Friday, May 25, 2012

My First Injury Setback Along My Journey

Dealing With a Pulled Gluteal Muscle

As I posted quite a while ago, I began doing the "Insanity" workout almost two months ago, and I have achieved substantial results with more weight lost, and more importantly, more inches off my waist and other place, and most importantly, I feel incredible!

However, a couple days ago, I pulled my right gluteal muscle while doing a stretch from on of the Insanity DVDs so I have had to take a couple days off.  In fact, I looked up the recovery time for the type of injury I sustained and it is approximately about a week.  To recover, I have used Icy Hot on the sore muscle area, and taken Acetaminophen for pain.  I plan on icing it as often as possible for the quickest recovery possible.

Whenever I had hurt myself in my past attempts to get fit, I tended to feel sorry for myself, and admit that the task was impossible, surrendering my ambitions in the process.  However, this time, I am just going to take a break because I did go hard for almost a couple of months and my muscles need a break so I will give that to them.  However, I'm hopeful that the break will not be that long, just long enough for recovery so I can get back to it.  In the mean time, I am going to especially stay on the straight and narrow in a nutritional sense so I do not gain any weight back.

That is why I used the word, "journey", in the title of my blog because that is exactly what I am on, and like most journeys, there are bound to be bumps in the road but I will reach my destination.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Let the INSANITY Begin!

My First Day of INSANITY 

Opting for the convenience of working out at home, I decided to cancel the Planet Fitness membership and order Shawn T's Insanity Program, which I discovered while watching an infomercial.
The package was delivered on Saturday, April 21 and I immediately tore open the box because I was so excited.  I spent the entire weekend reading the nutrition guide, taking my initial measurements, having my wife shoot my "before" photos, and setting up my profile.  You know, all the basic preparation stuff.
When I get my self into something, such as this program, I like to go all out and learn as much as I can so I don't go into it blindly, and thus miss out on all the potential results I could of had if I would have been more informed.
As I progress through the program, I will be posting my results and my opinion of the program in case others of you out there may be considering giving it a try.  I don't plan on quitting any time soon and I will keep working my way through Insanity until I achieve insane results and beyond.  
My first workout was the "Fit Test" DVD, which consisted of different types of jumps and push-ups.  Needless to say, I am not in shape!  However, I WILL get there!  God has given me a new mind and now it is just time to get the body to catch up to my mind.

New Living Translation (©2007)
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ROMANS 12:2

Monday, April 16, 2012

I Failed but I Am NOT a Failure!

For a few months now, I have been liberated from the power that sugar had over me, well, until yesterday when I gave into my temptation to put Whoppers Robin Eggs into my mouth.  I sucked them down like my mouth was a vacuum or a tractor beam.  

In the past, I would have closed down shop and any dreams I that I had about living a healthy life because I thought, "I obviously cannot do this so why even try".  
The enemy and adversary of our soul would love for me to think a thought like that this time around because if he can keep me from smiling and being an effective Kingdom worker, he can prevent countless others from gaining Kingdom access.  

This is because the Joy of the Lord is my strength.  No joy = no strength!  It is time to get back on the horse and in the terrain of thought that nothing good will happen in my life if I continue to put poison in my mouth.  God never intended this kind of stuff to enter the human mouth, and I will rely on the Holy Spirit to block this junk from entering my mouth again.

I may have failed but I am no failure.  There may be battles along my way to Heaven which I may lose but in Jesus' Name, I WILL win the war!

"For a just man falls seven times, and rises up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief". Proverbs 24:16
American King James Version

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Most Non-restrictive Diet Plan Ever!

Truly Enjoying Food for the First Time

For the first time in my life, I am truly enjoying a wide array of every kind of food that God created.  I have began to experiment with food items that I have never even heard of not alone consumed.  For example, one of my new favorites is quinoa, which according to Wikipedia, contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it a complete protein source.[13] It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA's Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration human occupied spaceflights.

Another two of my new favorites include kale and arugula.  Kale is very high in beta carotenevitamin Kvitamin Cluteinzeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Kale, as with broccoli and other brassicas, contains sulforaphane (particularly when chopped or minced), a chemical with potent anti-cancer properties.[1] Boiling decreases the level of sulforaphane; however, steamingmicrowaving, or stir frying do not result in significant loss.[2]Along with other brassica vegetables, kale is also a source of indole-3-carbinol, a chemical which boosts DNA repair in cells and appears to block the growth of cancer cells.[3][4] Kale is also a good source of carotenoids.[5]  

Arugula (Eruca vesicaria sativa) is a leafy green herb of the mustard family. Known also as rocket, Italian cress, roquette, and rucola, arugula has elongated dark green leaves that are lobed like the leaves of an oak. In the ground, the plant resembles a loose lettuce with long, slender leaves.
Arugula is related to both the radish and watercress, and the flavor of the leaves is similarly hot and peppery. The leaves can be between 3 and 8 inches (7.5–20 centimeters) in length, depending on the maturity of the leaf. Native to the Mediterranean region, arugula has been grown as a vegetable since the Roman era. The Romans ate the leaves as a vegetable, used the seeds to flavor oil, and made aphrodisiac and medicinal compounds from the plant.
Arugula is very low in calories and is a good source of vitamins A and C, folatecalcium, andmagnesium. It can be eaten raw, added to salads with other salad greens, or cooked. It is excellent sauteed lightly in olive oil or steamed and added to pasta dishes. Arugula can also be made into pesto and served with pasta or potatoes or as an accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats.
Finally, I also finally decided to give sushi a try.  Contrary to popular belief, sushi is not raw fish.  The word sushi actually means, "seasoned rice".  I decided to give it a try in light of "The Hangover" star, Jonah Hill's weight loss success secret being sushi.  I particularly like the dragon roll and the California roll, which can be purchased at most grocery stores.  Be careful about not using the sauces that comes with the sushi though as most contains mono sodium glutamate, which is a harmful ingredient to human beings, especially human beings trying to get healthy and lose weight!
In conclusion, I just wanted to say that I have found many recipes online to diversify my diet with everything that God has made, and am feeling the most healthy that I have felt in a long time.  I am trying my best to just stick to foods that do not have an ingredient list, or at least a very small list, consisting of five or less whole organic ingredients on the label, and avoiding foods with ingredients that I cannot pronounce.  This is the most liberal diet that I have ever followed as I can eat carbs, fats, proteins, and even homemade sweet stuff using stevia, honey, and fruit as the sweetener.  Stevia is a natural plant-based sweetener like sugar cane but is calorie free, and will not rot your brain cells like chemically-based alternative sweeteners, such as Nutrasweet, Equal, Sweet n' Low, and Splenda.
How We as God's People Should Eat in Modern Babylon

 8 But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. 9 Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, 10 but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your[c] food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”
 11 Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 12“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.” 14 So he agreed to this and tested them for ten days.
 15 At the end of the ten days they looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. 16 So the guard took away their choice food and the wine they were to drink and gave them vegetables instead.
 17 To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

18 At the end of the time set by the king to bring them into his service, the chief official presented them to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king’s service. 20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king questioned them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom.

In our time, we the majority of the population believes that we can be healthy by eating the manufactured, process junk that sits on our grocery store shelves and in our fast food restaurants.  It is time for the true believers in Christ to live better than the unbelieving, for our faces to be radiant and victorious so that we can have a testimony that others will want to seek out.  How can we reflect the Glory of the Lord if we look sick and defeated?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Turbocharging My Metabolism

While I have tried every diet pill on the market, and all  they have mostly done is put me in Emergency Room, I have opted for a natural supplement to boost my sluggish metabolism.  From the beginning, I have wanted this journey to be about reclaiming my health in Jesus' Name, and not to be about losing as much weight as fast as I can.  That is why I condemn procedures such as lap-band surgery, and all diet pills, because they might promote weight loss but damage a person's overall health.

My supplement of choice is Forskolin, which I heard about on an episode of Dr. Oz, which is supposed to promote belly fat burning, and also helps in other health areas, such as blood pressure reduction, and can also help one get a good night sleep.  The brand that I ordered is called C-Bolic by Better Body Sports.  This brand boasts a higher concentration of Forskolin.  

Watch the following video for Forskolin benefits:

I am going to chart my progress after adding this supplement to my regular healthy nutrition and exercise program to see if there is any difference, and from there I will make my recommendation for or against this program.

"18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame; who set their mind on earthly things" Phillippians 3:18-19

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Milestone: 20 Pounds Lost!

First Goal Reached!  
As with any journey or trip, there are points and stops along the way that makes us reflect on how far we have come so far from our starting point to our destination.  While I have no precise destination of how many pounds I want to lose, and overall health and fitness is my goal, it is a blessing to see the number on the scale get lower.

Today, I am celebrating that number on the scale lowering down to 296, thus losing a total of 20 pounds, reaching my first checkpoint on my journey.  More importantly, I feel healthier, my clothes fit better, and I am not showing any signs of relapsing and slowing down anytime soon.

Any day now, my daughter, Olivia will be born, and I want to have the energy to be an outstanding father, full of life and energy, to her and Isaiah.  I want to model an abundant life in Christ to my children.  This resolve was especially strengthened in my soul after watching the movie, "Courageous", last night.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."  Joshua 1:9
New International Version (©1984)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Comforter

Who or what is the comforter in your life?  Where do you turn when life makes you anxious, stressed, and fearful?  For me, the answer to that question has been clearly, food, for most of my life.  I have often lied to myself and others by saying that God, The Holy Spirit, is my Comforter.  However, the amount of pounds that added around my waistline over the years, from eating ice cream and brownies, tell the real truth.  

This week, I had a job interview for a customer service representative position, in which I had already made it through four different assessments/prerequisites for the interview itself.  I thought that they would offer me a position at the interview but drove home disappointed at the thought of waiting some more for confirmation.  I was told that I had to wait two more weeks to find out if the job was mine.  A situation like this would have previously led to a binge on sweets as an anxiety cure.  This time, I instead actually turned to my God and Savior to help take the anxiety from me.  I still ate some food in response to my stress but it was a healthy alternative, consisting of a cup of strawberry Greek yogurt.  God helped me to make a healthy choice and to not give in completely to my fleshly desires.  This is a huge step toward victory in my life, and I will continue to walk with Jesus to the finish line!

Whitney Houston/Mariah Carey "When You Believe"

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6-7)

Saturday, February 18, 2012


In my past attempts to lose weight and feel great, I have always had the tendency to go all out at the gym, working out for two hours per day and 6 days per week.  This always led to some sort of an injury and ultimately, me giving up on my mission.  I almost fell into this same trap this time around.  

My trainer, at my request, set me up with a 6-day fitness program.  Today would have been my sixth day at the gym but feeling extremely sore, I decided to give it a rest.  Most would say that this is a lazy decision, including me.  However, I reminded myself that this is a lifetime journey that I am on, not a race.  I am going to lose my weight!  It is just going to take time and causing injury to myself by trying to lose the weight as fast as I can is not going to get me there.  It would just end up in another failure.

I have come to the conclusion that the best way for me to sustain my fitness program is to make the 6th day of my program optional with Sundays being my day of rest.  I have to realize that there is no shame in adapting my program to add "some" rest into the equation.  Even if I workout only five days per week, that is still five times more days than I was previously exercising.  I just have to be careful to not keep trimming my program down until I no longer have one.

With that said, I just wanted to share a song with you that has really been an inspiration to me, to tell myself not to give up.  It is a song by Toby Mac, called "Get Back Up":

Philippians 1:6

English Standard Version (ESV)
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

BACK to the Gym?

Day 5

Have you ever said to yourself, "I don't have time to exercise".  Well, it was tempting for me to say that today because of the list errands that my family and  I had to complete.

The first thing in the morning, right after breakfast, was a routine doctor's appointment for my wife because she is 31 weeks pregnant with our expectant daughter.  Everything turned out well at the appointment and everything is going according to schedule.

After the appointment, we stopped by Walgreen's to get a snack.  I ate one of those peanut caramel crunch Smart Protein Bars, made by MuscleTech, which was the yummiest protein bar that I have ever tried.  Some of the past ones that I tried either tasted like chalk or had health- destructive high fructose corn syrup as one of the ingredients.

This snack trip was followed by a trip to Little Chick shoe store so Isaiah, my two-year-old son, could try on some shoes because he is growing quickly.  However, to my amazement, his current shoes still fit, at least maybe for another day or two, so we didn't buy any shoes.  After the shoe shopping, we went shopping for food at the Natural Health Food store, and then we were going to go shopping for more food at Aldi.  However, Isaiah fell asleep in the van so we went home and postponed the shopping trip for later today.  After all this shopping, I was wiped out and certainly did not feel like working out.

I knew that I had to overcome this sluggish feeling and put my flesh in check if I am ever going to be victorious in my journey, and in my life.  That is why I decided to work out in spite of my sluggishness. I knew that if I didn't go today, I might not go work-out tomorrow or ever again.  Today's fitness program had me working out my back muscles, followed by 20-30 minutes of cardio.  I did three sets of back exercises on the three back muscle machines at Planet Fitness, and I have to admit that I didn't do the full 30 minutes of cardio.  However, I did do 20 minutes.  It is my understanding that I am not going to be perfect in my quest to live healthy but trying is better than doing nothing at all.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

English Standard Version (ESV)
 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[a] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
  1. 1 Corinthians 9:27 Greek I pummel my body and make it a slave

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

ABSolutely Wonderful

Day 4

Today, I hit the gym hard after a breakfast sandwich, which consisted of eggs, turkey ham, and real mayonnaise on whole wheat bread.  
The focus areas of my body were my chest and abs.  I completed three sets of chest exercises on the machines, and then went to the ab circuit training area at Planet Fitness.  

My program is supposed to consist of 12 minutes doing the ab circuit; however, I did that first ab crunch, and it felt like I was punched in the stomach by a combination of Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson at the prime of their careers.  I felt like giving up at this point but I decided to rest for a minute and get back at it.  My favorite ab workout machine was the Ab Coaster, a machine that I once coveted, which is almost like a ride and an exercise at the same time.  I completed 8 out of the 12 recommended minutes, not bad for the first time working my abs in years.

Afterward, I treated myself to an exercise dessert of 30 minutes of cardio on the Arc Trainer.  I ended my routine with some stretching and went home to drink a protein fruit smoothie.

For lunch, I mixed some mandarin oranges, a can of albacore tuna, and some mayonnaise in a bowl, and ate it with a spoon.  For dinner, I ate a healthy meal from Panera Bread, a half chicken sandwich with hummus and tomatoes on whole grain bread, along with some black bean soup and an apple.  The total calories from the meal was only 450 calories, with 25 grams of protein and a whopping 18 grams of fiber!

I finished my day off with a little bit of dark chocolate and a few sips of red wine.  My abs are still sore but I am gaining energy, and I cannot wait to work out some more!

Romans 8:5-6

Amplified Bible (AMP)
5For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and [a]pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and [b]seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. 6Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that [c]comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].

Monday, February 13, 2012

Getting with the Program

Day Three

Planet FitnessToday, I had my first appointment with a fitness trainer at Planet Fitness.  His name was Shawn, and he showed my how to properly use the equipment, and designed a fitness program which was tailored to my goal to simply shake this fat off of my body. 

The program consisted of working out for an hour per day, six days per week, consisting of 30 minutes of strength training followed by 30 minutes of cardio.  
Each day isolates a different muscle group.  For example, on Mondays I will just do the machines that strengthen my back.  On Tuesday, Legs, and so forth.  On Saturdays, I will do circuit training, which is a simultaneous combination of strength training and cardio.  

My choice of machine for cardio is a machine called the Arc Trainer, which is kind of like an elliptical machine but has a more fluid ice skating type of motion.  I have seen these machines before but never used one until Shawn recommended it to me and showed me how to use it.  I tried the machine out for 30 minutes today and had a blast.

All in all, I love the environment at Planet Fitness, and the low cost.  It is only $1 to get started and only $10 per month after that, with unlimited personal training.  I recommend that anyone, looking to get started on the path to health, check this place out. 
 There are several locations across the U.S.  For more information, check out the website.  I am overly excited about how much better I feel already, and I cannot wait for tomorrow's workout.

As far as my nutrition aspect of my journey, I began the day with some high-fiber Kashi cereal with bananas.  After my workout, I made a protein shake with coconut milk, bananas, a small orange, and some whey protein powder.  It tasted like an orange cream-sickle and was delicious.  
For lunch, I had some healthy home-made chicken tenders that my wife made, using whole wheat flour for the breading.  I also became familiarized with salad again by eating spinach leaves covered in a low-calorie yogurt ranch dressing.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.  Vegetables, in my former mindset, was solely for the rabbits to eat.  However, this is no longer my thought if I want to live a healthy, vibrant lifestyle, and I do!

Philippians 4:13 Amplified Bible (AMP)
"I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency]".

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Enemy's Obstacles

Hello, it is Day Two in my journey to transform my health and my life, and Satan has already tried to throw some stumbling blocks onto my path.  Yesterday, just after signing up for a gym membership at Planet Fitness, and having had my first work-out, I came home and discussed with my wife about how awesome the gym was, and how great I felt.  We were discussing what it would feel like for us to both be healthy and fit, when all of a sudden, the door bell rang.  I answered the door to see who it was, and to my humor, it was a little girl selling Girl Scout Cookies with her mother's help.  I felt bad laughing at the little girl and her mom, and I had to quickly explain that my wife and I were just discussing living healthy lives, which made the little girl's mom crack up and say, " I guess that's a no then".  I quickly replied, "yep".  It was a crafty attempt by the enemy to thwart my plans, I must admit.  Those Samoans sure are tasty!

In addition to this quick temptation coming my way, I faced other challenges while at working today.  I work as a cashier for Walgreen, and today, all the junk food that I ate toward the end of the week was at war with the healthy food that I ate during the last couple of days.  This war wreaked havoc on my body, and led to frequent trips to the restroom.  Needless to say, it wasn't a fun day at work.
Also, as a Walgreens cashier, I am responsible for scanning all kinds of food items, and it seemed like all my customers today decided to buy all of my "former" favorite junk foods, including my very (former) favorite Half-baked Ben and Jerry's ice cream.  I am also required in my position to suggest to customers that they should add promotional candy bars, such as Reese's and Snickers, to their purchases, also former favorites of mine.  I was thinking that I need a new job if I am going to successfully lose weight and feel great.

God really helped me to resist temptation today.  He helped me by bringing to mind what victory will look and feel like, playing with my kids, and being a better husband and employee.  When I weighed my options, sweets vs. life, life won over my mentality today.  Satan lost the battle today but I know he will be back because he does not want to see a joyful, victorious Christ follower because victorious Christ followers have the power to change the world, to lead people from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God.

New International Version (©1984)
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Journey Begins

Hi, my name is Mike Russell.
I am 5'9" and I currently weigh 300 pounds!  I have constructed this prison of fat around me over a course of four years, and have decided today to break free today by choosing to live a healthy lifestyle, including a diet of only natural foods straight from the finger of God and a daily dose of exercise. 

My most important key to success will be prayer and devotion to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  
He is the One that said in John 10:10: 
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (NIV).

Up until now, I have not lived life to the full.  I have not enjoyed activities that I would like to do such as play sports.  Shopping for and fitting in clothes has even been a challenge.  

I have not even been able to eat an ounce of food without the food police (relatives, friends, and strangers) giving me the evil eye.  This is no life to have.  
How can I proclaim victory in Christ if I am fat, sick, and nearly dead?

My wife, two-year-old son, and my daughter due in April deserve better from me.  My son wonders why I cannot play with him because I get out of breath so easy.  I refuse to let him live the same childhood that I lived through, one that involved bullying because of my obesity. Therefore, I will live by example from this day forward.

Today, I began a gym membership at Planet Fitness and worked out for the first time on this journey.  I worked out for 20 minutes on an elliptical machine and it felt great!  Over the course of the next year and beyond, I am going to be updating my daily progress on this journey to reclaim my health in Jesus' Name.  

Feel free to come on this journey with me if you are tired of not living the abundant life that Jesus died for you to have!