Exercise Program – March 28th

Last night at Bible Study I was talking to Jason about losing weight.  Another one of my brothers gave me a 10 minute exercise program out of Men’s Health that I can do in my cell.  Well… another brother turned around and offered to help me get on an exercise and diet program.  I was stubborn and said I have lost weight before.  I know how to do it.

Well, the Chaplain had a message I needed to hear about choices and perceptions.  I have heard this message before, but I am no different than anyone else. I am human and sometimes I need a reminder.  After the study, I went up to that brother and said, “I would like to give it a try.  I apologized for being slightly defensive and not listening.  Come to find out that he was 315 pounds when he came to prison and now he is skinny and buff at 215 pounds.  He is tall, probably 6’ 3”.

We talked for about 45 minutes. I am to write everything down that I eat for the next 7 days.  Then I have to give him a budget of what I can spend in the canteen.  He told me less bread, sweets, junk and more protein.  My Mom has been preaching this to me for the last 2 months.  He knows what I can get in the Canteen that will help.  Then he is going to put me on an exercise plant that will burn fat and build muscle.

Well, today it was 31° outside, and I went outside to start my exercise.  My buddy walked with me around a huge track, about 1/3 of a mile.  Then we jumped into a 2 on 2 basketball game with two other of my Brothers in Christ.  If the other team scored, you had to do 10 push-ups or 10 squats.  Come to find out I am a beast at defense in basketball.  I figured that if I didn’t let them score I didn’t have to do push-ups.  My strategy worked.  I still ended up doing about 50 push-ups and 10 squats.  It was an excellent 45 minute work-out.  What was even more great, was my Brothers’ encouragement.  I am not in the best f shape but they kept encouraging me, saying “You can do it, Ed”, “Good job,” “Keep going” and even “I’m proud of you.”  Instead of tearing me down for being overweight, they lifted me up and encouraged me.

Even the inmates on the sidelines.  My perception was that people would make fun of me… not the case.  Now I feel encouraged and very very sore!  Haha.  I will keep you all updated on my progress.

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Slower is faster – March 21, 2015

I have been working in the Sewing Plant for a week and a half.  On the second day, the Supervisor put me on the Bar Tack machine.  I never used the machine before.  I learned how to do the task and did 6 bundles the first day!  Production is 10 bundles.  The second day, I completed 8 bundles.  The supervisor raised my pay from Level 1 to Level 3 pay which is the max.  He told me I was close enough to production. I came back to work on Monday and did 8 bundles.  Tuesday, I came in to a broken machine, but I still managed to get 9 bundles done.

On Wednesday, my machine kept unthreading and I was getting frustrated.  The mechanic did some adjustments and said there was nothing wrong with my machine.  I thanked him, but the machine kept unthreading.  It would unthread almost every pair of pants and sometimes 2 to 3 times a pair of pants!  I knew at this rate, I wasn’t going to make production.  So I slowed down and watched the needle the whole time.  It took me an hour to do that bundle, but I realized something.  I sat there the whole day, frustrated, blaming the problem on the machine.  But the problem was “operator error”…  ME.  I was the reason why the thread kept coming out of the needle.

I realized that because I was trying to be fast, I was being careless.  I wasn’t smooth in moving the fabric.  I was jerking the fabric, causing it to knock the thread out of the needle.  The next bundle I did, I slowed down and learned how to move the material smoothly.  That bundle took me 45 minutes.  The next 35 minutes and now I can do a bundle in 30 minutes.  By going slower, I became faster.

Yesterday I did 8 bundles, and if we had more work to do, I would have done 10, but we ran out of work.  Because I slowed down and moved at a consistent pace, I only had to rethread my needle twice the whole day!  My fastest bundle was 27 minutes.  Almost as fast as the guy next to me and he moves faster, but he has to thread his machine more.

Imagine if we applied this concept to life.  People would be happier if they just would slow down.  Life would be smooth!  In society today, we have a tendency to rush and there is no need to rush.  We rush when we buy a house, car, drive, projects, dinner, dates, and the list goes on!  Challenge—try slowing it down and see what happens!

Meaningless – March 20, 2015

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.  My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.  Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”  — Ecclesiastes 2: 10-11

As I was reading my Bible today, I ran across these two verses and they really hit home with me.  In the first few chapters of Ecclesiastes, “meaningless” is a common theme.  In fact, the book starts off with a headline in the NIV that says “Everything is Meaningless”.  But these two verses are from the section headlined “Pleasures are Meaningless.”  As you can read above, the author ends this section with verses 10-11.  He talks about how he got everything he wanted.  How he built houses, planted vineyards, made gardens and parks, bought slaves, a bunch of livestock, silver and gold, singers and women for his pleasure.  Then he ends with verses 10-11.  He ends with “Everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

After all this indulging in “Things” and pleasures, he realized that these things never made him permanently happy.  They made him feel good for a little while, then the happiness was gone.  A lot of times, people do the same thing now.  They buy everything, every pleasure their eyes see.  They rack up an enormous amount of debt to have these “things”.  It is a common theme in society today.

I am guilty!  I had to have the nicest cars, newest car, and I had to have three of them!  If we didn’t have the cash to eat out, we had a credit card.  We had great credit!  Why not?  In the end I made a huge mistake, lost my job and ended up in prison. Now my wife is filing for bankruptcy.

All those “things” and pleasures I needed, ended up hurting a lot of people.  All one person needs is God, air, food, water and shelter.  You don’t need to have a super nice house or a new car.  Like the author says “pleasures are meaningless.”  If you want an everlasting happiness, put your full faith and trust in God.  Do this and you can be happy living in a tent or walking to work!

Read Ecclesiastes 2: 1-10

Sewing Plant – March 11, 2015

Today was my first day at the Sewing Plant.  I was told that I was going to be clipping excess string off of clothes.  I wasn’t nervous, because that sounded easy and fun.  I like sewing, but I am happy to do whatever.  Well, I walked into the plant, and it was a little intimidating.

A ton of different machines and guys who were fast and working hard.  Well, I talked to my supervisor, Mrs. G., and she told me she liked my work on “Block bands, hemming and labels.  I looked at her and I said, “Ma’am, I only know how to do labels.”  She said, “I thought you did all three?”  I said, “No, Mr. S. split that task up between three people.”  She didn’t understand why he taught like that and told me that I can learn it.  I said “Okay!”

So the floorman, JR, taught me how to do hemming and blockband.  Blockbanding is easy and it is like labels.  Now hemming is a different story.  Some people were looking at me like I was crazy, because I couldn’t get the fold right.  It seems simple, but it isn’t as simple as it looks.  I started to get it by the end of the day.  I only completed 48 pairs of pants, 2 bundles, today.  The supervisors were very pleased though, because I just learned.  When you do the trio, you have 5 different things to sew on each pair.  I asked what “production” was and she said 6 bundles.  I know that I can make production in about 2 weeks, maybe less.

As long as my supervisors are happy with my progress, I am good.  Well, apparently everyone in the plant likes me.  I felt like I was an animal in a zoo or the popular hang-out spot.  Everyone kept checking on me, encouraging me, helping me.  It was all overwhelming.  Then the word got out that my Mom works for Hershey.  Supervisors were talking to me, officers, inmates, all asking if she can send some chocolate for them.  Haha!

Then Mike, in my block calls me “Special Ed”.  So now everyone is calling me that.  I am used to it, because I have a degree in Music Ed and I was licensed in Special Education as well.  People called me “Music Ed” and “Special Ed” all the time.  I actually think it is kind of funny.  However, those are not the reasons Mike calls me “Special Ed”.  There is this one officer that always let s me out of my roonm first every morning for breakfast.  Mike said, “Ed, you are special,” and I said, “I know I am Special Ed.”  And it stuck ever since.  Haha!

Overall, the first day on the job was great!  Look forward to conquering “Hemming” Haha!