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"Taking a Swing at Weight Loss - Update #7" 

22 July 2001

Dearly Beloved Family, Friends and Those Who For Some Reason Care, 

Long time no communicate!  The last few weeks have been a tiny reminder of our dependence on the conveniences of modern technology.  I apologize for the delay in getting out this update and have actually been blessed by all those hounding me for one because I know you give a darn!  There was a tiny problem with the server, which was out of our control and prevented us from being able to post full updates.  Sorry about that, but sit back and relax if you have the time because here comes a big daddy update from the depths of my heart to yours.

Having snuck back into Escondido for a couple days I type this while lying on my washboard tummy (I wish) from the comfort of my own bed, which feels curiously large.  My Expedition, the couch, the toilet, bathtub, everything seems bigger ... go figure!  In case you only care for the bottom line, here are the stats:  Since April 1, I have lost 120 pounds with 117 more  to go for the goal weight.  The graph my buddy Mark Searle created for me is starting to look like a nice ski slope.  In percentage, I finally crossed the half way point and am 51% complete with the loss goal.  Maintenance life starts when I hit 230 pounds.  Having had days where I was so hungry that BBQ carpet sounded yummy, I find myself craving carrots and celery ... go figure!  It's quite funny meeting people who weigh 120 pounds or less and watching them go into shock when I say "yeah I have lost one of you already!"  I have visited 38 states while driving about 25,000 miles and have attended 60 major league games and have seen 599 runs scored, including some very memorable fan delights like the All-Star game.  

Because there will be a bit more to share than usual, I am going to try a new format of titled paragraphs, so here goes.

Many commented of the testimony of God's love as evidenced in the story I shared in the last update about my dad and the Danielsons.  I wrote that update just before leaving for their anniversary celebration.  Well, both my dad and I had the wonderful opportunity to declare publicly before all their many family and friends our heartfelt appreciation for their generosity toward my dad and for the faith seeds in our lives.  I was touched to see my dad so emotionally moved publicly and so eager to give glory to them and to our Heavenly Father.  In the Twin Cities I also got to enjoy some fun baseball, especially since the Twins are one of the real stories of the year as a solid team with good chemistry comprised of a group of non-marquee type names, many of whom are having career years. Karen Kirchoff pulled off some fun surprises including things like billboard greetings and arranging for me to meet some of the '91 Twins World Series Championship Team.  After a great time there, my dad and I faced a little dilemma.  We left on a Sunday morning and I had a flight out of Seattle to Alaska.  We drove 30 hours straight through Minnesota, South and North Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho and Washington before experiencing the ecstasy of spotting the Emerald City in the distance. We did take a three-hour break admiring Mt. Rushmore, which is must-see for any American.  As is true with many of the national monuments, they have done such a wonderful job with the presentation, allowing for a great mix of entertainment and learning.  The scenery was amazing, so again and again I am struck with how nature is like a grand symphony of beauty conducted by the Lord God creator.

Sometime during the last three months I added to the agenda of this trip to cover all 50 states of this great land.  Right around the same time my brother John started talking about a fishing trip to Alaska.  I did some schedule toying and decided to meet him, our friend Dwayne and Don (Dwayne's wife's brother-in-law) in Sitka, Alaska, over the July 4th holiday.  I arrived on July 3rd and was stunned by the raw and sharp beauty of Alaska's landscape and intense colors.  That night was the Independence Day celebration and the fireworks started at midnight as darkness took that long to arrive.  My hotel being right "downtown" I had no choice but to take them in.  At 5 a.m. July 4th after weighing myself and logging my 103 pound weight loss to that point, I took a shower while singing a dreary version of happy birthday to America.   We then headed out to do battle with the ocean for a 10-hour fishing day.  The weather was dreadful, which of course translated to the dreaded choppy seas.  The fishing was great, which made up for all the over-the-edge moments of contributing some nutrients back to the sea.  Don't think the fish much enjoyed my diet powder, but, oh well, maybe some fat salmon needed to be on a diet!  After about eight hours of catching king salmon and decent-sized 30-40 pound halibut, we were all on the deck worn out and sapped of energy, having struggled bringing up fish and upchucking over the rails.  It was at that late afternoon moment that one of the miracles of my trip occurred.  Almost falling asleep and feeling so blah with having slept four hours, no food, seasick and cold (trying to make it like the Old Man and the Sea for ya) my pole smacked off the rail.  This was no ordinary bite!  I could not even stand up as I was so exhausted and just stayed seated on a cooler ready for the fight.  I began the long process of bringing up my monster from the depth of 400-plus feet of water.  The others offered to help, but I declined as in my heart I knew this was my fish!  When it was finally landed I just wanted to praise God!  You only get one guess on how much it weighed ... you got it!  103 pounds!  I was so emotional about it and so blessed to have received that confirmation.  Boy, was I humbled and amazed, trying to lift up that fish off the deck, thinking this is how much weight I have been lugging around all this time and now it's gone!  You should have seen the filets off that puppy!  We went out as a group again on the 5th and had a more pleasant, less seasick experience.  By now I had two patches of scopolamine behind my ears, and as a side effect had a bone dry mouth to contend with.  I decided that two days satisfied my need, so on the 6th I stayed back and did some reading, writing and praying while the others went out a third day.  That was the best day of fishing, and my brother John crushed all our records, catching a 180-pound halibut that took a collective effort to land.  All in all we caught over 1000 pounds of halibut and salmon and came home with 450 pounds of filets that the charter group packaged frozen in one-pound vacuum sealed packages.  We are already planning a "TAKE 2!" trip next summer, perhaps with a larger group of family and friends. 

After returning to Seattle it was time for baseball again!  With the generosity of an old friend from Palomar-Pomerado, Mike Bernstein, who now lives and works in Seattle, I joined him for the celebrity softball game, the futures game and the All-Star Game itself.  Through new friends I made through our hosts the Mathias, I was able to also get tickets to the Homerun Derby.  What fun I had feeling "in the midst of it all" going to Fanfest, taking lots of pictures and taking in some memorable baseball moments during All-Star Week.  Between seeing Lasorda tumbling around, Ripken's impressive homerun, and Gwynn's recognition ceremony, I was in baseball la la land.   My mask and flashy hat drew lots of media attention, landing me several interviews with Japanese TV stations and poses for about 30 photographers, landing my "baseball head character" on the full front page of the SF Chronicle and the front page of the Seattle Times Sport Section on July 11th, the day after the midsummer classic game.  With press interest from the AP, Sports Illustrated and such, who knows where else my pictures showed up?  It's silly fun and all serves as a convenient distraction from my foodless existence.  Though media attention is not something I am actively pursuing in an organized fashion, I remain very open and willing to be used by God to encourage and challenge others struggling with obesity and weight issues. After the All-Star celebration my dad and I took a day long trip to Canada, visiting the very lovely city of Vancouver.  From 1959-1962 my dad attended The University of British Columbia, and so he had quite a few sites to show me, including his old dorm where pictures of his group of residents still hang in the lobby.  Back in Washington state we spent some time visiting some dear retired missionaries from Greece, Mark and Josephine Diavastes, and did some touring of the islands northwest of Seattle.  Then it was time for some Mariner baseball.  What a supportive and enthusiastic baseball town, but who would not be excited about a team plowing through their opponents and having by far the best record in baseball.  Night after night the games were sold out, and I enjoyed both the baseball and some new friendships with several Christian brothers I met there.  While the games and excitement of sport are awesome, I cherish even more the fellowship and chance to interact with others in a non-pressured carefree approach.  Still don't know how I ever had time to work!

The Trip Through SF Back to San Diego
While heading south on our way to Sonoma County, I made a miscalculation on gas station availability and after enthusiastic prayer and coasting down hills, barely made it to a station where our RV took 29.7 gallons of gas in a 30 gallon tank.  The closest I have ever come by far to the embarrassment of running out of gas.   My dad dropped me off at the mansion/estate of one of my medical school classmates and his wife, Steve and Susan Vargas.  Though gone on vacation they were generous enough to let me relax in their home for a day with their amazing views of rolling hills of vineyards and skies packed with endless twinkling stars.  My good buddy Jon Petersen (JP) drove up from San Diego, and we spent a day being tourists around San Francisco and attending a Giants game, where we got to witness Barry Bonds crush a couple homeruns.  Then we drove to San Juan Capistrano on Thursday July 19, where I was so excited to see my loved ones gathered for the wedding rehearsal of my cousin Michelle and her hubby-to-be, Fred.  It was a bit traumatic having my youngest niece Sophia and nephew Joey both act like I was a stranger, screaming in terror at this hairy giant trying to squeeze and hug them intensely.   At least my niece Nicole and all the others were so excited to see me.  I was especially relieved to see my grandfather there in good spirits and health.  The last couple of days have been a blur of activity with the celebration of Michelle's and Fred's wedding, my brother Phil's big 30th birthday bash, stacks of mail, wardrobe turnover, a Padre game,  van repairs, and loving on all the family visiting from New Jersey and Virginia.  I am ready to hit the road!  The coming weeks I am blessed to be joined by some new companions including my pastor and dear friend Pat Kenney, my buddy Mike Grant, colleague  Dr. Don Miller, and my Grandpa, who will hopefully be joining me for the visit to Toronto and Montreal, Canada.

So there you have it, the last month of my life summarized the best I know how!  I find it necessary to again acknowledge the appreciation I have for the warm and sincere support so many of you are generously sharing with me.  Thank you all so very, very much.  I know that through this adventure God is actively at work in me so in the future He can actively work through me.

"Whatever you do, do it heartily as to the Lord and not to men." 
Colossians 3:23

Striving to be half the man I once was,

dr. Nick

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