How I lost 50 pounds in the last 7 months

When we moved back to California in the summer of 2013 I was coming off of 10+ years of a heavy travel schedule working for Vineyard Worship and I was tired. I was also the heaviest I’d ever been in my life weighing in at 245 pounds. I had made significant changes in my life moving back to California and going back into local church ministry at the Anaheim Vineyard. I knew that I needed to make even more changes especially when it came to my personal health and fitness.


50 pounds down



In January I went in for an initial visit with my new doctor. My blood work came back showing that my cholesterol numbers were too high. My doctor immediately wanted to put me on cholesterol medication. Not wanting to add another medication to my life, I found the motivation I needed to finally get up and get active again.



My approach was simple and uncomplicated. I walked out my front door for 15 minutes and then another 15 minutes walking back. I tried to do this everyday except Sunday skipping the odd day for weather, sickness, or schedule complication. I also started diligently logging my food intake.

My walk took up the hill from my house and then down to the Hiltscher Park Trail – one many paths in the trail system in Fullerton, the town where we live. It took about 10 minutes to get to the trail head which left me only 5 minutes of trail walking before it was time to head back. I was walking about 2 miles a day during this stretch.



One morning In early July I decided to see where trail lead. This took me on a 5 mile journey looping back to my house – more than double my normal distance. Something happened when I took this longer route. I hit some sort tipping point where my desire to get out and walk was greater than the resistance to avoid it. At the same time, I also discovered the “Couch to 5k” running program. This stoked the growing fire within me to keep pressing forward.

I had started to add longer stretches of jogging into my routine and was unknowingly working “intervals” between my walking and jogging. I had no strategy whatsoever in how I was doing this interval training. I basically ran until I had to stop and walk. This generally left me with a feeling of failure as I could only manage to run about 2-3 minutes at a time. The “Couch to 5K” program gave me a real path forward and I was hooked. Now, I’m using this interval training approach to build up my stamina with the goal of actually running a 5K sometime in early 2015. This has opened a whole new world to me.



Another discovery I made was in the area of what’s been called the “quantified self”. On top of apps that logged my food intake I also found apps that track my water intake, nutrients, exercise, and total daily steps (my current goal is 10,000 steps per day). One revelation from all of this activity tracking is that Sundays are my most physically active day of the week. Each Sunday I stand playing guitar and leading worship for a total of 4-5 hours due to the multiple services and rehearsal time involved. This reality helps me to feel better about making Sunday a bit of a “cheat day” in my new eating plan. With this, another piece of my new life rhythm is locks into place. I think this good news for musicians and worship leaders. :)

7 months in and I’ve lost 50 pounds so far. A quick check of my body mass index tells me that at the 208 pound mark I went from “obese” to “overweight”. Yikes!! I still have a ways to go. That said, my energy level is higher than it’s been in long time and I’m feeling great. Recently, I crossed under the 200 pound mark for the first time since I was in my 20s. As of this writing my current weight is 194 pounds.



1 – Add more strength training to my regimen.

My wife says she doesn’t want me looking scrawny. :)

2 – Run a 5K in early 2015.

I want to be able to run the entire 5K without walking.

So that’s my story. It’s still ongoing. I’ll post more along the way. It all started from a very simple place. I just decided to do what could with the time I had and with little to no money out of pocket. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for me to succeed.



Here are a few things that helped me along my way making things easier for me.

itunes_logo Spotify

1 – iTunes and Spotify
It’s not news that my iPhone allows me to carry my entire audio library with me. One of the ways I’ve been using this time in the morning is to discover lots of new music.



2 – Apple’s podcast app – free
I’ve always been a podcast junkie. My new morning routine has allowed me to catch up on some old favorites as well as discover a whole new batch of new offerings in the podcast space. More on this in future posts. More great free content all the time!



3 – MyPlate calorie tracker app – $.99
I’ve been using this app for a number of years. There are other apps out there but since this app was already on my iPhone I went with it. It does a solid job of tracking calories by meal, exercise, weight, and water consumption. Simple and easy to use.



4 – Argus – free
I use Argus as both my pedometer and to map my walk/run each day. Its quirky interface sets it apart from other apps and it’s easy to use. I’m considering moving to a device such as the Fitbit Flex or the Nike FuelBand as these motion tracking apps on the iPhone are a battery life killer. The new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch also look pretty interesting when it comes to health and fitness tracking. I may just wait for the Apple Watch to be released. Any suggestions?

For now, Argus fits the bill.



5 – Seconds – free
For the interval training I am using an app called seconds. It has a number of timer options and is easy to use. It does the job but I’m open to other suggestions. I use the free version as my needs are pretty straight forward. 



6 – The Fullerton trail system – free
Less than a mile out my front door is the beginning of the Hiltscher Trail. The Fullerton trail system has been in place since the mid-20th century. It’s a country path in the middle of the suburban landscape. I love it. 



Here’s my regular route:

morning run

Question: What does your exercise routine look like? What are your best practices here?

Question: If you don’t have a regular routine, what simple things can you do to get up and get active on a regular basis? Make it easy for yourself to say yes.

Sunday morning at 7 World Trade Center

In light of the anniversary of 9/11 I am reposting this blog from 2012. Since the writing of this blog the River has relocated to a high school in lower Manhattan. “From the sky to the streets” is how they’ve described the move. Same mission, different vantage point. 



A few weeks ago I had the privilege of leading worship at a church called the River that meets in lower Manhattan. I’ve known the leadership of this church for a number of years but I’ve never been to their Sunday gatherings.

They currently meet on the 40th floor of the newly rebuilt 7 World Trade Center in the main auditorium for the New York Academy of Sciences.

The River is a doing a wonderful work among the people of Manhattan and is thriving in a culture that is perhaps one of the most secular in the US.

Here’s their mission statement:

Planted in the heart of Manhattan, the River is a diverse church that welcomes New Yorkers of all backgrounds. Our goal is to create a warm & inviting space where we can connect to God and each other to pursue life in all its fullness.

Good stuff.

The views from their main auditorium are unbelievable. Out the window to the left looking from the stage you look uptown into the heart of Manhattan with the Empire State Building in center frame. Out of the window to the right you get the East River, Brooklyn Bridge, and on the horizon the blue rim of the Atlantic Ocean.

The views are breathtaking for sure but I was moved at a much deeper level. As we poured out our hearts to God I was struck by the power of what we were doing. We were literally inviting the Kingdom of God into the heart of New York City and asking for His Kingdom breakthrough over the city – literally while we overlook much of Manhattan.

Going a little deeper, the original 7 World Trade Center was destroyed in the events of 9/11 and when the new 7 World Trade Center was completed in 2006 it was the first tower rebuilt at Ground Zero after the attacks. On this site of incredible devastation, on what maybe the deepest wound in American spirit there is a community of faith that meets every week asking for the Kingdom of God to come and bring healing and mercy and make things right.


As I stood on the stage looking uptown at the Empire State building I was deeply moved by this reality. On this day of remembrance I remember my time on the 40th floor of 7 World Trade Center. I remember that “Mercy triumphs over Judgement” and I say a prayer of thanks for The River church as they weekly minister God’s healing power on the site of such tragedy. God bless their work!!



I’m a sucker for a good documentary. Today I stumbled upon “Mile, Mile and a Half” on Netflix.

Growing up I spent large amounts of my summer in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. I’ve always had a deep love for the outdoors. “Mile, Mile and a Half” chronicles a team of artists as the hike the John Muir Trail traveling 211 miles in 25 days. Looks like I have another item for the bucket list. 



Here’s the press synopsis:

“Just 250 miles from Los Angeles and fewer than 200 from San Francisco, the John Muir Trail (JMT) stretches 211 miles through some of the most beautiful and pristine wilderness in the world. 

In July of 2011, five friends and artisans set out on an epic 25-day journey on the JMT from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney to document the sights and sounds of the Sierra Nevada high country.

What began as an adventure to see – let’s be honest – if they could complete the trail, became the need to capture the experience in order to share the trail with others. For this is not the story of die-hard rugged athletes defying all odds to endure a harsh environment. It is the tale of five friends with passions in the arts and the outdoors that join with like-minded people and share an escapade like no other.

The unique visions of artists on the trail are exposed in video, photography, paint and music, as this unlikely group grows, creates art and gathers others along the way. Artisans are joined by teachers and students, seniors and preschoolers, families and a solo hiker from Japan, all becoming a trail family that together summits the highest point in the contiguous United States.

Take the trip of a lifetime with them as they face epic once in a generation snow conditions, capture the wild and pure alpine beauty of the mountains and create lasting friendships with the eclectic crew of characters they met along the way.

Come laugh, limp, sing and walk with us.”



There’s a reason that “Backpacker Magazine” ranked California’s John Muir Trail as the best Hike in the World in it’s November 2010 issue.

Stretching 215 miles from Yosemite Valley to the summit of the contiguous United States’ highest peak, Mount Whitney, it rambles through some of the most breathtaking mountain scenery that the heart and mind could conceive. Most of your days are spent above 10,000 feet, where you’ll experience the High Sierras in all of it’s grandeur and beauty as you hike through: Yosemite, Ansel Adams Wilderness, Devils Postpile National Monument, John Muir Wilderness and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks.

Some perspective on how far 211 miles is. (Give or take a few miles.) Think of walking from:

  • Los Angeles to Las Vegas (Make sure to look at the world’s largest thermometer in Baker)
  • New York To Boston (Figure out whether you prefer Manhattan or New England Chowder)
  • Chicago to Detroit (Not advised in winter)
  • Houston to Dallas (Not advised in summer, spring or fall)
  • London to Manchester (For our friends on the British Isles)
  • Paris to Antwerp (For our friends on the continent)
  • Rome to Bologna (For our friends on the boot)
  • Tokyo to Kyoto (For our 13th hiker)


Clutter is taking a toll on both morale and productivity. Teresa Amabile of Harvard Business School studied the daily routines of more than 230 people who work on projects that require creativity. As might have been expected, she found that their ability to think creatively fell markedly if their working days were punctuated with meetings. They did far better if left to focus on their projects without interruption for a large chunk of the day, and had to collaborate with no more than one colleague.

via Signal v. Noise


Decluttering the Company (The Economist, 2014)