Category Archives: Motivation

All Gave Some, Some Gave All

We interrupt your regularly scheduled stream of blogs about our trip to Italy to pay a special tribute to all veterans. I spent last night on the USS Cobia, docked at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, WI with my scouts. Plenty of places on board to think about the veterans who have served our country, for all of whom I am thankful!

Yes, space was tight on the USS Cobia. Seventy submariniers, seventy days, eight hours on the surface running the diesel engines to charge batteries for every twenty two hours submerged. Three bathrooms like this one.

There was one shower in the officer’s quarters. The rest of the crew washed at small sinks. We joked about launching any scouts who got too “energetic” out the forward torpedo tubes…

World War II submarines aren’t very big…but this shot through the bulkhead leading to the officer’s quarters and mess makes it look long…

One of the things they did while they were running the diesels on the surface to recharge batteries was desalinate water. These two “stills” distilled 1000 gallons of freshwater from seawater during the 8 hour charging stint.

One of the benefits of sleeping on the USS Cobia, besides the overpowering aroma of sweat in confined quarters, is the opportunity to go a few places where the daytime tours don’t, including the conning tower and lower level of the engine room.

The “wheel” on the right controlled the trim of the “wings” or hydrofoil near the bow of the submarine while the one on the left controlled the rear hydrofoil. Note the “saltwater depth to keel” gauge with three key depths noted by a red mark.

48 feet was the maximum depth where the radar mounted on the conning tower could be used

67 feet was the maximum depth where the periscope could be used

150 feet was the minimum depth where the subs were safe from enemy aircraft and also the depth where they switched to the “deep range” gauge higher on the wall between the two wheels.

I asked Matt Karolek if he wanted to be awakened in time for sunrise through the periscope…but he passed on the opportunity.

I like the composition and content of the shot I took of the port side of the large deck gun better…but the lighting on the starboard side makes this a much better picture. The submariner who sat on this side adjusted the elevation of the gun. The guy on the other side turned the gun. They were both quite exposed to enemy fire. Because of this only a few men were allowed on deck at any given time.

Submariners who worked in the engine room or who shot the deck guns sacrificed their hearing for our freedom. 52 US WWII subs were “lost”, including over 3100 submariners. All gave some, some gave all.

Fortunately, there are places we can go to learn about their sacrifices and reflect on the things we have because of them.


What does it take?

So far, I have posted blog entries for the first three days of our recent trip to Italy. The entries showcased Padua, Venice and Florence. But, I’ve got five days worth of photos to go. When will I be done?

This is an interesting question, both to you my friends and family who are excited to see more of our trip and to my bosses (both at work and at home) who are excited for me to get back to work 🙂

To answer that question, I need to explain a little bit about what goes into making a blog entry of this sort.

  • I start by reviewing all of the photos from a given day (150-250), discarding the disasters, cropping some, straightening some, correcting the white-balance on some and adjusting the tone or exposure levels on some. This can easily take 3-4 hours.
  • As I review the photos, I review our itinerary and my notes from the trip, sketching out the story I want to tell and selecting photos which help tell the story. This takes another hour or two.
  • Then I write the blog, uploading the selected photos and inserting them into the story. This takes another hour or two.
  • Next, I review the entry, make any edits or adjustments and publish the first draft, up to another hour.
  • Next I start the process of uploading the day’s photos to Flickr. Fortunately this is a process I can start and walk away from. Unfortunately, each upload is limited to 200 photos so I have to come back and add those that didn’t fit the first time.
  • After the Flicker upload completes, I sort the photos by date/time taken (or scanned for a few) and save them as a set. The flicker process takes about a half hour of my time, but takes another 3-4 hours of elapsed time.
  • Finally, I edit the blog to add a link for the Flickr slide show and make any adjustments I thought of while reviewing the slide show.

So, you can see it is difficult to do more than one entry a day, when I have most of the day to work on it – as I did Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I don’t have much free time this week, so I won’t make as much progress. I do have some evenings when I can spend some time and hope to complete a blog for our first day in Rome, with side trip to Ostia Antiqua by the end of the week. We’ll see what happens after that.

Thanks for your interest and kind words of support and encouragment!


Make The Trend Your Friend

There’s an old saying, “The trend is your friend”. I’m not sure where, when or how this saying originated but it is probably related to Sir Isaac Newton’s first law of physics: “Every object continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless compelled to change that state by external forces acted upon it.”

When applied to weight loss and health enhancement, I find the law to be applicable, because our state is a result of our behavior, and our behavior is largely a result of habits. Until we are compelled to change our habits, our behaviors won’t change and our state (health, weight) won’t change.

We’ve all run into someone we haven’t seen in a while and heard “you haven’t changed a bit”. Sometimes they’re being kind, and sometimes they’re pretty accurate. Because we experience most of the changes in our lives in increments too small to easily observe, we need an objective external measure to provide a true reflection.

One of the measures important to this stage of my journey is my weight. I know, its just a number. An arbitrary number at that, and only one of many that need to be understood in relation to each other in order to have a good picture. But it is a number that is easily obtained and whose history is easy visualized. And, for this stage in my journey, its a pretty good measure of progress. So, I track it.

Since most of us are impatient creatures, it is important to look at the short term. So, I pay attention to today’s weight, and the default view on Lose It! is a week. Over the past week, I’ve done well, as you can see below:

Its also important to look at the long term, in order to understand where we’ve come from, and whether we’re heading in the right direction overall. A one year trend helps with this:

Hmmm, as you can see, I’ve made significant progress over the past year and things appear to have been “stalled” for approximately the past 6 months. With the data, I can look at various ranges to see what was going on with varying levels of detail. For example, look at the past month, which shows a disturbing pattern…


Looking at the past three months exposes an even more disturbing trend:

I’ve got to admit it is awfully tempting to look at those lines and note that low and high weights in the range are separated by less than five pounds. I know I’ve said it before, some days I feel like I pee more than 5 pounds away in one trip to the necessary room. Not a big deal, right?

Well, I need it to be a big deal. If every time I gain a few pounds in some social celebration the new high is a bit higher than the last one, and every interim low between highs is a little bit less low than the last one, the ultimate trend is not in the direction I want it to go. This needs to stop and it needs to stop now. My task this week is to make sure the second half of Newton’s law applies to continue this week’s downward trend. I’m following my program and there’s no social celebrations coming up until 7/4. I need to build the momentum and roll through the 4th without a “social celebration bump”.

Are you with me? Make the trend your friend!

Hope Dies Hard

One year ago today, I started using the web site to change my life. Right up front, I need to thank my lovely wife Teresa for recognizing Lose It! as something I might be interested in. She sensed I wanted to change, knew I had tried a few things that weren’t getting the results I was hoping for and realized this site had potential to work for me.

The Lose It community – Lose It is way more than a web site or a smart phone app – has many facets. One is a series of “badges” for successes. Some of them seem rather random, others clearly designed to help motivate toward a specific goal. Today I achieved the goal of logging daily for 52 continuous weeks, and earned the “Die Hard” badge.

LoseIt! Die Hard badge for 52 weeks of continuous daily logging

One of the many things I have learned is that for me to be successful as I adopt a healthier lifestyle is that I seem to have a poor (or maybe just selective) memory regarding what I eat and drink. In fact, I just realized I forgot to log the orange juice I had with breakfast and jumped online to do so before I have an extra serving of something later thinking I have an extra 167 calories in my daily plan. The Lose It tool which helps those of us with a problematic memory is logging. And, to help develop the habit of logging, Lose It awards badges:

  • 3 days: Keep It Up
  • 2 weeks: Regular
  • 4 weeks: Dedicated
  • 8 weeks: Committed
  • 24 weeks: Hardcore
  • 52 weeks: Die Hard

I get it, and I got it. Its displayed proudly with the others on my Lose It profile page, and above for anyone who ventures here to see.

When I first joined Westwood Health & Fitness, I had a simple goal…enhance my cardio capabilities enough to survive a High Adventure week at the BSA National Sea Base with my son Matt and other scouts and dads from Troop 24. Goal achieved, and we had a great time. Fast forward a while to spring 2011. I had a goal to lose 21 pounds so I could ride the zipline at Utah’s Olympic Park on our vacation in June 2011. After starting Lose It, I did lose 21 pounds, and I did ride the zipline. Then I wanted to be lose 26 pounds by our 26th wedding anniversary a few weeks later. Goal achieved.

Then I went out on a limb. Double or nothing so to speak. I hoped I could lose 52 pounds by my 52nd birthday, and began thinking about my long-term target weight. By that time, I had begun to realize that a number on the scale isn’t really much of a goal and doesn’t provide much satisfaction or motivation. Maybe that’s why I missed the 52 goal. In fact, I’m still trying to get past 45 pounds. It seems I’ve stalled here, gain a pound, lose it. Gain 2, lose 3. Gain another, lose 2. Gain 3, lose 1. Etc.

I mentioned that Lose It is a community. Anyone who is just using it on their smart phone (there are both iPhone and Android versions of the app available in addition to the web site) is missing the best part of Lose It, the community of friends. People who are there with you. Who have similar hopes and struggles. People who have similar goals and are working along side you to meet them. People who have made their goals and want to help others. People like Belle, who has made some incredible changes in her life, lost over 265 pounds and starts every day sharing a joke and ends every day sharing a motivational or inspirational quote. People like Cheri, who cheer *\o/* everyone on. A few family members who are getting healthier along with me, a few “real-life” friends, who joined after seeing my success. And people like Debi, who posted something really profound a few weeks ago that I’ve been thinking about almost constantly ever since.

“If you really want something, you’ll make time for it. Otherwise you’ll make excuses” – Debi O.

That morning I had made a comment about it being too cold to ride my new bike and my schedule being too busy to get to the gym so I was just going to have to try to get some extra steps in that week. As I look back on the past 4.5 months – the time I’ve been “stalled” at my current weight – I can see I’ve made a lot of excuses. You may have even heard me make some of them.

  • I’m traveling this week and its hard to lose weight eating in hotel restaurants.
  • I’ve got meetings every night and won’t be able to get to the gym this week.
  • Its too cold/windy/rainy to ride my new bike.

This past weekend, I didn’t use any excuses. We went camping as planned even though the weather forecast was for overnight temperatures near/below freezing. And I took pictures of the snow on our tents and smiled. I hiked the west bluff trail at Devil’s Lake state park even though it was cold and rainy and my knee hurt.

Over the past year, I didn’t use any excuses about logging. If I was away from my computer, I made notes and logged when I got back. When I got an Android phone, I got the app and started logging wherever I was. I earned that Die Hard badge.

And, now, I’m setting my next target…I will have that 50 pound badge before the end of the month. No excuses.

What are you making excuses about in your life? Leave me a comment, or drop me an email if you’d rather talk about it privately. Stop making excuses. Stop hoping. Start doing. Start succeeding. Want to make some healthy changes in your life? Join me and Teresa and Sami and Jon and Belle and Cheri and Debi and over a million others on Lose It.

The Easter Special – A Blessing of Thorns

Sandra felt as low as the heels of her shoes as she pushed against an April gust and the florist shop door. Her life had been easy, like a spring breeze. Then in the fourth month of her second pregnancy, a minor auto accident stole her ease.

 During this Easter week she would have delivered a son. She grieved over her loss. As if that weren’t enough, her husband’s company threatened a transfer. Then her sister, whose annual holiday visit she coveted, called saying she could not come. What’s worse, Sandra’s friend infuriated her by suggesting her grief was a God-given path to maturity that would enable her to empathize with others who suffer. “She has no idea what I’m feeling,” thought Sandra with a shudder. “I should be thankful? Thankful for what?” she wondered aloud. For a careless driver whose truck was hardly scratched when he rear-ended her? For an airbag that saved her life but took that of her child?
“Good afternoon, can I help you?”
The shop clerk’s approach startled her.
“I . . . . I need an arrangement,” stammered Sandra.
“For Easter? Do you want beautiful but ordinary or would you like to challenge the day with a customer favorite I call the Easter Special?” asked the shop clerk. “I’ m convinced that flowers tell stories,” she continued. “Are you looking for something that conveys ‘gratitude’ this Easter?”
“Not exactly!” Sandra blurted out. “In the last five months, everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.” Sandra regretted her outburst, and was surprised when the shop clerk said, “I have the perfect arrangement for you.”
Then the door’s small bell rang, and the shop clerk said, “Hi Barbara . . . let me get your order.” She politely excused herself and walked toward a small workroom, then quickly reappeared, carrying an arrangement of greenery, bows, and long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped . . . there were no flowers.
“Want this in a box?” asked the clerk. Sandra watched for the customer’s response. Was this a joke? Who would want rose stems with no roses!? She waited for laughter, but neither woman laughed.
“Yes, please,” Barbara replied with an appreciative smile. “You’d think after three years of getting the special, I wouldn’t be so moved by its significance, but I can feel it right here, all over again,” she said as she gently tapped her chest.
“Uhh, “ stammered Sandra, “that lady just left with, uhh . . she just left with no flowers!”
“Right . . . I cut off the roses. That’s the Special . . . I call it the Easter Thorns Bouquet.”
“Oh, come on, you can’t tell me someone is willing to pay for that?!” exclaimed Sandra.
Barbara came into the shop three years ago feeling very much like you today,” explained the clerk, “She thought she had very little to be thankful for. She had lost her father to cancer, the family business was failing, her son was into drugs, and she was facing major surgery. That same year I had lost my husband, and for the first time in my life, I had to spend the holidays alone. I had no children, no husband, no family nearby, and too great a debt to allow any travel.”
“So what did you do?” asked Sandra.
“I learned to be thankful for thorns,” answered the clerk quietly. “I’ve always thanked God for good things in life and never thought to ask Him why those good things happened to me, but when the bad stuff hit, did I ever ask! It took time for me to learn that dark times are important. I always enjoyed the flowers of life, but it took thorns to show me the beauty of God’s comfort. You know, the Bible says that God comforts us when we’re afflicted, and from His consolation we learn to comfort others.” Sandra sucked in her breath as she thought about the very thing her friend had tried to tell her. “I guess the truth is I don’t want comfort. I’ve lost a baby and I’m angry with God.”
Just then someone else walked into the shop.
“Hey, Jim!” shouted the clerk to the balding, rotund man.
“My wife sent me in to get our usual Easter arrangement . . .  twelve thorny, long stemmed stems!” laughed Jim as the clerk handed him a tissue wrapped arrangement from the refrigerator.
“Those are for your wife?” asked Sandra doubtingly. “Do you mind me asking why she wants something that looks like that?”
“No . . . I’m glad you asked,” Jim replied. “Four years ago my wife and I nearly divorced. After forty years, we were in a real mess, but with the Lord’s grace and guidance, we slogged through problem after problem. He rescued our marriage. Jenny here (the clerk) told me she kept a vase of rose stems to remind her of what she learned from ‘thorny’ times, and that was good enough for me. I took home some of those stems. My wife and I decided to label each one for a specific ‘problem’ and give thanks to Him for what that problem taught us.”
As Jim paid the clerk, he said to Sandra, “I highly recommend the Special!”
“I don’t know if I can be thankful for the thorns in my life,” Sandra said to the clerk. “It’s all to fresh.”
“Well,” the clerk replied carefully, “my experience has shown me that thorns make roses more precious. We treasure God’s providential care more during trouble than at any other time. Remember, it was a crown of thorns that Jesus wore so we might know His love. Don’t resent the thorns.”
Tears rolled down Sandra’s cheeks. For the first time since the accident, she loosened her grip on resentment. “I’ll take those twelve long-stemmed thorns, please,” she managed to choke out.
“I hoped you would,” said the clerk gently. “I’ll have them ready in a minute.”
“Thank you. What do I owe you?” asked Sandra.
“Nothing, “ said the clerk. “Nothing but a promise to allow God to heal your heart. The first year’s arrangement is always on me.” The clerk smiled and handed a card to Sandra. “I’ll attach this card to your arrangement, but maybe you’d like to read it first.”
It read: “Dear God, I have never thanked you for my thorns. I have thanked you a thousand times for my roses, but never once for my thorns. Teach me the glory of the cross I bear; teach me the value of my thorns. Show me that I have climbed closer to you along the path of pain. Show me that, through my tears, the colors of your rainbow look much more brilliant.”
Disclaimer: I don’t know the origin of this and apologize to the author for sharing it without permission. Thanks to my friend Warren K. who shared it with our choir.

I Believe

The beliefs below were sent to me by Kirk Weisler, a friend who helps me stay motivated each and every day. For more information about how, see the link at the bottom. But first, enjoy!

I Believe

I believe- that we don’t have to change friends if we understand that friends change.

I believe- that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I believe- that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I believe- that it’s taking me a long time to become the person I want to be.

I believe- that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I believe- that you can keep going long after you can’t.

I believe- that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I believe- that either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I believe- that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place.

I believe- that heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I believe- that money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I believe- that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

I believe- that sometimes the people you expect to kick you when you’re down, will be the ones to help you get back up.

I believe- that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.

I believe- that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

I believe- that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you’ve had and what you’ve learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you’ve celebrated.

I believe- that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others.  Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I believe- that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn’t stop for your grief.

I believe- that our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are, but we are responsible for who we become.

I believe- that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other And just because they don’t argue, it doesn’t mean they do.

I believe- that you shouldn’t be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever.

I believe- that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally . different.

I believe- that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don’t even know you.

I believe- that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you you will find the strength to help.

I believe- that credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I believe- that the people you care about most in life are taken from you too soon.  (even if you get them for 90 years)

I believe it’s important to keep believing

I (Steve) believe you need to know more about Kirk Weisler…

Kirk provides a free service he calls “Thought for the Day” or T4D. Sometimes you get what you pay for. In this case, free means “priceless” not “worthless”. You can visit his site at your convenience to get a shot of inspiration. Or you can sign up to receive each installment via email as soon as it is available. You can also follow Kirk on twitter. However you meet Kirk, your life will be enriched!