The bookshelf

March 22nd, 2014 § 2

One of the benefits of living in an age where manufactured goods proliferate is that the cost of things goes down while their availability goes up. Unfortunately, that can also be a curse.

It’s not a big secret, but a lot of the “easy-to-assemble” furniture you can buy in a store isn’t of great quality. I’d love to purchase more high-end furniture, but it’s often out of a price range I’m willing to pay. But for those times when I did spend the extra cash, I’ve been pleased with the purchase.

shelf-crap

The old bookshelf is falling apart. Note the sides of each shelf where the sides are pulling away. This is a disaster waiting to happen.

My girls have tons of books. After fixing their particle-board bookshelf to keep it from falling apart late last year, I decided that would be the last time. I would build them a bookshelf. I put it on my list of goals for 2014. In the evening of Jan. 17, the start of a three-day weekend for me, I started the work.

My goal was to work hard and fast and get it completed no later than the following Monday on Jan. 20. You see, I’m a great starter but not a great finisher, and I wanted to prove to myself I could beat my own bad processes.

As I got going, I found myself giving in to my temptations. This was for my girls, so it had to be perfect. I kept finding imperfections in the wood that I would keep sanding away at. That process was exacerbated by my refusal to buy an electric hand sander. After buying all the wood, brass screws, and paper and a few other things, I didn’t want to shell out another $30 plus for a sander.

The refusal to buy a sander proved to be the most idiotic decision of this build. At first it seemed almost romantic. The sandpaper in my hand, I caressed the wood. It seemed to talk to me, telling me how it wanted to be shaped. I examined every detail, and when I found an imperfection I’d spend minutes on that one area making it absolutely perfect.

Eventually I needed a break. Covered in sawdust, my hand cramping, losing time, I told my wife why it was taking so long.

She asked, “You think $30 is too much for an electric hand sander?”

“I don’t now,” I said.

I didn’t finish by Jan. 20. My minimum viable product hadn’t been achieved, and I ended my three-day weekend with the project undone.

Then the cold hit. The snow came. Weeks upon weeks of frigid temperatures  made it undesirable to work in my garage. The bookshelf sat there until we had a break in the weather. I propped open the garage door and worked more on it one weekend. Things were looking good.

And then more cold came, with more snow. More delays. My dad gave me a saw I needed to finish the back. Finally last weekend the weather was great enough for the final stage: a few coats of clear lacquer.

My desire was to put on one more coat before I attached the back and called it done. But this week, the shelf my girls’ room began to deteriorate very quickly. It was the end of the road. I needed to finish the shelf. I needed to ship.

After breakfast today, I made coffee and headed to the garage. I nailed in the backing, and carried it inside.

The finished bookshelf. It's rock solid.

The finished bookshelf. It’s rock solid.

The bookshelf has some imperfections. This is not the build of a master craftsman. There are some pencil marks I didn’t get fully sanded out. The backing has some uneven cuts in places. The lacquer isn’t perfectly smooth. And I would have really liked to put on one more coat.

But all of that really doesn’t matter. Done is better than perfect.

It is done.

Art of self-denigration

March 19th, 2014 § 2

After leaving work early yesterday with what would become a massive head cold that kept me awake most of the night, I’ve spent the day trying to recover. Thus, I’ll write these words with the thought that I might not be fully in my right head; or that I might be incredibly lucid.

I’ll let you be the judge.

I’d like to believe that the midlife crisis is a myth that can be overcome, but I must accept the very real possibility that the opposite is the truth. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I am, what I’ve done, and where I’m going.

For instance, I’ve been a horrible finisher. I’ve had more than a trillion ideas of things I want to achieve, but they’ve yet to materialize. I went to Paris in 1999 and presumed I would have gone back by now; it hasn’t happened. Student loan debt paid off? Hasn’t happened. The feeling that I’m not still living like a college student? Nope. How about those projects I said I’d work on, those websites I said I would build, those songs I’d record or those projects I’d get around to soon?

You can definitely, absolutely not be able to count on me.

The signs keep popping up that I’m not alone in my failure. I stumbled across Nathan Kontny’s post Lost Momentum last week. Today it was Anas Ambri’s I Don’t Want to be a Programmer that did me in. Talk about hitting a nail on the head. I’ve had the privilege of being around and working with some amazing developers, and I’ve come to think that I’ll never be like them. No, I’m a failure, an imposter, a charlatan. I can’t even say I’m lucky enough to be able to tie my shoes, because I’ve even found a way to slip those on without have to use that menial skill.

Even the things I think I’m halfway good at or passionate about don’t really matter. For instance, Daylight Saving Time is commonly (and yet, incorrectly) referred to as Daylight Savings Time, and that was beaten so much in my head when I worked in journalism that it can’t help but dig at me when I see it used incorrectly. I don’t usually say much to the average person about its use, but when a colleague used it wrong, I sent her a quick note thinking she’d want to make a quick edit. Apparently she didn’t, only replying back with “Seriously?” to my message. That reminded me of a quote from the unlikely philosopher Phil Anselmo of Pantera: “Is there no standard anymore?

And so, I find myself a bit lost. Do I double down? Does any of it matter? Is there any hope for someone like me? What will my kids think of me when they get older and realize I’m a nothing? I look at people my age like Tim Hibbard, who is doing well successfully running his own company, or Jeff Triplett who created the cool web app Is The Lead Safe and think, “Well, I’m done.”

Perhaps I’ll hire someone to yell at me on a regular basis. I once heard a story about a first-century rabbi named Akiva, that is recounted on this website and goes like this:

Many centuries ago in the land of Israel, one of the early rabbis was returning home from a long day in the House of Study. It was later than usual, and as he walked home, the sun set.

Lost deep in thought, he took the left fork – Instead of the right –when the path split. Instead of nearing home, he was walking toward a Roman outpost.

“WHO GOES THERE” boomed a deep voice in the dark, shaking him from his thoughts. Shaken and confused, the rabbi tried to figure out who this was at his home.

“WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?” thundered back, as a massive centurion stepped into view. The rabbi quickly realized the mistake that he must have made.

Instead of answering the centurion’s question, he replied, “How much are you paid to stand here every day?”

”Three drachma” replied the centurion.

“I see,” said the rabbi. “I will pay you twice as much to stand in front of my door and ask me the same questions every single day.

Maybe I’m being too hard on myself. I’m a decent dad, I think. The jury is out on whether I’m a good husband or not, but probably not. I do what I can to make sure I’m there for my girls, to show them love, to train them in the way I think they should go. But even then I wonder if they’ll look back and think I should have done more. Did we do enough fun things? Did we have good experiences? Did we make good memories?

We have been having a lot of fun playing the Wii together lately. Sometimes I watch them and sometimes they watch me. I’ve really enjoyed playing Super Mario 3 with them cheering me on during the winter.

Although, I must admit, I haven’t been able to finish it.

Sports

February 24th, 2014 § 0

When I got married, my wife was surprised and a little bit relieved that I didn’t like to watch sports.

I grew up as a sports fan, a little bit, but in my adult years I didn’t see the point in it. I played Little League baseball, and would like liked to play more football, but a rare disease called osteochondritis dissecans forced me to sit out of sports for several years.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, my doctor said I was in the clear and that I could play anything I wanted. “I want to play football,” I told him, and did until I finished high school. Since I didn’t have all the years of experience that my peers did, I really wasn’t that good. But I had a lot of fun, and lessons learned playing the sport have resonated throughout my life’s journey.

In recent years, I’ve been more interested in watching sports, much to my wife’s shock. I didn’t really have a way to explain it, until I heard an interview with Michael Douglas on Alec Baldwin’s show, Here’s the Thing.

You can hear the episode where, 5 minutes and 36 seconds in, Douglas puts to words exactly what I’ve been thinking.

Baldwin: “What is your relationship to going to the movies now?”

Douglas: “I’m really embarrassed to say this, but, I’m not a moviegoer. I don’t see many movies.”

Baldwin: “Why not?”

Douglas: “I waste so much time watching news and sports. I love watching sports because, you know, I can’t tell you how it’s going to end. My problem with movies is, you know, you get halfway through a movie and … ‘You see, I was right.’ I love making movies, but I’m really bad Alex when it comes to seeing them.”

Many of today’s movies have become copies of each other. Like Douglas, I find myself watching a movie and figuring out the finale way too soon. Documentaries are no different. I used to love them, but once you’ve seen a movie about how bad our food supply is, the fall of Wall Street, the corruption of money and government, or how everything around you sucks, you’ve pretty much seen them all.

Sports is a crapshoot. You just don’t know how it’ll end. You think you know, but you have no idea. I totally thought the Broncos were the darlings everyone said they were and that they’d win the Super Bowl. Seeing how I dislike the Broncos so much, I was pleasantly surprised (and the Seahawks gained a new fan) when they lost big time.

Tonight, as the Jayhawks play the Sooners, I’ll gladly watch to see who will win.

Surprise me.

What’s in a name?

February 17th, 2014 § 0

The other day my oldest daughter asked me, “Daddy, what does Gruber mean?”

Oddly enough, I wasn’t sure, so I told I sent her a link to lmgtfy.com.

Just kidding.

So I looked it up. I found this definition at Ancestry.com:

German (Grüber) and Jewish (Ashkenazic): topographic name for someone who lived in a depression or hollow, from (respectively) Middle High German gruobe, German Grube ‘pit’, ‘hollow’ + the suffix -er denoting an inhabitant.

I found this very interesting. I’m a transplant to Lawrence, Kansas from southeast Kansas, which had a large mining history in its past. You can read more about that from the LJWorld story, “Mining’s Legacy, A Scar On Kansas.”

Southeast Kansas is known for its “strip pits,” which removed a lot of the earth in pursuit of precious materials and, in turn, left behind quite a few ruts (and places to fish). And so, quite literally, I am Eric J. Gruber, and I come from a place with pits.

Amazing!

In my search, I also found another less common definition from Urban Dictionary:

A bearded-stallion of a man. Always heterosexual.

That one gave me quite a chuckle. Stallion!

Eric J Gruber

 

Completing a Whole30 (and one more thing)

January 31st, 2014 § 0

One of my goals for this year was to complete a Whole30 challenge starting in January. You can read more about my journey and more about the Whole30 on the post, “Halfway through the Whole30.”

As I am still on my (seemingly long) health journey that began last March, I wanted to do something that I thought was pretty successful last year. In August, I completed my first Whole30 challenge and was quite pleased with the result.

In a nutshell, the plan goes like this: Weigh in once at the beginning and once at the end, eat only quality meats (preferably grass fed), veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds, and fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, and ghee. Excluded from the diet are grains, dairy, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, legumes, starches (except for sweet potatoes), and probably the biggest one to avoid, soy.

The purpose? Exclude potential inflammatory foods, then see how your body feels in turn. As I said, I’ve done this before. My end result was that most of the foods I took out don’t bother me much, except for grains. I know that I feel much better when I don’t eat them, so now mostly I avoid them as a rule.

This post is, in part, out of self obligation. I’ve talked this thing up quite a bit and it’s hard to avoid when it’s such a part of your every waking moment for 30 days. In a way, it was a success. In only 30 short days, I lost 8.9 lbs. I should be happy. That said, my Fitbit Aria scale says I lost muscle mass and I only lost 1.4 lbs. of fat. The strangest thing is that the scale says I’ve lost 7.3 lbs. of lean mass, which would also include muscle.

Hmm.

I’m not sure if that’s the truth. Perhaps it is and I can’t get around it. But my clothes fit a little different, my belt is a notch tighter, and even my wife said I look like I’ve lost weight. Losing weight is one thing, seven pounds of muscle? I’m just not so sure about that.

I’ll admit, I didn’t walk as much this month as I did in during my first Whole30 in August. (I’m a very consistent Fitbit One user.) And, I didn’t workout with weights that as much as I did previously. That said, I worked a lot harder to get more sleep than I usually ever do, which I consider a huge success.

So I have to ask myself, was it a success or not?

I think so. For one, depriving myself of sweets makes my cravings for sweet things plummet. Also, I feel fantastic. I save money because I don’t spent anything on snacks and other assorted crap throughout the week. I only had a few moments where I wanted a Diet Mountain Dew, or some peanut butter. But mostly, those cravings just vanished.

And, with a couple of minor exceptions (I’m going to add some dairy back in my diet), I’ve decided to keep going and stick mostly with this same plan. I don’t feel like giving up just quite yet. I’ll make some modifications to my workouts, I’ll focus more on getting plenty of sleep, and I’ll move on.

So, that’s my story. Speaking of stories, I’m interested in hearing of health and fitness success stories of real everyday people. I’ve been building a little website where I’d showcase this information, and I’m happy to announce it here. I’ve had this domain and idea for awhile, Shapeshiftr.com, and there’s a signup form if you want to know when it goes live.

And if you’ve got a story to share about health and fitness success, just tick the box on the signup form at Shapeshiftr.com.

Halfway through the Whole30

January 15th, 2014 § 0

When I set out my goals for the new year, one of the first things I said I would tackle was the Whole30.

In essence, The Whole30 can be described itself as this:

I eat real food – fresh, natural food like meat, vegetables and fruit.  I choose foods that are nutrient-dense, with lots of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals, over foods that have more calories but less nutrition.  And food quality is important – I’m careful about where my meat, seafood and eggs come from, and buy organic local produce as often as possible.

This is not a “diet” – I eat as much as I need to maintain strength, energy, activity levels and a healthy body weight.  I aim for well-balanced nutrition, so I eat both animals and a significant amount of plants.  I’m not lacking carbohydrates – I just get them from vegetables and fruits instead of bread, cereal or pasta.  And my meals are probably higher in fat than you’d imagine, but fat is a healthy source of energy when it comes from high-quality foods like avocado, coconut and grass-fed beef.

Eating like this is ideal for maintaining a healthy metabolism and reducing inflammation within the body.  It’s good for body composition, energy levels, sleep quality, mental attitude and quality of life.  It helps eliminate sugar cravings and reestablishes a healthy relationship with food.  It also works to minimize your risk for a whole host of lifestyle diseases and conditions, like diabetes, heart attack, stroke and autoimmune.

I have to say that things are going very, very well.

After the holidays, I was stuffed. I indulged myself a wee bit too much, and eating nothing but whole foods really has removed the bloat I was feeling at the start of the month. I’m working hard to get to sleep before midnight (a real challenge for me) and I’m seeing a noticeable difference in my energy levels in a good way.

The hardest thing for me is not stepping on the scale. Although  not touted as a way to lose weight, many do on the Whole30, and my experience in August saw a nice increase in fat loss and decrease in weight. But, I’ve been a good boy. I weighed myself at the beginning of the month, and then I put away the scale in the closet. I’ll check again on Jan. 31, but I knew I’d be too tempted if I just left it lying on the bathroom floor.

I’m excited to see what the next 15 days holds for me. I can feel a difference in my clothing; I was able to get into a particular shirt I called the “skinny shirt” on Sunday, so I know things are going well. And I’m down a notch in my belt, which is fantastic.

What I think is most interesting whenever I eat clean is how my cravings for sweet things get reduced to nothing. And the sweet things I do have — an orange or a banana here and there — taste so incredibly sweet that they become a real treat.

So here’s to another 15 days of clean eating. And if you’re thinking of doing something like this, check out www.whole30.com. It might just change your life!

In review: 2013

December 31st, 2013 § 3

“We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” - C. S. Lewis

As it is the time for such a thing, I continue my annual year in review. Although I am not yet content enough to declare victory, I am satisfied enough to lay claim to progress.

And so, I ask myself the all important question: “How did I do?”

Accomplishments

  • Coding with Coda – A book about one of my favorite text editors was released in January. In retrospect, there are a few things I wish I would have done different. Perhaps I’ll get the opportunity to rectify that in a second edition sometime in the future.
  • DrupalCon Portland – My first work trip with my new co-workers was a fantastic success. I learned a ton about the software that is my bread and butter, and got to learn a lot about the wonderful community that makes up Drupal.
  • Getting healthier – In March I started on a wellness journey at nearly 250 lbs., and had some excellent progress this year. For years I was unable to get below 240 lbs. By June, I was at 229 lbs., and have kept the weight off. I still lift weights regularly and have learned to control the relationship I have with food.
  • Ten years – In July my wife, Amy, and I celebrated 10 years of marriage with an oddly bizarre but fun trip running around in Arkansas. Although I was sure we’d have nothing to talk about after a few days, it ended up being an excellent trip and a chance to get be reintroduced to the woman I live with.
  • Paid off credit cards – Although we used to be much better with finances and had zero credit cards, we fell back into the trap over the last few years. After our vacation, Amy and I decided to get back to our better ways and started paying off credit cards. I sold my motorcycle to kickstart the process and took on an extra web development job for some added cash. In early December, we killed off the largest credit card we had, paying off around $6,000 in four months. I sacrificed a lot of sleep and some workouts, but it was worth it.

Goals

If 2013 was defined by progress, then 2014 will be a continuation toward bigger goals. So where am I going?

  • The Whole30 – One of my most successful months was fueled by the Whole30 diet, which I will start on Jan. 1. It’s very strict, and very limited to non-inflammatory whole foods, and I just feel like doing it again (especially after the sugar-filled final days of December).
  • The Final Debt – The last debt (aside from our home) we have is our student loan debt, and it’s kind of a monster. Since we’re following the Dave Rasmey Debt Snowball plan, this is next/last on the list. Thanks to the work we did this year, we will be paying extra on our student loans for the first time since we got married. It’s going to be a long haul, but at least we’re finally making progress.
  • Obstacle Race – For some reason I want to do either a Warrior Dash or Tough Mudder race. I can’t explain it; I just want to do it. My training will begin Jan. 1 and I’ll evaluate in a couple of months if I’m ready to race in the spring. If not, then I’ll shoot for a fall event.
  • Build Something – I have a desire to build something for my girls: definitely a bookshelf, quite possibly a bunk bed, maybe both. I hate cheap crap that is often found in the stores, and for the cost of the good stuff I could make it cheaper. Mainly, I just want to make something for them, by me. They give me so much, I want to give them this in return.
  • House projects – A holdover from 2013: Painting, fixing and other little touches have been swept under the rug for awhile. I really need to rectify this in 2014. Really!
  • New projects – Technically a holdover last year, but only because I essentially shut down many areas of my life to focus on wellness. So again, I’ll say this: I have some ideas but I’ll keep those quiet for now.
  • Pursue minimalism – I’ve toyed around with paring things down. I have success here and there, but nothing I’m quite happy with. Hopefully I can make 2014 much more with much less.

Loss

  • Miscarriage – We got pregnant, then lost it early in the year. Not really much else I want to say about that.

Your turn. What goals do you have for next year?

Why I told my kids that Santa isn’t real

December 24th, 2013 § 3

Last night, my wife and I told our children that Santa Claus isn’t real.

It might be difficult to under the duality of this: it was a difficult choice to make, and it was also imperative that we do so. Allow me to explain.

Long before I had children I had it in my head I was going to be upfront with my kids about Santa. I’m not quite sure how it happened (perhaps the blame can come from being a tired, shirt-stained-with-baby-puke new dad), but it got away from me. Before long, I was on a sleigh ride out of my control.

Last week, Ember got some mail that had in it a map of the world. She loves it. We taped it to the wall and she started investigating her new treasure. “Have you ever been there? Mommy’s been there! Oh, look, there’s Portland (where I attended DrupalCon this year)!” And then she saw Antarctica.

“Is that where Santa lives,” she asked?

“No. He lives at the North Pole,” I said.

You big *&^%&# liar. So much for the truth, eh?

Strike one, as they say.

Fast forward to Sunday. I stumbled across the knowledge that Ember thought we lied to her earlier this year about Amy’s pregnancy. I was devastated. She didn’t understand that we had lost the pregnancy, and since the baby didn’t show up, we must have lied to her.

Strike two.

My league only allows for two strikes, especially after Sunday’s doozy. After thinking about it for most of the day yesterday, I knew what had to be done. Amy and I discussed it, and proceeded with the truth.

Remi didn’t seem to care (or maybe she doesn’t quite understand), but Ember was a big bag of tears. We talked through it and got to the core the issue: She was really hoping for a certain gift (having been through months of “No you can’t get that, Christmas is coming”) and thought Santa was the only way that could happen.

We assured her: there will be gifts. There will be gifts because we love them and want to give them some presents. We told her the cruel, hard truth: mommy and daddy work hard to provide for our family. We told them both that we will give them presents not because of some list that tracks rights and wrongs, but simply because we love them very, very much.

The tears went away. The smile reappeared. And a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I actually felt lighter.

(And yes, in case you’re wondering: we’ve warned them that not every parent decides to tell their kids this news, so she should keep quiet for now.)

And so, I tucked my sweet little girls into their beds, gave kisses and hugs and said good night. The last thing Ember said assured me I had made the right decision.

“Maybe you can dress up as Santa Claus,” she said with a smile.

I think that’s an excellent idea.

Standby

May 19th, 2013 § 1

This is a post from Terminal B of Kansas City International Airport (MCI).

The thrill of flying is gone. Man, this used to be an exciting experience for me. But after today, I’m not sure I’ll ever fly again.

I get to the airport one hour and 15 minutes before departure. I was flying on Southwest, so I get into the terminal and proceed to the long line at the first Southwest ticketing area. I got into the slow-moving line at one hour before departure time, and calmly waited until it was my turn to get my ticket.

But wait! I didn’t get a ticket. I got a piece of paper that would allow me to get a ticket.

Um, OK.

So I make my way to the security theatre where a whopping staff of two TSA agents were checking IDs. This was a nightmare. It was moving so slowly because there were about a hundred people in line. At this point, I start to get worried.

And then it was time for the buckets.

You know, where you take off your shoes, take your laptop out, take off your belt and then go through the x-ray scanner. Of course, I opted out of the x-ray for a patdown. Lovely.

And then, finally. I made it to Gate 43. The woman looked at my worthless piece of paper and said “Oh, you’ll need to go to the ticket desk.”

So I did. They looked it over.

“Oh, you’ll need to go to the other ticket desk.”

Oh no. So I did. I can see the plane. I’m right there. I’m staring at it. My co-worker going to the same conference as me is texting me from inside. I completely interrupt the ticket person to see if I can get on the plane.

“Oh, sorry. It’s too late to board that plane.”

Crushed.

And so, I’m on standby. Stuck. I feel like I let down my employer. If I would have gotten here two and a half hours earlier, if I would have been a total jerk and shoved my way through the line, I would be on that plane.

But I didn’t. I was in line for an hour. And now, I’m just angry and I never want to fly again.

Giving up pop

April 24th, 2013 § 2

no-quitting

Today is a big day for me.

On Saturday, March 23, I asked my wife, Amy, to pick me up a two liter bottle of Diet Mountain Dew while she was at the store. To have her pick me up my favorite drink was a fairly common request. Not a big deal. However, this time, she screwed up.

She bought me a 20 oz. bottle instead. Not a big deal, really, but it accidentally set in motion a course that I really didn’t think would happen.

The next day, I gave up drinking diet pop completely.

At first, I wasn’t sure that I could make it. In fact, sometimes I’m still not sure. But day by day, I refused my indulgence. I’m not sure how I did it, but somehow, I kept saying, “no.” And now, one month later, I haven’t had a drop of diet soda.

The axiom rings true: success is a process, not an event.

When I started my professional career in the year 2000, I was a heavy Mr. Pibb drinker. Oh man, did I love that stuff. Dr. Pepper would suffice, too, and my waistline showed just how much I loved it.

In time, I would decide that all the extra calories weren’t for me. So, I switched to Diet Dr. Pepper. That was a main staple for a few years until I found Diet Mountain Dew. Then, I was hooked.

I loved how it tasted sweet, like the real thing, and had zero calories. It couldn’t be bad since it had no calories, right?

Well, maybe not.

The first few days off it weren’t bad, but I was definitely tempted by my habit. I’d go to the pop machine almost in a daze, “wake up,” then walk back to my desk. I drank water, unsweetened tea, black coffee, green tea. If it had an artifical sweetener in it, I would resist.

In parallel, I also decided to start back at the gym. I was doing really well with a healthy lifestyle toward the end of last year, but a job change and a new commute brought everything back to chaos. Sadly, I gained the weight back that I had dropped before the job change (which happened in December and certainly didn’t help with all the good food around). While I can’t say that giving up pop led entirely to me getting back on the wagon, I can certainly say that it helped.

After a few days of resistance, I noticed that my cravings for sweet things had diminshed a lot. Now it’s practically zero. Some of that also has to do with my diet, but that’s for another day. But not craving sweet food during the day has really helped. Coupled with a dietary change and regular exercise, I’m down 12 lbs. That’s five more than when I started the new job, but certainly a reversal I’m proud of in only a month’s time.

Yesterday, Amy sent me a picture of a squirrel outside our home, going to great lengths to get to our bird feeder. I had to laugh because it made me think of the last month. I’ve been constantly telling myself, “Don’t quit.” The reward would be worth it. I had to stick it out. I had to keep going.

Indeed, the reward has been worth it. I have more money in my pocket and I don’t feel like I’m a slave to “needing” a soda anymore. I hope it continues. I’m going to work hard to make sure it does.

And although I’m tempted to run out and grab a 20 ouncer to celebrate, I think I’ll go grab a glass of ice water instead.