Friday, February 24, 2012

What is Integrity?

We've all probably heard about people who have integrity. Or people living lives of integrity. But what does it really mean?

Being the engineering type, I of course look for the proper definition:

Integrity [in-teg-ri-tee] - adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty

I like the second definition from a little better: the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished.

It all sounds pretty simple until I think about what it means to be whole or to adhere to principles. Don't you have to have something to compare to? Isn't it subjective then? And if integrity is subjective, can it be used as a measure of a person?

By my way of thinking, the real issue with integrity is what you use as your standard of comparison. Most people would say that as long you adhere to a consistent set of "good" principles, you have integrity. Or as long as you are consistent, then you can be said to have integrity.

It all comes down to what it means to be whole, entire, sound, undiminished when compared to something bigger than yourself. Some standard that isn't just "am I better than my neighbor."

And it has to be tested to be shown true. As Peter wrote in the New Testament:

For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. (1 Peter 2:19-20, New Living Translation)

Just "doing good" because you will be punished for doing bad doesn't show integrity. Intelligence, yes, but not necessarily integrity. Doing what you know to be right, especially in the face of options and pressure to not do it, reveals more of the wholeness and soundness of a person.

I bring all this up because I've been feeling a lot of pressure lately to compare myself, my life, and my family to others. I feel like there are things that I/we do that "don't measure up" to what others are doing. I feel pressure to go with the flow, so to speak.

And I have to keep coming back to what I believe, what I know, to be right and maintain my integrity as best I can. It isn't easy and I'm surely not perfect at it but I'm not giving up on it....

Speaking of not giving up, I stepped on the scale again this week. Here's what I saw:


Another half pound. Progress but still disappointing. I think it's time to kick it up a notch....

Here is this week's LiveStrong data.

Photo credit to contemplativechristian.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Power of Will

Over the past few weeks I've been frustrated with my ongoing attempts to bring my weight down (again). After a few weeks of no discernable progress, I'm about ready to throw in the towel on this and see what minimal changes I can make and still maintain where I am.

Basically, how can I eat what I want and at least not gain any weight....

Now, I did say "about ready" and not "I'm going to", so don't give up on me yet.

At the root of all this is my desire to eat what I want. And I want food that isn't exactly good for me - cheeseburgers and chili fries for example. But why is that?

For me, I'm finding (again) that this sort of eating seems to give me some sort of comfort/solace/respite. It's harder to deal with "eating right" the more stress or anxiety or fatigue that I have at any given moment.

I know I'm not alone in this behavior and this isn't some deep insight special to me, but I find that I have to remind myself of this time and again. For me, staying on track with eating right (or at least eating better) is an exercise of will power. A series of articles over at one of my new favorite site, Art of Manliness, talks about will power - what it is, how we use it up, and how to conserve/improve it. Check out the articles here:
Thinking about it as something like this (finite and changeable) can help me to plan for the up times and the down times. Knowing what and when the stress or the fatigue are, I can work on preparing for them. And, like building muscle or strength, I can take some deliberate steps to get stronger. Especially around the things that test me the most (think chili fries again...)

More to come on this topic, I'm sure.

As for the weight thing, I finally got the scales to move this week. And, yes, in the direction that I want them to...


At least it's something. Not much when I look at 1 pound in almost a month. But progress nonetheless.

Here is this week's LiveStrong data: Week 6

That also adds to the tally for Love146 and TWLOHA. $12 each so far. I'm still looking for some other folks to make a pledge for one or both of these fine organizations. Every little bit helps...

Photo credit to The U.S. National Archives

Friday, February 10, 2012

Still Questing

Some how, trying to lose weight this time seems harder. I'm not sure why....

I'm shooting for 1.5lbs per week where I was doing 2lbs per week last time. That means that my daily budget for calories is higher now than it was when I hit the 240's last time (by nearly 500 calories a day - that's basically an extra meal!).

The thing is, I'm not hitting the 1.5lbs a week results even though I'm hitting the calorie budget reliably. So, I'm going to drop the budget some more. Probably by 250 / day (which should equate to 1/4lb a week). I'll experiment with that for a few weeks to see what the results look like....

Anyway, it should be obvious that this wasn't a great week for the numbers. And that is discouraging. Well, for me it is. The past few Friday's I've looked at the progress and told myself that this week will be the time to get increased physical activity. And so far, I've apparently been wrong about that.

Oh well, enough complaining about it. Here's this week's number from the scale:


Yup. No change from last week. Ugh.

But, I'm still resolved to continue my Quest for 200. It just might take a little longer and be more work. But the alternative is less attractive to me than putting in the work to get where I need to be.

To borrow from a quote I heard recently (can't recall the source at the moment):

A year from now you will wish you had started now.

How very true. Hey Future Me - I'm looking out for you, buddy....

EDIT: Here is the link to this week's LiveStrong data.

Photo credit to sheeron

Friday, February 3, 2012

What I'm reading

I like to read. I've been an avid reader for a long time. I used to pick up a book and consume every word in it as fast as I could. There were times that I would do nothing between the time I opened to page 1 and the time I finished the book other than read.

I've started and finished more than one book in a day (no, they were not Dr Seuss books...)

I tell you all that so you get a feel for how much I like to read. The time I have each day to read has diminished a good bit over the past several years. But I do find (that is, make) time to read the things that I deem "read-worthy." For example, after being turned on to George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series by watching "Game of Thrones" on HBO (awesome series but don't watch it with kids in the room...), I got the 5 books currently out in the series and read them all in about 8 weeks (The books average over 800 pages each).

So, my love for reading is still there even if I don't indulge it in the same way as much any more. What I tend to do more of now are more like quick hits of reading. I probably read more short articles on-line than I do long pieces now. Also, when I do open a book, it's usually to read 10 - 25 pages.

So, back to the title, "What I'm reading"

Besides waiting very impatiently on the next "Song of Ice and Fire" book to come out (c'mon George....), I've got a few reading activities under way:

"Man's Search For Meaning" by Viktor E Frankl
I picked this book up at the suggestion of Brett McKay on The Art of Manliness site (and author of one of the books below). I'm just starting it but it looks like a pretty heady psych book about some of the things that drive (primarily) the male of our species to do much of what we do. Look forward to getting deeper into this one.

"Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred" by David Erik Nelson
This is a fun book about DIY that you can both involve your kids in and learn a lot of neat skills that can come in handy in other areas. Subtitled "Seriously geeky stuff to make with your kids", it gives you the how-to for a lot of different projects at the same time pointing out the skills you will be learning as you do them. Each project includes a set of suggested materials and tools an, often, things you can use if you don't have things in the list.

"Building a Discipling Culture" by Mike Breen
I got this book because it is being used in a men's group I joined last year. The group is built around this concept of "discipling" as laid out, and commanded, by Jesus in the New Testament. Breen's book describes what discipling is, how to work it into the culture of our daily lives, and a language and structure for it. It can be pretty dry at times as a stand alone book but using it to help lay the foundation of our small huddle is helping.

"The Art of Manliness - Manvotationals" by Brett and Kate McKay
As mentioned above, I am a visitor to the Art of Manliness web site that Brett and Kate McKay have. Their site is aimed at rediscovering and promoting what true "manliness" is all about. The primary focus being on character and substance, as opposed to mostly machismo and style. The Manvotationals book is  a collection of writings and advise from the ages on 7 virtues of manhood: Manliness, Courage, Industry, Resolution, Self Reliance, Discipline, and Honor.

"Bringing Up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson
From one of the long-time experts in raising children, this title focuses on some of the specific, and sometimes unique, things associated with raising sons today. I've started this one on the recommendation of my wife who just finished it herself. I'm not much past the introduction so I don't have much to say about it yet but I've got high expectations.

So, how about you?
What are you currently reading (or recently finished reading)? How was it?

On to this week's weigh-in. It's been a tough week for making progress on the Quest for 200. Sleep has been hard to come by and that affects my resolve/will power during the day - mainly the evening time around and after dinner. I also think my caffeine to water ratio is out of whack. I need more of the latter and less of the former...

So, today's number from the scale is:


A whole pound. Well, it's better than last week but still below my target of 1.5 pounds each week. I need to get my daily activity level up again. That means not just hitting the stationary bike or running (if I ever start back) a couple of times a week. It means doing more than sitting all day at work, sitting in the car for my commute, and then sitting at home. Gotta put time in there to get 5 - 10 minute stretches for just walking around a few times a day.

We'll see how it goes....

UPDATE: Forgot to add the link for this week's LiveStrong data. Here it is...

Photo credit to Flickr user hddod