Jace's Journal


Figment from "Journey Into Imagination with Figment" at EPCOT

Goodbye & Good Riddance to February

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Jace & Maleficient from Villain’s Sinister Soire in October 2014

I have heard this sentiment echoed on several social media sites and I have to agree: GOODBYE FEBRUARY 2015 and GOOD RIDDANCE! February was one of the more challenging months that I have had in a while. For the last three weeks I have not felt like myself. I can’t say that I had any major illness but I have felt run down and even a bit depressed. I have had minor colds throughout the month as well and I even took a sick day at work one day (which is something I rarely do). All of these factors, when combined with the normal stresses of everyday life threw me out of my rhythm. Normally I go to the gym at least six days a week and there were weeks I didn’t go to the gym at all. I also found myself not eating right and the result was I gained some weight. Now mind you, I gained slightly over 4 pounds which in the bigger realm is nothing but when you have lost over 100 pounds, any gain makes you feel bad. Add all of this together and I have found myself somewhat depressed to which I have been saying that I have succumbed to the winter blues.

But today is March 1st! In reality it is just another day but there is something magical and special about being able to flip the page on a calendar and look out on a new month as a fresh start. March should also mark a change in the weather with sunnier skies and less snow in the forecast. Atlhough the interesting thing is I am not supposed to be home right now…I had ticket to the Reading Royals tonight but Mother Nature decided to dump snow and ice on us. So I am missing the game tonight. So March, I’m letting you have this day but this better be it for the snow (or as I’m calling it the white crap at this point). So this weather has given me a day at home, although I did make it to the gym this morning before it started.

This day at home has allowed me to take a nap (yay, who doesnt love naps!) and now Im watching hockey on tv. And the best part is my favorite show on TV, "Once Upon A Time", returns with new episodes tonight at 8 PM EST after a 1 hour special recap show at 7 PM EST. The new storyline focuses on villains and they are introducing Cruella, Ursula, andMaleficent. In honor of this, I have posted my picture with Mlaeficent from the Villains Sinister Soire at Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party this past October. So I can begin my Sunday night tradition again which is where I make my low calorie pizza and have it while watchingOnce Upon A Time. So thats one good thing that March brings.

Also on the horizon is my return to Walt Disney World! People tell me all the time that I go to Disney too much but I havent been there since December. Now I know people might be thinking,boo hoo, hasnt been there since December”. And yes to be honest, three months without Disney isnt really that bad but to me Disney is my escape from reality. It is where I go to de-stress and going three months without that major help has effected me I believe. But woe is me but in 12 days I will be back! I will be headed down for a long weekend beginning Friday, March 13th. I will be there until the evening of Monday, March 16th. This trip is to visit EPCOTs Flower and Garden Festival which is a favorite of mine and I attend every year. So this is another reason to be happy March is here. As I have for the last few Disney trips, I will be live blogging my trip at www.outlandcantina.com and will be posting pictures here and on our social media sites.

April will be even more of a reason to celebrate as I will be going to the West Coast for the first time! I will be attending Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim and since Im there, I will also be going to Disneyland for the first time! In addition, Baseball season will start while we move into hockey playoffs so I will be able to experience my two favorite sports at the same time. I love Spring and Fall for so many reasons, including the great weather, but it is the two times that hockey and baseball overlap which gives me a lot of fun nights at ballparks and stadiums.

Speaking of sports, this was the inagural season of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers. The team plays about 20 minutes from where I live and so I purchased season tickets. I have been tweeting during games but also created a sport blog www.ironphantom.com where I cover the Phantoms as well as the Reading Royals when I go to those games. I will also talk about the Iron Pigs on that site when baseball season begins. If you like my sports stuff, please be sure to give me a visit over there.

So in conclusion, February is now a memory but a lot to look forward to in March. Have a great week and be sure to give us a follow at our social media sites (links in sidebar).

Fall TV Season So Far

This past week marked the first week of the new Fall television schedule. While not all shows had their season / series premieres, we did have several shows that returned or made the initial broadcasts. Here is my take on shows that I follow:


This past Monday saw the series premiere of Gotham, the season premiere of Sleepy Hollow, and the season premiere (and a bonus new episode) of the Big Bang Theory. Regarding Gotham, I was so blown away, I made a separate blog post about the premiere. Needless to say that I am going to be watching Gotham with great interest.

Sleepy Hollow had an interesting debut as it looked ike the series had done a time jump but they quickly explained what was going on and they continued the story arc that left us with a cliff hanger on the finale. I think this season should be quite interesting as there are a lot of places they can take the current story.

Big Bang Theory honestly disappointed me. The season premiere picked up the storyline that ended in the finale (which was a fairly weak story if you ask me as it was all about Sheldon having a midlife crisis so to speak). It wasnt that the premiere was bad, it just didnt wow me. I have come to love the Big Bang Theory and it typically makes me laugh but I dont think I laughed at all during the premiere or even the bonus new episode that was shown Monday night. They were alright but nowow factor.


Tuesday night had the premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and I am still uncertain whether or not I liked it. I have seen reviews that say the show is better than ever and Im not sure I can agree with that. I miss the action storylines. Although there was action, it just didnt feel right because it wasnt the same team as last year. Coulson is acting like Fury as I guess he is now the director and hes taken on Furys mysterious attitude which I didnt care for. Coulson was always a man of action, not just behind a desk so I dont like how he was in the first episode. May was good as she seems to be the leader of the team from an actiona stand point so to speak. Ward is now their prisoner and is acting like he wants to repent but does he really? Where was Hydra during this episode? They were mentioned and we saw some foreshadowing at the end but the lack of their big presence also made it seem off. Skye was now more action hero that computer geek like she was last year and that seemed a bit off as well. I can understand she was trained by May after what happened in season one but it just felt a bit forced. Fitz flew over the cuckoos nest after what happened to him in the season finale and we find out, at the end, that Jemma really isnt there (where is she by the way) but just a figment of Fitzimagination. Im not giving up on the show but I hope they take it in a better direction and fast.

The Agent Carter beginning was awesome though and I did like Lucy Lawless on the show. Cant say I really liked her character but seeing Lucy Lawless is always great!


The Wednesday comedies I follow also premiered on Wednesday: The Middle and Modern Family. Like the Big Bang Theory I was left diappointed. I just didnt find myself laughing like I normally do. I almost think it is time for the Middle to end. Im not sure how much longer I can watch this hardluck family and their bad luck. Modern Family also seemed flat to me. Southpark also had a new episode Wednesday night and it was completely and utterly LAME. What used to be witty is now seeming forced.

The other show that premiered today (Sunday) is Marvels Avengers Assemble which had a better storyline that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in my opinion as they storyline is about Thanos and we even had Hydra agents in the show. It seems that they are setting us up for a great storyline arc. Earlier this month Ultimate Spiderman: Web Warriors season premiere debuted on Disney XD and has a great storyline about young superheroes that Spidey is helping S.H.I.E.L.D. recruit and train.

Tonight is the season premiere of Once Upon A Time which I am more than excited about. Im also awaiting premieres for the Originals, the Vampire Diaries, the Flash, Arrow, Grimm, Constantine, and Mighty Med (my new favorite guilty pleasure on Disney XD).

Television Review: GOTHAM

I will be honest when I saw that I wasn’t sure how Gotham would turn out. For the first place, the network airing Gotham was to be FOX and that network, in my opinion, does not have a good track record with this type of show (need I bring up the show Firefly). Further I wasn’t quite sure how well a prequel to the Batman saga would do. Intrigued by how it would turn out, I set my DVR to record the show this past Monday (September 22, 2014). I did not have a chance to watch the show live and it has been sitting on my DVR for almost a week now. I decided to watch the show, uninterrupted today.

And after watching the series premiere episodeI have to say I was blown away! First lets talk about the casting. The actor who was cast to be James Gordon absolutely nailed it. After so many good actors who have portrayed the character of James Gordon, I was pleasantly surprised to see that this actor did such a fine job of portraying the character. He captured the intensity and genuineness of the character. The actress cast to play the future Barbara Gordon is absolutley gorgeous and Im happy to see that this character is getting some air time as we dont know a tremendous amount about Gordons wife. It also seems that she has some sort of past and Im curious to see what that might be and how it plays out.

The numerous cameos were also great.meeting Edward Nigma, a young girl named Ivey, having Oswald Cobblepot as one of the guys working for Fish Mooney.all great cameos that point to the future. And to have Selina Kyle floating around the scenes and having her as a witness to the murder of Bruce Waynes parents is also interesting forecasting. Other cameos, including Carmine Falcone, and the casting of Harvey Bullock and having Alfred part of the show make this program on par with the Batman saga.

But the most amazing part was the amazing actingthe only actor with whom I was really familiar with was Jada Pinkett Smith and she portrayed Fish Mooney very well but the rest of the actors were amazing as well. Even the way the show is filmed is amazingin this day and age of HD tv, shows on television look more like movies but the filmography of the pilot seemed to be done even more well done than normal HD shows.

The most touching parts of the show, to me, were the scenes between young Bruce Wayne and James Gordon. It goes to show exactly why Batman trusts Gordon. To sum up my thoughts on the show: A+ and I can’t wait to see the next episode which I will be sure to catch live.

September 14, 2014: iRUNpigs Event

On Sunday, September 14, 2014 I participated in the iRUNpigs event which was held by the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, the AAA affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The event, which is for the Iron Pigs Charities, consisted of a 5k, a“piglet run”for kids, and a walk. While I didn’t think I was ready for a 5k run, I did feel good about doing the 1.5 mile walk. Aside from the Alzheimer’s Association Walks, I have not participated in any races / walks. The event was nice as we received a t-shirt, a calendar, a raffle ticket for autographed and other items they were raffling off, and a voucher for a hotdog and a soda. Although there weren’t any placings / prizes for the walk, just the 5k, I was the second walker to cross the finish line which I was happy with. As you crossed the finish line they had water and then a table where you could get a bag of chips or a muffin. Overall, it was a great day!

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Hyde Park Trip: September 13, 2014

On Saturday, September 13, 2014 we took a bus trip to Hyde Park, New York. Our first stop was at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum where we got to see his home, gravesite and library. It was very informative and interesting. The special exhibit was about Madeline Albright and her pin collection.

Our next stop was with Empire Cruise Lines to take a guided boat tour of the Hudson. We got to see some of the historic sites along the river. As we finished the two hour tour, the tide came in and the pier was flooded. After waiting a half hour, the tide came in a bit but they have us plastic bags to put over our feet as we crosses so we wouldn’t get wet.

The last stop of the day trip was to the Hyde Park Brewing Company for dinner. It was a buffet with salad, bread, ziti, potatoes, vegetables, sausage & peppers and chicken Marsala. For dessert we had apple strudel. The food was pretty good!

Weight Loss & Fitness Update: Hit Two Big Milestones


Jace with Donald Duck at Chef Mickey’s in Walt Disney World in April 2012:

2 Months Before Beginning Weight Watchers

Four weeks ago I began working out with a personal trainer. The funny part about this was I always used to look at people who worked out with a personal trainer and thought I would never do that. I felt it was a waste of money and thought that I should know how to exercise since I have a degree in therapy. As time has progressed, I realized that I was completely wrong. First off, my degree is in occupational therapy, not personal training or exercise physiology. They are different fields and I get upset when other disciplines act like they know what I do. And here I was doing it myself! Beyond that, I was exercising regularly for a few months and while I was making gains—I often wondered if I was doing the right thing.

So I began my journey four weeks ago and I will admit, it is tough! I work out personally with my trainer three days a week at the gym and then he gave me a program to complete the days I am not with him. It was tough because I was used to working out on machines and most of the workout I was given use bodyweight as resistance rather than using machines. The workouts are great and I am seeing results already.

After the first week of my new fitness program, I went to Weight Watchers and weighed in: I was up .8 pounds. This didn’t bother me because as I looked back I had not had the best of eating habits that week and I chalked it up to that. After the second week of this new fitness plan, I went to Weight Watchers and weighted in: I had gained 1.4 pounds. Again I didn’t freak out because that week I had gone on a trip to Lancaster and went out to eat at an awesome buffet restaurant. But in the back of my mind, I kept thinking—I started a new fitness program and what do I have to show for it: a 2.2 pound weight gain. Now I had a lot of helpful advice at this point, including pointing out the fact that I may very well have gained some muscle and muscle does weigh more than fat. But I was still slightly discouraged although I didn’t give up.

To make matters worse, I hurt myself in the second week of personal training. During my growth, my left leg kept growing while my right leg stopped to the measurement difference of 1 1/2 inches. This leg length discrepancy leads to me having a slighlt limp (I typically walk with a wide based of support) and this leads to tight hamstrings and some back pain. During the training sessions that I had done without my trainer, I had pushed myself a bit and I injured my sacro-iliac joint on the right side. To combat this I began doing more stretches that focused on lumbar stabilization and reduction of muscle tightness in the lower body.

To make matters worse, I had a few events this past week where I had to eat out. With all of this in mind, when I went to Weight Watchers to weigh-in this past Saturday, I expected a gain. I was pleasantly surprised when the attendant said I had lost 6.8 pounds! This is how I typically lose weight: I hit a plateau and then all of a sudden one week I have a significant drop and it gets me back on course. So to say that I am happy is an understatement.

With this 6.8 weight loss, it has lead to two major weightloss milestones: I now weigh under 200 pounds! I can’t remember when I weighed less than 200 pounds. It was definitely sometime in high school. Additionally, since beginning Weight Watchers meetings I have lost 92.2 pounds. However, I had done Weight Watchers online before I started going to the meetings. I had lost about 10 pounds with the on-line program. When my Weight Watchers meeting location started offering the Monthly Pass program (a hybrid of going to meetings and using the online program) the Weight Watchers application connected my accounts and therefore when I go to weigh in, it lists my starting weight as the weight from when I started online. Thus, when I weighed in this week it listed my total weight loss as over 100 pounds!

Now weighing under 200 pounds and having hit a 100 pound weight loss has given me a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful to all the family and friends who have supported me throughout this journey as I couldn’t have done it without their help. And my journey is far from over! I don’t have a weight goal in mind as I am more focused on measurements as goals as I still have body fat to lose, especially around my waist. I have committed to working with my personal trainer for at least three months which will take me into December so I know my progress will continue.

These milestones couldn’t have come at a better time as next weekend is my birthday! I had hoped to get under 200 pounds by my birthday. When I had a few weeks of gains, I had not expected to hit this goal but at the last moment it happened. For my birthday I am going to my favorite place, Walt Disney World in Florida, for a long weekend. I am flying down Friday morning and staying until Monday night. For my birthday I will be dining at“Be Our Guest”restaurant and then going on the“Pirates and Pals”boat cruise to watch the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. So now I can go on vacation celebrating both my birthday and these weight-loss milestones! I will also take an updated progress picture to go with the one I have at the top of this page.

Movie Review: How to Train Your Dragon 2

How to Train Your Dragon 2 has been on my must-see list of movies since it came out but circumstances lead me to not see it right away. Fortunately today (July 13, 2014) I was able to see the movie before its run ended. I should preface this review by saying how I became a fan of the franchise. One of my favorite places to watch summer movies is the local drive-in movie theater where you get a double feature for the price of matinee at most movie theaters. I don’t recall what the second film was, but I went with a friend to the drive-in to see a movie and the original“How to Train Your Dragon”was the co-feature. I remember thinking to myself that I didn’t really care to see the movie but it didn’t bother me either. It ended up that not only did I like the movie, but I like it more than the movie I went to the drive in with the intention of seeing!

After enjoying the movie, I then began watching the TV series that aired on Cartoon Network. As of the writing of this review, two seasons of the show have aired. I have enjoyed the TV series as well so when the sequel came out…I had to see it.

Here is my review of the movie and since it contains spoilers…I have added a


The movie starts off by showing that the characters have been aged a bit. Hiccup is said to be 20 years old and it seems his relationship with Astrid has progressed as Stoick says that she will be his“future daughter-in-law”. While this isn’t the actual case, it shows that Hiccup and Astrid do have some form of a relationship now.

We learn that Stoick plans on retiring and wants Hiccup to take over as Chief of Berk. This is not something that Hiccup is looking forward to as he tells Astrid that he doesn’t even know who he really is yet. We see that Hiccup has been riding Toothless and mapping out previously unknown islands and civilizations. In his adventures he finds a group that traps dragons and hands them over to an evil warlord named Drago who is building a dragon army. We later learn that Drago had previously met with the chiefs, including Stoick, and had said he would protect them from the dragons if they would bow down to him. When the chiefs refused, he unleashed his dragon army on the chiefs and only Stoick survived.

Stoick wants to lock Berk down and prepare for the attack from Drago but Hiccup disobeys and sets off to find Drago with the intention of convincing him to not enslave the dragons. Astrid follows Hiccup but after they are separated Hiccup comes across a refuge area for dragons among whom is living a woman. This woman turns out to be Hiccup’s mother! Thought dead from a dragon attack on Berk when Hiccup was a baby, Hiccup’s mother left with the dragons. She explains that Stoick and the rest of Berk wanted to kill the dragons which she didn’t agree with and since she was living among the dragons she thought Stoick and Hiccup would be safer without her. On this island we learn of the alpha dragons which are huge dragons that can control other dragons. Hiccup’s mother lives along with one of the alpha dragons who is good and they live in peace with many, many dragons.

Looking for Hiccup, Stoick stumbles upon this dragon island and now sees his wife that he thought was dead. Instead of being angry or upset he embraces his wife and they reconcile. Unfortunately Drago captures Astrid and the other dragon riders from Berk and attacks the dragon island. Drago has his own alpha dragon who attacks the alpha dragon that is on Hiccup’s mother’s island and Drago’s alpha wins by killing the other alpha. The evil alpha hypnotizes Toothless and orders him to kill Hiccup. Seeing the blast coming Stoick pushes Hiccup out of the way and takes the blast. Stoick, dies saving Hiccup.

Drago, with the help of his alpha dragon, take all of the dragons from the riders from Berk and all of the dragons from the island. He says he intends to go to Berk and conquer them. After a funeral for Stoick the team flies to Berk riding baby dragons. Since baby dragons don’t obey anyone, they weren’t effected by the hypnotizing of the alpha dragon. Once they get to Berk, Hiccup connects with Toothless, who is still under the Alpha’s spell, and Hiccup breaks through and pulls Toothless out of his spell. When the Alpha tries to kill Hiccup, Toothless transforms showing a blue glow and he takes on the Alpha breaking the Alpha’s spell on all of the other dragons. The dragons then side with Toothless making Toothless the new alpha and they defeat Drago and his Alpha.

Berk then welcomes Hiccup as their new chief. The movie ends with Hiccup doing a voice-over of how they are rebuilding Berk.

I thought the movie was fantastic! I am not ashamed to say that when Stoick died I had tears in my eyes. The scene was quite emotional and very well done. The storyline was terrific and well done. I highly recommend this movie if you haven’t seen it.

Movie Review: Transformers: Age of Extinction

This afternoon a friend suggested going to the movies, which I was up for but when they suggested “Transformers: Age of Extinction” I was bit leary as I have read some not so great reviews about the film. But preferring to make my own judgements, I went along with seeing the movie especially since I have seen the previous three movies. Since we are over the whole 3D craze, we saw the movie in 2D and thus saved some money.

As expected, there were a LOT of previous before the movie (about 20 minutes worth) which made this movie seem even longer as it was listed as over 2 1/2 hours long. Noticeably different from the movie is its cast with Shia Lebeouf out and now Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. Fortunately it wasn’t a recast but instead a new character around whom the storyline revolved. The casting was a bit odd as they had Marky Mark playing a character who was supposed to be a poor, somewhat eccentric inventor who was a single father of a 17 year old girl. Mark is known for being in good physical shape and while this went well with the action of the movie, I don’t know many odd inventors who fit that type and watching him wear glasses and a welding apron during his inventing time was a bit comical—but oh well.

The beginning of the movie was slow….darn slow. I almost picked up my phone to text “snore” but figured that would be rude. There was a lot that could have been edited out of the beginning of the movie and still have the storyline intact. Speaking of story lines….this movie’s plot was weak at best and from this point on there are spoilers so I’m going to add a


OK, now that you’ve been warned….the plot centers on the US goverment, mostly the CIA, hunting down the Transformers after the events of the last movie. We learn that the government has disassociated itself with the autobots but is under the impression that the CIA is only hunting decepticons. This is not true…the leader of the project is hunting down autobots with the help of a transformer who we actually don’t know where he came from. It is later revealed that the creators of the transformers have basically hired this transformer to hunt down Optimus Prime. So he basically has a bounty on his head.

Seemingly unknown to the government, the leader of the transformer hunting party (played by Kelsey Grammar) is giving the bodies of the transformers he has killed to a technology company where he has a secret deal. They take the material from which the transformers are made (called transformium) and begin building their own transformers as they have learned to chemical compound and process to make the material transform. They harvest this element from the dead transformers as well as they found a crashed ship in the arctic from the time of dinosaurs. This goes on to say that the dinosaurs were not killed by a meteor as we have all thought but instead early transformers used a seed bomb to change the atomospher of earth in an attempt to make this planet theirs. Where that went, I have no idea as this part of the storyline was sketchy to me. But they are harvesting the material from a crashed ship they found as well.

The CIA agent played by Kelsey Grammar has a deal with this tech company that once they have enough to make their own army of transformers, he is going to retire from the government and get a job (with a big stock ownership) in the company. Going back to Marky Mark…since he is an odd inventor he seemingly also is one of the American Pickers as he and one of his employees go to an old movie theater to pick through any materials that are there. In the movie theater they find a truck and they buy that. That truck turns out to be Optimus Prime. The government agent figures out that Marky Mark has Optimus Prime and we see some dastardly attempts to get Prime but they get away leading to a big chase where we find out that the inventors daughter has a boyfriend who is from Texas but has an Irish accent (never quite fully got that one either except that they refer to him as “Lucky Charms” several times) and he’s a race car driver so he helps them escape.

So blah blah, typica chase scenes and the Optimus finds what is left of the autobots and they go on to find have a battle with the CIA agents along with this mystery transformer. Eventually this transformer captures Optimus with the help of the CIA and we learn of another deception. The transformer, as payment, gives one of those seed bombs to Kelsey Grammar’s character. They think they are going to use the seed to transform a remote area of the world so they can harvest more of the transformer material. But here’s yet another twist…where did they get a big source of transformer from. Yeah its Megatron and he’s still awake and really in control of himself and this transformer army that they are building. So yeah…blah blah big war, this time in Hong Kong. In the end the good guys win with the help of old transformers who are prisoners on the bounty hunter transformer’s ship who transform into dinosaurs (I remember those from the cartoon as a kid). It ends with Optimus Prime going into outerspace to find these creators so he can have his revenge.

So it looks like we are in store for yet another installment of this franchise that should have ended after the last movie. So in sum…this movie, in my humble opinion, was wretched. I was so bored that I kept muttering to myself that I wanted my money back. Oh well…but hey the special effects are cool.

Weight Loss Update

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you have read my updates on my progress with losing weight. I have been battling obesity most of my life and for the first time since I was a young child, I am longer classified medically as obese. Some have said that I talk about weight loss and exercise too much and if I do, I apologize. Please know that after being obese for much of my life, to have accomplished what is now an 85 pounds weight loss has been life changing.

My intent in writing this blog entry is not to highlight what I have accomplished but to respond to many questions I have received. When I meet people for the first time and they find out of my weight loss or I see people I havent seen in some time and they are shocked at the difference in appearance, the first thing I get asked isHow did you do it? The funny part is some have hinted that I may have had weight loss surgery. I take it as a huge compliment for people to think that I accomplished this through surgery, I am happy to report that I accomplished weight loss 100% naturally.

Let me start by saying why I decided to begin this journey. I was 35 years old at the time and I had just visited Walt Disney World in April 2012. Those of you who follow this site or me on social media, you know I geek out about Disney, Star Wars, and science fiction. Even though I attended conventions and vacationed many times in Disney World, I would avoid having myself in photographs as I didnt like how I looked. Instead of dealing with it, I avoided the problem and just avoided looking at myself. Well during my Disney World vacation in April 2012, I attended a character meal at Chef Mickeys in the Contemporary Resort. At this character meal, you are visited at your table by Mickey & Minne Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto. Even though I hated having my picture taken, I couldnt go through this meal without having mypicture with the characters. When I got back to the room that night and saw my pictures with the characters, I was horrified! I couldnt believe I was that big. I also recall feeling fatigued on the trip and I knew it was because I was tired from walking around carrying that amount of weight.

When I got back from vacation, I tried a weight loss program whose name I will not mention. The one time I had lost weight during my adult life was in 2005 when I had subscribed to one of those program where you bought your food and had it delivered to your house. You then ate what they sent you along with things that you bought from a list of foods. It was a pretty strict diet but I did lose 30 pounds in 2005. Shortly after I lost the weight and transitioned back toreal foodI gained most of it back. For some reason I thought I would try this diet again. After being on it a whole month and feeling miserable, I had lost a grand total of 2 pounds! That just wasnt worth the unhappiness I was experiencing. I knew I needed a better option.

The first weekend of June 2012 I decided to attend a Weight Watchers meeting that was held nearby. A few years prior I had done the Weight Watchers online program and I liked the program but I found that I could easily cheat and not feel any accountability. I decided that I wanted to do the program again but I wanted to go to the meetings since going to the meetings would hold me accountable as I knew each week I would step on the scale. While this was the reason I decided to join, I got a whole lot more out of going to Weight Watchers.

At the meetings, I had a leader who taught my the essentials of the program and provided support. I also met others who were going through the same struggles and shared their successes and challenges. Being with others who were going through the same thing was great in that we shared tips and success stories. In addition to following the Weight Watchers program, I also added exercise to my routine by going to the gym several times a week doing a mixture of cardio and light weight training.

Now, two years later I have achieved a weight loss of 85 pounds and I really appreciate the support I have received. I am far from achieving my own personal goals. When I started out I was 290 pounds and now I am hovering between 205 - 210 and went from a size 3XL shirt to a size XL. In response to my weight loss, I have been asked for some tips on how I did it and this is my response:

1) Involve your physician in your weight loss: You hear it all the time about how you should consult your physician before beginning any weight loss program and they are correct. I spoke to my doctor about what my plans were and what realistic goals were. During the process I had my blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugars, etc monitored so that my success was not only about the size of my clothing or the number on the scale but also about my overall health.

2) Don’t diet: Diets don’t work. The term“diet”makes it sound as if you are going to change what you eat for a short time to lose weight and then go back to the way you were eating before. This does not work and is a slippery slope. As I have heard many times, we didn’t gain weight eating too many fruits and vegetables! Sustained, long-term weight loss involves a lifestyle change. That is not to say that you can’t have good, fun food but you can’t eat cheeseburgers every day and expect to lose weight. It all comes down to moderation but following the dietary guidelines. Make sure you are eating the daily recommended daily allowance of each food group. That will ensure sustained healthy body weight.

3) Don’t forget about activity / exercise. This is key…it can’t be done by adjusting your eating habits alone. Healthy activity is also very important. For me personally, I enjoy going to a gym and doing some form of cardio activities (bike or treadmill) and weight lifting. For others, it might be taking walks, riding bike, etc. Again, I must say you should consult a professional to make sure you are performing exercise in the correct fashion. Fortunately, for me I have a degree in occupational therapy and have had schooling in anatomy, physiology and kinisiology which helped.

4) Don’tget frustrated: None of us gained weight over night and therefore you aren’t going to lose it over night either. Healthy weight loss is a gradual process. Plateaus will also happen. I was very frustrated when I hit my first major plateau which happened when I reached 50 pounds lost. For several weeks when I weighed in I was exactly the same down to the tenth of a pound. It took my Weight Watchers leader to make me realize that our bodies need time to adjust. At that point I had lost 50 pounds and my body needed time to adjust to itself in its new form. After some time the pounds starting coming off again. Also don’t get frustrated if some weeks you show a gain. That is also normal. Your body is going to make adjustments such as water retention, etc. Don’t worry and don’t give up.

5) Surround yourself with people who are going to support you. With any venture there are going to be those that support you and those that are road blocks, whether its intentional or not. When I started this process I was very vocal about it and every week when I weighed in, I posted my progress on social media sites. The amount of support that I received was amazing. I was surprised by the people who stepped forward to support me at times and I honestly was surprised by those that, to this date, have not acknowledged I even lost a pound. Dont get frustrated with those who dont support you and instead focus on those who do. Fortunately for me the number who support me is far greater than those that dont. But you will still get those that say things likeyou dont want to get too skinnyorjust one bite wont hurt.

In conclusion, I have to say that by no means am I an expert at weight loss nor am I endorsed by any product or service that I mentioned above. I am simply sharing what has been successful for me and I wish you the best of luck and success!

Merry Christmas & 2014 Disney Trips!

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Mickey and Minnie Mouse at the DVC Member Merry Mixer December 2013

Today is Christmas and it is the most holiest of days for my family and me. It felt somewhat odd having Christmas on a Wednesday especially with me having been off on vacation in Disney last week. I returned from my vacation to the “happiest place on earth” Friday night and had the weekend to msyelf. I then worked Monday and Tuesday and now had off today for the holiday. Tomorrow I return to work for two days before having the weekend off. So it has been a strange schedule to say the least.

Christmas Eve took an interesting turn as my family and I were ready to head to church when one of my family members injured themselves. It was a minor injury but enough to derail our plans to go to church. After getting things settled I headed to the gym for a workout later in the night. Christmas day started with presents with the family. Santa was too good to me, as always. Among other things I received a Yoda light-up toothbrush, a Mickey Mouse USB drive for the computer, a Peanuts statue that is really cool, 3 Star Wars Hawthorne village sets, a Snoopy singing plush, and Christmas ornaments. So it was a great day present wise.

After opening presents, I got ready and went to the gym for a workout. Surprisingly there were about 10 others at the gym. After my workout, I headed home in time for family dinner. We had fresh fruit, ham, steamed vegetables, green beans, and sausage filling. I did well for dessert and only had a single cookie but then had some more fruit. It was then time for more presents with family and this time I got a Peter Pan statue, a Star Wars vehicle, and three Star Wars ornaments (R2D2, Yoda, and Darth Vader). After helping to clean up it was time for a nap as I was exhausted. Now I’m sitting getting caught up on “Almost Human” which I am three weeks behind on but am enjoying and I had dinner (made one of my frozen pizzas).

All in all it was a great Christmas. From a Weight Watchers stand point I only went over by 1 point today but I still had all 49 of my weekly points and have not used any of the points I earned via activity (going to the gym).

The other major thing that I have worked on since I have been back from vacation is planning my next vacations. I am happy to say that I am officially going to Walt Disney World four times in 2014 at this time, but it will likely be five trips as it is too early to book a trip for next December. We will be going to Disney the following dates:

Saturday, February 22 - Tuesday, February 25—staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

Monday, April 14 - Saturday, April 19—staying at Old Key West

Friday, September 5 - Monday, September 8—staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Sunday, October 5 - Friday, October 10—staying at Saratoga Springs

I am very excited for these upcoming trips and by the end of January I should have the final trip, one for December 2014, booked.

Have a great week!