled life my mind and spirit have been longing for.  So WHY the 24 Day Challenge?  Because I needed to begin a transformation for life.  How are you doing?


4 Manly Lessons from the Minor Leagues by Vance Albitz, AAA Infielder, St. Louis Cardinals

4 Manly Lessons from the Minor Leagues by Vance Albitz, AAA Infielder, St. Louis Cardinals


Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Vance Albitz, AAA Infielder, St. Louis Cardinals.

Take away the high salaries of the major league ballplayers and the sold-out crowds that watch them play, and it’s no wonder why many people say that the true passion for baseball lives in the Minor Leagues. Now, go talk to any minor leaguer and he’ll be quick to tell you these two things: 1) he will do just about anything to get out of the minors and into the majors, and 2) there are more levels in the minor leagues to climb than you probably realized (most teams have six minor league affiliates: Rookie Ball, Short Season-A, Low-A, High-A, Double-A, and Triple-A). Of course, except for the very few, the only way to get to the majors is to start from the bottom and work your way up.

This season will be my fifth year in professional baseball, and I’ve experienced five different minor league levels. I’ve played with thousands of different players, and though each individual has a unique personality, the ones who are successful in this game all seem to do a number of similar things. It also happens to be the case that these habits are what gets you ahead not only in baseball and sports, but in any job or situation you may find yourself in.

Here are 4 lessons I’ve learned from those guys who’ve been successful in working their way up the ladder:

Lesson #1: Find a Routine That Works

Nutrition, weights, batting practice, defensive work; there are so many different things a player has to do to prepare for a baseball game. However, each person is different and something that works for one person might not work for another. Many professionals will tell you that players at the higher levels do not have more talent than players at the lower levels; they are, however, more consistent. Having a consistent approach off the field will likely result in consistency on the field.

I’ve noticed I play better on days when I do a brief workout, run, or yoga early in the morning. As soon as I figured this out, I tried to incorporate it into my daily routine and immediately found my performance improved because of it. The thought of choosing morning yoga over sleeping in would make many of my teammates wince, but that is the beauty of a personal routine.

One of my favorite teammates in particular, Mike O’Neill, is the most disciplined-to-his-routine player I have ever met. He listens to “Lights” by Ellie Goulding thirty minutes before every game, eats the same sandwich for lunch every day (this means the same sandwich for six straight months), and during home games runs to the outfield from the dugout with the exact same stride pattern every inning (he crosses the foul line with his right foot, touches second base with his left foot, and then jogs to his position in the outfield). He is also one of the most consistent players I have ever played with.

Be careful though, there is a fine line between routine and superstition. However, from a baseball player’s perspective, either is acceptable.

Lesson #2: Master the Fundamentals and Constantly Remind Yourself of Them

Michael Jordan said, “The fundamentals don’t change; the only thing that changes is our attention to them.” A baseball player’s job is not too complicated. He has to catch the ball, throw the ball, and hit the ball. As easy as it sounds, we have a tendency to make these things more complex than they really are.

This past year, I was having trouble on groundballs to my left early on in spring training. I finally figured out that I kept looking up at the first baseman before I had the ball in my glove. I reminded myself what my dad told me when I was a kid, “I want to see the button on the top of your hat when you field the ball.” This basic concept ended up making the difference. Anytime a hitter is in a slump, hitting coaches will often give you this simple piece of advice: “Get back to the fundamentals.” That’s why it’s important to learn them and learn them soon; then you won’t waste any time practicing the wrong stuff.

Lesson #3: Get Better at Something Today

Neutralize a weakness or turn a strength into a super-strength. There are so many physical and mental aspects of the game that a player can improve on. This is why even the best young talents usually need a few years in the minor leagues before they’re ready for the big time. I try to be honest with myself to identify the parts of my game that need work, and then I attack them.

Action without vision just passes time.

What must you get better at? Write down what you want to work on today, work on it, and then give yourself immediate feedback on how it went. In six months, you’ll have physical proof of your progress.

Lesson #4: Stay Positive

You may have heard that “baseball is a game of failure.” The best hitters in the game fail 70% of the time. Every part of baseball will test your confidence and mental strength to the extreme.

It is a very humbling game.

One of the better things you can do is to focus on the process of success, not the results. Dominate the things you can control. There is positivity in knowing you mastered the things you can control. Practice positive self-affirmations. The mind always tries to complete what it pictures. See yourself succeeding. Picture it in your mind. Do not accept that you cannot achieve your goals. Will it. It is amazing what can happen.

This season, I’ll be doing my best to stay mindful of these lessons, and doing all I can on and off the field to get the call up to the majors. If you’re looking to level up in your life too, get in the game, invest the sweat equity, and keep chasing that dream.

What lessons have you learned from America’s pastime?