You Can’t Do It Alone! You Just Can’t!

I woke up this morning at about 3:45. I got up and had a sip of a Diet Dr. Pepper and laid back down. As anyone who ever finds themselves flipping through the 945 channels on cable that early in the morning, about 927 of those channels are playing infomercials. I scanned through the plethora of offerings of such cutting edge products as pads that remove the toxins from your body through the bottoms of your feet, the “magic bullet”(it’s a blender), various devices that can get healthy juice out of a watermelon rind(shouldn’t that be thrown in the garbage?), and spray-on hair among others.

The ones that really jumped out at me, though, were the ones that promised to make me skinny quickly and easily no matter what I ate or how little I exercised. One guy said he took this little pill, which had been “clinically tested”, and he was able to lose weight while eating whatever he wanted. Another woman on the same commercial said, “You can’t do it on your own! You just can’t!” They lie.

I’m no health nut, but I am healthier than I was six years ago. Six years ago, I weighed 240 lbs. I ate what I wanted, when I wanted and I was miserable. I finally woke up one day, probably after passing out from tying my shoes, and decided to do something about it. A friend talked me into buying a bicycle and all of a sudden, exercise became fun! Then, in March of 2008, I ran into my high school tennis coach at an ice-cream shop. She told me she had just run her first marathon at Disney World. She never thought she could do it, but she did. Two days later, I bought a pair of running shoes. I started off by running for one minute and walking for two. After a week or so, I began running for two minutes and walking for one. Within a month or so, I was able to run a mile without stopping! In May of that year I ran my first race, slowly! It was the Jubilee Cityfest 2-mile fun run in Montgomery and a guy who was running in brown loafers and blue-jeans stayed right with me almost the whole race. At least I looked like a runner. It took me almost 24 minutes to finish but at least I did it and got the t-shirt! It felt great!

Today, I’m 40 years old and my weight hovers between 195 and 200 lbs. I run at least 3.1 miles every other day and cycle as much as 40 to 50 miles on the weekends. Last summer I rode 62 miles through some of the hilliest country I had ever been through. It took about 4 hours to ride the whole 62 miles. It was hard, but so much fun! I’m not saying these things to brag. I have lots of friends who run and ride a lot further than that and one who will be doing his first full Ironman Triathlon in the next couple of months. 200 lbs. is still quite a bit heavier than I need to be and when I run, I’m painfully slow. My wife can attest to this fact. But the simple fact is this: I lost weight and got in better shape because I made up my mind to. I got my big, fat rear-end off the couch, started being more careful about what I ate, and I simply did it. There is no proverbial magic bullet that can make you lose weight without changing your lifestyle. Not one that is safe, at least. I always thought Hydroxycut might be good to try. I never did, thank goodness, because the FDA said just a few weeks ago that Hydroxycut has been linked to liver damage and the product has been recalled.

There are things that can help. I know there are various surgeries and supplements that can help someone lose weight. But even these things require lifestyle changes. You can have gastric bypass surgery and lose a lot of weight quickly, but if you start eating the same way you were eating before surgery, you’re just going to end up fat again. What a giant waste of time that would be.

If you want to lose weight and be healthier, you have to understand that it takes hard work and at least a modicum of discipline. It takes a little suffering, too. Actually, maybe a bit more than a little. I haven’t been on a run yet where I didn’t wonder to myself, sometimes aloud, “Why am I doing this? This is not fun!” But when I’m done I feel incredible! That’s one reason why I continue to do it. To know that I can push myself through the suffering and finish a run or a ride when I want to quit gives me a tremendous sense of accomplishment. It motivates me to continue when I feel my pants not so tight around my waist and I have to tighten my belt up a notch or two. The day I realized that an XL t-shirt was too big for me was a liberating one!

I’ve still got work to do and I’m not yet where I want to be. But I’m setting goals and reaching them, albeit slowly sometimes. There are ups and downs and days when I don’t feel like getting off the couch. Sometimes the couch wins. But most of the time, even when the couch seems to be winning, I force myself to lace up my running shoes and walk out the door and run. I haven’t regretted it one, single, solitary time. As a result, I’m probably in better shape now, at 40, than I have been for the better part of the last 20 years.

The hardest part is starting, just getting out the door. Just remember that you don’t have to run a half-marathon your first time out. Maybe you just put on your old sneakers instead of your flip-flops and jog to the mailbox rather than walk. That’s more than you did yesterday. Perhaps that’s the key. Do a little bit more today than you did yesterday. Maybe in a few weeks you’ll run a lap around your neighborhood without stopping. Heck, you might even find yourself actually paying someone to let you run 5 kilometers early on a Saturday morning for a t-shirt and some post-race fruit and cookies. Don’t laugh, it happened to me! It also happened to my wife and now we look forward to running together(she is much faster than me). Set goals and work to reach them. It won’t be easy but I promise you that you can do it and you won’t regret it.

Then maybe you can reward yourself by buying a George Foreman Grill or a Snuggie! Just stay away from the Lipozene! Because you can do it on your own. You just can!


Electronic Cigarettes?

Okay. I don’t post a lot of external links here but I couldn’t pass this one up. Ever heard of electronic cigarettes? Me either. Until now. I actually went to Junior High with the guy who distributes these. Just thought some of you would find this interesting and odd. Take a look…
Ozark Firm Distributes Electronic Cigarettes


We talked about this on my Facebook page for the blog a few weeks ago. If anyone is still interested, I’m going to be ordering some t-shirts in the next couple of weeks. It will just be a picture of the logo at the top of the blog page with the title of the blog. If you’d like one, they’ll be $10.00 which will cover the cost of producing the shirt. Specify the size you’d like and whether you’d like a black or a white shirt. The color that gets the most requests will be the color we’ll order. As far as paying for the shirts, If you are in the Wetumpka area, you can come by my work. I am at Bridgeway Wireless in downtown Wetumpka, directly across from the Wetumpmka Civic Center and City Hall. If that won’t work, just let me know and we’ll figure out another way to do it. Email your size and color preference to me at I will place the order in a couple of weeks so that anyone who might want one has a chance to order one. Not that anyone will. Thanks!

By: Thad Hankins

Who says the art of conversation is dead?

That is sarcasm. Last night, I was sitting at the computer blogging/Facebooking while Gigi sat on the couch watching TV. We were about 30 feet apart, maybe. Rather than have a conversation face-to-face, we texted each other. About 15-20 times.

Then, this morning before I left for work, I was sitting out on the back patio in the swing. I opened the back door and announced to my wife that I was sitting in the swing for a few minutes if she wanted to join me. She did and we both sat, blackberry in hand, perusing Facebook for ten minutes.

It’s kind of funny. But it’s also sort of sad. I love to talk. I often talk too much. But it has become so easy to simply email or text message or use Facebook or Myspace or even write on a blog that I find myself in situations like this all the time. Too much of my time is spent staring at the flickering screen of the computer when there are three other human beings in my house I could be interacting with. I’m pretty sure that is not a good thing.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to bring actual verbal exchanges between people back to the forefront as a primary means of communication, send me a text. TTYL!

Ok…This is Awkward

By: Thad Hankins

I was at a family reunion yesterday for my wife’s family. Maybe forty or fifty people give or take a few. In the South, someone is always asked to say a blessing before eating. There was some discussion as to who it would be and when it was finally decided upon, my brother-in-law, Brad, began to pray. About five seconds into the prayer, some unfortunate soul decided that was the time to walk into the house through the front door. If you’ve never been the person who walks unaware into the midst of a group of hungry, praying southerners, all the while continuing the conversation you had started with someone outside, prior to the blessing, well, you don’t want to be. Trust me on this. I’ve been there. The voice that in reality may be only slightly louder than you might talk to someone in a library, becomes a scream in such a situation. Which got me to thinking about other embarrassing moments. Such as…

Waving at someone whom you think is waving at you, when they are actually waving at someone behind you. It can be tough turning a full-fledged wave into a stretch or a move to fix your hair. I never know how to react when this happens to me, regardless of whether I’m the waver or the faked-out wavee. If I’m the waver, I kind of want both people to think I was waving at them even if I’ve never met the guy I wasn’t waving at. If I’m the guy who waved incorrectly, I want to act like there is someone I’m waving at behind the guy who waved at the guy behind me. Whew. Turn the old tables on him!

This one may be unique to working in a phone store, but…answering a question that you think someone is asking you when they are actually asking someone on a bluetooth, wireless earpiece. I usually say out loud, “Well, I’m an idiot. You weren’t talking to me.” Luckily, they don’t hear that because they are so engrossed in the real conversation.

Then, there’s the time I extended my right hand to shake hands with a man who had no right hand. Awkward! The bad thing about that is I knew him, his name was Jim, and I was aware he didn’t have a right hand and I did it anyway. He kind of chuckled and grabbed my right hand with his left hand and that always feels really weird. Stupid me.

By the way, is it ever okay to shake someone’s hand as they are exiting the bathroom? Or worse, they have just turned around from doing their business and haven’t even made it to the sink to wash their hands yet? I have a friend who was at church one Sunday and had just finished his business at the urinal and turned around to head to the sink. He swears a guy said, “Hey Jojo(not his real name). How are you?” And reached out to shake his hand. My friend shook his hand. Gross.

Speaking of church, a friend and I once went to a revival service at his church which started at 7:00 p.m. We walked in while the congregation was singing and sat down about halfway to the front with some friends of ours. They finished the song and then the pastor called on someone to CLOSE the service in prayer and we left. Three minutes, tops. Apparently, church started at 6:00 p.m. I wondered why everyone was looking at us so funny.

And, of course, the old I’m walking along, I almost trip over an invisible rope, now I must jog for ten feet and look back to try and see the invisible guys who were holding the invisible rope.

I know this is sort of a pointless post but things have been kind of heavy here lately so I thought I’d try to lighten things up a bit. Ain’t life fun?!? Tell me some of your most embarrassing moments in the comments section below. Or, just laugh at me and say nothing, which is what most of you will do(minus the laughing, I suspect). Oh, and if anyone knows Steve Calloway, ask him about the time he and I were at McDonald’s one Sunday night after church and he ignored the elderly ladies who were trying to talk to him. He’ll know what you mean!

Confessions of a Displaced Debutante

By: Kimberly Hays

The funeral that Thad wrote about earlier this week was actually my Dad’s. A little expected, a little unexpected, but nonetheless I have found myself displaced right back to Wetumpka for the next little while. In all the visits, cards, and calls we have received this week I have heard one thing repeatedly. My dad was proud of the independent women he raised and of the independent woman he married. He was proud that my sister and I not only had the opportunity to receive a college education, but that we both seized that opportunity. He was also proud that we recognized that intelligence did not always come from a college classroom or a text book, but sometimes comes when a little girl sits around a kitchen table with her dad, grandpa, and uncles.

Dad and I were alike in too many ways to name, but politics was definitely our thing. I have read news magazines for as long as I remember being able to read, Rush Limbaugh played on television as I got ready for elementary school, and the State of the Union was our own personal Superbowl. Even after I left home, Dad and I would talk pre and post State of the Union and spend the next few days breaking the speech down play by play. It didn’t matter who was giving the speech, we weighed and debated just the same.

Even though I could probably guess, my dad never told me who he voted for – ever. He loved the secret ballot; he saw beauty in the democratic process (even when it didn’t go his way) and in open debate. No topic was off limits in our house, but I was always expected to carry on these debates with grace and respect for the individuals involved. We talked abortion, immigration, torture, civic responsibility and the list goes on. I did make a conscious choice to avoid discussing the war. My dad, grandpa, and great uncles were all career military men. Between them they covered every branch, every major conflict, were practically their own Joint Chiefs of Staff and only by the grace of God not court-martialed a hundred times over for raising hell. I never wanted my father to think that I was not grateful for his service and the service of the men (and the women and children who loved them) in my family. My dad was never in a war, but he served this country in a time that wearing his uniform would get him spat upon and called a ‘baby killer’. He and millions of other men and women served this country so I could be a woman with a PhD, so I could voice dissent over a war and so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, so I can be a Christian with a roommate who was raised Buddhist and plenty of friends who are atheist, and so I could support a political candidate by volunteering for his campaign and putting a sticker with his funny sounding name on my car.

Burying my dad was obviously not something I looked forward to doing this week. However, being surrounded by people who love me and reminiscing about my dad and his quirks has made the week easier. Today, however, I was hurt by the actions of a stranger, actions that flew in the face of everything that my dad served this country for and spent his life trying to teach me. Maybe you think you just ripped an Obama sticker off a car in a church parking lot, but instead you reminded my of the ignorance that my dad promised me I would encounter in life. You also reminded me to treat you with grace and respect. I think my dad would be proud of me.

P.S. Confidential to the Sticker Ripper – I have another one =)

Will the Real Extremist Please Stand Up?

By: Troy Evans

On June 10th of this year an ignorant anti-Semite, James von Brunn, walked into the U.S. Holocaust Museum and opened fire with a .22 rifle. In this incident a security guard, Stephen Johns, was mortally wounded.

In listening to the mainstream media, they have been quick to label this murdering old bigot as a “right-wing extremist”. Looking at what this man stands for, what part of the right wing’s platform does he agree with. The “right” or Republican Party has always been pro-Israel. Does it seem that this man was pro-Israel or does it seem that his hatred for Jews would make it impossible for him to align himself with a political party that has as one of the main pillars of its foreign policy, protecting Israel.

Mr. von Brunn is also of the belief that our government was behind 9/11, not very “right wing” of him there, either. I guess that since the left wants to label all conservatives as racist, that must be the reason he is being labeled as a “right wing extremist.” That is the only reason I can see for it. This man is a criminal and a domestic terrorist. For the blame to be placed anywhere else but squarely on his shoulders is wrong. Again, can someone please tell me what part of the Republican platform was he trying to advance by his actions? Nothing. Call him what you will. A murderer, a domestic terrorist, a cold blooded killer, a bigot, a racist, but don’t try to politicize a man’s death by calling him a “right wing” extremist.

Back on June 1st, another murder took place. Two U.S. Army recruiters were attacked. One soldier was killed and one was wounded. Where did this take place? Iraq, Afghanistan? No, Little Rock Arkansas. Was this man labeled a “left wing” extremist? No, only a Muslim convert. To make matters worse the killer, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, is saying that he does not think he murdered anyone because murder is when you kill someone without a justified reason. So this man thinks he is justified in killing members of the U.S. military in America because of our ongoing war on terror. Sorry my friend, but if you are going to try to place Mr. von Brunn in my camp then Mr. Muhammad is in yours. His view that America’s war on terror is an unjust war on Muslims certainly isn’t coming from the right.

To be clear, I am not saying that Democrats are responsible for what happened in Arkansas. Nor is any member of the right responsible for what happened in Washington, D.C. Both of these individuals planned and executed their deadly plots without any help from any political party. James von Brunn is not a right wing extremist any more than Muhammad is a product of the left. The fact that Chris Mathews, Lester Holt, and numerous other left-leaning media members plastered the label “right wing” on this man is simply wrong-headed. Three men died. Three families will never be the same. Three Americans were killed by demented, twisted thugs. Political parties should not have played any part in the reporting of either story. Sadly, in one case, they did.