Thursday, September 27, 2012

400 lbs to Glory!

This 400 lbs gentle giant attended my first Body, Mind & Spirit: The Awakening book signing nearly a year ago but was not ready to begin his own personal journey towards wellness.  However, after having his signed copy of my life-changing book just sitting on a shelf collecting dust for the past 11 months, Ira finally decided to open up the pages when he had an “awakening” that getting healthy was no longer a choice. It was now a case of life or death—his life or his death!

What you are about to read is Ira’s candid comments (in his own words) over the past 21 days as he reads a chapter each day from my latest book. We pray that his journey will inspire you to begin your Body, Mind & Spirit journey TODAY!

Day 1 - Cracking the Code: As a fully blessed and happily recovering addict, years ago, when I was first introduced to the rooms of AA, I was told something very interesting. I was told, "you're not responsible for your addiction but you ARE responsible for your recovery." Today, I am embracing a new way of life. I can no longer blame my parents and their genes, the poor eating habits I was raised with, or yesterday's bad decisions to shape who I am. I am morbidly obese, and today I choose to not embrace who I am, but instead, claim who I want to be. I am working my ass off to get to where I want to be and I will not be denied! Anything worth having is worth working for.

Day 2 - Formula for Success. For me, I'm so far beyond body mass index but, tracking fat is more reasonable. Fat does NOT turn into muscle. They are simply different tissue, but as a former athlete, I do have muscle up under here somewhere (unfortunately, my six-pack somehow shifted from my front, to my back!). I actually didn't eat well yesterday because I didn't consume enough calories to maintain the muscle I do have. I was so busy, I probably didn't consume 800-900 calories, and that's not good. I'm trying to keep myself between 1,200-1,800. Closed out last night with a great mixed elliptical workout for 30 minutes at mid to high resistance, burning nearly 300 calories and 50 carbs. Up till 4 with baby, not feeling to well; man I haven't been this sore in YEARS! :-( Fresh juiced smoothie for breakfast, pediasure with fiber (my secret), with almonds and fresh melon for lunch, jerk salmon, steamed carrots, with a bit of brown rice for dinner, granola, and prickly pears (one of my faves) as snacks + water, water, water all day! Be blessed mi familia!

Day 3, "Vitamins, Minerals, and Supplements...Oh My!" Great, time for the great debate, well, I'm gonna keep it really simple since everybody seems to believe that theirs is the best. I take a One A Day men's Advance (for us older guys with joint pain, intake a GNC Men's multivitamin (general), and I take Hydroxycut (had great success with this before) to maintain my hidden muscle, and to help burn a little more fat. May cut down on one o the vitamins, but I'm gonna keep the Hydroxycut. Did great yesterday! Had 3 Cheese on cheese crackers, a Goetz caramel, and 4 Lemonheads (, but moderation I guess), other that that, I was right on point with no sugary drinks, baked fish for lunch with steamed carrots, and a mesquite baked chicken leg with a cold chick pea salad that was awesome! Water, water, water! We got this! :-)

Day 4, How We Eat, Drink & Live. This was a HUGE chapter, and was a massive amount of information to try and process but, yesterday was by far my biggest test. I must remember that I am NOT dieting but instead, I am opting to change my lifestyle and eating habits. This chapter touched on everything from vegetarianism, food groups, probiotics, and muscle development to detoxing our bodies, adjusting our metabolisms, antioxidants, and free radicals. We're having a reception party for Christopher and his new wife (stop by if you would like- event info is on my wall) and I cooked until the we hours in the morning. I cheated many times but, for the first time ever, I realize that, even when I stray, it's not an end all, and I don't have to throw the baby out with the bath water! I had 80 calories worth of Cheetos, 150 calories worth of pulled pork, 150 calories with of French fries, 3 small buffalo wings?, and 75 calories worth of potato salad. Even after a huge salad at the buffet, I still came in near or under my suggest goal daily caloric intake.problem is, they were "bad" calories. Im learning that although I "fall off", I can still make responsible choices. Have a Blessed day, and wish me luck with this reception. :-)

Day 5; Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, & Snacks. Wow, how fricking appropriate! Confessional; I fell off the eat-right wagon yesterday :-( What I discovered is that I'm still a food addict who eats to his feelings. After busting my jump preparing this wonderful dinner for my kid, my own sibs didn't even show! I don't care about anyone else, this is their nephew(and new neice). No call, no show. I found myself in a very familiar place; in the comfort of food. The damage was that I didn't eat almost all day, then gorged myself. I additionally missed my 300 calorie burning evening workout 2 nights in a row. End result, unbelievably, in just 2 short days, I've gained back 4 of the 10 lbs I had lost got a lot on my mind right now, and I left the house and am now enjoying some fresh air on this beautiful day. I'm not licking my wounds but I am much more aware of how conscious I must remain at all times when it comes to my nutrition. Going home to a baked, skinless chicken leg, tea w/Splenda, and a salad with a little vinegar and olive oil. Football with Christopher, my workout, shower, 2 hours of writing, meditation, prayer, bed.....

Day 6; Sweat Equity. I came out like a lion, them started backing off. What I am going to do different is alter my workouts. This chapter has some amazing exercises that I can't wait to try, in addition to some old favorites. Many of you who knew me as a 175-210 lb college kid, depending on the year, never knew that I was a 275 lb football lineman in high school. I don't mind hard work, problem is, I've always played hard as well. About to go have a protein shake with melon, and complete my workout this morning before heading out to take care of some business. A side note, my babies live when I used them for my dumbbells and ankle weights, that way, I can work out and babysit at the same time. :-)

Day 7; Building Your Home Gym. My father was a Marine Corps 1st Sgt. and we always had stuff around the house as kids. I learned very early about PT training and, I know I can't use the lack of a ton of equipment in my apartment as an excuse not to work out. On my balcony, I've got a really nice elliptical with variable resistance, display for carbs and calories burned, as well as distance, pulse, and a "smart trainer" integrated memory card (it also has a built in fan and water bottle holder). It gives me a great cardio workout and I absolutely love it. I put on the iPod and enter my own little world. I've also got "perfect pushup" circular handles, although my weight is still a bit too high to do very much on them just yet. I've got my Nike roll pad that I'll be using as I'm about to begin my yoga. I'll be searching local flea markets, yard sales, and thrift stores for a set of dumbbells and a curls bar with maybe 100lbs and that's it.
My minimum goal right now is at least a half an hour each day, and slowly increasing.

Day 8; Stalls, Plateaus and.....the Last Resort. Talked at length with Hack yesterday about this exact thing! Im mot maintaining my scheduled meals, then I'm gorging (especially late in the day). Surgery of any kind is not an option. I've hit plateaus before, but never have I stalled this early. I did good almost all day yesterday and decided to have chili dogs for dinner. Added beans for lower calories and more protein. Totaled up the calories, and came in way over my goal! Frustrated. Ate a handful of the pork rinds wifey left on the table (not the fat-free kind either; more on that later). Wife and kids came I'm late last night with pizza (you already know). 2 slices later, went to bed without ever working out. This morning and, even though i said I'm no longer weighing daily, I couldnt resist. Back up to 394! Surprise right?! #+@! Tired of short-changing myself. Immediately went to the elliptical, took out the Jullian Michaels' iFit trainer card and tossed it (sorry mammi, I'm on my grown man thing today) and scorched my way through a viscous 30 minute segment at times reaching full resistance! Midway, I looked in my balcony window, and saw my beautiful amazon wife. She gained 100 lbs giving me babies back to back and, I worry about her health (she's an insulin dependent diabetic). I rode harder. I thought of my last league basketball game, 4 years ago where I, at 300+lbs. finished with 5 treys, 20 points, 5 assists (or somewhere there about), and a great highlight where i split two "leapers" and somehow got the ball high on the glass with enough english on it to spin it in leaving them smacking backboard and swatting at air. We lost, but after the game, the other team was ON ME! They couldn't believe a guy my size could move the way I did. I rode harder! I couldn't stop sweating, anger fueled me, then I realized that I wasn't just sweating.......I was crying. I rode even harder! I'm done, I'm soaked, I can barely walk. I'm going to get a shower, then I'm going to the kitchen a d I'm getting rid of all of this junk! Then I'm going to eat as much watermelon as my stomach will hold, then I'm going grocery shopping for the "right stuff". I can no longer continue to quit on myself. I'm doing a menu instead if "freelancing it". Ive got my calorie counter, and I'm going to do it the right way, no more short cuts. Ive got an important date in mid Oct., my short-term goal for that date is 350 lbs. thats 44 lbs in 5 or 6 weeks. Wish me luck. Thank you all so much for your support thus far.

Day 9, Sometimes Life Gets In The Way...; I am finding that the further along I get into this book and on this journey, the more things begin to make sense. This chapter covered everything from plateaus, making time, and planning for exercise. It talks about how to adjust my exercise routine when I'm tired, ill, or away from home. How to keep my workouts interesting and how vital it is to maintain proper nutrition and sleep (2 areas I've struggled with since my adolescent days).

Yesterday was by far my best day yet. Although it started a bit rough, hard work and dedication persevered. I had a great morning workout, I got rid of a ton of junk in my freezer, fridge, and cabinets, I shopped better than I ever have at the grocery store, I fought the good fight, resisting a late night carb fest and, when I got on the scale this morning, I smiled from ear to ear. Now that I have the formula, I won't weigh for several days. There is no magic fairy fat dust, so i just gotta grind it out day by day, inch by inch, and pound by pound. I definitely seem to do better working out in the morning, because when I work out late, I'm so amped and fired up, it's difficult to wind down for the night. I had boxed a bit in my youth (well, tried to) and, for those who remember my ridiculous college jump rope workouts, I was a jump rope technician, who could go endlessly and vary the task. Long gone are those high impact days, but its still important to keep my workout fresh. Really want to search for a curl bar and/or dumbbells this weekend. Feeling good. Have a great mi familia.

Day 11, We Are What We Think.....; quite honestly, I am struggling with this chapter. I was assured before I even began that there would be moments like this, but I will be patient, pray for guidance and understanding, and stay the course until it DOES make sense. This was a bit heavy, but I've tried to put it into practical terms and that is this; dualism is the basic idea that, in terms of mind over matter, the mind is separate from the brain (which is considered matter or a "flesh" organ). The mind is not something that can be held or touched physically. Within the mind, there are possibly various level of consciousness, with the primary being conscious (voluntary) and subconscious (involuntary) thoughts. That is why it is so vital to, just like with food, ingest good and healthy stuff into our mind. It is ever so important that we dont allow ourselves to trip over our biggest hurdle.....our mind. We can block our blessings just by limiting ourselves unproductive thoughts. This chapter has so much meat and goes so deep, although I do get it, it's difficult for me to put into words. Guess you'll have to read it on your own although the daily reflection is unite a nice summation in that, "I am who I think I am". Along with the thought provoking question to self, what thoughts and people have been holding me back and how will I no longer allow them to rob me of my joy? Awesome read, it's just such a quick shift from my focus on the physical but, trust and believe, I am thinking myself thin now that I have removed negative, toxic, and self defeating thoughts and ideas.

Day 12-Prayer and Meditation; in order for me to post, there must be full truth, and my truth is that, although I am in full recognition of my amazingly blessed state of existence, it has not always been so. I left Longwood College sans degree in fall of 1989, due to a newfound love of crack cocaine. After fighting through all sorts of life struggles from addiction and alcoholism, a life of crime and imprisonment, an illegitimate child and the relationship that was devastated in the process, as well as a slew of other people whose lives I destroyed in destroyed in the process. Ive been as low as one can possibly get, but I am here with you today, cloaked in my right mind, with the full faculties of my limbs giving honor and praise to He who has no limits. I am near completion of a book that takes the reader on a walk with me through my most recent failing of a test of my faith, my crazy daily journey of desperation as an addict, and the Grace of the Lord that reaches out to us in our worst of times, and nurtures us back to spiritual health. I cried while reading this chapter because it reminded me of how painful life's lessons can be when we take our eyes off of God and stop doing the things that brought us success in the first place.

Each morning, before I went to work, I sat, reading "My Daily Bread" and corresponding Bible verses. Prayer and meditation was a huge part of my day. When I got "too busy" for God, my life turned into an absolute mess. With all of the wonderful info this book holds, this chapter may well be my most needed thus far.

Day 12 summarizes how important it is to set aside some time and, starting with a few moments of silence, we go to our quiet place without distruption, we sit quiet, still, and peacefully. We got to the Lord humbly, asking forgiveness of our failings, give our request fully and truthfully, show gratitude and thank Him in advance, then claim it and remain faithful. What I had to learn was that, when the Lord doesn't grant me my prayer request, it's not that he doesn't love me, or that he isn't a giving God, it's just that he has something else for me. My sitting here writing this is proof of that because, had I been left to my own devises, I would've remained in my own mire.
This chapter not only explains why its so important to have this time each day, why we need to silence our minds, learn proper breathing techniques, and be willing to accept some alternative things from other cultures that maybe we would not be receptive to in the past. I spoke with a friend the other day who, after having to have his back surgically repaired (we had the same injury, mine is just not yet to that point) now swears by acupuncture. I went to school with this guys for 16 years, 1st grade thru college, and to hear him say acupuncture, I almost laid a golden egg! Now, I am very interested in finding out more about acupuncture, as well as a slew of other alternative things such as yoga. I was doing yoga before and, I thought it was goofy at first but, after actually embracing it, I fell in love. I actually have a dear friend who, along with James, is my other life coach, who I am inviting to join us. She is into Bikram yoga but her greatest strength may be in her knowledge of chemicals, pesticides, genetic alterations in foods, etc. She's looking to open a local yoga salon (or whatever they call it). In a few short weeks of yoga, I was able to calm my mind and spirit, improve my breathing, and increase my flexibility. I'm a huge fan.

There is a section on how to get in touch with your intuition and it is exactly what is happening in my life; silence my mind, have an open mind, be creative, ask questions, and journalize your thoughts and info. This is all only getting better.

Day 13 - Stress, Depression, Low Self-Esteem and Addiction: The Four Horsemen of Your Apocalypse; This chapter opens with a quote stating, "where you go, there you are." As you have traveled alongside of me on this journey, you are getting to know more and more of who I am, where I've been, what has gotten me to this point, but most importantly, where I'm headed. As a person in recovery, I've attended 12-step meetings off and on for years and some of the greatest philosophical ideas came out of the mouths of former drunks and junkies. One of the best topics was the quote I stated or, basically, I take me everywhere I go and who am I when nobody is watching. I'm actually very glad that this is the next to last day of the "Mind" portion of the BMS guide because it is really hitting home and I don't won't to post. I am a recovering addict who grew up with low self-esteem, has battled depression, and is now on anti-anxiety medication to help me manage my stress levels. This chapter is ME! Again, this is really a chapter that you have to interpret on your own because it is so very personal that I'm pretty sure that each and everyone of us has struggled with one or more of these areas in our lives at some point or another.

I'm going to try something different here, and that is, I'm going to work backwards. The highlight at the end challenges us to find what non-essentials are in our live that we can't live without for 21 days. Perhaps these are our addictions. To address and addiction is simple; here is something that I do to an unhealthy point, yet I continue on. Webster defines it as - dependence, craving, habit, fixation, enslavement, etc., you get the picture. The Bible says "be a slave to nothing but God". Food has not only been a problem and my worst for years, it has also been my best friend and source of comfort. My self esteem issues began as a redboned, light brown haired, thick lipped, chubby fella, with a Jewish name. I used to think, "Even Marion Barry wasn't set-up like THIS!" There are many factors that trigger low self-esteem and there are many listed here in Ch. 13. The first time I ever got sober, I had a bout of depression. I was told that, "because you are now sober, you are depressed because you have lost your best friend (cocaine)". Wethese hole there might have been some truth to that, but the bigger truth was the reason I ever used in the first place was because I felt lacking in some area(s). If you did to you, what I did to me, you too would be depressed! This chapter gives us wonderful tools to help cope with depression from breathing techniques, exercise, and aroma therapy, to warming with tea or a hot bath or shower, journaling our thoughts, or taking a brief imaginary escape. We all experience stress, only we all react and process it differently. For many of us, stress can be an evil, debilitating, juggernaut, but for others, who know how to let it roll like water off a ducks back, it's nothing major. In dealing with stress, we should create boundaries for ourselves, prioritize chores, ask for help, get a good nights sleep, and take time for US. For those of us who still have trouble, therapy may be an option. Bottom line is this; we all react, deal with, and cope in our own ways. Once we begin to utilize these tools, it will help us to lighten our loads. Although we each have our own crosses bear, that doesn't mean they have to be unbearable......

Day 14 - Money, Power & Sex; Over the past year in particular, Joel Olsteen has come under fire for his brand of ministry, but he is unapologetic in his belief that we don't worship an angry, ogre of a God, but instead, a God of love who loves us, and wants to prosper us! I am in agreement. Here's the problem; to many of the people with money and power, allow themselves to be compromised by their influential peers. Last year, a young man from the projects of SE, DC was killed coming home from high school. Just another day in DC huh? Well, not really. What was surprising to me, was not that he was a basketball star about to attend a great D1 school on a full scholarship, it was that is was an academic scholarship from Bill and Melinda Gates for this young man to attend Johns Hopkins! That just doesn't happen everyday and I remember having tears in my eyes, thinking that I had to get Christopher out of that area. This kid was killed because he was  friends with somebody, someone else didn't like! Anyway, I will ALWAYS love the Bill Gates, Oprah Winfreys, and Bill Cosbys of the world because they have used their gifts and blessings to help others. What a blessing to be put in a position to help others. MC Hammer was harshly criticized for blowing 100 mil, but i like his explanation. "I made 100 mil, traveled the world with a huge entourage, and lost a lot, but mostly I lost me. So I went from 100 mil to 10 mil and everybody was looking at me as the biggest fool in the world. O course there are some things I wish I would've done different, but if you ask the families of all of those people I fed, housed, and clothes for several years, I don't think they would say that money was wasted at all." THAT, is accountability!
Sex?! Really? First off, my wife and I celebrate our 3rd anniversary today! I love you baby, Happy Anniversary! Please forgive me for what I'm going to reveal; PSYCHE! What are you CRAZY?! Look, I have had my battles. I haven't always been perfect. I was always a pretty loyal guy, but I understand lust, and how it can effect other areas of our lives. I respect how Hack put this chapter together and his honesty and candor, but it's my anniversary and I don't want NO drama! That it and that's all! Have a great day. :-)

Day 15 - Spirit vs Soul; before I even post, I am going to tell you right now that I am a Christian. I'm not going further than that into the whole religion thing because it can take the focus away from why we are here. I have suffered multiple addictions from drugs and alcohol, to food, sex, and porn. I remember how when I would first get sober, I would always have these vivid, terrible nightmares! Once I woke up crying, thinking I had relapsed, and it was so vivid, I could smell and taste coke! I went to a dear friend who is not only a recovering addict but also a well-known minister. What he said intrigued me. "Ira, you are sober, worshiping and praising God every day. You walk with your full armor on, but at night, when you are asleep and your guard is down, that's when Satan tries to attack; through your mind!" This goes back to Day 11, and the subconscious mind; I can't control what goes in, or how my mind processes it, but I can limit my exposure and give myself a chance with a "buffer zone" through prayer. 

I want you to know something (and James and Angela can vouch for this), I have been on this site for over a year! I sat there everyday, shamed, embarrassed, and miserable while I watched others improving. My pride held me back. I can't look back and say, "wow, if I would've done this a year ago, I would be at my target weight by now!" What I can say is, "I won't waste another day waiting. Whatever I do, I'm gonna do it right now!"

Day 16 - What Religion is God?; as I told you yesterday is that I am a Christian. I believe that God manifested himself I'm the flesh as Jesus,giving us not only a perfect example to follow, but also, thru his sacrifice, atonement for our sins. I believe that the Holy Spirit comforts and intercedes with God on my behalf when I request. I've been to megachurches that hold thousands, storefront churches with less than a dozen members, churches right in the projects where we went just for breakfast, I've seen them all. I finally went back home to the church I grew up in, now pastored by mu dear, childhood friend and neighbor, and it felt so good. As a young married couple, we struggled terribly. I worked 65-75 hour weeks moving furniture in 95+ temperatures! When my job requested me to work Sat and Sun, I complied. Soon, after missing Sunday after Sunday, then months of Sundays, I found myself estranged from my congregation, and from the Lord. I went through a terrible test of faith, and I failed miserably! End result, after years of sobriety, I relapsed and used! It took me months to once again get grounded. I love my church and my congregation, unfortunately I can't get there like I'd like to with only one shared vehicle, but I study my word and I will soon be back full time. I'm in a really good place spiritually, and that's what's most important to me, my own personal relationship with God, and not the trapping of religion which can be so difficult to get past without one having a strong Christian foundation. I don't care about the horse and pony show, the fronts, or facades; are you a God-loving, Bible-teaching church, bottom line. I'm looking forward to getting back on my regular schedule, but still praying, studying, and working hard to stay in God's grace, mercy, and favor.

Day 17 - Abraham and the Buddha; for of all, sorry this post is so late, it has been an extremely difficult day. I haven't recovered from my slip the other day, and the weight is lingering. Sick with a chest cold and just don't have a lot of energy for much of anything. Don't even have my book with me but I'm going to try my best, I read earlier and thought I posted but, apparently it didn't go thru. I'm not big on reading history, especially religious history that isn't of my faith or belief, but I found today's reading very interesting. One thing about history, you can't argue with facts. Interesting to know the Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all have the same roots historically (Abraham) and that Buddhism isn't even a religion at all. What Hack did in a few pages many folks couldn't do in multiple books over centuries! How we differ and how we are connected historically, could help us eventually get to the root cause of how we can be so evil to our fellow man. Great info. Really has given me a more profound understanding of my brother man and why it is we think the way we do.

Day 18 - Fasting; ok, now we're cooking with grease! Well, as I have gone further along in this book each day, I have found that everything I read is not enjoyable, but it is informative and THAT is the purpose of this book; to arm us with the information that will most positively alter our lives. In other words; I love you and there ain't a thing you can do about it! Thank you Father, and thank you James for your obedience and for allowing Him to use you as an instrument. 

In my school days I briefly boxed and wrestled an making weight was always a big issue. I remember throwing on the plastic bag and sweats and running away lbs in a day. Well, for those that met me as a 215lbs Longwood College freshman in '85, they never knew that I was just a lineman on our conference champion football team a few months before! I began running after slowly healing from a horrific automobile accident right after football season where I went thru the windshield, tore up my knee, suffered facial wounds, a shattered wrist, and nearly lost an eye! I found solace in running and fell in love with it. By the end of senior year, I was logging up to 20 miles per week, and eventual taking my 275lbs frame to 175lbs by my sophomore year of college. One thing I never did was fast. I was first introduced to it at a friend's church I was visiting years ago and I immediately thought they were a cult, until I was shown biblical support. I have been interested but never chose to try it.........until now!

As I have documented, I have struggled lately, and didn't know why. I haven't been "sneaking and cheating" since I gained back several lbs the other day, but it seems I've found the culprit. When we went grocery shopping the other day, we bought a huge bad "healthy" trail mix at BJs. People, do NOT believe everything you read! I have apparently downed several THOUSAND calories of this stuff over the past several days! I had know idea of the fat (all types) that it contained! Anyway, I feel better knowing, and I won't again make the mistake of assuming about anything going in to my body. That being said, I should be good and have nice carb and protein storage for a fast. Now would be an excellent time so, after deep meditation and soul searching and fervent prayer, after 6pm this evening, I will not consume food again, only plain water, until 6am Monday! Im starting with 36 hours only because I think 24 hours is for chumps, and 48 hours might kill me :-) 

Actually, if I feel like it at 6am, I might shoot for a few more hours, we'll see. For those who would like to fast along with me, please feel free to join in. 

A lot of good things are happening in my life (some have already began) and I'm very excited about what lies on the near horizon. I want to petition God, thanking him for the things he is doing, ask him to search my heart and help remove unhealthy patterns and addictions, and any spirit of fear or doubt. I also want to help cleanse my body of icons that have built up "since forever". Please keep me in prayer and send whatever positive energy you may have laying around in hopes that I don't go psycho, and eat the family pet. :-) Just kidding, we don't have a pet (ever since I ate the bunny rabbit :-p) Have a great day fam, and be blessed.

Day 19 - The Holy Spirit; the Bible describes the Holy Spirit as everything from flames and fog, to a dove. Truth is, it exists with us to help guide us in many different ways. Jesus describes it as a comforter (but not the down type that is so wonderful on the bed). The Holy Spirit is God's spirit that serves us on an individual and personal level. Some may see it as a sixth sense or guardian angel, call it what you want, as long as you recognize what it is, where it's from, and what it's purpose is. I'm 30 years in the relocation industry, I've been in the homes of some very successful and influential people; I have also shared prison cell blocks with every criminal from murderers and rapists to common thieves. I have seen a lot in this life, but I have been kept time after time. When I wrecked my motorcycle, when my family and I surely thought we would perish in a horrific automobile accident we were involved in where we totaled our SUV on 95, and when 3 off friends were shot in the head right on front of me, but I walked away with a scar (at least no physically) I found myself screaming God's name it and every time, and each and every time, the Holy Spirit showed up to calm, comfort, and lead. In this chapter we discuss everything from Benefits of the Holy Spirit, how God releases

His power, the 7 gifts and 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit. James discussed a situation somewhat similar to an event that took place in my life a few
years back. I went to worship at a Spanish friends and coworkers church. He is a mighty man of God doing wonderful things in the Latino community and, after fervent prayer, we settled in to the service. In a wonderful, spirit-filled room, I sang and worshiped (in Spanish) until I realized what was happening and, just like Peter on the water, it immediately vanished. After the service,y friend came up and was like "wow, you were really into the service! I didn't even know you spoke Spanish!" I looked at him not even understanding myself and said point blank.........."I don't". That little choppy bits and pieces I learned in classes over the years were never practical for me to use, but I have NEVER experienced anything remotely reassembling that
Level of conscious comprehension before or since. The Holy Spirit is alive and well my friends. Don't take my word for it, go have your own near death experience and check back with me......

Day 20 - I Know But....; the chapter opens up with a reference to President had me at hello. The day Barack Obama was elected as our first African/American president, I was riding around with a fellow junkie and our dealer, with a crack pipe in my mouth and tears running down my face, so tired of being "part of the problem". Funny thing was, when I looked at Chubbs, my dealer, he too was crying. We road thru those DC streets while youngins bust their guns like it was New Years or July 4th, yet the police stood down! I think they knew that THAT was OUR day, and anything that they did on that day would've ended badly so they allowed us our moment. People were crying I'm the street. Folks had pulled over to the roadsides to weep. It was one of the most amazing day ever. It now seems so very long ago, but till this day, I can remember that wonderful feeling of empowerment that his election gave all of us, that it was ok to dream, that a black kid COULD be president, that we were not second class citizens. Something happened to me that day; I dared to dream. There are things that are happening in my life right now that are manifestations from that very day.

By now it is well documented that I am a recovering alcoholic and addict. The entire first portion of today's reading, Getting Started, deals with how we move forward into claiming our "awakening" and, interestingly enough, in many ways these techniques parallel twelve step recovery formats which shouldn't be surprising at all seeing as how the 12 steps are Bible based! They traded "God" in the literature for "Higher Power" so as not to isolate any person or group. I really related to this chapter as one of the best in the entire book. Not only did it hold wonderful tools for self motivation and "supercharging" ourselves, but also had a great testimony and poetry (both right down my alley)!

I realize today that I have wasted enough time out of my life being reckless, selfish, and immature. I am so very blessed to have lived the amazing life that I have. I don't take things for granted and I don't quit. What a wonderful journey of rediscovery this has been thus far.

Day 21 - Your Journey Begins; well, the read starts with a quote by one of Americas greatest runners, the incomparable Steve Prefontaine who, was not just a great distance runner, and the runner who began to solidify Oregon as the collegiate athletic powerhouse that it is today but also, he was the man who was the early inspiration for a company that would go on to do magnificent things in sports and become one of the biggest revenue drawers in sports apparel. Have you guys ever heard of Nike? Haha.
We next hear of Spanish conquerer Hernando Cortes who, after landing in Mexico with plans of conquest, burned all 11 ships to insure that there was no going back (at least nit anytime soon) but instead, forward into battle and rule! THAT'S a ballsy call!

Day 21 highlights our new lives in 9 simple steps; 

Step 1- Make the decision- I decided that I didn't want to die from obesity. I can't control cancer and such things, but my weight is something I can change.

Step 2- Be accountable-I made my 1st 21 days a journal on a public, social media forum, but I do have an inner circle that helps keep me to task

Step 3- Find a place for workout, meditation, and worship- On my balcony, I have an awesome elliptical with all of the monitors, lights, bells, and whistles which makes working out more fun. I don't need much space. I also have a couple of light dumbbells and a yoga mat, and their working for now. All I need is a little time away from the chaos the wife and kids provide to have my meditation and worship, taking my Bible and devotionals with me.

Step 5- Schedule it- my babies don't get up too early or stay up too late so this isn't really a problem. They actually join me outside sometimes while I workout. Thanks to years of working outside, I've got tons of sweats, thermals, and cold-weather apparel so working out in winter isn't an excuse. I have weekly weightloss goals and am currently forming a weekly business agenda as well.

Step 6- Do it- already am. What's interesting is, could've skipped all 314 pages of the book and fast forwarded to here, but I wouldn't have had this life and soul saving information or the tools to implement it (plus I wouldn't of had the support of the amazing BMS family).

Step 7 - Enjoy it- I'm already enjoying a heightened sense of bliss and awareness as to what I've accomplished thus far with so much more on the horizon.

Step 8 - Maintain it- just like many of you, I have had some prior degree of success with weightloss, unfortunately, like many of you also, once I stopped eating right, I gained it all right back! This book has embedded in me an entirely new line of thought modification that, in 21 short days, is already netting remarkably positive results, (20lbs gone, a renewed mind, and a revitalized spirit).

Step 9 -Become an Evangelist- Elton and I had a wonderful convo the other day, and we both shared how, we had seen certain successes in our lives but never gave God the glory for the wonderful things we had accomplished and, just like that, in the blink of an eye, we had lost it all. God asks us for only one thing; to do what he asks. I know that makes it sound so easy, and we all know it can be so very, very hard, but I also know he recognizes effort because he knows our hearts. If I try my best, I give my all, and I help others by paying it forward, and sharing the wonderful knew knowledge that I am instilled with, God will surely be honored.

In closing, I would like to thank each and every one of you who participated, encouraged, supported, and even read along with me these past 21 days. It has truly been an honor and a privilege to have been able to join you in such a "public" way. I have an extremely long way to go but, just like in recovery, its one day at a time.
James, thank you for not only inviting me to take on such an epic task, bit for walking right there beside me, coaching me, pushing me, and motivating me the entire time. Things were a bit sketchy there for minute, but I thank you for your patience and constant encouragement. I can't wait to see what the Lord is going to do with me. Elton, old friend, and the rest who I engaged with , thank you also for walking with me on this very personal journey. 

If I can say anything at all, it would be to never give up on yourself, believe and have faith that God is still in charge, change IS uncomfortable but sooooo worth it, and you deserve to be the best you that you can be.

Please keep and eye out for my new book, "Fighting Fatz", coming soon. May God Bless each and every one of you, your families, and your circles.

Yours Truly,

About the Author of "Body, Mind & Spirit: The Awakening": James Hackley is an author, inspirational speaker, and a philanthropist who earned a B.S. degree in Physics from Longwood College and an M.S. degree in Engineering from the University of Virginia.  He's the founder of Omega Consulting Enterprises, chaplain of a local chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and faithfully attends Holy & Whole Life Changing Ministries International in Lansdowne, Va. His latest book, Body, Mind & Spirit: The Awakening can be purchased by visiting him at ,, and

1 comment:

  1. Ira - I've enjoyed reading your words so much! You are so open to LEARNING MORE about not only your mind, body & spirit but open to growing as a human, husband, father, friend, follower, leader, and believer! Really - at our age sometimes our growth stops and every day life takes over and here you inspire me to continue growing as a person in EVERY WAY! We met as kids and you were a bright light then and you are again now! Can't wait to watch your process more. Love to you - Michelle