“Is this just the way it’s going to be?”

My first approach, upon recognizing that I did in fact have a weight problem, was to ramp up my physical activity.

After all, I thought I was eating a fairly healthy diet, and was following the basic proportions of the USDA guidelines.

And I had some successful experience with intentional weight loss in the years before I had been diagnosed with celiac disease.

In just six months, I had lost enough weight and also increased my strength and fitness to reach my goal of dunking a basketball on my 4oth birthday.

Since I had done this previously, I expected I could do it again.

So in early 2016 I started working out hard, six days a week, 30 minutes per day, on the Precor elliptical training machine at our YMCA.

I had two daughters getting married later that year, and I wanted to be at my best as I accompanied them down the aisle.

I stepped on the scale every day before my morning workout, and after several months I had lost…about five pounds.

Lisa asked, “Do you think maybe you should do some weightlifting?”

“How am I supposed to fit that in? I’m already working out at least three hours a week with heavy cardio. And it’s not doing any good!”

There’s a reason why our parents and grandparents called it “working up an appetite.”

“Eat less, move more” is trite and simplistic at best.

The reality of weight loss is a lot more complicated than fighting gluttony and sloth.

So by sometime between those August and October weddings, I was teetering between resignation and readiness to change.

I was willing to change, but had no realistic idea of what could work.

So I asked myself the question that is the title of this post.

A few months later, Lisa asked another question that started us in the right direction, together.

More on that starting Monday.

But first, I want to share an update from Thursday, when we continued a family tradition in taking as many of our children and grandchildren as were available for a day at Nickelodeon Universe at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

We had five of the six kids, three spouses and two significant others, and 11 of 12 grandkids join us. Ruthie, Trevin and their daughter Noa couldn’t make it because they’re in Bulgaria. But otherwise, we had them all.

It meant we had to get a lot of all-day wristbands.

Our tradition is to pick a Tuesday or Thursday in January to avoid the crowds. Lines are typically non-existent. And Thursday was especially slow, with temperatures of -8 ºF. So this was typical for many of the rides, with all seats occupied by our descendants:

This was our fourth consecutive year with this extended family amusement park outing. It’s been fun to see the kids grow and get tall enough for some of the more adventurous rides.

This time I also qualified for a ride from which I previously had been excluded.

Because I was safely below the weight limit, not only were my grandchildren able to ride…

… so was I.

So the answer to today’s blog post title is “No!”

Tomorrow I’ll share some before and after photos.

Then I’ll begin the story of our journey to improved health on Monday.

If you want to follow along, I’ll be sharing the links on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

SIFI: Lewis Aase

My blog’s new name, when I eventually get to changing it, will be Stuff I Find Interesting (SIFI).

Today I’m using the same acronym but this time it means Someone I Find Inspiring.

Today is my dad’s 89th birthday.

Lewis Aase is a big reason for what both my brother Mark and I are today.

Along with our mom, LaVonne, Dad embodies love as described in 1 Corinthians 13: he’s patient, kind, long-suffering and isn’t envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, irritable or resentful.

Probably most importantly, he’s always been a big believer in us and has supported us in exploring and developing our strengths and interests.

And sometimes even when they weren’t really strengths, he still encouraged us to try. For example, I remember Dad telling me maybe I would be good at longer distance running. Looking back, that was probably a nice way of saying I wasn’t a fast sprinter.

Which, of course, was true.

When we were young, Dad regularly took us to different high school sporting events, so we could see what interested us.

He and Mom also gave us plenty of unstructured play time with the neighbor kids, too. I guess it was a different time, but I think that’s something lots of kids miss today, as Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff have noted.

Dad has shown us the value of persistence and consistency. He and Mom moved to Austin, Minn. 55 years ago, and they’ve just faithfully lived and served together.

I don’t remember him ever missing one of my junior high or high school basketball games, home or away. I’m sure he and Mom made all of Mark’s football games, too.

Mark and I have each gone through rough patches in our lives, and Dad and Mom were always there to support us. Not in a way that kept us from developing our own strength by working through the issues, but one that helped to look out for those who were depending on us.

Dad has taught us so much.

He’s great at just figuring out how to fix things around the house. Mark got all of that practical home repair interest and ability; it’s just not my gift. My expression of Dad’s inventiveness was directed more to creative use of computers and digital tools.

In his working years, Dad was an elementary school principal, and he never let “the way things are” keep him from exploring what could be, especially if it would make life better for kids.

  • He invented creative ways to help those who were struggling to have longer to catch up without the social stigma of being “held back.”
  • He led, with some like-minded conspirators, creation of the Math Masters program, a team-based math competition for 5th and 6th grade students in Minnesota, which has spread throughout the state and been sustained for more than 25 years.
  • After he retired, he continued his service as a member of the Austin school board.

I have fond memories of going with him to his school on Saturday mornings, where he would work in the office catching up on paperwork, while I got to shoot baskets in the gym.

In addition to serving through his work, Dad also has been active in the church and community. He’s been on the advisory board of the Salvation Army and served Meals on Wheels until a broken hip last year caused his retirement.

When I got the crazy idea to run for state representative at age 21, Dad and Mom were totally supportive. He led the lawn sign campaign. They’ve stayed active as political volunteers for 35 years.

Mark and I have been blessed that we could raise our kids in our hometown, and that they could grow up near our parents. As they did when we were in school, Mom and Dad made almost every one of their grandchildren’s sporting events, concerts or plays.

Now they’re attending activities of their great-grandchildren.

As he is turning 89 today, Dad isn’t quite as physically agile as he once was, but he’s mentally sharp and engaged as ever.

And that’s why I still find him inspiring.

He’s a big part of the reason why, at age 56, I’m going back to school to get an MBA. Realizing how much he has contributed in even just the last 32 years, I feel I should be hitting the accelerator, not the clutch.

None of us knows how long we have to live, but we should make the most of the time we’re given.

That’s also why I’m intensely interested in learning what I can do to make my remaining years as healthy and vital as Dad’s have been.

I’ll return to that story tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

My “Before” Pictures

At 6’6″ I’m blessed with a relatively large frame over which I could distribute some extra weight.

But when that extra amount became 40 pounds, it definitely showed.

Even under a sport coat:

Two weeks after my youngest daughter’s wedding, in August 2016.

Here are a few of pictures from June of that year, when I had the opportunity to visit China, along with one with my dad at a baseball game in Chicago:

And finally, one from Australia in 2015. You can definitely see where water had an opportunity to collect after a shower.

Readiness to change is an extremely important factor in improving health, but another is knowing what kinds of changes would be beneficial.

In my next post I’ll describe how I started to get some inklings that the path that would lead to sustained weight loss was different than what I had expected.

SMUG to SIFI

As I have pivoted (in Silicon Valley lingo) my blog from its social media focus and taken a new role as Chancellor Emeritus, I’ve been ruminating on a blog name that would capture the essence of what I will be writing here.

I had considered Interesting Stuff I’m Studying, but the acronym for that title would have been…unfortunate.

I thought Stuff You Might Find Interesting (SYMFI) would be a good one. It’s reader-focused…it’s about things I think you might like. Unfortunately, there’s a drug called Symfi, and the last thing I want is to get cease-and-desist nastygrams from pharma company attorneys with trademark objections.

I finally settled on a new name that I plan to implement soon: Stuff I Find Interesting (SIFI). A couple of advantages in this one:

I kind of like thinking of my blog in that sense, although I know it won’t be the recipient of any government aid.

I’ll probably change the header this weekend. I looked at purchasing the SIFI.com domain, and someone has it locked up. I didn’t put in a bid.

I just repurchased leeaase.com (which I had let lapse) instead, and at some point I might switch this blog to that domain.

It matches my usernames on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. It’s also my customized LinkedIn URL, though not really a username: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leeaase/

Brand consistency is a good thing, I guess.

It also help to have a seven-letter name with five vowels.

SEO magic.

Chancellor Emeritus

Twelve years ago this month, I rebranded this blog – which had started in 2006 as Lines from Lee and later evolved to the clunkier PR, New Media and GTD – Lines from Lee – as Social Media University, Global, or SMUG.

It’s time now (or rather past time) to reorient it based on the fact that my career has evolved far beyond anything I could have dreamed when I gave myself the title of Chancellor.

My idea was that through SMUG I would learn in public and invite others to come along for the ride. I would develop some curriculum categories, and other communications professionals who wanted to learn to use social media could use my example as a resource.

I had a lot of fun with it, and one of the best points was when people would greet me with my self-appointed title.

But then in 2010 my employer, in response to a proposal I helped to develop, created the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media, which in 2015 became the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network (MCSMN). It was gratifying that this teaching role I had created for myself on my personal blog became part of my day job.

We provide learning resources for our Mayo Clinic staff to help them apply social media in their work, and also open membership – Basic (free), Premium and Corporate – to provide access to these resources to colleagues globally. Oe of the best parts is that we also learn from them!

So while Social Media University, Global was a lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek phrasing, MCSMN made that global vision a reality.

As a result, when I have written online about social media, I have been much more likely to do it on the MCSMN site instead of here. So after averaging 160 posts a year in 2009-10, since 2016 my SMUG post average has been… 3.

As of today I’m recognizing that reality, and will be coming up with a new name for this blog. I’ll probably keep the same domain name for a while at least: no one types URLs anyway, and it’s kind of a pain to switch. All of my previous posts from the SMUG era will remain available.

I don’t expect that my post volume will approach 2009 levels, but I will be a lot more regular in my blogging. Over the last three years I’ve been reading and learning a lot about health, diet and fitness that’s pretty radically different from what I had previously heard and believed.

It’s made a huge difference for me.

I’ll start telling that story tomorrow.

I’ll also use this space to write about other things I find interesting. That will be the common thread.

If you want to follow along, I’ll be tweeting links to new posts and sharing on Facebook. Or bookmark the site, and check in occasionally.

So as of today, I’m giving myself a new title: Chancellor Emeritus.