How I Lost 10 Pounds in Less than 2 Months using LoseIt

I believe physical health is important for the leader. I have written about this before HERE. I know there are times a leader can’t do anything about his or her health, but if there is an option, the leader should strive to be healthy. It makes me more productive when I feel better physically.

Recently I lost 10 pounds to get in even better shape.

A short history:

I’m 47…I feel good…and I’m in good shape physically. I run almost everyday. I monitor my weight and I eat semi-healthy. In my mid thirties I got slightly overweight, about 15 pounds, and decided to do something about it. I worked hard to reach my ideal weight and stay there consistently for almost 10 years. In the last 18 months, due to stressful, fast-paced living, and lots of traveling, I added back another 10 pounds. I tried what had worked before to lose the weight, but nothing seemed to work.

Some call it a middle-aged spread.

The story:

On March 30th of this year, I had lunch with my friend Michael Hyatt. I hadn’t seen Michael in a couple months and instantly recognized how well he looked. He had obviously lost weight. He is slightly older than me, so I knew he would probably struggle as I had, so I asked him for his secret. Always a teacher, Michael shared with me that he had been closely monitoring what he eats using the LoseIt application. I had tried this application, but never disciplined myself to actually use it. Michael is one of the most intentional guys I know and a tremendous mentor, so I knew if he was recommending it I should do this!

This time I was determined. It worked!

Here’s how the LoseIt application worked for me:

I loaded the application on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop. I wanted it easily accessible and thankfully it cloud syncs with all three.

I set a goal in the application of where I want to get to in weight. Based on my age and height, the program figures an estimated calories I can eat per day to lose the amount of weight per week I say I want to lose. Right now I’m set at 1.5 pounds per week. You could do 1 pound or 2 pounds. I took the middle number. This gives me an estimated date to reach my target.

Before every meal I look up the foods I’m about to eat. I also use the MyFitnessPal app, which seems to have more foods available, but they are not always as accurate. This decision alone saves me hundreds of calories a day simply in awareness.

After each meal I enter in the foods I have eaten. LoseIt has many of them pre-loaded and once I save them I can always go back to that food easily. Most of us repeat meals and foods we like, which makes this feature helpful. By the way, the picture is a stock photo, not mine. I actually cut out most sodas and junk food too. This process makes me think healthier to save calories.

Following any exercise I add the time spent, which figures a calorie lost value and adds that number to my daily calorie allowance. This is huge motivation to exercise more, even if it’s simply walking.

Everyday I add my weight for the day and it shows me my progress towards my goal. You can choose to add your weight whenever you want. Some want to do this daily, but some want to do it weekly.

In less than 2 months, I’m at my desired weight again. I’ve actually set a lower than desired weight gaol I’m working on now so that when I fluctuate I gain towards my desired weight, not above it.

People say they don’t want to be that strict with their eating habits. I agree, and I don’t intend to be forever either. I like to eat what I want to eat, but I do plan to be smarter about what I eat and this process has helped me form healthier habits. I would, however, remind you that if you went to Dave Ramsey for money advice, he would first have them write down everything they spend. It’s the same with what we eat. If we don’t know, we are likely to overeat, eat the wrong foods, and will struggle to remain a healthy weight.

Want to accept a challenge to get healthier? Are you serious about this process?

Join the fun!

Challenge: Let’s Make It A Great Week!

This is a random Sunday afternoon post…

I want to encourage us to have a great week this next week…

I believe and strive for continual improvement…

In my experience, this happens best when we make intentional changes…

That’s the point of this post…

This next week, I want to encourage…challenge…even dare you to make an intentional change to improve something in your life

I’ll go first…

This week, I plan to pray more specifically…

I frequently use a prayer list, but I seldom follow it…

This week I want that to change…

Now your turn…

It can be anything…about any subject…just so it’s an intentional change to improve your life…

What intentional change are you going to make this week to make things better in your life?

GO!

Megabus: Innovation in Bus Transportation

There is a fairly new player in the transportation industry that I knew nothing about until recently. I love innovation and change, so I find this company encouraging in numerous ways.

It’s called Megabus.

Have you seen them?

Megabus is basically an updated Greyhound. When I was young, people didn’t fly as much as they do today. Instead, many people used the Greyhound bus system (and others) to get from city to city. I bus transportation is still popular traveling from big city to big city, but I see far less of them on the roads these days. I once rode a Greyhound bus from my home in Tennessee to visit family in Kansas. It was a long trip, but I enjoyed keeping a record of every city we in which we stopped along the way. Over the years, as airline competition made prices more reasonable, bus transportation seems to have become less popular. That may change with companies like Megabus.

Last week, while traveling to Chicago to pick up my son Nate from college, I saw several Megabuses on the road. I wasn’t familiar with them, so I asked my son. He knew all about them. Apparently, many students from his school use them to get to and from home.

What makes Megabus different from Greyhound? Well, the good looking modern fleet, double decker buses come equipped with comfortable reclining seats, courteous drivers and free Wi-Fi. Each seat is equipped with outlets to charge your phone or plug in a DVD player. Tickets must be purchased online in advance, which means most customers are often students or professionals. I passed numerous Megabuses on my trip and they were neatly painted, attractive and easy to spot. The couple Greyhound buses I passed honestly needed a paint job. Megabus is able to provide their services at a very reasonable rate, certainly cheaper than air travel and some seats starting at less than $5.00 if bought far enough in advance.

Megabus as a company is encouraging, because I see innovation working to save an industry. I’m not sure I’m up for a long bus ride anytime soon, but I see where it could be an alternative for many people. I don’t think about bus transportation often, but if you had asked me about it a few weeks ago, I would have said the bus industry was not a place where we were likely to see growth or change…almost a dying industry. Megabus reminds me that sometimes you simply have to think outside the norm and do something different and better than others are doing them. My suspicision is that the folks at Greyhound are paying special attention to Megabus and the competition will encourage positive changes that are good for all customers.

Just curious…can you think of any other industries/organizations that could use some “Megabus” innovation?

Did you ever take a Greyhound bus ride? What about a Megabus ride? Share your journey with us!

Let’s Write a Story Together…Two

Let’s write a story together!

We did this last year and it was a lot of fun. You can read our finished story HERE. Several asked if we could repeat it. I’ve picked up a few readers since then, so this is new for some of you.

Here is how this works: (Please read carefully)

  • I will write an opening set up sentence.
  • You add the next line.
  • Read the other comments first, to see how the story is flowing.
  • You can only add one line until someone else adds a line.
  • Please don’t try to write one long sentence that really is a paragraph. The fun is getting the different inputs and imagination to work together.
  • You can add as many lines as you want, but only one at a time, and only with someone else having a line between yours.
  • Please try to keep the story flowing. Your sentence can be light-hearted, funny, or even tragic, but please DO NOT add a sentence that stops the story or takes it in a bizarre direction in an effort to disrupt the story serious that commenters are writing or take it in an awkward direction. (There’s always one like this and I reserve the right to delete the comment if it appears that’s what is happening with the comment.)
  • I will not be able to use crude or vulgar comments. (I realize that will limit some of you from participating, but…)
  • Please add your sentence here on the post as a comment, not on Facebook and Twitter. This is the only way it will be added to the final story.

The goal here is to be creative and see where our imagination and the story takes us, yet write a credible, interesting story. After comments seem to be slowing, I’ll post the entire story in a separate post. If you leave your full name, I’ll give you credit in the excerpts. If you have a blog link when you add your comment, I’ll link to you also.

Have fun!

Here is the first sentence:

Steve chuckled under his breath as he watched the strawberry blonde-haired little girl playing in his backyard.

Go! Your turn!

To make this even more fun, tweet or Facebook share this post to get more involved.

Organizational Learning From Google

I read recently that the creators of Google weren’t looking to create Google when they discovered the complex way of indexing pages. They were working on a research project for their PhD program and stumbled upon the genius of google page ranking, did a little more exploration, and the rest is the incredible history of Google. In fact, I also read where, learning from their history, Google allows employees up to 20% of their time to explore new ideas and innovation.

It made me think about how organizations function. Are we organized to discover the next Google?

Let your team explore and you’ll discover some great stuff. Finding the “next big thing” is certainly more difficult without the exploration.

Plus, it’s damaging long-term for a team to be limited in this area of growth potential. If your team isn’t freed to explore:

  • They grow bored
  • Growth stalls
  • Valuable discoveries are never found.

What new insights is your team discovering?

More importantly perhaps, are they being positioned for discovery? Do they even have the freedom, built into your system?

Helping Tornado Victims in Alabama

My friend Casey Graham is a game changer. When he is passionate about something, he doesn’t just talk about it, he does something. This past week, Casey’s home state of Alabama was devastated by one of the worst tornado disasters in history.  Casey knew that in any disaster, the greatest need is always money, because money allows the team on the ground to do what is necessary to address the greatest needs. Casey went to work. In just 24 hours, this effort has raised over $75,000.   You can read more about it HERE. Casey is working through Cross Point Church in Decatur, Alabama.

Casey has set up a leadership team to oversee this process. He’s asked me to be a part of that team. You can read about that HERE.

He’s challenging churches and others to be a part. Read the latest challenge HERE.

There are many great efforts out there. Americans show their generosity during times like this. Casey is attempting to assist people without insurance or under insured. If you’d like to help, click HERE.

What other ways are people helping? Feel free to point people to those ways to support by leaving a comment.

Don’t Fear Innovation

Don’t be afraid of innovation…

Some even call it change…

If you keep doing the same things…you’ll get the same results…

Duh…

Did you know?

The can opener came almost 50 years after the tin can…

It was years before someone thought to cut a hole in the bottom of a basketball goal…

Plastic was invented years before someone thought to mass produce it…

It makes me wonder…

Maybe your church or organization isn’t dying….

Or at least isn’t dead…

Perhaps you simply need to do something different…

What’s one thing you could do that no one else is doing?

What’s one thing you could change that would improve everything?

10 Inexpensive Ways to Offer Development

When budgets are stretched, development often is pushed to the back burner or cut altogether from the budget. This is dangerous for a team that wishes to remain healthy and continue growing. If a team is not learning and improving, it will soon struggle to maintain any level of success. It’s important to find ways to develop even during times with stressed budgets.

Here are 10 inexpensive, or less expensive, ways to offer development to a team:

Bring in a leader – It may be cheaper to bring the expert to you than it is to attend a conference. Find someone from whom your team can learn and pay his or her expenses to visit the team.

Send a representative – You may have to draw names to decide who, but pay for one person to attend a conference with a catch, that they have to bring information back to share with the team.

Read a book together – The number of leadership books easily outnumber the months a team will be together. Find some good ones, read and digest them as a team.

Use local resources – Most likely, there are businesses or universities in your community that have development offices or procedures to develop people, with people already skilled who can inexpensively invest in your team.

Online or teleconference – Technology allows for some great online conferences. Gather the team around a computer and learn without leaving the office. Additionally, if you have a telephone, you have the makings of a great way to connect with other leaders. Arrange for a joint call with one and let the team ask questions and then process the interview together.

Pool Resources – Join forces with another church to accomplish any of these ideas. Learn from each other. Swap resposnibilities to lead a development activity. Share the costs of bringing in a speaker and do a combined mini-conference of your own.

Visit other churches – Allow the team to visit other churches in the area, either individually or as a group. It is a great way to develop new ideas and improve upon what you are doing as you see what others are doing firsthand. Be sure everyone goes expecting to bring something back to the team they have learned.

Learn from each other – Chances are good that everyone on your team has something to offer that can make the team better. Take turns sharing with each other something you already know or are learning.

Scavenger hunt – Assign each team member to find the best development idea and share it with the rest of the team. Whether online, in a book or through networking, seek out new ideas and improvements you can learn from one another and share it with the team. The process of sharing the idea discovered will prove to be development.

Trial and Error – The best development may be putting systems in place that allow the team to take risks, but then evaluate the success or failure in an effort to learn from them and grow. Teams should be doing this anyway, but teams often fail to intentionally learn from the process of doing normal work.

Development isn’t cheap, but it’s a necessary part of continuing to be a healthy and growing team.

Make this post better. Think development with me. What low cost ideas do you have to offer development to a team?

For a similar thought, read 10 Random Ideas to Encourage Innovation.

5 Considerations When Adding Structure to an Organization

I think there is value in unstructured growth. (I wrote about that HERE) As the organization grows, additions in structure have to be added. We are currently experiencing that at Grace Community Church. (I’ve written more about it HERE.) Adding structure, however, can be a painful and disruptive process if not handled carefully.

Here are 5 thoughts I have about adding structure to an existing organization:

The change should make sense with the organizational make-up and DNA – We have to be careful altering something in a way that disrupts the fiber, core, or root foundation of the organization.

The structure added should not impede progress – Structure should further enable the completion of the vision, not detract from it.

It should accommodate or encourage continued growth – Structure should not curtail growth. It’s purpose should be to help the organization continue to grow.

Hit the center of acceptance – Not everyone will agree with any change, but if the structure is universally opposed then it may need to be considered more closely before being implemented. (Read about how different our staff is HERE.)

Make sure everyone understands the why – People are more likely to accept structure when they can identify the value to them and their area of responsibility, but at least the value to the overall organization.

Have you ever had to add structure to an existing organization?

How did you do it?

What would you add to my list?

7 Things We’ve Learned about Reaching Today’s Youth

The statistics are staggering. The older a child gets today, the greater his or her chances are of disappearing from the church. The church must intentionally plan to reverse this trend.

Grace Community Church is built around a desire to reach people who may not have previously been interested in church. We love when people bring their friends. This vision extends to reaching the youth of our community. Along the way, we’ve learned a few things.

If the church wants to reach young people these days, here are 7 things we must do:

Love them – Young people today seem to crave genuine, no strings attached, healthy love from other adults…and they want it to be unconditional love…through the good times of their life and the times they mess up.

Be biblically true – Young people today don’t seem to want fluff. They want an authentic, honest approach to the Bible. Whether they believe all of it yet or not, they want people who say they believe it to teach what they believe…and be willing to discuss it with them if needed.

Be culturally relevant – Young people today have been exposed to the problems, challenges, and changes in the world today. They are more socially conscious than in years past. They want the church to be addressing the needs they see in the world around them.

Give them a place to serve and support them in their pursuits – Young people today want to make a difference. They want to be a part of change. They want to serve somewhere they believe is doing good work and makes a positive impact on the world and they may even want to help lead the effort.

Value their ideas and input – You have to allow young people to do things their way…with technology…within groups of friends…sometimes unscripted…etc. A church that is bent on protecting the past over creating the future turns young people away from the church.

Be genuine/transparent with them – Young people today want to learn from the mistakes of those older than them. Pretending as if we’ve always been wonderful doesn’t help them deal with the issues they are dealing with today. They need living examples of battling life’s temptations, struggles, and fears.

Guide them – Young people today want direction. They want help making life’s decisions, but they want it done in a way that helps them understand wise choices, but gives them freedom to choose their own path. Young people today need adults who will walk with them through the obstacles they face on a daily basis.

What would you add to my list? How is your church reaching the youth of today?

BTW, notice I didn’t say anything about music. It’s a bonus if you give them worship styles they enjoy, but I’m not convinced it’s a necessity if the others on this list are kept.