Walmart, Why Doeth Thee Not Have My Ground Blind?

I used to go hunting with my brother, uncle and two friends.  In the Fall of 2014, I decided to get a ground blind somewhat close to when I was going to be driving to a different state to do the hunting.  I checked around and found that I could get one delivered to a Walmart along the way, as I was heading down to the cabin.

You can figure out from the below what happened.  When it did happen I wrote the below and submitted it to their online order website.  I wrote it in one sitting, without going back and editing.  When you read it you will also agree there was no editing, or spell checking, or grammar blah blah.  I just typed, and submitted.

I did not get a reply.


Dearest Walmart,

Walmart, how are you today? Good I hope. It’s been a while since you and I chatted so I thought I would take this occasion to send you an email.

You look nice today, has anyone told you that? No? Well you do.

Love the hair.

Last week I was looking for a ground blind and after much soul-searching I thought “Why not try my good friend Walmart?” It was the right choice. There was the ground blind I was looking for at a cheaper cost than I could get anywhere else!

I should not have been surprised. “Ah, it’s you….” I remember thinking when the realization hit that I would be purchasing my ground blind from you. I was on my laptop with a warm beverage curled up in a large chair on my back deck, the sun streaming through the trees.

A bird was also chirping.

My only concern was if my ground blind would arrive on time to leave for hunting in two Thursdays. Today was Tuesday and that would give 9 days to deliver. Imagine my delight when I noticed that it would arrive at my local Walmart (chosen carefully from the list of nearest Walmarts, all within 25 miles of my current location!) THIS COMING THURSDAY! Clearly doing business with you, Walmart, was the best choice!

I placed the order and went to bed, dreaming of being able to receive my arrival text (neat feature by the way!) and walk into my local Walmart and pick up my pre-paid ground blind! Walking into Walmart and hearing all the mom’s count to three so their kids know they mean business as well as smelling the greeters who curiously have the odor of formaldehyde would be like seeing an old friend after years apart and picking up where we left off!

I would also pick up some toothpaste as I am running low.

I woke up the next morning (hey the start of a blues song!) and checked my email. An order confirmation for my ground blind! Hurrah! I scanned the email noticing the festive logo you now have (kudos to whomever thought of that!) and sure enough, there was my order with the correct amount with a delivery date of …… the following Thursday! What? How can this be? An entire weeks difference? I was panicked, Walmart! I checked the date to be sure and yes, it was for the day that I WAS GOING TO BE DRIVING AWAY FROM WALMART AND TOWARDS HUNTING. I was confused.

I was also hungry so I made some toast.

I went back to and went through the motions of placing another order. Sure enough the arrival date was THIS THURSDAY!


At first I thought there must be some mistake. How could Walmart lie to me? My non-belief turned to disappointment. My disappointment went to dismay. Dismay gave way to a bit of panic. Panic led to anger. Anger firmed up to resolve.

I purchased that ground blind from you because you had the right combination of price and delivery date, Walmart, how could you do this to me?

I better have my ground blind. Fail to get me my ground blind before I drive away, Walmart, and you will wish you had a ready supply of ground blinds on hand just for this purpose.

On my way out of town I am going to stop by my local Walmart and demand my ground blind. Failure to produce my ground blind will result in the following actions.

First I will not give away that nothing is amiss. I will thank the floor manager with the natty pants and back away with my hands held up, keeping my eyes on his in-store communicator. One move and I will duck into the nearest aisle and over a period of time I will make my way to the rear dock, out the store and over the fence.

Walmart you don’t realize I’ve been preparing for this day. For the last six days I’ve been eating four meals a day. Meal 1 is nothing but steak, and a 32 oz. one at that. Meal 2 is Chipotle. Meal 3 is always a bag of 10 White Castles (with onion chips) and meal 4 is a double dose of Metamucil. Six days worth. Showering has not occurred.

The first thing I will do is go to your halloween section and fart in all the face masks. Thick and viscous, the kids are going to be in for a treat when they try on that Spider Man and Wonder Woman mask!

Pleased with my opening volley I will head directly to the women’s section and try on five sets of french cut panties and three pair of Double D hooter hangers. The french cut panties will be put on and sawed back and forth like I’m trying to cut myself in half. When I’m done I’ll be as raw as a dog with a severe case of the mange on his ass that has dragged it back and forth across your living room carpet until it is stained red. The Double D hooter hangers are just because I like to wear them and feel pretty.

I like them plain and not fancy.

Next I will be going into your pharmacy area and opening up the boxes of condoms and replace with them with wet knaps. No disease or pregnancies will be prevented but several ladies are going to have fresh breath!

Mint scented, for your discriminating palate.

Remember my six day meal plan? By this time my stomach will have started to rumble.

Some cramping will occur.

I have two more stops, Walmart, to reward you for causing me to have to leave for my trip without my ground blind.

My next stop will have to be quick as I am having difficulties walking and concentrating with Hurricane Terrible about to come ashore near my sphincter.

I will skip my next stop… the pain will be unbearable.

I will head straight towards your bathroom, with malicious intent.

It may take a while to get to your bathroom, shuffling like a man who has bad knees and a bad back.

It takes a full 15 minutes to get to the rear of the store, only to find out that your bathrooms are at the front.

Walmart I will have arrived at your bathroom to find it has recently been checked by your sanitation manager for cleanliness. I hope for his sake that ended his shift and he is driving very far away with his phone off.

I am feeling cramping like only a new bride gets when she is getting ready to disappoint her groom during their honeymoon trip to Hawaii. Only this compensatory backdoor action will be far messier.

The tremors are increasing in intensity.

The log ride starts before all riders are buckled in place and the protective barrier is down only part way.

Only years of sphincter kegels allows me to remove all clothing and hang it on the provided hook.

Then I bend over and firmly grip my legs towards the bottom of my calves. And I relax. And then push. And I feel six days of layered hell attempting to escape an opening far smaller than the container it resides in. And it gushes.

And then I twerk. Oh how I twerk, dear Walmart! I shake dat ass like only the most desperate single mom can while trying to attract the scant dollars available on a Tuesday up on stage at the local strip joint. I shake it until my lower spine screams in pain.

Yet I continue.

Layer after layer of the foulest substance known to man coats the floor, wall, and some of the ceiling. I shudder with the pleasure of relieved pain, and I shiver as if a fever is about to break.

My tape worms hang on for their lives.

An explosive pocket of gas erupts and the wall looks curiously like a humorously large daisy that has been painted brown and then shitted on and thrown against a wall.

I finish.

My sphincter is burning.

I cleanup.

I leave.

Without my ground blind.

Screw you Walmart, you whore.

I am CERTAINLY not going to buy any toothpaste from you.

This visit.


Hammock Tarp Hanging Strategy – Hammock Ridgeline Plus Slide/Grip Knots

Hike, Bike, Hammock
Hike, Bike, Hammock

Like many hammockers, and campers in general, I’m always looking for a new/better/faster/niftier way to get things setup.  One of the things that always irritates me is getting my tarp centered over my hammock. It takes me several tries to get it where I want.  Meanwhile, it seems that others in our crew just slap the dang thing up and it’s great!  How the heck?

Then I see the below video by Wintertrekker and my whole world changes.  Watch it and pay attention to it all but especially the concept of the continuous ridgeline for the tarp, which I will call a “Tarp Ridgeline” (I know!) from here on out.  While watching it I had a few ideas to not necessarily improve upon what he did, but just to try a few things differently.  Way below I’ll give a few things I was thinking about though I think Wintertrekker‘s versions are better than my alternatives.

In addition to Wintertrekker‘s video, a tip by Corporals Corner takes care of attaching the Tarp Ridgeline to the anchor tree.  That tip is at the end.

Take the time to watch Wintertrekker‘s video then come back.

Some of the great lessons/take-aways in here didn’t really resonate the first time because I’m already doing something similar.  For example, he uses a neat tarp bishop bag and I’m using a snakeskin.  Both work great.  For the purposes of discussion I’m going to list some of the VERY useful things and then some things that just add a nice touch.

But first …. why am I making this article?  I’m mostly doing it to gather all the thoughts in one place and to provide links FOR MYSELF to the knots used, etc. and I figure if I’m going to do that, why not make it so that others may also find value in it?  Wintertrekker took the time to make his wonderful video, and I’ve thanked him for it, so I figure maybe I can add a little value by providing some links.  There…. that’s why.

Knots Mentioned In This Article

Prusik Knot
Trucker’s Hitch
Klemheist Knot
Alpine Butterfly Loop and Butterfly Knot (easier way once you know how)

Major Lessons/Take-Aways

Tarp Ridgeline & Tarp Holder Bag
Hennessy Snakeskins
Hennessy Snakeskins

Wintertrekker uses a nice bishop bag by CCS, I have a DIY snakeskin made by Michael Collins, though I’m getting close to needing to replace mine.  If I do replace mine I’ll either ask Michael Collins if he has something that is close to the CCS version or buy the one from CCS.Tarp Ridgeline – This I was already doing, but more on that below

Tarp Ridgeline

Wintertrekker uses 50′ of 1/8 Amsteel.  I use 30′ of the same.  Before I watched this video I toyed with the idea of a Tarp Ridgeline but how I implemented it was different.  I was not tying off the ends to the trees and then adjusting the tarp along it.  Instead, I would attach the ends of the ridgeline to the edge tabs of the tarp, and be able to pull on the ridgeline in one direction and the whole thing would move and adjust.  I think it was a great idea but failed in reality.  I’m somewhat pleased with myself even for coming up with it.  I’ll bet that if I tried I could find several people who are doing the same thing and can show me how to make it work.

When I watched Wintertrekker‘s video it solved about every pain point that I was having.

Slide/Grip Knot To Adjust

Wintertrekker uses a Prusik Knot hooked to a plastic clip.  The Prusik Knot works very well but it is made for when there could be tension in either direction.  A uni-directional version of this knot is the Klemheist Knot.  It is NOT VERY IMPORTANT for tensioning the tarp, but I put it here just so you can see it and be aware of it.  You may find it useful over the Prusik Knot at some point in your life.

Hair Tie Things

I use a length of thick shock cord to keep some rope organized on the front of my kayak so when I watched this video I thought “Hmm, great idea!”  A great way to keep lines tidy.  I always feel good when things are where they need to be.  I’m unorganized by nature so finding a “method” to help this situation out is a bit of smile to my day.  I’ve heard some say these hair things tend to break so I’ll make sure I buy some quality ones.  Possibly there were using cheap ones?

User Trucker’s Hitch to tension Tarp Ridgeline

Tensioning the ridgeline was something I was looking to solve.  Usually when I had to tension a rope, usually one used to keep a tree stand in place, I’d jerk a knot (loop) and tension against it.  The problem with this method is that once you pull against then it is very difficult to undo.  For my tree stands, I didn’t care.  For a tarp ridgeline, I do.

While practicing some knots I noticed the Alpine Butterfly Loop and thought this had solved my problem.  And it had!  I practiced it a few times and felt good about using it in many situations.  I re-watched Wintertrekker‘s video and took the time to look at the Trucker’s Hitch that he mentions.  Hmm… I like it even better!  When you watch how the knot is being made make sure you separate it into two parts.  The first is how to make the loop.  The second is how to secure it.  I am going to use the first part but may not use the second part.  For certain I’ll run the line back through the loop, as that is the whole point, but then I’ll use a different knot, for which I don’t know the name of.  Terrible, I know.  If I find the knot at some point I’ll update this article.  The second half of this knot is a great way to secure it and is very useful beyond using it for the Tarp Ridgeline, so it won’t hurt to implement it here just to practice.

Smaller Points Made

Use plastic clip to hook Prusik knot to tarp loop

Great way to do it!  I have some soft shackles that Ron Sage made so I’ll use those.  The plastic clips would be quicker but I’m ok with using what I already have.

Don’t Put End Loops Through Tarp Ridgeline in Order to Help with Wind Deflection

I have no opinion on this but I’m going to try it.  It looks cool if nothing else.

Can Easily Run a Clothesline Inside Tarp

Why have I never thought of this?  Am I just an idiot?

Trucker’s Hitch For Tarp Tie-Outs

Or the Alpine Butterfly Loop, whichever.  The Trucker’s Hitch has the added benefit of how the line is secured after making the loop to tension against.

So there you go.  Every now and then you come across a video that just pounds you with solutions.  Wintertrekker‘s video does that, and I thank him!

Now on to Corporals Corner‘s tip!

Corporals Corner uses a Marlin Spike hitch on the anchor end to get a quick release.  He also uses a Trucker’s Hitch on the other end to tension, but we covered that above so I won’t focus on it here.  I encourage you to watch the whole video, or you can skip to 0:55 to where he gets ready to move to the Marlin Spike on the anchor end.

Thanks to Corporals Corner for posting the tip!

Holiday Season Food & Health Survival Thoughts

Each year the holiday season arrives and destroys our health goals. Well, we ALLOW it to destroy those goals, but since it happens EACH YEAR we just blame the holidays, because it’s easier. It’s become common to the point that it’s accepted and acknowledged, and we go along for the ride.

The New Year is a time for renewal. Promises to ourselves are made, Facebook posts made, and exercise programs started. How many of us actually believe ourselves? Do we believe that the next holiday season will be any different? How many of us actually fully recover from what we did to ourselves to get back to the next holiday season at least even? Most people arrive at each holiday season in worse shape than the previous one.

Many of us, during this time of the year, are engaged in work weight loss programs, renewed commitment to fitness, and generally promising ourselves that we won’t let what happens during the holidays happen again. A fair amount of us experience severe regret, agony, and something close to mild depression.

I am among this group.

A few years ago I had escaped this group and was on a very good path. Then early in January 2016 I suffered an injury that removed my ability to exercise. Exercise was my rocket that allowed me to counteract the gravity of food temptation. Without that rocket, I fell into the black hole.

This pattern of trying to do the right thing then blowing it during the holiday season is more common than we would like to think. I’m right there with you. I’ve contemplated this with myself over and over and though I’ve come up with a few strategies that help, but nothing that really has a significant impact. What I’ve recently done is go back to how I’ve achieved goals that are for other than eating and tried to apply them towards this quandary. Below is how I’m going approach it this time, this next holiday season.

Remember Your Pain: Write down what I (you) are going through NOW because of what you did THEN. Read that next year and decide if it was worth it. Take pictures. Strip down to bathing attire and document where you are now. Video? Sure. Talk to yourself in that video and let yourself know what you are experiencing NOW, because of THEN.
No Leftovers That Hurt: After an occasion, even if it is at your house, don’t keep leftovers that don’t allow you to recover. Turkey? Sure. Desserts? No, give them away, throw them out, or take them to work and let everybody else make bad decisions.

Trade Meals For Exercise: Say “OK this meal, which I’m going to eat because I’m just going to, is worth 5 extra hours of blah blah” and then make sure you get it done. Use your community and your “Thing”, both of which I’ll get to in a moment.
Prepare Your Body Before: Starting NOW, and at LEAST a few months before the holiday season, get to where you need to be with your body fat, fitness, and health in general. Not only will that give you a tad bit of leeway for the holidays you will be in a routine that you can get right back into.

Have Your Fitness Routine: This is similar to the above, but it is HUGE. If you are already into a routine, you can continue on it and minimize or erase the damage. This doesn’t give you license to go nuts and then fix it, but we know that no matter what those meals and occasions are going to occur, so let’s acknowledge it and deal with it.

Community/Support: By nature, we are social creatures. We also crave some sort of accountability; however slight it may be. You may be able to keep yourself accountable, but probably not enough. Having a community around you can help encourage you when you need it, create a bit of social pressure when done right, and generally keep you accountable. Make plans with your community to chat about your specific holiday event and also to make plans BEFORE the event to get together and do something healthy. Your community is not there just to make everything “all right” and pat you on the back, it’s there to help each other stay on course and to get BACK on course, if needed.
Have A “Thing” That You Do: Do you have hobbies? You may chuckle and say “Yes, if I had time”. As of now, you HAVE time and one of your hobbies is going to be some sort of healthy movement. Prior to my injury, and what I’m working back towards, I liked to ride my bike, do CrossFit, and hike. Those three things were among my “Thing” and I was interested I them, read about them, planned them, and generally treated them like something that I REALLY liked instead of a necessary evil. In fact, I DID enjoy them, to the point of talking about them so much I was irritating to those around me.

In summary, do something to remember your pain NOW as you approach the next holiday season. Prepare ahead by starting a sustainable health program, and surround yourself with a community of people who truly care about you and will encourage you before and after.

BWCA – Resources

There are some very fine resources on the BWCA out there.  I’ll focus on the resources for “I’ve never been, I need to learn and plan this thing out!”  I’ll add to this post as I go. – Massively helpful site that has tools to help plan the trip, find outfitters, etc.  That’s important but coupled with the helpful members in the forum it’s an incredible resource.

I am a member of that site and made an initial post named “Hello, and BWCA in 2019”  Go there, sign up, and see what it’s all about.

USDA Forest Service, BWCAW Area.

USDA Forestry Service – The USDA (Forest Service) manages the BWCA.  The page I linked to has some information, to include a Planning Guide (PDF).  The site also gives a brief background of the legislation that created the area, dates & information about group quotas, and other useful links at the bottom of the page.  Additionally, there is a “Leave No Trace” video that is required viewing before picking up a permit.  More info on that is on the site.



General Links


BWCA Gear List – Survival

 This is part of a larger series where I am gathering my thoughts on my gear for a BWCA 2019 trip.  See the intro, and list of gear categories, HERE.


Emergency Blanket
Knot Cards
Paper + Pen
Duct Tape
Trash Bag

BWCA 2019 Gear List – Miscellaneous

This is part of a larger series where I am gathering my thoughts on my gear for a Boundary Waters (BWCA) 2019 trip.  See the intro HERE.

Miscellaneous – Anything that doesn’t fit into another category.  Or maybe it COULD fit into another category but I don’t want it to.  I could also create MORE categories but I have more than I really need anyway.

I’ve got a few things on this list and will add to it as I go.

Flat Bungie Cord
Flat Bungie Cord

Flat Bungie – Bungie cords are very useful.  In the multipack I purchased there was an orange one that was the right size to suit all sorts of needs.  I do consider them a luxury item as one can usually work around them, just not as quickly or as “Ah, that was simple!”  If I need to start removing things this would be one to go.  I have also seen the ones that you can adjust.  That looks handy.  If I happen to need to buy some bungies I’ll look into that else I’ll use what I currently have.

Usack S29.3 AllWhite
Usack S29.3 AllWhite

Critter Bag (Need) – This is under this category and not “Food” as I use that one for edible things.  I have not picked out a real critter bag yet.  Right now I use a stuff sack or the like.  I want one that is good for both hanging in a tree or leaving in camp.  With that in mind, the ursack brand bag always comes up when having these discussions.  Some use a canister for this purpose but I’m going to go with a bag solution.  I will take the bag with me on my local hikes (Ohio) and would not take the canister.  I don’t mind buying for a particular trip but I’d rather each thing be more multi-use.

Black Diamong Trail Trekking Poles
Black Diamong Trail Trekking Poles

Hiking Poles (Need) – I have a pair of cheap hiking poles that I bought at a camp store about five years ago.  I expected them to fail pretty quick but so far they have held up very well, even though they are of cheaper construction.  In a few years when I am able to get out and take more substantial trips, such as the BWCA, I am going to get a nicer set.  I like the Black Diamond brand but am open to others.  In the photo to the right is Black Diamond’s basic poles with flicklocks.

Camp Stool
Camp Stool
Helinox Chair Zero
Helinox Chair Zero

Camp Chair – Normally on backpacking trips, I would take a standard folding camp stool.  It’s easy to detach from the pack and rest on the trail and certainly does the job while actually in camp.  For times when I’ll want to be in camp for more than an evening, I’d like something more.  Enter the Helinox Chair Zero.  I researched this brand and model, the REI version, and so on.  I got this one because it’s light enough that I won’t be tempted to leave it behind when backpacking, yet large enough to enjoy.  When I’ve had it for a while I’ll review it.

Ziploc® Brand Slider Storage Bags Quart / Medium
Ziploc® Brand Slider Storage Bags Quart / Medium

Ziplock Baggies – Always useful.  I’ll use them to contain and organize spices, meal bars, snacks, toothbrush and paste, and many other things.  I’ll use multiple sizes.  Additionally, I’ll take some empties in for garbage storage to pack back out.

Oakley M Frame Heater Sunglasses
Oakley M Frame Heater Sunglasses

Sunglasses – Look no further than the Oakley M Frame Heater Sunglasses for me.  YEARS ago I was looking for a pair that would block the sun from the side while on the ball field coaching a base or hitting grounders or whatever else was needed.  Due to the wide bridge of my nose, no other pair would sit low enough to do what I needed.  When I first tried on a pair of these they were everything I wanted….. except for the price.  Back then money was tight and I didn’t want to spend it.  Father’s day was coming up so I figured the reason I needed these was because I’m out there helping the kids, so I justified it and asked for them.  Very happy that I did.  I’ve since had to replace the ear sleeves, nose piece, and a lens, but they have held up great.  I normally wear the lenses shown in the photo above but for a Boundary Waters trip I’ll look to get a lens that works better on the water.  This used to be “polarized” but I don’t know what the “now” is.  I’ll find out.

Earphones – I should probably put these over in “Electronics” since they are useless without some sort of player but that’s not how I think.  I have several pair of earphones and I’ll just pick a pair and take them with me.

BWCA 2019 Gear List

In this post will be all the gear that I know I will need to take on the BWCA 2019 trip.  Most of this gear is on the list because I know what is needed in the outdoors, yet this list will be compared against published BWCA resources to ensure reality and to not assume I know anything at all.  I’ll also break it out into categories as I go along just to organize.  Where I take the time I’ll post a link to the item on,, or wherever it may roam.

One of several BWCAW logos I’ve come across.

As I get a category done “enough” I’ll put it below and link to the post chatting about it.

I have a bunch of categories for my gear.  I break it down like this because that’s how I think of these things.  Have I forgotten a category?  Combined too many things into one?  Let me know!  Additionally, the spreadsheet I keep with all this gear has the weight of each item so I have a generic idea of pack weight.  I don’t obsess over it, but it’s good to have a general number.

Categories Covered “So Far”



Countdown To BWCA 2019

For quite some time I’ve heard about people taking trips to the Boundary Waters.  Enjoying the outdoors like I do the type of trips that were described seemed like what I would REALLY enjoy.  I’ve wanted to learn more about the trips but due to a busy life and other things, I’ve not gotten serious about it. My brother-in-law’s good friend has gone a few times so hearing about it briefly from him on a camping trip two years ago the idea burned a bit brighter.  In 2019 I’ll suddenly have more discretionary time and I decided that it was time to get serious about investigating what’s all about.   After looking into it more there wasn’t much of a question… yes, I need to go.  I contacted the core of the group that goes on a yearly long weekend trip and they are in.

In this post, I’ll put a bunch of setup to the BWCA and then create a series detailing my prep, the trip itself, and then lessons learned.

What is the BWCA?  Read about it here (Wikipedia): Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Basically, it’s a huge protected area that allows people to take their non-powered watercraft (canoe, kayak, etc) and get into nature.  Only a certain amount of groups are allowed to launch by site by day.  Only 9 or less people in a group, and four water vessels or less in the same group.  Having all these rules and more attempts to keep the area from getting over visited and therefore available for many generations to come.

So …. 2019.  Countdown.

BWCA 2019 Gear List

240lbs., Don’t Let The Door Hit Ya When You Leave

Dear 240lbs,

I have found someone else. Though you have been replaced by 239lbs that is only temporary as well. 239lbs is just being used. A stepping stone.

We have been together on and off again for many years. Though we have had fun together, I’m not going to miss you at all. Now don’t try to get me back, it just won’t work. No standing outside the donut shop beckoning me to come in “just to talk.” I know that trick. No disguising the container of carrots as a family-sized bag of pizza rolls, I fell for that too many times!

240lbs, it is best for both of us that we part. I’m no good for you, and you certainly are not good for me.

I remember when we met, do you recall that moment all those years ago? I was steadily seeing 238lbs and then I had that large portion of lasagna and HELLO THERE 240lbs! And though I’ve strayed from you with 250lbs, 260lbs, 270lbs, 280lbs, and even heavier siblings I always seem to find myself back with you, 240lbs.

But no more. Be gone. Off with you. I banish you and all your older siblings. If you try to contact me, I won’t respond.


How’s That Cheat Day Thing Working For You?

Way back at the end of 2012 when I hit my heaviest weight, I had stepped on the scale and got slapped with the max weight it would register, which was 300 lbs. I was shocked.  I know for certain I was OVER 300 lbs because as time moved forward and I know I had lost a fair amount the scale STILL registered 300 lbs.  By my estimate, I probably was about 330 lbs, but maybe is was JUST 315 lbs?  Who knows …

So… I took action. I didn’t go low carb or anything but I did what the typical human knows to do and that was to improve my eating and get my body moving.  More sensible meals, portions, etc. and get that bike out and get peddling!  For me, that was a huge shift in what I was doing.

Time went forward and I got in a groove and I was looking for something to improve upon what I was already doing.  Advocare and I found each other.  Super!  In addition to a 10-day body reset at the beginning, their approach followed up with a continuous 14-day cycle which gives you the tools needed to continue progressing.  It certainly works, if you allow it to.

After the initial 24 days, in which I was locked in like with any new shiny thing, I decided that to “keep on track” I was going to incorporate a “cheat day”.  My plan was to stay strict during the week, but on Sunday I’d do what I want.  That’s where my mind was, like many others.  Though at the beginning, when I first stepped on that poor scale, I was punched in the gut by the shock of the reality of how far out of shape I had allowed myself to get, I had yet to exercise the muscle of discipline to a point where I didn’t have to have one out of seven days be free from the responsibility of improving my health.  Going from ignoring it all to a sustainable, longer-term effort to change my ways was too big of a leap, apparently.

I started my cheat day strategy.  On the first of these cheat days, my mood was very bright.  It was glorious!  And since I had blown the day I indulged that evening as well.  Even better!  Then Monday morning I was prepared to face another week, knowing that next Sunday I could go nuts again! I would speak of this strategy with others, and it seems this concept of “cheat day” was not uncommon.  They agreed it was a great idea and they had done similar. It was DESERVED! We had DONE GOOD FOR SIX DAYS IN A ROW! How WONDERFUL!  Give ourselves a participation trophy just for not abusing ourselves the previous six days!

The thing is, for someone who had slowly allowed themselves to get to the point where they had to adjust and hold their breath to tie their shoes, doing well for six days and then becoming unglued on the seventh was a massive improvement.  It WAS wonderful.

But it wasn’t.

I found, after about a month, that it would take me until Wednesday, sometimes Thursday, to get back to where I was on Sunday morning. And this was a time where I had gotten back on my bike and was hitting it as hard as my body and current fitness would allow, which means calories were being burned for sure.

The results of having a whole day of cheating meant that I was actually only progressing, as far as body fat % was concerned, about three days out of the seven. The remaining days were either having that cheat day or recovering from the same. Once I figured that out I had a chat with myself.

During this conversation, I admitted to myself that the reason I was doing the cheat day was that I had succumbed to all the temptations that living in this fine nation presents to us.  We are a weak willed country when it comes to our health, and I’m right there with the majority.  I need to HTFU and get the job done.  This conversation went rather well, and I decided that having a cheat day wasn’t worth it.  What to do then?  How would I give myself a mental reset so that I didn’t snap in the middle of the night and break into Jim’s Donut Shop and dump enough cherry filling over my head to look like Carrie standing on the stage after being crowned Prom Queen?  Hmm…. cheat day is a terrible idea but how can I …. wait … how about just a cheat MEAL?  HAHA!  Yes!  I am a GENIUS!

Cheat meal it was.  But… and you know this is coming…. that just meant that it took me less time to get back to zero, which means it takes longer to get to where you need to be, which means increased frustration, and … And what it really means is that it isn’t sustainable.  How many people do you know that are in the boat we (you, I) are in and have sustained a “cheat day/meal” approach for healthy living?  This assumes that the “cheat day/meal” is what I was doing, which means “Revert to being a damn pig for a while.”  While enjoyable (oh yes) for the timeframe you are shoving that half pan of lasagna in your face, it quickly leads to longer-term failure.

So what to do?  As someone who has struggled with their weight since parenthood stated in my mid-20’s, I THINK I’ve found my happy place with all this.  I believe that a person has to be strong enough to fail, get back up, fail again, get back up and repeat that cycle until they are convinced that what they are doing isn’t working.  I/we can be TOLD it doesn’t work, and I/we can CLEARLY see that it doesn’t work, but we are weak creatures.  We want that food!  We miss over-eating!  We actually MISS eating as an enjoyable activity.  In my happy place, I’ve found that what I have do is redefine what a cheat meal is.

First thing, it’s not a “cheat meal.”  It’s a meal that I’m deciding to have because of whatever reason.  Maybe call it “off plan.”  It could be that I’ve been cranking along for three weeks and I’d like to enjoy some pizza and a few beers with the wife while watching a football game.  It could be my birthday, or a camping outing, or whatever the whatever is.  The key here is two-fold… first, it’s not a cheat meal.  If it’s a cheat meal then it means it’s not what I want to do and I’ve broken down mentally and I need an artificial reset to continue forward.  Second, it can’t be to often.  If my occasional off-plan meal is about every three weeks or month and then it becomes every two weeks and then once a week and then what the hell I’ve blown it so let’s go out to Chinese again and before you know it my scale has sent itself to an orphanage to avoid the abuse.

So, that’s it.  That’s how I’m approaching things now.  I’m changing how I view an off-plan meal and the frequency that I do it.  In January of 2017 when I knew I was going to be able to exercise again I planned my off-plan eatings.  Knee surgery weekend I allowed myself some small indiscretions, but not permission to go crazy.  A camping outing went very well, but I ate some Dutch Oven ribs with a bit of sauce on them.  A family tubing outing and did work over a pizza and have two fine beverages.  At the end of February, I have another camping outing, and I’ll have a few more beverages sitting around the fire.  And the end of March we are going with my daughter to play High School Fastpitch in Florida during Spring Break.  That sounds like a fair list of “cheats” but it’s fairly spread out and otherwise, things are going well using this approach.

What do you think?  Sustainable?  A better way of looking at things?

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